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09.25.18

Links 25/9/2018: Mesa 18.1.9, New Fedora Beta, and Oracle Solaris 11.4 SRU1

Posted in News Roundup at 2:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Gnanavelkandan Kathirvel, Director Member Technical Staff, AT&T, Board of Directors at OpenStack, TSC Chair of Akraino Edge Stack [Ed: IDG has been reduced to "sponsored" (fake, ads) 'articles'.]
  • Deutsche Telekom and Aricent to Open-Source Edge Software Platform for 5G
  • KITE conducts training on free and open source software applications

    In continuance with the Public Education Rejuvenation Mission of Kerala Government, a two-day sub-district wise training camp on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) applications for the Little KITE members would be conducted by KITE (Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education).

    As part of the PERM initiative,the Little KITE clubs currently include 58,380 student members from 1901 schools and it would be the 14,000 students out of these who excelled in school level trainings, who have been included for the 2-day camp.
    Training centers have been arranged in each of the 163 sub districts for the 2-day camp, which would only make use of Free and Open Source Software.

  • Does Open Source Resolve the Storage Dilemma?

    Today’s business IT landscape has grown and exceeded beyond the highest estimates, and storage growth is no exception. People and machines are consuming unstructured data more than ever, and businesses have to continually reinforce their storage capabilities to keep up with the challenges of storing large volumes of business data.

    For CIOs, storage systems that can provide greater flexibility and choice, as well as the capability to identify unstructured data better to categorize, utilize and automate the management of it throughout its lifecycle are seen as the ideal solution.

    One answer to solving the storage issue is software-defined storage (SDS) which separates the physical storage hardware (data plane) from the data storage management logic or ‘intelligence’ (control plane). Needing no proprietary hardware components, SDS is the perfect cost-effective solution for enterprises as IT can use off-the-shelf, low-cost commodity hardware which is robust and flexible.

  • French cybersecurity agency open sources security hardened CLIP OS

    After developing it internally for over 10 years, the National Cybersecurity Agency of France (ANSSI) has decided to open source CLIP OS, a Linux-based operating system developed “to meet the specific needs of the [French] administration,” and is asking outside coders to contribute to its development.

  • Knowledge Sharing in Software Projects

    We are extremely grateful to those who filled out the survey. We feel that our research can help create better environments at work, where team members can share knowledge and innovate.

    Purpose of the Study
    Our research is focused on knowledge sharing in ambiguous circumstances. Six Sigma is a method of quality control that should reduce ambiguity, given its structured approach. We ask whether the reduction in ambiguity is coupled with a reduction in knowledge sharing as well.

  • Editor’s Corner—Open source is not ‘one size fits all’ [Ed: But that's a plus, not a minus. With proprietary software it's one unsuitable thing for everything; doesn't scale.]

    Open source communities are no doubt playing a key role in moving the telecommunications industry forward, but not everyone is on board the bandwagon.

    Over the past five months or so, we’ve spent a fair amount of time writing about open source groups and standards development organizations (SDOs) such as the Linux Foundation, MEF, Open Networking Foundation, OpenDaylight, the TM Forum and ETSI, and there’s clearly more cooperation afoot for the good of the industry.

    But artificial intelligence startup B.Yond’s chief marketing officer, Rikard Kjellberg, said his company has to be careful when it comes to choosing which open source community to commit its resources to. Kjellberg spoke to FierceTelecom on the heels of the AT&T Spark conference earlier this month.

  • Collabora Had Another Stellar Year For Open-Source Consulting

    The Collabora open-source consulting firm whose expertise spans from the Linux kernel to LibreOffice and X.Org had another successful year. The UK-based company last week reported their 2017 financial position last week providing a glimpse at the viability of open-source / free software consulting.

  • Daniel Stenberg: The Polhem prize, one year later

    Family and friends have gotten a rudimentary level of understanding of what curl is and what it does. I’m not suggesting they fully grasp it or know what an “internet protocol” is now, but at least a lot of people understand that it works with “internet transfers”. It’s not like people were totally uninterested before, but when I was given this prize – by a jury of engineers no less – that says this is a significant invention and accomplishment with a value that “can not be overestimated”, it made them more interested. The little video that was produced helped:

  • Open Source Voice Assistant, Mycroft AI, Named Top Deal By KingsCrowd
  • Service providers increasingly adopt open source for their networks

    Communications service providers (CSPs) are increasingly keen to adopt open source technologies to deliver their services, according to research.

    At this week’s Open Networking Summit Europe in Amsterdam, delegates heard that DevOps, automation, cloud, big data and analytics, software-defined networking (SDN), and management and orchestration (MANO) were increasingly being supported by open source solutions.

    Commissioned research questioned 150 CSP representatives across 98 companies worldwide. It found that 98% of CSPs are “confident” that open networking solutions can achieve the same level of performance as traditional networking solutions.

  • Communications Service Providers Overwhelmingly Confident in Open Source Networking Solutions, Survey Finds
  • Events

    • Five Talend Open Source Team Members to Speak at ApacheCon North America
    • XDC 2018 Kicks Off Tomorrow In A Coruña

      Tomorrow marks the start of the annual X.Org Developers’ Conference that is not only about the X11 server but also Mesa, Wayland, Linux input, and other areas of the desktop stack.

      It’s set to be another interesting XDC with talks about Vulkan in Mesa, multi-GPU device selection in OpenGL, Virtual KMS, DRM GPU scheduler, continuous integration, the new Intel Iris Gallium3D driver, the state of ARB_gl_spirv for Mesa, OpenCL support via NIR/SPIR-V. HMM, and more.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Why I’m done with Chrome

        When Google launched Chrome ten years ago, it seemed like one of those rare cases where everyone wins. In 2008, the browser market was dominated by Microsoft, a company with an ugly history of using browser dominance to crush their competitors. Worse, Microsoft was making noises about getting into the search business. This posed an existential threat to Google’s internet properties.

        In this setting, Chrome was a beautiful solution. Even if the browser never produced a scrap of revenue for Google, it served its purpose just by keeping the Internet open to Google’s other products. As a benefit, the Internet community would receive a terrific open source browser with the best development team money could buy. This might be kind of sad for Mozilla (who have paid a high price due to Chrome) but overall it would be a good thing for Internet standards.

      • Google secretly logs users into Chrome whenever they log into a Google site

        This system, Sync, allows users to log in with their Google accounts inside Chrome and optionally upload and synchronize local browser data (history, passwords, bookmarks, and other) to Google’s servers.

        Sync has been present in Chrome for years, but until now, the system worked independently from the logged-in state of Google accounts. This allowed users to surf the web while logged into a Google account but not upload any Chrome browsing data to Google’s servers, data that may be tied to their accounts.

      • Here’s How Chrome’s New Auto-Login Puts Your Privacy At Massive Risk

        Google brought in a bunch of new features in the new Chrome 69 version. While many of them were much appreciated, some didn’t go well with the users. Apparently, there is another less advertised tweak that people are not happy about.

      • A Seemingly Small Change to Chrome Stirs Big Controversy
      • Chrome 69 secretly logs you in to Chrome Sync when you visit a Google site

        A number of reports have highlighted that Chrome 69 – the one that made your tabs all curvy – is automatically logging people in as soon as they hit a Google-owned site. In other words, if you use Google, Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Maps and are logged in, then Chrome will also follow suit.

      • Now Chrome Doesn’t Delete “Google Cookies” Even If You Clear All Cookies

        Yet another privacy concern for Google Chrome users! Previously, we talked about Google’s auto-login mechanism which is hijacking our local Google Chrome data. Now, another Chrome 69 setting has come to light which is risking our freedom to remove data.

    • Mozilla

      • R.I.P., Charles W. Moore, a fine man who liked fine Macs

        A farewell and au revoir to a great gentleman in making the most of your old Mac, Charles W. Moore, who passed away at his home in rural Canada on September 16 after a long illness. Mr Moore was an early fan of TenFourFox, even back in the old bad Firefox 4 beta days, and he really made his famous Pismo PowerBook G3 systems work hard for it.

      • Consent management at Mozfest 2018

        Good news. It looks like we’re having a consent management mini-conference as part of Mozfest next month. (I’m one of the organizers for the Global Consent Manager session, and plan to attend the others.)

      • Introducing Firefox Monitor, Helping People Take Control After a Data Breach

        Data breaches, when information like your username and password are stolen from a website you use, are an unfortunate part of life on the internet today. It can be hard to keep track of when your information has been stolen, so we’re going to help by launching Firefox Monitor, a free service that notifies people when they’ve been part of a data breach. After testing this summer, the results and positive attention gave us the confidence we needed to know this was a feature we wanted to give to all of our users.

      • Firefox Monitor, take control of your data

        That sinking feeling. You’re reading the news and you learn about a data breach. Hackers have stolen names, addresses, passwords, survey responses from a service that you use. It seems like we’re having that sinking feeling more and more. But we don’t have to despair. While technology will never be impervious to attacks, we can make sure that we’re able to respond when we learn that our personal data and passwords are part of a breach.

      • Firefox Quantum, Beta and Nightly Affected by ‘Reap Firefox’ Crash Attack

        A particular vulnerability in the present Firefox browser has been unraveled by the security researcher and basically the creater of this bug, Sabri Haddouche in his blog post. He pointed towards a bug which brings the browser and also the operating system possibly with a ‘Reap Firefox’ attack crash. This vulnerability affects Firefox versions working under Linux, macOS and Windows.

      • $1.6 Million to Connect Unconnected Americans: Our NSF-WINS Grand Prize Winners

        After months of prototyping and judging, Mozilla and the National Science Foundation are fueling the best and brightest ideas for bringing more Americans online

        Today, Mozilla and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are announcing the grand prize winners in our Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (NSF-WINS) Challenges — an audacious competition to connect millions of unconnected Americans.

        The grand prize winners are as novel as they are promising: An 80-foot tower in rural Appalachia that beams broadband connectivity to residents. And, an autonomous network that fits in two suitcases — and can be deployed after earthquakes and hurricanes.

      • Firefox collects data on you through hidden add-ons

        Mozilla, the organisation that produces the Firefox browser and makes a loud noise about its open source credentials, is quietly collecting telemetry data on its users by the use of hidden add-ons, even though publicly visible telemetry controls are not selected.

      • WLinux Distro for Windows Subsystem for Linux Now Available, openSUSE Call for Hosts, New Firefox Bug, Firefox Collecting Telemetry Data and Creative Commons Releases Significant CC Search Update

        In other Firefox news, the browser evidently is collecting telemetry data via hidden add-ons, ITWire reports. The ITWire post also quotes Mozilla’s Marshall Eriwn, director of Trust and Security: “…we will measure Telemetry Coverage, which is the percentage of all Firefox users who report telemetry. The Telemetry Coverage measurement will sample a portion of all Firefox clients and report whether telemetry is enabled. This measurement will not include a client identifier and will not be associated with our standard telemetry.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice: A history of document freedom

      My reminiscing led me to reach out to the Document Foundation, which governs LibreOffice, to learn more about the history of this open source productivity software.

      The Document Foundation’s team told me that “StarWriter, the ancestor of the LibreOffice suite, was developed as proprietary software by Marco Börries, a German student, to write his high school final thesis.” He formed a company called Star Division to develop the software.

      In 1999, Sun Microsystems bought Star Division for $73.5 million, changed the software’s name to OpenOffice.org, and released the code as open source. Anyone could download the office suite at no charge for personal use. The Document Foundation told me, “For almost 10 years, the software was developed under Sun stewardship, from version 1.0 to version 3.2. It started with a dual license—LGPL and the proprietary SISSL (Sun Industry Standard Software License)—but it evolved to pure LGPL from version 2.0.”

    • Announcing Oracle Solaris 11.4 SRU1

      Today we’re releasing the first SRU for Oracle Solaris 11.4! This is the next installment in our ongoing support train for Oracle Solaris 11 and there will be no further Oracle Solairs 11.3 SRUs delivered to the support repository. Due to the timing of our releases and some fixes being in Oracle Solaris 11.3 SRU35 but not in 11.4, not all customers on Oracle Solaris 11.3 SRU35 were able to update to Oracle Solaris 11.4 when it was released. SRU1 includes all these fixes and customers can now update to Oracle Solaris 11.4 SRU1 via ‘pkg update’ from the support repository or by downloading the SRU from My Oracle Support Doc ID 2433412.1.

    • Oracle Solaris 11.4 SRU1 Released

      It’s been just under one month since Oracle’s long-awaited debut of Solaris 11.4 and now its first stable release update has been issued.

      Solaris 11.4 SRU1 is mainly intended to fix some early bugs and those that didn’t make the cut for getting in the initial 11.4 release. One new feature is support for “Memory Reservation Pools for Kernel Zones” to help systems with high levels of memory contention or fragmented memory by allowing memory to be reserved ahead of time.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • ‘Netflix for Open Source’ Wants Developers to Get Paid

      Henry Zhu makes software that’s crucial to websites you use every day, even if you’ve never heard of him or his software.

      Zhu manages a program called Babel, which translates code written in one version of the programming language JavaScript into code written for another version of the language. That might not sound like a big deal. But because not all browsers support the latest version of JavaScript, Babel lets programmers use JavaScript’s latest features without worrying about which browsers will run the code. It’s useful enough that it’s been adopted by companies like Facebook, Netflix, and Salesforce.

    • This “Netflix For Open Source” Startup Helps Programmers Get Paid

      Open source developers, especially those who work on lesser known projects, do not get much attention or money for the work they do. While some developers are paid to work on open source projects as a part of their day jobs, they can get overwhelmed by the amount of work these projects require.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Learn the 37 most frequently used shortcuts in GIMP

      GIMP is a fantastic artist’s tool for editing digital images, especially with the bevy of impressive features in the recent release of version 2.10. Of course, like all creative applications, you can get working more quickly if you can make yourself familiar with the various keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys available. GIMP, of course, gives you the ability to customize these shortcuts to match what you’re personally comfortable with. However, the default shortcuts that GIMP ships with are impressive and generally easy to get used to.

      This cheat sheet is not an exhaustive list of all of the defaults GIMP has available. Instead, it covers the most frequently used shortcuts so you can get to work as fast as possible. Plus, there should be a few in here that make you aware of a few features that maybe you weren’t aware of.

  • Programming/Development

    • Why Linux users should try Rust

      Rust is a fairly young and modern programming language with a lot of features that make it incredibly flexible and very secure. It’s also becoming quite popular, having won first place for the “most loved programming language” in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey three years in a row — 2016, 2017, and 2018.

      Rust is also an open-source language with a suite of special features that allow it to be adapted to many different programming projects. It grew out of what was a personal project of a Mozilla employee back in 2006, was picked up as a special project by Mozilla a few years later (2009), and then announced for public use in 2010.

    • Perl for the Web: Mojolicious 8.0 Released

      Far gone are the days when you wrote Perl for the web in just CGI. Dancer, Catalyst and Mojolicious are the modern ways of going about it, with Mojo’s version 8.0, code-named “Supervillain”, being released just last week.

      Each framework has its own distinct advantages, with Dancer being considered the most lightweight and with the lowest entry barrier; and Catalyst being considered the most heavyweight and with a steep learning curve. Mojo floats somewhere in the middle, its own strongest point being its claim to be a “Real time Web framework” due to its Websockets and non-blocking/async capabilities provided out of the box. With that said, let’s discover what Mojo’s newest version has to offer.

    • Portable Computing Language 1.2 Released For OpenCL On CPUs & More

      The Portable Computing Language (a.k.a. POCL or PortableCL) is the effort for getting OpenCL running on CPUs as well as other hardware for this open-source code-base that supports OpenCL 1.2 with some OpenCL 2.0+ functionality.

      The main “feature” of POCL 1.2 is support for LLVM Clang 7.0 as previously the support was limited to LLVM 6.0, but now this new version of LLVM is supported. The HWLOC 2.0 library is also now supported. There are also some minor feature additions like device-side printf being supported.

    • Robert O’Callahan: More Realistic Goals For C++ Lifetimes 1.0

      Over two years ago I wrote about the C++ Lifetimes proposal and some of my concerns about it. Just recently, version 1.0 was released with a blog post by Herb Sutter.

      Comparing the two versions shows many important changes. The new version is much clearer and more worked-out, but there are also significant material changes. In particular the goal has changed dramatically.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Google at 20: how two ‘obnoxious’ students changed the [I]nternet

      In 1996 they began experimenting with the Stanford homepage and soon came up with the PageRank algorithm – a ranking system which would prove to be Page and Brin’s breakthrough idea.

      The algorithm was devised to give more weight to links that came from more authoritative pages – the more backlinks a site had, the more likely it was to be a good source, similar to an academic paper. That allowed Page and Brin to rank search results not only by keyword frequency but by authority. And because the system analysed links, the more the web grew the better Backrub got.

      In August 1996, Backrub became Google, a play on the term googol, meaning the large number 10 to the power of 100. The first version appeared on the Stanford site, run from cobbled-together bits of computers scavenged by Page and Brin. The system demanded so much bandwidth it would regularly take down the whole of Stanford’s internet connection, but it succeeded in letting users search all 24m pages it had stored in its database.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Brazil Signs Deal With Medicines Patent Pool To Share Patent Information

      Brazil yesterday signed an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), through which the country will share patent information with the MPP. The Brazilian IP office joins several others in an effort to regular update of the MPP’s database on patent information. Separately, high-level representatives of Latin American and Iberian countries met on the side of the annual World Intellectual Property Organization General Assemblies taking place this week.

    • The most dangerous drug of addiction

      A few weeks ago I left the house and while driving realised I had forgotten my smartphone. It was not a good feeling – I felt disadvantaged and disconnected. Yet as a younger man I happily travelled around the world with just my wristwatch and a backpack. What has happened to us since those days?

    • In Sickness and In Health: Comparing Patent Protection for Pharmaceuticals and Dietary Supplements [Ed: Patent maximlists' view]
    • Big Pharma Collects Most Canadian Cannabis Patents [Ed: Patents for billionaires, to help them guard their territory by setting up litigious threats, to scare emerging competition like pot]

      Seven of Canada’s top 10 cannabis patent holders are major multi-national pharmaceutical companies, according to a joint research project between Washington D.C. based New Frontier Data, the global authority in data, analytics, and business intelligence for the cannabis industry, and London based cannabis bio-technology firm, Grow Biotech .

      “Big Pharma’s inevitable entrance into the Cannabis space has arrived. The top nine medical conditions for which Cannabis can be used as an alternative treatment could cannibalize as much as $20 billion in U.S. pharmaceutical sales in the next two years. As more medicinal applications for the plant are discovered, and more physicians and patients integrate cannabis into treatment regimes, the potential impact of cannabis on healthcare will continue to grow for years to come,” said New Frontier Data Founder & CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer.

    • [Old] Why pharmaceuticals could be the prescription for trade warfare that truly hurts America

      What began as a trade skirmish over Donald Trump’s imposition of a 10-per-cent tariff on Canadian steel and aluminum is now clearly a trade war. The miasma is only just lifting from the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., in which a Justin Trudeau press conference over a spiked communiqué sparked a Trump tantrum.

      But the war’s final battle will not be the tariff that our government has already imposed in retaliation on American pizza, whisky, mattresses, coffee, et cetera—in fact, our tit-for-tat tariffs have only caused the White House to double down and promise even more tariffs against Canada soon. That means that Canada’s symmetrical retaliation is not working—and if we do not rethink our strategy now, we could soon be inside a tornado-like spiral of escalating tariffs, causing rising prices, sinking economies, and growing joblessness on both sides of the border.

    • Canadian Officials are Mulling an Attack on U.S. Pharma, Says Ottawa Lawyer
  • Security

    • Security Flaw Found In Microsoft JET Database Engine by ZDE – Patch Expected In Windows October Update

      Zero Day Initiative or ZDI, a division of the Japanese multinational cyber security and defense company recently found a serious security flaw in Microsoft’s JET Database Engine which is inculcated and used in various different Microsoft products.

      ZDI reported that this vulnerability will allow potential attackers to execute an arbitrary code in Microsoft’s JET Database Engine, which is an underlying component of a database, a collection of information stored on a computer in a systematic way, this acts as the groundwork for many of Microsoft’s product, including the most widely used Microsoft Office. ZDI stated this to be an “out-of-bounds (OOB)” write in the JET, “An attacker could leverage this vulnerability to execute code under the context of the current process, however it does require user interaction since the target would need to open a malicious file,” ZDI further added in their report.

    • The Librem Key Makes Tamper Detection Easy

      From the beginning we have had big plans for the Librem Key. When we first announced our partnership with Nitrokey to produce the Librem Key all we could talk about publicly was the standard USB security token features it would have and some of the integration possibilities between the Librem laptop and Librem Key that would make security easier for the average person. What we couldn’t say at the time was that we were also working toward making the Librem Key do something that doesn’t exist anywhere else–integrate it with the tamper-evident Heads BIOS to make it incredibly easy to tell whether your BIOS has been tampered with. In this post I’m going to talk about why we wanted to add this feature, some of the work that went into it, and dive into some of the technologies that are working behind the scenes to help you understand how it works.

    • YubiKey 5 Series Brings FIDO2 Support, NFC Capability

      While last week Purism entered into the hardware security space with the Librem Key as a USB-based smart card, industry veteran Yubico today announced their YubiKey 5 Series.

      The YubiKey 5 Series is the industry’s first multi-protocol security keys with support for FIDO2, the new open authentication standard for passwordless logins. Among the other supported protocols are OpenPGP, FIDO U2F, OATH-HOTP, and others. In addition to USB-C and USB-A interfaces, YubiKey 5 also has near-field communication (NFC) support.

    • YubiKey 5 Series Launched, Google Chrome’s Recent Questionable Privacy Practice, PlayOnLinux Alpha Version 5 Released, Android Turns Ten, and Fedora 29 Atomic and Cloud Test Day

      Yubico announced the launch of the YubiKey 5 series this morning, which are the first multi-protocol security keys to support FIDO2/WebAuthn and allow you to replace “weak password-based authentication with strong hardware-based authentication”. You can purchase them here for $45.

    • Yubico Launches YubiKey 5 Series, the Industry’s First Multi-Protocol Security Keys Supporting FIDO2

      Yubico, the leading provider of hardware authentication security keys, today announced the launch of the YubiKey 5 Series, the industry’s first multi-protocol security keys supporting FIDO2/WebAuthn. With this new addition, the YubiKey 5 Series has the capability to replace weak password-based authentication with strong hardware-based authentication.

