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11.14.17

Patents Roundup: Packet Intelligence, B.E. Technology, Violin, and Square

Posted in America, Patents at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ViolinSummary: The latest stories and warnings about software patents in the United States

IN another defeat for software patents, Erise has just declared “big victory against patent troll” and to quote the only report we’ve found about it (so far): “Packet Intelligence owns U.S. Patent No. 6,651,099, which is named “Method and Apparatus for Monitoring Traffic on a Network.” The company used this patent to prosecute patent applications against 275 issued patents…”

We have been hearing many stories like this recently. Patent trolls, equipped with software patents, quickly perish in courts. If not the first time, then the second time (higher court). Sometimes the patents get invalided before they even reach any court at all. The patent trolls’ lobby, which includes Watchtroll, has just been moaning about software patents being rightly invalidated by PTAB. Here we have Watchtroll defending a troll. saying that the “Memphis, TN-based B.E. Technology, L.L.C., filed a suit alleging claims of patent infringement against Google in the Western District of Tennessee, asserting claims from two patents owned by the company.”

Guess what happened. PTAB trashed it all. Good riddance, no matter who initiated the case and how wealthy the defendant is (Watchtroll obsesses over the wealth amassed by Google in order to create sympathy for the troll). The last paragraph has nothing to do with the story at all. That’s just Watchtroll trying to influence a SCOTUS case and solicit lobbying. To quote: “All of this may soon change after the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC on November 27th. The case will decide whether the PTAB acts in violation of the U.S. Constitution by extinguishing private property rights in a non-Article III forum without a jury. Whether the Supreme Court decides that the PTAB acts in violation of the Constitution, many patent owners hope the Supreme Court will at a minimum acknowledge that the PTAB works consistently to the detriment of patent owners in favor of efficient infringers.”

Anyone who has watched this long enough (the subject of this case and SCOTUS) can easily tell that Justices will defend PTAB, maybe even unanimously. But Watchtroll would cling onto anything at this stage. The patent microcosm has grown so feeble in recent years and Watchtroll just attacks judges and officials more often than it actually covers something exclusively. It’s an embarrassment for a lobbying body.

In other news, yesterday we learned about a bankrupt company, Violin, stating: “We are filing for 45 patents.”

So suddenly they have money? And what for? Trolling the NVMe market? One can imagine where this is going…

To quote the article:

“There are no precise dates we can give,” he said. “We are filing for 45 patents.

“We’ve got our own SSD technology and we will not abandon leadership in IOPS and latency.”

The word “technology” rather than gear or software is often suggestive of paperwork. We shall see what they do next, but it doesn’t look too promising. Patents are expensive to pursue and they already ran out of cash; are patents really their priority?

Another item that caught our eye in yesterday’s news is this report about a financial surveillance firm known as Square. It seems to have not much left to it momentum-wise, so now it’s hoarding software patents:

Since the payments company was founded in 2009, Square has filed 712 patent applications and obtained 221 patents. But between July 2016 and June 2017 alone, the company filed 144 patent applications and obtained 80 of those patents.

“We believe that a good IP program is targeted at fostering innovation all around and not at stifling creativity or competition,” they said. That’s just marketing talk. People don’t end up spending millions of dollars on patents for “fostering innovation all around,” they either use these patents or sell them. So will Square sue bigger firms that have a much larger share in this market (e.g. Apple, Samsung, Google)? That remains to be seen…

Speaking of finance, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP’s Michelle Tyde and Jason D. Gardner have just published this article titled “Becoming a Unicorn Fintech by Shoring Up Intellectual Property”

Aside from the fact that they are saying “Intellectual Property” and promoting — by mention — evil Black Duck, the positive thing is that they break it down to meaningful items: “IP assets, such as patents, technical know-how (including software and other technology), trade secrets, copyrights, licenses, trademarks, and data, are assessed by sophisticated purchasers and investors…”

Those are very different things. Lumping it all together under “IP” is undesirable as that leads to misjudgment. Here is the part about Free/Open Source software:

Many software engineers and developers use open source software or incorporate such software into their work in developing products or technology. But the use or incorporation of such open source software by a fintech company can lead to ownership, licensing, and compliance issues for a buyer. In particular, some open source licenses require any user modifying and distributing the open source software to make its source code generally available to other users and to license its software to third parties under the same terms as the open source license. Buyers usually want representation and warranty that no open source or similar software has been incorporated into any of their software or products as they want to be able to exclusively use the fintech company’s technology. Thus, open source issues could become a deal killer.

When has that actually happened? When did alleged violation of the GPL, for example, undermine a company’s takeover/VC? This is more FUD than anything…

Either way, to their credit, they do not promote the illusion that software patents are worth pursuing. Because they aren’t.

Decline of Skills Level of Staff Like Examiners and Impartiality (Independence) of Judges at the EPO Should Cause Concern, Alarm

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO insiders say that hiring standards have sunk (more on that soon) and new examiners now rely on algorithms rather than in-depth knowledge

GrandcomputerSummary: Access to justice is severely compromised at the EPO as staff is led to rely on deficient tools for determining novelty while judges are kept out of the way or ill-chosen for an agenda other than justice

THERE are no software patents in Europe. In theory at least. The EPO does not obey the rules and grants software patents anyway — something which the USPTO (birthplace of software patents) is gradually stopping.

What can stop the EPO issuing software patents? Most likely the appeal boards, but they have come under attack from Battistelli and years ago they lost their impartiality. 3 years ago Battistelli went as far as making false claims about one of the judges (painting him as some sort of an armed Nazi) and nothing has been the same since. The appeal boards are still there in spirit (in Haar) and routinely they complain that they are unable to operate as envisioned by the EPC.

IAM’s editor, as one might expect, continues his veiled lobbying for software patents and patent trolls. He has already done that twice in the past week (using the typical euphemisms, FRAND/SEP) and yesterday he carried on by copy-pasting Johann Pitz – a partner of Vossius & Partner in Munich – which speaks of “future EU unitary patent” even though there is no such thing! It’s a fantasy and one of the reasons for that is lack of impariality of judges, including their selection process and renewal of contract. We covered that before. It’s an abomination that would rattle the people behind the EPC (the few who might still be alive).

Also yesterday. IAM wrote this blog post about KIPO (the patent office in Korea) going ‘corporate’, appointing a judge with an obvious conflict of interest (far too many connections to industry). To quote:

The IPTAB is gaining not only a very senior corporate IP figure, but a substantially pro-patent one. Last year, under Kim’s leadership, LG Electronics launched its first US patent litigation campaign as a lead plaintiff, a big step toward extracting further value from its portfolio. In recent years, Kim has closed IP deals with operating companies such as Microsoft, Ericsson, IBM, Technicolor and Amazon, as well as with NPEs [read: patent trolls] including Evolved Wireless, France Brevets, and PanOptis.

This man may have literally brushed shoulders not only with executives whom he’ll see in court but also patent trolls. That certainly can ruin the impression of independence and some officials just don’t seem to mind.

The importance of preventing such ‘revolving doors’ scenario became more obvious yesterday, in light of the following interesting exchange between one who thinks of EPO hirings in terms like “free market”, perhaps not grasping that the EPO (like the court system) enjoys a monopoly and should thus be subjected to higher standards. As IP Kat has already nuked entire comment threads, we have decided to reproduce this exchange below:

Some may view your post as cynical, but when you view ANY business operation – and most all business operations are based on that very same concept – why is it that you think that examiners should be excused from the (seemingly) natural market forces that affect everyone else?

Exactly which “market forces” do you believe are at play with regard to the recruitment of EPO examiners?

The EPO is an international organisation that has a monopoly on dishing out (EPC-wide) monopolies. This means that the EPO does not have any relevant “competition”. It is therefore completely inappropriate to apply “free market” concepts to such an organisation.

