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06.02.18

Links 2/6/2018: Mesa 18.1.1, Debian 7 Long Term Support EoL, Fuchsia Device Prototypes

Posted in News Roundup at 11:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Help Celebrate The 14th Birthday Of Phoronix Next Week

    Now at nearly 14 years old, Phoronix.com has provided more than 25,200 original news articles and more than 3,800 featured articles / Linux hardware reviews.

  • Linux Journal June Issue: Do-It-Yourself
  • Desktop

    • Microsoft’s Windows shakeup continues internally

      The organizational changes mean that Joe Belfiore, who has been the face of Windows Phone in the past, is taking on more of the important consumer-facing parts of Windows. Rajesh Jha, previously an Office executive, will be leading the overall experiences and devices team, and in a memo to employees he says the changes will “bring end to end accountability for Edge, Windows experience, and partners together.”

  • Server

    • LINBIT to Bring Open Source Block Storage to Containers

      Containerized applications now can access block storage typically accessed by high-performance storage systems supporting enterprise applications based on relational databases thanks to LINBIT.

      Available now in beta, LINSTOR is block storage software native to containers and is compatible with both Kubernetes clusters and the OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment from Red Hat, via support for the Container Storage Interface (CSI) being developed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

      LINBIT COO Brian Hellman says LINSTOR is the latest addition to a portfolio of open source software-defined storage (SDS) offerings that make it possible for IT organizations to employ any underlying storage hardware they want to access block-based storage.

  • Kernel Space

    • Huawei announces the EROFS Linux file system intended for Android devices

      A file system is a technology that outlines how data is stored and retrieved. There are many different kinds of file systems, each with their own benefits, to pick from. You’ve probably heard of file systems like exFAT, F2FS, ext4. Choosing one file system over another can have profound impacts on storage performance and stability, so the decision isn’t taken lightly by device makers. Most device makers settle with the popular, well-tested file systems like ext4, but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t willing to experiment with alternatives. That’s exactly what Huawei is doing with an open-source Linux file-system called EROFS, which is intended to be used on Android devices at some point.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Helm Project Advances to Help Cloud Native Application Packaging

        The Helm project was originally created by Butcher’s team at Deis, a company that Microsoft acquired in April 2017. Butcher said the original effort to build Helm was done in a three-day hackathon competition at Deis to build new technology.

      • CNCF to Host Helm

        Today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept Helm as an incubation-level hosted project.

        No longer a sub-project under Kubernetes, Helm is a package manager that provides an easy way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes. Helm removes complexity from configuration and deployment, and enables greater developer productivity.

      • Helm moves out of Kubernetes’ shadow to become stand-alone project

        Helm is an open source project that enables developers to create packages of containerized apps to make installation much simpler. Up until now, it was a sub-project of Kubernetes, the popular container orchestration tool, but as of today it is a stand-alone project.

        Both Kubernetes and Helm are projects managed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The CNCF’s Technical Oversight Committee approved the project earlier this week. Dan Kohn, executive director at the CNCF says the two projects are closely aligned so it made sense for Helm to be a sub-project up until now.

      • Helm, an open-source project for managing Kubernetes apps, gets its own home inside the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        Another project has joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, after members voted to include Helm at the incubation stage within the organization’s roster of open-source projects.

        Helm was originally developed at Google and Deis, which was acquired by Microsoft last year. It is designed to help users of the Kubernetes container-orchestration project (also under the CNCF’s wing) find packages that facilitate the deployment of apps on Kubernetes.

      • HyperLedger Enterprise Blockchain (Linux Powered) is Picking Up Momentum

        Hyperledger’s momentum has gathered a faster pace this week with new collaborators joining the space. An area of enterprise which comprises of over 235 organisations working closely together to innovate within the realm of blockchain technology.

        Events such as the intention of the multinational Deutsche Bank to join the project as a premier member is conjoined with the decision on the parts of companies like Experian, Evernym and China Systems Holding joining the open-source collaborative project.

        HyperLedger, for those unfamiliar, is an umbrella term used to define various open-source blockchain projects and tools. As a term, Hyperledger boasts hundreds of different projects, with new companies adding to that number constantly.

      • CNCF Set to Expand Cloud-Native Project Roster with Container Registry

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) got started in July 2015 with just a single project: Kubernetes. In the time since, CNCF has expanded by adding new projects to its roster that have helped to grow the cloud-native landscape.

        CNCF is now looking to expand further with multiple efforts that will fill perceived gaps in the open-source foundation’s project portfolio. In a video interview, Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of CNCF, provides insight into some of the new cloud native efforts he’s interested in.

      • Linux Lite 4.0 Released, Linux Foundation’s Acumos AI Challenge, Fedora 29 Bootloader Debate and More

        The Linux Foundation yesterday announced the Acumos AI Challenge, sponsored by AT&T and Tech Mahindra. The challenge “is an open source developer competition seeking innovative, ground-breaking artificial intelligence (AI) solutions from students, developers, and data scientists”. The challenge is accepting submissions May 31 to August 5, 2018. The 1st place team will win $50,000, and the 2nd and 3rd place teams each will receive $25,000.

      • Linux Foundation signs up more telcos to its open networking projects

        The Linux Foundation Networking Fund (LFN) has signed up a number of additional telcos to its membership ranks, with US mobile operator Sprint the newest Silver member. Following its formation earlier this year, the LFN has also now added KT, KDDI, SK Telecom, Swisscom and Telecom Italia, who join over 100 other service providers and technology companies to collaborate on harmonization across technologies and the development of the new networking stack.

        “As LFN now enables over 65 per cent of the global mobile subscribers, we can better see the impact of open source on the networking ecosystem,” said Arpit Joshipura, General Manager of Networking and Orchestration, The Linux Foundation, “signalling a broader industry trend toward innovation, harmonization and accelerated deployment.”

      • Free Resources for Open Source Leadership, AI, Networking, and More

        May was the month for learning at Linux.com and The Linux Foundation, and we covered a range of topics and offered an array of free resources to help you expand your knowledge of Linux and open source. Let’s take a look at some of the month’s most popular content.

    • Graphics Stack

      • 29-Way GPU Comparison On Linux From Kepler & Cypress To Today’s Pascal & Vega

        Last week was a look at the latest Linux graphics drivers with current-generation graphics cards while for your viewing pleasure this Friday is a 29-way graphics card comparison. Using the very latest Linux graphics drivers, 29 distinct graphics cards were tested from current and recent generations of GPUs all the way back to the GeForce GTX 600 “Kepler” series on the NVIDIA side and on the AMD side was back to the Radeon HD 5800 “Cypress” hardware with a range of Linux games.

      • Vega Up For Another Performance Boost On RadeonSI, More Fixes For RADV From Feral

        It’s always great having more open-source graphics driver improvements to kick off a new month. Marek has started the day by volleying 14 new RadeonSI patches.

        A few days after the RADV driver got an alternate scissor workaround for Vega/GFX9, which could help Dota 2 in some scenarios by around 11%, this workaround has now been ported to the RadeonSI Gallium3D OpenGL driver.

        As part of these 14 patches are various small improvements and fixes, but included too is this alternative scissor workaround for Vega 10 and Raven Ridge. Marek though didn’t mention though any specific performance changes as a result.

      • Initial Vulkan Performance On macOS With Dota 2 Is Looking Very Good

        Yesterday Valve released Vulkan support for Dota 2 on macOS. Indeed, this first major game relying upon MoltenVK for mapping Vulkan over the Apple Metal drivers is delivering performance gains.

      • [ANNOUNCE] mesa 18.1.1

        Numerous fixes for radv, a few fixes for i965, tegra, amd/addrlib, dri3, virgl, tgsi, nv30, opencl, core mesa, core vulkan, st/mesa, etnaviv and spirv all got fixes.

      • Mesa 18.1.1 Released With Many OpenGL + Vulkan Driver Fixes

        For those waiting until the first point release of a new Mesa series before updating, Mesa 18.1.1 is out to kick off June as the first update to Mesa 18.1.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: GNOME

        The GNOME Foundation says the move to GitLab will help improve workflow and tools as well as support, grow and collaborate with other free software communities. The GNOME project consists of more than 400 software projects and about 900 annual contributors.

        The foundation recently announced GNOME 3 with an activities overview to view basic tasks; new productivity features such as search and side-by-side; updated messaging system; performance enhancements; and the ability to access all your data in one place.

      • Improving the performance of the room directory

        For now, when we are searching for rooms with the “Default Servers” option, we are requesting 10 rooms from the homeserver for each protocol (by “protocol”, I mean non-Matrix protocols that are bridged to the user’s home servers, like IRC, Gitter, Slack, etc…) that is bridged to the homeserver. This can be quite slow. For instance, we are fetching about 100 rooms from the homeserver “matrix.org” even if we would need to show to the user only 20 of them. This is really bad regarding the performance of the application, furthermore because we have to download/generate the avatar of each room loaded.

      • Welcome Window Integration in Pitivi

        I will be working on Pitivi as my Google Summer of Code 2018 project under GNOME. One of the major task in my project is to integrate the current Welcome dialog box of Pitivi into it’s main window and display projects in a more informative, discoverable, and user friendly layout.

        Currently when Pitivi starts, a Welcome dialog appears that displays the recent projects and some buttons for creating a new project, browsing projects, etc. This dialog box needs to be integrated into the main window.

      • Engineering Journals vs User Support

        A major thanks to everyone involved in the gitlab migration. It’s no doubted a huge leap forward for GNOME on so many fronts.

        Before we lose that momentum, I’d like to bring up in the collective minds of our project, what I consider, a separate problem. That is Bug Tracking versus User Support.

        [...]

        We generally don’t have this focus in F/OSS. It requires a set of skills that many of us have not cultivated and probably should. In addition, we should encourage those that already have these skills to join us.

        But that raises the question: is gitlab the right place to do user support?

        If GNOME were to advance Free Software by taking user support to the next level, what would that look like and what tooling do we need? Is that worth investing in now that we have many applications to support in addition to the desktop plumbing?

        Hopefully we can have some discussion about that on the beach in Almería, Spain for GUADEC 2018.

  • Distributions

    • Gentoo Family

      • Announcing Cachix – Binary Cache as a Service

        The main motivation is to save you time and compute resources waiting for your packages to build. By using a shared cache of already built packages, you’ll only have to build your project once.

        This should also speed up CI builds, as Nix can take use of granular caching of each package, rather than caching the whole build.

        Another one (which I personally consider even more important) is decentralization of work produced by Nix developers. Up until today, most devs pushed their software updates into the nixpkgs repository, which has the global binary cache at https://cache.nixos.org.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Here’s What You Missed at openSUSE Conference 2018

        The annual openSUSE Conference is always an exciting event for the SUSE Linux community. This year the event took place in Prague from the 25th to the 27th of May. It’s FOSS was the official media partner of the event and I attended the event on behalf of the It’s FOSS team.

        If you did not follow my daily debriefing on Facebook or LinkedIn, here is a summary of the three-day event as I lived it, all condensed in a single article.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Running Stan’s Robot Shop (Sample Microservice Application) on OpenShift

        The response to Stan’s Robot Shop, Instana’s sample containerized microservice application, has been fantastic – and when we wrote a primer on deploying Instana’s sample microservice application on Kubernetes, users ate it up.

        So let’s talk OpenShift. If you didn’t catch our blog about managing OpenShift application performance with Instana, it’s worth a read.

        As a Prime Red Hat partner, Instana has published several informational blog posts, including a discussion on Red Hat OpenShift basics and publishing a sample microservices application called Stan’s Robot Shop. This article outlines the steps for deploying the Robot Shop sample microservice application on OpenShift.

      • BOLT on Openshift: Automating A Continuous Testing Pipeline

        Today’s marketplace is evolving at an even faster pace than yesterday’s. Teams are under pressure to evolve and adapt. More Speed, More Quality, More Features. More, faster, but perfect.

