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12.21.17

Caricature: The European Patent Office (EPO) Career System

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO career system

Summary: Life at the EPO as explained by a new cartoon (circulating among staff of the European Patent Office)

Media Blackout in Most European Media Regarding the Latest Major EPO Scandal

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With few exceptions like JUVE (Germany) and The Register (UK)

Blackout

Summary: The EPO’s bribes to the media (e.g. Les Echos) continue to pay off as paid-for puff pieces continue to outnumber actual news about the EPO

THE management of the EPO can seemingly get away with anything, including deaths, corruption and so on.

Who can stop Battistelli and his French successor (whom he picked)? Who can compel French media to actually do its job and properly report on the many scandals? Watch this new ‘article’. Battistelli gave this publisher a share of the EPO’s budget to write puff pieces. They (Les Echos) still obey and the EPO then sends them traffic, along with others. People (readers) will fail to understand that this article was ‘produced’ by a media partners (i.e. paid ‘journalism’) of the EPO. And the article itself is about the EPO.

“Who can stop Battistelli and his French successor (whom he picked)? Who can compel French media to actually do its job and properly report on the many scandals?”This has become a hallmark of the EPO in recent years. Literally millions of euros are being wasted on corrupting the media. It’s all about painting Battistelli as some sort of a genius. And who pays for all this? Users of the system…

The EPO just loves distracting from real journalism. It relies on corruptible publishers, academics and journalists. “Pay to say” is what it is; Les Echos alone we have already written many articles about. It’s one of many. Recently, the EPO also passed money to German media. It also passed money to some British academics for UPC propaganda, which earlier today it cited while saying: “This [EPO-sponsored] study investigates [sic] the role played by patents in supporting trade and FDI [just like the EPO asked when paying] in the #EuropeanUnion.”

Add to this the latest from Bristows. Earlier today Gregory Bacon sought more “good news” regarding UPC, but what the post (and accompanying tweet) fail to say is that the Belgian parliament was already in it anyway. So this is totally insignificant. It probably won’t be long before Bristows embeds itself in some blogs with actual readers (like Kluwer Patent Blog or IP Kat) to amplify this nonsense.

“According to The Register, Judge Corcoran is being lied about. We already knew that, but it’s good to see it in Britain’s largest technology news site. “Suffice to say, the investigative media (what’s left of it) won’t touch the subject as it’s rather complicated to grasp.

Where does that leave us? Possibly reading anonymous comments from insiders. According to The Register, Judge Corcoran is being lied about. We already knew that, but it’s good to see it in Britain’s largest technology news site. Corcoran is still besieged; he has still not been paid, either. Maybe Battistelli and his ‘bulldog’ just want to bankrupt him (legal fees) before justice can be attained (there are more ILO decisions coming next month). Here is what one comment said today:

Surreal. The former accused is now a non-person, being still absent from the internal phone book. Shameful.

Yes, we wrote about that more than a week ago. “Does this suggest that the AC may have decided the case in an illogical (and perhaps illegal) manner?”

So said the following comment:

So we are to understand that “the Council took a final decision in a disciplinary case”.

Interesting. Given the Enlarged Board and ILO decisions, the only logical decision would have been to withdraw all “charges” in the disciplinary case, thereby terminating the proceedings.

However, it would seem that the situation may not be that simple. This is because only if there are pending disciplinary proceedings is there any obligation of “confidentiality” that would prevent Carl Josefsson from discussing the AC’s decision.

Does this suggest that the AC may have decided the case in an illogical (and perhaps illegal) manner? Or does it instead suggest that someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes by pretending that the matter is “confidential”?

Later in the day someone wrote that “it appears that “someone” is impeding the implementation of the ILOAT decisions.”

No way! Who can that possibly be?

Comment seen on Kluwer Patent Blog :

According to reliable sources at EPO, Patrick Corcoran, the during close to 3 years, unduly suspended DG3 judge, has today 20th Dec. 2018 (12 days after the ILO-AT judgment in his favour) still no computer or access to his e-mail account. His phone number has not been restored. His salary transfer for December was still based on the reduced salary.

So it appears that “someone” is impeding the implementation of the ILOAT decisions.

Also

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/12/21/euro_patent_office_accountability_case/

This latest comment suggests that the whole affair can be excused using “confidentiality” (not true), but it correctly states that Team Battistelli already colluded with Dutch and German media to defame the judge and violate “confidentiality” principles in the process. To quote:

As a general principle, not just at the EPO, the details of disciplinary proceedings ought to be kept confidential both before and after a final decision. They certainly are where I work. This is mainly to protect the employee who is the subject of the proceedings.

Of course, Mr Battistelli breached that general principle a while back, by leaking lurid details to the press. Mr Corcoran then asked the Enlarged Board to hold their proceedings in public, apparently so that his side of the story could also come out. But instead the Enlarged Board declined to hear the case at all.

I don’t think you should read anything into the fact that the Admin Council is following the general principle of keeping the details confidential. Just because we’d all be interested in knowing doesn’t mean that it ought to be made public.

We are still hoping that someone will fetch information about the case/s (in Croatian or German) so that we can shed light on the “other side”. It’s definitely in the public interest.

Links 21/12/2017: X.Org Server 1.19.6 and LibreOffice 5.4.4 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux, Open Source, and Beyond

    Linux is 26 years old, and look what happened in those 26 years: everything. Now what? Linux is both shrinking and expanding.

  • Server

    • Containerd 1.0 Release Becomes the Public Face of Containers

      There may be a plurality of operative components inside an OCI standard container, though for now, two are of prime importance. The runc component is the executive — the part which makes a container functional unto itself. The second part of the puzzle, containerd acts as the part that “supervises” the lifecycle of containers, and that communicates with the outside world via API calls.

      That functionality may replace the need for the continual presence of a full container engine in a production system, clearing the way for Kubernetes, Mesosphere DC/OS, and other container orchestration engines.

    • Open-Source Cloudify Delivers Multi-Stack Interoperability for Kubernetes & Robust Security, Bridging the Gap Between Application & Network Virtualization
    • The Commodity Container Story

      The focus maybe on AWS EKS, the managed Kubernetes offering. The future is with AWS Fargate and similar services

    • Keynote: Maximizing developer velocity with containers

      Containers are one of the most exciting technologies in the cloud right now. But when it comes to your IT strategy, where is the best place to start? With so many different options and configurations, it’s critical that you find the best possible strategy for your software stack.

      To answer these questions, Canonical’s VP of Product Development Dustin Kirkland and VMware Staff Engineer Sabari Murugesan presented at the SF Bay Area OpenStack User Group Meeting. You can watch the full talk here!

    • Top 3 Linux Server Distros of 2018

      While Linux might not be a consumer favorite product like Microsoft’s Windows is, Linux is the preferred operating system that administrators and tech savvy people choose. Linux is considered as the best platform by computer experts and that’s because Linux offers complete freedom alongside security and hardware support.

      The best thing about Linux is the fact that it supports a bunch of server distros. Unlike Microsoft’s Windows, Linux users get to choose from a plethora of server distros and pick the one which suits their needs the most. Nonetheless, today we are going to present the best Linux server operating systems.

  • Kernel Space

    • New stable kernels

      Four stable kernels have been released; 4.14.8, 4.9.71, 4.4.107, and 3.18.89. They all contain important fixes and users should upgrade.

    • Linux 4.14.8
    • Linux 4.9.71
    • Linux 4.4.107
    • Linux 3.18.89
    • Toward better CPU load estimation

      “Load tracking” refers to the kernel’s attempts to track how much load each running process will put on the system’s CPUs. Good load tracking can yield reasonable predictions about the near-future demands on the system; those, in turn, can be used to optimize the placement of processes and the selection of CPU-frequency parameters. Obviously, poor load tracking will lead to less-than-optimal results. While achieving perfection in load tracking seems unlikely for now, it appears that it is possible to do better than current kernels do. The utilization estimation patch set from Patrick Bellasi is the latest in a series of efforts to make the scheduler’s load tracking work well with a wider variety of workloads.
      Until relatively recently, the kernel had no notion of how much load any process was putting on the system at all. It tracked a process’s total CPU utilization, but that is different from — and less useful than — tracking how much of the available CPU time that process has been using recently. In 2013, the per-entity load-tracking (PELT) mechanism was merged; it maintains a running average of each process’s CPU demands. That average decays quickly over time, so that a process’s recent behavior is weighted much more heavily than its distant past. The PELT values are maintained (and continue to decay) while processes are blocked, giving a better overall view of their utilization.

    • Kernel support for HDCP

      High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (or HDCP) is an Intel-designed copy-protection mechanism for video and audio streams. It is a digital rights management (DRM) system of the type disliked by many in the Linux community. But does that antipathy mean that Linux should not support HDCP? That question is being answered — probably in favor of support — in a conversation underway on the kernel mailing lists.
      HDCP is based on encryption and authentication. An HDCP-compliant device is not allowed to send high-quality media streams to any other device that cannot authenticate itself under the HDCP protocol and show that it contains a suitable key. In theory, HDCP prevents the extraction of digital media streams from a chain of devices using it; the practice is, as is often the case, a bit less certain. That notwithstanding, various content providers require HDCP to be present before making their offerings available.

      Many of the devices implementing HDCP — set-top boxes, televisions, etc. — run Linux, but the kernel itself does not currently have HDCP support. That may be about to change with this patch set from Sean Paul implementing HDCP for Intel i915 graphics. One part of the patch set in particular provides a generic capability in the direct-rendering layer to enable user space to turn on the content protection feature of the hardware; the application can also verify whether the graphics subsystem was able to establish an authenticated connection with the device at the other end of the cable. Said application is likely to use that information to refuse to play content in the absence of an HDCP-compliant device on the line.

    • Process tagging with ptags

      For various reasons related to accounting and security, there is recurring interest in having the kernel identify the container that holds any given process. Attempts to implement that functionality tend to run into the same roadblock, though: the kernel has no concept of what a “container” is, and there is seemingly little desire to change that state of affairs. A solution to this problem may exist in the form of a neglected patch called “ptags”, which enables the attachment of arbitrary tags to processes.

      Given that containers are at the receiving end of a lot of attention currently, it is natural to wonder why the kernel refuses to recognize them. The kernel does provide the features needed to implement containers: namespaces for isolation, control groups for resource management, seccomp and security modules to implement security policies, etc. But there is little agreement over what actually constitutes a container, and there is still a lot of experimentation going on with interesting new ways of implementing the container concept.