Of course, should its “users” so demand, then it might be appropriate for the EPO to look for ways of reducing costs (and hence reducing fees). But even then, one has to balance any drive to reduce costs against other demands that the “users” of the system may have.

At this point, it is important to remember that the “users” of the system include 3rd parties whose freedom to operate will be curtailed by the monopolies that the EPO grants.

It is therefore inconceivable that a majority of the EPO’s “users” would ever be in favour of any cost-cutting that compromised the ability of the EPO to conduct high quality examination. From this perspective, it hard to see what justification there could possibly be for adopting recruitment practices that are aimed at “de-skilling” the EPO’s entire examiner base.

You misunderstand the aim of my earlier comment.

It is not that the EPO “has competition” – or not.
It is nothing whatsoever to do with the “users” of the system (therein lies nothing but dust-kicking).

It is that the EPO may apply what is no more than standard business protocols to its own work.

Or do you think that such is somehow off limits? Under what basis would this power to set as “off limits” come from?

I think that you are rather missing the point.

There is no “standard business protocol” when it comes to a patent office. This is because there is no “business” to speak of.

Patent offices exist for the sole purpose of being the first (and most important) gatekeeper to a state-sanctioned monopoly. A patent office therefore only serves its purpose if it applies adequately (but not overly) stringent criteria to the grant of a monopoly.

So yes, it is “off limits” to consider adopting practices that are liable to render the patent office not fit for purpose.

It is interesting to note that the European Medicines Agency values its “skilled” staff so highly that it believes that the new location for the Agency should only be selected from the cities that staff surveys show would provide a high retention rate.

The EMA is much like the EPO in that it examines applications to check that they meet suitable standards. So if retaining skilled staff is such a high priority for the EMA, why should it be any different for the EPO? Improvements in efficiency are one thing, but my view is that any “improvements” that would render the EPO incapable of performing its function should never even be contemplated.

As we have been arguing for a number of years, people don’t simply “opt in” for the EPO. They can be sued at any time by any other company using patents granted — rightly or wrongly — by the EPO. The EPO can be very dangerous (and powerful in a dangerous way) if put in the wrong hands and UPC would extend the breadth of reach of European Patents, increasingly granted in error by decreasingly skilled staff at the EPO (if not by algorithms which don’t quite work).

EPO Frame Breaking

Links 14/11/2017: GNU/Linux at Samsung, Firefox 57 Quantum

Posted in News Roundup at 1:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Munich council: To hell with Linux, we’re going full Windows in 2020

      Hübner said “no final decision has yet been made” on whether LibreOffice will be swapped out for Microsoft Office. “That will be decided at the end of next year when the full cost of such a move will be known.”

      Peter Ganten, CEO of Univention in Bremen and a member of the Open Source Business Alliance, told El Reg: “The council of the city of Munich has just executed a decision which they have made long before.”

      Not all agree that it is a good decision.

      Ganten said “of course nobody in the open-source community is happy that this decision has been made” and the city will spend “decades of man power” and “millions of euros” on migration (as it did with the LiMux project) while client OSes “becomes more and more unimportant and other organisations are wisely spending their money for platform neutral applications.”

      Matthias Kirschner, president of Free Software Foundation Europe in Berlin, said “there were never any studies” pinpointing what people were “unhappy” about. It might have been the LiMux client itself, or perhaps the migration process or lack of support.

      He said he was also not aware of a comparison of the unhappiness of staffers in cities using Windows.

    • Samsung Linux on Galaxy might run full, graphical Linux desktops

      Samsung sometimes tries to be too much like Google and engages in moonshot projects that are often abandoned quickly. So when it launched its new DeX “phone as a desktop” platform, it was natural for some people to wonder how long it would last. At least, for now, it seems that Samsung is investing a sizeable amount of resources to expand its coverage, like its upcoming Linux on Galaxy feature. Samsung just posted a concept video hinting that it could be more than what others have been able to do.

    • Watch: Ubuntu Linux Running on Galaxy S8 with Samsung DeX – Concept Demo

      Samsung recently published a new video on its YouTube channel demoing the recently launched “Linux on Galaxy” concept it introduced last month for Galaxy S8, S8+, and Note8 smartphones.

      Promising to bring the full Linux PC experience to your mobile device, the “Linux on Galaxy” concept relies on the Samsung DeX dock station, which transforms a Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, or Note8 smartphone into a full-fledged desktop or workstation if you attach a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

      Basically, Samsung DeX offers convergence for your Galaxy smartphone, something that Canonical wanted to create with its Ubuntu Linux operating system and the Unity 8 user interface that it’s no longer under development. And now, Samsung wants to give you the full Linux PC experience on your smartphone.

    • Samsung Demos Ubuntu Running on a Galaxy Smartphone

      Samsung has shared a video of its ‘Linux on Galaxy’ app that lets developers run full desktop Linux distributions on select Galaxy smartphones.

    • Samsung cuts Windows from the loop, shows Ubuntu Linux running on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

      Now Samsung has uploaded a concept video of what they want Linux on Galaxy to be like when it matures, allowing the sophisticated development of Android apps on an Android phone itself (and cutting Windows and MacOS completely out of the loop.)

    • Split Screen is Coming to Google’s Pixelbook Chromebook, Here’s a Sneak Peek

      Good news for PixelBook owners today as Chromium evangelist at Google François Beaufort informs the community via his Google+ page that split screen support is coming to the Chromebook Pixel.

      In an attempt to improve the multitasking capabilities of Chromebooks, Google implemented split screen support in the latest Chrome OS Dev channel via a new flag called “Split view in Tablet mode,” which can be enabled only on the Google Pixelbook.

  • Server

    • Cray Helps Propels ARM processors into HPC

      Today Cray announced that the Company is adding of Cavium ThunderX2 Arm processors to the Cray XC50 line of supercomputers. Cray customers will have a complete Arm-based supercomputer that features a full software environment, including the Cray Linux Environment, the Cray Programming Environment, and Arm-optimized compilers, libraries, and tools for running today’s supercomputing workloads.

    • Cray ARMs Highest End Supercomputer with ThunderX2

      Just this time last year, the projection was that by 2020, ARM processors would be chewing on twenty percent of HPC workloads. In that short span of time, the grain of salt many took with that figure has dropped with the addition of some very attractive options for supercomputing from ARM hardware makers.

    • Cray Catapults Arm-Based Processors Into SupercomputingCray Adds Arm Processors with Complete Software Stack to the Cray XC50 Supercomputer
    • How enterprise IT uses Kubernetes to tame container complexity

      Running a few standalone containers for development purposes won’t rob your IT team of time or patience: A standards-based container runtime by itself will do the job. But once you scale to a production environment and multiple applications spanning many containers, it’s clear that you need a way to coordinate those containers to deliver the individual services. As containers accumulate, complexity grows. Eventually, you need to take a step back and group containers along with the coordinated services they need, such as networking, security, and telemetry.

      That’s why technologies like the open source Kubernetes project are such a big part of the container scene.

    • ARM emulator in a VM? Yup, done. Ready to roll, no config required

      Hacking low-level code on ARM processors just became a little easier after a researcher who operates under the name Azeria Labs put together virtual machines that emulate common hardware.

    • China Pulls Ahead of U.S. in Latest TOP500 List

      The fiftieth TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world has China overtaking the US in the total number of ranked systems by a margin of 202 to 143. It is the largest number of supercomputers China has ever claimed on the TOP500 ranking, with the US presence shrinking to its lowest level since the list’s inception 25 years ago.

    • AMD Rolls Out ROCm 1.7 Platform For Supercomputing 17

      AMD has unveiled the Radeon Open Compute platform (ROCm) 1.7 release as part of their wares at this week’s Supercomputing 17 (SC17) conference in Denver.

      The ROCm 1.7 update introduces multi-GPU support for “the latest Radeon GPU hardware” (presumably referring to Vega) while also supporting TensorFlow and Caffe via AMD’s MIOpen libraries.