        In reality, these factors can be at odds with each other at times. Within the culture of more, teams still deal with long testing cycles, getting the proper test environments, and keeping pace with complex automation.

        Therein lies the opportunity for improvement, to make automation easier to use and blend test automation with build automation to speed up the entire team. That is why we created BOLT, to help teams move faster, with more quality.

      • An Introduction to Red Hat Application Migration Toolkit

        Wherever you are in the migration process, I’d recommend looking at RHAMT. It’s extremely simple to set up, and it comes with a number of default rules to assist in any part of the migration and modernization process. In addition, RHAMT facilitates solving unique problems once; after a given solution has been identified, a custom rule can be created to capture that solution, vastly simplifying the migration process.

        Stay tuned for our next update, where we discuss how to create custom rules to better utilize RHAMT in your environment.

      • Build a culture of innovation on PaaS platforms

        Tech execs from Deutsche Bank and Experian at the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco shared their thoughts on reaping the benefits of PaaS platforms by addressing the risks head-on.

      • Red Hat’s David Egts: ‘Waterfall’ Culture Could Hinder Public Sector’s DevOps Adoption

        Egts believes the government’s procurement culture is used to multiyear information technology programs and initiatives supported by a waterfall approach, TechTarget reported May 22.

        The private sector may help the public sector deploy DevOps in their IT systems even as the latter has a broader technology scale and is subject to government mandates, Egts noted.

      • Carahsoft to support Red Hat BPA through US DoD ESI
      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 7 Long Term Support reaching end-of-life

        The Debian Long Term Support (LTS) Team hereby announces that Debian 7 “Wheezy” support has reached its end-of-life on May 31, 2018, five years after its initial release on May 4, 2013.

        Debian will not provide further security updates for Debian 7. A subset of Wheezy packages will be supported by external parties. Detailed information can be found at Extended LTS.

        The LTS Team will prepare the transition to Debian 8 “Jessie”, which is the current oldstable release. The LTS team will take over support from the Security Team on June 17, 2018.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The key IoT use cases that will drive 5G adoption

            2020, the year that we expect 5G networks to begin turning on is not that far away with some already starting early so it is inevitable that the IoT will adapt to the new features that it brings. Our increasingly connected world, sometimes affectionately called the ‘hyper-connected IoT’, is driving demand for bandwidth through the roof. More and more ‘things’ are coming online and they are not just dumb sensors and actuators, they are – by yesteryears standards – computational powerhouses that are capable of crunching data and streaming information at an unprecedented rate.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu 18.04 + Unity – the desktop you always needed

              Is Unity perfect? Well, pretty much. It remains the most complete desktop package on the Linux market. It’s also infinitely better than Gnome 3 in pretty much every regard. I can’t think of a single thing that Gnome 3 does better somehow. Which is why Ubuntu 18.04 is a huge huge setback. Luckily, you can choose Unity and forget all about Gnome, and focus on having a shiny, modern and supported desktop.

              This is a great thing. It gives the user so much more freedom, and allows them peace and calm and time to choose and adjust while the void created by Canonical’s deprioritization of the desktop fills up. I am very happy that Unity works fine in the LTS, and at the same time, it would be nice to see this desktop development continued even as I watch Plasma and wait for it to finally hatch into a beautiful and complete product that it deserves to be. We know it’s possible. Zesty did it, and had it had five years of support ahead of it, ‘twould have been a no-brainer. So all it takes is for the regression gala to end, and we will have peace. Till then, in the dark hours, when the hold on sanity slips, remember, we will always have Unity. Happy adventures!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Givesource announces availability of its platform as open source software

    Givesource, a software platform for community foundations hosting giving days, announced today that it is now available as open source software. This makes Givesource the only giving day platform that can be used for free, while also making it possible for software developers around the world to contribute new features.

  • California agencies must now go open source on all software projects [Ed: Later retitled New policy pushes for open source in California agencies"]
  • MyCrypto launches open-source Monero (XMR) block explorer
  • Stunning portraits of open source revolutionaries

    Faces of Open Source is a photography project that takes the people of the open source community as subjects. Notable and unsung heroes of the open source coding world, people who dedicate themselves to license free creation and the democratization of technology, are presented in stunning black and white portraiture.

    If there were baseball cards for Ubuntu, Adams would surely do the photos. His dedicated section on the Robotic Operating System (ROS), which has all but ensured that robotics development will occur in an open source ecosystem for the foreseeable future, is a who’s who of robotics heavyweights.

  • The Open Source Toolkit – meet our new Channel Editors for Software

    The Open Source Toolkit gathers articles, projects and resources describing hardware and software that can be applied in research, education and/or healthcare settings. Until now, the emphasis has been on hardware, so we are delighted to welcome Nikoleta E. Glynatsi and Yo Yehudi as new Channel Editors with expertise in software to help us expand the scope of the Channel. With their leadership, we aim to be a catalyst in demonstrating how Open Source software can revolutionize and democratize computer science by making it freely accessible and reproducible, enabling faster dissemination and progress.

  • Open Source NativeScript 4.0 for Mobile Apps Released

    The release of NativeScript 4.0 was yesterday announced by Progress, the primary backer of the open source framework for building cross-platform, native mobile apps with JavaScript-based tools.

    [...]

    Among the new capabilities in NativeScript 4.0 are Vue.js code sharing and leveraging the Angular CLI (command-line interface). Speaking of the latter, Progress said “This enables developers to add native mobile projects to existing Angular and Web projects by reusing an existing code base. This also includes support for Angular Schematics, the workflow tool focused on ease of use and development, extensibility and reusability, atomicity and asynchronicity.”

  • Pymetrics open-sources Audit AI, an algorithm bias detection tool

    AI startup Pymetrics today announced it has open-sourced its tool for detecting bias in algorithms. Available for download on GitHub, Audit AI is designed to determine whether a specific statistic or trait fed into an algorithm is being favored or disadvantaged at a statistically significant, systematic rate, leading to adverse impact on people underrepresented in the data set.

    The new tool can audit a variety of algorithms, including those made to predict whether a person will pay back a loan or to assign a credit score to people with no banking history.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Baby’s First Rust+WebAssembly module: Say hi to JSConf EU!

        The Arch is a a larger-than-life experience that uses 30,000 colored LEDs to create a canvas for light animations.

        And you can take charge of this space. Using modules, you can create a light animation.

        But even though this is JSConf, these animations aren’t just powered by JavaScript modules. In fact, we hope you will try something new… Rust + WebAssembly.

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: June’s Featured Extensions

        Enjoy a gorgeous new tab page with customizable background images and many informational widgets to choose from, like local weather, date/time, bookmarks, and more.

      • This week in Mixed Reality: Issue 8

        Now that we are back from our Chicago work week, we are heads down adding new features, making improvements and fixing bugs.

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • FundRequest Launches a Platform to Reward Developers for Open Source Contributions

      FundRequest, a new platform for incentivizing open source development, has officially launched their first product: a blockchain powered integration with GitHub that allows developers to directly solve open source project issues and be rewarded. The platform integrates directly with GitHub, allowing projects to fund “issues” that developers can solve and be rewarded in cryptocurrency.

      FundRequest moves into a groundbreaking niche by benefiting those who request software fixes, but also developers looking to contribute to projects they support. Businesses pay for the software support they need, and developers receive monetary incentive to contribute to projects. FundRequest offers a unique opportunity for freelance developers to seamlessly integrate related platforms in the blockchain and software marketplaces. For open source projects, this also builds a strong loyalty with developers who contribute to their projects.

    • FundRequest launches a marketplace that rewards developers for Open Source contributions

      FundRequest, a new platform for incentivizing open-source development, has officially launched their first product: a blockchain powered integration with GitHub that allows developers to directly solve open source project issues and be rewarded. The platform integrates directly with GitHub, allowing projects to fund ‘issues’ that developers can solve and be rewarded in cryptocurrency.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • April and May 2018: Photos from Ottawa, during the discussion “Two lessons from the Phoenix payroll puzzle,” and from Montreal, at the Adte’s annual colloquium

      Free Software Foundation president Richard Stallman (RMS) was in Canada in April and in May 2018 to participate in a couple of events.

      On April 30th, he was in Ottawa, to support an initiative to create a free software solution to the Canadian government’s employee payroll debacle. He and Joseph Potvin, executive director of Xalgorithms Foundation1, led a breakfast discussion titled “Two lessons from the Phoenix payroll puzzle: Software freedom & algorithm accessibility.”1

      Phoenix is the Canadian government’s new payroll system, which was supposed to provide “an employee self-service vehicle to decentralize data entry and increase access to information”; since its rollout in 2016, however, it has been plagued with malfunctions, which have led to under-, non-, and over-payments to over 200,000 federal employees.

      The resulting stress and hardship for all affected has been considerable and, more than two years later, in spite of national outrage and ballooning costs ($1.2 billion and counting), the system is still not fixed.

      As RMS points out, “Phoenix shows that state use of nonfree software can create a continuing disaster from which the only escape is a free replacement.”

      On May 29th, 2018, Canada’s auditor general reported on the enormity of the failure. In the search for the causes of the problem, few have considered a practical software solution; in their event on 30th April, however, Potvin and RMS did just that: they proposed that (a) nonfree software being used by a government and (b) inaccessible rules are the two root causes behind the fiasco.

      The auditor general “concluded that the Phoenix project was an incomprehensible failure of project management and oversight”; however, Potvin, who for six years lead IT expenditure analysis and reporting for the Chief Information Officer Branch of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, says, “It’s only incomprehensible if the essential questions are not asked.”

      Because the Phoenix pay system relies on nonfree software, according to Potvin, the first root cause is that “the Canadian government does not have the source code for it and, due to restrictive licensing, can’t change suppliers. Nobody beyond the original contractors are allowed to run a copy of the system independently, to study how it all works, to run tests on it, or to adapt it with improvements.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Photo FOMO: $5 photography insurance, a sleek, open-source 3D-printed camera

        Afraid of missing out on the latest photo industry news while you’re out, well, actually taking pictures? Photo FOMO (you know, Fear Of Missing Out) is all the news you might have missed this week, published on the weekends. Alongside the biggest stories of the week, like the end of Canon’s film camera era, PicsArt’s custom stickers and the availability of DJI’s latest stabilizer, find briefs on the latest in accessories and photo industry news from this week with Photo FOMO.

  • Programming/Development

    • Summer of Code: Command Line OX Client!

      As I stated earlier, I am working on a small XMPP command line test client, which is capable of sending and receiving OpenPGP encrypted messages. I just published a first version :)

      Creating command line clients with Smack is super easy. You basically just create a connection, instantiate the manager classes of features you want to use and create some kind of read-execute-print-loop.
      Last year I demonstrated how to create an OMEMO-capable client in 200 lines of code. The new client follows pretty much the same scheme.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dissecting claims about Monsanto suing farmers for accidentally planting patented seeds

      A common criticism of genetically modified foods is that their seeds are patented. There are different aspects to this concern: some argue that there should be no patenting of any kind on seeds, while others argue that farmers should not be forced to repurchase seeds. It’s clear that many misconceptions surround the topic of GMOs and patents abound.

      [...]

      This same argument applies when it comes to genetically modified crops. According to GMO Answers, the cost of generating a new genetically modified crop is $136 million of an average of seven years, and biotech companies rely on patents to safeguard their investment. These patents are protected through the World Trade Organization (article 27), the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (also known as UPOV), and laws of the member nations. Whether or not these patents should exist in the first place is outside the scope of the GMO discussion and could be argued for most patentable or copyrighted items: software, drugs, books, etc.

