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05.24.18

Privacy Statement

Posted in Site News at 11:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Today, May 25th, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into full effect; we hereby make a statement on privacy

AS a matter of strict principle, this site never has and never will accumulate data on visitors (e.g. access logs) for longer than 28 days. The servers are configured to permanently delete all access data after this period of time. No ‘offline’ copies are being made. Temporary logging is only required in case of DDOS attacks and cracking attempts — the sole purpose of such access. Additionally, we never have and never will sell any data pertaining to anything. We never received demands for such data from authorities; even if we had, we would openly declare this (publicly, a la Canary) and decline to comply. Privacy is extremely important to us, which is why pages contain little or no cross-site channels (such as Google Analytics, ‘interactive’ buttons for ‘social’ media etc.) and won’t be adding any.

Shall readers have any further questions on such matters, do not hesitate to contact us.

Saint-Germain’s Poisonous Legacy of “Toxic Loans”: The SIDRU “Toxic Loan” Débâcle and Criticism of Lamy From Local Opposition Groups

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 11:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week: Système Battistelli (ENArque) at the EPO is Inspired by Système Lamy in Saint-Germain-en Laye

Bosch the conjurer

Summary: The EPO‘s entrance into the “toxic loans” trap as of a few months back (just like in Saint-Germain*) is a sign of potential trouble ahead; The SIDRU “toxic loan” débâcle is highlighted as per criticism of mayor Lamy (St Germain-en-Laye, where Battistelli is deputy mayor) from local opposition groups

Following the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Paris which found SIDRU liable for all of the outstanding debts and interest charges on its DEPFA loan, the former SIDRU chairman Emmanuel Lamy was obliged to defend himself at the meeting of the municipal council of St Germain-en-Laye which took place on 16 November 2016.

According to a commentary on the affair written by Jean-Claude Merle, a former municipal councillor of the neighbouring municipality Marly-le-Roi, Lamy tried to evade the question of his personal responsibility for the débâcle by referring to the collective responsibility of the 15 municipal councils that are the stakeholders of SIDRU as well as to the roles of other authorities such as the regional Prefect and the regional Chamber of Auditors.

“Following the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Paris which found SIDRU liable for all of the outstanding debts and interest charges on its DEPFA loan, the former SIDRU chairman Emmanuel Lamy was obliged to defend himself at the meeting of the municipal council of St Germain-en-Laye which took place on 16 November 2016.”See “Emprunts toxiques du SIDRU, qui paiera ?” [Translation: “SIDRU’s toxic loans, who is going to foot the bill?”]

As for the financial consequences Lamy tried to reassure the taxpayers of St Germain-en-Laye that the financial consequences of Court of Appeal judgment were being discussed by the affected urban agglomerations with a shared will to define “a course of action that would not impact the level of local taxes of the 200,000 inhabitants concerned”.

Without providing precise details he indicated that the two urban agglomerations of Grand Paris Seine et Oise (covering 73 municipalities and more than 400 000 inhabitants) and Saint Germain Boucles de Seine (covering 20 municipalities and 340 000 inhabitants) could be relied upon to absorb the fallout from SIDRU’s toxic loans (which directly affected 200,000 inhabitants).

“Doit-on spéculer avec l’argent public?”

“According to a commentary on the affair written by Jean-Claude Merle, a former municipal councillor of the neighbouring municipality Marly-le-Roi, Lamy tried to evade the question of his personal responsibility for the débâcle by referring to the collective responsibility of the 15 municipal councils that are the stakeholders of SIDRU as well as to the roles of other authorities such as the regional Prefect and the regional Chamber of Auditors.”The local left-wing opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement, formerly Saint-Germain Gauche Plurielle, has been a longtime and persistent critic of Lamy’s management of SIDRU and his imprudent dabbling in speculative “financial instruments”.

As far back as July 2007 the group published a short party political statement in the local Journal de Saint-Germain under the title “Doit-on spéculer avec l’argent public?”.

See below (click to ‘zoom’ in).

JSG-512_6-juillet-2007

In this statement the group expressed its serious concerns about the speculative nature of the financial contracts concluded by Lamy in his role as chairman of SIDRU and warned of the potential for losses of the order of several millions of Euros for the public purse.

“In this statement the group expressed its serious concerns about the speculative nature of the financial contracts concluded by Lamy in his role as chairman of SIDRU and warned of the potential for losses of the order of several millions of Euros for the public purse.”Throughout the remainder of 2007 the group published a series of articles on its website presenting a detailed analysis of the situation at SIDRU and the risks involved, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

One of the leading figures in the group’s campaign for transparency about SIDRU’s finances and its criticism of Lamy’s speculative use of public funds is Emmanuel Fruchard (pictured below), a financial analyst by profession, who has been fêted in the local press as “the sworn enemy of toxic loans”.

Emmanuel Fruchard

Emmanuel Fruchard with paper

Some video footage of the “two Emmanuels” – Fruchard and Lamy – each presenting his own view of the SIDRU affair can be found in an online report from 2011 by a freelance French journalist, Mélanie Houé.

“One of the leading figures in the group’s campaign for transparency about SIDRU’s finances and its criticism of Lamy’s speculative use of public funds is Emmanuel Fruchard…”After its initial series of articles in 2007 the Saint-Germain Autrement group continued to monitor the situation at SIDRU over the course of the next decade and regularly published updates on its website.

In November 2016 in response to the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Paris, the group published a statement in the “Free Opinion” column of issue no. 697 [PDF] of the JSG in which it spoke in terms of a “damning judgment” against Lamy: “SIDRU: le jugement accable E. Lamy”.

JSG article

“Monsieur le Président, expliquez-vous”

Criticism of Lamy’s management of SIDRU has also come from the local conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain whose members include the former Deputy Mayor, Anne Gommier.

“Criticism of Lamy’s management of SIDRU has also come from the local conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain whose members include the former Deputy Mayor, Anne Gommier.”Ms Gommier had already expressed a general dissatisfaction with Lamy’s political style in an interview given to the local press during the 2014 municipal election campaign.

On that occasion she spoke of an unacceptable “disconnect” with the local populace as well as problems with a lack of transparency and consultation.

“On that occasion she spoke of an unacceptable “disconnect” with the local populace as well as problems with a lack of transparency and consultation.”She also deplored the way in which the municipal council had been turned into a rubber-stamping chamber: “Le conseil municipal est une chambre d’enregistrement”.

In October 2016 the Agir pour Saint-Germain group joined in the chorus criticising Lamy’s handling of the SIDRU affair. It published a statement in the “Free Opinion” column of issue no. 695 [PDF] of the Journal de Saint-Germain under the title “La Dette du SIDRU: un mauvais suspense” which could be translated freely into English as “SIDRU’s debt: the suspense is killing us”.

JSG article

In this statement the group complained that although the annual report of SIDRU had been placed on the agenda for the municipal council meeting of 29 September 2016 there had in fact been no discussion at the meeting and the council had not been informed of the state of SIDRU’s finances. They referred to estimated losses of the order of € 70 million from SIDRU’s toxic loans (€ 20 million from the DEPFA loan and € 50 million from a second loan with Natixis). In view of Lamy’s status as a graduate of the illustrious Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences PO) and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, a former advisor to the Minister of Finance and someone who had held a senior position in the Finance Ministry (“Bercy”), one could only surmise that he must have known the risks involved. But irrespective of whether or not he was aware of the risks, in the end it was the local taxpayers who were the “turkeys” (“dindons de farce”) left to foot the bill.

“In view of Lamy’s status as a graduate of the illustrious Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences PO) and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, a former advisor to the Minister of Finance and someone who had held a senior position in the Finance Ministry (“Bercy”), one could only surmise that he must have known the risks involved.”In November 2016, following the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Paris, the group published a further statement in the issue no. 697 of the JSG under the title “Monsieur le Président, expliquez-vous” in which it strongly criticised the use of public monies for speculative purposes and called on Lamy to account for his actions as the chairman of SIDRU at the time when the DEPFA loan contract was signed.

In December 2016 the group published a follow-on statement in the JSG [PDF] under the title of “Illusions, Désillusions” which could be translated into English as “Illusions and rude awakenings”.

JSG article

Starting off with an ironic reference to the famous picture (at the top of this article) of “the Conjurer” by the Dutch Renaissance painter Hieronymous Bosch which was on display in Saint-Germain as part of an exhibition of his works, they repeated their criticism of Lamy’s financial conjuring tricks at SIDRU (the “illusion”) and referred to the findings of the Court of Appeal of Paris (the “rude awakening”).

“But irrespective of whether or not he was aware of the risks, in the end it was the local taxpayers who were the “turkeys” (“dindons de farce”) left to foot the bill.”They deplored the fact that despite repeated calls for Lamy to account for his role in the affair he had not seen fit to offer an apology for his mistakes nor had he even made any attempt to explain himself: “Et pourtant, au Conseil Municipal comme au Conseil Communautaire, le Maire interpellé par notre groupe sur ses erreurs et sa responsabilité n’a pas daigné faire amende honorable, ni même s’expliquer.”

[Translation: “And yet, in the municipal council as in the communal council the Mayor, having been questioned by our group about his mistakes and his responsibility, did not deign to make amends, nor even explain himself.”]

“The concluding advice given to the citizens of Saint-Germain was to pay attention to the lesson of Bosch’s painting and not to be gullible spectators who passively watched as their quality of life was whittled away by the deceit and legerdemain of others.”After referring to a number of other contentious local issues, they asked how many more “bad tricks” remained to be pulled out of the conjurer’s bag: “Combien de mauvais tours encore dans le sac ?”

The concluding advice given to the citizens of Saint-Germain was to pay attention to the lesson of Bosch’s painting and not to be gullible spectators who passively watched as their quality of life was whittled away by the deceit and legerdemain of others.
__________
* An article by Carmen Nobel, senior editor of Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, provides some additional background information about the “toxic loan” crisis in France. We covered that in previous parts and would like to highlight some selected bits:

A new study by Boris Vallée and Christophe Pérignon offers evidence that local politicians in France (and probably elsewhere) used high-risk loans for political gain in the years leading up to the recent financial crisis. The strategy worked: Toxic loans helped mayors get reelected.

[...]

The researchers focused their study on France, having gained access to two valuable data sets: The first contained the entire debt portfolio for most of the 300 largest French local governments as of December 31, 2007; and the second contained the loan-level data for all the outstanding structured transactions of Dexia, the leading bank in the market as of December 31, 2009. (Shortly thereafter, Dexia fell apart in the European debt crisis.) The data showed that so-called structured loans accounted for 20.1 percent of the 52 billion euros in total debt for the municipal sample.

Similar to subprime mortgages, structured loans usually carry a few years of guaranteed low interest, which allows local governments to reduce the cost of their debt quickly and obviously. But after the honeymoon period, these loans end up carrying highly variable interest rates resulting from exotic exposures. For example, the City of Saint-Etienne saw the interest rates on one of its major loans rise from 4 percent to 24 percent in 2010, due to the depreciation of the pound sterling. In total, losses on toxic loans doubled the city’s debt levels.

[...]

Toxic loan transactions were especially frequent for incumbent politicians running in “swing” areas. Incumbent politicians running in politically contested areas (where the local government had been ruled by the same party for fewer than 10 years) were more inclined to use structured loans than those in political strongholds (where the ruling party had been in power for more than 20 years).

Vallée and Pérignon analyzed how the politicians used the loans—whether they had invested the money in equipment or services for the city, or used the cash to lower taxes for their constituents, or both. It turned out that for the most part, they had used the short-term savings from the loans to lower taxes. “This action is consistent with politicians seeking reelection by catering to taxpayers’ preference for low taxes, which represents a likely channel for the previous result on the effects on reelection,” the researchers write.

The strategy apparently worked. Controlling for potential selection effects, the researchers found that using structured loans led to an increase in the likelihood that a politician was reelected.

[...]

“These financial innovative products appear, therefore, to have aligned banks’ incentives, as the transactions were highly profitable, with local politicians [who] had an interest in getting reelected,” Vallée says. “However, this happened at a large cost to the taxpayer, as the positive effects of the loans were short-lived, and interest on toxic loans ballooned when the crisis hit.”

In the wake of the financial crisis, many local politicians filed suits against their banks, claiming that they had not comprehended the risky nature of the loans they undertook.

[...]

That said, the researchers did assess the role of financial sophistication on the use of structured loans. They considered the size of each municipality, understanding that larger governments were more likely to employ specialized financial advisors. And they obtained the mayors’ current or former occupations, educational backgrounds, and age at the time of election.

The data suggested that mayors with the most-educated backgrounds were actually more likely to take out structured loans than those with less education. Those who took out the most structured (or toxic) loans had worked previously as corporate executives or senior-level civil servants. Former blue-collar workers, farmers, and artists, on the other hand, largely stayed away from these products.

The likelihood to use structured and toxic loans increased with local government size, indicating that bad loan decisions couldn’t be blamed on a lack of staff expertise. Meanwhile, the use of structured loans decreased with the mayors’ ages. “This was not a senility effect,” Vallée says.

[...]

New EPO Caricature: The Rubber Stamp

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Leaked E-mails From the EPO’s Roberto Vacca Reveal That Patent Quality at the European Patent Office Has Become Farcical

EPO Rubber Stamp

Summary: Cartoon which circulates in EPO ‘circles’, encapsulating the concern many people have about the quality of granted patents and unrealistic expectations from the management

Battistelli crushed the EPO and ended patent quality while appeals are being made even harder. See yesterday’s “Comments To The Revision Of The Rules Of Procedure Of The Boards Of Appeal Of The EPO,” an article by Johannes Lang (Bardehle Pagenberg). To quote:

Although the proposed revision aims at improving “the efficiency and predictability of appeal proceedings before the Boards of Appeal of the EPO”, it appears doubtful whether these objectives will be achieved. The result may well be overloading first instance proceedings as well as subsequent appeal proceedings by precautionary submissions, and merely shifting the dispute in appeal proceedings from substantive to formal procedural matters without any efficiency gains. Furthermore, the revision runs the risk of losing sight of a reasonable trade-off between predictability and flexibility required in patent granting proceedings.

[...]

