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07.13.18

Links 13/7/2018: Kube 0.7.0, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 10:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Support increases for ETSI’s Open Source MANO

    Implementing NFV was always going to be a challenge for telcos and their vendor and integrator partners, more so with actually getting services into operation. Even if we leave aside the herculean task on onboarding VNFs, one of the biggest concerns has been orchestration. Constant network changes caused by the dynamic and agile architecture of NFV needs to be managed automatically by orchestrators.

    For telcos, there are two different initiatives that are driving the management of network orchestration – and whilst, at times, they have been viewed as competitive, current thinking tends to place them as complementary (it all depends to whom you talk).

    Back in 2016, ETSI created the Open Source MANO (management and network orchestration) industry standards group, built on the back of its ground-breaking efforts to develop a standards framework for telco NFV. Meanwhile, the Linux Foundation is investing huge amounts of time and resources on its ONAP project (open network automation platform), after AT&T released its ECOMP work to open source and it merged with the China-led OPEN-O.

  • News of Note—ZTE closing in on lifting U.S. ban; ETSI OSM tops century mark for membership and more
  • Desktop

    • Chromium OS for Raspberry Pi SBCs Is Making a Comeback Soon, Better Than Ever

      In July 2016, Callahan wrote to us that he is looking for new team members to join his project to continue full-scale work on Chromium OS for SBCs. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as a few months after the announcement we published back then, Flint Innovations Limited informed us that Chromium OS for SBCs was forked into Flint OS.

      Flint Innovations had some big plans for Flint OS, supporting not only Raspberry Pi boards, but also x86 computers with Intel and Nvidia GPUs, and also promised to let users run Android apps, a Google initiative that’s now mainstream on Chrome OS and already supported by most Chromebooks out there. In March 2018, Flint OS was bought by Neverware.

  • Server

    • Greens ‘bewildered’ by kerfuffle over Microsoft’s Protected cloud status

      The Australian Greens say they are “bewildered” at the way the Australian Signals Directorate has handled Microsoft’s application for Protected cloud certification and the subsequent departure of a top female officer from the agency’s ranks.

      Protected cloud is the highest security classification for vendors and allows a company to apply for contracts to store top-secret Australian Government data.

      In response to queries from iTWire, Greens’ digital communications spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said: “A staffer within the Australian Signals Directorate dared to refuse an application from foreign multinational company, Microsoft.

      “This application ensured secure cloud services receiving protected certification. Approving this certification meant that Microsoft overseas employees could access secure information for government departments.

      [...]

      Microsoft has been allowed to have staff based abroad handle systems on which top-secret data is stored. For the other four Australian companies, only staff vetted by the ASD can administer these systems.

      “It seems that there is one rule for multinational corporations, and another rule for Australian businesses, who are yet to get a look in to providing Protected cloud services to the Australian Public Service,” Senator Steele-John said.

      “Australians have a right to know that the corporate interest is not being put ahead of the the security of our data.”

    • Container Adoption Starts to Outpace DevOps

      A new survey finds the number of organizations using containers is poised to pass the number of organizations employing DevOps processes in the months ahead. Less clear, however, is the degree to which adoption of containers will force organizations to embrace DevOps.

      The survey of 601 IT decision-makers conducted by ClearPath Strategies on behalf of the Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) finds that 32 percent of respondents have adopted containers and are employing DevOps processes. But the number of respondents who plan to adopt or evaluate containers in the next 12 months is 25 percent, while 17 percent are planning to adopt or evaluate DevOps processes. Overall, the survey finds that within the next two years, 72 percent of respondents either already are or expect to be using containers. That compares to 66 percent who say the same for DevOps.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation Forms Open Source Energy Coalition

        The Linux Foundation formed a new open source coalition with support from European transmission power systems provider RTE, Vanderbilt University, the European Network of Transmission System Operators, and the Electric Power Research Institute.

        Called LF Energy, the coalition’s members seek to inform and expedite the energy transition, including the move to electric mobility as well as connected sensors and devices, while at the same time modernizing and protecting the grid, according to the Linux Foundation.

        The coalition intends to focus on reusable components, open APIs and interfaces through project communities that the energy sector can adopt into platforms and solutions, the foundation says.

        “LF Energy is an umbrella organization that will support and sustain multi-vendor collaboration and open source progress in the energy and electricity sectors to accelerate information and communication technologies (ICT) critical to balanced energy use and economic value,” says the Linux Foundation, which was founded in 2000 to accelerate open technology development and industry adoption.

      • The Linux Foundation Transforms the Energy Industry with New Initiative: LF Energy

        We are thrilled to introduce the new LF Energy initiative to support and promote open source in the energy and electricity sectors. LF Energy is focused on accelerating the energy transition, including the move to renewable energy, electric mobility, demand response and more.

        Open source has transformed industries as vast and different as telecommunications, financial services, automobiles, healthcare, and consumer products. Now we are excited to bring the same level of open collaboration and shared innovation to the power systems industry.

      • The Linux Foundation Launches LF ENERGY, New Open Source Coalition

        Just as open source software has transformed automobiles, telecommunications, financial services, and healthcare, The Linux Foundation today announces the formation of LF Energy with support from RTE, Europe’s biggest transmission power systems provider, and other organizations, to speed technological innovation and transform the energy mix across the world.

        LF Energy also welcomes four new projects to be hosted at The Linux Foundation as part of the initiative, which will advance everything from smart assistants for system operators to smart grid controls software.

      • 5 Reasons Open Source Certification Matters More Than Ever

        In today’s technology landscape, open source is the new normal, with open source components and platforms driving mission-critical processes and everyday tasks at organizations of all sizes. As open source has become more pervasive, it has also profoundly impacted the job market. Across industries the skills gap is widening, making it ever more difficult to hire people with much needed job skills. In response, the demand for training and certification is growing.

      • Developer Recruitment Drives Open Source Funding

        The latest 2018 Open Source Jobs Report points to several ways employers can help developers. For the study, the Linux Foundation and Dice surveyed over 750 hiring managers involved with recruiting open source professionals.

        Due to the survey’s subject, it is not surprising almost half of hiring managers (48 percent) say their company decided to financially support or contribute open source projects to help with recruitment. Although this sounds incredibly compelling, it is fair to question how much hiring managers actually know about open source management. Since 57 percent of hiring managers say their company contributes to open source projects, a back-of-the-envelope calculation says that 84 percent of companies that contribute to open source are doing so at least in part to get new employees.

        The New Stack and The Linux Foundation have teamed up to survey the community about ways to standardize and promote open source policies programmatically. We encourage readers to participate.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Vega 20 Support Added To RadeonSI Gallium3D Driver

        With the upcoming Linux 4.18 kernel release due out in August there is the AMDGPU kernel driver support for Vega 20, the yet-to-be-released Vega GPU said to be the 7nm part launching later this year in Radeon Instinct products and featuring 32GB of HBM2 and adding some new deep learning instructions. Now the RadeonSI Gallium3D user-space driver for OpenGL within Mesa has Vega 20 support.

      • NVIDIA 396.24.10 Linux Driver Brings Vulkan 8-Bit / Renderpass2 / Conditional Render

        NVIDIA developers today released the 396.24.10 driver, their latest beta driver for Linux focused on the latest Vulkan innovations and improvements and is joined by the Windows 398.58 driver.

