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03.23.18

Team Battistelli and Team UPC Are Both Very Deep in Denial

Posted in Deception, Europe, Petitions at 7:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They still have a very long way to go

Five Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler
Reference: Five Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler

Summary: The perpetrators of a terrible patent system that permits patents on abstract ideas (which sometimes aren’t novel, either) and litigation as a priority refuse to let go of their dream — a distant, runaway fantasy which may soon cost over a thousand examiners their careers

Team Battistelli and Team UPC have a lot in common and they mutually benefit at the expense of the EPO. We have stressed this repeatedly over the years and there are many aspects to this symbiotic relationship.

Earlier today Team Battistelli said that “[p]atent applications at the EPO from UK companies and inventors continued to climb in 2017 (+2.4%),” but I told them that prices were lowered to ‘cheat’ for this supposed increase, which is still a decrease in revenue. They don’t like talking about that. For a number of months they hoped nobody would notice and point this out. Finances of the EPO are pretty opaque, but one can imagine what’s going on.

“Fourth Industrial Revolution technology patents [i.e. software patents at the EPO] are flourishing…”
      –World Economic Forum
Not only did the EPO lower the cost of applications (after observing decline in the number of applications); it also lowered the bar, welcoming for example software patents which are illegal in Europe. It just introduced some loopholes for that and wasted money promoting such loopholes in the media.

Earlier today the EPO retweeted this nonsense from WEF (World Economic Forum), which is based on something the EPO had paid the media for. “Fourth Industrial Revolution technology patents,” it said. “are flourishing…”

“Replace “patents in ICT” by “software patents”. And guess there are few software developers in the audience…”
      –Benjamin Henrion
This buzzword just means software patents, which are not legal in Europe. How do we know that this buzzword means software patents? IAM and Battistelli jointly said so earlier this year. “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (IR4) should just be read/interpreted as “software patents”; it’s a new (totally made up) term that’s being used in conjunction with older misleading terms like “CII”. Benjamin Henrion has also just taken note of “ICT” — a term that Grant Philpott likes to use alongside “Industry 4.0″ (they all mean the same thing). “Replace “patents in ICT” by “software patents”. And guess there are few software developers in the audience,” Henrion wrote today.

Then there are terms like “artificial intelligence”, which can be used for assessment of patents or for patents on software. We wrote about it many times so far this year (because the “AI” hype has been really strong in the past few months). Earlier today the EPO wrote: “We will discuss artificial intelligence and patent information searching at the East Meets West conference in Vienna…”

Carry on with buzzwords, EPO, but buzzwords won’t save you. The quality of patents is declining along with revenue (apparently). Courts aren’t easily fooled by buzzwords and don’t have 'production' pressures that compel them to decide within just hours.

“The quality of patents is declining along with revenue (apparently).”And on we move to Team UPC, which benefits from low-quality patents because these fuel more lawsuits (which is what they profit the most from). Thomas Adam (“UPCtracker”) wrote about CJEU in relation to UPC (4 days ago), foolishly believing (in spite lots of evidence to the contrary) that the Conservative Party will make exceptions just for UPC (which they never even speak about).

Then there’s “UPC blog” from Louise Amar, who went on about the selective data points from the likes of Bristows, choosing to create/embrace a sort of parallel reality wherein UPC is “almost there” and “inevitable”. In reality, or in this only universe, the UPC is dead. Team UPC (with blogs called “UPC blog” and accounts called “UPCtracker”) will sooner or later reach the “acceptance” phase. Deal with it and move on, Team UPC. Your Twitter accounts and blog names are now obsolete.

Amar wrote this:

Since the Brexit referendum the future of the UPC has been in jeopardy and, despite the optimistic schedules published by the UPC Preparatory Committee, its opening is still uncertain. Recently however, member states have taken encouraging steps. The UPC may thus soon become a reality.

No, it may not and the ‘evidence’ presented is delusional at best. As time goes by there is only growing evidence that the UPC will not happen. Nothing positive has happened since before Brexit. Nothing.

“As usual, especially when it comes to Team Battistelli and Team UPC, there’s an incredible difference between perception and reality. Maybe all of them — not just Battistelli — are perpetually drunk (not only on power).”Amar then proceeds to mumbling some incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo about SPC and Brexit. Brexit’s impact on patents is not profound because the UK remains in the EPO, but it will never participate in the UPC, which won’t materialise anyway.

As usual, especially when it comes to Team Battistelli and Team UPC, there’s an incredible difference between perception and reality. Maybe all of them — not just Battistelli — are perpetually drunk (not only on power).

Guest Post: Battistelli’s Former “Padrone” Facing Corruption Charges in France

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Battistelli’s former “padrone” made the headlines this week when he was taken into police custody in France and charged with corruption and other breaches of law

Battistelli’s former “padrone” made the headlines this week when he was taken into police custody in France and charged with corruption and other breaches of law (“Nicolas Sarkozy charged with corruption”).

SarkozyNicolas Paul Stéphane Sárközy de Nagy-Bocsa, the former President of France and ex officio co-Prince of Andorra from 16 May 2007 until 15 May 2012 — who has also been known to operate under the false identity of “Paul Bismuth” — was placed under formal investigation on Wednesday on suspicion of corruption, the misuse of Libyan public money and breaking French election campaign funding law.

This is not the first time that Sarkozy has been taken into police custody.

Ever since his term of office as President of France ended and he was longer by immunity from prosecution he has been under investigation for various alleged irregularities relating to his Presidential election campaigns in 2007 and 2012.

“Ever since his term of office as President of France ended and he was longer by immunity from prosecution he has been under investigation for various alleged irregularities relating to his Presidential election campaigns in 2007 and 2012.”Already in July 2014 he was taken into custody following the arrest of his lawyer and two magistrates who were under investigation for allegedly using their influence to obtain information about legal cases against him.

Authorised wire-taps of his telephone indicated that he had been in contact with a magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, then a member of the Cour de Cassation, to ask for confidential information about another investigation into campaign donations from the L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. In those conversations, it is alleged that Sarkozy promised Azibert promotion to a high-level position in Monaco in return for information on the case against him.

SarkozyThe charges which made headlines this week relate to suspicions that Sarkozy accepted up to €50 million from the Libyan despot Gaddafi to fund his successful 2007 Presidential campaign. Sarkozy is trying to portray himself as the victim of a Libyan smear campaign as he seeks to rebut allegations that Gaddafi bankrolled his rise to power.

“However the extreme opacity which shrouds the EPO’s financial affairs and the lack of an independent Audit Committee since 2011 make it difficult if not impossible to obtain any reliable information about such matters.”However, it should not be forgotten that criminal proceedings have also been launched against Sarkozy in another case of alleged illicit campaign financing relating to his unsuccessful Presidential election campaign in 2012.

In this case it is alleged that he engaged in fraud using sophisticated accounting mechanisms to cloak and mask the sources of funds and to circumvent the ceiling for campaign expenditure in 2012, which was €22.5m. Mr Sarkozy denies he was aware of the overspending. This affair is known as the Bygmalion scandal. See Nicolas Sarkozy: French ex-president under formal investigation and Nicolas Sarkozy to face trial over 2012 campaign financing.

The most recent developments in Sarkozy’s case may turn out to have implications for the EPO because they are likely to renew interest in the long-standing and persistent rumours that EPO funds were diverted to assist in the financing of Sarkozy's unsuccessful election campaign in 2012.

As confirmed by an article published in the French news paper Libération in June 2016 (English translation here), it is generally recognised that Battistelli was “propelled” into his position at the EPO in 2010 by Sarkozy.

The timing of Battistelli’s EPO appointment is interesting because he took up his duties in Munich in July 2010 about a year before the Presidential election campaign kicked-off in France in mid-2011.

Qadaffi's sonOne of Battistelli’s earliest actions at the EPO was to press for the disbanding of the independent Audit Committee which he managed to push past the Administrative Council in 2011.

At around the same time France was playing a key role in the 2011 international coalition that deposed and killed the Libyan leader Gaddafi.

Back then Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam claimed the Libyan regime had financed Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign. Qadaffi’s son is shown above with the person many hold responsible for the attack on Libya.

If these allegations are true, then it would be reasonable to assume that in 2011 Sarkozy who was busy trying to eliminate his one-time ally in Libya was also on the look-out for new sources to fund his upcoming Presidential election campaign.

Battistelli’s close connections to Sarkozy and his known affiliations with the UMP (subsequently renamed “Les Républicains”) have given rise to a lot of speculation at the EPO that he may have been involved in the funding efforts for the 2012 election campaign.

