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11.14.18

Science Minister Sam Gyimah and the EPO Are Eager to Attack Science by Bringing Patent Trolls to Europe/European Union and the United Kingdom

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sam Gyimah

Summary: Team UPC has managed to indoctrinate or hijack key positions, causing those whose job is to promote science to actually promote patent trolls and litigation (suppressing science rather than advancing it)

THE European Patent Office (EPO) has just ended EPOPIC. We wrote about the second and first day (more on the latter) because of the EPO’s promotion of software patents in Europe.

“It’s no secret that UPC is for patent trolls; its most vocal proponents and most aggressive pushers are technically serving patent trolls from the US.”The event was finished around midday today and no controversial talks were scheduled (we can agree with most of what was said there, focusing on patents as information sources that need to be linked, searched, and made accessible though open data).

The EPO wants this event to be more of an echo chamber next time and the only time it mentioned “AI” (earlier today) it was in relation to search, not patent scope. The EPO rewteeted this: “Honored to have the chance to contribute our thoughts about the future of #ArtificialIntelligence for #patent search at the #EPOPIC alongside three great speakers. https://twitter.com/epoorg/status/1062387433348710402 …”

It’s worth noting that at no point did the EPO mention the UPC, at least not in tweets. It’s almost as though it’s presumed dead.

One person remarked on the EPO’s promotion of software patents in Europe by saying: “1) On June, 2015 the Paris High Court, said: “Article 52 of the EPC is perfectly clear and does not require any interpretation: computer programs as such are excluded from patentability, and the reason for this is that they are covered by copyright”. https://www.april.org/en/paris-high-court-reaffirms-ban-software-patents …” (there’s more there)

I replied by stating that “today’s EPO is an enemy of judges and courts, yet it wants to dominate the courts themselves…” (UPC)

A few days ago Jean-Baptiste Thiénot (CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats), i.e. litigation ‘industry’, was spreading typical lies about the UPC right from the first sentence when he said: “Awaiting the decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court, we are only one step away from the entry into force of the Unified Patent Court…”

No, there are more barriers and regarding the UK (one among several additional barriers), these people keep pretending it’s about to ‘stay’ in the UPC/A (which does not even exist). It cannot and it will not. But guess who creeps in? Sam Gyimah. He changed his job again, just as his predecessor did (he currently dissents against Brexit, but that’s outside the scope of this site). Gyimah is being either dishonest or foolish, having already shocked people with what he did [1, 2].

“Impossible is nothing,” one UPC sceptic wrote regarding this tweet: “Science minister @SamGyimah has insisted it is possible for the UK to remain part of the forthcoming unitary patent system after #Brexit, despite this only being open to European Union member states. rsrch.co/2K6Lq6J pic.twitter.com/W12LiOfTpH”

Again, Gyimah is being either dishonest or foolish (or both). Maybe he listened too hard or paid too much attention to last month’s stacked debates, which were stacked by Team UPC. Sam Gyimah continues to perpetuate UPC lies like Team UPC’s taking points and to make matters worse, what he does here is clearly and truly detrimental to science (of which he is minister!). Similarly, the EPO is supposed to help science, but nowadays it does the exact opposite.

It’s no secret that UPC is for patent trolls; its most vocal proponents and most aggressive pushers are technically serving patent trolls from the US. Now that patent trolls from the US struggle in the US they explore the possibility of preying on Europe, just as they do China. Some patent trolls now try to call themselves “ethical” [1, 2] and Managing IP, which attended EPOPIC, helps them, just as it helped UPC advocacy. These patent trolls are looking to prey on China next (they should know that China sometimes arrests trolls) and Managing IP has just trolled its readers with a loaded question as a headline: “Are NPEs good for China’s patent system?”

Of course not; it’s behind a paywall, but we can guess who’s behind it, at the very least based on the amount of money. “Brian Yates, CEO of iPEL, came out all guns blazing when he spoke with IAM about the NPE, which launched at the end of June with $100 million of money raised from what he described as “a hedge fund comprised of sophisticated investors”,” IAM wrote some months ago, noting the focus on China. Managing IP wrote:

A US company backed with $100m is making a big push to monetise Chinese patents, against a backdrop of rising IP tensions between the two countries

“At a time when US tensions with China are rising, one US company is confident big money can be made from buying Chinese patents and enforcing them,” Michael Loney added, then using the paywall to hide the identity of the troll.

Notice how all the major proponents of patent trolls are also proponents of the UPC. This is pretty much the same agenda that Battistelli had in mind and António Campinos continues down the same trajectory.

USF Revisits EPO Abuses, Highlighting an Urgent Need for Action

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: EPO Insider: Under António Campinos “the Union Busting Done by the Administration Continues Even Worse Than Before”

Mafia Battistelli
Can Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) stop the Mafia-like culture of EPO management?

Summary: “Staff Representation Disciplinary Cases” — a message circulated at the end of last week — reveals the persistence of union-busting agenda and injustice at the EPO

Some time this afternoon SUEPO published “Two press communications from USF – Union Syndicale Fédérale”. “Translations in German and French will follow soon,” it said. SUEPO is recalling the time Battistelli was brought up by USF again — perhaps one last time (way back in summer) — and one post published earlier today [1, 2]. USF links to this piece about the corrupt management; the curators use screenshots/images as a PDF with the one conspicuously missing name. They’ve rubbed off Elodie Bergot’s name. Why? She’s a big part of the problem at the European Patent Office (EPO); why would they be redacting her name as though she deserves protection from scrutiny? Were threats issued?

Here is the letter alluded to in some very recent articles (USF has uploaded it):

Munich 09.11.2018
sc18151cp – 0.2.1/5.2

Staff Representation Disciplinary Cases – Urgent action needed

Dear colleagues,

In June 2018, the ILO Administrative Tribunal, with a series of judgments, set aside disciplinary measures inflicted on EPO staff representatives / SUEPO officials, and on one former staff member now employed by SUEPO. It is clear to even the inattentive observer that the cases resulted from a political campaign launched by the previous President and his Administration, aimed at weakening any opposition to their plans.

In the meantime the new President, Mr. Campinos, has concluded the two cases concerning Malika Weaver and Ion Brumme. However, this does not clean the slate.

Amnesty

In Judgment 4047, the matter was remitted to the EPO to enable the charges against Elizabeth Hardon “to be considered afresh”. In Judgment 4052, the case was sent back to the EPO for the President of the Office “to undertake a new examination”. In this latter case, the Tribunal ordered that the examination “shall take into account the instruction to the President contained in Administrative Council Resolution CA/26/16 dated 16 March 2016.”

In that Resolution, the Council requested the President to consider the possibility of involvement of an external reviewer for arbitration or mediation.

We do not see this happening. Quite on the contrary – Elizabeth Hardon will soon face a new disciplinary committee instigated by the same old Administration, and apparently with the same old charges – even though the Administration’s behavior has already been castigated by the Tribunal. In June 2019, the Tribunal will rule in the case concerning Laurent Prunier, the last of the staff representatives / SUEPO official dismissed by the previous President. He was disciplined despite CA 26/16, and for extraneous motives, similarly to Elizabeth, Malika and Ion. We cannot see that the Office has learnt from the other cases.

The Judgments have preserved the President’s dispositive powers. We, for our part, consider that amnesty would be a fair execution of the Judgments. In all cases, it would also serve social peace and justice.

Reparation and protection

A second pillar of the justice system, namely the functioning of the internal Appeals Committee, also needs to be repaired.

Staff representatives face difficulties accommodating their workload in the Appeals Committee with the workload in their other duties, mostly patent examination. Judgments 3971 and 4050 made public these difficulties, resulting in disciplinary measures against Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund, which the Tribunal considered “within the range of acceptability” or “not to be disproportionate”. It is now absolutely clear that those disciplinary measures were politically motivated as part of an intimidation campaign against staff representatives.

We consider that reparation of the torts inflicted on Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund would also serve social peace and justice.

This would draw a final line under an inglorious chapter in the Office’s history.

Against that historical backdrop, special attention must now be paid to ensure that members of the new Appeals Committee have both a minimum level of independence and peace of mind. As staff representatives, they are increasingly facing the same quandary as their predecessors: trying to reduce the backlog when workload is being increased on all fronts. This is why we expect that management will refrain from undue pressure, vexations or threats of retribution against them in their day-to-day business.

The Central Staff Committee

As we shall show in our next post, all the same EPO issues persist, aside from union-busting zeal, censorship (we’re still blocked by António Campinos and our site has been under sporadic DDOS attacks since Monday), corruption and nepotism. There are purely technical problems, the ‘politics’ aside…

Links 14/11/2018: KDevelop 5.3, Omarine 5.3, Canonical Not for Sale

Posted in News Roundup at 12:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Meet TASBot, a Linux-Powered Robot Playing Video Games for Charity

    Can a Linux-powered robot play video games faster than you? Only if he takes a hint from piano rolls…and doesn’t desync.

    Let me begin with a brief history of tool-assisted speedruns. It was 2003. Less than half the developed world had internet access of any kind, and YouTube hadn’t been created yet. Smartphones were rare and nascent. Pentium III processors still were commonplace, and memory was measured in megabytes. It was out of this primordial ooze that an interesting video file circulated around the web—an 18MB .wmv labeled only as a “super mario bross3 time attack video” [sic]. What followed was an absolutely insane 11-minute completion of the game by someone named Morimoto replete with close calls, no deaths and Mario destroying Bowser after apparently effortlessly obtaining 99 lives. The only other context was a link to a page written in Japanese, and the rough encoding that Windows Media Video format was known for in that era made it difficult for casual viewers to observe that it was an emulator recording rather than the output of a real Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console.

  • Desktop

    • Windows 10’s October Update Returns, Promises Not to Delete Your Files

      Microsoft has finally re-released Windows 10’s October 2018 Update—in mid-November. All those file deletion bugs should be fixed, and Windows Update will soon automatically install it on your PC.

    • Windows Isn’t a Service; It’s an Operating System [Ed: No, it is neither. It is malware (keylogger and more) bundled/strapped onto a kernel that can boot the malware and get preinstalled -- by pressure and bribes -- by OEMs]

      “Windows as a Service” is failing. It’s obvious: Windows is not a service, and never was. It’s a desktop operating system, and it doesn’t need updates every six months. Even iOS and Android only get significant updates once per year.

    • Microsoft Is Talking About Windows 10’s Quality, But Changing Nothing

      Microsoft today re-released Windows 10’s October 2018 Update. Rather than explaining what went wrong, Microsoft publicly patted itself on the back for its great quality assurance process. Microsoft promises increased transparency and better communication, but talk is cheap.

    • Microsoft lobs Windows 10, Server Oct 2018 update at world (minus file-nuking ‘feature’) after actually doing some testing

      In early October, Microsoft made Windows 10, Windows Server, and Windows Server 2019 build 1809 available for download, and within days pulled them after all kinds of terrible shenanigans started happening, primarily people’s files going AWOL.

    • Microsoft Responds to Criticism, Adds Snapdragon 850 to the List of Supported Processors for Windows 10

      Meanwhile, it remains a good omen for Windows 10 users that the October update is temporarily being provided in an error-corrected version, possibly to be re-released tonight with other updates for various systems.

    • Microsoft Finally Re-Releases Windows 10 October Update

      Apart from recurring sound issues that always seem to find its way in every Windows 10 update, the 1809 update also brought a file deletion bug that brought havoc on users by deleting their personal files. And there’s the recent Windows Activation Bug, not to mention.

    • UserLAnd Review: a little Linux in your pocket
    • Hands-on: Linux on DeX finally gives the Samsung mobile desktop system a purpose [Video]

      Whilst I’m not a developer or even a user of any Linux distro, I do think that having a proper desktop environment might open up a huge number of use-cases for those that want to have access to a real Linux experience on a device. Remember the failed IndieGoGo from Canonical way back in 2013? They tried — and failed — to convince enough people that the Ubuntu Edge was a viable product.

      Now, Samsung is trying to do something similar, to convince us that DeX can bridge that mobile-to-desktop gap, but (at present) solely with the help of Canonical. That means that at the minute you’ll only be able to install a tailored version of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS provided by Canonical) for your Samsung Galaxy Note 9 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. There is no word on if or when older devices might get the functionality.

    • Samsung’s Linux on DeX turns your phone into a Linux PC

      I remain convinced that this is eventually what all our phones will be able to do – adapt to whatever input method and/or display you hook up to it. We’re in the early stages today, with lots of rough edges, performance hiccups, and other issues, but eventually, we won’t bat an eye at walking into our homes and without us doing anything, our phone wirelessly hooks up to all displays in our house. Want to work on that presentation for tomorrow? Walk into your office, sit down, and your phone automatically wirelessly connects to the mouse, keyboard, and display on your desk. Want to watch Netflix? Just yell a command at your TV, and your phone plays season 7 of Game of Thrones: The Next Generation on your TV. And so on.

    • Samsung Linux on DeX beta APK ready to download

      Before last week ended, Samsung made it known to us the Linux on DeX beta program would be ready soon for the Galaxy Tab S4 and the Galaxy Note 9. This was almost exactly a year since we learned the South Korean tech giant would bundle Linux on Samsung DeX. We’ve only been waiting for it to happen and looks like it’s finally happening although still in beta. Just shared on XDA Developers form is the Linux on Dex Beta APK you can now download.

      Samsung launched the DeX station last year and it’s getting an important update with Linux in the picture. Initially, it’s out for the Galaxy Tab S4 and the latest Galaxy S9 duo.

      The DeX functionality is better than ever now with Linux support, it will be more advanced yet simpler because it will only need a video cable. No need for the DeX docking station.

  • Server

    • OpenStack Now Powers 75 Public Clouds Worldwide

      While there is a lot of talk about large public cloud providers and other open-source cloud efforts in the media and elsewhere, the OpenStack Foundation continues to move forward, albeit with less hype than it once was able to muster.

      On Nov. 13, the OpenStack Foundation announced that it is rebranding its OpenStack Summit event, which is running here Nov. 13-15, to the Open Infrastructure Summit, as part of the open-source organization’s continued movement to look beyond just its own core open-source cloud effort.

      On the other hand, even as the OpenStack Foundation looks beyond its namesake project for the future, the present reality is that OpenStack is quietly powering a lot of cloud infrastructure. Although OpenStack is not thought of among the big three public cloud providers—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure—it does power more than 75 other public cloud providers worldwide. At the OpenStack Summit, multiple operators and vendors including Huawei, Deutsche Telekom and OVH detailed how they are scaling increasingly larger cloud platforms, all powered by OpenStack.

    • PHP 7.2, Node.js 10, NGINX 1.14 and others now GA for RHEL

      These versions are available on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (Devtools or RHSCL channel) for x86_64, s390x, aarch64, and ppc64le. Read more details about each component in the “New Components details” section.

    • GCC 8.2 now GA for Red Hat Enterprise Linux

      We are pleased to announce general availability of Red Hat Developer Toolset 8 beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and 7.

      [...]

      Like other tools, these are installable via yum from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 or 7 Devtools or RHSCL channel. For more details, see the “New Features” section below.

    • Clang/LLVM 6.0, Go 1.10, and Rust 1.29 NOW GA for RHEL

      These toolsets can be installed from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Devtools channel. See the “New compiler details” below to learn about the new features.

    • HelpSystems Gets Into JAMS for Scheduling

      HelpSystems yesterday announced the acquisition of MVP Systems Software, the Connecticut-based developer of the JAMS workload management and scheduling software. While JAMS supported IBM i, HelpSystems will count on the product to deliver capabilities primarily in the open systems realm, with cloud possibilities looming in the future.

      The acquisition came together as the result of mutual respect that HelpSystems and MVP Systems Software had for each other, says Kate Bolseth, general manager of cross platform products at HelpSystems.

    • What’s the reality of OpenStack and public cloud?

      My colleague, Margaret Dawson, spends a lot of time talking with customers. And in those conversations, questions about cloud and OpenStack invariably come up. She shared this message a while back, during her keynote at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, and it still resonates. While public cloud looms large in many companies’ plans, OpenStack’s future looks bright in the hybrid cloud reality we see today — and tomorrow.

      “Most of you, especially if you’ve been working on OpenStack for a while, hear ‘Game’s over. Why are we even still doing this? AWS has won, so let’s just put everything in the public cloud and call it a day.”

    • Impact of IBM-Red Hat Merger

      Recently, there have been numerous machine learning, and AI algorithms developed to achieve the desired output in a dynamic, efficient, and effective manner. However, in a real-time scenario, an individual algorithm has its own advantages and is restricted to certain limitations. These limitations can be minimized by integrating different algorithms to achieve the desired task. By capturing the insights into the integral approach, IBM has announced its acquisition of Red Hat technologies to enhance its cloud-based business services to its clients.

      In the past year, nearly a quarter of IBM overall revenue was achieved through the cloud service platform. But with an increase in competitors, the company was overshadowed by other cloud rivals such as Microsoft and Amazon. Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, stated that at present, only 20 percent of the companies are renting cloud services to cut costs; over 80 percent are still unlocking their business values and can shift their business applications to the hybrid cloud in the near future for data extraction and optimization.

    • OpenStack Expands With New Projects, Canonical’s CEO Is Not Thrilled About It

      For those who have been paying attention (and SDxCentral has been), the OpenStack Foundation has been expanding its scope beyond the basic compute, storage, and networking sub-projects of its cloud infrastructure software. Today at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin the group made it official, announcing that it will host new open source projects with a new governance framework.

      The OpenStack Foundation board approved the governance framework to incubate new pilot projects that are relevant to the open infrastructure community. As part of this new framework, the first four pilot projects are Kata Containers, Airship, Zuul, and StarlingX. All of these projects have been previously announced.

    • Open source is growing up – and here’s how

      If you’re among those who still think that open source is just for hobbyists and academics, think again. Open source is mature now, both as a concept and as tools for building enterprise IT, and we have two major shifts in understanding to thank for that.

      The first key change is that there’s a much more mature understanding now of how the layers of IT architecture relate to each other – of what fits where, in other words. Instead of trying to do too much, adding in every feature or capability that might be related, open source projects have become more focused.

      For example, instead of misunderstanding them as rivals, we can now see OpenStack and Kubernetes for what they are. The former is an infrastructure layer, upon which you can run platform layers such as the latter.

    • Open-source and cloud-native, Kubernetes paves the way for new companies to bring DevOps to data

      With less than two months left, 2018 is poised to go down in tech history as the coming of age for open-source software.

      Need evidence? Over the past 10 months, notable open-source enterprises MuleSoft Inc., Magento Inc., GitHub Inc. and Red Hat Inc. have been purchased for a combined $50 billion.

      Yet before jumping on the open-source bandwagon, observers would be wise to keep in mind that these technologies still depend on a sizable community of contributors to keep innovation fresh, and monetization of many open-source projects remains a struggle. So what is all the fuss about?

    • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14 coming soon with tighter Kubernetes integration

      Today, Red Hat has announced Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, saying it will become available in the coming weeks. The firm says that the latest version, which is built on the OpenStack “Rocky” community release, more tightly integrates with the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform which gives admins full control over their Kubernetes environments.

    • Red Hat commits to Openstack for ‘at least’ 10 years

      While Red Hat understandably wouldn’t discuss anything to do with the IBM mega-acquisition – for regulatory reasons – director of product management James Labocki and senior director for product management at Openstack Nick Barcet confirmed Red Hat’s commitment to Openstack for at least the next “10 years”.

      The open source giant today announced Openstack Platform 14, which Barcet said aimed to make Openstack a better platform to run container orchestration system Kubernetes on, while also helping to better manage the deployment of Red Hat’s container platform OpenShift on bare metal, as well as easing the integration of OpenShift and Openstack at the networking and storage layer. This, says Barcet, is a landmark move for Red Hat because it is part of a new strategy to focus on its whole portfolio as a single entity rather than individual products.

    • Kaloom Collaborates with Red Hat to Deliver a Virtual Central Office Solution for Multivendor NFV Deployments
  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.19.2
    • Linux 4.18.19
    • Linux 4.14.81
    • Linux 4.9.137
    • linux-4.19-ck1, MuQSS version 0.180 for linux-4.19

      Announcing a new -ck release, 4.19-ck1 with the latest version of the Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler, version 0.180. These are patches designed to improve system responsiveness and interactivity with specific emphasis on the desktop, but configurable for any workload.

    • MuQSS Scheduler Updated, Linux 4.19-ck1 Drops BFQ I/O Scheduler

      Con Kolivas is out with an updated version of his MuQSS scheduler (based on his former Brain BFS Scheduler work) as well as his “-ck” patch-set against the mainline kernel.

      MuQSS 0.180 is the latest version of the scheduler designed for working particularly well on desktop and mobile systems for maximum responsiveness and interactivity. This code has been re-based against the upstream Linux 4.19 stable series along with his 4.19-ck1 patch-set that has accounting fixes.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Ceph Foundation has been launched by the Linux Foundation to support the open source storage project

        At Ceph Day Berlin, yesterday (November 12) the Linux Foundation announced the launch of the Ceph Foundation. A total of 31 organizations have come together to launch the Ceph Foundation including industries like ARM, Intel, Harvard and many more. The foundation aims to bring industry members together to support the Ceph open source community.

        [...]

        The Ceph Foundation will provide an open, collaborative, and neutral home for project stakeholders to coordinate their development and community investments in the Ceph ecosystem.

      • Linux Foundation Launches Open Source Ceph Storage Group

        Open source storage gets a boost today as the Linux Foundation launches the Ceph Foundation with more than 30 members including China Mobile, DigitalOcean, Intel, OVH, and Red Hat.

        The Ceph project is a unified distributed storage system providing applications with object, block, and file system interfaces. It was co-founded more than a decade ago by Sage Weil, who is now chief architect at Red Hat for Ceph, and University of California, Santa Cruz professor Carlos Maltzahn. A whole team of storage engineers now manage and maintain the open source code.

      • ZTE Joins Ceph Foundation as One of First Platinum Members

        ZTE Corporation (0763.HK / 000063.SZ), a major international provider of telecommunications, enterprise and consumer technology solutions for the Mobile Internet, joined the Ceph Foundation as the founder member and one of the first Platinum members at the Ceph Day in Berlin, Germany.

      • OPNFV Gambia — Doing what we do best while advancing cloud native

        Today, the OPNFV community is pleased to announce the availability of Gambia, our seventh platform release! I am extremely proud of the way the community rallied together to make this happen and provide the industry with another integrated reference platform for accelerating their NFV deployments.

        At a high level, Gambia represents our first step towards continuous delivery (CD) and deepens our work in cloud native, while also advancing our core capabilities in testing and integration, and the development of carrier-grade features by working upstream. As an open source pioneer in NFV, it’s amazing to see the evolution of the project to meet the needs of a quickly changing technology landscape.

    • Graphics Stack

      • What Is Screen Tearing and How to Get Rid of It on Linux

        Unfortunately for Linux fans, screen tearing is, and has been, a persistent annoyance that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. There are a couple of factors enabling the longevity of the screen tearing issue.

        First, and probably most obviously, is the dated, broken, and bloated X server. Even with the progress of Wayland, X is here to stay for the immediate future. Next is the strange and inconsistent graphics driver picture. One of the biggest offenders in causing screen tearing is also the most popular GPU manufacturer on Linux, NVIDIA. Throw in different desktop environments with their own display settings and compositors, and you have a real mess.

        These methods will hopefully eliminate screen tearing in most situations, but it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all solution, thanks to the amount of variables involved. Try what applies to your system, and keep in mind that there might be new factors involved.

      • Collabora Revives Work On Alpha Compositing Protocol For Wayland

        Collabora’s Scott Anderson has revived work on the alpha compositing protocol for Wayland, which is based upon the work done by Google on this functionality for Chromium on Wayland.

        The Wayland Alpha Compositing Protocol is intended to control the alpha compositing and blending of surface contents within a Wayland environment. This experimental protocol allows for advanced blending and alpha operations on Wayland surfaces (wl_surface) and Google’s work on it dates back at least two years.

      • Radeon Linux Driver Preparing Adaptive Backlight Management (ABM)

        The “AMDGPU” Radeon Linux kernel graphics driver is preparing support for “Adaptive Backlight Management” as a backlight power-savings feature for laptops.

        Adaptive Backlight Management reduces the backlight level in an effort to save power but increases the pixel contrast and luminance to improve image quality and readability under the lower light condition.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • A Journey on Budgie Desktop #2: Raven

      Raven, the Super+A menu, is the special right panel on Budgie Desktop Environment. It’s represented by a white door icon with a left arrow on it beside the power icon on the top panel. It’s interesting as it’s fun to show/hide in end-user’s perspective. It’s unique, compared to same right-side panel concepts on BlankOn and deepin, it has own name Raven while being very minimal yet usable. See more below. This is the continuation after the first part talked about the Top Panel. Enjoy and please wait the next part about Applets!

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDevelop 5.3 released

        A little less than a year after the release of KDevelop 5.2 and a little more than 20 years after KDevelop’s first official release, we are happy to announce the availability of KDevelop 5.3 today. Below is a summary of the significant changes.

        We plan to do a 5.3.1 stabilization release soon, should any major issues show up.

      • KDevelop 5.3 Released With Better C++, Python & PHP Support

        KDevelop 5.3 brings the Clazy analyzer that makes use of Clang, many improvements to C++ support, a whole lot of PHP language support improvements, and the Python language support has seen some fixes as well as the ability to inject environment profile variables into the debug process environment. KDevelop 5.3 has also seen improvements for its support on BSD, Haiku, and other operating systems.

      • NVIDIA Working On An EGLStreams Back-End For KDE On Wayland

        With no recent activity on the NVIDIA-led Unix device memory allocation work that all developer communities could get behind to supersede GBM and EGLStreams for use by Wayland compositors, NVIDIA is working on an EGLStreams back-end for KDE’s KWin compositor.

        Similar to the work done on an EGLStreams back-end for GNOME and other EGLStreams work by the smaller Wayland compositors, a NVIDIA engineer is now officially working on an EGLStreams back-end for KWin so that the NVIDIA proprietary driver would play well with KDE on Wayland. Up to now KWin has only supported the Mesa GBM interfaces. KDE developers have said they wouldn’t invest in developing an EGLStreams back-end, but that they wouldn’t be opposed if say NVIDIA would contribute and maintain the code — that’s what is happening now.

      • Shop update! Digital Atelier and a new USB-Card

        And we’ve also created a new USB-card, with the newest stable version of Krita for all OSes. Includes Comics with Krita, Muses, Secrets of Krita and Animate with Krita tutorial packs.

      • KDE Bugsquad – Okular Bug Day on November 17th, 2018

        Thank you to everyone who participated last Bug Day! We had a turnout of about six people, who worked through about half of the existing REPORTED (unconfirmed) Konsole bugs. Lots of good discussion occurred on #kde-bugs as well, thank you for joining the channel and being part of the team!

        We will be holding a Bug Day on November 17th, 2018, focusing on Okular. Join at any time, the event will be occurring all day long!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Mutter Brings More Fixes, Shell 3.31.2 Has Some Performance Work

        New development releases of GNOME Shell and Mutter are out today in the 3.31 development series along with new 3.30 stable point releases that back-port more fixes for these important pieces to the GNOME desktop.

        Mutter 3.31.2 brings a number of fixes including better handling for non-UTF8 encodings, memory leak fixes from the 3.30 series, a possible crash when restarting the window manager, initial Meson build system support, a crash fix for monitor hot-plugging, and other fixes rounding this out as a practical update.

      • GSoC Mentors Summit 2018

        I represented GNOME, sadly alone because the other selected mentor didn’t get the US visa in time. This was my first trip out of India and I couldn’t plan it properly1, so I went there for just the two conference days.

  • Distributions

    • The Best Linux Distros For Beginners

      Everyone needs to start somewhere, and Linux is no different. Even though it became a meme, telling newcomers to install Gentoo isn’t very productive, and it harms the community as a whole.

      There are distributions that work to make themselves accessible to people of every skill level and technical aptitude. They’re often called “Beginner distributions”, but they aren’t just for beginners. Actually, any one of these choices would be great for everyone, but they’re also the best places for newbies to start.

    • Reviews

      • An Everyday Linux User Review Of Elementary OS 5.0 Juno

        Elementary OS is currently riding high in the Distrowatch rankings and it has been a while since my last review so I thought it was high time I took another look.

        The tag line at the top of the Elementary OS website reads as “The fast, open and privacy respecting replacement for Windows and macOS”.

        In this review I am going to examine this claim in depth as well as other claims such as “Apps you need, without the ones you don’t”. The website states that the applications have been carefully considered to cater for your everyday needs so you can spend more time using your computer and less time cleaning up bloatware.

        Without further ado lets separate the fact from the fiction and explore Elementary OS with a virtual magnifying glass befitting a well known sleuth. After all it is “Elementary” my dear Watson. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC (Leia) v8.90.007 ALPHA

        The LibreELEC 9.0 Alpha cycle has continued and releases for Amlogic and Slice hardware have been added additionally to the test cycle. We official support now Khadas VIM (AML S905X) and the LePotato (AML S905X) too. Since the 8.90.006 release we support a wide range of Rockchip devices. There are no plans to release LibreELEC 9.0 images for NXP/iMX6 hardware as support was removed from Kodi some months ago. Support will be reinstated in a future LibreELEC, we wrote an dedicated article about the future of LibreELEC.

        Alpha releases are important to the team because we cannot test every scenario and sometimes sidestep issues without realising. The project needs a body of regular testers to go find the problems we miss. Testing will be particularly important for LibreELEC 9.0 as Kodi v18 includes substantial internal changes to VideoPlayer and introduces new retro-gaming capabilities.

      • Omarine 5.3 released! (Nov 14 2018)

        This release updates dbus and glib together with all dependencies and related packages. Some of them are rebuilt, the rest are upgraded. Glib 2.58.1 can be considered a development threshold because many dependent packages must be caught it up. Below is a list of some typically upgraded packages:

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Packages To Eliminate Vendor-Specific Patches, Affecting Downstreams Like Ubuntu

        Debian packages have supported the concept of vendor-specific patches whereby when DPKG unpacks a source package on different operating systems / distributions (such as Debian vs. Ubuntu), different patches could be selectively applied. Ubuntu is one of the main benefactors of this feature while effective immediately these vendor-specific patches to source packages will be treated as a bug and will be unpermitted following the Debian 10 “Buster” release.