Hence, all in all, the new Rules significantly limit the possibilities for amendments already at the beginning of the appeal proceedings, reduce them even more after the initial stage, in particular by requiring prima facie-allowability, and remove them completely after the period set in a communication has expired or the summons to oral proceedings has been notified. Any desirable flexibility of the procedure is now transferred to, and limited by, the Board’s discretion which, however, is to be exercised under strict criteria, notably procedural economy. As a general result, the battleground in appeal proceedings will be shifted even more from a discussion of the merits of a case to formal issues. As has already been pointed out above, we believe that this does not necessarily improve the efficiency of the proceedings. Moreover, it appears that a vital amount of flexibility has been sacrificed in the name of predictability.

What’s worth noting is that even stakeholders like law firms (which typically — at least in the short term — benefit financially from patent maximalism) do generally recognise these issues, not just patent examiners and applicants. Patents that cannot withstand a court’s scrutiny (see US trends over the past couple of years) drain even plaintiffs — not just defendants — financially. Sooner or later applicants lose interest in patents, causing systemic collapse.

Links 24/5/2018: RIP Robin “Roblimo” Miller, Qt 5.11 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 3:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • RIP Robin “Roblimo” Miller

    Linux Journal has learned fellow journalist and long-time voice of the Linux community Robin “Roblimo” Miller has passed away. Miller was perhaps best known by the community for his roll as Editor in Chief of Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned Slashdot, SourceForge.net, freshmeat, Linux.com, NewsForge, and ThinkGeek from 2000 to 2008. He went on to write and do video interviews for FOSS Force, penned articles for several publications, and authored three books, The Online Rules of Successful Companies, Point & Click Linux!, and Point & Click OpenOffice.org, all published by Prentice Hall.

  • How CERN Is Using Linux and Open Source

    CERN really needs no introduction. Among other things, the European Organization for Nuclear Research created the World Wide Web and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, which was used in discovery of the Higgs boson. Tim Bell, who is responsible for the organization’s IT Operating Systems and Infrastructure group, says the goal of his team is “to provide the compute facility for 13,000 physicists around the world to analyze those collisions, understand what the universe is made of and how it works.”

  • Server

    • ETSI Open Source MANO announces Release FOUR, moving faster than ever

      ETSI is pleased to announce the availability of OSM Release FOUR. Bringing a large set of new features and enhancements, this version is the most ambitious and innovative OSM Release to date and constitutes a huge leap forward in terms of functionality, user experience and maturity.

      This new Release brings substantial progress thanks to a number of architectural improvements, which result in a more efficient behaviour and much leaner footprint – up to 75% less RAM consumption. Additionally, its new northbound interface, aligned with ETSI NFV work, and the brand-new cloud-native setup, facilitate OSM’s installation and operation, while making OSM more open and simpler to integrate with pluggable modules and external systems, such as the existing OSS.

    • Open Source MANO Release FOUR lands

      In monitoring, ETSI says OSM Release FOUR’s alarm and metric settings are easier to use, and a new policy manager adds push notifications and reactive policy configuration, which the standards body says “opens the door to closed-loop operations”.

      The monitoring module uses Apache Kafka as its message passing bus, and the module also implements a flexible plugin model so sysadmins can BYO monitoring environment.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • XFS online filesystem scrubbing and repair

      In a filesystem track session at the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Darrick Wong talked about the online scrubbing and repair features he has been working on. His target has mostly been XFS, but he has concurrently been working on scrubbing for ext4. Part of what he wanted to discuss was the possibility of standardizing some of these interfaces across different filesystem types.

      Filesystem scrubbing is typically an ongoing activity to try to find corrupted data by periodically reading the data on the disk. Online repair attempts to fix the problems found by using redundant information (or metadata that can be calculated from other information) stored elsewhere in the filesystem. As described in Wong’s patch series, both scrubbing and repair are largely concerned with filesystem metadata, though scrubbing data extents (and repairing them if possible) is also supported. Wong said that XFS now has online scrubbing support, but does not quite have the online repair piece yet.

    • Supporting multi-actuator drives

      In a combined filesystem and storage session at the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit (LSFMM), Tim Walker asked for help in designing the interface to some new storage hardware. He wanted some feedback on how a multi-actuator drive should present itself to the system. These drives have two (or, eventually, more) sets of read/write heads and other hardware that can all operate in parallel.

      He noted that his employer, Seagate, had invested in a few different technologies, including host-aware shingled magnetic recording (SMR) devices, that did not pan out. Instead of repeating those missteps, Seagate wants to get early feedback before the interfaces are set in stone. He was not necessarily looking for immediate feedback in the session (though he got plenty), but wanted to introduce the topic before discussing it on the mailing lists. Basically, Seagate would like to ensure that what it does with these devices works well for its customers, who mostly use Linux.

    • Using user-space tracepoints with BPF

      Much has been written on LWN about dynamically instrumenting kernel code. These features are also available to user-space code with a special kind of probe known as a User Statically-Defined Tracing (USDT) probe. These probes provide a low-overhead way of instrumenting user-space code and provide a convenient way to debug applications running in production. In this final article of the BPF and BCC series we’ll look at where USDT probes come from and how you can use them to understand the behavior of your own applications.

      The origins of USDT probes can be found in Sun’s DTrace utility. While DTrace can’t claim to have invented static tracepoints (various implementations are described in the “related work” section of the original DTrace paper), it certainly made them much more popular. With the emergence of DTrace, many applications began adding USDT probes to important functions to aid with tracing and diagnosing run-time behavior. Given that, it’s perhaps not surprising that these probes are usually enabled (as part of configuring the build) with the –enable-dtrace switch.

    • Schedutil CPU Frequency Scaling Governor Improvements Coming To Linux 4.18

      Adding to the list of changes coming to Linux 4.18 are updates to CPUFreq’s “Schedutil” CPU frequency scaling governor.

      Schedutil is the newest CPUFreq governor introduced back during Linux 4.7 as an alternative to ondemand, performance, and others. What makes Schedutil different and interesting is that it makes use of CPU scheduler utilization data for its decisions about CPU frequency control.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • ROCm 1.9 Compute Components To Support Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

        For those wanting to use the open-source ROCm Radeon Open Compute stack on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, it will be supported by the next release.

        The ROCm compute stack with OpenCL support will officially support Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with the upcoming ROCm 1.9 release. Gregory Stoner of AMD’s compute team c

      • The Vulkan Open-Source Ecosystem Grows: Now More Than 2,100 GitHub Projects

        Just over one month after there were 2,000 Vulkan-mentioning projects on GitHub, the 2,100 project milestone has been breached.

      • RADV Gets Fix For DXVK With World of Warcraft & Other Games

        If you have been experiencing rendering issues with the Vulkan-over-Direct3D “DXVK” layer while playing games on Wine and are using the RADV Vulkan driver, you may want to upgrade to the latest Git.

      • Libinput 1.11 Is Bringing With It Many Linux Input Improvements

        Within the libinput world, the 1.11 development cycle has been going on long with Libinput 1.10 having debuted in January. But this long development cycle is bringing with it many changes.

        Peter Hutterer of Red Hat who started the libinput project today announced the first release candidate of the upcoming libinput 1.11.

      • Mesa 18.2 Due For Release In August

        While Mesa 18.1 just officially shipped last week, Mesa 18.2 as next quarter’s open-source 3D OpenGL/Vulkan graphics driver stack update is scheduled for release in mid-August.

        The tentative Mesa 18.2 release schedule puts the official Mesa 18.2.0 release for 10 August or potentially 17 August depending upon if a fourth release candidate is needed or any other release delays.

      • XWayland Gets Patches For Better EGLStreams Handling

        While the recently released X.Org Server 1.20 has initial support for XWayland with EGLStreams so X11 applications/games on Wayland can still benefit from hardware acceleration, in its current state it doesn’t integrate too well with Wayland desktop compositors wishing to support it. That’s changing with a new patch series.

      • Intel Mesa Driver Finally Supports Threaded OpenGL

        Based off the Gallium3D “mesa_glthread” work for threaded OpenGL that can provide a measurable win in some scenarios, the Intel i965 Mesa driver has implemented this support now too.

        Following the work squared away last year led in the RadeonSI driver, the Intel i965 OpenGL driver supports threaded OpenGL when the mesa_glthread=true environment variable is set.

      • Geometry & Tessellation Shaders For Mesa’s OpenGL Compatibility Context

        With the recent Mesa 18.1 release there is OpenGL 3.1 support with the ARB_compatibility context for the key Gallium3D drivers, but Marek Olšák at AMD continues working on extending that functionality under the OpenGL compatibility context mode.

      • Mesa Begins Its Transition To Gitlab

        Following the news from earlier this month that FreeDesktop.org would move its infrastructure to Gitlab, the Mesa3D project has begun the process of adopting this Git-centered software.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • LXQt 0.13 Desktop Environment Officially Released, It’s Coming to Lubuntu 18.10

      For starters, all of LXQt’s components are now ready to be built against the recently released Qt 5.11 application framework, and out-of-source-builds are now mandatory. LXQt 0.13.0 also disabled the menu-cached functionality, making it optional from now on in both the panel and runner, thus preventing memory leaks and avoiding any issues that may occur when shutting down or restarting LXQt.

    • Release LXQt 0.13.0

      The LXQt team is proud to announce the release of LXQt 0.13.0, the Lightweight Qt Desktop Environment.

      The LXQt team is working hard towards LXQt 1.0.0. Want to help us? Found any bugs? Please file bug reports and pull requests on our GitHub tracker!

    • LXQt 0.13 Released With More Improvements For This Lightweight Qt Desktop

      The developers working on the combined Razor-qt and LXDE desktop effort, LXQt, have rolled out their newest feature release.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.11 released

        Slightly ahead of our planned schedule, we have released Qt 5.11 today. As always, Qt 5.11 comes with quite a few new features as well as many bug fixes to existing functionality. Let’s have a look at some of the cool new features.

      • Qt 5.11 Released With A Big Arsenal Of Updates

        The Qt Company has managed to release Qt 5.11 one week ahead of schedule compared to its original road-map, which is quite a feat considering some of the past Qt5 release delays. Beyond that, Qt 5.11.0 is offering a big slab of improvements.

      • Porting guide from Qt 1.0 to 5.11

        We do try to keep breakages to a minimum, even in the major releases, but the changes do add up. This raises the question: How hard would it be to port a Qt application from Qt 1.0 to 5.11?

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GLib gets MinGW32 continuous integration and code coverage

        Thanks to the work of Christoph Reiter, GLib has had continuous integration builds on Windows (using MinGW32/MSYS2) for a week or two now. Furthermore, he’s added code coverage support, so we can easily see how our code coverage is changing over time. Thanks Christoph!

      • Automatically shutting down a daemon on inactivity

        Automatically shutting down daemons when not in use is in vogue, and a good way of saving resources quite easily (if the service’s startup/shutdown costs are low).

      • Moving clang out of process

        For the past couple of weeks, Builder from git-master has come with a new gnome-builder-clang subprocess. Instead of including libclang in the UI process, we now proxy all of that work to the subprocess. This should have very positive effect on memory usage within the UI process. It will also simplify the process of using valgrind/ASAN and obtaining useful results. In the future, we’ll teach the subprocess supervisor to recycle subprocesses if they consume too much memory.

      • Thunderbolt Networking on Linux

        Thunderbolt allows for peer-to-peer network connections by connecting two computers directly via a thunderbolt cable. Mika from Intel added support for this to the 4.15 kernel. Recently, Thomas Haller from NetworkManager and I worked together to figure out what needs to be done in userspace to make it work. As it turns out, it was not that hard and the pull-request was merged swiftly.

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • What’s new in openSUSE Leap 15 – part 1

        openSUSE Leap 15 will be released on the 25th of May 2018! A new openSUSE release is always an exciting event. This means that I get to play with all kinds of new and improved software packages.

        I am aware that I can simply install openSUSE Tumbleweed and have a new release 4 or 5 times a week. But when using openSUSE Tumbleweed some time ago, I noticed that I was installing Gigabytes of new software packages multiple times per week. The reason for that is that I have the complete opposite of a minimum install. I always install a lot of applications to play / experiment with (including a lot of open source games). I am using openSUSE since 2009 and it covers all of my needs and then some. I am already happy with the available software, so there is no real reason for me to move with the speed of a rolling release. Therefore I prefer to move with the slower pace of the Leap releases.

    • Red Hat Family

      • RPKG guide from Tito user

        Since the beginning of the rpkg project, it was known as a client tool for DistGit. Times changed and a new era for rpkg is here. It was enhanced with project management features, so we can safely label it as a tito alternative.

        A features review, pros and cons and user guide is a theme for a whole new article. In this short post, I, as a long-time tito user, want to show rpkg alternatives for the tito commands, that I frequently use.

      • All-Flash Platform-as-a-Service: Pure Storage and Red Hat OpenShift Reference Architecture

        Pure Storage® is excited to announce a reference architecture for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, using both Pure Storage FlashArray and FlashBlade™ to provide all the underlying storage requirements.

      • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 Delivers Long-Term Support

        The Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 release was officially announced here on May 21, bringing along with it new features and expanded support for the open-source cloud platform.

        In a video interview with eWEEK, Mark McLoughlin, senior director of engineering for OpenStack at Red Hat, details what’s new in the release and what is set to come in the next release. Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 is based on the upstream OpenStack Queens release that first became generally available on Feb. 28.

        “The key thing for the OpenStack Platform 13 release is that it is a long life release,” McLoughlin said.

      • Delivering Container Storage-as-a-Service

        Today, Pure Storage is excited to announce Pure Service Orchestrator. It is now possible to deliver container storage-as-a-service to empower your developers to build and deploy scale-out, microservices applications. The agility that your developers expect they could only get from the public cloud is now possible, on premise!

        In this blog, we’ll discuss why the adoption of containers is exploding, how the the lack of persistent storage threatens to slow adoption, and why a newer, smarter approach to storage delivery for containerized application environments is needed.

      • Best practices for engaging with Red Hat Support

        With a Red Hat subscription, you get the latest enterprise-ready software, expert knowledge, product security and technical support from trusted engineers making software the open source way. Red Hat Support makes sure our enterprise technology works in your environment, and helps you minimize the impact to your business if an issue occurs. If you need to open a support case, it will be routed to engineers that are specialized in the product that you use, so your issue can be efficiently resolved by experts.

      • Red Hat Certifies Multiple Ribbon Virtual Network Functions on Open Stack Platform 10
      • Red Hat intros hyperconverged infrastructure for cloud

        Red Hat has introduced Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud, an integrated solution for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments. The new offering combines Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and Red Hat Ceph Storage 3 in a single user experience, supported by a common lifecycle for greater operational and organizational efficiency.