        The NVIDIA 396.24.10 Linux driver (and 398.58 beta for Windows) are focused on delivering the functionality added with the recent Vulkan 1.1.80 specification update.

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows Server 2016 vs. FreeBSD 11.2 vs. 8 Linux Distributions Performance Benchmarks

        Given the recent releases of FreeBSD 11.2, Scientific Linux 6.10, openSUSE Leap 15, and other distribution updates in the past quarter, here are some fresh benchmarks of eight different Linux distributions compared to FreeBSD 11.2 and Microsoft Windows Server 2016. The tested Linux platforms for this go-around were CentOS 7.5, Clear Linux 23610, Debian 9.4, Fedora Server 28, openSUSE leap 15.0, Scientific Linux 6.10, Scientific Linux 7.5, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Profiling memory usage on Linux with Qt Creator 4.7

        You may have heard about the Performance Analyzer (called “CPU Usage Analyzer” in Qt Creator 4.6 and earlier). It is all about profiling applications using the excellent “perf” tool on Linux. You can use it locally on a Linux-based desktop system or on various embedded devices. perf can record a variety of events that may occur in your application. Among these are cache misses, memory loads, context switches, or the most common one, CPU cycles, which periodically records a stack sample after a number of CPU cycles have passed. The resulting profile shows you what functions in your application take the most CPU cycles. This is the Performance Analyzer’s most prominent use case, at least so far.

      • KDE Applications 18.04 Reaches End of Life, KDE Apps 18.08 Coming August 16

        Coming about a five weeks after the release of the second maintenance update, the KDE Applications 18.04.3 point release is now available with a number of bug fixes, translation updates, and other improvements to make sure the open-source software suite offers users a stable and pleasant experience.

        About 20 bug fixes have been recorded for KDE Applications 18.04.3 to improve applications like Ark, Cantor, Dolphin, Gwenview, JuK, Kate, KFind, KGPG, KMag, KMail, KNotes, Konsole, Kontact, Marble, and Okular, as well as numerous other core components. A full changelog is available here for your reading pleasure.

      • Kube 0.7.0 is out!

        While we remain committed to building a first class email experience we’re starting to venture a little beyond that with calendaring, while keeping our eyes focused on the grander vision of a tool that isn’t just yet another email client, but an assistant that helps you manage communication, time and tasks.

      • Third Weekly Post

        I wonder if the palettes still need the tag system. All right, a question to ask in the next meeting.

        These 2 weeks have been great for me, because I had a change to really get myself familiarized with the Qt MVC system. I believe I’ll be confident when I need to use it in future projects.

        The next step is too make Krita store palettes used in a painting in its .kra file. There seems to be some annoying dependency stuff, but I should be able to handle.

      • I’m going to KDE Akademy 2018

        Less than a month left until KDE Akademy 2018. As part of the local organization team, this is going to be a busy time, but having Akademy in such a great city as Vienna is gonna be awesome.

        You will over the next weeks find many more “I’m going to Akademy” posts on Planet KDE detailing the Akademy plans of other people. So here in this post I don’t want to look forward, but back and tell you the story of the (in retrospect quite long) process of how a few people from Vienna decided to put in a bid to organize Akademy 2018.

      • I too am going to Akademy

        In about a month I’ll be in the beautiful city of Vienna, giving a talk on the weird stuff I make using ImageMagick, Kdenlive, Synfig and FFmpeg so I can construct videos so bad and campy you could almost confuse them for being ironic…

      • An update on KDE’s Streamlined Onboarding Goal, Akademy talk and first sprint

        As I described in the introductory post, KDE has been working towards a trinity of goals and I have been responsible for pushing forward the Streamlined onboarding of new contributors one.

        Half a year has passed since my initial blog post and with Akademy, KDE’s annual conference, coming up in a month this is a great time to post a quick update on related developments.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Trisquel 8.0 LTS Review: Successful Freedom of 2018

        Trisquel 8.0 is a success in reaching freedom goal (meaning: no proprietary at all) for overall computer users, especially desktop. It is a 100% free distro which is complete, user friendly, and instant. Compared to regular distros, it’s at least equally low in requirements but high in usability; compared to common free distros, it’s active (not dormant) and long-standing (since 2007). This operating system can be used by general computer users, produced in mass computers (i.e. sold in a PC/laptop), and especially software freedom people. This year, 2018, anybody wants the true free distro would be happy with Trisquel.

      • Clear Linux Makes a Strong Case for Your Next Cloud Platform

        There are so many Linux distributions available, some of which are all-purpose and some that have a more singular focus. Truth be told, you can take most general distributions and turn them into purpose-driven platforms. But, when it comes to things like cloud and IoT, most prefer distributions built with that specific use in mind. That’s where the likes of Clear Linux comes in. This particular flavor of Linux was designed for the cloud, and it lets you install either an incredibly bare OS or one with exactly what you need to start developing for cloud and/or IoT.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Taiwan Travel Blog – Day 4

        I had to take care of a few things this morning so I left the hostel a little bit later than I would have liked. I’ve already done quite a few trails and I’m slowly starting to exhaust the places I wanted to visit in the Taroko National Park, or at least the ones I can reach via public bus.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Empowering Linux Developers for the New Wave of Innovation

            Machine learning and IoT in particular offer huge opportunities for developers, especially those facing the crowded markets of other platforms, to engage with a sizeable untapped audience.

            That Linux is open source makes it an amazing breeding ground for innovation. Developers aren’t constrained by closed ecosystems, meaning that Linux has long been the operating system of choice for developers. So by engaging with Linux, businesses can attract the best available developer skills.

            The Linux ecosystem has always strived for a high degree of quality. Historically it was the Linux community taking sole responsibility for packaging software, gating each application update with careful review to ensure it worked as advertised on each distribution of Linux. This proved difficult for all sides.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • A look at Ubuntu 18.04 Budgie

              I like this. I like this a lot. It’s exactly what I’d been hoping it would be, after the previous failures at a happy Budgie desktop. I haven’t used it for long enough to get as deep into messing with it as I probably will in the future, so maybe I’ll find issues at that time; but Ubuntu 18.04 Budgie is seeming to be a quite solid, attractive, and easy to use system for people who want even more eyecandy, or are sick of the usual environments.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What’s the difference between a fork and a distribution?

    If you’ve been around open source software for any length of time, you’ll hear the terms fork and distribution thrown around casually in conversation. For many people, the distinction between the two isn’t clear, so here I’ll try to clear up the confusion.

  • Stordis and Barefoot Lead Open Source Networking in Europe

    The German company Stordis distributes telecom equipment in Europe. But Stordis is in the process of repositioning itself as the champion of open source networking hardware and software for European service providers. And it’s working closely with Barefoot Networks as part of its strategy.

    It plans to provide hardware from bare metal suppliers such as Edgecore and Delta. It will offer consultancy and support services to help European service providers adopt open source networking software. And the company is in the process of ramping the manufacturing of a 100 Gig switch that is based on Barefoot’s Tofino programmable chip.

    [...]

