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07.22.18

Patents Roundup: Patent Litigation is Down and Seems to Have Shifted Away From Software Patents

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 11:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shift on keyboard

Summary: A roundup of recent patent cases of interest and what can be deduced from them, especially but not exclusively in the United States

AS THE weeks and months go by we see the USPTO moving further and further away from software patents; it’s hardly a surprise that patent litigation has nosedived and many patent trolls have gone out of ‘business’ (they never had a legitimate business, only a litigation/extortion pipeline). Cemented by a long series of Federal Circuit decisions (especially in 2017) and a growing demand for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), this trend carries on pretty much unabated. It has been pleasing to watch because we started campaigning on the matter a very long time ago, well over a decade.

Watchtroll has, at least to us, become somewhat of a laughing stock. It’s just attacking courts, attacking judges, and blaming everything on Google. 4 days ago it wrote about Jazz Pharmaceuticals and a Federal Circuit which we covered here before. This isn’t about Secrion 101. Neither is this other case covered by Watchtroll in relation to Power Integrations:

Power Integrations, Inc. owns U.S. Patent Nos. 6,212,079 (“the ‘079 patent”) and 6,538,908 (“the ‘908 patent”). Power Integrations sued Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation and Fairchild (Taiwan) Corporation (collectively “Fairchild”) for infringement.

Notice that these have nothing to do with software. It recently wrote about this rejection of a patent leading to accusations that a company had “committed fraud because it did not notify shareholders” (yes, fraud).

Watchtroll said:

Citron does not allege, and could not credibly allege, that the PolarityTE has been lying to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Nor did Citron allege subterfuge surround the technology or science underlying the patent application in question. Indeed, Citron specifically says in the report that they “will not discuss the science behind PolarityTE”. Instead, the astonishing claim is made that PolarityTE has committed fraud because it did not notify shareholders that the patent examiner issued a non-final rejection in a patent application.

This case, again, isn’t about software. Yesterday night Florian Müller wrote about Qualcomm (now in our latest daily links) after he had covered this latest twist in Huawei v Samsung — a case covered by him in recent months. To quote:

This week in Huawei v. Samsung delivered two more sethacks for the Chinese Android device maker and increasingly aggressive patent enforcer (I don’t want to call them a “patent bully” just yet, though it may be an appropriate label at a later stage).

First, he trial that Judge William H. Orrick will preside over in the Northern District of California in December is going to be far narrower, and potentially less impactful, than Huawei had hoped. As I had noted toward the end of this recent post, Huawei previously informed of the court of its willingness to withdraw its request for a declaratory judgment on worldwide FRAND licensing terms to its standard-essential patents, subject to an agreement with Samsung on the specifics. That agreement has indeed materialized, suggesting that Huawei saw a high risk of Judge Orrick throwing out the claim (whose dismissal Samsung was already formally seeking) at any rate. Instead of having to make a decision, Judge Orrick merely had to grant the parties’ stipulation of a dismissal that is formally without prejudice, allowing Huawei to try again, but only in a different case and not for at least nine months (this post continues below the document):

It certainly looks like Huawei is losing its momentum; its case against Samsung — like Apple’s cases — is becoming a “winner” only for patent lawyers.

Another new report, this one about a case in New York, has one party “seeking, inter alia, declaratory judgments of noninfringement and invalidity of U.S. Patent No. RE39,470, U.S. Patent No. 7,382,334, and U.S. Patent No. 6,430,603 (collectively, the “Patents-in-Suit”).”

Here are the details:

On July 13, 2018, United States District Judge Laura Taylor Swain (S.D.N.Y.) granted a motion by Plaintiff— BroadSign International, LLC (“BroadSign”) —for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint against Defendant T-Rex Property AB (“T-Rex”), seeking, inter alia, declaratory judgments of noninfringement and invalidity of U.S. Patent No. RE39,470, U.S. Patent No. 7,382,334, and U.S. Patent No. 6,430,603 (collectively, the “Patents-in-Suit”).

BroadSign supplies hardware and software solutions to operators of networks of digital signs. T-Rex has sued several of BroadSign’s customers that make, use, or sell digital signage systems, for direct patent infringement on one or more of the Patents-in-Suit.

It’s too early to tell what will happen, but by the sound of it Section 101 might be applicable here.

One more case of interest is Ariosa Diagnostics v Illumina, wherein prior art is brought into question/scrutiny because “the courts all agree that the disclosures found in an issued patent or published application count as prior art as of the patent’s filing date.” To quote:

In the simple case outlined above, the courts all agree that the disclosures found in an issued patent or published application count as prior art as of the patent’s filing date. The difficulty comes when we bring priority-claims into play (such as priority to a provisional application).

In this case, the Federal Circuit ruled that a published application can count as prior art as of its provisional filing date — but only as to features actually claimed in the application. According to the court, features disclosed in the provisional but not claimed in the published application will only be prior art as of their date of public disclosure.

The patent challenger argues that this interpretation is wrong — and particularly that the effect of the priority claim should be governed by 35 U.S.C. §§ 119(e)(1) and 120, which provide for applications properly claiming priority back to an earlier filing “shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on” the earlier date. On the other side – the statutory hook for the Federal Circuit’s limitation here is the fact that the statute gives priority for “the invention” — i.e., the claimed invention — but not for the disclosure as a whole. In addition Sections 119 and 120 develop the rules for patents claiming priority — not for prior art.

Indecision here too (for now)?

On the difference between knowing about patent infringement and not even being aware (which is the upside of never reading any patents), check out this Docket Report about Olaf Soot Design, LLC v Daktronics, Inc., et al. As the Docket Navigator put it the other day:

The court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment that they did not willfully infringe plaintiff’s winch system patent because plaintiff presented insufficient evidence of knowledge through the knowledge of defendants’ outside prosecution counsel.

So it’s better not to be aware or to not to do one’s ‘homework’.

Last but not least, there’s this report behind paywall saying that “Philips SEP [is] validated by UK High Court,” which basically means patent tax one cannot work around, even in Europe. To quote:

The High Court has validated a Philips standard essential patent, making it “two-one to Philips as it moves towards the FRAND trial” in its litigation with Asus and HTC

The UK’s position on FRAND was quite covered a lot last year after a judgment had been issued by Colin Birss. Whether or not that spells doom or helps bring software patents to Britain remains to be seen; no doubt the fate of the UPC would play a considerable role.

Half a Year Later the Patent Microcosm is Still ‘Pulling a Berkheimer’ in Vain

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 10:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Citing a decision from way back (in February)

Pulling a Berkheimer

Summary: Earth-shattering changes are being insinuated by people who are in the business of ‘selling’ services around patents, never mind if 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains unchanged and Federal Circuit caselaw suggests likewise

LAST week in Patent Docs, a site of patent maximalists, Michael Hinrichsen, Anthony D. Sabatelli, and Jonathan Schuchardt (from some law firm) were trying to ‘pull a Berkheimer‘ (and Aatrix). It’s incredible that they’re still trying to use these tricks about a third of a year down the line. Berkheimer and Aatrix have not changed anything profoundly; they’re just being mentioned a lot by law firms in articles. They keep name-dropping Berkheimer and Aatrix, alluding to some vague need to assess underlying facts (as if courts didn’t already assess facts). The new USPTO Director played along for a while, but he has since then taken a low-profile approach (like António Campinos at the EPO) and we assume that any changes associated with Berkheimer and Aatrix are ‘fossilised’. Many law firms submitted comments, but nothing has actually changed.

The Patent Docs piece is more of the same, striving to or trying to add barriers to law (e.g. Section 101) being applied. The anti-Alice lobby isn’t interested in justice or in patent scope; it’s just trying to actively undermine SCOTUS. From the article:

Buried amidst the flurry of recent Federal Circuit subject matter eligibility decisions is a question that could significantly change how Section 101 is applied in patent litigation. Specifically, the issue is whether performing Step 2 of the Mayo/Alice test can require a factual inquiry. If upheld, this interpretation of Alice could make patent litigation much more complicated and expensive. In fact, Section 101 inquiries could become convoluted mini-trials in their own right — similar to how Markman hearings are performed today.

[...]

Troubling questions continue to emanate from the factual vs legal question debate. Will other panels support this view of Step 2 of Alice? To date, all supporting decisions have been penned by Judge Moore. Additionally, HP has filed a petition for an en banc review. If upheld, it is unclear what level of evidence would be required for a court to conclude that a factual inquiry is necessary. Based on Berkheimer, it appears that if a specification describes a claimed feature as novel and that feature is eligible for consideration as an inventive concept, this may suffice to establish a genuine issue of material fact. It is unclear how such a factual inquiry would proceed, however, or what kind of evidence and how much of it would be required to establish that a claimed element is ‘inventive.’ Regardless of how these inquiries are eventually performed, if upheld, treating Step 2 of Alice as a legal question with factual underpinnings will undoubtedly complicate Section 101 inquiries.

Section 101 inquiries have been fine since and it’s odd that they say a couple of old decisions “could significantly change how Section 101 is applied in patent litigation.”

“Their logic is fairly simple: more patents = good, fewer patents = bad.”It has barely changed a thing! It has been a long time since then, nearly half a year!

Patent Docs being Patent Docs (having also just advertised for patent maximalists [1, 2, 3, 4]), we don’t suppose that it will even pen a piece about why Section 101 is good and software patents are bad. The site is run by patent law firms, whose sole goal is increasing their profits. The same goes for Watchtroll, which keeps moaning about SCOTUS improving the quality of US patents, even as recently as 4 days ago.

Their logic is fairly simple: more patents = good, fewer patents = bad.

“Why is it that patent lawyers are allowed to dominate not only media coverage about patents but also blogs, including ones with a name like IP Watch (suggestive of opposition to the ‘IP’ maximalists)?”That’s it! Financial logic. For patent lawyers anyway…

We were rather disappointed to see that on the very same day IP Watch was again acting like platform of the patent microcosm (second time in a week), having published this post about Zeroclick, initially covered here back in early June.

Why is it that patent lawyers are allowed to dominate not only media coverage about patents but also blogs, including ones with a name like IP Watch (suggestive of opposition to the ‘IP’ maximalists)? The public needs to hear more from technical people, not legal professionals, whose skills involve name-dropping or ‘pulling a Berkheimer‘, as we dubbed/called it back in May. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) almost never mentions Berkheimer in relation to inter partes reviews (IPRs). Neither does the Federal Circuit.

The World Has Moved on and Beyond Software Patents, But Buzzwords and Hype Provide Workarounds

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 10:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: The ‘Blockchaining’ of Software Patents (to Dodge the Rules/Guidelines) Now Coming to Europe

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

Summary: A look at the status quo of software patents and some of the past week’s reports, which still disguise such patents as “financial”

Software patents in India aren’t allowed (not “per se” anyway). In the EPO it’s “as such” and in the USPTO there are now exclusions for “abstract” ideas, which many interpret as inclusive of computer algorithms.

As we reported last week, Australia had gone down the same route, as did New Zealand. South Africa also, so the English-speaking world is overwhelmingly against software patents now. The main exception to that global trend is China.

A few days ago a patent law firm from India (one that we mentioned here before) noted that:

A software by itself or computer program per se is not considered as an invention as per Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970. Section 3(k) stipulates that a mathematical or business method or a computer programe per se or algorithm are not invention within the meaning of this Act.

None of that has changed. Over the years we’ve been keeping track of many efforts to change that. But India stood firm in the face of lobbyists.

“Cryptocurrency”, “AI”, “cloud” and other hype has meanwhile been exploited in the US and Europe to bypass restrictions and patent software. We’ve written many articles about that and here’s a new example:

Ernst & Young LLP (EY) announced on Thursday it has acquired technology assets and related patents from Elevated Consciousness, Inc., a U.S. startup focused on developing unique solutions for the crypto-asset ecosystem. EY reported that the acquisition is part of its strategy to expand blockchain-related capabilities and services worldwide.

Well, such patents are bunk, even ifthey ‘dress them up’ as “blockchain” or “cryptocurrency”. Those are software patents. Here is another new example, this one about Walmart:

Is blockchain technology the answer to fighting porch pirates and ensuring safe delivery of items from online retailers to customers’ homes? Walmart seems to be at least exploring the possibility, according to a patent application that the company recently filed.

The application , dated July 5, describes a system of “locker docking stations” that could be “located at a user’s home, at public locations such as transportation hubs, public venues, or the like, or other desired locations.” The stations would coordinate “directly with one or more delivery systems” to organize the delivery of items.

This isn't the first time we see Walmart dabbling in it; if tested in US courts, however, such patents would likely be rendered invalid under Section 101.

News has been relatively slow this past week (normal for summertime), but we carry on watching trends and milestones in the fight against software patents.

Links 23/7/2018: Linux 4.18 RC6, Plans for Next KDE

Posted in News Roundup at 9:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.18-rc6

      So this was the week when the other shoe dropped … The reason the
      two previous rc releases were so nice and small was that David hadn’t
      sent me much networking fixes, and they came in this week.

      That said, it’s not really a huge rc this week either, so it’s all
      good. But the networking pull this week does mean that almost exactly
      half of the diff is core networking, network drivers, or networking
      documentation updates.

      The rest is other drivers (mostly gpu, but also scsi, nvma, pci,
      pinctrl..), some arch updates (arc, x86, nds32, powerpc), and “misc”
      (tooling, header files, some vm and fs noise).

      The small but nasty VM bug we had earlier did indeed get fixed last
      rc, but there was some 32-bit fallout from the fix, so rc5 still had
      issues. But I’m hopeful that rc6 _really_ fixed all the cases.

      Shortlog appended for people who want to just get an overview of the details,

      Linus

    • Linux 4.18-rc6 Kernel Released With Many Networking Fixes, Other Regressions Resolved

      The sixth weekly test release of the Linux 4.18 kernel is now available for evaluation.

      Linux 4.18-rc6 is prior than the two previous weekly release candidates since those versions hadn’t incorporated any big batch of networking fixes, which hit this week. So about half of the changes are networking changes in Linux 4.18-rc6 while the other half is a mix of driver and architecture updates along with other noise.

    • NXP i.MX8 SoC Support Hasn’t Yet Worked Its Way Into The Mainline Linux Kernel

      While early in the year was talk of introducing NXP i.MX8 SoC support in the Linux 4.17 kernel, that didn’t happen. Support for that latest-generation i.MX SoC also didn’t make it for Linux 4.18 and it also looks like it will not make it for Linux 4.19.

      There have been patches for the i.MX8 Linux SoC support since January thanks to Pengutronix with GPIO, clock, net, and the core patches being written by the German firm. But unfortunately they haven’t yet made it to mainline. For the i.MX8 in the mainline kernel tree as of today with Linux 4.18 there is just the i.MX8QM AHCI SATA support, FEC network driver carried over from earlier Freescale SoCs, and some bits for the the Etnaviv DRM driver with the Vivante GC7000L graphics from the i.MX8M.

    • Microsoft Surface Dial & Dell Totem Support Heading To Linux 4.19

      Back in May we covered the big rewrite of the Linux kernel’s HID multi-touch code and in the process supporting the Microsoft Surface Dial and Dell Canvas 27′s Totem input device. That work will be landing in the Linux 4.19 kernel.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Closer Look At The Linux Laptop Power Use Between Ubuntu, Fedora, Clear & Antergos

        Earlier this month I posted some results when looking at the Windows 10 versus Linux power consumption using a Kabylake-R Dell XPS 13 laptop and testing Windows 10, Ubuntu 18.04, Fedora Workstation 28, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and Clear Linux. For some additional numbers, I took three other distinctly different laptops and tested them on a few Linux distributions to see how their battery life and power efficiency compare as additional metrics to complement this earlier data.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Team Announces Major Improvements in Upcoming KDE 18.08 Release

        The developers of Linux’s KDE suite have announced a major slew of updates set to be included in the upcoming KDE 18.08, set for an August 2018 release. Details for these updates revolve around a range of new features and overall polish for the core KDE apps including Gwenview, Spectacle, Konsole, and Dolphin, as well as focusing on the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.14 update due in October.

        Due to KDE’s open-source nature, the devs also have a site up for people interested in getting involved, whether its simple bug reporting or actually being hands-on with the development using C++, Qt, and CMake. You can read more about their community program at KDE – Get Involved.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 28

        Here’s another big week for KDE’s Usability and Productivity initiative. We’re getting ready for the release of KDE Applications 18.08–the second of our three yearly Applications releases. As the numbers in the version suggest, it will be released in August of 2018, about a month from now. As such, there’s been a lot of focus on new features and polish for core KDE apps such as Dolphin, Gwenview, Konsole, and Spectacle. We’re also ramping up our work for KDE Plasma 5.14, which is scheduled for release in October.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • I’ve built a box

        This is not the typical post I use to write (which is usually about what I do at work, often related to GNOME, so if you’re not interested, just skip it…). But a couple of months ago I did something different that I still want to write about. That thing was a wooden box (sorry if you were expecting a Gavin Box) that I was asked to carve by my brother for his wedding, to be used for carrying the wedding rings.

        The wedding had a Game of Thrones’s theme (there was not blood in it though, if you’re wondering), so naturally my brother wanted some of that in the box. Thus, my initial idea was to just buy a box and carve something to do with GoT and include their names. Something like this, as my brother sent me for inspiration.

      • Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: GUADEC18 Developer Center BoF Part 3: Challenges

        Currently, the Developer Center infrastructure and documentation suffers from low to non-existing maintenance. It’s a sign we need to take serious. Do we need lower the barrier to contributing to the developer documentation? What can we do to make the infrastructure easier to maintain? The underlying issue here likely also ties into why we now see new GNOME documentation hosted on other websites by different maintainers powered by different underlying technologies. I think this challenge needs both thinking from a technical point of view (how we might support editing multi-language documentation and auto-generated documentation) and an organizational point of view (assigning maintainership, reviewing our docs, aligning visions).

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Debian-Based Neptune Linux 5.4 Operating System Debuts with New Dark Theme

        Neptune Linux developer Leszek Lesner announced the release Neptune 5.4, a monthly updated installation image of the Debian-based and KDE-oriented operating system that uses the latest software versions and technologies.

        Featuring improved support for Android devices, support for removing all notification history from the notification widget, support for multiple archives for Plasma Extensions in the Plasma Discover package manager, and improved ZRAM config to work with single-core CPUs, Neptune 5.4 introduces a new dark look and feel called Neptune Dark, along with the Faenza Dark icon theme.

    • Slackware Family

      • The LiveSlak Project: Running Slackware-Current Live Images With or Without Persistence and Installing Them

        Eric Hameleers has unofficially contributed to Slackware for what feels like forever. He not only runs his blog Alien Pastures dedicated to Slackware and offers a huge selection of packages pre-compiled on his vanilla systems, readily available for our perusal. He also offers the Ktown repository with updated packages of KDE4 and the next generation Plasma desktop for both the stable and testing branches of Slackware. He also started the Slackware Live project based on his own LiveSlak scripts to give people an opportunity to run Slackware current without
        committing to an install and to get an idea what the next version will be like.