      • How Red Hat has accelerated open source adoption to hit 25-year milestone

        The firm recently celebrated 25 years in business, and according to Miles, Red Hat is as strong as ever. Four years into his tenure at the company here in the Middle East, he has been “pleasantly surprised” and “very impressed” that regional organisations are already pursuing strong strategies in open source.

      • Red Hat rolls out OpenStack HCI platform for telco and enterprise hybrid clouds

        Red Hat launched a new hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform for telcos and enterprises that combines OpenStack compute with its Ceph storage.

        Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud is an open, integrated platform for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments.

        Announced Tuesday at the OpenStack Summit, the new platform blends Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and Red Hat Ceph Storage 3 into a single user experience for hyperconvergence in the hybrid cloud. Red Hat said it was the biggest contributor to both open source projects.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • 10 tasks for running containers on Atomic Host

          Unlike a virtual machine, which includes an entire operating system, a container is meant to hold only the software needed to run an application. Therefore, to run a container efficiently and securely, you need an operating system that provides secure container services and acts as a foundation for running containers. One operating system developed for that task is Atomic Host.

          Think of Atomic Host as a secure, specialized version of Fedora, CentOS, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Its best use is to provide a reliable and easily upgradable operating system for running containers. Different formats of Atomic Host are available to run on anything from bare metal to a variety of cloud environments. With an Atomic Host system installed, you can use the docker command as you would on other container-enabled systems. However, Atomic Host also comes with an additional command called atomic, which expands what you can do with containers.

        • GNOME Terminal: a little something for Fedora 29

          Can you spot what that is?

    • Debian Family

      • More Vnlog demos

        More demos of vnlog and feedgnuplot usage! This is pretty pointless, but should be a decent demo of the tools at least. This is a demo, not documentation; so for usage details consult the normal docs.

        Each Wednesday night I join a group bike ride. This is an organized affair, and each week an email precedes the ride, very roughly describing the route. The two organizers alternate leading the ride each week, and consequently the emails alternate also. I was getting the feeling that some of the announcements show up in my mailbxo more punctually than others, and after a recent 20-minutes-before-the ride email, I decided this just had to be quantified.

        The emails all go to a google-group email. The google-groups people are a wheel-reinventing bunch, so talking to the archive can’t be done with normal tools (NNTP? mbox files? No?). A brief search revealed somebody’s home-grown tool to programmatically grab the archive:

      • First GSoC Report

        To whom it may concern, this is my report over the first few weeks of gsoc under the umbrella of the Debian project. I’m writing this on my way back from the minidebconf in Hamburg, which was a nice experience, maybe there will be another post about that ;)

        So, the goal of my GSOC project is to design and implement a new SSO solution for Debian. But that only touches one part of the projects deliveries. As you can read in the description Alexander Wirth originally posted in the Debian Wiki, the project consists of two parts, where the first one is the design and coding of a new backend and self-service interface for Debian guest users (this includes the accounts of Debian Maintainers).

      • Derivatives

        • Parrot 4.0 Ethical Hacking Linux Distro Released: Download Here To Get New Features

          Compared to its previous releases, Debian-based Parrot 4.0 ethical hacking distro has arrived with a lot more changes. The development team has called it an important milestone in the history of the project.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Unleashed 2019 and other books presale discount
          • Call for nominations for the Technical Board

            The current 2-year term of the Technical Board is over, and it’s time for electing a new one. For the next two weeks (until 6 June 2018) we are collecting nominations, then our SABDFL will shortlist the candidates and confirm their candidacy with them, and finally the shortlist will be put to a vote by ~ubuntu-dev.

            Anyone from the Ubuntu community can nominate someone.

          • Decreasing the complexity of IoT adoption with Edge as a Service model

            Last week, much of the IoT industry descended on Santa Clara, California, for the annual IoT World trade show. One of the exhibitors present were Rigado who Canonical partnered with earlier this year to deploy Ubuntu Core on their IoT gateways primarily targeted at commercial applications such as smart lighting and asset tracking. Rigado used IoT World as an opportunity to discuss the launch of Cascade, their new ‘Edge as a Service’ proposition, for commercial IoT.

            Cascade, which is offered as a simple monthly subscription, enables companies to focus on their business and what generates revenue rather than expending effort and resource dedicated to managing the infrastructure behind it. With many organisations looking at ways they can benefit from adopting IoT while removing perceived barriers, Cascade offers a low-risk, low-cost entry which in turn enables project teams to benefit from reduced development, support and no upfront hardware costs. The end result is a quicker path to IoT deployment and resulting ROI.

          • Welcome to Ubuntu 18.04: Make yourself at GNOME. Cup of data-slurping dispute, anyone?

            Comment Ubuntu 18.04, launched last month, included a new Welcome application that runs the first time you boot into your new install. The Welcome app does several things, including offering to opt you out of Canonical’s new data collection tool.

            The tool also provides a quick overview of the new GNOME interface, and offers to set up Livepatch (for kernel patching without a reboot).

            In my review I called the opt-out a ham-fisted decision, but did note that if Canonical wanted to actually gather data, opt-out was probably the best choice.

          • UBports To Work On Unity 8 / Mir / Wayland After OTA-4

            The UBports team have put out their latest batch of answers to common questions around this project that’s still working to maintain the Ubuntu Touch software stack.

            Among the project’s recent work has included getting QtWebEngine working on Mir and before their Ubuntu 16.04 LTS based release they still need to figure out Chromium crashes and to resolve that as well as updating the browser. For their first release of UBports derived from Ubuntu 16.04 “Xenial” they are still going to rely upon Oxide while later on should migrate to a new browser.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Xubuntu: New Wiki pages for Testers

              During the last few weeks of the 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) cycle, we had 2 people drop by in our development channel trying to respond to the call for testers from the Development and QA Teams.

              It quickly became apparent to me that I was having to repeat myself in order to make it “basic” enough for someone who had never tested for us, to understand what I was trying to put across.

              After pointing to the various resources we have, and other flavours use – it transpired that they both would have preferred something a bit easier to start with.

              So I asked them to write it for us all.

            • Linux Mint tools – That which makes the distro unique

              Creating Linux distro spins is relatively easy. A few string replacements, some branding, and you’re done. Creating unique, independent and self-sufficient projects, that’s another matter entirely. The latter category is reserved to only a small number of distros that manage to balance their parenthood and individual identity while still providing users with a sensible and meaningful setup for work and fun. Linux Mint is one of such rare examples.

              For many years, Mint has successfully paddles its gray-green look and feel, topped with good and easy access to everyday needs. This hasn’t always been easy, as Ubuntu changes a lot, and this has often affected Mint in unpredictable ways. Still, overall, it managed to retain an edge of worth that goes beyond being yet another bland clone. Staying with the LTS releases as the baseline is one such manifest. A set of unique tools is another. We explore.

            • Kubuntu 18.04 Review: KDE Plasma at its Best

              Kubuntu 18.04 LTS has been released and we take it for a test drive in this detailed review of Kubuntu 18.04.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Zuul: Proven open-source continuous integration/continuous delivery

    If you think Zuul is the Gatekeeper, demigod, and minion of the ancient Hittite god Gozer, then you’re a Ghostbusters fan, too. But, if you’re interested in continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and not “human sacrifice, dogs, and cats living together… mass hysteria,” then you want Zuul, OpenStack’s open-source CI/CD platform.

    Zuul originally was developed for OpenStack CI testing. For years, OpenStack, the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud, got all the attention. Over time, people began to realize that as impressive as OpenStack was, the CI system behind it, which enabled contributors and users across many different organizations to work and develop quickly together across multiple projects, was impressive in its own right.

  • Computer History Museum saves Eudora

    The Computer History Museum, based in California, has announced the publication of the source code for one of the first successful mainstream email clients: Eudora.

    Developed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign programmer Steve Dorner in 1988, Eudora launched as an Apple Macintosh-exclusive client for the new-fangled electronic mail technology that was taking the world by storm at the time. Its original incarnation was just 50,000 lines of C code, but as Eudora’s popularity grew so did the code base: By 1991 it had become successful enough to attract the interest of Qualcomm, which licensed the software and took over development while launching it in 1993 as a paid-for commercial package for both Apple Macs and IBM PC compatibles.

  • Computer history Museum releases Eudora email client source code

    Before email was something you could access on the web, on your phone, or via Outlook, there were a handful or primarily text-based email applications such as Elm and Pine.

    One of the first popular email utilities to feature a graphical user interface was Eudora, created for Mac computers by Steve Dorner in 1988.

  • Events

    • Video: Containers Should Contain… Right?

      Here’s a presentation video from the very recent OpenStack Summit Vancouver 2018. The topic repeats what Dan Walsh was saying a couple of years ago. Again, this is talking about application containers using traditional kernel features like namespaces and cgroups… because as we all know, in the Linux kernel, containers are NOT a REAL thing.

      Just to be clear, OpenVZ… which is a mature out-of-tree patch for system containers that has been around and maintained for well over 13 years… does contain… but the hype is all around application containers like Docker and its work-alikes.

    • Updates in container isolation

      At KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2018, several talks explored the topic of container isolation and security. The last year saw the release of Kata Containers which, combined with the CRI-O project, provided strong isolation guarantees for containers using a hypervisor. During the conference, Google released its own hypervisor called gVisor, adding yet another possible solution for this problem. Those new developments prompted the community to work on integrating the concept of “secure containers” (or “sandboxed containers”) deeper into Kubernetes. This work is now coming to fruition; it prompts us to look again at how Kubernetes tries to keep the bad guys from wreaking havoc once they break into a container.

    • Autoscaling for Kubernetes workloads

      Technologies like containers, clusters, and Kubernetes offer the prospect of rapidly scaling the available computing resources to match variable demands placed on the system. Actually implementing that scaling can be a challenge, though. During KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2018, Frederic Branczyk from CoreOS (now part of Red Hat) held a packed session to introduce a standard and officially recommended way to scale workloads automatically in Kubernetes clusters.

      Kubernetes has had an autoscaler since the early days, but only recently did the community implement a more flexible and extensible mechanism to make decisions on when to add more resources to fulfill workload requirements. The new API integrates not only the Prometheus project, which is popular in Kubernetes deployments, but also any arbitrary monitoring system that implements the standardized APIs.

    • An introduction to MQTT

      A few years ago, I was asked to put temperature monitoring in a customer’s server room and to integrate it with their existing monitoring and notification software. We ended up buying a rack-mountable temperature monitor, for nearly £200, that ran its own web server for propagating temperature data. Although the device ostensibly published data in XML, that turned out to be so painful to parse that we ended up screen-scraping the human-readable web pages to get the data. Temperature sensors are fairly cheap, but by the time you’ve wrapped them in a case with a power supply, an Ethernet port, a web server, enough of an OS to drive the above, and volatile and non-volatile storage for the same, they get expensive. I was sure that somewhere there must be physically-lightweight sensors with simple power, simple networking, and a lightweight protocol that allowed them to squirt their data down the network with a minimum of overhead. So my interest was piqued when Jan-Piet Mens spoke at FLOSS UK’s Spring Conference on “Small Things for Monitoring”. Once he started passing working demonstration systems around the room without interrupting the demonstration, it was clear that this was what I’d been looking for.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • The General Data Protection Regulation and Firefox

        We are only a few days away from May 25th, when the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into full effect. Since we were founded, Mozilla has always stood for and practiced a set of data privacy principles that are at the heart of privacy laws like the GDPR. And we have applied those principles, not just to Europe, but to all our users worldwide. We feel like the rest of the world is catching up to where we have been all along.

      • Ready for GDPR: Firefox Focus Offers Additional Tracking Protection Against Advertisers

        It’s been nearly a year since we launched Firefox Focus for Android, and it has become one of the most popular privacy browsers for mobile around the world. In light of recent events, more and more consumers have growing awareness for privacy and secure products. The upcoming implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe later this month reflects this and, at the same time, highlights how important privacy is for all users.

      • rust for cortex-m7 baremetal
      • Tags are now available in Pontoon to help you prioritize your work

        Almost a couple of years ago I started working on a concept called string tiers. The goal was twofold: on one side help locales, especially those starting from scratch, to prioritize their work on a project as large as Firefox, with currently over 11 thousand strings. On the other hand, give project managers a better understanding of the current status of localization.

        Given the growth in complexity and update frequency of Developer Tools within Firefox (currently almost 2,600 strings), finding a solution to this problem became more urgent. For example, is a locale in bad shape because it misses thousands of strings? The answer would not automatically be ”yes”, since the missing strings might have a low priority.

        The string tiers concept assigns priority to strings based on their target – who is meant to see them – and their visibility. The idea is quite simple: a string warning the user about an error, or requiring an action from them, is more important than one targeting developers or website owners, and buried in the Error Console of the browser.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 39
  • SaaS/Back End

    • Google Acquires Open Source Big Data Platform Cask

      Last week Cask Data, known for its open source Cask Data Application Platform (CDAP), announced that it’s being acquired by Google — specifically Google’s cloud division.

      “We are thrilled to announce that Cask Data, Inc. will be joining Google Cloud!” the company’s founders, Jonathan Gray and Nitin Motgi, said in its online announcement of the purchase.

    • Rackspace Jumps Into Kubernetes, Again

      “With Kubernetes-as-a-Service, we are providing the industry’s simplest Kubernetes consumption model by delivering it fully configured, tested and validated at enterprise scale with the managed cluster services customers need to effectively run their applications,” Scott Crenshaw, executive vice president of private clouds at Rackspace, stated.

      “Rackspace’s combination of operational experience and open source expertise, coupled with the security, improved economics and a fully managed Kubernetes offering available on leading public and private cloud technologies, helps companies accelerate their digital transformation,” Crenshaw continued.

    • How OpenStack Is Redefining Itself and Open Infrastructure

      The OpenStack Foundation is no longer interested in only its own cloud platform, but also in enabling the broader ecosystem of open infrastructure

      In a session at the OpenStack Summit, Thierry Carrez, VP of Engineering at the OpenStack Foundation, outlined the steps the foundation are taking to create what he referred to as a better-defined OpenStack. The key theme of the redefinition is that OpenStack is no longer just about the OpenStack cloud platform project.