However the extreme opacity which shrouds the EPO’s financial affairs and the lack of an independent Audit Committee since 2011 make it difficult if not impossible to obtain any reliable information about such matters.

SarkozyIn this connection it should not be overlooked that one of the EPO’s auditors since 2014 is Mr. Frédéric Angermann who coincidentally used to be the secretary-general at the INPI from 2007 to 2012 when Battistelli was the Director of that institution.

Under these circumstances, it seems unlikely that any clarification will be forthcoming from official EPO sources.

SarkozySome cynical insiders at the EPO have suggested that before he leaves in June Battistelli should make an effort to put these scurrilous rumours to rest for once and for all by instructing his Investigative Unit to carry out a “whitewash” so that it can be officially established that he had no involvement with the Bygmalion affair and that like his former “padrone” he is the innocent victim of a “smear campaign”.

Links 23/3/2018: Fedora 28 Beta Delayed, Mintbox Mini 2 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 5:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Los Alamos Releases File Index Product to Open Source

    Today Los Alamos National Laboratory released new open source software called the Grand Unified File Index. GUFI is designed using a new, heirarchical approach to storing file metada, allowing rapid parallel searches across many internal databases. Queries that would previously have taken hours or days can now be run in seconds.

  • Buzzwords: Open Source

    If the idea of transparency in software strikes fear in your heart, good luck trying to avoid it. The State of Open Source Security 2017 cited that 80-90 percent of all commercial software developers use open source components within their applications. Usi says that a lot of the products on the market today — such as ARRIS, a common cable modem — use open source modules within their programs to some degree, even those with products labeled as proprietary. Also consider the Equifax breach of 2017, which resulted in millions of sensitive records being exposed through the exploitation of a vulnerability in an open source component of the company’s database.

    “The bad mojo with open source comes from the thinking that ‘If it’s open, it must be dangerous,’” Usi says.

  • CoinMiner Campaigns Move to the Cloud via Docker, Kubernetes
  • Kubernetes Founder Craig McLuckie on Going Multi-Cloud and Open Source

    At Kubecon in Austin, TX attended by over 4000 engineers, Craig McLuckie delivered a keynote on the Kubernetes journey.

    InfoQ caught up with Craig McLuckie, one of the original founders of the Kubernetes project and CEO of Heptio.

  • SRT Open Source Project Reaches Milestone with Sencore as 100th Member of the SRT Alliance

    The SRT Open Source Project, the fastest growing open source video streaming movement, continues in its mission to make SRT the de facto standard for low latency video streaming

  • What do developers think of open source, AI, machine learning, and net neutrality?

    A few of the big trends in technology these last few years have been AI and machine learning. The software is getting smarter and developers have access to some awesome tools. That doesn’t mean all developers have embraced the trends. Digital Ocean, a U.S.-based cloud infrastructure provider, has released their quarterly report on developer trends. The report covers everything from AI to net neutrality to open source.

    AI and machine learning are popular but not widely used. The report found 74% of developers are not using AI or ML tools in their workflow, but 81% want to learn more about them. Google TensorFlow (17%) is the most popular choice among those who are using AI and machine learning. 46% of developers are most excited about advancements in automated machine learning.

  • Developers offer insight on AI, Open Source, and GDPR in new survey [Ed: This is just a publicity stunt from DigitalOcean]

    There is alot of new tech already in motion this year – most of which was birthed into the industry years ago, though it’s just now creeping into our daily thoughts as developers. So what do you think about, or should you be thinking about?

    Cloud provider DigitalOcean has released a new survey on software developer trends and technologies. The survey had almost 6,000 respondents, with over half self-identified as developers.

  • ZTE launches container networking solution for open source NFV

    ZTE has unveiled an end-to-end container networking solution for open-source NFV, which it hopes will promote the development of cloud native technology and the open source ecosystem. The vendor says operators need the ability to quickly adapt to changing network demands with low cost solutions while maintaining continuous innovation. As such, it believes that containers are the best carrier for NFV transformation.

    ZTE says that container-based cloud native applications will become the trend for communications technology applications. However, the native Kubernetes network model used in the IT industry is too simple to meet telco service requirements.

  • Inspur Unveils Open Source Software Adapted Server at OpenPOWER Summit 2018

    Inspur, a member of the OpenPOWER Foundation, showcased its FP5280G2 server based on OpenPOWER9 that has completed the adaptation of mainstream open source software for cloud computing, big data and AI. It was the first time that this product was introduced in North America. As the initiator of the OpenPOWER Foundation, IBM disclosed more details of POWER9 processors: designed for emerging applications such as AI, cloud computing, and big data, and has 50% to 200% performance improvement compared to POWER8.

  • New technology companies, open source may red card big IT in India

    New technology companies and open source platforms may emerge to provide competition to incumbent information technology (IT) companies, management consulting firm Bain & Co has said.

    This may not augur well for the $167-billion Indian IT-business process management (BPM) industry, which accounts for 55% of the global outsourcing market and has been a predominant supplier of software implementation and maintenance to global businesses at a time when the local players are gearing up to embrace digital faster owing to changing client demand.

    The Indian technology service sector includes companies such as TCS, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro, IBM, Accenture and HCL Technologies.

  • A Better Way for Publishers to Think About Open Source

    There are benefits to open-source software. A company might want to take advantage of a certain innovation right away without a fee attached or not want to be locked into a contract with another technology company.

    When developers get comfortable with something new, such as blockchain, they’ll often start by using an open-source version. Many publishers flocked to Prebid.org’s open-source header bidder, for example, to have more control over programmatic demand.

  • Telefónica Starts Hunt for OSM Integrator Amid Open Source Doubts

    Telefónica has kicked off a process to select an integrator of the Open Source MANO (OSM) platform and says it will carry out a “request for quotation” (RFQ) to make a final decision on a supplier in the second half of 2018.

  • Redox OS 0.3.5 Released With New Network Stack & Better Security

    For all the fans out there of the Rust programming language and/or micro-kernels, a new version of Redox OS is now available, the Rust-written from-scratch OS.

    As the first release since last October’s Redox OS 0.3.4, the Redox OS 0.3.5 release is now available. This update is quite prominent for introducing a new network stack for the operating system as well as bettering the security, adding a new web browser, ACPI power improvements, and more.

  • Events

    • Submit a Proposal to Speak at Open Source Summit NA by April 29 [Ed: Two Microsoft staff on the Program Committee. LF is getting more compromised by the day. Companies that attack Linux stuff the committees.]

      Share your knowledge and expertise by speaking at Open Source Summit North America, August 29-31 in Vancouver BC. Proposals are being accepted through April 29th.

      As the leading technical conference for professional open source, Open Source Summit gathers developers, sysadmins, DevOps professionals, architects and community members from across the globe for education and collaboration across the ecosystem.

    • Introducing DevConf.US — call for participation closes soon

      DevConf.cz is a popular annual conference held annually in Brno. This year, DevConf is expanding with the inaugural DevConf.us being held in Boston, USA this coming August. DevConf.us is an annual, free, Red Hat sponsored community conference. It is targeted at developers, system administrators, DevOps engineers, testers, documentation writers and other contributors to open source technologies.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Zero coverage report

        Using these reports, we have managed to remove a good amount of code from mozilla-central, so far around 60 files with thousands of lines of code. We are confident that there’s even more code that we could remove or conditionally compile only if needed.

        As any modern software, Firefox relies a lot on third party libraries. Currently, most (all?) the content of these libraries is built by default. For example,~400 files are untested in the gfx/skia/ directory).

      • Shipping a security update of Firefox in less than a day

        One of Mozilla’s top priorities is to keep our users safe; this commitment is written into our mission. As soon as we discover a critical issue in Firefox, we plan a rapid mitigation. This post will describe how we fixed a Pwn2Own exploit discovery in less than 22 hours, through the collaborative and well-coordinated efforts of a global cross-functional team of release and QA engineers, security experts, and other stakeholders.

        Pwn2Own is an annual computer hacking contest. The goal of this event is to find security vulnerabilities in major software such as browsers. Last week, this event took place in Vancouver. Without getting into technical details of the exploit here, this blog post will describe how Mozilla responded quickly to ship updated builds of Firefox once an exploit was found during Pwn2Own.

      • Firefox Performance Update #4
      • The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies (Startklar?! March 2018)

        I presented today in Berlin at the Goethe Institute’s Startklar?! event. I went after a keynote (in German) by Cathleen Berger, Mozilla’s Global Engagement Lead. My time at Mozilla didn’t overlap with hers, but the subjects covered in our presentations certainly did!