    • MAP_FIXED_SAFE

      The MAP_FIXED option to the mmap() system call allows a process to specify that a mapping should be placed at a given virtual address if at all possible. It turns out, though, that “if at all possible” can involve a bit more collateral damage than some would like, and can even lead to exploitable vulnerabilities. A new, safer option is in the works but, as is often the case, it has run into a bit of non-technical difficulty.

    • Linux Foundation

      • LiFT Scholarship Winners Put Linux Skills to Work Helping Others

        Now in its seventh year, LiFT initiative has awarded more than $168,000 in training scholarships. This year, a record 1,238 applications were received for 14 scholarships. The Linux Foundation also supports a variety of community initiatives and organizations to help advance free and open source software and increase diversity in technology and the open source community. The Foundation offers training and event scholarships, and works with organizations such as Women Who Code and Goodwill to further these efforts.

      • Empirix Joins European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) and Open Source MANO (OSM) Community

        Empirix, Inc. today announced its membership in the European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI), an international organization that produces globally-applicable standards for information and communications technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, broadcast and Internet technologies.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA’s Open-Source Christmas: Experimental Allocator Driver For Nouveau

        NVIDIA has done an open-source code drop to end out 2017. It’s not as exciting as many would have hoped for in providing Nouveau GPU re-clocking abilities, any improvements to the signed firmware situation, or an open-source Vulkan driver, but there is now an experimental Nouveau allocator to implement their proposed generic device allocator library.

        This Nouveau allocator driver is an experimental device implementation for the company’s long-running Unix Device Memory Allocator project as the potential successor to GBM / a new unified library that Wayland compositors could use for device memory allocation rather than the Generic Buffer Manager or EGLStreams.

      • X.Org Server 1.19.6 Released

        It’s been more than one year since the release of X.Org Server 1.19 and with X.Org Server 1.20 still being at least some weeks away from release, X.Org Server 1.19.6 was released today.

      • xorg-server 1.19.6

        Yet another collection of fixes from master. There will likely be at
        least one more 1.19.x release in 2018 as there are still a number of
        unreviewed patches pending. Until then, happy new year.

      • AMD Linux driver GPU is not Navi

        Remember, Raja Koduri, the ultimate leader of the now dissolved Radeon Technology Group (RTG) said Navi is a 7nm part. Fudzilla and a few industry sources we consulted are very confident that 7nm won’t happen for GPUs in 2018.

    • Benchmarks

      • RadeonSI Gallium3D Made Impressive Performance Gains In 2017

        Yesterday I provided some benchmarks showing how the Radeon RX Vega performance has evolved since launch but if looking more broadly at how the open-source RadeonSI Gallium3D Linux gaming performance has advanced over the course of 2017, the gains become much more profound. Here are tests of the open-source driver state over 2017 when testing an older Radeon HD 7950 (GCN 1.0) graphics card as well as a Radeon R9 Fury and RX 580 graphics cards.

      • 7-Way Linux OS Comparison With KVM

        Complementing our recent Amazon EC2 Linux cloud distribution benchmarks, here are some fresh test results when comparing various Linux distributions when benchmarking them as guest VMs with the KVM hypervisor.

      • AMDGPU vs. Radeon DRM Driver Performance On Linux 4.15

        For GCN 1.0 “Southern Islands” and GCN 1.1 “Sea Islands” graphics processors from AMD, they are supported both by the Radeon DRM driver (the default) as well as the AMDGPU DRM driver (designed for GCN 1.2+ GPUs). As it’s been a while since comparing the performance impact of changing the kernel driver for these older GCN graphics cards, here are some fresh benchmarks using the Linux 4.15 Git kernel with Mesa 17.4-dev using a few GCN 1.0/1.1 cards.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kontact on Debian

        Now after Debian has woken up again from its slumber, we first had to update Qt and KDE Frameworks. After the first attempt at packaging KDE Pim 17.08.0, that was released for experimental, we are now finally reaching the point where we can package and deliver KDE Pim 17.08.3 to Debian unstable. Because Pino Toscano and I had time we started packaging it and stumbled across the issue of having to package 58 source packages, all dependent on each other. Keep in mind all packaging work is not a oneman or twoman show, mostly all in the Qt/KDE Debian mantainers are involved somehow. Either by putting their name under a upload or by being available via IRC, mail and answering questions, making jokes or doing what so ever. Jonathan Riddell visualized the dependencies for KDE Pim 16.08 with graphviz. But KDE Pim is a fast moving target, and I wanted to make my own graphs and make them more useful for packaging.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Nautilus desktop plans

        Nautilus had have a feature called “the desktop” which adds icons on the background of the user workspace, similar to Windows.

        The desktop was disabled for the default experience when GNOME 3 came out now 6 years ago, and so far has been mostly unmaintained. I spent around 3 months of work two years ago to try to save it somehow and did a rearchitectural work to try to separate the desktop from the Nautilus app so it won’t affect Nautilus development, and while it achieved some degree of separation, it didn’t achieve its main purpose and unfortunately brought even more problems than we had before. Now it has got to a point where the desktop is blocking us deeply in basically every major front we have set for future releases.

        Also we notice that users rightfully have expectations for the desktop to work decently, and we acknowledge this is far from the reality and we are aware that the desktop is in a very poor state.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Federation in social networks

    Social networking is often approached by the free-software community with a certain amount of suspicion—rightly so, since commercial social networks almost always generate revenue by exploiting user data in one way or another. While attempts at a free-software approach to social networking have so far not met widespread success, the new ActivityPub federation protocol and its implementation in the free-software microblogging system Mastodon are gaining popularity and already show some of the advantages of a community-driven approach.

    While a community-run, open-source social network would avoid many of the concerns raised by commercial social networks, it’s difficult for such a platform to gain widespread adoption because of the “network effect”: social networks become more valuable as they gain more users, and so centralization tends to come about naturally. Few people are excited about having an account on yet another social network with few of their friends.

    A technical solution to this social problem is federation. In a federated system, multiple independent services use standard protocols to exchange data so that you don’t need to use the same social network that a friend does in order to communicate with them. Email is a federated system, where many independent mail servers interact via SMTP, but so far no clear “SMTP for social” has emerged. There are a few contenders, though, and one is on track for W3C standard. First, though, let’s take a look at the first major attempt.

  • Devops trends 2018: open source, truly mainstream, but the end of ops? [Ed: Buzzwords as trends. Can we return to terms like “server” and “system admins” please?]

    Word Soup

    Lately we have seen ‘devsecops’ gaining traction, so what’s next, if anything? Opinions differ: Andrea Hirzle-Yager, head of IT at devops-friendly financial service business Allianz thinks that ideally she’d throw architects into the mix.

  • KubeVirt Status 0x7E1 (2017)

    Where do we stand with KubeVirt at the end of the year? (This virtual machine management add-on for Kubernetes)

    We gained some speed again, but before going into what we are doing right now; let’s take a look at the past year.

  • Introduction To XBT 2.0 | External Backup Tool for USB Drives

    XBT is a program that makes keeping all of your user data safely backed up on a dedicated External USB drive easy. XBT works with Ubuntu 16.04 onward and the Linux Mint 18.x series.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2018 IAM devroom

      FOSDEM is one of largest free software conferences in Europe. It is run by volunteers for volunteers and since 2001 gathers together more than 8000 people every year. Sure, during first years there were less visitors (I had been lucky to actually present at the first FOSDEM and also ran a workshop there) but the atmosphere didn’t change and it is still has the same classical hacker gathering feeling.

      In 2018 FOSDEM will run on the weekend of February 3rd and 4th. Since the event has grown up significantly, there are multiple development rooms in addition to the main tracks. Each development room is given a room for Saturday or Sunday (or both). Each development room issues own call for proposals (CfP), chooses talks for the schedule and runs the event. FOSDEM crew films and streams all devrooms online for those who couldn’t attend them in real time but the teams behind actual devrooms are what powers the event.

    • An overview of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) held its conference, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, in December 2017. There were 4000 attendees at this gathering in Austin, Texas, more than all the previous KubeCons before, which shows the rapid growth of the community building around the tool that was announced by Google in 2014. Large corporations are also taking a larger part in the community, with major players in the industry joining the CNCF, which is a project of the Linux Foundation. The CNCF now features three of the largest cloud hosting businesses (Amazon, Google, and Microsoft), but also emerging companies from Asia like Baidu and Alibaba.

      In addition, KubeCon saw an impressive number of diversity scholarships, which “include free admission to KubeCon and a travel stipend of up to $1,500, aimed at supporting those from traditionally underrepresented and/or marginalized groups in the technology and/or open source communities”, according to Neil McAllister of CoreOS. The diversity team raised an impressive $250,000 to bring 103 attendees to Austin from all over the world.

      We have looked into Kubernetes in the past but, considering the speed at which things are moving, it seems time to make an update on the projects surrounding this newly formed ecosystem.

    • Ubucon Europe 2018: Call for papers
    • Call for Proposals Now Open for Open Networking Summit North America 2018

      The Linux Foundation has just opened the Open Networking Summit North America (ONS NA) 2018 Call for Proposals, and we invite you to share your expertise with over 2,000 technical and business leaders in the networking ecosystem. Proposals are due by 11:59pm PT on Jan. 14, 2018.

      Over 2,000 attendees are expected to attend ONS North America 2018, taking place March 26-29 in Los Angeles, including technical and business leaders across enterprise, service providers, and cloud providers. ONS North America is the only event of its kind, bringing networking and orchestration innovations together with a focus on the convergence of business (CIO/CTO/Architects) and technical (DevOps) communities.

    • How to Game Jam

      At the All Things Open 2017 conference, Michael Clayton and I gave a talk about game jams and open source development tools. Here’s an overview of our presentation.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Plugging in on Policy

        When Mozilla rolled out a new fellowship focused on tech policy this past June, the goal was to gather some of the world’s top policymakers in tech to continue advancing the important initiatives they were working on in government as fellows with Mozilla.

        We rounded up 10 fellows from the U.S., Brazil, India, and Kenya as part of the initial cohort. Fellows are spending the year keeping the Internet open and free both by furthering the crucial work they had already been leading, and by finding new ways to add to forward-thinking policy efforts.