    • OpenStack Boosts Container Security With Kata Containers 1.0

      The OpenStack Foundation announced on May 22 the Kata Containers 1.0 release which is designed to bolster container security.

      The Kata Containers project provides a virtualization isolation layer to help run multi-tenant container deployments in a more secure manner than running containers natively on bare-metal. The effort provides a micro-virtual machine (VM) layer that can run container workloads.

    • VMware OpenStack 5 Rolls Out for Data Centers and Telecoms
    • VMware Integrated OpenStack 5 Aims to Accelerate Carrier Clouds
    • What’s Coming in OpenStack Rocky?

      The OpenStack Rocky release is currently scheduled to become generally available on August 30th, and it’s expected to add a host of new and enhanced capabilities to the open-source cloud platform.

      At the OpenStack Summit here, Anne Bertucio, marketing manager at the OpenStack Foundation, and Pete Chadwick, director of product management at SUSE, outlined some of the features currently on the Rocky roadmap.

      Bertucio began the session by warning the audience that the roadmap is not prescriptive, but rather is intended to provide a general idea of the direction the next OpenStack release is taking.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 11 Is Continuing With More Performance Improvements, JIT’ing

      PostgreSQL 11 is the next major feature release of this open-source database SQL server due out later in 2018. While it’s not out yet, their release notes were recently updated for providing an overview of what’s coming as part of this next major update.

      To little surprise, performance improvements remain a big focus for PostgreSQL 11 with various optimizations as well as continued parallelization work and also the recently introduced just-in-time (JIT) compilation support.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Review of Kaspersky Labs Report Confirms OPC Foundation’s Transparent, Open Source OPC UA Implementations Strategy Improves Security

      The Kaspersky Labs report issued on May 10th, 2018 has garnered a lot of media attention based on its claim of having identified 17 security issues in some OPC UA implementations. A detailed description of the 17 issues can be found at https://opcfoundation.org/security/.

    • Wind River Drives Open Source Edge Infrastructure

      In a recent blog post, Intel and Wind River have announced their intent to make open source some of the components from the Wind River Titanium Cloud portfolio. The code is now being upstreamed in a new open source project called StarlingX, hosted by the OpenStack Foundation.

      Wind River Titanium Cloud was built on open source components, which are then extended and targeted to be hardened to address critical infrastructure requirements: high availability, fault management, and performance management needed for continuous 24/7 operation. Wind River Titanium Cloud also includes the low latency, high performance, scalability, and security needed for edge and IoT workloads.

    • WhiteSource Rolls Out New Open Source Security Detector [Ed: When you call something “Open Source” but it is actually proprietary and it alerts about Open Source]

      WhiteSource on Tuesday launched its next-generation software composition analysis (SCA) technology, dubbed “Effective Usage Analysis,” with the promise that it can reduce open source vulnerability alerts by 70 percent.

      The newly developed technology provides details beyond which components are present in the application. It provides actionable insights into how components are being used. It also evaluates their impact on the security of the application.

      The new solution shows which vulnerabilities are effective. For instance, it can identify which vulnerabilities get calls from the proprietary code.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • TrueOS: A Simple BSD Distribution for the Desktop Users

      When you think of It’s FOSS you probably think mainly of Linux. It’s true that we cover mostly Linux-related news and tutorials. But today we are going to do something different.We are going to look at TrueOS BSD distribution.

      Linux and BSD, both fall into Unix-like operating system domain. The main difference lies at the core i.e. the kernel as both Linux and BSD have their own kernel implementation.

    • “FreeBSD Mastery: Jails” Sponsorships, and writing schedule changes

      Per my 2018 schedule, it’s time to start writing FreeBSD Mastery: Jails. I’ve been idly assembling the parts over the last couple of months.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Tesla disclosed some of its autopilot source code after GPL violation

      Tesla, a technology company, and the independent automaker are well known for offering the safest, quickest electric cars. The company uses a lot of open source software to build its operating system and features, such as Linux Kernel, Buildroot, Busybox, QT, etc also they have always been taciturn about the finer details and tech of its popular artefacts, such as Model S, Model X, but now Elon Musk’s company has just released some of its automotive tech source code into the open source community.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Mozilla teamed up with a brewery for an open-sourced beer, and we downed a pint

      Mozilla is seriously into open-source. So seriously, in fact, that developer doesn’t just want to see it restricted to software. In its eyes, just about anything can go open-source. Even beer.

      To prove it, Mozilla teamed up with Widmer Brothers, a brewery based in Portland, Oregon. The companies crafted a survey for community input on the style, hops, and any special additions drinkers might want to see. Responses were tabulated, weighed, and turned into a recipe by the brewers at Widmer.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Source Underwater Distributed Sensor Network

        One way to design an underwater monitoring device is to take inspiration from nature and emulate an underwater creature. [Michael Barton-Sweeney] is making devices in the shape of, and functioning somewhat like, clams for his open source underwater distributed sensor network.

  • Programming/Development

    • Best Websites For Programmers

      As a programmer, you will often find yourself as a permanent visitor of some websites. These can be tutorial, reference or forums websites. So here in this article let us have a look at the best websites for programmers.

    • The 2018 Python Language Summit

      Over the past three years, LWN and its readers have gotten a yearly treat in the form of coverage of the Python Language Summit; this year is no exception. The summit is a yearly gathering of around 40 or 50 developers from CPython, other Python implementations, and related projects. It is held on the first day of PyCon, which is two days before the main PyCon talk tracks begin. This year, the summit was held on May 9 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    • A Gilectomy update

      In a rather short session at the 2018 Python Language Summit, Larry Hastings updated attendees on the status of his Gilectomy project. The aim of that effort is to remove the global interpreter lock (GIL) from CPython. Since his status report at last year’s summit, little has happened, which is part of why the session was so short. He hasn’t given up on the overall idea, but it needs a new approach.

      Gilectomy has been “untouched for a year”, Hastings said. He worked on it at the PyCon sprints after last year’s summit, but got tired of it at that point. He is “out of bullets” at least with that approach. With his complicated buffered-reference-count approach he was able to get his “gilectomized” interpreter to reach performance parity with CPython—except that his interpreter was running on around seven cores to keep up with CPython on one.

    • Modifying the Python object model

      At the 2018 Python Language Summit, Carl Shapiro described some of the experiments that he and others at Instagram did to look at ways to improve the performance of the CPython interpreter. The talk was somewhat academic in tone and built on what has been learned in other dynamic languages over the years. By modifying the Python object model fairly substantially, they were able to roughly double the performance of the “classic” Richards benchmark.

      Shapiro said that Instagram is a big user of Python and has been looking for ways to improve the performance of the CPython interpreter for its workloads. So the company started looking at the representation of data in the interpreter to see if there were gains to be made there. It wanted to stick with CPython in order to preserve the existing API, ecosystem, and developer experience

    • Subinterpreter support for Python

      Eric Snow kicked off the 2018 edition of the Python Language Summit with a look at getting a better story for multicore Python by way of subinterpreters. Back in 2015, we looked at his efforts at that point; things have been progressing since. There is more to do, of course, so he is hoping to attract more developers to work on the project.

      Snow has been a core developer since 2012 and has “seen some interesting stuff” over that time. He has been working on the subinterpreters scheme for four years or so.

    • GitLab 10.8 open sources push mirroring

      GitLab 10.8 was released this week with the open sourcing of a highly requested feature. The company announced its push mirroring capability is now open sourced.

      Push mirroring was originally introduced as a paid feature, but GitLab says it is one of the most frequently requested to be moved into the open-source codebase.

      This move will add a few new use cases for GitLab Core users, such as freelance developers being able to mirror client repos and users migrating to GitLab being able to use push mirroring to ease the migration path.

    • How Security Can Bridge the Chasm with Development

      Enhancing the relationships between security and engineering is crucial for improving software security. These six steps will bring your teams together.

      There’s always been a troublesome rift between enterprise security teams and software developers. While the friction is understandable, it’s also a shame, because the chasm between these teams makes it all the more challenging to build quality applications that are both great to use and safe.

    • Which Programming Languages Use the Least Electricity?

      Can energy usage data tell us anything about the quality of our programming languages?

      Last year a team of six researchers in Portugal from three different universities decided to investigate this question, ultimately releasing a paper titled “Energy Efficiency Across Programming Languages.” They ran the solutions to 10 programming problems written in 27 different languages, while carefully monitoring how much electricity each one used — as well as its speed and memory usage.

    • How Java EE found new life as Jakarta EE

      The title of this post may seem strange, but if you look a bit into Java EE’s recent history, it will make sense.

      Originally, Sun started and ran Java Enterprise Edition, and later Oracle took over after it acquired Sun. Specifications were driven by a Sun/Oracle-governed process. At more or less regular intervals, they made a new version of the specification available, which was implemented by the server vendors. Those vendors had to license the technology compatibility kits (TCKs) and brand from Oracle.

      Let’s fast-forward a bit. In 2013, Java EE 7 was released, and Oracle began work on EE8, but it did not progress quickly. Meanwhile, new technologies like Docker and Kubernetes came along and changed the way applications run. Instead of running a single fat server process on a big machine, the software is now split into smaller, independent services that run in a (usually) Docker container orchestrated by Kubernetes.

Leftovers

  • Google Sheets is becoming a viable alternative to Microsoft Excel for most spreadsheet users
  • Science

    • Testing the “wide walls” design principle in the wild

      Seymour Papert is credited as saying that tools to support learning should have “high ceilings” and “low floors.” The phrase is meant to suggest that tools should allow learners to do complex and intellectually sophisticated things but should also be easy to begin using quickly. Mitchel Resnick extended the metaphor to argue that learning toolkits should also have “wide walls” in that they should appeal to diverse groups of learners and allow for a broad variety of creative outcomes. In a new paper, Benjamin Mako Hill and I attempted to provide the first empirical test of Resnick’s wide walls theory. Using a natural experiment in the Scratch online community, we found causal evidence that “widening walls” can, as Resnick suggested, increase both engagement and learning.

    • Natural experiment showing how “wide walls” can support engagement and learning

      Seymour Papert is credited as saying that tools to support learning should have “high ceilings” and “low floors.” The phrase is meant to suggest that tools should allow learners to do complex and intellectually sophisticated things but should also be easy to begin using quickly. Mitchel Resnick extended the metaphor to argue that learning toolkits should also have “wide walls” in that they should appeal to diverse groups of learners and allow for a broad variety of creative outcomes. In a new paper, Sayamindu Dasgupta and I attempted to provide an empirical test of Resnick’s wide walls theory. Using a natural experiment in the Scratch online community, we found causal evidence that “widening walls” can, as Resnick suggested, increase both engagement and learning.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • “Like slavery”: Rehab patients forced into unpaid labor to cover “treatment”
    • A Pioneering Heart Surgeon’s Secret History of Research Violations, Conflicts of Interest and Poor Outcomes

      There’s a story Bud Frazier tells often. It was around 1966, and Frazier, now one of the world’s most celebrated heart surgeons, was a medical student at Baylor College of Medicine.

      An Italian teenager had come to Houston for an aortic valve replacement, but at some point during or after the surgery, the teen’s heart stopped. Doctors told Frazier to reach in and start pumping the failed organ by hand.

      As he did so, the teen lifted a hand to Frazier’s face, and in that moment, just before the patient died, he says he realized his life’s calling.

      “As long as I was massaging that kid’s heart, he would wake up,” Frazier, now 78, said last year. “I thought then, and I’ve often returned to this: If my hand can keep this kid alive, why couldn’t we make a device to do the same?”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Security Researchers Discover Two New Variants of the Spectre Vulnerability
    • ARM64 Mitigation Posted For Spectre 4 / SSBD

      Following the Intel/AMD Spectre Variant 4 mitigation landing yesterday with “Speculative Store Bypass Disable” (SSBD) and then the POWER CPU mitigation landing today, ARM developers have posted their set of patches for 64-bit ARM CPUs to mitigate against this latest Spectre vulnerability around speculative execution.

    • Linux 4.9, 4.14, 4.16 Point Releases Bring SSBD For Spectre V4

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has today released the Linux 4.9.102, 4.14.43, and 4.16.11 kernels. Most notable about these stable release updates is Spectre Variant Four mitigation.

      Today’s 4.9/4.14/4.16 point releases carry the Intel/AMD mitigation for Spectre V4 albeit the Intel support is dependent upon to-be-released microcode updates and is vulnerable by default while for AMD processors there is SSB disabled via prctl and seccomp.

    • An Initial Look At Spectre V4 “Speculative Store Bypass” With AMD On Linux

      Yesterday the latest Spectre vulnerability was disclosed as Spectre Variant 4 also known as “Speculative Store Bypass” as well as the less talked about Spectre Variant 3A “Rogue System Register Read”. Here are my initial tests of a patched Linux kernel on AMD hardware for Spectre V4.

      Landing yesterday into Linux 4.17 Git was Speculative Store Bypass Disable (SSBD) as the Linux-based mitigation on Intel/AMD x86 CPUs. Since then has also been the POWER CPU SSBD implementation and pending patches for ARM64 CPUs.

    • Exclusive: FBI Seizes Control of Russian Botnet

      FBI agents armed with a court order have seized control of a key server in the Kremlin’s global botnet of 500,000 hacked routers, The Daily Beast has learned. The move positions the bureau to build a comprehensive list of victims of the attack, and short-circuits Moscow’s ability to reinfect its targets.

      The FBI counter-operation goes after “VPN Filter,” a piece of sophisticated malware linked to the same Russian hacking group, known as Fancy Bear, that breached the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election. On Wednesday security researchers at Cisco and Symantec separately provided new details on the malware, which has turned up in 54 countries including the United States.

    • Two-step authentication in Firefox Accounts
    • Parrot 4.0 Now Available, Eudora Email Code Open-Sourced, Firefox Now Offers Two-Step Authentication and More

      Mozilla began offering two-step authentication for Firefox this week. If you enable it, you’ll need to use an additional security code to log in. Mozilla is using the authentication standard TOTP (Time-based One-Time Password) to implement this feature. If you don’t see a “Two-step authentication” panel in your Preferences, see this page for further instructions on how to enable it.

    • Firefox Finally Offers Two Factor Auth to Protect Your Passwords

      Mozilla is rolling out two factor authentication for Firefox accounts and if you sync passwords using Firefox Sync you should enable it immediately.

