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11.06.18

Low Patent Quality and Patent Maximalism in General Are Bankrupting Real Businesses for the Sake/Gain of Litigation Firms and Trolls (Their Clients)

Posted in Patents at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Coming to grips with the fact that productive industries are being crushed for the sake of lawyers, whose firms often act as a front for exploitative patent trolls and monopolies

TODAY we’ve been focused on the European Patent Office (EPO), whose wrongly-granted patents — or Early Certainty™ — have already caused companies to collapse (example from this year).

The CCIA‘s coverage at the Disruptive Competition Project (in addition to its own site) was mentioned here yesterday in relation to the effect of trolls with low-quality (and likely invalid) patents.

Sometimes patent lawsuits crush/crash companies (as do ITC-imposed embargoes as we showed earlier this year after Cisco had filed a complaint). To quote an example from yesterday:

Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) share price sinks lower on patent infringement news

This morning the company announced that the United States District Court in Los Angeles has ruled against it in the patent infringement lawsuit by the Alfred E. Mann Foundation for Scientific Research (AMF) and Advanced Bionics LLC (AB).

There’s also NPR’s article from last week titled “The Tinder-Bumble Feud: Dating Apps Fight Over Who Owns The Swipe”. As we noted here before, these are truly pathetic patent disputes over incredibly trivial ideas that never merited any patents in the first place. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should never have accepted such patents in the first place.

The European Patent Office Lost Its Way, Found Buzzwords Instead

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Atlantic ocean

Summary: Patent leadership has been lost because quality has been abandoned; the only thing that Europe can nowadays take pride in is leadership in buzzwords like “4IR” and “AI”

THE European Patent Office (EPO) under António Campinos is a propaganda machine for software patents in Europe. Not a day goes by without the EPO promoting/advocating software patents ever so shamelessly.

Example from yesterday? Here’s one: “If you didn’t get the chance to attend the EPO’s conference on #patenting #artificialintelligence, you can read the highlights here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

“They never get tired of those stupid buzzwords, such as “AI”.”“AIpatents” is just a new (or newspeak) term for software patents.

IP Kat is now promoting (with “discounts” even) a lobbying event of large corporations looking to impose software patents on Free software and standards (those are not compatible). It’s happening next month (“held in London on 5 and 6 December 2018.”) and look who leads with obligatory buzzwords like “AI”:

The agenda tackles topics such as AI, Open Source, and the future of patents. Speakers include leading in-house authorities (eg, Nokia, Ericsson, and Cisco) external counsel, IP management experts, and members of the judiciary.

They never get tired of those stupid buzzwords, such as “AI”.

Yesterday we saw Watermark Intellectual Property’s Christian Schieber relying on paid placements of self-promotional puff pieces that piggyback news to attract clients (this one was titled “Patenting of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the European Patent Office”). We had seen a couple/several dozens like these earlier this autumn. They’re just googlebombing “EPO” and “AI”.

J A Kemp, which promotes patents on life (we mentioned this before), has just published this piece about WIPO (“EPO Joins WIPO”). The EPO and WIPO already have much in common when it becomes to lies, corruption and human rights abuses, so this collaboration is as natural as can be. So natural one might even get a patent on it (nature is patent-eligible now, right?). To quote: “With regard to this latter benefit, it is worth noting that the EPO has existing arrangements in place for exchange of priority applications with the US, Chinese, Japanese and Korean patent offices and those arrangements will remain in place notwithstanding the EPO joining DAS. Consequently, the EPO will continue to obtain automatically copies of US, Chinese, Japanese and Korean priority applications via its existing arrangements, even without a DAS access code being supplied. Likewise, if the priority application is a European patent application or PCT application filed at the EPO as receiving office, the EPO will automatically add a copy of that priority application to the file. Accordingly, it will be necessary to make use of the new DAS mechanism only if the “office of first filing” is not the European, US, Chinese, Japanese or Korean patent office. The new DAS mechanism is therefore likely to be most commonly used by European applicants who first-file at a participating European national office (e.g. the UK Intellectual Property Office), but will also be useful for some other applicants, such as Indian applicants who first-file at the Indian patent office.”

“They try hard to hide the sharp decline in patent quality.”Priority documents like these might only prove to be a burden/nuisance to already-overworked and hughly overburdened examiners; they lack time to properly assess applications and this is why many patents (like algorithms disguised as “AI”) get granted. It is really bad.

How about this press release from yesterday, alluding to the EPO Technical Board of Appeal (besieged by Office management), EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal, and EPO Opposition Division (under extremely heavy load, albeit predating Battistelli in this case)?

Litens Automotive Group is the proprietor of patented Smartsprocket® automotive timing drive components and systems. The Smartsprocket® technology enhances timing drive systems by counteracting camshaft torque pulses, resulting in reduced torsional vibration, reduced camshaft timing error and improved belt life. The technology has been utilized in dozens of engine platforms around the world.

[...]

