Links 4/11/2018: Linux 4.20 RC1, DXVK 0.91, 4MLinux 26.2, FreeBSD 12.0 Beta 3

Posted in News Roundup at 11:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • How Linux Makes Life Easier

    This article is about how Linux simplifies various things from software installations, to secure repositories to an easy to use terminal. We divided the Making life easier with Linux article into three parts so that we could carter for three groups of computer users; A novice, a professional and a developer.

  • Desktop

    • These Chromebooks won’t get support for Linux apps — here’s why

      Since adding Linux app support for some Chromebooks in Chrome OS 69, Chrome developers slowly added support to more devices. However, they’ve also built a lengthy list of Chromebooks that will never see Linux app support.

      Chrome devs released a new batch of devices that will not see Linux app support this week, including the 2013 Chromebook Pixel.

      Several reasons exist that prevent Linux app support, some of which extend from how Google implemented support. Linux apps run in a container, which is a fancy way of saying they’re isolated from other parts of the OS for security.

  • Server

    • What IBM’s US$34 billion acquisition of Red Hat means to enterprise cloud users

      IBM and Red Hat announced last week that the companies have reached a definitive agreement under which IBM will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for US$190.00 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately US$34 billion.

      This is the second-largest computer software deal ever recorded globally, according to Mergermarket data, which dates back to 1998.

      In terms of computer software M&A in the US alone, thus far in 2018 the sector has already hit a record high value of US$138.3 billion, having surpassed all previous full years on record. The IBM/Red Hat deal accounts for nearly a quarter of total US software deal value in the year to date.

      Globally, software M&A has seen 1,471 transactions this year, surpassing last year’s total of 1,328 but still behind 2017’s record high of 1,780. Global software M&A has reached US$187 billion to date this year, and is on track to at least meet 2015’s full-year record high of US$197 billion.

    • IBM Red Hat deal gets thumbs up, but questions remain says analyst

      IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat for $34billion is a win-win for both companies, according to analyst firm GlobalData and will give IBM a solid bridge between its existing on-premise hardware and its global cloud platform.
      But, despite its endorsement of the deal, GlobalData says the long-term and most profound ramifications of the deal will be felt within the Linux and broader open source communities.

    • Wall Street sees 20%-25% regulatory risk for IBM’s envisioned acquisition of Red Hat

      Last Sunday, IBM and Red Hat announced a merger agreement under which “Big Blue” (NYSE:IBM) would pay $34 billion, or $190 per NYSE:RHT share, to acquire the company that once started as a Linux distributor.

      I may very well talk about the strategic ramifications of the proposed transaction some other time, but the focus of this post is exclusively on what the stock market appears to think of the deal.

      On Monday (October 29), Bloomberg already reported on what was then a 12% spread, “among the highest for North American deals.” The article quoted a portfolio manager who said he didn’t want to bet on a deal that may be about a year away from closing, and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty as denying “any regulatory inhibitors,” which she obviously had to say.

      The time frame certainly affects demand, given that risk arbitrageurs could in the meantime use the money they would spend on RHT shares now to bet on a couple of other mergers, provided that those other deals would close more quickly and happen sequentially. But there’s more to it. The spread does indicate that merger-focused investors are far from convinced that the deal will materialize.

      On Friday (November 2), RHT closed at $172.24. If the deal went through, those investing now would then rake in a profit of more than 10%. Even if it took a year, a 10%+ gain would be a great deal. The only explanation for why there isn’t stronger demand, at a higher price, is skepticism. Since I can’t imagine anyone doubts that IBM is a serious buyer, the reason must be concern about the merger review process in the U.S. (DoJ), EU (European Commission, DG COMP), and China (MOFCOM). While China prevented Qualcomm from acquiring NXP, IBM reportedly claims it’s not critical for the Red Hat deal. I haven’t formed a definitive opinion on it yet, but for now I’ll take IBM’s word for it.

  • Kernel Space

    • WireGuard Didn’t Make it To The Mainline Linux Kernel This Cycle

      While there are a lot of great new features, hardware support improvements, and other changes with the Linux 4.20 development cycle, not found in this mainline kernel is the long-awaited WireGuard functionality for an in-kernel secure VPN tunnel.

      WireGuard didn’t make it into net-next and no pull request otherwise was issued for getting this big ticket networking feature into the next version of the Linux kernel. The code continues to be improved upon but looks like it came up just short of making it into this current development cycle.

    • Linux 4.19.1 Released While 4.20~5.0 Merge Window Ends Today

      Greg Kroah-Hartman this morning released Linux 4.19.1 as the first point release to Linux 4.19 that debuted two weeks ago today.

      Linux 4.19 remains in good shape as is evident by the 4.19.1 release. Linux 4.19.1 doesn’t have any big fixes for fallout from 4.19 as there hasn’t been any glaring problems. Linux 4.19.1 has just a handful of fixes including some SPARC64 work, broken Wake-On-LAN from S3 suspend in the Realtek r8169 network driver, a potential Spectre V1 vulnerability in the vhost driver, and other mostly mundane changes.

    • The Linux 4.20/5.0 Kernel Is The Biggest All Year With 354+ Thousand Lines Of New Code

      The Linux kernel will be ending 2018 on a high note with the current merge window for what will be called either Linux 4.20 or Linux 5.0 is the biggest kernel update by lines of code in more than one year.

      The Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel merge window is expected to close later today when Linus Torvalds issues the first release candidate — and also clarifies what this new kernel will in fact be called between the two version numbers. On a lines of code count, this kernel is easily the largest since the Linux 4.13 merge window that happened in September of 2017.

    • Linux 4.20-rc1

      So I did debate calling it 5.0, but if we all help each other, I’m
      sure we can count to 20. It’s a nice round number, and I didn’t want
      to make a pattern of it. I think 5.0 happens next year, because then I
      *really* run out of fingers and toes.

      Anyway, 4.20-rc1 is tagged and pushed out, and the merge window is
      over. This was a fairly big merge window, but it didn’t break any
      records, just solid. And things look pretty regular, with about 70% of
      the patch is driver updates (gpu drivers are looming large as usual,
      but there’s changes all over). The rest is arch updates (x86, arm64,
      arm, powerpc and the new C-SKY architecture), header files,
      networking, core mm and kernel, and tooling.

      In fact, tooling is quite noticeable. A fair amount of selftest
      changes, but also various perf tooling updates.

      There’s a vfs pull request I declined and it might still go in later
      in a slightly reduced form, but apart from that I think everything got
      merged. We had one pull request that almost missed the merge windows
      due to a silly change in my email setup, but I verified that nothing
      else had happened to hit that special case.

      One thing I _would_ like to point out as the merge window closes: I
      tend to delay some pull requests that I want to take a closer look at
      until the second week of the merge window when things are calming
      down, and that _really_ means that I’d like to get all the normal pull
      requests in the first week of the two-week merge window. And most
      people really followed that, but by Wednesday this week I had gotten a
      big frustrated that I kept getting new pull requests when I wanted to
      really just spend most of the day looking through the ones that
      deserved a bit of extra attention.

      And yes, people generally kind of know about this and I really do get
      *most* pull requests early. But I’m considering trying to make that a
      more explicit rule that I will literally stop taking new pull requests
      some time during the second week unless you have a good reason for why
      it was delayed.

      Because yes, the merge window is two weeks, but it’s two weeks partly
      exactly _because_ people (not just me) sometimes need extra time to
      resolve any possible issues, not because regular everyday pull
      requests should spread out over the whole two weeks. The development
      for things meant for the next release should have been done by the
      time the merge window opens.

      Anyway, let’s see. Maybe it won’t be needed. It hasn’t become a
      problem, it just was starting to feel a bit tight there.

      Oh, and I did try to do the reply emails. And I’m _entirely_ sure that
      I must have missed acknowledging emails for a few pull requests. I’m
      hoping that by the time the next merge window rolls around, we’ll just
      have new automation for it, so that everybody just automatically gets
      notified when their pull request hit mainline. In the meantime, you
      have a good chance – but not a guarantee – that I’ll send a “Pulled”
      ack email when I start processing a pull request.

      And as usual for rc1, the log below is just the list of people I
      pulled from with a one-liner “mergelog”. Very much a high-level
      summary of merges, for details you need to look into the git tree..


    • Linux 4.20-rc1 Kernel Released As The Kernel Hits Its Highest Point For 2018

      The next kernel release was either going to be Linux 4.20 or Linux 5.0 and today Linus Torvalds decided it would be the “4.20″ kernel version.

      Linux 4.20-rc1 was just tagged in Git while keeping to the “People’s Front” codename that was introduced with Linux 4.19 final. Sorry, no “420″ jokes for the codename at this stage and the kernel changes this merge window are in fact far from being blunt.

    • The Many New Features of The Linux 4.20 Kernel

      With Linus Torvalds having just released Linux 4.20-rc1, here is our original feature overview looking at the major changes merged over the past two weeks for this new kernel. The Linux kernel will be ending 2018 on a high note with this kernel bringing more than 350 thousand lines of new code!
      This kernel began its life two weeks ago not knowing whether it would be called Linux 4.20 or Linux 5.0. As with the transition from Linux 3.20 being renamed to Linux 4.0, Linus Torvalds previously disclosed his preference after his fingers and toes are counted, to move onto the next big version bump. In today’s announcement, Linus Torvalds decided to stick to 4.20.

    • Graphics Stack

      • SDL2 Nukes Its Mir Support With Wayland Compatibility In Great Shape

        Following this week’s release of SDL 2.0.9, Ryan Gordon has gone ahead and removed the Mir back-end from this portability/abstraction layer commonly used by cross-platform games.

        This removal is expected with Mir now offering great Wayland compatibility and in fact Mir’s developers encouraging the support of the Wayland protocol and projects that did adopt the direct Mir APIs to instead go the Wayland route as it ends up being better for everyone — Mir included.

      • Wayland’s Weston Is In Severe Need Of More Development Help

        If you want to dive into the world of Wayland development or the Linux graphics stack as a possible career move, beginning with Weston would be a wise choice and they could really benefit from all the development resources they can receive.

        While many Linux desktop environments and other projects are working on their shiny new Wayland compositors, the Weston reference compositor hasn’t been receiving much help aside from Collabora and a few other developers/organizations. This reference compositor where new Wayland technologies are often experimented with is in even more need of help now that Samsung restructured their Open-Source Group and looks like they’ll no longer be contributing to Wayland/Weston. Samsung OSG had several developers working on Wayland, including often serving as release managers for the project.

      • Vulkan 1.1.91 Released With NV_ray_tracing, AMD Memory Overallocation Behavior

        nother Sunday update to the Vulkan API is now available with the stabilized NVIDIA ray-tracing extension and a new AMD vendor-specific extension.

        As written about a few days ago, NVIDIA has stabilized its ray-tracing extension. The VK_NVX_raytracing extension was just introduced in September with the premiere of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics cards while already they are ready to promote it to stable. With Vulkan 1.1.91, the extension is renamed to VK_NV_ray_tracing for enjoying NVIDIA Vulkan ray-tracing on the latest GPUs. We’ll see though how long it takes before there are interesting Vulkan ray-tracing games or at least interesting Linux demos/benchmarks available.

      • WattmanGTK Is A Simple GUI For Radeon Power/Performance Knobs On Linux

        Unfortunately nothing has panned out from previous remarks made by AMD about potentially open-sourcing their Qt-based Radeon Settings control panel used on Windows so that it could be ported to Linux. The latest we’ve heard from AMD is that they aren’t officially pursuing a GUI control panel for their Linux graphics driver but leaving it up to the different desktop environments to implement their own driver user-interfaces. One of the new community solutions in the absence of an official Radeon GUI for Linux is WattmanGTK.

        The AMDGPU kernel driver and RadeonSI/user-space components offer much of the necessary driver tunables already, they just aren’t exposed through a nice GUI panel. WattmanGTK is an unofficial project for trying to offer AMD Wattman-like options on Linux that tap into the existing kernel driver’s interfaces.

    • Benchmarks

      • Noctua Air Cooling With The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2970WX

        For those wondering about air cooling with the AMD Threadripper 2970WX, I did some fresh thermal tests this week with the various Noctua TR4-SP3 heatsinks that work for AMD EPYC and Threadripper processors. Today’s tests are complementary data to our earlier Cooling AMD EPYC with Noctua heatsinks and Threadripper cooling benchmarks done in the past.

  • Applications

    • NBD graphical viewer

      Ever wondered what is really happening when you write to a disk? What blocks the filesystem writes to and so on? With our flexible, plug-in based NBD server called nbdkit and a little Tcl/Tk program I wrote you can now visualise this.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • DXVK 0.91 is out to reduce CPU overhead slightly and improve some games

        DXVK [GitHub] continues to progress helping Linux fans play some of their favourite Windows only games with the 0.91 release now available.

      • DXVK 0.91 Lowers The CPU Overhead A Bit More

        DXVK 0.91 continues the ongoing theme of further lowering the CPU overhead for this effort remapping Direct3D commands atop Vulkan. The latest batch of CPU overhead reductions should help in some instances like the Assassin’s Creed Origins game. DXVK 0.91 also has updates for its Stream Output / Geometry Shaders handling that was added in DXVK 0.90, and few fixes for specific games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and World of Warcraft.

    • Games

      • There are Over 2,500 Games Now on Steam Play for Linux

        If you have not heard about Steam Play for Linux before, it is what Valve has been working on to bring more Windows-only games to Linux devices. Valve first improved the compatibility with the games that were available on Steam. This announcement happened back in August, and two-months later, there are already more than 2,000 games available.

        Valve added Steam Play for Linux with Proton added to it just recently. These new updates and additions have helped even more Windows-only Steam games run on Linux PCs. We have all of the latest news on the Steam Play update and all of the games added to the system, so keep reading to learn more.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 43

        Get ready for the flood, because have loads of amazing stuff for you in this week’s Usability & Productivity update!

      • KDE Developers Had A Busy Week With Revising Icons, Discover & KWin Work

        KDE developers had another busy week working on improvements to their open-source desktop environment on several fronts.

        KDE developer Nate Graham has done another great job summarizing the improvements in the KDE world over the past week, including with screenshots where relevant.

      • KMyMoney 5.0.2 released

        The KMyMoney development team is proud to present version 5.0.2 of its open source Personal Finance Manager.

        Although several members of the development team had been using version 5.0.1 in production for some time, a number of bugs and regressions slipped through testing, mainly in areas and features not used by them.

        These have been reported by many of you and the development team worked hard to fix them in the meantime. The result of this effort is the new KMyMoney 5.0.2 release.

        Despite even more extensive testing than usual, we understand that some bugs may have slipped past our best efforts. If you find one of them, please forgive us, and be sure to report it, either to the mailing list or on bugs.kde.org.

        From here, we will continue to fix reported bugs, and working to add many requested additions and enhancements, as well as further improving performance.

      • KDE Connect – New stuff 0×3

        As of this month app updates uploaded to Google Play need to target Android 8. This has several implications. Targeting Oreo comes with an updated Support Library, which forces us to drop support for Android 4.0 and below. According to our Google Play data this will affect approximately 400 users. We are very sorry about that, but these users won’t receive further updates. Furthermore, Android Oreo introduced some restrictions in regard to apps running in the background. In the future in order to be able to run in the background KDE Connect needs to show a persistent notification. The good news is that you can hide the notification. The (slightly) bad news is that we cannot do it by default. To hide the notification you need to long-press it and switch it off. Other notifications from KDE Connect are unaffected by this.

      • Skrooge 2.16.2 released

        The Skrooge Team announces the release 2.16.2 version of its popular Personal Finances Manager based on KDE Frameworks.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Some use cases for shared linking and ABI stability

        A recent trend in language design and devops deployment has been to not use shared libraries. Instead every application is rebuilt and statically linked for maximum performance. This is highly convenient in many cases. Some people even go as far as to declare shared linking, and with it any ABI stability, a dead relic of the past that is only unnecessary but actively harmful because maintaining ABI stability slows down language changes and renewal.

        This blog post was not written to argue whether this is true or not. Instead it is meant to list many reasons and use cases where shared libraries and ABI stability are useful and which would be hard, or even impossible, to achieve by relying only on static linking.

        Many of the issues listed here are written from the perspective of a modern Linux distribution, especially Debian. However I am not a Debian developer so the following is not any sort of an official statement, just my writings as an individual.

  • Distributions

    • Open Secure-K OS is amongst us (a Penguin tries out it)

      As a debianized Penguin, some time ago I reviewed Secure-K OS, a commercial Linux-based live operating system meant to be run from a USB key and “developed with security in mind”, according to its developers.

    • Reviews

      • Review: Clu Linux Live 6.0

        Clu Linux Live is a Debian-based distribution which “provides various processing command line utilities (CLU) and data rescue tools which can be used on a wired or wireless network.” The distribution provides a live CD that will automatically set up Samba network shares and the OpenSSH service to help users rescue files off a computer. The distribution also features such data recovery tools as ddrescue and Clonezilla.

        Clu Linux Live is based on Debian 9 and is built for 32-bit x86 computers. The distribution will run on 64-bit processors too and, given the nature of the utilities included, there should be no practical drawbacks to Clu being 32-bit only.

        The project’s ISO for version 6.0 is approximately 420MB in size. Booting from the ISO brings up boot menu where we can opt to launch the distribution in regular or safe graphics mode. We can also load the distribution entirely into RAM in case we want to remove the boot media.

        When the distribution finishes booting we are shown a text console where we are greeted by a series of prompts. The first one asks us to set a password for the root account. The second prompt asks if we would like to mount all attached storage devices. Later we will be told there is a command which will reverse this action, unmounting all hard drives and other attached storage volumes. The next two prompts ask if we would like to start the Samba and OpenSSH network services. These two services can be used to transfer files off the computer and, in the case of OpenSSH, it allows us to remotely manage a cloning or recovery process over the network.

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 26.2 released.

        This is a minor (point) release in the 4MLinux STABLE channel, which comes with the Linux kernel 4.14.74. The 4MLinux Server now includes Apache 2.4.35, MariaDB 10.3.10, and PHP 7.2.10 (see this post for more details).

        You can update your 4MLinux by executing the “zk update” command in your terminal (fully automatic process).

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The November 2018 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the November 2018 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

        In the November 2018 issue:

        * Microsoft Open Sources Over 60,000 Patents To Help Linux
        * GIMP Tutorial: How To Apply A Sepia Tone
        * PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: Lifeless_User
        * Short Topix: Linux Is Changing The Face Of End-User Computing
        * ms_meme’s Nook: Booting From Both Sides
        * The Death Bell Tolls For G+
        * Firejail, Easy Sandbox On PCLinuxOS
        * PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner
        * ANGRYsearch
        * And much more inside!