        This vendor-specific patch behavior for DPKG is mainly to help downstreams of Debian such as Ubuntu (not to be confused with vendor-specific hardware patches, etc). This vendor-specific patching has been used where say Ubuntu wishes to make some customizations to a Debian package that are minor in nature or basic alterations, they could land the changes in upstream Debian as a vendor-specific patch that would then be applied to the source package when building on Ubuntu… But keeping the package unpatched on Debian, or vice-versa. It reduces the maintenance burden for those wanting to selectively make basic changes to a package without having to maintain multiple largely redundant packages.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Development Starts Off With Python 3.7, Merged Usr Directories

            Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” development is now officially underway.

            Following the initial sync from Debian unstable, Ubuntu developer Matthias Klose announced this morning that “Disco Dingo is now open for development.”

            The initial prominent changes in the archive include landing Python 3.7 as the default Python3 version after Ubuntu 18.10 shipped with Python 3.6, removal of OpenSSL 1.0 with intending to only ship OpenSSL 1.1.1 LTS, and upgrading to Perl 5.28.

          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 13 November 2018

            As announced, Cosmic Cuttlefish was released Oct 18. Check out the release notes for more information on changes, download the latest server ISO, or try out our live-server ISO. As of Friday last week, the Ubuntu archive is now officially open for development on Disco Dingo. See the Disco Dingo release schedule for important milestones of this upcoming release. Let’s continue to make Ubuntu excellent!

          • Ubuntu Founder Mark Shuttleworth Has No Plans Of Selling Canonical

            A couple of weeks ago IBM announced its plan to buy Red Hat for $34 billion. Following that, experts started speculating that rival companies like Canonical and Suse would sell as well.

            However, Canonical’s founder, Mark Shuttleworth, doesn’t seem to have any plans of selling the company — at least not in the near future. In an encounter with TechCrunch, he said, “I value my independence.”

            One of the reasons behind this decision is that he doesn’t really need the money. But another big reason for not selling is his vision for Canonical and Ubuntu, which he would like to see through personally.

          • Mark Shuttleworth is not selling Canonical or Ubuntu — yet

            Actually, the question most of us wanted him to answer is: “After IBM paid a cool $43-billion would he consider selling Canonical?” After all, Canonical is also a top Linux company with a arguably a much stronger cloud and container presence than Red Hat. By The Cloud Market’s latest count of Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances, Ubuntu dominates with 307,217 instances to Red Hat’s 20,311. Even so, in a show floor conversation, Shuttleworth said, “No, I value my independence.”

            That’s not to say he’s not willing to listen to proposals. But he has his own vision for Canonical and Ubuntu Linux. If someone were to make him an offer, which would leave him in charge of both and help him further his plans, then he might go for it. Maybe.

            It would have to be a heck of an offer though, even by post-Red Hat acquisition terms. Shuttleworth doesn’t need the money. What he wants is to make his mark in technology history.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Is your startup built on open source? 9 tips for getting started

    When I started Gluu in 2009, I had no idea how difficult it would be to start an open source software company. Using the open source development methodology seemed like a good idea, especially for infrastructure software based on protocols defined by open standards. By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic—we underestimate the difficulty of starting a business. However, Gluu was my fourth business, so I thought I knew what I was in for. But I was in for a surprise!

    Every business is unique. One of the challenges of serial entrepreneurship is that a truth that was core to the success of a previous business may be incorrect in your next business. Building a business around open source forced me to change my plan. How to find the right team members, how to price our offering, how to market our product—all of these aspects of starting a business (and more) were impacted by the open source mission and required an adjustment from my previous experience.

    A few years ago, we started to question whether Gluu was pursuing the right business model. The business was growing, but not as fast as we would have liked.

  • Cisco partners using open source gain 10% sales advantage over rivals

    Cisco channel partners deploying open source software on top of network delivery are seeing higher sales than those who don’t, the vendor has revealed.
    Susie Wee, the president and CTO of Cisco’s developer program DevNet, claimed partners who had a staff member using the platform’s code and ecosystem exchanges, were seeing 10 per cent more sales revenue than their channel competitors.

    Speaking to ARN, Wee said that while the partners’ growth was not necessarily caused by DevNet, the numbers represented a strong correlation.

  • Events

    • Achievement unlocked! I spoke at PythonBrasil[14]

      PythonBrasil is the national Python community conference that happens every year, usually in October, in Brazil.

      I attended PythonBrasil for the first time in 2016, the year we had started PyLadies Porto Alegre. Back then, we were a very small group and I was the only one to go. It was definitely one of the best experiences I ever had, which, of course, set a very high standard for every single tech event I attended afterwards.

      Because of the great time I had there, I wanted to bring more and more women from PyLadies Porto Alegre to experience PythonBrasil in the next editions. So, during the PyLadies Porto Alegre 1st birthday party, I encouraged the other women to submit activities to try and to go to the conference that would happen in Belo Horizonte.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Browser Based Open Source Image Optimization Tool Squoosh Comes To Google Lab’s Latest Release

        Open source, browser-based image optimization tool Squoosh is Google’s new Chrome Lab release. This new web tool is meant to make web developers work a lot simpler to optimize web pages. Images loading in a website is usually the reason for them to take so long to load and Squoosh helps web developers shrink the image so that it consumes lesser data. Squoosh can downsize, compress, and reformat images. Its purpose is to make web developers’ work less tedious and hence quicker. Google chrome labs made this tool available offline and said it would be handy to have this tool work offline. Squoosh also supports editing image codecs that are not normally available in the browser.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla shares how AV1, the new the open source royalty-free video codec, works

        Last month, Nathan Egge, a Senior Research Engineer at Mozilla explained technical details behind AV1 in depth at the Mile High Video Workshop in Denver. AV1 is a new open source royalty-free video codec that promises to help companies and individuals transmit high-quality video over the internet efficiently.

        AV1 is developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), an association of firms from the semiconductor industry, video on demand providers, and web browser developers, founded in 2015. Mozilla joined AOMedia as a founding member.

        AV1 was created for a broad set of industry use cases such as video on demand/streaming, video conferencing, screen sharing, video game streaming, and broadcast. It is widely supported and adopted and gives at least 30% better than current generation video codecs.

      • Private by Design: How we built Firefox Sync

        Firefox Sync lets you share your bookmarks, browsing history, passwords and other browser data between different devices, and send tabs from one device to another. It’s a feature that millions of our users take advantage of to streamline their lives and how they interact with the web.

        But on an Internet where sharing your data with a provider is the norm, we think it’s important to highlight the privacy aspects of Firefox Sync.

        Firefox Sync by default protects all your synced data so Mozilla can’t read it. We built Sync this way because we put user privacy first. In this post, we take a closer look at some of the technical design choices we made and why.

      • This Week in Rust 260

        This week’s crate is cargo-nono, a cargo subcommand to check a crate’s dependencies for no-std compatibility. Thanks to Hobofan for the suggestion!

      • Your Privacy Focused Holiday Shopping Guide

        The lyrics to “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” detail an omniscient Saint Nicholas. But in 2018 — in an era of always-listening products and apps — the lyrics might as well be detailing the latest connected device.

        This holiday season, Mozilla is helping consumers identify which connected products are secure and trustworthy — and which aren’t. The goal: help consumers shop for gifts based on how well they protect the privacy and security of their friends and family, in addition to traditional factors like a product’s price and performance.

  • Databases

    • Meet TiDB: An open source NewSQL database

      As businesses adopt cloud-native architectures, conversations will naturally lead to what we can do to make the database horizontally scalable. The answer will likely be to take a closer look at TiDB.

      TiDB is an open source NewSQL database released under the Apache 2.0 License. Because it speaks the MySQL protocol, your existing applications will be able to connect to it using any MySQL connector, and most SQL functionality remains identical (joins, subqueries, transactions, etc.).

      Step under the covers, however, and there are differences. If your architecture is based on MySQL with Read Replicas, you’ll see things work a little bit differently with TiDB. In this post, I’ll go through the top five key differences I’ve found between TiDB and MySQL.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Trying DragonFlyBSD & FreeBSD On The Intel Core i9 9900K With ASUS PRIME Z390-A

      Since last month’s Intel Core i9 9900K launch for this eight core / sixteen thread processor we have explored its performance for Linux gaming, how the performance and power efficiency go from the Intel 990X to 9900K, the Spectre mitigation costs, and the Intel Coffeelake Refresh performance across various Linux distributions. For those curious about using the new Intel CPUs and Z390 motherboards with one of the BSD operating systems, I spent a few days over the weekend trying out FreeBSD and DragonFlyBSD releases with the i9-9900K and ASUS PRIME Z390-A motherboard combination.

    • Upgrading OpenBSD 6.3 to 6.4 on Vultr
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • It Looks Like The Raptor Blackbird Open-Source Motherboard Will Sell For Just Under $900

        Many have been curious to learn more about the Blackbird from Raptor Computing Systems as a lower-cost POWER9, open-source hardware alternative to their higher-end Talos II hardware that we’ve been recently benchmarking. The possible price has been revealed.

        Overnight, Raptor Computing Systems tweeted a straw poll looking to gauge the interest level in “Would you pre-order a Raptor Computing Systems Blackbird system or board this year at a mainboard cost of $875?”

  • Programming/Development

    • C++20 Making Progress On Modules, Memory Model Updates

      This past week was an ISO C++ committee meeting in San Diego, which happened to be their largest meeting ever, and they managed to accomplish a lot in drafting more planned changes around the C++20 language update.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Intel and Rolls-Royce Team Up for Autonomous Shipping

      One business making a big push toward this future is Rolls-Royce’s commercial marine division, which is now part of Norwegian shipping company Kongsberg (NASDAQOTH:NSKFF). That division just inked a deal with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) to deploy Intel’s technology for autonomous shipping fleets, which could be roaming the seas by the time we welcome the 2030s.

      This is not the Rolls-Royce motorcar brand that you’re familiar with, which is now owned by BMW. Rather, this is the Rolls-Royce division involved in making engines for commercial shipping. That division was sold by the larger Rolls-Royce British parent company, which makes aerospace engines, to Kongsberg in June.

    • US Losing Its Luster for Foreign Students

      The U.S. remains the top destination in the world for more than 1 million visiting students — hosting more than double the next country, the United Kingdom. But while 1.5 percent more students studied in the U.S. last year, the rate of new enrollments — specifically, undergraduate students — declined by 6.6 percent, a trend first seen the preceding year, according to the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors report.

  • Hardware

    • Apple’s T2 Security Chip Will Block Certain Third-Party Repairs, Users Might Have To Shell Significantly More For Repairs

      If you are a fan of Apple and a Gadget geek, you must be familiar with the T2 chip, which goes about as a co-processor in Apple’s devices and, is the key to a considerable lot of Apple’s freshest and most advanced features.

      Apple affirmed this is the situation for fixes including certain parts on more up to date Macs, similar to the rationale load up and Touch ID sensor, which is the first run through the organization has freely recognized the new fix necessities for T2 prepared Macs. In any case, Apple couldn’t give a rundown of fixes that required this or what gadgets were influenced. It additionally couldn’t state whether it started this convention with the iMac Pro’s presentation a year ago or if it’s another strategy organized as of late.

      The T2 is a customized component that performs different complex and essential functions such as preparing for Touch ID. It additionally stores the cryptographic keys important to boot the machines it keeps running on safely. According to Apple, the chip has new features, as well, for example, empowering the MacBook Pro to react to “Hello Siri” queries without expecting you to press a catch. It additionally keeps its workstation from being remotely worked on by programmers when the cover of the gadget is shut. Furthermore, the T2 chip is equipped for speaking with different segments with the end goal, to play out the simple most essential and advanced errands present day Macs are prepared to do.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health

      Millions of children die every year as a result of environment-related diseases. Their deaths could be prevented by using low-cost and sustainable tools and strategies for improving the environment. In some countries, more than one-third of the disease burden could be prevented by environmental changes. According to a WHO study carried out in 23 countries, more than 10 percent of deaths are due to unsafe water and indoor air pollution, particularly from solid fuel used for cooking.

      Children make up almost half the population of developing countries. Most of the deaths are among children under five and are attributable mainly to intestinal and respiratory infections. People living in industrialized countries are also affected by environmental factors such as pollution, occupational factors, ultraviolet radiation, and climate and ecosystem changes.

      The integrity of the global environment is being increasingly compromised by the deterioration of the atmospheric ozone layer and an ever-higher concentration of gases responsible for the greenhouse effect. To the degree that these factors intensify, the health of populations will be seriously affected.

      Environmental factors affect children’s health from the time of conception and intra-uterine development through infancy and adolescence. These factors can even exert an influence prior to conception since both ovules and sperm can be damaged by radiation and chemical contaminants.

      It has been widely demonstrated that children are more susceptible than adults to environmental factors because, among other reasons, they are still growing and their immune systems and detoxification mechanisms are not yet fully developed.

      Interventions both at the community and the national level can significantly improve the environment, including the promotion of safe-water treatment and storage, and the reduction of air pollution. The last measure by itself could save almost a million lives a year.

    • Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing

      The town of Libby is a striking and tragic example of corporate irresponsibility, weak regulation and the deadly effects of asbestos exposure. And it’s not just Libby. Nationally, the epidemic of deaths from asbestos exposure shows no sign of slowing down — it’s estimated that nearly 40,000 people die from asbestos exposure each year in the USA alone.

      Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and experts agree that no amount of use of the toxin is safe. The European Union already prohibits its use, and despite this ominous classification, the United States is woefully lagging behind in the banning of asbestos.

      Asbestos-related deaths in the United States demonstrate how our regulatory system for managing chemicals in the U.S. — known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — has failed to protect the public. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tried to ban asbestos in 1980s, but despite the overwhelming evidence of its deadliness, a court ruled in 1991 that the EPA failed to clear all the hurdles under this law.

      When Congress passed bipartisan legislation in 2016 strengthening TSCA, many thought it would pave the way to banning asbestos use in the U.S. In fact, that was the intention under the newly strengthened TSCA and the accompanying regulations written by the Obama administration.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Protecting the Digital Supply Chain

      You first learn about the importance of the supply chain as a child. You discover a shiny object on the ground and as you reach down to pick it up your parent says “Don’t touch that! You don’t know where it’s been!” But why does it matter whether you know where it’s been? When your parents know where something came from, they can trust that it’s clean and safe for you to play with. When they don’t, their imagination runs wild with all of the disgusting bacteria and viruses that might taint it.

      The food supply chain is important. Food is sealed not just so that it will keep longer, but also so that you can trust that no one has tampered with it between the time it left the supplier to the time it goes in your grocery bag. Some food goes even further and provides a tamper-evident seal that makes it obvious if someone else opened it before you. Again, the concern isn’t just about food freshness, or even someone stealing food from a package, it’s about the supplier protecting you from a malicious person who might go as far as poisoning the food.

      The supply chain ultimately comes down to trust and your ability to audit that trust. You trust the grocery and the supplier to protect the food you buy, but you still check the expiry date and whether it’s been opened before you buy it. The grocery then trusts and audits their suppliers and so on down the line until you get to a farm that produces the raw materials that go into your food. Of course it doesn’t stop there. In the case of organic farming, the farmer is also audited for the processes they use to fertilize and remove pests in their crops, and in the case of livestock this even extends to the supply chain behind the food the livestock eats.

    • I found a security hole in Steam that gave me every game’s license keys and all I got was this… oh nice: $20,000

      A bloke has told how he discovered a bug in Valve’s Steam marketplace that could have been exploited by thieves to steal game license keys and play pirated titles.

      Researcher Artem Moskowsky told The Register earlier this week that he stumbled across the vulnerability – which earned him a $20,000 bug bounty for reporting it – by accident while looking over the Steam partner portal. That’s the site developers use to manage the games they make available for download from Steam.

    • Hacker Receives $20,000 From Valve For Discovering Steam Bug That Generates Free Steam Keys
    • Cryptojackers Come to Linux with a Brand-New Stealth-Like Crypto Mining Malware [Ed: This only impacts already-cracked machines -- an important distinction to be made -- and they blame "Linux" while calling Windows "PC"]

      Linux users are not immune from stealth cryptocurrency mining, also called cryptojacking, anymore. Japanese cryptosecurity company Trend Micro discovered that a cryptocurrency miner known as KORKERDS behaves in a strange way, with the potential to hide its activity from Linux users.

      Trend Micro posted information on its website that the route of infection is yet to be investigated. However, the mining malware might get installed onto the victim’s computer through a compromised plugin or software download.

    • Vulnerability In Android Exposes Sensitive Data From RSSI Broadcasts, Can Be Used To Locate Users In Local Wifi Networks [Ed: So-called 'phones' always broadcast that data widely, the question is just, how widely?]
    • Security updates for Wednesday

      Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (powerdns and powerdns-recursor), Debian (ceph and spamassassin), Fedora (feh, flatpak, and xen), Red Hat (kernel, kernel-rt, openstack-cinder, python-cryptography, and Red Hat Single Sign-On 7.2.5), and Ubuntu (python2.7, python3.4, python3.5).

    • iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9, Xiaomi Mi 6 Hacked At Pwn2Own Tokyo [Ed: All so-called 'phones' nowadays have a back door at the baseband OS, so cracking them and remotely controlling them is trivial, securing them a non-starter.]
    • It’s Amateur Hour in the World of Spyware and Victims Will Pay the Price

      We’re living in the golden age of spyware and government hacking, with companies rushing to join a blossoming billion dollar market. The weakest among us—activists or journalists—will suffer the consequences if we don’t regulate it appropriately.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • For What?

      Europe is now commemorating the 100 year anniversary of World War I, with all of the pageantry that accompanies it. I just can’t help but wonder, “Do they get it yet? Do they really understand what it was all about?” Do they realize yet that 20 million soldiers, people, killed and died for nothing?

      It was a stupid colonialist war that accomplished absolutely nothing of importance, just power changing hands. At least Lenin was smart enough to see that and immediately got Russia out of it. On the other hand, the Americans were particularly stupid since this war was strictly a European affair, in actuality, a European family feud. But Americans didn’t understand that. They thought that since it was a war between the Big Powers, they should be included and recognized. The Americans said, “Hey, we’re a big power too, you know. Take notice of us, Europe. We recently acquired some colonies of our own! We have every much of a right to send our boys overseas to proudly die in your colonialist war!” Of course, Europe welcomed them, but behind their backs, they snickered to each other in private, “These dumb Americans. They don’t realize that this is a family feud.” However, the futility of war was quite lost not only on the Americans but on the Europeans as well. Europe should instead hold a ceremony to mourn those who died for nothing. Ironically, at least then it would have some meaning. I could support that.

      Curiously, even after one century, no one seems absolutely sure why the war started in the first place. What was it all about? It was so crazy, demented, when you think of it, wasn’t it? Here was this huge, unprecedented world war that began after a century of relative peace in Europe, and for what? This is something people should think about before they revel in the pageantry. Some 20 million people died, which means that 20 million people killed others, which also means that so many, many millions more lost a father, a husband, a grandfather, a friend, a lover – and for what?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • US Intel Will Bring Assange to US in Chains

      It appears increasingly likely Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange will wind up in the clutches of the U.S. government.

      It’s hardly surprising, given that in ten years’ time, Wikileaks published more classified information than all other media combined. It exposed human rights abuses, government spying, torture, and war crimes on an unprecedented scale.

      WikiLeaks put government, corporations and even the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA and other intel agencies on notice that they could no longer count on operating in secret.

      It created a trove of primary source material that serious journalists and researchers will mine for years to come. Its publications are accessible to readers who prefer primary sources to mostly mediated news.

      Wikileaks so infuriates the USA’s most violent, corrupt, and criminal institutions that Hillary Clinton half-jokingly suggested drone-bombing Assange. Other U.S. politicians called for his execution by other means.

      California’s 28th District Congressman Adam Schiff, who became the chair of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats reclaimed the House, said he would speak to Assange “when he is in U.S. custody, not before.”

      Schiff is a vociferous and supremely self-righteous leader of the Democratic Party’s “Resistance,” which sullies the name of the underground movement formed in France during World War II to fight Nazi Germany’s occupying forces and the collaborationist Vichy government.

    • Twitter Mystery: Fox News, Jill Stein, WikiLeaks, Prominent Right Wingers Abruptly Stop Posting At Same Time

      In the days that followed, a stream of other right-wing and Trump-connected individuals and organizations have also fallen silent on the site, widening the mystery of why they have so suddenly stopped posting. Speculation reigns as to whether there is any connection or co-ordination between these conservative outlets.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Century-Old West Virginia Leases Yield Paltry Gas Royalties. A Suit Could Cut Others’ Payouts to a Trickle, Too.

      Linda Stimmell gets upset every time EQT Corp.’s checks arrive in the mail. The energy giant extracts natural gas from beneath the Stimmell family’s old farm in Doddridge County, West Virginia, under the terms of a lease signed when Teddy Roosevelt was president.

      The royalty checks Stimmell receives from two “Bates Wells,” named for her great-great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Bates, amount to just $9 and $3 each quarter.

      The lease Bates signed more than a century ago with Carnegie Natural Gas Co. of Pittsburgh allowed legendary industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s company to drill for, produce and sell as much natural gas as Carnegie wanted. In exchange, Bates got a flat fee of $300 a year per well.

      [...]

      The lawsuit, filed in April, challenges a 1982 law that aimed to give gas owners a bigger share of the profits. That law applied to situations where the gas lease was an old flat-fee arrangement and the well was drilled after the law took effect. In order to get a state permit for such wells, gas companies would have to pay the gas owners at least 12.5 percent of the revenue from the gas.

      EQT lawyers argue that the company invested time and money on leases, betting financially that, eventually, more modern drilling techniques would fuel skyrocketing production in West Virginia’s Marcellus Shale gas fields.

      “It was entirely foreseeable that, over time and with investment, mineral extraction technology and related infrastructure would continue to improve, new technologies would develop, and the market for natural gas would grow,” the company maintained in its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg.

      EQT wants a federal judge to throw out the entire 1982 statute. The company declined to comment on the lawsuit beyond its court filings.

      A victory for the company could shift millions of dollars in gas royalties from West Virginia residents and businesses to out-of-state gas producers like EQT, a politically connected company with a board member, Bray Cary, who is a top adviser to Gov. Jim Justice.

    • Alternatives to Wilderness?

      In recent years it has become fashionable for conservationists to substitute and promote other land classification in place of wilderness designation. Wilderness is “passé” so we are told, even though it is the “gold standard” for land protection.

      In a recent white paper, The Wilderness Society outlined some of these alternatives such as National Recreation Area, Conservation Management Area, Special Management Area (Newberry Crater), National Scenic Area, Wildlife Management Area, and other titles.

      While such designations may confer greater flexibility than wilderness designation, and often more protection than no special label, since there is no “organic act” for such classifications, there is no consistent policy protection for such designations. The degree of protection provided can vary and depends entirely on the original language that created such areas. By contrast, with Wilderness designation, we know what we are getting.

    • Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation

      David and I recently spent a couple weeks in the company of a group of Romanians who had come to the U.S. to learn what we had to offer about coexisting with grizzly bears, which are of the same species, Ursus arctos, as their local “brown bears.” They had come to Seeley Lake, Montana, for a week-long workshop sponsored by Humane Society International (HSI), because, in the words of Gabriel “Gaby” Paun of Agent Green, a Romanian environmental group: “we are losing our bears, not learning.” Afterwards, Gaby, Laszlo Gal, Levante (“Levi”) Peter and Lajos Berde (see their photos below) spent another week based at our place where they covered an astonishing amount of Yellowstone by car and foot, and where we continued our fascinating conversations about people and bears.

      We Americans alternate between bragging and complaining about the roughly 700 grizzlies that live, isolated, in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. But Romania’s Carpathian Mountains support 10-times more bears, an astonishing 7,000 or so, in an area of roughly the same size – more than in all other European countries combined, and, of them all, the most genetically robust. I came into the workshop believing that we have as much or more to learn from Romanians as they do from us, and I believe that even more strongly now. (For more, listen to this delightful interview with Manon Dene, Paris-based advocate for HSI, Episode 31– and here is my can’t-miss interview with Gaby, Episodes 32 and 33).

  • Finance

    • Five ways Amazon HQ2 could impact the DC area

      Amazon has spent more than $44 million lobbying Congress over the last four years, and doubled the number of lobbyists it employs.

    • Amazon Splits Coveted ‘HQ2’ Between New York and Washington

      The search was also a not-so-subtle message to the city of Seattle, where some political leaders have blamed Amazon for skyrocketing property values, gridlocked highways and a growing homeless crisis. Tension between Amazon and the city spilled into the public spotlight earlier this year, when the city council approved and then overturned a payroll tax on big employers to pay for affordable housing and programs to fight homelessness. Amazon, the city’s dominant employer, threatened to push growth elsewhere if it was approved.

    • ‘It’s obscene and wrong’: Amazon HQ2 gets typically warm New York welcome

      “To provide a billion dollars in taxpayer money at a time of scarce resources to one of the richest corporations in the world, that’s run by literally the richest man in the world – it’s obscene and it’s wrong,” Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City on the city council, told the Guardian.

    • After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North

      Change happens on many levels: cultural, economic, industrial, social, artistic, personal, psychological, spiritual, and more. We must work in all of them if we hope for lasting, systemic shifts. Don’t be fooled by the annual circus of voting. Go vote, sure, but don’t sit back down on the couch when you’ve cast your ballot. Go out into your community, businesses, churches, colleges, and so on, and work for the changes we wish to see in the world. In truth, no legislation has the power to enact the full scope of change without the cooperation of all those other institutions and the popular support in ordinary citizens.

      Want living wages, for example? Change the sickening culture of greed and the hero worship of the criminals at the top of capitalism’s cannibalistic food chain. Challenge the moral “right” our culture places upon exploitation and survival of the fittest. We will never see justice for workers while we salivate over billionaires and laud their “brilliance” (read: ruthless willingness to shove others under the bus) with which they “made their fortunes” (read: stolen from others by means of low wages, high prices, global exploitation, insider deals, destruction of the earth, corruption of democracy, self-serving laws and legislation.)

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • 11,000 Votes May Be Missing in Florida Congressional Race

      Counties across Florida are currently under intense pressure and scrutiny as they race to complete the unprecedented task of three simultaneous statewide recounts. According to a schedule provided to Truthout by the Florida Fair Elections Coalition (FFEC), the deadline for finishing machine recounts and submitting those second unofficial results is Thursday, November 15, at 3 pm. Races that are close enough to require what is being described as a “manual” recount — where a limited number of ballots are counted by hand — must submit official returns Friday, November 16, by noon. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher has already stated that her county will be unable to meet the deadline, calling it “impossible.” The statewide races where recounts are required are for governor, agricultural commissioner and Senate, where current Gov. Rick Scott maintains a razor-thin lead of 12,562 votes in his attempt to take a Senate seat away from his rival Democrat incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. That lead is now less than the mysterious 25,000 undervote that was reported previously in the race.

      According to The New York Times, if any county cannot complete the recount by the deadline, then Saturday’s results will stand in that county. Another county that is likely to find the recounts challenging is Broward County, a behemoth Democratic stronghold with over 700,000 total ballots cast. The supervisor of elections there, Brenda Snipes, received a summary judgment against her in May 2018 for illegally destroying ballots in the 2016 Democratic congressional primary race between incumbent Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, a professor of law and public finance at Nova Southeastern University.

    • An Emoluments Suit Against Trump Is Moving Ahead. We Spoke to a Plaintiff About What’s Next. — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra
    • Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?

      That, however, is not what CNN contends. They’re not upset that you and I can’t plop ourselves down in White House press room chairs and start firing off questions at the president any time the spirit moves. Their lawsuit argues, rather, that because CNN is a popular cable channel and its White House correspondent is very special and important, Jim Acosta is entitled to a chair, a desk, and face time with Donald Trump.

      I suspect a lawsuit on similar supposed First Amendment claims from, say, Caitlin Johnstone, Alex Jones, Chris Hedges, or the “White House Correspondent” of a small-town Kentucky newspaper would get laughed right out of court (and out of the “mainstream press”), even if they all agreed to hand the microphones back over when their time ran out.

    • CNN Lawsuit Seeks To Show That Trump Can’t Kick Reporters Out For Asking Tough Questions

      As you’ve probably heard by now, last week there was a bit of a scuff up in which the President in his standard manner got irritable and annoyed when CNN’s Jim Acosta kept asking questions the President didn’t feel like answering. This has resulted in a bunch of nonsense involving everyone trying to justify their own side’s talking points — but the simple fact of the matter is that it’s a journalist’s job to ask tough questions of politicians. There was a made up controversy involving claims that Acosta “assaulted” an intern who sought to take away his microphone, and the White House supported it with video evidence that some have claimed was doctored, while others have noted just happened (coincidentally) to have been re-encoded in a way that made Acosta’s hand motions look more menacing than they really were. Either way, the end result was that the White House removed Acosta’s press pass, claiming it was because of what happened with the intern, when literally everyone knows it was because of his questioning (if you want to honestly argue that it was because of the intern, go away).

      On Tuesday, CNN announced that it had filed a lawsuit against the White House over the removal of the press pass, arguing that it violated both 1st Amendment and 5th Amendment rights. CNN and Acosta are represented by Ted Boutrous and Ted Olson (along with some other Gibson, Dunn lawyers) which is some serious firepower as they’re two of the most high profile lawyers out there. Olson, a former Solicitor General during the George W. Bush administration, was rumored earlier this year to be considering joining Trump’s legal team, before declining. And now he’s suing Trump’s White House.

    • The Government is Our Teacher

      At his death sentencing in 1997 Timothy McVeigh, the infamous Oklahoma City bomber, spoke words that every American should take to heart when confronted with violence perpetrated by US veterans. Quoting Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, McVeigh stated, “Our government is the potent, omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example.” In 1995, McVeigh, a decorated Gulf War veteran, who a comrade referred to as “the best soldier I met when I was in the Army”, carried out the largest terrorist act on US soil pre-9/11.

      Unfortunately, many US veterans like McVeigh have used skills and training acquired in the military to kill fellow Americans. The latest is Ian David Long, a former Marine allegedly responsible for a shooting in Thousand Oaks, California that left 12 people dead. Although authorities will search for motives, it is likely they will dismiss Long’s own words, as McVeigh’s have been ignored. Reportedly, in a Facebook post before the attack, Long wrote: “I hope people call me insane… (laughing emojis).. wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah.. I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’.. or ‘keep you in my thoughts’… every time… and wonder why these keep happening…”

      If Long’s and McVeigh’s indictments fall on deaf ears, perhaps the words of a Marine Corps Pastor who served with Long in Afghanistan will carry more weight. The pastor, Thomas Burke, stated, “We train a generation to be as violent as possible, then we expect them to come home and be OK. It’s not mental illness. It’s that we’re doing something to a generation, and we’re not responding to the needs they have.”