      A common misconception surrounding genetically modified seeds is that they are sterile. This rumor stems from the fact that Monsanto owns a patent on a genetic use restriction technology (GURT), commonly known as the “Terminator” gene or terminator technology, which results in sterile seeds. However, Monsanto has committed to never using this technology and it has yet to commercialize a crop using the technology, despite having had it in hand for nearly 20 years. Additionally, the topic of GURTs was consulted upon at UPOV in 1999, when it was recommended that the technology not be used until the ”economic and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated.”

    • St. Luke’s to Suspend Heart Transplants After Recent Deaths

      Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston temporarily suspended its renowned heart transplant program on Friday following two deaths in recent weeks, saying it needs to reassess what went wrong and determine the path forward.

      The decision to put the program on a 14-day inactive status — meaning it will turn away all donor hearts during that time — came about two weeks after ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle reported that in recent years the program has performed an outsized number of transplants resulting in deaths and lost several top physicians.

      Colleagues had raised concerns to hospital leaders about the program’s direction under Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, its surgical director since 2016. A second surgeon, Dr. Masahiro Ono, left for another job this week. Neither Morgan nor Ono responded to requests for comment.

      “We greatly respect and value the trust patients and their families have placed in us over the years, and believe this temporary pause will serve their best interests,” Doug Lawson, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives Texas Division, which owns St. Luke’s, said in a written statement Friday afternoon. “Although extensive reviews are conducted on each unsuccessful transplant, the recent patient outcomes deserve an in-depth review before we move forward with the program. Our prayers are with the families, as well as all those on the waiting list.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • 75% of public-facing Redis servers are infected with malware; here’s how to fix it [Ed: These figures are extremely questionable and likely just a publicity stunt from Incapsula, which wants to sell its proprietary stuff]
    • Linux Fu: Counter Rotate Keys!

      If you’ve done anything with a modern Linux system — including most variants for the Raspberry Pi — you probably know about sudo. This typically allows an authorized user to elevate themselves to superuser status to do things.

      However, there is a problem. If you have sudo access, you can do anything — at least, anything the sudoers file allows you to do. But what about extremely critical operations? We’ve all seen the movies where launching the nuclear missile requires two keys counter-rotated at the same time and third firing key. Is there an equivalent for Linux systems?

      It isn’t exactly a counter-rotating key, but the sudo_pair project — a prelease open-source project from Square — gives you something similar. The project is a plugin for sudo that allows you to have another user authorize a sudo request. Not only do they authorize it, but they get to see what is happening, and even abort it if something bad is happening.

    • Sonic & Ultra signals can be used to crash Windows, Linux & hard drives [Ed: Overhyped nonsense. Like bit flippers.]

      It is quite common to have crashed hard drives, which is mainly caused by thermal stress due to excessive, repeated heating and cooling or the physical shock that results from being dropped or knocked. This is especially common in laptops.

    • Ethical hacker, 86, rises to Santander’s challenge

      An 86-year-old ethical hacker managed to create and distribute a fake phishing scam and hack a Wi-Fi hotspot in less than 17 minutes using online guides.

    • More kbuild for reproducible builds
    • Finnish hackers steal casino’s high-roller database by hacking an aquarium

      A casino in North America was recently hacked by a hacker or a group of hackers who used the casinos fish tank as their access point. According to Darktrace CEO, Nicole Eagan, the attackers used the aquarium in the lobby which was connected to a computer with access to the internet. The computer was being used to regulate the temperature and also check the cleanliness of the water in the aquarium.

    • State Websites Are Hackable [sic] — And That Could Compromise Election Security

      Earlier this month, Appsecuri approached FiveThirtyEight and said it found potential flaws on several states’ websites that would allow for information to be tampered with. It provided a number of vulnerabilities to FiveThirtyEight; FiveThirtyEight is only reporting those it could verify with the states affected.

    • [Older] VPNFilter: New Router Malware with Destructive Capabilities

      A new threat which targets a range of routers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices is capable of knocking out infected devices by rendering them unusable. The malware, known as VPNFilter, is unlike most other IoT threats because it is capable of maintaining a persistent presence on an infected device, even after a reboot. VPNFilter has a range of capabilities including spying on traffic being routed through the device. Its creators appear to have a particular interest in SCADA industrial control systems, creating a module which specifically intercepts Modbus SCADA communications.

    • Back to basics: What sysadmins must know about logging and monitoring

      Without system logs, you’re not administering a system; you’re running a black box and hoping for the best. That’s no way to run servers, whether they are physical, virtual, or containerized.

      So, here are some of the basics to keep in mind as you approach server logging in the 21st century. These are all practices that I either use myself or picked up from other sysadmins, including many from the invaluable Reddit/sysadmin group.

    • YubiKey comes to the iPhone with Mobile SDK for iOS and LastPass support
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Weather and violence displace millions inside borders every year

      Conflicts left nearly 12m people without a home in 2017

    • Burying the One-State Solution in Palestine/Israel

      The one-state solution is the idea of bringing justice and peace to Palestine/Israel by having all inhabitants of historic Palestine—the land that includes Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza—living in one, binational country, where everyone has equal rights and political matters are settled on the basis of one person, one vote. This arrangement differs from the two-state solution, which would partition historic Palestine into two states divided along ethno-religious lines, and contrasts with present conditions, in which Palestinians live as second-class citizens inside Israel, and under Israeli occupation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza—the last of which is subject to a merciless siege.

      The one-state option is gaining traction, but media coverage consistently suggests that the only possible scenarios for Palestine/Israel are either the two-state solution or the continued regime of Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid.

    • US military killed nearly 500 civilians in 2017, Pentagon says
    • US military killed almost 500 civilians in 2017 – Pentagon report

      The Pentagon has told Congress that the US military killed almost 500 civilians and injured a further 169 in 2017. The civilians were killed in operations around the world, from Somalia to Yemen to Syria.

      “[The Department of Defense] assesses that there are credible reports of approximately 499 civilians killed and approximately 169 civilians injured during 2017,” reads the Pentagon’s report to Congress, as per CNN.

      The casualty figures include those killed by airstrikes, and take in operations in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. The report did not include figures from Somalia or Libya, as there were “no credible reports” of civilian casualties there. The report added that a further 450 reports of civilian casualties from the same period have yet to be examined.

      During the first year of the Trump presidency, bombing operations in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan were all stepped up. 4,361 bombs were dropped in Afghanistan in 2017, compared to 1,337 in 2016. In Iraq and Syria, 39,577 bombs were released in 2017, up from 30,743 in 2016.

    • Topeka native Jessica Dorsey: Military use of drones needs to be closely checked
    • Google Won’t Renew Pentagon AI Drone Deal After Staff Backlash

      Diane Greene, head of the cloud business at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, told staff on Friday that the company will let the deal lapse when it runs out in March 2019, according to people familiar with the meeting.

    • Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract
    • Google says it will not renew Project Maven—but collaboration with Pentagon will continue
    • Leaked memos reveal the deep divisions within Google over Pentagon contract

      Google’s decision to provide AI tools for use with US military drones has been hugely controversial within the company (at least a dozen googlers quit over it) and now the New York Times has obtained internal memos revealing how senior officials at the company anticipated that controversy and attempted (unsuccessfully) to head it off.

      One memo was written by Google Cloud’s chief AI scientist, Fei-Fei Li, in response for a request on advice for how to spin the deal: “Avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI… Weaponized AI is probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI — if not THE most. This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google.”

    • Remote controlled killing: Drone warfare reduces horrors of conflict for those who can afford it

      Technology gives us the opportunity to wage war from afar at a greatly reduced risk to our armed forces. But is removing the horror of war a slippery slope to reducing the threshold for conflict?

      Going to war usually boosts a politician’s approval ratings and can be a useful distraction from domestic problems. Yet public opinion typically turns sour when a steady stream of soldiers start returning in body bags and candid reportage from the war zone reveals unpleasant truths. The public’s distaste at seeing ‘our boys and girls’ returning in coffins or missing limbs somewhat hampers the abilities of warmongers to fulfil their wish-list. In the 1860s Confederate General Robert E Lee remarked: “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it”.

      [...]

      Drones have allowed the US to silently observe or kill individuals across several countries at virtually no risk to their armed forces. In 2011 the UK’s Ministry of Defence published a document in which is stated: “It is essential that, before unmanned systems become ubiquitous (if it is not already too late) that we consider this issue and ensure that, by removing some of the horror, or at least keeping it at a distance, that we do not risk losing our controlling humanity and make war more likely”.

      In 2012 I co-authored a report on behalf of UK charity Medact – ‘Drones: the physical and psychological implications of a global theatre of war’ – in which we examined the impact of this new form of warfare upon civilians and considered the moral, legal and geopolitical implications of a globalised theatre of war where a nation could remotely eliminate its enemies anywhere across the globe, including outside designated conflict zones.

    • Germany rejects US drone tech, citing NSA and Facebook scandals

      A group of German lawmakers in the Bundestag Defense Committee argued that U.S. vendors of drone technology should be excluded from Germany’s programs due to the NSA spy scandal and Facebook data breaches. Instead, Germany will source their drones and supporting technology from Israel.

      “Passage in the Bundestag in the next few weeks is likely, though officials said surprises remain possible given the topic’s thorniness. ‘Following the experiences with American high-tech…we are disinclined to make ourselves dependent on U.S. technology when it comes to reconnaissance capabilities.”

    • German lawmakers cite NSA and Facebook scandals in rejecting US drone tech

      In an attempt to rally fellow Social Democrats behind a key vote on Israel-supplied drones, a group of lawmakers this week argued that U.S. vendors were rightfully excluded from the program because of past scandals involving spying by the National Security Agency and Facebook data breaches.

      The three members, who belong to the SPD contingent in the Bundestag’s Defence Committee, made the connection in a May 28 letter to Social Democrats in parliament. The missive came just as the government had requested approval for a plan to lease five weapons-capable Heron TP drones from Israel at a cost of roughly $1 billion.

      Given the SPD’s support for the Heron TP plan, passage in the Bundestag in the next few weeks is likely, though officials said surprises remain possible given the topic’s thorniness.

    • Civil Rights Orgs Urge NSA To Release Call Detail Records

      Two dozen civil liberties groups have asked that U.S. authorities provide a breakdown of the more than 540 million phone records collected by the National Security Agency last year, citing transparency rules in a 2015 law that scaled back the government’s ability to collect American phone records in bulk.

    • Myanmar: New evidence reveals Rohingya armed group massacred scores in Rakhine State

      “[The men] held knives and long iron rods. They tied our hands behind our backs and blindfolded us. I asked what they were doing. One of them replied, ‘You and Rakhine are the same, you have a different religion, you can’t live here. He spoke the [Rohingya] language. They asked what belongings we had, then they beat us. Eventually I gave them my gold and money.”

    • Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in Myanmar: Amnesty

      Rohingya militants massacred Hindu villagers during last year’s uprising in Myanmar’s Rakhine, Amnesty International said today in a report that sheds fresh light on the complex ethnic rivalries in the state.

    • Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in Myanmar, says Amnesty

      Testimony collected by Amnesty from dozens of witnesses and survivors of the attacks in Rakhine in August have detailed how up to 99 Hindu men, women and children were killed by Arsa militants armed with knives, swords and sticks. Only those who agreed to convert to Islam were spared.

      [...]

      It has taken months for the full account to come out mainly because of lack of access to northern Rakhine state. The accounts by witnesses also reveal the level of fear that victims had about telling the truth, and that eight Hindu women who fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh were pressured by Arsa to make videos claiming the Myanmar military carried out the violence against them.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange: Living in Limbo

      Speculation is swirling that the Ecuadorian government is feeling the pressure from the Trump Administration and is considering revoking Julian Assange’s political asylum, throwing the famous whistleblower’s life into limbo. Quito cut off Assange’s internet access two months ago after concerns that he was abusing his privileges by supposedly interfering with the affairs of other countries, something that his supporters say is an absurd excuse meant to mask the real Russiagate motivations for this move. The native Australian has been holed up in the comparatively poor South American country’s London embassy for almost six years now in order to avoid what he fears will be his extradition to the US for Wikileaks’ role in revealing countless American crimes.