        This month’s cover was designed by parnote.

        Download the PDF (5.6 MB)


        Download the EPUB Version (4.3 MB)


        Download the MOBI Version (4.4 MB)


        Visit the HTML Version


    • Gentoo Family

    • Fedora

      • the new Fedora 29.

        It has been announced for some time to launch Fedora.
        Today I have appeared on the interface the possibility to change the old Fedora 28 to Fedora 29.
        The interface appeared and I had to click the Download button and then the Install button.
        The download process was fast. If you do not have enough disk space then the installation will not work.
        After you click the Install button, the installation process will take care of the installation.
        Finally, a reset of the distribution will start the new Fedora 29.
        I have not found any irregularities or operating problems.
        From now on, my posts, tests, and tutorials will be with Fedora 29.

      • NeuroFedora update: week 44

        There is a lot of software available in NeuroFedora already. You can see the complete list here on Fedora SCM. Software that is currently being worked on is listed on our Pagure project instance. If you use software that is not on our list, please suggest it to us using the suggestion form.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open libraries, open source software

    In September, I attended KohaCon 2018, an international conference for the user group of Valnet’s integrated library system. A little bit of background: Koha…

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 12 Firefox Add-ons for Developers & Designers

        Just recently, we released a post on the 12 Google Chrome Extensions for Developers & Designers and while some of those extensions are available on Firefox, I wouldn’t repeat any here.

        In the same way, some of the extensions listed below are available on Chrome so consider such apps as bonuses for the respective browsers.

      • Daniel Lange: Firefox asking to be made the default browser again and again

        Firefox on Linux can develop the habit to (rather randomly) ask again and again to be made the default browser. E.g. when started from Thunderbird by clicking a link it ask but when starting from a shell all is fine.

        The reason to this is often two (or more) .desktop entries competing with each other.

      • Rust now available on 14 Debian architectures
      • Rustlang Is Now Working On 14 Debian Architectures With POWER & MIPS Now In Good Shape

        For fans of the Rust programming language, it’s now running on 14 different Debian architectures — including all of the release architectures — as we move towards the Debian 10.0 “Buster” release next year.

        This weekend Debian developers are celebrating Rust working on 14 Debian architectures now that various flavors of MIPS and PowerPC have been squared away following some fixes to LLVM and Rust.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD on a Laptop

      It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted any articles, and I’m afraid I have a confession to make…I’ve joined the dark side! Most people know my site from the How to Run a Mail Server post, which targeted FreeBSD. A few months ago, I converted all that infrastructure to an automated OpenBSD platform. Turns out OpenBSD was so much easier, I decided to run it as a desktop too.

      You won’t find nearly as many online resources about setting up OpenBSD, because honestly, you really don’t need any. Unlike much of Linux and FreeBSD, the included manuals are high quality, coherent, and filled with practical examples. You also need very little third party software to do basic tasks—almost everything you need is well-integrated into the base system.

      You’ll notice that many features that require toil to achieve on FreeBSD, such as suspend on lid close, working volume buttons, and decent battery life, work out of the box on OpenBSD. You can tell the developers actually use this thing on their personal devices.

    • FreeBSD 12.0-BETA3 Now Available

      The third BETA build of the 12.0-RELEASE release cycle is now available.

    • FreeBSD 12.0 Beta 3 Brings Bhyve Update, NUMA Disabling Via sysctl

      Another weekly beta release of FreeBSD 12 is now available for testing with the official release still being several weeks out.

      FreeBSD 12.0 Beta 3 now allows NUMA support to be disabled via a new vm.numa.disabled sysctl tunable, the Bhyve hypervisor can now allow the VNC server to listen for incoming IPv6 connections, various hardware driver updates, and SPE exception handling for PowerPCSPE architecture.


    • GNU Health 3.4 RC1 ready to test !

      After over a year of hard work, we’re getting close to the release of GNU Health 3.4 !
      GH 3.4 comes with lots of new and exciting features, including the Federation, Thalamus, updated genetics, calendar server, native client and mongoDB integration, GH embedded (raspi) among others.
      I just uploaded to pypi the Release Candidate 1 of the gnu health client (3.4rc1), thalamus (0.9.0), and the GNU Health HMIS component (3.4rc1)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • SiFive Unleashes New 7-Series RISC-V Cores With Better Performance

        SiFive this week announced their 7-Series RISC-V cores with the 32-bit E7, 64-bit S7, and 64-bit U7 series. These new RISC-V parts aren’t yet capable of running up against the fastest ARM Cortex CPU cores available today, but they are much more powerful than the previous-gen SiFive cores.

  • Programming/Development

    • AMD Zen 2 CPU Support Merged To GCC 9 (-march=znver2)

      It was just days ago that AMD published their Zen 2 compiler patch for the GCC compiler but with the race on to merge new feature code before the feature freeze happening later this month, that “znver2″ tuning patch has now been merged to mainline.

      The latest GCC 9.0.0 development code as of this Sunday morning now has the “-march=znver2″ support for generating optimized binaries for the yet-to-be-released AMD Zen 2 processors. As covered in the article earlier this week, the Zen 2 GCC patch is an initial first stab at supporting the new AMD CPU micro-architecture in the GNU Compiler Collection.

    • Endless Computers Introducing $299 “Hack” Laptop To Teach Kids To Code

      Endless Computers, the company behind the Linux GNOME/Flatpak-aligned Endless OS and that over the years has worked on various low-cost Linux PCs primarily for developing markets, is now pursing The Hack Computer as a low-cost laptop for teaching kids to code.

    • RProtoBuf 0.4.13 (and 0.4.12)

      A new release 0.4.13 of RProtoBuf got onto CRAN a few hours ago. RProtoBuf provides R with bindings for the Google Protocol Buffers (“ProtoBuf”) data encoding and serialization library used and released by Google, and deployed fairly widely in numerous projects as a language and operating-system agnostic protocol.

      It would also appear that I failed to blog about release 0.4.12 from July. Both releases contain a number of very nice and focused contributed pull requests – see below for more – as well as some standard packaging maintenance.


  • Science

    • A Landmark Study On BPA Leaves Scientists at Odds

      The FDA agreed to the idea of the partnered study, dubbed CLARITY-BPA, and it commenced under the direction of the agency, NIEHS, and the National Toxicology Program in 2012. At the time, Heindel “thought we were doing something good,” he recalls. Now, as the results roll out and FDA and the CLARITY-BPA grantees outside the agency prepare to produce their final report, he’s not so sure.

    • BASF to open electric vehicle battery plant in Finland

      The plant will be built adjacent to the Nornickel nickel and cobalt refinery owned by Russian mining firm Norilsk Nickel, a company which has signed a long-term, “market-based supply” agreement to supply BASF with nickel and cobalt from its metal refinery, according to a joint press release issued by the companies on Monday.

    • Peak-performing Terrafame mine starts construction of battery chemicals plant

      Terrafame reports that a significant share of their nickel and cobalt sulphate production is already being allocated to manufacturing EVB chemicals, so building their own refining plant would bring them “closer to end users”.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • If Democrats Want to Mobilize Young Voters, They Need to Wholly Embrace Medicare for All

      There are fresh indications, even as the 2018 campaign enters its final stage, that Medicare for All is a reform that resonates with the young voters Democratic strategists and their allies have targeted as they seek to generate a “blue wave.” A new poll by the Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV finds that “69 percent of young Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 favor a national health plan, known as a single-payer program. Eighty-eight percent of young Democrats and 40 percent of young Republicans favor a government-run health insurance program, according to the poll. Roughly two-thirds of young independents are in favor.” Only 17 percent of those surveyed expressed opposition to single payer.

    • Let American firms run hospitals, urges free trade group
    • ‘War On Drugs’ Has Been a ‘Spectacular’ Failure, Leading to Thousands of Murders and Human Rights Abuses, Report Says

      Released on Monday, the report from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global coalition of 170 nongovernmental organizations working on drug policy issues, overviewed the failure of the 10-year global strategy from the United Nations, which intended to eradicate the illicit drug market by next year.

      Instead of curbing the problem, “consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels,” Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, wrote in the report’s foreword.

    • How Serving Pain Patients Is Made To Look Criminal

      The fact that some misuse opioids should not be reason to deny them to those who need them — any more than the fact that some people are alcoholics should be reason to deny the rest of us beer, wine, or liquor.

    • Collapse of ancient city’s water system may have led to its demise

      Such a configuration, hovering at or near the so-called critical point, is ideal for the effective flow of resources, whether we’re talking about water, electricity (power grids), traffic, the spread of disease, or information (the stock market and the Internet). The tradeoff is that it can become much more sensitive to even tiny perturbations—so much so that a small outage in one part of the network can trigger a sudden network-wide cascading failure.

    • Is Ethiopia taking control of the River Nile?

      Ethiopia’s ambitious project is designed to help lift its fast-growing population out of poverty. But the new dam also puts management of the flow of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia’s hands — and that has sparked a power shift in the region.

      For the Egyptians, the Nile is, literally, a lifeline. The vast majority of the country’s 97 million people live along its banks.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.K. boosts military spending on cyber security, nuclear submarine builds

      This funding increase, which Philip Hammond, British chancellor of the exchequer, said will be available in the next few months, comes after a $1.2 billion bump in defense spending over the summer.

    • How the killing of Jamal Khashoggi affects Turkish-Saudi relations

      A broader ideological conflict is also at play. Mr Erdogan and the Saudis represent two rival visions of political Islam. His authoritarian instincts and the sorry state of Turkey’s democracy notwithstanding, Mr Erdogan owes his legitimacy to elections and public support. Prince Muhammad owes his to the Saudi bloodline and palace support. “The Turkish example scares MBS,” says Mr Ozkan, particularly in the wake of the Arab spring, when Islamist movements helped bring down authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and consolidated their gains through elections. “The Saudis and the Emiratis fear their populations might also want elections one day.” But Mr Erdogan does not want to overplay his hand. There is a chance that releasing evidence (if such evidence exists) connecting Prince Muhammad to Mr Khashoggi’s murder might force the ageing King Salman and the Americans to withdraw their support for the prince. But there is a much higher risk it will not. (Mr Trump has already suggested he would not allow a journalist’s death to get in the way of his government’s relations with Saudi Arabia.) Mr Erdogan will not try to dislodge the prince on his own, without American support. A young, unpredictable Saudi king bent on revenge against him is the last thing Turkey’s president needs.

    • Ex-CIA Official: Trump’s Summit With Kim Was a Mistake

      President Donald Trump made a “serious misstep” in holding the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as it harmed the world’s determination to enforce sanctions against Pyongyang, top former Treasury official and former CIA Deputy Director David Cohen told CBS News.

      “We had President Trump, I think quite prematurely, jump into this summit with Kim Jong un, and then on the way out of Singapore, declare that the problem has been solved,” Cohen said, explaining “the effect of that was to weaken the resolve of the international community to apply pressure on North Korea.”

      The vague outcome of the summit, with a joint statement on disarmament that did not include a timetable or specifics on North Korea’s obligations, “weakened the willingness of the Chinese to continue to work with us,” Cohen said, adding “the effect has been that the sanctions are not nearly as powerful today as they were nine months ago.”

    • Iranian intelligence reportedly used Google to crack a CIA communications system, leading to ‘dozens’ of deaths
    • The CIA’s communications suffered a catastrophic compromise. It started in Iran.
    • Iran compromised Obama-era CIA communications using Google
    • Pentagon, CIA instructed to re-investigate whistleblower cases

      A government watchdog has ordered the CIA and the Pentagon to re-investigate retaliation allegations brought by two intelligence employees who accused their agencies of major institutional failings.

      The action by the intelligence community inspector general is the first public indication that a new intelligence appeals system is underway. The panel was set up by President Barack Obama as an independent forum that can evaluate whether whistleblowers were improperly fired or otherwise punished for disclosures after their agencies rejected their claims.

      The cases, nonetheless, demonstrate that the whistleblower system continues to be beset with problems and bureaucratic delays despite being overhauled by Congress and the Obama administration.

    • 30 spies dead after Iran cracked CIA comms network with, er, Google search – new claim

      Iran apparently infiltrated the communications network of CIA agents who allowed their secret websites, used to exchange messages with informants, to be crawled by Google.

      A report from Yahoo! news claims that a 2009 breach of the US spy bods’ communications channels came after the Iranian government infiltrated a series of websites the CIA had used to talk to its local sources in places like Iran and China.

      “We’re still dealing with the fallout,” said one former national security official. “Dozens of people around the world were killed because of this.”

    • US Spies Killed After Iran And China Use Google To Uncover CIA Messaging Service
    • CIA system HACK as Iran DISMANTLES ENTIRE spy network using Google in ‘nightmare scenario’
    • Dozens of US spies killed after Iran and China uncovered CIA messaging service using Google

      Dozens of American spies were killed in Iran and China after a flawed communications service that allowed foreign foes to see what the agents were up to using Google, official sources have claimed.

      Between 2009 and 2013 the US Central Intelligence Agency suffered a “catastrophic” secret communications failure in a website used by officers and their field agents around the world to speak to each other, according to a report in Yahoo News, which heard from 11 former intelligence and government officials about the previously unreported disaster.

      “We’re still dealing with the fallout,” said one former national security official. “Dozens of people around the world were killed because of this.”

    • CIA’s secret communication network was cracked by Iranians using… Google Search?

      The web-based network which was used by the CIA to communicate with its sources was overcome by Iranians using text-book Google queries, a new exposé claims. The agency knew about the vulnerability, but failed to act on it.
      Probably the biggest failure of US intelligence since 9/11 has been the compromise of the CIA’s communication network, which it had used to keep in touch with agents and assets in foreign nations. The Chinese busted and executed dozens of US spies because of it. A new exposé by Yahoo News says a similar upheaval happened in Iran and that the Iranians managed to defeat the system relatively easily – because it was never intended for the purpose it was used for.

    • Report Claims Iran Busted CIA’s Secret Communication System Using Google Search

      A new exposé by Yahoo News about one of the biggest intelligence failures in history is based on conversations with eleven former US intelligence and government officials familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

      Yahoo News has reported, citing several unnamed intelligence and government sources that the internet-based communications system used by the CIA to communicate with its operatives around the world was exposed by Iranians using Google search.

    • UAVs and the kill web

      UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are already part of the kill web for the U.S. military, forming teams with manned aircraft, dropping bombs, and providing persistent surveillance across the globe and soon will be equipped with lasers to provide even more lethality. UAVs have reshaped warfare in modern times, but you may be surprised to learn that they have actually been around since 1849.

    • OSCE drone shot down while spotting Russian surface-to-air missile in Ukraine

      In a strongly-worded joint statement released by Germany’s Foreign Ministry, the two nations said the long-range drone had gone missing on October 27 at night shortly after having spotted a surface-to-air missile system in an area that was not controlled by the Ukrainian government near the Russian border.

      “Evidence collected by SMM suggests Russia and the separatists it backs bear responsibility for the targeting and downing of the (drone), blinding the mission at this particular spot,” they said.
      According to a statement from the OSCE, “Prior to the loss of communication, the UAV ["unmanned aerial vehicle," or drone] had been flying in stable flight at an altitude of approximately 7,000 feet. The weather conditions were good with clear skies. All recorded flight parameters were normal and the UAV camera was recording.”

    • Germany, France say Russian-backed separatists down drone
    • Trump Moves the World One Step Closer to Nuclear Catastrophe

      In October, President Trump announced he plans to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, carving out a path to a 21st century US-Russian Cold War. The move demonstrates once again that ignorance compounded with the need for domination makes for an extremely dangerous nuclear cocktail of renewed arms racing that endangers human survival.

      While the Russian military may indeed be in technical violation of the Treaty by testing a new medium-range cruise missile, less well known is the fact that a joint commission is currently exploring whether the US has also violated the Treaty with its own deployment of a missile defense system in Romania. Of course, the answer to Russia’s cruise-missile testing should not have been to rip up the famous treaty that ended the Cold War. Rather, it should have prompted intensifying nuclear disarmament diplomacy.

      Former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev had it right when he remarked that Trump’s announcement was not the work “of a great mind.” As Gorbachev wrote in The New York Times, “With enough political will, any problems of compliance with the existing treaties could be resolved” and, “There will be no winner in a ‘war of all against all’ – particularly if it ends in a nuclear war.” One need not love Russian President Vladimir Putin to acknowledge the importance of Russia’s Foreign Ministry saying, “There is still room for dialogue.”

    • Will Militia Members and the US Military Murder Migrants at the Border?

      It will still be weeks at best until the so-called “migrant caravan” — a movement of a few thousand refugees fleeing Central America in hopes of starting new lives in the U.S. — makes it to the border. But it’s already become clear that those seeking safety in the United States may sadly find their lives even more at risk than they ever were in their former homes.

      President Donald Trump — intent on turning a flood of refugees into a menacing “invasion” of terrorists, criminals and drug lords seeking to wreak havoc on U.S. citizens — announced his intention to send about 800 military troops to the border in an attempt to stop the asylum seekers from entering the country.

    • The Robots Of War

      As Ukraine develops unmanned fighting vehicles and Russia says it has deployed its remote-controlled tank on the battlefield in Syria, we look at some of the world’s front-line robots.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange Case Shows Support for Free Speech Depends on Who’s Talking

      Assange has never been charged with a crime in Sweden. At the secret urging of the UK government, Sweden refused for several years to question Assange in London regarding sexual assault allegations. That kept the case in “preliminary investigation” limbo, while Sweden also refused to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to the United States, where he is likely to face prosecution for his work as a publisher.

      Emails between UK and Swedish officials show that Swedish officials were getting “cold feet” in 2013, and were considering dropping the “preliminary investigation” into Assange, but the UK argued forcefully against it. Last year, Sweden finally dropped the investigation (shortly after it finally agreed to interrogate Assange in London, as it could easily have done years earlier), but the UK has been using the fact that Assange skipped bail as a way to hold the threat of extradition to the United States over his head.

      In March of this year, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno made the conditions of Assange’s arbitrary detention much worse. For seven months, Assange has been without any means to directly communicate with the public—in other words, to defend himself from relentless attacks and ridicule in Western media. Moreno has not only cut off Assange’s internet and telephone access, but also severely restricted visits. Moreno has openly stated that he silenced and isolated Assange because he objected to Assange’s political statements, but rather than blast Moreno for trampling Assange’s right to free expression and other basic rights, the international press and prominent “human rights” organizations have responded with silence, distortions and even smirks.