Many attempts have been made by Gates and others to invalidate Smartsprocket® patents before European, German and Chinese authorities. Litens has successfully defended the Smartsprocket® patents in all instances, resulting in no changes to the originally granted claims. The validity decisions are listed below:

2018 May 29 – German Federal Supreme Court – case no. X ZR 51/16
2016 Feb 02 – German Federal Patent Court – case no. 4 Ni 29/14 (EP)
2013 May 29 – China Patent Reexamination Board – case no. 20785
2012 Oct 02 – EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal – case no. R 19/11
2011 Dec 18 – Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court – case no. (2011-1801)
2011 July 07 – EPO Technical Board of Appeal – case no. T 0248/10-3208
2011 Jan 20 – China Patent Reexamination Board – case no. 15956
2009 Nov 25 – EPO Opposition Division – European patent no. 1448916

Nowadays it’s a lot harder to reach the challenges (as above) because EPO management made it easier to dismiss, a lot more expensive, less independent and so on. They try hard to hide the sharp decline in patent quality.

Managing IP and Law Gazette Speak for Patent Trolls and Team UPC (Which Supports and Profits From Trolls)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another week passes and more misinformation can be seen as early as Monday this week; we’re asked to believe that patent trolls are “massive time and money saver” for the UK and UPC (which patent trolls love) would be a blessing to British businesses

TEAM UPC hopes that the UPC will bring software patents to Europe. But the UPCA is so hopeless a legislation that even the António Campinos-led European Patent Office (EPO) says almost nothing about it. Sure, Campinos continues to allow software patents regardless, but courts (not UPC) would strike them out. These are essentially bogus patents just waiting to be invalidated and we’ll say more about them in the next post.

“It’s barely even an attempt to appear like journalism.”Media in the area of patents is notoriously bad. We have given many examples over the years. The patenting and litigation ‘industry’, for example, was piggybacking Halloween last week in order to sell “products” (wasteful “services”). It’s barely even an attempt to appear like journalism.

Then consider this week’s long article by Patrick Wingrove (Managing IP), advertising a troll as a “massive time and money saver” right there in the headline. This is how a publication of British patent lawyers covers a patent troll (Unwired Planet, which is the latest name of several) that operates in the UK. “Large telecommunications and automotive companies have told Managing IP that they are pleased by the recent Unwired Planet v Huawei judgement,” it says, “because it will streamline licensing and give price certainty in negotiating licences for standard essential patents (SEPs).”

“Publications that call themselves “Law” something or “IP” something tend to be written by and/or for lawyers.”They spoke to a bunch of lawyers. How typical.

Last week we mentioned Law Gazette because of its recent misleading article (coverage that speaks only of lawyers, but not anybody else) regarding the UPC. They keep reaffirming the view that Law Gazette acts as propaganda rag for Team UPC. “The UPC enjoys wide support among business and lawyers,” it has just said. What “business”? Which businesses? Law firms. The lawyers like the UPC because its foundational core lets them blackmail British companies (through trolls like the above). Here’s the relevant part, which quotes pretty much nobody who actually produces anything:

But further complications surround the implementation of the unitary patent, and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) which was due to start at beginning of 2017 (see p6, News). This could lead the UK to withdraw from a pan-European system that will allow businesses to use a single patent (rather than a basket of national patents) and a single court to protect their rights, similarly to EU trade marks and community designs.

The UPC enjoys wide support among business and lawyers. In February, Law Society president Joe Egan wrote to IP minister Sam Gyimah to urge the government to ratify the UPC agreement, or UPCA, and in April the government did so. The UKIPO said: ‘The unique nature of the proposed court means that the UK’s future relationship with the Unified Patent Court will be subject to negotiation with European partners as we leave the EU.’

The court is an odd creature in that the agreement to establish it is governed by the EPC, a non-EU treaty. Yet it is not open to states outside the EU (25 EU countries have signed it; Spain, Croatia and Poland have not). Furthermore, the unitary patent system is established by EU regulations. Therefore, as Harris puts it: ‘The UPCA is an agreement under the aegis of the EU.’ In fact, article 21 of the agreement says: ‘Decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union shall be binding on the court.’

Publications that call themselves “Law” something or “IP” something tend to be written by and/or for lawyers. They are, in that respect, instruments of propaganda. This is what shows up when people (like politicians) look up information on the Web.

Links 6/11/2018: Neptune 5.6, Qubes OS 4.0.1 RC1 and Linux Kernel 4.20 RC1

Posted in News Roundup at 4:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Microsoft Broke Windows 10’s File Associations With a Botched Update

      File associations no longer work properly on Windows 10 after a buggy update. Windows won’t let you select certain applications as your defaults. We tested multiple PCs running the stable version of Windows 10, and they all had this problem.

      This is a strange bug. It affects some applications, but not others. For example, Windows 10 won’t let you make Adobe Photoshop or Notepad++ a default application for images or text files. But you can make other applications, like IrfanView, VLC, or Google Chrome, your defaults.

      For example, here’s what happens when we try setting Notepad++ as our default application for .txt files in Windows 10’s Settings app. Windows just ignores our choice and chooses Notepad as the default.