      [...]

      Johnson, like McVeigh, was a psychopath. But McVeigh’s pathology did not stop him from rationally spelling out the reasons he took his actions. For example, he claimed that he was awarded medals for killing enemy Iraqis but was a villain at home for fighting against a Clinton government he perceived as a threat to the Republic. McVeigh was a Christian from Upstate New York radicalized by the destruction wrought by the US military in Iraq in 1991, especially on the “highway of death”. The Waco Raid in 1993 that saw the FBI firebomb David Koresh’s compound, killing the radical preacher but also innocent women and children, pushed him over the edge. McVeigh stated, “[his] bombing was a retaliatory strike; a counter attack, for the cumulative raids (and subsequent violence and damage) that federal agents had participated in over the preceding years (including, but not limited to, Waco).”

    • The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend

      As per usual in my ongoing failure to “speak to the day” as a journalist should, this piece will come out after the “most important election of our lifetimes”-midterms. Part of the delay was having to deal with friends who were worried that I would say the sorts of things I say here—because, you know, as a philosopher and retired professor the influence I have is enormous! I’ll return to the all-important midterms at the end, now that they are (safely?) behind us.

      I imagine the “lifetimes” in question are those of the well-trained liberals, progressives, and “leftists” who are now in their twenties, thirties, and forties; “educated people.” For anyone older, I find it hard to understand how they think the stakes of things within the existing social system are so different than in any other election. Even for those in their forties, we have lived as adults in a time when the Supreme Court stopped an election and installed a president and vice-president in what looked like a right-wing coup. This unfolded into real elements of fascism, such as the abrogation of the U.S. constitution by the Patriot Act, the starting of wars on the basis of outright lies (lies that were easily seen through, but that were supported by Democrats in Congress such as Hillary Clinton); these wars continue today. But my liberal friends say, “never mind that, because … Trump.”

    • What Tester’s Win Means

      Montanans should be proud of their fellow citizens for sending Jon Tester back to the Senate on Election Day. Faced with the ugliest display of crude and degrading campaigning against him by the president, his son, the vice president and other out-of-state politicians, Tester — a true Montanan born and raised under our big sky — managed to prevail without once resorting to the lowlife tactics of his opponents.

      Not in recent memory has any sitting president come to Montana four times to campaign against an incumbent Montana senator. As President Trump made widely known, he considered it his revenge mission to unseat Tester, claiming that it was “personal” because Tester torpedoed Trump’s nominee to head the Veterans Administration.

      But in truth, Trump’s nominee, Ronnie Jackson, withdrew voluntarily after Tester released details provided to him concerning Jackson’s proclivity to pass out prescription drugs like candy and drink on the job. That Jackson bailed prior to his Senate confirmation hearing says a great deal about the validity of the concerns raised by Tester who, as a senator, has a constitutionally mandated duty to “advise and consent” on high-level administration nominees.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The US Refusing To Sign ‘The Paris Call’ Is Not As Big A Deal As Everyone Is Making It Out To Be

      On Monday, a bunch of countries and companies officially announced and signed “The Paris Call,” or more officially, “the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace.” It’s getting a fair bit of press coverage, with a lot of that coverage playing up the decision of the US not to sign the agreement, even as all of the EU countries and most of the major tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Cisco and many many more signed on.

      But, most of those news stories don’t actually explain what’s in the agreement, beyond vague hand-waving around “creating international norms” concerning “cyberspace.” And the reports have been all over the place. Some talk about preventing election hacking while others talk about fighting both “online censorship and hate speech.” Of course, that’s fascinating, because most of the ways that countries (especially in the EU) have gone about fighting “hate speech” is through outright censorship. So I’m not quite sure how they propose to fight both of those at the same time…

    • Nice Work EU: You’ve Given Google An Excuse To Offer A Censored Search Engine In China

      I both agree and disagree with this statement. What China is doing is to a different degree. But the mechanisms and the concepts behind them are the same. Indeed, we’ve pointed out for years that any move towards internet censorship in the Western World is almost immediately seized upon by China to justify that country’s much more aggressive and egregious political censorship. Remember, back when the US was considering SOPA/PIPA, which would have censored whole websites on the basis of claims of copyright infringement, the Chinese government gleefully pointed out that the US was copying China’s approach to the internet, and pushing for a “Great Firewall” for “harmful” information. It’s just that, in the US’s case, that “harmful information” was infringing information that hurt the bottom line of a few entertainment companies, while in China, they saw it as anything that might lead to political unrest. But, as they made clear, it was the same thing: you guys want to keep “harmful” information offline, and so do we.

      That push for SOPA/PIPA gave the Chinese cover to continue to censor the internet — and now the EU and its silly Right to be Forgotten is doing the same thing. So, yes, the style and degree of the censorship is not the same — but the nature of what it is and how it’s done continues to give massive cover to China in dismissing any complaints about its widespread censorship regime.

    • Pennsylvania Attorney General Sends Broad, Unconstitutional Gag Order To Gab’s New DNS Provider

      The subpoena wasn’t sent to Gab, but rather Epik, the domain provider Gab picked up after being dropped by GoDaddy in the days after the shooting. The whole subpoena — rescued from deleted tweets — can be found at Unicorn Riot. The subpoena demands Epik turn over pretty much any document the domain provider might have on Gab, including names and addresses of “any and all persons or entities employed by, representing, or otherwise acting on behalf of Gab.”

      Shapiro’s fishing expedition — which decided to bypass Gab (most likely in hopes of finding its DNS provider more cooperative) — comes complete with a very half-assed gag order request.

    • Enforcing copyright in government documents? Not as uncommon as one might think

      It was just a few days ago that Advocate General Szpunar issued his Opinion[discussed here]in the important Afghanistan Papers case, ie Funke Medien, C-469/17. This is a referral from Germany asking about the interplay between copyright protection and fundamental rights, notably freedom of information and freedom of the press.

      Pending all this, some interesting news comes from Germany. The IPKat is happy to host the ‘alert’ below, as provided by Katfriend Mathias Schindler (as of September 2018, an assistant to Anke Domscheit-Berg).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • ProtectedText – A Free Encrypted Notepad To Save Your Notes Online

      Note taking is an important skill to have for all of us. It will help us to remember and maintain permanent record of what we have read, learned and listened to. There are so many apps, tools and utilities available out there for note taking purpose. Today I am going to talk about one such application. Say hello to ProtectedText, a free, encrypted notepad to save the notes online. It is a free web service where you can write down your texts, encrypt them and access them from anywhere from any device. It is that simple. All you need is a web browser in an Internet-enabled device.

      ProtectedText site doesn’t require any personal information and doesn’t store the passwords. There is no ads, no cookies, no user tracking and no registration. No one can view the notes except those who have the password to decrypt the text. Since there is no user registration required, you don’t need to create any accounts on this site. Once you done typing the notes, just close the web browser and you’re good to go!

    • [Old] Jaron Lanier: How we need to remake the internet

      I don’t believe our species can survive unless we fix this. We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them.

      In the meantime, if the companies won’t change, delete your accounts, OK?

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Thoughts And Prayers’ By Lee Reed

      The phrase “thoughts and prayers” is reflexively uttered by elites, who desperately hope acknowledging tragedy will be enough to avoid doing anything to meaningfully address carnage and destruction.

      And for every tragedy that demands “thoughts and prayers,” there are many more examples in the United States and throughout the world that do not receive attention from politicians.

      On Canadian hip-hop artist Lee Reed’s latest album, “Before and Aftermath,” he deconstructs the common political expression, exposing how it reinforces a status quo that benefits Western capitalism and empire.

    • How Georgia’s Probation System Squeezes the Poor and Feeds Mass Incarceration

      Poor Georgians are falling victim to probation policies that enrich private companies and contribute to recidivism rates.

      Charles “Skip” Eckartz, a 63-year-old disabled veteran, and his wife, Virginia “Ginny” Eckartz, were arrested in their Georgia home for manufacturing marijuana. They were incarcerated for five days until Ginny was able to use the small inheritance she’d received after her mother’s death as collateral for their bond.

      Although all of the charges were dropped against his wife, Skip accepted a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid a felony conviction and up to 10 years in prison. Skip, who had no criminal history, was sentenced to five years of felony probation under the First Offender Act in Georgia.

      Unfortunately, Skip didn’t realize that probation, which is promoted as a way to keep people out of jail and prison, is actually one of Georgia’s main feeder systems of incarceration. In 2016, Georgia had more people on felony probation — close to 206,000 people on felony probation — than any other state in the nation.

      In addition to his sentence, Skip was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine plus court costs and fees. The Eckartzes survive on a fixed income of $965.89 a month. They net just under $12,000 a year, and owe the state almost $10,000 in fees and fines that Skip is required to pay as a condition of probation. The result: Skip is forced to decide between paying the lease on his home, or fines and fees. He lives with the constant threat that if he continues to miss payments, he could be thrown into prison and given a criminal record for the first time in his life.

    • Top Chicago Alderman Adds to Growing Momentum for Ticket and Debt Reform

      Chicago’s most powerful alderman on Tuesday joined the growing chorus of leaders calling for reforms to the city’s ticketing and debt collection, introducing a measure to substantially limit the decades-old practice of seeking driver’s license suspensions over unpaid tickets.

      The proposal from Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke would require the city to take into account motorists’ income before taking away their driving privileges and create more affordable payment plans for them.

      Burke’s proposal was the latest in a series of reforms that aim to respond to growing public pressure over the way Chicago punishes motorists who can’t afford to pay tickets.

      “The impact of license suspensions truly hurts lower-income residents the hardest because of an inability they have to pay these steep ticket fines,” Burke, who represents the 14th Ward on the city’s Southwest Side, told the Finance Committee. “For many motorists, the loss of the privilege to drive equates to higher unemployment, and in worst-case scenarios, Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings become necessary in order to protect licenses and vehicles required to get to work.”

    • Oregon Board Says Those Found Criminally Insane Rarely Commit New Crimes. The Numbers Say Otherwise.

      About 35 percent of people found criminally insane in Oregon and then let out of supervised psychiatric treatment were charged with new crimes within three years of being freed by state officials, according to a comprehensive new analysis by ProPublica and the Malheur Enterprise.

      The analysis and interviews show that Oregon releases people found not guilty by reason of insanity from supervision and treatment more quickly than nearly every other state in the nation. The speed at which the state releases the criminally insane from custody is driven by both Oregon’s unique-in-the-nation law and state officials’ expansive interpretation of applicable federal court rulings.

    • What Oregon Officials Knew and When They Knew It

      Members of the Psychiatric Security Review Board have said it is not their duty to track what happens to people they set free. But in private, board members and staff pushed to study recidivism and found high rates among people the board frees.

    • How We Analyzed the Outcomes of Those Freed by Oregon’s Psychiatric Security Review Board

      Studies of the criminal justice system rarely consider what happens after insanity defendants are freed. In Oregon, that has meant state leaders have had no objective measure of the state’s approach, which places more people into community treatment and frees them from state supervision more quickly than other states.

      The Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica calculated outcomes by reviewing public records collected from the Psychiatric Security Review Board, courts and state agencies. The analysis is among a handful of recidivism studies of insanity defendants, experts said.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Medium is a poor choice for blogging

      Many people choose Medium lately as their go-to platform to blog. Kind of like Blogger a while back, it just seems what everybody has been doing (unless you are really nit-picky and care enough to host your own thing).
      And kind of like Blogger, Medium is a terrible thing for publishing. If you think about publishing an article, starting a blog or even just sharing a short rant on Medium, please consider what you’ll be putting your readers through.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court unanimously dismisses Warner-Lambert’s painful Lyrica appeal

      In his pre-dinner speech at the CIPA life Sciences conference last week, Lord Neuberger wistfully commented that, if there was one case that he would like to have come back to the Supreme Court bench for, it was Warner-Lambert vs Actavis. Following the Supreme Court hearing of this case in February, IPKat has spent the summer on tenterhooks waiting for the decision to be handed down.

      The decision was handed down this morning, and can be read here. In summary, the Supreme Court dismissed Warner-Lambert’s appeal that the patent was sufficiently disclosed, and upheld Actavis and Mylan’s appeal that the disputed claims were not even partially sufficient. The Supreme Court also unanimously held that, if the claims had been found valid, they would not have infringed. The Supreme Court was also unanimous on construction and found that the post-trial amendment sought by Warner-Lambert was an abuse of process.

    • USA: Arista Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc., United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, No. 2017-1525, 09 November 2018

      The assignor of a patented network security logging device that “broadcast” network security threats was not estopped from initiating an inter partes review of the patent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has determined.

    • Trademarks

      • The Girl Scouts Sues The Boy Scouts Over Trademark

        What happened here is pretty simple. And, frankly, pretty stupid on the part of the BSA. And we should acknowledge that Techdirt generally, and myself specifically, tend to advocate a more permissive attitude when it comes to trademark concerns. In this case, what BSA did was to rebrand itself without the “Boy”, instead recruiting girls into its ranks using the “Scouts BSA” branding and term. To be somewhat critical of the Girl Scouts, having that “BSA” in its name certainly does some work to differentiate it and call back to its original Boy Scouts of America name, but I’m not sure one could argue that “BSA” alleviates any concern. The Girl Scouts, of course, are still a thing. And this appears to have led to very real confusion in the marketplace.

      • Girl Scouts sue Boy Scouts for trademark infringement

        The Girl Scouts are suing the Boy Scouts, saying the organization’s inclusive rebranding effort has caused all sorts of consumer confusion from mistaken enrollment in the Boy Scouts to misinformation about a merge of the two groups.

        Tuesday’s trademark infringement lawsuit is an attempt to clear up the uncertainty, said the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

        The Manhattan federal case noted the two separate youth organizations have long coexisted.

    • Copyrights

      • Nintendo ‘Wins’ $12 Million From Pirate ROM Site Operators

        This summer, Nintendo made it totally clear that websites offering access to its retro-games and ROMs will not be tolerated.

        The Japanese game developer filed a complaint at a federal court in Arizona, accusing LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co of massive copyright and trademark infringement.

        Faced with millions of dollars in potential damages, the operator of the sites, Jacob Mathias, swiftly took the platforms offline. The legal action also led to the shutdown several other ROM sites, who feared they could be next.

      • Nintendo ‘Wins’ $12.2 Million From A Couple Who Ran ROM Sites [Ed: Nintendo destroys people who sought to preserve memories, nostalgia and culture without actually harming anyone's bottom line (these games aren't for sale anymore)]

        A husband and wife from Arizona have been ordered to pay Nintendo a sum of $12.23 million in damages for running a couple of sites that offered pirated ROMs.

        Jacob and Cristian Mathias have admitted guilt of copyright and trademark infringement by operating LoveROMS.com and LoveRetro.co. These sites were up until July this year when Nintendo finally intervened and slapped a lawsuit against the duo.

Second Day of EPOPIC: Yet More Promotion of Software Patents in Europe in Defiance of Courts, EPC, Parliament and Common Sense

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From the EPO Gazette:

Software patents in Europe

Summary: Using bogus interpretations of the EPC — ones that courts have repeatedly rejected — the EPO continues to grant bogus/fake/bunk patents on abstract ideas, then justifies that practice (when the audience comes from the litigation ‘industry’)

YESTERDAY we covered day one of EPOPIC, taking note of overt promotion of software patents in Europe by the António Campinos-led European Patent Office (EPO).

Day two of this event had yet more of the same, namely promotion of software patents in Europe. As people who are programmers probably know already, "AI" just means software; it’s a particular kind of software, but it’s still software. I myself have written algorithms in this domain under more than one employer and more than one university. Despite the fact that we’re talking about algorithms here, the EPO is blatantly working around the law again. Yesterday it wrote: “AI and the patent system: The fundamental concepts of patent law will adapt – from the protection of hardware innovation, to the protection of software innovation.”

When they say “patent law will adapt” they mean to say “will be worked around” (or violated) and by “software innovation” they mean programming. The EPO mentioned “AI” in another context (management of patents themselves), e.g. “Patent information professionals will be able to leverage AI’s ability to quickly process massive amounts of data to surface important information. Samuel Davis shares great insights on this topic at #EPOPIC [] What are the areas where the EPO uses AI? Automatic pre-classification of applications Automatic CPC classification of patent documents Automatic searches on patent applications Automatic annotation of patent literature Patent Translate…”

It’s important to stress that this isn’t about software patents but about software being used to manage patents (we suppose that the EPO will deem such software patent-eligible too).

Methods of violating the EPC (and then ignoring courts that say EPO is violating the EPC) are then specified by the EPO: “The EPO has developed a methodology in order to determine if computer implemented inventions are patentable: (1) Technical character, (2) Inventive step based on technical features only.”

This is nonsense; the nonsensical interpretation above has already been rejected by courts. But on they go: “EPO expert Argyrios Bailas presents how the EPO is incorporating AI tools in its work and how it examines applications related to artificial intelligence.” (combining the two aspects above).

“Patent offices need to provide a predictable, stable & timely approach to the patenting of computer implemented inventions,” the EPO then added.

Examiners should say “NO!” immediately (to such patent applications), as per the law — a concept that the corrupt EPO fails to grasp. This would be “predictable, stable & timely,” to borrow the EPO’s own words.

We suppose that the remainder of EPOPIC will have more of these same lies. We shall watch these closely today.

Allegations That António Campinos ‘Bought’ His Presidency and is Still Paying for it

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 1:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When the politician met the banker

Campinos and Battistelli in 2011

Summary: Rumours persist that after Battistelli had rigged the election in favour of his compatriot nefarious things related to that were still visible

THERE have been several rumours swirling about António Campinos, but evidence is at times lacking or relatively weak. The European Patent Office (EPO) is corrupt, no doubt, and there’s plenty evidence to show it. Demonstrating that Campinos plays an active role in it, however, isn’t easy. Days ago we mentioned EPO ‘outsourcing’ rumours; we asked for input and got some input a couple of days later.

“We already saw Battistelli doing this many times in the past. It’s a form of corruption.”As readers may recall, Battistelli clearly meddled/intervened to have Campinos ‘set up’ as his successor. Take Belgium for example (we wrote about half a dozen articles about it, since more than a year ago, as this relates the UPC and EUIPO). Inside sources said that its vote was more or less ‘bought’.

Based on LinkedIn job postings, sources tell us, other countries may have had their vote ‘bought’ (rewards given after the vote, not before or throughout). We already saw Battistelli doing this many times in the past. It’s a form of corruption. We’ve been giving examples since 2014.

We’re told that the job postings have nothing to do with outsourcing but more to do with national patent offices and Council delegates (as was the case in Belgium). As one source framed it: “Is António Campinos paying for the votes which made him the seventh president of the EPO, or for future support?

“His election was a rigged process (we wrote about it countless times before) and the effect of this rigged election may be more profound and long-lasting than people care to realise.”A curious aspect of this is that the job advertisements on the EPO’s LinkedIn page aren’t always on the EPO’s site. Some may have already disappeared (maybe due to public scrutiny). We leave it as an exercise for the reader, e.g. which jobs these are and the possible motivations. One thing we do know is that there are internal conversations about it and Campinos has much to worry about. His election was a rigged process (we wrote about it countless times before) and the effect of this rigged election may be more profound and long-lasting than people care to realise. Certain people are indebted or are owed “favours”. There are many ways to pass money around, e.g. jobs, EU budget, and EPO budget (see how Battistelli looted the EPO itself a few weeks before he left).

WIPO Corruption and Coverup Mirror EPO Tactics

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 12:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Older: The Dark Side of WIPO and Attempts to Suppress Information Mirror the EPO’s Tactics

When Exposing A Crime Is Treated As Committing A Crime, You Are Being Ruled By The Criminals Themselves.

Summary: Suppression of staff representatives and whistleblowers carries on at WIPO and the EPO; people who speak out about abuses are themselves being treated like abusers

THE suppressions at the European Patent Office (EPO) are profound. These involve a total lack of transparency (worse than before), including gagging of staff representatives. The EPO’s management keeps pretending that this isn’t happening, but only based on a bunch of nonsense (doublespeak). It remains true that the EPO lies to staff and to journalists (the public).

“It remains true that the EPO lies to staff and to journalists (the public).”Barney Dixon’s article which was cited by SUEPO on the same day (as publication) is the latest SUEPO-related coverage from IPPro Patents. Misleading article headline is followed by the part at the end which balances it somewhat, if not outright refutes it (EPO doubles down on “staff rep email ban,” unlike what’s being suggested in the headline and start/middle). To quote IPPro Patents:

The European Patent Office has partially ended a ban on mass emails to EPO staff from staff representatives.

Under immediate EPO past-president, Benoît Battistelli, a blocking system was introduced to occlude all mass emails to staff from staff representatives, including the Central Staff Committee (CSC), local staff committees, and the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO).

In a communiqué to staff on 5 November, Campinos revealed that staff representatives would now be able to send mass emails for “certain purposes”.

He explained: “In the scope of our regular discussions, staff representatives have requested authorisation to send mass emails to all staff.”

[...]

According to SUEPO sources, under all previous EPO presidents the CSC, local staff committees and SUEPO were all about to send messages without limitation.

The sources said it was not in any staff representatives culture to abuse this power with too much or aggressive content.

The sources explained that since SUEPO could issue “reasoned and substantiated critics about his wrongdoings, Battistelli decided to go for an office-wide ban of all emails from the staff representatives”.

The sources added that Campinos wanted to “give staff and the public the feeling that he is re-establishing the censored channels of communication, whereas in facts, this is not the case”.

“Mass emails are limited to two calls for general assemblies per year and not allowed for other day-to-day topics, which are precisely those of great concerns for the entire workforce since they impact on them.”

As we explained before, António Campinos blatantly blocks any meaningful communication because the quotas correspond to annual or biannual meetings.

“What we see from Campinos right now reaffirms what we saw before; people who observe corruption aren’t able to speak, not safely anyway. This merely perpetuates the corruption.”There’s now a new example of similar suppressions at WIPO.

“WIPO,” one reader told us, is in many ways “same as EPO,” citing the following letter from the 3 staff federations regarding the case of Mr. Wei Lei.

“Any resemblance to EPO, is purely coincidental,” our reader joked. The old pattern ensues: gag the messenger, discredit the messenger, intimidate the messenger. Here is the letter, dated yesterday:

13 November 2018

Dear Mr. Gurry,

We are writing to you on behalf of the three staff federations of the UN common system, CCISUA, FICSA and UNISERV, representing 120,000 international civil servants worldwide, regarding what would appear to be a serious act of reprisal against Mr. Wei Lei, who holds a D2 Chief Information Officer position at WIPO and who is also the Vice-President of the WIPO Staff Association. We have been informed that the WIPO Administration has suspended Mr. Lei (an Australian national) from duty and given him seven days to respond to a charge letter, following what seems to be a tainted investigation conducted by WIPO into an alleged ATM bank card fraud.

Mr. Lei has been accused by WIPO of having used a colleague’s ATM bank card to withdraw CHF 300 from that person’s bank account at the UBS bank ATM on the WIPO premises. Mr. Lei denies the accusation and neither UBS nor the Swiss authorities have provided WIPO with any evidence or record that would substantiate the accusations.

The staff federations find all of this rather strange given the context. Mr. Lei was a key witness in the investigation carried out by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Service (OIOS) into the alleged misconduct (procurement corruption) by you as WIPO Director General. A violation of the standards of conduct was substantiated by the OIOS; however, Member States decided not to take any action against you. Following the investigation, you apparently received an unredacted copy of the OIOS report, thereby exposing the witnesses to retaliation – this is contrary to standard investigative practice at WIPO.

We have been informed that Mr. Lei has already been investigated twice over the last two years and cleared of any wrongdoing during both investigations.

Furthermore, he is not the only staff representative at WIPO being subjected to such type of investigation or undergoing alleged harassment. We understand that Mr. Christopher Mason, President of the WIPO Staff Association (WSA), would seem to be the subject of yet another such investigation and Mr. Olivier Steele, another Vice-President of the WSA, has allegedly been informed that his fixed- term contract will not be renewed after 31 January 2019, because of a negative performance evaluation and his supervisor’s explicit disapproval of his activities as a staff representative, despite the fact that he has provided twenty years of loyal service to the Organization. Additionally, the case of Ms. Miranda Brown, former D2-level Strategic Adviser to the WIPO Director General and a prominent, blacklisted whistleblower who was forced out of WIPO, has still not been settled by the WIPO Administration, despite renewed legal action.

Mr. Lei, having been refused whistleblower protection by the WIPO Ethics Office appealed, in accordance with the WIPO whistleblower protection policy, to the UNOPS Ethics Office which subsequently granted him the status of whistleblower and the protection which is supposed to be accorded thereto. Moreover, the UNOPS Ethics Office concluded that an independent investigation must be conducted at WIPO to investigate the reported retaliation against Mr. Lei for having been a key witness against you in the above-mentioned OIOS investigation. We have been informed that this long- awaited investigation has finally been initiated but that the Terms of Reference may have been manipulated in breach of WIPO policy.

It has now come to our attention that WIPO’s current investigation of Mr. Lei may be flawed and that the so-called evidence may possibly have been manipulated or otherwise clearly does not prove his culpability beyond a reasonable doubt.

We understand that, for all of the above reasons, Mr. Lei has filed a complaint with the Geneva Prosecutor General and has expressly requested and volunteered to have his privileges and immunities lifted so as to allow the competent Swiss authorities to conduct a proper and independent investigation. It seems, however, that WIPO has repeatedly refused to lift Mr. Lei’s privileges and immunities preventing the Swiss authorities to proceed with the investigation. Despite its inability to obtain cooperation from the UBS bank, WIPO has apparently concluded the investigation and initiated disciplinary processes against Mr. Lei for serious misconduct that is likely to result in his summary dismissal.

Against the backdrop of allegations, OIOS investigations, WIPO investigations focused on staff representatives, reported retaliation and the decision of the UNOPS Ethics Office that Mr. Lei must be protected from retaliation; it makes it increasingly difficult to give credibility to any investigation conducted by WIPO.

In line with an organization’s duty of care to its staff and to ensure that Mr. Lei is provided a fair and independent investigation conducted by the Swiss authorities which can interact with the bank concerned, the staff federations strongly encourage you to lift Mr. Lei’s privileges and immunities in order to allow the Swiss authorities to conduct an independent investigation into the alleged ATM bank card fraud. We urge you, in our capacities as Presidents of the three UN common system staff federations, to immediately suspend the disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Lei until the UNOPS evaluation in regards to retaliation is completed, an investigation by the Swiss authorities has taken place and the matter is finalized. We also urge you to suspend all actions against other elected WSA officials until WSA’s complaint against the WIPO Administration has been settled by ILOAT.

Failing to do so can only lead the three staff federations to conclude that this and other investigations against staff representatives at WIPO are contrived in order to silence any voice of criticism or respectful dissident opinion. We would therefore insist that all ongoing forms of retaliation against the WIPO Staff Association, whistleblowers and staff at WIPO who raise allegations of misconduct by WIPO Administration be stopped immediately.

Lastly, we are alarmed that the policies in place at WIPO to protect staff from retaliation are still not functioning.

We shall continue to monitor this issue closely.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Richards
President
Coordinating Committee for
International Staff Unions and
Associations (CCISUA)

Brett Fitzgerald
President
Federation of International Civil
Servants’ Associations
(FICSA)

Steve Towler
President
United Nations International
Civil Servants’ Federation
(UNISERV)

cc. Ambassador Esmael Baghhai of Iran, Chairman, WIPO Coordination Committee
WIPO Member States
Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Executive heads of FICSA, CCISUA and UNISERV member organizations
Member staff associations/unions of FICSA, CCISUA and UNISERV

Gurry — like Battistelli — is a thug who (mis)uses immunity to avoid accountability if not arrest for corruption. What we see from Campinos right now reaffirms what we saw before; people who observe corruption aren’t able to speak, not safely anyway. This merely perpetuates the corruption.

11.13.18

Links 13/11/2018: HPC Domination (Top 500 All GNU/Linux) and OpenStack News

Posted in News Roundup at 3:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • An illustrated tour of Unix history

    Unix pioneer Rob Pike was there from the start, physically transporting key elements of the “Toronto distribution” of Unix to Berkeley when he started grad school, and then to Bell Labs, working alongside Dennis Ritchie and other key Unix programmers to develop and refine everything from modern editors to compilers to windowing systems.

    His hour-long “illustrated memoir” of the deep history of Unix is delightful, touching on the people and institutional forces that shaped the operating environment that has come to dominate modern computing (he even gives a mention to Cardiac, the cardboard computer that shaped my own computing life).

  • All Servers Are Now On Linux!

    The next step for these servers is to massage them into actual Linux Daemons, which shouldn’t be HUGE, but it will take a minor rewrite of some bits of code. Not a huge issue until I have a real server though. So, really the next step is to get the base functionality built out in the next 3 Servers(Mob, Narrative, & Social)

  • The Linux desktop: With great success comes great failure

    And what do roughly 95.6% of all websites run on? With the exception of Microsoft sites, the answer is Linux. Facebook? Linux. Google? Linux. Yahoo? Linux. Netflix? Linux. I can go on and on. You may use Windows on your desktop, but it’s effectively just a front end to Linux-based services and data. You might as well be using a Chromebook (running on Linux-based Chrome OS, by the way).

    But as a matter of fact, Windows is no longer the top end-user operating system. Oh yes, it does still dominate the desktop, but the desktop hasn’t been king of the end-user hill for some time. By StatCounter’s reckoning, the most popular end-user operating system as of September 2018, with 40.85% market share, was — drum roll, please — Android. Which — guess what — is based on Linux.

    So, in several senses, Linux has been the top end-user operating system for some time.

    But not on the desktop, where Windows still reigns.

    Why? There are many reasons.

    Back when desktop Linux got its start, Microsoft kept it a niche operating system by using strong-arm tactics with PC vendors. For instance, when Linux-powered netbooks gave Microsoft serious competition on low-end laptops in the late ’00s, Microsoft dug XP Home up from the graveyard to stop it in its tracks.

    But Microsoft’s avid competitiveness is only part of the story. In fact, Microsoft has gotten quite chummy with Linux lately. It’s fair to say that it’s no longer trying to stop the Linux desktop from gaining ground.