        It was good to see Cathleen reference the Web Literacy Map, work that I led from 2012 to 2015 at Mozilla. She also referenced the recent Cambridge Analytica revelations and the DQ Institute.

      • Mozilla Accepting Applications for Internet Fellowships, Node.js Now Available as a Snap, Krita 4.0.0 Released and More

        Mozilla is accepting applications for its 2018–2019 Internet Fellowships: “Mozilla Fellows are technologists, activists, and policy experts building a more humane digital world.” Apply here. Applications are due April 20, 2018 at 5pm EDT.

  • Databases

    • A side-by-side comparison of MongoDB and Cassandra databases

      They’re both databases, obviously. More importantly, they are both examples of NoSQL databases. NoSQL is a type of database architecture in which data is stored in a relatively unstructured fashion. Compared to more traditional SQL-style databases, NoSQL can be a more efficient way of storing the large quantities of unstructured data that organizations commonly use for big data operations.

      MongoDB and Cassandra are also both open source — although commercial implementations are available, too. But even in that respect, they are not identical. MongoDB is governed by GNU Affero General Public License 3.0, whereas Cassandra is subject to Apache License 2.0.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Now You can download Kali Linux from Microsoft Store
    • Sonatype Nexus Named Best Open Source DevOps Tool [Ed: Sonatype is typically a parasite which badmouths FOSS in order to make sales. This headline is crafted for openwashing -- to make it seem as though the firm is "best of Open Source" and add a buzzword, "DevOps", to it.]
    • IoT fueling attacks on Linux devices [Ed: WatchGuard trying to make sales by badmouthing Linux even though it has nothing o do with badly-crafted devices that are not secured, maybe by intention]

      DDoS attacks aren’t the only threat the channel needs to worry about when it comes to securing the Internet of Things (IoT). According to WatchGuard Technologies, attacks on Linux devices are on the rise this year.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Why so little love for the patent grant in the MIT License?

      Too often, I hear it said that the MIT License has no patent license, or that it has merely some possibility of an “implied” patent license. If the MIT License was sensitive, it might develop an inferiority complex in light of the constant praise heaped on its younger sibling, the Apache License, which conventional wisdom says has a “real” patent license.

  • Programming/Development

    • Coding and Gardening

      Reading through student proposals for Google Summer of Code yesterday, I took a break from sitting in front of a keyboard to get some gardening done. We’ve had a few windstorms since I last raked, and with spring beginning, a few weeds have been popping up as well.

      One of the issues I’ve been reminding almost every student about is unit testing. The other is documentation. These are practices which are seen as not fun, not creative.

      Raking isn’t seen as fun or creative either! Nor is hunting and digging the wily dandelion. But I rake away the dead branches and fir cones, and snag those dandelions because later in the season, my healthy vegetables and beautiful flowers not only flourish without weeds, but look better without litter around them. In addition, we chop up the branches and cones, and use that as mulch, which saves water and keeps down weeds. The dandelions go into the compost pile and rot into richer soil to help transplants be healthy. In other words, the work I do now pays off in the future.

Leftovers

  • Uber’s Video Shows The Arizona Crash Victim Probably Didn’t Cause Crash, Human Behind The Wheel Not Paying Attention

    In the wake of a Tempe, Arizona woman being struck and killed by an Uber autonomous vehicle, there has been a flurry of information coming out about the incident. Despite that death being one of eleven in the Phoenix area alone, and the only one involving an AV, the headlines were far closer to the “Killer Car Kills Woman” sort than they should have been. Shortly after the crash, the Tempe Police Chief went on the record suggesting that the victim had at least some culpability in the incident, having walked outside of the designated crosswalk and that the entire thing would have been difficult for either human or AI to avoid.

  • 7 steps to DevOps hiring success

    As many of us in the DevOps scene know, most companies are hiring, or, at least, trying to do so. The required skills and job descriptions can change entirely from company to company. As a broad overview, most teams are looking for a candidate from either an operations and infrastructure background or someone from a software engineering and development background, then combined with key skills relating to continuous integration, configuration management, continuous delivery/deployment, and cloud infrastructure. Currently in high-demand is knowledge of container orchestration.

  • How to tell when moving to blockchain is a bad idea

    You know that already, of course. I keep wondering whether we’ve hit “peak hype” for blockchain and related technologies yet, but so far there’s no sign of it. When I’m talking about blockchain here, I’m including distributed ledger technologies (DLTs), which are, by some tight definitions of the term, not really blockchains at all. I’m particularly interested, from a professional point of view, in permissioned blockchains. You can read more about how that’s defined in my article Is blockchain a security topic? The key point here is that I’m interested in business applications of blockchain beyond cryptocurrency.

  • Science

    • Gender Stereotyping Has No Place in My Classroom

      The workshop claimed that the way we structure our classrooms is in conflict with how boys are hard-wired to behave, therefore hampering boys’ success. By contrast, the trainers said, girls are innately programmed to do well in our classrooms.

      The instructors encouraged us to create gender-specific environments and lessons. Face-to-face seating is appropriate for girls but will promote conflict in boys; bright lights and strong teacher voices facilitate male learning but will elicit a stress response in females; boys learn best through competitive, dynamic games, but girls flourish in a more collaborative setting. They claimed our classroom structure was the primary cause of behavioral and scholastic problems among male students, and this could be remedied by adjusting our academic climate to be more beneficial to boys.

  • Security

    • Hackers are using a five-year-old security vulnerability to infect Linux servers with cryptocurrency-mining malware. [Ed: SHOCK HORROR: servers not patched are not secure]
    • Hackers exploit old flaw to turn Linux servers into cryptocurrency miners [Ed: Neglect it relies on means GNU/Linux is not at all the issue here]
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Dealing with network hackers in 1995

      Going back to early 1995, I was working for Los Alamos National Labs as a contractor systems administrator. I didn’t have a security clearance so could not work ‘behind the fence’ as they said. Instead, I worked with a large number of similarly uncleared post-docs, graduate students, and college interns in a strip mall converted into offices. The offices ran from nearly one end of the strip mall to the other with a large selection of Unix, PC, and Mac systems spread through the building connected together with 10base2 (or thin-wire). To make things even more fun, most of the systems were disk-less SunOS Sparc ELC/SLC and IPC systems booting off a Sparc 10 which had 64 MB of RAM and I think 2 2 GB disk drives.

      The first problem I had to deal with was my most of the systems would crash at different times during the day. I got a Digital network book my Dad had given me, and learned about common problems with networking as this was not something I had dealt with before. I found that the local network was connected to a T1 which ran back to the main campus about 2 miles away. The T1 went to a hub which had 7 thin-wire lines running out of it. That seemed fine until I traced the thin-wire out. I was worried there were bad connectors (there were) or kinks in the line (there were) but the real problem was that out of the 7 thin-wire lines 3 were used. Most of the systems were on one line. 2 (my desktop and the Sparc 10) were on another one, and the Next and SGI’s were on the third. The other lines were just laying under the carpets not used. I met with my new boss Dale, and showed him what I had found. I learned a lot from Dale. He got me a copy of the Unix System Administrators Handbook and told me to start reading it on networks.

    • How “Hacker Search Engine” Shodan Caught Leakage of 750MB Worth Of Server Passwords

      Remember Memcached servers? Now, we have another case of servers exposed online and fulfilling evil intentions of the hackers. This time, thousands of etcd servers maintained by corporates and organizations are spitting sensitive passwords and encrypted keys, allowing anyone to get access to important data.

      Security researcher Giovanni Collazo was able to harvest 8781 passwords, 650 AWS access keys, 23 secret keys, and 8 private keys.

    • The security footgun in etcd

      From an application security perspective databases are the most valuable parts of our systems. They store the data that gives value to our apps and companies. This data which has been entrusted to us by our users should be kept safe and away of the hands of criminals.

    • Thousands of servers found leaking 750MB worth of passwords and keys

      Thousands of servers operated by businesses and other organizations are openly sharing credentials that may allow anyone on the Internet to log in and read or modify potentially sensitive data stored online.

      In a blog post published late last week, researcher Giovanni Collazo said a quick query on the Shodan search engine returned almost 2,300 Internet-exposed servers running etcd, a type of database that computing clusters and other types of networks use to store and distribute passwords and configuration settings needed by various servers and applications. etcd comes with a programming interface that responds to simple queries that by default return administrative login credentials without first requiring authentication. The passwords, encryption keys, and other forms of credentials are used to access MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, content management systems, and other types of production servers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Exonerating the Empire in Venezuela

      The United States has for years undermined the Venezuelan economy with economic sanctions, but US media coverage of Venezuela’s financial crisis has gone out of its way to obscure this.

