Links 6/7/2018: New GIMP and Elisa

Posted in News Roundup at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • How the Kubernetes Release Process is Different Than Other Open Source Projects

      The Kubernetes 1.11 release became generally available on June 27, providing users of the container orchestration with multiple new features and continued performance improvements.

      While Kubernetes releases were originally all led by Google staffers, that has changed in the last two years, with a rigous release management Special Interest Group (SIG) that has mandated that there be a new leader for each release. For the 1.11 release, the role of release lead was held by Red Hat’s Josh Berkus, who is well known in the open-source community for his work helping to lead PostgreSQL database releases.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Removing Support for Dead Hardware

      Linus Torvalds had no objection to ripping those architectures out of the kernel, but he did say, “I’d like to see that each architecture removal is independent of the others, so that if somebody wants to resurrect any particular architecture, he/she can do so with a revert.”

      Linus pulled the patch into the main kernel tree and noted with glee that it took a half-million lines of code out of the kernel.

      Linus was not the only one who wanted to ensure the possibility of easily resurrecting those architectures. Geert Uytterhoeven wanted to know exactly what would be required, since he had an interest in the formerly removed and later resurrected arch/h8300 architecture, currently still in the kernel and going strong. And he pointed out, “In reality, a resurrection may not be implemented as a pure revert, but as the addition of a new architecture, implemented using modern features.”

      To which Pavel Machek complained, “By insisting on new features instead of pure revert + incremental updates, you pretty much make sure resurrection will not be possible.”

    • What Is the Best Way to Contribute to The Linux Kernel?

      A person who isn’t much of a computer literate wouldn’t know that the kernel is a fundamental part of any OS. It is so far removed from the surface apps that the closest you could get to it from a typical app on your machine is configuring network protocols and/or installing driver software. As a matter of fact, only programmers typically deal with kernels directly.

      To paint a perfect picture, the kernel is to a computer what an engine is to a car. You as what the best way to contribute to the Linux kernel is? I don’t know. I’m not an authority on kernels, but I sure do have some suggestions you may find useful.

    • Linux Foundation

      • New Training Options Address Demand for Blockchain Skills

        Blockchain technology is transforming industries and bringing new levels of trust to contracts, payment processing, asset protection, and supply chain management. Blockchain-related jobs are the second-fastest growing in today’s labor market, according to TechCrunch. But, as in the rapidly expanding field of artificial intelligence, there is a pronounced blockchain skills gap and a need for expert training resources.


        The Linux Foundation is steward to many valuable blockchain resources and includes some notable community members. In fact, a recent New York Times article — “The People Leading the Blockchain Revolution” — named Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, one of the top influential voices in the blockchain world.

      • Why You’re Choosing a Multi-Platform Approach, According to Our Research

        As Executive Director of an open source foundation, it’s my responsibility to have a clear picture of where we, as an industry, are headed. That’s why we conduct several global perception studies each year with IT decision makers around the world — from India to China — from Bulgaria to New York City. Our discussions with hundreds of developers, operators, IT managers and Line of Business leaders give me profound insight into the strategies being utilized at enterprises across the globe.

        Our most recent research reveals that enterprises are more broadly employing a multi-platform strategy — in other words, they are using different cloud-native technologies in tandem to meet their unique and evolving needs. I was not surprised to see this, given this has been a recurring theme from enterprises around the globe. After all, cloud-native platforms like PaaS, containers, and serverless are designed to function together, with agility and flexibility.

      • A First Look at the Helm 3 Plan

        Earlier this month, Helm moved from a top-level Kubernetes project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The CNCF is becoming the parent foundation for best-of-breed open source, cloud-native tools. It is a huge honor for Helm to become part of this organization. And our first big project under the auspices of CNCF is no small undertaking—We are building Helm 3.

      • Containers Break the Shared Responsibility Model Between Cloud Providers and Ops

        The Container Network Interface (CNI), a Cloud Native Computing Foundation project, consists of a specification and libraries for writing plugins to configure network interfaces in Linux containers. The framework concerns itself only with network connectivity of containers and is heavily used in containerized deployments. There are multiple CNI plugins supported by Kubernetes, Docker, and anything that uses Docker networking to orchestrate container networking.

      • Free Open Source Guides Offer Practical Advice for Building Leadership

        How important is leadership for evolving open source projects and communities? According to the most recent Open Source Guide for the Enterprise from The Linux Foundation and the TODO Group, building leadership in the community is key to establishing trust, enabling collaboration, and fostering the cultural understanding required to be effective in open source.

        The new Building Leadership in an Open Source Community guide provides practical advice that can help organizations build leadership and influence within open source projects.

        “Contributing code is just one aspect of creating a successful open source project,” says this Linux Foundation article introducing the latest guide. “The open source culture is fundamentally collaborative, and active involvement in shaping a project’s direction is equally important. The path toward leadership is not always straightforward, however, so the latest Open Source Guide for the Enterprise from The TODO Group provides practical advice for building leadership in open source projects and communities.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • More AMDGPU DRM Updates Sent In For The Linux 4.19 Kernel, Possible Power Savings

        Towards the end of June an initial batch of AMDGPU updates were sent in to DRM-Next for targeting the Linux 4.19 kernel. Now a second round of updates have been submitted of the AMDGPU/Radeon kernel for this next kernel series.

        This latest round of feature updates include making use of DRM core PCI Express (PCI-E) functionality rather than duplicating this PCI-E Gen/Lanes code, scheduler clean-ups, improved code documentation, reworking DC/PowerPlay interfaces in an effort to improve power-savings, initial stutter mode support for the Raven Ridge hardware as another power-savings feature, various PowerPlay updates for Vega 12, and fixes to the “GFXOFF” support that allow for shutting down the graphics engine when not needed.

      • AMDKFD Looking To Be Merged Into AMDGPU Linux DRM Kernel Driver

        While “AMDGPU” is often what is talked about when it comes to the Radeon graphics driver code within the Linux kernel with it being the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver for AMD GCN graphics cards and newer, there is also the AMDKFD kernel driver that plays a vital role for compute support.

        AMDKFD is the AMD Kernel Fusion Driver (dating back to the days of AMD “Fusion”) that is basically the AMD HSA compute driver within the kernel. AMDKFD is needed to work with the user-space ROCm/OpenCL compute components and in recent kernel releases is working out well just not for AMD APUs but also the discrete graphics cards. After relying upon out-of-tree kernel code for a while to get good compute support going, with Linux 4.17~4.18, things are looking bright.

      • wayland-protocols 1.15

        wayland-protocols 1.15 is now available.

        This version includes a new unstable protocol that enables clients to allow the compositor to draw window decorations.

      • Wayland-Protocols 1.15 Adds XDG-Decoration Protocol For Server-Side Window Decorations

        Wayland-Protocols 1.15 has been released that introduces the new (unstable) XDG-Decoration protocol for drawing window decorations with Wayland.

        The XDG-Decoration protocol is responsible for negotiating server-side rendering of window decorations for XDG top-level windows. By using this protocol, it provides a standardized way for Wayland compositors to draw window decorations and to send the preference to the clients. Clients can request server-side decorations with this protocol, which is based upon the server-side decoration work done so far by the KDE and Sway groups.

      • Maxwell & Newer Now Support Multi-Sampled Images For Nouveau NVC0

        The latest feature addition to the Nouveau Gallium3D driver is now supporting multi-sampled images for Maxwell graphics processors and newer.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 0.2 Release of Elisa

        Elisa is a music player developed by the KDE community that strives to be simple and nice to use. We also recognize that we need a flexible product to account for the different workflows and use-cases of our users.

      • KDE Elisa 0.2 Released For Improving The Music Experience On The Plasma Desktop

        Elisa 0.2 is now available as the second release for this Qt/KDE Plasma focused open-source music player.

        Back in April was the Elisa 0.1 release while out today is Elisa 0.2, which continues working on adding more features to this music player. Elisa 0.2 adds new music browsing views, user-interface improvements, general performance improvements, MPRIS2 support improvements, cover image handling enhancements, and various other additions.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Testbit is going static

        I’ve always felt at odds with the fact that I’m not able to use the same facilities for blog post creation as for programming. Looking back at my old posts, I’ve actually started out in 2005 with a command line tool that allowed me to easily upload simple text passages for planet aggregation.

        I later started running my own WordPress instance with full fledged online editing which turned out to be fairly entertaining in the beginning. But I never went back to produce posts as frequently as was the case when I had my command line tool.

        These days, any content I’m working on needs to be tracked in a local Git repository. I want to diff, merge, rebase changes and edit things in-place in Emacs and a terminal. Not being able to utilize my familiar editing environment has really thwarted my efforts to blog even semi-regularly.

        For the above and a plethora of other reasons, I’ve long wanted to move away from venerable WordPress and any kind of dynamic website management, that includes the Mediawiki instance that used to be hosted on Testbit. Both served a role at some point, but lately the Wiki became more of an archive for old works and the blog felt more and more like a maintenance burden and writing block.

      • Segregating views

        For a long time now Games has had a very basic UI, displaying only a collection of games. Having already had added the developer key to Games, I chose to add a developer view, displaying collection of games by developer. Along with the developer view a platform view was also added to display collection of games by platforms. A GtkStackSwitcher was added to the header bat to easily navigate between these views.

  • Distributions

    • Test 100+ Linux And Unix Operating Systems Online For Free

      A while ago, we have covered about OSBoxes, a website that offers a collection of free, ready-to-use Linux and Unix VMs. You can download and try them on your Linux system using VirtualBox or VMWare workstation. Today, I stumbled upon a similar service named “DistroTest”. Unlike OSBoxes, DistroTest allows you to try the live Linux and Unix operating systems for free. You can test 100+ Linux and Unix operating systems online without having to install them locally. Just visit the website, choose the Linux/Unix distro of your choice and fire it up!