    But Stordis’ strategy of targeting broadcasters first will hopefully lead to a willingness for other service providers to try open source. And the company is involved with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: Upcoming changes for themes

        Theming capabilities on addons.mozilla.org (AMO) will undergo significant changes in the coming weeks. We will be switching to a new theme technology that will give designers more flexibility to create their themes. It includes support for multiple background images, and styling of toolbars and tabs. We will migrate all existing themes to this new format, and their users should not notice any changes.

        [...]

        It’s only a matter of weeks before we release the new theme format on AMO. Keep following this blog for that announcement.

      • OverbiteNX is now available from Mozilla Add-Ons for beta testing

        OverbiteNX, a successor to OverbiteFF which allows Firefox to continue to access legacy resources in Gopher in the brave courageous new world of WebExtensions, is now in public beta. Unlike the alpha test, which required you to download the repo and install the extension using add-on debugging, OverbiteNX is now hosted on Mozilla Add-Ons.

        Because WebExtensions still doesn’t have a TCP sockets API, nor a spec, OverbiteNX uses its bespoke Onyx native component to do network operations. Onyx is written in open-source portable C with no dependencies and is available in pre-built binaries for macOS 10.12+ and Windows (or get the repo and build it yourself on almost any POSIX system).

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Talking mobile edge computing and open source software with Kontron Canada Inc.

      A crucial facilitator of Kontron Canada’s hardware-software evolution has been open source software.

      Integration of OpenStack in particular has proven a differentiator for the company, not least because it can tap into the expertise of a community of experts at an economical price. Open source software also enables flexibility for clients to build networks and data centres in their own way.

      However, while the perks of cloud adoption for organisations in industries such as telecoms are well-documented, deterrents such as higher than anticipated costs, start-up delays and being locked into a vendor’s specific approach do exist.

      Kontron’s OpenStack turnkey platform solution, fully integrated with the Canonical distribution of Ubuntu OpenStack, alleviates these concerns.

      Robert explains how Kontron’s hardware must keep aligned with updates from Canonical and the OpenStack community: “Canonical have their own releases of their distribution of OpenStack and our software team does all the work behind the scenes to make sure that it will be fully validated and integrated on our hardware.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • ARM Takes Down Its Website That Attacked Open-Source Rival

      ARM, the incredibly successful developer of CPU designs, appears to be getting a little nervous about an open-source rival that’s gaining traction. At the end of June, ARM launched a website outlining why it’s better than its competitor’s offerings and it quickly blew up in its face. Realising the site was a bad look, ARM has now taken it down.

      For the uninitiated, ARM Holdings designs various architectures and cores that it licenses to major chipmakers around the world. Its tech can be found in over 100 billion chips manufactured by huge names like Apple and Nvidia as well as many other lesser-known players in the low-power market. If ARM is Windows, you can think of RISC-V as an early Linux. Like ARM, it’s an architecture based on reduced instruction set computing (RISC), but it’s free to use and open to anyone to contribute or modify. While ARM has been around since 1991, RISC-V just got started in 2010 but it’s gaining a lot of ground and ARM’s pitiful website could easily be seen as a legitimising moment for the tech.

    • Perspecta to Sponsor 7th Annual OSEHRA Open Source Summit; Mac Curtis Comments
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Introducing Alyssa Rosenzweig, intern with the FSF tech team

      Howdy there, fellow cyber denizens; ’tis I, Alyssa Rosenzweig, your friendly local biological life form! I’m a certified goofball, licensed to be silly under the GPLv3, but more importantly, I’m passionate about free software’s role in society. I’m excited to join the Free Software Foundation as an intern this summer to expand my understanding of our movement. Well, that, and purchasing my first propeller beanie in strict compliance with the FSF office dress code!

      Anywho, I hail from a family of engineers and was introduced to programming at an early age. As a miniature humanoid, I discovered that practice let me hit buttons on a keyboard and have my textual protagonist dance on my terminal — that was cool! Mimicking those around me, I hacked with an Apple laptop, running macOS, compiling in Xcode, and talking on Skype. I was vaguely aware of the free software ethos, so sometimes I liberated my code. Sometimes I did not. I was little more than a button masher with a flashing TTY; I wrote video games while inside a video game, my life firewalled from reality.

    • Sonali’s Progress on the Free Software Directory, weeks 1-2

      The last few weeks have been very enlightening. I learned about MediaWiki extensions, like MobileFrontend, CSS, vim, and other mobile extensions. I installed MobileFrontend, and resolved a few issues I faced regarding HeaderTabs and in-line view. It feels great to have been able to get the basic structure for mobile view by now.

      As a part of my project to make the Free Software Directory mobile friendly, I can add extensions, modify the code, and format the pages the way I like. I have complete freedom to experiment on their development site as much as I want. It’s wonderful to be able to work on something I really enjoy under the guidance of experienced mentors.

    • DataBasin + DataBasinKit 1.0 released

      DataBasin is a tool to access and work with SalesForce.com. It allows to perform queries remotely, export and import data, inspect single records and describe objects. DataBasinKit is its underlying framework which implements the APIs in Objective-C. Works on GNUstep (major Unix variants and MinGW on windows) and natively on macOS.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Rethinking our approach to open-source data

        Open-source data is built on the foundation of long-term useability, authenticity and reliability. Its public nature means that it can be accessible anywhere with an internet connection.

        Yet when we talk about the government data that needs to be protected for national security reasons, classified information—related to defence and intelligence services—often takes precedence. But what about the protection of unclassified, open-source government data?

        Websites like data.gov.au, Trove and Parl Info Search host a broad range of data that collectively documents the political, social and cultural history of Australia. Over time, this data accumulates to paint a detailed picture of our country. It’s a high-value dataset given the trends big data analytics can reveal.

  • Programming/Development

    • ​Python language founder steps down

      After almost 30 years of overseeing the development of the world’s most popular language, Python, its founder and “Benevolent Dictator For Life” (BDFL), Guido van Rossum, has decided he would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process.

      Van Rossum isn’t leaving Python entirely. He said, “I’ll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I’ll still be available to mentor people — possibly more available.”

    • Guido van Rossum resigns as Python leader

      Python creator and Benevolent Leader for Life Guido van Rossum has decided, in the wake of the difficult PEP 572 discussion, to step down from his leadership of the project.

    • Locks versus channels in concurrent Go

      In this article, a short look at goroutines, threads, and race conditions sets the scene for a look at two Go programs. In the first program, goroutines communicate through synchronized shared memory, and the second uses channels for the same purpose. The code is available from my website in a .zip file with a README.

    • Pete Zaitcev: Guido van Rossum steps down
    • Guido van Rossum Stepping Down from Role as Python’s Benevolent Dictator For Life

      Python’s Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL) Guido van Rossum today announced he’s stepping down from the role.

      On the Python mailing list today, van Rossum said, “I would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process. I’ll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I’ll still be available to mentor people—possibly more available. But I’m basically giving myself a permanent vacation from being BDFL, and you all will be on your own.”

    • GCC 8 Hasn’t Been Performing As Fast As It Should For Skylake With “-march=native”

      It turns out that when using GCC 8 since April (or GCC 9 development code) if running on Intel Skylake (or newer architectures like the yet-to-be-out Cannonlake or Icelake) and compile your code with the “-march=native” flag for what should tune for your CPU microarchitecture’s full capabilities, that hasn’t entirely been the case. A fix is en route that can correct the performance by as much as 60%.

