Links 29/10/2018: Red Hat Being Bought

Posted in News Roundup at 3:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Square To Open Source Its Subzero Bitcoin Cold Storage Technology

    According to the Square’s official Medium page, this mobile payment company is open sourcing tools, documentation, and code for their Subzero crypto cold storage solution.

    The payment app recently added cryptocurrency trading and invested heavily into security to protect user funds given its custodial role.

  • 8×8 buys open source video communications specialist Jitsi from Atlassian

    US business services provider 8×8 has acquired Jitsi, an open source video communications technology, and its team, from Atlassian, for an undisclosed amount. 8×8 said the deal will extend its cloud technology platform and add to its video collaboration capabilities.

  • Atlassian sells Jitsi, an open-source videoconferencing tool it acquired in 2015, to 8×8

    After announcing earlier this year that it planned to shut down HipChat and Stride and sell the IP of both to Slack, today enterprise software company Atlassian made another move related to its retreat from enterprise chat. It is selling Jitsi, a popular open-source chat and videoconferencing tool, to 8X8, a provider of cloud-based business phone and internal communications services. 8X8 says it plans to integrate Jitsi with its current conferencing solutions, specifically a product called 8X8 Meetings, and to keep it open source.

    Terms of this latest sale to 8×8 have not been disclosed. Both the tech and the engineering team working on Jitsi, led by Emil Ivov, are coming with the acquisition.

  • New Open Source Protocol to Allow Bitcoin–Ethereum Blockchain Transfers

    According to the whitepaper, the OFGP uses the Byzantine Fault Tolerant Raft technology. It enables constant fast speed for transfers between blockchains. Moreover, this technology will help the Mallow protocol scale up as its developers add more features and cryptocurrencies in the future.

    iBitcome and Dex.top emphasize the open source nature of their protocol. The organisations give users the freedom to build their own gateways and encourage competitors to come up with similar solutions.

    They believe that Mallow will open a new era in digital trading. The protocol ensures transparency in the transfer process. Thus, there will be an increased number of transactions on and between the public blockchains.

  • Open-source software will eat everything in its path, says VC

    Technology entrepreneur Marc Andreessen once famously declared that software will eat the world. Joseph Jacks (pictured), founder general partner of OSS Capital, has a different twist on Andreessen’s opinion. He believes that open-source software will simply eat everything.

    Developments in the open-source space over the course of 2018 alone could lead some to agree with Jacks’ point. In January, Red Hat Inc. announced that it would acquire Kubernetes solutions provider CoreOS Inc. A month later, the open-source enterprise content management firm Alfresco was purchased by a Boston-based private equity firm.

  • Why one company is paying developers to write more open source code

    There’s never been a better time to be a developer, with a smorgasbord of no-cost, innovative open source software and low-cost, innovative cloud “hardware” at your disposal. Whether building software for use or sale, developers have been loading up on open source, with Forrester Research positing that only 10-20% of new code in applications is proprietary. Yes, really.

    While that’s great, it also overlooks a looming problem: Not all open source software is created equal. Or, rather, not all open source software is maintained equally. While some projects, such as Linux, come with big vendors like Red Hat to ensure disparate components are polished and up-to-date, a new wave of software like, for example, React may depend on hundreds or thousands of components, without anyone bothering to ensure they’re secure, up-to-date, etc.

    It’s potentially a big problem. Or, as Tidelift sees it, a big opportunity.

  • What’s The Business Model Of Open Source Software Companies Like Pivotal & RedHat

    How do companies that provide and package open source tools stand on this ‘open-source’ business model? Do they really capture the tech market on this basis? In this article, we discuss how popular companies like the recently IBM-acquired RedHat and Pivotal that follow an open-source business model have sustained in the long run.

  • Events

    • A summary of my participation at OSS EU / ELCE 2018

      ELCE 2018 has been a key event each of my 3 years at Codethink. It is an interesting conference from the technical and business point of view. This year the event was collocated again with several others, like the Open Source Summit Europe (OSS EU). It took place in Edinburgh, UK, I city I find particularly beautiful and enjoyable.

      CIP, the Linux Foundation Initiative for Civil Infrastructure, has the event as a key milestone. The group organises a booth and a face to face meeting of the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) the day before the event starts. So for me ELCE is a day longer. The other main task for me at this event is supporting Codethink business development and community engagement actions, since I represent the company at the Linux Foundation.

      During the CIP TSC face to face meeting, I did a short presentation of one of the projects I am putting effort on lately: BuildStream. I also described the project among several people I know during the event, asking them to try out the integration tool and provide me feedback. The tool has matured quite a lot the last few months and I am interested in collecting feedback from experienced developers and software integrators.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • ARCore and Arkit: What is under the hood : Anchors and World Mapping (Part 1)

        Some of you know I have been recently experimenting a bit more with WebXR than a WebVR and when we talk about mobile Mixed Reality, ARkit and ARCore is something which plays a pivotal role to map and understand the environment inside our applications.

        I am planning to write a series of blog posts on how you can start developing WebXR applications now and play with them starting with the basics and then going on to using different features of it. But before that, I planned to pen down this series of how actually the “world mapping” works in arcore and arkit. So that we have a better understanding of the Mixed Reality capabilities of the devices we will be working with.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Cloud Native DevOps: Four Horsemen of the Operations Apocalypse [Ed: This may look like a legit article, but it's a sponsored (by the company covered) buzzwords salad. This site is like a PR apparatus of the Linux Foundation and others.]

      Finally, Edwards warns that you should challenge that aforementioned conventional wisdom and bring Operations into your digital transformation strategy — it has of DevOps, after all — and take time to understand how the four horsemen are undermining Ops work. Focus on taking down silos and limiting queues for them as well. Encourage them to focus on self-service Operations as a Service (OaaS) as much as possible.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Microsoft completes £5.8bn GitHub takeover and pledges to maintain ‘dev-first ethos’

      “It doesn’t surprise me that GitHub users are uneasy with this acquisition,” Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open Xchange said to INQ.

      “After all, the world’s largest open source repository is now following in the footsteps of Nokia and Skype, who have both become infinitely less popular and innovative since being acquired by Microsoft. Also, Microsoft seems to be competing with everyone on GitHub, which doesn’t ease the pain it creates with the acquisition. Microsoft has a history of being a very bad partner.”

    • How Github, and open source software, helps solve social issues with code

      In today’s news, technology is often maligned with stories of how the industry is driving racial and gender biases, eroding personal privacy, destabilising democracies and isolating communities. At the same time, technology such as open source software is bringing together people from all walks of life to address pressing social issues, one line of code at a time.

      GitHub — a cloud based platform for developers — is at the centre of the open source movement, playing host to a community of 31 million programmers globally contributing their time and expertise to software projects.


  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • The D Language Front-End Finally Merged Into GCC 9

      The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) has a new language front-end! The D language support has finally been merged.

      The D language support for GCC has long been sought after with over the past two years going through several revisions. Back in June of 2017 is when the GCC Steering Committee approved of adding the D front-end but it’s taken more than a year to get the code in adequate shape for merging.

      Last month there was a renewed push for D in GCC 9 while on Sunday evening that front-end and related code was finally merged to mainline GCC.

    • Six Years After Launch, AMD Piledriver CPU Tuning Gets Reworked In LLVM Clang

      Six years after AMD introduced “Piledriver” as the successor to the original Bulldozer CPUs, the LLVM Clang compiler is seeing a revised scheduling model for these processors that can yield faster performance of generated code targeting this older class of AMD CPUs.

      Piledriver cores ended up a range of CPUs from the FX-8300 series through the FX-9590, many APUs including the A10-6800K, more than a dozen mobile parts, and also some Opteron CPUs. Piledriver as a reminder was based on a 32nm SOI process, offered better IPC over the original Bulldozer microarchitecture, bumped the clock speeds, and other incremental improvements.


  • Science

    • Retraction Watch Launches Its Database of Papers

      On Thursday (October 25), the blog Retraction Watch, which tracks problematic scientific literature, released an online database of more than 18,000 papers and conference materials that have been retracted since the 1970s.

  • Security

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 120 – Bloomberg and hardware backdoors – it’s already happening

      Josh and Kurt talk about Bloomberg’s story about backdoors and motherboards. The story is probably false, but this is almost certainly happening already with hardware. What does it mean if your hardware is already backdoored by one or more countries?

    • Benefits of DNS Service Locality

      Operating one’s own local DNS resolution servers is one of the simplest and lowest-cost things an IT administrator can do to monitor and protect applications, services, and users from potential risks.

    • Serious Vulnerability Discovered In X.Org Server Affects Major Linux and BSD Variants

      An Indian researcher discovered an important local privilege escalation vulnerability that poses a security threat to most Linux distros and BSD variants. Exploiting the bug in the X.Org server could allow an attacker to gain root access.