      Two good Samaritans named Andy Klemann and Tobias Forster have hosted this web service using Debian using Qemu. There is no restrictions to use the public distros listed here. You can use all functions of the system as the way you do in your local system. You can install and uninstall software. You can test installed programs and
      even delete or format the hard disk or system files. In a nutshell, DistoTest lets the distro hoppers to decide,

    • Reviews

      • First impressions of PureOS

        Because it’s GNOME, the desktop was immediately familiar to me. I’ve been a GNOME user for a long time, and I work with GNOME in testing usability of new features. So the GNOME desktop was a definite plus for me.

        It’s not a stock GNOME, however. PureOS uses a custom theme that doesn’t use the same colors as a stock GNOME. GNOME doesn’t use color very often, but I noticed this right away in the file manager. Clicking on a navigation item highlights it in a sort of rust color, instead of the usual blue.

    • New Releases

      • Robolinux Lets You Easily Run Linux and Windows Without Dual Booting

        The number of Linux distributions available just keeps getting bigger. In fact, in the time it took me to write this sentence, another one may have appeared on the market. Many Linux flavors have trouble standing out in this crowd, and some are just a different combination of puzzle pieces joined to form something new: An Ubuntu base with a KDE desktop environment. A Debian base with an Xfce desktop. The combinations go on and on.

        Robolinux, however, does something unique. It’s the only distro, to my knowledge, that makes working with Windows alongside Linux a little easier for the typical user. With just a few clicks, it lets you create a Windows virtual machine (by way of VirtualBox) that can run side by side with Linux. No more dual booting. With this process, you can have Windows XP, Windows 7, or Windows 10 up and running with ease.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Lx 4 Launching Soon with KDE Plasma 5.13, GCC 8.1, and Linux 4.18

        The team announced some of the upcoming features that users should expect from the final OpenMandriva Lx 4 release, which should be launched sometime this summer or early this fall. Being a KDE-oriented distro, OpenMandriva Lx 4 will feature the latest KDE Plasma 5.13 desktop environment by default.

        Of course, it will ship with the most recent point release of the KDE Plasma 5.13 desktop environment, which will be accompanied by the latest KDE Applications 18.04.3 software suite, due for release on July 12, 2018, as well as the KDE Frameworks 5.48.0 software suite, which is expected to land at the end of next, probably on July 14.

    • Arch Family

      • Anarchy Linux – A User-Friendly Alternative to Arch Linux

        Anarchy Linux, compared to other Linux distributions like Manjaro and Antergos because it is actually NOT a Linux distribution.

        Anarchy Linux is a free and open source package containing a set of automated scripts designed to facilitate the easier installation and configuration setup of Arch Linux.

        To define Anarchy Linux in the simplest of terms, it’s an Arch Linux wrapper and it offers users a close replica of an Arch Linux experience since that is what it runs under the hood.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Reinforces Commitment to Asia Pacific Partner Ecosystem
      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 28 KDE – Call the doctor, it’s not feeling well

          I didn’t get to test a lot of things – apps, hardware compatibility, performance, whatnot, but then, there’s really no reason to persist. This is a failing distro, like so many others released recently. No validation, no care, nothing. Just random code. A lackluster showing with no pride or passion or quality. Fedora 28 KDE did give me media playback, but that’s about the only thing that worked fine. The rest was all broken. Customization wasn’t smooth, the fonts are meh, no smartphone support, mediocre network support, and then, a dead desktop after trying to install Nvidia drivers the same way that worked just fine in Fedora 27. Madness.

          If you want to use Fedora for some reason, the Gnome edition is better, but it’s still a rather average product and not suitable for day-to-say use. A steady decline since version 25, and I’m 100% sure this is all the result of the carefree approach to software development, the rapid release mania and the total disregard to validation and user needs. This one is a total flop. And I’ve just wasted a day and a half of my life. We’re done.

        • Call for Fedora Women’s Day 2018 proposals

          Fedora Women’s Day (FWD) is a day to celebrate and bring visibility to female contributors in open source projects including Fedora. The initiative is led by Fedora’s Diversity and Inclusion team. The call for proposals for event organizers is now open until Thursday, 16 August 2018!

          During September, in collaboration with other members of different open source communities including Fedora, women in tech groups or hacker spaces, we plan to organize talks, workshops and meetups around the world. These events highlight and celebrate the women in open source communities like Fedora and their invaluable contributions to their projects and community. They also give a good opportunity for women to learn about free and open source software and jump-start their journey in open source as a user or a contributor. They also give a platform for women to connect, learn and be inspired by other women in open source communities and beyond.

    • Debian Family

      • Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in June 2018

        This month I accepted 166 packages and rejected only 7 uploads. The overall number of packages that got accepted this month was 216.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Outs Major Kernel Security Updates for All Supported Ubuntu Linux OSes

            Canonical released new kernel security updates for all supported Ubuntu Linux operating systems to address multiple security vulnerabilities discovered by various researchers.

            The new Linux kernel updates are available for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), as well as Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system series and they fix a total of 22 security vulnerabilities across all Ubuntu Linux releases.

            One of the most important issues fixed is an information leak vulnerability tagged as CVE-2018-7755 and discovered in Linux kernel’s floppy driver, which could allow a local attacker to expose sensitive information (kernel memory). This issue affected Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Ubuntu 17.10, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

          • Launchpad news, June 2018

            Here’s a brief changelog for this month.

          • Make your Snap store page pop!

            When you publish a Snap you want to grab the attention of as many users as possible. The Snap Advocacy team regularly review high quality, new and interesting Snaps published in the store so that we can feature them in Editor’s Picks, blog about them here or promote them via social campaigns using the @snapcraftio and @ubuntu Twitter accounts. As a side note, if you’d like to stay informed of new developments in Snapcraft and Ubuntu then give both those accounts a follow.

            After you’ve tested the Snap and happy it works as intended, here are 6 things you can do to make the Snap store listing really pop and significantly increase the likelihood that the application will get noticed and widely used. Log into your Snapcraft account and take your store listing to the next level!

          • Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Will Reach End of Life on July 19, 2018

            Released on October 19, 2017, Ubuntu 17.10 was dubbed Artful Aardvark by Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth and was the first Ubuntu release to ship with the GNOME desktop environment by default after using Canonical’s Unity user interface for more than six years, since the release of Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal).

            Ubuntu 17.10 also marked the discontinuation of the Ubuntu GNOME flavor now that the main edition shipped with the GNOME desktop environment by default, and it was also the first to switch to the next-generation Wayland display server by default instead of X.Org Server, a decision that was withdrawn with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) Wallpaper Contest Is Now Open for Entries

            The Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase is now officially open for submissions in an attempt to gather the best and most colorful images from talented photographers and artists from all over the world, which will be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) operating system, due for release on October 18, 2018.

            “Careful consideration will expose an extraordinary quirk: chromatic changes facilitate a unique mechanism for communication. They change the color of their skin to send communiqués. This codename should encourage wacky and eccentric, but unique and colorful images we can ship in October,” said Nathan Haines.

          • Canonical Fixes Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Regression Causing Boot Failures on AMD PCs

            Last month, on June 20, 2018, Canonical released an AMD microcode firmware update for the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating systems to address the well-known Spectre microprocessor side-channel vulnerability.

            Unearthed by Jann Horn of Google Project Zero, the Spectre security flaw revealed the fact that devices powered by modern processors using branch prediction and speculative execution may allow local attackers to expose sensitive information, including kernel memory, by reading the memory via so-called side-channel attacks.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • This Week in Lubuntu Development #6

              As announced on Episode 73 of the Ask Noah Show, Lubuntu is working with Altispeed Technologies to provide commercial support for users and organizations who need more support than our existing channels offer. More details will be provided in the future as the infrastructure for this is established.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Wallabag: An open source alternative to Pocket

    The biggest change took place behind the scenes. Wallabag’s developer Nicolas Lœuillet and the project’s contributors did a lot of tinkering with the code, which improved the application. You see and feel the changes wrought by wallabag’s newer codebase every time you use it.

    So what are some of those changes? There are quite a few. Here are the ones I found most interesting and useful.

    Besides making wallabag a bit snappier and more stable, the application’s ability to import and export content has improved. You can import articles from Pocket and Instapaper, as well as articles marked as “To read” in bookmarking service Pinboard. You can also import Firefox and Chrome bookmarks.

  • Open source plays vital role in scientific advances

    While the open source movement initially came into being as a way to “democratise” software development, it is now playing an increasingly important role in the development of cutting edge technologies in a wide range of non-IT fields, including medicine and science.

    For example, researchers from Chile, who have just been awarded the 2018 PLOS Open Source Toolkit Channel Prize, relied heavily on open source software and hardware for the development of a low-cost fluorescent imaging system.

    This system can be used in a wide range of fields including laboratory medicine, pharmacology, environmental biology and molecular biology to image assays. It could also be used in an educational environment for the teaching of biology.

  • SD Times Open Source Project of the Week: Indico Enso

    Enterprise AI company Indico wants to give back to the open-source community that it says has helped their technology develop with the release of this week’s highlighted open-source project. Indico’s Enso Python library is an open-source codebase designed to standardize a way to test transfer learning techniques for training natural language processing models.

    While transfer learning, which utilizes knowledge gained from prior machine-learning tasks to speed up later tasks, has proven successful in computer vision and image classification applications, greatly reducing the number of images needed to make subsequent identifications, Indico says that the technique is greatly unproven for natural language processing.

  • Selecting the Right Service Virtualization Tool

    Open source tools are generally adopted in a bottom-up manner: they’re downloaded and experimented with by a developer or development team and, when successful, might slowly be adopted by a larger audience within the organization

  • Cloud Native Machine Learning And AI
  • Decentralized AI-Powered Trust Alliance DATA Open Source Set to Battle Fraud

    DATA is a blockchain based digital data authentication protocol powered by AI & P2P mobile storage infrastructure. The project is devised to address the root of the fraud at its core. It evaluates the credibility of endpoints through blockchain, big data and AI technologies to provide technical solutions for endpoint-level data quality assessment and data fraud. The DATA platform applies a reward system to incentivize end users with their attention contribution and to publishers with pruning their sell-side inventory.