      In the intervening years, he’s become a symbol of free speech, government transparency, and whistleblowing, but the US “deep state’s” accusations that he was either cooperating with Russian intelligence or unwittingly playing the role of their “useful idiot” in leaking scandalous reports from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that embarrassed Hillary and her team prior to the 2016 election hint that he might be this witch hunt’s latest victim. Threatening remarks from high-ranking American officials about his organization purportedly being a “non-state hostile intelligence service” strongly imply that the US government wants to make an example out of him if he ever steps outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy.

    • Julian Assange Faces Extreme Pressure: US, UK Put Ecuador in a Vice

      On today’s episode of Loud & Clear, Brian Becker and John Kiriakou are joined by Randy Credico, an activist, a comedian, and the former director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, and Diani Baretto, an activist and journalist in Berlin.

      [...]

      President Trump announced this afternoon that his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back on. The president spoke with senior North Korean leader Kim Yong Chol after the North Korean held talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Brian and John speak with Medea Benjamin, an anti-war activist who is the co-founder of Code Pink, and just returned from Korea, where she was meeting with other peace activists.

      Political chaos reigns in the periphery of the Eurozone. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was ousted in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. He was replaced by socialist Pedro Sanchez. And in Italy, an unorthodox mix of populist characters takes office led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a law professor who has been accused of embellishing his resume. Dick Nichols, the correspondent for Spain and Catalonia for Green Left Weekly, and Sputnik news analyst and producer Walter Smolarek, join the show.

    • Africa’s Whistle-blowers: ‘All I Did Was Tell the Truth’

      Those who denounce corruption face hardship and physical danger even when there’s a legal framework that should protect and guarantee them a fair hearing.

    • Activists plan candlelight vigil for accused NSA leaker Reality Winner

      Supporters of Reality Winner are planning a candlelight vigil to raise the public profile of the former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking classified material.

      On June 3, exactly one year since she was imprisoned, Winner’s mother and supporters plan to gather in Lincolnton, Georgia, close to the jail where she is being held pending trial.

      The 25-year-old decorated Air Force veteran is accused of passing a secret intelligence report to the Intercept that claimed the Russian military had attempted to hack voter registration systems in a bid to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

      Winner was quickly arrested by the FBI and charged under the Espionage Act with “removing classified material from a government facility.” She now faces up to 10 years behind bars and $250,000 in fines.

    • Faulty Chinese spy technology may help convict former CIA officer of espionage
    • Trial begins for ex-CIA man accused of espionage for China
    • Covert Phone Call Played at Trial of Ex-CIA Agent

      In a recorded phone call from prison following his arrest for the alleged sale of defense secrets to China, former CIA agent Kevin Patrick Mallory played a risky guessing game with his son.

      Mallory, who was arrested on charges of espionage and making false statements to authorities last June, wanted information from his son but would not say directly what he was after.

    • Prosecutors Show Interrogation Video in Ex-CIA Officer’s Espionage Trial
    • Chelsea Manning Loses Wikileaks First Amendment Appeal

      Sounds right to me. You can say what you will about the moral merits of Manning’s leaks, but the government must have the power to able to punish servicemembers who get access to classified information because they promised to keep it secret, and then break that promise. (That’s true for nonmilitary employees as well, I think, but it’s especially clearly true as to members of the military.)

    • That Time Fox News Retracted Their Story Linking Seth Rich’s Murder to Leaked E-mails

      On 23 May 2017, Fox News removed a discredited article from their web site suggesting that Seth Rich, a 27-year-old employee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who had been shot to death the year before in Washington, D.C., had leaked thousands of DNC e-mails to the WikiLeaks web site before he died.

      [...]

      Seth Rich’s death became the focal point of a baseless conspiracy theory holding that Rich leaked tens of thousands of DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks and was targeted for “assassination” after the notorious site published them online.

      Rumors to that effect erupted within days of the shooting and were enthusiastically promoted by right-wing web sites and social media influencers noteworthy for their support of GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump (WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Trump campaign surrogates Roger Stone and Newt Gingrich, to name three prominent examples).

    • Ecuador ‘Has Got to Show Independence’, Keep Assange Out of US Hands

      Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno expanded Friday on remarks he made earlier in the week regarding the continued asylum of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in Ecuador’s embassy in London. Berlin-based journalist and activist Diani Baretto and activist and comedian Randy Credico join Loud & Clear to discuss the isolated journalist’s future.

    • Ecuador’s president says Julian Assange can stay in country’s London embassy as long as he does not talk about or interfere in politics

      Lenín Moreno, the president of Ecuador, has confirmed Julian Assange can stay in the country’s London embassy as long as he follows certain ‘conditions’.

      Assange’s asylum status will not be under threat as long as he does not talk about or interfere in politics.

      If Assange fails to follow these rules and insists on voicing his political opinions on Twitter, then Mr Moreno said his government would ‘take a decision’, Deutsche Welle reported.

    • RT asks why it’s OK for DNC to shred 1st Amendment if it means nailing Assange

      While the DNC is having a hard time admitting its loss, by filing a lawsuit against Assange and WikiLeaks the Democrats are apparently slapping the First Amendment in the face. RT’s Watching the Hawks explores the issue.

      The 66-page suit filed on April 20 against Assange, and “everyone” who presumably conspired to have Donald J. Trump elected as US president, is set to bypass the First Amendment and the freedom of press. The founder of WikiLeaks is largely blamed for exposing thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC.

      While the DNC is highly unlikely to sue its way back into power, it is countered by the Committee to Protect Journalists for setting boundaries on what can and cannot be discussed.

    • Ecuador’s President to Eject Assange From Embassy Unless He Stops Tweeting

      Julian Assange’s love of online communications and politics, which has already led to him being locked in the embassy in London, could finally bring him down. The country’s leader has threatened to strip his asylum if he breaks the “no social media” rule. The whistleblower’s political claims have become a headache for diplomats.

      In addition to the ban on leaving Ecuador’s embassy in the UK, where he stays in a moderate room cut off from the Internet, Julian Assange has been requested to stay on his Twitter-diet for an indefinite period of time. President Lenín Moreno said in his recent interview with the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that Julian Assange could continue to enjoy his right to asylum in the country, but only if he obeyed the outlined conditions. Otherwise, Ecuador “will make a decision.”

      “Do not forget that his asylum status prevents him from talking about politics and intervening in friendly countries’ politics. We have cut off this line of communication,” the president told DW.

    • Vote on issuing or not issuing a statement of support for Julian Assange

      Since the middle of February, DiEM25 members have been considering a statement of support for DiEM25′s Advisory Panel member Julian Assange proposed by the Greek National Collective, as well as opposing views – which range from a reluctance explicitly to support Julian to outright hostility to his politics. Documents: initial proposal of support by Greek NC, forum discussion, open letter by Leipzig DSC, proposal of reluctant support by Jack and Jean Franco, statement of support by Belgian NC, interview with Stefania Maurizi.

      [...]

      DiEM25 expresses its solidarity with Julian Assange and Wikileaks and calls upon all progressives to support his bid for life and liberty. Whatever differences of opinion one may have with Julian on particular issues (e.g. his support for Brexit, which DiEM25 opposed), we are proud to have one of the greatest champions of transparency on our Advisory Panel. Wikileaks has played a magnificent role in turning the spotlight onto Big Brother and allowing all of us to understand abuses and crimes perpetrated in our name. We shall not sit idly by while Julian Assange is persecuted for this and while he is facing the prospect of disappearing into the type of ‘justice’ system that Chelsea Manning came to know well.

    • Ecuador to Julian Assange: You Can Stay in Our Embassy But for the Love of God, Stop Tweeting

      Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and a noted internet edgelord, will be allowed to continue to live in the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he has for the past six years—provided he stops shitposting about politics on Twitter.

      Per the Guardian, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno said this week that Assange’s ongoing asylum status is not under threat as long as Assange complies with conditions laid out by the Ecuadorian government, including a restriction on talking about the political happenings taking place in other countries. The government is ready to “take a decision” if Assanage fails to follow the rules.

    • Ecuador will respect Assange’s asylum right if he obeys ‘no politics’ condition

      Julian Assange’s right to asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London will only be honored if the WikiLeaks founder “respects the conditions” of political silence, President Lenin Moreno announced.

      Ever since Lenin Moreno became the president of Ecuador last year, the liberties enjoyed by Julian Assange have been reduced due to the whistleblower’s controversial “political activity.” Over the last few months, Assange has seen bans on using the phone, the internet, and having visitors, after the 46-year-old spoke out against Britain’s response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, and following his repeated comments about Spain’s dispute with Catalonia.

      The Australian journalist, who has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, “continues being a problem,” Moreno told DW Spanish. “But Ecuador will respect his right to asylum if Assange respects the margins.”

    • Australian students support June 17 Sydney rally demanding freedom for Julian Assange

      The International Youth and Students for Social Equality held campaigns at universities across New South Wales (NSW) this week to promote the June 17 demonstration at Sydney Town Hall Square, called by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in defence of Julian Assange.

      Students enthusiastically supported the SEP’s demand that the Australian government act immediately to secure the WikiLeaks editor’s freedom, with a guarantee against extradition to the United States. They spoke about the impact that WikiLeaks has had on their political knowledge and understanding, through its exposure of wars and diplomatic intrigues.

      The IYSSE held speak-outs advertising the rally at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), one of the largest in Sydney, and the University of Newcastle.

    • Here is What Links Julian Assange, Arkady Babchenko & UK FM Boris Johnson

      The common denominator bringing together a Russian journalist, who has faked his own death, an Australian whistleblower, confined in an embassy building, and a British politician, known for his gaffes, is the multi-faceted issue of free speech and how it can be exploited.

      In their Twitter reply to the post by the UK Foreign Secretary on the “murder” of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, the Wikileaks have pointed out that Mr. Babchenko was actually alive and then called out Boris Johnson on his freedom of speech statement.

    • Detroit autoworkers call for Julian Assange’s freedom

      Detroit autoworkers have issued statements opposing the ongoing persecution and threatened extradition of Julian Assange by the US government and its allies and calling for his freedom.

      Reporters for the World Socialist Web Site spoke with GM workers in Lake Orion and Chrysler workers at Warren Truck assembly plant yesterday afternoon and distributed copies of the May 28 statement, “For international action to defend Julian Assange!” Despite the total silence of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union about Assange, many workers expressed their opposition to his persecution, as well as the broader effort by the ruling elite to silence political dissent and censor the Internet.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Fake reviews now generally necessary to do business online

      Worse, without fake positive reviews, your thing — your book, your restaurant, your startup — is at a disadvantage in the apps and platforms that potential customers use to scan for new stuff. Once the medium is corrupt, everyone has to follow suit to survive. Get a load of this wonderful nonsense at TripAdvisor:

    • The Never-Ending War on Fake Reviews

      Outside the publishing industry, the practice known as “review brushing” exists on a vast, industrial scale. In 2014, Haitao Xu, a thirty-year-old researcher now at Northwestern University, monitored five black-market Internet boards where companies and individuals advertise jobs posting positive reviews of their products and services, along with negative ones on those of their rivals. In just two months, Xu saw more than eleven thousand unique sellers post close to a quarter of a million jobs, paid at anywhere between “tens of cents, up to five dollars,” he told me. Since consumers typically see positive customer reviews as a more reliable indicator of quality than advertising, the effects can be major. “Stores using brushing services can increase their reputation ten times faster than normal seller stores,” Xu, who, in 2016, spent six months working in Alibaba’s fraud-detection team, told me. “A store with a high reputation is displayed higher up a Web page, attracting more customers and increasing sales.” Online sellers who do not employ brushing services, meanwhile, often find their products overlooked.