  • Kernel Space

    • EXT4 In Linux 4.15 Gets Online Resizing When Using Bigalloc, Corruption Fixes

      Ted Ts’o was quick to send in the EXT4 file-system and fscrypt file-system encryption framework changes for the just-opened Linux 4.15 merge window.

      On the fscrypt front, it’s mostly just a random assortment of bug fixes.

      With the EXT4 changes, they are a bit more exciting. First up is support for online resizing of EXT4 file-systems when using bigalloc. EXT4 has long supported online resizing but this is for where “EXT4_FEATURE_RO_COMPAT_BIGALLOC” has been enabled while the existing EXT4 resize interfaces remain in shape for 4.15. For those unfamiliar with the bigalloc mode, the EXT4 documentation explains, “The bigalloc feature changes ext4 to use clustered allocation, so that each bit in the ext4 block allocation bitmap addresses a power of two number of blocks. For example, if the file system is mainly going to be storing large files in the 4-32 megabyte range, it might make sense to set a cluster size of 1 megabyte. This means that each bit in the block allocation bitmap now addresses 256 4k blocks.”

    • Linux Kernel 4.14 LTS Released: Check Out The New And Best Features

      Last month, in September, Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman confirmed on his blog Linux kernel 4.14 as the next LTS kernel, which will be supported for at least two years; this number has recently been increased to six years. As a result, the development cycle of Linux 4.14 got a week longer than usual and we witnessed eight Release Candidates.

    • GNU Linux-Libre 4.14 Kernel Officially Released for Those Seeking 100% Freedom

      GNU Linux-libre 4.14 kernel is now available for download borrowing all the features incorporated in the recently released Linux 4.14 kernel, but without incorporating any proprietary drivers. Besides the usual deblobbing, this release also comes without the firmware subtree, which was removed upstream.

      “The biggest change in this release is that the firmware subtree was removed upstream (thus the codename -ENOFIRMWARE), removing from the Linux kernel distribution a few pieces of Free firmware, and a number of non-Free ones. Alas, there are still a few pieces of non Free firmware remaining in Linux 4.14,” said Alexandre Oliva.

    • GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu Released, Still A Battle Deblobbing Driver Firmware

      The Free Software Foundation Latin America team are once again punctual in delivering their updated GNU Linux-libre kernel.

      Just hours after Linus Torvalds released Linux 4.14, the libre downstream released GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu. This kernel remains focused on removing code dependent upon binary-only/non-free firmware, including drivers needing such support, if they can’t run without any firmware blobs nor any free software alternative, they are stripped from this tree. The libre kernel also prevents loading of non-free drivers.

    • GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu: -ENOFIRMWARE is now available
    • LTS Linux Kernel 4.14: No Regressions

      Linus Torvalds released version 4.14 of the Linux kernel on Sunday, Nov. 12 — which was a week later than expected. The delay was due to some reverts that would have made the projected Nov. 5 release too early.

      One of the unsettling reverts was regarding an AppArmor patch that was causing a regression, a big no-no according to Torvalds, who stated the first rule of Linux kernel development: “we don’t cause regressions.” After some back and forth, Linus reverted the offending commit himself and the problem was temporarily solved.

      And now the new kernel is here: Linux 4.14 is the 2017 Long-Term Stable (LTS) release of the kernel and will be supported for about two years. Greg Kroah-Hartman made the announcement in his blog and added that he would be supporting 4.14 with stable kernel patch backports “unless it is a horrid release,” which, despite the delaying issues, doesn’t seem to be the case.

    • The new long-term Linux kernel, Linux 4.14, has arrived

      Linus Torvalds quietly released the latest Linux 4.14 kernel on Nov. 12. It won’t be a quiet release, though. The Linux developers had previously announced that 4.14 would be Linux’s next long-term support (LTS) version of the Linux kernel. That’s important because Linux LTS version now has a six-year life span.

      That changes everything for Linux device developers. As Google senior staff engineer Iliyan Malchev recently said, “All Android devices [...] are based of the LTS kernel. The problem with LTS is it’s only two years. And so, by the time the first devices on a SoC [System on a Chip] hit the market, you have maybe a year, if you’re lucky, of LTS support. And, if you’re not, it’s over.” Now, Internet of Things (IoT), smartphone, and embedded Linux device developers can build gear knowing that it’s operating system will be supported until 2023.

    • Linux Kernel 4.14 Announced, Adds Support for AMD Secure Memory Encryption and More

      Linux, the best-known and most-used open source operating system, got a major upgrade on Sunday. Linus Torvalds announced the latest version of the Linux kernel, version 4.14, and the many new features and tweaks packed inside it.

      One involves reverting code that improved the accuracy of the displayed CPU frequency on modern, dynamically-clocked processors in /proc/cpuinfo. It worked as intended in most cases, but there were lingering issues with overhead on machines with tens or hundreds of CPU cores. There’s a plan to bring the feature back, but not anytime soon.

      Another change is AMD Secure Memory Encryption, an optional feature that can be used to protect the contents of DRAM from physical attacks on the system, and a new “unwinder” which prints the list of functions (i.e.. stack trace, callgraph, call stack) that have been executed before reaching a determinate point of the code. Linux already had an unwinder, but it wasn’t as efficient as ORC unwinder, which doesn’t need to insert code anywhere and so doesn’t affect text size or runtime performance.

    • Nine Collabora Developers Have Contributed 46 Patches to the Linux 4.14 Kernel

      Collabora’s Mark Filion informs Softpedia today on the contributions made by the Collabora developers to the recently released Linux 4.14 kernel series.

      Linux kernel 4.14 is the newest long-term supported (LTS) kernel series, bringing exciting new features like support for AMD Secure Memory Encryption, bigger memory limits, Heterogeneous Memory Management to support upcoming GPUs, faster TBL flushing, asynchronous non-blocking buffered reads, and much more.

    • Collabora & Linux Kernel 4.14

      Linus Torvalds has released Linux 4.14, so it’s time to take a look at the Collaborans’ contributions to this release. On total, we had 9 developers who authored 46 patches all around the kernel. In addition, 7 Collaborans contributed their time to review and test 40 patches. Finally, over a hundred patches found their way to Linus tree via our team, who provided over 108 non-author sign-offs during this development cycle.

      Taking a deeper look at the contributions, Sebastian Reichel continued on his role as the Power Supply maintainer. Aside from several improvements for the da9052 PMIC driver, he added a driver for PWM controllable vibrators, which will be used by the Motorola Droid 4. Romain Perier, who recently left Collabora, touched several users of the PCI DMA Pool wrappers, which is currently deprecated, and updated them to use the DMA Pool API directly, making it one step closer to complete his proposal to remove the pci_poll_*() macros.

    • AMD EPYC SEV, Intel UMIP & More AVX-512 Support Heading To Linux 4.15
    • AFS File-System Driver Overhauled For Linux 4.15
    • USB Type-C Port Manager Promoted Out Of Staging For Linux 4.15
    • Intel SGX Driver Updated But Likely Too Late For Linux 4.15
    • Btrfs For Linux 4.15 Picks Up Compression Improvements, Continued Optimizations
    • Linux 4.14 Release Provides Long Term Support and Larger Memory Limits

      Linus Torvalds officially released the Linux 4.14 kernel on Nov. 12, providing users of the open-source operating system with new features and long term support. Linux 4.14 is a special release in that it has been designated as an LTS (Long Term Support) meaning that it will be maintained for at least the next two years.

      Linux 4.14 is the fifth new major Linux kernel release in 2017, following the Linux 4.13 kernel that debuted on Sept. 3.

      “Go out and test the new 4.14 release, that is slated to be the next LTS kernel – and start sending me pull request for the 4.15 merge window,” Torvalds wrote in his release announcement.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Launches Certified Kubernetes Program with 32 Conformant Distributions and Platforms
      • Cloud Native launches Certified Kubernetes program

        Open source software organization Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) announced the launch of the Kubernetes Software Conformance Certification program alongside an announcement of the first 36 approved distributions and platforms, including companies like Google and Alibaba Cloud. The foundation aims for the program to ensure portability and consistency across Kubernetes vendors.