      The intent of the sanctions is clear: to inflict maximum pain on Venezuela so as to encourage the people of the country to overthrow the democratically elected government. SUNY professor Gabriel Hetland (The Nation, 8/17/16) pointed out in 2016 that the Obama government “prevented Venezuela from obtaining much-needed foreign financing and investment.” Such policies, Hetland notes,

    • Senate Votes to Continue Yemen Devastation

      Shireen Al-Adeimi is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University. But she is having a hard time focusing on her studies, when friends and family back home in Yemen are under violent attack by the heavily armed, US-backed Saudi forces, with many going hungry as a result of the Saudi blockade.

      Al-Adeimi said on Tuesday, March 20, “This month marks the third anniversary of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war on Yemen. Despite the dire humanitarian crisis, however, the United States continues to sell arms to the Saudis and provide them with military support.”

    • Reformer or War Criminal? Saudi Crown Prince Welcomed in U.S. as Trump Touts Weapons Deals

      On Tuesday, President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House, where the two leaders finalized a $12.5 billion weapons deal. This comes less than a year after Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis. During the meeting, Trump held up posters of recent Saudi weapon purchases from the United States and said, “We make the best equipment in the world.” Human rights groups warn the massive arms deal may make the United States complicit in war crimes committed in the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. We speak with Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan and Medea Benjamin of CodePink.

    • Watch: Pussy Riot’s new song warns Vladimir Putin they’re going to keep fighting him

      On Sunday, to nobody’s surprise, Vladimir Putin won another six years of Russia’s presidency. Russian political punk group Pussy Riot, of course, were waiting for the predictable victory with a fierce response.

      They released a new song (video above) titled Elections to show their defiance to Putin’s 18 years of power. The grimy hop-hop song’s lyrics, translated from Russian, directly state, “Six years we’re gonna fight, we’re not gonna obey during his term.”

    • Boris Johnson A Categorical Liar

      Evidence submitted by the British government in court today proves, beyond any doubt, that Boris Johnson has been point blank lying about the degree of certainty Porton Down scientists have about the Skripals being poisoned with a Russian “novichok” agent.

      [...]

      I knew and had published from my own whistleblowers that this is a lie. Until now I could not prove it. But today I can absolutely prove it, due to the judgement at the High Court case which gave permission for new blood samples to be taken from the Skripals for use by the OPCW. Justice Williams included in his judgement a summary of the evidence which tells us, directly for the first time, what Porton Down have actually said:

    • Rahul Mahajan on Fallujah, Omar Farah on DHS’s ‘Race Paper’

      Corporate media didn’t make too much of the 15th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, and perhaps it’s just as well, as they’d’ve likely used the occasion to reinforce their favored idea: that the spectacularly devastating invasion was due preeminently to popularly shared miscalculations, on which they reported, rather than a campaign of demonization and deceit in which they participated.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Seth Rich’s parents are taking their fight against Fox News to court

      Seth was shot to death about a block from where he lived in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, DC, on July 10, 2016. Police never found the killer. His parents, Joel and Mary Rich, have been besieged since his death by conspiracy theorists, alt-rightists, and Trump supporters — some representing the very heights of right-wing media — who were convinced that Seth’s murder was somehow orchestrated by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in a byzantine scheme involving WikiLeaks and the Russia investigation.

      [...]

      The Riches aren’t just trying to stop the conspiracy theories about their family — they’re trying to prevent conspiracy theories from taking root in the first place, ever again. And by challenging the very process by which their son’s life became material for conspiracy theorists and bad-faith actors, they might be able to get some peace.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic

      Ocean plastic can persist in sea surface waters, eventually accumulating in remote areas of the world’s oceans. Here we characterise and quantify a major ocean plastic accumulation zone formed in subtropical waters between California and Hawaii: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). Our model, calibrated with data from multi-vessel and aircraft surveys, predicted at least 79 (45–129) thousand tonnes of ocean plastic are floating inside an area of 1.6 million km2; a figure four to sixteen times higher than previously reported. We explain this difference through the use of more robust methods to quantify larger debris. Over three-quarters of the GPGP mass was carried by debris larger than 5 cm and at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets. Microplastics accounted for 8% of the total mass but 94% of the estimated 1.8 (1.1–3.6) trillion pieces floating in the area. Plastic collected during our study has specific characteristics such as small surface-to-volume ratio, indicating that only certain types of debris have the capacity to persist and accumulate at the surface of the GPGP. Finally, our results suggest that ocean plastic pollution within the GPGP is increasing exponentially and at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.

    • More than 150 whales are found on Australian beach – most of them dead

      Rescuers faced a race against time to save dozens of short-finned pilot whales on Friday after more than 150 got stranded on an Australian beach.

      More than half of the beached whales had died, said Jeremy Chick, incident controller at Western Australia’s conservation department.

      Authorities and volunteers were trying to save about 50 still alive on the beach and a further 25 in shallow waters.

  • Finance

    • China plans to hit US with tariffs following Trump trade sanctions
    • Trump takes aim at China with trade tariffs
    • Trump Hits China With $50 Billion in Tariffs
    • China: We would fight a trade war ‘to the end’
    • Warren Buffett Recommends Investing in Index Funds — But Many of His Employees Don’t Have That Option

      Warren Buffett, the most successful investor of our time, is a huge fan of low-cost index funds — funds that replicate a market index rather than try to outperform it — as the way for the average investor to succeed in the stock market. “By periodically investing in an index fund … the know-nothing investor can actually outperform most investment professionals,” he wrote in his 1993 letter to shareholders of his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. “Paradoxically, when ‘dumb’ money acknowledges its limitations, it ceases to be dumb.”

      He returned to the subject in this 2016 letter, writing, “Both large and small investors should stick with low-cost index funds.” And in his newest shareholder letter, Buffett said that one reason he made a widely publicized bet (which he has now won) that a low-cost Vanguard index fund would outperform a group of hedge funds over a 10-year period was “to publicize my conviction that my pick — a virtually cost-free investment in an unmanaged S&P 500 index fund — would, over time, deliver better results than those achieved by most investment professionals, however well regarded and incentivized those ‘helpers’ may be.”

      Given Buffett’s praise of index funds — specifically, those with low fees — you’d think that all the employees at Berkshire Hathaway companies would get to practice what the boss preaches by being able to invest their 401(k) money in such funds.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Taps John Bolton for NSA Post as McMaster Departs
    • Donald Trump replaces NSA HR McMaster with former UN ambassador John Bolton
    • Trump replaces HR McMcmaster with hawk John Bolton as NSA
    • Another Head Rolls On Donald Trump’s Twitter Feed: This Time It’s NSA Chief HR McMaster
    • McMaster resigns as national security advisor
    • The World According To John Bolton, In 11 Remarkable Statements

      Perhaps surprisingly for a former UN ambassador and State Department official, John Bolton thinks more often than not that military action, not diplomacy, is the answer.

      President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he was replacing his national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, with Bolton, who in recent years has been more known as a Fox News analyst,

      A prolific commentator, Bolton’s views on a broad range of issues have been well documented over the years. He has delivered a steady stream of commentary as a constant fixture on Fox News and in many newspapers’ op-ed pages.

      Many lawmakers and former officials have long expressed alarm about Bolton, who Trump spoke of appointing to a top post before he had even won the presidency.

      “No man is more out of touch with the situation in the Middle East or more dangerous to our national security than Bolton,” Sen. Rand Paul wrote in an op-ed days after Trump’s election.

      Here are some of his views.

    • House Staples Extraterritorial Search Permissions Onto 2,232-Page Budget Bill; Passes It

      Just as the Supreme Court is considering the legality of extraterritorial demands for communications held by US internet service providers in overseas data storage, Congress is doing all it can to short-circuit the debate. Tucked away towards the back of a 2,200-page spending bill is something called the “Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act” or (of course) “CLOUD Act.” (h/t Steve Vladeck)

      The CLOUD Act [PDF - starting at p. 2201] would make any decision by the Supreme Court extraneous. If it agrees with Microsoft — as lower courts have — that the US has no right to demand communications stored overseas with a normal warrant, the Act would immediately overturn the decision. If it decides against Microsoft, it will be aligned with the new law. As it stands now, the route most likely to be taken by the Supreme Court is a punt. Legislation on point is in play and the Court will probably be more than happy to let legislators make the final call.

      Beyond the obvious problem of giving US law enforcement permission to use regular warrants to bypass mutual assistance treaties, the law also allows for reciprocation. We can’t go around waving SCA (Stored Communications Act) warrants in foreign lands without expecting pushback from locals. So, we’ll have to give foreign countries the same privileges, even if the criminal charges being investigated wouldn’t be considered criminal acts in this country and the country enjoying this reciprocation doesn’t care much about its own citizens’ rights and privacy.