    DATA’s aim is to build a Data Trust Alliance with crucial partners in the digital ecosystem to develop and operate a standard protocol for quality assessment of endpoint data similar to the ISO certification system, which will reduce the inefficiency and high cost in the upstream and downstream of the industry chain due to the lack of trust in digital advertising, financial technology and other industries.

  • DATA Open Source Explained by Dr. Eric Li

    DATA is a blockchain based digital data authentication protocol. The project evaluates the credibility of endpoints through blockchain, big data and AI technologies to provide technical solutions for endpoint-level data quality assessment and data fraud. The DATA project is dedicated to solving data fraud, the lack of trust, the inefficiency of cooperation, the waste of ecological resources, and the uneven distribution of value in the global digital ecosystem through blockchain technology. Through endpoint-level data credibility assessment, DATA hopes to address data traceability, validation incentives, and quality control issues. DATA’s vision is to build a Data Trust Alliance with crucial partners in the digital ecosystem to develop and operate a standard protocol for quality assessment of endpoint data similar to the ISO certification system to reduce the inefficiency and high cost in the upstream and downstream of the industry chain due to the lack of trust in digital advertising, financial technology and other industries. At present, the project has reached strategic collaborations with BlueFocus, Kochava and many other well-known companies in the world.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • FirefoxOS, A keyboard and prediction: Story of my first contribution
      • Extensions in Firefox 62

        Last week Firefox 62 moved into the Beta channel. This version has fewer additions and changes to the WebExtensions API than the last several releases. Part of that is due to the maturing nature of the API as we get farther away from the WebExtension API cutover back in release 57, now over seven months ago. Part of it was a focus on cleaning up some internal features — code changes that increase the maintainability of Firefox but are not visible to external developers. And, let’s be honest, part of it is the arrival of summer in the Northern hemisphere, resulting in happy people taking time to enjoy life outside of browser development.

      • A Vision for Engineering Workflow at Mozilla (Part Two)

        In my last post I touched on the history and mission of the Engineering Workflow team, and I went into some of the challenges the team faces, which informed the creation of the team’s vision. In this post I’ll go into the vision itself.

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day (old post)
      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
      • When do All Firefox Users Update?

        Last time we talked about updates I wrote about all of what goes into an individual Firefox user’s ability to update to a new release. We looked into how often Firefox checks for updates, and how we sometimes lie and say that there isn’t an update even after release day.

      • The Best Firefox Extensions for Managing Tabs

        Frequent crashes, slow performance, and not being able to find the tab you’re looking for—we’ve all been there. Here are some of the best Firefox extensions for helping you manage tab overload.

        Generally, we don’t recommend using any extensions you don’t have to—they can be a privacy nightmare. But until makers of browsers build in some better tab management solutions, we tab hoarders have to rely on extensions to keep us sane. We’ve rounded up some of the best extensions for managing tabs in Firefox. And, while there are a ton of these extensions out there (and everyone has their favorites), we’ve tried to keep our list to well-regarded extensions without reported privacy issues.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice and Plasma

      At KDAB, we know that consistency is an important aspect of the User Experience – users don’t want to have to learn different ways to achieve the same thing. In the Linux world, there is a major structural pitfall to this: the applications written for Linux come in at least two major technologies – Qt and GTK. Each of these frameworks deeply influences the experience the user has, and in different ways. As you’d expect, the frameworks have their own helper-dialogs e.g. to open or save a file or for printing. This can make it confusing for users, when the apps they use don’t show the same helper-dialogs for common actions.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • GIMP 2.10.4 Released

      The latest update of GIMP’s new stable series delivers bugfixes, simple horizon straightening, async fonts loading, fonts tagging, and more new features.

    • Image Editor GIMP 2.10.4 Brings Async Fonts Loading, Simple Horizon Straightening

      GIMP, the free and open source raster graphics editor, was updated to version 2.10.4. With this release, the image editor includes async fonts loading, simple horizon straightening, and more.

      With GIMP 2.10.4, fonts are loaded asynchronous, which results in a much faster startup time. As a result of this change, some fonts may not be ready when GIMP starts so if you want to use the text tool as soon as the GIMP window shows up, some fonts may not be available. GIMP lets you know if that’s the case though. Non-text related activities can be performed right away.

      Another change in this GIMP release is the addition of a (auto) Straighten button in the Measure tool settings dialog:

    • GIMP masks font downloads, adds horizon fix in new build

      As the US partied and the UK made increasingly desperate “well, we dumped YOU” jokes, the GIMP team celebrated 4 July by emitting a fresh stable build of the arty application with a function aimed at fixing drunken photos.

      The latest stable release of GIMP (2.10.4) sees the introduction of the nifty Straighten button as part of the Measure tool, which will automatically rotate an image after the user has measured just how wonky the horizon ended up after a particularly spirited photo session.

      Other features in the release include a potential end to staring at a screen during start-up while a seemingly endless parade of fonts load. GIMP now loads the things in a parallel process (the only question is why it took so long for this feature to make an appearance,) along with tagging of fonts and some widgets to show how GIMP is using computer memory. Or leaking, as the case may be.

    • GIMP 2.10.4 Released with Faster Start Up Times, Auto-Straighten Tool

      GIMP 2.10.4 is the fourth minor release of the editor since the GIMP 2.10 arrived back in May and is packed with major improvements.


      Another font-related change in this release is the ability to tag fonts in the same manner as gradients, brushes and patterns.

      As mentioned, I have a tonne of fonts on my system (I make a lot of banners and graphics for this site, and don’t like things to look “samey”) and font tagging allow me to label them based on style or tone, e.g., “comic book”, “thin”, “official company fonts”, for faster finding later.

    • GNU Guix/GuixSD 0.15 Released, Closing In On v1.0

      GNU Guix 0.15 is out today as the latest feature update to this transactional package manager and is joined by an updated Guix System Distribution (GuixSD) release too as the GNU Linux-libre distribution built around it.

      The Guix 0.15 package manager update overhauls/improvements many common sub-commands, introduces some new user options, and more. The Guix Daemon also now supports ARMv7 builds from an AArch64 host, ships with an SELinux policy, and has various other updates.

    • GNU Guix and GuixSD 0.15.0 released

      We are pleased to announce the new release of GNU Guix and GuixSD, version 0.15.0! This release brings us close to what we wanted to have for 1.0, so it’s probably one of the last zero-dot-something releases.

      The release comes with GuixSD ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image of GuixSD, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries.GNU Guix and GuixSD 0.15.0 released

    • Glibc 2.28 Adds Unicode 11.0 Support, RenameAt2

      In addition to working on statx() for glibc, landing in the GNU C Library this week was Unicode 11.0 support along with a renameat2() function.

      First up, Unicode 11.0 is now supported by Glibc. Unicode 11.0 was released last month with new emojis (66 new ones in total), 684 new code points, and more.

  • Public Services/Government

    • SF’s open-source voting effort mired in indecision

      Indecision around San Francisco’s open-source voting project has kept it in “a state of hypothetical exploration for the better part of a decade,” according to a new civil grand jury report.

      The City’s vision for becoming the first to launch an open source voting system has suffered from having those involved in the effort scattered throughout multiple city departments and not all aligned as well as “most critically, there is not a clear project owner,” the San Francisco Open Source Voting civil grand jury report said.

      “San Francisco has taken a decade to debate and assess the value of open source voting. If this project continues, in ten more years, San Francisco will either have created new critical democratic infrastructure or will have wasted taxpayer dollars by perpetually planning for an unrealized future,” the report, released June 29, said. “What separates these two scenarios is strategic multilateral partnerships, open source best practices and culture, and strong commitment under unambiguous ownership.”

  • Licensing/Legal

    • D-Link and the GPL

      It tells me to go to D-Link’s page for GPL licensed software to get the source code. It also lets me write a request the source code on physical media for a nominal fee for the media and handling. Something I naturally did (being an engineer on vacation).

      While waiting for a reply, let’s have a look at the online version. When entering the URL provided you have to click through an agreement that I understand what GPL and LGPL means and that the files distributed comes with no warranties (they spend more words saying this – read it if you want the details). Clicking “I Agree” I get a popup (back to the 90’s) asking me to register my product to enjoy all the benefits of doing so. At the same time the main window continues to a list of all D-Link products containing (L)GPL software – very nice.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Reply: open data is ‘intellectual infrastructure’

        According to Jason Hill, Executive Partner from Reply, open data is as it sounds – open and accessible data that is available to anyone.

        Hill further states that open data must be interoperable so it can be shared, adapted and reused with other datasets.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Source DIY Printers are Alive and Well: What We Saw At ERRF 18

        If you follow the desktop 3D printer market, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that nearly every 3D printer on display at the inaugural East Coast RepRap Festival (ERRF) was made in China. Even Printrbot CEO Brook Drumm had to admit that this was the year his company may finally bite the bullet and begin selling a branded and customized printer built overseas.

  • Programming/Development

    • PHP 7.3.0 alpha 3 Released

      The PHP team is glad to announce the release of the third PHP 7.3.0 version, PHP 7.3.0 Alpha 3. The rough outline of the PHP 7.3 release cycle is specified in the PHP Wiki.

      For source downloads of PHP 7.3.0 Alpha 3 please visit the download page. Windows sources and binaries can be found on windows.php.net/qa/.

      Please carefully test this version and report any issues found in the bug reporting system.

    • PHP 7.3 Alpha 3 Released

      The third alpha of this year’s PHP7 update, PHP 7.3, is now available for evaluation.

      PHP 7.3 has been crafting improved PHP garbage collection, WebP support within the image create from string function, and a variety of other features and improvements. PHP 7.3 is looking very good in early benchmarks.