    • X.Org Flaw Allows Privilege Escalation in Linux Systems [Ed: Alarmist because: 1) it is already patched (not zero-day). 2) most servers do not have X installed, no reason to either. 3) requires account on the server. 4) needs remote access to exploit. "Also would be limited by proper seccomp policies and/or AppArmor / SELinuxl" Sean Kerner says‏]

      Uncovered by security researcher Narendra Shinde, the issue arises because of an “incorrect command-line parameter validation.”

    • Meet ‘Gophish’, the open source Phishing Toolkit that simulates real world phishing attacks

      Phishing attacks these days are a common phenomenon. Fraudsters use technical tricks and social engineering to deceive users into revealing sensitive personal information such as usernames, passwords, account IDs, credit card details and social security numbers through fake emails.

      Gophish provides a framework to simulate real-world phishing attacks. This enables industries to avail phishing training to make employees more aware of security in their business. Gophish is an open-source phishing toolkit written in Golang, specially designed for businesses and penetration testers. It is This means that the Gophish releases do not have any dependencies. It’s easy to set up and run and can be hosted in-house.


      Damage caused by phishing in a corporate environment can have dangerous repercussions like loss or misuse of confidential data, ruining the consumer’s trust in the brand, use of corporate network resources etc.

      The Gophish framework aims to help industry professionals learn how to tackle phishing attacks with its ease of setup, use, and powerful results.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Your browser is hijacked, now what?

      A browser is hijacked by software that has been installed on your system, sometimes something you’ve installed on purpose, sometimes something you’ve installed without knowing it. Hijackers often redirect your traffic to ad-heavy sites and inject ads directly into your browser. They can change your browser settings, including your homepage and search engine preference.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Microsoft Will Keep Pursuing Military Deals Amid Employee Concerns
    • Mail-Bomber “False Flag” Theories Overwhelm Right-Wing Discourse

      It might be interesting to start your stopwatches the moment an act of terrorism or mass killing is first reported and note how long it will be until someone on the internet chimes in about how the violence is a “false flag” operation or another nefarious conspiracy of some kind.

      In the case of the recent spate of explosive devices mailed to leading liberal political figures and CNN, the stopwatch would have run only a few minutes. Almost immediately, conspiracist websites were posting theories about the “fake bombs.” Some people learned about the bombs by reading the “false flag” theories first.

      Within the day, conspiracists and other far-right extremists were competing to cook up the wildest variations on the false-flag theories, as well as to demand investigations into who really sent the bombs, with many implying that the victims sent the bombs to themselves. The meme was especially popular on white nationalist websites.

      Milo Yiannopoulos praised the would-be bomber on Instagram, saying it was “disgusting and sad (that they didn’t go off, and the daily beast didn’t get one).”

    • Sweden not stopping Saudi weapons exports after ‘horrible’ journalist death

      Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has called the suspected murder of a journalist at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul “horrible”, but did not immediately support calls to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia.


      Swedish military exports rose by 2 percent last year, totalling 11.3 billion kronor, of which exports to Saudi Arabia accounted for 7 million kronor.

    • Political class scrambling to cover up its murderous ways

      Down through the ages, presidents and princes around the world have been murderers and accessories to murder, as the great Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin and Walter Lunden document in statistical detail in their masterwork Power and Morality.

      One of their main findings was that the behaviour of ruling groups tends to be more criminal and amoral than that of the people over whom they rule.

      What rulers crave most is deniability. But with the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by his own government, the poisoning of former Russian spies living in Britain, and whispers that the head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, may have been executed in China, the curtain has been slipping more than usual of late. In Riyadh, Moscow, and even Beijing, the political class is scrambling to cover up its lethal ways.

    • I went to Brooklyn for the chance to see a satellite image of the area in the Nevada desert that mysteriously wasn’t updated on Google Earth for 8 years

      There’s a small section of land on Google Earth that wasn’t updated for eight years.

      From afar, the area looks relatively insignificant. There are a few dry lake beds, scattered in an otherwise empty Nevada desert. But those lake beds are located just a few miles from the Tonopah Test Range, located within the Nellis Test and Training Range and controlled by the Department of Energy and Air Force. The land is used by the government to test highly-secretive weapons and technology.

    • Military Mystery Solved: Two Guys Out-Googled Google for an Image of Secretive US Base
    • Military Mystery Solved: Two Guys Out-Googled Google for an Image of Secretive US Base

      Satellite imagery of an experimental military base that was missing from Google Maps for years is now available … but you’ll have to go to New York City to see it.

      Engineer Dhruv Mehrotra, a resident at the technology and art nonprofit Eyebeam, and writer Brendan Byrne leased the swatch of satellite imagery from the company Apollo Mapping for $1,984.50, after noticing that Google Maps hadn’t updated an area over the Tonopah Test Range in southwestern Nevada for eight years.

      The leased imagery can be shown only to people within Mehrotra and Byrne’s “company,” so the pair hosted an event yesterday (Oct. 25) called “Internal Use Only” to showcase the bird’s-eye view of the experimental military installment. Visitors had to sign paperwork declaring themselves temporary employees of Eyebeam in order to legally see the satellite shot. [15 Secretive Places You Can Now See on Google Earth (And 3 You Can't)]

    • Reaping What We Sow

      So, Trump’s fans want to send time-bombs through the mail and Trump recommends violence against those with whom he disagrees (CNN, Dems, Liberals, blacks, women, …). So now he reaps what he sows. Membership in the Republican Party (Government of Pigs) is declining. Support of women and youth are declining. The old white men are dying off… The GOP are going to lose control of the House of Representatives next week and losing control of the Senate is still possible. Folks like Heitkamp are raising tons of money for the final week of campaigning. The “toss-up” seats in the Senate have some very narrow margins. Last week may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    • Three Palestinian teenagers killed by Israeli drone strike as tensions mount on Gaza strip

      Dr Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, who released the names of the boys, called the killings a “war crime”.

    • Did the Saudis Bury Jamal Khashoggi’s Body Facing Mecca?

      I knew just what Jamal Khashoggi’s murder really meant in the context of the Middle East last week when I realised just who I’d have to call to explain it to me. Whom would I telephone to learn what was going on? Why, of course, I’d call Jamal Khashoggi. And that’s why his murder is so important. Because he was, as he knew, a lone and important Arab journalist who did not listen – not any more — to His Master’s Voice. And that, of course, was his problem.

      This disgusting, dangerous, frightening, dirty murder – and don’t tell me a man of 60 who dies in a “fistfight” with 15 men isn’t murder – shows not just the Saudi government up for what it is, but it shows us up for what we are, too. How come we keep falling in love with Arab states – Israel does this, too – and then cry out with shock when they turn out to be extremely unpleasant and very violent?

      To answer this question, there are already several clues. Trump’s initial reaction that the Saudi story was “credible” – when it clearly was not – was a start. Then the murder became “the worst cover-up in history”. It was the quality of the murder that was troubling him, you see. These chaps didn’t know how to cover their tracks. He had already blurted out that he didn’t want to give up US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. We had our own beloved prime minister referring to Jamal’s gruesome murder as a “killing”, rather than a murder. Then – and this was indicative because it was not contradicted – we had Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, referring to the murder as a “huge and grave mistake”. “MISTAKE”. Let me repeat that. MISTAKE!

    • Regime Change In Riyadh? The CIA Has Just Publicly Dumped MbS

      A fascinating FT article suggests Western intelligence agencies have now dumped Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman after he’s been personally accused by world leaders — foremost among them Turkey’s President Erdogan and US President Trump — for ordering the brutal murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Implicit in the article, rich with quotes from current and former US and Western intelligence officials, is the further suggestion that these very intel operatives appear to now be actively seeking MbS’ ouster.

      But the other fascinating aspect to FT’s commentary is what it reveals about both the mainstream media and intelligence ‘deep state’ perspective on the kingdom and Middle East politics in general: a head of state is deemed good or bad insofar they are amenable to the goals of Western intelligence agencies. While this might be obvious to any student of the history of covert action in the 20th century, it is rare to see it acknowledged so out in the open in a mainstream publication. The FT article reads like a “bragging rights” competition over which crown prince could be better formed by US intelligence: MbS or his recently ousted cousin Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN)?


      Or rather we should say, as a prior (and rare) New York Times piece pointed out, the Saudis are in reality “both the arsonists and the firefighters” regarding jihadi terrorism in the region and the globe, suppressing the extremist threat domestically while channeling it as a tool or extension of the Washington-Riyadh axis’ geopolitical goals (essentially using al-Qaeda to thwart Iran, and as a blunt force proxy for regime change from 1980s Afghanistan to Kosovo to Libya to Syria).

      Last week CIA chief Gina Haspel flew to Turkey to gather more details on Jamal Khashoggi’s murder — no doubt she’s also weighing MbS’s relationship with the agency.