    • The Iraq War and the Crisis of a Disintegrating Global Order

      Democracy is dying. As we convene to remember the 15th year anniversary of the Iraq War, the fundamental lesson of that war is that our democratic norms are at grave risk when judges and courts fail to hold government leaders accountable for a patently illegal war.

    • How Many Millions of People Have Been Killed in America’s Post-9/11 Wars? – Part One: Iraq

      How many people have been killed in America’s post-9/11 wars? I have been researching and writing about that question since soon after the U.S. launched these wars, which it has tried to justify as a response to terrorist crimes that killed 2,996 people in the U.S. on September 11th 2001.

    • Seeing Journalism Make a Difference in Election Results

      I like chatting with the neighbors in line at my polling place, which is a hallway in the middle school both my sons attended. I’m excited to pick up my ballot from the same eye-patched man who has been handing it to me ever since I moved to Oak Park almost 20 years ago. And I never walk out without picking up an “I Voted” sticker and proudly affixing it to my jacket.

      Voting gives me a voice in the community I deeply care about, occasionally even allowing me to help elect people I know, a local camping-group mom or hockey-team dad running for office. Also, as a naturalized citizen, this small, fundamental act has come to embody for me the privilege and responsibility of living in our democracy.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Social Media Beats Censorship in Iran: New at Reason

      In the first days of January, a meme spread through Iran. The image featured Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Jahromi drop-kicking the logos of Tor, an encrypted proxy network, and several social media platforms—a reference to the Iranian government’s ban of the messaging service Telegram in response to protests in late December.

      On January 4, the meme ended up on the front page of Ghanoon, a newspaper aligned with the country’s liberal Reformist movement. The same day, Jahromi reposted it on his Instagram account along with the caption: “The National Security Council—which the Telecommunications Ministry is not part of—has decided, along with other security measures, to impose temporary restrictions on cyberspace in order to establish peace…instead of addressing the roots of the protests and unrest, some are trying to blame cyberspace.”

    • ACLU Files Lawsuit Against New Orleans over Censorship of Anti-Trump Mural

      The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city of New Orleans over an anti-Donald Trump mural that artist Cashy-D painted on the property of real-estate developer Neal Morris in November 2017. The work features an excerpt from the infamous Access Hollywood tape, a recording of the President bragging to journalist Billy Bush in 2005 about grabbing women’s genitals.

      According to the Art Newspaper, the city notified Morris that the work was a zoning violation and that he had to remove it. If he failed to comply, Morris was told that he would face “a maximum fine or jail time for each and every day the violation continues plus court costs.”

    • YouTube Limits Firearms Videos; Gun Rights Group Cries Censorship

      YouTube has broadened its restrictions on gun-related videos, while thousands of Americans are mobilizing to demand stricter gun controls Saturday in a mass march spurred by young survivors of a deadly armed attack on a Florida high school last month.

      Google’s popular video-hosting site will bar videos that facilitate direct sales of firearms or accessories, and those that contain links to websites where such purchases can be made, YouTube’s revised policy states. Bump stocks and other add-ons that convert guns into automatic-fire weapons are among the accessories covered by the new rules.

    • Spanish Hate/Anti-Terrorism Speech Laws Doing Little But Locking Up Comedians, Artists, And Dissidents

      As Spain continues to expand its (anti-)speech laws, the rights of its citizens continue to contract. Not content with making it illegal to insult a cop or government officials, the Spanish government has decided to tackle hate speech and terrorism with the same ineptitude.

      There’s no punchline here. People are being arrested and charged with speech having nothing to with promoting hate or terrorism. And this is in addition to people who’ve found themselves targeted by vindictive public servants for daring to publicly criticize their words or actions.

      It’s gotten so bad Amnesty International — an entity that usually spends its time decrying the acts of dictators and brutal authoritarians — has felt compelled to speak up about Spain’s terrible speech laws. Mathew Ingram has more details at Columbia Journalism Review.

    • SESTA’s First Victim: Craigslist Shuts Down Personals Section

      This is interesting on multiple levels, since the moral panic against online sites that eventually resulted in SESTA actually did start with Craiglist nearly a decade ago, with various state Attorneys General ganging up on the company — despite no legal basis — even threatening criminal charges. Because of all that, Craigslist eventually shut down its “adult” section, which was really what pushed Backpage into the spotlight.

      And, as we noted last fall, a recent study showed that when Craigslist shut down its adult section, there was a dramatic increase in homicide, which many attributed to sex workers being unable to use the website to screen clients and protect themselves.

      But, either way, the site dropped its adult section entirely all the way back in 2010. And, yet, now it realized it must shut its entire personals section, or potentially face crippling criminal liability. Remember how all the SESTA supporters insisted that SESTA would only target those willfully supporting sex trafficking and wouldn’t do anything against other sites? That’s already been proven wrong.

    • American high school journalists fight school-ordered censorship

      But Saleh, a student journalist at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, an all-girls school in Queens, New York, would be frustrated four days later when the school’s principal noticed the story on the wall, and removed it.

      Students in high schools across the United States are having journalistic articles removed or suppressed by their schools, while school officials try to appease parents’ concerns and maintain order by limiting negative or inappropriate press.

    • Washington State’s New Anti-Censorship Law Gives Student Journalists More Rights Than Supreme Court

      After of lobbying from students and teachers, a bill to prevent school administrators from censoring the work of student journalists has became law.

      Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5064 Wednesday in front of a group of students, teachers and school administrators in Olympia. The new law, which goes into effect this June, makes Washington the last state on the West Coast to pass an “anti-Hazelwood law,” a reference to a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made it legal for school administrators to censor content in school newspapers and other student-run media.

    • China’s censorship body keeps ruining fun on the internet

      Chinese citizens, living under tight censorship control, don’t have too much freedom to crack jokes on the internet. Now, what tiny space they have left for having fun is increasingly being chipped away.

      In an “extra urgent” document (link in Chinese) issued yesterday (March 23), the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s main media-censorship body, banned videos that re-edit content from other works such as classic TV shows and films. According to the body, such videos distort content and take the original videos out of context in order to attract viewers, creating “an extremely bad influence on society.” It also banned trailers and behind-the-scenes videos from unapproved content on all online platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Responsibility Deflected, the CLOUD Act Passes

      Those are the words of Jim McGovern, representative for Massachusetts and member of the House of Representatives Committee on Rules, when, after 8:00 PM EST on Wednesday, he and his colleagues were handed a 2,232-page bill to review and approve for a floor vote by the next morning.

      In the final pages of the bill—meant only to appropriate future government spending—lawmakers snuck in a separate piece of legislation that made no mention of funds, salaries, or budget cuts. Instead, this final, tacked-on piece of legislation will erode privacy protections around the globe.

      This bill is the CLOUD Act. It was never reviewed or marked up by any committee in either the House or the Senate. It never received a hearing. It was robbed of a stand-alone floor vote because Congressional leadership decided, behind closed doors, to attach this un-vetted, unrelated data bill to the $1.3 trillion government spending bill. Congress has a professional responsibility to listen to the American people’s concerns, to represent their constituents, and to debate the merits and concerns of this proposal amongst themselves, and this week, they failed.

      On Thursday, the House approved the omnibus government spending bill, with the CLOUD Act attached, in a 256-167 vote. The Senate followed up late that night with a 65-32 vote in favor. All the bill requires now is the president’s signature.

      [...]

      Because of this failure, U.S. and foreign police will have new mechanisms to seize data across the globe. Because of this failure, your private emails, your online chats, your Facebook, Google, Flickr photos, your Snapchat videos, your private lives online, your moments shared digitally between only those you trust, will be open to foreign law enforcement without a warrant and with few restrictions on using and sharing your information. Because of this failure, U.S. laws will be bypassed on U.S. soil.

    • Facebook Gave Data Dump Of 57 Billion Friendships To Cambridge Researcher

      After the much discussed Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has broken all its ties with the Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan. In his defense, Kogan has said that he is being scapegoated in the matter and he wasn’t aware that he broke Facebook’s privacy policies.

      A newer revelation made by The Guardian suggests that his ties with Facebook weren’t limited to the infamous CA scandal. For a research paper, titled “On wealth and the diversity of friendships: High social class people around the world have fewer international friends,” which was published in 2015, Kogan also received a huge chunk of data from Facebook.

    • Report: AT&T Lands Potential $3.3B NSA IT Infrastructure Services Contract

      AT&T submitted a $2.55 billion bid for the Regional Infrastructure Services I contract and was selected by NSA for exceeding the requirements in several areas such as technical services, enterprise management services and integration, according to redacted documents released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office.