      • IBM, Google, Microsoft, and 33 more partner to ensure Kubernetes workload portability
      • 36 companies agree to a Kubernetes certification standard

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) announced today that 36 members have agreed to a set of certification standards for Kubernetes, the immensely popular open source container orchestration tool. This should make it easy for users to move from one version to another without worry, while ensuring that containers under Kubernetes management will behave in a predictable way.

        The group of 36 is agreeing to a base set of APIs that have to underly any version of Kubernetes a member creates to guarantee portability. Dan Kohn, executive director at CNCF, says that they took a subset of existing Kubernetes project APIs, which are treated as a conformance test that the members who have signed on, are guaranteeing to support. In practice this means that when you spin up a new container, regardless of who creates the version of Kubernetes, it will behave in a consistent way, he said.

      • OCI Update: v1.0.1 Release and New Maintainer

        The OCI community continues to be hard at work, having just issued the first update to OCI v.1.0, after five months of focusing on stability. OCI 1.0.1 contains updates to both the image format and runtime specifications.

        We’re still growing and expanding, with even more collaboration since the launch of v 1.0. For example, we are now up to over 5,000 commits from 184 authors across 42 different organizations. Organizations like AWS, Docker, Cloud Foundry, CoreOS, Intel, Mesosphere, Oracle, Red Hat and Kubernetes have already taken advantage of the OCI v1.0 specifications, and with v1.0.1 now available, the industry is on the precipice of true portability and standardization. We had a strong showing on site at recent industry events, at both DockerCon Europe in Copenhagen and Open Source Summit Europe in Prague.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Btrfs Zstd Compression Benchmarks On Linux 4.14

        Of the many new features in Linux 4.14, one of the prominent additions is initial support for Zstd compression that is initially wired in for transparent file-system compression with SquashFS and Btrfs. Here are some benchmarks of Zstd Btrfs compression compared to the existing LZO and Zlib compression mount options.

  • Applications

    • 3 open source alternatives to AutoCAD

      CAD—computer-aided design or computer-aided drafting, depending on who you ask—is technology created to make it easier to create specifications for real-world objects. Whether the object you’re building is a house, car, bridge, or spaceship, chances are it got its start in a CAD program of one type or another.

      Among the best-known CAD programs is AutoDesk’s AutoCAD, but there are many others, proprietary or open source, out there. So how do the open source alternatives to AutoCAD stack up? The answer depends on how you plan to use them.

    • Cryptr – A Simple CLI Utility To Encrypt And Decrypt Files

      Looking for a quick, easy, and secure method to protect your files? Well, there is a simple shell utility called “Cryptr” that helps you to encrypt and decrypt files. All from command line, and you don’t need to be a security ninja or Linux expert to learn how to secure your data. Cryptr uses OpenSSL AES-256 cipher block chaining method to encrypt files. It is free to use and is licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.

    • Cli.Fyi – Quick And Easy Way To Fetch Information About IPs, Emails, Domains And Lots More

      A while ago, we discussed about Bash-Snippets – a collection of useful BASH scripts for heavy commandline users. Today, we will see a similar utility called “Cli.Fyi”. It is a command line query tool to fetch information about IPs, Emails, Domains, Crypto currencies, media/url, UTC date/time, country and programming language etc. You can fetch all these details either from commandline or browser. Unlike Bash-Snippets, it is not a collection of individual scripts but a single utility. It has some additional features that are not included in Bash-snippets.

    • ProtonMail: An Open Source Privacy-Focused Alternative to Gmail

      Have a look at ProtonMail, a secure, privacy-focused email provider that you can use as an alternative to Gmail.

    • Papis – A Command-line Based Document And Bibliography Manager

      A while ago, we wrote about Mendeley – an academic social network for researchers and educators. Using Mendeley, the researchers, lecturers, educators and librarians can connect with each other, share data, discuss ideas about their research, follow inspirational researchers around the world, collaborate and lots more. Today, we are going to discuss yet another useful tool for research scholars. Meet Papis, a powerful and highly extensible command-line based document and bibliography manager. Unlike Mendeley, Papis is not just for a particular research community but for every one who wants to manage their documents easily and effectively. Also, you can retain the full ownership to your data, because all data will be stored in your local drive.

    • Linux Audiobook Player ‘Cozy’ Adds Sleep Timer, m4a Support

      Cozy, the open-source audiobook player for Linux desktop, has a new version out. The app adds a sleep timer and improves the interface.

    • OpenShot 2.4.1 Released with Various Improvements

      A new version of the OpenShot video editor is available to download.

      OpenShot 2.4.1 follows a stability-focused release of the non-linear editor made back in September.

      Among the big changes OpenShot 2.4.1 features is improved image quality. You should now see sharper images in the preview window when editing thanks to an “improved image processing pipeline”.

      There’s also improved playback smoothness when working with high frame-rate videos at 50fps, 60fps, and 120fps.

    • Proprietary

      • NeuVector 1.3 Boosts Container Security with Improved Threat Detection

        Security startup NeuVector announced version 1.3 of its container security platform on Nov.13, providing advanced capabilities to help organizations detect threats that can be hidden in container workloads.

        NeuVector’s platform provides a container firewall that can filter application layer traffic to help identify anomalous behavior and traffic. Among the new features in the NeuVector 1.3 release, is the ability to get visibility into tunnelled traffic, as well as advanced privilege escalation detection capabilities. NeuVector is also expanding its portfolio with an enhanced enterprise edition that provides additional capabilities.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • VP’s ARMA 3 1.76 beta now out, compatible with Windows for now

        As stated by Bohemia Interactive themselves, this means the game is at least temporarily compatible with the Windows version when it comes to multiplayer. However, there are no guarantees that the Linux port will remain in sync with the Windows version when the game next updates

      • We Are Likely To See More Vulkan Driver Fixes From Feral

        Feral developer Alex Smith is requesting commit rights to the Mesa code-base.

        Alex Smith is the developer at the Linux/macOS game porting company Feral Interactive who previously worked on AMD_shader_info for RADV, various Vulkan driver bug fixes, and other RADV updates as well as some minor work too for the Intel ANV driver.

      • My top Tower Defence games for Linux

        I love tower defence games. My fascination with them started with the Android game Sentinel 3 somewhere around 2010, then consolidated with Robo Defence a year later. Things quickly escalated when I moved to Linux exclusively in 2013. Sure, I also love FPS games, but disappointments in that genre have been more than made up for by the abundance of TD games available with Linux support. So I thought I’d give you all a list of some of the best titles out there, some honourable mentions, and outline a few of the titles I’ve yet to try in the hope that you’ll tell me why I should!

      • Askutron Quiz Show released into Early access, some quick thoughts
      • Space Wars: Interstellar Empires will launch into Early Access next month

        If you’re eager to scratch your space MMO itch, you won’t have to wait much longer. You can expect to play this fusion of real-time travel with tactical battles on December 6th.

      • Some thoughts on Trackless, a different sort of first-person adventure game

        Trackless [Official Site] merges first person exploration and puzzles with a strange futuristic world. I put in the time to explore and take in the sights and have a few thoughts to share.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Latte Dock v0.7.2 arrives in KDE and Kubuntu backports PPA

        Latte Dock, the very popular doc/panel app for Plasma Desktop, has released its new bugfix version 0.7.2. This is also the first stable release since Latte Dock became an official KDE project at the end of August.

      • Latte bug fix release v0.7.2

        Latte Dock v0.7.2 has been released containing many important fixes and improvements!