      The option for two factor authentication should show up in your Firefox account settings in a few weeks, but you can skip the wait by clicking this link. Do that and you should see the option for two-factor authentication, as shown above.

    • Now Make Your Firefox Account Safer With New Two Factor Authentication

      It seems that tech giants, finally, are gearing up to make portals more secure. In an announcement made yesterday, Mozilla has announced two-factor authentication for Firefox accounts. It is an optional security feature that will require inserting authentication code after signing in your Firefox account with your credentials.

      The newly introduced two-step verification feature is based on the commonly used Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP)-based standard. Currently, the feature is available with Duo, Google Authenticator, and Authy. Users will need to install these apps to receive the authentication code.

    • Navigating the container security ecosystem

      SJ Technologies partnered with Sonatype for the DevSecOps Community 2018 Survey. The survey was wildly popular, receiving answers from more than 2,000 respondents representing a wide range of industries, development practices, and responsibilities. One-third of respondents (33%) came from the technology industry, and banking and financial services was the second most represented group (15%). 70% of all respondents were using a container registry. With so many respondents utilizing containers, a deeper dive into container security is in order.

    • New VPNFilter malware targets at least 500K networking devices worldwide
    • VPNFilter Malware Attacks Routers, Mitigations for Spectre Variant 4, OnePlus 6 Phone and More

      There’s a new type of malware called VPNFilter, which has “has infected at least half a million home and small business routers including those sold by Netgear, TP-Link, Linksys, MicroTik, and QNAP network storage devices”. This code is intended to “serve as a multipurpose spy tool, and also creates a network of hijacked routers that serve as unwitting VPNs, potentially hiding the attackers’ origin as they carry out other malicious activities”. See the story on Wired for all the details.

    • 500,000 Routers Are Infected With Malware and Potentially Spying On Users
    • 500,000 Routers In 54 Countries Hacked To Create Massive Botnet Army
    • PassProtect Tells You If Your Password Is Compromised

      A compromised password can’t protect you. PassProtect is a Chrome extension that notifies you whenever a password you enter is exposed, giving you the chance to change it.

      Data breaches happen all the time, and the result is usually a bunch of usernames and password floating around the web. Attackers use these lists to access accounts, so it’s important to change your passwords after a breach. Most users can’t keep track of it all, however.

      Which is where PassProtect come in. Using data from Have I Been Pwned, Troy Hunt’s database of compromised passwords, PassProtect lets you know when a password you use was part of a recent breach.

    • PassProtect warns Chrome users when their username or passwords get pwned

      Data breaches happen all the time. When they do, it’s invariably bad, with countless people ensnared. The MySpace breach, for example, impacted nearly 360 million. LinkedIn impacted 165 million more. One tool helping to mitigate the aftermath is Okta’s new Chrome plugin, PassProtect.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #160

      This week’s edition was written by Bernhard M. Wiedemann, Chris Lamb, Levente Polyak and Mattia Rizzolo & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The U.S. and the Fate of the World

      Americans ought to be more honest about U.S. military interventionism. There ought to be a serious debate about it. Instead there seems to be three, entrenched foreign policy camps who never talk to each other.

      The first is made up of avowed imperialists. They are easy to recognize, because they happen to be in power. They are the people for whom there is no such thing as a bad war. They have likely committed the United States to regime change in Iran. And they are currently spearheading an overly aggressive approach in attempting to defuse tensions with a nuclear-armed North Korea—an approach that will probably backfire in the end. This camp would also be the strongest to deny that there is any such thing as U.S. imperialism.

      Then there are people who totally reject imperialism in any form, committed by any country, as a grave error. These are the people who recognize that there must be other values that bind relationships between nations—shared values premised on international law, human rights, Individual and spiritual freedom, and the rule of law.

    • Bolton Trying to Convince Trump to Topple Iran

      Now that the Trump administration has derailed the Iran nuclear deal, the old issue of regime change in Iran is back again. National Security Advisor John Bolton is obviously the chief regime-change advocate in the administration, and there is every reason to believe he has begun to push that policy with Donald Trump in his first month in the White House.

      Bolton was part of the powerful neoconservative faction of national security officials in the George W. Bush administration that had a plan for supporting regime change in Iran, not much different from the one Bolton is reportedly pushing now. But it was a crackbrained scheme that involved the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) exiled terrorist organisation that never had Bush’s support.

      Bolton may find history repeating itself, with Trump resisting his plan for regime change, just as Bush did in 2003.

    • Yulia Skripal and the Salisbury WUT

      It was happy to see Yulia alive and looking reasonably well yesterday, if understandably stressed. Notably, and in sharp contrast to Litvinenko, she leveled no accusations at Russia or anybody else for her poisoning. In Russian she spoke quite naturally. Of the Russian Embassy she said very simply “I am not ready, I do not want their help”. Strangely this is again translated in the Reuters subtitles by the strangulated officialese of “I do not wish to avail myself of their services”, as originally stated in the unnatural Metropolitan Police statement issued on her behalf weeks ago.

      “I do not wish to avail myself of their services” is simply not a translation of what she says in Russian and totally misses the “I am not ready” opening phrase of that sentence. My conclusion is that Yulia’s statement was written by a British official and then translated to Russian for her to speak, rather than the other way round. Also that rather than translate what she said in Russian themselves for the subtitles, Reuters have subtitled using a British government script they have been given.

      It would of course have been much more convincing had Sergei also been present. Duress cannot be ruled out when he is held by the British authorities. I remain extremely suspicious that, at the very first chance she got in hospital, Yulia managed to get hold of a telephone (we don’t know how, it was not her own and she has not had access to one since) and phone her cousin Viktoria, yet since then the Skripals have made no attempt to contact their family in Russia. That includes no contact to Sergei’s aged mum, Yulia’s grandmother, who Viktoria cares for. Sergei normally calles his mother – who is 89 – regularly. This lack of contact is a worrying sign that the Skripals may be prevented from free communication to the outside world. Yulia’s controlled and scripted performance makes that more rather than less likely.

    • Who is Luis Posada Carriles, the anti-Castro militant known as ‘Bambi’?

      Luis Posada Carriles, considered a hero among members of the Cuban exile community for his role in the Bay of Pigs invasion and for his attempts to overthrow the late Fidel Castro, died Wednesday.

      The Cuban exile militant and CIA agent was 90.

      Here are some details on the life and times of Posada Carriles who was considered a terrorist by both the Cuban government and the United States’ FBI.

      ▪ He was born in Cinfuegos, Cuba, on Feb. 15, 1928.

      ▪ Posada Carriles studied medicine and chemistry at the University of Havana, where he first ran into a young Fidel Castro, and then worked as a supervisor for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

    • Ex-CIA operative, militant Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles dies at 90

      Former CIA operative and militant Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, who was accused of organizing a string of 1997 Havana hotel bombings and a 1976 Cuban airline bombing that killed 73 people, has died. He was 90.

      Posada, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer about five years ago, died Wednesday at a care home for elderly veterans in Broward Country, north of Miami, according to Arturo Hernandez, a lawyer for the hardline exile.

    • Thus Passed a True American-Made Terrorist

      Luis Posada Carriles should have died in a cell at Leavenworth. He was an anti-Castro terrorist on the CIA payroll. He was accused of committing atrocities in our name, and on our dime, throughout Central America and the Caribbean – including, it was alleged, being intimately involved with the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane just after takeoff from Barbados in which 73 people were killed including the entire Cuban fencing team.

    • Former CIA operative and militant Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles dies at 90

      Former CIA operative and militant Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, who was accused of organizing a string of 1997 Havana hotel bombings and a 1976 Cuban airline bombing that killed 73 people, has died. He was 90.

      Posada, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer about five years ago, died Wednesday at a care home for elderly veterans in Broward Country, according to Arturo Hernandez, a lawyer for the hard-line exile.

    • Former CIA, Anti-Castro Militant Luis Posada Carriles Dead At 90

      Former Central Intelligence Agency operative and militant Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, who was accused of organizing a string of 1997 Havana hotel bombings and a 1976 Cuban airline bombing that killed 73 people, has died. He was 90.

      Posada, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer about five years ago, died Wednesday at a care home for elderly veterans in Broward Country, north of Miami, according to Arturo Hernandez, a lawyer for the hardline exile.

      “An extraordinary life has ended,” Hernandez told The Associated Press. “It’s a very sad morning for me, to say farewell to such a great man.”

    • Former CIA Officials Assess Russia

      Winston Churchill stated in 1939 that Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Today, as then, Russian actions and intentions remain the subject of intense scrutiny in the West. To examine the state of American analysis of Russia, the Center for the National Interest convened a high-level panel of former veteran CIA officials on May 22. The speakers included George Beebe (Director for Intelligence and National Security at the Center for the National Interest, former director of the CIA’s Russia analysis and a former Special Advisor to Vice President Cheney), Milton Bearden (a former CIA officer who was a station chief in Pakistan where he played a central role in training and arming the Afghan mujahideen to battle the Soviet military) and Peter Clement (the former Deputy Director for Analytic Programs at the CIA and a professor at Columbia University). The meeting was moderated by Paul J. Saunders, the executive director of the Center for the National Interest and a former Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Dana Rohrabacher, GOP congressman, defends ‘honorable’ WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange

      WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange received praise Wednesday from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, during an interview in which the congressman recalled their meeting last summer inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

      “He’s a very honorable man,” Mr. Rohrabacher, 70, told CNN.

      “Deep staters believe that he’s a bad guy and an evil person,” the congressman continued. “I don’t.”

      Mr. Assange, 46, was granted asylum from Ecuador in 2012 in lieu of being extradited abroad and potentially charged by U.S. prosecutors in connection with publishing classified documents released through his WikiLeaks website. Mr. Assange risks being arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorean Embassy, however, and has remained on the property ever since.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • EPA boots reporters from meeting on chemicals called a PR disaster

      But the latest controversy is one the agency’s own making. This morning, Pruitt was speaking at a workshop convened to discuss the handling of specific chemical contaminants that have been found in water supplies. The EPA was already under fire for what appeared to be an attempt to stall a report that suggests these chemicals were more toxic than previously thought, so the workshop provided an opportunity to show that the agency took the risks seriously. Instead, the EPA started a brand-new controversy by specifically excluding CNN and the AP from Pruitt’s speech and by having security physically escort a reporter out of the building.

    • EPA’s War On Journalists Is Not A Good Look

      The Obama administration was terrible when it came to how it treated journalists, acting vindictively against many journalists, and opening up investigations that created massive chilling effects on journalism. While some supporters of our previous President insisted that these actions were necessary due to the journalists “leaking” or revealing sensitive information, that’s a ridiculous claim. A journalist’s job is to report on things, including revealing the kind of information a government would prefer be kept secret. And, more importantly, normalizing a government at war with the journalists who cover it was bound to be abused even more going forward.

      And that brings us to the current administration, whose attacks on journalists have been frequent as well, though of a different, more clumsy nature. While the last administration focused on keeping secrets and launching chilling investigations, this one seems focused on name calling and hamfisted attempts at shutting out the media in the most obvious and petty of ways. Neither approach is good, but the current administration’s attacks on journalists are so blatant and so stupid, it just makes people wonder what they’re so afraid of.

    • Focus on Pruitt’s Scandals Obscures Environmental Degradation Under Trump

      Scott Pruitt sure is busy these days. The climate change-denying head of the Environmental Protection Agency has been renting out a DC condo on the cheap from an energy lobbyist; installing a $43,000 soundproof booth for his telephone calls; passing out improper pay raises to aides; jet-setting around the world on first-class flights; hitting up Disneyland and the Rose Bowl with his oversized $3 million, 20-person security detail; receiving police escorts to trendy DC restaurant Le Diplomate; and even having a fancy dinner in Rome with Vatican treasurer, climate denier and recently charged child sexual abuser George Pell.

      What’s more, Pruitt’s staffers at the EPA have continued to cover up for their boss: Pruitt’s lavish travel schedule is only released after the fact, and he holds few press conferences compared to his predecessors. All told, he is under 12 different federal investigations, and has been grilled by members of both Senate and House committees. In Pruitt’s Senate hearing, New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall remarked that “your scandals are a mere sideshow distracting us from the long-lasting devastating your leadership is making on human health and the environment.”

      Indeed, while Pruitt seems to have adjusted well to the culture of gratuitous and unprecedented graft and corruption inside the Trump cabinet, the media’s focus on Pruitt’s dizzying array of personal scandals obscures his absolute contempt for his agency’s stated mission: environmental protection. Pruitt, along with President Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, has quietly been dismantling a multitude of environmental regulations while pushing a number of fossil fuel-friendly policies that will certainly have disastrous long-term effects on the environment and public health.

  • Finance

    • Bitcoin’s stupendous power waste is green, apparently — bad excuses for Proof-of-Work

      Bitcoin uses as much electricity as all of Ireland. And everyone else is starting to notice — and they’re not happy.

    • Trump blasts ‘spoiled’ Canada and Mexico over NAFTA talks

      U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday railed against Mexico and Canada’s efforts in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying both neighbours have been “very difficult.”

      “NAFTA is very difficult. Mexico has been very difficult to deal with. Canada has been very difficult to deal with … but I will tell you that in the end we win,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We will win, and we’ll win big.

      “We’ll get along with Mexico, we’ll get along with Canada. But I will tell you, they have been very difficult to deal with. They’re very spoiled — because nobody has done this. But I will tell you that what they ask for is not fair.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • What Happens If Republicans Keep Control Of The House And Senate?

      Imagine this scenario: In November’s elections for the U.S. House, Democrats win the national House vote by a few percentage points and gain nearly 20 additional House seats, by both winning open seats and defeating some longtime GOP incumbents. In the Senate, Democrats pick up Nevada; win races in states President Trump carried in 2016, including in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and West Virginia; and only narrowly lose in the GOP strongholds of Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee.

    • Why Ohio’s Congressional Map is Unconstitutional

      National and state GOP officials conspired to redraw Ohio’s map to exclude Democratic voters.

      We all know how representative democracy is supposed to work — each election cycle, citizens vote to determine which elected officials will represent them in Congress. That’s not what’s happening in Ohio, where Republicans designed the state’s redistricting map to keep their party in office in violation of voters’ constitutional rights.

      Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking to replace Ohio’s gerrymandered map with one that reflects the will of voters and complies with the Constitution before the 2020 elections.