    • Facebook Is Killing Trending Topics

      Every social network’s trending section is theoretically designed to surface newsworthy, relevant information for users. But repeatedly, they have inadvertently highlighted harmful misinformation or been gamed by bots. Trending Topics has been particularly disastrous for Facebook; in 2016, the feature thrusted the social network into a major scandal when Gizmodo revealed that the journalists who ran it were reportedly suppressing news from conservative outlets.

    • Bill Browder: I found a way to challenge Putin. He’s really sore about it
    • Spain’s political survivor faces ultimate test

      Mariano Rajoy’s career as one of Europe’s longest-serving prime ministers could meet an abrupt end on Friday.

      The 63-year-old Spanish leader faces a motion of no confidence tabled by the main opposition Socialist party that will test his legendary political resilience in the face of a hostile parliament where his Popular Party commands only one-third of seats.

      Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez could oust the veteran conservative leader and be elected prime minister by the end of the week if he gets a majority of lawmakers in Congress to back him. “It could happen,” was the refrain among lawmakers of every major political party, including Rajoy’s PP, in the corridors of the lower chamber in Madrid Wednesday.

      Sánchez will put forward his candidacy for the top job when the debate kicks off Thursday, amid ongoing backdoor negotiations between his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and other opposition groups. All sides are bracing for a nerve-testing parliamentary session expected to last two days.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Apple blocking Telegram updates, app creator claims

      Apple appears to have fallen in line with the block on messaging app Telegram by Russia, blocking updates to the app globally since Moscow imposed a ban on it.

    • FOSTA Supporters Come Out Swinging Against Critics

      You may not have heard the phrase “bootleggers and baptists,” in regards to how strange bedfellows join forces in favor of certain regulations, but it’s a useful concept. From a 1983 paper by Bruce Yandle, it discusses the odd realization that many people in industry often hope for regulation in a certain area knowing that the regulations will actually limit competition and benefit themselves. More importantly, it notes that those industry forces seeking to support such regulations will often hide behind those espousing moral reasons for the regulations. For the industry folks, it’s a win-win: they get the regulation they want, without it appearing to be for their own benefit, but rather for the benefit of some righteous moral cause.

      [...]

      This paragraph is almost totally bullshit. It creates a strawman, and then knocks down something entirely different. Yes, FOSTA/SESTA applies to websites rather than users (that’s why we’ve pointed out it’s so mis-targeted in the first place, since it does nothing to target sex traffickers). The complaints from sex workers is not that it “infringes on their ability to sell sex.” The complaint from sex workers is that by putting liability on websites who “facilitate” any form of prostitution is that it then prevents the many ways in which sex workers and victims of sex trafficking communicate and get information to protect themselves or get help. Because the law targets websites, those websites who provide ways for sex workers and/or victims of sex trafficking to communicate, are at a huge risk of criminal liability. And thus, they are shutting down or blocking the ability to use them. And, the problem is not that this “infringes on their ability to sell sex,” but rather it makes it much more difficult for them to stay safe or to get help if they are victims.

    • At ex-CIA panelist’s insistence, Oxford Union reneges on promise to upload video of whistleblowing debate

      Douglas Lucas writes, “The prestigious Oxford Union, where Malcolm X and Mother Theresa spoke, has censored their own video of their own public February whistleblowing panel, which featured among others the lead programmer of the global data commons project GetGee.xyz, Heather Marsh. The ever so famous debating society isn’t uploading the footage to YouTube because another panelist, …former… CIA operative David Shedd, doesn’t want them to. Oxford Union’s bursar said it was copyright grounds which is laughable since it’s their own video, they have the copyright/wrong/official pieces of paper for it…”

    • Is it censorship or political correctness?: Letter to the Editor

      “Political correctness” is merely another name for censorship cloaked in the mantel of sensitivity. Censorship is anathema to freedom. Justice William O. Douglas wrote “Restriction of free speech is the most dangerous of all sub-versions. It’s the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us”. Roseanne Barr recently tweeted a crude comment about the political/religious beliefs of Valerie Jarret and an insulting comment regarding her appearance.

      [...]

      This on-going judgmental attitude has a chilling affect on a most important right. It is indeed un-American. As Noam Chamsky has said: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for those we may despise, then we do not believe in it at all.

    • How Censoring Strippers Affects All Women

      Instagram recently censored the hashtag #stripper and related phrases dancers use to connect, advocate for rights, and promote their work.

      The #stripper hashtag has been hidden before, but this was the first time it was reportedly hidden alongside others such as #yesastripper, #stripperlife, and even #woman. The ban was lifted from all hashtags, but this wave of suppression comes as sex workers are reporting their accounts getting deleted from social media, possibly as a result of the controversial sex-trafficking law FOSTA/SESTA. Without their platforms, dancers will lose tools needed to protect their autonomy.

    • Animator Jiří Trnka created magical worlds amid stifling communist censorship
    • Cristina Rizzi Guelfi, Murder Series – “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”
    • SPLC sends letter to Texas school district to stop censoring student media, 17 orgs sign on
    • Facebook’s Own Shareholders Grill Zuckerberg over Conservative Censorship at Annual Meeting
    • How Beijing is taking censorship to a new level

      “Deep in the Realm of Conscience”, a primetime blockbuster historical period drama launched by the Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB), has been aired in Hong Kong since May 21.

      However, the drama, which is set against the backdrop of the ancient Tang dynasty and depicting the cutthroat rivalries and intense power struggle within the imperial court, was pulled from QQ.com — which is owned by Tencent, the co-producer of the drama series — at the last minute on the orders of mainland authorities.

      The drama was initially arranged to be aired on QQ.com across the mainland on the same day as it opened in Hong Kong.

      Rumors have it that there are two reasons why the show was banned: first, there is a concern among mainland officialdom that the plot of the historical drama might be used to satirize the current regime.

    • Censorship? What censorship?

      In an attempt to avoid further self-inflicted harm he went on to say that there may be short-term gains by the imposition of censorship ‘but it never goes in the country’s interests.’ In which he is absolutely correct. He was also correct in saying that the country needs a free and fair media and that the media concentrated on the negatives rather than the positives, ignoring the fact that the government spent millions on promoting its positives using the very same media on which it was reliant for blowing its trumpet. For the media, the good news is that the government pays for the privilege of placing its advertisements.

    • House Leader Denounces Silicon Valley Censorship

      House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), a leading contender to assume the top House Republican post in the next Congress, has called out Silicon Valley for viewpoint censorship.

      In an address to the Council for National Policy, McCarthy said, “Conservative Christians are being silenced in corporate America. And the mainstream media, including on social media where we get so much of our news today, are trying to discredit or take our words off.”

    • Spotify reverses Hateful Conduct policy amid cries of censorship

      Earlier this month, Spotify introduced its new Hate Content and Hateful Conduct Policy. Its aim was to minimize their promotion of problematic artists, and led to R. Kelly and XXXTentacion’s music being removed from their curated playlists. Many, including followers of the #MuteRKelly movement, praised Spotify’s new ruling, but plenty others — including Kendrick Lamar — have expressed concern and disapproval over what they believed to be a form of targeted censorship against artists of color.

      [...]

      Specifically, the streaming service is doing away with the Hateful Conduct portion. Upon its initial roll-out, Spotify claimed that if an artist “does something that is especially harmful or hateful (such as sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.” The new stance sees the company essentially walking back its sense of morality in exchange for neutrality (or rather, zero liability). “We don’t aim to play judge and jury,” reads their statement, adding, “Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists.”

    • Spotify reverses course, will not take action on artists accused of mistreating women
    • Top Dawg Threatened Spotify with TDE Catalog Removal: “I Was Willing to Get the Whole Culture to Back Out”
    • Top Dawg & Kendrick Lamar Challenged Spotify’s Censorship & Won
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Former NSA Director Says ‘Golden Age Of Electronic Surveillance’ Is Coming To An End, NSA Numbers Show He’s Wrong

      Former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden said in a podcast on Monday that the “golden age of electronic surveillance” is coming to an end, despite reports that indicate the opposite is true.

      “Now we might be actually seeing another shift,” Hayden said on the podcast “Recode Decode,” citing the Christopher Steele dossier, adding that the new era will include “all human-sourced” information.

      The NSA tripled its collection of American phone calls in 2017, going from 383 million records in 2016 to 534 million records in 2017, according to a U.S. intelligence agency report published on May 4.

    • Judge OKs Class Action Status For Illinoisans Claiming Facebook Violated State Privacy Law

      The last time we discussed Illinois’ Biometric Information Pirvacy Act, a 2008 law that gives citizens in the state rights governing how companies collect and protect their biometric data, it was when a brother/sister pair attempted to use the law to pull cash from Take-Two Interactive over its face-scanning app for the NBA2K series. In that case, the court ruled that the two could not claim to have suffered any actual harm as a result of using their avatars, with their real faces attached, in the game’s online play. One of the chief aspects of the BIPA law is that users of a service must not find their biometric data being used in a way that they had not intended. In this case, online play with these avatars was indeed the stated purpose of uploading their faces and engaging in online play to begin with.

      But now the law has found itself in the news again, with a federal court ruling that millions of Facebook users can proceed under a class action with claims that Facebook’s face-tagging database violates BIPA. Perhaps importantly, Facebook’s recent and very public privacy issues may make a difference compared with the Take-Two case.

    • 11th Circuit Says No Reasonable Suspicion Needed For Invasive Device Searches At The Border

      A recent Fourth Circuit Appeals Court decision found government agents at US borders need something more than the nothing currently required to perform searches of electronic devices. Cursory searches without suspicion are still fine in the Constitution-free zone, but forensic searches of cellphones need, at minimum, reasonable suspicion.

      This decision aligned the Fourth with the Ninth Circuit, where it was also determined forensic device searches require some sort of suspicion, even if performed at the border. A case out of Massachusetts (First Circuit) challenging a suspicionless device search has been allowed to move forward, possibly bringing another circuit into the mix and deepening the split.

      The Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court, however, has sided with the government and against citizens’ privacy. It has upheld the lower court’s determination that border device searches require no reasonable suspicion, no matter what the Supreme Court said in its Riley decision, which created a warrant requirement for phone searches. (via Jake Laperruque, Brad Heath)

      Karl Touset had his devices searched at the Atlanta airport after returning from an overseas trip. This followed some investigatory work by the government which suggested Touset might be involved in child pornography. The detainment and search was also prompted by money transfer service Xoom, which reported several people for making “frequent low money transfers” to people in “source countries” for child porn.

    • Civil liberties groups press Trump administration on NSA call record collection

      Two-dozen civil liberties organizations are urging U.S. officials to disclose more details on the more than 500 million call records collected on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) last year.

      The organizations, which include the American Civil Liberties Union and digital rights group Access Now, say that the information is crucial to determining whether the government is overstepping its authority.

      The letters, sent Thursday to the Office of Director of National Intelligence and to the House Judiciary Committee, come following the publication of a transparency report that revealed the spy agency collected 534 million call detail records in 2017, a substantial increase over the previous year.

    • EFF and 23 Civil Liberties Organizations Demand Transparency on NSA Domestic Phone Record Surveillance

      This week, 24 civil liberties organizations, including EFF and the ACLU, urged Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats to report—as required by law—statistics that could help clear up just how many individuals are burdened by broad NSA surveillance of domestic telephone records. These records show who is calling whom and when, but not the content of the calls.

      These numbers are crucial to understanding how the NSA conducts this highly sensitive surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, as amended by the USA Freedom Act of 2015. Under the earlier version of this surveillance program, the NSA collected details of nearly every single Americans’ phone calls. With the NSA’s domestic phone record surveillance powers scheduled to expire in 2019, Congress and the public deserve to know the truth before any legislative attempts to reauthorize the program.