      • Students Pitch New Accessibility Features for Firefox

        We will be sharing the winning concepts with the broader Test Pilot team and investigating the feasibility of turning the concepts into future experiments. Thanks to all of the Ravensbourne students for your fresh thinking on improving Firefox through accessibility! Read more about our collaboration with Ravensbourne on their blog.

      • Private shopping is smart holiday shopping

        Private Browsing not only keeps your clandestine purchases out of your browsing history – it also has tracking protection to block those pesky third parties who chase you with ads about the things you just browsed. (That’s one way it’s better than Chrome’s Incognito Mode – one study shows that Private Browsing is also faster than Incognito Mode.)

      • The Thunderbird Email Client Is Getting a New Look

        Thunderbird is getting a bold new look, developers of the open-source desktop email client have revealed. The new look is already available in beta builds.

      • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Rust in 2017: what we achieved

        Rust’s development in 2017 fit into a single overarching theme: increasing productivity, especially for newcomers to Rust. From tooling to libraries to documentation to the core language, we wanted to make it easier to get things done with Rust. That desire led to a roadmap for the year, setting out 8 high-level objectives that would guide the work of the team.

      • Mozilla Open Innovation Team: Applying Open Practices — Arduino

        Since 2003, this 50-person company, with offices in Europe and US, has build out a robust ecosystem of accessible, open electronics ideal for prototyping new technology and exploring novel hardware applications. The first Arduino board was introduced in 2005 to help design students without prior experience in electronics or micro-controller programming to create working prototypes connecting the physical world to the digital world. It has grown to become the world’s most popular teaching platform for physical prototyping. Arduino launched an integrated development environment (IDE) in 2015, and also has begun offering services to build and customize teaching materials suited to the specific needs of its educational partners.

        Behind the widespread adoption of its hardware platform there is a focus on a guiding mission and a clearly-defined user group: making technology open and accessible for non-technical beginners. All hardware design and development decisions feed into keeping the experience optimal and consistent for this target group, attracting a solid, stable base of fans.

        The popularity of an open-source platform does not, however, necessarily translate to a sustainable business model. One consequence of Arduino’s growing popularity has been the proliferation of non-licensed third-party versions of its boards. What can’t be cloned is Arduino’s model of community collaboration, strategic partnerships, and mix of open and closed practices — all primary forces in driving their ongoing success.

      • Firefox is Now on Amazon Fire TV – Happy Holiday Watching

        As many of us prepare to be with families and close friends for the holidays, I’m excited to announce that Mozilla is bringing the speed of Firefox and the power of the web onto the TV with an established family of streaming media devices, just in time for the holidays.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Why now is the time for multi-cloud

      Craig McLuckie isn’t a fan of every buzzword flitting across the tech landscape. He admits that multi-cloud wasn’t one of his favorites, but he’s changing his mind.

      “I’m starting to see a deep legitimacy to multi-cloud,” says McLuckie, co-founder of Kubernetes and now CEO of Heptio, “I used to nod and smile when people talked about it, but never really believed it. I’m starting to see it for reals now.”

  • Suites/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.4.4 available for download

      The Document Foundation (TDF) announces LibreOffice 5.4.4, the fourth minor release of LibreOffice 5.4 family, one month before the major announcement of LibreOffice 6.0. Although it still represents the bleeding edge in term of features, conservative users and enterprises can start the update process from their current LibreOffice 5.3 implementation.

      TDF suggests to conservative users and enterprises to deploy LibreOffice with the backing of certified developers, migrators and trainers (an updated list is available at https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/professional-support/). This is extremely important for the growth of the LibreOffice ecosystem.

    • LibreOffice 5.4.4 Released with 83 Fixes, LibreOffice 5.3 Users Urged to Upgrade

      The Document Foundation announced on Wednesday the release and immediate availability for download of the fourth maintenance update to the LibreOffice 5.4 office suite series.

      LibreOffice 5.4.4 comes five weeks after the release of version 5.4.3 to brings a total of 83 improvements and bug fixes for various of the included components, such as Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Math, and Base. The complete changelogs are available here and here for those curious to know what exactly was changed, and The Document Foundation now recommends LibreOffice 5.3 users to upgrade.

    • KDE Calligra 3.1 Preparing For Release In Early 2018
    • Collabora’s CODE 3.0 Adds Rich LibreOffice Editing Functionality to the Browser

      Collabora Productivity, through Michael Meeks, is proud to inform Softpedia today on the general availability of the Collabora Online Development Edition (CODE) 3.0 LibreOffice-based office suite.

      Collabora Productivity driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud (LibreOffice Online), and they worked very hard during the past year to bring you CODE 3.0, which boasts, for the very first time, full-featured editing functionality from the desktop version of the LibreOffice open-source office suite to the browser.

      Users will now be able to enjoy complex writer numbering or powerful spreadsheet filtering with the new CODE 3.0 release. More such complex UI functionality will be coming to future versions of Collabora Online, sharing the user experience with LibreOffice both online and on the desktop.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • The Evolution of Open Source at Dropbox [Ed: Did Dropbox literally buy this openwashing puff piece?]

      The open source program at Dropbox was initially just a mailing list, where some interested engineers wanted to open source projects and develop with open source. Over time, things became more formalized, with a focus on ensuring that the company was consistent about what code it would release versus what code was best kept internal.

      They also wanted to ensure that the things they were releasing were things that would actually provide value.

      “We set minimum standards for what we would release as open source projects, including a review process, and our program just started to drive a lot of value,” said Luke Faraone, Security Engineer at Dropbox.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF Adds Purism’s PureOS To Their Approved List Of Operating Systems

      The Free Software Foundation and Purism are announcing that the Debian-derived PureOS operating system is being added to the FSF list of approved GNU/Linux distributions.

      This is the list maintained by the FSF for operating systems meeting their free system distribution requirements tha

    • FSFE Newsletter – December 2017 / January 2018

      The Free Software Foundation Europe looks back on a very exciting year. While on one hand we managed to take our regular campaigns like I love Free Software and Ask Your Candidates to a new level with extraordinary activities, we also started three new major activities this year that will keep running in 2018 and beyond. These are Public Money Public Code, Save Code Share and the Reuse Initiative.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • From The IGF: Next Steps In Open Source? Open Source Hardware

        The methods to collaboratively code software today are even embraced by big companies like Microsoft and Google who reap the benefits of collaborative coding via Github, a platform for jointly developing code. And many countries have established at least some form of policies to promote open source software and are users, often without even realizing, several activists reported.

        The big issue today is to get back control over one‘s hardware. “Your devices will tell you if you are free,” she said. Choudhary also noted that the main battlefield here is not the desktop and laptop anymore, but mobile devices running on Android for example. Students have to be taught how to get “root access” to these otherwise closed-source handhelds, allowing them to change the code.

        Instead, schools, like the ones in the IGF host city of Geneva, are just using Google as the platform for all the services, one participant said. While Google agreed to change the software to meet some requirements for the schools, there is no transparency on the data from the Geneva Google school cloud. In other cantons, the Swiss data protection authorities before had asked Microsoft to localize the data in similar school projects.

      • The importance of the robot iCub as a standard robotic research platform for embodied AI

        Researchers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia focused on the importance of iCub robot in the review paper ‘iCub: the not-yet finished story of building a robot child’ published on Science Robotics, special issue about humanoid robotics

      • Researchers are Using Open-Source Robotic Toddlers to Create a Perfect Humanoid
  • Programming/Development

    • Who gets the credit?

      The primary goal of the Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS) is to give researchers who develop, contribute to, and maintain open source software a means to get citable credit for their work within today’s research ecosystem. In short, JOSS is a developer-friendly journal for publishing research software packages. It’s also an online academic journal (ISSN 2475-9066) with a formal peer review process that is designed to improve the quality of the software submitted by making sure it meets minimum standards and includes standard identifiers for content on digital networks (Digital Object Identifiers, or DOIs) for all accepted papers.

    • nanoQuill

      Qi, KDAB and Qt have now taken their collaboration one step further by introducing nanoQuill, otherwise known as “The Coloring Book of Life,” which is a crowdsourced coloring book and mobile app that gives anybody the opportunity to color cancer images to help annotate organelles inside those electron microscopy images. Qi is then able to take the crowdsourced annotations to measure a cell’s detail, render 3D images from the colored 2D images, and ultimately train new deep learning algorithms, all in the name of advancing cancer research.

    • An Unexpected C++ Journey

      Some of you may know that KDAB employees enjoy flexibility on working hours as well as location, and some choose to work from home, with the opportunity to share childcare, do part-time study or simply enjoy an out-of-the-way location. All that’s required is a decent bandwidth for KDAB work.

    • Julia vs. Python: Julia language rises for data science

      Of the many use cases Python covers, data analytics has become perhaps the biggest and most significant. The Python ecosystem is loaded with libraries, tools, and applications that make the work of scientific computing and data analysis fast and convenient.

      But for the developers behind the Julia language — aimed specifically at “scientific computing, machine learning, data mining, large-scale linear algebra, distributed and parallel computing”—Python isn’t fast or convenient enough. It’s a trade-off, good for some parts of this work but terrible for others.

    • Who contributed the most to open source in 2017? Let’s analyze GitHub’s data and find out.

      Note that analyzing GitHub doesn’t include top communities like Android, Chromium, GNU, Mozilla, nor the the Apache or Eclipse Foundation, and other projects that choose to run most of their activities outside of GitHub.

Leftovers

  • The Amtrak Tragedy Has Roots in the Swamp

    On Monday, an Amtrak train, traveling well above the posted speed limit, derailed, resulting in multiple fatalities and scores more injured among the passengers and crew.

    If that sounds familiar—infuriatingly familiar—it should.

    Monday’s derailment—which left three dead and approximately 70 wounded—occurred when a passenger train traveling at more than 80 miles per hour jumped a curve south of Tacoma, Washington, that had a listed speed limit of 30 miles per hour. That description bears unsettling similarities to a May 2015 accident, when an Amtrak commuter train moving over 100 miles per hour hit a part of the tracks outside Philadelphia that had a posted limit of 50 miles per hour. That derailment killed eight and injured over 200.

  • Eric Schmidt Stepping Down As Executive Chairman of Google-Parent Alphabet

    Eric Schmidt Stepping Down As Executive Chairman of Google-Parent Alphabet

    ​Schmidt to Serve As Technical Advisor to Alphabet and Continue to Serve on Board

  • Science

    • “Model” Mississippi Curriculum Leaving Civil Rights Movement Out of School Textbooks

      In October 2017, Sierra Mannie wrote an article for the Hechinger Report highlighting the inadequate textbooks in the Mississippi school system and how they are affecting civil rights education.