    • Recently in Geoclue

      Since people’s location is a very sensitive piece of information, security of this information had been the core part of Geoclue2 design. The idea was (and still is) to only allow apps access to user’s location with their explicit permission (that they could easily revoke later). When Geoclue2 was designed and then developed, we didn’t have Flatpak. Surely, people were talking about the need for something like Flatpak but even with those ideas, it wasn’t clear how location access will be handled.

      Hence we decided for geoclue to handle this itself, through an external app authorizing agent and implemented such an agent in GNOME Shell. Since there is no reliable way to identify an app on Linux, there were mixed reactions to this approach. While some thought it’s good to have something rather than nothing, others thought it’s better to wait for the time when we’ve the infrastructure that allows us to reliably identify apps.

    • macOS Mojave Privacy Bypass Flaw Allows Access to Protected Files
    • macOS Mojave Has A Security Flaw That Lets Hackers Access Your Contacts [Ed: Apple already gives all your contacts to the US government (NSA PRISM and beyond); now it'll give these to anyone...]

      A security flaw has been unearthed in macOS Mojave, Apple’s latest desktop OS update, by a well-known security researcher Patrick Wardle.

      As reported by Bleeping Computer, Wardle has discovered a bypass flaw in macOS Mojave using which hackers can gain access to contacts data from the address book with the help of an app that does not have the required permissions.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • UK gov plans cyber warfare unit to tackle threat posed by Russia, North Korea and Iran

      The ‘force’ would have around 2,000 operatives drawn from GCHQ and the armed forces. However, the establishment of the organisation has been held up by internal political wrangling over funding, and which part of government will have ultimate command of the unit.

    • Importing Jihadi Terror to the UK – Cui Bono?

      If Osama Bin Laden was not sufficient warning that decades of money, arms and other support from the Western security services does not render a jihadi a friend of the West, then the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, should have opened British eyes forever to the danger. In collaboration with MI5, Abedi had been fighting in the ongoing proxy war for Western oil interests in Libya, before being rescued by the Royal Navy. Back home in Manchester, he carried out an attack of appalling violence against a primarily young and female target group.

      So it would be very foolish indeed to rely on the fact that the jihadi logistic support and propaganda group the White Helmets is largely British government funded, to expect its members who are now, like Abedi, being brought into the UK, to behave as quiet citizens. The links of the White Helmets to Al-Nusra and Al-Shams and other jihadi groups are deep – they chose to be evacuated to Idlib together from numerous sites. The reason there is no substantial corpus of independently filmed evidence of the White Helmets’ work is that they co-operate with people who would chop off western journalists’ heads on sight. In many well-attested cases, they are the same people.

      In ending all funding to the White Helmets, the Dutch government did not wish to be confrontational towards the other neo-conservative governments who are funding and exploiting the propaganda from the White Helmets. Their report was therefore diplomatically phrased. Funding for the White Helmets may have “inadvertently” fallen into the hands of armed extremists, while unacceptable contact between the White Helmets and extreme jihadists was “inevitable” in the ares they operated.

    • Q&A: George Selley’s A Study of Assassination

      Taking its title from a 1950s CIA manual on killing, the young LCC MA graduate’s project reveals the surreal clash of leaked CIA documents, government propaganda, and bananas

      In 1997, a document titled A Study of Assassination was released by the CIA as part of the Freedom of Information Act. It is believed to have been created in 1953 with the purpose of instructing agents on how to kill, and was released with a collection of files relating to the 1954 CIA-backed overthrow of the-then newly-elected leader of Guatemala, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The operation in Guatemala was lobbied for by United Fruit Company, an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit, mainly bananas, and which wielded huge power in Central America at the time.

      When he found out about these documents, George Selley was instantly captivated, and his new project, A Study of Assassination, combines pages from the manual with archival press images, banana advertisements, and Cold War propaganda. BJP caught up with the recent London College of Communication MA graduate to find out more about this project and his approach to images.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Guardian Working for UK Intel Services? ‘MI6 Tool’ Publishes ‘Black Propaganda’

      On September 21, The Guardian ran an absolutely sensational exclusive, based on disclosures made by “multiple” anonymous sources to Luke Harding, one of the paper’s leading journalists – in 2017, Russian diplomats allegedly held secret talks in London with associates of Assange, in an attempt to assist in the Wikileaks founder’s escape from the UK.

      The dastardly conspiracy would’ve entailed Assange being smuggled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge under cover of Christmas Eve in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to Russia, where he’d be safe from extradition to the US, ending his eight-years of effective arbitrary detention in the process.

      In any event, the audacious plot was eventually aborted after being deemed “too risky” — even for the reckless daredevils of Moscow — mere days before its planned execution date. Rommy Vallejo, head of Ecuador’s intelligence agency, is said to have travelled to the UK around December 15 to supervise the operation, and left when it was called off.

    • Guardian’s ‘deliberate lies’ over Assange Russia plot slammed by Craig Murray

      According to Murray, Narvaez told the Guardian that there was “no truth” in the story. The publication ran the story, which was written by, among others, former Guardian Moscow correspondent Luke Harding, regardless. The piece relied on four separate sources for their claims, though they give no more details than that.

      Of the Guardian’s sources, Murray states: “I strongly suspect that, as usual, MI6 tool Luke Harding’s “anonymous sources” are in fact the UK security services, and this piece is entirely black propaganda produced by MI6.”

      READ MORE: British Media is not waving, it’s drowning…in a sea of its own mendacity

      Harding worked for the Guardian in Russia for four years before his visa expired. After being subsequently refused entry to Russia, Harding claimed he had been expelled from the country for being critical of the Kremlin, a claim denied by the Russian government. He has since wrote extensively on Russia while based in the UK.

    • Roger Stone Offered to Assist His Alleged WikiLeaks Source With Legal Expenses

      Last year, as investigators examined claims by longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone that he was in contact during the 2016 election with WikiLeaks, Stone asserted that he had only learned about the group’s plans through an intermediary: Randy Credico, a comedian and political activist. Credico has denied being Stone’s go-between. And now he tells Mother Jones that Stone offered to help him pay his legal fees in what Credico believed was an effort to stop him from contradicting Stone’s account of their interactions during the 2016 campaign.

      “He knew that I was upset,” Credico says. “He wanted me to be quiet. He wanted me to go along with his narrative. He didn’t want me talking to the press and saying what I was saying.”

      Stone, a Republican operative who cut his teeth working for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, and Credico, a standup comic long involved in left-wing causes, met in 2002 through their mutual work on drug legalization efforts and formed an unlikely friendship. They are now embroiled in a bitter conflict ignited by the Russia investigations undertaken by Congress and by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    • Ecuador Named Assange Adviser to Embassy in Russia, Then Annulled Decision – MP

      Assange has been staying at the Embassy of Ecuador in London since 2012, unable to leave for fear of being detained by the UK authorities.

      Since 2006, WikiLeaks, founded by Assange, has revealed a vast number of classified documents, including sensitive information allegedly related to US diplomats and the American intelligence community. This has led to a criminal investigation into its activities, initiated by US authorities.

  • Finance

    • Stripe is testing cash advances, following Square and PayPal’s moves into business finance

      Asked about the cash advance service, Stripe acknowledged that it was testing something out and pointed us to this tweet without elaborating more. So we don’t know if Stripe has been offering other users different premiums or payback percentages, nor if $25,000 is the cap or if it’s loaning more, nor if it’s working with a third-party to provide the financing, or whether it is offering it off its own balance sheet.

    • A Milestone for Global Capitalism

      Exciting news for capitalism is the recent achievement of trillion-dollar value for both Amazon and Apple, making them the first corporations to obtain such a lofty status. Amazon’s skyrocketing growth makes its CEO, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person with an $160 billion net worth.

      Driving the engine of global wealth concentration are giant transnational investment management firms. In 2017, seventeen trillion-dollar investment companies collectively controlled $41.1 trillion of capital. These firms are all directly invested in each other, making them a huge cluster of centralized capital managed by just 199 people, who decide how and where that wealth will be invested.

      In the case of Amazon, the top investment management corporations are: Vanguard $56.7 billion, BlackRock $49.5 billion, FMR $33 billion, Capital $33 billion, State Street $29 billion, and most of the other trillion-dollar Giants and many others who hold 58.6% of Amazon shares.

      So, while Bezos is a large tree in the forest, the forest itself is groomed by a few hundred global power elites making investment decisions that drive the concentration of wealth into coffers of the 1%. These elites interact through non-governmental policy-making organizations—privately funded by large corporations—that include the Council of Thirty, Trilateral Commission, and the Atlantic Council. Their role is to facilitate, manage, and protect the free flow of global capital. They do this by providing policy recommendations and instructions to governments, intelligence services, security forces, NATO, the Pentagon, and transnational governmental groups including the G-7 G-20, World Bank, IMF, and International Bank of Settlements.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • White House Admits Exec Order To Regulate Social Media Is ‘Real,’ But No Idea Who Wrote It, And Won’t Use It

      On September 14th, we wrote about a draft executive order basically tasking the executive branch with “investigating” the major internet companies for evidence of “bias” that might lead to antitrust activity. As we wrote at the time, the draft executive order was poorly drafted, didn’t make much sense, and was almost certainly unconstitutional. It took a week, but the rest of the tech policy world finally discovered the same draft executive order this past Friday (amusingly with some insisting that they had the “scoop” a week after we wrote about it).

      Now, the White House has admitted that the document is “real”, though they’re not entirely sure who crafted it, it hasn’t gone through any of the normal processes, and there’s no intention of moving forward with it. In other words, it sounds like a pet project of someone in the White House to have in a drawer in case it was needed at some future date.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • However extreme your views, you’re never hardcore enough for YouTube

      Nobody who knows anything about YouTube will be surprised. Time and again, researchers have discovered that when videos with political or ideological content are uploaded to the platform, YouTube’s “recommender” algorithm will direct viewers to more extremist content after they have watched the first one. Given that most people probably have the autoplay feature left on by default, that means that watching YouTube videos often leads people to extremist sites.

      Strangely, this doesn’t just hold for political or other types of controversial content. Zeynep Tufekci, a well-known technology commentator, found that videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism, videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons, and so on. “It seems,” she wrote, “as if you are never ‘hardcore’ enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. It promotes, recommends and disseminates videos in a manner that appears to constantly up the stakes.”

      Given its billion or so users, she concluded that “YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalising instruments of the 21st century.”

    • Banned Books Wee with Betsy Gomez, Charles Brownstein, and Abena Hutchful

      In observance of Banned Books Week 2018, Mickey speaks with three guests, all involved in different facets of defending Americans’ right to read. Betsy Gomez is coordinator of Banned Books Week, Charles Brownstein is executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and Abena Hutchful leads the Youth Free Expression Program at the National Coalition Against Censorship.

    • Pennsylvania Legislator Thinks He Can Ban Teachers From Talking About Politics In The Classroom

      So, the braintrust behind this assertion includes three missionaries and their children and 6-12 complaints over the past decade. Obviously, the only conclusion to draw is that indoctrination is out of hand and only the powerful velvet fist of government regulation can stop it. If the First Amendment must be destroyed to save the children, it’s a sacrifice Tallman is willing to make on behalf of the few that agree with him and the large majority of non-idiots who don’t.

      Everyone who isn’t Tallman has already greeted his proposed legislation with Constitution-based ridicule. The law will never pass. If something goes horribly wrong and the bill does pass, the courts will strike it down immediately.

    • WhatsApp Appoints ‘Grievance Officer’ To Tackle Fake News In India

      Whatsapp has been trying to curb fake news on its platform for a long time now. After multiple cases of lynching caused due to fake news, the Indian government asked the company to solve this issue or risk a ban in the country.

      Now the instant messaging service has appointed a ‘grievance officer’ to address complaints regarding false news and misinformation spreading on the platform in India.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Which Sensors Do I Have In My Smartphone? How Do They Work? [Ed: It is almost as though (partly joking here) “smart” phones were first conceived by spies as mass surveillance devices and later marketed to the masses as “phones”]

      The smartphones we use today are sophisticated little machines that have gone through an incredible evolution over the last decade. They are now capable of working as a personal assistant that can monitor our heartbeat, track our movements, and anticipate our needs.

      But have you ever wondered how does your smartphone achieve such remarkable feats? A lot of those coolest feats are accomplished through different sensors in your phone. But do you know how many smartphone sensors are there in your device or what their purpose is?

    • ICE Leads The Nation In Encryption-Cracking Expenditures

      We don’t hear much from anyone other than FBI officials about the “going dark” theory. The DOJ pitches in from time to time, but it’s the FBI’s baby. And it’s an ugly baby. Earlier this year, the FBI admitted it couldn’t count physical devices. The software it used to track uncrackable devices spat out inflated numbers, possibly tripling the number of phones the FBI claimed stood between it and justice. FBI officials like James Comey and Chris Wray said “7,800.” The real number — should it ever be delivered — is expected to be less than 2,000.

      The FBI also hasn’t been honest about its efforts to crack these supposedly-uncrackable phones. Internal communications showed the agency slow-walked its search for a solution to the San Bernardino shooter’s locked iPhone, hoping instead for a precedential federal court decision forcing device manufacturers to break encryption whenever presented with a warrant.

      The FBI appears to have ignored multiple vendors offering solutions for its overstated “going dark” problem. At this point, it’s public knowledge that at least two vendors have the ability to crack any iPhone. Israel’s Cellebrite — the company presumed to have broken into the San Bernardino phone for the FBI — is one of them. The other is GrayShift, which sells a device called GrayKey, which allows law enforcement to bypass built-in protections to engage in brute force password cracking.

      We don’t know how often the FBI avails itself of these services. A pile of locked phones numbering in the thousands (but which thousands?!) suggests it is allowing the serviceable (vendor services) to be the enemy of the perfect (favorable court rulings and/or legislation).

    • UK Surveillance Regime Violated Human Rights

      On September 13, after a five-year legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights said that the UK government’s surveillance regime—which includes the country’s mass surveillance programs, methods, laws, and judges—violated the human rights to privacy and to freedom of expression. The court’s opinion is the culmination of lawsuits filed by multiple privacy rights organizations, journalists, and activists who argued that the UK’s surveillance programs violated the privacy of millions.

      The court’s decision is a step in the right direction, but it shouldn’t be the last. While the court rejected the UK’s spying programs, it left open the risk that a mass surveillance regime could comply with human rights law, and it did not say that mass surveillance itself was unlawful under the European Convention on Human Rights (a treaty that we discuss below).

      But the court found that the real-world implementation of the UK’s surveillance—with secret hearings, vague legal safeguards, and broadening reach—did not meet international human rights standards. The court described a surveillance regime “incapable” of limiting its “interference” into individuals’ private lives when only “necessary in a democratic society.”

      In particular, the court’s decision attempts to rein in the expanding use of mass surveillance. Originally reserved for allegedly protecting national security or preventing serious threats, use of these programs has trickled into routine criminal investigations with no national security element—a lowered threshold that the court zeroed in on to justify its rejection of the UK’s surveillance programs. The court also said the UK’s mass surveillance pipeline—from the moment data is automatically swept up and filtered to the moment when that data is viewed by government agents—lacked meaningful safeguards.

    • China tips the scale of global cybersecurity by hoarding vulnerabilities

      There is little to celebrate for digital rights in China. A seemingly constant stream of developments is putting human rights defenders on high alert, as the Chinese state grows ever more powerful and cultivates its surveillance capabilities, integrates social media monitoring with everyday policing, and appears to be persuading international companies like Apple and Google to comply with Chinese law and practices that harm human rights in order to enter the market. China also runs the largest biometric policing system known to date.

      Somewhat hidden under the din of this overtly dystopian discourse are the small yet powerful moves that China is making that are likely to have a long-term negative impact on global cybersecurity, even beyond the Great Wall. These include the government’s strategic withholding of technology vulnerabilities from the international community.

    • China Actively Collecting Zero-Days For Use By Its Intelligence Agencies — Just Like The West

      It all seems so far away now, but in 2013, during the early days of the Snowden revelations, a story about the NSA’s activities emerged that apparently came from a different source. Bloomberg reported (behind a paywall, summarized by Ars Technica) that Microsoft was providing the NSA with information about newly-discovered bugs in the company’s software before it patched them. It gave the NSA a window of opportunity during which it could take advantage of those flaws in order to gain access to computer systems of interest. Later that year, the Washington Post reported that the NSA was spending millions of dollars per year to acquire other zero-days from malware vendors.

      A stockpile of vulnerabilities and hacking tools is great — until they leak out, which is precisely what seems to have happened several times with the NSA’s collection. The harm that lapse can cause was vividly demonstrated by the WannaCry ransomware. It was built on a Microsoft zero-day that was part of the NSA’s toolkit, and caused very serious problems to companies — and hospitals — around the world.

      The other big problem with the NSA — or the UK’s GCHQ, or Germany’s BND — taking advantage of zero-days in this way is that it makes it inevitable that other actors will do the same.

    • Australian Government Ignores Experts in Advancing Its Anti-Encryption Bill
    • EFF Opposes Industry Efforts to Have Congress Roll Back State Privacy Protections

      The Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on consumer privacy this week, but consumer privacy groups like EFF were not invited. Instead, only voices from big tech and Internet access corporations will have a seat at the table. In the lead-up to this hearing, two industry groups (the Chamber of Commerce and the Internet Association) have suggested that Congress wipe the slate clean of state privacy laws in exchange for weaker federal protections. EFF opposes such preemption, and has submitted a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee to detail the dangers it poses to user privacy.

      Current state laws across the country have already created strong protections for user privacy. Our letter identifies three particularly strong examples from California’s Consumer Privacy Act, Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act, and Vermont’s Data Broker Act. If Congress enacts weaker federal data privacy legislation that preempts such stronger state laws, the result will be a massive step backward for user privacy.

    • Instagram’s Founders Leaving Facebook After Clashes With Zuckerberg
    • Instagram Founders Exit Facebook as Zuckerberg Involvement Grows

      Krieger and Systrom built Instagram and sold it to Facebook for $715 million six years ago. When the deal was announced, the company had only 13 employees and 30 million registered users. Now more than 1 billion people use the app monthly, and it is the main source of advertising revenue for Facebook outside the social network’s main news feed.

      [...]

      Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who have been at the company since Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook in 2012, had been able to keep the brand and product independent while relying on Facebook’s infrastructure and resources to grow. Lately, they were frustrated with an uptick in day-to-day involvement by Zuckerberg, who has become more reliant on Instagram in planning for Facebook’s future, said the people, who asked not to be identified sharing internal details.

      Without the founders around, Instagram is likely to become more tightly integrated with Facebook, making it more of a product division within the larger company than an independent operation, the people said.

    • Instagram’s co-founders have resigned from Facebook
    • Instagram’s Co-Founders to Step Down From Company

      Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger did not give a reason for stepping down, according to the people, but said they planned to take time off after leaving Instagram. Mr. Systrom, 34, and Mr. Krieger, 32, have known each other since 2010, when they met and transformed a software project built by Mr. Systrom into what eventually became Instagram, which now has more than one billion users.

    • Your whiney Twitter DMs to businesses may have been leaking since 2017

      Twitter has revealed that a bug in the Account Activity API could allow private messages sent to businesses between May 2017 and 10 September 2018 to have been accidentally cc’d to the developer of the business’ chosen platform.

      Twitter’s apologetic noises initially sound quite reassuring, until you read between the lines. Yes, the bug was fixed “within hours” of discovery, but when the exploit wasn’t found for 16 months that’s not a great deal of consolation. And sure, the bug affected less than 1 per cent of people on Twitter, but with a user base of 68 million, that could still mean anywhere between one and 680,000 people.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Congress Needs to Take Responsibility for Fixing Harassment in Its Own Halls

      Members of Congress have a duty to protect their staffers from harassment by reforming the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.

      It’s been nearly one year since the #MeToo movement came into public consciousness and months since the Senate and House of Representatives each passed legislation to reform the way Congress handles claims of harassment in its own workplace. But further action on the bills has stalled, and even after sitting members had to resign over their own misconduct, our elected officials have still not moved to effectively protect the safety of their employees.

      On Thursday, seven former congressional staffers sent a letter to congressional leaders in both the House and Senate, calling for meaningful reform of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, a law that applies civil rights and workplace safety laws to Congress. Each of the letter’s signatories experienced harassment or abuse while working for members of Congress. They describe in the letter the trauma and pain exacerbated by the current system that has failed to ensure their safety and hold wrongdoers to account.

      The stories these brave survivors share in their letter are harrowing. Anna Kain, Rebecca Weir, Ally Coll Steele, Katherine Cichy, Winsome Packer, Melanie Sloan, and Lauren Greene — all of whom worked for members of Congress — write of being sexually harassed, verbally berated, and publicly humiliated. They were grabbed and threatened — and they were not protected by the powerful people they served.

    • He Said He Faked Mental Illness to Avoid Prison. Now, Accused in 2 Killings, He’s Sent Back to a State Hospital.

      In 2016, Oregon officials freed Anthony Montwheeler from the Oregon State Hospital, accepting his argument that he had faked mental illness for nearly 20 years to avoid prison.

      Last week, an Oregon judge ruled that Montwheeler, 50, was not competent to stand trial for an assault and two murders that prosecutors say he committed just weeks after his release. The judge ordered him returned to the hospital for treatment of depression brought on by the charges against him.

      The Montwheeler case has raised broader questions about Oregon’s handling of people charged with crimes and judged not guilty by reason of insanity, questions ProPublica and the Malheur Enterprise are examining in a yearlong project.

    • Prosecution Presented Fairly Strong Murder Case Against Former CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke

      State attorneys prosecuting Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer accused of murdering 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, finished presenting their case on September 20. The defense called its first witness September 24.

      The key moment so far in the trial known for the 16 shots Van Dyke fired—his entire magazine—came near the end of testimony in support of the prosecution’s case.

      A ballistics expert from the FBI testified that a quick movement on video by Van Dyke’s partner, Joseph Walsh, was “consistent with a flinch” commonly seen in people who are near a surprise shot being fired. The expert then used plumes of debris evident in the video to establish a timeline of shots that lasts “at least” 14.2 seconds.

      The expert, Scott Patterson, then showed the jury a video of another agent, one of the FBI’s top marksmen, firing 16 rounds into a target.