      Despite this, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has failed to report these statistics in its past three annual transparency reports.

      The civil liberties groups also signed a letter to Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, warning about the NSA’s continued failure to comply with the law mandating disclosure of this data.

      For more than a decade, the NSA relied on a faulty interpretation of Section 215 to collect the time, duration, and numbers called for nearly every single Americans’ phone calls. But a federal appeals court in New York in 2015 ruled that this collection was illegal, calling it “unprecedented and unwarranted.”

    • UK homes vulnerable to ‘staggering’ level of corporate surveillance

      British homes are vulnerable to “a staggering level of corporate surveillance” through common internet-enabled devices, an investigation has found.

      Researchers found that a range of connected appliances – increasingly popular features of the so-called smart home – send data to their manufacturers and third-party companies, in some cases failing to keep the information secure. One Samsung smart TV connected to more than 700 distinct internet addresses in 15 minutes.

      The investigation, by Which? magazine, found televisions selling viewing data to advertisers, toothbrushes with access to smartphone microphones, and security cameras that could be hacked to let others watch and listen to people in their homes.

    • The ‘Thanksgiving Effect’ and the Creepy Power of Phone Data

      The researchers’ results might not surprise you (2016′s election reportedly led many people to cut their Thanksgivings plans short), but their methods might: The smartphone data came from SafeGraph, a company that uses geolocation data from apps on your phone to maintain anonymized geospatial datasets for more than 10 million US smartphones. These data consist of “pings,” which give the locations of individual smartphones at specific moments in time. For their study, the researchers analyzed some 21 billion pings from November 2016 and 4.5 billion from November 2015.

    • Teens are abandoning Facebook in dramatic numbers, study finds

      Just 51% of US individuals aged 13 to 17 say they use Facebook – a dramatic plunge from the 71% who said they used the social network in Pew’s previous study in 2015, when it was the dominant online platform.

      In this year’s study reported Facebook use was, according to Pew, “notably lower” than the percentage of teens who said they used YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%) or Snapchat (69%). In the previous study, just 52% of teens said they used Instagram, while 41% said they used Snapchat. YouTube was not included in the 2014-2015 survey.

    • Apple eyes expanding digital ad business: report

      It’s also unclear what type of data, if any at all, that Apple would use to potentially target ads. Its CEO, Tim Cook, has said that Apple prides itself on not selling its users data and has blasted companies like Facebook for doing so.

    • Google launches video doorbell with facial recognition in UK

      Nest Hello is a £229 wifi-connected smart doorbell with a wide-angle camera that captures high definition HDR video with night vision after dusk. It will send alerts with pictures from the camera to users’ phones and allows them to talk to visitors through the doorbell from anywhere with an internet connection. Users can also opt to have the doorbell say one of three quick phrases, such as “we’ll be right there”.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why is it so hard to charge motorists with murdering cyclists?

      Negligent drivers kill an average of two to three cyclists a day in the US, but they are rarely charged with homicide

    • An Evening of Stories and Conversations on Hate in Southern California

      Thompson, who has reported extensively on hate groups in Southern California, noted another secret history of the region: Henry William Head, a key figure in the creation of Orange County, was an active leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and in the 1920s Anaheim was one of the strongest centers of Klan activity in the country.

      “Our goal with the work that we’re doing is to hold organized hate groups accountable,” Thompson said. “We’re looking at law enforcement and seeing whether they’re really going after these people. We’re looking at the people who are aiding and abetting them. We’re looking at people who don’t want the spotlight and shining it on them.”

    • TSA Has Been Compiling A Shitlist Of Travelers It Just Doesn’t Like

      The TSA is the worst. Super-secret watchlists can keep people from flying — people deemed too dangerous to travel but not dangerous enough to arrest. This isn’t the TSA’s fault. Not these lists. Those are maintained by agencies who could possibly cobble together enough intel to build a flimsy case against these “dangerous” would-be travelers.

      The TSA, however, maintains its own database of travelers. It can’t necessarily keep them from boarding airplanes, but it can give agents a heads up that the person in the queue probably needs to be detained and hassled.

    • Romania, Lithuania Hosted CIA Jails

      The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Romania and Lithuania allowed the detention and abuse of a Saudi and a Palestinian at secret U.S. prisons.

      [...]

      Al Nashiri’s lawyer Amrit Singh, called the ruling “a sharp rebuke to Romania’s shameful attempts” to conceal its hosting of a secret CIA prison.

    • Secret CIA detention centres in Europe ruled illegal

      The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that Lithuania and Romania breached the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights by hosting secret CIA detention sites. Stateless Palestinian, Abu Zabaydah was held for two months in a secret detention facility in Lithuania in 2005 and Saudi Arabian, Al Nashiri was held by the CIA in Romania between 2004 and 2005.

    • European Judges Rule Lithuania and Romania Aided CIA Torture

      The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Lithuania and Romania violated the rights of two accused terrorists by allowing the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to torture them in secret prisons. The court found the countries violated Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which requires the humane treatment of prisoners of war. Judges say Lithuania operated a secret CIA black site from 2005 to ’06, where accused al-Qaeda recruiter Abu Zubaydah was tortured; they also ruled the prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was tortured at a CIA prison in Romania between 2004 and ’05. The New York Times reports al-Nashiri was tortured at a separate CIA black site in Thailand in 2002—a prison that was overseen by Gina Haspel, who was confirmed last month as CIA director.

    • ECHR: Romania hosted CIA’s Detention Site Black between 2003 and 2005, must pay EUR 100,000 to Guantanamo detainee

      According to a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which concluded that CIA operated a secret detention centre in Romania between September 2003 and November 2005, the Romanian state must pay EUR 100,000 to Guantanamo detainee Abd Al Rahim Husseyn Muhammad Al Nashiri. Al Nashiri, who was detained in Romania at the ‘Detention Site Black’ for 18 months, between April 2004 to at the latest November 2005.

      According to the applicant allegations, Romania had let the United States Central Intelligence Agency (the CIA) transport him under the secret extraordinary rendition programme onto its territory and had allowed him to be subjected to ill-treatment and arbitrary detention in the CIA detention known as the Detention Site Black. Moreover, Al Nashiri complained that Romania had failed to carry out an effective investigation into his allegations.

    • Lithuania and Romania Complicit in C.I.A. Prisons, European Court Says
    • Lithuania and Romania fined for complying with CIA torture, European court rules
    • Lithuania and Romania fined for helping CIA run secret prisons on their soil
    • Policy and Legal Implications of European Court’s Ruling on CIA “Black Sites”
    • Bill allowing police drones to watch parties almost passes in Illinois
    • CIA Tries and Fails to Recruit Russian Speakers on Twitter

      The CIA’s official Twitter account posted an advertisement Friday for recruits who have knowledge of the Russian language, and the internet’s reaction was mixed at best.

      The tweet featured a stock photo of a man holding a sign that read “Do you speak Russian?” in Cyrillic. The text read, “It’s all about what you know! Do you know Russian? Are you an US [sic] citizen with a college degree? Do you have an interest in serving your country?”

    • The Gateway Podcast: CIA Whisteblower John Kiriakou, who Outed American Torture Program, Fears its Return

      To understand what a Haspel-led CIA looks like, Al Bawaba spoke with John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who blew the whistle on the CIA’s use of waterboarding, serving nearly two years in prison for the leak. He calls Haspel the “consummate insider” who may bring back the torture program he helped to out, and Haspel helped to create. The conversation inaugurated Al Bawaba’s new podcast, The Gateway.

    • Egyptian Gov’t Arrests Journalist Who Exposed Brutality; Will Use Social Media Suspensions As Evidence Against Him

      As in any country, the limits of free speech are determined by the ruling party. While we have a Constitution that (mostly) holds our representatives at bay, many countries only pay lip service to rights they have previously declared inviolable. Egypt’s government has long suppressed dissent and strangled communications. It deployed an internet kill switch in 2011, cutting off access to millions of Egyptians. A regime change followed and the former president was fined for nuking the country’s internet access.

    • Syed : New Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik Is Pro Muslim Brotherhood

      This is the Muslim Brotherhood’s classic infiltration technique. Muslim Brotherhood supporters are in Amanah, PPBM and certainly PKR where Anwar Ibrahim is the Brotherhood’s super star. They are also in PAS.

    • Muslim Teacher Refusing to Shake Hands With Dad Sparks Controversy in Sweden

      In Sweden there has been a growing number of similar rows over handshaking in recent years, involving both Muslim men and women refusing follow the Western practice of shaking hands due to the prescriptions of Islam. The most high-profile case, however, involves former senior Green Party member Yasri Khan, who had to step down following the outcry caused by his refusal to shake hands with a female reporter.

      In the absence of official statistics due to ethical concerns, the proportion of Muslims in Sweden was estimated at 8.1 percent of the country’s population of 10 million, the highest in Scandinavia and one of the highest in the EU.

    • Mum accused of forcing daughter to marry in Pakistan and ‘threatened her with black magic if she told anyone’, court hears

      “When the defendant was directed by the court to secure the daughter’s return to the UK, she threatened her daughter with black magic if she told anyone about what had happened.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • A deep dive into Ericsson’s sprawling, industry-leading portfolio: exclusive data analysis

      A frontrunner in the telecoms technology domain and with one of the world’s most successful licensing businesses, Ericsson is a leading name in the patent monetisation space. Working with a group of leading IP analytics and data firms IAM has put together an exclusive analysis of the Swedish company’s current patent position, a detailed analysis of its patent holdings and a rundown of its key patent-related stories since 2013. Patent portfolio breakdown Within the mobile technology space, Ericsson holds one of the largest and highest quality patent portfolios on the planet.

    • New data sheds much-needed light on the trade secrets litigation landscape

      Yesterday, litigation data provider Lex Machina added its first module dedicated to tracking trade secret cases in US federal courts. It has previously been fairly difficult to get a macro view of just how much litigation activity there is in this area of IP law; the new figures give us a look at take-up for the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) as well as some insight into how parties are performing. The cases go back to 2009, and there are over 9,600 included. Here are a couple of the key statistical takeaways highlighted by Lex Machina in its press release…

    • Rendering Patent Unenforceable Due to Litigation Misconduct

      The patentee here argues that inequitable conduct should be limited to situations involving “misconduct before the Patent Office in obtaining a patent.”

    • Use of Experts at Mediations

      I serve as an expert witness in patent suits and in legal malpractice cases/ethical issues relating to them (and general ethical matters). Twice in the past year or so I’ve been asked to attend mediations as an expert, and sometimes to talk in the opening sessions and at another to simply talk to the mediator in the “closed” sessions. I had thought it odd, but then read this article (hopefully here and not behind a paywall) which suggests that it’s good practice to have an expert at mediations.

      To do so competently, the article explains that ahead of time the lawyers should agree on a process that avoids creating a cross-examination proceeding, but to also allow legitimate inquiry.

    • China Acquires Nineteenth Century U.S. Patent Models for Traveling Innovation Museum

      From time to time, these 19th century patent models are displayed in museum exhibits which tout both the history behind these items as well as the peculiarities of many outdated inventions. In 2011, for example, the Smithsonian American Art Museum hosted an exhibit displaying 32 patent models from the Rothschild Collection including a sliding extension ladder, an electromagnetic railroad signal and a home security theft prevention device consisting of a pistol configured to shoot if intruders opened a door. In recent weeks, however, we’ve learned that U.S. patent models are beginning to find a new audience in China’s growing inventor class.

    • Trademarks

      • S Is For Streisand: Sesame Street Decides To Offer Free Promotion To R-Rated Muppet Satire By Filing Trademark Claim

        If you’re of a certain age, then you will remember fondly Sesame Street, the educational programming once found on public broadcasting and now relegated to those with HBO subscriptions. The series dedicated its time to teaching children their letters and numbers, how to navigate childhood, and, above all, how to be kind to one another.