  • Palliative care for Windows 10 Mobile like a Crimean field hospital, but with even less effort

    Last Monday, a Microsoft update gave users a buggy Outlook mobile email client. The update was rapidly withdrawn, but that left owners with no working email client at all.

    “They’ve barely responded at all,” one owner told us on Friday. “A couple of tech supports on the web forums have suggested it’s a memory problem, while another claims that they’re aware and are looking into it. An obvious strategy would have been to update with the old app last night – but they didn’t.”

    Microsoft finally acknowledged the issue in build 16006.11001.20083.0 later on Friday, and rolled out an update at the weekend that finally fixed the problem.

  • Desktop

    • Samsung brings Linux desktop to its mobile devices with DeX beta

      SAMSUNG HAS RELEASED its Linux on DeX solution to the quandary of how to best use phones as desktop machines more convincingly.

      For all its wonderful qualities, Android has never been aimed at keyboard and mouse users, and whilst five years ago everyone assumed that was fine because we’d all be using tablets anyway, it’s 2018 and most people have stuck to what they know.

      But with our devices becoming ever more powerful, sometimes as powerful as our PCs, there needs to be a way to harness them. Huawei has its Desktop Mode, but other solutions like Remix OS and Google’s own Pixel C, have fallen by the wayside. For Google – Android apps in the more sympathetic Chrome OS have been the solution.

    • Samsung’s Linux on DeX turns your phone into a Linux computer [APK Download]

      Samsung debuted DeX last year to make your phone behave a bit more like a computer when plugged into a monitor. This year, DeX functionality has improved so you don’t need to expensive custom dock, just a video cable. At Samsung’s developer conference last week, it announced DeX would also get full Linux support. It’s only officially available to those in the beta program, but we’ve got the APK.

      To use Linux on DeX, you’ll need an updated Samsung device that supports DeX. Currently, only the Note 9 and Tab S4 work with the beta. Install the Linux on DeX app to get started. This is just a few megabytes because it’s not a full Linux distro (you’ll download that later).

    • Review: the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Laptop

      Canonical recently made an official announcement on its company blog stating that the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop (that is, Project Sputnik) now ships with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) pre-installed. Upon reading this, I quickly reached out to Dell asking to review the laptop. I’m a Linux developer, and when a developer edition laptop is marketed with Linux pre-installed, I need to experience it for myself. The laptop eventually arrived, and like a child on Christmas morning, I excitedly pulled the device out of the box and powered it up for the first time.

      This is a pretty rock-solid notebook. The device is very light and easy to carry—meaning, it’s mobile (which is very important in my book), thin and sleek. Not only does the device look good, but it also performs very well.

      [...]

      Overall, I had a very positive experience with the 7th generation Dell XPS 13. It’s a powerful machine and fully capable of handling all sorts of developer workloads. And if used in a professional environment, it’s very mobile as well. You can carry it from conference room to conference room and resume your work with little to no disruption. Ubuntu is well integrated with the machine, and it shows. You can’t ask for more in a developer’s laptop. I definitely consider this device to be well worth the investment.

    • What does your Linux setup look like?

      Jim Hall: I run Fedora Workstation on a Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop, with an ASUS 24″ external display. That gives me a dual-display configuration that lets me work in one window on the larger display while having a separate space to run my music player or other apps. I love my Perixx ergonomic keyboard and my Microsoft Classic Intellimouse. When I’m feeling nostalgic, I swap out the ergo keyboard with my replica IBM Model M keyboard by Unicomp; the buckling spring keys are really easy to type with. My printer is an HP color LaserJet, which works seamlessly with Linux.

  • Server

    • Systems Engineer Salary Rises Even Higher with Linux Experience

      Some companies treat “systems engineer” and “systems administrator” almost interchangeably, but there are significant differences between the two positions. In broadest terms, systems engineers must design and implement a company’s system (comprising the network, servers, devices, etc.), whereas systems administrators are largely charged with keeping everything running.

      To frame it another way, system administration is a very reactive role, with sysadmins constantly monitoring networks for issues. Systems engineers, on the other hand, can build a system that anticipates users’ needs (and potential problems). In certain cases, they must integrate existing technology stacks (e.g., following the merger of two companies), and prototype different aspects of the network before it goes “live.”

    • OpenStack vs. Cloud Foundry vs. Kubernetes: What Fits Where?

      Open-source cloud application infrastructure can be a confusing landscape to navigate with multiple projects, including OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes. While there are some points of overlap, each technology has its own merits and use-cases.

      Among the vendors that uses and contributes to OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes is SUSE, which also has commercial products for all three technologies as well. In a video interview with eWEEK, Thomas Di Giacomo, CTO at SUSE explains how the three open-source technologies intersect at his company.

      “We see that our customers don’t use a single open-source project, most of the time they to use different ones, with different lifecycles and sometimes they overlap,” Di Giacomo said.

    • Moving house and moving applications are not the same. Or are they?

      As a Solution Architect I see my job as many things, from supporting customers in adopting Red Hat technology, educating organisations about using open source technologies and the benefits it brings, to thinking of ways to solve business challenges using technology and culture change. However, these are all generally in the space of “green field” app development. But what about all the systems keeping the business going today?

      The challenges businesses face in dealing with these “legacy” systems are complex, multi-faceted, involve many teams, and often businesses face knowledge gaps in how everything works together.

      In the public sector, where I work, this problem of legacy systems is arguably larger and more challenging, with the need for organisations to share information, outlined by things like Digital Service Standard. But, it’s worked that way for years, so why change it?

    • Red Hat at Supercomputing 2018: Bringing open source innovation from high performance computing to the enterprise

      All supercomputers on the coveted Top500 list run on Linux, a scalable operating system that has matured over the years to run some of the most critical workloads and in many cases has displaced proprietary operating systems in the process. For the past two decades, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has served as the foundation for building software stacks for many supercomputers. We are looking to continue this trend with the next generation of systems that seek to break the exascale threshold.

      SC18, a leading supercomputing conference, begins today. Red Hat hopes to hold conversations and share our insights on new supercomputers, including Summit and Sierra, nascent architectures, like Arm, and building more open computing environments that can further negate the need for proprietary and monolithic implementations. The updated Top500 list is an excellent example of how open technologies continue to proliferate in high performance computing (HPC) and highlights how the ongoing software optimization work performed on these systems can benefit their performance.

    • New TOP500 List Lead by DOE Supercomputers

      The latest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers is out, a remarkable ranking that shows five Department of Energy supercomputers in the top 10, with the first two captured by Summit at Oak Ridge and Sierra at Livermore. With the number one and number two systems on the planet, the “Rebel Alliance” vendors of IBM, Mellanox, and NVIDIA stand far and tall above the others.

    • How IBM and Red Hat Will Impact Your Cloud Strategy

      Barring a heavy-handed approach to the recent acquisition, IBM and Red Hat can do some amazing things in the market.
      IBM is a long way from making physical machines. That part of the business went with Lenovo several years ago. So, what has been their focus ever since? Software and services. And, among those software pieces and services has been the cloud.

      Until today, you may have heard little about IBM’s cloud presence. Although I can assure you it’s there, it was really struggling to compete with the likes of AWS, Azure, and even GCP. Now, with predictions like those from Gartner stating that by 2020, 90% of organizations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities and that the market in general could be worth $240 billion or more – this was as good a time as any to really take a dive into the cloud management and delivery ecosystem.

    • Integrating Vault with Legacy Applications

      This is the third post of our blog series on HashiCorp Vault. In the first post, we proposed a custom orchestration to more securely retrieve secrets stored in the Vault from a pod running in Red Hat OpenShift.

      In the second post, we improved upon that approach by using the native Kubernetes Auth Method that Vault provides.

      Both of the previous approaches assumed that the application knew how to handle the renewals of vault tokens and how to retrieve secrets from Vault. In all of our examples we used Spring Boot, which, we believe, has a sophisticated and out-of-the box Vault integration.

      In this post, we are going to add further improvements with the purpose of enabling applications that cannot integrate directly with Vault.it. We will assume that these applications (henceforth referred to as legacy applications) can read a file to retrieve their secrets.

    • Kaloom Collaborates with Red Hat to Deliver a Virtual Central Office Solution for Multivendor NFV Deployments

      Kaloom, an emerging leader in the fully automated data center networking software market, today announced collaboration with Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, around the launch of the Red Hat virtual central office solution, a Virtual Central Office (VCO) solution for multivendor NFV deployments at the edge. The solution is designed to speed and simplify the deployment of value-added residential, enterprise and mobile services by telcos and enterprises.

    • ​Red Hat blends Kubernetes into Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14

      Red Hat’s new OpenStack is built on top of the OpenStack “Rocky” community release. This version is noted for its significant bare-metal improvements in Ironic, its bare metal provisioning module, as well as in Nova, its compute instances provisioning program. Red Hat makes use of both improvements by automated provisioning of bare metal and virtual infrastructure resources in its OpenShift Container Platform.

      To manage those containers, no matter if they’re on bare metal or in a Virtual Machine (VM), the new OpenStack Platform 14 is more tightly integrated than ever with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Together, OpenStack Platform 14 aims to deliver a single infrastructure offering for traditional, virtualized, and cloud-native workloads.

    • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14 coming soon with tighter Kubernetes integration

      Today, Red Hat has announced Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, saying it will become available in the coming weeks. The firm says that the latest version, which is built on the OpenStack “Rocky” community release, more tightly integrates with the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform which gives admins full control over their Kubernetes environments.

    • Red Hat Releases Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14 and a New Virtual Office Solution, ownCloud Enterprise Integrates with SUSE Ceph/S3 Storage, Run a Linux Shell on iOS with iSH and Firefox Launches Two New Test Pilot Features

      Red Hat this morning released Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, delivering “enhanced Kubernetes integration, bare metal management and additional automation”. According to the press release, it will be available in the coming weeks via the Red Hat Customer Portal and as a component of both Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure and Red Hat Cloud Suite.

    • Red Hat tightens container integration with latest OpenShift release

      Red Hat Inc. is upping its Kubernetes game with release of Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, the latest version of its infrastructure-as-a-service product.

      The new version announced early today, which is based upon the OpenStack “Rocky” community version, improves integration with OpenShift, Red Hat’s own version of Kubernetes, and features better support for bare-metal deployments and improved automation.

      OpenStack is Red Hat’s platform for organizations and service providers that want to run a hybrid cloud infrastructure consisting of common elements that run both on-premises and in public clouds. Improved OpenShift integration is a nod to the surging popularity of Kubernetes, which enables applications to be encapsulated and moved across platforms.

    • Red Hat Drives Unified Foundation for Kubernetes and Virtual Machines with Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14

      Built on the backbone of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, Red Hat OpenStack Platform enables enterprises to transform their IT infrastructure into a more agile, efficient and innovative environment. Modular by design, it helps to optimize IT operations for existing traditional applications while serving as the foundation for cloud-native application development and deployment.

    • Announcing Red Hat AMQ Streams: Apache Kafka on Red Hat OpenShift

      Today we are taking an important step toward helping customers build event-driven applications with the introduction of Red Hat AMQ Streams, a high-performance data streaming capability based on the Apache Kafka open source project.

      Integration plays a vital role in the development of modern container- and microservices-based applications. These architectures are inherently more modular and require robust, distributed messaging capabilities that can meet the demands for scale and performance. Kafka was born out of the need to enable microservices and other application components to exchange large volumes of data as quickly as possible for real-time event processing. The technology has excelled at this, and is used today by organizations of all sizes to power mission-critical business applications.

    • Red Hat Adds Kafka Streaming to OpenShift

      Red Hat is adding data streaming capability to its OpenShift container platform with the addition of a distribution based on Apache Kafka.

      AMQ Streams is described as a high-end data streaming tool built on Kafka stream processing. Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) said Monday (Nov. 12) it is integrating the streaming capability with its flagship OpenShift platform based on its enterprise version of the Kubernetes cluster orchestrator. The combination is designed to provide messaging services in the cloud to connect legacy and cloud-native applications.

      “As more of the software world has converged on Kubernetes as the standard platform for building cloud-native applications, it is increasingly important to be able to run the communication infrastructure on the same platform,” Red Hat noted in a blog post. The result, the company added, is integration of event-driven microservices with Kafka’s ability to quickly exchange large data volumes for real-time event processing.

    • The mainframe returns – as a platform for large-scale Linux

      There are several ways to build large scale Linux server environments, with x86 and public cloud being obvious ones. But there’s another option too, as I reminded myself when I caught up with Adam Jollans, program director for LinuxOne product marketing at IBM. LinuxOne is a solution built by IBM using the mainframe platform as its base, but it’s solely focused on running Linux workloads.

      We discussed the way some organisations are using LinuxOne to keep mission-critical open source solutions running without service interruption and, just as importantly, to keep them secure. Typical workloads his customers run include core banking services – where resilience is essential, not just desirable – and similar solutions for Telcos and SPs. These are services that must scale to hundreds or even thousands of virtual machines, doing so both cost-effectively and without risk.

      The characteristics of such mission-critical workloads clearly resonate with the traits of the venerable mainframe. After all, the mainframe is regarded by many, even those who have never seen one, as the gold standard for IT resilience and availability. Unfortunately for IBM, and arguably for the wider world, the mainframe is also widely thought of as being out-dated, expensive, and difficult to manage – even though this hasn’t been true for a long time, and is certainly not the case with LinuxOne.

    • Will throwing a Red Hat into a Big Blue ring mean a purple patch for both companies?

      The global comms industry and those who analyse and report upon it have grown more or less inured to hearing yet another announcement about yet another gigantic merger, acquisition or “strategic partnership” (which a year-or-so down the line turns out to be an acquisition that was initially disguised as a marriage of equals). Consolidation exercises and the inflated prices being paid when one comms company buys another are now so commonplace that, more often than not, the news of the latest spending splurge is greeted by the media with “Oh, another one. Big deal. Ho-hum”.

    • Retired U.S. Army General H. Hugh Shelton, on what makes a leader he’d follow to Hades

      General Shelton was chairman of Red Hat’s board of directors for seven years and, before that, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997‒2001. During his time at Red Hat, General Shelton helped guide both me and our organization through some truly great times. When he announced his retirement from Red Hat’s board last year, I jumped at the chance to sit down with him one more time and do what he taught me: listen.

    • OpenStack expands focus beyond the IaaS cloud

      In Berlin, at OpenStack Summit, Jonathan Bryce, OpenStack’s Executive Director, announced that this would be the last OpenStack Summit and it would be replaced next year by Open Infrastructure Summit. This is more than just a name change. It represents that OpenStack is evolving beyond its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud offerings to offering a full range of cloud services.

      This isn’t a sudden change. OpenStack has been expanding its offerings for some time. As Thierry Carrez, the OpenStack Foundation’s VP of engineering wrote, in 2017 OpenStack started “shifting our focus from being solely about the production of the OpenStack software, to more broadly helping organizations embrace open infrastructure: using and combining open source solutions to fill their needs in terms of IT infrastructure.”

    • Stay classy: Amazon’s Jassy gets sassy with Larry

      Amazon’s consumer business has switched off its Oracle data warehouse and will be almost Big Red-free by Christmas – at least according to AWS boss Andy Jassy.

      The claims – made over Twitter, so it must be true – were then doubled down on by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, who said that the database was one of the largest in the world, adding “RIP”.

      It’s the latest in a long-running war of words between the rival tech giants that normally sees Oracle CTO Larry Ellison smack-talking the online marketplace-cum-cloud vendor.

    • U.S Supercomputers Lead Top500 Performance Ranking

      The IBM POWER9 based Summit system has retained its crown that it first achieved in the June 2018 ranking. Summit is installed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and now has performance of 143.5 petaflops per second, up from the 122.3 petaflops the system had when it first came online.

      [...]

      Though China doesn’t hold the top spot on the list, it now has more supercomputers than any other other nation with 227. In contrast, there are now only 109 systems on the Top500 list that are located in the U.S., which is an all-time low.

      That said, thanks to the enormous power of Summit and Sierra at the top, the U.S. is home to 38 percent of the total aggregate supercomputing power on the top500 list, while China’s systems account for 31 percent.

    • Introducing Red Hat virtual central office solution: An open pathway to modern telecommunications services

      Digital transformation and technology modernization aren’t trends that are limited just to the enterprise world. Behind the walls of proprietary stacks, many telecommunications service providers also want to use open innovation to evolve their infrastructure and services in an agile, flexible fashion. But these closed stacks are a problem and one that extends from the core datacenter all the way to the central offices.

      Central offices are the local “hubs” of many telecommunications networks, often handling “last-mile” operations like telephone switching, copper, and optical terminations. These operations lean on purpose-built equipment that can be rigid and complex. Coupled with a lack of open standards, these devices can struggle to interact with each other, making the life of operations teams in central offices harder, especially in the face of demand for modern services expected from 5G. These differentiated services increasingly require virtualized environments and computing power at the network edge, leading to substantial demand for resources, flexibility and operational simplicity.

    • What does IBM’s Red Hat purchase mean for the data center?

      RedHat was one of the first big open source businesses. It’s grown over the years to encompass more than Linux, building out a complete developer stack that stretches from IoT to hyperscale clouds. It’s a reach that goes well beyond IBM’s, but at a very different, much smaller scale. Where IBM has been a one-stop shop for all your data center needs, RedHat has been a company that’s relied on partnerships and on industry collaboration.

    • Could Red Hat deal be a ‘distraction’ for IBM? Unisys CEO hopes so
    • Red Hat Accelerates Back Office Processes and Unifies Global Workforce with FinancialForce

      FinancialForce, a leading customer-centric ERP and Professional Services Automation (PSA) cloud solution native to the Salesforce Platform, announced that Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, is successfully unifying its global workforce and accelerating back-office processes with FinancialForce PSA.

    • DLT Awarded Coveted 2018 Red Hat Public Sector Partner of the Year Award
    • IBM’s Bob Lord: Red Hat Acquisition Makes IBM the Top Hybrid Cloud Provider

      “We are going to be the company that is providing enterprise-ready hybrid cloud solutions and actually create the foundation of the infrastructure of the future,” IBM’s ($IBM) chief digital officer Bob Lord told Cheddar on Tuesday.

      IBM’s Red Hat ($RHT) acquisition will be a game-changer for the information technology giant ー and it better be, at a $34 billion price tag. The deal, which is IBM’s largest ever and the third biggest deal in tech, is expected to close at the end of 2019. It’s been less than one month since IBM announced the acquisition, but executives like Lord are already suggesting it will be revolutionary.

      “With Red Hat, we now become the number one largest provider of hybrid cloud solutions in the world,” Lord said, “which is really important for all our enterprise clients.” He said the deal also means that IBM is doubling down on open source and “committing to the developer community that these tools are something that they are going to be able to use and have impact on the world.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 43 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux we cover a big batch of releases from distros, apps, hardware and more. System76 launches the option to order their new Open Source Certified Desktop, Thelio. We got a big update from the Solus team about the future of the project. openSUSE announces the launch of their Legal Review System, Cavil. Fedora 29 has been released along with other releases like KDE Connect, Sailfish, i3 Window Manager, GIMP, VirtualBox and the Game Manager, Lutris. We’ll also take a look at some upcoming projects like Ubuntu 19.04, Cinnamon 4.0 and the Samsung DeX running Ubuntu. All that and much more!

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Developers Debate Having An Official Linux System Wrapper Library

      As new system calls get added to the Linux kernel, these syscalls generally get added to Glibc (and other libc libraries) for developers to make easy use of them from their applications. But as Glibc doesn’t provide 1:1 coverage of system calls, sometimes is delayed in their support for new calls, and other factors, there is a discussion about providing an official Linux system wrapper library that could potentially live as part of the kernel source tree.

      This weekend was the initial proposal for having an official Linux system wrapper library. Though that initial proposal is a bit flawed in saying that “glibc is basically not adding new system call wrappers”, as they are, just sometimes it takes a while among other factors. But it is accurate in reflecting a problem with the status quo.

    • Linux Getting Two-Line Patch To Finally Deal With The Quirky Microsoft OEM Mouse

      While Microsoft is self-proclaimed to love Linux, their common and very basic Microsoft OEM Mouse has not loved the Linux kernel or vice-versa… The Linux kernel HID code is finally getting a quirk fix to deal with the Microsoft OEM mouse as it would disconnect every minute when running at run-levels one or three.

      The basic Microsoft OEM Mouse that’s been available for years (appearing as a PixArt vendor and USB ID 0x00cb) would disconnect every 60~62 seconds on Linux systems when connected out-of-the-box. This isn’t some high-end gaming mouse but Microsoft’s dead basic OEM optical mouse.

    • Linux Poised To Remove Decade-Old EXOFS File-System

      The Linux kernel will likely be doing away with EXOFS, a file-system that had been around since the Linux 2.6.30 days.

      EXOFS is a file-system originally derived from EXT2 file-system code for basing it on an external object store. This object-based file-system was originally developed by IBM.

      Veteran kernel developer Christoph Hellwig is now seeking to remove the EXOFS object-based file-system on the basis of it being “just a simple example without real life users.”

    • Linux Foundation

      • Cloud companies form Ceph Foundation to advance object storage tech

        The Linux Foundation Monday announced the formation of a new “Ceph Foundation” backed by more than 30 major technology firms hoping to support and manage the popular open-source storage technology.

        Ceph is a unified and distributed storage system used by some of the world’s largest cloud service providers, including Rackspace Inc. as well as major organizations such as Bloomberg L.P. and Fidelity Investments Inc. It provides object, block and file system storage and can also be used as a software-defined storage system for commodity hardware.

      • Ceph backers apply Foundation in storage makeover

        Ceph, the open source storage software platform, has gotten its very own foundation. Just like Linux.

        The Ceph Foundation is organised as a directed fund under the Linux Foundation. It “will organise and distribute financial contributions in a coordinated, vendor-neutral fashion for immediate community benefit. This will help galvanise rapid adoption, training and in-person collaboration across the Ceph ecosystem.”

        The foundation is the successor to the Ceph Advisory Board, which was formed in 2015 by Canonical, CERN, Cisco, Fujitsu, Intel, Red Hat, SanDisk, and SUSE.

      • ​Ceph open-source storage takes an organizational step forward

        In Berlin, The Linux Foundation, announced over 30 global technology leaders have formed a new foundation to support the Ceph open-source, unified distributed storage system project community: The Ceph Foundation.

        Ceph is a unified distributed storage system. It provides applications with object, block, and file system interfaces. Ceph is also a software-defined storage (SDS) program. It’s designed to run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware.

        Behind the scenes, Ceph uses an Object Store to store data. Within it, each piece of data is stored in a flat, non-hierarchical namespace and identified by an arbitrary, unique identifier. Each item’s metadata are stored along with the data itself.

      • The Ceph storage project gets a dedicated open-source foundation

        Ceph is an open source technology for distributed storage that gets very little public attention but that provides the underlying storage services for many of the world’s largest container and OpenStack deployments. It’s used by financial institutions like Bloomberg and Fidelity, cloud service providers like Rackspace and Linode, telcos like Deutsche Telekom, car manufacturers like BMW and software firms like SAP and Salesforce.

        These days, you can’t have a successful open source project without setting up a foundation that manages the many diverging interests of the community and so it’s maybe no surprise that Ceph is now getting its own foundation. Like so many other projects, the Ceph Foundation will be hosted by the Linux Foundation.

      • The Linux Foundation Launches Ceph Foundation To Advance Open Source Storage

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announces over 30 global technology leaders are forming a new foundation to support the Ceph open source project community. The Ceph project develops a unified distributed storage system providing applications with object, block, and file system interfaces.

      • Linux Foundation launches Ceph Foundation to advance open source storage

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organisation enabling mass innovation through open source, has announced that over 30 global technology leaders are forming a new foundation to support the Ceph open source project community. The Ceph project develops a unified distributed storage system providing applications with object, block and file system interfaces.

        Founding Premier members of Ceph Foundation include Amihan, Canonical, China Mobile, DigitalOcean, Intel, OVH, ProphetStor Data Services, Red Hat, SoftIron, SUSE, Western Digital, XSKY Data Technology, and ZTE. The Ceph Foundation will organise and distribute financial contributions in a coordinated, vendor-neutral fashion for immediate community benefit. This will help galvanise rapid adoption, training and in-person collaboration across the Ceph ecosystem.

      • Linux Foundation forms Ceph Foundation for open-source storage

        Driven in part by the increased use of containers, AI and ML, the Linux Foundation announced the formation of the Ceph Foundation for open-source storage.

        Ceph is being used by cloud providers and enterprises to lower the cost of storing information in private clouds while helping them better organize and access their information. The Ceph Foundation is developing a unified distributed storage system that will provide applications with high availability to object, block and file system interfaces.

        According to the Linux Foundation press release, unstructured data accounts for more than 80% of enterprise data, which is growing at rate of 55% to 65% a year. Block and file storage systems play a key role in keeping data organized and are crucial components of infrastructure platforms such as Kubernetes and OpenStack. According to an OpenStack survey, roughly two-thirds of OpenStack clouds use Ceph block storage.

      • A Free Guide for Setting Your Open Source Strategy

        The majority of companies using open source understand its business value, but they may lack the tools to strategically implement an open source program and reap the full rewards. According to a recent survey from The New Stack, “the top three benefits of open source programs are 1) increased awareness of open source, 2) more speed and agility in the development cycle, and 3) better license compliance.”

        Running an open source program office involves creating a strategy to help you define and implement your approach as well as measure your progress. The Open Source Guides to the Enterprise, developed by The Linux Foundation in partnership with the TODO Group, offer open source expertise based on years of experience and practice.

        The most recent guide, Setting an Open Source Strategy, details the essential steps in creating a strategy and setting you on the path to success. According to the guide, “your open source strategy connects the plans for managing, participating in, and creating open source software with the business objectives that the plans serve. This can open up many opportunities and catalyze innovation.” The guide covers the following topics:

    • Graphics Stack

      • Vulkan 1.1.92 Released, Finally Allows For Chunked HTML Documentation

        Vulkan 1.1.92 is out today to mark the newest specification update to this high-performance graphics/compute API.

        With it just being one week since Vulkan 1.1.91 that brought some new/improved extensions, there isn’t any new extensions to find with Vulkan 1.1.92. But there are a number of documentation/specification corrections and clarifications.

      • Wayland Protocols 1.17 Brings Explicit Synchronization & Primary Selection

        Jonas Ådahl of Red Hat today released a new version of Wayland-Protocols, the collection of stable and unstable protocols for extending Wayland functionality.

        With the Wayland-Protocols 1.17 release the big new feature is the initial (unstable) version of linux-explicit-synchronization. The Wayland explicit synchronization protocol provides a means of explicit per-surface buffer synchronization. This synchronization protocol is based on Google Chromium’s extension (zcr_linux_explicit_synchronization_v1) and lets clients request this explicit synchronization on a per-surface basis. Google, Intel, and Collabora were involved in the formation of this extension.

      • The Radeon GCN Backend Is Still Being Worked On For GCC, GCC 9 Deadline Looms

        Back in September Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics posted their new Radeon GCN port for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). Two months later this port is still being worked on but not yet ready for mainline.

        This Radeon GCN back-end for GCC is being done with a focus on GPU computing with eventually a goal of allowing OpenMP / OpenACC offloading to newer AMD GPUs. At this current stage, single-threaded C and Fortran programs can be built for Radeon GPUs with this compiler but the multi-threading API offloading bits are still coming about. This back-end has been focused on Fiji/Tonga support and newer.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Sees Its First Tagged Release

        In the nearly one year that the AMDVLK official Vulkan driver has been open-source there hasn’t been any “releases” but rather new code drops on a weekly basis that is pushed out of their internal development repositories. But surprisingly this morning is now a v2018.4.1 release tag for this open-source AMD Vulkan Linux driver.

        The AMDVLK public source repositories have just been perpetual Git while AMD pulls from their internal repositories when building out their official closed-source Windows/Linux Radeon Software driver releases (that also use their closed-source shader compiler currently rather than the open-source AMDGPU LLVM back-end, as used by the public AMDVLK sources). Waking up this morning there is now the first release tag in AMDVLK as v2018.4.1.

      • Mesa Drops Support For AMD Zen L3 Thread Pinning, Will Develop New Approach

        It was just a few months back that the Mesa/RadeonSI open-source AMD Linux driver stack received Zen tuning for that CPU microarchitecture’s characteristics. But now AMD’s Marek Olšák is going back to the drawing board to work on a new approach for Zen tuning.

        Just a few days ago I wrote about another developer wanting to toggle the support around L3 thread pinning as it was found to hurt the RadeonSI Gallium3D performance in at least some Linux games. At that point the goal was to allow making it a DriConf tunable that could then be adjusted a per-game/app basis, but it turns out the gains aren’t there to keep it around.

      • Mesa Gets Testing Patches For New Zen Optimization Around Thread Pinning

        It was just yesterday that the AMD Zen L3 thread pinning was dropped from Mesa due to that optimization not panning out as intended for benefiting the new AMD processors with the open-source Linux graphics driver stack. Lead Mesa hacker Marek Olšák is already out with a new Zen tuning implementation that may deliver on the original optimization goal.

        The first patch posted by Marek as part of his new tuning effort is to regularly re-pin the driver threads to the core complex (CCX) where the application thread is. Basically, when Mesa is being used without the glthread (OpenGL threading) behavior, keep chasing the application/game thread on the processor so it will be part of the same CCX and share a cache. This chasing is done rather than explicitly pinning the application thread.

      • The Shiny New Features Of Mesa 18.3 For Open-Source Intel / Radeon Graphics Drivers

        Being well into the Mesa 18.3 feature freeze and that quarterly update to these open-source OpenGL/Vulkan drivers due out in about two weeks, here is a look at all of the new features and changes you can expect to find with this big update.

      • NVIDIA released a new 415.13 beta driver recently for Linux

        One I completely forgot to post about here, NVIDIA recently released the 415.13 beta driver for Linux.

        Released on the 8th of November, it includes a number of interesting fixes, including an issue fixed with WINE where it might crash on recent distribution releases. Nice to see WINE get some focus, since things like this can affect Valve’s Steam Play.

    • Benchmarks

      • 16-Way AMD EPYC Cloud Benchmark Comparison: Amazon EC2 vs. SkySilk vs. Packet

        With last week Amazon Web Services rolling out AMD EPYC cloud instances to EC2, I figured it would be an interesting time for a fresh benchmark look at how the AMD Linux cloud performance compares from some of the popular cloud providers. For this article are sixteen different instances benchmarked while looking at the raw performance as well as the value on each instance type relative to the benchmark performance and time consumed for the on-demand spot instancing. EPYC instances were tested from Amazon EC2, Packet.com, and SkySilk.