        On 25th June the latest line of images was released, one for each desktop. Live ISOs are offered in 32 and 64bit, although only the Xfce and KDE4 images are available for both architectures. The other two images with MATE or a Plasma 5 preview substituted for KDE4 are 64bit only. This 1.2.0 release mirrors Slackware current as of 23/06/2018. Initially there was also a version with the Cinnamon desktop but this seems to have fallen behind.

        Apart from the desktop chosen there are some differences in the size of the images. The Xfce spin is just under 700MB, the standard desktop version with KDE which is just named slackware-live-current is 3.1/3.0 GB respectively, the MATE version 2.1GB and the Plasma 5 edition a hefty 4.3GB, also due to extra software onboard. Read more about how the project came about and an overview with tips on Eric’s blog.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Distributed Services Fabric for Container-Based Applications Powered by Avi Network

        Avi Vantage constantly monitors several metrics that represent load on application instances. Operators can configure an autoscaling policy to automatically scale up or scale down application instances based on load. In addition, Avi Vantage also learns application access patterns and can perform intelligent, predictive autoscaling based on learnt access patterns.

        In our next blog post we will focus on the intelligence and security features that Avi Networks and OpenShift provide for container-based applications.

      • Fedora

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Exclusive: Why open source is critical to software development

    Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Pivotal APJ head of platform architecture Lawrence Crowther and discuss the importance of Open-source and cloud.

    Firstly, can you tell me a bit more about Pivotal and its cloud platform?

    Pivotal’s original mission was to transform the way the world builds software. Now our mission is to transform the way the world runs software, too, through a combination of methodology and technology. Whether we are helping clients change their culture towards product development or managing platforms, we use the same agile principles in both cases, such as Extreme Programming and the Lean Startup approach. This is often a radical shift for companies to embrace so we partner with them for a “learn by doing” approach.

    We believe that in order to support a fast development team who are iterating quickly and updating constantly, you need a different kind of platform. One that removes all barriers and lets you go from “concept to cash” quickly in a reliable, secure and safe way. You can build software as fast as you want but if it is not ending up in the hands of users it doesn’t matter. Once Pivotal Cloud Foundry is up and running the cost of deploying applications and iterating on them becomes almost zero. This is because it takes away the details of infrastructure, middleware, dependencies, integrations, monitoring and more from the development team so they can focus on delivering value to the business over and over again.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • PR: With Blockchain for the Open Source Hardware – ENVIENTA

        The Hungarian rooted ENVIENTA project started its preliminary token issue on 1st July (ICO private token sale).

        The aim of the project is to help to spread the open source philosophy becoming more and more common in hardware development industry and to support the life cycle of the products, made this way, from the idea to the realization. The idea of the open source hardware is not new, however, there has been no attempt to gather all the participants in this field on a common platform in order to support cooperations.

  • Programming/Development

    • Persepolis Download Manager: Impressive Python frontend for aria2

      Persepolis Download Manager is a handy open source download manager written in Python and PyQt. It’s a graphical frontend for aria2 aiming to make downloads both easier and faster.

      This software project commenced development in 2015 with the first release in July 2016. While it was initially only a simple graphical user interface, the software has seen some pretty hefty development since then with a whole raft of additional functionality added, improvements to the user interface, and cross-platform support.

    • Microsoft Visual Studio Code replumbed for better Python taming [Ed: Embrace and extend. Microsoft is trying to push developers of FOSS over to their proprietary IDE that puts spying inside compiled code.]
    • What’s new in Apache Subversion 1.10.2?

      I couldn’t believe if you are unaware of the Apache Subversion. It is an Enterprise-class centralized version control founded in 2000 by CollabNet Inc. One of the most successful opensource project in past many years. Mostly all the opensource projects and enterprise source code are on subversion. It has the rich community of developers and users who are continuously improving subversion.

    • SPAKE2 In Golang: Journey to Cryptoland begins

      Before I can go to detail I should tell why/how I came to implementing SPAKE2 in Golang. Story starts a couple of month back when I started contributing to *magic-wormhole.rs*, a Rust port of original Python project of magic-wormhole. You can read this LWN article to understand more about what magic-wormhole is.

      During contribution my friend Ramakrishnan Muthukrishnan said to me that I should try to port the magic-wormhole to Golang. I was not a expert Go programmer but had understanding of language basics and thought why not use it to improve my language understanding. And this is where it all started.

    • AMD AOCC 1.2.1 Compiler Flings Flang Fixes

      AMD released a minor update to their AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler.

      AOCC is the company’s downstream of LLVM/Clang with optimizations for their Zen CPU microarchitecture with compiler optimizations/improvements before they work their way into upstream LLVM. AOCC is the replacement for AMD’s Open64 compiler used years ago with earlier micro-architectures.

Leftovers

  • Gmail rolls out DRM for email and office documents, calls it “Confidential Mode”

    This system, which Google calls “Information Rights Management” (a term coined by Microsoft to refer to a similar feature in Microsoft Office) is a kind of DRM for email. It is an extremely brittle security measure, which can be trivially defeated by taking screenshots or photos of your computer.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Yemen’s Houthis claim drone attack on Aramco refinery in Riyadh

      The Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen said it had attacked a Saudi Aramco refinery in Riyadh on Wednesday using a drone, but the oil company said a limited fire at the plant was due to “an operational incident”.

    • Yemeni forces fire drone, hit Aramco refinery in Saudi capital

      Yemeni army, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, has attacked a refinery of the Saudi oil company Aramco in the capital Riyadh using a new drone unveiled on Wednesday, with the kingdom confirming a fire at the plant.

    • Activist Kathy Kelly stresses pacifist message in uncertain times

      U.S. drone strikes have killed between 7,715 and 11,067 people, including up to 1,555 civilians, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based organization that has tracked drone killings since 2010.

    • How to Survive America’s Kill List

      When a U.S. citizen heard he was on his own country’s drone target list, he wasn’t sure he believed it. After five near-misses, he does – and is suing the United States to contest his own execution

    • New York-born Muslim journalist and US citizen living in Syria sues the American government claiming he’s been put on the drone strike Kill List

      A New York-born journalist living in Syria is suing the US government, claiming its put him on the drone Kill List.

      Born Darrell Lamont Phelps, Bilal Abdul Kareem grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, before converting to Islam and moving to Syria as a reporter.

      But in 2016, Kareem, a US citizen, said he was targeted in a series of attacks, before he says a source tipped him off that he was on America’s infamous ‘Kill List’, otherwise known as ‘Disposition Matrix,’ according to Rolling Stone.

    • Former senior CIA official says it’s “quite near time” for Trump supporters to kill Trump opponents

      Michael Scheuer says it is “quite near time” to kill American citizens who oppose Trump.

      Scheuer is a former senior CIA official and the author of the New York Times bestseller, Imperial Hubris. In a now-deleted blog post (cached version here) Scheuer singles out “Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants.” He looks forward to the “sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants is not one that will be missed if Trump does not soon do the necessary to save the republic.”

    • Armed US drones up and running in Niger

      Armed U.S. drone flights over Niger — which started after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in October — have put a scare into local militants, the country’s top defense official said.

      Earlier this year, U.S. Africa Command quietly began armed unmanned surveillance flights in Niger, adding more firepower in the country where the Oct. 4 attack on a team of Green Berets raised questions about whether troops were carrying out dangerous missions without sufficient backup.

      While drones now fly armed out of a base in Niger’s capital of Niamey, no strikes have yet been launched on targets inside the country, AFRICOM said Friday.

    • Fighting illegal immigration and terrorism: New surveillance drone targets EU buyers

      Europe’s migration crisis has left thousands dead as they seek a better life by making the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean. It has also stretched countries’ domestic resources and sparked political conflict on the bloc.

      So far, 1,400 migrants have died off Libya’s coast since the beginning of this year, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration. Last year, 3,116 people were killed.

      Yet one Israeli military technology manufacturer believes they have found a solution which could help governments tackle illegal immigration and rescue migrants from capsized vessels at sea.

    • Islanders exiled by British Government begin London occupation

      Chagossians were removed from their island homeland – now called the British Indian Ocean Territory – to make way for a military base in the 1960s and 70s.

      Despite years of protest and legal challenges, they have been never been allowed to return home.

      Yesterday, Chagossians gathered in Trafalgar Square to highlight their “ongoing struggle for justice”.

      Isabelle Charlot, chair of the Chagos Islanders Movement, said there is a pressing need for redress as deportees grow older.

      She said: “The Chagossian community have been ignored for far too long. We had hope that one day the British Government will recognise their wrongdoing and apologise to us.

    • Key Fact Obscured in Immigration Coverage: MS-13 Was Made in USA

      The immigrants that Frum is speaking of come largely from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, an area known as the Northern Triangle. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 3 million total immigrants from these countries in the US, and about half of those immigrants are undocumented. While Mexican immigration has been falling in recent years, Central American immigration has increased: from 2007 through 2015, the total number of Northern Triangle immigrants rose by 25 percent.

      Yet much media coverage of immigration misses out on why large numbers of people from the Northern Triangle are migrating to the US in the first place.

      Over the past three generations, the Northern Triangle countries, long marked by profound levels of inequality, have each experienced horribly destructive civil wars and military coups. Unsurprisingly, the United States has been intimately involved in each of these, supporting anti-Communist regimes during the Cold War and protecting US business interests with truly disastrous results.

      In 1954, the CIA orchestrated a coup to remove President Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, at the behest of United Fruit Company (now Chiquita), the country’s largest landowner. During the subsequent civil war that lasted until 1996, the US gave military and financial support to a succession of right-wing governments that committed large-scale human rights abuses that killed hundreds of thousands.

    • Two Palestinian scientists found dead in an apartment in Algeria

      Suliman al-Farra, 34, and Mohammed Albana, both from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, were found dead in an apartment on Sunday.

    • Gazan scientist, doctor said found dead in Algeria

      A scientist and a doctor from the Gaza Strip died in Algeria on Sunday under unexplained circumstances, Palestinian media reported, sparking speculation that they may have been assassinated.

      According to the reports, the Palestinian embassy in Algeria informed the scientists’ families that the two were found dead in their apartment, apparently from a gas leak or electrical malfunction.

    • Gaza Reports: Two Palestinian Scientists Found Dead in Algeria

      Two Palestinian scientists were found dead in an apartment in Algeria, reports in Gaza said on Sunday. The circumstances surrounding their deaths were unclear.

      The two, identified as Suliman al-Farra, 34, and Mohammed Albana, a 35-year-old physician, from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. The report said that they were found dead in al-Farra’s apartment, in Zeralda, a suburb of the capital Algiers.

    • Israel to reopen Gaza terminal, extend fishing on Tuesday if quiet holds

      Israel will reopen Gaza’s main commercial crossing and expand its fishing zone on Tuesday if a lull in cross-border tensions holds after a truce with the enclave’s dominant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the Israeli defence minister said.

    • 10 suspected jihadists killed in Yemen drone strike, clashes

      en suspected Al-Qaeda jihadists and two soldiers fighting for Yemen’s government have been killed in clashes and a drone strike, local officials and security sources said Sunday.

      The US military is the only force known to operate armed drones over Yemen.

      Officials in Marab loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognised government said a drone on Sunday targeted a house used by Al-Qaeda in the central province, killing four jihadists.

    • Killer algorithms

      Warnings about the risks posed by artificial intelligence (IA) seem to be everywhere nowadays. From Elon Musk to Henry Kissinger, people are sounding the alarm that super-smart computers could wipe us out, like in the film “The Terminator”. To hear them talk, you would think we were on the brink of dystopia, that Skynet is nearly upon us.

      These warnings matter, but they gloss over a more urgent problem: weaponised AI is already here. As you read this, powerful interests, from corporations to state agencies, like the military and police, are using AI to monitor people, assess them and to make consequential decisions about their lives. Should we have a treaty ban on autonomous weapons? Absolutely. But we do not need to take humans “out of the loop” to do damage. Faulty algorithmic processing has been hurting poor and vulnerable communities for years.

      I first noticed how data-driven targeting could go wrong five years ago, in Yemen. I was in the capital, Sanaa, interviewing survivors of an American drone attack that had killed innocent people. Two of the civilians who died could have been US allies. One was the village policeman, and the other was an imam who had preached against Al Qaeda days before the strike. One of the men’s surviving relatives, an engineer called Faisal Bin Ali Jaber, came to me with a simple question: Why were his loved ones targeted?

      [...]

      These kinds of attacks, called “signature strikes”, make up the majority of drone strikes. Meanwhile, civilian air strike deaths have become more numerous under President Donald Trump, over 6,000 last year in Iraq and Syria alone.

      This is AI at its most controversial. And the controversy spilled over to Google this spring, with thousands of the company’s employees protesting, and some resigning, over a bid to help the Defence Department analyse drone feeds. But this is not the only potential abuse of AI we need to consider.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Judge Pulls 180 On Controversial LA Times Censorship Order

      The Los Angeles Times restored details to a story Tuesday after a California federal judge lifted an order blocking the publication of information from a police officer’s sealed corruption plea agreement that was accidentally made public on PACER.

    • Deal between Ecuador and UK to hand over Julian Assange is ‘imminent’ and Wikileaks founder could then be sent to US to face spy charges
    • Report: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange May Soon Be Ejected From Ecuador’s Embassy
    • Julian Assange’s Departure from Ecuador Embassy in London Is Imminent
    • Ecuadorian President to meet with UK minister Penny Mordaunt amid claims Julian Assange faces eviction
    • Report: Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum from Julian Assange
    • UK Officials To Take Over Custody of Wikileaks Julian Assange

      He’s called out both sides of our political system and helped many voters make more informed decisions on who they wanted to back and support. The opposition media hasn’t shown Assange love because he is in charge of an organization that performs the sort of work they were hired to do.
      There are many on both sides who want to see Assange prosecuted but I am not one of those. We’ve seen whistleblowers over the span of our lives, and for the most part, the people in charge are the ones who get exposed for the betterment of our lives. Assange is not in the same class as Edward Snowden in my humble opinion.

    • Ecuador close to evicting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: Greenwald

      The UK and Ecuador President Lenin Moreno are “close to finalizing” or have already finalized a deal to evict Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, according to an article published by The Intercept on Saturday.

      According to reporter Glenn Greenwald, Ecuador could withdraw its protection to the Wikileaks founder in a matter of days. Greenwald first drew widespread public attention by publishing data provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      According to Greenwald’s article, Ecuador’s Moreno used the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit as a pretext to travel to London and discuss handing over Assange to British officials. Moreno has been critical of Assange, describing him as an “inherited problem,” a “pebble in the shoe,” who has created “more than a nuisance” for his government.

      [...]

      After a UK judge ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden, the Australian-born activist sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Quito granted him asylum in 2012. However, ties between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts gradually soured as his years-long stay irritated Western nations.

    • #Unity4J to hold Emergency Public Meeting; Unveil Non- Violent Digital Action Plan

      International media are reporting that WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief may imminently be handed by Ecuador to UK authorities. (Ref) If such an event occurs, it presents an immediate threat to Assange’s human rights, asylum rights, liberty and to press freedoms. It would also be in direct contravention to the rulings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Inter-American Court of human rights, both of which have found in his favour.

    • Julian Assange’s Jeopardy

      What comes next for Julian Assange after his years holed up in Ecuador’s embassy at London? Glenn Greenwald has a report on the Intercept suggesting that eviction from his current sanctuary is imminent and that if he leaves, Wikileaks’ founder could face a year or more in prison at Britain as he maneuvers to avoid extradition to America. It strikes us as a thorough report, save for the omission of any mention of the case known as United States v. Alvarez-Machain.

      That case, decided in 1992, could prove to be a precedent were America simply to seize Mr. Assange and bring him here without resort to any extradition treaty. The first of the several times we’ve written about Alvarez-Machain was in connection with the Libyan terrorist Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, who’d been released early from the prison sentence he was serving for murder in the bombing in 1988 of a Pan American clipper, Maid of the Seas, in which 270 persons perished at Lockerbie, Scotland.

      Al-Megrahi, suffering from cancer, was let out of prison so he could go home to live out his remaining days in Libya. It struck us that President Obama could have sent agents to seize him and bring him to America for trial. That’s because of the way the courts handled Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican physician who allegedly participated in the murders of an American drug enforcement agent, Enrique Camarena Salazar, and a DEA pilot.

    • Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing And Surrendering Assange – OpEd

      It is perhaps typical in a time where a star of the fleshy celluloid wonder Baywatch, heavy in bust and known for her sexual adventures, should feature as a political voice. Pamela Anderson’s views are treated with judicious seriousness – at least in some quarters. Her association with Julian Assange has given needless room for columns on what, exactly, their relationship constitutes.

      Having such defenders as Anderson has added to his conspicuous support base, but it will not move those bureaucrats who are chewing pens in anticipation and pondering options as to how best to eject him from the Ecuadorean embassy (compound would be more fitting) in London. Easily missed amidst the titter of celebrity gossip is the plight of an ailing Assange, who is facing the next critical stage of his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy.

      Since the changing of the guard in Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno has shown a warmer feeling towards the United States, and a desire to raise the issue of Assange’s stay in the embassy with US Vice President Mike Pence with the urgency of man desiring to be rid of a problem. The UK government has also been brought into the mix. The forces against Assange are marshalling themselves with a renewed impatience.

      A squeeze evidently designed to break the will of WikiLeaks’ publisher-in-chief was commenced in March, with a change of the embassy’s Wi-Fi password effectively blocking his use of the Internet. Phone calls and visitations have also been curtailed. The bill of Ecuadorean hospitality, if it can be termed that, also became a subject of discussion – some $5 million expended on security and Assange’s various activities. Attitudes to a troublesome guest have hardened.

    • Ecuador ‘close’ to kicking Julian Assange out of London embassy

      US investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald is reporting Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno travelled to Britain on Friday to finalise the deal.

      Under the deal, Ecuador would withdraw protection for the WikiLeaks founder and he would then be handed over to British authorities, Greenwald wrote on his website The Intercept.

      [...]

      A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Intercept that the deal to hand Assange over within the next several weeks was close to being finalised if it had not been so already.

    • Assange may be handed over to UK this week: report

      The website’s editor, Glenn Greenwald, wrote that Moreno had begun an unofficial visit to London on Friday during which it was claimed things would be finalised to hand over Assange to British authorities.

      Moreno is also due to visit Spain which had taken strong objection to Assange’s criticism of alleged human rights abuses by Spain at the time when Catalonia launched protests for independence. Ecuador has blocked Assange from the Internet for the last three months, with his intervention in the Catalonia affair reportedly being the reason.

      Ecuador signed a security agreement with the US in May, a sharp move away from policies pursued by the previous government led by Rafael Correa.

    • Is this finally the end for Julian Assange?

      Ecuador has a very close relationship with Spain in matters of both trade and diplomacy and wants to remain in their good graces. Moreno isn’t quite as fearful of ticking off the governments of the United States or Great Britain as he would be of getting under the skin of Madrid. But he’s also said to be more amenable to working with western governments than his predecessor. After Assange started publicly criticizing Spain’s handling of the Catalan independence movement, he went from being an inconvenience to a serious diplomatic problem.

    • Report: Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange, Hand Him Over to UK

      Since 2012, Assange has been under Ecuador’s protection. However, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet nearly three months ago after the Spanish government expressed its anger over Assange’s tweets about Catalonia. He has not been able to communicate with the outside world since.