      How did Ohio become one of the most egregious examples of partisan gerrymandering in modern history? It’s a sordid tale involving high-level Republican operatives, a secret “bunker,” a rushed vote, and enormous consequences for our democracy.

      Here’s what you need to know.

    • Media Delegitimize Venezuelan Elections Amid Complete Unanimity of Outlook

      Nicolás Maduro was successfully re-elected president of Venezuela on Sunday, receiving 5.8 million of the 8.6 million ballots cast, on a turnout of 46 percent. His nearest challenger, Henri Falcon, received 1.8 million votes. The process was watched over by 150 international observers from over 30 countries, among them former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who said (Telesur, 5/20/18): “I do not have any doubt about the voting process. It is an advanced automatic voting system.”

      [...]

      Apart from spelling the president’s name wrong, the only source that could be an “independent” observer quoted was the Washington-based, State Department–funded conservative group Freedom House, a rather questionable example of an “independent observer.”

      [...]

      The extraordinary similarity and negative tone across Western media should not surprise anyone. As I detailed in Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting, there have been enormous cuts to foreign reporting, leading to a situation where only a tiny cadre of journalists create the news we hear from other countries. Media copy and paste from news organizations like Reuters and Associated Press, which themselves employ many cheaper local journalists.

      In Venezuela, these journalists are not neutral actors, but come from the highly partisan local media, affiliated with the opposition, leading to a situation where Western newsrooms see themselves as an ideological spearhead against Maduro, “the resistance” to the government.

    • CIA Knew Torture Was Extorting Bad Intelligence — Kept Doing It Anyway

      In February, we wrote about how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks, has yet to stand trial — 17 years after the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the Pentagon.

      The reason for the delay, Mohammed’s attorney David Nevin asserts, is the government’s desire to hide the details of the torture and rendition program his client and many others were subjected to in the early years of the “war on terror.”

      [...]

      The CIA’s record of torture is front and center in the media again. This time because President Donald Trump’s new CIA Director, Gina Haspel, played a key role in the agency’s program of “enhanced interrogation” (i.e., torture). Haspel was head of station in at least one of the CIA’s black sites in Thailand where torture took place, and also held multiple senior roles at the CIA Counterterrorism Center, which oversaw the torture program.

      She was also involved in the destruction of the video recordings of the torture sessions and was less than forthcoming recently with members of Congress who asked about her role in that action.

      Nevertheless, the Senate confirmed her. The fact that Haspel, who played a key role in the CIA torture program, made it through the confirmation process fairly easily, signals, at the very least, that the agency should have no problem continuing to shield itself from any outside scrutiny of its treatment of terror suspects in the years after 9/11.

      Ominously, president Trump who has said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” said Monday that “America is reasserting its strength” by putting Haspel in charge of the agency.

    • Haspel, the CIA, Government and Morality

      In his comments on Gina Haspel (“At the CIA, Immorality Is Part of the Job,” op-ed, May 17), Fay Vincent suggests that morality is at best tangentially related to the rule of law. The great tradition of Western jurisprudence would strongly disagree. Moses and Jeremiah, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus, St. Paul, St. Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.—all uniformly affirmed that justice, morality and positive law are intimately connected in any good society. Statecraft, certainly no less than war, must be conducted within the confines of legal norms connected to…

    • With Haspel Sworn In as CIA Director, Let’s Stop Pretending That Her Atrocities Run Counter to American Values

      Although Gina Haspel’s nomination received the fewest supporting votes of any previous CIA director nominee, on Monday morning she was sworn in to head the agency. Introducing Haspel, Trump stated that “instead of apologizing for our nation, we are standing up for our nation.” He spoke these words knowing that Haspel oversaw the CIA’s first black site in the “war on terror,” where two Muslim prisoners were waterboarded repeatedly. Why? Because torture is American.

      Prior to her confirmation, there seemed to be three common mainstream responses to Haspel’s nomination: 1) The torture she oversaw wasn’t torture/was acceptable under the circumstances; 2) Those who were tortured provided valuable intelligence, therefore justifying this abuse; and 3) Torture is “un-American” because it is morally and legally impermissible.

    • Pompeo says there is no ‘deep state’ at State Department or CIA

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he “does not believe there is a deep state” at the State Department or the CIA — contradicting President Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that there are forces within the government conspiring against him.

    • Mike Pompeo says there is no ‘deep state’ at CIA or State Department

      US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said that there was no “deep state” in either the CIA or the State Department.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Victory For The First Amendment: Court Rules That Government Officials Who Tweet to the Public Can’t Block Users Who They Disagree With

      Lawsuit Against President Trump Brought by Twitter Users He Blocked

      New York, New York—President Donald Trump’s blocking of people on Twitter because they criticize him violates the First Amendment, a federal judge in New York ruled today in a resounding victory for freedom of speech and the public’s right to communicate opposing political views directly to elected officials and government agencies.

      The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute alleging the president and his communications team violated the First Amendment by blocking seven people from the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account because they criticized the president or his policies. The seven individuals include a university professor, a surgeon, a comedy writer, a community organizer, an author, a legal analyst, and a police officer.

      The plaintiffs were blocked by Trump on Twitter shortly after they posted tweets to the @realDonaldTrump account that were critical. President Trump and the other defendants conceded that they did so because they disliked the viewpoints the plaintiffs expressed in their tweets. U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that such viewpoint-based exclusion is “impermissible under the First Amendment.” The ruling is a win for the public’s right to speak out to public officials and engage with other members of the public on social media.

      In an amicus brief filed on behalf of the plaintiffs, EFF argued governmental use of social media platforms to communicate to and with the public, and allow the public to communication with each other, is now the rule of democratic engagement, not the exception. As a result, First Amendment rights of both access to those accounts and the ability to speak in them must apply in full force.

    • Facebook Moderation Ramps Up In Germany And Everything Keeps Getting Worse For Its Users

      Germany’s new hate speech law — and its intersection with social media platforms — has been a disaster. Subjecting platforms to millions of Euros in fines for each violation, the push to cleanse the (German) internet of hate speech has resulted in plenty of predictive content policing. When not nuking legal criticism or satire mocking intolerant speech, the new law is creating a moderating nightmare for Facebook and other social media services.

      The German wing of Facebook’s moderation employs 1,200 moderators who forward anything borderline to Facebook’s legal team, who then forward close calls they can’t make to another outsourced team of lawyers well-versed in German law. That’s a lot of money spent to avoid 50 million euro fines, but likely necessary given the law’s demand illegal content be removed within 24 hours. Facebook may have to the money to do this, but other platforms simply don’t have the resources. Compliance will result in Germans being given fewer services to choose from, all in the name of “protecting” Germans from hateful speech.

      But is the law really serving the German people? Or is it a legislative feel-good effort of marginal utility with the possibility of collecting massive fines the ribbon on top? Linda Kinstler’s long article on Facebook’s proactive moderation efforts in Germany suggests the general public doesn’t need these extra protections as much as the government seems to think they do.

    • Censorship concerns over water contamination hearings in Washington

      The second day of an EPA summit in Washington, D.C. on water contamination is hitting home here in the Capital Region.

      On Tuesday, the mayor of Hoosick Falls was sitting in on the summit but others were barred.

      There was some censorship concerns have come to the forefront surrounding the need for more information on water contamination.

      A report by the EPA is not being released and many people affected by contamination were not granted seats at that summit. There have even been reports of the media being barred from the meetings.

    • ‘Stop This BLATANT CENSORSHIP’: The Poor, Confused Souls Sending Their YouTube Complaints to the FCC

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which oversees telecommunications like radio, TV, and the internet in the U.S., doesn’t regulate content on online platforms like YouTube. But that hasn’t stopped people from sending complaints about the video site to the federal agency—and they’re every bit as unhinged as you’d expect.

      Gizmodo submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all complaints that the FCC has received about YouTube. We received 81 pages of grievances featuring everyone from PizzaGate conspiracy theorists to anti-nudity crusaders. YouTube, which is owned by Google, has cracked down on extremist content in recent months, doing everything from removing ISIS propaganda videos to demonetizing conspiracy theory channels. YouTube has even banned neo-Nazi channels like Atomwaffen altogether.

    • Conservative Principles Don’t Justify Silencing Conservatives
    • ‘Internet safety’ just means internet censorship

      At the end of a week in which the House of Commons defeated Labour’s draconian plans to regulate the press, the Tories revealed their own draconian plans to regulate the internet. The culture secretary, Matt Hancock, has pledged to make Britain ‘the safest place in the world’ to be online. But when the world’s ‘safest’ internet is currently found in China, where access is heavily restricted and censored by the state, it becomes clear how terrifying the government’s safety agenda really could be.

      Digital secretary Margot James told Sky News the government would order social-media firms to take down any ‘abusive’ content immediately. Fines for non-compliance could run up to four per cent of a firm’s global turnover, which could mean up to £1 billion for the largest firms. Just as clampdowns on press freedom are often justified with tough talk against the press barons, the war on social media is presented as a fight against the new social-media oligarchs. But, in truth, clampdowns on big tech are really just a proxy for clampdowns on us, the users. After all, it is we, the public, who actually produce all the supposedly vile, offensive and abusive content that social-media companies will be ordered to censor.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Privacy Statement

      This Privacy Statement is intended to describe this web site’s privacy practices and provide information about the choices you have regarding the ways in which information collected by this web site is used and disclosed.

    • An FUQ for the GDPR

      Today is Privmas Eve: the day before Privmas, aka GDPR Day: the one marked red on the calendars of every company in the world holding an asset the GDPR has suddenly made toxic: personal data. The same day—25 May—should be marked green for everyone who has hated the simple fact that harvesting personal data from everybody on the internet has been too damned easy for too damned long for too damned many companies, and governments too.

      Whether you like the GDPR or not (and there are reasons for both, which we’ll get into shortly), one thing it has done for sure is turn privacy into Very Big Deal. This is good, because we’ve had damned little of it on the internet and now we’re going to get a lot more. That’s worth celebrating, everybody. Merry Privmas!

    • Facebook Wants Your Nudes For Their New Anti-Revenge Porn Tool [Updated]

      the program still requires users to share nudes with a group of reviewers on Facebook….

    • Revenge porn: Facebook teaming up with Government to stop nude photos ending up on Messenger, Instagram

      If you’ve had a nude photo taken, you might be nervous about where it could end up.

      Your phone may be hacked or a relationship turn sour, meaning the “revenge porn” picture could be made public without your say so.

    • Data privacy in Sailfish OS is enhancing even further as GDPR comes into effect
    • Five Years After Snowden, Michigan Set to Be First State to Impede NSA’s Warrantless Surveillance

      On the heels of the fifth anniversary of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s disclosure of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents to journalists, one state legislature has recently taken steps to hold the government agency accountable for its warrantless surveillance programs by making it illegal for state and local governments, including law enforcement and public utilities, to support the NSA’s warrantless spying on American citizens.

    • Michigan Takes On The NSA With New Law, But Probably Won’t Have Much Of An Impact

      In the months following the appearance of the Snowden leaks, several state legislatures attempted stiff arm snooping feds by introducing bills prohibiting collect-it-all programs from being deployed against Americans by the NSA. Most targeted the NSA’s warrantless collection of metadata, creating a warrant requirement for the collection of data within the state’s borders.

      Others were a bit more creative, forbidding state law enforcement from participating in federal surveillance efforts or, in the case of Utah, where a new NSA data center was being built, forbidding the state’s water supply from being used in data collection efforts (to cool the agency’s many, many servers).

      In Michigan, one of these laws is actually being enacted. As the Washington Examiner reports, the effective date of the Fourth Amendment Rights Protection Act is nearly five years to the day from the first Snowden leak.

    • TOR Anonymity: Things Not To Do While Using TOR

      The awe-inspiring internet has its nightmares for the ones who get stalked and harassed in the digital world. They can’t get away from the predicament; one possible recourse is to go anonymous while using the internet with the help of various tools available. Name it, VPN, TOR, or you can use a proxy server for your anonymity needs.

      Apart from all these available options, TOR stands out first in the line when we compare the level of anonymity provided by various tools. The Onion Router project is regarded as the best cloak for those people who want to hide on the internet.

    • Many Of Those Desperate GDPR Emails You’ve Been Getting Are Violating A Different EU Regulation

      As we careen wildly into a post-GDPR world at the end of this week, you’ve probably already been inundated with tons upon tons of emails from various companies where you either have an account or have been signed up for their mailing list. Some of these emails likely note that they want you to confirm that you want to remain on their list because of the GDPR. Others pretend they’re just checking in with you for the hell of it. According to an expert in EU regulation, many of these emails probably violate another EU regulation, one designed to make spamming illegal. As for the others? They’re almost certainly not necessary under the GDPR and appear to be people misunderstanding the GDPR “out of an abundance of caution.”

    • Tech firms can’t keep our data forever: we need a Digital Expiry Date

      However, as government surveillance is emerging as a growing threat – especially in surveillance states like China or Iran – the long-term data storage enacted by all of the top tech companies is a dream come true for any current or future authoritarian state.

    • It’s Time to Break Up Facebook

      And it’s not just Republicans who have taken advantage of Facebook’s invasive features. Far from it: During the 2012 campaign, President Barack Obama’s reelection team built an app that extracted the same types of data in the same fashion as the Cambridge Analytica data in question, with one critical difference: Obama’s team extracted nearly five times the information.

      According to Carol Davidsen, a member of Obama’s data team, “Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” [...]

    • China’s Black Mirror ‘social credit’ has already stopped 11m from taking flights

      Social Credit will ensure that “discredited people become bankrupt,” said Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the development research center of the State Council, according to Global Times.

      [...]

      By the end of April the scheme which is expected to be fully rolled out by 2020 is said to have prevented 11.14m flights being taken and 4.25m high-speed train journeys were refused.

    • No one’s ready for GDPR

      After four years of deliberation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was officially adopted by the European Union in 2016. The regulation gave companies a two-year runway to get compliant, which is theoretically plenty of time to get shipshape. The reality is messier. Like term papers and tax returns, there are people who get it done early, and then there’s the rest of us.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before European Parliament yields an empty spectacle

      The result, for anyone who has been paying attention to the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, was a strong sense of déjà vu. In response to questions about data privacy, Zuckerberg said Facebook was reviewing thousands of apps that once had broad access to user information, and the process would take months to complete. Terrorism? Nearly all posts promoting al-Qaeda and ISIS are removed automatically through systems powered by machine learning. Disinformation? Facebook is working to remove the economic incentives for publishing fake news, which addresses the majority of people posting it. And monopoly power? The average person uses eight different apps to communicate, Zuckerberg said — without noting, as usual, that Facebook owns three of them.