      In 2011 Mississippi adopted new social studies standards. Before then, schools in Mississippi were not required to teach the Civil Rights Movement; and the words “civil rights” were mentioned just three times in the previous standards, as specified in a 305-page document. As Mannie wrote, “The Civil Rights Movement was once a footnote in Mississippi social studies classrooms, if it was covered at all.”

      With its 2011 adoption of social studies standards establishing an expectation that students learn civil rights in depth, the state was heralded as a model for other states by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A March 2012 SPLC report stated, “Mississippi’s recent adoption of a Civil Rights/Human Rights strand across all grade levels should be a model for other states” (p. 9). However, as Mannie reported, although Mississippi was intended to be a model system for other states to emulate, an investigation by the Hechinger Report and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that “all of the state’s 148 school districts rely on textbooks published before the model standards appeared as part of their social studies material.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • For Refugee Moms, Giving Birth Can Be Fraught with Danger

      When Souad Iessa showed up at a hospital in Greece in the fall of 2016, the heavily pregnant Syrian refugee thought she was coming in for a routine cesarean section. It turned out to be anything but.

      Iessa, 25, had spent the first six months of her pregnancy on the run, and another three in a poorly served refugee camp with little access to prenatal care. Nurses from the mobile clinic that served Iessa’s camp had no way of knowing that her placenta was in the wrong place. Because she had already had two cesarean deliveries back in Syria, they scheduled her for a third. That decision saved her life.

      Had Iessa gone into labor or attempted a natural delivery, she almost certainly would have died. Instead, ultrasound technicians at Ippokrateio General Hospital in Thessaloniki spotted the anomaly, and rushed her into what turned into a four-hour surgery to deliver a healthy baby girl. In the process, a team of 12 doctors and nurses had to remove her uterus and reconstruct her bladder.

    • Second Legal Battle Over Abortion Rights for Immigrant Teens Takes Unexpected Turns

      In October, it was Jane Doe, a young woman from Central America, whom the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to stop from getting an abortion. Then Jane Poe and Jane Roe came to our attention.

      Last week, the ACLU learned of two young immigrant women in government custody who were pregnant and said they wanted abortions. But as it did with Jane Doe last month in Texas, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — the agency responsible for unaccompanied immigrant minors — refused to let the women leave the shelters where they were being held to get the abortions. (Jane Doe was finally able to get an abortion, but only after a month-long legal battle, ending when the full Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ordered the government to let her leave the shelter for the procedure.)

  • Security

    • How to Talk to Your Family About Digital Security

      You and your family are sipping hot cocoa, gathered around the [holiday object of your choice], and your family member suddenly asks: “Can you help me with my [insert device here]?”

      They need a question answered about their computer, phone, tablet, video game console, or internet-connected device. Maybe they have related questions about their online accounts.

      Or maybe there is a teenager or college student in your family that posts intensely personal information online, and has just realized that they should probably maintain more privacy in their online lives—but isn’t sure how to start.

    • EU offers cash bounties to improve the security of VLC media player

      You can now submit bugs you find in VLC Media Player on HackerOne, where bounties ranging from $100 for low-severity bugs and up to $2,000 for critical bugs are offered.

      With a total budget of €60,000, the VLC bug bounty is only a first “proof of concept” bug bounty in order to learn more about how to run future bounties within FOSSA-2.

    • Security through Distrusting

      At one extreme, we would like to ensure everything (software, hardware, infrastructure) is trusted. This means the code has no bugs or backdoors, patches are always available and deployed, admins always competent and trustworthy, and the infrastructure always reliable…

      On the other end of the spectrum, however, we would like to distrust (nearly) all components and actors, and have no single almighty element in the system.

      In my opinion, the industry has been way too much focused on this first approach, which I see as overly naive and non-scalable to more complex systems.

    • Rutkowska: Trust Makes Us Vulnerable

      Rutkowska argued that security professionals can – and should – minimize their trust in modern technologies, many of which could put users at risk. She presented several examples of how current technology leaves users vulnerable and how they could potentially be made secure.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Synopsys: Going the distance with open source vulnerabilities [Ed: Having absorbed the Microsoft-connected FUD firm Black Duck, Synopsys is now a FUD source against FOSS. Puff pieces like these one will be common.]
    • Twitter Expands Two-Factor Security Authentication Options

      Back in May 2013, Twitter first added a Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) capability to its service, relying on SMS to deliver a six-digit login code. Now after four and a half years, Twitter is adding new options, announcing on Dec. 20 that its’ 2FA approach will support third party tools.

      Twitter calls its’ 2FA approach login verification and it provides a second layer of authentication and protection for Twitter accounts. Rather than just having a username and a password to get access to an account, 2FA approaches require a second password, that is randomly generated by a secondary device, or service like SMS.

      “We’re rolling out an update to login verification,” the official Twitter Safety account wrote in a message. “You’ll now be able to use a third party app for two-factor authentication instead of SMS text messages.”

  • Defence/Aggression

    • May defends use of drones to kill British terrorists overseas

      Theresa May has defended the use of drone strikes against British citizens, saying the killing of Islamic State’s Reyaad Khan in 2015 was “necessary and proportionate” and that she would authorise such strikes in the future.

      The prime minister said there had been no alternative to the killing of Khan in a precision airstrike in Syria because “a direct and imminent threat was identified by the intelligence agencies”. There was “a clear legal basis for action in international law”, she added.

    • Review: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg

      In the late 1950s Daniel Ellsberg went to work for the Rand Corporation, a think tank advising the American government on national security. Rand had a generous retirement plan, but Ellsberg didn’t join because he doubted he would live long enough to collect on it. He was certain that the world would soon end in nuclear holocaust.

    • United States of America v. 15.919 Acres of Land

      In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security began building 654 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. To complete the job, the agency had to seize land from private landowners, most living in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. A decade later, some landowners have yet to reach agreement with Homeland Security on the amount they are due for the land they have lost. This is the story of one such case.

    • Selling Drones, Exporting War

      America is the world’s leader in drone technology, and the companies that have developed them see even bigger profits on the horizon if they can sell them to America’s allies around the globe. The nature of drones is that they make killing easier — usually bloodless — for those countries that possess the technology. They promise results, but the American use of drones in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has not led to any resolution of those conflicts. Only the body count has increased.

    • Trump’s Secret Rules for Killings Abroad

      Perhaps Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most prescient and powerful speech was one he gave in 1967, called “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” In that speech, during a generation-defining civil rights struggle, Dr. King explained that he could not raise his voice for nonviolence at home “without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

      He illuminated the consequences of the Vietnam War from the perspective of victims — the Vietnamese people whose lives, families, crops, and villages our country destroyed. He connected “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism” and said we could not defeat them if we put machines, profit, and property rights above people. And he warned that unless Americans had a “true revolution of values,” which required us to question the fairness and justice of our past and present policies, we would have endless war in multiple countries “beyond Vietnam,” with all the harms to human rights that war entails.

    • Trump’s Gross Hypocrisy on Yemen War

      Immediately after the Houthi retaliation, the Saudi coalition bombed Yemen’s international airport and closed all the country’s other air, land, and seaports, putting in dire peril some 7 million people deemed by humanitarian agencies to be immediately at risk of famine.

    • Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers?

      CAR, based in London and funded by Switzerland and the European Union, spent three years tracing the origin of some 40,000 pieces of captured ISIS arms and ammunition. Its findings, made public last week, are that much of it originated in former Warsaw Pact nations in Eastern Europe, where it was purchased by United States and Saudi Arabia and then diverted, in violation of various rules and treaties, to Islamist rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The rebels, in turn, somehow caused or allowed the equipment to be passed on to Islamic State, which is also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, or just the abbreviation IS.

      This is damning stuff since it makes it clear that rather than fighting ISIS, the U.S. government was feeding it.

    • Former NSA Chief Pushes ‘Manhattan Project’ for Cyber
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Free press group votes unanimously to stop funding WikiLeaks, citing end of banking blockade

      A non-profit created in response to the banking blockade against WikiLeaks plans to stop funding the secret-spilling website following more than five years of facilitating donations.

      The Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) is slated to sever ties with WikiLeaks next month, ending its stint as surrogate for individuals wishing to fund the site in spite of being blacklisted in 2010 by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal.

      “FPF’s board unanimously found — upon review of the available evidence — that the financial blockade by the major payment processors is no longer in effect, and as such, we will soon cease processing donations on behalf of WikiLeaks readers,” Trevor Timm, the foundation’s director, wrote in a Dec. 9 email to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Puerto Rico Orders Recount of Hurricane Maria Death Toll After Investigation Suggests 1,000+ Died

      In the face of mounting evidence of a vast undercount by the government, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló has called for a recount of the death toll from Hurricane Maria. The government’s official death toll stands at 64. But several investigations have revealed that nearly 1,000 more people died. The Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico examined the 40-day period after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico compared to that same time period last year and found at least 985 additional people died. This week, The New York Times and other outlets published statistics from the Puerto Rican government that show the death toll may be more than 1,000. We speak with Omaya Sosa, the co-founder of Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, who has led coverage of the deaths after the storm.

    • More than 19,000 badgers were slaughtered in the latest rural bloodbath

      More than 19,000 badgers were slaughtered in the latest rural bloodbath as the Tories accelerated their killing programme.

      A total of 19,274 animals were culled this autumn, according to Government stats slipped out before MPs headed for their Christmas break.

    • Indonesian pangolin faces extinction due to trafficking – study

      Pangolins in Indonesia are at risk of extinction because of an illicit trade that sees thousands of the critically endangered animals trafficked each year, a study showed Thursday.

      More than 35,000 pangolins — docile, ant-eating mammals with a thick armor — were seized by Indonesian authorities between 2010 and 2015, exposing the scale of the illegal business, the study by wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic said.

      Indigenous to parts of Southeast Asia and Africa, the pangolin is prized as an edible delicacy and ingredient in traditional medicine, especially in China and Vietnam, and is the world’s most trafficked mammal.

  • Finance

    • Leonovus Announces Plans for an Initial Coin Offering

      Leonovus Inc. (“Leonovus”) (TSXV: LTV) today announced its plans for an initial coin offering (“ICO”) in the summer of 2018 to support the launch of an advanced blockchain storage and compute solution with a marketplace for cloud applications.