    • Ecuador is Reportedly Getting Ready to Turn Assange Over to U.K. Authorities

      Assange has been inside Ecuador’s embassy since he fled Sweden after accusations of sexual assault and rape. Prosecutors in Sweden have since dropped the charges although he could still face proceedings and jail time for violating bail conditions. More concerning for Assange, of course, is the possibility that the United States would call on U.K. authorities to arrest and extradite him over the leaking of classified documents. Sources close to Assange claim that the United States is pressuring Ecuador to evict Assange, including by threatening to block a loan from the International Monetary Fund if it continues to allow the WikiLeaks founder to live in its embassy.

      Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter that if Ecuador does evict Assange from the embassy “it’s essential the UK not become party to any US effort to prosecute him for merely publishing classified information the same way journalists regularly do.”

    • ‘Profound’ Threat to Press Freedom Looms as Ecuador Prepares to Hand Assange Over to UK

      Amid new reports that Ecuador is preparing to withdraw asylum protections from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and hand him over to British authorities within the next few weeks, journalists are raising alarm at the serious threats to press freedom such a move could spawn, given that the U.K. may decide to extradite Assange to the United States—where he could face “prosecution for the act of publishing documents.”

      “The Obama administration was eager to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but ultimately concluded that there was no way to do so without either also prosecuting newspapers such as the New York Times and the Guardian which published the same documents,” notes The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, who reported on Saturday that Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is “close to finalizing” a deal to eject Assange from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he has been living since 2012.

      However, top Trump administration officials are not at all concerned about the dangerous precedents prosecuting Assange could set, Greenwald notes, citing a “deranged” speech by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he declared “we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Drones used to track red tide along Florida coast

      Red tide is a microscopic menace, harmful to humans and deadly for some fish and birds.

      Now robotic technology is closer to unlocking the secrets of when and where red tide will hit, protecting human health and our natural resources.

      Vincent Lovko with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota explained, “Red tide is present here all the time, as far as we know. It’s endemic, meaning it belongs here. It’s been here for a very long time,” Lovko said.

      Over 400 years ago, the first Floridians called it Red Water, a strange phenomenon that killed fish and birds and made people sick. red tide is a harmful, microscopic bloom of algae that produces neurotoxins.

    • Four brown bears will be rescued from life of misery in Japan – and sent to zoo in Doncaster

      Award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park is at the centre of a project to rehome the four Ussuri brown bears who live in tiny metal cages all year round – even when it snows in the depths of winter.

      Staff from the UK zoo will travel across the world to bring them 5,400 miles to their new home.

    • Trump Administration Neuters Nuclear Safety Board

      The Trump administration has quietly taken steps that may inhibit independent oversight of its most high-risk nuclear facilities, including some buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a Department of Energy document shows.

      An order published on the department’s website in mid-May outlines new limits on the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board — including preventing the board from accessing sensitive information, imposing additional legal hurdles on board staff, and mandating that Energy Department officials speak “with one voice” when communicating with the board.

      The board has, by statute, operated independently and has been provided largely unfettered access to the nation’s nuclear weapons complexes in order to assess accidents or safety concerns that could pose a grave risk to workers and the public. The main exception has been access to the nuclear weapons themselves.

      For many years, the board asked the Department of Energy to provide annual reviews of how well facilities handled nuclear materials vulnerable to a runaway chain reaction — and required federal officials to brief the board on the findings. It also has urged the energy secretary not to restart certain nuclear operations at various sites until work could be done safely.

  • Finance

    • Consumers paying $104 billion in credit card interest and fees
    • Five ways to curb the power of corporations

      Transnational corporations have become the dominant force directing our world. Humanity is accelerating toward a precipice of overconsumption, and the large transnationals are the primary agents driving us there. We’re rapidly losing the earth’s forests, animals, insects, fish, even the topsoil we require to grow our crops. The earth is becoming denuded of its bounty as every living system ­is ransacked for resources—not to mention the looming emergency of climate breakdown. As a result, twenty thousand scientists have recently issued a public warning to humanity, while prominent academics consider the collapse of civilization this century to be a serious threat.

      Changes in our personal consumption patterns are important, but are ultimately inconsequential compared with the impact of the transnationals that have come to dominate our global economic and political system. Of the world’s hundred largest economies, sixty-nine are now corporations. Political parties in many of our so-called democracies are funded in large part by billionaires, while government cabinet positions are staffed by corporate executives. International bodies setting global policy are infiltrated by corporate agents so successful at entrenching corporate power that even those governments that still prioritize their people’s needs can no longer make autonomous decisions without risking crippling lawsuits from the transnationals whose interests they threaten. Meanwhile, countries and cities compete with each other to beg their corporate overlords for investment dollars, even it means undermining public services and legal protections for their own populations.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Patriot Calls For Investigation Into CIA Letter

      The National Patriots Association (Patriot) has urged the authorities to investigate former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s intelligence unit for writing a letter to the United States government shortly before the 14th general election (GE14).

      An online news portal had reported that a letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department was sent to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel five days before GE14, in a bid to appeal for support for Najib’s administration.

      “All guilty persons should be seriously punished to set an example to all current officials in the government, security forces personnel, and politicians, that such collusion with any foreign officials or government is considered treason,” said Patriot president Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji in a statement issued today.

    • Is this the letter from Najib’s officer to CIA boss?

      A letter purportedly written by the top intelligence officer under the previous Najib Razak administration to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pitched the former prime minister as a US ally with whom Washington could work with, as opposed to the “anti-West, anti-Semite” Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

      Najib has distanced himself from the alleged letter, saying he was not aware that such a letter had been sent.

      A copy of the alleged letter, sighted by FMT, among others, promoted Najib’s “progressive foreign policies”, saying Malaysia was a crucial ally and the only viable one in the Southeast Asian region as the others were either too small, too pro-China or “too immersed in their own domestic political problems”.

      “Your Excellency must be well informed that Mahathir, essentially, is not a reformer that could enhance Malaysia’s national interest as he joined the opposition for his own self-interest,” said the letter to Gina Haspel, director of the CIA.

    • U.S. launches campaign to erode support for Iran’s leaders

      The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.

    • Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex

      President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court does not bode well for the future of sexual life in America. It has been widely reported that Kavanaugh, as a federal judge, sought to prevent a 17-year-old unauthorized immigrant from receiving an abortion, but was overruled by other jurists on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

      Much of the current debate about Kavanaugh – and the previous appointee, Neil Gorsuch – focuses on the Court’s likely reversal (if not significant weakening) of the landmark 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade. The decision granted each woman the right to personal privacy, to decide the outcome of her pregnancy.

      Over the last-half century, many of the Court’s most consequential decisions have involved the sex life of Americans. Abortion is but one. Gay rights and marriage, youth sex education and contraceptive use, and rights of transgender people are three others. Still others involve prostitution and sex trafficking, public media obscenity and zoning restrictions of commercial sex businesses (e.g., sex-toy outlets, “gentlemen’s” clubs). And then there’s the Internet, facilitating any and every conceivable sexual indulgence. Cumulatively, these decisions have helped profoundly transform the nation’s sexual culture.

      Personal privacy is at the heart of the debate over Roe as well as many of the other sex-related Court decisions over the last-half century. Before Roe, each state had the authority to determine the limits of a woman’s privacy, especially in terms of her pregnancy … and, possibly, an abortion.

    • The CIA letter and the treason option

      Recent calls by the Patriots Association and others to thoroughly investigate a letter allegedly written by Hasanah Ab Hamid, the former Director-General of the Research Department (also known as ME10), to the Chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deserves to be taken seriously.

      In a long, rambling and convoluted letter dated 4th May, Hasanah appeared to be soliciting CIA support for the Najib Administration in the event of a disputed electoral outcome.

    • Letter from Najib’s office sent to CIA belittling S’pore as too small to make an impact in Southeast Asia
    • Malaysia’s Najib sought CIA support before election defeat
    • Letter to CIA treacherous and treasonous, say ex-servicemen
    • Letter to CIA: Patriot urges action against ‘treacherous, treasonous’ act
    • NGO calls for investigation into CIA letter
    • Najib Says He’s Unaware of Letter Allegedly Sent to CIA Asking for Support
    • Patriot calls for investigation into CIA letter
    • Umno’s love affair with CIA goes back to pre-Najib era

      The discovery of the “love letter” from the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA, hoping for the US government’s support for Najib Razak and his government, as opposed to the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by the supposedly “anti-US” Dr Mahathir Mohamad, should be seen in historical context.

      Exactly how pro or “anti-US” Umno leaders have been through the years can be gleaned from this record in my 2010 title, “Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia”.

      Malaysia’s non-aligned policy was founded upon the principles of peace, neutrality and impartiality to the superpowers. A genuine non-aligned policy can therefore go a long way toward ridding us of the need to procure expensive arms.

    • S’pore too small to make impact, Najib’s top intel officer tells CIA in secret letter

      Singapore is “too small to make an impact” in the region, the top intelligence officer of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak allegedly wrote in a secret letter to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States.

    • Yoursay: Investigate ‘treasonous’ letter to CIA

      Shock or outrage over such a degrading plea that Malaysia’s head of government would make to a foreign leader is hardly the sentiment evoked in me.

      Rather, I am acutely embarrassed that our prime minister would actually send an appeal reeking of contradiction and paradox, devoid of any intelligence or logic.

    • Mandela only released for PR, says CIA document
    • Apartheid govt faced ‘massive upheavals’ had Mandela died in prison: CIA
    • Roger McNamee: If Facebook bungles the midterms, ‘it’s gonna be really hard to give them a pass’

      Despite a stellar market performance, a lot is on the line for Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in the upcoming midterm elections, according to Roger McNamee, co-founder of tech-focused private equity firm Elevation Partners.

      “I think the issue for Facebook and for Mark is that the country is trusting them with the 2018 midterm elections,” McNamee told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” “and if something goes wrong here, it’s gonna be really hard to give them a pass.”

      Facebook has been criticized for allowing the proliferation of false news on its platform during the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg’s discussion of fake news and censorship with Recode’s Kara Swisher revealed to McNamee that the CEO’s all or nothing approach to the issue is the wrong tack.

      “When you are dealing with hate speech, there is a much better option. And that is to engage with people and to inform them,” he said. “Facebook is actually a really good platform for doing that.”

    • Congress Wants to Grill Ex-CIA Chief Brennan Over Accusing Trump of ‘Treason’

      Brennan blasted the US president for rejecting allegations that Russia intervened in the 2016 American presidential election on Putin’s orders, ignoring reports by US intelligence agencies.

      US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said that Congress has “lots of questions” for former CIA Director John Brennan, who called Trump’s statements on Russia’s alleged meddling in the US elections during a press conference following the summit in Helsinki “treasonous.” He suggested that Brennan could have been biased against Trump and that this might have influenced his judgement during his service.

    • Why the far-right thinks Peter Strzok was secretly a CIA agent

      The Trump presidency has seen no slacking in the conservative media’s laser focus on turning tangential figures who have done little or nothing wrong into major players in conspiracies against the president

      Enter FBI agent Peter Strzok, former head of the FBI’s Counterespionage section and new target for right-wing media and political derision.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Censorship abounds in prison libraries, but here’s what some inmates read — and what they should.

      Unless you have friends or family in prison, you likely pay scant attention to what that entails. Policies, procedures, protocols are all a foreign world best left unexplored. “You do the crime, you do the time” is a convenient turning away from the reality of incarcerated life.

      But when it’s your loved one there, you find yourself part of the system too.

      My friend Eric is serving his sentence at FCI Coleman Low, a low-security federal correctional prison in Sumter County off I-4 near Wildwood. It houses over 2,000 nonviolent inmates in an all-male population.

    • China attempting to square the circle

      Observers are concerned over the growth of Chinese nationalist pride and influence abroad.

    • Peking University sacks vocal US prof

      An American professor and vocal critic of Beijing’s censorship said he lost his job at prestigious Peking University and is leaving China.

      Christopher Balding, who had taught for the past nine years at the university’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, said in a blog post that his contract has not been renewed.

      Balding said he received an “official” reason for the non-renewal when he was notified early last November. “I know the unspoken reason for my dismissal,” he wrote, adding: “You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks.”

      Officials at Peking University in Beijing and at the business school campus in Shenzhen could not immediately be reached for comment.

    • Amid Economic Uncertainty, Beijing Silences Critics

      Under President Xi, censorship has expanded in scope and is increasingly impacting areas such as academia and topics such as economics. This month, a British academic from the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus was removed from his position, allegedly in response to an article he wrote critical of the CCP. After living and working in China for nine years, Christopher Balding, an Associate Professor at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business, also had his contract terminated.

    • Between censorship and self-censorship: Can China Studies academics avoid moral culpability?

      In August 2017, Cambridge University Press (CUP) removed over three hundred articles published in The China Quarterly from its Chinese website. The articles had been chosen for censorship by very haphazard searches based on ‘sensitive’ keywords: Tiananmen, Cultural Revolution, Taiwan, Tibet. After a rare vocal backlash, CUP reversed its decision.

      Just a few months later in November, news broke that Springer Nature had done the same. Unlike Cambridge, Springer cravenly stood by its decision to censor as a matter of complying with ‘local distribution laws’, ironically portraying its two-tier system granting China-based scholars second-class access as a matter of maintaining access.

    • Media censorship rises as the general elections draw near in Pakistan

      Pakistan is gearing up for the general elections scheduled next week and there are rumors of a massive crackdown on the media.

      On July 12, 2018, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a ban on national satellite television channels for airing live speeches of politicians as they conduct their election campaigns.

    • Website suspension fuels Vietnam press freedom fears

      Tuoi Tre Online, a popular publication in Vietnam, was suspended by Hanoi on July 16 after having published “untrue” and “nationally divisive” content.

      The newspaper, founded in 1975 by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, Tuoi Tre (“Youth”), is being reprimanded for a June 19 article,“Vietnamese president agrees on issuing demonstration law,” that quotes President Tran Dai Quang as saying that he agreed that there is a need for a law regulating public demonstrations.

    • Vietnam’s Censorship Expands to Popular, Official News Website

      Vietnam’s suspension of a popular news website known for hard-hitting stories is the latest move in a burgeoning effort to limit expression that rattles the image-conscious Communist leadership, experts say.

      On Monday the head of media under the Ministry of Information and Communication shut down the Tuoi Tre website for three months. The news outlet is known for reports on issues such as corruption.

      Tuoi Tre is also a newspaper run by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, and was faulted with posting fake news. The site was asked to “correct the false information” and fined $9,500, according to fellow domestic media outlet Viet Nam News.

      The site’s suspension follows the June passage of a cyber-security law governing internet use and earlier arrests of bloggers whose writings question the government.

    • Censorship, funding threaten college media

      From attempts to discredit them with the label of “fake news” to decreased advertising, professional newspapers across the U.S. face a variety of challenges.

    • Who Are the New Censors?

      Many people like to talk passionately about censorship; politicians – with their ambition to bend the public discourse to party needs – fascist- and Nazis-prone trolls who see their comments swiftly erased from discussion threads and manufacturers of hoaxes who are denied a free pass to the pages of critical mainstream media. The public-service television director, whose fate hangs on the will of politicians as well as journalists and readers of the free and not-so-free media. They all have something to say.

      But censorship is not the same animal that it was in the seventies. There is no censor waving his stamp and diligently adding disobedient authors to the growing list of state enemies. The censor has now been replaced by a system that expels anything incompatible with its own configuration or that goes against the loyalties of the state or publisher; this can be especially so if it doesn’t celebrate a nationalist concept of the country or toe the official state propaganda line.

      This new system of media control even incorporates its own codes of criticism giving the illusion that it can be criticised from within in order to appear fair. But any criticism must have clear limits as to not corrode the basis of the illiberal state, the tailor-made identity of the nation or the interests of some media owners.

    • The Cybersecurity 202: Anti-censorship tool opens new rift between lawmakers and tech companies

      Lawmakers are turning up the pressure on Google and Amazon to reconsider their ban on a powerful anti-censorship technique used by millions of people worldwide to bypass restrictions on internet access.

      Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are calling on the companies to explain their abrupt decision this year to prohibit “domain fronting,” which allows users to visit blocked websites and use restricted applications by disguising the actual destination of Web traffic. Google and Amazon should reinstate the practice or, at the very least, consider ways to offer other protections, the senators said in a letter to the companies this week.

    • Domain fronting: Why cloud providers are concerned about it

      Domain fronting is a popular technique used to circumvent internet censorship controls, and it is easy to deploy and use. Domain fronting works at the application layer and uses different domain names to hide the true endpoint of a connection. This enables a user to connect to a blocked service over HTTPS while appearing to communicate with an entirely different site.

      In an HTTPS request, the destination domain name is transmitted in three places: in the domain name system (DNS) query, in the TLS Server Name Indication (SNI) extension and in the HTTP Host header. Normally, the same domain name appears in all three places; but in a so-called domain-fronted request, the DNS query and SNI contain the front domain name, but the actual destination domain appears only in the HTTP Host header. The front domain is usually a legitimate site, and this is the domain that is used to initialize the connection.

    • Mark Zuckerberg is a horror show. But there’s a glimmer of truth hidden in his latest blunder.
    • CEO Zuckerberg Says Facebook Shouldn’t Censor Holocaust Deniers
    • Here’s why Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t think Infowars should be banned
    • Zuckerberg defends Facebook users’ right to be wrong – even Holocaust deniers
    • Zuckerberg Censors Conservatives on Facebook, But Gives Holocaust Deniers Free Rein
    • Full transcript: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Recode Decode
    • EXCLUSIVE: Under World Cup spotlight, Qataris crack down on LGBT news coverage
    • Qatar completely censors articles about LGBTQ community from New York Times
    • 2022 World Cup host Qatar censors LGBTQ news coverage
    • What two films reveal about China
    • Hollywood Braces for Collateral Damage From Trade War With China
    • Emba: Editors’ discretion isn’t censorship
    • Creative or crass? Viewer sole censor of web entertainment

      An underworld don calls former prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi a ‘fattu’ because the politician chose to overrule the court order in the 1985 Shah Bano case on women’s rights. The word, mouthed by actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Sacred Games, was loosely translated as ‘pu***’ in the subtitles. What followed was a PIL in the Delhi High Court against Netflix’s first Indian original series, demanding removal of ‘derogatory’ dialogues, as well as ‘objectionable’ scenes in the series. Interestingly, Lust Stories, a film created for and streamed on Netflix, is the most popular among its offerings. With web streaming services becoming the order of the day, one wonders if there is a need for regulation of the offerings and if it is even possible.

      As Supreme Court advocate Apar Gupta, who is also co-founder of Internet Freedom Foundation, an advocacy firm, says: “There is no regulator for OTT or internet content in India. For now, OTT platforms are largely self-governed under the various applicable laws in the country for different broadcasting medium, including the Information Technology Act and the Cinematograph Act, which are largely sufficient to address the key concerns. Players need to follow self-censorship to screen their content or else they might end up in a court.” The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) can block websites that have objectionable content, such as those with copyright infringement, like torrent sites. “Apart from that, there is no regulatory mechanism in place,” says Shailesh Kapoor, CEO of Ormaxe Media, a Mumbai-based media consulting firm.