      PHP 7.3 Alpha 3 introduces a lot of bug fixes from core PHP to various extensions, min_proto_version/max_proto_version options added to OpenSSL for maximum/minimum TLS version protocol values, and various other code improvements.

    • My First Clang Bug

      Part of the role of being a packager is compiling lots (and lots) of packages. That means compiling lots of code from interesting places and in a variety of styles. In my opinion, being a good packager also means providing feedback to upstream when things are bad. That means filing upstream bugs when possible, and upstreaming patches.

      One of the “exciting” moments in packaging is when tools change. So each and every major CMake update is an exercise in recompiling 2400 or more packages and adjusting bits and pieces. When a software project was last released in 2013, adjusting it to modern tools can become quite a chore (e.g. Squid Report Generator). CMake is excellent for maintaining backwards compatibility, generally accomodating old software with new policies. The most recent 3.12 release candidate had three issues filed from the FreeBSD side, all from fallout with older software. I consider the hours put into good bug reports, part of being a good citizen of the Free Software world.


  • The Death Of Google Reader And The Rise Of Silos

    I’ve been talking a lot lately about the unfortunate shift of the web from being more decentralized to being about a few giant silos and I expect to have plenty more to say on the topic in the near future. But I’m thinking about this again after Andy Baio reminded me that this past weekend was five years since Google turned off Google Reader. Though, as he notes, Google’s own awful decision making created the diminished use that allowed Google to justify shutting it down.

  • Hardware

    • Intel halts 5G modem work after Apple decides not to use it

      Apple has reportedly notified processor giant Intel that it will not be using the latter’s 5G modems in its 2020 mobile devices, leading to a halt in production of the same.

    • Apple Passes Over Intel in Search for 5G Chips for the iPhone

      Intel will not provide 5G modems for Apple’s 2020 mobile devices, according to internal company communications reviewed by Calcalist, and people familiar with the matter. Apple has notified Intel it would not use a mobile modem developed by the chipmaker in its next-generation mobile device, Intel executives said in the communications. Further development of the modem component internally called “Sunny Peak” has been halted and the Intel team that’s working on the product will be redirected to other efforts, the executives said.

    • Intel ‘halts production’ of 5G modems following Apple’s 2020 iPhone snub

      In the leaked comms, Intel execs say that, as a result of Apple’s plans not to use its chips for its 2020 iDevice lineup, the company has stopped development of its 5G modem – codenamed Sunny Peak – given that Apple was expected to be the “main volume driver” for the chip.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • UN Urged To Emphasize Health Over Profit At Upcoming UN High-Level Meeting On NCDs

      The High-Level Meeting on NCDs will be held at the UN in New York on 27 September. Member state negotiations are currently taking place over the “Zero Draft” of the High-Level Political Declaration on NCDs.

      “The zero draft … will be the subject of intense negotiations with countries adding and deleting text over the next four weeks,” according to a statement by United For Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT), one of the signatories of the letter.

      “UACT is appalled that the draft UN political declaration on non-communicable diseases makes no reference to the soaring prices for cancer medications – prices that are unsustainable even for wealthy countries,” Manon Anne Ress, founder and director of UACT, said in the statement.

    • Senators Ask FTC to Investigate Biosimilar Litigation Settlement Agreement

      The high cost of biologic drugs was one of the (if not the) most compelling motivations for Congress to adopt a biosimilar pathway as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 (aka “Obamacare”). Passage of the Biologic Price Control and Innovation Act (BPCIA, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 262(k)) created for the first time a pathway for FDA approval of biosimilar drugs in the U.S. But from the beginning there have been grumblings, particularly regarding the term of the data exclusivity period (see “Congress Jumps on Bandwagon to Reduce Biologic Drug Exclusivity Term”; “President’s Latest Budget Proposal Seeks Decrease of Data Exclusivity Period and Elimination of Pay-for-Delay Agreements”; “Senators Send Letter on Biosimilars to FDA”; “Senators Back 12-Year Data Exclusivity Period for Biosimilars and President Obama (Once Again) Does Not”; and “President’s Latest Budget Proposal Seeks Decrease of Data Exclusivity Period and Elimination of Pay-for-Delay Agreements”). As biosimilar applicants have utilized the FDA’s implementation of the abbreviated biologics license application (aBLA) pathway, and parties and the courts have begun to work out the litigation provisions of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 262(l)), the question of settlement of such litigation has arisen. As mentioned in a recent roundup of the biosimilar landscape (see “Status of U.S. Biosimilar Approvals and Pending Applications”), there have been several biosimilar patent litigations that have settled or been avoided by licenses between branded biologic drug makers (termed “reference product sponsors” under the law) and biosimilars applicants. For example, Genentech entered a global licensing agreement on March 31, 2017 with Mylan/Biocon over their Herceptin® biosimilar, Ogivri (trastuzumab-dkst) (although this biosimilar is not yet on the market), and Amgen/Samsung-Bioepsis’s Amjetiva® (adalimumab-atto) is scheduled to enter the market in competition with AbbVie’s Humira® in January 2023 as the result of a settlement agreement between the parties (see “HUMIRA® Biosimilar Update — Settlement in AbbVie v. Amgen Case Announced and AbbVie v. Boehringer Ingelheim Litigation Begins”).

  • Security

    • Why Freedom is Essential to Security and Privacy

      Freedom, security and privacy are interrelated. The relationship between these three concepts is more obvious in some cases than others, though. For instance, most people would recognize that privacy is an important part of freedom. In fact, studies have shown that being under surveillance changes your behavior such as one study that demonstrates that knowing you are under surveillance silences dissenting views. The link between privacy and security is also pretty strong, since often you rely on security (encryption, locked doors) to protect your privacy.

      The link between freedom and security may be less obvious than the others. This is because security often relies on secrecy. You wouldn’t publish your password, safe combination or debit card PIN for the world to see, after all. Some people take the idea that security sometimes relies on secrecy to mean that secrecy automatically makes things more secure. They then extend that logic to hardware and software: if secret things are more secure, and proprietary hardware and software are secret, therefore proprietary hardware and software must be more secure than a free alternative.

    • Why SMS should never be used as second factor

      To have a multi-factor authentication, you need to use at least two of those. The easiest one, and therefore always used, is the knowledge factor in the form of a password. The inherent factor is by far the most complex one, since it requires specialized and expensive hardware. Also due to how those hardware work, is not possible to hash the expected value on the server side, so there is a security risk there as well. For those reasons, the possession factor is the go-to second-factor.

    • Google Releases July 2018′s Android Security Patch to Fix 70 Vulnerabilities

      Google has released July 2018′s Android Security Patch for all supported Pixel and Nexus devices to fix numerous security vulnerabilities and add various improvement.

      The Android Security Patch for July 2018 is now rolling out to Pixel and Nexus users worldwide, and, as usual, it consists of two security patch levels, 2018-07-01 and 2018-07-05, which address a total of 44 vulnerabilities across several core components, including Framework, Media Framework, Kernel and Qualcomm components, as well as Qualcomm closed-source components.

    • Top 5 New Open Source Vulnerabilities in June 2018 [Ed: Oh, great, let’s just keep ignoring all those back doors in proprietary software to perpetuate the stigma of FOSS having holes. WhiteSource trying to sell its proprietary stuff by badmouthing FOSS again.]
    • Open-Source Software as Easy Target for Hackers [Ed: This is the kind of press coverage Microsoft proxies and the likes of WhiteSource hope to generate for FOSS]
    • Is open source software a cyber security risk in connected vehicles? [Ed: Here comes Microsoft ‘proxy’ Black Duck insinuating that FOSS is going to kill you. This is marketing/lobbying disguised as “news” or “reporting”.]
    • Gentoo GitHub repo hack made possible by these 3 rookie mistakes [Ed: And Gentoo should now delete GitHub altogether because Microsoft works closely with the NSA]

      The developers of Gentoo Linux have revealed how it was possible for its GitHub organization account to be hacked: someone deduced an admin’s password – and perhaps that admin ought not to have had access to the repos anyway.


      The wiki page also reveals that the project got lucky. “The attack was loud; removing all developers caused everyone to get emailed,” the wiki reveals. “Given the credential taken, its likely a quieter attack would have provided a longer opportunity window.”

      Also helpful was that “Numerous Gentoo Developers have personal contacts at GitHub, and in the security industry and these contacts proved valuable throughout the incident response.”

    • Gentoo Linux GitHub Hacked via Password Guessing [Ed: Secure systems aren't enough if you have a bad password]

      Following the recent Gentoo Linux hack the distribution’s security team started to investigate how the intrusion was made. The published report showcases exactly how the criminals have been able to break into their GitHub accounts and embedded malicious code.

    • Linux becomes major cryptomining target [Ed: At least with GNU/Linux you must install the malicious software; with proprietary OSes there are back doors that cannot be removed and NSA leaks open these up]
    • WordPress 4.9.7 Security and Maintenance Release

      WordPress versions 4.9.6 and earlier are affected by a media issue that could potentially allow a user with certain capabilities to attempt to delete files outside the uploads directory.

    • WordPress 4.9.7 Update Fixes a Pair of Security Vulnerabilities

      WordPress 4.9.7 was released on July 5, providing users of the popular open-source content management system with patches for a pair of security vulnerabilities.

      The security vulnerabilities are both arbitrary file deletion issues that could expose WordPress sites to risk. The first issue was publicly reported on June 26, by researchers at RIPS Tech, while the second was discovered by WordPress security firm WordFence on July 2. In addition to the two vulnerabilities, WordPress 4.9.7 provides fixes for 17 other bugs to help improve stability.

    • Keyboard Attack “Thermanator” Steals Your Passwords Using Body Heat [Ed: Likely BS. Here's why: 1) body might not be warm enough. 2) need big equipment. 3) don't know order of strokes. 4) already have physical access anyway. 5) more keystrokes after password entry.]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Scores of Saudi mercenaries slain, injured in Yemeni drone strike

      Scores of Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have lost their lives when Yemeni army soldiers and fighters from allied Popular Committees launched a drone strike against their positions in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden.