    • Senate Approves $1.5 Trillion Tax Bill to Benefit the Wealthiest

      Congress is on the cusp of approving a massive rewrite of the U.S. tax code that will overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans, while ending a central pillar of President Obama’s signature healthcare law. Just past midnight, the Senate voted 51 to 48, along party lines, on a final version of the tax bill, as protests erupted in the gallery, with chants of “Kill the bill! Don’t kill us!” briefly interrupting proceedings. The Senate vote came despite overwhelming public opposition to the measure. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found fewer than one-quarter of Americans think the tax plan is a good idea, while two-thirds of those surveyed say it’s designed mostly to help corporations and the wealthy. This is Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    • On the Road to Kleptocracy

      With the passage of the Republican tax bill, there’s no longer room for doubt: The big heist is on. The looting of the national commons is well underway, and now those behind it feel no need to hide it.

      Let’s face it—this is why they allowed President Donald J. Trump to happen. He may not have been the first pick of GOP leaders, who would have preferred a more subtle approach, something that looked more like the invisible hand of the market than outright pillage. But once Trump had the nomination locked up, they fell in line. However ugly things might get, a bonanza awaited the crowd that carried Trump across the White House threshold.

      You’ve likely heard by now that 83 percent of the gains to taxpayers in the bill go to the top 1 percent, ranked by income. How the tax cuts for middle-income earners are modest and temporary, while the cuts for corporations are robust and permanent. How many middle class people in blue states will actually take a hit. How 13 million people are expected to land among the ranks of those with no health insurance, thanks to the monkey wrench thrown into the works of Obamacare through the repeal of the individual mandate. How social programs that allow everyday Americans to get ahead or simply stay alive are set to be starved.

    • Oklahoma Poised To Cut Off 20,000 Disabled and Elderly People From Life-Sustaining Home Care

      In early November, the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Oklahoma sent letters to more than 20,000 disabled and elderly residents informing them that the in-home care services they were currently receiving as part of the ADvantage Waiver and In-Home Supports Waiver for Adults programs could be cut in one month. The full consequences of eliminating such vital programs are unimaginable but include reduced quality of life, poor health outcomes, extensive job loss and increased care costs.

    • Oklahoma Poised To Cut Off 20,000 Disabled and Elderly People From Life-Sustaining Home Care

      In early November, the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Oklahoma sent letters to more than 20,000 disabled and elderly residents informing them that the in-home care services they were currently receiving as part of the ADvantage Waiver and In-Home Supports Waiver for Adults programs could be cut in one month. The full consequences of eliminating such vital programs are unimaginable but include reduced quality of life, poor health outcomes, extensive job loss and increased care costs.

    • Trickle Up
    • They Cheered When This Tax Bill Passed: Always Remember That

      I have waited my entire life for this day. I knew it would come, sure as little fish make little fish, and here it is. No more Republican dickering at the edges of it, as they have through all these soft-pedal decades of trickle-down gibberish. No, they went for the thick red meat this time, the prime rib, and they don’t frankly care if you know how badly you’re getting screwed. Most people don’t know. They will, alas, and soon.

      The Republican tax bill is a done thing. It passed the House by a gruesome margin, only to be called back on procedural grounds regarding something Ted Cruz wants and something for-profit universities can’t have. The Senate then passed it, and the House will pass it again today after they unsnarl last night’s mess.

    • The path towards a ‘soft Brexit’ has been established, but the real disjuncture may still lie ahead

      The divorce deal between the UK and the European Union (EU) agreed earlier this month has effectively averted the immediate prospect of a ‘hard Brexit’. After the UK’s capitulation on a range of key sticking points, talks on some sort of trade deal will now ensue. Any new arrangements will be preceded by a lengthy transition period during which nothing much will change. But we should be wary of assuming a return to an approximation of the status quo; the EU is being transformed from the top down, and it is unlikely that a half-in, half-out UK will be a viable part of its next iteration.

    • Brexit isn’t the only thing parliament needs to demand a vote on right now – the NHS is too

      The next step for Jeremy Hunt’s plans to overhaul the NHS is the introduction of Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs). ACOs are the latest incarnation of other controversial NHS plans that have been cooked up since Cameron’s infamous 2012 Health & Social Care Act meant the government had less responsibility to secure comprehensive, universal healthcare. Leading campaigners, doctors and journalists have scrutinised these latest plans and found them both vague and alarming. In the words of this site’s editor, these so-called Accountable Care Organisations “aren’t accountable, and they don’t really care”.

      The ACOs (which aren’t, legally, accountable public/NHS organisations) are being “put in charge of allocating resources”, according to leading health campaigner Professor Allyson Pollock – with private ‘partners’ having larger contracts and more and more of a role in decision making, it seems. Kailash Chand of the BMA has also said ACOs are a ‘trojan horse’ for privatisation – particularly as they talk of ‘integrating’ payment systems for both health and social care without addressing the fact that social care has already been mostly privatised. Chand has also warned that GPs “will no longer be independent advocates for their patients” under this new system of outsourced decision making.

    • Brexit, Ireland, and the revenge of history

      My colleague Adam Ramsay has written persuasively about how – far from the myth of an insurgent victory over the elites – Brexit was led by “Establishment England”. It was connived, he says, by the powers that have run the country for centuries, combining an “anguished cry of imperial nostalgia, and a home-coming for disaster capitalism”.

      Yet those same English elites could not, in their wildest dreams, have imagined the true outcome of their campaign to Make Britain Great Again.

      There is only one thing that is certain now, amid so many other swirling uncertainties. Brexit has for the first time in hundreds of years made Ireland, once a colonised subordinate, far more powerful than its British neighbour.

    • Gloomy Brexit forecasts for UK are coming true, says IMF

      The International Monetary Fund has strongly defended its gloomy forecasts for the UK after Brexit, saying pre-referendum warnings of slower growth were coming true.

      Christine Lagarde, the fund’s managing director, said the vote to leave the EU in June 2016 was already having an impact and Britain’s weaker growth this year was in contrast to accelerating activity in the rest of the world.

      Speaking at the Treasury as the IMF announced the results of its annual health check of the UK economy, Lagarde hit back at those who lambasted the fund when predictions of an immediate post-referendum recession failed to come to pass.

      “We feared that if Britain decided to leave, it would most likely entail a depreciation of sterling, higher inflation leading to a squeeze on disposable income and a reduction in investment,” she said.

    • Is Uber a Taxi Company or Not? The EU’s Top Court Will Decide

      Start ups argue that their apps offer flexible hours to workers. Regulators, governments and unions allege that companies are profiting on the backs of people without benefits such as overtime pay or vacation time.

    • Uber dealt blow by EU court ruling that it is transport service
    • European Court rules Uber is a cab firm, not a digital service

      The case came to fruition in Barcelona after the city’s local authority told Uber it had to be subject to its local taxi regulations. It means that Uber will need a license and perform like any other taxi firm to operate in certain European cities.

    • UK demands secrecy in Brexit trade talks with US

      The British Government has demanded total secrecy in its free trade talks with the US for a post-Brexit deal, i can reveal.

      Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has quietly opened preliminary discussions with a team of American officials. Both sides have agreed that their talks will be classified as either “sensitive” or “confidential”, and information will be shared only among approved individuals. Nothing can be released for four years after talks are concluded, unless both sides waive the secrecy rule, according to documents seen by i. The approach will prove controversial for parliamentary scrutiny of British-American trade talks, as well as in policy areas such as food safety standards and animal welfare.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Wall Street Journal Killed Editorial on Trump’s Mob Ties

      In a short period of time, five staffers have departed The Wall Street Journal editorial page. The general cause of their departures, willing and otherwise, is known: the Journal editorial line has increasingly conformed with the pro-Trump dictates of the rest of the Murdoch media empire. (Most recently, Journal editorials, which once presented Ken Starr as the last hope to preserve the rule of law, have fomented various right-wing conspiracy theories about Robert Mueller and called for his firing.)

    • Broadcast Exclusive: Jill Stein Says Senate Request for Docs on Russia Probe is “New McCarthyism”

      The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Dr. Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, for documents as part of its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Committee Chair Richard Burr of North Carolina said on Monday that they are looking for potential “collusion with the Russians.” Among the actions that reportedly drew their attention was Stein’s attendance at a 2015 dinner in Moscow sponsored by Russian state-run TV network RT, where she sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also at that table was Michael Flynn, who went on to become President Trump’s national security adviser and has since entered into a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference. Flynn pleaded guilty to a single felony count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s U.S. ambassador. We speak with Dr. Jill Stein, the 2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party.

    • The Other Side of the Post’s Katharine Graham

      Movie critics are already hailing “The Post,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Millions of people will see the film in early winter. But the real-life political story of Graham and her newspaper is not a narrative that’s headed to the multiplexes.

    • Socialism Comes to Iowa

      An unusual coalition may be a template for the growing American left.

    • How China got a U.S. senator to do its political bidding
    • High Court rules Tories’ disability benefit changes ‘blatantly discriminate’ against mental health patients

      Government changes to the disability benefit system “blatantly discriminate” against people with mental health problems in a breach of their human rights, the High Court has ruled.

      The landmark court case, brought by a woman with mental health difficulties on Thursday, ruled that the changes “cannot not be objectively justified”.

      An amendment to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) earlier this year introduced regulations limiting the amount of support people with psychological distress could receive for making journeys.

    • Party reputations must mean nothing as we root out sexual harassment in politics

      As parliament started to wind down today ahead of the Christmas break, MPs gathered for a progress report from the working group on bullying and harassment. It was set up in the wake of reports that underscored what many of us have been shouting about for a long time: serious sexual harassment and bullying is endemic in Westminster.

      The scale of the task at hand has been, at times, overwhelming. Those of us sitting on the working group have had to grapple with putting in place a policy and procedure to tackle a wide range of behavioural misconduct across the parliamentary estate and in constituency offices, from sexual harassment of House of Commons staff by MPs to harrowing accounts of sexual and other forms of assault. A member of my own staff has experienced racial harassment from a staff member in a neighbouring office, while journalists like Kate Maltby have come forward highlighting inappropriate behaviour by MPs, peers and those in positions of power.

    • Roy Moore Follows in Trump and Kobach’s Footsteps by Pushing the Voter Fraud Myth

      Last week, Doug Jones defeated former state judge Roy Moore in an upset victory. But Moore, who trails by over 21,000 votes and is currently ineligible for an automatic recount, has refused to concede the race.