    • Silence from judiciary over media attacks increases self-censorship, Pakistan’s journalists say

      When it comes to the military and the judiciary, Pakistan’s journalists are “between a rock and a hard place,” Zohra Yusuf, of the independent non-profit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told CPJ. In recent months the judiciary, which has a history of siding with Pakistan’s powerful military, has remained largely silent amid attempts to censor or silence the press.

      Ahead of elections on July 25, CPJ has documented how journalists who are critical of the military or authorities were abducted or attacked, how the army spokesman accused journalists of sharing anti-state and anti-military propaganda, and how distribution of two of Pakistan’s largest outlets–Geo TV and Dawn–was arbitrarily restricted. The judiciary, which has power to take up cases on its own, did not intervene on behalf of the press. But it has continued its practice of threatening legal action against its critics.

      Some journalists and analysts said that by not taking action, the judiciary has added to a climate of fear and self-censorship.

    • Toerisme Vlaanderen in playful protest against artistic censorship on Facebook

      Today, Facebook does not seem to be able to tell the difference between art and pornography.
      Paintings by Flemish Masters are currently being exhibited in the North of Belgium. To help promote them, on Sunday Toerisme Vlaanderen broadcast a playful video that mocks the social network site’s current policy on nudity.

      In the video, visitors to the Maison de Rubens in Antwerp are not shown paintings by baroque Masters “in the interests of protecting the public against nudity”.

      A series of Belgian cultural institutions, such as Bozar and Toerisme Vlaanderen, have also written an open letter to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Mass incarceration of Uyghurs could backfire on the Party

      As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to ramp up his program of religious persecution, nowhere is it being executed with more intensity and violence than on the Muslim Uyghur community in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

      But there is a new technological bent to the program, one many observers believe could see Xinjiang become the testing ground for the Communist Party to exercise Orwellian control over its citizens in new ways.

      The latest move in China’s campaign to weaken Uyghur culture, a campaign that was stepped up significantly after sectarian riots broke out on June 9, 2009, is the relocation of more than 416,000 people from Xinjiang, according to state media.

      And that is only just the start, with plans apparently afoot to shift a further 100,000 of this Turkic ethnic group to elsewhere in the province.

    • How Government Secrecy on Torture Has Stymied the 9/11 Terror Prosecution

      Around 9 pm on December 4, 2017, two FBI documents were delivered to the defense teams representing the five Guantánamo detainees on trial in the military commissions for their alleged roles in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These documents, which the lawyers had been requesting since 2013, would be the focus of proceedings starting at 9 the following morning. The 11th-hour timing of the document drop is not unusual in this legal system, where the prosecution controls when and what governmental information (as well as access to witnesses and resources) will be provided to the defense.

      In the 9/11 case, the pretrial discovery process is exceptionally contentious by any measure. The defendants were held for years and tortured in CIA black sites prior to their transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006. Most information about the agency’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program—although it was terminated years ago—remains a national-security secret. The defense lawyers, all of whom have top security clearance, have spent years filing motions and arguing to gain information about what happened to their clients in CIA custody, and insist that this information must be discoverable, not least because in capital cases where the death penalty is on the table, heightened due process applies. The prosecution disagrees, insisting that this trial is about the defendants’ roles in the crime of 9/11, and that what happened to them afterward has little bearing on their involvement in these events. In lieu of original classified materials about the CIA’s program, prosecutors produce—and the judge reviews and approves—summaries of select materials they deem relevant; those summaries obscure specific dates and locations and mask the identities of people with “unique functional identifiers” and pseudonyms (e.g., Interrogator 1, Dr. Shrek).

    • The Troubling Fate of a 1973 Film About the First Black Man in the C.I.A.

      Ivan Dixon’s 1973 film, “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” which is playing at Metrograph from Friday through Sunday (it’s also on DVD and streaming), is a political fiction, based on a novel by Sam Greenlee, about the first black man in the C.I.A. After leaving the agency, the agent, Dan Freeman (Lawrence Cook) moves to Chicago, and puts his training in guerrilla warfare to use: he organizes a group of black gang members and Vietnam War veterans into a fighting force and leads a violent uprising against the police, the National Guard, and the city government. The film’s radical premise was noticed outside of Hollywood: produced independently, the film was completed and released by United Artists, but it was pulled from theatres soon after its release. Its prints were destroyed; the negative was stored under another title; and Greenlee (who died in 2014) claimed that the F.B.I. was involved in its disappearance, citing visits from agents to theatre owners who were told to pull the movie from screens. (No official documentation of these demands has emerged.)

      On these grounds alone, a viewing of “The Spook Who Sat By the Door” would be a matter of urgent curiosity. But the movie is also a distinctive and accomplished work of art, no mere artifact of the times but an enduring experience. A supreme aspect of the art of movies is tone—the sensory climate of a movie, which depends on the style and mood of performance as much as the plot and the dialogue, the visual compositions as well as the locations, costumes, and décor, the editing and the music (often a sticking point), all of which are aligned with—and sharpen and focus—the ideas that the movie embodies. Dixon—who starred in one of the greatest of all independent films, Michael Roemer’s “Nothing But a Man,” from 1964 (and then spent five years on “Hogan’s Heroes”)—begins with a tone bordering on sketch-like satire that soon crystallizes into a sharp edge of restrained precision. A senator (a white man, played by Joseph Mascolo) campaigning for reëlection finds that he needs the black vote and decides to criticize the C.I.A. for having no black agents. Even in his office, the senator speaks in a pompous, stentorian voice seemingly inflated to a constant podium bluster.

    • Acting CIA Inspector General Is Retiring Amid Allegations Against Him

      The acting inspector general of the CIA has withdrawn his nomination to officially take over the role, according to CNN.

      Christopher Sharpley, who has been the agency’s acting IG since 2015, sent an email this week to coworkers saying he would seek other opportunities and retire within 30 days.

      Now-retired employees have complained Sharpley punished them for reporting wrongdoing within the IG’s office. He allegedly interfered in witness interviews to get the names of the whistleblowers, forcing the Department of Justice to throw out evidence and settle a contracting bribery case.

    • MPs criticise ‘glaring lack’ of senior BAME staff in intelligence services

      GCHQ is the only organisation in the government’s intelligence community with any black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) staff in its senior ranks, a new report reveals.

      MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee criticised the “glaring lack” of BAME staff, but noted that the intelligence services face particular challenges including bureaucratic vetting processes, nationality rules and outdated public perceptions.

    • So the CIA and FBI are the good guys because you hate Trump?

      There’s no denying how US President Donald Trump has mortified Americans, both at home and around the world, with his astonishing capitulation and public display of subservience to Russian President Vladimir Putin at their surreal summit in Helsinki this week.

      “I don’t see any reason why it would be [Russia that interfered in the 2016 presidential election],” was his jaw-dropping reply when asked whether he trusted his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions about meddling by Moscow.

      Trump’s dogged refusal to criticise or confront Putin, who was standing right next to him on the world stage, appalled Americans across the political divide. How could the president of the United States throw his own spy masters under the bus, in full public glare, by accepting the word of such a ruthless strongman and adversary over theirs?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Airbus Zephyr: Solar-powered ‘pseudo-satellite’ takes flight

      Aerospace giant Airbus has unveiled a solar-powered solution for stratospheric satellite-like services.

      The Zephyr High Altitude Psuedo-Satellite (HAPS) was shown off for the first time at the Farnborough International Air Show this week, with Airbus revealing that a working prototype is currently somewhere in the sky above Arizona.

    • The Airbus Solar-Powered Zephyr S Drone Provides Internet Access and Flies for Weeks

      Facebook’s Aquila project wasn’t the only solar-powered drone being developed to provide internet and cellular access to rural and remote areas. In 2014, Boeing’s Phantom Works division applied for a patent that detailed a similar high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) vehicle. BAE Systems is currently tirelessly working on such an aircraft, too. While Airbus might’ve seemed more focused on passenger drones as of late, it’s now clear the aviation giant is HALE-hungry, as well, as the company’s Zephyr S drone will take flight in September.

      According to ZDNet, the Zephyr S weighs 165.3 pounds (75 kilograms) and has a wingspan of 82 feet (25 meters), thereby being incredibly light for such a physically large and technologically capable vehicle. Designed to cruise within the stratosphere at an altitude of 13 miles (21 km), Zephyr’s engineers killed several birds with one stone. Namely, avoiding commercial airplane traffic, continuously refueling through solar energy, and having a stronger line of communication to devices on the ground.

    • Zephyr solar-powered stratosphere drone takes flight

      The Zephyr has a wingspan of 25 meters and is designed to operate in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 21 kilometers — above clouds, jet streams and ozone layer, as well as regular air traffic (apart perhaps, from the odd spy-plane). Airbus wants the drone to fly for 100 days without landing (its currently record is 14 days without refuelling) and travel up to 1,000 nautical miles per day. It weighs 75kg, but can support a payload up to five times its own weight.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Groupon casts IBM as shaking down other tech companies

      A lawyer for discount e-commerce company Groupon told a court in Delaware on Thursday that IBM has shaken down practically every large tech firm for patent fees.

      IBM is suing Groupon for US$167 million, accusing it of infringing four basic internet technology patents, in a case that is being closely watched by the tech industry.

      IBM has portrayed itself as an innovator whose licensing fee requests are reasonable in light of its research and development costs. But Groupon is defending itself by trying to portray IBM as using outdated patents to squeeze money out of other tech companies with threats of litigation.

      “IBM has approached every significant company in the web technology space asserting patents against them,” Groupon lawyer J. David Hadden said during cross-examination of IBM licensing executive Thomas McBride in federal court.

    • Week in Review: App Store Continues to Dominate, Apple Patents Personal Driving Profile, iPhone Photo Awards Announced & More

      While this was a rather slow summer news week, there were still a few highlights worth noting. There were a number of stories on Apple’s intellectual property front; a few interesting Apple stories like iPhone photo winners announced and the App Store dominating in profits; and some interesting industry news like Google getting fined billions over Android breaching EU laws. Lastly, Apple wants to show a little love for HomePod fans this coming week by holding a special event.

    • For Design Patent Owners (and Alleged Infringers), The Third Time is Not a Charm

      On May 24, 2018, we received the third (trial) installment in the seven-year legal battle between Apple and Samsung over the design of smart phones and related devices. At issue on this go-round was a retrial solely directed to the issue of damages – how much did Samsung owe Apple for infringing several design patents generally directed to various features of Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices? The issue of liability had been decided long ago by an earlier jury trial and affirmance from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. More particularly, the San Jose jury was this time asked to determine whether the drawings of the design patents at issue captured the entire “article of manufacture” ultimately sold by Samsung.

      The hope for patent practitioners across the county was that the trial and its ultimate verdict would provide detailed guidance on how to counsel clients on both prosecution of design patents as well as providing reliable advice on dealing with allegations of design patent infringement. The jurors deliberated for more than three days on what constitutes an “article of manufacture” and how much Samsung’s infringement on Apple’s iPhone design is worth, but provided no significant insight into how they conducted their deliberations or what may have swayed them to award Apple half a billion dollars in damages. So, we continue to wait.

    • Qualcomm’s own experts concede Intel’s baseband chipsets are good for innovation and pricing

      At this stage, the Northern District of California is a standard-essential patent (SEP) litigation hotbed. The previous post was about Huawei’s shrinking case against Samsung, but there are some extremely interesting developments in a consumer class lawsuit against Qualcomm, related to FTC v. Qualcomm. Late last month, the consumer plaintiffs brought a motion to bar Qualcomm from enforcing a potential U.S. import ban against certain (in practical terms, Intel-powered) iPhones.

    • Five years after its founding, IP Bridge reflects Japan’s changing approach to patents

      Apart from attending IP Bridge’s celebration reception in Tokyo last week, I also had opportunities to speak to some senior managers in corporate IP groups. It seems clear that change is underway in the country’s IP marketplace. Patent enforcement and licensing activities are more widely discussed and accepted than ever before, as is transferring patents to third parties (particularly patent pools and aggregators). A couple of companies told me that they want to generate revenue from their portfolios in order to reinvest in future R&D. However, it’s worth noting that these viewed are not shared across all industry sectors.

      Many people told me that change does not come as fast in Japan as it does elsewhere – and that includes IP strategies. Over the years, though, we have seen IP Bridge attract more domestic rights owners from an expanding number of sectors to partner with it. This is solid evidence that, slowly but surely, the patent world here is changing.

    • Copyrights

      • US Supreme Court Tackles Copyright Registration Circuit Split

        Some circuit courts have held that a work is “registered” and the copyright owner can sue an infringer as soon as the applicant files the application, deposits a copy of the work and pays a fee. This is known as the “application” approach. Other circuit courts follow the “registration” approach which requires the Copyright Office to act on the application—by examining it and either approving or refusing it—before the copyright owner may file suit

‘Efficiency’ in Action: António Campinos is Sending Jobs Abroad, Then Gagging Critics

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

He has also been blocking comments in his very first blog post (some comments posted, but none have appeared)

No comments for EPO

Summary: Campinos criticised for the decision to outsource EUIPO IT maintenance services to India as he starts blocking blog comments to muzzle his critics

THE former French-Portuguese (dual nationality) banker António Campinos, the new President of the EPO, is rumoured to be planning layoffs; a hiring freeze at the EPO has already been implemented. What can his policies at EUIPO, from which he arrived exactly 3 weeks ago, teach us?

In 2010 EUIPO awarded the contract for maintaining and developing its IT systems to a Spanish company UTE. The contract provided employment for about 150 people locally in Alicante.

The contract with UTE was originally supposed to run for eight years, but in 2017 EUIPO’s IT maintenance services were put out to tender again because, according to reports in the Spanish press, the Director of EUIPO at the time, Mr. Antonio Campinos, wanted to conclude a new contract before he left EUIPO to take up his next job as head of the EPO in Munich.

In November 2017 it was announced that the contract had been awarded to Sopra Steria, a multinational with corporate headquarters in France and worldwide operations including facilities in India which it intended to use for providing IT maintenance services to EUIPO.

It was reported that EUIPO’s decision to outsource its IT maintenance services to India was likely to cause the loss of around 150 jobs in Alicante.

The Spanish MEP Marina Albiol Guzmán criticised this decision in the European Parliament and submitted a written question to the European Commission in November 2017.

E-007318-17
Question for written answer to the Commission
Rule 130
Marina Albiol Guzmán (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Offshoring of EUIPO computer services

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), one of the decentralised EU agencies, based in Alicante, recently awarded the contract for maintaining and developing its computer systems to Sopra Steria, a company that will provide its services from its facilities in India.
With this decision, some 150 people who used to perform those duties in Alicante will lose their jobs.

— Does the Commission consider the offshoring of services to outside the EU by European agencies proper?

— Does this sort of decision help the decentralised EU agencies to achieve their goals, such as to ‘help make Europe more competitive and a better place to live and work, thus serving the interests of EU residents as a whole’?

The vacuous answer given by Elzbieta Bieńkowska on behalf of the Commission stated that there was no reason to believe that the decision had violated the applicable procurement rules.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) is an agency with legal, administrative and financial autonomy, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on the European Union trade mark. This autonomy includes the power to award contracts for Information Technology (IT) projects, subject to the public procurement rules which apply to all EU institutions, including agencies. These rules do not provide the possibility for EUIPO to exclude tenderers on the basis of the geographical location of its staff. The Commission has no reasons to believe that the decision of the EUIPO to award the contract concerned to Sopra Steria (a company with headquarters in France) would have violated the public procurement rules.

Criticism of the outsourcing decision and the predicted loss of 150 jobs in Alicante was expressed in the local and national press.

EUIPO outsourcing

The leading national daily El Mundo reported on the intervention of MEP Marina Albiol Guzmán in the European Parliament.

EUIPO outsourcing

Albiol Guzmán and Miguel Ángel Pavón, the leader of “Guanyar Alicant”, a local Alicante-based group linked to Podemos and the United Left, issued a statement criticising the decision and calling it “unethical” because it transferred work associated with the EU agency EUIPO “to countries where salaries are cheaper and labour legislation is less strict”.

EUIPO outsourcing

In December 2017, El Mundo reported that following Albiol Guzmán’s complaint to the European Parliament Campinos tried to justify the outsourcing decision with a blog post published on his personal EUIPO blog. However, after a number of comments critical of the decision were posted, he decided to block the posting of further comments claiming that the professionalism of EUIPO staff was being called into question.

EUIPO outsourcing

Campinos cierra los comentarios críticos en su blog

El director ejecutivo de la Oficina de Propiedad Intelectual de la Unión Europea (Euipo), el portugués Antonio Campinos, trató de dar explicaciones sobre la externalización de los servicios informáticos a la India en su blog personal «Time Out», al que tienen acceso tanto los trabajadores internos como los externos de la agencia. Lo hizo un día después de la denuncia de la eurodiputada Marina Albiol en la Parlamento Europeo con un post que llevaba por título «On Procurement and Outsourcing».
Campinos aseguró que la decisión se basó en la mejor opción «calidad-precio» según un comité de evaluación y de acuerdo con la legislación europea. También aseguró que muchas empresas europeas externalizan sus servicios en un mercado global y que estas prácticas empresariales pueden contribuir a la creación de puestos de trabajo y riqueza en el interior de Europa.
Desde primera hora de la mañana del día siguiente se publicaron comentarios a este post tanto de trabajadores de la Euipo (funcionarios europeos) como de trabajadores subcontratados e incluso miembros del comité de empresa.
Los comentarios generalizados no ponían duda la legalidad de la externalización de los servicios de mantenimiento informático a otros países y continentes, como la India, pero sí la falta de ética de la decisión. Alguno le recordó que «no aprendemos del desastre de externalización» a la República de Mauricio hace 10 años. Otros hablaron de las elecciones sindicales en la oficina. Salió al paso uno de los miembros del «comité de personal» que en su segundo comentario aludió a estas situaciones, «que, aunque lamentables según un criterio de política social, son legales».
No faltaron apelativos como el de «colonialismo del siglo XXI» o quienes explicaron que no tiene sentido a pedir que se registren las marcas en España y la UE cuando la misma oficina tiene un mantenimiento desde India. Incluso un comentario le recordó a Campinos que Alicante le hizo un «carril bici (no exento de críticas) pagado con los impuestos de muchos de los que hoy se quedan en la calle».
Tras 17 comentarios, Campinos cerró la posibilidad de publicar más apelando al respeto que merecen los trabajadores de la Euipo cuya profesionalidad se cuestionaba.