    • AT&T’s Winning Bid for NSA Contract Was More Expensive

      The winning AT&T bid for a $3.3 billion classified NSA contract was more expensive, according to redacted legal documents published by GAO this week.

      AT&T bid $2.55 billion on a coveted contract to “technically evolve” the National Security Agency’s IT environment, which is an initiative to provide enterprise information technology (IT) services to NSA/CSS and affiliate locations worldwide. DXC Technology bid $1.79 billion.

    • The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Said He Wanted To Create “The NSA’s Wet Dream”

      A few months before Christopher Wylie helped build Cambridge Analytica, and five years before he helped bring it down, the data scientist had already settled on an ambition: “I want to build the NSA’s wet dream,” he told an acquaintance.

      That was October 2013, and Wylie, in his early twenties, was gathering massive amounts of personal data as research director for SCL Group, a contractor that did military and political campaign work. He was also trying to raise money for his new startup concept — then called Arg.us — that would ingest users’ social media activity and use it to build “psychographic” profiles that marketers could use to identify our personalities and, possibly, influence our behavior.

    • Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Wanted to Build ‘NSA’s Wet Dream’

      Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie reportedly wanted to build a startup that was the “NSA’s wet dream,” according to BuzzFeed News. In documents obtained by the site, Wylie expressed his desire to produce “psychographic” profiles and sell them to marketers so they could use them to “identify our personalities and, possibly, influence our behavior.” At the time he was working for SCL Group—a company that does “military and political campaign work.” When writing about his startup in 2013, Wylie said that the “goal is first to make it an extremely profitable company…Then we will cleanse our souls with other projects, like using the data for good rather than evil. But evil pays more.” Wylie also wrote that he had ambitions to “change the world in a positive way” by creating “one of the world’s largest population datasets that could massively revolutionize all kinds of scientific research.” One source told BuzzFeed that Wylie’s failed startup was a “precursor to Cambridge Analytica,” although Wylie’s lawyer said that they were “completely separate entities.”

    • The End for Facebook’s Security Evangelist

      Alex Stamos, the Facebook executive who plans to leave the company by August amid a backlash over disinformation, has not been one to hold back.

      Mr. Stamos, Facebook’s chief information security officer, was often known to push superiors on security matters beyond where they were comfortable, people who have worked with him have said. He once challenged the National Security Agency director to his face, sparred with the media on Twitter and took his former bosses at Yahoo — and more recently at Facebook — to task over security issues.

    • Meet Hillary Clinton’s Other, Much More Powerful and Shadowy Oppo Research Firm

      Fusion GPS has gotten all the headlines. But there was a second, even more powerful and mysterious opposition research and intelligence firm lurking about with significant political and financial links to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her 2016 campaign for president against Donald Trump.

      Meet London-based Hakluyt & Co., founded by three former British intelligence operatives in 1995 to provide the kind of otherwise inaccessible research for which select governments and Fortune 500 corporations pay huge sums.

    • SCL – a Very British Coup

      A Channel 4 news undercover investigation revealed that the company’s Eton-educated CEO Alexander Nix offered to use dirty tricks – including the use of bribery and sex workers – to entrap politicians and subvert elections.
      Much of the media spotlight is now on Cambridge Analytica and their shadowy antics in elections worldwide, including that of Donald Trump.
      However, Cambridge Analytica is a mere offshoot of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL Group) – an organisation with its roots deeply embedded within the British political, military and royal establishment.
      Indeed, as the Observer article which broke the scandal said “For all intents and purposes, SCL/Cambridge Analytica are one and the same.”

    • Wherein Facebook Loses Recess For Everyone

      Hold on tight to those memories of all the good things the Internet has brought. SESTA has just passed the Senate, and at this point it’s a clear legislative path to undermining Section 230, the law that has enabled all those good things the Internet has offered.

      It is not entirely Facebook’s fault: opportunists from Hollywood saw it as a chance to weaken the innovation that weakens their antiquated grip over people’s creativity. Ill-informed celebrities, who understood absolutely nothing about the cause they professed to advocate for, pressed their bumper-sticker demands that something be done, even though that something is destructive to the very cause the bumper-stickers were for. Willfully ignorant members of Congress then bought into the bumper-sticker rhetoric, despite all the evidence they had about how destructive this law would be to those interests and online speech generally.

      Even frequent innovation ally Senator Wyden joined the chorus mounting against the tech industry, lending credence to the idea that when it came to a law that would undermine the Internet, the Internet had it coming.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sheriff Caught Buying Property With Jail Food Funds, Has Tipster Who Turned Him In Arrested

      Another Alabama sheriff has been caught abusing a law that’s inexplicably still on the books. Over the course of three years, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin took home at least $750,000 in funds meant to be used to feed inmates in his jail. Thanks to another bad law, there’s no telling how much more than $750,000 Entrekin has pocketed, but he certainly seems to have a lot of disposable income.

    • Alabama Sheriff Legally Took $750,000 Meant To Feed Inmates, Bought Beach House

      A sheriff in Alabama took home as personal profit more than $750,000 that was budgeted to feed jail inmates — and then purchased a $740,000 beach house, a reporter at The Birmingham News found.

      And it’s perfectly legal in Alabama, according to state law and local officials.

      Alabama has a Depression-era law that allows sheriffs to “keep and retain” unspent money from jail food-provision accounts. Sheriffs across the state take excess money as personal income — and, in the event of a shortfall, are personally liable for covering the gap.

    • Etowah sheriff pockets $750k in jail food funds, buys $740k beach house

      In September, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin and his wife Karen purchased an orange four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in an upscale section of Orange Beach for $740,000.

      To finance the purchase, Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage from Peoples Bank of Alabama, according to public real estate records. The home is one of several properties with a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million that the couple own together or separately in Etowah and Baldwin counties.

    • The New Frontier of E-Carceration: Trading Physical for Virtual Prisons

      Monitors are commonly a condition of pre-trial release, or post-conviction supervision, like probation or parole. They are sometimes a strategy to reduce jail and prison populations. Recently, EM’s applications have widened to include juveniles, the elderly, individuals accused or convicted of DUIs or domestic violence, immigrants awaiting legal proceedings, and adults in drug programs.

      This increasingly wide use of EM by law enforcement remains relatively unchecked. That’s why EFF, along with over fifty other organizations, has endorsed a set of Guidelines for Respecting the Rights of Individuals on Electronic Monitoring. The Guidelines are a multi-stakeholder effort led by the Center for Media Justice’s Challenging E-carceration project to outline the legal and policy considerations that law enforcement’s use of EM raises for monitored individuals’ digital rights and civil liberties.

    • Locked Up as Punishment for Seeking Safety

      In another life, I was a teacher. I stood in front of young people, delivering lessons on ethics and morality, as well as math and physics. Now, I am a prisoner. For the past 16 months, I have been locked inside the Geauga County Safety Center in Chardon, Ohio.

      “Safety Center” is a strange name for a jail with no outdoor space, where immigrant detainees are kept in windowless rooms. I have not felt fresh air in my lungs or the sun on my face for more than a year. I have not felt safe for years.

      My troubles began on Sept. 15, 2014. I was leading a youth seminar in my hometown of Grand-Riviere-du-Nord, Haiti. I was mid-discussion on the problem of corruption in Haitian politics when I named a local government official — Benjamin Ocenjac — as an example of someone who works with gangs to terrorize the population.

      That very day, I was attacked by members of “La Meezorequin,” the Shark Bones Army, a well-armed gang that supports Mr. Ocenjac. Men dragged me off my motorcycle and savagely beat me — breaking several bones and leaving me with scars which I bear to this day. They set my motorcycle on fire and threatened to kill me.

      [...]

      At Geauga, I have seen other asylum-seekers give up and return to countries where they fled danger because the price of seeking safety — imprisonment for months or years on end — was just too high. I am still fighting. The ACLU and partners filed a class action lawsuit on my behalf as well as for more than a thousand other asylum seekers who are currently locked up across the United States. We are suing the Department of Homeland Security for depriving us of due process.

    • ‘Those Who Committed the Crime of Torture Actually Get Promoted’

      Because this is the way things are now, the country’s secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was fired via Twitter this week. Tillerson is to be replaced by current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Pompeo’s top spot may be taken by the current deputy director, Gina Haspel.