    • US Court Rules Trump’s Tweet Did Not Declassify CIA Program on Syrian Rebels

      US Federal Judge Andrew Carter ruled on Friday that US President Donald Trump’s tweet last year about CIA funding for Syrian rebels is not enough to declassify records about the covert program as requested by the New York Times in a lawsuit, according to the court document released on Monday.

    • Judge: Trump tweet did not declassify CIA program for Syrian rebels
    • “Blind” Cheetah 3 robot can climb stairs littered with obstacles

      MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot can now leap and gallop across rough terrain, climb a staircase littered with debris, and quickly recover its balance when suddenly yanked or shoved, all while essentially blind.

      The 90-pound mechanical beast — about the size of a full-grown Labrador — is intentionally designed to do all this without relying on cameras or any external environmental sensors. Instead, it nimbly “feels” its way through its surroundings in a way that engineers describe as “blind locomotion,” much like making one’s way across a pitch-black room.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Persecution of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange continues

      Julian Assange sought political asylum in the small embassy building on June 19, 2012. For 2,767 days—more than six years—the British government has denied him exposure to direct sunlight and adequate medical care. On July 3, he turned 47-years-old, enduring conditions that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention condemned as “deprivation of liberty,” a “violation of his human rights” and tantamount to torture.

      The reasons why Assange sought asylum—and why it was granted, under international law, by Ecuador—have not changed. He was being given no support by the government of Australia, where he was born and holds citizenship, under conditions where he faced the prospect of extradition to the United States.

      In June 2012, Assange lost his last legal appeal against an attempt to extradite him to Sweden to answer “questions” over manufactured allegations that he may have committed sexual assault offenses. His concern, however, was not the Swedish case. It was the well-grounded fear that Sweden would hand him over to the US to face charges of espionage, in response to WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked documents that had

    • More support from Sri Lanka for WikiLeaks editor

      Today, we live under the shadow of a third world war instigated by the US and other imperialist forces. This would be a devastating nuclear war, a product of the escalating internal antagonisms of capitalism. The US and allied imperialist countries are inclined to re-organise and redistribute the globe and its resources according to their strategic and economic interests. In its drive for global hegemony, US imperialism will resort to all forms of violence and unethical practices such as waging wars, manoeuvring political affairs of other countries and harming the democratic rights of people.

      WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange courageously exposes the criminality of the US, its machinations, lies and cover-ups. His revelations are undoubtedly an immense threat to US geo-political interests. Assange’s revelations have exposed the nakedness of liberal democracy—the prevailing American ruling class ideology. This is why the US and their allies want to take his life and thereby silence other media personnel.

      I admire Julian Assange, who has dedicated his life to truth and reason, strongly condemn his confinement and insist that he should be freed immediately and unconditionally. I earnestly join the WSWS international campaign for the freeing of Julian Assange from his confines in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • All-time heat records have been set all over the world this week

      From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest temperatures ever recorded over the past week.

      Large areas of heat pressure or heat domes scattered around the hemisphere led to the sweltering temperatures.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DHS Subpoenas Twitter For New Zealand Security Researcher’s Info

      This would be the sort of thing the US government notices, even if it’s only interested in prosecuting the messenger. PII belonging to law enforcement officers is considered to be the most sacrosanct of data, and anyone exposing a government contractor’s careless handling of it is likely to find themselves targeted by federal agents.

      But this is all conjecture at this point. Flash Gordon only knows the government as demanded his info and is likely to receive it soon, if it hasn’t already. The involvement of DHS and ICE is still strange, as a breach involving US law enforcement personnel would normally be handled by the FBI.

    • How Smart TVs in Millions of U.S. Homes Track More Than What’s On Tonight

      The growing concern over online data and user privacy has been focused on tech giants like Facebook and devices like smartphones. But people’s data is also increasingly being vacuumed right out of their living rooms via their televisions, sometimes without their knowledge.

      In recent years, data companies have harnessed new technology to immediately identify what people are watching on internet-connected TVs, then using that information to send targeted advertisements to other devices in their homes. Marketers, forever hungry to get their products in front of the people most likely to buy them, have eagerly embraced such practices. But the companies watching what people watch have also faced scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates over how transparent they are being with users.

      Samba TV is one of the bigger companies that track viewer information to make personalized show recommendations. The company said it collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, and it has raised $40 million in venture funding from investors including Time Warner , the cable operator Liberty Global and the billionaire Mark Cuban.

    • Reminder: Your Smart TV is Almost Certainly Spying on You

      This is true whether you’re watching online content or watching conventional TV, because of a sophisticated algorithm that can identify what you’re watching at all times. A system like this called Samba TV is active on millions of TVs right now—possibly including yours.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • EFF to Illinois Supreme Court: Protect Biometric Privacy

      Big companies are harvesting and monetizing your face print, fingerprints, and other sensitive biometric information, without your knowledge and consent. That’s why Illinois wisely enacted the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which prohibits companies from gathering, using, or sharing your biometric information without your informed opt-in consent. Now companies are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to defang BIPA, by narrowly interpreting its enforcement tool and thus depriving injured parties of their day in court.

      EFF has joined an amicus curiae brief urging the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt a robust interpretation of BIPA. Our fellow amici are ACLU, CDT, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, PIRG, and Lucy Parsons Labs. In the case on appeal, Rosenbach v. Six Flags, an adolescent who purchased a season pass to an amusement park alleges the park scanned and stored his thumbprint biometrics without written consent or notice about its plan to collect, store, and use his biometric information.

    • Judge Blocks Blanket Detention of Asylum Seekers

      The arbitrary imprisonment of asylum seekers is just one part of Trump’s plan to deter people from seeking refuge in the U.S.

      On July 2, the ACLU won a significant victory in our challenge to the Trump administration’s arbitrary and illegal incarceration of nearly 1,000 asylum seekers who came to the U.S. fleeing persecution, torture, or death in their countries of origin. A federal judge has found that the government’s practice of locking up asylum seekers while they await rulings in their cases violates the Department of Homeland Security’s own official policy, which instructs that asylum seekers be released on humanitarian parole if they meet a series of strict requirements.

      All of our plaintiffs came to the U.S. seeking refuge. They presented themselves to immigration officers, passed screenings, and were found to have credible asylum claims. Then the government locked them up in immigration jails across the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement subsequently denied their applications for “humanitarian parole,” or release from detention, despite each asylum seeker presenting evidence that they are not flight risks or dangers to the community.

    • Police Chief Tries To Blame Newspaper Shooting On The Loss Of Social Media Monitoring Tool, But It Doesn’t Add Up

      The first response to a tragedy by many public officials is to capitalize on it. That’s what the Anne Arundel County police are doing in the aftermath of the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper that left five journalists dead. Police Chief William Kampf seems to believe this could have been prevented if the department hadn’t been locked out of its social media snooping tool.

    • The family separation crisis exposes America’s addiction to incarceration

      The continuing cruelty on display at our southern border has unleashed a righteous, primal scream of revulsion from Americans across the ideological spectrum. The outrage, plus a successful ACLU legal effort in San Diego, hopefully has helped turn the tide toward family reunification. However, the common refrain seems to be, “This is not who we are,” as if ripping families apart to punish or deter crime is so novel and grotesque that it’s unrecognizable as American.

      The truth is that the criminal justice system we are imposing on immigrants is a reflection of the one we impose on our own — and both need fixing. At the border, we are taking children from desperate parents based on misdemeanor border crossing — or based on no illegality at all, if the family has properly presented itself for asylum.

    • Terry Gilliam on diversity: ‘I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian’

      Terry Gilliam has responded to the BBC diversity debate which referenced Monty Python by saying: “I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian.”

      Gilliam was commenting on the row over diversity triggered by the BBC’s unveiling of its new comedy programming, announced in June, at which the BBC’s controller of comedy commissioning Shane Allen emphasised the corporation’s commitment to “the stories that haven’t been told and the voices we haven’t yet heard”. In response to a question about Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Allen said: “If you’re going to assemble a team now, it’s not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes. It’s going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world.”

      Speaking at a press conference at the Karlovy Vary film festival, where he was presenting his new film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Gilliam said: “It made me cry: the idea that … no longer six white Oxbridge men can make a comedy show. Now we need one of this, one of that, everybody represented… this is bullshit. I no longer want to be a white male, I don’t want to be blamed for everything wrong in the world: I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian… My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition.”

    • CIA Whistleblower Who Sought Private Right to Action Is Terminated

      A CIA onetime chief of station who filed complaints about supervisors found himself terminated last Thursday.

      The case of a man known by the agency-provided pseudonym James Pars has drawn scrutiny from whistleblower advocates concerned about what some see as a no-win situation for national security space employees who expose wrongdoing.

      Pars, who had originally complained that his supervisors in an unnamed war zone were exposing underlings to unnecessary danger, told Government Executive that he was called in to the office on June 28—after months at home on administrative leave—and told he was being fired. “Security came after me and revoked my clearance. I have 10 days to appeal and 90 more days of paid leave until officially terminated,” he said.


      Pars had left the CIA and worked from September 2015 through April 2017 as an inspector at the intelligence community’s IG office “when Acting IG Wayne Stone and Acting Deputy IG Jeannette McMillian booted” him out and sent him back to the CIA, where he faced “a very difficult situation,” he said.

      The Pars case drew attention last August from the Project on Government Oversight, whose reporter laid out details based on a Pars lawsuit about unresponsiveness of the CIA regarding his complaint that an inexperienced supervisor had ordered staff to visit dangerous territory with little operational need.

    • CIA World Tour: Central and South America

      As part of our ongoing project to document Central Intelligence Agency activities around the planet, we’re compiling a curated list of links to records in the CIA archives, divided by country and presidential administration. Today we’re looking at Central and South America.