Translation:

Campinos shuts down critical comments on his blog
The Director of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the Portuguese Antonio Campinos, tried to explain the outsourcing of IT services to India in his personal blog “Time Out”, which is accessible to both internal and external workers of the agency. He did this on the day after Marina Albiol’s complaint to the European Parliament with a blog post entitled “On Procurement and Outsourcing”
Campinos said that the decision was based on the best “quality-price” option according to an evaluation committee and in accordance with European legislation. He also said that many European companies outsource their services to a global market and that these business practices can contribute to the creation of jobs and wealth within Europe.
From early the next morning, comments to this blog post were submitted by EUIPO staff (EU officials) and subcontracters and even members of the staff committee.
In general the comments did not question the legality of outsourcing IT maintenance services to other countries and continents, such as India, but rather the lack of ethics in the decision making. Some reminded him that “we have not learned from the outsourcing disaster” to the Republic of Mauritius 10 years ago. Others talked about the union elections in the office.
One of the members of the staff committee spoke out and referred in a follow-on comment to these situations “which despite being regrettable from a social policy perspective, are legal”.
There was no shortage of comments referring to “21st century colonialism” or arguing that there is little point in requesting trademarks to be registered in Spain and the EU when the same office has its IT maintenance carried out in India. One comment even reminded Campinos that Alicante had provided him with a “bicycle lane (not without criticism) paid for by the taxes of many of those who are now on the street”.
After 17 comments, Campinos disabled the publication of further comments, appealing to the respect deserved by EUIPO staff whose professionalism was being called into question.

The Spanish media subsequently reported that the elected representatives of the local political group “Guanyar Alicant” decided to boycott EUIPO’s Christmas cocktail party in protest against what they condemned as its “ethically reprehensible” employment policy.

EUIPO outsourcing

Cherry-Picking Dissenting Opinions on Patent Cases the Last/Latest Resort for Patent Maximalists

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From celebrating PTAB overturning examiners’ rejections (which are rare) to celebrating opinions that are more like appendices

Dissenting opinion
Reference: Dissenting opinion

Summary: Patent maximalists have run out of substantial things to celebrate, seeing that PTAB and CAFC aren’t too interested in looking more deeply at abstract patents, such as software patents

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) help review/reassess patents granted by the USPTO. In other words, they’re a quality assurance mechanism. Why would anyone object to high quality?

The firm Unified Patents typically files IPRs on behalf of multiple parties that are on the receiving end of patent lawsuits, usually but not always filed by patent trolls (because they pick on many targets, that’s their business model). Here is PTAB weighing in on the patent troll Iron Oak, which we mentioned here before. The outcome so far is more of the usual:

On July 17, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 5,966,658 owned and asserted by Iron Oak Technologies, LLC, a well-known NPE. The ’658 patent, generally directed to mobile communications (and more particularly to the automated selection of a communication path), has been asserted in 23 district court cases against such companies as Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei, and Dell. At the time of this decision, the ’658 was at issue in 11 active district court cases.

CAFC typically affirms, so if PTAB says no to a patent it will typically be the final word (no overturning on appeal). In many cases CAFC declines to review a decision without even issuing an opinion (as it would not scale).

“CAFC typically affirms, so if PTAB says no to a patent it will typically be the final word (no overturning on appeal).”Patent maximalist Richard Lloyd says that the Federal Circuit (CAFC) deals with an IPR filed by RPX, mentioning Unified Patents along the way too:

The ability of the likes of RPX and Unified Patents to file inter partes reviews (IPRs) against patents that have been asserted against their members in district court has been called into question by a recent decision from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). 
In the case, RPX filed an IPR against two patents owned by the NPE Applications in Internet Time. Those grants were part of ongoing infringement litigation between AIT and the defendant Salesforce, which is an RPX member. 
RPX filed the three IPRs more than a year after AIT filed its suit against Salesforce.

Patent maximalists generally dislike PTAB and hope that CAFC will magically put an end to it, seeing that SCOTUS was overwhelmingly supportive in Oil States. The cherry-picking thus continues. Yesterday, citing a CAFC opinion (not decision), Mr. Gross went into all caps mode: “CAN I GET AMEN #PATENT ATTORNEY BROTHERS! “The ‘abstract ideas’ idea, when used for denying a claimed invention’s patent eligibility either before or after a patent is issued, cannot thus function as a valid rule of law. [] Plager: “With the rise of software and business method patents, the ‘abstract idea’ became a weapon of choice for summary execution of what many decried as ‘bad’ patents. The problem is that it does not distinguish good from ill in any coherent sense” http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2502.Opinion.7-20-2018.pdf …”

“Are these people cherry-picking opinions rather than decisions now?”As Judith Szepesi rightly pointed out: “Sadly just Judge Plager’s opinion, not the majority. It indeed is an “incoherent body of doctrine.” What’s abstract about displaying data on two screens? That seems pretty concrete, doesn’t it? Maybe not novel, but certainly not “a mathematical function” or its equivalent.”

Henrion then said, “it is just abstract computer program giving instructions to a programmable apparatus.”

“I can implement in hardware,” said the response. “Does that make it non-abstract? Or do you just not believe in patents?”

Loaded statement. There’s a difference between opposing software patents and opposing patents as a whole/in general.

“IP” people need to study computer science before commenting on software patents as applying software to “device” (e.g. screen) does not change the fact that it’s merely an algorithm.

“About a year ago these patent boosters were obsessing over relatively rare cases wherein PTAB was vetoing examiner rejections based upon Section 101; they now obsess over non-binding opinions.”“So, so sad that that is in a dissent,” another “IP” person wrote.

Remember the dissent from CAFC Judge Pauline Newman, who sides with Microsoft in a PTAB IPR. Are these people cherry-picking opinions rather than decisions now? Speaking of Microsoft, there’s this update; it’s the latest in a patent case of HoloTouch, Inc. v Microsoft Corporation. “The court denied the parties’ stipulated motion to vacate an earlier order partially granting defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim even though the parties’ settlement was contingent on vacatur,” Docket Navigator said just before the weekend.

Anyway, the bottom line seems clear to us. About a year ago these patent boosters were obsessing over relatively rare cases wherein PTAB was vetoing examiner rejections based upon Section 101; they now obsess over non-binding opinions. How about next year? Will they obsess over what some examiner said to a colleague? What really matters is what SCOTUS, CAFC, District Courts, PTAB, USPTO officials and examiners say in their line of duty (and in that order). As things stand, Section 101 is strong, patent litigation is down sharply and so on.

Can Trade Secrets Litigation Replace (in Part) Patent Litigation?

Posted in America, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 2:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Number of US Patent Lawsuits Was More Than 50% Higher Half a Decade Ago

Patent Lawyers' Tears
Patent Lawyers’ Tears

Summary: Seeing DTSA as an opportunity to combat their competition, more firms now choose to file trade secret cases whereas patent cases continue their sharp decline

WHEN IT comes to software (code), there are copyrights, but there are no patents. Those that get granted rarely survive a court’s challenge or a board’s scrutiny (this is scarcely explored in the EU, but very visible in the US). Don’t expect European Patents on software to be of much use, even if the EPO grants some (a disastrous residue of Battistelli’s trashing of the Office).

“Patents are about publication, whereas secrecy is about concealment of one’s work.”When it comes to software copyrights, or even copyleft, legal action can be taken in cases of plagiarism. If the code is secret, which is often the case, plagiarism is prevented in part by secrecy. Patents are about publication, whereas secrecy is about concealment of one’s work.

After the sharp decline in patent lawsuits there might be a shift in strategy in the US, reducing the role of patent courts and the USPTO. More trade secret disputes to come? We recently wrote about a rise of such cases and associated damages. Professor James Bessen told me that “FEDERAL trade secret litigation is up because there is a new Federal law; but trade secret & noncompete litigation has been rising for a decade…”

“Well, secrecy is far from ideal; in fact, publication in exchange for monopoly (patent) is often better, but not in the domain of software.”Mind Camilla Alexandra Hrdy’s very long new blog post/paper on the subject, Watchtroll’s take from Robert Williams, and Managing IP summary. “A Lex Machina report reveals trade secret case filing figures after passage of the DTSA, as well as the largest ever damages awards and top plaintiff and defendant law firms,” it says.

“US trade secret case filing jumped 30% in 2017,” the headline says.

Well, secrecy is far from ideal; in fact, publication in exchange for monopoly (patent) is often better, but not in the domain of software.

Links 22/7/2018: Neptune 5.4, NetBSD 8.0

Posted in News Roundup at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • How to install Linux on your PC

      If you are building a new system or upgrading an existing PC, installing Linux as the OS may not be the first option you considered.

      Linux is the underlying structure used to power operating system distributions which are similar to the software most users are familiar with – Windows.

      It is open source and prevalent in a number of software distributions, from smart IoT platforms and Android smartphones to server operating systems.

      Installing a Linux distribution instead of Microsoft Windows on a new or existing machine can be great for reducing overhead and saving costs.

      While certain video games and applications may not run correctly on Linux desktop distributions, most common tasks can be conducted with the same level of convenience as “standard operating” systems.

    • Chromebook Users Will Soon Be Able to Install Debian Packages via the Files App

      Google continues to work on the Linux app support implementation for its Linux-based Chrome OS operating system for Chromebooks by adding initial support for installing Debian packages via the Files app.

      Linux app support in Chrome OS is here, but it’s currently in beta testing as Google wants to make it ready for the masses in an upcoming stable Chrome OS release. Meanwhile, Google’s Chrome OS team details in a recent Chromium Gerrit commit initial support for installing Linux packages in the .deb file format used by Debian-based operating systems directly from the Files app.

  • Kernel Space

    • Benchmarks

      • Jonathan Dieter: Small file performance on distributed filesystems – Round 2

        Last year, I ran some benchmarks on the GlusterFS, CephFS and LizardFS distributed filesystems, with some interesting results. I had a request to redo the test after a LizardFS RC was released with a FUSE3 client, since it is supposed to give better small file performance.

        I did have a request last time to include RozoFS, but, after a brief glance at the documentation, it looks like it requires a minimum of four servers, and I only had three available. I also looked at OrangeFS (originally PVFS2), but it doesn’t seem to provide replication, and, in preliminary testing, it was over ten times slower than the alternatives. NFS was tested and its results are included as a baseline.

        I once again used compilebench, which was designed to emulate real-life disk usage by creating a kernel tree, reading all the files in the tree, simulating a compile of the tree, running make clean, and finally deleting the tree.

        The test was much the same as last time, but with one important difference. Last time, the clients were running on the same machines that were running the servers. LizardFS benefited hugely from this as it has a “prefer local chunkserver” feature that will skip the network completely if there’s a copy on the local server. This time around, the clients were run on completely separate machines from the servers, which removed that advantage for LizardFS, but which I believe is a better reflection on how distributed filesystems are generally used.

        I would like to quickly note that there was very little speed difference between LizardFS’s FUSE2 and FUSE3 clients. The numbers included are from the FUSE3 client, but they only differed by a few percentage points from the FUSE2 client.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 8.2 Milestone 1 Released For Open-Source Benchmarking

        The first development snapshot of Phoronix Test Suite 8.2 is now available as what will be the next quarterly feature update to our open-source Linux / BSD / macOS / Windows automated benchmarking software and framework.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • What Build System Should Qt 6 Use?

        While developers have begun discussing plans for Qt 6.0 with plans to ship this upgraded tool-kit in 2020, one of the unanswered questions is over what build system should Qt 6 be using.

        Up to now there’s been a lot of pointing at Qbs as the new build system for Qt6. Qbs dates back to the Nokia days but has been seeing a number of improvements in recent times under the assumption it could replace Qmake as the default build system of Qt6. Qbs is designed to be easier to use than Qmake, which goes back to the original Trolltech days, while having the potential to be more powerful and offer much more flexibility.

        Without voicing a preference as to the Qt 6 build system, Intel open-source developer Thiago Macieira and a longtime upstream Qt developer, has shared what he feels should be some requirements of whatever build system is selected.

      • I’m going to Akademy

        As for the BoFs, I’ll probably attend the sessions about Phabricator, Flatpak, OpenQA, Wayland, as well as the Config Workshop.

      • Plasma 5.14 Wallpaper “Cluster”

        The time for a new Plasma wallpaper is here, so for 5.14 I’m excited to offer up “Cluster”.

        But first, please allow me to gush for a moment. In tandem with Inkscape, this is the first wallpaper for KDE produced using the ever excellent Krita. For graphic design my computer has a bit of beef to it, but when I work with Inkscape or GIMP things always chug just a bit more than I feel they should. Whenever I’ve had the distinct pleasure of opening Krita, even on my lesser powered laptop, it’s always been productive, rewarding, and performant. I’m looking forward to using Krita more in future wallpapers. *claps for Krita*

      • KDE Applications 18.08 Software Suite Enters Beta, Adds Apple Wallet Pass Reader

        With KDE Applications 18.04 reached end of life with the third and last point release, the KDE Project started working earlier this month on the next release of their open-source software suite, KDE Applications 18.08.

        KDE Applications is an open-source software suite designed as part of the KDE ecosystem, but can also be used independently on any Linux-based operating system. To fully enjoy the KDE Plasma desktop environment, users will also need to install various of the apps that are distributed as part of the KDE Applications initiative.

        KDE Applications 18.08 is the next major version of the open-source software suite slated for release on August 16, 2018. As of yesterday, July 20, the KDE Applications 18.08 software suite entered beta testing as version 18.07.80, introducing two new libraries, KPkPass and KItinerary.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.30 Desktop Environment to Enter Beta on August 1, GNOME 3.29.4 Is Out

        With a two-day delay, the GNOME Project through Javier Jardón announced today the release of the fourth and last development snapshot of the GNOME 3.30 desktop environment before it enters beta testing next month, GNOME 3.29.4, which continues to add improvements to various of GNOME’s core components and applications.

        However, due to the summer vacation and the GUADEC conference, GNOME 3.29.4 isn’t a major snapshot as many would have expected. It only adds some minor changes and bug fixes to a handful of components, including GNOME Shell, Mutter, Evolution, GNOME Photos, GNOME Builder, GNOME Online Accounts, Polari, Bijiben, Evince, Epiphany, Baobab, GNOME Control Center, and File Roller.

      • GNOME 3.29.4 Released As Another Step Towards GNOME 3.30
      • Meg Ford: GUADEC 2018

        I was particularly interested in and disappointed by Michael Catanzaro’s talk “Migrating from JHBuild to BuildStream”. I appreciate all the time and effort the Release Team has put into maintaining and developing the build systems, so I’m including my experience here as an example, not as a criticism.
        Over time I’ve gotten used to JHBuild and become adept at searching for and fixing its sometimes bizarre error messages. A few months ago, after running into some modules that failed on JHBuild, I read the announcement about GNOME’s modulesets moving to BuildStream. I spent a couple days removing JHBuild and rebuilding everything in BuildStream. Except I ran out of disk space. So I removed as much as I could and started over. Except then PulseAudio wouldn’t work. Luckily I’d occasionally run into the same errors caused by an unavailable PulseAudio daemon when I was using JHBuild. I tried restarting the daemon, etc, and looked for info on the subject. In the end it turned out that PulseAudio wasn’t available within the sandbox, so I scrapped BuildStream and went back to JHBuild.
        Going forward, I’m planning to move from JHBuild to using FlatPak, Builder, and GNOME’s nightly runtime build. I’m happy that the community is providing solutions, and, while things are still in a confusing state, at least they are moving quickly in interesting and promising directions.

      • On Flatpak Nightlies

        As far as I know, it was not possible to run any nightly applications during this two week period, except developer applications like Builder that depend on org.gnome.Sdk instead of the normal org.gnome.Platform. If you used Epiphany Technology Preview and wanted a functioning web browser, you had to run arcane commands to revert to the last good runtime version.

        This multi-week response time is fairly typical for us. We need to improve our workflow somehow. It would be nice to be able to immediately revert to the last good build once a problem has been identified, for instance.

        Meanwhile, even when the runtime is working fine, some apps have been broken for months without anyone noticing or caring. Perhaps it’s time for a rethink on how we handle nightly apps. It seems likely that only a few apps, like Builder and Epiphany, are actually being regularly used. The release team has some hazy future plans to take over responsibility for the nightly apps (but we have to take over the runtimes first, since those are more important), and we’ll need to somehow avoid these issues when we do so. Having some form of notifications for failed builds would be a good first step.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Neptune 5.4

        We are proud to announce version 5.4 of Neptune .

        This update represents the current state of Neptune 5 and renews the ISO file so if you install Neptune you don’t have to download tons of Updates.

        In this update we introduce a new look and feel package called Neptune Dark. This comes together with an modified icon theme optimized for dark themes called Faenza Dark. We improved hardware support further by providing Linux Kernel 4.16.16 with improved drivers and bugfixes.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • TLS 1.3 Via GnuTLS Is Planned For Fedora 29

          The feature list for Fedora 29 continues growing and the latest is about shipping GnuTLS with TLS 1.3 support enabled.

          TLS 1.3 was approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force earlier this year as the newest version of this protocol for making secure web connections that is key to HTTPS. TLS 1.3 offers various security and performance improvements over TLS 1.2 as well as lower-latency, better handling of long-running sessions, etc.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Ripple’s Evan Schwartz says Codius might pave the way for open-source services

      The Creator of Codius, Evan Schwartz, spoke about the technology recently at CSAIL Initiative Launch. Codius is a smart contract and distributed applications hosting platform developed jointly by Stefan Thomas, the Founder of Coil, and Evan Schwartz.

      Schwartz started off by saying that Codius is much more flexible in hosting decentralized applications when compared to the blockchain. The reason for many developers to choose the blockchain is mainly security and redundancy.

    • Nish Tech Simplifies eCommerce Integrations With the Launch of Open-Source Framework for Sitecore Commerce

      Nish Tech, a leader in Sitecore and eCommerce implementations, released a framework to the user community to accelerate and simplify development and integration for ecommerce sites. Nish Tech, a Gold Sitecore Implementation Partner with a specialization in eCommerce, initially unveiled a preview at the European Sitecore User Group summit in Berlin, Germany earlier this year. Today marks the official launch of this framework.

      In most online ecommerce implementations, integration with backend systems like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and PIM (Product Information Management) play an important role. Most companies spend significant time/effort building connections to these systems. Customers using a modern ecommerce platform, like Sitecore Experience Commerce in the digital commerce space need a communication link to the backend systems to complete ecommerce transactions.

    • Appareo offers open source on fourth-generation Stratus receiver

      Appareo released a new addition to its Stratus family of pilot-friendly affordable avionics this week. Stratus 3 is the latest model in the line of industry-leading ADS-B receivers first introduced in 2012. The company will exhibit Stratus 3 as part of its full line of Stratus products next week at the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 fly-in and expo.

  • BSD

    • Announcing NetBSD 8.0

      The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 8.0, the sixteenth major release of the NetBSD operating system.

    • NetBSD 8.0 Officially Released With USB3 Support, Security Improvements & UEFI

      While it’s been on mirrors for a few days, NetBSD 8.0 was officially released this weekend.

      NetBSD 8.0 represents this BSD operating system project’s 16th major release and introduces USB 3.0 support, an in-kernel audio mixer, a new socket layer, Meltdown/Spectre mitigation, eager FPU support, SMAP support, UEFI boot-loader support for x86/x86_64 hardware, and a variety of long sought after improvements — many of which are improving the security of NetBSD.

    • NetBSD 8.0 Released with Spectre V2/V4, Meltdown, and Lazy FPU Mitigations

      The NetBSD open-source operating system has been updated this week to version 8.0, a major release that finally brings mitigations for all the Spectre variants, Meltdown, and Lazy FPU security vulnerabilities, as well as many stability improvements and bug fixes.