    • GCC 8.2 Compiler Will Be Releasing Soon

      Developers behind the GNU Compiler Collection intend to get release preparations underway soon for the GCC 8.2 compiler.

      GCC8 remains open for bug/regression fixes and documentation updates with GCC 8.2 due to be the first point release under the GCC versioning policy where the May release of GCC 8.1 marked the project’s first stable feature release of GCC8. New feature development meanwhile remains focused on GCC 9, which will be released initially as GCC 9.1 around early 2019.

      So to no surprise, GCC 8.2 is set to carry just various regression fixes primarily as more developers began trying out this annually updated compiler following the recent stable release.

    • Upcoming git-crecord release

      More than 1½ years since the first release of git-crecord, I’m preparing a big update. Not aware how exactly many people are using it, I neglected the maintenance for some time, but last month I’ve decided I need to take action and fix some issues I’ve known since the first release.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • North Dakota: Water Protector Red Fawn Fallis Sentenced to 57 Months

      In Bismarck, North Dakota, an indigenous water protector who was arrested during protests in 2016 against the Dakota Access pipeline has been sentenced to four years and nine months in federal prison. Prosecutors said Red Fawn Fallis fired three shots from a handgun as police in riot gear, wielding batons, surrounded her to make an arrest on October 27 amid mass protests against the pipeline. Fallis was one of 761 people arrested during indigenous-led resistance to the pipeline in 2016 and ’17.

    • Reflections on Drug Patents and the High Cost of Healthcare

      For this last example of drug-patent abuse, let us consider what may be the most-esoteric ploy for patent-term extension in patent-law history: Janssen’s attempt to surgically re-configure the lineage history of U.S. Patent No. 6,284,471(“the ‘471 patent”), to avoid a double-patenting rejection.

      The ‘471 patent covers Remicade, an antibody biologic drug for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis and Crohn’s disease. It is marketed in the U.S. by Johnson & Johnson, with annual sales of around $4 billion.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Holes in the Official Skripal Story

      The nub of the British government’s approach has been the shocking willingness of the corporate and state media to parrot repeatedly the lie that the nerve agent was Russian made, even after Porton Down said they could not tell where it was made and the OPCW confirmed that finding. In fact, while the Soviet Union did develop the “novichok” class of nerve agents, the programme involved scientists from all over the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, as I myself learnt when I visited the newly decommissioned Nukus testing facility in Uzbekistan in 2002.

      Furthermore, it was the USA who decommissioned the facility and removed equipment back to the United States. At least two key scientists from the programme moved to the United States. Formulae for several novichok have been published for over a decade. The USA, UK and Iran have definitely synthesised a number of novichok formulae and almost certainly others have done so too. Dozens of states have the ability to produce novichok, as do many sophisticated non-state actors.

      As for motive, the Russian motive might be revenge, but whether that really outweighs the international opprobrium incurred just ahead of the World Cup, in which so much prestige has been invested, is unclear.

      What is certainly untrue is that only Russia has a motive. The obvious motive is to attempt to blame and discredit Russia. Those who might wish to do this include Ukraine and Georgia, with both of which Russia is in territorial dispute, and those states and jihadist groups with which Russia is in conflict in Syria. The NATO military industrial complex also obviously has a plain motive for fueling tension with Russia.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Why I Stand With Julian Assange

      This weekend I joined a number of people for an online vigil in support of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. Some have asked why I did it: after all, Assange is at best an imperfect figure. But supporting Assange transcends just him, because the battle over his prosecution is about something greater: the future of free speech and a free press. Even if you think Assange doesn’t matter, those things do.

      Assange is challenging to even his staunchest supporters. In 2010, he was a hero to opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others called him an enemy of the state for working with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Now most of Assange’s former supporters see him as a traitor and a Putin tool for releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee. Even with the sexual assault inquiry against him having been dismissed, Assange is a #MeToo villain. He a traitor who hides from justice inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, or a spy, or some web-made Frankenstein with elements of all the above. And while I’ve never met Assange, I’ve spoken to multiple people who know him well, and the words “generous,” “warm,” and “personable” are rarely included in their descriptions.

    • Julian Assange takes on ex-Labour MP and PR man Richard Hillgrove to seek ‘political solution’ to extradition impasse

      Julian Assange has taken on a new team to provide PR, parliamentary engagement and other services, as he attempts to secure a way for him to end his stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      [...]

      Hillgrove told PRWeek that the situation was currently at a “deadlock”, and pointed to a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention statement in 2016, which said Assange should receive compensation from the UK authorities. “GWA is trying to create a political solution,” he continued.

      One aspect that may be emphasised in GWA and 6HillGrove’s campaigning is the high costs incurred by UK police since Assange’s initial arrest and release in 2010.

      Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson has also used 6Hillgrove around other cases.

      Two other recently acquired joint clients of GWA and Hillgrove are Rose McGowan, the actress who has led accusations and outcry against Harvey Weinstein, and Dr Frank d’Ambrosio, a US medical cannabis practitioner.

    • NPR says I’m planning “global chaos.” This is a half-truth

      There are three quick-and-easy methods by which one may deduce that there is something seriously wrong with the story that NPR did on me and my non-profit organization Pursuance earlier this year, even if one is entirely unfamiliar with the subject matter.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Why is Germany siding with the tax havens against corporate transparency?

      Germany’s supposedly left-wing new finance minister, the Social Democratic Party’s Olaf Scholz, is in the process of sabotaging European efforts to make companies be more transparent about their financial affairs. Specifically, he has just indicated that he favours a procedural approach to Country-by-country reporting (CbCR, see below) that could be subject to veto by companies and by tax havens.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Four Turkish Graduates Arrested Over Cartoon Mocking Erdogan

      Four recent graduates of a top Turkish university have been arrested for displaying a cartoon mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at their graduation ceremony, according to the state-run Anadolu agency.

      The Middle East Technical University students in the July 6 ceremony in Ankara made and carried a long banner printed with a cartoon of animals whose faces resembled Erdogan, entitled “The World of Tayyip.”

    • Egypt’s Draconian New Cybercrime Bill Will Only Increase Censorship

      The hope that filled Egypt’s Internet after the 2011 January 25 uprising has long since faded away. In recent years, the country’s military government has instead created a digital dystopia, pushing once-thriving political and journalism communities into closed spaces or offline, blocking dozens of websites, and arresting a large number of activists who once relied upon digital media for their work.

      In the past two years, we’ve witnessed the targeting of digital rights defenders, journalists, crusaders against sexual harassment, and even poets, often on trumped-up grounds of association with a terrorist organization or “spreading false news.” Now, the government has put forward a new law that will result in its ability to target and persecute just about anyone who uses digital technology.

      The new 45-article cybercrime law, named the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes law, is divided into two parts. The first part of the bill stipulates that service providers are obligated to retain user information (i.e. tracking data) in the event of a crime, whereas the second part of the bill covers a variety of cybercrimes under overly broad language (such as “threat to national security”).