      In contrast, CPJ frequently criticized Moreno’s predecessor, Rafael Correa (who made the original decision to give Assange asylum) over alleged violations of press freedom. Moreno won the presidency in 2017 by running as a staunch Correa loyalist. Immediately after taking office, Moreno shifted dramatically to the right, disavowed the longstanding ties to Correa that he used to get elected, and, crucially, ensured that public media no longer provided a counterweight to Ecuador’s right-wing private media that always attacked Correa.

      Ecuador’s private media is similar to Brazil’s, which did so much to bring an outright fascist to victory in its presidential election. An Ecuadorian journalist was just convicted in Belgium for threatening and harassing Rafael Correa and his daughter. Moreno’s alliance with the private media has enabled him to make audacious attacks on the constitution and judicial independence, while receiving flattering press coverage internationally. As noted in an interview I did with Ecuadorian legal scholar Oswaldo Ruiz-Chiriboga (CounterPunch, 10/12/18), Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, has frequently applauded Moreno for those attacks.

    • Break-in Attempted at Assange’s Residence in Ecuador Embassy

      An attempt was made on Oct. 29 to break-in to the Ecuadorian embassy, where security has been removed and new surveillance devices installed, reports Joe Lauria.


      On the scaffolding electronic devices, presumably to conduct surveillance, can be seen, just feet from the embassy windows.

      Later on the day of the break-in, Sean O’Brien, a lecturer at Yale University Law School and a cyber-security expert, was able to enter the embassy through the front door, which was left open. Inside he found no security present. Someone from the embassy emerged to tell him to send an email to set up an appointment with Assange. After emailing the embassy, personnel inside refused to check whether it had been received or not.


      The new Ecuadorian government indicated in the Spring that Assange would eventually have to leave the embassy. Assange fears that if leaves the British government will arrest him on a minor charge of skipping bail when he legally sought asylum inside the embassy in June of 2012.

      Assange and his lawyers fear that if he is detained by British authorities he would be extradited to the United States where they believe there is a sealed indictment against him possibly on espionage charges for simply publishing classified documents that he has not been accused of stealing.

    • Current Affairs Wrap: Indonesia’s flight tragedy, Nauru’s unexpected turn and Julian Assange was totes grounded

      Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, was in the news this week as his lawsuit against Ecuador’s Foreign Affairs Ministry was due to begin.

      Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, has filed the suit against Foreign Minister, Jose Valencia, following the introduction of new rules regarding Assange’s extended stay at the Embassy. Assange, who became an Ecuadorian citizen in December last year, is arguing that the new rules are a violation of his rights under the Ecuadorian constitution. The rules included a ban on Assange commenting on politics and a requirement that he clear any visitors to the embassy three working days in advance. Failure to adhere to the rules could see Assange expelled from the embassy.

      The first hearing into the suit, however, didn’t proceed as scheduled. Assange was reportedly having trouble understanding the court appointed translator, indicating that the court-appointed translation service was “not good enough”.

      Ecuadorian Judge, Karina Martinez, agreed, indicating that it was vital that Assange testify and that the court had erred by appointing a Spanish translator who only spoke English. She then called for a replacement who was “fluent in Australian”.

    • Feds accuse ex-CIA employee of continuing leaks from prison

      The investigation revealed that he had sent classified information to third parties, including through an encrypted email account, they said.

      Prosecutors said Schulte was placed in more restrictive detention conditions on Oct. 1 during the latest probe.

    • International Security Prof. to Speak On the CIA, History, the Secret State

      “The issue of secrecy has barely been off the front pages of our newspapers over the past 15 years,” Aldrich said in a phone interview from the UK. “It’s important that historians and political scientists explore these things, but it’s difficult for scholars to research information that is secret.”

      He emphasized the importance of history to challenges of our current world. “The CIA takes its history very seriously,” he said. “How Americans think about the CIA’s past has reverberations in the present.”

    • 60 Minutes: Pamela Anderson reveals her ‘romantic struggle’ with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

      And tonight on 60 Minutes, Pamela Anderson invites reporter Liam Bartlett to her new home in the South of France to send possibly her strongest political message yet to the other side of the world.

      Speaking directly down the barrel of the camera to the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, she demands he bring Wikileaks founder Julian Assange back home to Australia.

      “Okay well Scott, get Julian his passport back and take him back to Australia and be proud of him,” she says.

    • Explore the aftermath of the CIA’s infamous “Halloween Massacre”

      The “Halloween Massacre,” the most horror movie-sounding thing to ever happen to the Central Intelligence Agency, was a bureaucratic nightmare that pushed out the Agency’s most senior employees. CIA officers were so outraged at the “massacre” that they reportedly responded with everything from screen-printing protest shirts, leaving graffiti in Agency buildings and even cussing out the newly-appointed CIA Director Stansfield Turner (via telegram).

    • Ex-CIA Contractor Says Prison Over Classified Info Unfair

      A Virginia federal judge Friday sentenced a former CIA contractor to 90 days behind bars for illegally obtaining and taking classified material from his former workplace and lying about it to…

    • Ex-CIA contractor sentenced for retaining secret info

      A former CIA contractor was sentenced Friday to 90 days in jail for unauthorized retention of classified materials at a hearing that shed little light on his motives.

      Reynaldo Regis, 54, of Fort Washington, Maryland, had been seeking probation at his sentencing hearing in federal court in Alexandria. His lawyers pointed to probation sentences received by retired Gen. David Petraeus and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger in their high-profile document retention cases.

    • CIA Coder Charged in WikiLeaks Dump Claims He’s Being Tortured in Jail

      “The shit-filled showers where you leave dirtier than when you entered; the flooding of the tiers and cages with ice cold water; the constant blast of cold air as we are exposed to extreme cold without blankets or long-sleeve shirts; the uncontrollable lights that are always on as we are sleep deprived…. No human being should ever have to experience this torture,” he wrote.

      The jailhouse plea appeared on the public docket in Schulte’s case on Monday, but was later removed with a notation that it had been “incorrectly filed in this case.”

    • Joshua Schulte, former CIA coder, pleads not guilty to latest leak charges

      Joshua Schulte, a former CIA employee suspected of leaking classified hacking tools to WikiLeaks, pleaded not guilty Friday to new counts related to allegedly leaking additional material while in custody awaiting trial for espionage.

      Mr. Schulte, 30, entered the plea during a hearing in Manhattan federal court while being arraigned on two new charges concerning his conduct behind bars, according to his case docket.

      A former CIA computer engineer, Mr. Schulte was being held at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) on charges related to allegedly leaking agency secrets. On Thursday, he was hit with a 15-count superseding indictment containing a pair of fresh charges: illegal transmission and attempted transmission of unlawfully possessed national defense information, a felony, and contempt of court.

    • PM should help Assange: Pamela Anderson

      Pamela Anderson has called on Scott Morrison to defend WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and help bring him back to Australia.

      The former Baywatch star said the prime minister should be proud of the work done by Australian-born Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years.

      Anderson denied rumours she was anything more than a close friend of Assange, but told the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes that their relationship was a “romantic struggle”.

      Anderson, who struck up a friendship with Assange over their shared interest in activism, believes the Australian government should be doing more to help him.

    • Pamela Anderson opens up on her relationship with Julian Assange

      AMELA Anderson has opened up about her relationship with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
      The Baywatch bombshell — who has been campaigning to free the Australian activist — described her situation with Assange as a “romantic struggle”.
      The star is regularly photographed entering and leaving the Ecuadorean Embassy in London’s Kensington, where Assange is holed up.
      Anderson, a longtime animal rights activist, said she arranged a meeting with Assange just over two years ago.

    • Pamela Anderson opens up on ‘romantic struggle’ with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

      Pamela Anderson has called on Australian prime minister Scott Morrison to defend WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and help bring him back to Australia.

      The former Baywatch star said the prime minister should be proud of the work done by Australian-born Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years.

    • PM needs to bring Julian Assange home: Pamela Anderson

      Pamela Anderson has called on Scott Morrison to stand up for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and help bring him back to Australia.

      The former Baywatch star said the prime minister should lend his support to Australian-born Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years.

    • PM should defend Assange, Pamela Anderson says

      Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has called on Scott Morrison to grant Julian Assange free passage into Australia, describing her relationship with the WikiLeaks founder as a “romantic struggle”.

      In an interview with Nine Network’s 60 Minutes at her home in the south of France, Anderson said she hoped the Prime Minister would help Mr Assange to finally leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has lived for six years.

      In a message to Mr Morrison, Anderson said: “Defend your friend and get Julian his passport back and take him back to Australia and be proud of him, and throw him a parade when he gets home.”

      Despite recently splitting from 32-year old French soccer star Adil Rami, Anderson, 51, denied rumours she was anything more than a friend of Assange.

    • Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson tells PM Scott Morrison to bring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange home, throw him a parade

      Scott Morrison has laughed off calls from Pamela Anderson to bring Julian Assange back to Australia and throw him a welcome home parade.

      The former Baywatch star says the Prime Minister should lend his support to the WikiLeaks founder, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years.

      In a message to Mr Morrison, Anderson said: “Defend your friend and get Julian his passport back and take him back to Australia and be proud of him and throw him a parade when he gets home.”

      Asked if he intended to heed the advice aired on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes, Mr Morrison chuckled loudly before replying: “No.”

    • ‘I feel very close to him and he trusts me’: Pamela Anderson opens up about her relationship with Julian Assange after calling it a ‘romantic struggle’
    • ‘He’s new?’ The awkward moment Pamela Anderson is left red-faced when asked to name the Australian Prime Minister
    • PM rejects Pamela Anderson’s Assange calls
    • Helen Razer On The Ugly, Messy Truth About Julian Assange And Why You Should Care

      Over the past few days, there has been increased activity around the Ecuadorian embassy in London, sparking fears Julian Assange faces imminent detention by British authorities. Helen Razer weighs in on truth, on Assange, and why you should care about both.

      Stubborn as a mule. Me? No. When I commit to tell a truth rarely told, a mammal has nothing on me. For five years now, I’ve been stubborn as a stone. The truth as I tell it and see it is this: Julian Assange must be free. He has committed no crime. But the man who is no criminal is observed today with what may be even greater state scrutiny, per this account from Consortium News.

    • ‘Slow assassination’: Julian Assange’s mother’s emotional speech about son’s embassy ordeal (AUDIO)

      The mother of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange fears her son is in “immediate and critical danger” after spending nearly six years in limbo inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where his health has sharply deteriorated.
      As fears for Assange’s health have grown, his mother Christine spoke about how her son is undergoing a “slow and cruel assassination” in an online vigil dubbed #ReconnectJulian on Saturday.

      “The modern-day cage for political prisoners is no longer the Tower of London, it is the Ecuadorian Embassy,” she said, adding that her son has been detained for nearly eight years without charge, “cut off from all contact” and “tortured in the heart of London.”

      “For the past six years the UK government has refused his request to access to basic health needs, fresh air, exercise, sunshine for Vitamin D, and access to proper medical and dental care. As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated,” she added.

    • Pamela Anderson Opens Up on ‘Romantic Struggle’ She Shares With Julian Assange

      The Baywatch bombshell appears to regularly see the WikiLeaks founder and editor, while he has been confined within the four walls of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past few years, “getting no sun whatsoever,” Pamela remarked.
      During the airing of a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday night, Baywatch icon Pamela Anderson asserted that she and Julian Assange “are very close” and that he “trusts her.”

      The Blonde and Blonder pin-up star noted after her long-lasting visits to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been residing under political asylum since 2012.

      When asked to elaborate on their relationship, Anderson said:

      “We don’t have a romantic relationship like that, but I feel very close to him. And I feel closer to him than a lot of people have and he trusts me. Yes, it’s a friendship,” yet going on to state there is a “romantic struggle” that the pair share, which is their mutual strong dedication to activism and social action. Pamela, for instance, is known to be a passionate animal rights campaigner.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • US government is refusing to disclose climate information

      With no explanation and no indication of a timetable for compliance, the State Department missed its Jan. 1, 2018 deadline to publish a critical quadrennial climate report, and has remained silent internationally ever since.

    • Bitcoin Mining Alone Could Raise Global Temperatures Above Critical Limit By 2033

      A recent UN climate report said that if global temperatures rose above 1.5 C it could lead to catastrophic climate change. Bitcoin alone could raise global temperatures by 2 C within two decades.

    • Four Iran environmentalists could face death penalty for ‘corruption on earth’

      Four detained Iranian environmental activists could face the death penalty after the charges levelled against them were changed, the Tehran prosecutor said on Wednesday.

      “After completion of the investigation, the charges against four of the defendants have been changed to corruption on earth,” said Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, cited by Mizan Online, a news outlet run by the judiciary.

      “Corruption on earth” is one of the most serious charges in Iran and can be punishable by death.

    • This is the ‘last generation’ that can save nature, WWF says

      Global wildlife populations have fallen by 60% in just over four decades, as accelerating pollution, deforestation, climate change and other manmade factors have created a “mindblowing” crisis, the World Wildlife Fund has warned in a damning new report.


      Current rates of species extinction are now up to 1,000 times higher than before human involvement in animal ecosystems became a factor.

    • Air Pollution Killed 600,000 Children in 2016, According to WHO Report

      Air pollution caused the premature deaths of 600,000 children in 2016, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released Monday. The report found that a staggering 93 percent of people under 15 years old—some 1.8 billion children and teenagers—are breathing toxic air.

    • Humpback Whales Are Falling Silent and the Reason Will Make You Cry

      The new study, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, adds more evidence that human-generated noise pollution interferes with marine life. Our oceans are getting noisier due to increasing human activity, including shipping, military sonar, underwater construction and seismic blasts for oil and gas. Scientists have previously found that these auditory onslaughts can threaten the health and lives of various sea creatures.

    • The unseen driver behind the migrant caravan: climate change

      Experts say that alongside those factors, climate change in the region is exacerbating – and sometimes causing – a miasma of other problems including crop failures and poverty.

      And they warn that in the coming decades, it is likely to push millions more people north towards the US.

    • Three Ways to Combat Climate Change Through the Courts

      In theory, courts are a good place for climate science. Unlike legislative bodies, where bills based on science can be derailed just because a few people say they don’t “believe in” climate change, the courts have evidentiary standards. If something’s real, it’s real. The facts accepted by 98 percent of scientists worldwide represent pretty persuasive evidence.

    • Ticks Are Killing an Alarming Number of Moose Thanks to Climate Change

      The horrifying effects of climate change are evident seemingly everywhere you look. Now, a report from researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) suggests that climate change favorable to a parasite is impacting the moose population in New England. According to their findings, winter ticks that gorge themselves on a moose’s blood by the tens of thousands during the fall and winter were responsible for killing roughly seven in 10 moose calves over the course of the three-year study.

    • Environmental Regulation Has Helped Cut Deaths From Air Pollution in Half, Study Finds

      Air pollution is killing fewer people than it used to, according to a study published in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Journal Friday. Deaths related particulate matter (nasty stuff that gets lodged in the lungs and can reach the heart) dropped more than 50 percent nationwide between 1990 and 2010—largey thanks to regulations like the Clean Air Act and federal and state rules on vehicle emissions, according to the report’s authors, who include researchers from the EPA and Department of Energy.

    • Trump admits climate change isn’t a hoax but suggests ‘it’ll change back’

      The authors of the UN report said immediate action was needed to prevent the current rise, including taxes on carbon emissions and getting rid of coal energy. Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly said he wants to burn more coal, and promised that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, the largest international treaty set to reduce emissions.

    • President Trump on Christine Blasey Ford, his relationships with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and more

      Lesley Stahl: Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?

    • How the loss of Native American languages affects our understanding of the natural world

      Alaska has a “linguistic emergency,” according to the Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker. A report warned earlier this year that all of the state’s 20 Native American languages might cease to exist by the end of this century, if the state did not act.

      American policies, particularly in the six decades between the 1870s and 1930s, suppressed Native American languages and culture. It was only after years of activism by indigenous leaders that the Native American Languages Act was passed in 1990, which allowed for the preservation and protection of indigenous languages. Nonetheless, many Native American languages have been on the verge of extinction for the past many years.

      Languages carry deep cultural knowledge and insights. So, what does the loss of these languages mean in terms of our understanding of the world.

    • Drones described as ‘Guardians’ of African wildlife in new anti-poaching film

      Over & Above Africa, an LA-based charity, is dedicated to fighting the poaching battle on all fronts and have teamed up with Giant Films to direct and produce The Guardian. The aim of the project is to raise funds to supply drones to wildlife reserves.

      The film was made by an international team of creatives led by Fackrell who is currently based in Amsterdam, with Coleman from Cape Town-based Giant Films taking the lead in the director’s chair.

  • Finance

    • Amazon in ‘advanced talks’ to open headquarters in Washington DC area

      Amazon, which is headquartered in Seattle, is seriously considering an area known as Crystal City, a large residential and office complex in Arlington, Virginia, just south of Washington, the Post reported, citing unidentified sources.

    • What Minimum-Wage Foes Got Wrong About Seattle

      But we can’t emphasize enough just how wrong many of the initial analyses of the wage increase have been. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful force. If your ideology includes the belief that all government attempts at raising living standards are doomed, then of course you are going to be against mandated minimum wages. The problem occurs when these folks are confronted by facts that are at odds with their belief systems. The options are to either rethink your ideology or alternatively ignore the data. Most participants seem to have done the latter. Kudos to the University of Washington team for at least trying to incorporate the facts into their latest research.

    • Wednesday’s papers: Transparent pay, youth homelessness, and the cost of flying

      A return trip between Helsinki and Bangkok pollutes the environment more than eating eight years’ worth of domestic beef, reports agricultural sector newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, citing a study by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), a government agency.

    • Breaking: Arron Banks lied to parliament about his Brexit campaign, say whistleblowers

      Brexit donor Arron Banks lied to MPs about the political work that his insurance company did for his controversial Leave campaign, according to whistleblowers who worked at Banks’s Bristol headquarters during the Brexit vote.

      Hundreds of emails leaked by former employees of Eldon Insurance and Rock Services to openDemocracy show insurance staff frequently working on the Leave campaign in the run-up to the 2016 referendum. Banks, who was referred to the National Crime Agency this week, repeatedly told MPs that his insurance businesses and his political campaigning were separate.

      Damian Collins, chair of parliament’s inquiry into fake news and disinformation, said that the evidence appeared to “flatly contradict” what Banks told his committee in June and that Banks could have “deliberately misled the committee and parliament on an important point.”