      Coming seven months after the first and last point release of the NetBSD 7 series, NetBSD 8.0 is here with mitigations for both the Spectre Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715) and Spectre Variant 4 (CVE-2018-3639) security vulnerabilities, as well as for the Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Lazy FPU State Save/Restore (CVE-2018-3665) vulnerabilities.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Crowdfunding for extension management in GIMP (and other improvements)

      Well that’s the big question! Let’s be clear: currently security of plug-ins in GIMP sucks.

      So the first thing is that our upload website should make basic file type checks and compare them with the metadata listing. If your metadata announces you ship brushes, and we find executables in there, we would block it.

      Also all executables (i.e. plug-ins or scripts) would be held for manual review. That also means we’ll need to find people in the community to do the review. I predict that it will require some time for things to set up smoothly and the road may be bumpy at first.

      Finally we won’t accept built-files immediately. If code is being compiled, we would need to compile it ourselves on our servers. This is obviously a whole new layer of complexity (even more because GIMP can run on Linux, Windows, macOS, BSDs…). So at first, we will probably not allow C and C++ extensions on our repository. But WAIT! I know that some very famous and well-maintained extensions exist and are compiled. We all think of G’Mic of course! We may make exceptions for trustworthy plug-in creators (with a well-known track record), to allow them to upload their compiled plug-ins as extensions. But these will be really exceptional.

      Obviously this will be a difficult path. We all know how security is a big deal, and GIMP is not so good here. At some point, we should even run every extension in a sandbox for instance. Well some say: the trip is long, but the way is clear.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Python’s founder steps down, India’s new net neutrality regulations, and more open source news

      The head of one of the most popular free software/open source software projects is stepping down. Guido van Rossum announced that he’s giving up leadership of the project he founded, effective immediately.

      van Rossum, affectionately known as Python’s “benevolent dictator for life,” made the move after the bruising process of approving a recent enhancement proposal to the scripting language. He also cited some undisclosed medical problems as another factor in his resignation. van Rossum stated that he “doesn’t want to think as hard about his creation and is switching to being an ‘ordinary core developer’,” according to The Inquirer.

      van Rossum, who “has confirmed he won’t be involved in appointing his replacement. In fact, it sounds very much like he doesn’t think there should be one,” believes that Python’s group of committers can do his job.

    • Open Data

      • FLIR Creates Open-Source Dataset for Driving Assistance

        Sensor systems developer FLIR Systems Inc. has announced an open-source machine learning thermal dataset designed for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and self-driving vehicle researchers, developers, and auto manufacturers, featuring a compilation of more than 10,000 annotated thermal images of day and nighttime scenarios.

        The first of its kind to include annotations for cars, other vehicles, people, bicycles, and dogs, the starter thermal dataset enables developers to begin testing and evolving convolutional neural networks with the FLIR Automotive Development Kit (ADKTM). The dataset empowers the automotive community to quickly evaluate thermal sensors on next-generation algorithms. When combined with visible light cameras, lidar, and radar, thermal sensor data paired with machine learning helps create a more comprehensive and redundant system for identifying and classifying roadway objects, especially pedestrians and other living things.

      • Open-source map of accessible restaurants in Calgary growing into something beautiful

        A call on Twitter for a list of accessible restaurants has led to an online mapping movement to plot out user-friendly restaurants around the city.

        On Monday, Calgary-based tech entrepreneur Travis Martin saw a tweet from Natasha Gibson (@ktash) asking Councillor Druh Farrell if she knew of some accessible restaurants for her senior parents.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Universities in Germany and Sweden Lose Access to Elsevier Journals [iophk: "sci-hub to the rescue"]

        This month, approximately 300 academic institutions in Germany and Sweden lost access to new papers published in Elsevier’s journals due to a standstill in negotiations for nationwide subscription contracts. While Elsevier’s papers remain inaccessible, academics are turning to alternative means of obtaining them, such as using inter-library loan services, emailing authors, finding earlier versions on preprint servers, or buying individual papers.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Source Laboratory Rocker is Super Smooth

        Lab equipment is often expensive, but budgets can be tight and not always up to getting small labs or researchers what they need. That’s why [akshay_d21] designed an Open Source Lab Rocker with a modular tray that uses commonly available hardware and 3D printed parts. The device generates precisely controlled, smooth motion to perform automated mild to moderately aggressive mixing of samples by tilting the attached tray in a see-saw motion. It can accommodate either a beaker or test tubes, but since the tray is modular, different trays can be designed to fit specific needs.

  • Programming/Development

    • Update on our planned move from Azure to Google Cloud Platform

      Improving the performance and reliability of GitLab.com has been a top priority for us. On this front we’ve made some incremental gains while we’ve been planning for a large change with the potential to net significant results: running GitLab as a cloud native application on Kubernetes.

      The next incremental step on our cloud native journey is a big one: migrating from Azure to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). While Azure has been a great provider for us, GCP has the best Kubernetes support and we believe will the best provider for our long-term plans. In the short term, our users will see some immediate benefits once we cut over from Azure to GCP including encrypted data at rest on by default and faster caching due to GCP’s tight integration with our existing CDN.

Leftovers

  • What’s the full story behind Elon Musk’s involvement with the Thai cave rescue effort?
  • Science

    • Shortage of computer experts increases risk of cyberattack

      Britain has an acute shortage of cyberexperts to protect power stations, nuclear plants and hospitals, a committee of MPs and peers warns today.

    • Stem vital to UK’s future cybersecurity

      The Cyber Security Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure report from Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy said the gap between the demand and the supply of skilled workers for the critical national infrastructure sector is a “cause for alarm” and the government “no real sense of the scale of the problem or how to address it effectively”.

      The report stated: “A key challenge for education policy is the considerable time lag between a pupil joining primary school and ultimately entering the workforce, and the extraordinary pace of technological evolution during the same period.

      “A pupil who chooses to pursue higher education will spend at least seventeen years in formal education. Consequently, the education system cannot—and should not—be expected to anticipate and deliver the range of specialist skills and knowledge required nearly two decades later.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Migrant Children Detained in Shelters Being Drugged
    • Honduras Files Appeal Against WTO Ruling That Allowed Tobacco Plain Packaging

      Australia’s legislation came into effect on 1 December 2012 and requires that all tobacco products sold, offered for sale, or otherwise supplied in Australia must be in plain packaging.

      Four tobacco-producing countries initiated disputes against Australia, arguing that the country was infringing intellectual property rules among other concerns. The four countries were Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia. The report of the WTO dispute settlement panel was released [pdf] on 28 June (IPW, Health & IP, 28 June 2018).

      On 19 July, Honduras filed an appeal against the WTO panel ruling.

      The Honduras case had included an assertion of infringement of trademarks and geographical indications by the plain packaging requirements.

    • NGOs: Countries Pressured To Drop Reference To Affordable Medicines In UN TB Negotiations

      The High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 26 September.

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) issued a release today, arguing that developing countries would be specifically affected by removal of the language.

      “How is it possible that global leaders will gather for the first time to decide how to tackle the world’s most deadly infectious disease killer, and yet some countries backed by their big pharma lobbies are pushing to remove any mention of the need for vital medicines to be affordable?” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV and TB Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen

      Hundreds of thousands of people showed up across the United States at more than 600 gatherings three weeks ago. They came out to protest Donald Trump‘s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in highly choreographed, Democratic Party-affiliated “Families Belong Together” rallies and marches. Liberal celebrities marched and spoke. Local, state, and federal Democratic Party politicians and office-holders gave passionate speeches denouncing Trump’s separation of Central American migrant children from their parents at the southern U.S. border.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuadorian president arrives in Britain as Julian Assange’s fate hangs in the balance

      Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno arrives in London today, with his administration seeking to force WikiLeaks editor and Australian citizen Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy there, where he sought and was granted political asylum in 2012.

      If Assange leaves the embassy he will be imprisoned by Britain for breaching bail and almost certainly face an application to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on manufactured charges of espionage.

      [...]

      The American intelligence agencies are determined to prosecute Assange as a “spy.” The campaign to arrest him was escalated to a “priority” in April 2017, after WikiLeaks began publishing the “Vault 7” leaks that revealed how the CIA had developed malware to hack phones, PCs, servers, smart televisions and vehicle computer systems in every part of the world.

      Moreno’s government has betrayed Assange as part of its venal attempts, on behalf of the Ecuadorian business elite, to restore economic and political relations with Washington. The London embassy cut off Assange’s communications just one day after top-level meetings in Ecuador with representatives of US Southern Command on re-establishing military cooperation.

      Underscoring Moreno’s complicity in the persecution of Assange, his aides announced he has no intention of visiting the embassy whilst in London to even check on the well-being of a persecuted journalist his government is nominally providing political asylum.

    • Julian Assange’s Hand Over To UK May Be Imminent According To WikiLeaks

      According to a tweet by the internationally known organization WikiLeaks, its founder’s fate may be decided within a mere few days or weeks, and Julian Assange might be handed over on a silver platter by Ecuador to the UK government. Then presumably Assange will be handed over to the U.S. government and extradited to the United States.

      The head of RT, Margarita Simonyan, tweeted in Russian that her sources indicate Assange will be handed over to UK authorities.

    • Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next?

      ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the President’s trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities.

      Moreno’s itinerary also notably includes a trip to Madrid, where he will meet with Spanish officials still seething over Assange’s denunciation of human rights abuses perpetrated by Spain’s central government against protesters marching for Catalonia independence. Almost three months ago, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet, and Assange has not been able to communicate with the outside world ever since. The primary factor in Ecuador’s decision to silence him was Spanish anger over Assange’s tweets about Catalonia.

      [...]

      The central oddity of Assange’s case – that he has been effectively imprisoned for eight years despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime – is virtually certain to be prolonged once Ecuador hands him over to the U.K. Even under the best-case scenario, it appears highly likely that Assange will continue to be imprisoned by British authorities.

      The only known criminal proceeding Assange currently faces is a pending 2012 arrest warrant for “failure to surrender” – basically a minor bail violation charge that arose when he obtained asylum from Ecuador rather than complying with bail conditions by returning to court for a hearing on his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden.

      That charge carries a prison term of three months and a fine, though it is possible that the time Assange has already spent in prison in the UK could be counted against that sentence. In 2010, Assange was imprisoned in Wandsworth Prison, kept in isolation, for 10 days until he was released on bail; he was then under house arrest for 550 days at the home of a supporter.

      Assange’s lawyer, Jen Robinson, told the Intercept that he would argue that all of that prison time already served should count toward (and thus completely fulfill) any prison term imposed on the “failure to surrender” charge, though British prosecutors would almost certainly contest that claim. Assange would also argue that he had a reasonable, valid basis for seeking asylum rather than submitting to UK authorities: namely, reasonable fear that he would be extradited to the U.S. for prosecution for the act of publishing documents.

    • Breaking: Possible Hand-Over Of Julian Assange To The UK May Be Imminent

      Russian media is hardly the first source of dire warnings regarding Assange’s safety in recent weeks. Just Days ago, the World Socialist Website related: “The London Times reported July 15 on secret talks between the British and Ecuadorian governments. They are apparently intending to expel WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has enjoyed political asylum for six years. The article said the talks were “an attempt to remove Assange from the embassy,” and they were being run at the highest levels of government. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, is personally involved.”

    • WikiLeaks May Get Served For DNC Lawsuit Over Twitter

      In April the Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed a novel lawsuit against WikiLeaks alleging they were part of a global conspiracy to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is widely believed that by publishing hacked emails from the DNC and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign WikiLeaks hurt Clinton and helped Trump become president.

      The hacked emails came back into the public eye in June when special counsel Robert Mueller issued 12 new indictments against Russian military intelligence officers working for Vladimir Putin. The substance of the indictments is that the Russians illegally hacked into the DNC servers and illegally stole emails and other proprietary documents.

      Three months after filing the lawsuit the DNC has still not been successful in its attempts to serve WikiLeaks as is required in order to get the lawsuit started. If WikiLeaks can continue to avoid being served notice of the lawsuit then the lawsuit can never begin.

      So now CBS News has reported that the DNC is trying a unique new approach to get its lawsuit notice served to WikiLeaks.

    • Ecuador May Be Getting Ready to Expel Julian Assange

      I don’t have any independent knowledge of what will happen to Assange next, or whether he will indeed eventually be extradited to the United States. But I will say this. If the case brought against him is a fairly ordinary one of publishing classified material, I expect, contra Greenwald, that virtually no Democrats and absolutely no journalists will support the government’s case.¹ There would, unfortunately, probably be a few Democratic politicians who would cheer his prosecution, but even there I think (or hope, anyway) that their numbers would be small. If this case goes forward, I suppose it will be a good test of whose level of cynicism is currently best calibrated to the current mood of the American public.

    • Ecuador Will Withdraw Asylum Protection From Julian Assange And Hand Him Over To British Authorities

      This comes after Ecuador blocked Assange from gaining access to the internet around three months ago. Since then, no one has heard from Assange directly. The reason for the internet ban is believed to be linked to Assange taking a stance against the Spanish government in Catalonia’s separatist crisis, after which Ecuador warned Assange that “he has no reason to interfere in Ecuadorian politics because his status does not allow it,” reported the Local. The Ecuadorian President has called Julian a “hacker,” an “inherited problem,” and a “stone in the shoe.”

    • Julian Assange to be handed over to UK officials: Report

      Assange first came to the embassy when he faced a warrant for arrest following allegations of sexual assault and rape from the Swedish government. He has denied the allegations, and the investigation was closed last year.

    • Ecuador may be close to ejecting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy

      …Moreno is close to a deal as early as this week

    • speculation over Assange, Correa grows as Ecuador President Moreno visits UK, Spain

      Hunt said, “At any time he wants to he is free to walk out onto the street of, and the British police will have a warm welcome for him.”

      In the UK Assange is facing only a minor charge for failing to turn up to a court hearing.

      Another point in Moreno’s agenda might be former president Rafael Correa. According to Andres Michelena, Secretary of Communications, the government has put together a team to counter the narrative promoted by Correa that he is a victim of political persecution.

    • Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing and Surrendering Assange

      Since the changing of the guard in Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno has shown a warmer feeling towards the United States, and a desire to raise the issue of Assange’s stay in the embassy with US Vice President Mike Pence with the urgency of man desiring to be rid of a problem. The UK government has also been brought into the mix. The forces against Assange are marshalling themselves with a renewed impatience.

    • Ecuador Will Be Handing Assange Over To UK Authorities ‘In Coming Weeks Or Days’: RT

      Ecuador is planning to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to UK authorities in the “coming weeks or even days,” RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said, citing her own sources. Simonyan reported the news in a recent tweet, which was reposted by WikiLeaks.

    • Ecuador to Withdraw Asylum For Assange – Reports

      Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno is not planning to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Julian Assange, who is residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, during the president’s upcoming visit to the United Kingdom, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said on July 19.

      A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the president’s office, refusing to speak publicly, has confirmed that Moreno is close to settling if he has not already settled, an agreement to hand over Assange to the UK within the next several weeks, the Intercept reported.

      Withdrawal of Assange’s asylum and his ejection could come as early as this week.

      According to Ecuadorian Deputy Foreign Minister Andres Teran, Quito and London are currently negotiating Assange’s future, but Moreno’s involvement in the talks has not been confirmed.

    • Julian Assange’s ‘days NUMBERED’ as Ecuador ‘ready to EVICT’ Wikileaks founder

      A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry reportedly confirmed that Moreno is close to reaching a settlement with the UK within the next few weeks.

      According to the source the eviction could come as early as next week.

      It is known that Ecuador’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andres Teran is currently negotiating Assange’s future.

    • Ecuador’s president to hand Assange over to UK during London visit – Greenwald
    • Ecuador about to boot out Julian Assange – reports
    • Julian Assange Could Be Turned Over To U.K. Authorities Soon: Report
    • Greenwald: Ecuador Working to Finalize Assange’s Release to UK Officials
    • Ecuador to Hand Over Julian Assange to British Authorities
    • Report: Ecuador close to evicting Julian Assange from London embassy
    • Ecuador ‘close’ to evicting Julian Assange from London embassy

      Sweden has since dropped its case against him, but Assange believes he will be extradited to the US for questioning over WikiLeaks activities if he leaves the building.

    • Ecuador is Handing Over Julian Assange to the United Kingdom
    • Julian Assange will ‘immediately’ be ejected from embassy to face possible prosecution: Glen Greenwald report
    • Ecuadorian sources tell Intercept that Julian Assange could be evicted from London embassy this week

      Ahead of Moreno’s visit to London, his national secretary of political management, Paul Granda, asserted on July 19 that “there is no specific meeting planned on Assange.” The same day, acting Ecuadorian foreign minister, Andres Teran, claimed that Moreno’s government is “not in talks with the United States” over the WikiLeaks editor.

      These statements have no credibility. All evidence, reinforced by the Intercept report, points to the opposite conclusion: A conspiracy is well advanced, involving the US, British, Ecuadorian and Australian governments, to have Assange hauled before a show trial in the US.

    • Julian Assange is free to leave Ecuadorean embassy any time, British foreign secretary says
    • Julian Assange: UK dares Wikileaks to leave Ecuadorean embassy
    • Inside WikiLeaks, the Publisher that Changed the World

      Silenced and cut off from the outside world, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the last six years with no access to sunlight, fresh air, or proper medical treatment. Furthermore, last March President Lenin Moreno’s Ecuadorian government cut his access to the internet, phone calls and even visitors and journalists. For a man who has already been confined to the embassy for so long, these restrictions are particularly harsh.

      I began working as one of WikiLeaks’ media partners in 2009, before Assange and WikiLeaks published such bombshells as the “Collateral Murder” video. Over the last nine years, I have partnered with WikiLeaks on behalf of my newspaper, the Italian daily La Repubblica to work on the Podesta emails and many of its other secret files, except for those that WikiLeaks released without media partners: the DNC emails, the Saudi Cables, Turkey’s ruling party emails, the Hacking Team documents, the Collateral Murder video and the Brennan emails.

      Like its work or not, WikiLeaks is an independent media organization that doesn’t have to rely on traditional media to publish its scoops. Indeed it was founded to bypass the legal qualms traditional media may have about publishing classified information.

      With its 5.5 million followers on Twitter, WikiLeaks has a huge social media presence that gives its work immediate impact. But WikiLeaks has published most of its revelations in collaboration with a number of media partners.

    • Report: Ecuador Handing Over Julian Assange to U.K. in ‘Coming Weeks or Even Days’

      In a highly publicized speech to the media from the balcony’s Ecuador London embassy in 2012, Assange urged U.S. authorities to suspend its probe into WikiLeaks. “I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks,” Assange said. “The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.”

    • Ecuador Rumored to Hand Julian Assange to UK Authorities in “Days” or “Weeks”

      Though Moreno campaigned as a progressive leftist in the style of Rafael Correa, his predecessor who had granted Assange asylum, he has shown himself to be eager to return Ecuador to the fold of U.S. and U.K. influence and neoliberal economic policies. Since his election, Moreno has barred Correa from running for re-election and removed Correa loyalists from his cabinet. He has also begun paving the way for the U.S. military to regain its foothold in the country, which was abruptly ended in 2009 when Correa expelled the U.S. military from its base, and has also sought new financing from the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund.