    • Hell Forms Bobsled Team After Police Chief Admits Fault In SWAT Raid Targeting Wrong Address

      This is an astounding reaction to incidents that are far too commonplace in this country. This is also an indictment of policing in America. There is no reason this reaction should be as stunning as it is. This should be standard operating procedure when cops screw up. Instead, we’re most often greeted with defense of indefensible actions combined with a multitude of efforts designed to make the SWAT raid victim appear as unsympathetic as possible.

      Wrong address raids, killings of unarmed citizens, excessive force deployment… all of these events are normally handled by police departments with maximum defensiveness and minimal acceptance of culpability. A law enforcement agency immediately stepping up to take responsibility for its errors — especially ones with potentially deadly outcomes — is a breath of fresh air in the fetid, stagnant swamp of US policing.

      But this shouldn’t be the ultra-rare exception. It should be the rule. The public law enforcement serves deserves far better than the condescending, self-serving crap it’s so often handed in the wake of incidents like these.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • How bad maps are ruining American broadband

      The problem is much bigger than Cleveland, but the FCC isn’t ready to do much about it. US customers pay some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world, and broadband availability is sketchy at best for millions of Americans. But instead of tackling that problem head on, the FCC is increasingly looking the other way, relying on ISP data that paints an inaccurately rosy picture of Americans’ internet access. And as long as regulators are relying on a false picture of US broadband access, actually solving the problem may be impossible.

    • Even Wall Street Is Nervous About Comcast’s Latest Bid To Grow Bigger For Bigger’s Sake

      Comcast’s latest effort to grow even larger is spooking even the company’s investors. “Growth for growth’s sake” has been the mantra of the telecom and TV sectors for years. Once growth in any particular market (like broadband) saturates, companies begin nosing about for efforts to grow larger in other sectors, even if it it’s well outside of their core competencies (see Verizon Sugarstring, Go90). Unfortunately for the end user, such growth isn’t accompanied by any meaningful parallel investment in quality product or customer service, a major reason so many users “enjoy” Comcast services today.

      At the same time, this growing power results in increased efforts to thwart any effort to rein in this power, leaving oversight of the natural monopolies more precarious than ever (see: net neutrality). That’s exceptionally true for Comcast, where the one-two punch of fading state and federal oversight, expiring NBC Universal merger conditions from its last 2011 megadeal, and a growing monopoly over broadband is forging a perfect storm of trouble.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TriZetto secures victory in trade secret lawsuit after discovery refusal

      The TriZetto Group has secured a victory in a trade secrets dispute after Syntel allegedly stole information from them.

      Syntel was previously sanctioned for refusing to comply with discovery orders and in the latest ruling from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York again found that Syntel had failed to comply with court orders.

      TriZettom, who develops and licenses software products in the healthcare industry, provides consulting services and hires contractors to perform some of this work with a previous contractor being Syntel.

    • Qualcomm says FTC motion aims to “radically reshape [standard-essential patent] licensing in the cellular industry”

      The two most important motions for summary judgment that Qualcomm is facing at present (and one might even say has ever faced in its history) are the Federal Trade Commission’s motion to hold that Qualcomm itself committed to extending standard-essential patent licenses to rival chipset makers such as Intel (a motion that has drawn broadbased support from industry) and a motion by Apple and four contract manufacturers to end Qualcomm’s double-dipping practice (selling chipsets and additionally collecting patent license fees). This post is about Qualcomm’s opposition in the Northern District of California to the former, but I’d also like to mention that Qualcomm is trying to duck the latter by means of a motion to dismiss all declaratory judgment claims relating to Qualcomm patents from the Apple (and contract manufacturers) v. Qualcomm case in the Southern District of California. When it turned out that its adversaries were going to insist on an adjudication of their patent exhaustion defense, Qualcomm requested expedited briefing, which Judge Gonzalo Curiel denied. The opposition brief to Qualcomm’s attempt to chicken out is due by the end of next week.

      [...]

      There’s no question that you need an antenna and electricity for mobile telephony. But that doesn’t mean the mobile baseband chip–or “modem chip” in accordance with Qualcomm’s brief–doesn’t implement the standard simply because it’s the central and decisive component. It’s the mastermind (a term that is key to the analysis of an alleged “divided infringement” of a method claim and fits here, too). Once the importance of the mastermind component is downplayed, the ultimate consequence may be that not even a device infringes since electricity must be provided by a utility, which in turn needs some energy source somewhere.

      In a 2014 case, GPNE Corp. v. Apple, Judge Koh herself held “as a matter of law that in [that] case, the baseband processor [was] the proper smallest salable patent-practicing unit.” And in Judge Koh’s court, a 2012 jury sided with Apple against Samsung on patent exhaustion, based on Samsung’s license to Qualcomm and Apple’s use of Qualcomm chips in certain products at issue back then. The same happened to Samsung in the Netherlands and France (where I attended a preliminary injunction hearing in 2011).

    • A Shot at Patents Misses the Mark and New Study Reinforces Need to Examine Federal Tech Transfer

      This month we’ll revisit two issues covered previously: attempts to promote compulsory licensing as a way for lowering the cost of Medicare drugs and increasing the return on investment from federally-supported R&D.

    • Trademarks

      • Abnormal faces legal battle against 3 Floyds

        Indiana brewery owns “IT’S NOT NORMAL” trademark

        [...]

        This afternoon, Abnormal posted the following on Instagram; additional comment by company president and CEO Matt DeLoach follows. 3 Floyds did not immediately return a request for comment.

      • 3 Floyds Brewing Goes After Abnormal Beer Co. All Because Of Its Trademarked Slogan ‘It’s Not Normal’

        It’s no secret that sometimes a company’s lawyers get way out ahead of how their client would want them to behave in protecting their intellectual property. We’ve seen many a story in which threat letters go out, only to have ownership on both sides of a dispute get together and settle things amicably. And if there’s any industry in which this should absolutely happen, it should be the craft brewing industry, where there has long been a tradition of fraternity and peaceful coexistence.

    • Copyrights

      • Don’t share this! EU’s new copyright law could kill the free [I]nternet

        The EU legislation, bad as it is in its own right, must be seen as part of a wider attempt to clamp down on free expression and the free exchange of ideas in the West at a time when fewer people than ever before believe establishment narratives. This month a British MP by the name of Lucy Powell, launched a bill in Parliament entitled the ‘Online Forums Bill’ to ban private Facebook groups which promote “hate”, “racism” and “fake news”. But who defines what these terms actually mean?

      • Annual International Copyright Law Conference returns to London

        If you would like to discuss the present and future of copyright, our friends at KNect365 would like to let you know that the annual International Copyright Law conference is returning to London on 27 and 28 November 2018.

      • UK copyright in a no-deal Brexit scenario: what will happen?

        A few months ago, this blog reported that the EU Commission had issued a Notice to stakeholders on the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on UK copyright.

        At that time, UK’s withdrawal from the EU without any agreement in place must have seen impossible: if one looks at the comments to the relevant post, a reader who called themselves a ‘Broptimist’ stated that the EU Commission’s document

      • Google, Yandex Discuss Creation of Anti-Piracy Database

        Google, Yandex and other prominent Internet companies in Russia are discussing the creation of a database of infringing content including movies, TV shows, games, and software. The idea is that the companies will automatically query this database every five minutes with a view to removing such content from search results within six hours, no court order required.

Technology Groups and Innovators Bemoan Attempts to Override the Courts to Promote Patent Maximalists’ Agenda by USPTO Director Andrei Iancu

Posted in America, Patents at 6:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Give me liberty

Summary: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not listening to the views of actual innovators; it seems to be serving just the patent and litigation ‘industry’ (i.e. those who profit from illegitimate patents and baseless lawsuits)

THE EPO was run by a corrupt tyrant for 8 years; he left his loyal compatriot in charge. At the USPTO, by contrast, a technical person (Michelle Lee) ran the Office for a number of years, undoing decades of injustice. Unlike lawyers or politicians or bankers (Iancu, Battistelli and Campinos, respectively), she persistently backed the appeal boards, which at the US are known as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a relatively new construct that deals with inter partes reviews (IPRs), typically invalidating bogus patents using 35 U.S.C. § 101, inspired by the highest court in the United States.

“Unlike lawyers or politicians or bankers (Iancu, Battistelli and Campinos, respectively), she persistently backed the appeal boards, which at the US are known as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a relatively new construct that deals with inter partes reviews (IPRs), typically invalidating bogus patents using 35 U.S.C. § 101, inspired by the highest court in the United States.”Michelle Lee got pushed out, partly by a mob of patent maximalists. When a replacement was found for her IAM pressured him to crush PTAB and now it’s jubilant to say “PTAB reforms latest move by PTO to tackle Board’s “perception problem”” (whose perception?).

“After proposed change in claim construction standard, new procedures may lessen need for Congressional action,” it says. No, there was no need for Congressional action; those who asked for Congressional action are crazed patent maximalists who know no boundaries to patent law.

“Michelle Lee got pushed out, partly by a mob of patent maximalists.”The person who visited Iancu and pressured him on behalf of the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) wrote: “Both look good for patent owners but will be a lot of focus now on how they work in practice” (because this person, Richard Lloyd, will continue to attack PTAB irrespective of what happens next).‏

A person who advocates access to medicines wrote: “USPTO head wants to limit exceptions to patent subject matter.”

He linked to this tweet from a patent maximalist, who said: “This proposal is for new guidance for @uspto Examniers. It wouldn’t involve any new legislation and would be based on previous court decisions.”

“…this would further widen the gap between USPTO determinations and courts’ decisions. How is that beneficial?”Cherry-picking thereof. That’s what lawyers do. They ignore and disregard what doesn’t suit them. That’s what Iancu is. He’s a lawyer. The same person also said: “Outstanding speech at #IPOAM18 by Director Iancu that outlines a proposal for finally resolving the 101 mess – at least at the @USPTO. The proposal clearly defines the limited, excluded categories.”

Well, that will mean nothing to courts; in fact, this would further widen the gap between USPTO determinations and courts’ decisions. How is that beneficial? Maybe that’s fine for law firms because they profit from litigation no matter if it’s entirely frivolous. Bogus patents, bogus lawsuits… what do they care? They just do the billing. Their finance department is happy.

Lisa Ouellette, a patents (and other things) scholar, was citing Dennis Crouch yesterday. Crouch had posted a full transcript, which included this from Iancu:

So first, what exactly should be captured by the judicial exceptions to §101? In essence, and because we no longer want to mush subject matter with the conditions of patentability, the exceptions should capture only those claims that the Supreme Court has said remain outside the categories of patent protection, despite being novel, nonobvious, and well-disclosed. And what are the categories of inventions that the court told us that we should not patent even where the applicant demonstrates full compliance with Sections 102, 103 and 112? The Supreme Court gave us the answer: the “basic tools of scientific and technological work.”

Ouellette seems a tad concerned by Iancu’s plan, which is trying to bypass the law and the Supreme Court. Iancu is Trump’s “swamp” material (his firm had worked for Trump before he got this job), so this does not exactly shock us.

Quoting Ouellette about the IPO meeting from yesterday (IPO is a front group of patent zealots):

In remarks at the annual IPO meeting today, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu said “the USPTO cannot wait” for “uncertain” legislation on patentable subject matter and is “contemplating revised guidance” to help examiners apply this doctrine. Few are likely to object to his general goal of “increased clarity,” but the USPTO should be sure that any new guidance is consistent with precedent from the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit.

As most readers of this blog are well aware, the Supreme Court’s recent patentable-subject-matter cases—Bilski (2010), Mayo (2012), Myriad (2013), and Alice (2014)—have made it far easier to invalidate patent claims that fall under the “implicit exception” to § 101 for “laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas.” Since Alice, the Federal Circuit has held patents challenged on patentable-subject-matter grounds to be invalid in over 90% of appeals, and the court has struggled to provide clear guidance on the contours of the doctrine. Proponents of this shift call it a necessary tool in the fight against “patent trolls”; critics claim it creates needless uncertainty in patent rights and makes it too difficult to patent important innovations in areas such as medical diagnostics. In June, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced the Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act of 2018, which would amend § 101 to largely undo these changes—following a joint proposal of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO)—but Govtrack gives it a 2% chance of being enacted and Patently-O says 0%.

In the absence of legislation, can the USPTO step in? In his IPO speech today, Director Iancu decries “recent § 101 case law” for “mush[ing]” patentable subject matter with the other patentability criteria under §§ 102, 103, and 112, and he proposes new guidance for patent examiners because this mushing “must end.” The problem is that the USPTO cannot overrule recent § 101 case law. It does not have rulemaking authority over substantive patent law criteria, so it must follow Federal Circuit and Supreme Court guidance on this doctrine, mushy though it might be.

Under the Supreme Court’s patentable-subject-matter inquiry, as summarized in Alice, once a patent claim is determined to fall within a statutory category of a “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter,” step 1 is to “determine whether the claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept,” and if so, step 2 is to “examine the elements of the claim to determine whether it contains an inventive concept sufficient to transform the [ineligible concept] into a patent-eligible application”—where “simply appending conventional steps, specified at a high level of generality” is “not enough.”

It’s not clear how Iancu thinks or why Iancu believes this will improve things. It will only further exacerbate things as he does not control the courts (nor should he). But it’s all about law firms, not science and technology.

This morning we saw this article titled “Patent 101: Patent Process FAQs For Inventors” (not about Section 101).

“As for the USPTO, it continues to unmask himself as little more than an agent of patent extremists.”“Patent attorneys and patent agents (“patent practitioners”) [EXPLOIT] the best and brightest engineers and scientists on a daily basis,” (for profit) it should say, but it doesn’t use the word “exploit”. That is what the opening paragraph says anyway. Inserting the word “exploit” makes it a lot more sensible. Gene Quinn, another such exploiter, published in Watchtroll an article titled “Are all U.S. Patent Claims Invalid?”

So yesterday too he carried on with strawman arguments as headlines. Of course the answer to this rhetorical question is “no”.

Josh Landau from the CCIA, which represents a lot of technology companies, responded with “Getting The Future Backwards: Iancu’s Comments On § 101 At IPO” and to quote:

This morning, Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Director Iancu gave remarks at the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) Annual Meeting. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given IPO’s efforts to legislatively overturn the Supreme Court’s recent cases reinforcing the bar on patents on products of nature and abstract ideas, Director Iancu’s remarks focused on patentable subject matter—§ 101.

While the remarks aren’t formal guidance, what Director Iancu has described is concerning. Specifically, he states that the guidance would instruct examiners to “allow[] claims that include otherwise excluded matter as long as that matter is integrated into a practical application.”

As for the USPTO, it continues to unmask himself as little more than an agent of patent extremists. This is what the official account tweeted: “Let’s stop commingling the categories of invention on one hand, with the conditions for patentability on the other. Section 101 is about subject matter,” said #USPTO Director Andrei Iancu at @IPO today. Read his full remarks: http://bit.ly/2QVr7fq .”

“At the end of the day, these people may be dooming their own patent system by looking to broaden patent scope at the Office even though courts push back, leaving patent holders in a limbo, uncertain of the validity or value (if any) of their patent/s.”Dennis Crouch has meanwhile gone ahead and put a dollar sign ($) in “USPTO” to better explain what USPTO is about: it’s all about greed. But he actually made/used the image for other reasons (“SUCCESS ACT”).

Neil Wilkof (IP Kat) has also just revealed that Iancu is still attending and opening events of patent extremists rather than science and technology events. Whose “SUCCESS” is this man pursuing? Maybe the occupation he came from — the one which exploits scientists and technologists. The USPTO certainty got priorities all wrong. Very wrong. To quote:

The initial speaker was Mr. Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director United States Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Iancu took the audience back to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and Chicago Columbian Exposition, which in his words ushered in the modern world of technology. His focus was on the race over who would provide the lighting for the event? On the one hand, there was Thomas A. Edison and his invention of direct electrical current, on the other, the development of alternating current, by Nikola Tesla (the inventor, not the car), supported by George Westinghouse. As noted by Mr. Iancu, Westinghouse (and Tesla) won the bid.

For Mr. Iancu, what we learn from this story is that the patent system both encourages invention as well as patent design around, both of which are integral parts. But in today’s world, the outcome of the war over electrical currents and the role of patent protection in that contest, are not enough. Now, the USPTO is equally(?) focused on how to incentivize invention (read: innovation), although specifics offered were few, other than to emphasize the role of education.

Watchtroll is of course also engaging in yet more PTAB bashing (as always), e.g. “USPTO Substantially Revises PTAB Standard Operating Procedures” (Iancu cannot change patent law itself, he merely lowers patents’ certainty by lessening scrutiny in the office, not in patent courts, and does so at his own peril, lessening the perception of “danger” while at the same time reducing the appeal of US patents). Here is what Patently-O said about it:

Revised SOP2 includes, among other things:

Creation of the POP, typically comprising the Director, the Commissioner for Patents, and the Chief Judge of the PTAB;
Identification of the circumstances when POP members may delegate their authority, and to whom;
Provision of notice to the parties when POP review takes place, as well as the identification of the POP members in a particular case;
Explanation of the standards, procedures, and timing for requesting POP review in a pending case on rehearing; and
Revised procedures for designating a decision previously issued by the PTAB as precedential or informative.

Michael Loney from another patent maximalists’ site wrote this:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has revised its standard operating procedures on panelling of matters and precedential and informative decisions

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has revised its standard operating procedures (SOPs) on panelling of matters (SOP1) and precedential and informative decisions (SOP2).

Loney’s colleague, Ellie Mertens, then wrote about “PTAB cases to watch for the rest of 2018″ as follows:

Important pending Patent Trial and Appeal Board cases relate to issues ranging from assignor estoppel to the constitutionality of PTAB judges’ appointments

The top nine cases related to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to watch for the rest of 2018 relate to issues ranging from assignor estoppel as it relates to inter partes reviews (IPRs) to the constitutionality of PTAB…

As readers may recall, Iancu moved the chief judge of PTAB (although it may have been voluntary) after he had been smeared by patent maximalists (maybe that’s the “perception” he was alluding to). He’s an actual scientist, for a change. The maximalists already try to replace him (as always) with someone who better suits their agenda. At the end of the day, these people may be dooming their own patent system by looking to broaden patent scope at the Office even though courts push back, leaving patent holders in a limbo, uncertain of the validity or value (if any) of their patent/s.

Patent Trolls Roundup: Microsoft’s Patent Troll Collapses, Samsung Fuels Patent Troll Sisvel, and Patent Troll VirnetX Wants Apple’s Cash

Posted in America, Apple, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Submerged under the bridge

Submerged

Summary: Microsoft’s largest patent troll continues to experience a mass exodus (in addition to all the layoffs), Sisvel receives armament from Samsung, and VirnetX carries on pretending — to shareholders at least — that it will get a lot of money out of Apple (albeit an appeal will likely prevent that altogether)

SEEING the trend in US patent courts (which unlike the USPTO reject abstract patents en masse), patent trolls are utterly demoralised. Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures keeps imploding based on the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM). Here’s the latest:

Cory Van Arsdale, chief revenue office at Intellectual Ventures and one of the driving forces behind its recent monetisation efforts is leaving the giant NPE. He is set to keep some ties to IV advising the business on a consultancy basis for at least the next year, but his departure effectively hands control of the company’s patent sales and licensing to Mathen Ganesan, executive vice president of the Invention Investment Funds.

Van Arsdale joined IV in 2010 from a consulting business which he co-founded and before that did stints at the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Sun Microsystems. He has taken an active role as the company has ramped up its rate of sales in recent years including the disposals of around 4,000 former Kodak patents and almost 1,000 former American Express grants to Dominion Harbor.

The patent trolls’ lobby has also taken note of Sisvel’s latest activity in “More details emerge of Samsung patent transfer to Sisvel,” but it’s behind a payall and the outline says:

Deal between the two came as Korean tech giant agreed to royalty bearing licence to NPE’s Wi-Fi portfolio

This will certainly be used for extortion and blackmail purposes (which is what Sisvel does). Unlike Apple, Samsung does not engage in patent aggression, at least not directly.

The patent troll VirnetX wants money out of nothing in Eastern Texas, where Apple became its latest high-profile target. It issued the following press release yesterday:

VirnetX™ Holding Corporation (NYSE:VHC), an Internet security software and technology company, announced today that on September 20, 2018, pursuant to a Court’s order, attorneys from VirnetX and Apple have conferred and agree without dispute amounts for Bill of Costs and Prejudgment Interest totaling $93,351,141 to be added to the $502,567,709 jury verdict for VirnetX in the ongoing patent infringement action between VirnetX Inc. (“VirnetX”) and Apple Inc (“Apple”).

“Apple’s versus VirnetX patent infringement case payment balloons to $595.9M,” AppleInsider‘s headline said and there’s also
“VirnetX Holding Corporation: VirnetX Files Notice Regarding Agreed Bill of Costs and Prejudgment Interest of $93.3 Million in Apple Suit” in last night’s headlines.

But this decision will almost certainly be appealed and reach the Federal Circuit, which has a rather different track record than courts in Eastern Texas.

António Campinos Goes to UPC-Hostile Country, UPC Continues to Languish and Team UPC Carries on Pushing for Software Patents in Europe (Courts Also)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 4:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

António Campinos for UPC
Source

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC) fantasy has fizzled, but those striving to interject software patents agenda into Europe from the back door (e.g. labeling these “AI” or ignoring the stance of actual courts) aren’t giving up just yet

TODAY will be mostly about USPTO matters (major things have just happened), but before we turn to that, let’s look at the latest developments at the European Patent Office (EPO).

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, the EPO did not bombard Twitter with software patents advocacy (typically 2-4 times per day, even more so lately). Even though software patents in Europe aren’t allowed “as such”, today’s EPO is quite blatantly ignoring even its own rules, in the name of so-called ‘production’ targets.

Days ago António Campinos went to a nation that opposes the Unitary Patent, a Trojan horse for software patents in European courts (not just patent offices). One of the large nations that oppose the Unitary Patent (there are several, including Poland) is Spain and “[d]uring his official visit to Spain last week, President Campinos met with Ministers to discuss how to further strengthen the patent system and support innovation and economic growth,” according to the EPO’s tweet. From the corresponding article, which merely continues this tweet: (warning: epo.org link)

During his first official visit to Spain last week, EPO President António Campinos met with Ministers to discuss how to further strengthen the patent system and support innovation and economic growth. Meetings on Monday were held with the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, María Reyes Maroto Illera, the Undersecretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism and President of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO), Fernando Valdés Verelst, and the Director General of the SPTO, José Antonio Gil Celedonio.