      Moore is now suggesting that he may have lost — due to voter fraud.

      In an email to supporters, Moore urged supporters to donate to his “election integrity fund” because the “battle is NOT OVER!” Moore said that they were collecting “numerous reported cases of voter fraud” to send to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

    • The Most Dangerous Man on Earth

      We’re all now immersed in an evolving Trumpocalypse. In a sense, we were there even before The Donald entered the Oval Office. Just consider what it meant to elect a visibly disturbed human being to the highest office of the most powerful, potentially destructive nation on Earth. What does that tell you? One possibility: given the near majority of American voters who sent him to the White House, by campaign 2016 we were already living in a deeply disturbed country. And considering the coming of 1% elections, the growth of plutocracy, the blooming of a new Gilded Age whose wealth disparities must already be competitive with its nineteenth-century predecessor, the rise of the national security state, our endless wars (now turning “generational”), the increasing militarization of this country, and the demobilization of its people, to mention only a few twenty-first-century American developments, that should hardly be surprising.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitter Suspends White Nationalist Accounts in Attempt to Address Offensive Content

      There appeared to be some inconsistencies in the enforcement.

    • Woman says Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana fined her $350 for leaving a negative review

      The Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against the Abbey Inn in Nashville, Indiana, “claiming the hotel’s policy of levelling a charge against guests for negative reviews violated the state’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act,” reports Southern Living magazine.

    • Keillor move smacks of censorship

      The Eugene city government prides itself as “A Great City of the Arts and Outdoors.” For the Eugene Airport, an entryway into the city, to alter public art work based upon the moralism of its managers, is a sign of a growing cultural decadence in the community.

    • Former Sudanese Journalist Discusses Free Press and Censorship

      Sudanese journalist and novelist Ahmed M. Ahmed, 46, got his first taste of social activism when he was about 15. Incensed that his school wasn’t distributing enough bread, Ahmed and his classmates staged a protest. However, his teacher broke up the collective action within two hours, leaving Ahmed “very sad, very angry,” he recalled.

      Though short-lived, the incident was pivotal for him, said Ahmed, who now lives in Colchester with his family. “[That] was the moment I discovered myself: I’m a leader for problems.”

    • Turkish authorities seek to expand censorship to Cyprus

      Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika and its staff have been seriously threatened since the newspaper published a cartoon of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan which is considered as an insult by Turkish authorities, media reported.

      The cartoon, published by Afrika on 14 December 2017 under the title “Through Greek eyes”, shows a Greek statue urinating on the head of President Erdogan. The visual had been originally published in a Greek daily.

      Following the publication, parties and groups of Turkish nationals have been staging protests outside the offices of Afrika, some of them throwing eggs at the building that houses the daily, media added, and some organisations have threatened the newspaper and its authors and demanded it cease being published.

    • Iran Extends Film Censorship Reach Beyond Its Borders

      Iran has taken its cultural censorship efforts to new levels by pressuring a filmmaker to cancel the screening of one of his films in Canada.

      The film, Delighted, by Abdolreza Kahani, was due to be screened last month at an independent theater in Toronto.

      But Kahani decided to cancel the screening after receiving a warning from Iran’s Culture Ministry.

      A source close to Kahani’s production team who did not want to be named told RFE/RL that the ministry “advised” the filmmaker that if he would go ahead with the screening his other film, We Love You Mrs. Yaya, which was filmed in Thailand, would not be allowed to be shown inside Iran.

    • Once Again: Expecting Social Media Companies To Police ‘Bad’ Stuff Is A Bad Idea

      It’s not clear how many times we’re going to need to repeat this, but when people call for internet platforms to wave magic wands and get rid of the “bad” people, they may not like how things actually turn out. As you may have heard, last month Twitter rewrote its guidelines, and promised that it would be using those updated guidelines to kick off more “bad” people. Twitter, as a private company can set up its service however it likes, but it was striking how many people were giddily awaiting yesterday when the new rules were set to take effect. There was talk of how Twitter was magically about to become fun and nice again. The reality was a little bit more mundane.

      [...]

      What’s really troubling about all of this, though, is that many are still focusing on why Twitter should be waving a magic wand to fix this problem, while at the same time criticizing the company for leaving up some accounts, while taking down others. It’s easy to sit behind your laptop and insist it’s “easy” to know which accounts are “good” and which accounts are “bad,” but the truth is that it’s almost impossible for a company to actually make such a determination without tons of false positives and false negatives. And that’s because there is no objective measure of “good” or “bad” that they can go on, and the scale of the problem is completely unfathomable to most users.

      Some think that that answer to all this is that the platforms need to “do better” about this, but it still seems like a situation where people are expecting too much of the platforms and not understanding the difficulty in making these kinds of determinations. Yes, Twitter can manage its platform any way it wants, but people should be cautious about demanding Twitter silence people (or, even worse, that it be legally required to do so), because you’re not going to like many of the choices that it makes — either in leaving up people you don’t like, or taking down those you do.

      Instead, we really need to be thinking about better overall systems to encourage good behavior online, without assuming that the only possible thing that can be done is to have the platforms act as speech police. They’re not good at it, and no amount of yelling at them is going to make them good at it.

    • Keeper Security Files Bullshit SLAPP Suit Against Ars Technica, Letting Many More People Know Not To Use Its Software

      If you’re a security software company and you want to know the best way to make sure that no security professional ever recommends your software ever again, you should do what Keeper Security did and sue a respected security journalist for reporting on your security flaws. As first reported by Zack Whittaker (link above), Keeper Security has filed a totally bullshit SLAPP lawsuit against Ars Technica and its widely respected security reporter Dan Goodin. Last week Goodin published a story about a major flaw in the browser extension for Keeper’s password manager, that was bundled with Windows.

      The flaw was actually discovered by Google’s Tavis Ormandy, who has a long history of discovering fairly high profile bugs — especially in password managers (he famously found a big flaw in LastPass, earlier this year). Notice how LastPass responded, though. It worked with Tavis on fixing the problem and rushing out a solution. Compare that to how Keeper responded. It’s suing — but not Ormandy. It’s suing Ars and Goodin. And, let’s be clear: the lawsuit is bullshit.

    • LGBTQ groups demand documents about CDC censorship
    • We Won’t Be Censored by Trump, the CDC, or Anyone
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • End of the privacy debate in the European Parliament: overview

      On 26 October, the European Parliament as a whole decided to end its debate about the future ePrivacy Regulation. Its position already adopted on 19 October by the leading Civil Liberties committee was thus confirmed. Now, governments of the Member States and representatives of the European Parliament will negotiate in order to find a compromise in form of a final text. Let’s review the first step of legislation which has come to an end.

    • Congress Backs Down From Terrible Surveillance Bill; Running Out Of Time

      Just this morning we wrote about a last minute plan by surveillance hawks in Congress to rush through a really bad bill to extend Section 702, which enables widespread domestic surveillance by the NSA. We recommended letting your elected officials know what a bad bill it was (leading at least one of our commenters to mock us, saying contacting your elected officials is useless). Turns out: it worked (for now). The bill has been taken off the table and won’t be voted on today. Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden had promised to filibuster such a bill on the Senate side to stop it, and it appears that widespread criticism caused the House to kill the bill for now.

    • Dozens of Companies Are Using Facebook to Exclude Older Workers From Job Ads

      A few weeks ago, Verizon placed an ad on Facebook to recruit applicants for a unit focused on financial planning and analysis. The ad showed a smiling, millennial-aged woman seated at a computer and promised that new hires could look forward to a rewarding career in which they would be “more than just a number.”

      Some relevant numbers were not immediately evident. The promotion was set to run on the Facebook feeds of users 25 to 36 years old who lived in the nation’s capital, or had recently visited there, and had demonstrated an interest in finance. For a vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people who check Facebook every day, the ad did not exist.

    • These Are the Job Ads You Can’t See on Facebook If You’re Older

      It is against the law to discriminate against workers older than 40 in hiring and recruitment. But using material provided by our readers through a ProPublica crowd-sourcing effort, we found dozens of companies who bought Facebook ads aimed at recruiting workers within limited age ranges. Some companies said these ads were not representative of their wider recruitment strategies. Others said targeting workers by age was a mistake, and vowed to stop doing it. To see the ads and each company’s response, click on the company names below. To join our crowd-sourcing effort, download our tool for Firefox or Google Chrome.

    • Facebook’s Collection And Use Of Data From Third-Party Sources Is ‘Abusive’, Says Germany’s Competition Authority

      This is a crucially important battle for Facebook. If the German competition authority issues a final ruling next year that Facebook is abusing its dominant position through its use of data from third parties, it could order the US company to cease aggregating data in this way. That would be a major blow to Facebook’s current business model, in Europe at least, since it is likely that other competition authorities there would take the same line. Facebook derives much of its power as an advertising medium from the vast quantities of data gathered from all around the Web that it collects and uses for profiling.

      As if Facebook did not have enough problems in the EU, France’s data protection agency has just ordered WhatsApp to stop sharing user data with its parent company, or face fines. Although these would be small under current legislation, once the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation comes into force next year, they could be up to 4% of Facebook’s global turnover.

    • Homeland Security Adviser Pins Wannacry Attack On North Korea In Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

      With politically-expeditious timing, Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert has pinned the Wannacry attacks on North Korea. The delivery method for the news was odd as well: a “commentary” piece in the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed pages.

      [...]

      Wannacry was ransomware, but nowhere in Bossert’s piece is there any indication North Korea turned a profit. The article says Wanncry “cost” billions, but it doesn’t say anything about North Korea suddenly being awash in illicitly-obtained cash.

    • State Hacking An Option To Overcome Encryption, IGF Hears

      The days of unfettered access to internet content are over, Riana Pfefferkorn of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society told government representatives during a panel dedicated to state interference in encryption, organised by Brazil’s registry Nic.br and CGI.br at the 12th Internet Governance Forum this week in Geneva. “Governments have to adapt,” the cryptography researcher said. A concern is, though, that governments will adapt by either lashing out to get backdoors in code, weaken encryption or legalize state hacking.

    • Snowden hosts Reddit AMA over Congress’ mass surveillance plan

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the ACLU held a live Reddit Ask Me Anything session, which included 400 questions on congressional plans to sneak in a bill to expand mass surveillance measures.

      Of the 440 questions asked Wednesday, about 20 garnered responses from the panelists, which included American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ashley Gorski, ACLU legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani, and Snowden.