    • Ecuador: Speculation Over Assange, Correa Grows as President Moreno Visits UK, Spain

      Last week the leader of the Spanish party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, argued the detention order was part of a trend of judicializing politics in the region.

      After the events in the U.K. Moreno will head to Spain, where he is expected to meet Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain.

      Moreno will be accompanied by his wife, Rocio Gonzalez, who he appointed as president of Toda Una Vida social plan and a dozen Ecuadorean officials.

    • UK Minister dares Assange to leave embassy

      Speaking alongside Mr Hunt, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government was offering Mr Assange consular support.

    • UK minister dares Julian Assange to leave Ecuadorean embassy
    • DNC files motion to serve lawsuit against WikiLeaks via Twitter

      Three months after filing a lawsuit against the Trump campaign, the Russian government and WikiLeaks that alleges a massive conspiracy to tilt the 2016 election in President Trump’s favor, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has so far been unsuccessful in its attempts to serve WikiLeaks.

      So the DNC is trying a new tactic to serve its complaint to the website that leaked internal DNC emails during the 2016 election — Twitter. The DNC filed a motion Friday in federal court in Manhattan requesting permission to serve the complaint to WikiLeaks on a platform the DNC argues the website uses regularly.

      “Because WikiLeaks has more of a virtual than a physical presence, the court can and should exercise its authority … to authorize service by Twitter,” the motion reads.

    • Are US media outlets repentant about reporting on DNC emails alleged hacked by ‘the Russians’? No

      US media outlets have few regrets about reporting on the shady practices of the DNC, Hillary Clinton’s private speeches, and other scoops revealed by emails allegedly leaked by Russian hackers, The Washington Post reports.

      Erik Wemple, The Washington Post’s media critic, decided to reach out to American news organizations after Neera Tanden, the president and CEO of the Soros-funded, Clinton-friendly Center for American Progress, accused “every reporter who gleefully trafficked in stolen emails via Wikileaks” of “abetting a crime – not illegal activity by itself but unethical and immoral.”

    • Truth Betrayed: WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to be Handed to Americans

      The truth will set you free, as long as it not the truth about the corrupt governments that run the world.

      Julian Assange has been instrumental in shining a light on the corruption of government, but he will now be handed to America’s lackey the British, and obviously he will then be fed to the Americans. The truth clearly has no place in our modern world.

      Hillary Clinton who was exposed with her own words by Assange is yet to be charged with any offenses.

      Ecuador is ready to hand over the WikiLeaks founder to the UK in “coming weeks or even days,” RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said citing her own sources, as prospects of his eviction from the embassy are back in the media.

      “My sources tell [Julian] Assange will be handed over to Britain in the coming weeks or even days,” Simonyan wrote in a recent tweet which was reposted by WikiLeaks. “Like never before, I wish my sources were wrong,” she continued.

      Simonyan’s message comes, as speculations Ecuador is in talks with the UK over the future of Assange are back again in British press. Earlier this week, the Times reported Britain is locked in top-tier discussions with the Ecuadorians in a bid to remove Assange from their London embassy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Blue whale harpooned by cannon and butchered: Millionaire whaler Kristjan Loftsson vows to carry on killing

      A rare hybrid of a blue whale and a fin whale, it would have made an awesome sight rising through the waves.

      But, as these shocking images show, the determination of one Icelandic whaler to kill it for profit meant its body has now been hacked to pieces.

      The helpless animal was harpooned in international waters by men working for multi-millionaire Kristjan Loftsson, the small country’s most notorious whaling magnate.

    • Yet another hot day far up in the Arctic circle – northern Finland already at 33 °C by 11:30 UTC (July 18)! | Severe Weather Europe
    • The Billion Tree Project In Pakistan Is A Success

      The Billion Tree Tsunami project in Pakistan has been a success. About 730 million trees were regrown using various forestry measures for regeneration, and three hundred million seedlings were planted using about 40 different species in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

      Also, nine million eucalyptus trees were planted in Heroshah in 2015-2016 by 16,000 laborers. They are a fast-growing species, so they can provide benefits to landscapes which have been stripped resulting in problems with erosion.“We are 100% confident that the figure about the billion trees is correct,” said Kamran Hussain, a manager of the Pakistani branch of the World Wildlife Fund.

      [...]

      Some people living in heavily forested areas were receiving annual royalties from logging, but after the Taliban cut so many trees for themselves their earnings dropped by as much as 90%, reportedly.

      The UN has noted multiple important benefits generated by forests, saying “Forests provide many significant resources and functions including wood products and non-wood products, recreational opportunities, habitat for wildlife, conservation of biological diversity, water and soil, and play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. They support employment and traditional uses, and biodiversity.” They also prevent erosion, provide shelter and food for animals and generate oxygen. Some trees produce for food humans and forests are extremely valuable to human economies.

  • Finance

    • Thieves use free-to-play games to turn stolen credit-card numbers into cash

      The beauty of the system is its automation: everything from the creation of the Apple accounts to the game logins to the item purchases and resales is automated, meaning that the scammers just have to press Go and start cashing out.

    • Scammers Are Using ‘Clash of Clans’ to Launder Money From Stolen Credit Cards

      Kromtech Security—a German-based IT and security company—has discovered evidence of a large scheme where scammers use stolen credit cards to buy in-app currencies from mobile games Clash of Clans, Clan Royale, and Marvel Contest of Champions, then sell those currencies on the grey market for cash.

    • Digital Laundry: how credit card thieves use free-to-play apps to launder their ill-gotten gains

      The resources even maintain value after purchase, because in many cases, once bought, they can be traded, adding to the game play. The game itself can also be transferred from one account to another. Because of this, resources gathered or bought and games built to advanced levels can also be resold. It is the selling of these on third party markets that holds the door open to the illicit activity that we found taking place.

    • Amazon Warehouse Strike in Spain Reportedly Results in Police Clashes, Arrests

      With help from our colleague Carlos Zuhamensky at our Spanish-language offshoot Gizmodo ES, we were able to speak with Juan Manuel Rosado, a spokesperson for the CSIT union in the Amazon Company Workers Committee about yesterday’s violent clash. His words have been transcribed and translated by Zuhamensky.

    • Jeff Bezos’s fortune has come at the expense of workers and society not receiving their fair share

      This week Jeff Bezos was named the world’s richest man by Bloomberg’s Billionaire’s Index, with a staggering $152bn (£117bn) in net worth following a jump in the Amazon share price on Amazon Prime day. Looking further into how he came to be there reveals a story of the global economy in 2018. While a gilded class sees huge returns, it comes at the expense of workers and society not receiving their fair share.

      Bezos did not make his fortune alone; the company’s customers, suppliers, workforce, and the public sector through investment in infrastructure, roads and services all played a part. In particular, Amazon’s employees, of which there are over half a million, are essential to Amazon’s business model of being reliably quick and convenient. Yet Bezos makes more wealth every 9 seconds than the median Amazon employee in the US makes in a year. In the UK, undercover investigations have shown work in Amazon’s fulfilment centres to be insecure, demeaning, excessively monitored and low-paid. Toilet breaks can cost a job and workers’ movements are tracked to check they are optimal for maximising Amazon’s profit. Amazon has consistently suppressed efforts amongst its workforce to unionise, and has created some of the most atomised labour markets imaginable through its Amazon Turk bank of online workers from around the world, reducing the ability of colleagues to organise. Amazon’s fulfilment centres are often in places where it’s close to the only gig in town for low-skill workers; evidence from America suggests this has enabled the tech giant to reduce wages for those jobs over time. Despite its poor record as an employer, mayors in the US have offered Amazon billions in tax breaks to attract the giant to create employment in their cities.

    • US Continues To Block Progress On WTO Appeals Body, While Rapidly Adding Cases To The System

      The United States is piling up dispute settlement cases against its trading partners at the World Trade Organization while at the same time ironically blocking any progress on the selection of panellists for appeals in the WTO dispute settlement process.

    • Why is vigorous economic competition a good thing?

      ECONOMISTS are becoming increasingly worried that capitalism today is less competitive than it once was. Some argue that much of what is wrong with rich-world economies today—from high income inequality to measly wage growth—has its roots in markets that are uncompetitive.

      However, much of the discussion about competition is fairly abstract and difficult to understand. To help readers get a grip of one of the most important issues today, we turned to an expert on competition to ask him some simple questions.

    • Wall Street Journal Hammers ‘Out of Touch’ Trump Economic Adviser Peter Navarro for Trashing the US Economy

      The editors of the very conservative and very business-oriented Wall Street Journal have taken President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro to the woodshed for pushing the president’s tariffs that is having a devastating effect on U.S. manufacturers.

      Under an ominous headline that reads “The Trade Casualties Mount,” the editorial board laid out the case on the toll the Trump tariffs are taking on U.S. economic growth.

      “President Trump is escalating his trade rhetoric, threatening China and Europe with more tariffs on more goods if they don’t agree to his terms. Mr. Trump says winning these trade wars is ‘easy,’ so let’s take a look at the early returns on his steel and aluminum tariffs and the retaliation they’ve inspired,” the editorial began.

    • A national government would only deliver for the rich

      There is a growing chorus of voices calling for some kind of national government. Sometimes it is expressed by saying that politicians should come together to deliver Brexit. And there are whispers of moves to set up a new centre party which would incorporate politicians of all parties and none.

      It is easy to see the superficial attraction of national government politics. The same argument is often used in relationship to the NHS. “If only” people sigh “we could take the politics out of health issues”.

      The trouble is that (although politics has become almost a dirty word for much of the public) in truth there is no more intensely political subject than healthcare. How much you are prepared to spend on your health service, what level of tax you are prepared to levy to pay for it, whether you are concerned about rising health inequality and (ultimately) who gets to live or die because of decisions made – these are political subjects where vastly different economic interests contend.

      In the same way the idea that you can take the politics out of Brexit is delusional. When people talk about the importance of forming a national government “in the national interest” I am concerned. Because the question is whose nation and whose interest? The assumption behind national government is that the interests of a hedge fund manager in Mayfair are the same as a single parent in Hackney. But they are not. And the danger of a national government is that, inevitably, the interest of the poor and disadvantaged get marginalised.

    • I’ve Worked for Tips for 60 Years. DC Council Should Listen to the Voters Who Want to Raise My Wages

      When people ask me when I’m going retire, my answer is always the same: About 15 minutes before I’m dead. I turn 70 this year, and I’ve been working in DC—always for tips—since I was 12. My first job, at the concession stand at Arena stage in the early ‘60s, was one of the better ones. My bosses were kind, and I got to watch the shows that came through town. By the time I got my second job, my wages were 66 cents an hour—not exactly the stuff nest eggs are made of.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook’s pledge to eliminate misinformation is itself fake news

      Facebook does not just tolerate Infowars. It seeks to profit from Infowars and its audience. Facebook’s advertising tools, at time of writing, allow advertisers to pay Facebook to target the 743,220 users who “like” the InfoWars page.

    • Russia Was Just the Beginning: Here’s How Social Media Became Infested with ‘Computational Propaganda’ Designed to Control Society

      While much of the world’s attention is currently centered on efforts by Russian operatives to sow discord among the American electorate with fake social media posts and “troll farms” during the 2016 presidential election, an Oxford Internet Institute study published Friday found that use of social media by governments looking to “spread junk information and propaganda to voters” has become a global phenomenon.

      “Social media manipulation is big business,” the researchers found. “We estimate that tens of millions of dollars are being spent on social media manipulation campaigns, involving tens of thousands of professional staff.”

      While there is nothing new about political parties and governments using disinformation to manipulate elections at home and abroad, the Oxford researchers note that the massive, easily accessible, and lightly regulated platforms offered by Facebook and Twitter have become enormously powerful tools in the hands of political actors, who have used social media to kick their propaganda campaigns into overdrive and cast doubt on science and public institutions.

    • Going Home Again to Trump’s America

      For the most part I keep my distance from Trump’s Boardwalk fascism. Who needs to reminded that the United States, politically anyway, has descended into a reality show? To be sure it is impossible, even when you live in Europe, to escape Trumpism altogether. He shows up at G-7 or NATO summits to lecture European leaders about trade inequality or Putin’s humanism. But living without television and on another continent, I am largely spared Trump’s Babbittry, although any sampling of online newspapers brings his rants into focus. That said, once or twice a year, because I need to remind myself that the United States is a lot more than its village idiocy, I make plans to travel around the country.

      In recent years I have biked and bused from Chicago to New York, camped in many states between North Carolina and Oklahoma, roamed the coal hollows of Kentucky and West Virginia, and attended the presidential primary in New Hampshire. It may not make up for my lack of familiarity with Fox & Friends, but at least I now having a working knowledge of where Eugene V. Debs lived in Terre Haute and have visited the house, in Fayetteville, in which lived the late Senator J. William Fulbright (from whom we got the scholarships and much opposition to the Vietnam War).

    • Former Malaysian PM’s Letter Requesting May 2018 Election Help ‘Ignored’ by CIA

      A secret letter has been leaked, sent by the office of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the CIA begging for US help if the then-upcoming May 2018 elections went sour for his ruling coalition. Radio Sputnik spoke with Nile Bowie, a writer and journalist who covers Singapore and Malaysia for the Asia Times, about the revelations.

      Najib, who was already embroiled in a corruption scandal that had gutted his popularity, faced a dangerous challenger in the form of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who had partnered up with disaffected elements of Najib’s own party and run on a platform of getting to the bottom of the 1MBD embezzlement scandal.

    • Group: Probe letter asking for CIA backing

      The National Patriots Association wants authorities to probe a purported intelligence unit in the Prime Minister’s Department and its officials who were involved in a letter appealing to the United States to support Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s administration.

      Referring to a report by a news portal which revealed that a letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department was sent to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel five days before the 14th general election, the association urged an immediate investigation.

      “All guilty persons should be punished and an example set to all current officials in the Government, security forces personnel and politicians,” said Patriots president Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji in a statement.

      He said the letter discussed internal security and foreign policy matters that should not have been shared.

    • Trump Invited Putin to the U.S.

      Following their meeting in Finland, Trump wants to meet with Putin again.

    • How to Destroy Democracy, the Trump-Putin Way

      delete

      All around the world, strongmen are seizing power and subverting liberal norms.

    • The Helsinki Hostage Summit, Putin’s Puppet Trump, and my Working Theory of How the White House was Sold (and joke songs at end)

      To be clear, it is totally illegal to take money from foreign entities in a US election. Trump took money from anyone, not just Putin. Trump took money from several Arab countries (UAE and Saudi Arabia at least) and many other places. But most of all, he took from Putin. And he collected bucks by the bucketload. These would be election finance crimes, and even at enormous levels, they are not necessarily going to get you for life behind bars.

    • Senate 98-0 passes resolution opposing Vladimir Putin’s proposal to interrogate U.S. officials including McFaul & Browder
    • The Crisis Facing America

      The country can no longer afford to wait to ascertain why President Trump has subordinated himself to Putin—it must deal with the fact that he has.

    • Trump’s New Attack on Lawyer Michael Cohen Was a ‘Terrible Idea’ That Will Blow Up in President’s Face: Trial Attorney

      While spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf course, President Trump accused his former attorney, Michael Cohen, of “perhaps illegal” behavior by recording a conversation with Trump during which the two reportedly discussed a hush money payment.

    • Commentary: Trump has attacked U.S. intel agencies. Expect them to strike back.

      The foundations of American national security are under assault. The battle lines are drawn. On one side stand the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency. On the other: the commander-in-chief of the United States.

      [...]

      The display of fealty to Moscow was indelible. Then Trump tried to erase it. Back in the White House on Tuesday, he said he didn’t say what he meant or mean what he said.

      In Helsinki it was “President Putin… said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” Disavowing himself, reading from a script the day after, Trump demurred: “I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’” Rather like a groom at the altar saying: “I don’t.”

    • The Cybersecurity 202: Trump’s intel chiefs fight Russia’s election interference – with or without him

      President Donald Trump’s top intelligence and national security officials are forging ahead with plans to disrupt any Russian interference ahead of the 2018 midterms. But they may be going it alone following Trump’s performance this week at the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

      Just hours after Trump cast doubt on his own country’s conclusions about Moscow’s 2016 election interference at Monday’s presser, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said the intelligence community “will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.” And on Tuesday, the day after Trump suggested he believed Putin’s denials, The Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency is partnering with the military’s cyberwarfare arm to counter threats from Moscow going into November.

    • Cohen recorded Trump discussing payment to ex-Playboy model

      The FBI is in possession of a recording between President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen in which the two men prior to the election discuss a payment to a former Playboy model who has alleged an affair with Trump, Rudy Giuliani and a source familiar with the matter told CNN Friday.

      Cohen has other recordings of the President in his records that were seized by the FBI, said both a source with knowledge of Cohen’s tapes and Giuliani, who described the other recordings as mundane discussions. Another source with knowledge of the tape, however, said the conversation is not as Giuliani described and is not good for the President, though the source would not elaborate.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Disney confirms Guardians director fired over years-old tweets
    • Online Censorship an ‘Imaginary Narrative’?

      In an April hearing focused on online viewpoint suppression, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) declared his intent to make sure Big Tech corporations answered for their content filtering practices. This week, Goodlatte made good on that declaration by convening a hearing that featured officials from Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube.

      In announcing this week’s hearing, Goodlatte touted the amazing possibilities of social media, but also warned, “[T]his same technology can be used to suppress a particular viewpoint and manipulate public opinion.” He hoped this hearing would help the Big Tech companies explore “how they can be better stewards of free speech in the United States and abroad.”

    • GOP Lawmakers Grill Social Media Giants Over Alleged Censorship Of Conservatives, Again [VIDEO]
    • Blockchain Is Helping to Circumvent Censorship in China
    • US academic and critic of Beijing censorship loses job at top Chinese university

      An American professor and vocal critic of Beijing’s censorship has said he has lost his job at the prestigious Peking University and is leaving China.

      Christopher Balding, who had taught for the past nine years at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, said in a blog post on Tuesday that the school had not renewed his contract.

      Balding wrote in his post that he was given an “official” reason for his contract not being renewed, but added: “I know the unspoken reason for my dismissal.” He said he was notified in early November that his contract would not be renewed.

      “You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks,” he wrote.

    • American Professor Cites Academic Intolerance as Reason for Leaving China

      An American professor, known as a prolific commentator on Chinese economic policy and an outspoken critic of state censorship, has left China after losing his academic post at a prestigious business school.

      Christopher Balding said that the narrowing limits for open discussion, even of economic and business issues, made him feel unsafe and drove him to leave China. He said Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen—where he worked for nine years—told him last November that his contract wouldn’t be renewed.

    • U.S. Professor Fired from Chinese University After Criticizing Communist Government’s Censorship

      An American professor has lost his job at a top Chinese university after criticizing the communist government’s censorship policies.

      Christopher Balding, who taught at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen for nine years, said Tuesday that his contract has not been renewed, according to the South China Morning Post. The academic previously launched a successful online petition in August calling on Cambridge University Press to stop blocking access to hundreds of academic articles in China due to pressure from Beijing.