      • A Look At The GCC 9 Performance On Intel Skylake Against GCC 8, LLVM Clang 7/8

        With GCC 9 embarking upon its third stage of development where the focus ships to working on bug/regression fixes in preparation for releasing the GCC 9.1 stable compiler likely around the end of Q1’2019, here is a fresh look at the GCC 9 performance with its latest development code as of this week compared to GCC 8.2.0 stable while using an Intel Core i9 7980XE test system running Ubuntu Linux. For good measure are also fresh results from LLVM Clang 7.0 stable as well as LLVM Clang 8.0 SVN for the latest development state of that competing C/C++ open-source compiler.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce Support For “Primary Display” Output Handling Finally Being Squared Away

      The latest feature on deck for the long overdue Xfce 4.14 desktop update is support for the RandR primary display/output functionality.

      The X11 Resize and Rotate (RandR) protocol has long had baked into it the concept of a primary output/display, which is intended to be where the desktop panel(s), icons, notifications and other central functionality of the desktop would reside. Basically, of a multi-monitor configuration, the display head that is most important for your workflow.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • [Krita] Second Edition of “Dessin et peinture numérique avec Krita” published!

        The first edition was written forfor Krita 2.9.11, almost three years ago. A lot of things have changed since then! So Timothée has completely updated this new edition for Krita version 4.1. There are also a number of notes about the new features in Krita 4.

        And more-over, D-Booker worked again on updating and improving the French translation of Krita! Thanks again to D-Booker edition for their contribution.

      • [Krita] Interview with HoldXtoRevive

        About 4 years ago I downloaded GIMP as I wanted to get back into art after not drawing for about 15 years. I got a simple drawing tablet soon after and things just progressed from there.

      • Elisa in FreeBSD

        Elisa (product page, release announcements blog) is a music player designer for excellent integration into the KDE Plasma desktop (but of course it runs everywhere, including some non-Free platforms). I had used it a few times, but had not gotten around to packaging it. So today I threw together a FreeBSD port of Elisa, and you’ll be able to install it from official packages whenever the package cluster gets around to it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Richard Hughes: More fun with libxmlb

        A few days ago I cut the 0.1.4 release of libxmlb, which is significant because it includes the last three features I needed in gnome-software to achieve the same search results as appstream-glib.

      • Usability Testing in Open Source Software (SeaGL)

        I’ve been involved in Free/open source software since 1993, but recently I developed an interest in usability testing in open source software. During a usability testing class in my Master’s program in Scientific and Technical Communication (MS) I studied the usability of GNOME and Firefox. Later, I did a deeper examination of the usability of open source software, focusing on GNOME, as part of my Master’s capstone. (“Usability Themes in Open Source Software,” 2014.)

        Since then, I’ve joined the GNOME Design Team where I help with usability testing.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • [Spanish GNU/Linux Distribution Void Linux] New images now available!

        Void also comes in musl C flavors, which use the musl C library, a lightweight alternative to the popular glibc library.

        Did you know you can run Void in the cloud? We provide ready to upload images for Google Cloud Platform that are compatible with the always free tier! You can also easily build images for other cloud providers from our ready to run x64 tarballs.

        Our rootfs tarballs can also be used anywhere you want a Void Linux chroot and are available for all architectures we currently compile for.

        You can find all images and rootfs tarballs at https://alpha.de.repo.voidlinux.org/live/current, or in the /live/current directory on any mirror near you.

      • Systemd-Free, XBPS-Powered Void Linux Releases New Images

        If you are looking for a new Linux distribution to experiment with, Void Linux is one of the interesting ones that is an original creation and community driven that often doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Void Linux is built off its BSD-licensed XBPS packaging system, is a rolling-release platform, uses runit as the init system instead of systemd, opts for LibreSSL in place of OpenSSL, optional musl libc usage, and has a wealth of other changes.

        Void Linux has put out new images for getting started with the Linux distribution and appears to be their first ISO re-spins since October of 2017. Granted, it’s a rolling-release, but new install media is always helpful particularly with newer hardware.

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project releases Debian 9.6

        The Debian Project announced the release of Debian 9.6 on November 10, 2018; it is the sixth release of Debian 9 which was released in 2017.

        Debian, one of the oldest GNU/Linux distributions that is still in active development, is the basis for other GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Kali Linux, or Tails.

        The new version of Debian 9.6 is available as a standalone ISO image download and the included update manager that administrators may use to upgrade to the new version.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.6 “Stretch” Released with Hundreds of Updates, Download Now

        The Debian Project announced the general availability of the sixth point release to the latest stable Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.6 “Stretch” is here about four months after the 9.5 point release to offer users up-to-date installation and live mediums if they want to deploy the Linux-based operating system on new computers or want to reinstall without having to download hundreds of updates from the official software repositories. This release includes more than 270 updated packages.

        “This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems,” Laura Arjona Reina wrote in the mailing list announcement. “Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “stretch” media.”

      • Chris Lamb: Review: The “Trojan Room” coffee

        I was recently invited to give a seminar at the Cambridge University’s Department of Computer Science and Technology on the topic of Reproducible Builds.

      • Results produced while at “X2Go – The Gathering 2018″ in Stuttgart

        Over the last weekend, I have attended the FLOSS meeting “X2Go – The Gathering 2018″ [1]. The event took place at the shackspace make spacer in Ulmerstraße near S-Bahn station S-Untertürckheim. Thanks to the people from shackspace for hosting us there, I highly enjoyed your location’s environment. Thanks to everyone who joined us at the meeting. Thanks to all event sponsors (food + accomodation for me). Thanks to Stefan Baur for being our glorious and meticulous organizer!!!

        Thanks to my family for letting me go for that weekend.

        Especially, a big thanks to everyone, that I was allowed to bring our family dog “Capichera” with me to the event. While Capichera adapted quite ok to this special environment on sunny Friday and sunny Saturday, he was not really feeling well on rainy Sunday (aching joints, unwilling to move, walk interact).

      • Derivatives

        • Our achievements in 2018

          On October 12, we started our yearly donation campaign. Today, we summarize what we achieved with your help in 2018 and renew our call for donations.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 8 Reasons Why You Should Stick With Ubuntu Linux

            Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system remains the most popular version of desktop Linux. But once the company stopped developing its own Unity interface, its focus moved elsewhere. Canonical’s eyes are now set more on the cloud than the device you’re reading this on.

            If Canonical no longer seems to care all that much about the Ubuntu desktop, why should you? Turns out there are plenty of reasons to stick with this particular version of Linux.

          • Using Juju to manage evolving complex software

            With developers increasingly moving towards microservices – and with the growing prevalence of the cloud as the default platform – software has become more complex than ever.

            While installing all of the interconnected applications that make up a modern software stack is becoming easier, the real sting in the tail comes on day two and beyond – when it is time to maintain, upgrade, and scale the deployment.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 553
          • Samsung Linux on DeX beta hands-on: do almost everything on your phone

            Among the various Linux on Android implementations, Samsung’s Linux on DeX definitely looks the most polished ready to use solution, even if it’s still in beta form. Although it uses a two-year-old version of Ubuntu, there is already a lot that can be done from that. Plus, just like Android users, Linux users can be pretty creative and only time will tell if they’ll be able to use Linux on DeX to make almost any Linux distro work.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google open-sources AI that can distinguish between voices with 92 percent accuracy

    Diarization — the process of partitioning out a speech sample into distinctive, homogeneous segments according to who said what — doesn’t come as easy to machines as it does to humans, and training a machine learning algorithm to perform it is tougher than it sounds. A robust diarization system must be able to associate new individuals with speech segments that it hasn’t previously encountered.

  • Google Chrome Labs releases open source, browser-based image optimization tool, Squoosh

    Demonstrated briefly at the Chrome Dev Summit, Squoosh’s top priority is speed, and is primarily just a demo of new capabilities that recent improvements to Chrome already bring to the table. For example, by using WebAssembly, Squoosh is able to use image codecs that are not typically available in the browser.

  • OpenStack Foundation Board Expands Mission to Host New Open Source Projects as Part of Open Infrastructure Transformation
  • Wind River and CENGN Assist Open Source Developers in Accelerating StarlingX Adoption for Edge Computing Applications
  • Slidecast: BigDL Open Source Machine Learning Framework for Apache Spark

    In this video, Beenish Zia from Intel presents: BigDL Open Source Machine Learning Framework for Apache Spark.

  • Man embraces open source in push to lure tech talent

    The chief risk officer at one of the world’s largest hedge funds is competing with Google for technologists. And the applicants are asking to keep their open-source allegiance.

    The Man Group’s Darrel Yawitch said new hires are looking for assurances from the hedge fund that they will be permitted to contribute to the open-source coding communities that have underpinned some of the biggest advances in technology’s brief history, from the World Wide Web to the Android operating system.

  • Have you seen these personalities in open source?

    When I worked with the Mozilla Foundation, long before the organization boasted more than a hundred and fifty staff members, we conducted a foundation-wide Myers-Briggs indicator. The Myers-Briggs is a popular personality assessment, one used widely in career planning and the business world. Created in the early twentieth century, it’s the product of two women: Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, who built the tool on Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types (which was itself based on clinical observations, as opposed to “controlled” scientific studies). Each of my co-workers (53 at the time) answered the questions. We were curious about what kind of insights we would gain into our individual personalities, and, by extension, about how we’d best work together.

  • Twistlock Improves Cloud-Native Security With Discovery Tool

    There is a simple truism in much of IT, and that is that organizations can’t manage what they’re not aware of. As organizations increasingly make use of distributed teams that use cloud-native services, there is a nontrivial risk of application sprawl.

    On Nov. 13, container security vendor Twistlock announced its new open-source cloud-native discovery tool, in an effort to help identify and locate applications running on different public cloud services. The Cloud Discovery tool’s initial release supports scanning on the three major public cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

    “Most customers tend to have a multicloud cloud strategy and then you combine that with the fact that everybody has got multiple accounts for different projects or business units, and so forth,” John Morello, chief technology officer at Twistlock, told eWEEK. “You get this big equation where organizations try to figure out all the possible things that could be out there deployed and running.

  • Twistlock Releases Cloud Discovery Open Source Tool for Cloud Native Services
  • Events

    • Why the Linux console has sixteen colors (SeaGL)

      At the 2018 Seattle GNU/Linux Conference after-party, I gave a lightning talk about why the Linux console has only sixteen colors. Lightning talks are short, fun topics. I enjoyed giving the lightning talk, and the audience seemed into it, too. So I thought I’d share my lightning talk here.

    • Jesień Linuksowa 2018

      Last weekend I participated in the conference Jesień Linuksowa 2018 in Krakow, Poland. It was my first time in a country with so much tragic historical experiences.

      On the hand, I was impressed by the community members and the organization of the event. We celebrated another edition of Linux Autumn in the hotel Gwarek and my post-event wrap up will take into consideration seven basic points:

      Organizers

      This time I was accompanied by my friend Ana Garcia, who is a student at the University of Edinburgh and the members of the organization were supportive and kind all the time with us. We felt a warm environment since we arrive at night in the middle of the fog at midnight. They helped us with our talks and workshops we offer related to parallelization.

      We meet new friends! Thanks to Dominik, Rafal, Filip, Linter and Matej from Red Hat.

    • Sustain OSS 2018: quick rewind

      This year, I attended the second edition of the Sustain Open Source Summit (a.k.a. Sustain OSS) on October 25th, 2018 in London. Sustain OSS is a one-day discussion on various topics about sustainability in open source ecosystems. It’s also a collection of diverse roles across the world of open source. From small project maintainers to open source program managers at the largest tech companies in the world, designers to government employees, there is a mix of backgrounds in the room. Yet there is a shared context around the most systemic problems faced by open source projects, communities, and people around the world.

      The shared context is the most valuable piece of the conference. As a first-time attendee, I was blown away by the depth and range of topics covered by attendees. This blog post covers a narrow perspective of Sustain OSS through the sessions I participated and co-facilitated in.

    • A Review of Hacktoberfest Year 5!
    • Hacktoberfest Celebrates 5th Anniversary

      Five years ago the community team at DigitalOcean wanted to create a program to inspire open source contributions. That first year, in 2014, the first Hacktoberfest participants were asked for 50 commits, and those who completed the challenge received a reward of swag. 676 people signed up and 505 forged ahead to the finish line, earning stickers and a custom limited-edition T-shirt.

      This year that number is an astounding 46,088 completions out of 106,582 sign-ups. We’ve seen it become an entry point to developers contributing to open source projects: much more than a program, it’s clear that Hacktoberfest has become a global community movement with a shared set of values and passion for giving back.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Ups the Ante with Latest Test Pilot Experiment: Price Wise and Email Tabs

        Over the last few years, the Test Pilot team has developed innovative features for Firefox desktop and mobile, collaborating directly with Firefox users to improve the browser – from reminders to return to a tab on your desktop to a simple and secure way to keep track of your passwords.

        Today, just in time for the holiday shopping season, the Firefox Test Pilot team is introducing Price Wise and Email Tabs — the latest experimental features designed to give users more choice and transparency when shopping online. These game-changing desktop tools are sure to make shopping a breeze with more options to save, share, track and shop. We’ve also made a few updates to the Test Pilot program itself to make it even easier to become a part of the growing Firefox users testing new features.

      • Let Price Wise track prices for you this holiday shopping season

        The online shopping experience is really geared towards purchases that are made immediately. Countless hours have been spent to get you checked out as soon as possible. If you know what you want, and you’re happy with the price, this is great. On the other hand, sometimes you want to take your time, and wait for a deal. For those times, we have our new Test Pilot experiment, Price Wise.

      • Track Prices and Send One-Step Email Links With Firefox’s New Test Pilot Experiments

        Firefox Test Pilot is Mozilla’s way to test out interesting new features. Some of these features see the light of the day, and others just vanish into thin air. However, that doesn’t stop the Firefox Pilot team from experimenting with browser.

        Today, Firefox announced two new such experiments — namely Price Wise and Email Tabs. Both are ridiculously useful for a user who would like to crack tedious work in mere seconds.

      • Shop intelligently with Price Wise

        Tell Price Wise to keep an eye on a product, and it’s added to your watch list.
        Price Wise will automatically monitor the prices of products on your watch list. When they drop, we’ll let you know:

        When the price drops, Price Wise alerts you with a colorful heads-up.
        Price checks are done locally, so your shopping data never leaves Firefox. We’re particularly excited about that; Price Wise is the first Firefox feature designed around Fathom, a toolkit for understanding the content of webpages you browse.
        Existing software like this works by tracking you across the web, and it’s often run by advertisers and social networks seeking to learn more about you. Your browser can do these checks for you, while making sure the gathered information never leaves your computer. We know it’s possible to deliver great utility while protecting your privacy, and want you to get a great deal without getting a raw deal.

      • Mozilla Reps Community: New Council Members – Fall 2018 Elections

        We are very happy to announce that our 2 new Council members Monica Bonilla and Yofie Setiawan are fully on-boarded and already working moving the Mozilla Reps program forward. A warm welcome from all of us. We we are very excited to have you and can’t wait to build the program together.

      • Sharing links via email just got easier thanks to Email Tabs

        If your family is anything like ours, the moment the calendar flips to October, you’re getting texts and emails asking for holiday wish lists. Email remains one of the top ways people save and share online, so you likely do what we do: help make everyone’s life easier by diligently copy and pasting the URLs, titles and descriptions into a list. What if Firefox could make that process easier? Thanks to our new Test Pilot experiment Email Tabs, it can.

      • Mozilla Reps Community: Rep of the Month – October 2018

        Please join us in congratulating Tim Maks van den Broek, our Rep of the Month for October 2018!

        Tim is one of our most active members in the Dutch community. During his 15+ years as a Mozilla Volunteer he has touched many parts of the Project. More recently his focus is on user support and he is active in our Reps Onboarding team.

      • As far as I’m concerned, email signing/encryption is dead

        A while back, I used to communicate a lot with users of my popular open source project. So it made sense to sign emails and let people verify — it’s really me writing. It also gave people a way to encrypt their communication with me.

        The decision in favor of S/MIME rather than PGP wasn’t because of any technical advantage. The support for S/MIME is simply built into many email clients by default, so the chances that the other side would be able to recognize the signature were higher.

      • Firefox 64 Beta 8 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday November 09th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 64 Beta 8.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: Gabriela, gaby2300.

        From Bangladesh team: Maruf Rahman, Tanvir Rahman, Md. Raihan Ali, Sajedul Islam, Rizbanul Hasan, Mehedi Hasan, Md. Rahimul Islam, Shah Yashfique Bhuian.

  • Databases

    • Michael Howard: Embrace of open source is destroying ‘artificial definitions’ of legacy vendors

      Michael Howard, Berkley grad and alumnus of Oracle and EMC, took the helm at open-source biz MariaDB almost three years ago. Reflecting on how things have changed, he reckons the biggest shift is in how both investors and enterprise have embrace open-source. Now, he has an IPO on his mind.

      In an interview with El Reg, Howard – who, as noted at the time of his appointment, has worked for a number of companies who were slurped up by bigger businesses – said the end of 2018 will see the end of the first year of a three-year plan he devised for the firm.

      Broadly, Howard sets out an overall roadmap of three pieces for the firm. Unsurprisingly, cloud native technology is first up. The other two are adaptive scalability, with the aim of supporting “mom and pop shops all the way to planet-scale processing for the largest social platforms”, and boosting the quality of service by professionalising people and technology, for instance through machine learning.

      But in addition to these technical goals, there’s the business side of things, and the boss said the plan “is being able to go public; to be able to get the company buttoned up at the right revenue level to go public”.

      “We have a voracious appetite for getting to our strategic goals, and part of that is revenue and going public.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Capsicum

      I spent a couple of years evangelizing about Capsicum. I wrote many articles about it. So, it is very natural that I would also like to update you on this blog about the progress of the Capsicum project in FreeBSD, because this is what I’m doing in my free time. That said I feel that this blog wouldn’t be completed without some introduction to what Capsicum is. This post should fill this gap. Over the next weeks and months we will extend this topic and discuss different parts of Capsicum. Without further introduction let’s jump into the topic

  • Licensing/Legal

    • FSF Update Rules Commons Clause Non-Free

      The Free Software Foundation has added the Commons Clause to its list of non-free licenses among a number of recent updates to its licensing materials. Other changes clarify the GNU GPL position on translating code into another language and how to handle projects that combine code under multiple licenses.

    • More companies want fairness to open source license enforcement

      The 16 new companies in this announcement are a diverse set of technology firms whose participation makes evident the worldwide reach of the GPL Cooperation Commitment. They comprise globally-operating companies based on four continents and mark a significant expansion of the initiative into the Asia-Pacific region. They represent various industries and areas of commercial focus, including IT services, software development tools and platforms, social networking, fintech, semiconductors, e-commerce, multimedia software and more.

      The GPL Cooperation Commitment is a means for companies, individual developers and open source projects to provide opportunities for licensees to correct errors in compliance with software licensed under the GPLv2 family of licenses before taking action to terminate the licenses. Version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv2), version 2 of the GNU Library General Public License (LGPLv2), and version 2.1 of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv2.1) do not contain express “cure” periods to fix noncompliance prior to license termination. Version 3 of the GNU GPL (GPLv3) addressed this by adding an opportunity to correct mistakes in compliance. Those who adopt the GPL Cooperation Commitment extend the cure provisions of GPLv3 to their existing and future GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x-licensed code.

    • What you need to know about the GPL Cooperation Commitment

      Imagine what the world would look like if growth, innovation, and development were free from fear. Innovation without fear is fostered by consistent, predictable, and fair license enforcement. That is what the GPL Cooperation Commitment aims to accomplish.

      Last year, I wrote an article about licensing effects on downstream users of open source software. As I was conducting research for that article, it became apparent that license enforcement is infrequent and often unpredictable. In that article, I offered potential solutions to the need to make open source license enforcement consistent and predictable. However, I only considered “traditional” methods (e.g., through the court system or some form of legislative action) that a law student might consider.

    • Introducing Jake Glass, FSF campaigns and licensing intern

      Hello software freedom supporters! I am Jake Glass, and I will be interning for both the campaigns and the licensing teams this fall/winter. I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where I earned an engineering degree in computer science, and I am currently in the process of applying to law school.

      During my summers as an undergraduate, I worked in software development, where I began to consider the ethical ramifications of computing. I realized that my peers and I were often unintentionally building tools to exert social and political control. As the Snowden leaks were emerging around this time, it became clear to me that the pervasiveness of these tools is an imminent threat to freedom worldwide. This was my original motivation in supporting the free software movement: how can we be sure the programs running on our own machines are not spying on us without having access to the source, as required by the Four Freedoms? My interest in these issues concerning copyrights, patents, and civil rights on the Internet has convinced me to attend law school, where I can engage in formal study of these topics.

    • Free Software Foundation updates their licensing materials, adds Commons Clause and Fraunhofer FDK AAC license

      Commons Clause is added to their list of non-free licenses. This license is added to an existing free license to prevent using the work commercially, rendering the work nonfree. By making commons clause as non-free, FSF recommends users to fork software using it. So, if a previously existing project that was under a free license adds the Commons Clause, users should work to fork that program and continue using it under the free license. If it isn’t worth forking, users should simply avoid the package.

      This move by FSF sparked a controversy that the Commons Clause piggybacks on top of existing free software licenses and thus could mislead users to think that software using it is free software when it’s, in fact, proprietary by their definitions.

      However, others found the combination of a free software license + Commons Clause to be very compelling.

      A hacker news user pointed out, “I’m willing to grant to the user every right offered by free software licenses with the exception of rights to commercial use. If that means my software has to be labeled as proprietary by the FSF, so be it, but at the same time I’d prefer not to mislead users into thinking my software is being offered under a vanilla free software license.”

      Another said, “I don’t know there is any controversy as such. The FSF is doing its job and reminding everyone that freedom includes the freedom to make money.

      If your software is licensed under something that includes the Commons Clause then it isn’t free software, because users are not free to do what they want with it.”

  • Programming/Development

    • C language update puts backward compatibility first

      A working draft of the standard for the next revision of the C programming language, referred to for now as “C2x,” is now available for review.

      Most of the changes thus far approved for C2x don’t involve adding new features, but instead clarify and refine how C should behave in different implementations and with regard to its bigger brother C++. The emphasis on refinement is in line with how previous revisions to C—C11 and most recently C17—have unfolded.

    • 4 tips for learning Golang

      My university’s freshman programming class was taught using VAX assembler. In data structures class, we used Pascal—loaded via diskette on tired, old PCs in the library’s computer center. In one upper-level course, I had a professor that loved to show all examples in ADA. I learned a bit of C via playing with various Unix utilities’ source code on our Sun workstations. At IBM we used C—and some x86 assembler—for the OS/2 source code, and we heavily used C++’s object-oriented features for a joint project with Apple. I learned shell scripting soon after, starting with csh, but moving to Bash after finding Linux in the mid-’90s. I was thrust into learning m4 (arguably more of a macro-processor than a programming language) while working on the just-in-time (JIT) compiler in IBM’s custom JVM code when porting it to Linux in the late ’90s.

    • ARMv8.5 Support Lands In GCC Compiler With Latest Spectre Protection

      Landing just in time with the GCC 9 branching being imminent is ARMv8.5-A support in the GNU Compiler Collection’s ARM64/AArch64 back-end.

      This ARMv8.5-A support is an incremental upgrade over the existing ARMv8 support. The ARMv8.5 additions are similar to what we already saw land for LLVM / Clang.

    • Comparing The Quality Of Debug Information Produced By Clang And Gcc

      I’ve had an intuition that clang produces generally worse debuginfo than gcc for optimized C++ code. It seems that clang builds have more variables “optimized out” — i.e. when stopped inside a function where a variable is in scope, the compiler’s generated debuginfo does not describe the value of the variable. This makes debuggers less effective, so I’ve attempted some qualitative analysis of the issue.

      I chose to measure, for each parameter and local variable, the range of instruction bytes within its function over which the debuginfo can produce a value for this variable, and also the range of instruction bytes over which the debuginfo says the variable is in scope (i.e. the number of instruction bytes in the enclosing lexical block or function). I add those up over all variables, and compute the ratio of variable-defined-bytes to variable-in-scope-bytes. The higher this “definition coverage” ratio, the better.

    • Quo vadis, Perl?

      By losing the sight of the strategies in play, I feel the discussion degenerated very early in personal accusations that certainly leave scars while not resulting in even a hint of progress. We are not unique in this situation, see the recent example of the toll it took on Guido van Rossum. I can only sympathize with Larry is feeling these days.

Leftovers

  • All of the Stan Lee cameos from Marvel movies, and why we love them

    Stan Lee is the godfather of modern comics, and his death at age 95, although extremely sad, is a chance to celebrate exactly how much he gave to the world of pop culture. Today, the internet has been flooded with eulogies of his work, life, and his immense impact on comics and film. Many fans fondly recalled the cameos that Lee regularly made in Marvel films over the years, including the pre-Disney Marvel movies, the new Sony Spider-Man Universe, and, of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Science

    • Imperial College’s quantum compass cools atoms to navigate without GPS

      Imperial College estimates that just a day without satellite access would cost the UK £1bn, which wouldn’t exactly be ideal. Fortunately, the university has ideas for a backup just in case all the satellites go caput. Though, as you can see from the picture above, it’s probably not quite ready to be built into a running watch, unless the athlete in question also does some serious lifting.

    • Behind-the-scenes audio from Apollo 11 mission made public for first time

      The main air-to-ground recordings and on-board recordings from the historic mission have been publicly available online for decades. But that was just a fraction of the recorded communications for the mission. Thousands of hours of supplementary conversations (“backroom loops”) between flight controllers and other support teams languished in storage at the National Archives and Records Administration building in Maryland—until now.

      Thanks to a year-long project to locate, digitize, and process all that extra audio (completed in July), diehard space fans can now access a fresh treasure trove of minutiae from the Apollo 11 mission. And those records are now preserved for future generations.

  • Hardware

    • Confirmed: Apple’s New T2 Chip In MacBooks Blocks Third-Party Repair

      The Cupertino giant has confirmed to The Verge that its new security-focused T2 chip will require the software check to be performed after components like logic board and Touch ID sensor are repaired. Apple has not mentioned all the components would require the software check to run in order to complete the repair.

      The new T2 security chip brings many security-related features for Mac users. One of the most interesting features is “hardware disconnect” that disconnects any audio device connected to a MacBook as soon as its lid is closed. This feature is touted to bring protection against surveillance and from getting eavesdropped by hackers.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Child care available for only 23 percent of Mississippi’s infants and toddlers, report finds

      Editor’s note: This story led off this week’s Mississippi Learning newsletter, which is delivered free to subscribers’ inboxes with trends and top stories about education in Mississippi. Subscribe today!
      Mississippi’s child care desert is especially evident for infants and toddlers: There are currently only enough spots at licensed child care centers for about 23 percent of the state’s youngest children.
      That’s one of the findings of a new report by the Center for American Progress, which analyzed census data and state child care licensing data to determine the extent to which infant and toddler care is available in nine states, including Mississippi, North Carolina and West Virginia, and in the District of Columbia. The report takes an in-depth look at data revealed last year in another Center for American Progress report that found 42 percent of children under the age of 5 live in a child care desert, defined as areas in which there are either no child care centers or so few centers that at least three children need care for every spot available.

    • What Can Be Learned From Democrat And Republican Delusions On Obamacare

      After a decade of intense political fighting and two of the largest wave elections in history, the United States finally has a quasi-stable political equilibrium on the Affordable Care Act.

      We have Obamacare, just minus the deeply unpopular stuff—i.e., the individual mandate and the Cadillac tax on employer-provided insurance. This fills me with both personal vindication, since this what I advocated Democrats pass in 2010, and deep concern because it shows neither major political party has any idea how to make laws popular.

      When it comes to big pieces of legislation, they are only as popular as the least popular major provision. Most voters don’t evaluate legislation with a complex utilitarian calculation weighing the net value of every provision. Most judge legislation the way they would a pizza. You could have five amazing toppings on that pizza, but if the sixth topping is rotten fish, no one will want to eat your pizza.

      If you understand this axiom and realize none of the so-called political gurus leading either major party in our country do, something becomes clear. The last decade of political fighting over the ACA has been less of a titanic struggle between genius ideological leaders and more of a farcical dark comedy performed by fools.

    • Why drug policy is a feminist issue

      People who use drugs face widespread stigma and criminalisation. This is well-known. But drug policy discussions often centre on men. The experiences of women, trans and gender non-conforming people who use drugs are ignored and silenced – though they face particular challenges accessing care and the gendered stigma of being perceived as unfit parents and ‘fallen’ women.

      In May, I participated in a meeting that AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) co-organised in Berlin with feminists and women who use drugs from across eastern Europe and Central Asia. We carried very different experiences and backgrounds, but had a common purpose: to learn from one another and connect the dots between drug policy and feminism in the region.

      Women shared their experiences with using drugs including shaming and violence from doctors, sexual violence, criminalisation and stigma within their communities. We looked at how feminism could help push for responses centred on their unique experiences. Three days and many conversations later, I was convinced that drug policy was a feminist issue.

    • On Veterans Day, Advocates Warn Against Pence & Trump-Led Attacks on VA Healthcare

      On the federal observance of Veterans Day, we take a closer look at the issue of veterans’ healthcare. On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence wrote an article for Fox News touting Trump’s record on veterans’ health and the passage of a policy known as “Veterans Choice,” which is seen by veterans’ advocates as an attempt to drain the Veterans Health Administration of needed resources and eventually force privatization of the system. We’re joined by award-winning journalist and author Suzanne Gordon. Her new book is “Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation’s Veterans.” She recently wrote an article for The New York Times titled “By Protecting Veterans’ Health, You May Protect Your Own.”

    • WTO TRIPS Council Debates Competition Law, Plain Packaging’s Spread To Other Products

      The World Trade Organization intellectual property committee met last week with lively discussions on the benefit of IP rights protection for new businesses, and on the role of competition law to prevent abuses of those rights and in particular ensure greater access to medicines. Also, considering the recent WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruling on the tobacco plain packaging, some countries warned against this decision becoming a precedent and spreading to other goods, and undermining trademark protection.