      • Interview with Lars Pontoppidan

        I’d like to thank everyone involved with Krita for making this great open source and free software available to the world. I hope to soon get enough time on my hands to help the project grow.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Shell 4 Proposal Published To Be More Wayland-Focused

        Jonas Adahl of Red Hat has volleyed his initial proposals for how a “future” GNOME Shell could be architected on a page entitled GNOME Shell 4. This GNOME Shell 4 would potentially break compatibility with GNOME Shell 3 extensions while being more designed around Wayland rather than X11.

        GNOME Shell 3 started out as an X11 compositing manager and has then been fitted for Wayland and other modern input/display features on Linux. With GNOME Shell 4, it would be more of a Wayland-first design and perhaps we could see it do away with X11/X.Org support entirely.

        The new GNOME Shell would be better fitted for low-latency input forwarding, low-latency visual input event feedback (namely pointer cursors), low-latency/zero-copy client forwarding, input methods within the shell UI, and eliminating stalls on the main compositor thread during frame redraws.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events/Eduction

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 57 “Quantum” Web Browser Now Available to Download, Here’s What’s New

        The biggest new feature of the Firefox 57.0 “Quantum” web browser is a major visual redesign that was developed by Mozilla as the Photon project and active on the Nightly channel until now. This makes the web browser two times faster than Firefox 49.0, according to Mozilla’s development team.

        “Firefox Quantum is roughly 2X faster than Firefox 49 on the Speedometer 2.0 benchmark, thanks to its new CSS engine, its “just right” multi-process architecture, the way it prioritizes your active tab, and much more,” reads the preliminary release notes for Firefox 57.0 beta.

      • Quantum-ized Firefox 57 Ready For Download

        Firefox 57.0 is being officially released this week and its stable download is now available.

        Firefox 57 is arguably the biggest update ever with pulling in the Project Quantum work, at least the initial pieces of it. Firefox 57/Quantum is twice as fast as Firefox from 2016 with better multi-threading, the Rust-written CSS engine, and other components pulled in from Servo. Mozilla is referring to Firefox 57 as “Firefox Quantum” for branding.

      • WebAssembly support now shipping in all major browsers

        While Mozilla has been preparing to launch Firefox Quantum, its fastest browser yet, some notable developments have happened with WebAssembly, the binary file format (“wasm”) that works with JavaScript to run web applications at near-native speeds.

      • Firefox 57 Brings Better Sandboxing on Linux

        Firefox 57, set to be released tomorrow, will ship with improvements to the browser’s sandbox security feature for Linux users.

        The Firefox sandboxing feature isolates the browser from the operating system in a way to prevent web attacks from using a vulnerability in the browser engine and its legitimate functions to attack the underlying operating system, place malware on the filesystem, or steal local files.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Orange and Red Hat push open source NFVi development

      At the OpenStack Summit 2017, operator Orange has joined forces with equally colourful open-source software vendor Red Hat to promote NFVi innovation.

      Sadly the two companies have missed a trick by declining to name their mutual endeavour Orange Hat, but we mustn’t let that detract from the underlying cleverness. Orange seems to reckon network functions virtualization infrastructure is best done in the open-source environment and Red Hat unsurprisingly agrees.

  • Education

    • Raspberry Pi and MoodleBox make an accessible e-learning platform pair

      Are you a teacher, librarian, or homeschooler who’s looking for a powerful, secure e-learning solution? MoodleBox may be the answer. Its small footprint on a Raspberry Pi makes it an affordable option with the strength and flexibility of Moodle, the de facto standard in open source learning management systems.

      First released in 2002, the Moodle e-learning platform is under continuous development and currently boasts more than 89,000 registered sites worldwide, including colleges, military installations, high schools, and more. It is robust and secure and is guided by a social constructionist pedagogy, according to its website. Moodle’s functionality is supported by numerous plugins, and because it is open source, Moodle has no licensing fees. Typically, Moodle is housed in an on-campus file server or in a public cloud like Moodle.com. If you are new to Moodle, Learn Moodle is a great resource.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • pfSense: Not Linux, Not Bad

      Through the years, I’ve used all sorts of router and firewall solutions at home and at work. For home networks, I usually recommend something like DD-WRT, OpenWRT or Tomato on an off-the-shelf router. For business, my recommendations typically are something like a Ubiquiti router or a router/firewall solution like Untangled or ClearOS. A few years ago, however, a coworker suggested I try pfSense instead of a Linux-based solution. I was hesitant, but I have to admit, pfSense with its BSD core is a rock-solid performer that I’ve used over and over at multiple sites.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Eben Moglen is no longer a friend of the free software community

      Eben Moglen has done an amazing amount of work for the free software community, serving on the board of the Free Software Foundation and acting as its general counsel for many years, leading the drafting of GPLv3 and giving many forceful speeches on the importance of free software. However, his recent behaviour demonstrates that he is no longer willing to work with other members of the community, and we should reciprocate that.

      In early 2016, the FSF board became aware that Eben was briefing clients on an interpretation of the GPL that was incompatible with that held by the FSF. He later released this position publicly with little coordination with the FSF, which was used by Canonical to justify their shipping ZFS in a GPL-violating way. He had provided similar advice to Debian, who were confused about the apparent conflict between the FSF’s position and Eben’s.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • “The Revolution of Open Source Science: Calculating Tree Heath

      If a functional value for trees is achieved, trees as natural assets will far exceed the value of an engineered footpath. Those who demonstrate expertise in tree health can contribute to a global initiative to put a premium on world best practice urban forestry. We are on the cusp of providing following generations with an impressive legacy based on scientific environmental baseline knowledge.

    • Croatian Innovator Creates ‘Linux of Music Industry’

      The global music industry has been on the rise for two consecutive years now. Some of the major innovators in this sector, people who are literally shifting paradigms on which the business is based, attended the latest conference on corporate innovations CORP2IN 2017 that took place in Zagreb last Thursday, November 9, 2017.

      While Sofie Lindblom, the former head of innovations at Spotify, spoke about streaming as the innovation that saved the music industry, another professional provided a glimpse into the future of the business. Michela Magaš, a Croatian entrepreneur who was born in Zagreb and is currently living in Sweden, created and launched a platform named #MTFLabs, securing the title of the EU innovator of 2017.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open-source microscope tracks neurons and behaviour

        The simultaneous observation of neuron activity and animal behaviour has long been a goal of the neuroscience community. By revealing correlations between the two, measurements can enable a better understanding of brain function, allow more effective drug testing and inspire advances in neural networks.

  • Programming/Development

    • PHP 7.2 Benchmarks, Performance Of PHP 5.3 To PHP 7.2 On AMD EPYC

      With PHP 7.2 due for release before month’s end and the final release candidate (RC6) already available that in essence is very close to the final build, here are some fresh benchmarks from PHP 5.3 through PHP 7.2 RC6 while using an AMD EPYC Tyan server.

      Back during PHP 7.2′s beta stage I ran some PHP benchmarks and found the performance of this PHP update improving, albeit not as significant as the change from PHP 5 to PHP 7. Now with having PHP 7.2-RC6 that should be almost identical to v7.2.0, I carried out some more benchmarks over the weekend.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Hackers Can Use Your Antivirus Software To Spread Malware [Ed: Crackers can use just about any proprietary software to spread other (even more malicious) proprietary software]
    • NYT: NSA Spy Units Forced to ‘Start Over’ After Leaks, Hacks
    • Media: homeland security USA “shocked” by the data theft [Ed: "shocked" by impact of its own collusion with Microsoft]
    • Report: NSA Hunts for Moles Amid Crippling Information Leaks

      The National Security Agency has spent more than a year investigating a series of catastrophic breaches and has yet to determine whether it’s fighting foreign hackers or a mole inside the agency, The New York Times reports. At the center of the saga is a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers, which has been taunting the agency with periodic dumps of secret code online—leaks that employees say are much more damaging to national security than the information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Some of the stolen code has been used in global malware attacks such as the WannaCry cyberattack, which crippled hospitals and government institutions across the world. Current and former employees have described a mole hunt inside the agency, with some employees reportedly asked to hand over their passports and undergo questioning. Yet investigators still don’t know who the culprits are, be it an insider who stole an entire thumb drive of sensitive code, or a group of Russian hackers—for some, the prime suspects—who managed to breach NSA defenses. “How much longer are the releases going to come?” one former employee was cited as saying. “The agency doesn’t know how to stop it—or even what ‘it’ is.”