    • The 6-Year-Old Heard on Border Facility Audiotape Is Still Separated From Her Mother, Who Must Parent From 1,000 Miles Away

      The last time Cindy Madrid Henriquez, a Salvadoran immigrant, spoke to her 6-year-old daughter Jimena on the telephone, the little girl, who is in an Arizona shelter, began by complaining about having to wash her hair with bar soap instead of shampoo. Her scalp was dry and itchy. She had dandruff. Then her questions grew into fears: What if her hair started to fall out? What if her scalp became infected? When, she finally wailed, was her mother going to come and save her?

      Madrid, who is in a detention facility 1,000 miles away in south Texas, said most phone calls with her daughter go that way: a relatively mundane dilemma spirals into a crisis. And there’s not much that Madrid can do, except to stay calm and talk her daughter off her emotional ledges.

      “She says over and over, ‘Mommy, I want to be with you,’” said Madrid, who is 29. “I tell her, ‘I know. We’ll be together soon. Until then, you have to be strong.’”

    • Two Years After the Police Killing of Philando Castile, Justice Continues to Be Denied

      The building on which the mural lived was demolished shortly after its painting. But, like Castile, the mural lives on in memories of the community.

      Philando Castile was shot and killed by Officer Jeronimo Yanez on July 6, 2016. A year later, Officer Yanez was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Afterwards, the video footage that the ACLU of Minnesota fought to get released was finally made public. In the video, you see Castile shot unnecessarily by the frantic police officer in front of his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter.

      Two years later, there is nothing reassuring to tell the hundreds of children at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, where Castile worked for more than a decade. There was no reason for his killing.

      But Castile is not the only person that Minnesota community members have had to grieve for in the two years since his killing. Last July, Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Mohammed Noor after she called the police to report a possible sexual assault occurring near her home. Gilbert Salas was killed by St. James Police in February of this year. And, just last week, Thurman Blevins was shot by the police in North Minneapolis.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Calif. lawmakers reach agreement on strict net neutrality legislation

      The bill, which only applies to consumers in California, would prohibit internet service providers from blocking, throttling or speeding up websites or applications. It would also require broadband companies that do business with the state to abide by net neutrality principles.

    • Net neutrality makes comeback in California; lawmakers agree to strict rules

      The bill was approved in its strongest form by the California Senate, but it was then gutted by the State Assembly’s Communications Committee, which approved the bill only after eliminating provisions opposed by AT&T and cable lobbyists. Bill author Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has been negotiating with Communications Committee Chairman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and other lawmakers since then, and he announced the results today.

    • A revamped California net neutrality bill is moving forward again

      Introduced in the wake of the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality provisions, SB 822 and SB 460 reinstated the net neutrality rules outlined in the 2015 Open Internet Order, banned harmful zero-rating programs, and prohibited broadband providers from charging websites access fees.

    • New California Bill Restores Strong Net Neutrality Protections

      The latest version of the bill restores provisions that prevent broadband providers from exempting some services from customers’ data caps, and ban providers from charging websites “access fees” to reach customers on a network or blocking or throttling content as it enters their networks from other networks, according to a fact sheet released by Wiener, Santiago, and state Senator Kevin de León.

    • California’s Net Neutrality Bill Is Strong Again Because You Spoke Out

      After a hearing that stripped California’s gold standard net neutrality bill of much of its protections, California legislators have negotiated new amendments that restore the vast majority of those protections to the bill. The big ISPs and their money did not defeat the voices of the many, many people who want and need a free and open Internet.

      On June 20, the Communications and Conveyance Committee of the California Assembly, after having rejected proposed amendments to move Senator Scott Wiener’s S.B. 822 and Senator Kevin de León’s S.B. 460 forward as a package, also voted to gut S.B. 822′s strong net neutrality protections. It was a move that resulted in a hollowed-out version of S.B. 822 that left huge loopholes for ISPs.

      Since then, there’s been an outcry from Team Internet in California, making clear how important effective, strong net neutrality protections are. Senator Wiener, Senator de León, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance that voted on the watered-down bill, have all come to an agreement that once again makes California’s proposed legislation the strongest net neutrality bill in the country.

      The willingness of Assemblymember Santiago to listen to his constituents’ opinions and realize their needs, as opposed to those of large ISPs like AT&T, is laudable. And the resulting agreement puts California net neutrality back on track.

    • After Backlash To AT&T Chicanery, California Salvages Tough Net Neutrality Law

      As we recently noted, California was on the cusp of passing the toughest net neutrality law in the nation, a bill the EFF declared to be the “gold standard” for state-level rules. But late last month AT&T and Comcast lobbyists descended on California to scuttle the effort, convincing California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago to neuter the most important portions of the proposal. Santiago, no stranger to AT&T campaign cash, rushed through a series of last-minute amendments behind closed doors without providing the bill’s backer or the public a chance to chime in.

      But Santiago quickly felt the ire of net neutrality activists and internet users, including a new crowdfunded billboard intended to shame Santiago. Lo and behold, lawmakers including Santiago and the original bill’s backer (State Senator Scott Wiener) held a press conference today to announce that they’d come to an agreement, and would be largely restoring the bill to its original form.

    • Over The Top Sports Streaming Comes To Europe With Amazon’s Deal With The Premier League

      We’ve made the point repeatedly that one of the last and most important threads on which the current cable television industry is hanging is that of live sports. While cord-cutting is indeed a thing, the many broadcast agreements pro and major college sports leagues have with cable broadcast partners keeps the cord-cutting from becoming a deluge from a burst dam. That being said, small but important steps have begun with many leagues, which are finally recognizing the demand viewers have for over the top streaming options. While there are still far too many restrictions in these sports streaming options, there is no doubt that American sports leagues have begun snipping away at this thread for cable television.

    • Helping Understand The Internet Phenomenon: Interview With New ISOC CEO Andrew Sullivan

      Starting 1 September, Andrew Sullivan takes on the role as CEO and President of the Internet Society. Selected by the ISOC Board of Trustees, Sullivan looks like an apt bridge builder between the world of internet technology and the world of policymakers. Equipped with experience in developing technology at Dyn, a DNS company recently acquired by Oracle, and a tenure as Chair of the Internet Architecture Board, a peer body of the standards body Internet Engineering Task Force, Sullivan has a degree in philosophy and is no stranger to public sphere theorist Juergen Habermas. After the heavy attack on Dyns DNS network, via low-cost cameras – the so-called Mirai attack – the Canadian warned against knee-jerk attempts for regulation, but acknowledged that technological solutions might need some assistance from policymakers. Answering questions with journalist Monika Ermert in writing from the meeting of the ISOC Board of Trustees in Panama, Sullivan diplomatically underlined that collaboration is key for everything on the internet. In his new position, Sullivan follows Kathy Brown, a former AT&T manager.


      SULLIVAN: The Internet Society would not be the organization it is without its chapters and special interest groups. The chapters are fundamental to the Internet Society’s continued success. In my experience, there are important ways that the Internet Society has always been bottom-up, but it isn’t like other organizations in that it does not have a central policymaking role. What is true, however, is that the bonds and connections among the different chapters, all working for the common Internet Society mission and vision, could be made stronger. That is an evolution I hope to foster.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • US gives China’s ZTE some breathing room

      The Trump administration is allowing Chinese telecommunications equipment maker ZTE to restart some business activities.

      The Commerce Department says it has agreed to temporarily let ZTE carry out transactions it needs to provide network maintenance on contracts it signed on or before April 15. That’s when the US government barred American companies from selling parts and services to ZTE, China’s second largest manufacturer of telecom equipment.

    • U.S. Allows ZTE to Resume Some Business Activity Temporarily

      The Trump administration is letting ZTE Corp. resume some business activities while the U.S. weighs ending a seven-year ban on the Chinese telecommunications company, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.

    • US gives China’s ZTE some breathing room
    • Copyrights

      • 7 Best KickAss Torrents Alternatives That Work In 2018: Similar Sites Like KAT

        Even if one has got the slightest exposure to the BitTorrent world, it’s hard to believe one doesn’t have an idea of KickAssTorrents. The defunct torrent site was so popular that we can often find internet users searching for torrent websites that are KickAss alternatives.

        KickAss rose to success, taking the throne away from The Pirate Bay. But in 2016, the website faced the wrath of the US law enforcement with its owner Artem Vaulin getting arrested. Numerous KickAss copycats came and went, some of them managed to deceive users for a while.

      • Will Paul McCartney Swing the Crucial EU Copyright Directive Vote?

        Paul McCartney has joined the music industry’s effort to support the reform of copyright rules in Europe. On the eve of a momentous vote, McCartney urged legislators pass the Copyright Directive to protect musicians, songwriters, and music creators.

        The British legend called on members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to vote in favor of the ‘Directive on Copyright in the Digital Services Market’ initiative. The measure, according to McCartney, would protect creators and publishers’ works online. Specifically, the singer has lobbied for a controversial provision of the bill known as Article 13.

      • ‘Value gap’ or ‘censorship machine’? Here’s how the industry reacted to the EU’s failed copyright directive

        Today the European parliament voted to reopen debate on its controversial copyright directive, potentially saving the likes of Youtube, Google and Facebook billions of dollars in royalty payments.

        The news has had a mixed response from legal experts and industry representatives in the UK, as the two warring sides of the debate have gone head to head over the results. Here’s a breakdown of the interested parties, and how they reacted to the vote.

      • MEPs vote to reopen copyright debate over ‘censorship’ controversy

        In the opposition camp, a broad coalition of digital rights organizations, startup groups, Internet architects, computer scientists, academics and web advocates — including the likes of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, Bruce Schneier, Jimmy Wales and Mitch Kapor, who in an open letter last month argued that Article 13 “takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.

        This week several European language versions of Wikipedia also blacked out encyclopedia content in a ‘going dark’ protest against the proposals, though the European Commission has claimed online encyclopedias would not be impacted by Article 13.