    • Edward Snowden and human rights groups slam NSA bill that’s rushing through Congress

      The law that gives the National Security Agency the legal authority to spy on millions of Americans is set to expire at the end of the year.

      That might sound like good news, a chance to perhaps scale back the agency’s far-reaching powers and rethink how far its tentacles are allowed to reach into the lives of private citizens across the US.

      Not so much. In fact, Congress is rushing through a bill that will expand the NSA’s legal authority to collect, analyze, and act on the digital communications of American citizens.

    • Edward Snowden and human rights groups slam NSA bill that’s rushing through Congress

      The law that gives the National Security Agency the legal authority to spy on millions of Americans is set to expire at the end of the year.

      That might sound like good news, a chance to perhaps scale back the agency’s far-reaching powers and rethink how far its tentacles are allowed to reach into the lives of private citizens across the US.

      Not so much. In fact, Congress is rushing through a bill that will expand the NSA’s legal authority to collect, analyze, and act on the digital communications of American citizens.

    • Efforts to Expand NSA Spying Trip Up

      Since last night, the debate over how to reauthorize certain NSA surveillance authorities has seen a whirlwind of activity, culminating in the major news that the House Rules Committee postponed a vote today to potentially expand NSA spying powers.

      As we wrote yesterday:

      “According to reports published Tuesday evening by Politico, a group of surveillance hawks in the House of Representatives is trying to ram through a bill that would extend mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. We expect a vote to happen on the House floor as early as [December 20], which means there are only a few hours to rally opposition.

      The backers of this bill are attempting to rush a vote on a bill that we’ve criticized for failing to secure Americans’ privacy. If this bill passes, we will miss the opportunity to prevent the FBI from searching through NSA databases for American communications without a warrant. Worse, nothing will be done to rein in the massive, unconstitutional surveillance of the NSA on Americans or innocent technology users worldwide.”

      With the House Rules Committee’s postponed vote, this crisis is currently avoided. But the fight isn’t over.

    • Congress is backing away from its controversial NSA bill

      Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which authorizes much of the NSA’s data collection and queries, is set to expire at the end of the year, although many of the relevant legal authorities may continue through April. It’s still unclear how Congress plans to address the deadline, although a short-term reauthorization has been proposed as a stopgap measure.

    • Facebook allows employers to target job ads based on age, and that might be illegal

      Facebook has just come under even more scrutiny today for its lack of oversight into algorithmic ad targeting following a new joint investigation from The New York Times and ProPublica, this time focused on potential age discrimination. Similar to how ProPublica illustrated last year and again just last month how housing ads on Facebook could exclude users by so-called “ethnic” and “multicultural” affinities, this new report shows how the social network also lets advertisers exclude certain age groups for job ads.

    • Facebook says it wants your face data in the name of privacy

      But Facebook is putting all of these features under one setting, meaning that if you want the notifications about where your face appears on friends’ accounts or strangers’ accounts, then you’ll also have to be all right with automatic tagging.

    • [tor-project] Ongoing DDoS on the Network – Status

      Earlier this month, many relay operators started noticing huge loads on their
      relays both in terms of traffic and memory consumption leading to relays
      malfunctionning or even dying in some cases.

      We’ve started looking at this in depth in the last few days. It turns out that
      many relays (not all) are under a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack
      which makes them use a lot of memory ultimately making the operating system
      stop the process or becoming unreliable because of the resource pressure.

    • Congress is sneaking through a major expansion of NSA surveillance powers
    • ACT NOW: Only hours remain to stop Congress from sneaking in massive new NSA spying powers
    • Edward Snowden and human rights groups slam NSA bill that’s rushing through Congress
    • The Spy Coalition In Congress Rushes Through Plan To Keep The NSA Spying On Americans
    • Key NSA surveillance program’s reauthorization hits roadblock in Congress
    • ORG responds to annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner (IOCCO)

      Responding to today’s publication of the 2016 annual report of the outgoing Interception of Communications Commissioner (IOCCO), the Open Rights Group highlighted a number of issues.

      The report shows that there has been a sustained 50% increase in the annual number of telephone and internet records accessed by police and security services since 2014. Over 750,000 requests for items of communications data were approved in 2016, each involving up to a year of records.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Melting ICE: New Sanctuary Coalition Activists Surround New York Immigrant Processing Center, Calling for Justice

      The Varick Street Service Processing Center and its maze of detention cells and courtrooms occupies the bottom third of a large, nondescript building in Lower Manhattan. Its location is undoubtedly a matter of convenience, intended to shorten the distance that officers must travel as they escort detainees to the corrections buses idling in the building’s garage. The Service Processing Center is not a place for permanent holding, but rather for transition: a halfway point between freedom and long-term incarceration or removal for many of New York City’s undocumented population. According to ICE Community Relations Officer Sonia Thomas, those detained at the facility stay no longer than 12 hours, until their fate is determined. Still, with no razor-wired fences or bars over the windows, the only indication that the center temporarily holds more than 2,300 immigrants each year is a lone guard on the north side of the building, wearing the green uniform of the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    • The Unresolved Legacy of CIA Torture

      About three years ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee declassified the executive summary of a 6,000-page report on the history of CIA torture. The report described the brutality of the torture, demonstrated how ineffective it was, and revealed that the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to other government agencies and Congress about its use.

      While the release of the report led Congress to approve bipartisan legislation in 2015 to permanently take the CIA out of the interrogation business, proponents of torture remain in government and continue to adversely shape public opinion.

    • Trump’s Campaign Pledge to Revive Torture Rattled Britain’s Spies, Report Shows

      President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to bring back torture, including the controversial method of waterboarding, seriously concerned British spies before he entered the Oval Office, according to a new government report.

      The document published by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC), the body that oversees Britain’s intelligence agencies—MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, on Tuesday reveals the fears inside the world’s top security service about the future president’s policy positions.

      “Certain views that the president has expressed—particularly prior to his election—have the potential, if they were to become official policy, to pose difficulties for the U.K.-U.S.A. intelligence relationship,” the document reads.

    • British Spies Were Spooked by Trump’s Torture Rhetoric

      British spies expressed concern in late 2016 that some of now-President Trump’s extreme campaign rhetoric could develop into contentious policy or legislation, according to a newly published report from a U.K. government body that oversees the country’s intelligence agencies.

      Although the comments were made before Trump was elected, they still show how one of the U.S.’s most important allies was paying close attention to the possibility of the U.S. falling back into the practice of torture, as well as Trump’s position on Russia in particular.

    • ICE Continues to Detain Hundreds of Iraqis Despite Lack of Evidence of Flight Risk or Danger

      These are just some of the questions haunting hundreds of Iraqi families, whose loved ones have been held in immigration detention for months. Starting in June, Immigration and Customs Enforcement began conducting raids on Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal.

      To date, ICE has not provided any evidence that the detained Iraqis are a flight risk or pose a danger to the community. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union will be in court to argue that individuals should be released under supervision while they fight their deportation cases. The hearing is the next step in the ACLU’s challenge, which charged ICE with attempting to deport people back to Iraq without due process, and in spite of credible evidence that they would face religious persecution and violence due to their connections to America.

      Among those arrested were Christians, Kurds, and Muslims who had been living in the United States for varying lengths of time, many for decades. A majority of those swept up are Chaldean Christians, a religious and ethnic minority that faces violent persecution in Iraq. Fears of violence have been exacerbated by the rise of ISIS, which has also targeted Sunni and Kurdish Muslims. All of these individuals have reason to believe that living in America will mark them as targets for persecution in Iraq.

    • All 6 Defendants Not Guilty In Key Felony Trial Of Trump Inauguration Protesters
    • Good News: Trump Protestors Accused Of ‘Hiding Behind The First Amendment’ Acquitted

      Last week we wrote about the insanity of the DOJ’s argument in trying to convict a group of protestors at Trump’s inauguration. As we noted, the DOJ didn’t even try to connect the defendants with any violence or property damage, but merely said that by being near the property damage they were accomplices, because they made the actual perpetrators harder to catch. When talking about the First Amendment and the right to assemble, Assistant US Attorney Rizwan Quereshi, incredibly, claimed that the defendants were “hiding behind the First Amendment.” Even more incredibly, on Monday of this week another Assistant US Attorney, Jennifer Kerkhoff, tried to tell the jury that the judge’s instruction about reasonable doubt “doesn’t mean a whole lot”, leading the judge to jump in and say that Kerkhoff clearly didn’t mean to say that…

    • When should behaviour outside a community have consequences inside it?

      Free software communities don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re made up of people who are also members of other communities, people who have other interests and engage in other activities. Sometimes these people engage in behaviour outside the community that may be perceived as negatively impacting communities that they’re a part of, but most communities have no guidelines for determining whether behaviour outside the community should have any consequences within the community. This post isn’t an attempt to provide those guidelines, but aims to provide some things that community leaders should think about when the issue is raised.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Shocker: FOIA Request Shows Yet Another Core Justification For Repealing Net Neutrality Was Bullshit
    • Internet Society Official On Internet Governance Challenges, Role In Solving Issues

      The Internet Society has participated in the Internet Governance Forum since its inception. Since then, the forum has been able to build trusted relationships with the different groups of stakeholders, but it should be able to attract more participants from all those groups of stakeholders, such as ministers and CEOs, according to Constance Bommalaer, senior director of Global Policy of the Internet Society. Bommalaer sat down with Intellectual Property Watch’s Catherine Saez in the margins of this week’s Internet Governance Forum in Geneva to explain the pressing issues of internet governance, such as the trust issue, and the internet of things, and the work of the Internet Society to bring tangible answers.

    • Comcast is giving its employees $1,000 bonuses because net neutrality is dead
    • Is Multi-Stakeholder Internet Governance Dying?

      Over the last three months of 2017, EFF has been representing the interests of Internet users and innovators at three very different global Internet governance meetings; ICANN, the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS), and this week in Geneva, the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF). All of these to some extent or other are held out as representing a so-called multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. Yet in practice there are such vast differences between them—with the GCCS being mostly government-organized, ICANN being mostly privately-organized, and the IGF falling somewhere in between—that it’s difficult to see what this multi-stakeholder model really represents.