      “If Eldon employees were being paid to work on the campaign, it should have been a declared expense. We asked him directly if he’d used his insurance employees to work on the campaigns and he said they didn’t,” Collins added.

      Under British electoral law, campaigns cannot co-ordinate or ‘work together’ unless they declare their spending jointly. However, emails and testimony from insiders suggest that insurance staff in Bristol frequently worked not just for Leave.EU but also for other Brexit campaigns at the same time. This was not declared to the Electoral Commission, raising questions about whether Banks’s campaign could have breached electoral law (again).

    • The UK Government must not sacrifice our rights in the name of security after Brexit

      Whether you are a victim of crime, accused of a crime, or simply someone who believes in the value of fair play, we all have an interest in ensuring rights are safeguarded in the criminal justice process.

      When it comes to future policing and security cooperation with the European Union (EU), the UK Government has been singular in its focus on fighting crime. Headlines like ‘Brexit could lead to security threat’ and ‘Brexit will make it harder to bring foreign criminals to justice’ reflect the Government’s fears over maintaining policing and security arrangements and determination to maintain access to the full arsenal of cooperation measures. Theresa May has made it clear, for example, that she is determined to keep the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) – the EU’s fast-track extradition measure – after the UK leaves the bloc.

      At Fair Trials and Liberty, we have serious concerns over how new security cooperation may erode fundamental fairness and result in worse outcomes for the human rights of everyone living in the UK post-Brexit.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Paper and the Case for Going Low-Tech in the Voting Booth
    • Kanye West Is What Internalized Racism and Misogyny Looks Like
    • “Cut Politicians Out of the Equation”: Election Day Could Bring Pay Raises to Workers in Two States

      Azoria Morales, a 28-year-old single mother of two sons, was in school to become a dental assistant when a car accident left her with nerve damage in her hand. No longer able do that job, she’s now saddled with student debt.

      Today, she works full time in housekeeping at a nursing home in St. Louis, Missouri, making $8.50 an hour. With such low pay, it’s difficult for her to provide for her sons. “Putting food on the table for my family is a constant struggle,” she said on a recent call with media. Morales can rarely afford to pay all of her bills in full. She recently had to replace her car’s alternator, and the price proved “devastating.”

      “Costs keep going up, but my wages haven’t kept pace,” she said. “I work so hard to take care of my kids, but it just doesn’t add up.”

    • In Swing Districts, Republicans May Pay For Having Tried To Reverse The Health Law

      Not long ago many voters knew little about Tom MacArthur. A low-key moderate Republican congressman in a district that twice went for Barack Obama, he burnished his reputation as the guy who worked with Democrats to help rebuild in the years after Hurricane Sandy.

      Now, as he wages a bitter fight for re-election to a seat he won by 20 percentage points just two years ago, even some of his supporters have turned virulently against him. The reason? His new reputation as the turncoat whose legislation almost repealed the Affordable Care Act.

      Like many Republican candidates struggling to explain how they could support protections for preexisting conditions while also supporting changes that would gut them, MacArthur has offered vague but persistent promises to shield Americans with medical conditions.

      But he also wrote the Republican legislation that would have allowed states to charge those Americans higher premiums or limit what services are covered, gaining enough support for the repeal bill to clear the House last year.

    • Meme warfare in the Swedish context

      Recent years have seen the far and extreme right wing building international coalitions to disseminate propaganda in an attempt to bring the public around to their talking points, including the development of large networks of online activists and trolls who deliver sophisticated coordinated campaigns. These digital militias operate across a range of platforms, but have especially come to be associated with the ‘Politically Incorrect’ (/pol/) boards of the 4chan and 8chan sites.

      Such campaigning became particularly pronounced in Donald Trump’s campaign to become the Republican’s presidential nominee, and his subsequent presidential race. Overnight fringe memes like Pepe the Frog became public talking points as these troll armies shitposted themselves to fame, flooding social media with a range of far-right talking points and conspiracy theories designed to boost Donald Trump’s image and denigrate his opponents. Such activity also aligned with Kremlin objectives, and the different groups of internet trolls enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, disseminating and provoking a range of complementary disinformation.

      Following the US election these communities continued their activity, seeking to replicate their perceived success in 2016. In the run-up to the French election we observed American activists engaging in a range of activities designed to sway the public in favour of the Front Nationale. Some of these were poorly considered, with American activists attempting to replicate their strategy from the US election with little consideration for the French context. However, there were more serious efforts, including the dissemination of Macron’s leaked emails which occurred with potential support from Russia. Perhaps most interestingly US alt-right activists outlined sophisticated propaganda efforts which included the microtargeted dissemination of disinformation.

    • Grand Theft Voting Rights

      As soon as it became clear that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes in the 2016 election, he started looking for a pretext to explain his failure to pass the most basic test of democratic legitimacy.

      Trump conjured up the most outrageous and transparent lies to explain his loss, grumbling about widespread voter fraud and blaming “the millions of people who voted illegally” for depriving him of a popular vote victory.

      But these lies were more than an incurable megalomaniac trying to save face in front of a skeptical world. Soon after his inauguration, Trump moved to act on his lies, creating a commission to “investigate” the nearly non-existent phenomenon of voter fraud.

      He recruited Kansas Secretary of State and current gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach — a frequent Breitbart contributor with white supremacist ties who also happens to be the Grand Wizard of Republican voter suppression efforts — to lead it.

      The commission was drowned in lawsuits and forced to disband before it could achieve anything concrete. But it was emblematic of the way in which Trumpian bravado — which on its face can appear to be a stark departure from the more sedate form of traditional Republican statesmanship — corresponds comfortably in practice with well-established conservative policies.

      The results of the 2016 election were deeply marred by Republican-led voter suppression efforts, and the upcoming 2018 midterms stand to follow much the same pattern.

      That’s because despite all the advances in voting rights that have been made since the days when only educated, property-owning European males could legally participate in the U.S. political system, the manipulation of laws by the ruling parties to prevent people from participating in the political process remains common today.

    • Female Candidates Running in Record Numbers for the Midterms — Just Not in California

      The midterm elections are widely expected to usher in this century’s “year of the woman” – an explosion of women entering government.

      Massachusetts will likely elect its first Black woman to Congress, Arizona is poised to send its first woman to the US Senate, and fully 50 percent of Democratic congressional nominees this year are women.

      But California – a policy trendsetter that in 1993 became the first state to be represented simultaneously by two women in the US Senate – won’t be making history this year when it comes to women.

      All of California’s 53 House seats are on the ballot, and a record 57 women entered the primaries. But the Golden State’s midterm election contests skew very male.

      Since none of the 39 Democratic representatives are facing a serious challenge, Democrats hoping to take back the House of Representatives are targeting California’s 14 Republican-held congressional districts – particularly the seven that favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

    • Why Restoring Voting Rights Matters for Florida’s Latinos

      Next week, Floridians have a chance to engage in a uniquely democratic act — and not just by casting a ballot in Tuesday’s election. In Florida, they can do something more — they can vote for voting.

      Thanks to a movement led by affected citizens, Floridians will vote on Amendment 4 — the Voting Restoration Amendment. If it passes, Amendment 4 will restore the eligibility to vote to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions in their past, who are currently barred for life from voting. This amendment, and what it means for democracy, should have particular significance for the Latino community — but perhaps not for the reasons you may think.

      It’s tempting to think about Amendment 4 in partisan terms. These days, commentators are quick to speculate on whether voting laws will benefit Democrats or Republicans. But Latino voters are not monolithic — especially not in Florida, where 6 in ten registered Latino voters are Republican or unaffiliated. It’s difficult to say what effect Amendment 4 might have on party politics in the Latino community.

    • This ex-CIA officer is making her first run for Congress. Can she push out a tea party star?
    • Abigail Spanberger: CIA Democrat for Virginia’s 7th District

      Abigail Spanberger is a former CIA agent running as the Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. She is seeking to defeat and replace the Republican incumbent Rep. Dave Brat.
      The 7th Congressional District is a large sprawling area spanning Culpeper and Nottoway Counties. It includes a large portion of Richmond suburbs, with otherwise mainly rural areas. The district has a population of 775,000, 72 percent of which lives in urban areas, with a median income of $73,580.
      Spanberger spent eight and a half years as an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), working both overseas and at home. The CIA has long ago taken its place as one of the most hated organizations in human history. It is reviled by the vast majority of the world for toppling democratically elected governments, supporting fascist coups and political massacres, allying itself with the most reactionary elements of society, including Al Qaeda, and carrying out sadistic, medieval-style torture on its victims.

    • Former CIA Spy Valerie Plame: Trump Is ‘Dangerous For Our National Security’

      Plame and Wilson saw the leak as payback for an episode in the run-up to the Iraq War where, after President George W. Bush falsely alleged that Saddam Hussein “sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” in order to build a nuclear bomb, Wilson penned an op-ed in The New York Times refuting the claim—since Wilson, a former diplomat, was the actual man the CIA had sent to Niger to investigate the yellowcake tale.

    • Matteo Salvini – Italy’s salvation?

      Italian politics, however, does not always follow the logic of rational choice so dear to American political science. Otherwise Italians would not have voted for Silvio Berlusconi, who might have done a great job impersonating a leading role in Italy’s commedia dell’arte. As an impersonator of a statesman at the helm of the world’s eighth largest economy, however, the convicted tax fraudster and former president of AC Milan (newly-owned by Chinese investors) was clearly out of his league (pun intended). Outmaneuvered in the weeks following the parliamentary election of 2018, Berlusconi saw himself sidelined by Matteo Salvini, the new strongman of Italy’s populist radical right.


      Anxiety in the face of the growing visibility of Italy’s Muslim minority groups is one reason for the success of the Lega’s populist mobilization, yet certainly not the most salient one.

    • Ex-CIA Agent’s Congressional Campaign Says James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas Infiltrated It

      The campaign of Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger announced on Thursday that it had discovered and removed an operative for James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas who had posed as a volunteer and infiltrated its staff.

      The operative, who went by the name Monica Nelson, appears to have been Marisa Jorge, a New York-based official who has been previously exposed after embedding with other political campaigns. Justin Jones, Spanberger’s communications director, said that Nelson had been on the campaign as a volunteer for several weeks. She had shown up at the offices with the appearance of being pregnant and said she was bored at home and wanted to help out.

      The campaign, which has an estimated 5,500 volunteers, brought her on board.

    • Ron DeSantis’s Corporate Backers Are Hoping His Racist Dog-Whistles Will Boost Their Profits

      By virtue of being born, each of us has the absolute right to safety, shelter, food, education and health care. This is the agenda of the organization I co-direct, the Dream Defenders. It is also the agenda that Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has attacked as being too “radical” for the Sunshine State and proof that Mayor Andrew Gillum is unfit for governorship.

      Through conversations with thousands of everyday Floridians and backed by dozens of Florida organizations, we built “The Freedom Papers,” a left, populist vision for the future of our society — a future that prioritizes the needs of everyday people over the profits of big corporations. Rather than debate the substance of this agenda, or present an alternate plan, DeSantis stoked fear over the Freedom Papers to keep voters divided so that he and his corporate bakers can continue to do their dirty work behind the scenes.

      In Florida and across the country, the right has been using scare tactics, stirring up a racist frenzy and promoting extreme white-nationalist violence, steering people away from what’s best for everyone and in favor of a right-wing, pro-corporate, and anti-people agenda.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Asia Bibi blasphemy case: Husband pleads for asylum

      The government will also not prevent protesters legally challenging the Supreme Court decision to release her.

    • Group Proposes Regulating Internet Hate Speech Through Decentralisation

      The French government report [FR] detailing these regulatory plans was released last month, and translates as “Strengthening the fight against racism and antisemitism on the Internet,” the release states.

      The report specifically aims to address the “perverted connection between hate speech and advertising,” explaining that “people who write offensive or extremist remarks are the ‘money makers’, because one of them can cause fifty or a hundred others. From this perspective, it is valuable for these networks to host and disseminate this kind of speech,” says the report, according to the release.

      To neutralize the profitability of hate speech, “the government wants to reinforce the obligations imposed on these platforms: more transparency and vigilance duty,” the release says, arguing that “this solution will never be sufficient enough to counter the abuses caused by the profitability of hate speech.”

    • Vatican Media Censorship

      The Vatican Youth Synod was supposed to help young people acquire holiness, not be used to muzzle faithful Catholic media.

      Buried in paragraph 146 of the final approved synod document is a line on censorship coming from the homosexual current. The paragraph speaks of setting up “certification systems for Catholic websites, to counter the spread of fake news regarding the Church.”


      They can start with censoring Fr. Thomas Rosica who, in July, wrote the fake news that the Catholic Church is no longer ruled by Scripture and Tradition.

      “Our Church has indeed entered a new phase,” writes Rosica, “with the advent of this first Jesuit pope it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”

    • #Metoo Activists in China use Blockchain to Circumvent Government Censorship

      The #metoo movement has been one of the most influential social movements of the last few years, calling out sexual assault and harassment in both everyday life and high profile industries such as Hollywood.

      One of the reasons for the success of #metoo was its prominence on social media which emboldened many to share their stories.

      This was also the case in China but with a bit of a twist. Those involved in woyeshi, the Chinese spelling of “Me Too.” , posted their stories on popular social media platforms, though the movement eventually took on the name of ‘rice bunny’ which is the pronunciation of metoo in Chinese.

      However, government censorship kicked in, and the stories shared were filtered out from public viewing.

      To combat this, people began moving to online platforms that used blockchain technology to share their stories, using the name ‘Every snowflake’.

    • Gab expected to be back online this weekend

      Gab, the fringe social network apparently used by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect, is planning to return online this weekend.

      Chatter on the social media site, a Twitter alternative that’s popular among some conservatives and white nationalists, went silent by Monday after GoDaddy pulled the domain registration from the site. GoDaddy said it made the decision after receiving complaints and finding content on Gab that “promotes and encourages violence against people.”

    • Gab gets new domain host, expects to be back online Sunday

      Social media site Gab, popular among far-right extremists, has found a new domain host and expects to be back online by Sunday, it tweeted on Saturday. Gab’s earlier domain host, GoDaddy, dropped the site following the news that the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers had been an avid poster on the site.

      In a lengthy blog post, Rob Monster, founder and CEO of Gab’s new domain host Epik.com, wrote that he “did not take the decision lightly,” but “de-platforming is digital censorship.” Monster said he had spoken to Gab founder Andrew Torba as part of his “own search for truth.”

      Gab tweeted Saturday that it is “getting close” to being live on the new domain host.


      Gab launched in 2016 and bills itself as a “social network for creators who believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online.” But the site has run into controversy over the years for allowing extremist content with very little oversight.

      After the Pittsburgh shooting, the site was not only dropped by GoDaddy but also by its cloud host, Joyent, and payment processor Stripe.

    • Gab user posts about killing progressives, but vows platform rejects violence

      The Gab social media platform, suspended from the internet after last week’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, was under investigation by Dauphin County authorities and the FBI for a possible hate speech incident this year.

      The site gained national attention Oct. 27 when authorities said synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers posted a message there threatening violence shortly before 11 worshipers were killed at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh. Bowers had a long history of anti-Semitic postings before the massacre, according to authorities.

    • Cloudflare and It’s ‘Free Speech Absolutist’ CEO Haven’t Quit Gab
    • Stealth Censorship: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Even Google Shadow-Ban Accounts While Findit Does Not
    • Victor Marchetti, 88, Dies; Book Was First to Be Censored by C.I.A.

      Victor Marchetti, a former C.I.A. employee and co-author of the first book, about the agency’s inner workings, that the federal government sought to censor before its publication, died on Oct. 19 at his home in Ashburn, Va. He was 88.

      The cause was complications of dementia, his son Christian said.

      Mr. Marchetti worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for 14 years as a Soviet-military specialist and executive assistant to the deputy director, Rufus L. Taylor. Disillusioned by what he saw as the agency’s unchecked excesses and its increasing involvement in attempted assassinations, coups and cover-ups, he resigned in 1969.

      He and John D. Marks, a former State Department intelligence officer, then wrote a nonfiction book, “The C.I.A. and the Cult of Intelligence,” which was ultimately published in 1974.

      “The cult of intelligence is a secret fraternity of the American political aristocracy,” they wrote. “It seeks largely to advance America’s self-appointed role as the dominant arbiter of social, economic, and political change in the awakening regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.”

    • Facebook Censoring Some Hebrew Posts Based on Machine Translations

      One of the most serious criticisms Facebook faced over its handling of hate speech against the Rohingya people in Myanmar concerned a lack of content moderators who could speak the local language.

    • Journalists say Facebook is ‘censoring’ political content in India ahead of 2019 elections

      With the general elections in India due early in 2019, greater attention is being paid to the digital space, which many believe will have a deep impact on the polls. Much of this attention is focused on Facebook, which was heavily criticised for its conduct in the run-up to the 2016 United States presidential elections after it emerged that political consultation firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed the private information of 87 million Facebook users world-wide for targeted political advertising.

      Since August, media reports in India have quoted several journalists accusing Facebook of censoring political content. The internet company has been accused of doing this by temporarily suspending accounts, labelling news as “spam”, and not permitting news organisations to promote their articles. But what sort of material invited such action by Facebook, and is the company picking sides as some have alleged?

      Facebook started off simply as a way for people to connect. But it quickly grew into a massive public square, with the company having to decide what kinds of speech it would allow on its platform and what would get taken down.

    • China censorship: World internet freedom declines for 8th year in a row [Ed: Goofy editing]

      Speaking before an elite audience in Washington in March 2000 , then US President Bill Clinton summarized much of Western thinking on the internet when he hailed a new century in which “liberty will be spread by cell phone and cable modem.”

    • China is exporting the Great Firewall as internet freedom declines around the world
    • China’s high-tech censorship and surveillance tools are inspiring other countries, study says
    • Censorship controversy surrounds international version of Rainbow Six Siege
    • Rainbow Six Siege content censored for China launch, angering fans
    • ‘Rainbow Six Siege’ In Censorship Row As “Aesthetic Changes” Are Made To Fit Asian Regulations
    • Manga Answerman – How Do Censorship Rules Work for Hentai?
    • Sony’s Censorship Policy Seemingly Applies to Japanese Releases

      Screenshot comparisons from the community reveal an option for “chest bounciness” has been removed from the game entirely, as well as an example of more steam being added to a particularly racy CG image that obscures more of the skin on display. Something called “touch mode,” a feature that fans feared would be on the chopping block, does appear to remain intact.