      Most people won’t recognize the name, but human rights advocates know Gina Haspel well as chief of base of a secret prison in Thailand, called Cat’s Eye, where a man suspected of being in Al Qaeda was brutally tortured, including being waterboarded 83 times and hung by hooks from the ceiling. Questions are being raised about Haspel’s precise role in the torture, about whether her views have changed. But from a president who has declared support for “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” the nomination of someone deeply involved in the rendition, detention and interrogation programs that shocked the conscience as they violated the law is deeply worrying.

      Maha Hilal is the inaugural Michael Ratner fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and an organizer with Witness Against Torture. She also works with the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition, and is a co-principal Investigator with the Torture Treatment Initiative out of Tulane University’s Traumatology Institute.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Controlling the Web Is the Dream (and the Nightmare)

      Authoritarian governments regulate what their citizens can see online. The U.S. lets tech companies make similar decisions.

    • Senators Say The FCC’s Broadband Maps are a Bad Joke

      We’ve noted for some time how the broadband industry fights tooth and nail against more accurate broadband availability mapping, since having a better understanding of the broadband industry’s competition problem might just result in somebody actually doing something about it. This dysfunction and apathy was most recently illustrated with the FCC’s recent release of an “updated” broadband availability map, which all but hallucinates competition, speeds, and overall availability. This map (available here) also omits pricing data at industry behest, resulting in a $300 million pair of rose-colored glasses.

      But it’s not just the FCC’s broadband availability map that’s under fire. FCC maps that determine which area get wireless subsidies (more specifically Mobility Fund Phase II (MF II) funding) are also a bad joke for many of the same reasons.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • New Draft Text On Final Day Of WIPO Committee On Genetic Resources; Expert Group Proposed

      After the first suggested revision of potential treaty articles preventing the misappropriation of genetic resources was sent back to the drawing board this week, the second revision emerged today, for consideration by the World Intellectual Property Organization member states. Separately, a proposal by the committee chair to establish an expert group to meet prior to the next session of the committee meeting was positively received.

    • WIPO Names New Directors Of Global Challenges, Copyright Infrastructure

      Marion Dietterich is the new director of the Global Challenges Division, which includes activities related to broader issues such as health and environment. She comes from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in the Health Department, where she was GAVI CSO Constituency Coordinator. She follows Anatole Krattiger, who retired from the position at the end of last year.

    • Trademarks

      • Billy Goat Chip Co. fires back against iconic Chicago bar in trademark case

        Billy Goat Chip Co. is countersuing the Billy Goat Tavern, the iconic Chicago bar that in December sued the St. Louis potato chip maker over alleged trademark infringement.

        In the original suit, Billy Goat IP LLC, the owners of the Billy Goat Tavern, accused Billy Goat Chip Co. of infringing on its trademarks and sought to stop the Billy Goat Chip Co. from using the “Billy Goat” phrase or logo.

        Attorneys representing the Billy Goat Chip Co. filed a counterclaim this month arguing the chip maker was actually the first to use the “Billy Goat” mark in connection with packaged retail food and beverage products.

      • Famous Billy Goat Tavern Initiates Risky Trademark Dispute With Billy Goat Chip Co.

        Missing from far too many of the stories we post on trademark bullies is anything amounting to blowback. While it happens on occasion, the reason that trademark bullying works is due to the costs for any sort of defense, nevermind the cost that would be required to actually go on the offense against a bully. Still, that isn’t to say that when a trademark bully picks a fight that it cannot sometimes lead to a backfire.

        That appears to be the risk Chicago’s famous Billy Goat Tavern now faces after it sued Billy Goat Chip Co., given the countersuit and factual response made by the chip company. Billy Goat Tavern filed suit in 2017, alleging that the St. Louis potato chip maker was infringing on its trademark with its name and logo, which uses the silhouette of a rearing billy goat. For what it’s worth, the tavern’s logo is completely different and features a fully detailed cartoon head of a goat, not a black outline like the chip company.

    • Copyrights

      • 9th Circuit Appeals Court Recognizes That DMCA Repeat Infringer Policies Must Be Flexible

        We were concerned, last month, by the appeals court ruling in the Cox v. BMG case regarding the DMCA’s repeat infringer policy rules, though the more I’ve reread that ruling, I’ve become less bothered by it. While I’m still concerned about how bad decisions by Cox created potentially bad law, there are enough specifics in the ruling that hopefully will limit the impact to specific circumstances. In particular, whereas Cox was found to not have implemented a “reasonable” termination policy for repeat infringers, the court does acknowledge that the law means that the platforms have wide leeway in determining what their termination policy should be. The real problem for Cox was that it appeared not to actually follow its own policy, and thus did not reasonably implement it.

        That was over in the 4th Circuit. Last week, the 9th Circuit ruled on a case where there were also questions about a repeat infringer policy, and the ruling is a clean ruling in defense of platforms determining their own rules for terminating repeat infringers. The case, Ventura Content v. Motherless, involves a porn producer suing a site that allowed user uploads of porn. From the description in the case, Motherless qualifies for the DMCA’s safe harbors as a site where the content is submitted by users, and the ruling goes into great detail about the steps that Motherless’s sole employee, Joshua Lange, goes through to review content uploaded to the site to make sure it doesn’t violate the site’s terms (which mostly seem aimed at blocking child porn). Motherless also appears to follow a pretty standard DMCA takedown process. Actually, the site appears to go beyond what is legally required in accepting notices that don’t even meet the DMCA notice standard, and removing much of the notified content.

The Enemies of the Patent System Are Patent Maximalists, Not Those Pursuing Saner Patent Policy

Posted in America, Patents at 2:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On Gene Quinn, who is unable to debate like an adult (and blocked me after he had lost the argument)

Gene Quinn: Patent Twit of the Week
Reference: Gene Quinn (Watchtroll): Patent Twit of the Week

Summary: Taking stock of some recent news and remarking (yet again) on the danger the patent system faces if it allows patent lawyers rather than inventors to steer/influence policy (as seen in Europe with the failed UPC bid)

THE concept of patents is a controversial one, but only if one considers patents on things like thoughts, genetics (nature) and other stuff which doesn’t constitute an invention. There have been studies about cause and effect and they are quite critical of the status quo.

The USPTO didn’t always grant hundreds of thousands of patents per year. That’s not because back in the old days there was less innovation and barely any inventions. Now that the law ‘industry’ is large enough to have platoons of lobbyists there’s a push to make everything a patent. That’s a problem.

“Now that the law ‘industry’ is large enough to have platoons of lobbyists there’s a push to make everything a patent. That’s a problem.”We never opposed patents on physical things. “According to the terms of the agreement,” said Floor Daily, “the parties agreed that the CMC patents are valid and enforceable.”

We’re talking about floors here. That’s physical stuff.

And here’s another new example from a manufacturing company. It’s understandable that they’re pursuing more patents. This one from yesterday is about Siemens. “In 2017,” it says, “the university filed 106 U.S. patent applications, had 57 U.S. patents issued and saw a patent licensing income of nearly $4 million…”

“A system that loses sight of the importance of patent quality will simply render itself obsolete, over time (perishing in the public mind).”Siemens sells physical things for the most part. This is why Siemens is rarely mentioned here, except when it promotes software patents (that happened a very long time ago and never since).

How about this bunch of reports from last week regarding patents on drones? To quote: “An earlier patent application was for drones to monitor growing conditions of crops and send data to stores about when, and from where, the produce might arrive, Reuters said. So far, Walmart has applied for 46 drone technology patents, most of them for delivery and logistics, and for use within warehouses to track inventory.”

Replacing some farmers with drones so that billionaires like the Waltons can get richer even faster may be an ethical/moral issue (see this response to ‘Innovation Kills Jobs’), but not the patents themselves are an issue. It’s too easy to conflate these two things.

The California Institute of Technology v Broadcom Limited et al, a case which was noted a few days ago in Docket Navigator, speaks of physical things and primarily pertains to collection of evidence right now, notably:

The court denied plaintiff’s motion to compel the production of a clawed back deposition exhibit and found the document was privileged.

There’s also FieldTurf USA, Inc. et al v Astroturf, LLC, which Docket Navigator highlighted last week when it said:

Following a $30 million jury verdict and defendant’s filing for bankruptcy, the court granted plaintiff’s motion to amend its complaint to add defendant’s co-owners as defendants along with alter ego and veil-piercing claims.

Docket Navigator also focused on a damages case:

The court overruled plaintiff’s objections to the magistrate judge’s order partially striking the report of plaintiff’s damages expert.