“Unitary Patent” or “UPC” isn’t mentioned. The EPO too seems to have come to grips with the Unitary Patent’s death (Campinos hasn't mentioned it in over two months). But Team UPC is still in denial; it is pushing UPC agenda as well as other malicious things. As a pro-UPC site put it yesterday:

In-house and private practice lawyers discussed driverless cars, protection strategies in a digital world, compulsory licences, the UPC and FRAND at the European Patents Forum in Paris

UPC is also mentioned in this new press release and a tweet from Bristows, which links to Alan Johnson. He speaks of a document that “sets out the [no 'Brexit' deal] scenarios as currently foreseen, the implications, and the actions for business and other stakeholders, concluding by recommending that businesses seek legal advice on how these arrangements could affect their business model or Intellectual Property rights.”

One can interpret “recommending that businesses seek legal advice” as “go pay Bristows some money for flawed or intentionally-misleading advice on UPC.”

Team UPC has no remnants of credibility by now. Every prediction it had given turned out to be false. The British Law Gazette‘s Michael Cross then published about this under the headline “Government admits ‘no deal’ could mean exit from patent court” (misleading headline).

No, you cannot “exit” something you never entered in the first place (and which does not even exist, either!). Quoting Cross:

New advice from Whitehall on the consequences for a ‘no deal’ exit from the European Union concedes for the first time that this could mean withdrawal from the embryonic 25-nation Unified Patent Court. Until now the government has insisted that the court, part of which is due to be based in Aldgate Tower, London, was not an EU institution and therefore would be unaffected by Brexit.

However a notice issued today by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy states that the UK will have to ‘explore whether it would be possible to remain within the Unified Patent Court and unitary patent systems in a ‘no deal’ scenario’.

The note also points out that there is still a possibility that the court may come into being in any case as ratification by Germany – which is subject to a court challenge – is still outstanding. ‘If the Unified Patent Court is never fully ratified, the domestic legislation to bring it into force will never take effect in the UK.’

Team UPC will carry on misinterpreting government documents to spread the infamous two lies.

Marks & Clerk (Team UPC) has long lied about software patents (to make ‘sales’) and this morning we saw Marks & Clerk’s Stéphane Ambrosini giving misleading advice on software patents in Luxembourg because patent courts would not honour these. Here is the relevant part:

In view of the lack of examination during the Luxembourgish application procedure, notionally all software inventions can be patented in the jurisdiction.

However, to achieve a stronger presumption of validity, embodiments of patented software inventions should exhibit a further technical effect, analogously to the legal test practised under the European Patent Convention. In practice, this means a concrete effect achieved by the software beyond the conventional physical interactions between the program and the computer on which it is run.

That still does not give it presumption of validity; European courts (not UPC) do not view software patents favourably. We have been tracking these matters for well over a decade. Going back to Team UPC’s favourite platform, watch these patent zealots promoting software patents in Europe under the guise of “AI”: (calling algorithms that)

Directors from the European Patent Office gave guidance at this year’s European Patent Forums in Munich and Paris on how inventors can successfully patent their artificial intelligence or machine learning solutions

Well, “AI” is merely a buzzword and one that the EPO habitually promotes as a cover for software patents in Europe. As for “machine learning”, we’ll deal with that in another post later today.

The Man Whose Actions Could Potentially Land Team Battistelli in Jail

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Older: The Battistelli Mafia and Corsica

Benalla selfie
Source: En pleine présidentielle, Benalla dégaine son arme pour un selfie

Summary: As new evidence and more material surfaces about Benalla, Battistelli tries hard to hide himself from French media, knowing that he might be criminally culpable

The only person who kept weapons in his office (inside/at the EPO) was Battistelli himself — despite falsely accusing others of the same — employing an immature, aggressive and totally irresponsible (could have shot EPO staff uncontrollably) thug without a gun permit. EPO is a rogue institution. The above is Battistelli’s ‘bodyguard’; imagine arming and paying about 10,000 euros per month to a thug who takes selfies with his pistol that he most likely carried illegally, implicating Battistelli (who no doubt knew about it but refuses to talk about it). Also of relevance to this:

  1. Alexandre Benalla, Macron’s Violent Bodyguard, Was Also Battistelli’s Bodyguard
  2. It Wasn’t Judges With Weapons in Their Office, It Was Benoît Battistelli Who Brought Firearms to the European Patent Office (EPO)
  3. Guest Post on Ronan Le Gleut and Benalla at the French Senate (in Light of Battistelli’s Epic Abuses)

An insider made the following picture yesterday — an image we’ve made a local copy of (just in case the tweet or Twitter itself vanishes in the future).

A Battistelli affair

09.24.18

Links 24/9/2018: Linux 4.19 RC5 From Greg Kroah-Hartman, OpenShot 2.4.3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • We’re inching closer to DaaS Windows

      Today’s Windows isn’t your dad’s Windows. Microsoft is finally acknowledging that IT professionals are fed up with Windows 10’s binannual major release cadence. So, to address this, it has come up with several new ideas, one of which comes straight out of the Ubuntu Linux desktop playbook.

    • Windows update problems: Microsoft reveals why recent patches broke some PCs

      Microsoft is preparing to rerelease a two-year old update for Windows 7 that’s necessary to avoid ‘error 0x8000FFFF’ when installing its latest security updates.

      If your organization’s Windows 7 PCs failed to install Microsoft’s two most recent monthly rollup updates or the September security-only update, it’s because the affected systems were missing a servicing stack update (SSU) that Microsoft released in October 2016.

    • Linux or Windows: 25 Things You Must Know While Choosing The Best Platform

      Choosing the best platform – Linux or Windows is complicated. Because both the system is versatile and capable of doing many mission-oriented and regular task. So if I ask you which one is the best system between Linux and Windows? On this topic, you can start an ever ending discussion. Windows OS is the most used operating system in the desktop world, no doubt in this statement, but “most used” can’t prove itself to be the best option in a bigger prospect.

      We all know that cigarette is one of the “most used” consumer product in the world but still, it’s not good for health. It’s challenging to leave smoking because people are habituated with this addiction. So why I have given this example which is entirely off topic? Because we all know, humanity is a slave of habit, and accordingly, most of the users are quite habituated with the use of a Windows system for quite a long time. Now they can’t leave it just like smoking. If a bird remains in a case, how will it enjoy freedom? Even one day the bird will forget, he can fly.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Reiser4 File-System Is Now Available For The Linux 4.18 Kernel

      It took several weeks past the initial stable debut of the Linux 4.18 kernel, but the Reiser4 file-system has now been updated to work with this new kernel build.

    • The Next Linux Kernel To Support Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Sound Cards

      The next major Linux kernel cycle whether it is called Linux 4.20 or ends up being called Linux 5.0 as expected is now slated to carry support for the high-end Creative Labs’ Sound BlasterX AE-5 sound card.

      Earlier this week I reported on Linux patches for the Sound BlasterX AE-5 coming from a contributor. The AE-5 is a ~$150 PCI Express sound card with SABRE32 Ultra Class DAC, BlasterX Acoustic Engine, and other high-end audio features and for suiting to gamers/enthusiasts also has an RGB lighting controller onboard.

    • Linux 4.19-rc5

      As almost everyone knows, it’s been an “interesting” week from a social
      point-of-view. But from the technical side, -rc5 looks totally normal.

      The diffstat is a bit higher than previous -rc5′s, but the number of
      trees pulled is lower, so overall, pretty much all is on track. I’m not
      seeing any major “these bugs are not being fixed!” type of reports, so I
      can hope that the initial churn that -rc1 threw at everyone is under
      control.

      The majority size-wise of changes here are with more tests being added
      and fixed up, but there is also the usual networking, x86, sound, drm,
      ppc, and other fixes. Full details are in the shortlog below.

    • Greg Kroah-Hartman Releases Linux 4.19-RC5 Following An “Interesting” Week
    • Linux developers threaten to pull “kill switch”

      Linux powers the internet, the Android in your pocket, and perhaps even some of your household appliances. A controversy over politics is now seeing some of its developers threatening to withdraw the license to all of their code, potentially destroying or making the whole Linux kernel unusable for a very long time.

    • Linux Developers Threaten to Pull “Kill Switch” [iophk: "lynch mobs used as catspaws to attack and destroy FOSS projects”]

      All is not well in the Linux community: Linus Torvalds’s apology for “unprofessional behavior” and leave this week was accompanied by the adoption of a new Code of Conduct (CoC), which is being described by some as an insidious attempt by social justice warriors to wrestle power away from contributors they don’t agree with. The CoC appears to shift Linux’s long-standing culture based around meritocracy to a “safe space” that prioritizes inclusion rather than skill. Some developers believe this will destroy the foundations of Linux and are “threatening to withdraw the license to all of their code.”

    • On holy wars, and a plea for peace

      I’m writing now, from all of that experience and with all that perspective, about the recent flap over the new CoC and the attempt to organize a mass withdrawal of creator permissions from the kernel.

      I’m going to try to keep my personal feelings about this dispute off the table, not because I don’t have any but because I think I serve us all better by speaking as neutrally as I can.

    • The “Chinese EPYC” Hygon Dhyana CPU Support Still Getting Squared Away For Linux

      Back in June is when the Linux kernel patches appeared for the Hygon Dhyana, the new x86 processors based on AMD Zen/EPYC technology licensed by Chengdu Haiguang IC Design Co for use in Chinese data-centers. While the patches have been out for months, they haven’t reached the mainline kernel quite yet but that might change next cycle.

      The Hygon Dyhana Linux kernel patches have gone through several revisions and the code is mostly adapting existing AMD Linux kernel code paths for Zen/EPYC to do the same on these new processors. While these initial Hygon CPUs appear to basically be re-branded EPYC CPUs, the identifiers are different as rather than AMD Family 17h, it’s now Family 18h and the CPU Vendor ID is “HygonGenuine” and carries a new PCI Express device vendor ID, etc. So the different areas of the kernel from CPUFreq to KVM/Xen virtualization to Spectre V2 mitigations had to be updated for the correct behavior.

    • My code of conduct

      There are many “code of conduct” documents. Often they differ a lot. I have my own and it is probably the shortest one:

      Do not be an asshole. Respect the others.

      Simple. I do not care which gender people have when I speak with them (ok, may stare at your boobs or butt once) nor their sexual preferences. Colour of the skin does not matter as most of my friends I first met online without knowing anything about them. Political stuff? As long as we can be friends and do not discuss it I am fine. Etc etc.

      It works on conferences. And in projects where I am/was involved.

      Someone may say that part of it was shaped by working for corporation (is Red Hat corpo?) due to all those no harassment regulations and trainings. I prefer to think that it is more of how I was raised by parents, family and society.

    • Sharp did it again

      I have written about a certain Sarah Sharp (now Sage Sharp) and their attacks on Linus. As everyone knows by now, the Linux Kernel Team has decided to adopt a Code of Conduct – and without failure and according to the expectations of many – within the shortest time the CoC was used not in the intended way to create a positive atmosphere, but to attack fellow developers, in this case Ted Tso.

      [...]

      I have contacted the Linux Foundation to cut any ties with SShape, because the posting alone is against the very idea of the CoC: it is ad personam, it is derogatory, and it is public harassment. I even consider it on the border line of legality to call someone out in this way.

      This is what one gets from a combination of radical feminists paired with a CoC of this style.

    • After Linus Torvalds, SJWs are now coming for Ted Ts’o

      More than a week after Linux creator Linus Torvalds said he would be taking a break from leading kernel development, it is still unclear as to what actually led to his decision. But one thing is crystal clear: the social justice warriors, who played a role in what happened, are now targeting another kernel developer, Ted Ts’o, who works for Google.

      Was it the article in The New Yorker, as its author claimed, that led to Torvalds stepping down? Or was it pressure from kernel maintainers who were annoyed that Torvalds had bungled his schedules and planned a family vacation at the time when the maintainers summit was supposed to be held?

      It is clear from the article in The New Yorker that the whole aim of what was essentially a hit job, and far from the usual standards that this august publication maintains, was to try and draw a connection between Torvalds’ habit of abusive emails and the #MeToo movement. Cohen even managed to work the word in: “Many women who contribute to Linux point to another open-source project, Python, as a guide for Linux as its faces its #MeToo moment.”

    • Linux devs threaten to pull contributions

      Open source legend Eric Raymond says threat is real as culture wars rear their ugly head.

      Open source legend Eric S Raymond has weighed in on governance of the Linux Kernel after developers threatened to withdraw their code from the OS.

      The nub of the issue is a new code of conduct the project adopted last week in the wake of founder Linus Torvalds standing down as overseer as the project. Torvalds and current kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartmann proposed the new Code of Conduct (CoC) after Torvalds admitted some of his behavior has damaged the kernel development community. He’s therefore stepped aside from his role as kernel maintainer for a time to seek assistance on how to better understand co-workers’ emotions.

    • Linux community acts after years of complaints

      SUSE employee and Network World contributor Bryan Lunduke said Sharp’s loss is “a bummer” but argued that her departure does not necessarily reflect badly on the kernel community.

      “[N]ot everyone likes a politically correct work environment,” he said. “Not everyone will enjoy working in every environment, but my perception is that most working on the kernel enjoy doing so.”

      Lunduke admitted, however, that Sharp’s departure is not going to help the image of Linux developers.

      “It’s definitely not the greatest publicity in the world,” he said.

    • Graphics Stack

      • In-Progress AMDGPU Updates For Linux 4.20~5.0 Have DC Update, New Polaris ID

        -
        Last week AMD sent in their big feature pull request of AMDGPU driver changes to DRM-Next for the Linux 4.20 (or what will likely be Linux 5.0) and since then more changes have been queuing in their work-in-progress branch.

        That last pull request was a big one with AMD Raven2 support, AMD Picasso APU enablement, more Vega 20 upbringing work including initial xGMI support, AMDKFD merging into AMDGPU, VCN JPEG engine support, GPUVM virtual memory improvements, and various other changes as outlined in the aforelinked article.

      • VMware’s SVGA Gallium3D Driver Enables OpenGL 3.3 Compatibility Profile Support

        In preparation for the upcoming VMware Fusion 11 and VMware Workstation 15 releases, their Mesa/Gallium3D-based driver stack for Linux guest GPU acceleration has been seeing a variety of updates.

        Earlier this month was a big code push including many new features to its “SVGA” Gallium3D driver like MSAA, a various assortment of new OpenGL extensions, and other changes in step with their latest “VMWGFX” Linux kernel DRM drivers.

      • Sway 1.0 Alpha 6 Released, Now Supports Moving/Resizing Tiled Windows With The Mouse

        Released on Friday was the sixth alpha release of the upcoming Sway 1.0 Wayland compositor release that still strives for compatibility with the i3 window manager workflow.

        Sway 1.0 has already added a ton of new functionality like using the new wlroots Wayland library, output rotation, fractional scaling, daisy-changed DisplayPort monitors, better HiDPI support, DMA-BUF additions for screenshot capture and real-time video capturing, atomic additions, floating window improvements, better multi-GPU support, virtual keyboard protocol support, and a heck of a lot more.

      • CLVK Is Piping OpenCL On Top Of Vulkan

        The concept has been talked about before and there has been some previous work in this direction while “CLVK” is a newly-established effort for getting OpenCL running on top of Vulkan drivers.

        The challenge of OpenCL on Vulkan might not be as big as it seems to an outside observer considering both modern OpenCL and Vulkan rely on the SPIR-V intermediate representation, etc. There is also a plethora of tooling catering both to these compute and graphics APIs like clspv, which this CLVK project happens to rely upon as its compiler.

    • Benchmarks

      • Folding@Home Performance Is Looking Good On The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

        Yesterday I published a number of CUDA and OpenCL benchmarks for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card that happened to show the very strong GPU compote potential for this new Turing GPU. Another workload with promising potential for this powerful but pricey graphics card is Folding@Home.

        Folding@Home was accidentally left out of yesterday’s RTX 2080 Ti CUDA/OpenCL comparison with simply forgetting to add the FAHBench test profile to the run queue. But as there is often interest in seeing the FAHBench performance on new GPUs by at least a few of the premium enablers, I ran some extra tests just looking at the Folding@Home performance and here are those results today.

      • Ubuntu 18.10 Performance Is Looking Up, But Clear Linux Still Leads In Many Tests

        With less than one month until Ubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish” releases, I have begun my usual benchmarking dance in checking out how the Ubuntu performance is looking to its current release, in this case the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver”. Our first performance look at Ubuntu 18.10 is with a mix of seven Intel and AMD desktop systems while using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with all updates, Ubuntu 18.10 in its current near-final form, and using Intel’s Clear Linux as a gold standard reference with it generally offering the leading out-of-the-box Linux x86_64 performance of major distributions.

      • Ethereum Crypto Mining Performance Benchmarks On The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

        Over the past few days since receiving the RTX 2080 Ti “Turing” graphics card I have been running many different Linux benchmarks on this card, but one area I hadn’t explored until having the time this weekend was to checkout the cryptocurrency mining potential, which I tried out with the CUDA support in Ethereum’s Ethminer.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Happy 20th anniversary, KDevelop

        20 years of getting feature by feature, sometimes first of its kind, being partially rewritten, getting ported from Qt1 to Qt2 to Qt3 to Qt4 to now Qt5, being made run on non-Linux platforms, seeing hand-overs of maintainers.
        At its 20th anniversary KDevelop, now to be called an extensible cross-platform IDE for C, C++, Python, PHP and other languages, continues to provide developers a very reliable and powerful environment to get their code work done. While being inviting to enhance their tool, KDevelop, itself, being a FLOSS software and with no company agenda attached.

      • KDE’s Dolphin File Manager Can Now Show LibreOffice Document Previews

        Coming to KDE Applications 18.12, the Dolphin file manager will finally be able to show LibreOffice document previews as the icons.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 37

        Next week, your name could be in this list! Just check out https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters. You don’t have to already be a programmer. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

      • Good Support For Wayland Remote Desktop Handling On Track For KDE Plasma 5.15

        The KDE Plasma 5.15 release due out next year will likely be in good shape for Wayland remote desktop handling.

        The KDE Plasma/KWin developers have been pursuing Wayland remote desktop support along a similar route to the GNOME Shell camp by making use of PipeWire and the XDG-Desktop-Portal. Bits are already in place for KDE Plasma 5.13 and the upcoming 5.14 release, but for the 5.15 release is now where it sounds like the support may be in good shape for end-users.

      • Guerilla UX Testing, and Other Experiences From Akademy

        It’s about a month now since the end of Akademy 2018 and I’ve finally found the time to write up some of my impressions from my favorite event of every year, and to encourage all of you to embrace both your inner User Experience (UX) Researcher and your inner guerilla.

      • Akademy 2018: I was there! part 2

        As you may know, a little more than a month ago Akademy happened at the beautiful place of Vienna. On my first post, I told you about how I was freaking out before giving my talk about Atelier.

        So, to continue my history, on the following days of Akademy, Tomaz brought his printer from Munich so we could test Atelier and try to dig up what we need to do to improve it.

        [...]

        After that fix, Akademy was happening really fast for me. We had Atelier BoF, and as in my talk, I was amazed at all the people that have shown interest in the project and the willingness to help us. Tomaz and I received a few inputs, and we are working with Chris and Patrick on how to achieve them and the goals of this project.

        Sometimes I don’t believe that I was out there, far from my house and my boyfriend to konquer the world. However, since the internet era, we have all this amazing technology that can record people talking, I had my talk record and it’s alive on youtube. And yes, I still don’t have the courage to watch.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • LAS 2018

        This month I was at my second Libre Application Summit in Denver. A smaller event than GUADEC but personally was my favorite conference so far.

        One of the main goals of LAS has been to be a place for multiple platforms to discuss the desktop space and not just be a GNOME event. This year two KDE members, @aleixpol and Albert Astals Cid, who spoke about release cycle of KDE Applications, Plasma, and the history of Qt. It is always interesting to see how another project solves the same problems and where there is overlap.

        The elementary folks were there since this is @cassidyjames home turf who had a great “It’s Not Always Techincal” talk as well as a talk with @danrabbit about AppCenter which are both very important areas the GNOME Project needs to improve in. I also enjoyed meeting a few other community members such as @Philip-Scott and talk about their use of elementary’s platform.

      • Developer Center Initiative – Meeting Summary 21st September

        Since last blog post there’s been two Developer Center meetings held in coordination with LAS GNOME Sunday the 9th September and again Friday the 21st September. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the LAS GNOME meeting, but I’ll cover the general progress made here.

      • Meg Ford: LAS GNOME

        The 2018 edition of the LAS GNOME conference happened two weeks ago. I arrived in time for the second day of talks, and left early Sunday.

        The conference was small but the group was energized and the talks were engaging. The group was made up of local GNOMErs, developers and designers from the US free software community, developers from KDE, and local students, among others. I was very impressed by the hard work of the volunteers. The weather in Denver was very nice. The venue was a beautiful old mansion situated close to downtown.

      • Libre Application Summit 2018

        Libre Application Summit wants to be a place for all people involved in doing Free Software applications to meet and share ideas, though being almost organized by GNOME it had a some skew towards GNOME/flatpak. There was a good presence of KDE, but personally I felt that we would have needed more people at least from LibreOffice, Firefox and someone from the Ubuntu/Canonical/Snap field (don’t get annoyed at you if I failed to mention your group).

        The Summit was kicked off by a motivational talk on how to make sure we’re ride the wave of “Open Source as won but people don’t know it”. I felt the content of the talk was nice but the speaker was hit by some issues (not being able to have the laptop in front of her due to the venue being a bit weirdly layouted) that sadly made her speech a bit too stumbly.

      • I want to talk to the (Font) Manager

        You like fonts, don’t you? Well, we all do. So what happens if you want to install a fresh new font in your Linux distribution, and that distribution happens to be running, say, a Gnome desktop environment? You will have probably noticed that the font management facility available in the system settings tool is rather limited.

        First, there’s the actual issue of how to handle fonts in the first place – Gnome Tweak Tool – and then, you only have the ability to select from the existing range of fonts, but not really install any new ones. At the moment, it would seem, your one option is to manually copy font files into either the system or home directory fonts folder. Well, there’s a better way. Meet GTK+ Font Manager. Manager, meet your new user.