      Article 7 of the law, in particular, grants the state the authority to shut down Egyptian or foreign-based websites that “incite against the Egyptian state” or “threaten national security” through the use of any digital content, media, or advertising. Article 2 of the law authorizes broad surveillance capabilities, requiring telecommunications companies to retain and store users’ data for 180 days. And Article 4 explicitly enables foreign governments to obtain access to information on Egyptian citizens and does not make mention of requirements that the requesting country have substantive data protection laws.

    • Bradley M. Kuhn: On Avoiding Conflation of Political Speech and Hate Speech

      If you’re one of the people in the software freedom community who is attending O’Reilly’s Open Source Software Convention (OSCON) next week here in Portland, you may have seen debate about O’Reilly and Associates (ORA)’s surreptitious Code of Conduct change (and quick revocation thereof) to name “political affiliation” as a protected class. If you’re going to OSCON or plan to go to an OSCON or ORA event in the future, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with this issue and the political historical context in which these events of the last few days take place.

      First, OSCON has always been political: software freedom is inherently a political struggle for the rights of computer users, so any conference including that topic is necessarily political. Additionally, O’Reilly himself had stated his political positions many times at OSCON, so it’s strange that, in his response this morning, O’Reilly admits that he and his staff tried to require via agreements that “speakers … refrain from all political speech”. OSCON can’t possibly be a software freedom community event if ORA’s “intent … [is] to make sure that conferences put on for the exchange of technical information aren’t politicized” (as O’Reilly stated today). OTOH, I’m not surprised by this tack, because O’Reilly, in large part via OSCON, often pushed forward political views that O’Reilly likes, and marginalize those he doesn’t.

      Second, I must strongly disagree with ORA’s new (as of this morning) position that Codes of Conduct should only include “protected classes” that the laws of a particular country currently recognize. Codes of Conduct exist in our community not only as mechanism to assure the rights of protected classes, but also to assure that everyone feels safe and free of harassment and hate speech. In fact, most Codes of Conduct in our community have “including but not limited to” language alongside any list of protected classes, and IMO all of them should.

      [...]

      And, not all political issues are equal. I follow copyleft politics because it’s my been my day job for two decades. But, I admit there are stakes even higher with other political topics, and having watched how ORA has handled the politics of copyleft for decades, I’m fearful that ORA is (at best) ill-equipped to handle political issues that can cause real harm — such as the current political climate that permits hate speech, and even racist speech (think of Trump calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”), as standard political fare. The stakes of contemporary politics now leave people feeling unsafe. Since OSCON is a political event, ORA should face this directly rather than pretending OSCON is merely a series of technical lectures.

    • State Appeals Court Tosses Defamation Suit Against Lawyer Who Wrote About Teen Driver Who Injured His Client

      An interesting sidebar to a case we’ve written about previously has surfaced via the ever-attentive Eric Goldman. Last month we covered a lawsuit against Snapchat brought by the victims of an car accident. The victims claim Snapchat is at least partially responsible for the injuries inflicted on Karen Maynard. The driver of the other vehicle, Christal McGee, was allegedly driving at over 100 mph when she hit Maynard’s vehicle. The suit also alleged — based on passenger statements, accident reconstruction, and police reports — McGee was using Snapchat’s “Speed” filter when the accident occurred.

      The Georgia state appeals court allowed the case to proceed, but not on Section 230 grounds. It was remanded to the lower court to allow for more exploration of the issues at hand, noting that Section 230 likely does not apply to software created by Snapchat itself. Of course, dismissal may still be the outcome as it’s going to be tough to prove Snapchat’s creation of a filter was either negligence or contributory to the accident caused by McGee’s unsafe driving.

      The sidebar is this: Christal McGee has racked up a loss in Georgia Appeals Court in a case tied to the accident she caused. McGee sued Michael Neff — the Maynards’ legal rep in the lawsuit against Snapchat — for defamation. According to McGee, Neff’s blog post detailing the Snapchat lawsuit was defamatory. The lower court allowed the case to proceed, slapping aside Neff’s anti-SLAPP motion.

    • SA film and publications bill amounts to ‘internet censorship’ says ISPA

      The Film and Publications Amendment Bill approved by the National Assembly in March 2018 is a classic example of good intentions gone bad and should be sent back and re-written, according to the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA).

      The draft legislation, which is now before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), legislates for the rights and responsibilities of media producers and consumers, lays out what content is legal or illegal and how media can be classified with age ratings.

      However, the Act was initially drafted in 1996, before the spread of internet usage in South Africa, and ISPA says it needs redrafting for the internet and social media age.

    • Censorship, and an unexpected friendship

      Sari Braithwaite spent a year watching nearly two thousand film clips.

      They had all been secretly cut from international films by the Australian Censorship Board, and filed away until censorship laws changed in the late 1970s.

      Her film Censored screened at the 2018 Sydney Film Festival.

      Sari came across the collection in the Archives while she was hunting around for paperwork about another film she was working on, about Anne Deveson.

    • What Is Israel Hiding About Its Nuclear Program in the ’50s?

      Israel’s censors may indeed protect state security but they also conceal information that might embarrass public officials

    • KU flag removal ‘smacks of censorship’: ACLU, free speech advocates defend art piece
    • Kansas officials seek altered US flag’s removal from museum
    • Kansas Governor and Secretary of State Pressure University to Remove Artwork

      Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach separately pressured officials at the University of Kansas (KU) to remove an art display, threatening the free expression of the artist, curator and KU students. The National Coalition Against Censorship is calling on Colyer and Kobach to encourage KU to return the art to its original location and cease their attempts to chill free speech at a public university.

      The artwork, Untitled (Flag 2) by Josephine Meckseper, is part of an ongoing installation organized by Creative Time that included sixteen commissioned flags by different artists, simultaneously displayed at partner sites nationwide. Meckseper’s work is a collage of an American flag and an abstract painting of the contours of the United States divided in two, symbolizing current national polarization. Deeming the piece a “desecration” of the flag, Colyer and Kobach publicly called for its removal.

    • Russia: We want volunteers to help us censor the internet
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Summer of Code: Second evaluation phase

      Now smack-openpgp depends on pgpainless directly, which means that I don’t have to create duplicate code to get bundled information from pgpainless to smack-openpgp for instance. This change gave me a huge performance boost in the development process, as it makes the next steps much more clear for me due to less abstraction.

      I rewrote the whole storage backend of smack-openpgp, keeping everything as modular as possible. Now there are 3 different store types. One store is responsible for keys, another one for metadata and a third one for trust decisions. For all of those I created a file-based implementation which just writes information to files. An implementor can for example chose to write information to a database instead. For all those store classes I wrote a parametrized junit test, meaning new implementations can easily be tested by simply inserting an instance of the new store into an array.

      Unfortunately I stumbled across yet another bug in bouncycastle, which makes it necessary to implement a workaround in my project until a patched version of bouncycastle is released.
      The issue was, that a key ring which consists of a master key and some subkeys was not exported correctly. The subkeys would be exported as normal keys, which caused the constructor of the key ring to skip those, as it expected sub keys, not normal keys. That lead to the subkeys getting lost, which caused smack-openpgp to be unable to encrypt messages for contacts which use a master key and subkeys for OpenPGP.