    • Key Hepatitis C Drug Licensed To Medicines Patent Pool, Access Expanded For LMICs

      A key drug to treat hepatitis C has been licensed to the Medicines Patent Pool, enabling generic production and expanding affordable access to the drug in low and middle-income countries, excluding the very largest. The agreement between the Pool and AbbVie had been over a year in the making, MPP Executive Director Charles Gore told Intellectual Property Watch.

  • Security

    • Buttercup – A Free, Secure And Cross-platform Password Manager

      In this modern Internet era, you will surely have multiple accounts on lot of websites. It could be a personal or official mail account, social or professional network account, GitHub account, and ecommerce account etc. So you should have several different passwords for different accounts. I am sure that you are already aware that setting up same password to multiple accounts is crazy and dangerous practice. If an attacker managed to breach one of your accounts, it’s highly likely he/she will try to access other accounts you have with the same password. So, it is highly recommended to set different passwords to different accounts.

    • Container Labeling

      Container policy is defined in the container-selinux package. By default containers run with the SELinux type “container_t” whether this is a container launched by just about any container engine like: podman, cri-o, docker, buildah, moby. And most people who use SELinux with containers from container runtimes like runc, systemd-nspawn use it also.

      By default container_t is allowed to read/execute labels under /usr, read generically labeled content in the hosts /etc directory (etc_t).

      The default label for content in /var/lib/docker and /var/lib/containers is container_var_lib_t, This is not accessible by containers, container_t, whether they are running under podman, cri-o, docker, buildah … We specifically do not want containers to be able to read this content, because content that uses block devices like devicemapper and btrfs(I believe) is labeled container_var_lib_t, when the containers are not running.

      For overlay content we need to allow containers to read/execute the content, we use the type container_share_t, for this content. So container_t is allowed to read/execute container_share_t files, but not write/modify them.

    • How my personal Bug Bounty Program turned into a Free Security Audit for the Serendipity Blog

      This blog and two other sites in scope use Serendipity (also called S9Y), a blog software written in PHP. Through the bug bounty program I got reports for an Open Redirect, an XSS in the start page, an XSS in the back end, an SQL injection in the back end and another SQL injection in the freetag plugin. All of those were legitimate vulnerabilities in Serendipity and some of them quite severe. I forwarded the reports to the Serendipity developers.

      Fixes are available by now, the first round of fixes were released with Serendipity 2.1.3 and another issue got fixed in 2.1.4. The freetag plugin was updated to version 2.69. If you use Serendipity please make sure you run the latest versions.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • IoT security and Linux: Why IncludeOS thinks it has the edge [Ed: Promoting IncludeOS by bashing Linux even though security of IncludeOS is yet unproven; Linux devices' Achilles heel: weak/consistent passwords, open ports]

      Per Buer, CEO and co-founder of Norwegian software company IncludeOS, thinks the growing use of Linux as an embedded operating system is giving it a role for which it is far from perfect.

      “Linux has impressive hardware and software support. It supports just about any protocol and any peripheral. It is all dynamic so anything at any time can connect to a Linux system,” he wrote recently.

      “The result is a massive amount of code and following this a considerable number of potential bugs that could lead to compromise.”

      He thinks his company’s OS offers a better solution. It has created an open-source OS that links into the application at compile time, resulting in one software image where the OS functionality is inside the application and running directly on top of the hardware.

      IncludeOS links only the OS functionality that the application needs into the binary software image, thus reducing both its size and possible attack surfaces. This approach is normally termed a ‘library OS’.

      IncludeOS runs in a single address space, so there are neither interprocess communications nor concepts like user space and kernel space.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #185
    • D-Link’s Central Wifi-Manager Seems To Be Vulnerable To Privilege Escalation Attacks Through Trojan File

      D-Link’s Central Wifi-Manager is quite a nifty tool. It’s a web-based wireless Access Point management tool, enabling you to create and manage multi-site, multi-tenancy wireless networks. Whether deployed on local computer or hosted in the cloud. But it seems there might have been a security issue with the software.

    • Kaspersky starts processing threat data in Europe as part of trust reboot
    • New Linux-Targeting Crypto-Mining Malware Combines Hiding and Upgrading Capabilities [Ed: When your system gets cracked anything can happen afterwards; does not matter whether there's an upgrade or not? No.]

      Japanese multinational cybersecurity firm Trend Micro has detected a new strain of crypto-mining malware that targets PCs running Linux, according to a report published Nov. 8.
      The new strain is reportedly able to hide the malicious process of unauthorized cryptocurrency-mining through users’ CPU by implementing a rootkit component. The malware itself, detected by Trend Micro as Coinminer.Linux.KORKERDS.AB, is also reportedly capable of updating itself.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • One-Hundred Years Later, It’s Time to Disarm Armistice Day

      The sulphurous smoke of cannon fusillades drifted over the field in hazy clouds as an Army chaplain declared in a voice booming with hooah how inspiring he found its scent, how much he loved the smell of the battlefield.

      An Army general then spoke. Those of us gathered there that day were “true patriots,” he said. We could find more “true patriots” like us in Texas and Oklahoma and throughout the Southern US states. We were in Kansas, but he didn’t explain why we could only find them in those states and here, or what especially made us (and them) “true patriots.”

      This was Memorial Day seven years ago at the National Cemetery where just a few months earlier my wife and I had buried our son, Francis. A veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan during some of the worst fighting in the early years of those conflicts, he died at home, like too many other young veterans, a casualty in the aftermath of these wars.

      The blustering and factionalism of that spectacle is strongly etched in our memories. It left us feeling empty, even sickened, not just for ourselves, but for our son, too. It was perhaps an extreme example of how both Memorial Day and Veterans Day have been wrung out of shape since their origins, yet it was also emblematic of the contrasting ways we collectively and individually experience them.

    • Veterans Resist: Deploying Art to Oppose Militarism

      It took me a long time to find words to describe the US-orchestrated injustices that I witnessed and participated in while in Iraq. I’ve now been out of the Army for over a decade, and for nearly half of that time I told few people I had even been in the military.

      Like many veterans, I didn’t know how to talk about war when I came home. People wanted to thank me for my service but they didn’t want to hear how disillusioned I had become with my country. Returning to college, I found that many students weren’t paying attention to the wars. Perhaps most frustrating, I found the frame of reference provided by Hollywood to be a grave distortion of what I had seen and done. I, like most veterans, hadn’t been a sniper, I didn’t defuse bombs, nor had I been in Special Forces. Major films like American Sniper and Zero Dark Thirty only served to confuse the conversation about why the US was occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and what the day-to-day deployment routine really looked like. Ultimately, I repressed my guilt and stayed quiet.

      It wasn’t until I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (now called About Face: Veterans Against the War) that I learned about the history of the veterans’ anti-war movement, simultaneously gaining a vocabulary that corresponded to what I had experienced. Now I had a frame of reference that made sense. I could see how my own war experience fit into the systemic corruption of the military-industrial complex. Finally, I began speaking out against US militarism.

    • Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?

      It’s been another fortnight of mass murder inside Fortress America. Carnage reigns from Coast to Coast, from a progressive synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, to a line-dancing bar in Thousand Oaks, CA. The high-profile shooters? Both white American men: One a 46-year-old die-hard white supremacist, publicly declaring his hatred for Jews and for immigrant “invaders,” opening fire on a morning Shabbat ceremony. The other, a 28-year-old, US Marine veteran, experienced with machine guns from tours in Afghanistan, targeting “College Night,” at the Border Line Bar and Grill, a country music establishment he reportedly frequented. Both commando-style killers wielded legally purchased Glock handguns (and one of them an AR-15 assault rifle), as they each slaughtered nearly a dozen people, just eleven days apart.

      [...]

      Looking back across the sixteen years since the film collected the Oscar for Best Documentary, Bowling for Columbine seems prescient, just as the shooting at Columbine High School that prompted Moore’s film looks more and more like part of a trend that is here to stay. From the 2006 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 dead, to the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that killed 27, to the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre that same year, to the nightmare in Las Vegas last year that killed 58, to the Parkland, Florida shooting in February that triggered the massive “March for Our Lives,” the shameful ‘records’ set by the Columbine killers have been broken, time and again.

      According to recent reports, the shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA was the 307thmass shooting in 2018 alone. A subset of an American gun violence epidemic that altogether steals tens of thousands of lives per year,‘mass shootings’ in the United States now occur approximately once per day.[iii]

      Compared to other ‘Western powers,’ all these numbers are essentially off the charts. How to explain this ugly American exception?

    • CIA Whistleblower: Brennan and Clapper Should Not Escape Prosecution

      Recently declassified documents show that the former CIA director and former director of national intelligence approved illegal spying on Congress and then classified their crime. They need to face punishment, writes John Kiriakou.

      [...]

      Brennan and Clapper, in 2014, ostensibly notified congressional overseers about this, but in a way that either tied senators’ hands or kept them in the dark. They classified the notifications.

      As a result, Grassley knew of the hacking but couldn’t say anything while senators on neither the Intelligence or Judiciary Committees didn’t know.

      It’s a felony to classify a crime. It’s also a felony to classify something solely for the purpose of preventing embarrassment to the CIA.

      For all of this—for the hacking in the first place, and then the classification of that criminal deed—both men belong in prison.

      This kind of over-classification is illegal, but few Americans know that because this law is not enforced. The Justice Department has never brought over-classification charges against a U.S. spying authority.

      But this would be a good place to start.

    • Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary

      When it comes to the ruling elite’s corporate plunder and crimes against humanity, the U.S. national memory’s short and no one, not even its political henchmen, assume blame or suffer real consequences: take Halliburton and former chief executive and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for example. Not only did Cheney plan and justify the invasion, occupation and pilferage of Iraq’s oil, gold bars and national museum treasures under treasonous false pretenses, but its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR Inc.), overcharged the U.S. taxpayer to a tune of more than $2 billion due to collusion engendered by sole source contracting methods and shoddy accounting procedures. It’s even forgotten that Cheney received a $34 million payout from Halliburton when he joined the Vice President ticket in 2000, in advance of his unscrupulous maneuvers, according to news commentator, Chris Matthews; because on November 5th 2018, in celebration of its 100-year anniversary, its chief executives rang the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) opening bell.

      Sadly, as a nation, the U.S. doesn’t recall Cheney’s lies, or his role in planning the contemptible “Shock and Awe” saturation bombing campaign that destroyed a sovereign nation, which posed no threat to the United States, and left the world’s cradle of civilization in ruins. Conveniently, it doesn’t recall the over 500,000 deaths from war related causes, as reported by the Huffington Post in its 2017 updated article; nor does it recall that obliterating Iraq’s government created a sociopolitical vacuum that enabled the exponential growth of the CIA’s unique brand of Islamofascism and its resulting terrorism, which has culminated in war-torn Syria and Yemen.

      Iraq’s only “crime” against the United States, if you want to call it that, was being hogtied by Washington’s sanctions and embargo against it – in what can only be called a Catch 22 situation. Iraq couldn’t do business with U.S. corporations not because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to, but because the U.S. government effectively barred Iraq from doing so. This Catch 22 situation is presently being repeated in Venezuela and Iran in advance of its planned invasion and occupation.

    • Could integration help Ukraine’s Roma?

      Since the beginning of 2018, there have been five attacks on temporary Roma settlements in Ukraine. After people arrived in Kyiv, Ternopil and Lviv areas for seasonal work from other areas of the country, mostly Zakarpattya in the southwest, nationalist extremist groups evicted Roma from their camps, setting fire to tents and household goods. These far-right groups were angered by the fact that Roma set up camp in parks and wooded areas, while the police “did nothing about it”.

      In most cases, the attackers were charged merely with “hooliganism”, although the additional charge of “infringement of the equal rights of citizens in connection with their racial or ethnic origin or religious identity” was added in relation to attacks in Kyiv and Lviv after pressure from activists. In the most recent attack, in the Lviv area, a 24-year-old man, David Pap, was murdered, and four more were injured.

      Civil society remained unsatisfied with Ukrainian law enforcement’s reaction on the attacks against Roma settlements. Attacks on Roma aren’t only offences under the criminal charges of hooliganism, murder and infringement of equality. This kind of persecution contravenes Article 24 of Ukraine’s Constitution, which states that “there can be no privileges or restrictions on grounds of race, colour of skin, political, religious or other principles, gender, ethnic or social background, material position, place of residence, language or any other factor”.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Killing the Messenger: Truth in a Time of Universal Deceit

      When telling the truth is a revolutionary act, journalists and whistleblowers are targets. When politicians attack freedom of speech, media becomes weaponized.

      And here we are.

      How ironic that the government of Turkish President Erdoğan is postured as truth-leaker in the apparent gruesome murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey is the leading per-capita jailer of journalists, whose “crime” often consists of speaking out against the repressive regime.

      CIA Director Gina Haspel’s recent meeting with Erdoğan about the Khashoggi case raises questions. Declassified cables reveal that when Haspel led a “black site” CIA prison in Thailand, prisoners were subjected to “extended sessions of physical violence, wall slamming, box confinement, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, shackling, stress positions, and waterboarding.” She later admitted to “being an advocate” of destroying evidence.

    • Crucifying Julian Assange

      The Democratic Party—seeking to blame its election defeat on Russian “interference” rather than the grotesque income inequality, the betrayal of the working class, the loss of civil liberties, the deindustrialization and the corporate coup d’état that the party helped orchestrate—attacks Assange as a traitor, although he is not a U.S. citizen. Nor is he a spy. He is not bound by any law I am aware of to keep U.S. government secrets. He has not committed a crime. Now, stories in newspapers that once published material from WikiLeaks focus on his allegedly slovenly behavior—not evident during my visits with him—and how he is, in the words of The Guardian, “an unwelcome guest” in the embassy. The vital issue of the rights of a publisher and a free press is ignored in favor of snarky character assassination.

    • Crucifying Julian Assange

      JULIAN Assange’s sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been transformed into a little shop of horrors. He has been largely cut off from communicating with the outside world for the last seven months. His Ecuadorian citizenship, granted to him as an asylum seeker, is in the process of being revoked. His health is failing. He is being denied medical care. His efforts for legal redress have been crippled by the gag rules, including Ecuadorian orders that he cannot make public his conditions inside the embassy in fighting revocation of his Ecuadorian citizenship.
      Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has refused to intercede on behalf of Assange, an Australian citizen, even though the new government in Ecuador, led by Lenín Moreno — who calls Assange an ‘inherited problem’ and an impediment to better relations with Washington —is making the WikiLeaks founder’s life in the embassy unbearable. Almost daily, the embassy is imposing harsher conditions for Assange, including making him pay his medical bills, imposing arcane rules about how he must care for his cat and demanding that he perform a variety of demeaning housekeeping chores.
      The Ecuadorians, reluctant to expel Assange after granting him political asylum and granting him citizenship, intend to make his existence so unpleasant he will agree to leave the embassy to be arrested by the British and extradited to the United States. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, whose government granted the publisher political asylum, describes Assange’s current living conditions as ‘torture.’

      His mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent video appeal, ‘Despite Julian being a multi-award-winning journalist, much loved and respected for courageously exposing serious, high-level crimes and corruption in the public interest, he is right now alone, sick, in pain — silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact and being tortured in the heart of London. The modern-day cage of political prisoners is no longer the Tower of London. It’s the Ecuadorian Embassy.’
      ‘Here are the facts,’ she went on. ‘Julian has been detained nearly eight years without charge. That’s right. Without charge. For the past six years, the UK government has refused his request for access to basic health needs, fresh air, exercise, sunshine for vitamin D and access to proper dental and medical care. As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. His examining doctors warned his detention conditions are life-threatening. A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes in the embassy in London.’

    • Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador

      Lenin Moreno won Ecuador’s presidency in 2017 by campaigning to continue the economic policies of Rafael Correa (a leftist who was in office from 2007 until 2017) but upon taking office immediately shifted dramatically to the right. Andres Arauz, a former member of Correa’s economic team whom I interviewed for Counterpunch in May, provides an update on Moreno’s remarkably cynical Neoliberal Restoration. In addition to the troubling state of Ecuador’s economy under Moreno despite increased oil prices that help Ecuador, Aruaz discusses major assaults on the rule of law, looming corporate capture of Ecuador’s highest courts (including the role played by some environmentalists in helping it happen) and the fact that candidates in upcoming elections are forced keep alliances with Correa secret to avoid disqualification.

      [...]

      Additionally, Moreno’s accused Correa’s government of having exceeded a legal public debt limit, but then his brilliant solution to this alleged problem wasn’t to reduce the debt, like Correa famously did in 2008-9, but to remove the legal limit. A law was approved to remove it entirely for the next 4 years. That generates concern, because now this government has no limit.

      The government also now requires that any surplus revenue from high oil prices has to go into a fund. The budget was based on a price of $45 per barrel, but prices this year have averaged around $70. In spite of the fact that the law is in force, the fund hasn’t been created. Not one dollar has been deposited in any such fund, so they disregard their own self-imposed “austerity”. Why? The reason is that the government also issued two decrees.

      One decree eliminated the Law of Energy Sovereignty that established that windfall oil revenues were to be shared 50/50 with the Ecuadorian government. So that law no longer exists. A second decree did the same in the mining sector. The windfall revenues are no longer available to the government because they have given them away to transnational corporations. It shows the implications of Moreno’s political about face.

      Another thing is the so called “Trole” law that was approved a few months ago. It changed a bunch of regulations and was aimed at blocking the state’s ability to finance itself internally, to get loans from within the country. That was clearly done to be in tune with transnational capital markets. The best example of this is that instead of getting $500 million internally – something that would have been very easy for the Central Bank or the Social Security institute to provide – the government had to go to Goldman Sachs and guarantee the loan with $1.2 billion in bonds. So the sustainability of our public finances is now a concern.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA

      On Thursday, November 8, a federal court in Montana ordered a pause in the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Sounds like cause for celebration, doesn’t it? It’s not. Nothing can stop Keystone XL, and the reason is NAFTA.

      The order from Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana came in a lawsuit brought by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), North Coast Rivers Alliance, and other environmental and Native American groups. Defendants are the US State Department, which approves trans-border oil pipelines, and TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based corporation which is constructing KXL, a 1,179-mile long oil pipeline which will run from oil fields in Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, USA and from there via an already-existing pipeline to refineries in Texas.

      In his 54-page order, Judge Morris held that the State Department had failed to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of approving TransCanada’s permit application, particularly the impact the KXL pipeline would have on global climate change. KXL will transport Canadian tar sands oil, crude with a high carbon content. Judge Morris ordered that work on the pipeline be suspended until the State Department could conduct further environmental studies. Judge Morris’ serious treatment of global climate change places him in sharp contrast with President Donald Trump who dismisses climate change as a Chinese hoax.

    • Crazy Footage Shows Dog Playing With Wild Bears [Video]

      You might have also seen that recent drone video of the baby bear fighting its way through the snow to its mother. Cute, sure, but also another reminder of how drone operators are harassing animals to get the perfect shot.

    • Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity

      Let me tell you about why I woke up crying today. It has to do with just how close we are to full-blown climate disaster. I was thinking about children who are already experiencing the horrible consequences of global warming, and I was thinking about particular children I love and what’s in store for them. Most of all, I was thinking about the unthinkable: that we are on the verge of ensuring that most, if not all, life on Earth will be snuffed out.

      Everyone should be tossing and turning in their beds unable to sleep, experiencing the raw emotions that led me to tears this morning.

      This is not a joke, or a drill. This is it. Decision-point for humankind. The UN says we have to turn things around within 12 years to avoid catastrophe. Others give us even less time.

      We need to act. And we need to act quickly. But we need to act rationally as well. It won’t help to run out and just “do something, anything” to fight for our future. We need to look honestly at whether the things we’ve been doing so far are effective. They aren’t.

    • Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg

      The World Social Forum’s ‘Thematic Forum on Mining and Extractivism’ convenes from November 12-15 here in Johannesburg, just after the Southern Africa People’s Tribunal on Transnational Corporations. In between, at the notorious 2012 massacre site on the platinum belt to the west, there’s a launch of a new book – Business as Usual after Marikana– critical not only of the mining house Lonmin but of its international financiers and buyers.

      This is the moment for a profoundly critical standpoint to take root, unhindered by ineffectual reformism associated with Corporate Social Responsibility gimmicks and the mining sector’s civilised-society watchdogging at the mainly uncritical Alternative Mining Indaba. That NGO-dominated event occurs annually in Cape Town every February, at the same time and place where the extractive mega-corporations gather.

      The Thematic Forum firmly opposes ‘extractivism.’ Unlike the Indaba, it aims to connect the dots between oppressions, defining its target as extraction of “so-called natural resources” in a way that is “devastating and degrading,” since mining exacerbates “conditions of global warming and climate injustice. It subjects local economies to a logic of accumulation that privately benefits corporations,” and represses “traditional, indigenous and peasant communities by violations of human rights, affecting in particular the lives of women and children.”

      The last point is not incidental, as two of the main organisers are the Southern Africa Rural Women’s Assembly and the WoMin network: “African Women Unite Against Destructive Resource Extraction.” Inspired by Amadiba Crisis Committee activists in the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast, they’ve campaigned hard for the #Right2SayNo.

    • West Virginia’s Natural Gas Industry Keeps Pushing to Whittle Away Payments to Residents

      For decades, Arnold and Mary Richards collected monthly royalty checks — most recently from $1,000 to $1,500 — for the natural gas sucked up from beneath their West Virginia farm by small, old wells.

      So in 2016, when EQT Corp. drilled six new gas wells, the Ritchie County couple expected to see their royalty payments skyrocket. The much-larger wells would collect far more natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, which is fueling the boom in the state’s gas industry.

      The Richards’ checks did grow considerably. But the couple also saw something they didn’t expect: EQT was cutting the size of those new checks.

    • In an Age of Climate Change, Even “Titanic II” Is Not Safe From Icebergs

      Titanic II is set to sail in 2022. It’s a $500 million replica of the doomed Titanic that hit a North Atlantic iceberg in 1912. A local news report about the new ship postulated this logical but not valid prevailing attitude regarding climate change today: “The Titanic II will undoubtedly have less trouble with icebergs because of global warming.”

      This statement could not be further from reality. If we as a culture could just remember that climate change is almost always not as it seems, it might be possible that we could survive as a species. On a warmer planet, cold extremes can become more common, drought can increase with more rainfall and icebergs can become more numerous.

    • “An Incredible Victory”: Opponents of Keystone XL Pipeline Praise Judicial Order Blocking Construction

      On Thursday, a federal judge in Montana temporarily halted the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands region in Alberta to refineries as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. The court’s decision will require the Trump administration to review more thoroughly the potential negative impacts of the pipeline on the surrounding environment and climate change. President Obama halted the construction of the pipeline, which is being built by TransCanada, in 2015 following mass public protests, but Trump reversed the order shortly after he came into office. Environmental and indigenous groups hailed the decision Thursday. Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement, “The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities.” We speak with May Boeve, executive director of 350 Action, the political arm of the climate organization 350.org.

    • Demands for ‘Real Climate Action’ as Death Toll From California Wildfires Hits Grim Record

      The statewide death toll from the wildfires blazing in northern and southern California hit 31 as firefighters on Monday continued to battle the flames that have already destroyed thousands of structures and displaced thousands of humans and animals alike. The increased death toll comes as scientists rip President Donald Trump’s recent tweet about the fires avoiding any climate crisis connection to the destruction.

      With the Camp Fire raging in nothern California now having claimed the lives of 29 people, it ties the record (pdf) set back in 1933 for the deadliest single wildfire in the state. Having destroyed more than 6,000 structures, it also tops the record for most destructive fire.

      It’s only 25 percent contained, and is one of several wildfires ravaging the state, as firefighters are also battling the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Hill Fire in Ventura County, and the Nurse Fire in Solano County. And, with over 225 people are still unaccounted for, the death toll may rise.

    • Welcome to the Ultimate Escape Room

      You’ve done enough escape rooms to know the drill by now. You are escorted into what seems like an ordinary room. There’s a table and a chair. On the table is a book. As soon as you step across the threshold, the door closes behind you. You hear the lock click into place.

      You are now trapped in a room with four strangers. Three of them look as concerned as you are. The fourth is nonchalant.

      The instructions this time are a little different. As with other escape rooms, you have a certain amount of time to figure out how to get out. Also, you know that clues to the puzzle are hidden somewhere in the room. Figure them out and you’ll be able to unlock the door.

      But here’s the difference: the temperature in this room will go up a degree with every minute that passes. If you and those four strangers can’t figure out how to stop it from rising, you’ll succumb to heat stroke. In other words, if you don’t escape in the allotted time period, you’ll die.

      You immediately set to work looking for the clues. Maybe one or two are in the book on the table or maybe a code is carved on the underside of the table. Maybe you need to use the chair to climb up close enough to scrutinize the crown molding near the ceiling. Three of the strangers are doing what you’re doing: trying to uncover clues.

      The fourth is leaning against the wall, looking relaxed. “It’s just a joke,” he says to no one in particular.

      “I already feel it getting warmer in here,” you respond.

      “It’s just your imagination,” he replies. “Power of suggestion. Fake news.”

      The clock is already ticking. It can’t be your imagination. It’s definitely hotter in the room than when you first entered. You’re sweating. Everyone’s sweating, even the leaning man. “Temperatures naturally fluctuate,” he comments. “It might be going up now, but it will go down again. Count on it.”

  • Finance

    • VA’s software so SNAFU’d that vets were made homeless waiting for benefits

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged that the failure of a new IT system for processing claims for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits has been holding up payments for months and causing financial hardship for thousands of veterans. “Many of our Post-9/11 GI Bill students are experiencing longer than typical wait times to receive monthly housing payments,” the VA said in a statement, with processing times averaging “a little over 35 days” for first-time veteran applicants. More than 82,000 veterans were still waiting for housing payments for the fall semester as of November 8, with some having lost housing as the result of non-payment.

    • RBI refuses to state how much destruction of banned notes cost: RTI

      The RBI had informed in August this year that as much as 99.3 per cent of the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes returned to the banking system.

    • SAP agrees to buy Qualtrics for $8B in cash, just before the survey software company’s IPO

      Enterprise software giant SAP announced today that it has agreed to acquire Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash, just before the survey and research software company was set to go public. The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019. Qualtrics last round of venture capital funding in 2016 raised $180 million at a $2.5 billion valuation.

      This is the second-largest ever acquisition of a SaaS company, after Oracle’s purchase of Netsuite for $9.3 billion in 2016.

    • Jack Ma Heads Toward Retirement With Singles’ Day Record

      In its 10th iteration, the annual Singles’ Day event on Nov. 11 notched 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion) in merchandise sales, an increase of 27 percent, according to a tally posted at the event’s media center in Shanghai. The final number compares with 39 percent growth last year.

      Ma will hand the chairman’s role to Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang next year, passing along one of China’s highest profile corporate roles at a time when the country is embroiled in a trade spat with the U.S. Concerns about the impact of those tensions on a slowing economy have contributed to a 16 percent slump in Alibaba’s share price this year.

    • Kyrgyzstan survives on money made by migrant workers, but it doesn’t know how to spend it

      Altynai, 24, doesn’t know what she will do if her parents stop sending money from Russia. She’ll be in a hopeless situation without those 20,000 soms (£220) a month — this money is her only way of surviving. For the past three years, Altynai (name changed) has been living with her grandmother, whose pension isn’t enough to buy anything.

      She says that residents of her village in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan frequently leave to work abroad. There’s never enough jobs here in Leylek district, which is bordered by Tajikistan on three sides. There are no new enterprises being opened. Most people work for low wages in state institutions.

      Indeed, over the past decade, more and more people have been leaving Kyrgyzstan to work abroad. In Russia alone, there are more than 800,000 Kyrgyz citizens on the migration register. Most of them come to work. In 2017, they made money transfers to Kyrgyzstan totalling $2.5 billion — which was more than the total state annual expenditure.

    • What Wells Fargo’s $40.6 Billion in Stock Buybacks Could Have Meant for Its Employees and Customers

      The 2016 corruption scandal at Wells Fargo, in which executives pressured employees to meet “wildly unrealistic sales targets,” created a work environment described as “relentless pressure.” Once revealed, the massive fraud committed against millions of consumers led to congressional hearings, substantial fines by state and federal regulators, and a series of announced changes by Wells in which they committed to “building a better bank.”

      You might think that this renewed commitment by Wells Fargo would start with targeted attention to its workforce. Instead, Wells Fargo has announced that it is laying off workers, while lining the pockets of share traders.

      [...]

      Even worse, Wells Fargo has laid off an additional 26,500 employees since the Trump tax bill. If the company chose to save just one-tenth of the $40.6 billion it has authorized for spending on stock buybacks, all 26,500 of those jobs could have been saved, assuming each employee takes home $100,000 annually.

      Wells Fargo chose to enrich its shareholders at the expense of its workers, and, ultimately, the security of its customers. To build better banks, a better financial sector, and a better economy, we need better rules that encourage productive — not extractive — corporate behavior and foster the shared prosperity US companies can clearly afford to provide.

    • Learning From 3.7 Percent Unemployment: It’s More Than Just a Number

      This is a problem, and not just because it allows economists to avoid being held accountable for their errors. It is also a problem because the denial and obfuscation prevent us from learning from the mistakes and therefore make it more likely they will be repeated.

      The country saw a great example of this sort of obfuscation around the 10th anniversary of the crash of Wall Street’s Lehman Brothers, which is generally regarded as the peak of the financial crisis. The 10th anniversary stories were all about the financial crisis and how it was caused by complex financial instruments that regulators were not able to monitor. In short, history is being written to show that the crisis was a system failure, not the fault of the people guiding economic policy.

      In reality, the main factor causing the Great Recession (and the financial crisis) was the collapse of a massive housing bubble that had been driving the economy. Recognizing the bubble and its impact on the economy didn’t require great insight, it just required paying attention to widely available government data on house prices, construction and consumption that were released monthly. The problem of the housing bubble is basically that the people at the Federal Reserve Board and other economic policy makers were not doing their jobs.

    • Diversion Programs Say They Offer a Path Away From Court, but Critics Say the Tolls Are Hefty

      After he was charged in January with burglary, D’Angelo Springer had a decision to make.

      Springer, 24, had been pulled over after running a stop sign in Kankakee County. He was giving a ride to an acquaintance, who had an arrest warrant in a neighboring county. When officers searched the car, according to police reports, they found a checkbook behind the passenger seat that had been taken in a car break-in. Springer denied he was involved, but he was charged with felony burglary, which could have sent him to prison.