    • Police use of Amazon’s face-recognition service draws privacy warnings

      The service, which Amazon markets under the name Rekognition, can recognize as many as 100 people in a single image and can compare images against databases containing tens of millions of faces. Company executives describe deployment by law enforcement agencies as common use case.

    • European Union Grills Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Over His ‘Digital Monster’

      At a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels, legislators sought explanations about the growing number of false Facebook accounts and whether Facebook will comply with new EU privacy rules, but many were left frustrated by Zuckerberg’s lack of answers.

    • Zuckerberg’s European Parliament testimony criticised

      Mr Zuckerberg spent 22 minutes going through the huge number of questions put to him during the session and was able to pick and choose which to give answers to.

      Several of the politicians expressed frustration at this, and one accused Mr Zuckerberg of having “asked for this format for a reason”.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Border Patrol Was Monstrous Under Obama. Imagine How Bad It Is Under Trump.

      The ACLU and the International Human Rights Clinic have obtained disturbing documents detailing Border Patrol abuses.

      On a December morning, Border Patrol agents confronted a 15-year-old high school student named Jahveel Ocampo at a rest stop in California while she and her friends were on their way to the mountains to see the winter’s first snow. Jahveel was a young child when she came to the United States from Mexico with her parents, and she grew up undocumented in southern California. She was a mother to a 2-year-old child, who was a U.S. citizen.

      An agent in a blue jacket asked whether Jahveel was an “illegal.” He handcuffed her and drove her to a Border Patrol station in the border town of Campo. There, he slapped her twice on the buttocks and ordered her into a cell. He and another male agent told her to sign an “order of voluntary departure,” a deportation order. She refused.

      Then the threats began. One agent said, in Spanish, according to the complaint she filed later, “Right now, we close the door, we rape you and f*** you. If you cooperate with us, we can deport you to Mexico. Otherwise, we will take you to jail and deport your entire family.” They told her that her child would end up in foster care.

      Terrified and alone, Jahveel signed.

    • Mugshots.com Operators Arrested For Letting Money Influence Editorial Decisions

      Earlier this month Ars Technica reported on the arrest of the alleged operators of Mugshots.com, a website that does what it says on the tin: hosts mugshots. The issue is, the site operators didn’t just host mugshots; they also charged people to have their mugshots removed from the site through a companion site, Unpublisharrest.com.

      Assuming the arrest warrant is fairly stating things, the site’s operators may not have had the best of intentions in running their site the way they did. According to the facts alleged they were more interested in making money by charging people to have their pictures removed from their site than in serving as any sort of public records archive.

      [...]

      Taken together, the arrest warrant concludes, the site operators are guilty of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. But to prove extortion prosecutors must show that the accused threatened a victim either with violence, the accusation of a crime, or the exposure of a secret, if they didn’t pay the accused. Yet the defendants are accused of none of these things. Not only is there no issue of threatened violence, but what the site operators are alleged to have done in no way involves revealing a secret or accusing another of a crime. Instead it is the state that has already accused the site operators’ purported “victims” of a crime, and its having done so is no secret. The state’s accusation against these people became public when it originally released the mugshots, meaning there is nothing that the site operators could have been threatening to reveal that wasn’t already revealed.

      This apparently sloppy reading of the extortion statute, compounded with the 2015 statutory language giving mugshots a sort of magical status that prevents them from being treated as an ordinary public record, represents a chilling incursion on protected First Amendment activity. It’s one thing to impose liability for publishing content that isn’t lawful, perhaps because it’s defamatory, infringing, or somehow intrinsically wrongful unto itself. But it’s another thing entirely to impose liability for publishing content that is entirely lawful – especially, as in this case, when it is not only lawful but a public record.

    • There’s now only one US state where mug shots aren’t public records

      The South Dakota measure is certain to provide fresh material for the online mug shot business racket. These questionable sites post mug shots, often in a bid to embarrass people in hopes of getting them to pay hundreds of dollars to have their photos removed. The exposé I did on this for Wired found that some mug shot site operators had a symbiotic relationship with reputation management firms that charge for mug shot removals.

      That said, South Dakota’s attorney general, Marty Jackley, hailed the legislation, which was supported by the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

      “The release of criminal booking photographs to the public will result in greater transparency in the criminal process, enhance public safety, and will further assist the media and the public in the proper identification of individuals in the criminal process,” he said.

    • The Attorney General Thinks Police Having To Follow The Constitution Leads To Violent Crime Increases

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an old-school law and order man. He wants asset forfeiture returned to its former glory — no longer questioned by all and sundry for its ability to enrich law enforcement agencies without making much of a dent in criminal activity. He wants drug sellers jailed for as long as possible, suggesting the last time he read a policy paper was sometime during the mid-1980s. And he thinks people questioning law enforcement efforts should be ashamed of themselves, what with the dangers faced occasionally by officers whose workplace can’t even crack the Top 10 Deadliest Jobs in America list.

      [...]

      Second, Sessions shows he doesn’t care about police misconduct or public accountability by maligning those who demand accountability as “radicals.” This suggests Sessions is more interested in a docile nation than upholding his duties as Attorney General, which (used to) include investigating and prosecuting officers who abuse their power.

      Finally, his portrayal of the rise in violence in Chicago as the direct result of a consent decree is both dishonest and ugly. The consent decree dealt with the Chicago PD’s stop-and-frisk tactics. The PD agreed to revamp its policies after a 2015 report by the ACLU found the program disproportionately targeted black residents. In other words, Sessions is claiming requiring cops to behave Constitutionally results in increased criminal activity.

    • Promoters of Saudi Prince as Feminist Reformer Are Silent on His Crackdown on Women

      Nor did MBS’s biggest court stenographer, Thomas Friedman, find room in his latest column in his latest column (5/22/18) to note the crackdown. Given Times opinion page editor James Bennet was clear his paper was axiomatically “pro-capitalism” (3/1/18), one wonders whether he views Latin American socialists as uniquely worthy of condemnation, whereas Middle East petrol dictatorships that invest in American corporations and hosts glossy tech conferences deserve nuance and mild “reform” childing. We have to “get rid of” the former, and the latter simply need “guidance” from the US—their respective human rights records a total non-factor.

      CBS ran a 50-second story on the “emancipating” MBS’s crackdown on its web-only news network, CBSN (5/21/18), and an AP story on its website (5/19/18), but CBS News has thus far aired nothing on the flagrant human rights violation on any of the news programs on its actual network, and certainly nothing in the ballpark of its most-watched prime time program, 60 Minutes.

      If influential outlets like the Times opinion section and CBS News are going to help build up bin Salman’s image as a “reformer” and a champion of women’s rights, don’t they have a unique obligation to inform their readers and viewers when the image they built up is so severely undermined? Shouldn’t Bennet’s editorial board and Friedman—who did so much to lend legitimacy to the Saudi ruler’s PR strategy—be particularly outraged when he does a 180 and starts arresting prominent women’s rights advocates? Will 60 Minutes do a comparable 27-minute segment detailing these arrests and their chilling effect on activism?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • No, The FTC Is Not Going To Do A Good Job Policing Net Neutrality

      We’ve noted repeatedly how broadband ISPs aren’t just trying to kill net neutrality, they’re trying to kill nearly all state and federal oversight over giant telecom monopolies entirely. From language buried in the net neutrality repeal aimed at preventing states from protecting consumers, to attempts to neuter the FCC and shovel all remaining oversight to an FTC ill-suited to police telecom operators, the end goal really is little to no real oversight of some of the least liked, least competitive companies in any industry.

      While this is all being portrayed as “regulatory modernization” by ISPs and their armies of consultants and allies, former FCC Boss Tom Wheeler has gone so far as to call the effort a “fraud.” Wheeler was quick to note that not only does the FTC lack rule-making authority, it can only act against an ISP if it can be very clearly shown that the ISP’s actions were “unfair or deceptive.” That’s tricky to do in the net neutrality era where anti-competitive behavior is often disguised as “reasonable network management.”

    • Two sitting Senators were among the people whose identities were stolen in FCC comments from anti-Net Neutrality bots

      The botmasters who ran the anti-Net Neutrality campaign went so far as to steal the identities of two sitting US Senators, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), who have written to the FCC demanding to know exactly what the fuck the Commission is going to do about it.

    • Two Senators Say Their Identities Were Stolen During Net Neutrality Repeal

      Throughout 2017, an unidentified culprit easily abused a lack of basic protections at the FCC website to flood the net neutrality proceeding with fake comments. In some instances the scammers used the identities of real people (like myself) to support the unpopular effort. In other instances, the names of dead people were hijacked for the same purpose.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Considerations Regarding a Canadian Patent Collective

      In its 2018 budget, the Government of Canada pledged CDN$85.3 million over five years to support an ambitious new intellectual property (IP) strategy, including CDN$30 million for the formation of a Canadian “Patent Collective.” This paper explores the possible structure and goals of such a collective, as well as potential risks and challenges of each. It concludes that appreciable technology development by Canadian firms is not likely to be achieved through the proposed patent collective, but that such a collective could assist Canadian firms by facilitating their participation in existing international defensive patent networks. The paper recommends that the proposed Canadian patent collective avoid the acquisition and aggregation of patents, and instead focus its limited resources on three supportive functions for Canadian industry: assisting Canadian firms, through subsidies or other resource commitments, to participate in existing international defensive patent networks; encouraging Canadian universities and research institutions to focus on commercially relevant “translational” research; and assessing the potential benefits of facilitating patent sharing or pooling arrangements in select Canadian industries, and offering administrative and infrastructural support for such efforts.

    • Competition Advocacy and the Patent System: Promoting Competitive Markets for Technology

      Current efforts at patent reform, through vehicles such as legislation, regulation, and appellate caselaw, are often met with advocacy advancing competing concerns reflecting the interests of discrete and separate groups of market participants. These viewpoints may not necessarily align with the policy goal of promoting consumer welfare. Historically, competition advocacy by competition authorities has been one mechanism for advocating for reforms that advance consumer welfare. Competition authorities such as the Federal Trade Commission have a lengthy history of empirical research and policy advocacy regarding the patent system. This paper reviews that advocacy and examines the circumstances under which competition advocacy has been employed. It observes that advocacy has been directed to two markets in which the patent system impacts competition: patents influence competition in the market for goods that embody them and patents are also themselves articles traded in technology markets. Regarding the latter form of competition, advocacy has been used to address legal doctrines that give rise to transaction costs and market failures in the market for the trade and license of patent rights.

    • Nike’s latest patent turns your workout clothes into towels

      Lets face it, going to the gym may be good for our health, but the amount of perspiration that we produce while exercising can bring a host of challenges at times. No one enjoys the feeling of sweat dripping into our eyes and too much moisture can make it difficult to grip kettlebells, weightlifting bars, or other exercise equipment, let alone interact with touchscreen devices. Thankfully, Nike is looking for ways to alleviate these challenges by potentially creating a new line of workout clothes designed to perform at a high level, while also offering athletes a way to wipe away excess sweat too.

    • Protecting Pfizer’s and Microsoft’s Patents in China Is Not ‘Our’ Concern

      OK, so Rampell tells us that we should not be concerned about a trade deficit that costs in the neighborhood of 2 million manufacturing jobs. Instead, we should be concerned that China is not as protectionist as she wants it to be when it comes to the intellectual property claims of our software and pharmaceutical companies.

      And why exactly should those of us who don’t own lots of stock in Microsoft and Pfizer care if China doesn’t pay them licensing fees and royalties? If we think through the economics here, this means that other things being equal, lower payments to these companies mean a lower-valued dollar, which would improve our trade balance on manufactured goods. What’s the problem here?

      Actually, the story gets even better. Suppose that China doesn’t honor the patents of Pfizer and other drug companies, so that it produces generic version of new drugs that sell for hundreds of dollars for a course of treatment, instead of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that these companies demand for the patent-protected product (equivalent to tariffs of tens of thousands of percent). Suppose it sells these generic versions to people in the United States, or just lets them come to China for their treatment.

      This would save patients in the United States enormous amounts of money, and possibly save lives. This is what free trade is all about.

    • Trademarks

      • Topical Trade Marks: Lionel Messi Tells Massi To Get On Its Bike
      • Trademark and branding pitfalls in a hashtag culture

        In July 2017 the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a new Exam Guide to address the basis for rejecting a US trademark application known as ‘merely informational matter’. The timing coincided roughly with that of President Donald Trump’s now-infamous “covfefe” tweet and the dozens of trademark applications for COVEFE that followed within hours, for everything from beer to investment advice. Shortly after the USPTO issued the new Exam Guide, Twitter debuted a longer character limit (from 140 to 280 characters) and hashtags such as #MeToo and #TakeAKnee covered many a social media feed.

    • Copyrights

      • Despite US Criticism, Ukraine Cybercrime Chief Receives Few Piracy Complaints

        In response to alleged failures by Ukraine in the fight against online piracy, last year the MPAA, RIAA and other groups asked the U.S. Government to impose sanctions while the European Commission warned that Ukraine risks damaging relations with the EU. But according to the head of Ukraine’s cyber-police unit, complaints received by him are few in number and are actually going down.

Walmart, Bank of America, Allied Security Trust (AST) and the Rush for ‘Blockchain’ Patents

Posted in Patents at 1:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Basically a type of software patents, plus the ‘pop culture’ hype…

What is the Difference Between a Blockchain and a Database?
Reference: What is the Difference Between a Blockchain and a Database?

Summary: The hoarding of patents on novel-sounding code has reached ridiculous levels; very large corporations and even patent trolls arm themselves with such patents, hoping to make returns by means of litigation or an ‘arms trade’

THE USPTO was quick to embrace buzzwords and hype and so was the EPO (although their choices of acronyms and words vary somewhat). Both have allowed algorithms to become patentable provided some buzzword like “AI”, “cloud” or “4IR” got added.