    • Paul v. Kavanaugh?
    • The Cybersecurity 202: Privacy advocates blast Kavanaugh for government surveillance support
    • 2015 NSA opinion indicates Kavanaugh is a threat to Fourth Amendment
    • Amash Hits Kavanaugh on Surveillance Rulings
    • EFF Responds to Vigilant Solutions’ Accusations About EFF ALPR Report

      On Tuesday, we wrote a report about how the Irvine Company, a private real estate development company, has collected automated license plate reader (ALPR) data from patrons of several of its shopping centers, and is providing the collected data to Vigilant Solutions, a contractor notorious for its contracts with state and federal law enforcement agencies across the country.

      The Irvine Company initially declined to respond to EFF’s questions, but after we published our report, the company told the media that it only collects information at three malls in Orange County (Irvine Spectrum Center, Fashion Island, and The Marketplace) and that Vigilant Solutions only provides the data to three local police departments (the Irvine, Newport Beach, and Tustin police departments).

      The next day, Vigilant Solutions issued a press release claiming that the Irvine Company ALPR data actually had more restricted access (in particular, denying transfers to the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement [ICE] agency), and demanding EFF retract the report and apologize. As we explain below, the EFF report is a fair read of the published ALPR policies of both the Irvine Company and Vigilant Solutions. Those policies continue to permit broad uses of the ALPR data, far beyond the limits that Vigilant now claims exist.

      Vigilant Solutions’ press release states that the Irvine Company’s ALPR data “is shared with select law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of mall patrons,” and that those agencies “do not have the ability in Vigilant Solutions’ system to electronically copy this data or share this data with other persons or agencies, such as ICE.”

    • The Trump Administration Is Hiding a Crucial Report on NSA Spying Practices

      Despite requests from a senator and the European Union, the Trump administration is refusing to make public an important report by a federal privacy watchdog about how the U.S. government handles personal information swept up by its surveillance.

      The public has a right to know what the government does with the vast troves of private data that American intelligence agencies collect in the course of their spying. On Thursday, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding the release of the report, significant portions of which are unclassified.

      The report is from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was created by Congress to be an independent, bipartisan agency. Its mission is to help ensure that national security laws and programs don’t infringe on individual rights. As part of that mission, the board has issued several significant oversight reports addressing government surveillance. While we have not always agreed with the conclusions of these reports, they have played a vital role in the democratic process by educating the public about the powerful spying tools at the government’s disposal. In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s illegal mass surveillance programs, the board’s work informed the public debate by prompting the declassification of additional details about these secret programs.

      Recognizing the board’s importance as a mechanism for transparency, Congress required that it make its reports public to the greatest extent possible. But now the Trump administration is wrongly trying to keep its findings secret.

    • Facebook changes privacy settings after outing members of a closed medical support group
    • Usenet Users Have Privacy Rights, But Pirates Can’t be Anonymous

      Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has scored a partial victory against Usenet provider Newsconnection. The Court of Appeal ruled that the company must ensure that it can identify potential infringers. Newsconnection is not required to implement the strict measures BREIN requested, but the court made it clear that pirates shouldn’t be anonymous.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Don’t Give the DHS Free Rein to Shoot Down Private Drones

      When government agencies refuse to let the members of the public watch what they’re doing, drones can be a crucial journalistic tool. But now, some members of Congress want to give the federal government the power to destroy private drones it deems to be an undefined “threat.” Even worse, they’re trying to slip this new, expanded power into unrelated, must-pass legislation without a full public hearing. Worst of all, the power to shoot these drones down will be given to agencies notorious for their absence of transparency, denying access to journalists, and lack of oversight.

      Back in June, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice the sweeping new authority to counter privately owned drones. Congress shouldn’t grant DHS and DOJ such broad, vague authorities that allow them to sidestep current surveillance law.

      Now, Chairman Ron Johnson is working to include language similar to this bill in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). EFF is opposed to this idea, for many reasons.

      The NDAA is a complicated and complex annual bill to reauthorize military programs and is wholly unrelated to both DHS and DOJ. Hiding language in unrelated bills is rarely a good way to make public policy, especially when the whole Congress hasn’t had a chance to vet the policy.

    • Back Up, Motherfuckers,’ A Cop Yells at Kids With His Gun Drawn

      The video of a Texas police officer drawing his gun on kids is a perfect example of why police need de-escalation training.

      Over the past week, a Facebook video went viral, showing an El Paso police officer drawing his gun on a group of Latino kids outside a community center and handcuffing the person taking the video. The video has drawn outrage — and rightly so — as an illustration of the urgent need for robust police policies and training emphasizing de-escalation and how to interact with youth.

      The video cuts in when the officer has one of the kids detained on the ground. The other kids — upset about what’s going on — yell at the officer. In response, he draws his gun, points it at the group, and yells, “Back up, motherfuckers!” Another officer runs up, and they drag the detained kid to the roadside. While the second officer cuffs him, the first officer returns to the group with his nightstick out, yelling at the kids to “get back.”

      Seeing that the other kids are getting upset, the kid with the camera yells over, “It’s all good, wait, we’re going to put a report on these two fools. It’s all good.” The officer then approaches him and places him in handcuffs. After the kid’s mom takes the camera, the officer directs her to come over to him. When she runs away, he threatens, “I know where you live!”

    • Immigration Story Missing Context of Hunger and Freedom

      I teach journalism. So, of course, I follow journalism closely.

      On the immigration issue, many news outlets have been doing a great job covering the rallies and marches, the “baby jails” and rulings and (few) family reunifications.

      But they lack context.

      In the classroom, I emphasize that every news story—even a little one about a city sidewalk repair—must provide context. Why that sidewalk, why now? Who lives there and walks there? What sidewalks are not getting repaired? When was the sidewalk first built? What’s the budget? And so on.

      Recent news stories certainly provide some context and numbers. And many tell harrowing and important specific stories…but they mostly don’t get into the structural causes, the deep history. I worry that readers and viewers are not getting the whole story.

      What about specific references to international law, like to the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) and its promise (in Article 14) that all people have “the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”? It was ratified by the US, and is thus “the supreme law of the land,” according to Article VI of the US Constitution.

      I’d argue that every single news story should remind that it is not illegal to cross a border and seek asylum.

    • Trump’s Supreme Court Pick: Not Great On The 4th Amendment, But His Take On The Third Party Doctrine Has Already Gone Out Of Style

      This perhaps suggests Kavanaugh will follow the other Trump appointee, Justice Gorsuch, in viewing Fourth Amendment issues dealing with tech advancements in a more traditional manner. Not necessarily a bad thing and definitely an interesting tack to take — terming records generated by devices (but stored by third parties) as “property” still at least partially owned by device users. This approach could continue to carve away at the Third Party Doctrine in the coming years if adopted in other cases.

      Other than that, Kavanaugh’s position in the DC Court of Appeals gave him the chance to handle a number of cases dealing with the Fourth Amendment, but there doesn’t appear to be many pertaining to issues the Supreme Court hasn’t already addressed. PoliceOne did hunt down a few of his takes on Terry stops. In both cases, Kavanaugh came down on the side of law enforcement.