      Before trial, the Kankakee County prosecutors gave Springer another option: He could enroll in a new diversion program the county was offering. If he completed the program and performed community service, his charges would be dropped.

    • Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank

      In November 2016, two of Russia’s largest banks MDM and B&N completed a merger. This new entity now ranked (by size of assets) in the top 10 of all Russian banks and the top 5 for private lenders. Following the merger CEO Mikail Shishkhanov declared, ‘We have laid the foundation for the creation of an international-class bank’.[1] Yet a mere 10 months later it required a bailout in what could be one of the mostly costly rescues in Russian banking history. [2] Mr Shiskhanov blamed these difficulties largely on MDM, whose losses ‘turned out to be much more serious than assumed in the conditions of a falling market’. [3]

      How had those tasked with assessing MDM’s health prior to the merger failed to recognise such problems? Part of the answer lies 6000 kilometres away in the Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC), via Ireland’s large shadow banking sector. Irish registered special purpose vehicles (SPVs), or shell companies in common parlance, have become widely used by Russian MNEs for off balance sheet financing and wider tax/regulatory avoidance. Between the years 2005-2016 around €110 billion was raised by Russian connected vehicles in the IFSC, [4] with Russian banks also using it as a location to hide losses. [5]

      Concerned with the latter usage, this article examines MDM’s use of several IFSC based vehicles as part of a scheme that helped to create fictitious assets on its balance sheet, whilst simultaneously hiding losses. By providing loans to these off-balance sheet vehicles the bank was able to increase the size of its assets. These shell companies then used the proceeds to purchase some of the bank’s stock of non-performing loans (NPLs), thereby hiding some of its losses. An examination of the data contained in financial statements of MDM and its associated shell companies allows us to explore this insider dealing scheme, the techniques used to conceal what was happening and its effects on the bank’s balance sheet.

    • UK media say Brexit is becoming a catastrophe

      “Deadlocked,” “Titanic,” “Failing,” and “Life support.” If you believe the British media, the United Kingdom is heading for a Brexit catastrophe.

      Rising political tensions around what seems like the impossible task of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union were displayed in dramatic fashion in the British media over the weekend and on Monday.

      Prime Minister Theresa May has been scrambling to clinch a deal by the end of this month. But she’s facing fierce political headwinds at home and in the European Union.

    • Brexit (and Boris) torpedoed

      When the Argentinian dictatorship of General Galtieri seized the Falkland Islands, known to them as the Malvinas, in 1982, Parliament echoed with the rage of wounded, Anglo-British patriotism. It endorsed the dispatch of a “task force” to ensure Britain’s claim. As the ships sailed across the equator the balance of public opinion opposed the use of force. Then, Thatcher ordered HMS Conqueror to torpedo the antiquated Argentinian battleship Belgrano. The nuclear-powered submarine sunk its target. Over 300 of its crew drowned in the South Atlantic. The ruthless display ensured war would follow. Opinion swung decisively behind the Prime Minister. While some of his soldiers and pilots fought hard, Galtieri’s bravado display of puffed up aggrandisement collapsed, humiliated by an utter lack of preparedness for a real battle.

      Today, it is the Generalissimo of Brexitannia, Boris Johnson, who has been torpedoed. After two long years of preparation the battle of Brexit has finally been joined by a well-aimed, perfectly executed strike which has holed the Leave campaign that he led below the water line. The torpedo was the stunning resignation statement of his younger brother Jo Johnson MP. Johnson junior was Theresa May’s loyal Minister of Transport. Now, he has pulled out of the government denouncing its negotiations with the EU as a catastrophe of statecraft while clinically skewering his brother’s braggadocio. He has pledged to vote against the prime minister’s deal with the EU should it reach the House of Commons, where its defeat is now likely. He has called for a People’s Vote instead, to endorse remaining in the European Union.

      Johnson junior was a Remainer, like all ‘sensible’ ruling class conservatives including the prime minister, and he backed her attempt to deliver a Brexit that ‘works’. But the prime minister could not escape its contradictions. As I have shown the EU is above all a union of regulation. This is its central achievement: a customs union and single market, accomplished with the British, who played a central role in its creation over the course of 40 years. Regulation is not the same as sharing traditional sovereignty and for EU members like the UK who are outside of the Eurozone the classic pillars of sovereignty remain overwhelmingly national. Such is its strength, whatever happens to the common currency, Europe’s regulatory union will continue. Its advantages explain the commitment to continued membership of countries strongly opposed to many of the EU policies. It offers over 500 million people a growing cosmos of opportunity across all their nations with shared human rights and high environmental, safety and employment standards as well as an exceptional open market for capital and business – both manufacturing and services.

    • When Media Say ‘Working Class,’ They Don’t Necessarily Mean Workers—but They Do Mean White

      “Working-class voters tried to send a message in 2016, and they are still trying to send it,” writes columnist David Brooks (New York Times, 11/8/18). By “working class,” he means “white working class,” since people making less than $100,000 voted decisively for Democrats in 2018.

      Since the 2016 elections, corporate media narratives about US politics have fixated on the “white working class” as a pivotal demographic, presented as a hardscrabble assortment of disaffected outsiders. Piece after piece has been published in establishment outlets attempting to decipher the motivations of this racialized socio-economic group, depicted as fighting from the Heartland against “cultural elites” on both coasts.

      [...]

      This misrepresentation of working-class whiteness extends to discussion of the voting habits of organized labor, as in a Washington Post piece (10/10/18) speculating that Sen. Sherrod Brown’s pro-union rhetoric in Ohio might help Democrats “reverse the flight of the white working class to President Trump.” Though the typical union worker is often depicted as a gruff white man nearing his 50s, union membership is more common among African-American workers than whites, at 13.0 percent vs. 10.5 percent.

      Despite the significant number of people of color in the working class, non-white members of this class are rarely talked about as such. While use of the phrase “white working class” has been ubiquitous in political journalism in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, the “black working class” is discussed much less often. While the New York Times will occasionally put out a piece with explicit analysis of working people of color—including one op-ed by Tamara Winfrey-Harris (6/16/18) and another by Alexis Okeowo (6/2/18)—they are few and far between compared to the multitude of pieces published on their white counterparts.

      This promotes a homogenous image of the working class as sweaty, middle-aged white men in hard hats, with MAGA bumper stickers on their pick-up trucks and a fear of social change in their hearts. This depiction erases the multitude of working people who do not meet this stereotype, and ignores the fact that the working class has far more people of color and more women than the professional and ownership classes.

    • The Narrowness of Mainstream Economics Is About to Unravel

      Recent extreme volatility and sharp drops in US stock markets underscore the instability of capitalism yet again. As many commentators now note, another economic downturn looms. We know that all the reforms and regulations imposed in the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s failed to prevent both smaller downturns between 1941 and 2008 and then another big crash in 2008. Capitalism’s instability has, for centuries, resisted all efforts to overcome it with or without government interventions. Yet mainstream economics mostly evades an honest confrontation with the social costs of such economic instability. Worse, it evades a direct debate with the Marxian critique that links those costs to an argument that system change would be the best and most “efficient” solution.

    • In Iowa, Pioneering Undergrad Workers Union Keeps Growing

      At a small liberal arts college in rural Iowa, students who work in the libraries, mailroom, and other campus workplaces have undertaken an ambitious organizing drive.

      Two years ago, 350 dining-hall workers at Grinnell College made history when they formed the first union of undergraduate workers at a private college. Now hundreds of other student workers on campus are campaigning to join then.

      Without lawyers or an international union behind them, these young workers represented themselves at the National Labor Relations Board, up against high-powered “union avoidance” lawyers and university administrators—and won. They’re set for a November 27 election.

      Grinnell, founded by abolitionists and once a stop on the underground railroad, has a reputation for its commitment to social justice. Yet this October, Grinnell’s lawyers outrageously claimed that a union would “erode the egalitarian nature” of the college, creating a “caste system” and turning student workers into “an underclass of serfs.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Electoral College Dilemma

      Calling the Electoral College one of the “least understood disasters at the core of our Constitution,” Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig (above) launched a Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy discussion convened to explore the pros and cons of the body that gets the last word on presidential elections.

    • [Old] The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire

      Sinclair is the largest owner of television stations in the United States, with a hundred and ninety-two stations in eighty-nine markets. It reaches thirty-nine per cent of American viewers. The company’s executive chairman, David D. Smith, is a conservative whose views combine a suspicion of government, an aversion to political correctness, and strong libertarian leanings. Smith, who is sixty-eight, has a thick neck, deep under-eye bags, and a head of silvery hair. He is an enthusiast of fine food and has owned farm-to-table restaurants in Harbor East, an upscale neighborhood in Baltimore. An ardent supporter of Donald Trump, he has not been shy about using his stations to advance his political ideology. Sinclair employees say that the company orders them to air biased political segments produced by the corporate news division, including editorials by the conservative commentator Mark Hyman, and that it feeds interviewers questions intended to favor Republicans.

      In some cases, anchors have been compelled to read from scripts prepared by Sinclair. [...]

    • Democrats had a great week. Here’s what we do now.

      Meanwhile, emerging threats to election security remain largely unaddressed under the Trump administration, leaving the integrity of our democracy in question.

      That’s why we need to look ahead now. There are no permanent victories — or losses — in politics. If we want to turn our midterm victories into long-term results, we need to address the problems that got us here in the first place.

    • Facebook’s Secret Weapon for Fighting Election Interference: The Government

      Now, communication lines have started to open between Facebook and federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the company. Facebook also established relationships with state election boards, so it could be alerted to problems as they occurred. Those connections are likely to strengthen ahead of the 2020 presidential election, when foreign interest in election manipulation may be higher. Twitter Inc., too, has strengthened its relationship with federal law enforcement agencies, seeking to protect against foreign influence.

    • Social media companies grapple with new forms of political misinformation

      Jonathan Albright, a researcher at the Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, said that false and misleading information is still running rampant on platforms like Facebook.

      “Many of the dangers that were pointed out years ago have seemed to grow exponentially on Facebook, not unlike the other large social media ‘platforms,’ ” he wrote earlier this month.

      Albright analyzed 250,000 Facebook posts, 5,000 political ads and historic engagement metrics for hundreds of pages and groups on the social media platform.

      [...]

      “People who don’t have the access or ability to verify information, it just gets spread too fast for it to be contained,” Rosenblatt said. “I think it often spreads so fast that by the time fact-checking gets underway, people have already settled into their conclusions.”

    • Burned to death because of a rumour on WhatsApp

      Rumours of child abductors spread through WhatsApp in a small town in Mexico. The rumours were fake, but a mob burned two men to death before anyone checked.

    • Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections

      Since Donald Trump’s selection as president two years ago, a growing movement of citizens has been fighting back at what it sees as a dangerous march toward fascism US style. And, despite the election of some progressive candidates in the midterm elections, it would be a mistake to count on them alone to interrupt the erosion of an already tattered democracy in a largely corporate controlled society.

      Still, the diverse community of activists, old and young—a veritable rainbow coalition—is already a force, both as potential allies to the newly elected progressives and as a check on them to follow through on their campaign promises.

      Like many born after World War II and before the moon landing in 1969, my activism began in the 1960s, volunteering for Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign and as an anti-Vietnam war protestor. Ever since, I have been a part of a range of campaigns and causes, in recent years focusing on challenging men’s violence against women and working to transform masculinity. Today’s activists, from Black Lives Matter to 350.org, for example, count at their core women—many active well before the Women’s March—who have long been leading the way in a feminist wave revitalizing activism today.

      In campaigning in the midterms, activists saw a simultaneous truth: in addition to the energy and enthusiasm many felt in working to help the Democrats take back the House of Representatives, they also recognized that electoral politics alone cannot fix a broken system. Those outraged by the white supremacist misogynist temporarily residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue felt that working to flip the house was a struggle worth engaging in.

    • Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take

      President Donald J. Trump has a special, strained take on the world. Defeat is simply victory viewed in slanted terms. Victory for the other side is defeat elaborately clothed.

    • Why Jeff Sessions’ Final Act Could Have More Impact Than Expected

      Jeff Sessions hides emotion poorly — his face is reflexively expressive — and last Wednesday night, it betrayed a mixed set of sentiments as he stepped out of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in downtown Washington. He had the stunned appearance of a hostage emerging out of an underground prison for the first time in months. But for a moment, in the news-camera glare, another look flashed across his face: the impish grin of a man who knows he’d managed to leave a little surprise behind.

      Earlier that day, Sessions had resigned as the head of the Justice Department at the request of President Donald Trump. But before he left the job, the soon-to-be former attorney general had some last-minute business to attend to. With a black-ink pen, he initialed, in an illegible scrawl, a document formalizing the terms of what will be one of his abiding legacies: a Justice Department disengaged from its role in investigating and reforming police departments that repeatedly violate the civil rights of the people they’re sworn to protect. Police reform had been a DOJ priority during the Obama administration, and that work played a significant role in the federal response to the deaths of black men at the hands of police in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri.

    • “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis,” Coming Soon From ProPublica and Frontline

      In the wake of the deadly anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, ProPublica and Frontline present a new investigation into white supremacist groups in America — in particular, a neo-Nazi group, Atomwaffen Division, that has actively recruited inside the U.S. military.

    • Germany on a Political Seesaw

      Two weeks later came the next blow. The wealthy state of Hesse, with its center in Frankfurt/Main, was a stronghold of the Social Democrats (SPD) for decades. Then they were pushed out by the Christian Democrats, often using racist stereotyping propaganda. The state elections on October 28th shocked them both. The SPD was reduced to a pitiful relic, under 20 %, while the CDU got its worst result in 50 years.

      These state-level shocks were no less staggering at the federal level. Merkel, seeing her personal aura dwindle like a fading rainbow, took a step fully unthinkable just a few years ago. She has always been both chancellor and head of the CDU, an indispensable tie she always claimed. But at its congress next month she will step down as party leader. She can remain “queen mother” of the national government until 2021, if it stays in power, but the odds against it and her are grating downward. With its current rating of 27 % the CDU-CSU is still the strongest but not by much.

      Three main rivals are pushing to succeed her as party leader – and maybe even more? Jens Spahn, 38, currently Minister of Health, has always been a major right-wing opponent of Merkel. Never popular despite all his efforts, the public has spurned him in the polls.

    • Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time

      The Republicans, worried that the party may lose two Senate seats, a Governor’s mansion, and probably a bunch more close races for the House over the counting of disputed mail-in ballots and provisional ballots, are drumming up conspiracy theories now. I just drove through Trump Country last night and listened to Fox Radio as the host (I think it was Laura Ingraham) and her call-ins denounced the recount battles as Democratic corruption.

      The biggest laugh was when Ingraham noted that Floridians had passed a law that will (finally!) permit non-violent felons who have served their time to vote. She snarkily said, “We’ll see how that works out!” This, of course, after Republican voters in Southern California elected to the House two convicted felons.

      At any rate, it needs to be pointed out to these people, who are either simply incapable of logic or just grabbing at straws to attack a legitimate need for a careful count of all ballots, that there are good reasons why signatures when a person votes, and when they originally registered to vote, can be different looking. My father-in-law is 91, and has palsied hands. When we tried to get him a mail ballot so he could vote at the nursing home he lives in, he enthusiastically signed the ballot application as best as he could. It was rejected by New Jersey authorities (NJ is a heavily Democratic state by the way and he happens to be a Democrat) because they said his signature didn’t match the one he signed five years ago when he and my mother-in-law moved to New Jersey from Florida and registered to vote when they got their state ID cards at the state Motor Vehicle Dept.

    • Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power

      Soft power was always a term best suited for eunuchs. It relies on persuasion, counsel and an air of seduction. It does not imply actual force as such (often, that side of the bargain is hidden). At its core are the presumed virtues of the product being sold, the society being advertised to others who are supposedly in the business of being convinced. Joseph Nye came up with it in the groves of academe as the Cold War was coming to an end, and every policy maker supposedly worth his or her brief insists upon it. (Since 1990, Nye has done another shuffle, attempting to market another variant of power: from soft, power has become erroneously sentient – or “smart”.)

      Nye himself already leaves room for the critics to point out how the concept is, essentially, part of an advertising executive’s armoury, the sort an Edward Bernays of foreign affairs might embrace. It co-opts; it suggests indirectness; it is “getting others to want what you want” by shaping “the preferences of others”; it employs popular culture and concepts of political stability. In a vulgar sense, it inspires envy and the need to emulate, stressing desire over substance.

      [...]

      Most recently, Australia’s tetchy Prime Minister Scott Morrison (daggy cap and all), has been busy pushing Australian credentials in the immediate region, throwing $2 billion at a new Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. Another billion is also sought for Australia’s export financing agency.

      What is striking in this endeavour is the language of ownership, part proprietary and part imperial. “This is our patch,” Morrison explained to those at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville on Thursday. “This is where we have special responsibilities. We always have, we always will. We have their back, and they have ours.” These are the vagaries of power. “Australia has an abiding interest in a Southwest Pacific that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically.” Diplomatic posts will be established in Palau, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Niue and the Cook Islands, all newly modelled sets of eyes.

    • Donald Trump Is Attacking the Florida Recounts Because He Hates Democracy

      The president is lying about “election theft” in Florida as part of a calculated strategy to shut down an essential part of the election process.

    • Dems to probe whether Trump retaliated against CNN, Washington Post

      Adam Schiff, a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, told Axios that Democrats would try to find out whether Trump used “the instruments of state power to punish the press.”

    • Scoop: Democrats to probe Trump for targeting CNN, Washington Post

      Why it matters: Until now, all Trump critics could do is complain about his escalating attacks on the media. With subpoena power and public hearings, the incoming House Democratic majority can demand emails and testimony to see if Trump used “the instruments of state power to punish the press,” Schiff said.

    • Henry Giroux Discusses His Latest Book — American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism

      We spoke with Henry Giroux about his capstone work American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism, what the increase in dehumanization and militarization in our society means for democracy, and the importance of historical consciousness under the Trump administration.

    • This 2019 Peace Calendar Reminds Us That We Are Not Alone

      When finding peace seems fruitless, or it seems that power will never bend its ear to listen to our voices, we must remember that we are not alone. Collectively, our voices are heard and amplified by one another. We need only to look at a calendar and remind ourselves, with each passing day, that we are in this struggle together.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • French investigators to work directly with Facebook to monitor hate speech

      In a French-language speech before the Internet Governance Forum held in Paris on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the two sides would work together for six months starting in early 2019 to come up with “joint, precise, and concrete” proposals that both Menlo Park and Paris could agree with.

    • Censors angry about erotic literature in China’s favorite news app

      Outside of China, things are good for ByteDance. Its viral short video app Tik Tok landed 30 million new users in three months, thanks to a merger with Musical.ly. But in China, the giant startup is once again running into trouble with its news aggregator, Toutiao.

      This time, the target is Toutiao’s story section. That’s where users — whether professional organizations or individual people — publish works of fiction. But now regulators have ordered a one-month suspension of the section, accusing it of publishing pornographic content, Beijing Daily reports.

      The offending articles are said to contain titles like, “After a night of debauchery, the man turned out to be her new boss” and “To make money to treat my ailing mother, I started working at a club. To my surprise, my first customer was my teacher.”

    • The campus-censorship hypocrites

      Campus censorship, a certain type of radical academic rushes to tell us, simply does not happen. Apparently, free speech is alive and well at a university near you and to suggest otherwise is ‘hysteria’ that fuels a moral panic ‘whipped up’ by a politically motivated minority intent on besmirching students and sullying hallowed institutions. Except, of course, when it’s not.

      It emerged this week that a book listed as ‘essential’ for third-year politics students at the University of Reading came with a warning telling them ‘to take care’. Norman Geras’s ‘Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution’ was flagged up as potentially falling foul of the government’s Prevent Duty. Students were told not to access it on personal devices, to read it only in a secure setting, and not to leave it lying around where it might be spotted ‘inadvertently or otherwise, by those who are not prepared to view it’. Rarely has an examination of the ethics of socialist revolution sounded more exciting!

      Geras argues that violence can be justified in cases of grave social injustice. This was more than enough for one member of staff to tip off university officials, who in turn agreed it was ‘sensitive’ and issued the stark warning. This lot could clearly have taught the Stasi a thing or two about surveillance and reporting.

    • The censorship of Norman Geras

      To anyone who knew the late and much-missed Norman Geras, the idea that the state could consider his work an incitement to terrorism would have been incomprehensible. Geras was an inspirational politics professor at Manchester University, and a polemicist and moral philosopher of exceptional insight. He devoted much of his energy to opposing the murder of civilians, and lost many friends on the left in the process.

      You could level all kinds of charges against him, we would have conceded. But incitement to terrorism? The charge would be insane.

      We should have known better. We should have realised that academic bureaucrats could find reasons to label any and every work ‘threatening’ or ‘triggering’ if the mood so took them. All they would require is the necessary levels of ignorance, condescension and paranoia censors have displayed throughout the ages.

      As my colleague Eleni Courea reports in the Observer, Reading University has found one such buffoon. He – or maybe it is a she, for priggishness and anti-intellectualism are by no means exclusively male preserves – has warned students to handle Geras’s Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution as if it were an unexploded bomb.

    • UN Guterres Paris Internet Speech Mentions Censorship and DESA Even As He Bans Press and Ignores Cameroon Corruption

      Before UN Secretary Guterres took off for Paris (coverage by Inner City Press here), his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on November 9 declined to provide information about who Guterres would meet with but said “one of our colleagues, Vannina [Maestracci] will be travelling with the Secretary-General and we’ll try to provide details once we have the schedule firmed up.” Well, two days later, absolutely nothing from the UN, even as Turkish state media reports Guterres met for 45 minutes with Erdogan. What did they talk about, how to ban journalists? Later, still with no Erdogan or any other read out, Guterres pedantic Paris Internet Governance Speech said, among other things, “We see the Internet being used as a platform for hate speech, for repression, censorship” – this from a man who has banned and censored Inner City Press for 131 days and counting, and whose spokesman Stephane Dujarric blocks Inner City Press on Twitter. Guterres intoned, “Non-traditional, multilateral and multi-stakeholder cooperation will be crucial, including governments, private sector, research centres and civil society” – while Guterres maintains a non-public “banned from the UN” list which according to his own guards includes political activists he doesn’t like. Guterres said, “You have support from UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)” – a department taking payments from UN bribery imprisonee Patrick Ho. This is Guterres and his UN. The day before in his ParisPeace Forum speech Guterres said, among other things, “We must never accept the plight of the victims of violence and terrorist acts in Syria, Yemen, Mali or Myanmar” – but covering up the slaugher of Anglophones by Cameroon’s Paul Biya is fine with him, either for a golden statue or bureaucratic favors from Biya’s Ambassador as chair of the UN Budget Committee. Guterres said, “Alongside Jürgen Habermas, we must recognize that the oxygen of a modern democracy is a continuous flow of communication between civil society and the political authorities” – this as Guterres has Inner City Press banned for the 130th day after having it roughed up on June 22 and July 3; his spokesman Stephane Dujarric blocks Inner City Press on Twitter. Some continuous flow of information. Guterres said, “horror must never prevail over hope. The hope with which I receive my guests in the meeting room on the 38th floor of the Secretariat Building at United Nations Headquarters, adorned by the Matisse tapestry Polynésie, le Ciel, with its deep, peaceful shades of blue.” It was from even photo ops on the UN’s 38th floor that Dujarric unilaterally banned Inner City Press, just before having it assaulted by UN Security Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins on June 22 and July 3 and now contacting and dissembling to those who question that online, at least if they are from Europe. As Inner City Press moved forward with its inquiry into UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ personal use of public funds, silence on slaughter in Cameroon and elsewhere and failure to disclose family members’ financial interests in Angola and elsewhere, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric on 20 June 2018 said that “things will soon be getting worse” for Inner City Press’ reporter. Inner City Press has now been banned from the UN for 127 days and Dujarric is providing his and his boss’ pretext, as purported background, to some of those asking questions, at least if they come from Europe, see below. The pretexts are lies – now that they are becoming public, the ban is more disgusting and should be UNtenable.

    • IGF Needs Bold Reform, Internet Needs More Regulation, Says President Macron

      French President Emmanuel Macron today opened the 13th Internet Governance Forum (November 12-14) in Paris with a firework of requests to the IGF community and some bold ideas. The IGF after a decade should take on much more responsibility in the development of internet regulation, Macron demanded, and said he together with last year’s and next year’s hosts of the UN forum is collaborating on pushing for more formal results, The IGF according to Macron should become a part of the UN Secretary General‘s Office, Macron proposed, to illustrate the importance. His call for regulation was echoed at the event by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

    • Film Censorship Board can come under Communications Ministry, says Gobind

      The Communications and Multimedia Ministry has no qualms about having the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF) come under its jurisdiction.

      Its minister Gobind Singh Deo said he is prepared to speak to Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin about it.

      “I have been asked this question before (and) I have no problems with it as it is relevant to my Ministry because we deal with the National Film Development of Malaysia (Finas),” he said at a press conference after officiating at the Digital Transformation Forum here on Tuesday (Nov 13).

      He said he knew of reasons why LPF would be parked under the Home Ministry but did not want to elaborate.

    • It’s nonsense to suggest that Gab has been unfairly targeted for hate speech

      Immediately after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October, all eyes were on Gab, the Twitter-esque platform celebrated by self-proclaimed alt-right celebrities such as Richard Spencer and Alex Jones for its permissive attitude toward all speech, including speech considered hateful in civil society. In the weeks leading up to the attack, the alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, had reportedly used the platform to espouse anti-Semitic views and conspiracies from what is believed to be his verified account on the site, which bore a bio that plainly stated “jews are the children of Satan.”

      From the start, Gab has positioned itself as an echo chamber that would allow people to find a community of like-minded bigots. Even if they weren’t actively engaging in hate speech at any given time, they were offered, by Gab, a platform on which hate was normalized — possibly was even the norm. While more-familiar social media sites may also feature their share of repugnant content, Gab’s free-speech absolutism provides those who engage in such discourse with the tacit, and often explicit, endorsement of their fellow users.

      [...]

      The central premise of Torba’s disingenuous defense seems to be that although social media — and the Internet as a whole — begets toxicity, his platform is being unfairly singled out. He cited the case of Cesar Sayoc, who had used both Twitter and Facebook to reportedly spout conspiracies before being caught for allegedly mailing pipe bombs to Democratic-aligned pundits and Democratic politicians. (Twitter, for its part, has acknowledged its shortcomings and is taking steps to squash hateful content as it emerges.)

      Why should these sites have the privilege of retaining their spot on the Internet, argued Torba, when they also struggle with hate?

      It’s a question that blatantly ignores the gaps in the way that we classify hate speech. According to the “massive academic study” that Torba cited, the estimated 6 percent of the site dedicated to hate speech is possibly a gross underestimate. Looking at the research more closely, that was merely the percentage of posts that contained overt slurs — a narrow slice of what hate speech encompasses.

      [...]

      When Torba founded Gab in August of 2016, “it was in response to these accounts getting banned from Twitter and Facebook during the 2016 election,” said Michael Edison Hayden, an open-source intelligence analyst at Storyful who has monitored the online behavior of extremists at length.

      The accounts that ended up being the bedrock of Gab’s user base turned out to be created by people who were banned from the more popular platforms, either for violating the rules surrounding hate speech, being involved in targeted harassment or sending violent threats. Some members, such as early Gab user Milo Yiannopoulos, were guilty of all three.

      “When the impetus for your company is to find a place for these people who have already demonstrated themselves to be bad actors on other platforms,” Hayden said, referring to Gab’s initial user base, “it’s almost as if you decided to start a village entirely with people that had been convicted of crimes.”

    • Gab to Rein In Calls for Violence While Allowing Hate Speech

      The social-media site where the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter broadcast his intentions is pledging to curb threats of violence, while it said it plans to remain a platform where hate speech and other forms of extreme content are permitted.

      Gab.com, which resumed service this week after a stretch in digital exile, will proactively police the site rather than wait for users to report troubling posts, founder Andrew Torba said in an interview, vowing to bolster efforts to expunge threats of physical harm.

    • Pennsylvania Attorney General subpoenas Epik over Gab.com domain name

      Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has asked domain name registrar Epik to send it information about its interactions with Gab, the social network that came under fire after one of its users shot people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

      Gab.com was registered at GoDaddy before moving to Uniregistry, and then to Epik. Epik founder Rob Monster got in touch and invited Gab to move the domain to its service, but he said he didn’t take the decision lightly.

    • Gab Server Subpoenaed By Pennsylvania Attorney General
    • Bohemian Rhapsody faces censorship in Malaysia due to anti-homosexuality laws
    • Censorship Board Cuts Homosexual Scenes From Bohemian Rhapsody
    • Malaysia’s Leading Cinema Exhibitor Denies Major Cuts To QUEEN Biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
    • ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ can’t break free from Malaysian censors
    • Top Philippines news site and company chief face tax evasion charges

      A move by the Philippines Justice Department to charge investigative news site Rappler with tax evasion is being seen as a thinly disguised attempt to stifle press freedom in the Southeast Asian country.

      On Friday, the Justice Department said it had “found probable cause” to indict Rappler and its CEO and executive editor, former CNN bureau chief Maria Ressa, on charges of tax evasion.
      “We are not at all surprised by the decision, considering how the Duterte administration has been treating Rappler for its independent and fearless reporting,” Rappler said in statement.

    • Philippines Continues To Spit On Free Speech; Plans To Charge Key Media Critic With Bogus Claims Of Tax Evasion

      At the beginning of this year, we had a fairly long post about a dangerous situation brewing in the Philippines, where President Duterte was clearly trying to retaliate against one of his chief media critics, The Rappler, run by Maria Ressa. As I mentioned, I got to see Ressa speak at a conference last year, and the former CNN bureau chief is a force of nature who seems completely devoted to accurately reporting on President Duterte, no matter how much he dislikes it.

      When we wrote about Ressa and Rappler in January, it was over some trumped up charges concerning claims of “foreign ownership.” That story is a bit complex, but in order to get a grant from the philanthropic Omidyar Network, Rappler sold what are known as Philippine Depository Receipts (or PDRs). PDRs do have value, which are tied to the value of shares in the company, but which don’t grant any of the related ownership rights. And yet, Duterte and the Filipino SEC have been arguing that Rappler committed tax evasion by somehow “not reporting” the PDR’s.

      [...]