    • The Sony Censorship Policy Is Quite Telling About Today’s Society
    • Amnesty urges Sudan to stop crackdown on journalists
    • Sudan’s Journalists Face Continued Extortion and Censorship by National Security Agency
    • Sudan: Relentless harassment, intimidation and censorship of journalists must end
    • Amnesty urges Sudan to stop crackdown on journalists

      Amnesty International on Friday urged the Sudanese government to halt what it describes as “relentless harassment, intimidation and censorship of journalists” in the country.

      In a report documenting the arrests of at least 15 journalists by state security forces between January and October, the rights group says the media in Sudan are frequently targeted by the National Intelligence and Security Agency for their reporting, especially for publishing articles criticizing government policies.

      Sudan has been ranked 174 out of 180 countries in 2017 world press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog.

    • Why Women Are Calling Out Instagram for Censoring Photos of Plus-Size Bodies

      Back in 2014, YouTuber Meghan Tonjes posted a photo of her clothed size-16 bum and Instagram removed it, citing community guidelines regarding nudity. “There has been a long history of Instagram deleting photos of fat bodies that don’t actually violate any guidelines,” Sarah says.

    • After Neocon Think Tank, Facebook Partnered, Reporters Started Getting Censored

      The latest round of censorship on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook has been a coordinated effort spanning a diverse set of players, from NATO and neoconservative think tanks to the Chinese Communist Party, says Elizabeth Voz, editor of Disobedient Media.

      In March, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was cut off from the internet in what has amounted to the silencing of the world-famous publisher of secret diplomatic, military and political documents. Assange’s removal from the digital public square “was the first domino to fall in a series of increasingly draconian censorship measures” that have surpassed Voz’s worst expectations, she wrote in an op-ed for Disobedient Media published in late October.

    • Lebanese Censorship Bans Two Movies in ‘Maskoon’ Festival

      The third edition of “Maskoon”, the first festival in the Arab region, specializing in horror, fantasy, thriller, action and science fiction movies, was launched on Wednesday at the Metropolis Cinema, Ashrafieh. The opening saw the display of “The Guilty” movie – its original title: Den Skyldige – by the Danish Gustav Mueller; the movie won the Audience Award at the Sundance and Rotterdam Film Festivals.

      Maskoon’s organizers announced during the opening that the censorship authorities banned two films from being showed at the festival: one short Lebanese film enlisted in the festival competition, and the second is a French film that won one of Cannes Festival awards.

      Myriam Sassine, the festival’s director, said in a speech that censorship had decided to ban two films for vague and unclear reasons: The Climax, winner of the Directors’ Week Award at the Cannes Film Festival this year, directed by the French-Argentine director Gaspard Noé, and a short Lebanese film entitled “Nocturnal Deconstruction” by Laura El Alam.

    • Facebook Apologizes for Censorship of Pro-Life Ad
    • Facebook Apologizes After Banning Pro-Life Group’s Ads for the 6th Time, Claims It’s a “Mistake”
    • Divided Politics in an Age of Increasing Censorship

      On this episode of Fault Lines, hosts Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan discuss the danger of censorship in the modern political age. US Air Force Veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage recently had his pages removed by Facebook, and he will detail his story and fight for free speech with social media companies on today’s show.

    • Censorship, satire, and making your voice heard: Nigerian satirist Adeola Fayehun

      The presenter of Keeping It Real with Adeola, which is watched by millions for its sharp observations on geopolitical, social and economic issues in both Nigeria and around the world, joins Myf Warhurst to discuss the highs and lows of the having a prominent public voice as a woman, and why she hopes her opponents are listening.

    • Decentralised, censorship-proof, blockchain-friendly: could ISCC be the new ISBN for books?

      The media industries are still relying on identifiers that were designed for physical products such as printed books, magazines or CD’s. Traditional content identifiers (like ISBN or ISRC) are often expensive and managed by centralized institutions, and they fall short of the requirements for digital trade. Freely accessible standard identifiers, which are specifically designed to manage digital content, are a fundamental prerequisite for efficient transactions in a decentralized and increasingly heterogeneous media environment. The ISCC (International Standard Content Code) is the first open, generic identifier designed for digital media content. It can be used to register content on the blockchain and also in off-chain environments.

    • Cuban Artists Fear Censorship with New Law

      Artists and rights activists are pushing the Cuban government to change a law that they fear will hurt creativity and increase censorship.

      The law is to take effect next month. It bars artists and musicians from “providing their services” in any place open to the public, including privately owned spaces, without first getting government approval.

      The Cuban government in 2010 adopted a reform measure to require government approval only for state-run places. Since then, artists and musicians have presented their work in private as part of a wider push for economic, social, and political reforms in Cuba.

      Artists and musicians have been able to produce more work and expand their offerings, with increased internet access and greater freedom to travel. But that has also made it harder for the government to collect taxes and oversee their works.

      The new law worries some independent artists, who fear they will not be able to get state approval. That could cost them their livelihood.

    • Cuban artists urge revision of decree feared to hike censorship

      Since then, the government had tolerated artists independently presenting their work in private venues, as part of a broader Cuban economic, social and political opening.

      Cuban artists’ greater autonomy, thanks also to increased access to the internet and freedom to travel, led to a blossoming of cultural activity. Independent recording studios and art galleries have burgeoned.

    • Cuban artists demand government to revise legislation increasing censorship

      Cuban artists and international rights activists are pushing the government to revise legislation due to take effect in December that they fear will hamper creativity and increase censorship on the Communist-run island.

      The decree, published in July, bars artists, be they musicians or painters, from “providing their services” in any space open to the public, including private venues, without prior government approval.

      It updates a decree redacted before the market reforms launched in 2010 by former President Raul Castro, which required them only to get approval to operate in state-run spaces.

    • Cuban artists urge revision of decree feared to hike censorship

      Cuban artists and international rights activists are pushing the government to revise legislation due to take effect in December that they fear will hamper creativity and increase censorship on the Communist-run island.

      The decree, published in July, bars artists, be they musicians or painters, from “providing their services” in any space open to the public, including private venues, without prior government approval.

      It updates a decree redacted before the market reforms launched in 2010 by former President Raul Castro, which required them only to get approval to operate in state-run spaces.

    • Is it better to debate Steve Bannon or to ignore him?

      Backlash is mounting over a planned debate in Toronto this week featuring Steve Bannon, the controversial strategist that helped U.S. President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

      Calls to cancel the Friday debate are being met with outrage over what a cancellation might mean for free speech.

    • Editorial: Should alt-right guru Steve Bannon be permitted to speak in Toronto?

      By nearly all accounts, except those of his loyal fans, Steve Bannon is a nasty piece of work.

      He said the “women’s liberation movement” would backfire and only “pro-family” women would hold office.In 1996 he faced domestic abuse charges. His wife said in court documents he didn’t want their daughters to go to a certain school because there were too many Jewish students. He led the alt-right news site Breitbart News, known for publishing headlines like “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.” Under his leadership Breitbart compared Planned Parenthood to the Holocaust.

      It also featured “violent, sexist, extremist and radical political content,” according to one corporation that joined over 2,000 other organizations and companies who pulled their advertising last year. He describes refugees to Western nations as a “civilizational jihad personified by this migrant crisis.”

    • Munk Debates: Cancelling Steve Bannon isn’t censorship

      A coalition of anti-racist community groups, as well as some Canadian politicians, are calling on organizers of the Munk Debates to rescind an invitation to Steve Bannon and cancel his debate this Friday with David Frum. It’s a justifiable request and one I fully support. In the wake of recent racially and religiously motivated shootings in the United States and Canada, it is absurd and unconscionable to provide a coveted speaking platform to a hate monger.

      Organizers of the Munk Debates, under some misguided notion of promoting free speech and encouraging uncomfortable or polarizing conversations, felt it necessary to invite Bannon to “debate” “the rise of populism” at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall. The Munk Debates are self-described as a neutral public forum to discuss “challenging issues and ideas.” I can’t help but wonder what exactly is challenging, enlightening or edifying about ideas like racism, bigotry, and white supremacy? What haven’t we figured out about these belief systems so far that we need Bannon to clarify for us?

    • A ban on hate speech is not the answer

      The wave of deeply disturbing hate crimes in recent days – the killing of two African-Americans, allegedly by a white supremacist in Kentucky, the mail bombs sent to numerous former and current officials, the massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh – has led to new calls to ban hate speech.

      Although the government may impose greater punishments on crimes motivated by hate, the law is clear that the expression of hate is protected by the First Amendment. The government cannot punish speech even if it is deeply offensive – and there is no reason to believe that censoring hate speech will make hate crimes less likely.

    • Online hate is spreading, and Internet platforms can’t stop it

      The suspected shooter who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue left a trail of virulent anti-Semitism on a social network frequented by right-wing extremists. The man who allegedly mailed bombs to Barack Obama and other prominent figures had been reported for making threats on Twitter.

      When online hate spills over into real-life violence, it highlights what is arguably the greatest technological challenge facing the Internet: Media companies have not figured out what to do about the threats and abuse that pollute their platforms.

      Despite the promise of artificial intelligence, algorithms have so far proved no match for the nuance of human language; monitoring posts requires not just finding specific words, but understanding meaning, intent, and context.

    • Hate speech is still easy to find on social media

      Shortly after the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, I noticed that the word “Jews” was trending on Twitter. As a social media researcher and educator, I became concerned that the violence would spread online, as it has in the past.

      The alleged synagogue shooter’s activity on the Gab social media site has drawn attention to that site’s role as a hate-filled alternative to more mainstream options like Facebook and Twitter. Those are among the social media platforms that have promised to fight hate speech and online abuseon their sites.

    • College students support the First Amendment, but not in practice: Survey

      A majority of college students support the First Amendment in theory, but not in practice, a new survey shows.
      Yale’s 2018 Buckley Program Survey showed 79 percent of undergraduates still say that freedom of speech is important to society. Nearly 60 percent also acknowledged that hate speech is protected under the First Amendment.

    • Internet freedom declines as China exports online censorship

      The organisation was established in 1941 to research and advocate for political freedom and human rights. It publishes three annual reports: ‘Freedom in the World’, which monitors political freedom; ‘Freedom of the Press’, which looks at censorship and intimidation of journalists; and ‘Freedom of the Net’, which looks at the state of Internet freedom. The ‘Freedom of the Net’ report considers a diverse range of countries and accounts for factors such as filtering, manipulation and blocking of websites, diversity of online news, infrastructural and economic barriers to access, government and business control over internet access, and violation of internet user rights.

    • China censorship: World internet freedom declines for 8th year in a row
    • China Exports Censorship Techniques

      The human rights group Freedom House reports that countries are embracing China’s model of digital authoritarianism.

    • China’s Internet Censorship Is Influencing Digital Repression Around the World, Report Warns
    • The ideological war playing out on China’s internet

      As China’s leaders gather in Beijing this week for the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), an ideological war is under way on the country’s internet.

      Some experts predict President Xi Jinping will use the meeting to establish a level of control and influence over the Party not seen since Mao Zedong, the strongman founder of the People’s Republic.
      While the internet has always been a key battleground for the Party, the past 12 months have seen a marked increase in censorship, with new laws and regulations targeting online expression even in areas or on certain topics where dissent was once tolerated or passed undetected.

    • Global Internet Freedom Plummets as Governments Use Censorship and Surveillance to Quash Dissent
    • China is exporting the Great Firewall as internet freedom declines around the world
    • Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise of Digital Authoritarianism | Freedom House
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Internet Censorship Continues as Facebook Bans CRTV Host Gavin McInnes

      The social-media ideological purge continues. Facebook has now banned Gavin McInnes, the host of CRTV’s Get off my Lawn and the founder of the Proud Boys organization, which is known for confronting vicious Antifa agitators during their usually violent, anarchist protests. The social network has also begun banning individuals with ties to McInnes or Proud Boys.

      Instagram joined Facebook, also banning McInnes and Proud Boys content. Twitter had already banned McInnes earlier this year.

      The purge is ongoing, as the main pages of McInnes and Proud Boys have been removed but several associated pages remain functional for the time being.

    • Ex-CIA contractor seeks probation for retaining secret info
    • CIA contractor gets 3-month prison sentence for taking home classified information
    • Ex-CIA Contractor Gets 90 Days for Retaining Secret Info

      A former CIA contractor was sentenced Friday to 90 days in jail for unauthorized retention of classified materials at a hearing that shed little light on his motives.

      Reynaldo Regis, 54, of Fort Washington, Maryland, had been seeking probation at his sentencing hearing in federal court in Alexandria. His lawyers pointed to probation sentences received by retired Gen. David Petraeus and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger in their high-profile document retention cases.

    • Grassley Wins Declassification of CIA Documents on Monitoring Whistleblowers

      After a four-and-a-half year wait, one of the Senate’s key whistleblower advocates succeeded in arranging the declassification of documents he says show that the CIA inappropriately monitored congressional staff correspondence with whistleblowers.

      Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Thursday released a pair of “congressional notifications” from 2014 just delivered to him by newly installed inspector general for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson.

    • Ex Director’s ‘Nixonian Obsession With Leaks’ Drove Obama CIA to Spy on Congress

      The Central Intelligence Agency surveilled and analyzed the emails of Congressional staffers during the Obama administration, according to recently declassified Congressional notifications detailing the snooping.

      The CIA was collecting information specifically related to CIA whistleblowers and dumping it into a report that was sent to Congress. This week, that report was declassified.

    • Obama-era CIA peeked at congressional staff emails
    • Obama CIA Read Congressional Staffers’ Emails about Protecting Whistleblowers
    • Obama’s CIA Read Congressional Emails About Intel Community Whistleblowers
    • Pentagon official: Cyber Command and NSA may split infrastructure

      A Department of Defense official said Nov. 1 that U.S. Cyber Command needs to have its own infrastructure and not lean as heavily on the National Security Agency for some cyber tools, a transition that may foreshadow an eventual split between the two dual-hatted agencies.

      Cyber Command has operated on the NSA’s networks since its conception in 2009, but is in the process of building systems “by which we can do our own operations and not rely as heavily on the NSA infrastructure,” said Capt. Ed Devinney, director of corporate partnerships and technology outreach at Cyber Command.

      “Building our own infrastructure is probably the biggest thing that will impact both organizations,” Devinney said at the CyberCon conference hosted by Fifth Domain Nov. 1.

    • In a court filing, Edward Snowden says a report critical to an NSA lawsuit is authentic

      An unexpected declaration by whistleblower Edward Snowden filed in court this week adds a new twist in a long-running lawsuit against the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

      The case, filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation a decade ago, seeks to challenge the government’s alleged illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of Americans, who are largely covered under the Fourth Amendment’s protections against warrantless searches and seizures.

      It’s a big step forward for the case, which had stalled largely because the government refused to confirm that a leaked document was authentic or accurate.

    • Beware the IoT spy in your office or home via smart furniture, warns NSA

      On this last day of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which is also Halloween, let’s look at something “scary” – if you value privacy and security – as was pointed out recently by the NSA.

      Years ago, it became a challenge to find a decent new TV which wasn’t “smart,” but now the NSA has warned that the same may become true for office furniture!

      Why is the NSA talking about IoT office furniture? Because the agency has to buy desks and chairs the same as any other business. If that furniture is “smart”? Well then, that’s one more potential entry point into a network or an avenue for threat actors to gather sensitive information.

    • Starting November 1st, Chinese police can go to any Chinese ISP to copy your data
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • “Your Pet Will Be Confiscated!”: A Shocking Glimpse Inside China’s New Social Credit System

      The system is currently far from being universally in place; however, the country’s communist government has plans to rank every citizen — all 1.4 billion of them — by 2020.

      But various bizarre and rigid policies are already being felt and reported in different parts of China – from the state confiscating pets to dire recorded audio warnings threatening reprisal should commuters on a bullet train not bide by the rules.

    • Hyderabad: Imam arrested for beating priest

      A 68-year-old priest of a Sai Baba temple near Pochamma Maidan junction in Warangal was beaten up by the imam of LB Nagar Masjid Syed Natiq Hussaini after the two argued over the use of the temple loudspeaker.

    • Asia Bibi’s life is in the hands of the Pakistan Supreme Court

      This changed under the military rule of General Zia Ul Haq when in 1982 and 1986 two further sections were added to protect the sensibilities of Muslims.

    • Barelvi Clerics Threaten Siege Of Pakistan If Christian Blasphemy Convict Not Hanged

      In the methodology of Islam, Friday prayers have emerged as a tool of mass mobilization. Most Muslims attend Friday prayers in a mosque. It is then easy for Islamic clerics of all persuasions to organize mass protests after the prayer. On October 12, a Friday, rallies and mass protests were organized by the TLY, led by Maulvi Khadim Hussain Rizvi. According to a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Ummat, rallies were held in 105 towns in all four provinces of Pakistan and in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.[5] The Urdu daily Roznama Jang put the number of towns where protests were held at more than 200.[6]

    • Council of Europe asks Erdoğan to stop promoting political Islam in Europe

      The resolution states that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) urges member states to “put an end to any foreign funding of Islam which is used for the purpose of national political expansion into other States under the guise of Islam.” Considering the accompanying report extensively quoted Turkey and Erdoğan’s long-arm Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), which has been funding imams and mosques in Europe, the message is clearly directed at Turkey. Among the 47 member states, only Turkey has been engaged in extensive foreign funding of partisan imams in Turkish and Muslim diaspora groups across Europe, which at times amounted to gathering foreign intelligence on regime critics.

    • Family of man shot in his own apartment files lawsuit against Dallas, fired officer

      The lawsuit states that off-duty Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot Jean though there was “no immediate threat of harm,” and says that she used excessive force, which violated Jean’s constitutional and civil rights, Dallas News reported.

    • Botham Jean’s family sues city of Dallas, former cop Amber Guyger for killing him

      “By simply following proper police procedures and the best police practices and not the protocol of the DPD to ‘shoot first and ask questions later’, Defendant Guyger would have not shot Jean,” the lawsuit states. “Essentially, Officer Guyger was ill-trained, and as a result, defaulted to the defective DPD policy: to use deadly force even when there exist no immediate threat of harm to themselves or others.”

    • Federal judge delays wrongful death lawsuit against ex-Minneapolis officer Noor until after criminal proceedings

      Damond, whose legal last name was Ruszczyk, but who went by Justine Damond professionally, had called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her south Minneapolis home. Prosecutors say she was shot as she approached the SUV’s driver side window, with Noor firing past his partner, who was behind the wheel. Both officers have denied wrongdoing.