    • The Daily Mail whisks up Kaspersky fears – but where’s the meat?

      Make a note. Whenever you see the Daily Mail publish a headline which asks a question, the correct answer is invariably “no”. If they had any reason to believe it was “yes”, then they wouldn’t have posed it as a question.

      The truth is that newspapers post these “Is the Loch Ness Monster on Tinder?”-style headlines because they know they’ll get more clicks than if they use a headline which reflects the actual conclusion of the article.

    • NSA Cyber Weapons Turned Against Them in Hack

      A hack on the National Security Agency, claimed by a group called the “Shadow Brokers,” has caused a chilling effect on agency staffers, as they wonder whether it was a foreign hacker or someone on the inside.

    • Why the cybersecurity industry should care about Open Source maintenance

      In June of this year, Thales eSecurity joined the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), a project both founded and managed by The Linux Foundation, with the aim of collaboratively enhancing and strengthening the security and resilience of critical Open Source projects. Many of the world’s largest technology companies already belong to the CII, with Thales being officially recognised as the first global security firm to join the initiative.

    • You Can Easily Beat iPhone X Face ID Using This 3D-Printed Mask

      When it launched the iPhone X, Apple said that the company has worked with professional mask makers and Hollywood makeup artists. It was to make sure their facial recognition tech doesn’t fail when someone attempts to beat it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Will Texas Massacre Finally Get Military to Improve its Criminal Reporting System?

      Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had an urgent question Monday about Devin Patrick Kelley, the former U.S. Air Force airman who is accused of killing 26 people worshipping at a church service yesterday: How was it that Kelley, convicted of domestic violence and discharged for bad conduct, was still able to get a gun?”

      By late afternoon, Abbott appeared to have his answer: the Air Force said an initial review indicated it had failed to share Kelley’s criminal record with the civilian authorities, and so his conviction was never entered into the federal database used to screen potentially dangerous gun buyers. Federal laws bar felons and those convicted of domestic violence from obtaining guns.

    • Government censorship of safety report on our nuclear weapons sparks anger

      CAMPAIGNERS against nuclear weapons have slammed a government decision to censor safety reports on the Trident missile system.

      The annual reports — which in the past have listed a catalogue of problems, many attributed to cuts and skilled staff shortages — have been reclassified as “secret” by the Ministry of Defence, according to the Sunday Herald newspaper.

      “National security” was given as the reason.

      The 2014 report said the lack of skilled staff was “the principal threat to the delivery of nuclear safety,” a warning also given in earlier reports.

      Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament chairman Arthur West said: “It suggests that there has been a lack of progress on issues which have been raised in previous reports.”

      Fred Dawson, a Ministry of Defence nuclear expert for 31 years until he retired as head of radiation protection policy in 2009, said: “The obvious conclusion to draw is that there is something to hide.”

    • Guantánamo Is Delaying Justice for 9/11 Families
    • U.S. Drones Strike Somalia Amid Increased Troop Presence

      In news from Africa, the U.S. has carried out at least three drone strikes in Somalia since Saturday, in an intensification of the U.S. campaign against the militant group al-Shabab. Some 400 U.S. troops are also now operating in Somalia, quadruple the number from when Donald Trump took office.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • UPS is hoping to convert most of its New York City fleet from diesel to electric

      The NYSERDA will provide $500,000 to help develop the technology, with the hope that the company will have a production version ready for spring 2018, and that by 2022, they will have switched over up to 1,500 trucks, or 66 percent of the fleet operating in the city.

    • Don’t Worry, Europe, Radioactive Cloud Likely From Russian Nuclear Plant Accident Deemed ‘Harmless’

      The radioactive plume—composed of Ruthenium-106—was detected “in the atmosphere of the majority of European countries” beginning late in September, IRSN observed.

      While the detection of Ruthenium initially sparked concerns of food contamination, officials claimed that public health is not at risk.

      “The concentration levels of Ruthenium-106 in the air that have been recorded in Europe and especially in France are of no consequence for human health and for the environment,” the agency concluded in a press release.

    • Terrified bull’s horns are set alight in barbaric ‘sport’ after Boris Johnson opposes ban

      A terrified blazing bull is tortured for the entertainment of baying spectators.

      Two flaming false horns filled his eyes with sparks, his ears with the roar of fire and his airways with smoke.

      Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last week said a bullfight ban would be “ political correctness gone mad ”.

      But we travelled to this mountain village, 100 miles north-east of Madrid, for the Toro Jubilo – to watch an animal being abused in a 400-year-old tradition said to show the power of the bull.

    • US switches focus of its Bonn event from clean energy to fossil fuels

      The US has changed the focus of one of its few public events at the Bonn climate talks to emphasise coal and nuclear power, in a sign of the Trump administration’s goals at the talks.

      An event next Monday, opening the second week of the ongoing UN negotiations, was originally billed as promoting clean energy. However, it has since been changed to emphasise coal and nuclear power.

      The event was first billed with the title Action on Spurring Innovation and Deploying Advanced Technologies but was subsequently changed.

  • Finance

    • Bitcoin Gold, the latest Bitcoin fork, explained

      A new cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Gold is now live on the Internet. It aims to correct what its backers see as a serious flaw in the design of the original Bitcoin.

      There are hundreds of cryptocurrencies on the Internet, and many of them are derived from Bitcoin in one way or another. But Bitcoin Gold—like Bitcoin Cash, another Bitcoin spinoff that was created in August—is different in two important ways.

      Bitcoin Gold is branding itself as a version of Bitcoin rather than merely new platforms derived from Bitcoin’s source code. It has also chosen to retain Bitcoin’s transaction history, which means that, if you owned bitcoins before the fork, you now own an equal amount of “gold” bitcoins.

    • While Clinching Deals With Communist China, Trump Cracks Down on Trade and Travel to Cuba

      On Wednesday, November 8, just as President Trump was clinching new business deals with the repressive Communist government of China, the Trump administration announced its new rules rolling back President Obama’s opening with Cuba. The new regulations restricting travel and trade with the Caribbean island will make it once again illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba without a special license from the Treasury Department and will dramatically reduce the number of Americans traveling there.

      The regulations, which include a list of 180 banned entities, are supposed to punish hotels, stores and other businesses tied to the Cuban military and instead direct economic activity toward businesses controlled by regular Cuban citizens. But during our visit to the island on a 40-person delegation organized by the peace group CODEPINK, we found that Cuba’s small private businesses, the very sector that the Trump administration wants to encourage, are already feeling the blow.

    • Food prices would soar after no-deal Brexit, warns major dairy boss

      One of the UK’s largest dairy producers has warned that a badly handled Brexit could lead to price hikes for food, and scarcity in the shops from April 2019, with dairy and meat products particularly hit.

      Gabriel D’Arcy, the chief executive of LacPatrick in Strabane in Northern Ireland, complained that ministers were too focused on financial services and were putting the country’s food security and food standards at risk.

      “The impression in the industry is we are not relevant or sufficiently relevant to get a strong hearing in the negotiations. The risk is we are a chip that will be traded. And that might be fine for England and Wales but not here in Northern Ireland,” he said. “Whitehall is fixated with financial services and they are not that bothered about food.”

    • Labour ‘open’ to European Court of Justice keeping influence over UK in long term post-Brexit

      Labour would be willing to sign off on the European Court of Justice (ECJ) keeping at least some of its influence over the UK in the long term post-Brexit, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

      The shadow Brexit secretary said he was “open” to the court having continued jurisdiction over British matters in the future.

      Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has made ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ in Britain a cornerstone of her Brexit plan.