      Here is a case where it seems quite clear that the charges are being trumped up based on Rappler’s reporting, rather than based on anything even remotely legitimate. And whether or not Ressa and Rappler continue is beyond the point. The message to anyone else who wants to follow in their shoes is “don’t bother, we’ll make your life a living hell.” Obviously that won’t (and shouldn’t) stop many reporters, but it can have an enormous chilling effect on many, many people.

    • EFF, Human Rights Watch, and Over 70 Civil Society Groups Ask Mark Zuckerberg to Provide All Users with Mechanism to Appeal Content Censorship on Facebook

      San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and more than 70 human and digital rights groups called on Mark Zuckerberg today to add real transparency and accountability to Facebook’s content removal process. Specifically, the groups demand that Facebook clearly explain how much content it removes, both rightly and wrongly, and provide all users with a fair and timely method to appeal removals and get their content back up.

      While Facebook is under enormous—and still mounting—pressure to remove material that is truly threatening, without transparency, fairness, and processes to identify and correct mistakes, Facebook’s content takedown policies too often backfire and silence the very people that should have their voices heard on the platform.

      Politicians, museums, celebrities, and other high profile groups and individuals whose improperly removed content can garner media attention seem to have little trouble reaching Facebook to have content restored—they sometimes even receive an apology. But the average user? Not so much. Facebook only allows people to appeal content decisions in a limited set of circumstances, and in many cases, users have absolutely no option to appeal. Onlinecensorship.org, an EFF project for users to report takedown notices, has collected reports of hundreds of unjustified takedown incidents where appeals were unavailable. For most users, content Facebook removes is rarely restored, and some are banned from the platform for no good reason.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Federal Researchers Complete Second Round of Problematic Tattoo Recognition Experiments

      Despite igniting controversy over ethical lapses and the threat to civil liberties posed by its tattoo recognition experiments the first time around, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently completed its second major project evaluating software designed to reveal who we are and potentially what we believe based on our body art.

      Unsurprisingly, these experiments continue to be problematic.

      The latest experiment was called Tatt-E, which is short for “Tattoo Recognition Technology Evaluation.” Using tattoo images collected by state and local law enforcement from incarcerated people, NIST tested algorithms created by state-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences and MorphoTrak, a subsidiary of the French corporation Idemia.

      According to the Tatt-E results, which were published in October, the best-performing tattoo recognition algorithm by MorphoTrak had 67.9% accuracy in matching separate images of tattoo to each other on the first try.

    • Shady Data Brokers Are Selling Online Dating Profiles by the Millions

      If I’m signing up for a dating website, I usually just smash the “I agree” button on the site’s terms of service and jump right into uploading some of the most sensitive, private information about myself to the company’s servers: my location, appearance, occupation, hobbies, interests, sexual preferences, and photos. Tons more data is collected when I start filling out quizzes and surveys intended to find my match.

      Because I agreed to the legal jargon that gets me into the website, all of that data is up for sale—potentially through a sort of gray market for dating profiles.

      These sales aren’t happening on the deep web, but right out in the open. Anyone can purchase a batch of profiles from a data broker and immediately have access to the names, contact information, identifying traits, and photos of millions of real individuals.

      Berlin-based NGO Tactical Tech collaborated with artist and researcher Joana Moll to uncover these practices in the online dating world. In a recent project titled “The Dating Brokers: An autopsy of online love,” the team set up an online “auction” to visualize how our lives are auctioned away by shady brokers.

    • User Profiles On Dating Apps Like Tinder Are Being Auctioned For Millions

      Creating a dating profile is pretty easy. You head over to the profile section of an app and start filling every single detail about yourself. That includes usernames, e-mail addresses, sexual orientation, interests, professions, thorough physical characteristics, personality traits and much more. For the sake of looking genuine, you even post up some of your “good” pictures.

      While you blindly fill in all the gaps, one thing you fail to notice is the “Terms and Conditions,” which often include companies’ “escape routes” to misuse the information uploaded to their servers.

      Shockingly, the personal information that you once entrusted to a certain dating app is already being withheld by data brokers. As it turns out, data profiles get sold to data brokers for millions of dollars, through online auctions.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Refuses To Appear Before ‘International Grand Committee’

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has declined to appear before the International Grand Committee which comprises at least five governments including the UK, Argentina, Australia, Ireland, and Canada.

      The investigation by the committee, which is scheduled for November 27 in London, will take place in regards to the data privacy issues.

      Facebook’s head of UK public policy- Rebecca Stimson and head of Canada Public Policy- Kevin Chan responded to the invite by Damian Collins, a member of the British Parliament, and Bob Zimmer, a Canadian lawmaker via a letter.

    • EFF to U.S. Department of Commerce: Protect Consumer Data Privacy

      But, to be clear, any new federal data privacy regulation or statute must not preempt stronger state data privacy rules. For example, on June 28, California enacted the Consumer Privacy Act (S.B. 375) (“CCPA”). Though there are other examples, the CCPA is the most comprehensive state-based data privacy law, and while it could be improved, its swift passage highlights how state legislators are often in the best position to respond to the needs of their constituents. While baseline federal privacy legislation would benefit consumers across the country, any federal privacy regulation or legislation that preempts and supplants state action would actually hurt consumers and prevent states from protecting the needs of their constituents.

      It is also important that any new regulations must be judicious and narrowly tailored, avoiding tech mandates and expensive burdens that would undermine competition—already a problem in some tech spaces–or infringe on First Amendment rights. To accomplish that, policymakers must start by consulting with technologists as well as lawyers. Also, one size does not fit all: smaller entities should be exempted from some data privacy rules.

    • How The Justice Department Uses ‘Law Enforcement Tools’ Against Journalists

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions authorized the Justice Department’s attorneys to apply for a warrant in 2017 to search freelance journalist Aaron Cantú’s phone.

      Investigators at the Justice Department believed Cantú “incited” violence and acted in “concert” with protesters accused of “destroying property and menacing bystanders” in Washington, D.C., on January 20, when President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

      “Law enforcement authorities intervened and arrested the freelance journalist, among others, and seized his smartphone, which investigators believed contained evidence of the freelance journalist’s coordination with other protesters,” a 2017 annual report from the Justice Department briefly describes. Investigators decided he likely committed crimes while engaged in newsgathering.

      Charges against Cantú and others were dismissed, as the #J20 cases collapsed and it became clear that prosecutors withheld evidence.

      This is one of several examples of the Trump administration questioning, arresting, or charging journalists in its first year in office. It also is one example of the administration seizing the records of members of the news media.

    • Facebook Is the Least Trusted Major Tech Company When it Comes to Safeguarding Personal Data
    • Facebook Is The Least Trusted Major Tech Company, Poll Suggests

      It seems like Facebook has a long way to go when it comes to gaining back the trust of its users. The social networking site is voted the least trustworthy tech company, according to a recent poll conducted by Fortune.

      The poll, in collaboration with Harris Poll organization, was conducted in October on behalf of around 2,000 US adults.

    • Alarm over talks to implant UK employees with microchips

      Britain’s biggest employer organisation and main trade union body have sounded the alarm over the prospect of British companies implanting staff with microchips to improve security.

    • Britons! Tell the UK government that the compulsory porn-viewing logs need compulsory privacy standards

      While this logging is compulsory, compliance with privacy protections is optional.

    • Your Private Data Is Quietly Leaking Online, Thanks to a Basic Web Security Error

      The personal information of American charity donors, political party supporters, and online shoppers, has continued to quietly leak onto the [I]nternet as a result of poor website security practices, new research shows. As many as one in five e-commerce sites in the U.S. are still leaving their customers exposed, Philadelphia-based search marketing company Seer Interactive said Monday.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • I’m a Saudi activist. Twitter put my life in danger.

      In May 2011, the secret police took me from my home in Saudi Arabia in the middle of the night, while my 5-year-old son was sleeping. I might have disappeared without a trace — if it wasn’t for one brave witness, Omar Aljohani, who took the risk of live-tweeting the details of the incident.

      Twitter, the platform that once saved my life, is now putting it in danger. The events in the weeks following Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul showed that the lives of other journalists and activists are also at risk. Seven years after Twitter saved me, I recently made the choice to delete my Twitter account live on stage in front of an audience of 1,000 people. I had more than 295,000 followers, and I am disconnecting from them for good.

    • The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways

      In 1898 the state of Louisiana held a constitutional convention with the declared aim of disenfranchising black people and perpetuating white rule. “Our mission was, in the first place, to establish the supremacy of the white race in this state to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done,” reads the official journal of the convention. Legal means were found to scrub 130,000 registered black voters from the rolls and allow juries to come to non-unanimous verdicts in felony trials, including those involving the death penalty.

      This measure might sound technical, or even be presented as a bid to make the court system more efficient, but its real purpose was thoroughly racist. It effectively side-stepped the constitutional requirement that black people should serve on juries, which gave them some leverage in resisting legal discrimination against the black population.

      Since there were usually only one or two black jurors on a jury, they only had influence so long as verdicts were unanimous. Once a split verdict was allowed, then all-white juries could effectively decide the fate of defendants by a 10 to 2 verdict. This entrenched the legal bias against black people for over a century.

      It was only last Tuesday that voters in Louisiana approved an amendment that abolished this toxic Jim Crow law that had survived the civil rights movement because it was not demonstrably racist written down, despite its obvious racist intent. Oregon is now the only state that does not require juries to reach unanimous verdicts.

    • Should Your Birthday Determine Whether You Are Sentenced to Die in Prison?

      Tuesday, October 23, might have been a routine day in prison for Avis Lee. “I got up at 5 am, took a shower, drank decaf coffee, prayed, ate breakfast and went to work at 8 am,” she recalled. Lee, who has been incarcerated for over 30 years, works as a peer assistant at the inpatient drug and alcohol therapeutic community at SCI Cambridge Springs, the Pennsylvania women’s prison. The routine was normal, but the day was not. In Philadelphia, nearly 350 miles away, the state’s superior court was hearing oral arguments about her prison sentence. “This hearing may very well determine what’s going to happen to me for the rest of my life,” Lee recalled thinking.

      In 1979, Lee’s older brother and his friend committed a robbery. Lee, then age 18, was the lookout. During the robbery, her brother fatally shot the man they were robbing. The two men fled; Lee flagged down a bus driver and attempted to get help. All three were later arrested; lacking an attorney, Lee and her brother were convicted of murder, which in Pennsylvania mandates a sentence of life without parole (or LWOP). Lee, now age 57, is among over 2,700 people sentenced to life for crimes committed between the ages of 18 and 25.

      In 2012, in Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole for juveniles constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Four years later, in Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Court ruled that its earlier decision was retroactive, giving the nation’s 2,300 juvenile lifers a chance at resentencing.

      [...]

      Neuroscience backs her claim — studies have shown that brain areas involved in reasoning and impulse control are not fully developed until the mid-twenties. That Tuesday in October, a nine–judge panel heard oral arguments. If the majority agree with Lee’s argument, they can remand the case for an evidentiary hearing as to whether her life without parole sentence is unconstitutional. Lee’s attorney, Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, explained Lee and her legal team would use that hearing to present testimony not only from Lee and those who know her, but also expert testimony about adolescent development to show that, at 18, Lee had the same developmental elements of youth that the Supreme Court noted in Miller v. Alabama.

    • The War Inside 7-Eleven

      All’s fair in the bitter, protracted war between 7-Eleven and its franchisees. The tensions have built steadily in the years since DePinto, a West Point-educated veteran, took charge and began demanding more of franchisees—more inventory, more money, more adherence in matters large and small. Some franchisees have responded by organizing and complaining and sometimes suing.

      As detailed in a series of lawsuits and court cases, the company has plotted for much of DePinto’s tenure to purge certain underperformers and troublemakers. It’s targeted store owners and spent millions on an investigative force to go after them. The corporate investigators have used tactics including tailing franchisees in unmarked vehicles, planting hidden cameras and listening devices, and deploying a surveillance van disguised as a plumber’s truck. The company has also given the names of franchisees to the government, which in some cases has led immigration authorities to inspect their stores, according to three officials with Homeland Security Investigations, which like ICE is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.

    • 7-Eleven accused of weaponizing ICE raids to shed troublesome franchisees

      The current CEO of 7-Eleven is Joe DePinto, a West Point grad who got the job in 2005 and has spent his tenure slowly tightening the screw on franchisees, demanding business practices that return more profit to corporate HQ at the expense of the independent operators. As the franchisees have felt the sting, they’ve fought back, suing the company over DePinto’s policies.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Google goes down after major BGP mishap routes traffic through China

      Google lost control of several million of its IP addresses for more than an hour on Monday in an event that intermittently made its search and other services unavailable to many users and also caused problems for Spotify and other Google cloud customers. While Google said it had no reason to believe the mishap was a malicious hijacking attempt, the leak appeared suspicious to many, in part because it misdirected traffic to China Telecom, the Chinese government-owned provider that was recently caught improperly routing traffic belonging to a raft of Western carriers though mainland China.

    • Next Version Of HTTP Will Replace TCP With Google’s QUIC

      Officials at Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) have said that the HTTP-over QUIC protocol will be renamed to HTTP version 3 and will serve as the official version of the HTTP protocol. QUIC stands for Quick UDP Internet Connections, and the experimental protocol uses UDP (User Datagram Protocol) instead of TCP.

    • The next version of HTTP won’t be using TCP
    • NextDC, Superloop say cable to offer ‘fastest route’ between Australia, Singapore

      Data centre operator NextDC has sealed a deal for APAC network provider Superloop to connect the new Indigo subsea cable system to its data centres in Perth and Sydney.

    • Rural Kids Face an Internet ‘Homework Gap.’ The FCC Could Help

      Like much of rural America, Garfield County is on the wrong side of the “homework gap”—a stubborn disparity in at-home broadband that hinders millions of students’ access to the array of online learning, collaboration, and research tools enjoyed by their better-connected peers. Many of Garfield’s students trek to [I]nternet oases such as Caine’s classroom or one of the local businesses willing to host a district Wi-Fi router. Going without isn’t an option. “All their work is on that computer,” Caine says, “and they need that access.”

    • Oh Look, Wireless Sector Investment Is Declining Despite Tax Cuts, Repeal Of Net Neutrality

      You’ll recall that one of the top reasons for killing popular net neutrality rules was that it had somehow killed broadband industry investment. Of course, a wide array of publicly-available data easily disproves this claim, but that didn’t stop FCC boss Ajit Pai and ISPs from repeating it (and in some cases lying before Congress about it) anyway. We were told, more times that we could count, that with net neutrality dead, sector investment would spike.

      You’ll be shocked to learn this purported boon in investment isn’t happening.

      A few weeks ago, Verizon made it clear its CAPEX would be declining, and the company’s deployment would see no impact despite billions in tax cuts and regulatory favors by the Trump FCC. Trump’s “tax reform” alone netted Verizon an estimated $3.5 billion to $4 billion. A recent FCC policy order, purporting to speed up 5G wireless deployment (in part by eliminating local authority over negotiations with carriers), netted Verizon another estimated $2 billion. And that’s before you even get to the potential revenue boost thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and elimination of broadband privacy rules.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Court of Appeal of Barcelona revisits to what extent validity may be analysed in preliminary injunction proceedings

      Over the last decade, one of the topics typically discussed in patent proceedings in Spain has been to what extent the validity of the patent may be analysed in preliminary injunction proceedings. In the mid-2000s, the Judges in charge of the Commercial Courts at the time, with jurisdiction to deal with patent cases in Barcelona, used to take the view that in preliminary injunctions life is too short to examine validity in depth. Therefore, they considered that only indicia should be examined. They added that in the case of examined patents, validity should be presumed unless the party alleging the nullity of the patent should file very robust indicia supporting the invalidity grounds. The Court of Appeal of Barcelona confirmed this line of analysis in a saga of decisions handed down from 4 January 2006 onwards.

      More recently, some first instance Commercial Courts had become increasingly open to holding profound validity discussions in the context of preliminary injunction proceedings. Experts were examined and cross-examined and, as a result, not much was left for the hearing of the main proceedings, which was basically a reiteration in the form of a déjà vu of the hearing of the preliminary injunction proceedings. However, a recent judgment from the Court of Appeal of Barcelona dated 16 October 2018, which confirmed a preliminary injunction ordered by Commercial Court number 1 of Barcelona on 28 July 2017, has established that the depth of the analysis carried out by the Court of First Instance went beyond what the Court of Appeal considers reasonable.

    • Germany: Kundendatenbank, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 41/16, 19 June 2018

      This decision by the FCJ confirms that when both parties declare the lawsuit resolved, only the allocation of costs has to be decided upon by the court. This must be done according to the court’s equitable discretion, giving consideration to the parties’ previous arguments.

    • USPTO Establishes Interim Procedure for Reconsideration of PTA Determinations Based on Submission of IDS Safe Harbor Statements

      In a Notification published in the Federal Register earlier this month (83 Fed. Reg. 55102), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the implementation of an interim procedure for patentees to request recalculation of Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) determinations for alleged errors due to the Office’s failure to recognize that an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) was accompanied by a safe harbor statement. The Office also announced the provision of a new form for applicants to use when making a safe harbor statement.

      The interim procedure and new form address an issue with the computer program that the Office uses to make initial PTA determinations, which currently does not recognize when an applicant has filed an IDS concurrently with a safe harbor statement. According to the Notification, the interim procedure will remain in effect until the Office can update the PTA computer program and provide notice to the public that the computer program has been updated.

      Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 1.704(d), an IDS that is not accompanied by a safe harbor statement will result in a reduction of PTA if the IDS is filed after a Notice of Allowance or after an initial reply by the applicant, is filed as a preliminary paper or paper after a decision by the Board or Federal court that requires the USPTO to issue a supplemental Office action, or constitutes the sole submission for a Request for Continued Examination after a Notice of Allowance has been mailed.

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Court Filing In Stairway To Heaven Case Warns Against *OVERPROTECTION* By Copyright

        Here’s one you don’t see everyday. The RIAA is telling a court that it needs to be careful about too much copyright protection. Really. This is in the lawsuit over “Stairway to Heaven” that we’ve been covering for a while now. As we noted, the 9th Circuit brought the case back to life after what had appeared to be a good result, saying that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway” did not infringe on the copyright in the Spirit song “Taurus.” While we were a bit nervous about the case being reopened after a good result, as copyright lawyer Rick Sanders explained in a pair of excellent guest posts, there were good reasons to revisit the case — in part to fix the 9th Circuit’s weird framework for determining if a song has infringed, and in part to fix some bad jury instructions.

        As with the Blurred Lines case, I’ve been curious how the RIAA and various musicians would come down on these cases. After all, I can imagine how they could easily end up on either side of such a case. Lots of musicians take inspiration from other musicians (it’s actually kind of an important way for most musicians to develop), and if that’s seen as infringing, that seems like it should be a huge problem. But, of course, to make that argument would require the RIAA to actually admit that copyright can go too far.

        And… that’s actually what it’s done. The RIAA and the NMPA (National Music Publisher’s Association, which historically is just as bad as the RIAA on many of these issues) actually had famed law professor Eugene Volokh write an interesting amicus curiae brief in support of the 9th Circuit rehearing the case en banc (with a full panel of 11 judges, rather than just the usual 3). Hat tip to Law360′s Bill Donahue, who first spotted this.

      • The Levola Hengelo CJEU decision: ambiguities, uncertainties … and more questions

        As announced earlier today, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has finally issued its (short) judgment in Levola Hengelo, C-310/17, holding that copyright cannot vest in the taste of a food product (a spreadable cheese in the background Dutch proceedings).

        The case is important for a number of reasons, and especially because it is probably the first time that the CJEU has been given directly the chance to tackle the notion of ‘work’ under the InfoSoc Directive (but, I would say, the overall EU copyright acquis).

      • CJEU: Taste of food cannot have copyright protection

        The EU’s highest court ruled today that the taste of a Dutch cheese called Heks’nkaas cannot be considered a copyrightable ‘work’ because it is subjective

        The taste of a food product is not eligible for copyright protection, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled today.

      • BREAKING: CJEU says NO to copyright in the taste of a cheese

        As readers know, this was a referral for a preliminary ruling from The Netherlands, asking whether copyright could vest in the taste of a spreadable cheese.

        In an authoritative poll conducted on Twitter, 81% voted against sensory copyright (226 votes in total).

      • Pro-Copyright Bias is Alive, Well, and Still Hiding the Full Story

        In 2007 and as recently as January 2018, the director of the movie The Man From Earth was championing the promotional effects of piracy. Last week, out of nowhere, he appeared to do a complete turnaround, branding the phenomenon as a threat to all creators. Something didn’t feel right about this apparent change of heart. Diving into the details, a bigger picture begins to emerge.

      • MPAA: Switzerland Remains “Extremely Attractive” For Pirate Sites

        In a recent submission to the US Trade Representative, the MPAA again states that Switzerland’s copyright law is wholly inadequate, making it extremely attractive to host illegal sites there. The European country has plans to update its laws, but the proposed changes are no significant improvement, Hollywood’s trade group notes.

      • Corel Wrongly Accuses Licensed User of Piracy, Disables Software Remotely

        Earlier this year, Corel obtained a patent which enables the company to offer software pirates an amnesty deal via a messaging system. While this can be a smart approach, it is not without its flaws. This week, the company remotely disabled the software of a fully-licensed user of Paintshop Pro and left his medical-related business unable to meet customer needs.

      • Youtube CEO: it will be impossible to comply with the EU’s new Copyright Directive (adios, Despacito!)

        In a new blog post, Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki continues her series of posts about the impossibility of complying with this rule.

      • “EU Copyright Regulation Will Impact Livelihoods Of Hundreds Of Thousands” — YouTube CEO

        Following GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the European Union is not going soft with the big tech companies. After Facebook, Google, and Twitter, now EU is looking forward to shackling YouTube. However, its CEO Susan Wojcicki seems to be strictly against it.

        In a second blog post voicing against Article 13, Susan said that it is simply impossible for YouTube to comply with the law. The massive financial loss will not be limited to YouTube, but to the creators too.

      • The Potential Unintended Consequences of Article 13

        Creativity has long been a guiding force in my life, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to be YouTube’s chief executive nearly five years ago.

        Creators have used YouTube to share their voices, inspire their fans, and build their livelihoods. Kurzgesagt — In a Nutshell recently became the number one channel in Germany by creating videos that help others fall in love with science. Artists like Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran reached fans on YouTube long before they were discovered by a label. And acclaimed musicians like Elton John have used our site to breathe new life into iconic songs.

        [...]

        We have already taken steps to address copyright infringement by developing technology, like our Content ID programme, to help rights holders manage their copyrights and earn money automatically. More than 98 per cent of copyright management on YouTube takes place through Content ID. To date, we have used the system to pay rights holders more than €2.5bn for third party use of their content. We believe Content ID provides the best solution for managing rights on a global scale.
        The consequences of article 13 go beyond financial losses. EU residents are at risk of being cut off from videos that, in just the last month, they viewed more than 90bn times. Those videos come from around the world, including more than 35m EU channels, and they include language classes and science tutorials as well as music videos.

The USPTO and EPO Pretend to Care About Patent Quality by Mingling With the Terms “Patent” and “Quality”

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A working coup: The EPO’s Working Party on Quality is Battistelli’s Own Ministry of Truth

Short: EPO’s “Working Party for Quality” is to Quality What the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” is to Democracy

Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four
Reference: Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four

Summary: The whole “patent quality” propaganda from EPO and USPTO management continues unabated; they strive to maintain the fiction that quality rather than money is their prime motivator

AS we noted in our previous post, the European Patent Office (EPO) keeps promoting software patents in Europe (even in those words, not “CII”); the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is meanwhile moving in the exact opposite direction (in practice at least). It has gotten a lot harder to receive US software patents and then successfully enforce these.

“It has gotten a lot harder to receive US software patents and then successfully enforce these.”Janal Kalis wrote: “The USPTO Reported 28 New PTAB Decisions Regarding 101 Eligibility. All of the Decisions Affirmed the Examiners’ Rejections.”

Kalis alludes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and to 35 U.S.C. § 101, which helps eliminate most if not all software patents in the US. Programmers in the US are happy and programmers in Europe should be paying closer attention to what the EPO is up to; “Ideas are cheap,” as one European opponent of software patents put it yesterday, “execution difficult” (patents don’t cover execution/implementation but mere concepts, unlike copyrights).

“Kalis alludes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and to 35 U.S.C. § 101, which helps eliminate most if not all software patents in the US.”Kevin Noonan (Patent Docs) has just taken note of the Arista Networks, Inc. v Cisco Systems, Inc. inter partes review (IPR), which was escalated upon appeal to the Federal Circuit while the ITC totally ignored — quite infamously in fact — PTAB’s ruling. The case has since then been settled at huge expense to Arista Networks and here’s what the highest court bar SCOTUS (this might reach SCOTUS next) had to say last week:

On Friday, the Federal Circuit handed down its decision in Arista Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc., deciding that the Board had erred in certain of its determinations regarding Arista’s inter partes review challenge to certain claims of Cisco’s U.S. Patent No. 7,340,597 (for reasons discussed briefly below). More importantly, the Court affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision that the doctrine of assignor estoppel does not preclude institution of any of the various post-grant challenges to granted patents contained in the patent law revisions enacted under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (35 U.S.C. §§ 311-319, §§ 321-329, and 125 Stat. 329-31 (2011)).

[...]

While this interpretation of the statute is consistent with (and supported by ample citation to) Supreme Court precedent and proclivities, the Court’s penchant for weighing in on statutory interpretation questions involving the AIA make it certainly possible that this decision might also come under Supreme Court review. It is less likely that the Court would disagree with the Federal Circuit’s decision here but may be tempted to put its imprimatur on this aspect of the proper statutory interpretation of the AIA.

This isn’t quite over yet; what’s at stake here are IPRs. Some time tomorrow, according to Patent Docs, there will be a so-called AIA Trials Seminar (stacked by the patent maximalists, as usual). To quote: “The Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) AIA Trials Committee and John Marshall Law School will be offering an “AIA Trials Seminar” on November 14, 2018 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm (CT) at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, IL.”

Another event for lawyers, by lawyers?

Patent Docs keeps advertising all these conferences/webinars/seminars of the patent microcosm, including this one which takes place later today. To quote: “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will be offering the next webinar in its Patent Quality Chat webinar series from 12:00 to 1:00 pm (ET) on November 13, 2018″ (that’s a few hours from now).

“Thankfully, EPO insiders openly talk about the quality issues, which António Campinos persistently denies along with his ‘boss’ (Ernst) who will soon become his ‘assistant’.”They call it “USPTO Patent Quality Chat Webinar Series” because the USPTO — like the corrupt EPO — only needs to pretend to care about patent quality by spamming/googlebombing these words (“Patent Quality”). It’s not difficult to see that all they really care about is money, i.e. patent maximalism. Quality is an obstacle to them.

Thankfully, EPO insiders openly talk about the quality issues, which António Campinos persistently denies along with his ‘boss’ (Ernst) who will soon become his 'assistant'. If Campinos so stubbornly denies that there’s no issue, then why does he, according to this morning’s article, meet those who express such concerns? It’s an anonymous article, whose latter part (towards the end of the article) deals with attacks on judges and staff representatives, i.e. those who are concerned (internally) about patent quality among other things. Sooner or later, perhaps inevitably, both insiders and outsiders, or workers and stakeholders, will learn that Campinos is just a pretender, a banker. He promises the moon, but he gives Hell. He sends misleading messages to staff whom he gags (as usual) and here’s the latest ‘smooth’ move from Campinos the pretender:

The European Patent Office and representatives of 14 German law firms who had expressed concerns about EPO patent quality earlier this year in a letter, have started a “constructive dialogue”.

The representatives had a meeting with the new President of the European Patent Office, António Campinos, and other EPO officials, on 16 October 2018 in Munich. According to a press release issued last week by the law firms, “the officials of the European Patent Office listened to the experiences, opinions and fears of patent attorneys and lawyers and expressed their willingness to talk. There is agreement that the EPO has delivered very high quality internationally in the past and that it is up to all stakeholders to preserve it. At the end of the meeting, the European Patent Office promised to continue the constructive dialogue that has now begun. It will be about the definition of quality criteria, as well as the possibilities to investigate criticism and to remove causes of criticism.”

[...]

I [sic] an email last month to EPO staff, Campions wrote he told the ILO that the EPO’s internal procedures for conflict resolution have since been improved: “I have recently signed and implemented a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chair of the Appeals Committee. That is partly a result of your direct input in recent one-to-one meetings with staff. Many of you spoke positively in our meetings about the increased independence and impartiality of the Appeals Committee, and, as a result, greater faith in the system. This MoU has therefore now formally safeguarded that independence and impartiality. Importantly, it also recognises the need to allocate adequate resources to ensure proper functioning of the Appeals Committee and its Secretariat. The second point that I discussed with ILO leaders is the recent increased effort in social dialogue and I hope many of you will agree this is developing positively (…).” In his mail, Campinos encourages EPO staff members with pending cases before the ILOAT “to consider reaching an amicable settlement with the Office”.

In the meantime, there has been some action in the case of Patrick Corcoran, according to various sources. The Irish judge was thrown out of the EPO building in Munich late 2014 on suspicion of having distributed defamatory material about the EPO upper management. After various illegal and fruitless attempts of former president Battistelli to have him fired, he was acquitted last year by the ILOAT and the Landgericht München, but was subsequently told that his future at the EPO would no longer be in Munich as an appeal board member, but in The Hague as an examiner (see also this blogpost). Apparently, the prospect of a forced transfer was the last straw after years of hardship: Corcoran fell gravely ill. The sources told Kluwer IP Law that his transfer has now been reversed or put on hold.

It remains to be seen if an “amicable settlement” is possible for some former SUEPO leaders. The case of Laurent Prunier, for instance, has been brought to Campinos’ attention several times, but is still pending before the ILOAT. Another former SUEPO leader, Elizabeth Hardon, has been waiting for months now for an EPO reaction in her unfinished ILOAT case.

The above speaks of “quality criteria” for patents; it does not, however, specify what will be done about many thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of low-quality patents that should never have become European Patents.

“Now that the EPO is run by a former banker, don’t expect anything to change.”The above also notes a “constructive dialogue” as if dialogue is what’s needed to solve a long-term problem. In the meantime staff continues to grant low-quality patents just to survive at this employer.

Neither office (neither US nor Europe) cares about quality; as a year-old paper explains, it's all about money. Now that the EPO is run by a former banker, don’t expect anything to change. He is just trying to maintain the illusion/impression that he cares about quality, just as he met staff representatives merely to spread lies about truce and reconciliation.

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