    • CIA Director Haspel’s Turkey trip and naked truths

      As far as we can know, that was the first visit of Ms. Haspel to Turkey in her new capacity after she was sworn in as the first female CIA director five months ago. Haspel is not a stranger to Turkey. She had served as an intelligence officer in Turkey presumably in the early 2000s and speaks Turkish. As CIA director, her counterpart in Turkey is crystal clear. What stroke me in stories in Turkish media on her trip was the rambling that suggested “She may or may not have met the chief of the National Intelligence Organization [MİT].”


      It is quite likely that the intelligence committees at the Senate and the House would invite Haspel to closed sessions to testify on what evidence she was shared in Turkey over Khashoggi’s killing. If that happens, we can be almost certain that precious details of her testimony will be leaked.

      Haspel’s appearance in front of the committees at the U.S. Congress might leave an exit strategy, which is silently being shaped between Ankara, Riyadh and Washington, open to serious challenges.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange, Ecuador and the Dangers of Farce

      This is the next stage of the Julian Assange chronicles: from the summit of information disclosures and meddlesome revelations on classified state matters, the Australian rabblerouser now finds himself the subject of a new round of jokes and ribbing. WikiLeaks, in short, must be wary of the dangers posed by a new campaign of farce.

      Satire, humour and ad hominem attacks can have the effect of wounding and deflating. When directed against dissidents from the vantage point of tradition, the effect can be calculating and delegitimising. For Chelsea Manning, a querulous attitude to the US military, a confused matter of gender and lingering resentment were furnished as weapons against her role as a genuine whistleblower. Whistleblowers, or so goes this line of reasoning, cannot suffer “delusions of grandeur”. They must be calm, focused, and scrupulously clean.

      Assange, as with others associated with the vocation of exposing the asymmetrical nature of power and its impacts, has found himself repeatedly depicted in fashions that supposedly undermine the rationale for transparency politics. He is an enemy of conventional forms of stratified power, and must duly account for dirtying that sty in advancing an approach that insists upon transnational networks “which function,” writes Raffi Khatchadourian, “outside norms of state sovereignty that have held for centuries.”

    • Julian Assange demands court translator who is ‘fluent in AUSTRALIAN’

      Ecuadorean Judge Karina Martinez has said it is absolutely crucial that Assange testifies and that another translator who understands his dialect is found.

  • Finance

    • Tech’s Ethical Crisis Over Venture Capital Goes Beyond Saudi Arabia

      Saudi Arabia’s massive investments in American tech companies have been hard to ignore. The kingdom contributed $45 billion to the SoftBank Vision Fund, which has invested in American tech companies like Doordash, Wag, WeWork, Slack, and Uber. Saudi investors have also directly joined fundraising rounds totaling $6.2 billion over the last five years, according to data gathered by Quartz, though their exact contributions were not disclosed. In the last two years, those investments have included Lyft, Snap (Snapchat’s parent company), and the virtual reality startup Magic Leap.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Texans say voting machines changing straight-ticket choices

      An advisory to county clerks and elections administrators issued earlier this week by Keith Ingram, the secretary of state’s office’s director of elections, said, “We have heard from a number of people voting on Hart eSlate machines that when they voted straight ticket, it appeared to them that the machine had changed one or more of their selections to a candidate from a different party.”

    • The Rise of Shadow Parties

      A Brennan Center analysis shows both Republicans and Democrats have found a new way to set up super PACs and rake in dark money, further weakening our campaign finance system

    • New Green Strategy: Change the Electorate, Not the Election

      How little do elected officials care about climate change? Look no further than a recent U.S. Senate hearing about the biggest threats facing the country, where lawmakers asked a single question about global warming during the entire three-hour event.

      Sadly, this hearing occurred just days after the world’s leading scientific body on climate change warned that the world has a mere dozen years to avoid catastrophic impacts.

      Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, getting elected officials in the United States to commit to genuine solutions has been slow going, to say the least.

      Nathaniel Stinnett has some idea of why and what to do about it.

      Stinnett worked for years as a consultant and advisor on political campaigns and for advocacy nonprofits. A few years ago he noticed that polls showed that climate change and environmental issues were usually last among priorities for likely voters.

    • Texas E-Voting Machines Switching Votes For Non-Nefarious But Still Stupid Reasons

      For all the talk about election interference from nation-states, there’s been not nearly as much concern about devices themselves threatening the integrity of the voting system. E-voting machines have long been an insecure mess. On top of that, they’re prone to introducing errors — either through flaws in the devices themselves or by users who aren’t familiar with how they work.

      The latter seems to be the issue in Texas, where voters have been complaining about their votes being switched. What sounds like just another crazy conspiracy theory may be nothing more than software not behaving the way people think it should behave.

    • Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight Projects a Record Number of Women Will Be Elected This Year

      Driven by women’s anger at Donald Trump, 125 to 150 female members could take seats in Congress next year.

    • What To Do When White Nationalism Lives Too Close to Home

      Native Bay Area Black folks like myself are all too familiar with a form of NIMBYism that lives in progressive places. This strand of parochialism is less about the ills of urban development (although that certainly exists), than the dogged belief that this region has somehow escaped the litany of “isms” that plague the rest of the country. Over the years, friends, colleagues, and even random strangers have earnestly assured me that prejudice and discrimination do not exist in _____, fill in the city or the organization or the industry; that my experiences of bias, unequal treatment, or disrespect were isolated events or misunderstandings—on my part; and that we (really, me) were fortunate to live in a place that embraced difference and where moving up in life came to those who had earned it. Racism? Not here. Not in our backyard. And then the 2016 Presidential race with its virulent celebration of rage took us all down the rabbit hole into this country’s foundational hatreds and landed squarely in the Bay Area.


      Walking to my car, I came across a group of large White men making their way up to Sproul Plaza, the campus’s public square. Three men broke away from the current of the crowd and lunged towards me with unexpected speed. A wall of rosy, fleshy faces wearing down vests, blue jeans, and MAGA caps backed me up against the side of a building, chanting, “Build the Wall! Build the Wall! Build the Wall!” In that moment, all I could see was their faces, their eyes, their curling, sputtering lips animated with mirthful rage. Within seconds, it was over, and they disappeared back into the roiling mass.

      So here is what’s true: Despite the extensive media coverage, the motley mix of White supremacists, neo-Nazis, Proud Boys, and Trump supporters in Berkeley, as well as at extremist rallies around the country, were vastly outnumbered by opposing protesters at every turn. And while these events were not always free of violence, the majority of those protesting were animated but peaceful.

    • Bolsonaro’s supporters in Brazil are threatening journalists and spreading fake news
    • Brazil: Stabbing, Facebook Censorship Fail to Stop Conservative Jair Bolsonaro‘s Presidential Lead

      Jair Bolsonaro, conservative candidate in Brazil’s presidential race, is likely to achieve a historic victory Sunday despite an assassination attempt limiting his campaign schedule and reports of censorship on Facebook.


      The 63-year-old former army captain has also had the disadvantage of recovering from a near-fatal last month at the hands of a socialist who told police he was “sent by God” to kill the candidate. The incident rendered him largely unable to campaign and participate in public events. Rival Haddad criticized Bolsonaro’s failure to turn up to presidential debates, his opponent as a “fool” who was unable to defend his ideas.

    • England – the nation that is not to be named?

      When UK party leaders regale their conferences with promises on health, schools, social care and housing their actual writ runs no further than the English border. Outside England most domestic policy will be determined by other politicians, usually from different parties, and elected – with no English input – to their own parliaments. That has been the effect and the intention of 20 years of devolution.

      While the leaders do address major UK-wide issues, of course- not least Brexit and the ‘end of austerity’ – for the larger part these are conferences in and about England. Yet, quite bizarrely, England, as England, plays almost no part in the language or vision of the party leaders. This year Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable managed to name England just once between them. Even the leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru named England four times between them (though not necessarily in the most complimentary context).

      The leaders’ distain for England is mirrored by their juniors. James Brokenshire, whose responsibilities at Communities and Local Government are almost entirely English, spoke at his party conference for 19 minutes without naming England once. John Healey only makes Labour housing policy for England alone but also failed to name the nation. Vague formulations like ‘our country’, or even saying ‘Britain’ when the target audience is England is endemic across the body politic.


      The Prime Minister’s tortuous European negotiations are constrained by voters (and MPs) who don’t value the union or the peace process as much as she. Jeremy Corbyn struggles to win working class English voters even when they support many Labour policies. Across Western Europe ignored and unrepresented communities have proved fertile ground for dangerous populist movements. Rather than ignore the English it might be better if our parties began to talk to them and work out how to give them a democratic voice.

    • Have Republicans Rallied the Native Vote?

      With midterms just weeks away, tribes are mobilizing voters in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld a 2017 North Dakota Voter ID law requiring residents to provide identification with a current street address to vote.