        The Happytime Murders, an R-rated film from the warped mind of Melissa McCarthy, which also has puppets at its center, is not Sesame Street. It features drug use, vulgar language, violence, sex, and the kind of anti-PC humor more akin to South Park than anything appearing on Sesame Street. To that end, it has used a tagline in its marketing material that reads “No Sesame. All Street.” It specifically sets itself apart from the famed children’s show, which is what made it somewhat odd that Sesame Workshop attempted to get a restraining order against The Happytime Murders over trademark concerns.

    • Copyrights

      • Join the coordinated calls against EU’s Censorship Machine

        Several organisations in different European countries have picked up their phones and mobilised against Article 13. Article 13 introduces automated filters for all user content being uploaded on online platforms. The measure is part of EU’s proposal for a new Copyright Directive and poses huge threats to individuals’ rights and freedoms, but also obliges online platforms like Google and Facebook to monitor our communications and become the Internet police.

        The goal of our calls is to convince the key undecided MEPs in the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament to oppose a censored internet, filtered by automated algorithms under the control of internet giants.

      • How the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty Will Lock Up Online Video

        The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is no longer the only game in town when it comes to international copyright negotiations. Today, trade negotiations such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are also used to haggle over copyright rules. But the advantage of WIPO is that its negotiations are much more transparent and accessible to public interest groups such as EFF, which is why we have returned to WIPO’s headquarters in Geneva this week, about one year after our last visit.

        But over the last few meetings of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the organization’s transparency advantage over trade negotiations has been rapidly diminishing. Although organizations like EFF can still attend meetings and deliver statements, the current chair of the SCCR, Daren Tang from Singapore, has been much more inclined than his predecessor to pull the negotiators into closed negotiation sessions, and to prohibit further reporting upon them.

        So unfortunately, we can’t tell you as much as we would like to about the direction of WIPO’s ongoing negotiations over a new Broadcasting Treaty, which would provide broadcasting organizations with a new layer of exclusive copyright-like monopoly powers to limit the reuse of material that they broadcast. But one thing we can tell you, based on a publicly available document [PDF], is that Argentina has provided new suggestions for how to treat one of those most confounding issues in this draft treaty: deferred transmissions.

        In the roughly fourteen years that we’ve been covering these treaty negotiations, EFF has been willing to accept a narrow instrument that would prevent the unauthorized interception and simultaneous retransmission of program-carrying signals that broadcasters transmit by satellite or cable (often referred to as “signal piracy”). But for most of those advocating for the Broadcasting Treaty, this isn’t enough: they would also like protection for Internet-based transmissions, and for retransmissions that aren’t simultaneous—that is, deferred transmissions. These are the demands that make the treaty so dangerous.

      • GoDaddy to Suspend ‘Pirate’ Domain Following Music Industry Complaints

        GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name registrar, has reportedly agreed to disable access to another piracy-related domain following copyright complaints from a member of music group IFPI. A precautionary measure handed down by the Peruvian Copyright Commission found that Fox-MusicaGratis.com caused irreparable damage to rightsholders so should be put out of action.

      • Majority of Canadians Consume Online Content Legally, Survey Finds

        A study commissioned by Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development department has revealed that three-quarters of the Canadian public consume online content exclusively from legal sources. Perhaps surprisingly, just 5% identify as hardcore pirates. Meanwhile, 10% of the population have received infringement notices, with a quarter throwing them straight in the trash.

      • Michael Jackson Estate Turns The ‘Fair Use’ Tables on Disney

        The Michael Jackson Estate is suing the Walt Disney Company and ABC for using dozens of its copyrighted works without permission. According to Disney, no harm has been done, since including these works in “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” documentary is “fair use.” The Estate clearly disagrees and notes that Disney’s argument would make even the founders of Napster pause.

The European Patent Office Dominates Media Coverage in the Form of Paid-For Puff Pieces, Suppresses Coverage About Corruption

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s all about money (or using Office money to distract from clear misuse of this money)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at EPO

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues to bribe the media in order to manipulate this media while threatening if not outright blocking (censorship) true information about the Office; it doesn’t look like anyone — let alone AT-ILO — even cares about EPO corruption

“European Patent Office Discusses Patenting Artificial Intelligence,” reads this new headline from IP Watch‘s Monika Ermert.

The headline should have said “European Patent Office Discusses Patenting Software Using the Buzzword ‘Artificial Intelligence’,” as we explained some days ago. The Office is corrupt, rogue, and it even controls the media using threats and bribes. We have covered many examples of it over the years. Over the past week, the EPO promoted the “Inventor Award” about half a dozen times a day, even in the weekends. Another puff piece for “Inventor Award” (we guess EPO may have ghostwritten it via PR agencies, as before) could be found here a few days ago. Still no press coverage of this very obvious abuse of EPO budget by Battistelli, eh? How much more obvious does it need to be?

“Still no press coverage of this very obvious abuse of EPO budget by Battistelli, eh? How much more obvious does it need to be?”IP Watch wrote that the “United States and Chinese patent practitioners this week called for considerations to change patent legislation and allow patenting algorithms in the future. They spoke at a 30 May conference of the European Patent Office in Munich on “Patenting Artificial Intelligence.””

Ermert says “patenting algorithms”, but the headline says something else. Just before the weekend the EPO did it again, promoting software patents while barely even hiding it. When the "4IR" buzzword is brought up by EPO they mean software patents. Will the media call them out on it? The EPO is in violation of the EPC again.

Having paid to spread a puff piece of theirs, Ladas & Parry LLP now “celebrates” the “European Patent Convention (EPO)” [sic] (EPC), which is being violated by the EPO in an obvious fashion. This was published yesterday in lawyers’ media:

We salute the originators and implementers of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and the European Patent Convention (EPO) on their fortieth anniversary and look forward to continued use of both long into the future.

[...]

Similarly, the use of the European Patent Convention by providing for a single examination in the European Patent Office that can apply to patents in all member countries is now the norm for securing patent protection in Europe (regardless of whether the countries of interest are in the European Union or not). To some extent, this is accidental as the original plan was to have a central patent office and harmonized European patent law for the member countries of what was then the European Common Market. At that time, this consisted of Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. And the United Kingdom was negotiating to join (and was expected to become a member) before the patent plan was adopted. However, France then vetoed the United Kingdom’s application for membership of the Common Market and the idea developed that perhaps it would be better to have a common patent examination authority for any European country that wished to join and not just members of the Common Market. And so the European Patent Convention was born. Today, the Convention has 37 full members and agreements with a further six countries (not all in Europe) in which patent applications approved by the European Patent Office may be validated or to which they may be extended. Adoption of the European Patent Convention not only provided a means for reducing the costs of securing patent protection in Europe but also resulted in substantial, although still not perfect, harmonization of substantive patent law between the member countries as it was impracticable to have one law apply to patents granted by the European Patent Office and a national patent office.

As usual, not a word or even a remote mention of the EPO scandals. The same goes for IP Kat, which is still doing EPO marketing rather than watch-dogging. Here is what it wrote yesterday: “The second webinar in J A Kemp’ssix-part Pharmaceutical IP webinar series, ‘Patenting Antibodies at the EPO’, is now available on-demand. The webinar overviews antibody cases of the European Patent Office, as well as discussions with EPO examiners, highlighting recent trends in examination and strategies for addressing objections.”

“AT-ILO is not independent. AT-ILO does not respect the most basic principles of justice: it does not hear the parties, it does not reconsider the facts presented by the investigation unit which is partial to the EPO by its very nature…”
      –Märpel
RIP Kat — created in response to IP Kat‘s unwillingness to cover EPO scandals any longer — has this new and rather long post about EPO abuse. “Why,” it inquired, “as a Frenchman, did he [Germond] chose to leave Paris to do the same job at about the same salary in Munich? The EPO and the ESA are both international organisations and have similar pay scales. Rumours say that some promises were made, but Märpel would advise Mr. Germond not to trust rumours. President Battistelli rarely holds his promises and, in any case, time is running short.”

It also said that “AT-ILO is not independent. AT-ILO does not respect the most basic principles of justice: it does not hear the parties, it does not reconsider the facts presented by the investigation unit which is partial to the EPO by its very nature…”

It sadly feels like nobody but us and Märpel is willing to mention EPO scandals any longer. IP Kat went to extreme lengths and nuked an entire comments thread (about 40 comments) about the controversial fashion in which António Campinos got elected selected by Battistelli, a fellow Frenchman. All those same abuses persist to this date. To quote Märpel:

The simple answer is that staff cannot. That is a feature. The internal “justice” system finds staff guilty in all the cases. When it still found staff innocent (before 2016), President Battistelli could simply disregard their opinion. After that time, President Battistelli changed the members to ones more “loyal” to his person and exercised retribution on the others to make sure the ones of his choosing stayed “loyal”. AT-ILO not only agrees with this practice but went out of their way to move publications of key decisions like the one concerning Mr. Corcoran to a date better suiting President Battistelli plans.

[...]

AT-ILO is not independent. AT-ILO does not respect the most basic principles of justice: it does not hear the parties, it does not reconsider the facts presented by the investigation unit which is partial to the EPO by its very nature, it hides facts as it sees fit. AT-ILO is a tribunal only by name and a shame to anyone with a legal background.

[...]

At the end of 2013 something else also happened, this time at the EPO. President Battistelli hired a new person to be head of department employment law in Munich. Department employment law is the department of jurists doing the work of preparing the submissions of the EPO in AT-ILO cases. That department is only a few people in the 7th floor of the Isar building, most of whom are on fixed term contracts. The head of that department is Laurent Germond.

How President Battistelli managed to recruit Mr Germond is a mystery. Before the EPO, Mr. Germond had the same work at the European Space Agency in Paris. Why, as a Frenchman, did he chose to leave Paris to do the same job at about the same salary in Munich? The EPO and the ESA are both international organisations and have similar pay scales. Rumours say that some promises were made, but Märpel would advise Mr. Germond not to trust rumours. President Battistelli rarely holds his promises and, in any case, time is running short.

But, in 2013, President Battistelli wanted Mr. Germond so badly that the recruitment procedure took months, in complete disregard of applicable regulations.

Why was President Battistelli so eager to hire Mr. Germond? Märpel believed that the reason is that Mr Germond and Mr. Petrović are personal friends. The world of international organisations is tiny, the world of international administrative justice even more so. Mr Germond and Mr. Petrović have worked in that circle for a long time and have come to appreciate each other. And maybe a bit more than that, but Märpel cannot tell without revealing her sources.

When he entered his functions, President Battistelli knew the EPO very well from his work in the administrative council. He knew, from the experiences of previous presidents, that the main card of the staff was AT-ILO. The tribunal overturned several key decisions in favour of staff. President Battistelli wanted none of that. President Battistelli knew that it was absolutely vital to his plans that AT-ILO would be in is favour. He needed a way. The new registrar offered him one.

Last year we showed that ahead of the “Inventor Award” ceremony the EPO offered 'gifts' to so-called 'journalists' in exchange for shallow coverage (same thing as the prior year). Can we call that “bribery”? How much bribery can the EPO get away with it before authorities actually bother intervening? And if they refuse to ever intervene, does that mean that the EPO remains above the law and AT-ILO is merely its protector (giving only the illusion of external oversight)?

Team UPC Turns to a Spanish ‘Flavour’ of Unitary Patent Propaganda (Just Like Last Year)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Say what?!”

Don Quixote

Summary: Team UPC has found something new to latch onto in an effort to perpetuate the perception of UPC progress (something which came to a stop/halt a long time ago)

Last year (just over a year ago) IAM and others said that Spain was about to ratify the UPC or something to that effect; all this just because of something that someone had said. Suffice to say, as is typical among Team UPC, truth and expectation are totally different things.