    • Justine Damond’s father: No one has apologized for daughter’s police shooting

      Speaking to KSTP-TV from Sydney, Australia, John Ruszczyk is critical of the two officers who responded to his daughter’s call about a possible sexual assault near her home last year for failing to have their body cameras on. Justine Ruszczyk Damond’s was killed by officer Mohamed Noor, who is charged with murder and manslaughter.

    • Ruszczyk’s Father Questions Why MPD Hired Noor

      He hopes the suit will force accountability and transparency that he says is needed in order to bring reforms to the department – from strict body camera policies to training and conduct.

    • ‘American Prison’ presents a highly disturbing insider’s view of a private prison

      And if CCA’s treatment of staff is appalling, their treatment of prisoners is horrifying. When Bauer was writing “American Prison,” the state of Louisiana paid CCA $34 per inmate per day: money to cover prisoners’ housing, food, clothing and medical care – all to be kept at a low enough cost that CCA makes a profit. During his second week of training Bauer met Robert Scott, an inmate missing both his legs and a few fingers. He had arrived at Winn with all his appendages, but prison infirmary staff ignored his complaints of pain and sore spots on his feet. In four months he made at least nine requests to see a doctor, and was threatened with a disciplinary write-up for malingering. When he was finally taken to a local hospital, amputation was the only option. Another Winn inmate who attempted suicide has been sued by CCA for reimbursement of the cost of his hospital visit.

    • Finnish justice ministry plans outright ban on underage marriages

      While 18 is the minimum age to get married in Finland, the justice ministry has granted a handful of exceptions for 17-year-olds, usually on religious grounds.

    • Twitter says it won’t suspend Louis Farrakhan over tweet comparing Jews to termites

      Twitter said Wednesday that it will not suspend Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan over a tweet comparing Jews to termites, the company confirmed to The Hill.

    • Sisterhood: Women in the East and West must both work together for equality

      Barbie, once a beacon of femininity and feminism, now dons a hijab so that she does not entice men who might rape her. Marks and Spencer, one of the UKs largest department stores, sells hijabs for three-year old girls. The free West, where these girls used to look to as beacons of light and hope, is supporting their oppressors and ultimately fighting against their progress.

    • Complacency about sharia is a threat to women’s rights

      Ignoring the existence of such a parallel system is negligent on the part of the UK authorities. We cannot even estimate how many times Muslim women have to go through religious courts that frequently endorse the sexual, physical, and mental exploitation of Muslim women. This mind-set provides impunity to some men in minority groups and allows them to ruin the lives of children and women.

      People living in the free world need to respect Muslim women’s tireless struggle for justice. Only one law based on secular values can safeguard women’s human rights, regardless of their faith, caste, creed or colour. It is time to end the complacency about discrimination against Muslim women within their own religious communities.

    • Can #MeToo succeed where child marriages are so rampant?

      Can MeToo succeed in a culture where children are married off for social or economic exigencies?

    • Second aid worker held by Boko Haram executed as negotiation deadline expires

      She was working in a hospital supported by ICRC in a displacement camp in the remote town of Rann outside Maiduguri in Borno State.

      Liman was the second aid worker murdered in as many months.

    • Australian authorities concerned over release of UK hate preacher Anjem Choudary

      The 51-year-old has served only half of a five-and-a-half-year sentence for encouraging support for the Islamic State group.

      He is thought to have inspired hundreds of British jihadis, and even youths in Australia, and is widely believed to remain dangerous.

    • Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary will ‘continue to incite divisions’ says former follower
    • Advocates Call For New US Federal Authority On Artificial Intelligence

      Public Knowledge, a Washington, DC advocacy group, today released a paper calling for the formation of a new federal government authority to develop expertise and capacity on artificial intelligence (AI), to be able to effectively regulate and govern these technologies in the future.

      The paper, The Inevitability of AI Law & Policy: Preparing Government for the Era of Autonomous Machines, was released on 31 October and written by Ryan Clough, general counsel at Public Knowledge.

      The paper “argues that the rapid and pervasive rise of artificial intelligence risks exploiting the most marginalized and vulnerable in our society.”

      In order to mitigate these harms, a new national authority on AI will be needed, it says, to “provide the rest of the government with the expertise and experience needed to achieve five goals crucial to building ethical AI systems:

    • Beyond the Border Kaleidoscope

      Humans — as long as we have walked, we have moved and explored. We spread to cover the whole world, and then mixed among each other. We continue to do that. Our movement expresses so many elements of our being: our curiosity, our vulnerability, our arrogance. We have generally been the main limit to our own movements in all that time. As humans, we have mobility in common. It is a core part of who we are. And yet it is perhaps precisely that mobility that has often made us afraid of others and controlling over them.

      At a demonstration during the COP21 protests in Paris a few years ago, somebody carried a banner that read “migration is a force of nature.” The message was striking. In its simplicity, it neatly expressed the inevitability of human mobility. But it also said something about the inevitability of human struggles to be free to move. Those struggles have always been there too — and they continue today, ultimately, because borders inhibiting our freedom of movement persist. Would those struggles even exist, after all, if there were no borders to cross?

    • CIA Factbook: Serbia is land of cheap labour, inefficient judiciary and prevailing corruption

      In its latest issue of the World Factbook, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) speaks of Serbia as the country of cheap labour, inefficient judiciary and prevailing corruption, but also the country of economic reforms with a good strategic position.

      The report also states free trade agreements with the EU, Russia, Turkey and the countries of the Central European Free Trade Agreement as favourable factors.

      As the main economic challenges, the CIA has highlighted stagnant household incomes, the need to create new jobs in the private sector, structural reforms of state-owned enterprises, and public sector reforms.

      Other challenges cited include an ineffective justice system, a high level of corruption and the ageing of the population. The CIA report also mentions that Serbia is a “transhipment point” for Southwest Asian heroin moving to Western Europe on the Balkan route, while the country’s economy is “vulnerable to money laundering.”

    • Man charged with threatening GBPD officer who killed Jonathon Tubby

      After a man was shot and killed by a Green Bay police officer, a man has been charged for threatening to kill that officer.
      It happened two weeks after officials arrested 26-year-old Jonathan C. Tubby, of Green Bay.

    • Green Bay rally calls for justice in wake of fatal shooting of Jonathon Tubby
    • Dozens gather for man killed in officer-involved shooting at Brown County Jail

      Family, friends and strangers came together Friday evening to remember Jonathon Tubby. Dozens were seen gathered on Green Bay’s City Deck for a candlelight vigil to remember the 26-year-old.

      Tubby died at the Brown County Jail last month after being arrested on a felony warrant. He was shot by police at the jail’s sally port, an area where vehicles pull into the jail.

    • Rally held in downtown Green Bay for Jonathon Tubby

      The Department of Justice, which is handling the investigation of what happened, has said Officer Erik O’Brien shot Tubby during a confrontation. It happened inside the sally port of the jail–which is a secure exchange area. Authorities say there are no video cameras inside the sally port.

      Holding battery-powered candles and standing in a semi-circle on the City Deck, more than a hundred people gathered, all hoping for answers on why Tubby was shot and killed.

    • #MeToo movement rumbles on in India

      More and more Indian women are coming forward to recall and record their traumatic experience of having been preyed upon by their male bosses. Because of the fresh complaints, the #MeToo movement still grabs a headline, though the TV studio discussions have stopped. The cases of man-woman interaction, consensual or non-consensual, may soon be superseded by the report of another surgical strike against the beef sellers or a march demanding the building of a Hindu temple.

      The women victims who broke their silence initially belonged to the worlds of print and visual media, films, advertising and public relations. Now even a respected corporate entity in the hotel industry faces the charge of ignoring a sexual harassment complaint by a woman employee who felt compelled to resign her job. Some more media men have figured as accused in the latest news stories. A professor has been forced to resign because of students complaining against his use of inappropriate language.

    • Interview With Joanildo Burity: A Report From Brazil On Bolsonaro’s Victory

      Joanildo Burity is a lead researcher at the Social Research Institute at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco. He is near the east coast of Brazil. His work involves research projects and post-graduate teaching in the areas of Brazilian and Latin American politics and religion and politics.

      During this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” episode, Burity provides his initial analysis of why the far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, won the election. He provides a brief rundown of what led up to the election, which includes mention of the police forces that were deployed to universities to investigate election materials that teacher unions were sharing.

      He talks about the issue of how Brazil’s democracy is young and faces a particular threat to its institutions, as well as the threats posed to the Amazon rain forest and other natural lands that Bolsonaro is intent to sell off to mining or logging corporations.

      Finally, Burity shares his views on whether or not Brazil could return to military dictatorship (whether the threat is real) and notes the role the American right, including Steve Bannon, played in Bolsonaro’s rise to power.

    • The art of dissonance: dissecting the language of Donald Trump

      “Every word has consequences, every silence too.” Jean Paul Satre’s famous epithet was a popular feature of news headlines when a wave of bombs were sent to high profile Liberals at the end of October 2018, including George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as to CNN’s offices in New York. Reports of a mass shooting in a Synagogue in Pittsburgh two days later seemed to confirm hate-fuelled violence as a defining characteristic of Donald Trump’s presidency, with dangerous linguistic abstractions reproducing themselves in reality.

      This conviction has been strengthened over the past two years as Trump’s tweets and calls-to-action have become increasingly incendiary. When the president describes right wing extremists as “very fine people,” encourages supporters to “knock the crap” out of protestors and endorses attacks on the press by his party’s congressional representatives it seems reasonable to draw a correlation between political rhetoric and the mainstreaming of violent extremism.

    • Eight Lessons from History to Help Make Sense of Today’s Madness

      McCarthyism took place during the Korean War when Democrat Harry Truman was president. Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s fellow Republicans were happy to go along with his outrageous, made-up stories about subversives in the State Department or wherever to try to capture the power that they lost during the major political realignment of the New Deal in the 1930s—particularly the right-wing, isolationist Republicans led by Robert Taft who wanted to dismantle Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act and Keynesian management of the economy. The moderate Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower who generally accepted the New Deal and were relatively liberal on race may have won the presidency in 1954 within this cauldron, but they lost the party in the long run, as we have seen.


      Movements do not always reveal all the roots of their positions when they are fighting their opponents, not the alt-Right nor the anti-communist movement I studied in the 1950s. That means we have to do our research. The women I studied did not foreground their anti-Semitic, right-wing Christian worldview until the conspiratorial bullying of Senator McCarthy lost some of its potency and their more secular-minded allies ran for cover. Many of those who claimed President Obama was an imposter, a secret Muslim born abroad, were racist right-wing Christians who saw him as the anti-Christ. The Tea Party’s overlay with the Christian Right was often overlooked by secular reporters covering the movement who were tone-deaf to its underpinnings.

    • We must reject ‘self-identification’

      What processes and procedures should someone wanting to change gender have to follow? This is the focus of the government’s consultation on reform to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). None of the 22 questions asks if people can or should be able to change gender. Nowhere does it ask about biology or morality; there’s no mention of hospitals or hormones. The processes and procedures up for discussion are the legal hoops people should have to jump through in order to have their new gender officially recognised – by police and health professionals, on passports and driving licenses, by universities or sports clubs.

    • Trump’s Judges Imperil Our Rights for Decades

      In less than two years as president, Donald Trump has already put two radical right-wing justices on the Supreme Court, cementing a conservative majority on the Court for decades. He has also placed 29 right-wing judges on the federal circuit courts of appeals with more in the works by the end of the year. These judicial appointments threaten to endanger our rights for years to come.

      We are painfully aware of how Trump and his GOP congressional leadership stole a Supreme Court appointment from Barack Obama and installed Neil Gorsuch, who has delivered conservative decisions as expected. And millions of us watched horrified as Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, laid bare his right-wing bona fides as he lied under oath about a number of things and rallied conservatives in defense of rape culture.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Morris & Associates, Inc. v. John Bean Technologie…

      In Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1962 (2014), and SCA Hygiene Prods. Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Prods., LLC, 137 S.Ct. 954 (2017), this Court held that laches is unavailable to bar actions for copyright and patent infringement brought within the respective statutes of limitation. In these cases, however, this Court noted that in contrast to laches, equitable estoppel remains a viable equitable remedy “long recognized as available in actions at law” against “unscrupulous patentees” where there is “misleading and consequent loss.”

      For over a century, this Court and the Federal Circuit have held that a finding of equitable estoppel gives an accused infringer an implied license to a patented invention for the life of the patent, thereby constituting a waiver of the right to sue by the patentee. Yet for the first time, the Federal Circuit panel held that an implied license arising by equitable estoppel does not extend to the entire patented invention, but is instead restricted on a claim-by-claim basis to exclude claims added or substantially amended through ex parte reexamination, resulting in the implied license applying to select individual claims of a patent but not all.

    • Alexander Milburn Co. v. Davis Bournonville Co., 270 U.S. 390 (1926)

      The question is not whether Clifford showed himself by the description to be the first inventor. By putting it in that form, it is comparatively easy to take the next step and say that he is not an inventor in the sense of the statute unless he makes a claim. The question is whether Clifford’s disclosure made it impossible for Whitford to claim the invention at a later date. The disclosure would have had the same effect as at present if Clifford had added to his description a statement that he did not claim the thing described because he abandoned it or because he believed it to be old. It is not necessary to show who did invent the thing in order to show that Whitford did not.

      It is said that, without a claim, the thing described is not reduced to practice. But this seems to us to rest on a false theory helped out by the fiction that, by a claim, it is reduced to practice. A new application and a claim may be based on the original description within two years, and the original priority established notwithstanding intervening claims. Chapman v. Wintroath, 252 U. S. 126, 252 U. S. 137. A description that would bar a patent if printed in a periodical or in an issued patent is equally effective in an application so far as reduction to practice goes.

    • When an Examiner Can Use a Dictionary: Guidance from In Re Smith International

      In In Re Smith International, the Federal Circuit stated that the broadest reasonable interpretation of a claim term must be consistent with the specification, as discussed in a previous post. So does that have any effect on the Examiner’s ability to use extrinsic evidence, such as a dictionary definition, to interpret a claim term? The two ex parte PTAB appeals discussed below cite In Re Smith Internationaland provide some guidance.

      In Ex parte Boeke, Appeal 2016-002873 (decided May 2018), the claim included “at least one discharge slot having a first portion that includes an oval geometry.” The specification distinguished “oval” from “racetrack shape” with reference to Figures 4 and 5, reproduced below. Specifically, the specification defined “oval” as having “no straight portions, see Fig. 5,” and defined “racetrack shape” as “ “includes two flat sides 90, 92, see discharges slots 80B of FIGS. 3 and 4.”

    • IQ-AI’s David Smith updates on patents and StoneChecker FDA process

      David Smith, chief executive of IQ-AI Limited’s (LON:IQAI) operating subsidiaries, spoke to Proactive London’s Andrew Scott about the recent filing of a patent for gadolinium-free magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

      Over the past decade, research has shown the potential toxicity of gadolinium-based products and how they are retained in the body for several years.

    • German Engineer patents quad notch display with the USPTO

      It appears from the documentation that the new patent focuses on multiple notches at all corners rather than a single notch on the top side. It will give manufacturers an ability to extend functionality either by adding up quad cameras or introducing 3D display using those cameras. Alternatively, documents also mention a dual notch display device with more thinner bezels. The sensors can be organised in different ways, either by placing dual cameras on both the corners or by placing single cameras on all four corners. Although, the display has rounded corners around dual or quad notches.

    • New patent shows new ways to move display notches to the corners
    • BlackBerry’s Signs Of Progress: Enterprise Software And Services

      Software and Services has long had three components – Enterprise SW, Technology Solutions, and IP licensing – although all three have evolved substantially over the years, and especially since the beginning of FY/17. IP Licensing for example has evolved from a low-revenue, walled-off foundation of protective patents for the smartphone business into a multi-branched division generating $200m per year. The technology solutions division took a quantum leap forward with the acquisition of QNX in 2010, and QNX presently dominates revenue in BTS.


      Under John Chen, the Berry has struck back. Yes, VMware has continued to outperform, but BB managed to swallow Good alive, and MobileIron is fighting its own desperate fight right now to stay alive. The mere fact that BB is keeping its percentage of market share along with VMware and Microsoft is remarkable in its own right, especially when so many of the other EMM providers are not keeping pace.

    • Qualcomm claims Apple (AAPL) owes it $7 billion in royalty payment

      Apple is locked in a battle with Qualcomm over patent infringement allegations and royalty demands. Qualcomm claimed Apple owes it $7 billion in a federal court hearing in San Diego on Friday.

    • Qualcomm lawyer says Apple is $7 billion behind in patent fee payments
    • Apple owes $7 billion in royalty payments, Qualcomm claims

      Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple claimed that Qualcomm charges a fee for each iPhone manufactured, a range of devices which utilizes Qualcomm patents.

      While this isn’t necessarily a problem, Apple says that Qualcomm is doubling its profit by also charging a fee for the technology itself.

      Apple claims that such a system is “double-dipping,” leading to the tech giant withholding royalty payments until the matter was resolved.

    • How and when the ITC analyzes its statutory public interest factors: three-page diagram

      The roughly 100 pages on which meanwhile-retired Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Thomas B. Pender discussed the statutory public interest factors in the investigation of Qualcomm’s first ITC complaint against Apple warrant further commentary. There are antitrust cases pending against Qualcomm around the globe, and Apple raised an affirmative antitrust defense against Qualcomm’s German patent assertions, but ALJ Pender’s public-interest analysis is the first detailed judicial holding–based on extensive briefing and a multi-day hearing.

      That’s why I will soon dedicate a blog post to the subject of inhowfar ALJ Pender’s public-interest analysis overlaps with key antitrust questions at issue in various other proceedings. But before we get there, I wanted to provide some procedural background.

      It’s important to understand that the United States International Trade Commission, a trade agency with quasi-judicial powers, clearly delineates the question of a “violation” (typically, the infringement of a patent not shown to be invalid; I sometimes refer to this as the “merits” part) from “remedies and bonding” (which I’ll briefly refer to as “remedies”). This is one major difference from the public interest eBay factor, which is considered together with the other three factors.

      The ALJ in charge of an investigation finishes his job by issuing an Initial Determination (ID) on the alleged violation and a Recommended Determination (RD) on the remedy sought. The Commission (the six-member decision-making body at the top of the organization) makes the final (apart from appeals or a Presidential veto) decision on both, but there is a technical difference: the ID becomes the final decision if the Commission declines to review it (which parteis can request); the RD is just a recommendation, and the Commission makes the first actual decision on remedies, which is why parties cannot seek a review of the RD (though they can, of course, voice any disagreement).