      • European parliament votes to reopen copyright debate over ‘censorship’ controversy

        This story, plus journalists fly in to help the Capital Gazette, WhatsApp in India says partnership with government, society is needed to combat misinformation, and more, all in today’s media headlines.

      • EU copyright proposals rejected by EU Parliament

        EU copyright reform has been sent back to the drawing board in a 318-278 vote.

        Some 627 of 751 members of the European Parliament voted on the proposal, with 318 voting to reject articles 11 and 13, the link tax and upload filters, respectively.

        Nearly half (278) of the Parliament voted in favour of the proposals, and just 31 members abstained from the vote.

      • European Parliament Rejects Starting Negotiations On Copyright Reform Proposal

        The European Parliament today opposed plans to launch immediate “trilogue” negotiations with the Council and European Commission on copyright reform legislation, instead sending the controversial measure to full debate at the next plenary session of Parliament.

      • EU Rejects Copyright Directive, Four openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshots Released, DoublePulsar Modified to Work on Windows IoT Systems, Kdenlive Wants Your Feedback and GIMP 2.10.4 Now Available

        The EU has rejected the controversial “Copyright Directive” legislation. Mozilla’s head of EU public policy stated “The European Parliament has today heard the voice of European citizens and voted against proposals that would have dealt a hammer blow to the open internet in Europe. The future of an open internet and creativity in Europe depends on it.” Those in favor of the Directive said “rejecting it further entrenches the power of large US tech companies, while hurting individual artists and creators.” The legislation now returns to the drawing board and will be sent in for another vote in September. See The Verge for details on the provisions and hopes for an “open debate”.

      • The European Parliament has rejected the copyright directive, for now

        The EU copyright directive in its present form has deep and wide implications reaching far beyond copyright, and erodes into core human rights and values. For more information I recommend Julia Reda’s analysis at https://juliareda.eu/eu-copyright-reform/, which is accessible to the casual reader but also contains pointers to the text of the law.

        Today on June 5, following a few weeks of very intense debate, campaigning and lobbying including deliberate attempts to mislead politicians (https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180703/16343340172/), the European Parliament voted in plenary session to reject the directive in its current form endorsed by the JURI committee, and instead reopen the debate.

        It was a narrow decision: 278 MEPs voted to approve the JURI text, 318 voted against it, and 31 abstained. Since the difference was small, I like to think that the work put in by me and a small group of friends had some impact in moving consciences.

      • Kim Dotcom loses appeal against extradition, will take case to Supreme Court

        Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has lost his latest court battle against extradition from New Zealand to the United States, setting the scene for a Supreme Court hearing.

        Dotcom and three others – Matthias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato – have been accused of more than a dozen criminal copyright charges relating to the now-defunct file-sharing website Megaupload​, which it is alleged shared pirated films and other content.

      • Kim Dotcom Loses Latest Round In Extradition Fight, Will Try To Appeal Again

        Kim Dotcom’s ongoing legal saga continues. The latest is that the New Zealand Court of Appeal has rejected his appeal of earlier rulings concerning whether or not he can be extradited to the US. Dotcom and his lawyers insist that they will appeal to the Supreme Court, though there seems to be some disagreement about whether or not that will even be possible. The full ruling is worth a read, though much of it is dry and procedural.

        And, I know that many people’s opinion of this case is focused almost exclusively on whether they think Kim Dotcom and Megaupload were “good” or “bad,” but if you can get past all of that, there are some really important legal issues at play here, especially concerning the nature of intermediary liability protections in New Zealand, as well as the long-arm reach of US law enforcement around the globe. Unfortunately, for the most part it’s appeared that the courts have been much more focused on the whole “but Dotcom is obviously a bad dude…” and then used that to rationalize a ruling against him, even if it doesn’t seem to fit what the law says.

        As Dotcom and his lawyers have noted, this has meant that, while there are now three rulings against him on whether or not he can be extradited, they all come to different conclusions as to why. A key issue, as we’ve discussed before, is the one of “double criminality.” For there to be an extraditable offense, the person (or people) in question need to have done something that is a crime in both the US and New Zealand. As Dotcom has argued over and over again, the “crime” that he is charged with is effectively criminal secondary copyright infringement. And that’s a big problem, since there is no such thing as secondary criminal copyright infringement under US law. Since Megaupload was a platform, it should not be held liable for the actions of its users. But the US tries to wipe all of that away by playing up that Dotcom is a bad dude, and boy, a lot of people sure infringed copyright using Megaupload. And all of that may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that they should have to show that he actually broke a law in both countries.

        Indeed, the lower court basically tossed out the copyright issue in evaluating extradition, but said he could still be extradited over “fraud” claims. Dotcom argued back that without the copyright infringement, there is no fraud, and thus the ruling didn’t make any sense.

Team UPC Suggested Changing Constitutions to Facilitate the Unconstitutional UPC. It Didn’t Go Well…

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

These arrogant suggestions from Team UPC merely serve to discredit its psyche

An unconstitutional constitution? A comparative perspective
Reference: An unconstitutional constitution? A comparative perspective

Summary: With European constitutions under the microscope, it’s becoming clearer that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is simply unconstitutional and needs to be buried; but spinners from Team UPC would have us believe that no such issues exist and UPC is just around the corner

Team UPC — like Team Battistelli (EPO leadership) — does not understand notions such as the “Rule of Law”. We already saw how it deals with constitutional challenges, either bullying courts or discrediting their discretion. With a 12 to 2 majority, Hungary decided that UPC is unconstitutional; other countries did not even check, albeit Germany is belatedly checking. As Benjamin Henrion (FFII) put it yesterday: “Let’s ask the French and UK courts if they agree with the Hungarian analysis then.” It’s still possible. It’s never too late. To us it has always been clear that UPC is unconstitutional virtually everywhere, not just Hungary and Germany. “If the Hungarian Constitutional Court is right,” Henrion added, “someone should file the same question in Court in UK and FR…”

Why not go further? Dozens of countries deserve a constitutional challenge (reality check). Remember what happened at 2 AM at night in Germany. It’s pretty incredible and it’s worthy of the term “political corruption”. Every nation deserves a good look at the machinations (Battistelli and his thugs, along with the likes of Bristows, pulling strings behind the scenes); UPC is dead enough as it is, but the public deserves an explanation for all that has happened.

“This is just one among many obstacles that Team UPC keeps trying to deny, belittle, or simply brush under some rug.”The UPC-sympathetic (based on past writings) Eibhlin Vardy is trying to make the UPC sound inevitable by echoing the usual two (now-infamous) lies which are repeated by Team UPC and Battistelli. From yesterday’s post by Vardy: “The Hungarian decision (unlike Brexit or the on-going German complaint) will not formally delay the entry into force of the UPCA, but it will most likely delay (or terminate) Hungary’s participation in the UPC system.”

No, no, no…

First of all, it’s not delay that’s at stake. Where does one begin tackling such loaded statements? And this isn’t about whether Hungary participates but whether the UPC ever exists at all. In any form. This is just one among many obstacles that Team UPC keeps trying to deny, belittle, or simply brush under some rug. It’s despicable and hard to even fathom the thought that some people pay a lot of money for these lawyers to give legal ‘advice’.

“Shows how bizarre it was that Brexit Britain ratified, in my humble opinion,” one commenter said. Most of the above is based on Peter Ling, who we suppose either understands Hungarian or was told something by someone (not a reliable translation). “In a 12 to 2 majority decision published on 29 June 2018,” it says, “the Constitutional Court answered this question in the negative. In short, the Court considered that the transfer, in the framework of an enhanced cooperation among EU Member States, of exclusive jurisdiction on certain civil lawsuits to an international institution not explicitly foreseen by the EU treaties, deprives such lawsuits from any constitutional review under the Fundamental Law and therefore is incompatible with the Fundamental Law. Although this may sound like a purely national constitutional issue without much specific relevance to the UPCA itself, some aspects of the Court’s reasoning point to issues that are potentially relevant beyond Hungary.”

For obvious reasons. And as usual, with IP Kat at least, comments nowadays are a lot better than posts (usually written by people with personal stakes in UPC). To quote an early comment:

(1) Isn’t the training centre for UPC judges located in Hungary? So its non-participation in the system would be an embarrassment to say the least.

(2) CIPA and others have proposed that the UPC Agreement should be amended to allow the continued participation of the UK as a non-EU state. That would surely confirm the view of the Hungarian court that the UPC Agreement is not EU law and make similar constitutional challenges more likely in other countries.

The next one connects this to EPO abuses/corruption:

Let us just step back for a minute and consider the possible implications of the constitutional deficits of the UPC. As I have previously commented elsewhere, a couple of thought experiments help to exemplify the magnitude of the deficits.

Firstly, what would happen if the President of the UPC (Court of Appeal) were to (attempt to) interfere with the independence of the judiciary of the UPC?

Secondly, what would happen if the President of the UPC were to pursue a vindictive campaign to remove an “irksome” judge of the UPC?

What could be done to prevent such troubling events from occurring, or to deal with them if they do occur? What recourse would the UPC judges have?

If the EPO is taken as an exemplar of an international organisation having a “judicial” function, the answer to all of the above questions is clearly “very little”.

Do the above-mentioned deficits therefore make the UPC an organisation that is particularly prone to “capture” by malicious actors? Compared to the status quo (where there are numerous national courts, each subject to and constrained by both national and EU laws), my view is that the answer to this question is a clear “yes”.

Personally, I believe that such questions ought to be given very serious consideration by the Participating Member States, and that amendments to constitutions (which is no small thing!) ought to only be contemplated if it can be concluded that the set-up of the UPC provides adequate safeguards, checks and balances.

“The solution to this is not that a dozen of countries amend their constitutions to include LESS judicial rights,” said the following comment.