      “You do not work under the Communist Party without knowing the risks,” Balding wrote in a blog post, Reuters reported. “China has reached a point where I do not feel safe being a professor and discussing even the economy, business, and financial markets.”

    • ‘Saturday Night Live’ pulled in China amid crackdown on content

      China’s version of U.S. broadcaster NBCUniversal’s satire show “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) has temporarily been pulled from a domestic video site, amid a crackdown on content ranging from online blogs to livestreamed video.

      The news comes after China’s content regulator urged media platforms last week to produce and broadcast “positive energy” programs to teenagers, and protect them from “low taste and harmful programs” during the summer vacation.

    • Not live from Beijing: Saturday Night Live China suspended
    • China’s Saturday Night Live: victim of Communist Party censorship, or just not funny?

      The Chinese version of the long-running American television comedy show Saturday Night Live has been taken off the air less than a month after its launch, sparking debate over whether it was a victim of censorship or bad writing.

      The news was announced on social media, with the show’s producers seeming to acknowledge its failure to amuse.

      “We are trying to make the show better to meet your expectations,” read a statement posted on Sunday on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service. “Next time we see you, don’t forget to have a big laugh!”

      The show, which was broadcast on Youku.com, a video-sharing website similar to YouTube, did not say why it had been suspended or if it would return, but previously aired episodes are no longer available on the platform.

    • Journalists denounce media censorship, ministry dismisses allegations

      In meeting of the Senate Standing committee regarding Information and Broadcasting earlier last Tuesday, representatives of the media community voiced their objections to apparent censorship of their activites in certain areas. While journalists and media tycoons were thus embroiled with the Information ministry, Political parties and personalities were busy criticizing the media houses for coverage.

      The Senate Standing Committee meeting was held under the chair of Senator Faisal Javed and attended by Senator Maula Bux Chandio and Senator Rubina Khalid. The house heard out President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Afzal Butt and President Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) Mubarak Zeb Khan. Afzal Butt was concerned about the past when dictatorial regimes prevented certain stories or photographs from being aired or published.

    • When Code Is Speech, Tech Like 3D-Printed Guns Sees Greater Protection from Censorship

      Can a gun be protected by our rights to free speech? According to a recent settlement by the Department of Justice, when the gun is a schematic written in computer code, it can.

      Reason readers will be familiar with the saga of Cody Wilson and his gun rights collective, Defense Distributed. Disturbed by the rising tide of anti-gun sentiment in the cultural discourse, Wilson and his comrades set out to secure Americans’ rights to defend ourselves against government abuse. But they took a different tack than Second Amendment advocates before them. Rather than spending billions on lobbying and public persuasion campaigns, Defense Distributed bound their fate to the mast of technological determinism. They put guns on the internet.

      It has been about five years since the first 3-D printed gun was fired. Engineers at Wilson’s Austin-based firearms defense syndicate had been hard at work building the first prototypes. While the design looked a bit like a toy gun that a young boy might play with, the plastic-cast first DIY handgun, dubbed “the Liberator,” was truly fearsome to regulators and gun control hardliners. On its launch day, Defense Distrbuted’s “Wiki Weapon” schematic file had been downloaded 50,000 times from their DEFCAD.org website.

    • Polish gov’t opposed internet censorship

      The announcement comes ahead of a European Parliament debate on copyright rules proposed by Brussels which have been widely opposed by internet users, scientists, and IT experts.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Is Right

      Political activists on the left are calling on Mark Zuckerberg to assume the role of censor on Facebook. Facebook has the right to allow or prohibit any content Facebook wants. The left can call on Facebook to do this, but it is a bad idea. Both Facebook and Zuckerberg are right to refuse. By way of disclosure, I am holding my annual Resurgent Gathering in a few weeks and Facebook is a sponsor.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s Sister Simultaneously Rejects and Defends Facebook Censorship

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sister doesn’t think the social media company should censor Holocaust deniers. She wants the government to do that.

      Zuckerberg drew criticism Wednesday after Recode asked him about fake news on the platform. Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, told the interviewer that he did not want to delete even something as deeply and personally offensive to him as Holocaust denial. “I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” he said. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” Zuckerberg was willing to take down pages engaged in actually organizing harm. But when a page limits itself to expressing offensive opinions, he’d rather lower its reach than expel it.

      The comments were quickly criticized by people who believe Facebook had a duty to banish ideas like Holocaust denial.

    • Facebook Shouldn’t Censor Offensive Speech
    • Mark Zuckerberg clarifies: ‘I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.’
    • WhatsApp to limit message forwarding following lynchings in India spurred by misinformation

      WhatsApp users in the country will now only be able to forward a message five times. The company is also removing the “quick forward” feature, which created a streamlined in-app process for passing along messages.

    • WhatsApp to restrict message forwarding after India mob lynchings

      In India, where false rumours about child abduction spread virally over WhatsApp, leading to several vigilante murders over the past year, the new limit will be even stricter: each message can be forwarded just five times. In that country, where according to Facebook “people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world”, WhatsApp is also removing the “quick forward” feature, a button that appears next to photos, videos and links. The previous forwarding cap, rarely hit by users, was more than 250.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • OpSec – Staying Private Under Surveillance

      This article is intended to give you a list of tips on how to keep yourself private in a world of internet surveillance. It is broken up into two parts, technical security and operational security (OpSec). Technical security is avoiding outing yourself through technology issues. OpSec is outing yourself by making operational mistakes.

      Disclaimer: This is not a complete or exhaustive list, but a set of general guidelines on how to protect yourself from identification.

    • ICANN GDPR case referred to German higher court

      ICANN is attempting to force one of its domain name registrars to collect data on new registrants in an effort to maintain the integrity of the WHOIS platform, used by rights holders to aid online enforcement

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Real gender equality includes femininity (and the color pink)

      As feminist parents we tell ourselves that we’re trying to break down the gender binary, but what’s wrong with skirts and baby dolls?

      The message that we consistently send out is that in order to achieve any kind of significant career goals, girls need to adopt traits that are typically associated with masculinity. Credit: Hero Images/Getty Images via YES! Magazine. All rights reserved.

      A few months ago, my 4-year-old son went to a classmate’s birthday. The party was superhero-themed and the loot bags were packed with cute little superhero trinkets, including temporary tattoos. One little girl, let’s call her Izzy, put hers on immediately.

      “LOOK,” Izzy yelled, running up to everyone in turn. “IRON MAN. SO COOL.”

      The other children and parents in attendance oohed and aahed over her forearm. Every single one of them showed their admiration and approval for her Iron Man tattoo.

      Later, as we parents were watching our cake-smeared kids run around in a sugar-induced frenzy, one of the other mothers turned to me and said, “Isn’t it funny that [your son] loves My Little Pony so much? I mean, he’s such a boy.”

      Not really knowing how to answer, I said, “I don’t think it’s funny. It’s a good show.”

    • CIA watchdog withdraws nomination after allegations of retaliation against colleagues

      Christopher Sharpley, the acting Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency, is withdrawing his nomination after former colleagues alleged he retaliated against them for blowing the whistle on CIA IG officials’ alleged mishandling of evidence.

      According to two sources familiar with the matter, and confirmed by the CIA, Sharpley sent an email to staff on Wednesday telling them he was pulling back his nomination to be CIA Inspector General and would be retiring from CIA within 30 days to seek other opportunities. His specific reason for withdrawing now was not immediately clear.

    • Acting CIA watchdog steps down, withdraws IG nomination

      The acting watchdog at the CIA, who has been accused of retaliating against whistleblowers, is resigning, the agency confirmed Friday.

      Christopher Sharpley, whose nomination for the agency’s inspector general post had stalled in the Senate, said in a memo to employees that he is stepping down within 30 days.

      “After three decades of public service, he has decided to continue his career outside the agency, and we wish him the best in this new chapter,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said in a statement. “CIA’s commitment to rigorous, independent oversight is unwavering, and the Office of Inspector General will carry on that important mission through the transition.”

    • Acting CIA watchdog up for top job resigns
    • Behind closed doors, Guantánamo secret court talks about the CIA, torture and rights

      The CIA used an alleged accomplice in the Sept. 11 terror attacks as a test subject to train new interrogators. Agents diapered or left naked a one-legged CIA captive during his time in secret overseas detention. Taking showers still traumatizes the alleged USS Cole bomber, whom the CIA waterboarded in 2003.

      These and other details emerged from McClatchy’s review of 1,300 pages of partially declassified transcripts of Guantánamo’s secret death-penalty case sessions that have been gradually made public since February.

      Although still heavily redacted, the transcripts show a consistent theme across 30 hours of closed war-crimes hearings: When the public and accused terrorists aren’t allowed to listen, the legal arguments are often about the CIA’s secret overseas prison network, the circumstances of Guantánamo detention and how now outlawed Bush-era interrogation methods might affect future justice.

      In 2002 and 2003, “Essentially the United States government is running a Turkish prison. And that’s an insult, probably, to Turkey, frankly,” Navy Cmdr. Brian Mizer, a defense attorney, told a judge in a May 2014 court argument initially labeled top secret.

    • Come in from the cold: not enough ethnic minority spies, say MPs

      Britain’s intelligence agencies are suffering from a “glaring lack” of ethnic minority spies in top jobs, a watchdog warned today.

      Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee said the three organisations it monitors, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, had made progress in improving the diversity of their staff and had won accolades for efforts to help women, gay and lesbian staff prosper in their careers.

    • UK spy agencies criticised for lack of black or Asian leaders

      The UK’s intelligence agencies suffer from a lack of black and Asian staff in top posts, according to a report from the parliamentary intelligence and security committee published on Wednesday.

      Neither MI6, which deals with overseas intelligence-gathering, nor MI5, had any people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background in the top posts in 2016-2017. The surveillance agency GCHQ was the only agency listed as having any staff at a senior level from a BAME background.

      The spy agencies have over the last few years made a big play about the need for more diversity in recruitment. The head of MI6, Alex Younger, has said he wants a more diverse staff to be one of his legacies.

    • MI5 and MI6 have ‘glaring lack’ of ethnic minority and female staff at senior levels, report reveals

      Just two of Britain’s security and intelligence agencies have any members from the ethnic minorities in senior ranks while women make up a disproportionately low numbers at that level across the board.

      Although “significant progress” has been made in making MI5, MI6, GCHQ and other services more inclusive, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) found “at senior level in particular the intelligence community is still not gender-balanced and does not fully reflect the ethnic makeup of modern Britain … There is a glaring lack of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at senior civil service levels across the community.

      “And although 31 per cent of the senior civil servants in MI5 are women, that figure is considerably lower – around 25 per cent – across the other agencies and rest of the intelligence community” the MPs said.

    • UK spy agencies criticised for lack of black leaders

      Neither MI6, which deals with overseas intelligence-gathering, nor MI5 had any people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background in the top posts in 2016-17. The surveillance agency GCHQ was the only agency listed as having any staff at a senior level from a BAME background.

      The spy agencies have over the last few years made a big play about the need for more diversity in recruitment. The head of MI6, Alex Younger, has said he wants a more diverse staff to be part of his legacy.

      The report also found a lack of gender balance.

      The report describes the lack of BAME staff in senior posts as “lamentable”. On lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the report records 3% of staff at MI6 choosing to declare themselves as LGBT, 4.4% in MI5 and 1.3% in GCHQ.

      “It is not clear why the declaration rates for the agencies are lower for this group than for staff declaring as BAME, particularly as the LGBT groups across the agencies and organisations are high profile and well-established,” the report says.

    • ‘Glaring lack of BAME staff’ in top posts at MI5 and MI6

      THERE IS a ‘glaring lack of BAME staff’ at senior civil service levels in the UK intelligence agencies, a new parliamentary report has revealed.

      Issues around diversity and inclusion at each of the UK’s seven intelligence and security organisations – GCHQ, MI5, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Defence Intelligence (DI), National Security Secretariat (NSS), Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) and the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO) are examined in the report by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee published today.

      The report highlighted what the seven agencies are currently doing well – working together effectively, sharing resources and best practice and employing “increasingly innovative” recruitment campaigns as the seek to promote brand awareness and “attract a more diverse range of applicants from underrepresented groups”, among other things.

    • Intelligence Liaison and Torture: Catch-22 for Britain’s Spies?

      MPs found that in over 200 cases U.K. agencies – the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) – continued to share intelligence with partners even though they knew detainees were being mistreated. In 198 cases, U.K. officers received intelligence from sources where mistreatment had taken place. Britain’s eavesdroppers in the Government Communication Headquarters were also criticised for sharing intelligence which could have supported illegal CIA activities, a claim denied by spy bosses.

      [...]

      ISC Chair and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve told journalists that officers worked with countries with “very dubious human rights records, where it would have been very likely that the person would be in fact tortured or ill-treated.”

      Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain’s spies found themselves in a “new and challenging operating environment.” It took “too long to recognise that guidance and training for staff was inadequate, and too long to understand fully and take appropriate action on the risks arising from our engagement with international partners on detainee issues,” she added.

    • Using Dogs as a Tool of Racist Repression

      In 2016, veterinarian Dan Wentz started a fundraiser to implant titanium crowns on the teeth of a 106-pound German Shepherd police dog.

      In Ferguson, Missouri.

      “Given all that’s happened,” said Wentz, “I want to make sure we are doing what we can to help keep these dogs on the street.”

      Ferguson, of course, is where the 2014 police murder of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown touched off an uprising that sparked the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement around the nation, and brought horrific police repression of protesters in response.

      Wentz’s campaign was launched after the uprising. It came after the Ferguson Police Department had taken a police dog to the memorial left to Brown to piss on it. And it was after a Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson police found that officers only sicced dogs on Black people, including children, and that the dogs were used “not to counter a physical threat but to inflict punishment.”

      This story isn’t an exception, though. Throughout the country, police departments cynically exploit people’s love of dogs to make the abuse of human beings by police K9 units and the abuse of the dogs themselves seem acceptable, obscuring a mass of brutality, corruption and abuse.

      The “Rin Tin Tin” propaganda used by police departments for community outreach efforts must be confronted with the real history of decades of brutality — toward human and animal alike — as a result of the use of police dogs.

    • Elders urges parties not to make unreasonable demands, condemns attacks on women

      Political parties should not make unreasonable demands and should instead seek legal recourse if they feel the electoral process is being violated, chairperson of The Elders, Kofi Annan, said today.

      The Elders is an independent group of global leaders that work together for peace and human rights.

      In a press statement held in the capital, Mr Annan – who is also former United Nations secretary-general and a Nobel Peace Laureate – said making unreasonable demands, including inciting the population, had the potential to complicate the electoral process and yielding unforeseen outcomes.

    • Anonymous hacker who made odd asylum claim in Canada sues in U.S. to claim time spent in Canadian prisons

      An Anonymous hacktivist and former U.S. airman, who sought political asylum in Canada claiming torture by American officials over his access to secret government documents, is suing the U.S. prison bureau to reclaim time he served in Canada’s prisons.

      Matt DeHart spent 439 days in prison in Canada before his refugee claim was rejected and he was deported to the United States in 2015. Waiting for him in Tennessee were child pornography charges he claimed were a ruse to probe and curb his online activism.

      DeHart’s case became a bizarre and troubling story involving Anonymous hackers, WikiLeaks whistleblowers, Russian spies, military secrets and a classified dossier purporting to contain highly inflammatory U.S. intelligence secrets; his story was revealed in a detailed investigation by the National Post in 2014.

      From 2005 until he was arrested in the United States in 2010, DeHart ran a communal computer server on the so-called “dark web” and was involved in early campaigns by Anonymous, an international affiliation of computer hacktivists.

      In 2009, DeHart found an alarming file that had been uploaded to his server. It probably was supposed to be encrypted but it opened without a password. He believes it was destined for WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing organization. WikiLeaks itself refers to DeHart as an “alleged WikiLeaks middleman.”

    • Matt DeHart launches legal challenge against sentence extension
    • Ecuador, Britain In Talks Over Assange Standoff

      Assange’s arrest warrant stems from charges of sexual misconduct in Sweden. He believed Britain plans to hand him over to the US government to be indicted for blowing the whistle on war crimes.

      Earlier this month, Moreno said he had “fruitful talks” with British authorities, who delivered a certain type of information for us to be able to use in favour of international law and Assange’s right to life.”

      Moreno’s government tried to break the deadlock in December by granting Assange citizenship and requesting Britain to give him diplomatic status and immunity, but they were rejected.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Father and Son Among Inventors Recognized for Fleet Impact at Navy Patent Awards Ceremony

      Gerhard Thielman and his son, Benjamin – among 32 patent holders recognized for 12 patents – collaborated to invent the ‘Spherical Tractor Operating Mobile Platform’.

      “The potential benefit to the warfighter is an adaptable, self-contained vehicle with multi-mission capability,” NSWCDD Chief of Staff Chuck Campbell told an audience of the inventors’ family, friends and colleagues regarding the Thielmans’ innovation.

      The patents represent a culmination of effort by many individuals, including the inventors, the Invention Evaluation Board members, patent attorneys, and others who conceive – and reduced to practice – the technological innovations arising from the command’s research and development activities.

    • Little People slam Amazon’s dwarf-tossing robot patent
    • Trademarks

      • Research Shows Rapid Growth in Chinese Trademarks

        It doesn’t take a professional economist to realize the rapid rate of growth in China. In the first quarter of 2018, the country’s GDP increased by 6.8 percent and the second quarter is predicted to see a further 6.7 percent growth.

        But of course GDP is not the only metric by which to measure economic growth. From a business point of view, it can also be helpful to observe trademark filing activity, and to say this has boomed in China would be an understatement. In the past two years alone, the number of trademark applications made within China to foreign registers has doubled.

    • Copyrights

      • Two Years On, Alleged KAT Founder Continues to Fight Extradition

        Exactly two years ago, on July 20th 2016, KickassTorrents was shut down following a criminal investigation by the United States. The enforcement action also led to the arrest of several men, including an alleged operator, who is still waiting for a final extradition decision after two years.

      • Nintendo Sues Console ROM Sites For ‘Mass’ Copyright Infringement

        Nintendo has filed a lawsuit against the alleged operator of the popular console ROM sites LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co. The sites are among the most notorious online hubs for pirated games, according to Nintendo, and face millions of dollars in potential damages.

      • Premier League Obtains Piracy Blocking Order For 2018/19 Season

        The High Court has granted the Premier League permission to continue blocking live pirate streams of football matches in the UK. The football organization obtained a pioneering injunction early 2017, with a second order expiring in May 2018. That has now been renewed by Justice Arnold for the 2018 to 2019 season. Many of the details are shrouded in secrecy.

      • English Premier League scores copyright hat trick against ISPs

        The English High Court has extended a live blocking injunction for the Football Association Premier League, showing that such injunctions are here to stay but adds nothing about who should pay for them

      • The first rule of copyright reform: Don’t mess with free speech and net neutrality

        One takeaway is that there are presently two kinds of copyright reforms. The first involves a conventional balancing of copyright interests, typically framed as creator rights on the one hand and users’ rights on the other. Ensuring both appropriate compensation and reasonable rights of access and reuse are invariably contentious, but they are largely limited to directly copyright-related considerations.

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