      The law disproportionately affects Native voters in North Dakota and could curtail the Native vote in a state where Democratic incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is trailing Republican challenger U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer. Native voters typically vote for Democrats.

      Tribes are now pushing back against disenfranchisement of Native voters by Republican leadership in North Dakota, but it remains to be seen if that will save Heitkamp’s seat.

      “Whatever happens in the Dakotas can be a prediction of what the country could look like,” Allison Renville, a citizen of the Sisseton Sioux Tribe, said. “The bigger question is, how can we see each other as human beings who are vulnerable to poverty and suffering instead of in partisan ways?”

      Her reservation is called “the Triangle” locally because of its shape. Like the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on the other side of the state, it straddles both North and South Dakota.

    • Rabbi: Trump & GOP Have Blood on Their Hands for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting & Hateful Violence

      Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Melvin Wax, Irving Younger, Daniel Stein, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Bernice Simon and Sylvan Simon. Those are the names of the 11 worshipers who were gunned down Saturday in Pittsburgh, when a 46-year-old white man named Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue and opened fire, yelling “All Jews must die.” It is believed to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. We speak with Ari Lev Fornari, a rabbi at Kol Tzedek Synagogue in West Philadelphia who has worked with HIAS, a Jewish agency that aids refugees that the gunman targeted online. We also speak with Dr. David Glosser, a retired neuropsychologist who has volunteered with HIAS in Philadelphia. Glosser is the uncle of Stephen Miller, a key political adviser to President Trump who has pushed for a crackdown on immigrants. Glosser speaks directly to his Stephen Miller, saying, “It’s absolutely unacceptable to utilize hatred and bigotry to advance your political ends. This is a shallow, shabby expression of ambition. It’s poisonous to the country, destructive to society, and a complete repudiation of your own background and your own past.”

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s dilemma – what to do with monster he has created?

      Facebook seems surprised that its monopolistic platform has been weaponised by political actors. So who’s going to tackle the perfect storm, asks John Naughton?

      Ponder this: in 2004 a Harvard sophomore named Zuckerberg sits in his dorm room hammering away at a computer keyboard. He’s taking an idea he ‘borrowed’ from two nice-but-dim Harvard undergraduates and writing the computer code needed to turn it into a social-networking site. He borrows $1,000 from his friend Eduardo Saverin and puts the site onto an internet web-hosting service. He calls it ‘The Facebook’.

      Fourteen years later, that kid has metamorphosed into the 21st-century embodiment of John D Rockefeller and William Randolph Hearst rolled into one. In the early 20th century, Rockefeller controlled the flow of oil while Hearst controlled the flow of information. In the 21st century Zuckerberg controls the flow of the new oil (data) and the information (because people get much of their news from platform that he controls). His empire spans more than 2.2bn people, and he exercises absolute control over it — as a passage in the company’s 10-K SEC filing makes clear.

    • We Brought Our Election Simulation Game To Chicago… And Learned The Chicago Way

      You may recall that, back in June, I wrote about a bizarre situation in which an election simulation game, that I helped co-design, called “Machine Learning President,” somehow had some of the rules sheets leaked to Rebekah Mercer, from which they were leaked once again to Jane Mayer at the New Yorker, who wrote up an article there, not knowing the provenance of the game. This caused many, many people to assume that the Mercers had somehow made up this game to “relive” the success of the 2016 election. This resulted in a ton of angry headlines and tweets — including the host of NPR’s comedic news-based “game show” Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Peter Sagal, who alerted his friend, Cards Against Humanity designer, Max Temkin, who tweeted angrily about the game.

      The next day, when I wrote up my post explaining what the game really was about — we had a lot of people reach out to ask if they, too, could play the game. Unfortunately, it’s a ton of work to put on, and the crew who designed the game — lead by Berit Anderson and Brett Horvath from Scout.ai and Guardians.ai, who initially conceived of the game, along with Randy Lubin (who is our partner in our CIA game project, and science fiction writer, Eliot Peper — are all super busy. However, by far the most aggressive in getting us to play the game were Max Temkin and Peter Sagal.

    • Trump Didn’t Destroy the Conservative Movement — He Cashed In On Its Darkest Tendencies

      Donald Trump has given rise to a great deal of handwringing by those conservatives who seek to distance themselves from him. Salon’s Chauncey DeVega recently interviewed one of the most thoughtful of those, Max Boot, whose new book, “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right,” is more honest than most. But the “corrosion” of the title betrays a lingering sense that something noble has been betrayed — in contrast, say, with John Dean’s starkly titled “Conservatives Without Conscience” from 2006.

      Nonetheless, as Jonathan Chait’s review puts it, “the truly radical act in ‘The Corrosion of Conservatism’ is its clear-eyed excavation of the movement’s history,” which entails recognizing that the crazies have always been there. William F. Buckley, for instance, “renounced the president of the John Birch Society while continuing to endorse the organization itself, which was a large and powerful constituency,” Chait notes.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The artless art of censorship in Vietnam

      A woman with a flower in her mouth and hair blowing in the wind.

      This was an attractive illustration that painter Thanh Chuong drew for the cover of a local newspaper in Hanoi for its spring issue.

      However, soon after the paper was published, a cultural czar, a bureaucrat tasked with reviewing and censoring art and culture-related products in the country, demanded that all issues be recalled, because, kid thee not, the woman’s hair was too “unkempt.”

      The official maintained that such a hairstyle was unbefitting of a “civilized city” like Hanoi. What’s more, the fact that she was holding a flower in her mouth implied that the country was too poor to afford its citizens a decent meal, so they had to resort to chewing on “blades of grass.”

    • European Union steps up Internet censorship in the name of opposing “disinformation”

      The European Union (EU) summit on October 18 resolved to further tighten the censorship of the Internet. It also threatened with sanctions and penalties any party that diverges from the prescribed political line in the 2019 European election campaign. This is the response of European governments to growing opposition to militarism, social cuts and right-wing extremism.
      In the summit’s official conclusions, the European Council calls for “measures to combat cyber and cyber-enabled illegal and malicious activities and build strong cybersecurity.” The EU should be empowered to “respond to and deter cyber-attacks through EU restrictive measures.”

    • China’s New Blockchain Rules Require Censorship, Monitoring

      Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released draft regulations for blockchain firms who operate in the country of 1.4 billion people, and it’s inviting public feedback until Nov. 2. The internet regulator on Oct. 19 proposed rules that, according to Article 1, will “safeguard national security and public interests … and promote the healthy and orderly development of blockchain technology.”

      But China’s ruling party has an interesting notion of what constitutes “healthy and orderly.”

      CAC’s document is raising eyebrows for removing internet-based anonymity; censoring controversial views; requiring the collection of national ID card numbers; and subjecting blockchain providers and users to 24/7 monitoring. Firms will also need to store people’s data and their usage of services, and to provide this information to officials when requested.

      Ironically, all this is done via distributed ledger technology (DLT) that has been applied in the West and elsewhere to protect privacy and free speech. And to implement a decentralized framework to governance. What Chinese officials didn’t clarify is how operators can comply with the above requirements given that blockchain captures unchangeable, immutable records that are publicly viewable.

    • Cyberspace Administration of China Releases Draft for the Regulation and Censorship of Data on Blockchain

      The People’s Republic of China, known for its strong censorship of the Internet, is at it again. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released a draft proposal on Oct. 19 that determines how companies and individuals interact with blockchain networks.

      Under the proposal, individuals have to provide their real names and national identification card numbers before making use of blockchain-related services. Blockchain companies can censor content deemed to be a threat to national security and are not allowed to publish information prohibited by the country’s laws.

    • Lawsuit claims Forrest Co. Jail censorship policies are unconstitutional

      A civil lawsuit filed by the Human Rights Defense Center claims inmates at the Forrest County Jail are being denied access to reading materials due to unconstitutional censorship policies.
      The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, names Forrest County, Sheriff Billy McGee and unnamed jail staff as defendants.
      The HRDC is a non-profit organization that provides inmates across the country with information about their legal and civil rights and ways to access education while behind bars.
      The lawsuit claims most books and publications are banned under Forrest County Jail policies, and inmates are only allowed to read “the Bible and sometimes other Christian publications.”

    • New board in place at Film Censorship Board

      The new chairman at the Film Censorship Board is Grace Showan and her deputy is Fabian Todd.

    • The BBC is wrong: university censorship is definitely not a myth

      Campus censorship is a myth. That’s the new line being spun by student union officials and university leaders in response to the campaigners, commentators and politicians raising concerns about the increasingly censorious culture on British campuses. The extent of No Platforming, Safe Space censorship and newspaper bans, they say, is being exaggerated by right-wing hacks desperate for something to fulminate about.

      Up to now, it’s an argument that’s been easy enough to dismiss given the very people making it are usually the ones responsible for the campus censorship we read about. But a BBC ‘Fact Check’, purporting to back-up their claims, has, irritatingly, given them a bit of a boost.