    • SCOTUS Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Problematic Opinion On Anti-SLAPP Laws

      So Tim Cushing has just taken a peek at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s 4th Amendment rulings and Karl already looked at his questionable opinion concerning net neutrality (in which he argued (bizarrely) that what blocking content and services on a network is a 1st Amendment “editorial” decision by broadband providers). Of course, that’s just one of his 1st Amendment cases. I wanted to look over some of Kavanaugh’s other free speech related opinions. Ken “Popehat” White has done a pretty good job covering most of them, noting that for the most part, Kavanaugh takes a fairly strong First Amendment approach in the cases that come to him, and seems unlikely to upset the apple cart on First Amendment law in any significant way (if you want to see more of his opinions, this is a good place to start).

      As Ken notes, there really isn’t that much to comment on on most of those decisions, and Karl already wrote about the weird net neutrality one, but I did want to focus in on another First Amendment-adjacent case where I think Kavanaugh was incorrect: on the question of whether or not state anti-SLAPP laws apply in federal court. To be clear, by itself, this is really not a First Amendment question on its own, it’s a question about what laws apply where. The case is Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group and Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion which said that DC’s anti-SLAPP law can not be used in federal court.

      Ken is correct that this ruling does not suggest that Kavanaugh is not interested in protecting First Amendment rights. But, that still does not mean that Kavanaugh’s ruling is correct. Ken notes that some other judges have agreed with Kavanaugh, but it’s also worth pointing out that even more judges have disagreed with Kavanaugh. Indeed, most other circuits that have taken up this issue have ruled in the other way, and said that state anti-SLAPP laws can be used in federal court. The debate over this does not come down to a First Amendment issue, but rather the issue of whether or not an anti-SLAPP law is mainly “substantive” or “procedural.” Substantive state laws apply in federal court, while procedural ones do not. Anti-SLAPP laws have elements of both procedural and substantive laws, which is why there are arguments over this. But for a variety of reasons, it seems clear to us (and to many other judges) that the substantive aspects of most anti-SLAPP laws mean they’re perfectly valid in federal court.

    • Holding the Trump Administration Accountable for Missing Deadlines to Reunify Families

      We asked the court for some remedies to address the government’s non-compliance with court orders.

      During the last hearing in the ACLU’s family separation case on July 10, Judge Dana Sabrow asked the ACLU for suggestions as to what the court should do should the government fail to comply with the court-imposed deadlines to reunite the children with their parents.

      As has now been widely reported, and as we made clear in our brief to the court on Thursday evening, the government failed to heed the court’s deadlines. It reunited 58 of the 103 children under five who were separated from their parents, but not by the July 10 deadline – the vast majority or reunifications took place on July 11. The government claimed that 33 parents were ineligible to get their children back because they were in criminal custody, had criminal histories, may have abused their children, had communicable diseases or were not actually the parents – but it did not provide any specific information about most of those 33 parents, leaving us unable to verify whether or not the parents are truly ineligible.

      In addition, the government failed to address the plight of the 12 parents who were deported without their children, and did not provide us with specific time and place for each unification as they were ordered to so that the ACLU could arrange for non-governmental organizations to assist the families and verify that reunification did in fact take place.

    • Ex-CIA Contractor MVM Admits Children Held Overnight in AZ Office Building

      Meanwhile, the U.S. military and CIA contractor MVM has admitted it detained migrant children overnight inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no kitchen and only a few toilets. An investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting uncovered what some are calling a “black site” for migrant children, after one local resident filmed children in sweatsuits being led into the building. The building was leased in March by MVM, a military contractor that Reveal reports has received nearly $250 million in contracts to transport immigrant children since 2014. A spokesperson for MVM, Inc. told Reveal that the company had indeed held children in the building overnight, calling the stays a “regrettable exception” to the company’s policy to find hotel rooms instead. Click here to see our full interview with Aura Bogado, who led the investigation.

    • Human Zoos in the Age of Trump

      When Donald Trump recently accused “illegal immigrants” of wanting to “pour into and infest our country,” there was an immediate outcry. After all, that verb, infest, had been used by the Nazis as a way of dehumanizing Jews and communists as rats, vermin, or insects that needed to be eradicated.

      Nobody, however, should have been surprised. The president has a long history of excoriating people of color as animal-like. In 1989, for instance, reacting to the rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park, he took out full-page ads in four of the city’s major papers (total cost: $85,000) calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty and decrying “roving bands of wild criminals roaming our streets.” He was, of course, referring to the five black and Latino youngsters accused of that crime for which they were convicted — and, 10 years late, exonerated when a serial rapist and murderer finally confessed.

      Trump never apologized for his rush to judgment or his hate-filled opinions, which eventually became the template for his attacks on immigrants during the 2016 election campaign and for his presidency. He has declared many times that some people aren’t actually human beings at all but animals, pointing, in particular, to MS-13 gang members. At a rally in Tennessee at the end of May, he doubled down on this sort of invective, goading a frenzied crowd to enthusiastically shout that word — “Animals!” — back. In that way, he made those present accomplices to his bigotry. Nor are his insults and racial tirades mere rhetorical flourishes. They’ve had quite real consequences. It’s enough to look at the cages where undocumented children separated from their families at or near the U.S.-Mexico border have been held as if they were indeed animals — reporters and others regularly described one of those detention areas as being like a “zoo” or a “kennel” — not to mention their parents who are also trapped behind wire barriers, even if arousing far less attention and protest.

    • The Hammonds and the Origins of Rancher Terrorism in Burns, Oregon

      In the high desert of central Oregon, lies Harney County, a site of a long-festering and intense confrontation between federal officials and the militant property rights movement. Here federal Fish and Wildlife Service agents sought to fence off a wetland that had been trampled by a rancher’s cows on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge about thirty miles south of the dust-caked town of Burns.

      In an affidavit, Earl M. Kisler, a Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officer, said that rancher Dwight Hammond had repeatedly threatened refuge officials with violence over an eight year period. On one occasion Hammond told the manager of the federal refuge that “he was going to tear his head off and shit down his neck.”

      According to the affidavit, Hammond threated to kill refuge manager Forrest Cameron and assistant manager Dan Walsworth and claimed he was ready to die over a fence line that the refuge wanted to construct to keep his cows out of a marsh and wetland.

      The tensions between the Hammond family and the government started when the refuge, which was established as a haven for migrating birds, refused to renew a grazing permit for Hammond’s cattle operation. Then came the incident over the wetland, which Hammond had been using as a water hole for his cows.

      On August 3, 1994, a Fish and Wildlife Service crew turned up to complete the task of fencing off the marsh. They found the fence destroyed and a monkey-wrenched earthmover parked in the middle of the marsh. While the feds were waiting on a towing service to remove the Cat, Hammond’s son Steve showed up and began calling the government men “worthless cocksuckers” and “assholes.” Hammond then arrived at the scene, according to the government’s documents, and tried to disrupt the removal of the equipment. The rancher was arrested.

    • Appeals Court Says TSA Agents Are Beyond The Reach Of Federal Lawsuits

      Thanks, Judge Krause. I’m sure Congress will get right on that. Seeing as there’s no personal benefit to Congress members and ample opportunity to piss off fellow government employees with the power to make their travel experiences closely resemble an abduction by aliens, there’s little chance of this being pursued, no matter how many cases are shrugged into their lap.