      • Philip Chimento: JavaScript news from GNOME 3.30

        Welcome back to the latest news on GJS, the Javascript engine that powers GNOME Shell, Endless OS, and many GNOME apps.

        I haven’t done one of these posts for several versions now, but I think it’s a good tradition to continue. GNOME 3.30 has been released for several weeks now, and while writing this post I just released the first bugfix update, GJS 1.54.1. Here’s what’s new!

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: Bodhi Linux 5.0.0

        Sometimes when reviewing an operating system it is difficult to separate the question “Is this a good distribution?” from “Is this a good distribution for me?” Bodhi is one of those projects where the answers to these questions are quite different, mostly over matters of style rather than functionality. On a personal level, I don’t think I would ever be inclined to use Bodhi myself because I don’t like the Moksha/Enlightenment style of desktop. It does a lot of little things differently (not badly, just differently) from other open source desktops and its style is not one I ever seem to find comfortable. This, combined with the streamlined, web-based AppCenter and unusual settings panel, makes Bodhi a distribution which always feels a bit alien to me.

        Let’s put aside my personal style preferences though and try to look at the distribution objectively. Bodhi is trying to provide a lightweight, visually attractive distribution with a wide range of hardware support. It manages to do all of these things and do them well. The distribution is paying special attention to lower-end hardware, including 32-bit systems, and maintains a remarkably small memory footprint given the amount of functionality and eye candy included. Most lightweight distributions sacrifice quite a bit visually in order to provide the lightest interface possible, but Bodhi does a nice job of balancing low resource requirements with an attractive desktop environment.

        Bodhi is pleasantly easy to install, thanks to the Ubiquity installer, has a minimal collection of software (in the main edition) that allows us to craft our own experience and, for people who need more applications out of the box, there is the AppPack edition.

        All of this is to say that, for me personally, I spent more time that I would have liked this week searching through settings, trying to get used to how Moksha’s panel works, tracking down less popular applications and re-learning when to use right-click versus left-click on the desktop. But, objectively, I would be hard pressed to name another distribution that more elegantly offers a lightweight desktop with visual effects, or that offers such easy access to both legacy and modern hardware support. In short, I think Bodhi Linux is a good distribution for those who want to get the most performance out of their operating system without sacrificing hardware support or the appearance of the interface. There are a few little glitches here and there, but sothing show-stopping and, overall, Bodhi is a well put together distribution.

    • New Releases

      • Solus 3.9999 ISO Refresh Released: Download The Modern Linux Distro Here

        While the release of Solus 4 isn’t around the corner for some time, the developers of this neat-looking and fast Linux distro have gone ahead and pushed a Solus 3 ISO refresh. They’ve called it Solus 3.9999.

        Since it’s an ISO refresh, it goes without saying that Solus 3.9999 ships with all the recent updates and security fixes released in the recent past. This makes it great for any new user who wishes to perform a fresh installation of Solus on a computer.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • My Open-Source Activities from April to August 2018

        Welcome readers, this is a infrequently updated post series that logs my activities within open-source communities. I want my work to be as transparent as possible in order to promote open governance, a policy feared even by some “mighty” nations.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu releases Mir 1.0.0

            Last week, the Ubuntu community announced the release of Mir 1.0.0, a fast, open and secure display server. The important highlights of this release are support for the Wayland xdg-shell (stable) extension and improved facilities for customizing display layouts.

            Mir is a system-level component that can be used to unlock next-generation user experiences. It runs on a range of Linux powered devices including traditional desktops, IoT and embedded products.

          • Saying Something Suitable in September

            So far the folks in the Ubuntu Podcast Chatter group have seen bits and pieces stating that I have been fussing over a Mythbuntu installation. It has been rough. I have two aerials in place connected to HDHomeRun Duo boxes. There is some reception of local stations. The problem with this is that I’ve had to put the antennae in the garage. When you understand that my part of northeast Ohio is essentially life in the deciduous forest, you’ll also understand that the main Directv dish also is mounted on the garage as it had the only vantage point with a clear shot to the satellite(s). Eventually I will make further progress.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio 18.10 Wallpaper Contest Winners

              We would like to thank everyone who participated in our wallpaper contest for Ubuntu Studio 18.10! With 487 votes, the top 5 submissions were chosen. The winners can be found at this link.

              Additionally, we’d like to announce the new default wallpaper for 18.10, designed by Ubuntu Studio developer Eylul Dogruel, and is pictured to the right.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • OpenCV 4.0 Alpha Released Now As A C++ Library, DNN Improvements, Better Performance

    OpenCV, the popular Open-Source Computer Vision real-time library, is nearing its big “4.0″ release with a number of improvements for this widely-used library.

  • Sculpt OS With “Visual Composition” Posted For Latest Genode OS

    The Genode open-source operating system framework written from scratch with a micro-kernel design has been working on Sculpt OS as a general purpose operating system. This week the project reached its latest milestone.

    The third version of Sculpt OS is now available, “Sculpt with Visual Composition”, which as part of this latest goal is working on transitioning more of their offerings from text-based user-interfaces to a GUI for administrative tasks. The text-based user interfaces will be maintained for those interested.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome Now Logs all Google Users Into the Browser. Should You Care?

        I understand where Green is coming from, particularly after he clicked no for so long. But if this is the moment that Google leverages its browser in an unseemly way, I’m not seeing it. Sync isn’t enabled by default, meaning there’s not much of a change for users from a practical privacy standpoint. Green disagrees, because he’s seeing settings now that he didn’t have to think about before. But Google isn’t seeing any more or less of his data now than before, and won’t unless users opt in.

    • Mozilla

      • New Firefox browser bug causes crashes on Windows, Mac and Linux

        Only a week after disclosing a new web code exploit that can cause an iPhone to crash, security researcher Sabri Haddouche, has uncovered another browser bug that can force Firefox to crash on all three popular desktop operating systems – Mac, Linux and Windows – reports ZDNet.

      • Firefox bug crashes your browser and sometimes your PC

        A security researcher who two weeks ago found a bug that could crash all WebKit-based apps on iPhones, iPads, and Macs, has now discovered another browser bug that can crash Firefox browsers, and sometimes the entire operating system underneath it.

      • This Firefox Bug Can Crash Your Browser On Windows, Mac, And Linux

        Security researcher Sabri Haddouche has found a bug in the Firefox web browser that can crash the browser and also the entire operating system running underneath.

        As reported by ZDNet, this Firefox bug can force the browser to crash on all the three popular desktop platforms — Mac, Linux, and Windows.

      • Watch Out: This Nasty Bug Will Crash Your Browser

        The attack, termed “Browser Reaper,” was created by security researcher Sabri Haddouche. Haddouche has created a website containing buttons that will crash Chrome, Safari, and Firefox on command, as well as Safari iOS and Chrome OS. The Chrome version also crashes Microsoft Edge, according to some Twitter users.

        Clicking one of Haddouche’s buttons prompts a file with an “extremely long file name” to download onto the victim’s computer once every millisecond. This floods the inter-process communication channel, the processes an operating system uses to respond to user requests. This all causes your browser to become unresponsive, or even crash.

      • New Firefox bug found capable of crashing your browser and operating system

        Bugs that shut down certain applications like a web browser are not uncommon, but those that can also crash your PC is a bit more worrying. That’s what a new bug found in Firefox is capable of, as revealed by Sabri Haddouche, a software engineer and security researcher who also recently disclosed a vulnerability that could crash an iPhone and freeze Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

      • This Firefox bug may crash the browser and your operating system

        A newly discovered bug in the desktop version of the Firefox web browser may crash the browser and under certain circumstances the entire operating system.

        Discovered and revealed by security researcher Sabri Haddouche, the bug causes the Firefox web browser to crash when a specifically prepared website is loaded in the web browser.

        What happens then depends on the operating system. Firefox displays the browser’s Crash Reporter prompt on Linux and Mac OS X which may be used to inform Mozilla about the crash and to restart Firefox.

      • Firefox DoS bug is causing browser to crash on Mac, Linux and Windows

        A DENIAL OF SERVICE (DoS) bug is causing Mozilla’s Firefox to freeze and, in some cases, bork the entire operating system underneath it.

        Uncovered by Sabri Haddouche, a software engineer and security researcher at encrypted instant messaging app Wire, the bug can cause Firefox to crash on all major desktop operating systems – Mac, Linux and Windows.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 45
  • Databases

    • Postgres 11 – a First Look

      Postgres 11 is almost here, in fact the latest beta shipped today, and it features a lot of exciting improvements. If you want to get the full list of features it is definitely worth checking out the release notes, but for those who don’t read the release notes I put together a run down of some what I consider the highlight features.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • WLinux: Windows 10 Gets Its Own Exclusive Linux Distro

      Ubuntu, Debian, and Kali are some of the popular Linux distros available out there for Windows Subsystem for Linux. But, most of these distros contain packages that are irrelevant to WSL and lack development tools. How about a distro that is optimized specially for Windows 10?

    • New Linux Distro Created Specifically for Windows 10

      The Windows Subsystem for Linux allows users to run Linux distributions on top of Windows 10, and at this point, there are already several choices for users who want to try out this feature.

      In addition to Ubuntu, Debian, and Kali, beginning today, Windows 10 adopters are provided with a new Linux distro that’s specifically optimized for the WSL.

      Called WLinux, this new Linux distro is focused on the packages that are relevant to WSL, as well as the customizations to take full advantage of this Windows 10 feature.

    • Windows 10 now has its own exclusive Linux distro — WLinux

      There are a number of Linux distros available for the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), including Ubuntu, openSUSE Leap 42, Debian GNU/Linux, and Kali Linux.

    • AI and HPC GPU Acceleration Benefit from Open Source Efforts [Ed: openwashing and AI-washing by AMD]
  • BSD

    • pfSense 2.4.4-RELEASE now available

      We are excited to announce the release of pfSense® software version 2.4.4, now available for new installations and upgrades!

      pfSense software version 2.4.4 brings security patches, numerous new features, support for new Netgate hardware models, and stability fixes for issues present in previous pfSense 2.4.x branch releases.

      pfSense 2.4.4-RELEASE updates and installation images are available now!

    • MagicPoint presentation foils
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • An open source resistance takes shape as tech giants race to map the world

        Gowda and a few other contributors from India are part of a tiny yet growing resistance movement which doesn’t want giant corporations to own all the mapping data. For the average consumer, this may not seem like a big deal. But mapping is big business.

        The market opportunity for suppliers of mapping to the autonomous car industry is going to be worth over $24 billion by 2050, according to one estimate (pdf). And that’s just one industry. A study commissioned by Google in 2015 estimated that industries that run on top of the Global Positioning Satellite Systems and mapping generate nearly $73 billion in annual revenue. Worldwide, that industry is was estimated to generate $150- $270 billion in revenues. Although new research isn’t available, with growing smartphone usage and the birth of companies such as Uber and many others it is safe to assume that the industry has only grown bigger. All the more reason why map data can’t be held by only a few companies.

  • Programming/Development

    • Never use the word “User” in your code

      To begin with, no software system actually has “users”. At first glance “user” is a fine description, but once you look a little closer you realize that your business logic actually has more complexity than that.

    • How many programming languages have you used?

      In the 1940s, Grace Hopper was in the Navy Reserves doing programming at the machine level, bit by bit. She realized how limiting it was for humans to use a language meant for machines and wanted to radically change the process by which we program. Without a change, she knew that computing would never reach its potential.

      “Once humans could learn to speak programming languages and once compilers began translating our intentions into machine language, it was like opening the floodgates,” says the host of the Command Line Heroes podcast, Saren Yetbarek.

      Learn more about Grace Hopper and why there are so many programming languages, plus history on the first open source compiler, by listening to Episode 2 of Command Line Heroes Season 2.

    • Writing Solar System Simulations with NAIF SPICE and SpiceyPy

      Someone asked me about my Javascript Jupiter code, and whether it used PyEphem. It doesn’t, of course, because it’s Javascript, not Python (I wish there was something as easy as PyEphem for Javascript!); instead it uses code from the book Astronomical Formulae for Calculators by Jean Meeus. (His better known Astronomical Algorithms, intended for computers rather than calculators, is actually harder to use for programming because Astronomical Algorithms is written for BASIC and the algorithms are relatively hard to translate into other languages, whereas Astronomical Formulae for Calculators concentrates on explaining the algorithms clearly, so you can punch them into a calculator by hand, and this ends up making it fairly easy to implement them in a modern computer language as well.)

      Anyway, the person asking also mentioned JPL’s page HORIZONS Ephemerides page, which I’ve certainly found useful at times. Years ago, I tried emailing the site maintainer asking if they might consider releasing the code as open source; it seemed like a reasonable request, given that it came from a government agency and didn’t involve anything secret. But I never got an answer.

Leftovers

  • The Carrot & The Font Letter

    I have spent some times reading articles online – there’s this on Fedora, but curiously not the hat but an operating system, and this on Linux Mint – both of which highlight the change over the years and the associated difficulties. Then, I’ve also come across this other example that shows that Fedora (again, not the hat) can be relatively easily and quickly altered to use superior fonts. I have many more examples, but I do not wish to detract from the message, which is already running somewhat long.

    I believe there should be a single golden standard on font rendering – there can be differences in types, sizes and ultimately some relevant artistic choices – that dictates certain viewability guidelines to help the wider distroworld (is that the right term) achieve a commonality of good experience for its users. Primarily, there should be more focus and usability studies into ergonomic issues around font rendering, as well as the use of high-contrast black fonts with optimal anti-aliasing settings. The word optimal is a difficult choice, but I am confident good solutions can be found, as we had them in the past, and yet, they somehow disappeared.

  • Science

    • Low pay, poor prospects, and psychological toll: The perils of microtask work

      But a new study (PDF) from the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO) questions whether these platforms are as good for society as the Silicon Valley investors and digital evangelists claim. The ILO surveyed 3,500 people across 75 countries who worked for Mechanical Turk, as well as Crowdflower, Clickworker, Prolific, and Microworker.

      The work on these platforms is often menial and tedious, and the survey found that workers get paid startlingly little on all five platforms, especially when unpaid work is taken into account. The survey counted unpaid work as “time spent looking for tasks, earning qualifications, researching requesters through online forums, communicating with requesters or clients and leaving reviews, as well as unpaid/rejected tasks/tasks ultimately not submitted.”

    • This Is Your Brain on the Internet

      In other words, our internet usage has “Googlified” our brains, making us more dependent on knowing where to access facts and less able to remember the facts themselves. This might sound a little depressing, but it makes perfect sense if we are making the most of the tools and resources available to us. Who needs to waste their mental resources on remembering that an “ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain,” when the [I]nternet can tell us at a moment’s notice? Let’s save our brains for more important problems.

    • This Bird Drone Can Prevent Airplane Crashes

      They may be tiny compared to planes, but birds can cause massive damage. Collisions with planes after takeoff or before landing have led to 15 recorded human deaths in U.S. airspace between 1990 and 2008. They cause an estimated $1.2 billion in worldwide damage each year, along with countless flight delays and immeasurable hand-wringing from federal aviation officials.

      Even hiring skilled shooters and training peregrine falcons to clear areas of birds hasn’t made much of a dent. The Federal Aviation Administration documented 138,257 airplane-bird collisions between 1990 and 2013 in U.S. airspace alone, nearly 10 percent of which caused damage to civil aircraft.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Magic Leap is Bidding on an Army Combat Contract

      Magic Leap Inc. is pushing to land a contract with the U.S. Army to build augmented-reality devices for soldiers to use on combat missions, according to government documents and interviews with people familiar with the process. The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets as part of a program whose total cost could exceed $500 million, is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to an Army description of the program. A large government contract could alter the course of the highest-profile startup working on augmented reality, at a time when prospects to produce a consumer device remain uncertain.

    • Russia’s MiG-25 Was Built to Kill an Air Force Supersonic Bomber That Never Happened

      The MiG-25 (NATO reporting name: Foxbat) was one of the most awesome, yet most misunderstood , fighters of the Cold War. Envisioned as an interceptor designed to destroy U.S. supersonic bombers and high-flying spy planes, the Foxbat also put its high speed to good use as a reconnaissance aircraft and, to less good effect, as a fighter-bomber. The Foxbat also became a mainstay on the global export market, eventually serving in the air forces of over a dozen countries, and seeing combat in Lebanon, in the Syrian Civil War, over Egypt, in the Kargil War, in the Iran-Iraq War, the Persian Gulf War and the Libyan Civil War.

      [...]

      The downsides of the Foxbat became clear when a Soviet pilot defected to Japan with one in September 1976. The Japanese turned the aircraft over to the Americans, who disassembled and inspected it at length. The investigation confirmed that the Foxbat was an interceptor and not intended as an air superiority fighter, and that its capabilities were not as impressive as many had assumed.

    • Amazon Soars on the Wings of Cronyism

      All right, so Amazon is practicing cronyism to advance its cloud computing empire at the local and state levels. How about at the federal level? Well, yes, Amazon works to nab special deals there as well. Consider JEDI.

      It stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, and it’s a $10 billion, winner-take-all contract to handle all of the Pentagon’s cloud computing needs. The initial contract could be extended to 10 years, and let’s face it: once one company has all the Pentagon’s data (classified and unclassified), that company will never lose the contract. JEDI could be a huge moneymaker if it’s awarded to just one tech firm.

    • Silicon Valley’s corrupt nexus: War, censorship and inequality

      On Wednesday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, will give the keynote address to the US Air Force Association’s annual conference. Bezos will discuss “how industry can better partner” with the US military.

      Bezos’ speech comes amid his Seattle-based firm’s lobbying to win a $10 billion contract, known as “Project JEDI,” to host large sections of the Pentagon’s operations infrastructure on the internet cloud. In a move that will likely win him points with the military brass awarding the contract, Bezos recently donated $10 million to a Virginia-based super PAC seeking to elect veterans to office and create a “less polarized government.”

      The Amazon CEO will appear as the representative of the world’s second-largest company by market capitalization, the second-largest employer in the United States, the world’s biggest provider of cloud computing services, and America’s largest e-commerce retailer, with twice the sales of the next nine competitors.

    • UP power staffer killed: NSA invoked against both accused

      Invoking the National Security Act (NSA) for the second time in three weeks, Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate B N Singh said it would be applied to detain one Neetu Gurjar for shooting dead an Uttar Pradesh power employee in April.

      The incident took place on April 20 at the Dhoom-Manikpur power sub-station in Dadri.

      Satveer Singh Tomar, a contractual worker employed as an operator at the sub-station, had cut power supply in the evening as a storm had been forecast.

      Neetu and his accomplice, Titu, allegedly entered the sub-station and threatened Tomar, demanding that supply be restored.

      When Tomar refused, they allegedly shot him dead.

      Following the incident, workers at the sub-station cut off power supply for several hours in protest.

    • New book: Trump told CIA, ‘We should make the bombs silent so they can’t get away’

      President Trump in his first full day as commander in chief reportedly asked CIA officials if they could fully silence the bombs used in drone strikes.

      Trump, shown highlights of successful Predator drone strikes during his first visit to CIA headquarters a day after he was inaugurated, noticed in one video that a group of militants had spread out right before an attack.

      “Can they hear the bombs coming? We should make the bombs silent so they can’t get away,” he told officials, according to an excerpt of “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy” published by The Washington Post on Wednesday. Its author, Greg Miller, is a national security correspondent for the newspaper.

    • Donald Trump Asked CIA to Make Silent Bombs So Enemies ‘Can’t Get Away,’ Book Claims

      President Donald Trump was puzzled by the CIA’s efforts to limit civilian casualties and requested that silent bombs be developed so that militants “can’t get away,” according to a forthcoming book by Washington Post national security correspondent Greg Miller.

      Trump apparently made the remark on his second day in office during a visit to the agency’s northern Virginia campus. The CIA’s head of drone operations explained that special munitions had been developed to limit the number of civilian casualties, and “the president seemed nonplused,” Miller wrote in and adaptation of his new book, The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy, which will be released October 2.

    • Report: President Trump Asked CIA to Make Silent Bombs So Militants ‘Can’t Get Away’
    • ‘71 yrs of spying & regime change’: CIA tweets about birthday, gets trolled in comments

      The CIA has tweeted a GIF marking its 71st birthday – and while some folks on Twitter took the opportunity to express their sincere thanks to the intelligence agency for the work it does, others were, let’s just say, not so kind.

      The simple self-congratulatory GIF showed confetti falling over the years ‘1947 – 2018’ with the words “celebrating 71 years” written underneath and the CIA’s logo in the middle. It wasn’t long before the responses to the birthday tweet started rolling in.

    • Get ready: The Kurds might soon use drones against Turkey

      In 2013, after months of secret negotiations between imprisoned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s representatives, Turkey and the PKK agreed to a cease-fire, one condition of which was the departure of PKK fighters from Turkey. As part of that agreement, many entered Syria where they augmented the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the most successful indigenous force first in the fight against the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and then in the battle against the Islamic State.

      Indeed, it was U.S. recognition that the YPG were fighting against ISIS while Turkey was passively if not actively supporting ISIS that led the Obama administration to start partnering with the YPG over the objections of Turkey.

    • A Drone Killed Another Drone in the Sky for the First Time

      Late last year, but only revealed recently, there was a first that will likely one day be considered historic: robotic air-to-air combat was born, with a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone shooting down a smaller, target drone, all without humans physically involved. It’s likely this is just the first example of drone-on-drone violence in the skies.

    • What Drones Could Learn from the Problems with Driver less Cars?

      At first glance, drones and driver less cars are not like each other. But the latest iterations of both use advanced AI and machine based learning and are designed to reduce the need or awareness of manned pilots.

      Let’s look at cars first, for example, my wife and her parents both purchased new cars with some AI features build in that use sensors that are located in different areas around the car. It does not drive itself, but gives you alerts if you wander too far to the side of the road or over the center line. It has sensors that will alert you if you get within range of another vehicle. By no means is that an automated vehicle but it does help you be aware of driving too close to other cars, or you are not in the correct position on your lane, and other things. Both also do things like lower the headlights from high to low as it senses a car coming toward you and within range. I would call it driver assist.

    • The Incredible Case of Boshirov and Petrov’s Visas

      The Metropolitan Police made one statement in the Skripal case which is plainly untrue; they claimed not to know on what kind of visa Boshirov and Petrov were travelling. As they knew the passports they used, and had footage of them coming through the airport, that is impossible. The Border Force could tell them in 30 seconds flat.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The CIA and “Uncle Louie”

      Mykola Lebed was sentenced to death in Poland in 1934. He died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1998.