    • Facebook Deletes Louis Farrakhan Post Comparing Jews to Termites

      The video was of a speech Farrakhan gave in Detroit earlier this month to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March, his famous rally in Washington, D.C.

    • Farrakhan’s termite problem
    • Social media platform used by suspected Pittsburgh shooter denies responsibility for shooting

      The website noted that Bowers posted accounts on other social media platforms.

    • Studies find rise in anti-Semitic activity on Twitter, Instagram

      A study released Friday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization that tracks anti-Jewish sentiment, reported the existence of “online propaganda offensives” containing anti-Semitic content designed to intimidate Jewish people and Jewish journalists ahead of the 2018 midterms.

    • Study Finds Marked Rise in Far Right’s Use of Anti-Semitic Attacks on Social Media

      Bots have played a critical role in anti-Semitic attacks online. Nearly 30 percent of the accounts that repeatedly tweeted terms meant to denigrate Jews were judged to likely be bots, according to the analysis. These accounts made more derogatory comments about Jews on average than accounts that seemed to be from humans – 43 percent of the tweets even though they represented just 28 percent of the accounts.

    • Mail bombing suspect repeatedly threatened Democrats on Twitter

      Cesar Altieri Sayoc, the suspect in the nationwide bombing campaign against critics of President Trump, regularly took to Twitter to make thinly veiled death threats against other users and peppered some of the targets with abuse, according to a quick review of an account authorities believe belongs to Sayoc. Twitter initially allowed the posts to remain despite its stated policy barring threats.

    • Twitter says it ‘made a mistake’ for not removing threatening tweets from Florida bomb suspect

      After the account was surfaced on Friday, Rochelle Ritchie tweeted several screenshots of threatening tweets that @hardrock2016 sent to her. She also posted a screenshot of the Twitter’s response to her report: “we have reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter Rules against abusive behavior.”

    • Paypal bans Gab following Pittsburgh shooting

      Earlier today, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and killed eleven people before being apprehended by police. The suspect has since been identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who appears to have had a history of anti-Semitic speech on the social network Gab. Following these revelations, Paypal banned the site from its payment platform — the latest action taken against the troublesome social network by a major technology company.

    • The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Is the ​Inevitable Result of​ Trump’s Vile Nationalism

      Shame on all those who have been silent—or, worse, supported the president’s agenda.

    • Will the Supreme Court Strike a Blow Against Prison Censorship?

      Access to the monthly magazine Prison Legal News (PLN) is one of the few ways prisoners learn about criminal justice issues, including their rights as prisoners. Most incarcerated individuals across America have access to the publication.

      The exception? Every prisoner in Florida.

      Since 2009, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) has banned every issue of PLN, claiming that the advertisements in the magazine raise security concerns. FDOC’s blanket ban on PLN makes Florida an outlier. No other state, county or even our federal government has a de facto ban on PLN because of its ads.

    • Subtle censorship more prominent in India: Actor Shahnaab Alam

      Actor-producer Shahnaab Alam on Saturday said “subtle censorship” is more prominent in India instead of the legal one, and that people’s sentiments are getting hurt more easily due to films than in the past.

      The filmmaker also batted for complete elimination of the censorship process and advocated the rating system like in the US and some European countries.

      “There are two kinds of censorships in India — one is the legalised one. But, there is a whole lot of subtle censorship in India. Many sections do not agree and we have backlashes. There is no law and order support,” Alam said.

    • Iranian filmmaker Mehdi Rahmani: Artists thrive on censorship

      Ans. Today, more than ever, the people in the West are being drawn towards Asian cinema and culture at large. There is a greater audience for films from India, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Iran. Also, let’s not forget that Asian cinema is very rich in terms of human emotions, as opposed to Hollywood which is unable to look beyond superhero franchises at this point of time.

    • Nandita Das on ‘Manto’, films and censorship

      “He fought against censorship — something that we are also grappling with now ourselves. He talked about identities which were beyond national, religious and caste. That is what is dividing us today, not just in India but the world over. He’s so relevant,” said Das in an interview in August when she was in Dubai to attend Mehfil-e-Urdu 2018.


      Manto was tried for obscenity six times and every single time he fought it because he believed in true literature and what art is. He knew why art cannot be deemed as obscene just because you take a word or sentence out of context. He fought against censorship — something that we are also grappling with now ourselves. He talked about identities which were beyond national, religious and caste. That is what is dividing us today, not just in India but the world over. He’s so relevant. This film was my way of responding to what’s happening around me. I took refuge in Manto. I am not trying to appease anybody here. I told a story that moved me.

    • Opinion: Silenced Into Censorship? – Bangladesh’s New Censorship Project

      Last week, the Bangladesh government revealed its proposals for a four-month project to monitor social media sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp, ahead of the upcoming general election. The project led by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite anti-crime unit, will detect anti-state propaganda on the internet, bdnews24 reports. This is the latest development in a series of media reforms introduced by the Bangladesh government in its vigorous clampdown on political dissent.

    • IUP holds lecture on censorship in comic books
    • Google’s latest tool may help fight media censorship [Ed: Google is googlebombing the word censorship to make it seem like the company is against what it actually does all the time]
    • Google app tested in Venezuela takes swipe at press censors
    • Sony Underfire in Renewed PS4 Censorship Row
    • Art Censorship Panel Kindles Lively Community Conversation
    • India Listed Yet Again Among World’s Worst for Unsolved Journalist Murders
    • Civil rights groups call for tech companies to crack down on hate speech
    • The war consensus and media censorship w/ Ajamu Baraka

      Lee Camp speaks with Ajamu Baraka about the bipartisan war agenda, and why dissident voices are being silenced. Then, he discusses poverty in America with Naomi Karavani.

    • The EU call it copyright, but it is massive Internet censorship and must be stopped

      Xnet (https://xnet-x.net/en/), an activist group working for civil rights in the Internet, is the founder member in Spain of the #SaveYourInternet coalition, which has among its participants groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), European Digital Rights (EDRi) and others. We have come together to organise a campaign to inform the public about the hidden dangers of the new European Copyright Directive.

      With the approval in the European Parliament of the final text of the Copyright Directive, which will be definitely put to the vote in a very few months’, the European Union has lost a historic opportunity to produce copyright legislation adapted for the Internet in the twenty-first century. What the European Parliament will finally vote on is a technophobic text, tailor-made for the interests of the copyright monopolies which, moreover, doesn’t guarantee the right of authors to have a reasonable standard of living as a result of their work.

      If the law is eventually passed, it will be used for wholesale curtailment of freedoms and more censorship, in keeping with the bizarre idea that anything that doesn’t produce hard cash for the major players – which doesn’t mean authors! – has to be prohibited and eliminated.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Can politics ever be compassionate?

      To turn towards suffering and make that the centerpiece of your decisions takes guts and determination.


      In the media world we need new codes of conduct that commit newspaper editors to steer clear of personal slander and stereotyping language. Under such a code, corrosive attacks on the press as “enemies of the people” by President Trump and others, or Boris Johnson’s incendiary description of Muslim women as looking like “letterboxes,” would never be allowed or tolerated.

      It’s also important to work with politicians on reforms to the policy-making process that make cross-party working easier, while helping to boost the numbers of representatives in parliament or Congress from less privileged backgrounds so that those entering politics have a better understanding of the lives of the people they govern.

    • A message to progressives delivered in Rome: ground zero of the European crisis

      DiEM25 will contest the European elections in Italy, with a European programme offering a coherent alternative to the implicit but destructive alliance between the oligarchic establishment and Salvini’s nationalism.

    • Immigrant children still being drugged at shelter despite judge’s order, lawyers say

      The government is violating a federal judge’s order to stop medicating immigrant children held at a troubled Texas shelter without proper consent and to move the children to other housing, attorneys for the children allege in new court filings.

      U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered July 30 that immigrant children held at Shiloh Treatment Center could no longer be medicated with psychiatric drugs without the consent of a parent or court authorization and that any children not deemed a danger to themselves or others be moved to less restrictive housing. Gee also found the children should be allowed access to private phone calls.

    • Responding to Anti-Semitic Violence With Solidarity’s Sacred Power

      Like so many, when I first heard the news of the horrific shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue yesterday, I went immediately to the news and could not turn away. The initial reports were sketchy and inconclusive. Eventually it became clear that the outcome was as horrible as we could possibly have feared. As of this writing, 11 Shabbat worshippers at Tree of Life synagogue have been killed. Six people have been wounded.

      Then, like so many, I sought any information I could find about the alleged shooter. I learned that he was a white supremacist named Albert Bowers and that among other things, he had a particular fixation with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the venerable Jewish organization that works to aid and resettle refugees from Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

    • The #MeToo Movement’s Roots in Women Workers’ Rights

      Whenever new protest movements emerge, people look to history for lessons from activists and thinkers who came before. We all stand on the shoulders of those who struggled, sacrificed, and organized to push for a more humane society.