    • Caroline Lucas has listed all of the worst things that Boris Johnson has done

      The Conservative MP and Foreign Secretary found himself in an international mess after making comments about British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been jailed in Iran.

      Prime Minister Theresa May is now under increasing pressure to sack Johnson for him comments which may double Nazanin’s jail sentence.

      He was also roundly mocked by many in the UK after he poured a tonne of praise on Donald Trump during an interview with FOX and Friend, which is never a good look.

    • Britain once punched above its weight. Now we are irrelevant

      Britain has lost its way and is having an identity crisis, says the New York Times. Just as Dean Acheson’s barb that Britain had lost an empire and not yet found a role hit home in 1962, so did an article last week by Steven Erlanger, the paper’s diplomatic editor and former London bureau chief, claiming no one knows what Britain is any more.

      The article sparked a storm on the twittersphere and hurt rebuttals in the rightwing British press. But the counterattacks missed the point. It is not a question of whether Britain still has some good universities or the gaming industry is doing well. The question is whether Britain still has real influence in the world: and the answer to that is clearly no.

      As Simon Fraser, the former Foreign Office permanent secretary, said in a speech last week: “It is hard to call to mind a major foreign policy matter on which we have had a decisive influence since the referendum.” To put it even more cruelly: we have rendered ourselves irrelevant.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Publishers are wary of Facebook and Google but must work with them

      To critics of the social-media giants, that might look like wolves offering to help the sheep while still feasting on the herd. The business of both Facebook and Alphabet, parent of Google and YouTube, is to occupy people’s time and attention with their free services and content, and to sell ads against those eyeballs. For them, quality journalism is just another hook.

    • Robert Mueller’s Investigation Into Michael Flynn Focuses on $15M Father-Son Kidnapping Scheme

      Though several articles have appeared saying that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has all the information he needs to level indictments against former national security advisor Michael Flynn, those indictments are yet to appear. At least part of the reason for the delay appears to be that Mueller is still investigating other charges, including Flynn’s scheme to grab a cleric sheltering in the United States and hand him over to one of Flynn’s autocratic clients—to be executed.

    • How to Fix the Democratic Party

      First, it is absurd that the Democratic Party now gives over 700 superdelegates—almost one-third the number a presidential candidate needs to win the nomination—the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters.

    • The Trump White House’s Actions Recall the Most Divisive Eras of the American Past

      But last week’s elections show people are waking up to the administration’s threats to liberty and equality.

      One of the most striking, and dispiriting, aspects of the actions and pronouncements coming from the White House over the last year is the way that they seem to echo the most divisive and damaging eras of the country’s history.

      Chief of Staff John Kelly’s recent description of the Civil War as a disagreement that could have been resolved through more compromise was a revisionist attempt to trivialize the enormous injustice of slavery and white supremacy in much the same way as President Trump’s efforts to find equivalencies between Nazi demonstrators and those opposing white supremacy. Kelley’s statement harks back to efforts in the early 20th century to advance a racist agenda by recasting the Civil War. That effort was embodied in the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation,” which portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as gallant warriors in the battle to save the South, and particularly its white women, from rapacious and violent former slaves.

      Then, as now, the White House played a role in promoting this narrative. President Wilson arranged for a screening of the film in the White House — the first time a movie was ever shown there — and gushed about it as “history written in lightning.” Like lightning, the “history” contained in the film was deeply destructive propaganda, helping to solidify a cruel racial hierarchy. Despite attempts by the NAACP and other groups to counter the movie’s effect by picketing, urging boycotts of the film, and even making two films in response, “The Birth of a Race” and “Within Our Gates, their efforts were no match for the discrimination, lynchings, and racial terror that the movie helped unleash.

    • For nearly a year, WikiLeaks was DMing with Donald Trump Jr.

      On Election Day, November 8, 2016, WikiLeaks wrote: “Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed [sic] and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do.”

      Neither WikiLeaks nor Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment.

    • Conservatives Learn the Wrong Lesson From GOP Defeat in Virginia
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Artist’s ‘sexual’ robin redbreast Christmas cards banned by Facebook

      Founder Mark Zuckerberg was accused by a Norwegian newspaper of “abusing [his] power” in a move that triggered a larger debate about Facebook’s role in the censorship and distribution of news.

    • Wikipedia warns that SESTA will strip away protections vital to its existence

      Secondly, SESTA allows for states to hold sites liable as well, and that the [I]nternet needs a single, national standards to work with, rather than 50 separate standards. This would essentially create a huge burden for small sites and companies: they would need to continually monitor not only federal law, but a myriad of state laws, to ensure that they’re complying with them.

    • Manchester University accused of unprofessionalism and censorship

      A PhD student has accused the university of “censorship” due to facing disciplinary action after taking to social media to complain about an alleged funding withdrawal.

      On Friday 8th October Majid Ahmed posted on university Chancellor Lemn Sissays’ wall describing financial struggles that he faced after receiving a letter that told him he was not eligible for funding he had previously been awarded.

      [...]

      Majid’s dispute began in 2014. Majid had been awarded a (basic clinical training) fellowship from the British Heart Foundation of 164,000 pounds in April 2014. In September of the same year, Majid was given an unconditional offer to study for his PhD in Medicine.

    • Twitter Flirts with Censorship to Try and Make Things Better

      “The Tweets must flow,” activists declared back in 2011. Their passion was in response to respective governments’ attempts to thwart the burgeoning uprising dubbed the Arab Spring. And Twitter was complicit.

      Many users accused the company of censorship and threatened a one-day boycott after Twitter revealed that it could remove tweets in certain countries with “different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression.”

    • Internet Censorship in China: How the Middle Kingdom Blocks the Web

      If you’ve been following the news, you probably know that Xi Jinping, China’s strongman, has strengthened his grip on the country during the latest gathering of the communist party. Though most coverage has focused on Xi’s newly exalted status, there has also been some worrying news concerning censorship in China (which in this case includes Hong Kong and Macau).

      Though there are plenty of excellent resources out there right now on the Great Firewall, the Cloudwards.net editorial team has decided to give a condensed overview of the why and what of how all this works. We’ll also give you an idea on how to circumvent the Chinese censor. If you just want to know if your favorite sites are accessible while there, we also have a handy tool that does just that.

    • Publishers pull book on China’s influence

      A NSW Professor has called out a book publisher after they cancelled the publication of his book amid fears of legal action from Beijing.

      Independent book publisher Allen and Unwin cancelled ‘Silent Invasion: How China is turning Australia into a puppet state’, resulting in censorship claims by the author.

      The manuscript was written by Professor Clive Hamilton from Charles Sturt University, in New South Wales, who describes the Chinese Communist party’s influence in Australia.

    • Professor says publisher dumped his book because it was scared of China

      A leading academic has accused his publisher of effectively ditching a book about Chinese government influence inside Australia because of fears of a backlash from Beijing.

      Clive Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, said his book — “Silent Invasion: How China is turning Australia into a puppet state” — was due to be published early next year. But he told CNN that publisher Allen & Unwin suddenly informed him last week that it would be delaying the book for an unspecified period after being warned it could face legal action by China.

    • Australia’s Allen & Unwin accused of self-censorship for China

      An author has accused Australian publisher Allen & Unwin of dropping his book on China’s influence on Australia in an act of self-censorship for fear of reprisals from Beijing.

      Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State by Professor Clive Hamilton would have provided commentary discussing Chinese Communist Party influence in Australian politics and academia. But, according to its author, who is an academic at Charles Sturt University, Canberra, the plug was pulled in the likelihood the Chinese government would sue for defamation, thus marking “a watershed in the debate over China’s suppression of free speech”.