As longtime readers already know, we prefer to concentrate on patent scope rather than matters like damages and privilege. We occasionally see patent maximalists attempting to portray us as “anti-patents” even though we value patent quality, unlike those patent maximalists. A system that loses sight of the importance of patent quality will simply render itself obsolete, over time (perishing in the public mind). So one might think of us as guardians of the system’s integrity rather than its foe. The same goes for copyrights. There’s nothing wrong with copyrights per se, but the way copyright law has evolved is totally detached from the realities of the Internet, public interest, preservation, folklore/culture and distribution.

This coming weekend we’ll write a lot about § 101 and PTAB, which helps enforce § 101 at scale. § 101 deals with elimination of patents on abstract things, such as algorithms.

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Declining Patent Quality ‘Tackled’ by Making Appeals/Oppositions Harder and More Expensive

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hiding the effect rather than actually dealing with it

The power of pricing
Battistelli hoped that offering ‘discounts’ to applicants would be a boon to the number of applications (as applications are running out, rendering staff redundant), but it lowers both quality and revenue (source: “The Power of Pricing”)

Summary: The so-called ‘System Battistelli’ is proving to be a disaster which makes both examiners and patents obsolete; Making applications cheaper while making appeals/oppositions harder and more expensive is a recipe for disaster, assuring nothing but more litigation and more workloads for courts, where fees rise to extraordinary levels (in effect externalising the costs/toll of EPO to the public, primarily for gains of patent law firms)

THE USPTO has made oppositions easier and more common (e.g. via PTAB IPRs). We are thankful for this because if patent justice is the goal, then elimination of wrongful patent grants is a desirable thing. At the EPO, by contrast, appeals or oppositions are being made harder just when they’re needed more/most (because of declining quality of grants, as a thousand courageous and moral examiners attest/confess to).

“This is bad for everyone in Europe, except perhaps law firms and patent trolls.”So far this month we have composed about four articles about increase in appeal fees (effective in 9 days), having already shown a soaring number of oppositions (possibly more than examiners can ever deal with given the unreasonable work demands/quotas). SUEPO has repeatedly complained about it, noticing that significant upsurge and noting that the new structure of groups lowers/dilutes skills level inside each. It’s a system which is designed to fail; it’s supposed to fail on justice, i.e. it’ll wind up failing to annul erroneous grants. This is bad for everyone in Europe, except perhaps law firms and patent trolls.

A site which advocates patents on life has just advertised its so-called ‘webinar’ (lobbying setup) and spoke of “late-filed EPO documents” in relation to oppositions. To quote:

Late-filed documents will come under greater scrutiny in light of changes to the European Patent Office’s (EPO) opposition procedure.

That was one of the key points discussed during a joint webinar between LSIPR and HGF yesterday, March 21.

That’s two days ago. It’s like a think tank stuffed/stacked with law firms, trying to basically ensure patent maximalism while noting that “granted patents increased from 64,619 to 105,635 at the EPO.”

The number of applications barely grew in the same period. This ratio is therefore alarming.

To quote further:

This will mainly be achieved by a significant shortening of the written proceedings phase of opposition practice. According to Moore, the streamlined opposition procedure could result in opposition divisions being stricter in allowing late-filed documents and late-filed requests into the proceedings.

“I think it’s certainly the case that late-filed documents will come under greater and greater scrutiny,” explained Moore.

“I’ve had six or seven oral proceedings in the past couple of months, some of which have required late-filed documents and the analysis on their prima facie usefulness seems to be taken at a very early stage by the Opposition Division.”

The Opposition Division is already overworked and overwhelmed. Patent maximalists prefer it that way because it helps ensure low patent quality.

The terrible assumption they (along with Team Battistelli/Team UPC) make is that patent courts will be able to better deal with patent assessment. But at what cost? Well, patent law firms profit a lot from litigation, so why would they oppose the status quo? They profit both from plaintiffs and defendants. They want the UPC because it means passage of patent assessment tasks from examiners to courts. As Benjamin Henrion put it yesterday: “UPC rules of procedure will be ratified in express mode by national parliaments? right or wrong? Can anyone confirm?”

Nothing is being ratified. Neither in the UK nor Germany. It’s not even on the agenda anymore. Without both of them ratifying — a deadlock-type process — the UPC is going nowhere. This is where we are today.

EPO revenue from applications seems to be declining. This is in spite of the goose being killed, i.e. the main ‘asset’ (experienced examiners) leaving and the backlog running out.

Yesterday the EPO wrote: “With nearly 500 more applications filed by German inventors and firms in 2017, Europe’s largest patent filing country again showed growth (+1.9%).”

“After EPO gave discounts,” I corrected them, “so overall applications revenue [was] down again…”

We wrote about this before.

The EPO also wrote (yet again): “Are you familiar with our Case Law of the Boards of Appeal publication? Tell us your opinion on it…”

This Boards of Appeal (BoA) spin continues unabated. The EPO posts this every couple of days and yesterday it was Boult Wade Tennant which joined the spin by publishing “EPO Launches a Consultation on the Revision of the Rules of Procedure of The Boards of Appeal” (EPO stenography).

But the EPO only pretends that BoA, which remains under attack from Battistelli all the time, is under public control. Battistelli wants them replaced by UPC.

The law firm wrote:

The EPO provides Applicants, Patentees, and Opponents with the opportunity to appeal decisions of the Examining Division or the Opposition Division following adverse decisions.

In recent years, the Case Law of the Boards of Appeal has developed in relation to the ability of an Appellant to present new arguments, objections, evidence, and amendments during appeal proceedings. Whilst the practice of the Boards can vary significantly in this regard, recently there has been a general trend towards a more restrictive procedure.

[...]

As a result, the need for Applicants, Patentees, and Opponents to present a full and exhaustive case before the Examining Division or Opposition Division is likely to become even more important.

The whole process is currently under attack. Examiners cannot issue patents correctly (too pressured to work in a rush), the Opposition Division sees oppositions soaring (but isn’t adequately staffed to deal with this workload), and the Boards are also grossly understaffed and lacking independence. The above is merely a face-saving and/or revisionism exercise. The EPO isn’t functioning properly. Insiders know that, but mainstream media remains (with very few exceptions) silent on the matter.

Ericsson, Acting Directly Rather Than Via the Patent Trolls It Habitually Uses, in a Patent War Against Linux/Android

Posted in America, Europe, LG, Patents at 12:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last year: Ericsson Hired From the World’s Largest Patent Troll and Became a Massive Troll in Europe

Ericsson troll

Summary: LG is the latest company to be sued by Ericsson, which doesn’t just harass the competition (which actually sells something) through patent trolls but also directly, having won a case in the notorious Eastern District of Texas (EDTX/TXED)

TECHRIGHTS has been watching Ericsson closely for a number of years. Like Nokia, another former giant from Scandinavia, Ericsson is nowadays feeding patent trolls and suing companies that distribute Linux in various forms (including but not limited to Android). There are other connections to patent trolls which make Nokia and Ericsson two of the biggest culprits in Europe. Nokia’s gleeful and shameless promotion of software patents (about one decade ago) grabbed our attention and its lobbying on patent policy always disturbed us, more so after Microsoft/Elop got involved, accelerating Nokia’s patent aggression, including aggression against Linux.

IAM, which habitually grooms Ericsson and its patent trolls (as recently as a couple of days ago), says that Ericsson is still going after South Korea-based companies that distribute Linux, citing the TCL case. Yesterday it wrote:

Ericsson filed a lawsuit against LG Electronics in US district court earlier this week in what could be the first courtroom test of the its patent portfolio since it was on the receiving end of a damaging verdict late last year in an SEP FRAND dispute with Chinese handset manufacturer TCL. The Swedish telecoms giant has asked the court for a declaration that its actions in pursuing a licence with LG comply with FRAND and an additional ruling that the Korean company has breached its own FRAND obligations. Ericsson has also accused the handset manufacturer of infringing one patent (no. 6,633,550).

The above TCL lawsuit was also mentioned yesterday by the Docket Navigator, showing that Ericsson had been suing in Texas (TXED) with dodgy patents while relying on dodgy “experts”. To quote:

Following a jury verdict of $75 million, the court granted defendant’s motion for new damages trial because the application of plaintiff’s survey expert’s results by plaintiff’s damages expert was unreliable.

The above is a pretty big deal because it impacts SEP and FRAND caselaw, it shows the sort of thing that caused LG to exit the Chinese market, and it generally emboldens patent trolls and their lobby (like IAM) to initiate more lawsuits. This kind of litigation culture is seen as a safety net or insurance/welfare for companies which became irrelevant. The end result isn’t innovation but overpriced (artificially-inflated prices) devices and those who suffer the most are customers. What’s also noteworthy is that many of the said patents are software patents, but they’re bundled together (as per, e.g., SEP thickets) in order to discourage legal challenge of pertinent patents.

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