Please also note that it was not so difficult to foresse that including exclusively domestic issues within the exclusive jurisdiction of the UPC could be a problem serious problem, unless UPC complies with the highest stardards regarding judicial, consititutional and HR guarantees. And it is clear that this is NOT the case.

To say the least: no instrument to referral/review to national Supreme Courts (while applying national law), no set of fundamental rights expressed in writing nor jurisdiction of any external court to review them, no ECHR review jurisdiction, no constitutional right is recognised, no judicial control of the UPC director, no labour rights for the workers of the UPC.

Of course potential claimants are very happy with this. But it is not only unfair: it is an extremely dangerous source of inestability which should be corrected BEFORE the UPC enters into force.

The solution to this is not that a dozen of countries amend their constitutions to include LESS judicial rights.

That last remark alludes to utterly ludicrous suggestions from Team UPC, which patently believes that it’s above the law.

And from another thread (about British law and the EPO):

I fear in the UK v EPO rivalry the EPO is dominant with the UK grudgingly following. I am sure the EPO will seldom pay any attention to UK decisions, and so in that sense it is more a Master-Slave dialectic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master%E2%80%93slave_dialectic) or worse.

Whilst UK decisions are interestingly written, they have less and less influence in a world where rising to the top of one’s regional power block is more important than one’s ingenuity.

The EPO has an issue because lawlessness prevails there; do countries wish to hand over their legal sovereignty to an unaccountable and corrupt bureaucracy where lawlessness has become the norm? Where dissent is met with defamation, calling the dissenting voices “Nazis”?

“…Campinos reaffirms the widely-held belief (even inside the Office) that he’s just an “orange President” who ‘softens’ the image of Team Battistelli.”We have thus far seen absolutely nothing which suggests António Campinos will fix things. “Cooperation and dialogue” Kluwer Patent Blog said yesterday, quoting/citing some blog post from Campinos, who only a day earlier lobbied for the unconstitutional UPC, yielding a highly-misleading (i.e. the usual) press release from the EPO. To quote Kluwer Patent Blog:

After only four days in office, it is hard to tell whether Campinos will bring change at the EPO after the controversial years of Benoit Battistelli’s leadership, which led to enormous social problems. But his announcement that ‘staff engagement is among my top priorities’, and his personal message to all staff members certainly seem positive steps. A first real test will likely be his handling of the cases of three SUEPO leaders, whose dismissals and downgrading were reversed last week by the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO, as well as the case of the Irish judge Patrick Corcoran.

Striking is Campinos’ focus on effectiveness, rather than efficiency, which could be a sign that the new EPO president is aware of complaints from users that the enormous increase in productivity under Battistelli has led to a decline of, or threatens patent quality at the EPO.

Remarkable, furthermore, is that his predecessor isn’t mentioned in Campinos’ message. And an almost revolutionary change is at the bottom, contrary to the blogposts of Benoit Battistelli and perhaps the most significant sign of change: Campinos has apparently decided that his contributions will be open for comments.

Well, maybe with moderation enabled or maybe he doesn’t yet know how to use the CMS (unless someone does the posting on his behalf). Either way, the way things stand, Campinos has solved absolutely no issues in his first week in Office. If anything, contrary to what Kluwer Patent Blog wishes to believes, Campinos reaffirms the widely-held belief (even inside the Office) that he’s just an “orange President” who ‘softens’ the image of Team Battistelli.

German Media Compares Team Battistelli at the EPO to the Mafia

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: The Battistelli Mafia and Corsica (article below involves the Battistellis)

Antoine Battistelli article

Summary: The Mafia-like culture of EPO management as explained in a new article from Christian Kirsch at Heise, Germany’s leading site for technology news

THE STAFF Union of the EPO, SUEPO, published an English translation [PDF] of the article “Europäisches Patentamt: Große Baustellen für den neuen Präsidenten” some time yesterday.

“It also cites an expert when revealing that “around three quarters of the EPO patents challenged in Germany are declared null and void by the Federal Patent Court,” reaffirming concerns about decline in patent quality — something that Team UPC would not mind as it would mean more lawsuits.”While there’s not so much new and unique information in this article, it does (at times) use colourful language, arguing that “the Office sometimes shied away from publicity as if it were some kind of family of Mafiosi.”

It also cites an expert when revealing that “around three quarters of the EPO patents challenged in Germany are declared null and void by the Federal Patent Court,” reaffirming concerns about decline in patent quality — something that Team UPC would not mind as it would mean more lawsuits.

Always remember that patent lawsuits — frivolous or not — are Team UPC’s “bread and butter”.

We’ve decided to reproduce this English translation below with some highlights:

European Patent Office: A lot of ground to make up for the new President

01.07.2018 12:12 Christian Kirsch

The European Patent Office in Munich

The new President of the European Patent Office has a lot to do: Conflicts with staff and criticism of the examination practices have been the trademarks of the past few years.

Benoît Battistelli took office as President of the European Patent Office (EPO) on 1 July 2010. Eight years later the job is being taken on by the previous Director of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), António Campinos. He will have to head up an authority of which the staff have been locked in a struggle with management for years. And as well as that, criticism has recently been growing from the outside of Battistelli’s pet project, “greater efficiency” at the Office.

The fact that all is not well at the EPO was already becoming evident at the end of 2012. At that time the management intended disbursing a part of the surplus of 89 million Euro to the staff. The staff union SUEPO turned the offer down, on the grounds that it would have been a false incentive to approve patent applications rather than reject them. Essentially, it is only from approved applications that the Office earns its money on a regular basis.

António Campinos, Director of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), takes over the Presidency of the European Patent Office as from 1 July. (Picture: Portuguese Government)

Twice as many patents with the same personnel

The accusation that Battistelli was more interested in quantity than quality was made again and again over the years of his Presidency. In 2010 the EPO issued 58,000 patents; in 2017, at 105,000, there were almost twice as many. In the same period between 142,000 and 165,000 applications were received annually. There was little change among the patent examiners either: Their number rose from the end of 2011 to the end of 2017 by only six percent. Battistelli could congratulate himself on having almost doubled “productivity”.

The Office disputes the contention that the applications may not be being examined as thoroughly as they were in the past. Battistelli had his own “Quality Reports” produced for 2016 and 2017, which were supposed to prove that everything was for the good. But not everyone was convinced. Patent attorney Thorsten Bausch, for example, says that a high proportion of “very satisfied” applicants can easily be explained by the rapid processing; of course someone is happy if they get their patent rapidly.

But whether the protective right was correctly issued is really only determined later, such as in legal action for patent infringement. Bausch points out that around three quarters of the EPO patents challenged in Germany are declared null and void by the Federal Patent Court. And that says nothing about the general quality, because only a very few patents actually get as far as going to court.

Concern about the robustness of patents

Shortly before the end of Battistelli’s time in office, four Munich patent attorney firms published an open letter, in which they criticised the accelerated patent issue procedure. By their own estimation, the firms handle tens of thousands of patents. In their view, it is plain to see that the quality of patent examination is going to suffer if the main aim is to get the business over and done with as fast as possible. Back in March 2018 almost a quarter of the EPO patent examiners approached Battistelli and the Administrative Council of the Office. They complained that they were more and more frequently being faced with choosing between the requirements laid down by the European Patent Convention and the demands of their superiors, and what they wanted was to churn out “products”.

A sign

But that was not the only concern for the staff during Battistelli’s eight year reign. Above all, the relationship between him and the union became steadily worse. This degeneration culminated in the demotion and dismissal of staff representatives at the beginning of 2016. This meant that the EPO President was actually going over the heads of the disciplinary commission concerned. Legal challenges by the people sacked resulted in success at the end of June 2018: The court with jurisdiction at the International Labour Organization (ILO) ruled the decisions by the disciplinary commission and Battistelli’s intensifying of penalties were wrongful in law, and awarded the union members compensatory damages.

Suspension without evidence

Battistelli got another slap in the face over the suspension of a judge at the EPO Board of Appeal. The procedure, according to criticism by many patent experts, had actually broken the Patent Office’s own rules. Battistelli had not been authorised to take action at all. He initiated an emergency situation, but without presenting any evidence for doing so. Instead, the EPO Press Department spread the word that the judge who was fired had been found to have weapons and fascist propaganda material in his office. The only support for Battistelli’s accusation that the judge had slandered him and the Office was a mysterious USB stick. The content of this stick was recently declared by Munich Regional Court to be inadmissible as evidence, after the ILO had already lifted Battistelli’s disciplinary measures against the judge.

So António Campinos is inheriting a heavy burden. Not only does he have mend the relationship with the staff, he also needs to restore lost confidence among clients of the EPO. For both issues, a departure from Battistelli’s beleaguered fortress mentality could help. During his time, the Office sometimes shied away from publicity as if it were some kind of family of Mafiosi.

EPO income is still gushing

But the 38 member States involved in the EPO have no particular interest in a more open approach. The Administrative Council, to which they appoint delegates, largely kept its nose out of the way Battistelli ran the Office, and the minutes of its meetings are models of largely how to say nothing. From the point of view of the Administrative Council, everything could presumably stay exactly the way it was. In the final analysis, rising income at the EPO creates substantial injections of cash for the national patent offices, and for the German in particular. During Battistelli’s term in office, annual profits at the EPO went up almost fivefold, to 394 million Euro.

Even if the relationships between the Office management and the staff do improve, a basic dilemma remains: The EPO is a supra-national institution. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the EU. This means that the staff have no recourse to European labour law, nor to any other national labour legislation. Any conflicts which cannot be resolved inside the Office are a matter for the International Labour Organization, and decisions there can take up to ten years. (Christian Kirsch) / (ck)

We haven’t yet seen/found any turnaround in António Campinos; in fact, we are growing rather impatient as today he closes one week at the Office and he hasn’t yet signaled reinstatement of staff representatives, Judge Corcoran etc. We did, however, see him lobbying for the unconstitutional UPC (on his second day in Office) — a subject to be explored or revisited in our next post.

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