    • Australian publisher drops book for fear of China retaliation
    • Video of Amos Yee inviting guests emerges
    • Amos Yee faces another setback, Harvard College cancels his speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Police to use facial-recognition cameras at Cenotaph service

      The Metropolitan Police will deploy real-time biometric tracking at the event, which will be attended by about 10,000 former and current service personnel as well as dignitaries and members of the public. Prince Charles will lay the head of state’s wreath at the commemoration, which marks the 99th anniversary of the end of the first world war. Met sources said the use of the technology at the showpiece central London event is a trial, and not related to terrorism or serious crime.

    • With Congressional Leaders Blocking Serious Reform, Tepid Section 702 Reform Bill Moves Forward

      “Better than nothing” appears to be the motto of the House of Representatives’ attempt to implement Section 702 reforms before the end of the year. The USA Liberty Act was introduced in October, bringing with it a few minor alterations to the NSA’s collection efforts. Perhaps the best thing about the bill was its codification of the NSA’s retirement of its “about” email collection. This would prevent the NSA from restarting a collection responsible for the greatest “incidental” harvesting of domestic communications (that we know of).

      It also would expand reporting requirements for agencies making use of Section 702 collections as well as extend whistleblower protections to government contractors. Unfortunately, the bill does not close the loophole allowing “backdoor” searches of domestic communications collected by the program.

      [...]

      The administration has made it clear it’s not interested in changing a thing in terms of surveillance, giving Congressional leaders all the reason they need to continue toeing the line.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Surveillance State: An Inexorable March Toward Totalitarianism

      The surveillance state is growing more powerful and thanks to legislation, is becoming more invulnerable to challenges to its supremacy. Soon its inexorable march will be irreversible. Totalitarian control will be in place, and most of the citizens are either unaware of such, or they do not care that it is so.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Senior Saudi figures tortured and beaten in purge

      Some senior figures detained in last Saturday’s purge in Saudi Arabia were beaten and tortured so badly during their arrest or subsequent interrogations that they required hospital treatment, Middle East Eye can reveal.

      People inside the royal court also told MEE that the scale of the crackdown, which has brought new arrests each day, is much bigger than Saudi authorities have admitted, with more than 500 people detained and double that number questioned.

      Members of the royal family, government ministers and business tycoons were caught up in the sudden wave of arrests orchestrated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, under the banner of an anti-corruption drive.

      Some, but not all, of the top figures arrested were singled out for the most brutal treatment, suffering wounds to the body sustained by classic torture methods. There are no wounds to their faces, so they will show no physical signs of their ordeal when they next appear in public.

    • Saudi Princess’ tell-all includes Bangladeshi children traded as sex slaves

      Saudi Princess Amira Bint Aidan Bin Nayef went on a rampage against the ruling Saudi regime in her exclusive statements to the French newspaper Le Monde, saying slavery in Saudi Arabia has different forms, but it is done in secrecy and permitted only among the primary beneficiaries of the princes of the House of Saud.
      She mentioned one of the most repulsive things: buying and renting the children, especially the orphans, from countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Djibouti, Somalia, Nigeria, Romania and Bulgaria.

      According to Aidan, the ex-wife of the Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, who was recently arrested in scope of the anti-corruption purges in the country, those who accuse others of corruption and money laundering, are in fact highly corrupted themselves.
      Russian online newsportal Fort Russ reports quoting Aden’s interview on Le Monde, the princess said they’ve turned the city of Jeddah into a slave market where underage girls are being exploited for noisy sex parties involving drug and alcohol abuse.

      She said that one of the main reasons why this keeps going on is that the members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Saudi Sharia police) tend to keep away from the matter, fearing they might lose their jobs, should they intervene.

    • Investigation Shows Chicago PD Has Zero Interest In Holding Its Officers Accountable

      That’s just the latest in a long line of travesties committed by the Chicago PD. This follows other such lowlights as the PD operating its own Constitution-free “black site” inside the city, where criminal suspects were taken, detained, and interrogated with zero regard for their civil liberties. When Chicago police officers aren’t shooting people and lying about it, they’re participating in god knows what other sorts of misconduct after tampering with their recording devices.

      The reason it’s taken so long for anything to be done about this is a lack of accountability. Those up top feel no compunction to punish officers for misdeeds, often only following through when forced to by public outcry. When it does finally occur, it’s years after the fact and often reduced to wrist slap.

      The case cited above in the Chicago Tribune report involves Chicago PD officer Brandon Levigne. Levigne pulled a gun on a motorist for supposedly cutting him off in traffic. Levigne was not in uniform. The driver, Brandon Whitehead, called 911, thinking he was being carjacked. Whitehead reported this incident to the Chicago PD. This report was filed in 2006.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Lawmakers demand investigation into FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

      Two Democratic lawmakers today called for an investigation into whether Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai “has taken actions to improperly benefit Sinclair Broadcast Group.”

      The FCC has made several decisions that benefit Sinclair, a broadcast station owner with a right-wing tilt. Among other things, the FCC rolled back broadcast TV station ownership limits, which could help Sinclair complete an acquisition of Tribune Media Company and, in the process, reach 72 percent of TV-owning households in the US.

      [...]

      Pai said in his response to the August letter that he has “restored” the agency’s independence from the White House and that the commission’s decisions “are being guided by the facts and the law, not by political pressure applied by the White House.” (When Democrat Tom Wheeler was FCC chair, Pai accused him of imposing stricter net neutrality rules because of pressure from President Obama.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Next Global Congress On IP And The Public Interest

      American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property has announced the hosting of Fifth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest, from 27-29 September 2018. And it is now actively seeking sponsors, partners and expressions of interest.

    • Copyrights

      • With The US Out, Canada Gets Copyright Out Of TPP And Moves Closer To Agreement

        We’ve been talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement for many, many years. And one point that we’ve made over and over again about the TPP and other trade agreements, is that there actually is a lot of good and important stuff in those agreements, and we don’t understand why the US (mainly) keeps insisting on two issues that don’t belong in these agreements at all: (1) “intellectual property” chapters, which are almost always the opposite of “free trade” in that they focus on ratcheting up government protectionism and monopolies for a few specific industries and (2) a section on what we refer to as corporate sovereignty, which which the trade world calls “investor state dispute settlement” or “ISDS.” That’s where companies can demand an private tribunal judge if a country unfairly treated that company poorly and order the country to pay the company millions or sometimes billions of dollars.

      • New Draft Action Plans On Copyright Limitations And Exceptions At WIPO

        The World Intellectual Property Organization has grasped the nettle after years of discussion on the issue of limitations and exceptions to copyright, and provided draft action plans, one each for libraries, archives, museums, educational research institutions, and persons with other disabilities than sight impairment. The plans, being discussed in this week’s committee meeting, include brainstorming session, studies, and regional seminars, and conferences to advance understanding and issues related to copyright for those particular actors.

        The WIPO secretariat has circulated a document [pdf] providing draft action plans for different strands of the discussions for the 2018-2019 biennium.

      • MPAA Lobbies US Congress on Streaming Piracy Boxes

        Hollywood is not happy with the increased popularity of pirate streaming boxes. In addition to voicing their concerns in the media, the topic is also part of the MPAA’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. By adding it to the agenda of US lawmakers, the movie industry hopes to curb the trend.

      • Rethinking IP in the TPP: Canadian Government Plays Key Role in Suspending Unbalanced Patent and Copyright Rules

        Years of disappointment in trade negotiations have left many Canadian intellectual property [sic] watchers hoping for the best, but expecting the worst when it comes to the IP [sic] provisions in trade deals. In earlier talks, Canadian negotiators would often advocate balanced positions during the negotiations, but ultimately cave to (primarily) U.S. pressures during the final round of talks. Given that history, this week’s outcome of the TPP11 is reason for celebration as the second largest economy in the TPP finally acted like it. The Liberal government demonstrated genuine leadership in demanding significant changes to the flawed TPP intellectual property [sic] chapter and refusing to back down under intense pressure from some of the negotiating parties. The result isn’t perfect, but the newly named Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which still requires considerable negotiation, features a significantly improved IP [sic] chapter that suspends some of the most problematic provisions.

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