      This is one reason why EFF has generally eschewed promoting a particular model of governance by name, but rather has emphasized how fair processes with the characteristics of inclusion, balance, and accountability, can lead to better outcomes. Last month UNESCO issued a report [PDF] with a more detailed list of its own criteria of multi-stakeholder governance processes, according to which such processes should be inclusive, diverse, collaborative, transparent, flexible and relevant, private and safe, and accountable. The use of criteria such as these, rather than merely the application of the buzzword “multi-stakeholder”, enables us to critique how particular global meetings fall short in effectively involving users in the development of policies that impact them.

    • Right On Cue, Marsha Blackburn Introduces A Fake Net Neutrality Bill To Make The FCC’s Idiotic Decision Permanent

      As we just got done saying, giant ISPs are well aware that last week’s unpopular FCC vote to repeal net neutrality rests on very shaky legal ground. The agency will be facing all manner of lawsuits in the new year from competitors and consumer groups that quite correctly highlight the blatant fraud and bizarre missteps that occurred during the proceeding. Those lawsuits will also argue that the FCC is violating the Administrative Procedure Act by passing a law without proving that the broadband market had changed enough in just two years to warrant such a severe, unpopular reversal (tip: it didn’t).

      As such, ISPs are already pushing hard to codify the FCC’s idiotic and unpopular repeal into law. ISPs like Comcast are claiming they’re just so interested in protecting the open internet (after spending millions to dismantle real net neutrality rules) that a law their lobbyists likely wrote is the only path forward now. But these bills have one purpose: to prevent any future FCCs or Congressional lawmakers from passing meaningful rules down the road.

    • P2P WiFi Plan Challenges ISP Dominance

      Open Garden on Monday announced the launch of a new peer-to-peer service that allows users to share Internet connections and unused plan data for free, with compensation in a new Ethereum cryptocurrency as an extra incentive.

      The company is offering the service through an app that can be downloaded from Google Play. The system requires no hardware other than an Android phone to participate in the Internet access sharing.

    • CenturyLink Pushed For Net Neutrality Repeal, Now Adorably Calls For FCC To Police Interconnection

      You’ll probably recall that a few years ago, Netflix streams began mysteriously slowing down for users nationwide. Eventually, Netflix, Level3 and Cogent stated that the problem wasn’t on Netflix’s end, but was occurring at peering points, where they claimed incumbent ISPs had begun intentionally letting their networks congest by refusing to upgrade capacity. Why? The goal was to kill settlement-free peering and extract steep new troll tolls from content companies that wanted their traffic to reach incumbent ISP customers without, you know, being kneecapped.

      These interconnection issues were just a creative evolution of a longstanding efforts by ISPs to abuse their monopoly over the last mile. Level3 made a pretty compelling case that this was little more than glorified extortion. So too did New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose lawsuit against Charter/Spectrum (pdf) argued that ISPs were not only using manufactured congestion to drive up rates for transit and content companies, but had admitted to manipulating this congestion to trick re

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Apple Bullies Pharmacy Over Trademark Because All The Apples Are Belong To Them

        For roughly as long as Apple went through business-puberty and grew up into a big-boy company, it has held the somewhat strange belief that only it is allowed to use anything resembling an image of an apple as part of any kind of corporate branding. This has resulted in all kinds of bullying episodes and disputes over the logos of other companies that have little to no resemblance to Apple’s iconic logo and typically involve companies that don’t remotely compete with it either.

        But if Apple was hoping for some kind of chilling effect to be the result of these bullying efforts, it’s only logical that this chilling effect would need to be renewed now and again. Fortunately, some silly pharmacy called Red Apple Interactive Pharmacy had the audacity to file a trademark application for the following logo.

    • Copyrights

      • Charter, Disney Execs Pledge To Crack Down On Streaming Password Sharing ‘Piracy’

        For years now Netflix and HBO CEOs have stated that they see streaming service password sharing as little more than glorified advertising. These execs have long argued that once users realize they enjoy the product, they’ll usually sign up for their own account (something particularly true of kids once they leave home and get a job). Even then, these companies already impose a limit on the number of simultaneous streams their services offer, and already charge more for a greater number of streams — so it’s not like these companies are giving away the farm for free anyway.

        But for the last several years incumbent broadcast and cable executives have been engaging in breathless hysteria regarding such password sharing. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge has grown increasingly agitated over the practice, arguing that HBO and Netflix’s tolerance of password sharing shows a “complete lack of control and understanding in the space,” while going so far as to argue that a “lack of control over the content by content companies and authentication processes has reduced the demand for video because you don’t have to pay for it.”

      • The Public Domain Review The Public Domain Review : Class of 2018

        Pictured above is our top pick of artists and writers whose works will, on 1st January 2018, enter the public domain in many countries around the world. Of the eleven featured, seven will be entering the public domain in countries with a “life plus 70 years” copyright term (e.g. most European Union members, Brazil, Israel, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, etc.) and four in countries with a “life plus 50 years” copyright term (e.g. Canada, New Zealand, and many countries in Asia and Africa) — those that died in the year 1947 and 1967 respectively. As always it’s a miscellaneous medley assembled for our graduation photo, including one of the chief figures of the Surrealist movement, Gertrude Stein’s lover, the other Winston Churchill, a war poet, and a mystic, magician, and mountaineer once denounced as the “the wickedest man in the world”.

      • Internet Users Warned Over Fake 20th Century Fox Piracy ‘Fines’

        People are being warned to be on their guard after fake piracy fines demanding hundreds of euros were sent out to Internet users in Germany. The emails claim that the user has infringed the rights of 20th Century Fox by streaming illegal content from popular platform Kinox. But the whole thing is an elaborate scam designed to part people from their hard-earned cash.

EPO Judicial Crisis Has Not Ended, But the Administrative Council Certainly Tries to Sell That Impression

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And nothing substantial will change when Campinos takes over the Office

Judicial Crisis in Portugal: The Constitution in relation to the State, Social and Labor Movements
2017 paper: Judicial Crisis in Portugal: The Constitution in relation to the State, Social and Labor Movements

Summary: The latest developments, including the latest lies, which pretend that the Patrick Corcoran affair is passé and that life goes on at the EPO

THE WEEK (and month) is about to end. The year is about to end. Yet the EPO said absolutely nothing about the Boards of Appeal scandal, only the Administrative Council (AC) did and it was a lie. Very cringe-worthy.

As JUVE’s Mathieu Klos‏ has just put it: “According to a communiqué published yesterday, “… the Council expressed its satisfaction at having closed the case. In particular, it underlined its expectation that now – …- legal peace would be restored” The judge might see that differently.”

Obviously. It was a wish or a lie, not reality. It’s almost like adding insult to injury. Where’s ILO in all this? “This is so sick,” one EPO insider wrote, as Battistelli and the “AC are degrading ILOAT! Furthermore, ILOAT has become the laughingstock of the tribunals worldwide! No respect of law anymore…there is nothing left of all that.”

Indeed. The EPO has already damaged a growing number of institutions, not just European ones but international ones too. The EPO has become a reputational cancer. Anything Battistelli touches turns to dirt.

The EPO now writes (warning: epo.org link) about the Enlarged Board of Appeal, which Battistelli is crushing. This is what it wrote yesterday:

On 18 December 2017, the Enlarged Board of Appeal issued a decision on the referral G 1/16.

The Office will now resume the examination and opposition proceedings that were stayed ex officio because the decision depended entirely on the outcome of the pending referral G 1/16.

Still not a word about the Boards of Appeal scandal. The AC alluded to it in vague terms and lied about it.

This morning, citing Klos‏ and others, The Register published a good overview or roundup of recent developments. Among these:

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) has inflamed already heightened tensions within the organization by failing to properly address an important accountability test case.

The ruling body of the international organization – made up of representatives of European governments – was formally criticized earlier this month for not doing its job and questioning the treatment of a patent judge by EPO management. It then considered the case of patent judge Patrick Corcoran at a closed-door meeting, going through two judgments from the International Labor Organisation (ILO) that ordered Corcoran immediately be reinstated from a three-year suspension.

As we reported last week, despite the EPO’s president Benoit Battistelli being explicitly and repeatedly criticized for inappropriately trying to influence Corcoran’s case, it appeared that Battistelli had again interfered by revising documents at the last minute that were then considered by the council.

The end result of that meeting was formally acknowledged in minutes released this week: Corcoran was reinstated but his position on the Boards of Appeal was not renewed.

[...]

Perhaps the most damning response to the EPO’s dysfunction and its seeming complete lack of accountability however came in a speech by former German constitutional court judge Prof Dr Siegfried Bross several weeks ago.

The speech – a translated version of which was published in English this week – tackles a subject that Bross has repeatedly raised this year – whether the planned Unitary Patent Court (UPC) for Europe is actually legal.

The UPC was due to be ratified earlier this year but Brexit and a legal challenge at the German Constitutional Court have stopped it in its tracks. Bross gives a lengthy explanation for why he feels that having a single court decide patent cases across Europe is not legal, most of which boils down to a single concept: the European Patent Office sits outside normal legal jurisdictions.

It’s a good article and the first comment is about Ireland’s indefinitely delayed referendum on UPC:

Ireland has to have a referendum on harmonisation of European patents jurisdiction as it involves a court that is not described in our constitution.

In different circumstances, I might agree with the concept as it would streamlines development processes and opens up an easier path to market, but with this joke shop in charge, I will be putting my X right next to the big box marked NO / NIL !

I’m happy with our own patents process, until there’s something properly organised to replace it. I would have no confidence in this body at all based on what I’ve been reading.

The European Commission needs to go back to the drawing board. This simply isn’t good enough.

Without the UK and Ireland in the UPC, what would even be the point of English as an official language? The UPC is dead. But don’t tell Bristows that. They must be on some very strong drugs down there in London, having just brought up France again (the land of corrupt Battistelli, which is already in it all; the UPC is contingent not upon France but Britain and Germany). Then again, we have become used to Bristows’ lies; maybe they profit from this (enticing the gullible into paying for UPC ‘advice’/’consultation’).

Watch the next comment in The Register (there were only two in total when we last checked):

Corruption is worth it, thats the problem.

Having just had experience of corruption in an org I was contracting at, you can fight it (costing money and personal life) or move on. You can’t beat someone who does this day in, day out and has the resources of an organisation.

Whistleblowers or civilians fighting against corruption never come off well.

We worry a great deal that the EPO tarnishes the reputation of Europe in general. This is being utilised by Brexit proponents, even though the EPO is not an EU ‘thing’. Things at the EPO need to be repaired as staff is in despair and there’s no hope over the horizon (no, Campinos won’t fix these issues).

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