“It means that the only real solution here is to not grant such patents in the first place (no matter who to).”Yesterday, based on the news (e.g. [1, 2, 3]), patents on surveillance from Walmart became known. They’re being marketed as “Blockchain-based” although nothing there suggests that Section 101 is inapplicable. There were also a couple of articles yesterday about Bank of America (BoA) [1, 2] with its latest “Blockchain Patent”. Well, as reported here a few years back, BoA is hoarding bogus software patents on blockchains (maybe an effort to sue rivals/threats to the status quo). It’s not alone. Notorious patent trolls have been busy trying to lay their hands on these patents. It means that the only real solution here is to not grant such patents in the first place (no matter who to). It’s a disaster in the making, just waiting to happen.

“These entities help distract and detract from actual efforts to reform the system. They even hoard software patents.”Yesterday the Allied Security Trust (AST) made a rebound in the news; we had not heard from it in a long time. In fact we last wrote about it a couple of years ago and quite a bit nearly a decade ago, e.g. [1, 2]. AST is one of those ‘pools’ (or ‘cartels’) which claim to be “defensive”. But there’s no such thing as a “defensive” patent because patents do not work this way. Here is the press release [1, 2] just published by AST in many outlets along with very shallow coverage, e.g. [1, 2].

To quote one such ‘article’:

A coalition of companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Uber Technologies Inc., is getting ready to buy an array of patents to defend against potential infringement suits.

Allied Security Trust (AST), a nonprofit group that buys patents to protect its members from infringement threats, said it will hold another fixed price patent buy in July.

Like LOT Network, which we wrote about quite a lot lately, Google is a big participant. Who benefits really? This one article about it (from WIPR) speaks of “AI and blockchain” in its headline. AST claims to be a “nonprofit”, but obviously there’s turnover and it’s connected to highly profitable companies. Like OIN, for example, AST serves to perpetuate the status quo rather than tackle it.

How about Fortress IP? A few days ago IAM said that RPX‘s co-founder had moved there. To quote:

According to a recent news report Fortress IP is putting together a $400 million “patent troll” fund in what looks like a significant capital raising exercise. Beyond the amount they’re looking to raise, however, details in the story are relatively scant and it’s not clear if the new fund signals a shift in investment strategy by the group led by RPX co-founder Eran Zur. There has been a rumour in the market for several months that Fortress IP team is looking to build its coffers to maximise opportunities to invest in and lend to patent-rich companies.

They want to “invest in and lend to patent-rich companies.” In other words, very large and wealthy companies with an extensive fleet of lawyers.

What we’re seeing here is a large (and growing) number of shells, led by very gigantic corporations, seeking to ‘protect’ members from patents by playing a shell game. These entities help distract and detract from actual efforts to reform the system. They even hoard software patents.

Stupid Blogs, Stupid Lawsuits, and Stupid Patents

Posted in Deception, Patents at 1:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The troll hunter
Original

Summary: The stupidity of the patent microcosm, which would like to see everything in the world patented and which would gleefully smear or even sue its critics (the EFF was sued several times for libel over its “Stupid Patent of the Month” series)

GRANTING patents just for the sake of having more granted patents would be missing the point; that should be obvious. The more patents an office grants in error, the lower the perceived value of all. The EPO ignores such common sense, whereas the USPTO belatedly adopts it. A lot of US patents got invalidated in recent years, many of which after lengthy and expensive court battles. This left the perceived value of many others (tested neither by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board nor the courts) low enough to merit no lawsuit or ‘assertion’ attempts.

“A lot of US patents got invalidated in recent years, many of which after lengthy and expensive court battles.”Patent maximalists aren’t happy. Watchtroll is furious and frustrated. It has been posting lots of unrelated cruft/dross lately, not about patents or even so-called ‘IP’. But yesterday Mr. Quinn (Watchtroll himself) was once again quote-mining Iancu — the second time in a week — to smear the status quo in the gradually-healed US patent system. Mr. Quinn then proceeded to his latest attack on judges, courts etc. The headline this time around (yesterday) was: “Did the Supreme Court intentionally destroy the U.S. patent system?”

He has been producing many headlines like this, especially in recent weeks. It is becoming rather laughable at this stage. An outsider who isn’t from the patent microcosm might as well say, “what a stupid blog!”

To us, Watchtroll has always been like the ‘Fox News’ of the patent microcosm.

Speaking of stupid blogs, how about Patently-O, which has been feeding Watchtroll with links? As it turns out, there’s a stupid new lawsuit against the USPTO. “Hyatt has filed a new mandamus action against the USPTO,” Patently-O said yesterday, “as the next step in the 40+ year battle over his microcomputer patent applications. Hyatt has over 300 patents applications pending before the USPTO.”

“To us, Watchtroll has always been like the ‘Fox News’ of the patent microcosm.”So what? Anyone can submit an application. That doesn’t mean anything. Patently-O recently gave attention also to a publicity stunt class-action lawsuit over PTAB. If it suits Patently-O‘s agenda, then hey, why the heck not?

Last but not least, in light of Facebook’s history of patent aggression, the EFF’s Joe Mullin has just announced the latest “Stupid Patent of the Month,” alluding to “poor-quality Internet patents” from Facebook. As Mullin put it:

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it will wedge its way into an already-crowded corner of online commerce. The social networking site plans to use its giant storehouse of personal data to create a dating service, promising to help users find “meaningful relationships,” not just “hookups,” as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put it.

It remains to be seen whether Facebook’s new service be a “Tinder-killer” that users flock to, or a flop for a company that’s long been beset with privacy concerns. But there’s one thing Facebook, its competitors, and its detractors should all be able to agree on. When a new dating service launches, it should rise or fall based on whether it can win the trust of users—not an arbitrary race to the Patent Office.

Unfortunately, well before it built and launched an actual dating service, Facebook engaged in just such a race. The company applied for a stupid patent on “social dating” back in 2013, and earlier this year, the Patent Office granted the application.

[...]

To be fair to Facebook, the company may have felt compelled to get its own stupid patent because there are so many other stupid online dating patents out there. In a phenomenon that’s the patent equivalent of “mutually assured destruction,” many tech companies have stockpiled poor-quality Internet patents simply to have a threat to fight off other companies’ poor-quality Internet patents. This arms race, of course, costs many millions of dollars and benefits no one other than patent system insiders.

In the world of online dating, wasteful, anti-competitive patent litigation isn’t just theoretical. Earlier this year, Match Group sued up-and-comer Bumble for patent infringement. The suit was brought shortly after Match reportedly tried to purchase Bumble. And in 2015, Jdate sued Jswipe, accusing their competitor of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,950,200, which tried to claim the idea of notifying people that they “feel reciprocal interest for each other.” It was a basic patent that sought to encompass just about the whole concept of a dating service.

We cannot stress strongly enough that we’re not against patents; we are pro patent quality. We believe that the number of patents should be limited based on strict scope and merit thresholds. Sites like Watchtroll, on the other hand, want us to believe the lie that the more patents get granted, the better off innovation will be. In practice, overpatenting has the exact opposite effect. People who are genuinely interested in innovation and contribute to innovation often ask for restrictions on patent scope, fearing the prospect of unwanted lawsuits.

Perpetuating the Big Lie That Unitary Patent (UPC) is About to Kick Off

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO wrote this (below) more than two years ago

UPC

Summary: The (in)famous old lie about UPC being “just around the corner” is still being circulated, mainly if not only by patent law firms which stand to benefit from a litigation Armageddon in Europe

“TEAM BATTISTELLI” (EPO management) is expected to lie a lot. About nearly everything. The same goes for “Team UPC,” basically a subset of law firms, primarily those that profit from litigation, patent trolls and so on. These people do not care about Europe; they just want to ensure that Europe keeps attracting lots of ruinous lawsuits, necessitating a lot of lawyers.

“These people do not care about Europe; they just want to ensure that Europe keeps attracting lots of ruinous lawsuits, necessitating a lot of lawyers.”Lies about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) have become very routine. Left unaddressed, many people risk falling for them. Many inside Team UPC already live in an echo chamber, surrounded by mutually-reinforcing messages; they live in a bubble, to put it rather bluntly. Today we present some new examples of it (from earlier this week).

Yesterday, rather unsurprisingly, IP Kat was propping up Team UPC’s Kool-Aid (probably Bristows’) in order to advance the UPC’s agenda. This blog should be renamed “CIPA Kat” as this is what it basically got reduced to after the founder (Jeremy) had left. This is what they wrote:

In the aftermath of the ratification of the UPCA by the UK last month, Kluwer Patent Blog has published an interview with Bruno van Pottelsberghe, Professor at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management and a former chief economist of the EPO. In ‘EU should bring Unitary Patent system under its control’, Van Pottelsberghe discusses the benefits of the Unitary Patent regime to the business community, NPO concerns, German stance, and the role of EPO.

We already wrote several responses to this Kluwer Patent Blog ‘article’; so did many commenters (those that managed to survive the censorship regime of Kluwer Patent Blog — a regime which became even tougher some months ago, shortly after commenters had criticised the UPC and articles about the UPC).

“Lies about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) have become very routine.”In addition to this, some Battistelli-friendly French law firm propped up the UPC in France days prior to Bristows joining in. Surely enough, Stanislas Roux-Vaillard (Hogan Lovells) has just joined in [1, 2] by stating:

Importantly, this Order does not specify which law should be applied by the French courts during the UPC transitional period; it will be for French courts to decide whether they should apply the substantive provisions of the UPC or the French law (the latter solution being the recommendation of the Preparatory Committee’s interpretative note) for issues like the Bolar exemption.

Notice the tenses; they insinuate inevitability and persist with some arrogant certainty that the UPC will actually start and the only remaining questions are some minor technicalities. That is very far from it. Robert Burrows from Bristows is meanwhile obsessing over Bulgaria as if the UPC’s fate has much to do with a small economy without many EPs (32 EPs granted last year and 20 the year prior to that). Merely keeping the perception of momentum?

“Merely keeping the perception of momentum?”An article by Wolfgang Schönig and Robert Grohmann (Morrison & Foerster LLP) has just stated (in the headline even) that “Germany Is Lingering To Ratify” (as if it’s just a matter of time, as per the definition of the word linger). To quote:

While some commentators struggle with how membership of the UPC is compatible with the stated BREXIT aim of “taking back control”, when essentially signing up to a European patent litigation system does exactly the opposite, others emphasise that the UPC is nothing but a logical evolvement of the European Patent Convention, an international patent system that (despite its name) is not exclusive to EU Member States, and that the UPC may be open to non-EU countries, too.

[...]

It remains to be seen whether timing will prevent the UK from participating in the UPC.

It’s not about timing. And the UPC is an EU thing; just check the underlying text. These people keep lying about it because law, to them at least, is just some ‘pesky’ thing to be worked around rather than be respected. The above sentence also puts forth the wrong question, a loaded question. This wrongly assumes or wants us to believe Unitary Patent will happen (and only the UK’s participation is up in the air). It won’t happen and thus the UK’s participation is irrelevant a question/conundrum.

“It won’t happen and thus the UK’s participation is irrelevant a question/conundrum.”Abigail Woodhouse, an attorney from a law firm, persists with using tenses like “will” in relation to the UPC; as though it’s inevitable and likely imminent; From this long new article titled “Patents and trademarks in 2018″:

Woolhouse: On World IP Day, 26 April 2018, the UK became the 16th Member State to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA), which defines a new two-part patent system comprising the Unitary Patent (UP) and a new court, the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The UP will be a single patent right in up to 25 Member States of the EU and enforceable in the UPC by single judgement effective in all UPCA member states. Importantly, the UPC will also have jurisdiction over conventional European Patents. This system will endure and run alongside the UP, thus requiring proprietors to actively opt-out if they wish to avoid the UPC’s jurisdiction. It is quite possible that the UP and UPC could be in action before Brexit in March 2019. As it now stands, Germany is the only remaining mandatory party required to ratify before the new system can be brought into effect.

But no, the UK cannot participate in such a system and without the UK there’s no UPC; this is in fact one of the considerations to be taken into account by the FCC in Germany. It’s in the constitutional complaint.

“Notice how pretty much all of the above (pro-UPC spin) comes from the legal ‘industry’ as opposed to the real industry which actually makes and sells things.”Do facts no longer matter? These people keep perpetuating falsehoods and myths like “IP” (above), corresponding to a propaganda term, “Intellectual Property” (not the same as actual laws, such as patent law). Stephan Kinsella wrote a great deal about this propaganda term and his latest podcast about it came out yesterday.

The matter of fact is, the UPC would serve nobody but these law firms and their largest clients, many or most of which aren’t even European.

Yesterday, Philipp Cepl and Kokularajah Paheenthararajah (DLA Piper) wrote about Düsseldorf in relation to increase in liability risks. To quote some bits:

In its two recent decisions, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court redefined the requirements for the infringement of second-medical-use patents. Besides the cases of “purposeful preparation” of a medicament for the protected use, now, a direct infringement also “in some other way” may be considered if the medicament is objectively suitable for the patented use and the supplier takes advantage of external circumstances, which ensure that the offered medicament is used for the patented purpose. Thus, the recent case law increases liability risks for the infringement of secondmedical-use patents.

[...]

The recent case law of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court increases the risks of liability for the infringement of second-medical-use patents since a direct infringement now also has to be taken into account if due to external circumstances it is evident that the medicament will be used for the patented purpose.

The main field of application of this case law are cross-label-use cases as pointed out by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, where only a carve-out will not be sufficient to prevent liability anymore. Besides that, also such cases may become more relevant where guidelines of medical associations or directives (e. g. of the German Joint National Committee or the Medical Chamber) may recommend certain diagnostic or therapeutic procedures, which may not be explicitly mentioned in the SmPC or package leaflet and the execution of which may realize the protected teachings of the patent. Also here it is to be expected that irrespective of the existing patent protection physicians will generally comply with such scientifically justified and practiceoriented recommendations at least insofar as they reflect medical standards.

Imagine how much worse it might (or would) get in Düsseldorf if Team UPC ever got its way and litigious firms/trolls dragged the whole of Europe into such German courts. Also yesterday (afternoon) Thorsten Bausch wrote about the Federal Court of Justice of Germany. A blog colleague wrote about the Court of Appeal of Barcelona (Spain). Both pertain to patent cases — ones in which the only party guaranteed to win is the legal ‘industry’.

Notice how pretty much all of the above (pro-UPC spin) comes from the legal ‘industry’ as opposed to the real industry which actually makes and sells things. That in its own right ought to serve as a reminder of who crafted the UPCA and pushes the hardest for UP/UPC.

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