      #MeToo is one such movement. It has not only raised awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault—particularly of women—but is also an example of what happens when those who are relegated to a second-class citizenship status come together to speak out.

      History is filled with courageous and heroic women who launched crusades for women’s liberation and workers rights, and campaigns against rape and other forms of sexual assault. These women were writers and thinkers such as Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ella Baker, Betty Friedan, Dolores Huerta, and many more.

      Another is Rose Schneiderman, an unsung forerunner of the #MeToo movement, who organized women to fight for laws to protect them from, among other exploitation, sexual harassment and assault by higher-ranking men in their work spaces.

    • This Right-Wing Conspiracist Was Actually Just Invited on MSNBC to Discuss the Dangers of Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories

      Right-wing conspiracy theories appear to be the source of two of the most recent horrifying high-profile attacks in the United States this week. First, a series of bombs was sent to multiple Democratic figures and CNN, allegedly by a man who promoted delusional and conspiratoral beliefs about these individuals. And second, on Satuday, a mass shooting killed 11 people and injured several more at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and it was allegedly carried out by a a man who believed anti-Semitic consiracy theories about immigration.

      To discuss this troubling trend, MSNBC brought on a right-wing commentator who has himself trafficked in troubling conspiracy theories — even in recent weeks — but barely acknowledged his checkered past.

      That figure was Erick Erickson. As Media Matters for America documented, he helped promote a right-wing conspiratorial attack against David Hogg, one of the prominent survivors of the Parkland shooting. Those survivors, and Hogg, in particular, were subject to outrageous conspiracy theories and vicious attacks in the right-wing press, and Erickson was a part of that.

    • Trump Is Lying About 9/11 — Again — to Defend His Abominable Behavior

      During his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump faced heavy criticism for repeatedly lying when he claimed that he saw “thousands” of “Arabs” celebrating in New Jersey when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. This was widely panned as an outrageous lie — and a deeply racist one at that — and yet his campaign continued and eventually succeeded.

      Now that he’s president and under fire for his reaction to multiple hateful and terrorizing attacks this week, he’s taken to lying about 9/11 again.

      In addition to the criticism saying Trump stokes irrational and bigoted climate among his followers, many noted that he continued to hold his starkly partisan campaign rallies, despite a need for national unity in the wake of the attacks.

    • American Racial Politics: Increased Barbarity Ahead

      In politics it does matter how your opponent is conducting their campaign. Political races are not like running or swimming races, wherein the most competent, the fastest and the most skilled wins the race regardless of how others compete. Political races are more like very long and protracted Sumo wrestling matches. Why Sumo? Because in Sumo wrestling, although there are rank classifications (the Yokozuna being the highest in terms of power, skill and dignity/grace, and Komusubi the lowest), anybody can go against anybody in official tournaments, and it is not uncommon for a lower ranked rikishi (or wrestler) to throw higher ranked ones. If you’re skilled enough, know a few good tricks, know your opponent’s weaknesses and are agile enough, you can throw down wrestlers twice your size. The flip side, as pertains to political races, is that if you’re wrestling somebody who’s not as skilled as you are or is weaker than you, you seem stronger than you actually are.

      Trump knew Clinton’s weaknesses and knew the vulnerabilities of the electoral system and was able to manipulate those liabilities to persuade enough people to get his way into the presidency, by appealing to the fears and insecurities of workers and lower middle-classes trapped in industrial dead zones created by globalization.

      In seeing how, in retrospect, Trump’s rise to presidency arose partly out of his ability to energize his base (thanks to his racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric), as opposed to Clinton’s inability to energize hers (thanks to her self-avowed standing as the representative of the status quo, a status quo which sucks for millions of voters), and knowing how his presidency has seen a steady level of support among his base due to his ‘rule-by-deepening-divisions’, the report may have presumed that one of the multiple explanatory factors (divisive issues such as race and immigration) was the only operative factor explaining the Trump win in the presidential elections of 2016. Based on this, the report concludes that issues of race and immigration will be the deciding factors in the new electoral coalitions of the future.

    • Amid Torture Accusations, the PA Consolidates Its Links with the CIA

      The news that the US and the Palestinian Authority are planning for CIA Director Gina Haspell to visit Ramallah comes just as Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report which accuses Hamas and the PA of torture. Titled “Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent”, is based on a two-year investigation during which 86 cases in Gaza and the occupied West Bank were analyzed.

    • U.S. Citizen, Detained Without Charge by Trump Administration for a Year, Is Finally Free

      An American illegally detained in Iraq by the U.S. military for more than a year has finally won his freedom.

      On Sunday, after a long court battle, the Trump administration let our client go. Under a settlement agreement, he was released in a third country, where he will once again be a free man. Parts of the agreement are confidential, and he is officially remaining unidentified for his safety and privacy.

      From the moment the American was imprisoned, his own government tried to deny him his constitutional rights. It kept his detention secret, denied his requests for a lawyer, and attempted to forcibly transfer him to a dangerous war zone.

      Fortunately, the courts fulfilled their role and upheld his due process rights. What the Trump administration tried to do was unprecedented, and a series of historic court rulings forced the government to respect the Constitution at virtually every turn. The end result: Unwilling to justify our client’s detention to a court, the government had few choices but to set him free.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Charter Spectrum Jacks Up Rates (Again) Thanks To Merger ‘Synergies’

      When Charter Communications (Spectrum) proposed merging with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016, the company repeatedly promised that the amazing “synergies” would lower rates, increase competition, boost employment, and improve the company’s services. Of course like countless telecom megamergers before it, that never actually happened. Instead, the company quickly set about raising rates to manage the huge debt load. And its service has been so aggressively terrible, the company recently almost got kicked out of New York State, something I’ve never seen in 20 years of covering telecom.

      Cities like Lexington, Kentucky continue to explore their legal options in efforts to hold Charter accountable (something it’s clear the Trump FCC won’t do). Charter, meanwhile, has informed many of these users that they’ll be seeing yet another rate hike in November across the company’s entire, 41-state territory.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UK Court of Appeal applies Actavis in ice rink patent case

      Reiterating the new “markedly different” approach to questions of infringement, Lord Justice Kitchin in a recent case found that Ice-World’s patent was invalid but Icescape’s temporary ice-rink would have infringed as an immaterial variant

      The UK Court of Appeal has applied the Supreme Court decision Actavis v Lilly in a decision involving Icescape and Ice-World, in a decision issued on October 10.

    • New Patent Courts throughout Spain

      Now, the General Council of the Judiciary (“Consejo General del Poder Judicial”) has decided to extend the exclusive jurisdiction to hear not only patent but also trademark and design cases to the Commercial Courts of Granada (Andalusia), Las Palmas (Canary Islands), A Coruña (Galicia) and Bilbao (Basque Country). According to the press release from the General Council of the Judiciary, the creation of additional specialised courts throughout the Spanish territory “combines the principles of proximity and decentralisation of justice and, at the same time, creates deeper specialisation, in line with other EU legislation on intellectual property. The aim is to optimise the material and human resources, speed up processing times of judicial proceedings and unify the approach to particularly complex matters, in which it is advisable that the Judge be familiar with the specific legal concepts of this branch of law”.

    • Trademarks

      • Chinese Supreme Court: hoarding trade marks in bad faith falls within scope of “illegitimate means”

        The trade mark at issue is “闪银” in class 36 (Filing No 13675000). Wuhan Zhongjun Ltd (hereinafter referred to as Wuhan Zhongjun) applied for registration in December 2013, and the trade mark was registered in February 2015.

        In December 2015, Beijing Shanyin Qiyi Ltd (hereinafter referred to as Shanyin Qiyi) initiated the invalidation proceeding against the “闪银” registration. It claimed that Wuhan Zhongjun was a trade mark squatter and had hoarded over 1,000 trade marks in bad faith.

        On 19 October 2016, the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board of China (TRAB) invalidated the disputed trade mark. Dissatisfied with the unfavourable decision, Wuhan Zhongjun brought the case before the Beijing Intellectual Property Court and then the Higher People’s Court of Beijing. Both courts upheld the TRAB’s decision. Wuhan Zhongjun then submitted the retrial petition to the SPC.

    • Copyrights

      • The EU’s Link Tax Will Kill Open Access and Creative Commons News

        All this month, the European Union’s “trilogue” is meeting behind closed doors to hammer out the final wording of the new Copyright Directive, a once-noncontroversial regulation that became a hotly contested matter when, at the last minute, a set of extremist copyright proposals were added and voted through.