At risk of stepping inside politics again, yesterday this thing happened in Spain. We don’t wish to go into it, at least not this time, because we prefer to focus on patents. But somehow Team UPC exploited it for its toxic agenda, even before it actually happened. This is already being spun by Team UPC, notably IAM again. Remember that IAM was paid by the EPO’s PR firm for UPC lobbying, even in the US. Unitary Patent – like the EPO itself – corrupts the media.

“Remember that IAM was paid by the EPO’s PR firm for UPC lobbying, even in the US.”Before the news even came from Spain IAM wrote: “Possible change of government in Spain today. Should that happen it will be interesting to see whether the country’s UPC position alters. PSOE has given every indication of being a lot more sympathetic than PP has been. Ciudadanos has not said much, but is very pro-EU.”

“UPC is dead,” I told them, “get over it. And it’s not because of Spain but because of the UK (Brexit) and Germany (the Unitary Patent lobbyists break laws and constitutions)…”

Spain should continue to deny (reject) the Unitary Patent which threatens to devastate SMEs all across Europe. The views of Spanish companies don’t magically change with a change of government. And besides, Spain does not matter to the Unitary Patent; it’s just used by Team UPC as a distraction and illusion of momentum (because it stalled). They’ve long used this trick.

“Whether it’s “willing to join” or not, the Spanish businesses do not want it and the UPCA is stuck anyway, so they would be wasting their time bothering with such a process. Spain is not a required signature; Germany is.”“With PSOE in power in Spain,” one person rushed to say, “UPC ratification is a matter of days…”

Not at all.

Someone else wrote about it in Spanish [1, 2] and a UPC booster (citing that) wrote: “It is reported that the new Spanish government is willing to join the UPC. This would render the UPC system substantially more attractive. It is to be seen if the government (without own majority) can convince the Spanish parliament.”

Whether it’s “willing to join” or not, the Spanish businesses do not want it and the UPCA is stuck anyway, so they would be wasting their time bothering with such a process. Spain is not a required signature; Germany is. So it’s not about Spain at all.

We can understand that Team UPC (even in Spain) is desperate for the UPC because it would mean a lot of frivolous litigation and thus business for them; but it’s not happening. We have been seeing these prophecies and projections time and time again for a number of years. And where are we now? Brexit remains an issue, Germany isn’t ratifying, and there’s barely any progress to report anywhere in Europe (Bristows scrapes the bottom of the barrel in nations with only dozens of European Patents).

“There are no trivial workarounds; they would need to start the whole process all over again. Unless they blatantly cheated, whereupon the constitutional violations would be further exacerbated.”Regarding British ratification, we already wrote more than half a dozen posts explaining that it had been expected since 2016 (a promise was made) and yet still — a couple of years later — Brexit remains a major barrier to any implementation of UPC. There are no trivial workarounds; they would need to start the whole process all over again. Unless they blatantly cheated, whereupon the constitutional violations would be further exacerbated.

Even a month later (after a rather awkward ratification) Morrison & Foerster LLP wrote this self-serving nonsense that’s supposed to give us the impression that Brexit is not a problem and Germany is just waiting to ratify. Yesterday we saw STA Law Firm, writing about UPC late in the week (on a Friday), still attempting to make it all seem like a certainty with future tense (“will”). Only way down in the article they’re trying to discuss obvious obstacles;

The Unitary Patent Court – caution ahead!

[...]

Post-Brexit Consequences

With Brexit casting its shadow over EU, it is making it difficult to understand how specific this decision of ratifying UPC will turn out for the UK. In spite of the fact that the UPC Agreement is (entirely) a global agreement as opposed to EU law, it remains an open analysis concerning whether the UK can lawfully continue as an individual from the UPC framework after Brexit, or significantly whether it will look to do as such. UK is in plans to leave the EU in March 2019 which would imply that a unitary patent framework without the UK would be less appealing which would put the entire idea of the unitary patent court in peril. The UK government has clarified in its Brexit policy document that it will bring a termination of the implication of CJEU in the UK and EU agreements will no longer apply to the UK. This clarification creates a hazy subject around the whole idea of whether legally or politically, how the UK could remain included and possibly still be liable to the EU courts.

London is one of the three expected locations for the establishment of UPC’s Central Division. However, criticism surrounds the eventual fate of a London-based court. After Brexit, will the EU leave a lofty EU foundation sitting in a non-EU nation? If the UK figures out how to keep on participating in the UPC after Brexit, which is a long shot then conceivably the court will remain, and life sciences organizations would contest licenses that cover the whole EU in the London court.

The fate of the UPC framework remains in the air and corporations need to plan for all projections, whether UPC with UK or UPC without the UK. Whatever the result, patenting and litigation strategies depend on careful formulation with all possibilities especially with the political instability.

The German Question: Answer yet Awaited

For UPC to establish in the EU; three member-states are required to ratify the agreement including UK, France, and Germany for it to officially commence. If all goes well with the UK approving the agreement, the constitutional issues that surround Germany is also a vital reason which has stalled the ratification of UPC Agreement. The matter will take a while before UPC takes its charge in the EU, regardless of UK’s post-Brexit consequences.

Well, this is the classic echo chamber of Team UPC at work; they just keep repeating one another, giving one another hope and then hoping that their optimism can mislead politicians. The way things stand at the moment, the UPC isn’t taking off. Don’t let Team UPC sites (sites like IAM and Managing IP, which stopped its “UPC Progress” reports) fool the world. We suppose that tomorrow, as usual, Joff Wild will write something about it. How ludicrous a headline remains to be seen…

US Antitrust Official Makan Delrahim Encourages Parasitic Patent Behaviour — Not Just Embargoes — in the Phones Domain and Beyond

Posted in America, Antitrust, Apple, Asia, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The lawyers might like it, but it’s bad for the customers (fewer choices, more expensive overall)

ZTE

Summary: US antitrust authorities and the European Commission have been speaking a lot lately about FRAND/SEP and SPCs; will they institute policies which benefit the monopolies or the market at large?

WE HAVE ALWAYS PREFERRED not to deal with politics but with purely technical matters, but when it comes to patent law it seems like politics are inevitable. The EPO, for example, is run by a crooked politician and the USPTO is connected directly to the government. See Makan Delrahim's history just before Trump put him in his current position; Trump put yet another rogue lobbyist (“swamp” is what he calls it) in charge and it hurts actual science and technology. Before Iancu was nominated and appointed by Trump his firm had worked for Trump too. That’s politics.

Makan Delrahim’s policies were mentioned by Richard Lloyd just before the weekend. It was about standard essential patents (SEPs). There was a discussion about it in Europe (FRAND/SEP and SPCs) because of the European Commission’s latest announcement (relegated to our daily links) and here’s what Lloyd wrote about a new letter:

A group of advocacy groups with close ties to the high-tech, automotive and retail industries have released a new paper calling into question several of the policy positions staked out by US antitrust chief Makan Delrahim regarding the application of antitrust law to the licensing of standard essential patents (SEPs). The paper follows a letter, signed by 77 former government officials and academics sent to Delrahim last week which also questioned several of the comments that the head of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division has made since he was appointed last September.

We already wrote several posts bemoaning Delrahim’s policies, which seem to be influenced not by national interests but few private interests.

Speaking of politics, ZTE has been everywhere in the news lately; it isn’t all about patents, but the patents angle/aspect does get brought up on occasions, sometimes in relation to these lawsuits in Texas, which is becoming widely known for little but patent trolls and patent lawsuits. From a new report about it:

Despite the fact that its devices were recently banned in America, Chinese smartphone maker ZTE is now facing a patent infringement lawsuit in the US.

A Northern Texas US District Court judge recently denied the company’s motion to dismiss a patent infringement case filed by a Texas-based mobile software developer.

Seven Networks has alleged that ZTE’s firmware uses seven of its own patents regarding battery management, data transfers and notifications. The software developer’s complaint alleges that the ZTE Blade smartphone as well as its other devices, use parts of all seven patents to manage their battery life and handle notifications and data transfers.

[...]

ZTE has decided to halt production until the ban is lifted and its lawsuit with Seven Networks will likely complicate matters further.

As The Register put it (adding some politics), “ZTE can’t buy chips from America – but can still get sued for patent infringement in the US” (this is the headline).

Chinese phone maker ZTE will have to face a patent infringement lawsuit in the US, despite its handsets being effectively barred from sale in America.

On Wednesday a Northern Texas US District Court judge tossed the Chinese company’s motion to dismiss a patent infringement case filed by a Texas-based mobile software developer.

Seven Networks has alleged that ZTE’s firmware borrows from seven patents it holds regarding data transfers, battery management, and notifications.

Why would ZTE even wish to participate in the US market? ZTE and other Chinese companies have been the subject of a political smear campaign lately*. The same has been happening in Europe, especially in the UK.

Going back to the patent maximalist/lobbyist Richard Lloyd, he caught up with something we had covered regarding Panasonic. It’s feeding patent trolls in spite of all the openwashing. It’s likely that the trolls will soon go after companies like ZTE, suing perhaps through Texas (this has become common among Canadian patent trolls). Quoting Lloyd:

WiLAN has acquired a portfolio of patents from Panasonic in the latest in a long line of patent transfers between the Japanese tech giant and the Canadian NPE. The portfolio contains 34 patent families comprising 96 grants worldwide. It relates to security camera surveillance technologies, including camera systems used in retail, other commercial buildings and smart home applications. The transfer follows another transaction between the two in January which related to semiconductor memory technologies used in Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) and NAND Flash Memory.

Nobody benefits from it; they artificially elevate the price of phones, which basically come with a ‘trolls tax’ attached.

As Samsung and Apple recently came to accept, this is mostly beneficial to patent lawyers. IAM named Samsung as the winner in Apple v Samsung, but the truth is that neither company won. Only their legal departments gained, as usual.

Well, having uploaded the relevant PDF, which can be found in Scribd [PDF], Florian Müller wrote that “Apple, Samsung trying to put patent dispute behind them through mediation” and to quote:

After last week’s Apple v. Samsung damages verdict (largely over design patents) in the Northern District of California, counsel for both parties told Judge Koh that they were both willing to put an end to their long-running dispute, which started with a complaint filed by Apple in April 2011 and quickly escalated into a global dispute with filings in ten countries.

[...]

What’s furthermore unclear (and no one may know at this stage) is whether the parties will try to resolve both California cases (the one that went to re-retrial in May, and a second one that turned into a roller coaster) or just the first one.

High-profile smartphone disputes between handset and platform makers (unlike litigation brought by non-practicing entities or increasingly-”trollified” former phone makers such as Nokia and Ericsson) haven’t recently resulted in license agreements. Instead, parties just dropped pending cases but reserved all options for bringing new complaints anytime, with some license agreements–or covenants not to sue–of extremely limited scope possibly having been part of some of those confidential deals. I would expect the same if Apple and Samsung finally called a truce. Apple obviously isn’t going to extend a design patent license to Samsung; the result might involve a license (or a convenant not to sue with the practical effect of a license) to a few software patents, though some have expired and others have been worked around. But by and large the question is just whether Apple will withdraw any pending claims. And, even if this works out now at long last, no one knows when hostilities might flare up again.

Müller speaks of “non-practicing entities or increasingly-”trollified” former phone makers such as Nokia and Ericsson,” but he might as well add Blackberry with Apple at its heels.

All these lawsuits sure fascinate patent lawyers because these make them richer. But at whose expense? We would be better off without all these legal battles. Can Delrahim, a lawyer himself, ever understand that?
____
* In addition to this, Microsoft blackmails ZTE and others. It’s suing or threatening to sue using patents just because they use Linux and Free/libre Open Source software.

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