    • Trademarks

      • Conflating Design Patent & Trademark Onfringement – Can you just not?

        A design patent is infringed when the defendant’s goods are too visually similar to the claimed design. (Yes, this is true even under Gorham v. White, as I explained at p. 177 here.) A trademark is infringed when consumers are likely to be confused as to the source, sponsorship, or origin of goods or services. Thus, factors like labeling, marketing, etc. are (at least in theory) relevant to the question of product-design trade dress infringement. But they’re not relevant to the question of design patent infringement.

        It’s true, as the majority points out, that visual similarity is one element of the various likelihood-of-confusion tests. To the extent that these judges are suggesting that they’d like to import the (very high) degree of visual similarity required for a finding of design patent infringement into the trade dress infringement test, that would be a wise and welcome addition to the law. But I’m not sure that’s what they’re trying to say.

      • Converse: Secondary Meaning and Infringement Redefined for Trade Dress

        The ITC found that the mid-sole portion of these Converse All Star shoes was not a protected trademark — invalidating the Chuck Taylor trade dress registration (Reg. No. 4,398,753) and rejecting the existence of common-law rights. Although it found no trademark rights — the ITC did explain that the accused shoes would be infringing if the mark was valid. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated and remanded.

        Distinctiveness is a threshold requirement for trademark rights. In Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Samara Bros., Inc., 529 U.S. 205 (2000), the Supreme Court held that a product design (such as a shoe portion) is never inherently distinctive, but that distinctiveness may be acquired and proven with “a showing of secondary meaning” — i.e., that the relevant consumers associate the particular product features with a particular source of goods. Thus, a trade dress rights are established over time as consumers become more familiar with the product design.

      • USPTO to Propose Rule Requiring Foreign Trademark Applicants to Use U.S. Licensed Attorneys to File Documents
      • 3-second cinematic sequence sufficiently distinctive to be a trade mark, says EUIPO Fifth Board of Appeal

        Nusret Gökçe, nicknamed Salt Bae (the applicant), is a Turkish chef who owns ‘Nusr-Et’, a chain of steak houses. His art of cooking and preparing meat has become somewhat of an internet sensation [see here and here for some salty videos]. Salt Bae became widely known in 2017 for the way he ‘elegantly’ cuts meat and sprinkles salt. In particular, his fame comes from a viral video, ‘Ottoman Steak’, posted in January 2017 on his Twitter account. It has been viewed 10 million times on Instagram. After that Gökçe was dubbed ‘Salt Bae’ because of his iconic way of sprinkling salt by letting salt fall down on his forearm then spread on the meat.

    • Copyrights

      • Australia’s 2015 copyright censorship system has failed, so they’re adding (lots) more censorship

        In 2015, Australia created the most aggressive copyright censorship system in the world, which allowed the country’s two major movie studios (Village Roadshow and Fox) along with an assortment of smaller companies and trolls to get court orders forcing the country’s ISPs to censor sites that had the “primary purpose” of infringing copyright.

        When the legislation was passed, opponents said that it would not curb copyright infringement. After all, the only thing that had ever significantly reduced copyright infringement in Australia had been to bring Australian prices into line with those paid in the rest of the English-speaking world (instead of gouging, as had been customary), and bringing Australian release-dates into sync with other English-speaking countries (instead of imposing long delays, as had been customary). The data had showed that the vast majority of Australians were willing to pay for their media — they just objected to getting ripped off by paying high prices for media that arrived months after all their internet friends had seen it.

      • Musically Inclined: The Music Modernization Act of 2018

        The Music Modernization Act also makes several significant changes to how the people who create music — songwriters, vocalists, and instrumentalists — are compensated, and for the first time in US copyright law, the work of producers and engineers is specifically recognized. SoundExchange®, which manages the payment of digital streaming royalties for post-1972 works, is tasked with payments to all stakeholders for the now-covered pre-1972 works. This is a much needed revenue stream for producers and engineers whose sound recordings were used for many years on a royalty-free basis. In a stark change from prior practice, royalty rates will be negotiated using the fair market value concept of the “willing buyer, willing seller;” the goal is to increase compensation to the music creators when digital platforms (who had earned millions from streaming) use their music.

        This fair market value approach will also be utilized in setting royalty rates for works in the databases of performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI, and instead of one Southern District of New York judge assigned to all of these cases, the assignment will be random.

      • Eleventh Circuit Finds No Valid Copyright in Official Code of Georgia Annotated

        On Friday, October 19th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision in Code Revision Commission v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., which reversed-in-part, vacated-in-part and remanded a lower court’s ruling in a copyright infringement case involving an annotated version of Georgia’s official state code. Applying U.S. Supreme Court case law from the 19th Century, the last time the nation’s highest court decided issues relevant to this case, the Eleventh Circuit found that no valid copyright interest can be asserted in any part of the annotated state code.

        In July 2015, the Code Revision Commission, a body established by the Georgia General Assembly in 1977 to recodify Georgia’s state laws, filed suit in the Northern District of Georgia seeking injunctive relief to prevent Public.Resource.Org (PRO), a non-profit working to improve public access to government materials, from publishing all 186 volumes of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) online for free public access. PRO responded to the lawsuit by arguing that the state of Georgia didn’t hold an enforceable copyright to the OCGA. Although a LexisNexis Group subsidiary publishes the OCGA and is responsible for its ongoing maintenance, the publication agreement between LexisNexis and Georgia retains the copyright to the annotations in Georgia’s name. The Northern Georgia court entered a permanent injunction against PRO, finding that the annotations are not in the public domain because they lack the force of law.

      • Using ‘Googled’ Images Can Result in License Demands and Legal Threats

        The Internet is littered with millions of images that are easy to find through a variety of search engines, including Google. These files are regularly downloaded and used by people without permission. To address this, Pixsy is offering photographers a service to “fight and find image theft,” which includes license demands and legal threats. A brilliant scheme according to some, while others brand it a ‘scam’.

      • ISP Shows How to Unblock The Pirate Bay (and Other Sites)

        Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof issued a rather unusual press release on Thursday. Instead of regular company updates, it explained in detail how sites such as The Pirate Bay can be unblocked. While Bahnhof doesn’t block the site itself, the guide does come in handy for its customers.


        The company has been a fierce opponent of copyright trolling, invasive data retention laws, and website blocking. At Bahnhof, user-privacy and unrestricted access to the Internet take priority.

      • Google Faces Fines For Site-Blocking Regulation Non-Compliance

        Search engines operating in Russia are obliged to connect to a centralized database to ensure that permanently blocked sites do not appear in search results. According to local telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, Google has failed to connect with the blacklist as required, so must now face fines for non-compliance.

Software Patents Proponents Abound: IAM, IBM, Kappos, OIN and Microsoft

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 2:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A roundup of lobbying for software patents and against Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs); the big players are still eager to strangle the whole domain with thousands of lawsuits, armies of lawyers, and tens of thousands of US patents of questionable quality/validity (enough to keep their rivals hobbling and fearing)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) continues granting some software patents. And sure, not many or any of them have much of a chance in courts. Especially not high courts like SCOTUS or even the Federal Circuit. Just look at their track record.

“Over the past week there have also been reports about another Microsoft-funded patent troll suing almost all of Microsoft’s rivals in this space (security).”The patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, is trying hard to change that. Patent aggressors pay IAM for the effort and days ago they promoted software patents in an event called Software IP. Guess who opened the event: IBM, the new (soon to be confirmed) owner of Red Hat. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s actually not surprising as it’s consistent with IBM’s stance on the matter.

“Brian Kuhn from @IBM delivers this year’s keynote address,” IAM declared. At around the same time David Kappos, who had worked for IBM before he became the Director of the USPTO (he’s now more like a lobbyist of IBM), got boosted by the front group misleadingly named “Innovation Alliance” (hint: it is not about innovation but litigation, it should be named accordingly but “Litigation Alliance” sounds bad). Kappos is a paid lobbyist for software patents — he is paid by patent powerhouses including IBM and Microsoft — both companies being feeders of patents trolls. Their tweet said: “Fmr. @USPTO Dir. Kappos and Judge Michel: Congress needs to pass legislation that redefines #patent eligibility standards to overrule recent #SupremeCourt decisions #PatentsMatter @MorningConsult https://morningconsult.com/opinions/supreme-court-patent-decisions-stifling-health-care-innovation/ …”

It’s basically that same old rant of theirs about SCOTUS. The “Innovation Alliance” then went on to bashing PTAB, which is consistent with the above agenda of lowering the patent bar. This anti-PTAB alliance, boosted by radicals who created anti-PTAB groups, is doing anything it can think of to slow down or obliterate PTAB. As we recently noted, however, based on the numbers, PTAB remains strong and “PTAB petition filing in the third quarter of this year was the highest since the second quarter of 2017,” according to Michael Loney’s latest tally.

Going back to IAM and its IBM-led (keynote) event, here they are writing about Northrop (to be mentioned later in the week in the misleading article from IAM, promoting abstract/bunk patents) [1, 2, 3, 4]: “Northrop – clearly given the amount of money we have in place we’re bullish on patents and software patents although still dealing with some unpredictability in the system [..] diligence process is definitely more robust when there are a lot of software patents in a portfolio [...] having diversity in your portfolio (such as in terms of geography) allows you to blunt some of the impact of Alice [...] I think the negative impact of Alice can be overplayed a bit. It got rid of some really bad patents and is cleaning up the system a little bit…”

A lot if not all software patents are not desirable to the software domain. At all. It isn’t as though there were programmers in that crowd though. It was an echo chamber of lawyers/attorneys. Someone called Pierantozzi is quoted/paraphrased as saying “there’s more confidence, less uncertainty [in software patents] especially in portfolios that are tied to technology…”

Keith Bergelt, a former US diplomat who worked in patent ‘monetisation’, was there too and he’s paraphrased as saying “having Microsoft as a licensee [in OIN] is symbolically important and it’s important for the entire community…”

If only they stopped feeding patent trolls — something OIN can do virtually nothing about. It’s worth reminding ourselves that Bergelt succeeds a person from IBM, who was the first head of OIN. In fact, OIN still is a very IBM-centric group.

A few days ago an article was published with the headline “Microsoft Wants to Make Peace with the Open Source Community” (then stop feeding patent trolls and financing firms that smear FOSS).

One Microsoft-connected patents troll that repeatedly attacked GNU/Linux firms (including Red Hat quite a few times) is still busy suing, based on this new report:

Cook Medical has won a successful dismissal of a patent infringement claim brought by Endotach, a subsidiary of Acacia Research Group.

Endotach’s appeal was dismissed by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which affirmed the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana’s summary judgement that Endotech’s US patent (5,122,154) was invalid under section 102 of the US Patent Act.

Cook was originally sued by Endotach in 2012 at which point the patent had already expired.


The Supreme Court held that the equitable defence of laches no longer applied to cases where the alleged infringement occurred during the statutory period.

Over the past week there have also been reports about another Microsoft-funded patent troll suing almost all of Microsoft’s rivals in this space (security). As we noted before, there’s this press release and shallow press coverage. Exactly one month ago they got a patent back in play and they’re still as aggressive as ever while Microsoft carries on stockpiling new patents (examples in [1, 2]).

Law Firms Won’t Improve Patent Quality Because Quality in Patenting Limits Their Ability to Sue (Profit Irrespective of the Outcome)

Posted in America, Patents at 12:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael Risch

Summary: A new paper (cited by Michael Risch above) asserts that choice of attorney matters to quality, but what the authors mean by high-quality attorney is one who knows how to secure low-quality patents, such as software patents

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has returned to a leadership of patent maximalists (people who predate Michelle Lee) — much like the European Patent Office (EPO) under Battistelli and António Campinos — an issue we’ll have a lot more to say about tomorrow. A patent office which disregards patent quality does not promote or protect innovation; instead it protects litigation. There’s a tradeoff between defense and offense and some patents, due to their nature and their so-called ‘owner’, will never yield anything except lawsuits. There’s some new coverage by Crain’s Chicago Business regarding Motorola under the headline “patents provide the sword and the shield”. It is possible to have a lot of patents and still not sue anybody.

There’s also this new paper [PDF] from Alfons Palangkaraya (Swinburne University of Technology) and Elizabeth Webster (Swinburne University of Technology; The University of Melbourne – Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research). The abstract says that they found “the ability to obtain patent protection depends not only on the quality of the invention but also on the quality of the patent attorney.” To quote:

Failure to obtain a patent weakens the market position and production chain of enterprises in patent-intensive technology domains. For such enterprises, finding ways to maximise the chance to obtain patent protection is a business imperative. Using information from patent applications filed in at least two of the five largest patent offices in the world between 2000 and 2006, we find that the ability to obtain patent protection depends not only on the quality of the invention but also on the quality of the patent attorney. In some cases, the latter is surprisingly more important than the former. We also find that having a high-quality patent attorney increases the chance of getting a patent in less codified technology areas such as software and ICT.

Notice that last sentence. So in effect they consider an attorney to be “high-quality” if or he she can attain bogus patents on something like software, i.e. low-quality patents. Isn’t that an inversion of the meaning of “high-quality”?

Professor Risch, who studied patent trolls in the distant past, has mentioned the above and commented as follows:

It stands to reason that better attorneys are better at turning patent applications into patents. Theoretically, better arguments about overcoming prior art, for example, will be more likely to lead to granted claims. But what about the quality of inventions? Maybe better patent attorneys just get better patent applications, so of course they have better success rates.

Measuring this is hard, but Gaétan de Rassenfosse (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) and four co-authors from University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology think they have found the answer. Examining 1.2 million granted and refused patent applications in the US, Europe (EPO), China, Japan, and South Korea, they think they have the answer.

There are many overlooked aspects; for instance, different firms attract different kinds of applicants and what really matters is the reference implementation/application, not some words on a piece of paper.

Sadly, we’ve been seeing the transition here in Europe from innovation to litigation and from scientists to lawyers. The latter push hard for the UPC, but thankfully they are failing due to incredibly powerful resistance from those who know what’s going on.

In relation to USAA, whose patent battles we’ve been repeatedly mentioning (e.g. [1, 2]) earlier this year, this law firm has just put out a “litigation webinar”. Here’s what they say:

CUNA members can now access a free recording of a webinar outlining the latest development in patent litigation brought against several credit unions involving remote deposit capture (RDC) technology. The live version of the webinar hit capacity, with 1,000 credit unions registering to attend.

A law firm representing USAA began sending out patent licensing demands to many credit unions in late 2017, alleging those institutions were infringing on a USAA patent involving RDC services.

They’re a patent aggressor and the above firm makes money from the aggression; Nowadays the word “webinar” has come to mean marketing or advertising, e.g. for litigation giants. To them, “licensing demands” and lawsuits are a “product” or “service” and they have thus become an inherent part of the problem. They don’t want patent quality; they just want lots and lots of patent actions, grants, lawsuits, injunctions, raids etc.

Rather Than Accept That 35 U.S.C. § 101 Has Put an End to Software Patents the Large Law Firms Insist on Working Around the Law

Posted in Law, Patents at 8:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: US patent courts/judges quite consistently decline/refuse to accept software patents; so why are patent law firms still advising clients to pursue such patents — or worse — initiate litigation with such patents?

IN A NEW article which uses the terms “software patents” and “patent troll” (“Court irons out disagreements over patents related to Rodeway Inn’s rewards system”) we’re just seeing more of the same, namely a judge who throws out bogus (fake) software patents (or cases associated with these), quite frankly as usual. Why does the USPTO grant these patents in the first place? This will be the subject of a later (separate) post. “A federal court has thrown out a dispute over software patents related to hotel loyalty reward points,” the article says, “dismissing both a lawsuit against an alleged patent troll as well as a countersuit over deceptive trade practices.”

The US patent office continues to grant fake software patents that involve nothing physical, usually mere concepts. Speaking of the hospitality sector, one company called Carnival Corporation has just boasted about such patents in a press release [1, 2] soon followed by very shallow puff pieces [1, 2]; it’s a lot of Bluetooth+software, or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as they call it.

It’s not hard to see that when abstract patents reach actual courtrooms they typically get invalidated. Will patent lawyers deliver/dispense advice accordingly? No, they will not. Most of them will try to maintain the illusion of good odds (of winning cases) and in a later post we’ll show how they continue to name-drop Berkheimer etc.

Charles Bieneman’s tips regarding Section 101 are noteworthy because he runs a whole blog dedicated to patenting software in spite of the rules/law. Only days ago he wrote about 35 U.S.C. § 325(d):

Recent PTAB decisions on petitions for Post-Grant Review (PGR) demonstrate how little deference judges can give to patent examiners patent-eligibility decisions. Even if the USPTO in the form of a patent examiner has deemed claims patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, the USPTO in the form of the PTAB may turn around and deem the claims unpatentable under Section 101 . Two recent cases saw the Patent Owner make the argument that it needs to make under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d), namely that the Petitioner was simply rehashing arguments already rejected by a patent examiner. These arguments were to no avail. As the PTAB receives more and more petitions for Post-Grant Review on Section 101 grounds, we may see the PTAB second-guess the examining corps regarding the patent-eligibility of more and more recently-issued patents.

On another day, only days apart, McRO was brought up again by Bieneman. It’s an old Federal Circuit case — one that Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) are unlikely to even cite at the end of 2018. This shows how manipulators try bypass Alice/Section 101. From the post:

Patent claims directed to pricing and cataloging products have survived a Rule 12 Motion because the court thought that there was a chance that the patent owner might be able to show a technological improvement as in McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games Am. Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2016). Vendavo, Inc. v. Price f(x), No. AG et al, 3-17-cv-06930 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 22, 2018). Regardless of whether you think the patent-eligibility test should be more or less stringently applied, you may find this decision vexing if you share my (admittedly subjective) perspective that the USPTO would not today allow these claims, and that many courts would have invalidated them under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice patent-eligibility test.


While not new, there are three points to be drawn from this case. First, courts’ applications of patent-eligibility rules remain unpredictable. Second, even though patent-eligibility and prior art invalidity are supposed to be separate questions, they are often conflated; showing novelty or non-obviousness (or a lack thereof if you are the patent owner) can be very important in prevailing on a patent-eligibility motion. Third, if you are the challenger, you have the initial burden to show that there is no technological invention – make copiously clear to the court how that burden is met.