        One of these proposals is Article 11, the “link tax,” which requires a negotiated, paid license for links that contain “excerpts” of news stories. The Directive is extremely vague on what defines a “link” or a “news story” and implies that an “excerpt” consists of more than one single word from a news-story (many URLs contain more than a single word from the headline).

        Article 11 is so badly drafted that it’s hard to figure out what it bans and what it permits (that’s why we’ve written to the trilogue negotiators to ask them to clarify key points). What can be discerned is deeply troubling.

      • JustWatch Video Search Engine Calls For MPAA ‘Pirate’ Blacklist

        JustWatch, a search engine that directs consumers to legal movie and TV streaming options, has aired a rather controversial opinion on how to reduce piracy. The service believes the MPAA and Google should maintain a ‘pirate blacklist’ to ensure that infringing websites are removed from search results.

PTAB- And Court-Bashing USPTO Director Consistent With ‘Presidential’ Behaviour in Age of Donald Trump

Posted in America, Patents at 3:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Andrei Iancu

Summary: The attacks on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the courts which support it are becoming difficult to ignore, especially because they’ve escalated from fringe blogs of patent maximalists to the top of the most influential patent office in the world, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

THE previous post, which was about the USPTO, gave some examples of new US patents. The Office continues to grant patents on abstract ideas or mere algorithms (ignoring Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101 as per SCOTUS). There’s also an agenda in some circles to permit patents on nature/life in spite of decisions such as Mayo.

Over the weekend a site which advocates patents on life advertised some J A Kemp nonsense (this firm, J A Kemp, keeps promoting antibody patents at the EPO). Lawyers try to overcome rejections of patents on life and this site has just promoted a “Webinar on Antibody Patenting After Amgen v. Sanofi” (lobbying ‘dressed up’ as a forum or ‘webinar’). It also added this PTAB ‘webinar’ with a stacked panel. “Tyson Benson of Harness, Dickey & Pierce, PLC will address revisions to the PTAB’s Standard Operating Procedures (“SOPs”) relating to paneling of matters before the PTAB and precedential and informative decisions,” it says. These are echo chambers. They’re full of law firms.

Matthew Bultman, another patent maximalist, recently wrote about attempts to push PTAB out of reach. To quote: “The full Federal Circuit on Tuesday refused to reconsider a July ruling that threw out Patent Trial and Appeal Board decisions invalidating parts of two patents challenged by RPX Corp.”

All these efforts to crush the Patent Trial and Appeal Board are nothing new and there are examples as recent as this one from yesterday, wherein Watchtroll amplifies Iancu, a friend of the site. This refers or relates to a speech we recently wrote about (the following day). Basically, Iancu pretends to care what the US public thinks, just like Ajit Pai pretended while lying and rigging the process (fake/false claims of a DDOS attack, fake letters by the millions and so on). Patently-O, a blog of patent maximalists, wrote/published “USPTO Seeks Comments on Proposed Changes to Motion to Amend Practice in AIA Trials,” essentially acting as Iancu’s courier. To quote:

From the USPTO: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a Request for Comments (RFC) about a proposed procedure for motions to amend filed in inter partes reviews, post-grant reviews, and covered business method patent reviews (collectively AIA trials) before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In essence, the proposal includes: providing the parties with the Board’s initial assessment of the proposed amendment early in the process; providing meaningful opportunity to revise, and oppose, proposed amendments; and ensuring that the amendment process concludes within the 12-month statutory timeline. The proposal is based upon six years of experience conducting AIA trials during which time more than 350 motions to amend have been filed.


The USPTO seeks written comments on these topics on or before December 14, 2018.

Watchtroll has USPTO as “author” (same text as above). It increasingly looks like Iancu just runs the Office in collaboration with these patent zealots. They are not scientists.

Iancu’s buddies at Watchtroll meanwhile try to create a scandal over Section 101 by quote-mining one judge (old remarks). Judge-bashing Director with friends who attack the courts? Michael Loney joined in, citing this meeting of AIPLA, an integral part of the patent microcosm. “Counsel causing too large a delay between an appeal being filed and oral hearing being scheduled, the number of issues raised on appeal, and what makes a good appellate lawyer were some of the subjects on Judge Kara Stoll’s mind at the AIPLA Annual Meeting,” says the summary. Loney went on to adding: “Judge Raymond Chen of the Federal Circuit outlined the dramatic shift in the court’s docket in recent years, during the Appellate Track at the AIPLA Annual Meeting yesterday afternoon.”

Why are judges even there? To be tricked and quote-mined? It is not appropriate for judges (James Peterson in the following case) to participate in a propaganda event of extremist lobbying groups such as the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) that looks to undermine law. To quote: “Herbert Hart of McAndrews of Held & Malloy, Ltd. will moderate a panel consisting of Emily Johnson of Amgen Inc.; Barbara McCurdy of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP; and the Hon. James Peterson, Chief District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.”

So these judges are now attending conferences organised and controlled by private law firms. This spoils perception of separability in the patent system.

Alluding to courts like those in Eastern Texas, Watchtroll has also just amplified Iancu gently maligning/bashing the courts. It is no secret that Eastern Texas attracts entities that are still pursuing fake patents or software patents (why does the USPTO even grant all these?) and this latest listing is a reminder of it. We assume that Iancu just wants to somehow broaden patent scope even though he’s not a judge and he should not have a say on this matter (that would be dictatorial).

Regarding forum reviews, the Eastern District of Texas strikes again in this case of Apple, wherein TC Heartland is simply not helping. To quote a report:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld a district court ruling which rejected Apple’s call for its patent dispute with AGIS Software Development to be transferred to a different forum.

AGIS Software sued Apple in June 2017 at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Apple then requested that the lawsuit be transferred to the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Apple’s explained that it had significant ties to the proposed transferee venue and argued that AGIS had “no meaningful connection” to the Texan court. Apple said that AGIS had registered to do business and rented its office space in Texas just a month before filing the lawsuit.

AGIS refuted Apple’s claims, arguing that its connections to the Eastern District of Texas were “not merely to make that district appear more convenient”.

Iancu frames this as a patent scope matter, but it isn’t. This is akin to tax dodges/evasion, wherein companies pretend to exist where they don’t actually exist (in order to reach particular laws or judges).

In any case, going back to PTAB, the chief of IP Watch finally realises that Iancu is to US patent quality what António Campinos (whom he met recently) and Battistelli are to the quality of patents granted by European Patent Office (EPO). Here is what he wrote 3 days ago:

USPTO Director: It’s A New Day At The PTAB! Is It A New Day For Low-Quality Patents?

United States Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu yesterday proclaimed what industry patent attorneys may have wanted to hear, that the recently implemented system for challenging the quality of patents in the United States could be reined in under his leadership.

And far too late (about half a year) HTIA — like EFF and CCIA– realised that Iancu should have been opposed rather than welcomed. They engaged in ‘diplomacy’ and therefore they now have an Office chief who denies patent trolls exist or are even a problem. HTIA tweeted again: “”Unfortunately for legitimate #American business and job creators of all sizes, #patenttrolls and the invalid #patents they wield for their abusive tactics are a very unfortunate reality.” – John Thorne #HTIA responds to @uspto Director #Iancu https://bit.ly/2AonGHS”

Maybe they should compel the Office to follow the courts by actually suing (the USPTO, unlike the EPO, can be sued). They have sufficiently deep pockets to challenge the Office in courts.

It is rather sad to see what the Office has turned into after only a few months of Iancu. Watchtroll has become for Iancu what Fox News is to Donald Trump; it’s a propaganda platform which does not even try to conceal its bias. Yesterday it ended up cherry-picking an inter partes review (IPR) that represents an exception rather than the rule. This is what they said:

The Federal Circuit recently issued a nonprecedential decision in BASF Corporation v. Enthone, Inc. which vacated an earlier decision stemming from an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) which had upheld a patent owned by Enthone as valid over an obviousness challenge asserted by BASF.

But what about those many cases where the Federal Circuit affirms PTAB’s decisions? Not interesting enough to cover or not suiting the agenda/narrative? Days prior Watchtroll was cherry-picking SharkNinja’s story, which is also not the norm. “On Wednesday, October 17th,” it said, “the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a decision denying the institution of an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding petitioned by home appliance developer SharkNinja. The decision leaves in place all claims of a patent asserted against SharkNinja in U.S. district court through a patent infringement case filed by appliance hose manufacturer Flexible Technologies.”

Days prior to this there was this rant about § 101:

The day before CardioNet’s lawsuit was officially dismissed in a largely ceremonial one-page order, Judge Talwani issued a memorandum and order granting InfoBionic’s motion to dismiss after the court found that the ‘207 patent was directed to a patent-ineligible abstract idea when applying the two-step framework laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International. In the first step of the Alice framework, Judge Talwani found that claims of the ‘207 patent were directed to the abstract idea that atrial fibrillation (AF) can be distinguished by focusing on the variability of an irregular heartbeat, an argument advanced by InfoBionic. CardioNet had countered that the ‘207 patent represents an improvement to the function of cardiac monitoring devices through the use of specifically programmed rules, or “determination logic,” coupled with beat detecting technology and an event generator. Judge Talwani found that CardioNet’s argument were more appropriate for step two of the Alice patent-eligibility test. “The idea of using a machine to monitor and analyze heart beat variability and interfering beats so as to alert the user of potential AF events may well improve the field of cardiac telemetry, but Plaintiffs do not identify improvements to any particular computerized technology,” Judge Talwani wrote.