      By various accounts, he was an assassin, a freedom fighter, a terrorist, a hero, a villain, a prisoner, a refugee, a Nazi collaborator, a Nazi target, a writer, and a war criminal. To the Central Intelligence Agency, which bankrolled his activities for close to half a century, he was known as “Uncle Louie.”

    • CIA file confirms the White House’s role in “The Adlai Stevenson Affair”

      The details of the negotiations and planning surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis have long been the subject of some contention for historians, with some of the most influential and enduring accounts contradicting what the tapes of those planning sessions tell us. Almost immediately after the Cuban Missile Crisis resolved, rumors began floating around Washington D.C. that the narrative that emerged was the handiwork of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in an effort to force the resignation of Adlai Stevenson, Kennedy’s Ambassador to the United Nations. A Central Intelligence Agency chronology, originally classified SECRET and recently released to MuckRock, confirms that the architect of this historical revisionism was, in fact, Kennedy – and reveals that denials of this were based on nothing more than word games.

    • Senate Democrats Are Suing The National Archives To Get Brett Kavanaugh’s Records

      Six Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit Monday against the National Archives and Records Administration to force the agency to release documents about US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as soon as possible.

      Access to records from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House under former president George W. Bush have been a flashpoint in the fight over his nomination. The Democrats who sued — Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Patrick Leahy, Sheldon Whitehouse, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris — also filed papers asking for immediate court action to force the release of records.

    • Brett Kavanaugh and Our Accountability Crisis
    • National Archives and CIA now being sued by Senate Democrats over Brett Kavanaugh’s documents
    • Leahy, Democrats demand release of Kavanaugh documents
    • Democratic senators file FOIA lawsuit over Kavanaugh records
    • Six Senate Democrats file FOIA lawsuit to force release of Kavanaugh documents
    • Extraordinary and Deliberate Lies from the Guardian

      I am just back from a family funeral – one of a succession – and a combination of circumstances had left me feeling pretty down lately, and not blogging much. But I have to drag myself to the keyboard to denounce a quite extraordinary set of deliberate lies published in the Guardian about a Russian plot to spring Julian Assange last December.

      I was closely involved with Julian and with Fidel Narvaez of the Ecuadorean Embassy at the end of last year in discussing possible future destinations for Julian. It is not only the case that Russia did not figure in those plans, it is a fact that Julian directly ruled out the possibility of going to Russia as undesirable. Fidel Narvaez told the Guardian that there was no truth in their story, but the Guardian has instead chosen to run with “four anonymous sources” – about which sources it tells you no more than that.

    • The CIA has declassified a bunch of jokes. Here are the best ones

      As historian Gene Zubovich helpfully pointed out this week, the CIA is apparently sitting on an impressive collection of jokes.

      In recent years, the U.S. intelligence agency has declassified more than a million Cold War-era documents. The National Post sifted through the pile in a search for the funny parts, and found these highlights.

    • ‘An American explains to a Russian …’: CIA declassifies Soviet-era jokes

      This week, a list of Soviet jokes, recorded by the CIA during the 1980s, were declassified. These zingers were shared among Soviets of the time, although why a list of them was prepared for the deputy director of the CIA isn’t 100% clear. One possibility is for their value as tools of dissent (it’s worth remembering, people could be, and were, sent to prison for jokes under Soviet rule).

    • The CIA joke-book: US declassifies cache of Soviet jokes its agents compiled during the Cold War to gauge public mood in the USSR

      A cache of Soviet jokes that was compiled by CIA agents during the Cold War has been released among a cache of declassified documents.

      All the jokes were told between Soviets but picked up by CIA operatives before being relayed back to Washington.

      The list was addressed to the Deputy Director of the CIA but it is believed to have been circulated among senior White House officials.

      One joke featuring Ronald Reagan made it to the president’s desk and he found it so funny he began using it himself.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Third tiger shark killed in Whitsundays despite doubts over whether they bit tourists

      Three tiger sharks have been killed by the Queensland government after life-threatening attacks on a woman and a girl, but officials say it is impossible to know if they caused the bites.

      Hannah Papps, 12, was bitten on her right leg while swimming in Cid harbour with her father and sister on Thursday, less than 24 hours after Tasmanian Justine Barwick, 46, was bitten on her left thigh while snorkelling in the same area.

    • Fourth shark snared in Qld drumlines

      A fourth shark has been snared in drumlines off the Queensland coast in the wake of two life-threatening attacks in the Whitsundays.

      The tiger shark was “humanely euthanised” after being caught in the Cid Harbour area on Sunday afternoon, Fisheries Queensland said in a statement.

      “This shark measures 3.7 metres and, like the others, would pose a serious threat to people swimming in the Cid Harbour waters,” a department spokesman said.

    • Fourth shark killed after Whitsundays attacks
  • Finance

    • When Disaster Capitalism Comes for the University of Puerto Rico

      The ongoing bid to reduce Puerto Rico’s government spending—what the non-elected Fiscal Board appointed by the federal government euphemistically calls “right-sizing”—threatens not only the UPR’s autonomy but its very existence.

    • Understanding Bitcoin’s Legacy: What Was Satoshi’s Bitcoin Vision?

      On October 31, 2008, a mysterious figure named Satoshi Nakamoto shared a 9 page document with the world. That whitepaper was titled, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, and it explained Satoshi’s vision for a secure form of electronic money.

      Satoshi’s whitepaper is still online and accessible today. The whitepaper clearly explains how bitcoin should work along with the intentions of bitcoin. Despite the fact that the whitepaper is fully available online for everyone to read, there’s a huge debate over Satoshi’s vision.

    • British in Europe open letter to Theresa May in response to her statement following the Salzburg Summit

      We represent over 30,000 UK nationals living in the EU27. We listened to your statement this afternoon on the outcomes of the Salzburg summit with extreme concern. Firstly, whilst we welcome your softer words on protecting the rights of the 3 million EU nationals living in the UKthis is nothing more than your moral obligation and the UK cannot do anything else other than to maintain all their current rights even in the event of a no deal.

    • Yes, you too, you can become a crypto-millionnaire.

      Of course, you belong to the second category. So you’ll send your ID, bank statements as well as a picture of your dick to an exchange as required. Don’t use coinbase, this exchange is to mainstream : You are a disruptive crypto investor, do not forget.

      OK, now you’ve got your first crypto, HODL it. For now, there is no need to spend a coin that the world doesn’t give a shit about. The best way to secure your crypto is to transfert it from the exchange to a cold storage wallet. This elegant solution is practiced by many guys like you. The easiest way is to get a hardware wallet and trust it.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Flying Over the Purple Midterms

      It’s not that Trump is so popular. I met plenty of people as ideologically committed, albeit 180 degrees to the right, as their East Coast vegan socialist cousins. But most of the people I spoke with would be better described as light purple voters. More than a handful enthusiastically voted for their first-ever Democrat in 2008, then backed away from Obama in 2012, before returning to the Republicans, albeit Trump, in 2016. The idea today is Trump’s boorishness will send them back to Democratic candidates.

    • The CIA Democrats: A balance sheet of the primaries

      With the end the primary season, the Democratic Party leadership and their allies in the national security apparatus have completed the first stage of what might be termed a “friendly takeover” of the Democrats by candidates recruited from among military, CIA and civilian national security cadres.

      The World Socialist Web Site first identified the phenomenon of the CIA Democrats in a series published in March. At the time we noted the large number of candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus seeking Democratic nominations in competitive congressional districts. If the Democrats won the November election, we warned, such military-intelligence operatives would hold the balance of power in the new House of Representatives.

    • The CIA Democrats and the US midterm elections

      Two major polls made public Sunday project a sizeable Democratic Party victory in the US midterm elections set for November 6. A Fox News poll found a seven-point Democratic Party lead in the generic congressional ballot, while an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found a 12-point Democratic lead among registered voters, and an eight-point lead among likely voters. Both polls found that opposition to President Trump is the driving force in the election, with particular hostility to his persecution of immigrants and his tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

      The likely swing to the Democrats comes as the two-party system as a whole faces mounting popular opposition. According to another recent poll, nearly two-thirds of voters want an alternative to the two existing parties, whose candidates are reviled as corrupt representatives of the rich who lie shamelessly and have nothing but contempt for ordinary working people. Other polls show a rising interest in and support for socialism, particularly among young people.

      The Democratic Party is now expected to make the gain of 23 seats needed to win control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps much more than that, while a Democratic takeover of the US Senate, previously thought unlikely because only nine Republican-held seats were up for election, is now considered a significant possibility. The Democrats are also projected to win a large number of Republican-held governorships, including nearly every state in the industrial Midwest. What would such a political shift mean?

    • Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic Socialists of America candidate, covers for CIA Democrats

      Ocasio-Cortez was elevated as a national political figure in June after beating incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary race for New York’s 14th Congressional seat. When a WSWS reporter asked her if she would back candidates from the military and intelligence agencies, she attempted to deflect the question.

      “I think it all depends on the individual candidate,” Ocasio-Cortez replied. “I don’t think that a person’s life experience in one way or another necessarily precludes them from running for office. I think what is important… is a candidate’s given story. And, for me I’m very outspoken about being an anti-war candidate… I don’t think that a person should be discounted because they were a bartender or on the front lines.”

      When this reporter pressed the question asking about Democratic Congressional candidate Max Rose, who is running in the same city as Ocasio-Cortez on a platform that emphasizes his experience as a soldier in Afghanistan, she continued to evade, claiming, “I don’t know a ton about his background, but I do know… What we try to do is focus on issues. What I see my responsibility as is building a consensus on single payer healthcare, on a peace economy… that’s really what we focus most on. I can’t provide opinions on all 200 candidates running.”

    • Michael Moore: How Democrats Paved the Way to Trump

      Moore’s new film Fahrenheit 11/9 opens September 21.

    • Bipartisan Furor as North Carolina Election Law Shrinks Early Voting Locations by Almost 20 Percent

      In June, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation mandating that all early voting sites in the state remain open for uniform hours on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., a move supporters argued would reduce confusion and ultimately make early voting easier and more accessible.

      But with the start of early voting only weeks away, county election officials across the state — who previously had control over setting polling hours in their jurisdictions — say the new law has hamstrung their ability to best serve voters. Some officials in rural counties say they’ve had to shrink the number of early voting locations to accommodate the law’s longer hour requirements and stay within their budgets.

      A ProPublica analysis of polling locations shows that North Carolina’s 2018 midterm election will have nearly 20 percent fewer early voting locations than there were in 2014. Nearly half of North Carolina’s 100 counties are shutting down polling places, in part because of the new law. Poorer rural counties, often strapped for resources to begin with, are having a particularly difficult time adjusting to the new requirement.

      The closure of polling locations increases the time it takes for voters to travel to the polls, and it could result in lower turnout, making matters worse for a state already dealing with Hurricane Florence. Early voting in North Carolina begins on Oct. 17.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • In Which A Bunch Of Us Try To Explain The 1st Amendment To Jeff Sessions Concerning ‘Social Media Bias’

      It’s quite incredible that we’re even discussing this. A fairness doctrine doesn’t make any sense, and is broadly unconstitutional for a whole host of reasons. What’s bizarre and troubling is how quickly those who like to wear blue or red uniforms like to rush to it as soon as they feel one area of the media is “biased” against them, not recognizing how it would clearly be used in other areas of the media as well.

      While it appears that Sessions’ gathering with Attornerys General will happen, hopefully all it serves to do is remind them all that the First Amendment exists, and that they are Constitutionally prohibited from messing with how online platforms present content.

    • The political editor of The Guardian has sided with The Sun against the people of Liverpool

      Guardian political co-editor Heather Stewart seems to have sided with the Sun against the people of Liverpool.

    • COMMENT: Momentum banning the Sun is an act of solidarity not censorship
    • Sun boycott: British journos accuse Corbyn-supporting group of ‘press censorship’

      A number of British journalists have hit out at the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group for banning Sun reporters from attending a festival in Liverpool, claiming it’s “censorship” and likening the ban to the actions of Donald Trump.

      Journalists from a number of mainstream news outlets reacted angrily to news that The World Transformed (TWT), a festival organised by pro-Jeremy Corbyn group Momentum, has announced that they are banning Sun newspaper journos from attending their event in Liverpool.

      TWT cite the false claims made by the Murdoch-owned Sun during its reporting of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool football fans were unlawfully killed, as their reason for what they say is a boycott.

    • Excluding the Sun from our festival isn’t censorship, it’s Hillsborough solidarity

      Yesterday outraged Sun journalists took to Twitter to denounce the decision taken by The World Transformed to not grant them press passes for our four-day festival of politics, arts and music taking place alongside the Labour party conference in Liverpool next week. The World Transformed released a statement explaining that this decision was an act of solidarity with the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, and a show of support for the boycott of the newspaper observed by community groups and businesses across Liverpool.

      As an organiser with The World Transformed, and a proud Liverpudlian, I feel it’s crucial to explain why those attacking this decision as an act of “censorship” are so misguided.

    • Killing Free Speech

      The OICs highly ambitious plans to do away with freedom of speech go severely underreported in the West. Mainstream journalists do not appear to find it dangerous that their freedom of speech should be supervised by the OIC, while Western governments, far from offering any resistance, appear, perhaps for votes, to be cozily going along with everything.

    • ‘Transphobic’ student editor sacked over belief [sic] that ‘women don’t have penises’

      Angelos Sofocleous was assistant editor of Durham University’s philosophy journal Critique for just three days when he lost his job for tweeting the opinion that some found offensive.

      [...]

      Mr Sofocleous added: ‘These are individuals who think they hold the absolute right to determine which ideas can be discussed and what language can be used in a public forum.’

    • How I was hounded off campus for saying ‘women don’t have penises’

      Worryingly, such views are not only confined to our universities, though. TERFs – a slur used by activists against ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’ – who resist the idea of self identification of gender, are hounded off Twitter and routinely targeted online, and in person. The government is also hardly helping matters here by refusing to accept there is even a debate to be had on this subject. When the equalities minister Penny Mordaunt announced the government’s consultation on gender, she said the starting point is that ‘Trans women are women’. But what about those who don’t agree with that statement? In my case, I have found out the hard way: for those who fail to adhere to the new orthodoxy on transgenderism, the punishment is swift.

    • Horrific violence against female journalists in Muslim world

      The murder of female journalists is merely the tip of the iceberg regarding the harsh treatment female journalists experience in the line of duty. According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom, 55 female journalists in Turkey complained that they have been subjected to discrimination and violence at work with 32% being subjected to police violence.

      Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world, imprisoning 240 journalists according to the latest statistics. 180 other media outlets were shut down following the suppression of the Gulen Movement in 2016. According to Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi, there are now over 15,000 women imprisoned in Turkey. Iranian human rights activist Minoo Moghimi claimed that Turkish journalist Sinem Tezyapar of A9 TV is among them. Furthermore, according to Bassam Tawil of the Gatestone Institute, two female Palestinian journalists were assaulted in the PA while covering a protest calling upon Mahmoud Abbas to lift his sanctions upon Gaza

    • Turkish Journalist Ayten Öztürk is kidnapped in Lebanon by Turkish CIA

      On 13 March, the Minister for Home Affairs, Nohad Machnouk, secretly referred her to the Turkish equivalent of the CIA or MI5 (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT), bypassing the judicial process for extradition.

      Mr Machnouk is a member of the Current of the Future (Hariri’s party).

      Ayten Öztürk is a journalist who opposes the government. Her two brothers have already died prison in Turkey. She was living as an exile in Syria. Turkey had offered £600 00o.oo for her capture.

      Ayten Öztürk has been tortured for a long time. She has been submitted to electroshocks, blows to the soles her feet, being suspended by her arms for long periods of time, simulated execution…). All this continually for six moths by a counter-guerrilla unit. It is unclear if she was conscious at the time and under the influence of hallucinatory drugs. She was later found on 28 August 2018 quite by chance in a cell of the department of Political Police at Ankara.

    • Google ‘furious’ about internal memo on China project: report

      Google’s reluctance to offer any public comment on its plans to launch a censored search engine in China has been reinforced by a report that the company has made employees erase from their systems a confidential memo containing details about the China plan.

    • Infowars’ take-down part of a dangerous trend in censorship
    • Social-media censorship becomes civil-rights fight

      The liberal bias of the major social-media platforms in America has been documented by their own statements and by the ongoing censorship of conservative and religious voices.

      Now, it’s become a civil rights fight, according to a coalition of organizations initiating a lobbying campaign in Washington in early in October.

    • PayPal bans Alex Jones, saying he “promoted hate”

      Alex Jones has now been banned from a long list of high-profile technology platforms. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all recently removed Jones’ accounts from their platforms, and Apple and Spotify have blacklisted Jones’ podcasts.

    • Google Forces Employees To Delete Memo Related To Censored Search Engine In China

      Reports related to Google’s alleged censored search engine for China is getting weirder by the day. The latest report by The Intercept alleges that Google has tried to suppress an internal memo that contained detailed plans on how the Chinese government would use the censored search engine to track citizens who use it.

      This confidential memo was authored by a Google engineer who worked on the project. It accused developers working on the project of creating “spying tools” for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens.

    • Alumni Claim Censorship on Facebook

      Administrators of the “Oberlin Alumni Digital Community” Facebook group removed five alumni from the group last week for “abusive language” following the establishment of new community guidelines ratified Sept. 12.

      “When the Alumni Association took over the Digital Community group last week, a number of alumni, myself included, began criticizing the move,” Robert Hayes, a former Oberlin student, said in an email to the Review.

      Hayes is the creator of an alternative to the Facebook group, the “Uncensored Unofficial Oberlin Alumni Discussion Group,” and was one of five members banned the day the new guidelines were established.

    • Journalism for Democracy, Caught Between Bullets and Censorship in Latin America

      The murder of journalists and changing forms of censorship show that freedom of expression and information are still under siege in Latin America, particularly in the countries with the greatest social upheaval and political polarisation.

      Journalism “maintains a central role in the work for democracy in the region, although it suffers persecution of the media, journalists and political and social activists, which goes against hemispheric human rights agreements,” Edison Lanza of Uruguay, special rapporteur for freedom of expression at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), told IPS.

      The harassment “is very worrying in countries with political crises that lead to threats against journalism, with actions by states or various groups to repress, restrict or silence the press,” said Natalie Southwick, coordinator of the Latin American programme at the non-governmental Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), based in New York City.

    • ‘Smut for the English’: an age of censorship

      Banned Books Week kicks off tomorrow around the globe, with the exception of those lands where the event is banned. Ireland, like most liberal democracies, is caught in a tizzy where old certainties, taboos and safeguards are being overwhelmed by a tsunami of stuff from cyberspace that we don’t like, trust or even understand.

      Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read, aims to redirect our attention from this worrisome First World problem to its opposite number, the suppression of choice.

      When it started in the US in 1982, Banned Books Week was almost all about books. As America’s religious right found its voice, bookshops, schools and public libraries were pressured to remove titles on grounds of morality and ideology. The information superhighway transformed reading habits, so next Wednesday, and one Wednesday each year is now Banned Websites Awareness Day. Scores of state firewalls and Channel 4′s recent alarming Dispatches exposé on Facebook’s Irish filtering operation will draw scrutiny.

      Modern Ireland likes to beat itself up about its past deeply unhealthy fixation on sex. The good news from the American Association of School Librarians, which runs Banned Books Week, is that we are not alone (if that can be called good news).

    • And Another Thing

      Not the happiest of news that, apparently, President Donald John Trump isn’t totally unjustified in his paranoia. The blackbox that is search at Google can potentially be tampered with. Without any understanding of what goes on inside Google’s “black box” system, there isn’t really much to assuage President Trump’s fears.

    • Chelsea Cain Learns About the Censorship of the Batpenis and She Isn’t Happy About It

      Bleeding Cool has written near a dozen articles on the Batpenis since it was revealed in Batman: Damned #1 on Wednesday, including the fact that DC Comics had censored the penis in digital versions and vowed to remove it from future print copies, but Cain, clearly too busy spitting hot fire in interviews about the cancellation of her Vision series, didn’t learn about that until last night on Twitter…

    • Vision Writer Chelsea Cain Says She’s ‘Dead’ to Marvel

      Despite her criticisms of Marvel and the cancellation of her comic, Cain has continually expressed her affection for her colleagues at the company, saying, “I don’t think that it was part of some kind of like, sexist conspiracy. I think it was some really smart, funny, friendly boys in a room making a decision and it never occurred to them that this was important, or that these kinds of comics needed a place.”

    • Chelsea Cain Throws Marvel Under The Bus After Her Vision Series Gets Canned
    • Chelsea Cain Rips Marvel and Comics Industry a New One in Scorching Interview
    • BitcoinCashTalk.org: New Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Forum For Censorship-Free Discussions
    • Argo Mining Firm CEO Says Bitcoin’s Censorship Resistant Nature to Boost Adoption Worldwide
    • Nandita Das on Manto: Didn’t Want it to be Like Wikipedia Page
    • There exist many forms of censorship today, including self-censorship

      Actress-filmmaker Nandita Das was in Bengaluru to promote her latest release. She also hosted a special screening of her film for her friends, and the film and art fraternity here. During the screening, she met Kavitha Lankesh, whose film Deveeri was her Kannada debut. Incidentally, this was the first time Nandita met Kavitha since the assassination of her sister, Gauri Lankesh. Nandita, who has been very vocal in condemning the act, met us for a chat, at which she spoke about how Manto has remained relevant, that there are many Mantos across different eras, and her fascination for films set in times of conflict and violence. Excerpts…

    • Britain and Europe: United in Censorship

      The U.K.’s negotiations with the EU over Brexit may be going badly, very badly, but when it comes to the suppression of free speech, it appears that there is very little that divides Britain from many of its European partners.

    • New policies coming to Burlington HS after claims of student censorship
    • High School Journalists Stand up to Censorship and Win

      Four Vermont high school journalists have gotten a lesson of a lifetime when they stood up to censorship in their school newspaper and won based on a new law.

      Last week, the Burlington students posted a story online they wrote about a school employee facing unprofessional conduct charges.

      The next morning, the principal asked the students’ adviser to take it down. The students quickly talked to legal experts.