      Here’s the background: the appellant (Nadine Pellegrino) was selected for additional screening. She demanded a private screening and things went from bad to worse quickly. Items were carelessly packed and unpacked. Personal belongings were damaged. TSA agents were unhelpful, rude, and apparently deliberately obstructive. Agents claimed Pellegrino “hit” them with her belongings while in the screening room. Not “hit” as in the endpoint of a swing, but “hit” as in things bumped into them while they were dealing with an unhappy traveler. Oh, and she called the two officers in the room “bitches.” This is how a bunch of government employees — starting with the TSA agents — chose to handle it.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • It Just Got Easier for the FCC to Ignore Your Complaints

      Today, the agency approved changes to its complaint system that critics say will undermine the agency’s ability to review and act on the complaints it receives.

      On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the controversial changes had been dropped from the proposal, but the commission voted 3–1 along party lines to approve it with the changes intact.

    • The FCC’s Sneaky Plan To Make It Easier To Ignore ISP Complaints

      Whatever the outcome, it highlights how paying attention to often wonky policy really does matter. Pai, a telecom policy wonk since his days working at Verizon, has spent the last year building the agency he envisions: namely one that sits on its hands while giant ISPs dictate most major policies, leading us down the miraculous path to supposed telecom Utopia. Pai’s Title II repeal already gutted much of the FCC’s authority over ISPs, and it’s unclear how many other revisions and rule changes he’s shoveled through for similar effect. Whoever winds up replacing Pai will have their work cut out identifying and reversing many of these changes, if they’re reversed at all.

      Meanwhile, it should probably go without saying that an agency that has completely made up supporting data for its net neutrality repeal, and made up a DDOS attack in an incredibly bizarre attempt to downplay the “John Oliver effect,” probably shouldn’t be giving lectures on “fake news” (whatever the hell that means) anytime soon.

    • India advances globally leading net neutrality regulations

      India is now one step away from having some of the strongest net neutrality regulations in the world. This week, the Indian Telecom Commission’s approved the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations to introduce net neutrality conditions into all Telecom Service Provider (TSP) licenses. This means that any net neutrality violation could cause a TSP to lose its license, a uniquely powerful deterrent. Mozilla commends this vital action by the Telecom Commission, and we urge the Government of India to move swiftly to implement these additions to the license terms.

    • India sets the bar for net neutrality with ‘world’s strictest’ rules

      Whilst the US is still fumbling after FCC head Ajit ‘Pumpkin’ Pie deregulated the internet to please his cable pals, India has just past a whole chunk of recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Association of India (TRAI) to ensure it will never go the same way.

    • India implements strong net neutrality rules

      The government has taken an “unambiguous stand” in making sure that certain types of content are not prioritized over others and that broadband providers will be unable to slow down or block websites at their choosing, India’s telecom regulatory body declared Thursday.

      Around two-thirds of the country’s 1.3 billion people still don’t have [I]nternet access, but the country is moving forward with its net neutrality plans as more and more people begin to use smartphones.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Qualcomm reigns in global WLAN patents but Marvell rules in the US and Nokia leads by SEP count

      A new study of the wireless LAN (WLAN) global patent landscape reveals that while Qualcomm is the dominant player in the space overall, it is beaten by Marvell in the United States by active portfolio size and conspicuously absent from the list of the top holders of standard essential patents (SEPs).

    • Trademarks

      • US Burger Chain Threatens To Sue Broke Aussie Rock Band ‘Ruby Tuesdays’ For $2 Million Over Name

        Ruby Tuesday, the US burger giant that ripped its name off a Rolling Stones song, is threatening to sue a broke Aussie rock band with a similar name for infringing on their trademark.

        To the tune of an eye-watering $2 million, no less.

        Ruby Tuesday the restaurant has served Ruby Tuesdays the band with a letter outlining their intent to sue. It reads: “While many artists pay tribute to other artists through imitation, when it comes to imitating famous trademarks, only Ruby Tuesday is entitled to the goodwill of its mark.”

      • How A US Burger Chain Brought ‘Ruby Tuesday’ Full Circle Through Trademark Bullying

        Circles are so zen. So jedi. So the force. “The circle is now complete,” Darth Vader says in A New Hope. Well, it turns out that the universe has a way of pulling this sort of dynamic out of the realm of the mystical and into the far more mundane realm of trademark bullying. You may be aware of the American burger chain Ruby Tuesday. The chain has locations all over the United States and internationally. Notably, the company’s website lists no locations in Australia. This is notable because the American chain has for some reason decided to try to bully an Australian rock band, Ruby Tuesdays, into changing its name over trademark concerns.

    • Copyrights

      • Deadline Next Week For Comments On New Clauses In South African Copyright Amendment Bill

        The window for the public submissions process was initially set for 9 July but the committee issued a notification to stakeholders that due to the high number of requests, the deadline for the submissions period has been extended to 18 July. The latest call for comments is here [pdf].

        Intellectual Property Watch has seen email correspondence from the committee informing stakeholders about the extension and that “stakeholders should note that public hearings were already held on the Bill which did not include these specific clauses.”

        The draft Copyright Amendment Bill was published in the Government Gazette by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTi) in July 2015. This opened a public submissions process into the bill which ran until September 2015. The Bill was then revised in 2017 and again further submissions were made by stakeholders and public hearings were held in Parliament by the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry in August 2017.

      • Court Won’t Rehear Blurred Lines Case, Bad News For Music Creativity

        Back in March we wrote about the terrible decision by the 9th Circuit to uphold the also awful lower court ruling that the Pharrell/Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines” infringed on Marvin Gaye’s song “Got To Give It Up.” If they had actually copied any of the copyright-protected elements of the original, this case wouldn’t be a big deal. But what was astounding about this ruling is that nowhere is any copyright-protected expression of Gaye’s shown to have been copied in Blurred Lines. Instead, they are accused of making the song have a similar “feel.” That’s… bizarre. Because “feel” or “groove” is not protectable subject matter under copyright law. And yet both the lower court and the appeals court has upheld it. And now, the 9th Circuit has refused to rehear the case en banc, though it has issued a slightly amended opinion, removing a single paragraph concerning the “inverse ratio rule” of whether or not greater access to a song means you don’t have to show as much “substantial similarity.”

        Again, this is a ruling that should greatly concern all musicians (even those who normally disagree with us on copyright issues). This is not a case about copying a song. This is a ruling that now says you can’t pay homage to another artist. It’s a case saying that you can’t build off of another artist’s general “style” or to create a song “in the style” of an artist you appreciate. This is crazy. Paying homage to other artists, or writing a song in the style of another artist is how most musicians first learn to create songs. It does no harm to the original artist, and often introduces more people to their work.

        Pharrell and Thicke can (and perhaps will?) ask the Supreme Court to hear an appeal, but, as always, it’s pretty rare to get the Supreme Court to do so. And, on top of that, as long as Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains on the court, the court has a terrible record on getting copyright cases right (and, yes, it’s almost always Ginsburg writing the awful copyright rulings).

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