Yes, well… this is pretty normal. There are § 101 rejections (invalidations) aplenty, but Watchtroll rarely mentions these, it only complains and then begs for Iancu to somehow bypass the courts (which he cannot).

Speaking of § 101, Bryan McWhorter and Philip Nelson (Knobbe Martens) wrote about Data Engine Technologies LLC v Google LLC, which is a case we wrote about before because Microsoft may be indirectly involved. JD Supra (published as a press release) and Lexology helped this law firm amplify this exceptional case, wherein § 101 was rejected as inapplicable. To quote:

In the recent decision of Data Engine Technologies LLC v. Google LLC, the Federal Circuit may have expanded how factual questions underpin subject matter eligibility analysis under Section 101. Since the two-part eligibility analysis was established by Alice v. CLS Bank,[1] courts have repeatedly emphasized that eligibility is a question of law, not fact.[2] Courts have used this rationale to justify holding claims patent-ineligible without considering extrinsic evidence.[3] Often, this leads to early dismissals of infringements suits, which limit patent holders’ ability to present evidence in support of their patents.


Notably, the court in Data Engine Technologies did not rely on extrinsic evidence to support its statements, but rather based them on what is technically intrinsic evidence—articles included in the prosecution history of the patent at issue.[14] But at least with respect to obviousness, the question of commercial success is one of fact.[15] If commercial success is relevant to part one of the eligibility analysis, as it was in Data Engine Technologies, it is unclear why extrinsic evidence should not be referenced to establish that success. A patent holder might therefore argue under Data Engine Technologies LLC that a court should allow for submission of such evidence prior to deciding whether a claim is patent eligible under Section 101. If successful, such arguments may preclude early dismissal of a case, which was similarly precluded in Berkheimer and Aatrix Software.

This has nothing to do with Berkheimer and Aatrix and the same court accepted other GUI patents only months earlier.

The bottom line is, we are generally not concerned just about the bias in media paid by law firms (sometimes literally “sponsored” articles) and their blogs; it’s worrying to see some certain synergy or connection between the Director of the Office and people who are best known for judge-bashing vitriol. Then again, we live in a “Trump era”, so such practices have become pretty banal or ‘normalised’.

USPTO Under Iancu: Making Patents Low Quality (Again)

Posted in America, Patents at 2:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What they mean by “great” is the number (quantity), not the quality

Make Patents Great Again

Summary: Patents of questionable legitimacy are being granted, passed around, and used for litigation; the net effect may be financially beneficial to the lawsuits ‘industry’, but taxpayers and science suffer the most

THE USPTO has descended or deteriorated into “law firm” mentality. The goal is money and the Director comes from a firm that judges its “success” by number of lawsuits, patents etc. Why was such leadership appointment by Trump? Maybe past business relations, maybe something even more nefarious than this.

To demonstrate the psyche of the people who now “run the asylum” (to use a crude metaphor), consider this new post which shows how patent law firms view everything. “In order to increase utilization of patents,” it says. Like what, lawsuits? They love patent wars, they provoke fights and lawsuits. It’s how they make a living. To quote a broader context:

In order to increase utilization of patents, there seems to be a need for development of such new applications. Actually, Xinova has issued the Request for Application (RFA) to identify new applications for an existing technology of its customer in November 2017. I’m wondering if universities may also need such an service to explore possible applications for their technology seeds. Anyway, it would be necessary to study how to valuate such ideas of new applications and how to reward the inventors, especially when working with outside persons.

They don’t care about inventors, let alone rewarding anyone but themselves (with legal bills).

A Republican pundit has meanwhile written for Watchtroll about Federal, i.e. taxpayers-funded, work being passed to patent trolls owing to the Bayh-Dole lunacy. Yes, only a few days ago Watchtroll promoted more of this lunacy, merely a few days after we had explained why this is morally wrong. “Much of the research and development done by NASA has broader applications than space and have been used in many everyday commercial products,” Above the Law summarised. This is an example where taxpayers’ money was invested in patenting decent ideas that the general public can use to make life better. Bayh-Dole, however, turned over such patents to trolls. The trolls sue taxpayers using patents acquired at the expense of those taxpayers. Speaking of taxes, there’s a new article titled “New 2019 French Patent/Software box regime” by Bird & Bird (Brent Springael, Laurence Clot and Coralie Crespin). Bird & Bird of Team UPC infamy (the patent trolls’ proponents) are now advocating tax evasion using patenting/accounting tricks. Isn’t that lovely?

But even worse issues persist at the moment. As always, we’re primarily focused on patent scope. According to Donald Zuhn, a proponent of patents on life, the USPTO has changed its Web site (perhaps to help distract from over a week of systems' downtime; that would be a neat spin/diversion attempt) and it has “extended [...] limited amount of non-production time — three hours for utility and reissue applications — to consider responses filed following a final rejection.”

Here are the key parts:

In a Patent Alert e-mail distributed earlier this month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that the After-Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 (AFCP 2.0) program has been extended to September 30, 2019.

The AFCP, which was implemented in April 2012 (see “USPTO to Assess After Final Consideration Pilot Program”), modified in May 2013 (see “USPTO News Briefs”), and extended since then provides examiners with a limited amount of non-production time — three hours for utility and reissue applications — to consider responses filed following a final rejection.

To be fair, this didn’t start with Iancu, but one has to wonder about the impact on patent quality. Over the past week we’ve seen some questionable Google patents and the Office has apparently just granted fake (bogus) software patents to Skillz. “Skillz,” they speaks of themselves, “the worldwide leader in mobile eSports, announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued the company two new patents. The company now has exclusive rights to a total of 13 eSports-related patents.”

They say that the “latest patent from Skillz, however, is the first to provide such a feature for mobile games” and they allude to something which is software, abstract. In a rather pragmatic sense, software patents no longer have validity. Here is another example of such patents. How about this new one? It sounds like GrowPath received bogus/fake software patents from the Office (not before Alice/Section 101/AIA as it seems a lot newer, post-ten million). To quote:

GrowPath, a software firm born out of the privacy-obsessed legal industry, has developed and now patented a personalized solution that utilizes an owner’s personal photos as the second step in a two-factor authentication process on mobile devices.


The new patent (#10,097,538) is the third for GrowPath. The company’s other patents focus on data obfuscation (cyber) and a logic tool which facilitates, among other things, the ability to easily customize algorithms without advanced science or mathematics training.

The new patent also means more tattoos for inventor Sanchez. A former Marine, Growpath’s chief product officer notches all of his patent numbers on his right forearm. With the latest addition, his count is now three. “Software is a crowded field, but the one sure way to distinguish yourself and your business is to truly innovate,” Sanchez explains. “I can’t think of a more personal way to show my pride in that innovation than to wear the patents on my body.”
Images capturing Sanchez’s ever-expanding roster of patent tattoos are here and the video is here.

They actually tattoo patent numbers, embedding them deep insode their skin. There are photos there, too. How much more insane can it get?

We’ve also noticed this press release [1, 2] that speaks of “[t]he first patent entitled “System and Method for Consolidating Account Data” Canadian Patent No. 2821002 recognized the Canadian patent protection for Qvinci’s original invention as improved. The second Canadian patent entitled “Methods and Apparatus for Providing Data Normalization, Scalability and Maintainability” Canadian Patent No. 2829665 recognized Canadian patent protection for Qvinci’s normalizer application.”

This isn’t a US patent; it’s in Canada. Nevertheless, one must bear in mind that the Canadian patent office usually follows the US.

As we noted here before, the USPTO keeps granting abstract software patents provided people surf hype waves like blockchain (yes, it’s software patents — all of them). Here is a brand-new example: “Nasdaq, the $10 trillion dollar stock exchange, has patented a blockchain newswire service. Filed in January 2017, the patent is titled “Systems and methods for securing and disseminating time-sensitive information using a blockchain.” The patent was released to the public earlier this week.”

Nasdaq is already involved in some court battles with software patents. PTAB might invalidate these. If not PTAB, then maybe the higher court/s. Such litigation activity helps nobody but law firms and days ago we learned that Immervision is suing LG. They issued a press release about it and it certainly seems as though AP had been reduced to pay-to-say of patent trolls or opportunistic parasites when they sue real companies.

Ultimately, a lot of resources go into unproductive activities. The Office doesn’t seem to care.

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