    • New Policies Coming to Vt. School Following Claims of Student Censorship
    • Congrats to those who stood up to BHS censorship

      Last Monday, four student journalists at The Register, the Burlington High School student newspaper, broke the news that the Vermont Agency of Education had filed six counts of unprofessional misconduct charges against BHS guidance director Mario Macias.

      The four student editors — Julia Shannon-Grillo, Halle Newman, Nataleigh Noble and Jenna Peterson — used public records to document the story.

    • Vermont high school students use New Voices law to win censorship dispute

      Student journalists at Burlington High School used the state’s New Voices law to successfully fight back against censorship and prevent the reinstatement of a prior review policy.

      On Sept. 10, the BHS Register was the first to report about an investigation by the Vermont Agency of Education focused on the school’s director of guidance, Mario Macias.

      BHS Register Editors Nataleigh Noble, Halle Newman, Jenna Peterson, and Julia Shannon-Grillo filed a public records request to the Vermont Agency of Education and collaborated on a story written by Shannon-Grillo.

    • Standing with Burlington High
    • Squashed High School Newspaper Story Raises Questions Of Censorship

      Burlington High School’s director of guidance, Mario Macias, faces six charges of unprofessional conduct from the Agency of Education. The school paper, the BHS Register, broke the story last week, but for a time you couldn’t read it there. That’s because within 24 hours of publication, the story had disappeared from the paper’s website, replaced with a mostly blank page with the words: “This article has been censored by Burlington High School administration.”

      Other outlets confirmed the Register’s reporting. In a reversal last week, the district allowed the story to be republished on the Register’s website.

    • Student newspaper censorship: Burlington High School editors win First Amendment battle

      Burlington High School student journalists learned a new appreciation of the First Amendment after an “adrenaline-filled” week fighting to win back their press freedoms.

      “It shows that journalism is important for every community to have, so that we can share important information like this that affects everyone,” Nataleigh Noble, 17, BHS Register co-editor said on Monday.

      Noble and two other student editors talked to the Burlington Free Press one week after they broke the news about misconduct charges against the high school guidance director and ended up battling school administration over their right to publish the story on the student-run BHS Register website.

    • Plucky Maine Library Decides Not To Censor Own ‘Banned Books’ Display

      After a brief hubbub and a rather pitched fuck-tussle, the public library in Rumford, Maine (population 5,700 or so), voted not to give in to a request by three local pastors to please remove several books on LGBTQ subjects from its “Banned Books” display. The pastors had sent a letter to the library board fretting the display was “promoting homosexuality” and that the books were “not appropriate for a public area” of the library, where children might see them. Heavens, one of the books even had a cover depicting (in comics form) “two naked ladies on the cover.” It is unknown from local media reports whether any livestock in the area became sterile or a baby was born with a caul as a result of the books being on display, although reliable sources indicate a black cat was seen standing on its hind legs, like unto a man.

    • Letter: Wary of censorship
    • Banned Books Week combats censorship
    • Banned Books Week: Challenging censorship
    • Removing censorship from books
    • Anti-gay preachers want LGBT books banned—from a display of banned books
    • Our View: Read A Banned Book
    • When banning things was bad
    • Church Members Try To Ban Books At The Local Library — From The ‘Banned Books’ Display
    • Censorship Abhorrent
    • 33 Years Ago: Dee Snider Spoke Out Against Censorship Before the Senate
    • Twitter’s Initial Classification of ‘Illegal Alien,’ ‘Criminal Alien’ as Hateful Shows Social Media’s Censorship Potential
    • Facebook expands censorship to photos and videos

      A September 13 statement by Facebook Product Manager, Antonia Woodford, titled “Expanding Fact-Checking to Photos and Videos” marks a significant escalation of the company’s censorship efforts.

      Under the pretense of combating so-called “fake news” and “Russian interference” the social media giant has spent the last two years assembling an army of censors and established partnerships with 27 so-called fact-checker partners in 17 countries. The partners, include the Associated Press, (AP) Agence France-Presse (AFP), Pagella Politica in Italy, Animal Politico in Mexico and others, together with fact checking sites such as Factcheck.org, PolitiFact and Snopes.com. At the end of last year, Facebook announced a partnership with the right-wing The Weekly Standard prompting widespread outrage.

      As the WSWS reported, the role of this latest partnership was highlighted last week when The Weekly Standard flagged an article posted by ThinkProgress with the headline “Brett Kavanaugh said he would kill Roe v. Wade last week.” The article was flagged as false on the preposterous claim that the word “said” in the headline implied a direct quote, rather than the dictionary definition of “indicate,” “show,” or “communicate.” The ThinkProgress incident is only the latest indication of the political character of the censorship by Facebook.

    • Spy Fears Prompt China to Censor Its Own Recruitment Drive
    • Jaggi Vasudev’s interaction with FTII Pune students cancelled

      A scheduled event of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, as part of his national tour ‘Youth and Truth’, which was to take place at the institute campus on Wednesday, has been cancelled. While the institute administration, which was preparing for the event with much gusto, is tight-lipped about the reasons behind the cancellation, a spokesperson for Sadhguru Jaggi said that the event was cancelled as “final confirmation from FTII did not happen on time and Sadhguru got committed elsewhere”.

      Sources in the institute, however, said that the actual reason seems to be lack of enthusiasm among students for the event and an ongoing protest by a group of students who are unhappy about issues pertaining to the syllabus, availability of infrastructure and planning of academic exercises at the institute.

    • Jaggi Vasudev’s interaction with FTII Pune students cancelled | Pune NYOOOZ
    • Jaggi Vasudevs interaction with FTII students cancelled
    • How The BJP Is Using Censorship And Surveillance To Destroy FTII

      At the World Hindu Congress in Chicago earlier this month, actor Anupam Kher, one of the speakers, was described as the chairperson of FTIB—Film and Television Institute of Bharat, rather than Film and Television Institute of India as the 58-year-old institute is officially known.

      Dattatreya Hosabale, joint general secretary of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), found nothing controversial in this: Bharat was “the Hindi translation of India”. There was, however, no explanation as to why only one word in the institute’s name was translated.

      The use of “Bharat” in the place of India offers a glimpse at how the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has sought to bend the free-thinking culture of FTII to fit their ideological canon.

    • Why China owes its strict censors: or how Google and Facebook met their match [Ed: So... “censorship can also encourage creativity and innovation,” says letter in SCMP after Xi’s buddy Jack Ma bought it. Saying that “censorship can also encourage creativity and innovation” is like saying that shaving your head is good and would encourage hair growth.]

      It is traditionally assumed that censorship suppresses creativity by controlling what artists can work on and what they cannot. However, censorship can also encourage creativity and innovation as netizens think of interesting ways to express the same set of ideas.

      Scholars have summarised that Chinese netizens negotiate political control in cyberspace through three major strategies: rightful resistance, artful contention, and digital hidden transcripts – jargon for smart channels to test the boundaries of what can or can’t be discussed online. Meanwhile, new technologies also create new space and communication modes which directly foster user engagement and fuel creativity.

    • Highfield’s censorship reminiscent of Nazi era

      On Sept. 9 I went to Highfield Hall in Falmouth expressly to see Salley Mavor’s new exhibit. I have always admired her talent and was looking forward to seeing her new work.

      I was disappointed to find that her exhibit had been pulled because of its political content.

    • Artist withdraws Highfield exhibit satirizing Trump

      “She wanted to know if I was going to amend the show to eliminate political content or if I was going to cancel,” Mavor said. “She needed to know by the next day.”

    • I object, British Museum review – censorship, accidental?

      It’s the nature of satire to reflect what it mocks, so as you’d expect from a British Museum exhibition curated by Ian Hislop, I object is a curiously establishment take on material anti-establishmentarianism from BC something-or-other right up to the present day.

      As wheezes go, it’s a fairly good one, a jaunty riposte to the extraordinary plumbing of the museum’s archives conducted by then-director Neil MacGregor through the series A History of the World in 100 Objects. As a premise for collecting together absorbing objects it’s unconventional, but it suffers from continued-on-p.94ism and objects have to fight against shonky curation for attention.

    • Goethe-Institut pulls Egon Schiele movie after censorship board intervention

      The Goethe-Institut in Yangon cancelled the screening of an Austrian movie about the life of painter Egon Schiele one day before the event, after Myanmar’s censorship board banned scenes in the film containing nudity.

      The film, Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden, about the life of the Austrian artist, who lived 1890-1918, was due to be shown on Saturday evening as part of the annual European Film Festival, which runs until September 30.

      Organised by the Delegation of the European Union to Myanmar and the Goethe-Institut Myanmar, the European Film Festival is the longest-running foreign arts festival in Myanmar and aims to promote a cultural exchange between Myanmar and Europe while showcasing the diversity of European cinema.

    • No good reason to censor ‘Thirteen Reasons Why

      “Thirteen Reasons Why,” a book about a teen suicide, is No. 1 on the list of challenged books. Because it is Banned Books Week, I read it.

      If you wanted to produce a book certain to provoke calls for censorship, “Thirteen Reasons Why” would be hard to outdo.

      The young-adult novel by Jay Asher about a teenager’s suicide was regularly challenged when first published in 2007 and is now attracting a second round of objections, thanks to the popular Netflix show based on it.

      Today begins Banned Books Week, the annual protest against efforts to keep certain books out of schools and libraries.

      I often mark the occasion by reading one of the books. I chose “Thirteen Reasons Why” because the American Library Association declared it the most-challenged book of 2017. (The Columbus Metropolitan Library has many copies. No censorship there.)

    • Local Pastors Attempt to Ban Books from Banned Books Display at Maine Public Library

      A group of pastors in Rumford, Maine are attempting to have LGBTQ books banned from the Rumford Public Library’s display of banned books. The library is holding a board meeting today, where the controversy will be discussed. The National Coalition Against Censorship and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund support Rumford Public Library’s display and freedom to choose how best to serve their community. NCAC and CBLDF oppose efforts to limit a whole community’s access to books based on the personal viewpoints or religious beliefs of some groups or individuals in that community. As public institutions, libraries are obligated not to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint or sexual orientation.

      The display coincides with Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read, highlighting books that often draw challenges in schools and libraries. Half of the books on this year’s American Library Association Top 10 Banned Books list tell stories of LGBTQ characters. Books representing a wide variety of experiences and voices allow readers, particularly children, to find connection, safely explore unfamiliar ideas, and broaden their understanding of the world.

    • 50 years since the end of theatre censorship: how the Lord Chamberlain was given the boot

      The day after government-sanctioned theatre censorship was finally abolished by Harold Wilson’s Labour administration, after a century-long battle, American producer Michael Butler opened the ‘make love not war’ musical Hair in the West End.

      As well as ushering in a spate of shows celebrating sex and nudity – The Dirtiest Show in Town, Let My People Come and Oh Calcutta! among them – Hair raised two fingers to the Lord Chamberlain’s Office that had vigorously prevented unfettered dramatic expression for 230 years. By 1968, theatre censorship had long been a cultural millstone and a major source of irritation to playwrights, directors and producers alike.

    • A ‘Tromatic’ Experience: Bjarni Gautur On Fecal Humour, Censorship & Swordfish

      Most splatter and B-movie fans have heard of Troma. The longest-running independent film company in the world, Troma is responsible for such cult classics as ‘The Toxic Avenger,’ ‘Class of Nuke ‘Em High’ and ‘Combat Shock,’ as well as lesser known titles including ‘Dead Dudes in the House,’ ‘Dumpster Baby’ and ‘Buttcrack.’ Icelanders would be proud to know that one of our own is working with Troma as we speak—the stand-up comedian and actor Bjarni Gautur. We caught up with Bjarni after work had wrapped up on Lloyd Kaufman’s new film, the amazingly titled ‘Shakespeare’s Shitstorm,’ which is described as a “Tromatic take on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest.’”

      [...]
      According to Bjarni, the team is now working on getting the Finnish Night Visions film festival to Iceland but the festival will be showing the film. “Night Visions has been showing a lot of Troma films lately and we want to take it to Iceland,” he says. “Bíó Paradís has expressed some interest, so we’ll see what happens. It’s a dream of mine to show some of the films I’ve worked on with Troma in Iceland—that would be lovely.”

    • Instagram Deleted an Artist’s Nudes—Her New Work Shows How to Skirt Their Rules

      For the Brooklyn-based photographer Joanne Leah, social media censorship has both helped and hindered her work. On Instagram she now goes by @TwoFacedKitten, referencing a personal joke with a friend, after her original account was deleted in 2015 because of the nudity in her photography. Although devastated at the time, she says censorship forced her to think differently about her compositions, and her work now actually uses the guidelines to have some fun.

      “It [happened] before you could fight it. Now it’s a little better because you can protest it,” she told Observer of her earlier expulsion from the platform. “I didn’t know what to do at the time, I had built up a collection of work that I edited and had around 1,000 followers, and then it was all gone.”

    • Headlines from China: ‘The Predator’ Passes Chinese Censorship

      The Predator, a 2018 American science fiction film and the fourth installment in The Predator film series, has passed the Chinese censorship, according to sources familiar with the matter, but a release date is yet to be announced. It’s unclear if China’s censors have cut any parts of the film. Last year, Alien: Covenant, an American science fiction horror film, was six minutes shorter than the international version when the film was released in China. Directed by Shane Black and written by Black and Fred Dekker, The Predator follows a group of PTSD-affected soldiers who must fight off an invading pair of Predators. Read more on Mtime

    • Tanzania is about to outlaw online fact-checking

      Earlier in 2018 Tanzania’s government, under the leadership of President John Magufuli, introduced a new law for social media and blogs which saw the introduction of license fees for anyone effectively running a website in Tanzania. This led to the suspension of several blogs including the popular site, Jamii Forums.

      As if that wasn’t enough, Magufuli and his colleagues are now looking to outlaw fact checking thanks to proposed amendments to the Statistics Act, 2015.

    • Tanzania’s curbs on fact-checking spark censorship fears

      Tanzania has adopted controversial ammendant to an existing law, which the government says, will help tackle public misinformation gaps. However, journalists fear it will make it a criminal offense to challenge official data. If signed into law, it would mean that anyone who “distorts” facts by the National Bureau of Statistics could be sentenced to at least a year in prison.

      It’s going to have a “chilling effect,” communications expert Maria Sarungi Tsehai told RFI, after Tanzania voted the amendment to the country’s Statistics Act, making it illegal for anyone to publish statistical information which is intended to “invalidate, distort, or discredit official data.”

      “How do you interpret with the intent to?” Challenges Tsehai. From now on, journalists will “think twice” about quoting the slightest piece of data,” she reckons.

      For the National Bureau of Statistics, the new amendment is to help Tanzania fill its information gaps.

    • 450 issues of The OU Daily stolen — writer thinks it’s attempted censorship of front page sexual harassment story

      An estimated 450 issues of The OU Daily were stolen on Sept. 17 from multiple locations across the University of Oklahoma Norman campus. The stolen issue featured a front page article about sexual harassment allegations against a tenured drama professor who remains at the university but resigned in August from his position as director of the School of Drama.

      Papers went missing from nine different locations across campus.

      “I was pretty angry, to be honest, and confused as to why someone would do that,” said sophomore Jana Allen, the news editor for The OU Daily. Allen wrote the front page story.

    • A Censorship-Free Version of Bitcointalk? Developer Launches Bitcoincashtalk.org

      When it comes to cryptocurrencies enthusiasts like to discuss the technology regularly on social media and forums. Nearly every digital asset has its own forum but over the last few years, two of the largest Bitcoin-based forums (coincidentally owned by the same individual) have been plagued with censorship in regard to the scaling debate. For instance, thousands of users have been banned on the Reddit forum r/bitcoin and the web portal Bitcointalk.org for merely speaking about a different opinion concerning scaling the Bitcoin Network. Then thousands of Reddit users and Bitcointalk.org users have also been banned for failing to toe the party line.

      Just yesterday someone was banned for posting on r/bitcoin for simply asking in a post “What is the recommended procedure to safely update a bitcoin node if I have a Lightning node with channels open?” R/bitcoin moderators banned the user and called the individual a “low-effort concern troll, lying, spreading malicious propaganda, obvious Bcash shill.” In response to the extreme prejudice and censorship, many bitcoin users have shifted to other forums on the web. Now, this week an independent and uncensored version of Bitcointalk.org has launched called Bitcoincashtalk.org.

    • Nazi-style stranglehold of the Iranian regime’s censorship and propaganda methods

      All governments across the globe utilize some form of censorship, as the dangers of uncontrolled speech, which often comes in the form of violently radical political thought, racism, attacks against minority groups and outright slander, would be too dangerous for even the most liberal of governments to allow.

      Apart from this, there is also the need for censorship when considering threats to national security, in times of heightened danger to the public, brought about by terrorist activity or times of war, when giving away too much information would aid the enemy.

      But when it comes to absolute censorship, of the type seen in Iran, where no form of speech opposing the regime can be voiced, where newspapers, radio and television are monopolised entirely by the regime, and journalists, authors and all other artists have to follow strict guidelines on the work they produce, this enters into the realm of violating human rights.

    • Art installation ‘Haroon Mirza: The Night Journey’ is flat but interesting look into religion, censorship

      “Haroon Mirza: The Night Journey,” is a rather dull art installation that nonetheless makes interesting points on storytelling, religion and censorship.

      British Pakistani multimedia artist Haroon Mirza brings his “custom-built media system” to the Asian Art Museum. The main exhibit is a darkened, sound-proofed room illuminated by LED lights. An eight-channel synthesizer sits perched in the far corner of the room. Each of its outputs is hooked up to a speaker positioned about the room.

      The work reinterprets 18th century religious iconography in a contemporary setting. Mirza pixelated the “night journey of the prophet Muhammad on the heavenly creature Buraq,” an Indian watercolor from the Asian Art Museum’s collection. Mirza converted the pixelated image into a “score”: a sequence of frequencies that are played from the speakers as pure tones. The LED lights are also programmed to those frequencies, changing color in sync with each change in tone. The result is an underwhelming, monotonous light show.

    • Did UN ‘self-censorship’ aggravate Rohingya crisis in Myanmar?

      A report detailing massive human rights violations in Myanmar has pointed to UN negligence as a factor in allowing the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State to escalate.

    • Bipartisan House group presses Google over China censorship
    • Report: Google’s China Platform Logs Phone Numbers, Censors Results, Drove Engineer To Quit
    • Google’s China prototype reportedly links searches to phone numbers
    • Google prototype for China “complicit in human rights violations”
    • House lawmakers want answers from Google on censored Chinese search engine
    • Google researcher resigns in protest of company’s plan to aid censorship in China
    • Report: Google Dragonfly links phone numbers to search results
    • Google, China create search engine that tracks, censors searches and links them to users’ phone numbers

      A prototype of a censored search engine that links users’ queries to their personal phone numbers is the result of a collaboration between Google and China.

      This technology would make it easier for the Communist Party of China to monitor people and what they are searching, the Intercept reported Friday.

      Dragonfly, the code name for the new search engine, was designed for Android devices.

      The search engine would remove information that the Chinese government deems sensitive, like content regarding political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and protests, in something called a censorship blacklist.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • ESNI: A Privacy-Protecting Upgrade to HTTPS

      Today, the content-delivery network Cloudflare is announcing an experimental deployment of a new web privacy technology called ESNI. We’re excited to see this development, and we look forward to a future where ESNI makes the web more private for all its users.

      Over the past several years, we at EFF have been working to encrypt the web. We and our partners have made huge strides to make web browsing safer and more privacy through tools like HTTPS Everywhere and the Let’s Encrypt Certificate Authority. But users still face many kinds of online privacy problems even when using HTTPS.

      An important example: a 15-year-old technology called Server Name Indication (SNI), which allows a single server to host multiple HTTPS web sites. Unfortunately, SNI itself is unencrypted and transmits the name of the site you’re visiting. That lets ISPs, people with access to tap Internet backbones, or even someone monitoring a wifi network collect a list of the sites you visit. (HTTPS will still prevent them from seeing exactly what you did on those sites.)

      We were disappointed last year that regulations limiting collection of data by ISPs in the U.S. were rolled back. This leaves a legal climate in which ISPs might feel empowered to create profiles of their users’ online activity, even though they don’t need those profiles in order to provide Internet access services. SNI is one significant source of information that ISPs could use to feed these profiles. What’s more, the U.S. government continues to argue that the SNI information your browser sends over the Internet, as “metadata,” enjoys minimal legal protections against government spying.

    • Eye in the sky: Odisha police to deploy drones to track Naxals in Malkangiri, Koraput districts

      Odisha police is going to deploy drones to track Naxal movement in Malkangiri and Koraput area. The first drone will be bought this financial year and will be used for surveillance of severely Naxal-affected districts to augment security. Out of 30 districts in the state, the Maoists have a strong influence in Malknagiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Nuapada, and Sundargarh.

      Odisha has been an ideal transit point for Maoists who flee the neighbouring states fearing search operation by security forces. This has forced the state government to step up vigilance in the bordering districts.

    • NSA worker who took secrets home cost the agency dear: claim

      An NSA worker, who took huge amounts of classified material home and was arrested in December last year over this, forced the organisation to drop a number of “important initiatives at great economic and operational cost”, the former director of the spy agency says.

      The man, Vietnamese American Nghia Hoang Pho, 70, of Ellicot City, Maryland, entered a guilty plea on 1 December to the charge of taking national defence information home from 2010 to 2015 and retaining it at his residence.

      Admiral Mike Rogers, who was NSA chief until May this year, wrote to US District Court Judge George Russell, who is set to sentence Pho in Baltimore on Tuesday, that the negative effects of Pho’s actions had also resulted in a loss of trust among NSA colleagues and essential partners. Rogers’ March letter was published by the American website Politico.

    • Belgian probe implicates Britain in phone spying

      A confidential report by Belgian investigators confirms that British intelligence services hacked state-owned Belgian telecom giant Belgacom on behalf of Washington, an official said Thursday.

      The admission by Belgium is one of the consequences of the myriad revelations made in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden and risks fraying ties between the close allies.

      The report, which summarises a five-year judicial inquiry, is almost complete and was submitted to the office of Justice Minister Koen Geens, a source close to the case told AFP, confirming Belgian press reports.

    • Belgian Prosecutors Confirm UK Involvement in Surveillance of Belgacom – Reports

      The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed in its conclusions that the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in 2013 intercepted communications of Belgium’s largest telecommunications company Proximus Group, formerly known as Belgacom Group, Belgium’s L’Echo newspaper reported Thursday.