It has become hard to patent software in the US and then actually enforce the patent/s in court. But it doesn’t matter to law firms because the final outcomes have no effect on their ability to bill gullible clients. Here’s Bieneman commenting on the fact that “using a telephone to verify a person registering for an account” isn’t just shallow but also patent-ineligible:

Claims of four patents directed to using a telephone to verify a person registering for an account are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice patent-eligibility test, the court held in TeleSign Corporation v. Twilio, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-03279-VC (N.D. Cal. Oct. 19, 2018). Accordingly, the court granted a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings that asserted claims of the four patents-in-suit were invalid under 35 U.S.C. 101. The patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,945,034 (“Process for determining characteristics of a telephone number”), 8,462,920, 8,687,038, and 9,300,792(each entitled “Registration, verification and notification system” and sharing a common specification).

This is very much expected. Why was a lawsuit even attempted? Those are software patents, hence fake patents. Sure, they have the ribbon and all, but they’re good for nothing but extortion (outside the courtroom), rendering them a case of gross injustice or a racket. Bryan Hart, a colleague of Bieneman, wrote about Berkheimer in relation to obviously fake software patents that even district courts aren’t tolerating. To quote:

The District of Massachusetts recently granted a motion to dismiss for ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test in a case involving home electrocardiogram sensors, CardioNet, LLC v. InfoBionic, Inc.—demonstrating that despite some courts’ decisions to the contrary, Rule 12 dismissals are available for ineligible subject matter notwithstanding the Federal Circuit’s decision in Berkheimer v. HP that such decisions can involve factual inquiries.

CardioNet and InfoBionic compete selling home electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors that monitor a patient’s heartbeat via the electrical activity passing through the heart muscles. In this dispute—not their first—CardioNet accuses InfoBionic’s MoMe Kardia Systems of infringing CardioNet’s U.S. Patent No. 7,941,207. The ’207 patent covers a way of detecting atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter, two types of heart arrhythmia.

It has actually become very major news when software patent do withstand scrutiny and are upheld as valid by courts. Why are such patents even pursued anymore? And actual lawsuits? Maybe the large and wealthy companies just rely on getting lots of these low-quality patents in large quantities, then cross-licensing to establish a cartel.

EPO Granting European Patents on Nature and on Thoughts

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: ‘Artificial’ nature and algorithms that make decisions ‘artificially’ become monopolies in defiance of common sense and the law; the aspiration is to facilitate as many lawsuits as possible, not rewarding or promoting science

IT IS very simple to demonstrate, based on quantitative data, that software patents in Europe are promoted under António Campinos a lot more often than under Battistelli. Corrupt management doesn’t understand anything other than numbers (e.g. patents granted) and it measures “quality” in terms of speed — the equivalent of a restaurant assessing the quality of its dishes based on the number served per hour. Dissatisfaction rates are measured by the litigation ‘industry’ (not even stakeholders at large) rather than courts or those on the receiving end of lawsuits rather than patents.

“Dissatisfaction rates are measured by the litigation ‘industry’ (not even stakeholders at large) rather than courts of those on the receiving end of lawsuits rather than patents.”To make matters worse, the EPO is ruining lives by granting patents on life — something which the USPTO too has been doing. The US patent office is nowadays granting patents on life itself and Kevin Noonan, who promotes this nonsense for a living, seems happy. He published “University of California/Berkeley Granted Another CRISPR Patent” several days ago and IPPro Patents’ coverage said that “[t]he US Patent and Trademark Office has granted the University of California a patent covering RNA guides that, when combined with Cas9 protein, can be used in gene editing. [...] In the most recent ruling, the US Court of Appeals concluded that the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in plant and animal cells is separately patentable from University of California, Berkeley, scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna’s use of CRISPR-Cas9 in any environment.”

“Seed patent growth prompts litigation and licensing fears,” said another new headline, alluding to the EU Biotech Directive and EPC:

European seed companies traditionally did not own many patents. The European Patent Convention and the EU Biotech Directive (98/44) sets out that plant varieties and essentially biological processes for plant production are excluded from patent protection – in stark contrast to other jurisdictions, such as the US.

The laws do not rule out patent protection on plant varieties altogether, but they did have the effect of severely limiting how many inventions seed companies could register in Europe.

These companies have instead relied on plant breeders’ rights (PBRs) for a long time to protect their inventions on the continent. Those rights grants them exclusive control over the propagating and harvesting material of a new plant variety so long as it is new, distinct, uniform and stable, and allow competitors to request and buy protected varieties to further breed and develop them.

But over the past five years, agritech has taken a massive leap forward and new tools have allowed businesses to more easily discover and replicate specific plant traits that may encompass several varieties. These traits and the technology used to find them can be patent protected in Europe.

As recently as weeks ago Campinos liaised with those who promote patents on seeds. Campinos, being anything but a scientist himself, can possibly use lack of understanding as an excuse (as Battistelli did).

“As recently as weeks ago Campinos liaised with those who promote patents on seeds.”Does Campinos know what “AI” is? Does Campinos just use the term because the marketing industry does? In Lexology-syndicated coverage from Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, PC’s Jennifer B. Maisel and Eric D. Blatt we continue to see law firms piggybacking “AI” in an effort to sell abstract patents. It’s becoming easy as Campinos has just 'legalised' software patents by using buzzwords like "AI". He’s helped by Battistelli-connected sites like IAM, which only days ago wrote tweets like [1, 2]: “Sarboraria – we did a study a few years ago on AI-related patent applications post-Alice and found allowance rates in mid-80% range. Shows that innovators should not be dismissive of patenting for AI related inventions because of [Section] 101 [...] Last panel of the day – @Google’s Aaron Abood, @Arm’s Robert Calico, @intel’s Helen Li and Kenneth Lustig from @realwearinc discuss the IP challenges when protecting AI…”

Even the hardware industry is nowadays (name-)dropping the term “AI” for marketing purposes. Sometimes they say “Machine Learning”, which is a slightly different thing. They use these terms to market themselves; “European Patent Office Gives Guidance on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning” from Cooley LLP’s Arthur Laycock and David Wraige (as mentioned here days ago) has been reposted in another site; all they care about is getting clients. World Intellectual Property Review wrote that “AI examination guidelines come into force at EPO” while mentioning “algorithms” explicitly:

Guidelines on the patentability of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies came into force yesterday at the European Patent Office (EPO).

In its annual update of its examination guidelines, the EPO—for the first time—provided guidance for examiners on the fast-growing area of AI and machine learning.

According to the guidance, AI and machine learning are based on computational models and algorithms which are of an abstract mathematical nature, regardless of whether they can be “trained” based on training data.

These are just algorithms!

As Benjamin Hernion noted, “EPO replaces the EPC exclusions with the “technical” character, mentioned 10 times in here to make math and AI patentable https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/guidelines/e/g_ii_3_3_1.htm …”

But algorithms are definitely forbidden a patent monopoly. So what is going on here?

“These are just algorithms!”The EPO is meanwhile boasting about yet another event that openly promotes software patents (monopolies on algorithms) in Europe by writing: “You’re invited to join us for a thought-provoking day to discuss the issues involved in the global #patenting of emerging technologies and help define the way forward. For more info and to sign up, click here: http://bit.ly/indoeur”

This links to a page (warning: epo.org link) that says: “This provides opportunities for emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, capable of “Machine Learning” and optimising systems too complex for manually programmed algorithms; and Blockchain, for digital-speed processing of secure transactions.”

The EPO also tweeted about “AI” explicitly just before the weekend: “We have published this summary of our conference on patenting #artificialintelligence. Read it for the main takeaways from the event: http://bit.ly/AIpatents” (they call software patents “AIpatents”).

“So the EPO basically allows patents on thoughts or minds or a thinking process.”When will politicians intervene (if ever)? Last month IP Kat wrote about this nonsense and it has just received this reply from Wim Mooij, who wrote: “Part of the confusion originates from the strange way people treat results of a class of computer algorithms under the classification AI. These “AI” algorithms require inputs and the selection of the inputs determines the results. Before showing the results, there like has been a further selection process. The creative aspects are: conceiving the idea of using these tools, finding a set of meaningful inputs and filtering the results. Surely worthy of copyright protection.”

But these are still algorithms; they’re just being categorised as if that magically makes them OK with the EU Directive, EPC etc. There’s clearly no “device” involved.

The following comment then says:

So the problem as I see it is that a work to which 9(3) applies has no human creator, and yet must still be original. This problem arises even in the not-so-AI computer games cases like Nova. But maybe there is no contradiction, if what is required is for the computer to demonstrate originality. This is in line with some definitions of what AI actually is – “AI seeks to make computers do the sorts of things that minds can do” [1] (things like produce original art in the copyright sense?).

So the EPO basically allows patents on thoughts or minds or a thinking process. As we shall demonstrate at a later stage, the other such term the EPO nowadays misuses is “Blockchain” and patents on software are being granted provided the applicant overuses such terms.

Team UPC’s Last Resort: Stacked Panels, Anonymously Belittling the Opposition (e.g. Ingve Björn Stjerna) and Taking Control of the Media

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

Summary: With the UPC very unlikely to ever materialise (irrespective of Brexit and the constitutional challenge/complaint in the German Constitutional Court) the gloves come off and Team UPC poses as both sides of the debate, attacks the opposition anonymously, edits Wikipedia heavily, and even resorts to taking roles of ‘reporters’ to spread their message

THE EPO hasn’t been mentioning UP or UPC or UPCA much lately. There’s simply nothing to say really. Team UPC too has been very quiet. Bristows, for instance, has said nothing for a month and a half (it typically reuses a bunch of nonsense and as recently as a year ago it blogged about UPC several times per week). So is the UPC dead? Not yet, but it’s dying. Mischievous tricks are still being attempted.

“This whole session was likely set up by (directly or indirectly) Team UPC to only amplify Team UPC.”Last week we wrote (on Tuesday afternoon) about the Tuesday (morning) hearing regarding UPC. We showed that it was stacked (or had been systematically stuffed) by a group of Team UPC figures. As Benjamin Henrion put it: “UPC critics not invited to the debate in the UK, next time invite some…”

They won’t. This whole session was likely set up by (directly or indirectly) Team UPC to only amplify Team UPC. It’s not a consultation. They don’t care what scientists have to say, they just want litigation. Lots and lots of lawsuits…

When one’s bread and butter is taxing actual scientists the British Parliament needs to be sceptical. Whose interests are being served?

“Next time invite not only lobbyists seeking to destroy the UK using litigation (their business)” was my response to this official tweet about the session. “Tomorrow at 10.45am (GMT),” it said, “EU Committee discusses post-#Brexit #patentlaw and #UnifiedPatentCourt with Stephen Jones, President of @TheCIPA, and Kevin Mooney of @SimmonsLLP…”

Illusion of balance or ‘debate’.

Whatever they mean by “discusses” (in the above tweet); more like being lobbied. Here’s Team UPC promoting this session. Henrion says that “Wikipedia page on UPC has been hacked by the patent industry, no need to mention the critics. But at least one patent attorney admits “Now, in the future, the UPC will decide on the patentability of software patents” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Unified_Patent_Court#Controversy_Section …”

“They’re like attack dogs and they don’t wish to be held accountable for what they say.”That’s more “software patents by corruption of EPO management and Team UPC (greed of the litigation ‘industry’ for legislative capture),” I responded to him. “It’s time for another legal action against the UPC,” he continued. “Stay tuned #upc software patents #undemocratic …” (we suppose that the constitutional challenge in the German Constitutional Court isn’t the last of its kind unless it suffices).

As we noted last month, Team UPC now uses cloaks of anonymity to discredit UPC critics. They’re like attack dogs and they don’t wish to be held accountable for what they say. A few days ago we noticed that the anonymous writer of Kluwer's UPC blog posts (maybe/usually Bristows) wrote about the latest from Ingve Björn Stjerna (promoted via Twitter). The fact that the pro-UPC Kluwer Patent Blog responded to it anonymously almost a fortnight later (after the paper from Ingve Björn Stjerna) may mean it took it a long time to come up with spin, slant, etc. Team UPC is a bunch of manipulative self-serving bullies who are a tremendous threat to science in Europe. They know it, but they don’t care; all they care about is money (legal bills). There was profound corruption all along, ranging from the political arena to the Office. This is what Kluwer wrote (anonymously, albeit obviously from someone who knows the UPC, hence a Team UPC actor):

The fact that the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) requested the Bundespräsident not to proceed with ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement indicates that the complaint against the UPCA will be admitted for a decision. This is one of the observations of Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna, the Düsseldorf based IP specialist who is behind the constitutional complaint and who published an article about the case earlier this month.


More generally spoken, Stjerna has his doubts about the functioning of the BVerfG, whose composition is influenced by political agreements: ‘How independent will be the examination by judges, who are appointed under political considerations, in this legislative project, which was highly desired politically across party lines and passed with positive knowledge of all constitutional problems? Skepticism seems justified. Against the background described above, it would not come as a surprise if the BVerfG made its contribution to the political agenda and waved through the ratification of the UPCA – on time for the “Brexit” talks between the EU and the British government – by the end of November.’

It is surprising that Stjerna apparently thinks the constitutional complaint may be decided as soon as next month. This is contrary to the opinion of many other observers, who think a decision cannot be expected any time soon – and the chances for the Unitary Patent system to launch before the Brexit are zero.

His paper asserts that it’s suspicious Team UPC might already know something about the schedule/outcome; so now they respond to it by shameless projection. JUVE recently confirmed that a decision this year is extremely unlikely.

Regardless of the above, days ago we noticed that “Arty Rajendra Partner and Head of IP Disputes in the UK at Osborne Clarke legal practice” somehow became a journalist and published this article with the following part about UPC (echoing the famous lies):

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is a new proposed court which will hear disputes related to opted-in European Patents and the newly created Unitary Patent. The current plan is that the UPC will only be open for participation by EU member states. It is still unknown whether the UK will be able to participate after Brexit. The notice considers the possibility that the UPC does not come into force at all, in which case, there are no steps to be taken on exit day.

This actually repeats only one of the two famous lies because it does not assert that UPC is inevitable. Either way, the trade of journalism is dead. Media companies nowadays let lawyers spread their self-serving lies under the guise of ‘analysis’. There’s not even an indirection (like the previous example that we mentioned last week, Law Gazette). The authors are the law firms themselves and it’s merely a marketing opportunity. It is disguised as objective news.

Arrivalstar (Now Shipping & Transit LLC) is Effectively Dead

Posted in Patents at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An extortion operation has been reduced to a buck; poor quality or wrongly-granted US patents, however, have demonstrated their danger

TECHRIGHTS articles about Arrivalstar go a long way back. We’ve written about 10,000 articles about the USPTO and nearly 3,000 about the EPO; Arrivalstar was frequently mentioned before it was renamed (like many other trolls do, e.g. MOSAID and OpenWave). Name changes can only temporarily help dodge negative publicity. Arrivalstar’s ‘rebrand’ didn’t distract us (see recent articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4]).

A few days ago we noticed a new article from the EFF, which had already complained about Iancu's attitude and stance. So now we see HTIA doing the same thing (it was far too easy on Iancu — appeasing and welcoming an insider from the former Trump-connected law firm, which now does exactly what Techrights predicted and warned about).

HTIA wrote: “@uspto #Iancu recently gave a speech where he suggested that those who complain about #patenttrolls are spreading “scary monster stories.” . . . but Shipping & Transit was a #patenttroll, & it was very, very real.””

This is what the original author wrote: “USPTO Director Iancu says tales about patent troll are “scary monster stories.” Here’s a monster story for Halloween: a troll that sued more than 500 companies over 10 years.”

That’s the kind of patent troll that sent me death wishes/borderline threats for writing about it. There’s a pattern there. These operations know/understand nothing but intimidation and extortion.

Mark Lemley, the leading scholar in this domain, tweeted: “Shipping and Transit, the patent troll that has filed over 500 suits, says in bankruptcy filing that its patent portfolio is worth . . . $1.”

Another wrote: “Important piece by @danielnazer – Stupid Patent of the Month: How 34 Patents Worth $1 Led to Hundreds of Lawsuits”

These are all linking to what Daniel Nazer wrote about the patent troll Arrivalstar (now Shipping & Transit LLC) under the EFF’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” series:

One of the nation’s most prolific patent trolls is finally dead. After more than a decade of litigation and more than 500 patent suits, Shipping & Transit LLC (formerly known as Arrivalstar) has filed for bankruptcy. As part of its bankruptcy filing [PDF], Shipping & Transit was required to state how much its portfolio of 34 U.S. patents is worth. Its answer: $1.

We are recognizing Shipping & Transit’s entire U.S. portfolio as our latest stupid patent of the month. We agree that these patents are worthless. Indeed, they have always been worthless, except as litigation weapons. In the hands of their unscrupulous owners, they caused enormous damage, costing productive companies more than $15 million in licensing fees and untold legal expenses. That’s tens of millions of dollars that won’t be used to invest in new products, reward shareholders, or give raises to workers.


When it was known as Arrivalstar, Shipping & Transit sued a number of cities and public transit agencies claiming that transit apps infringed its patents. (While the exact legal relationship between Arrivalstar S.A. and Shipping & Transit LLC is unclear, Shipping & Transit has itself said that it was “formerly known as Arrivalstar.”) Its litigation had all the hallmarks of classic patent trolling. When transit agencies banded together to defend themselves on the merits, it quickly abandoned its claims.

Shipping & Transit’s campaign continued for years against a variety of targets. In 2016, it was the top patent litigator in the entire country, mostly targeting small businesses. One judge described its tactics as “exploitative litigation.”

Ars Technica soon covered this under the headline “Notorious patent enforcement entity values its entire portfolio at $2, folds”:

Each demand letter was structured more or less the same way: it tells of an inspiring story of inventor Martin Kelly Jones, who “observed a young girl waiting at a school bus stop on a rainy, foggy Atlanta morning.” Over the next several years, he developed a vehicle tracking system to “minimize wait times at bus stops.” Jones developed this into a service called BusCall, which had some modest success.

But due to a downturn in the economy and 9/11, Jones and his attorneys seemingly changed tactics. They began “negotiating” more than 600 patent license deals and suing more than 400 companies ranging from Radio Shack to Nissan to Nordstrom to JetBlue.

“There is no large retailer that is not a licensee,” Jones told The Wall Street Journal two years ago.

But then, in mid-2017, Shipping & Transit started losing cases.

Mr. Mullin used to cover these sorts of stories for Ars Technica, but nowadays he works for the EFF (there's overlap). Later this weekend we’ll revisit and deal with deniers of patent trolls and the above problem.

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