      According to Belgium’s L’Echo newspaper, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office has provided its investigative findings and conclusions to Justice Minister Koen Geens, who confirmed that he would present the investigative report at the National Security Council.

    • A European Court Just Ruled NSA Surveillance Practices Violate Human Rights

      Last week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the U.K.’s GCHQ spy agency is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights with its mass surveillance programs. The court ultimately found that these activities violate the family and privacy rights of British and European citizens, and this assertion ultimately includes a rejection of the United States’ activities considering GCHQ has obtained much of its data from the NSA.

      The suit was brought by Amnesty International, Big Brother Watch, the ACLU, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and other civil liberties groups. It addresses provisions of the U.K.’s 2000 Investigatory Powers Act, and though a new version of the law was passed in 2016 and is yet to be enacted, many of the issues the court identified remain in the 2016 bill.

    • Top court rules UK mass interception of fiber-optic cable traffic violates the right to privacy: a victory, but how big?

      The judgment concerned the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which was replaced by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, as Privacy News Online reported at the time. However, the two laws have much in common, and legal commentators believe that many of the points made by the ECtHR would also apply to the later law, which will need to be revised to comply with the ruling. Similarly, it’s worth noting that this judgment is not just about the UK: it also provides interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights for the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, all of which are parties to the Convention. This means that they should all be reviewing their surveillance laws to ensure they are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

      Although the ruling does not affect US citizens directly, the fact that GCHQ has been gathering Internet traffic worldwide, and sharing it with the NSA, means that there should in the future be greater oversight of such surveillance, and thus better privacy protection when people in the US go online.

    • CIA Can’t Shake Suit Seeking Twitter Usage Docs

      A Massachusetts federal judge on Monday shot down the Central Intelligence Agency’s bid to ax a Freedom of Information Act suit seeking documents about the agency’s Twitter usage

    • NSA Must Give Up Info In Olympics Spy Suit, Attendees Say

      A group of 2002 Winter Olympics attendees who claim they were spied on by the U.S. National Security Agency asked a Utah federal court Friday to compel the agency to respond…

    • British spies ‘hacked Belgian telecoms firm for minister’

      British spies are likely to have hacked into Belgium’s biggest telecommunications operator for at least two years on the instruction of UK ministers, a confidential report submitted by Belgian prosecutors is said to have concluded.

      The finding would support an allegation made by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden five years ago when he leaked 20 slides exposing the targets of hacking by the British intelligence service GCHQ.

    • British Spies Hacked Belgian Telecom Firm on UK Government Orders – Reports

      Belgian prosecutors’ report supported previous claims made by Edward Snowden that British GCHQ had been intercepting communications at NATO HQ and key European institutions for at least two years.

      The operation had a codename “Operation Socialist” and was conducted by the British intelligence service GCHQ, the Guardian reported. Belgian Justice minister, Koen Geens, has confirmed that he received the report from the prosecutors and would discuss it with country’s national security council, led by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

    • Major U.S. insurance company to sell only health-tracker backed life insurance

      A week ago, Apple announced a redesigned smartwatch that could track heart data, run EKGs, and even detect atrial fibrillation, promising that it would save lives. Today, one of America’s biggest insurers killed its traditional life insurance policies, replacing them with “interactive” insurance that encourages users to use such devices and share the data with them to get perks.

      These are already available, but will soon be the only option on John Hancock’s menu.

    • Strap on the Fitbit: John Hancock to sell only interactive life insurance

      Policyholders score premium discounts for hitting exercise targets tracked on wearable devices such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch and get gift cards for retail stores and other perks by logging their workouts and healthy food purchases in an app.

      [...]

      Customers do not have to log their activities to get coverage even though their policies are packaged with the Vitality program. The insurer will begin converting existing life insurance policies to Vitality in 2019, it said.

    • Amazon’s smart microwave is a Trojan horse

      It’s a Trojan horse: an inexpensive entry point, an easy graduation gift, a staple that sometimes needs replacing, and a not-so-intrusive and not-so-useful but also not un-useful household item that can get Alexa into the homes of people who have so far not seen any good reason to invite Alexa to live with them.

    • Amazon announces $60 Alexa-powered microwave with a Dash button for popcorn
    • Colombia is getting to test Facebook’s dating experiment

      More importantly, the Facebook Dating will sit in the app itself – there’s nothing extra to download. Opting in is as easy as flicking a switch, making it far more impulsive a decision that signing up to a dating site.

    • Google confirms it’s letting third parties scan your Gmail

      In a letter to Senators which fell into the hands of CNN, Susan Molinari, VP of public policy and government affairs at Google confirmed: “Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data”

    • FACEBOOK’S NEW HOME DEVICE MAY HAVE A CAMERA THAT WILL FOLLOW YOU AROUND THE ROOM: REPORT
    • Telco bodies, AIIA warn encryption bill could weaken Australia’s security

      The Federal Government’s draft encryption bill could seriously damage Australia’s — and international — cyber security and, would act contrary to its stated aim of increasing security for Australians, a submission jointly made by the telco industry body Communications Alliance, the Australian Information Industry Association and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association claims.

    • Privacy, rights groups urge politicians to reject bill

      A group of privacy and rights organisations have called on Australian politicians to reject the encryption bill which was introduced into Parliament last week, as it creates insecurity by design which will get in the way of Australian companies who seek to do business in European markets.

    • Apple’s fine-print reveals a secret program to spy on Iphone users and generate “trust scores”

      Though Apple doesn’t provide any details on how this works, the company has previously deployed a privacy measure called “differential privacy” that allows for some aggregate data-gathering and analysis that theoretically protects the subjects’ privacy — however, Apple’s differential privacy implementation was fatally flawed, a fact that was slow to come to light in part because of the company’s notorious secrecy and its hostility to independent repair and unauthorized analysis of its security measures.

    • Apple is quietly giving people ‘trust scores’ based on their iPhone data

      The method is reminiscent of an episode of the dystopian TV series Black Mirror, in which people are rated on their interactions with other people.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Want to know your rights but only have 60 seconds?

      The 24-year-old lawyer has begun teaching people about their rights in online talks to camera that aim to simplify the complexity of legislation into a few basic principles.

    • Chicago socialist students demand school cuts ties with CIA

      A socialist student group at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is demanding that the school cut all ties with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), claiming that the organization is complicit in “countless crimes.”

      International Youth and Students for Social Equality is protesting UIC’s partnership with the CIA in its “Signature School Program,” which encourages graduates to seek jobs in the intelligence field, while also facilitating access to internships. The socialist group stated in a news release last week that, in partnering with the “diverse” UIC community, the CIA would be targeting “children of immigrants” to “carry out imperialist crimes of the U.S. government around the world.”

    • United Airlines partners with scandal-ridden, CIA-backed Palantir for data initiatives

      Back in 2009 an ex-Secret Service agent named Peter Cavicchia III ran special ops for JP Morgan in which he used Palantir’s software to spy on everyone in the company as part of his duty of forensic investigations at the bank.

      Employees caught on and some even inserted fake information in their personal correspondances to see if Cavicchia would bring it up in the next meeting… and he did!

      Not even senior bank executives were saved from the company-wide spying that went on at JP Morgan after Cavicchia allegedly went “rogue” using Palantir’s algorithms.

      As Bloomberg reported in April of this year, “An intelligence platform designed for the global War on Terror was weaponized against ordinary Americans at home.”

    • Five Ways the Trump Administration Has Attacked the U.N. and International Human Rights Bodies

      Trump’s assault on international cooperation and human rights is ultimately self-defeating. His U.N. address Tuesday will likely be more of the same.

      On Tuesday, President Trump will make his second appearance at the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, where he will reportedly use the international spotlight to deliver a speech that centers on favoring U.S. “sovereignty” over our commitments to the global community.

      The world has now witnessed the human costs of Trump’s self-defeating “America First” policies: the inhumanity of family separation, the ruined lives from repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the suffering caused by slashing the numbers of refugees allowed to enter the U.S., to name just a few.

      By pushing xenophobic policies that defy international law, the Trump administration is pitting the United States against the very system of multilateralism that our country worked so hard to create in the years after World War II. This system was designed to benefit the entire world — including the U.S. — by promoting peace, security, and human rights while deterring chaos and violence. That’s why undermining it is harmful to everyone, including Americans.

    • Facebook Warns Memphis Police: No More Fake “Bob Smith” Accounts

      Facebook has a problem: an infestation of undercover cops. Despite the social platform’s explicit rules that the use of fake profiles by anyone—police included—is a violation of terms of service, the issue proliferates. While the scope is difficult to measure, EFF has identified scores of agencies who maintain policies that explicitly flaunt these rules.

      Hopefully—and perhaps this is overly optimistic—this is about to change, with a new warning Facebook has sent to the Memphis Police Department. The company has also updated its law enforcement guidelines to highlight the prohibition on fake accounts.

      This summer, the criminal justice news outlet The Appeal reported on an alarming detail revealed in a civil rights lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Tennessee against the Memphis Police Department. The lawsuit uncovered evidence that the police used what they referred to as a “Bob Smith” account to befriend and gather intelligence on activists. Following the report, EFF contacted Facebook, which deactivated that account. Facebook has since identified and deactivated six other fake accounts managed by Memphis police that were previously unknown.

      In a letter to Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings dated Sept. 19, Facebook’s legal staff demands that the agency “cease all activities on Facebook that involve the use of fake accounts or impersonation of others.”

    • DHS Oversight Looks At ‘Unreliable’ Border Assault Numbers, Decides Under-Reporting Is The Problem

      The DHS says assaults on CBP and Border Patrol officers have been steadily increasing since 2015, with a 46.3% surge in violence against officers in 2017 alone. Sure, it fits the current narrative that undocumented immigrants are inherently dangerous. But is it true? Not even remotely.

      The CBP and Border Patrol are using new math to report assaults, allowing the DHS to portray patrolling the border as far more dangerous than it actually is. The Intercept exposed the bogus math earlier this year, thanks to a CBP official’s inadvertently frank admission the numbers were incredibly inflated.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Talk: Juan Benet—DWeb Progress: “Where have we been? What’s next?”
    • New York Times Sues FCC With Eye On Bogus Russian Net Neutrality Comments

      So we’ve pretty well established that somebody flooded the FCC’s website with bogus comments during the agency’s unpopular attack on net neutrality last year. Many of these comments were made using lifted identities (like Senators Jeff Merkley and Pat Toomey, or my own). Other comments were made using the identities of dead people. Many of the comments were made by a bot that pulled some of these fake identities in alphabetical order from a hacked database of some kind. Exactly 444,938 of those comments were made using Russian e-mail addresses.

      The general consensus among activists and journalists is that it was broadband providers or a partisan advocacy group linked to broadband providers, though the FCC’s total refusal to aid investigations have made proving this rather difficult. This week, the New York Times sued the FCC for its ongoing refusal to adequately respond to FOIA requests regarding the incident.

    • Talk: Tristan Harris: “Can the Decentralized Web be more Humane that today’s Web?”
    • NYT sues FCC, says it hid evidence of Russia meddling in net neutrality repeal

      The Times made a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in June 2017 for FCC server logs related to the system for accepting public comments on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s repeal of net neutrality rules. The FCC refused to provide the records, telling the Times that doing so would jeopardize the privacy of commenters and the effectiveness of the agency’s IT security practices and that fulfilling the records request would be overly burdensome.

    • Talk: Jennifer Granick— “The End of the Internet As We Knew It, And What Happens Next”
    • Vint Cerf on Traceability

      The significant problems Cerf lists could perhaps be somewhat mitigated if the cost and hassle factor for law enforcement of deanonymizing Internet malefactors were reduced. But law enforcement, especially international law enforcement, has limited resources and many tasks for good reason assigned higher priority than “social network bullying and misinformation”. It is doubtful that such cost reduction would change these priorities much. Mueller’s GRU indictments show that in important cases law enforcement can and does deanonymize bad actors; Facebook’s deletion of material from the Internet Research Agency shows that, under pressure, companies do the same.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Why Kodi Addons & Pirate Apps Are Disappearing…Quietly

        Since 2017, many Kodi addon and ‘pirate’ app developers have chosen to discontinue their projects and disappear into the shadows. Yet, unlike historical shutdowns of torrent and streaming platforms, most of these moves haven’t made the headlines. The informational black hole is notable but can be explained. Those targeted are compelled not to say a word.

        [...]

        After collating information from a number of sources, we can now reveal some of the tactics being used against developers involved in ‘pirate’ projects.

      • Ticketmaster stung by undercover journalists, who reveal that the company deliberately enables scalpers and rips off artists

        But a CBC/Toronto Star undercover investigation has revealed that Ticketmaster runs a secret, parallel system called “Tradedesk” that encourages the most prolific scalpers to create multiple accounts to circumvent the company’s limits on ticket sales, and then allows them to re-list those tickets for sale in its “brokerage” market, which nominally exists to allow fans who find themselves with a spare ticket or two to sell it other fans. According to Ticketmaster reps who were unaware they were being secretly recorded, the most successful scalpers use this system to make as much as $5 million/year.

      • ‘A public relations nightmare’: Ticketmaster recruits pros for secret scalper program

        CBC News obtained a copy of Ticketmaster’s official reseller handbook, which outlines these fees. It also details Ticketmaster’s reward system for scalpers. As scalpers hit milestones such as $500,000 or $1 million in annual sales, Ticketmaster will knock a percentage point off its fees.

      • If we don’t act now, Article 13 could break the internet by mistake

        There are two final hurdles the Copyright Directive has left to clear: a vote among the EU governments, and one among the Members of its Parliament – which will occur early next year, not long before all MEPs are up for re-election. You have until then to demand that your representatives at both levels consider not only what they want this law to do – but also what it actually will.

      • European Union announces draconian internet censorship measures

        The European Union (EU) has advanced plans for the continent-wide censorship of the internet. Giving his final State of the Union speech last Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker outlined plans to compel online platforms to take down “terrorist content” within one hour of it being flagged by national authorities.

        Failure to comply will result in fines of up to four percent of the offending company’s annual global turnover.

        These proposals have vast, grave implications for the democratic right of hundreds of millions of people to access and use the internet freely. The law will mean EU members state governments and national security services will determine what is acceptable for publication on the internet—with no reference to the courts or any kind of democratic oversight. The one-hour time limit for removing content will force platforms to prevent certain postings lest they run the risk of sanctions.

      • E.U. Passes Censorship-Inducing Online Copyright Regulations

        Despite many, many warnings from technology companies and scholars that they were going to wreck the internet, European Union lawmakers have passed a host of new regulations greatly expanding online copyright enforcement demands.

        Last week the European Parliament approved a heavily amended version of the European Copyright Directive by a vote of 438 to 226. Tech companies and digital activists have been warning all summer that this will demolish online sharing in order to serve the financial interests of entertainment and media companies.

      • What New EU Copyright Law Will Mean for Media, Tech Companies and Users

        Supporters of the Copyright Directive, which the European Parliament passed last week, claim it will force online giants like Google and Facebook to share revenues with content creators.

        For internet activists, media industry wonks and copyright legislation fans (if such a species exists), these are heady days.

        On Sept. 12, the European Parliament approved a major overhaul of copyright law that, if its supporters are believed, will update copyright for the digital age and force online giants like Google and Facebook to share revenues with content creators. Or, according to critics of the European Union Copyright Directive, it will destroy the internet as users know it, blocking free speech, stifling competition and reinforcing the entrenched power of media conglomerates.

        The reality, as always, is somewhere in the middle.

      • Does the EU’s Controversial ‘Upload Filter’ Set a Precedent for Censorship?

        Will the EU’s new Copyright Directive lead to mass censorship of the internet? That’s the fear of some in the tech industry in the wake of new European Union regulations.

        To comply with the EU’s updated Copyright Directive, tech platforms like Google and Facebook may have to install “upload filters” to find and remove copyrighted content — which critics fear may result in unintended censorship.

      • Big changes for CC Search beta: updates released today!

        Today, we’ve released a significant update to our working beta of the CC Search product. We launched the project in February 2017 to provide a new “front door” to the Commons with the ultimate goal to find and index all 1.4 billion+ CC licensed works on the web. Since then, our newly formed tech team – myself, Alden Page, Sophine Clachar, and Steven Bellamy – have been working to move this project toward its next iteration, which I am proud to share today.

      • Using copyright-protected material as evidence in a court proceeding.

        The Swedish Patent and Market Court of Appeal has provided for an interesting ruling (PMFT 2585-17, 2018-01-24) concerning the protection of copyright-protected works when these are used as evidence as a court proceeding.

        The case at hand concerned a text written by J.I., filed as evidence during an appeal concerning custody. M.B. (the mother) filed a copy of the text as evidence of J.I.:s (the father) inappropriate behavior. The text had not been previously published. The objective was of course to harm the credibility of J.I. by means of the content of the text in question and thereby to succeed in acquiring the custody of their son. The custody proceedings took place behind closed doors.

        J.I. sued for copyright infringement on three grounds, the distribution of the text, its reproduction and its communication to the public.

      • Not Just Books: All the Free Digital Stuff Your Local Library Might Offer

        You might think of libraries as old fashioned, or irrelevant in the age of the internet. You’d be wrong.

        Modern libraries offer books, yes, but they also provide internet access to people who can’t afford it, along with a bunch of excellent digital resources. Many libraries offer ebooks, audiobooks, streaming video, and even access to paywalled newspapers.

        All of these services are free to you, regardless of your income level, if you have a library card. Here are five digital services your local library might offer. You might be surprised.

      • Reddit Gets Tough With Multiple Bans of Piracy Sub-Reddits

        Faced with communities that continually flaunt Reddit’s rules on deliberately linking to copyright-infringing content, the site’s admins have banned yet more piracy-focused sub-Reddits. The latest casualties are communities that have systematically posted links to movies, TV shows and software.

      • Judge Sees No Evidence that Pirates Were Drawn by ISP’s Lack of ‘Policing’

        A group of RIAA labels has suffered a setback in their case against ISP Grande Communications. US Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin recommends denying their motion for an amended complaint, as there is no new evidence suggesting that pirates signed up with the provider due to its lacking repeat infringer policy.

Reader’s Article: Affaire Benalla Strongly Connected to EPO/OEB/EPA and Former President Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli reportedly paid a likely criminal more than he was paying examiners, and Battistelli may have been complicit in the crime

Battistelli Macron scandal

Summary: A Macron scandal has led French media to finally (and years too late) exploring some of the much more explosive scandals at the EPO, revealing some interesting new details in the process

As the Benalla affair and its relationship with the EPO and ex-president Benoît Battistelli hit the headlines in French newspapers and on social media (Twitter) over the past few days, I think this may interests you.

It is about the affair Alexandre Benalla, who was interviewed last week by two senators, Ms. Benbassa and Mr Leconte in the French Senate whether he was in possession of an official, issued by French authorities, weapon permit to carry firearms (both are famous for asking critical questions related to Battistelli/EPO in the FR senat). Benalla allegedly wore a gun during an interview done by a French magazine back in 2016 (apparently there is an existing picture of Benalla posing proudly with a gun). Cornered by the questions, Benalla reveals that he worked as head of security adviser at the EPO and additionally as a bodyguard to former President Battistelli. He admitted to having received an employment contract from the European Patent Office for a monthly salary of about 8k to 10k a month!

Obviously, all these answers raise only more questions, e.g. did Benalla have a permit issued by German authorities to carry weapons while performing his duties in the European Patent Office in Munich?

However, I can remember that such permission from the German authorities in 2016 was strictly rejected. Maybe attentive readers (insiders) can confirm this. Once confirmed, it would mean that not only did he not have any valid papers, which means that it’s actually a criminal offense on the part of Benalla; the European Patent Office, speaking og Battistelli and advisers, are fully responsible for this criminal offense.

Here are the links: (obviously all in FR)

Editor’s note: If anyone has more information about this, please get in touch with us (anonymously or not). It’s an ongoing inquiry and French media pays close attention to these EPO scandals, for a change.

Language Patent Lawyers Are Using to Warp the Debate and Decrease Public Understanding of Patents

Posted in Deception, Patents at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A chalkboard

Summary: The patent microcosm, trying to get the public all baffled/confused about the patent system, continues (mis)using words to convey things in misleading ways

YESTERDAY we wrote about how law firms had retreated to buzzwords by which to describe software patents. They’re not being honest to the public or even to their clients. Why pay for bad advice? All they care about is how much they can bill, even for worthless products/services (which they know to be worthless). Over the past week we caught some more examples worth mentioning.

“…it’s widely known that patents, for example, often stand in the way of geniuses. They limit their scope of exploration.”The latest patent propaganda from Forbes, which has become like a think tank of litigators, is titled “Feeding the Fire Of Genius: Intellectual Property And America’s High-Tech Future” and it makes the false assumption/assertion that for “genius” one needs Intellectual [sic] Property [sic]; it’s widely known that patents, for example, often stand in the way of geniuses. They limit their scope of exploration.

A Conservatives’ outfit, Daily Caller, would just publish anything provided that someone calling himself or herself “Conservative” would be happy. Even if that’s totally untrue, e.g. a case of self interest. Consider “OPINION: Make Patents Great Again” by James Edwards, “Executive director of Conservatives for Property [sic] Rights [sic]” (patents are neither). It’s like all those lies Watchtroll habitually tells about the USPTO, mislabeling low-quality patents as “strong”. When they say “great” they mean the opposite. They mean rubbish quality of patents! There’s also the dying STRONGER Patents Act.

“…if more people properly grasped or really understood how patents work, public consent for them would erode. Alternatively, patent scope would be significantly narrowed.”Some of the above is just lobbying. There’s also marketing by David J. Dykeman, Greenberg Traurig and Patrick West, Mirus Capital Advisors. It’s titled “How strong patent portfolios attract strategic investments and deals” and what they mean by “strong” here is plenty of them rather than actual quality and legitimacy; it’s the stockpiling mentality, building a fence of dubious monopoly claims.

How about Intellectual [sic] Property [sic] Right [sic] (none of the above) in the Indian sphere (Faculty of Juridical Sciences Rama University, Kanpur)? We sadly keep seeing such words being thrown in tandem. As we explained in the distant past, the patent microcosm deliberately mischaracterises patents. Why? Because if more people properly grasped or really understood how patents work, public consent for them would erode. Alternatively, patent scope would be significantly narrowed.

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