    • freenode #live 2018 – Kyle Rankin – The death and resurrection of Linux Journal
  • Server

    • Red Hat, Army School Adopt ‘Open Organization’ Model to Encourage Cyber Workforce Productivity; Shawn Wells Quoted

      Red Hat has implemented an “open organization” approach that allows public-serving cybersecurity teams to assess employee performance and outcome of missions.

      In an article posted Friday on Federal News Network, the company noted the U.S. Army‘s Cyber School at Fort Gordon in Georgia also uses the model to train soldiers in cyber-related projects.

      Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst noted in his book, titled “The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance,” that transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration and community can help agencies meet goals.

    • Cray Unveils Unified Supercomputing Platform; Why Did IBM Buy Red Hat?

      Addison Snell and Michael Feldman analyze Cray’s unveiling of its unified supercomputing platform and IBM’s purchase of Red Hat.

    • Red Hat to remain independent despite IBM acquisition, says executive
    • Latest supercomputer runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

      On Oct. 26, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) — part of the Department of Energy — unveiled the latest supercomputer. It’s named Sierra and is now the third-fastest supercomputer in the world.

      Sierra runs at 125 petaflops (peak performance) and will primarily be used by the NNSA for modeling and simulations as part of its core mission of ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S.’s nuclear stockpile. It will be used by three separate nuclear security labs — Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Sandia National Laboratories, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. And it’s running none other than Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

    • HPC Advances with Perlmutter and Sierra Supercomputers

      The Sierra system is built with the same basic design as the IBM Summit system, which became the world’s most powerful supercomputer in June. Summit is a 200 petaflop system, while the newly dedicated Sierra currently tops out at 125 petaflops.

      Sierra is a massive system spread out across 7,000 square feet of data center space. The system has 240 computing racks and 4,320 nodes.

      Each of Sierra’s nodes has a pair of IBM POWER 9 CPUs, four NVIDIA V100 GPUs and a Mellanox EDR InfiniBand interconnect. The Sierra system, just like Summit, uses Red Hat Enterprise Linux as its core operating system.

    • Revisiting the Unix philosophy in 2018

      In 1984, Rob Pike and Brian W. Kernighan published an article called “Program Design in the Unix Environment” in the AT&T Bell Laboratories Technical Journal, in which they argued the Unix philosophy, using the example of BSD’s cat -v implementation. In a nutshell that philosophy is: Build small, focused programs—in whatever language—that do only one thing but do this thing well, communicate via stdin/stdout, and are connected through pipes.

      Sound familiar?

    • SpiNNaker Powers Up World’s Largest Supercomputer That Emulates A Human Brain

      The brain is the most complex organ in the body and the most difficult to unravel. Scientists have developed a variety of ways to better understand the brain, including the use of supercomputers. The world’s largest neuromorphic supercomputer, the Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker), was just switched on for the first time yesterday. It boats one million processor cores and is able to perform 200 trillion actions per second.

      SpiNNaker has been twenty years and £15 million (nearly 19.5 million USD) in the making. The project was originally supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), but has been most recently funded by the European Human Brain Project. The supercomputer was designed and built by the University of Manchester’s School of Computer Science. Construction began in 2006 and the supercomputer was finally turned on yesterday.

    • SpiNNaker Used In World’s Largest Supercomputer To Mimick Human Brain

      For decades humans have worked so hard on machines to work as good as a human brain. Now, a new supercomputer, dubbed the SpiNNaker is here to do exactly that.

      With 12 years of hard work clubbed with £15 million monetary help, the Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker) finally came into being. It comprises nearly one million processors that can perform 200 trillion actions per second and is the world’s largest neuromorphic supercomputer.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.19.1
    • Linux 4.18.17
    • Linux 4.14.79
    • Linux Kernel 4.19 Gets First Point Release, It’s Now Ready for Mass Deployments

      After releasing the Linux 4.19 kernel series, renowned kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman is back at maintaining the various long-term supported Linux kernel branches, announcing the availability of the first point release of Linux kernel 4.19.

      The Linux 4.19 kernel series is the most advanced Linux kernel available right now, and the first point release, Linux kernel 4.19.1, is now out to mark it as stable on the kernel.org website, which means that it is now ready to be adopted by most Linux-based operating system vendors who want to offer their users the latest available kernel.

    • Don’t Panic, You Can Boot Linux on Apple’s New Devices

      Does Apple stop Linux from booting on its newly refreshed Mac Mini PC or MacBookAir laptops?

      That’s the claim currently circling the web‘s collective drain. The posit is that the new T2 ‘secure enclave’ chip Apple has baked in to its new models prevents Linux from booting.

      But is this actually true?

      Kinda. The answer is both “yes, technically” and “no, not completely”.

    • Apple’s New Hardware With The T2 Security Chip Will Currently Block Linux From Booting

      Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops have become increasingly unfriendly with Linux in recent years while their Mac Mini computers have generally continued working out okay with most Linux distributions due to not having to worry about multiple GPUs, keyboards/touchpads, and other Apple hardware that often proves problematic with the Linux kernel. But now with the latest Mac Mini systems employing Apple’s T2 security chip, they took are likely to crush any Linux dreams.

      At least until further notice, these new Apple systems sporting the T2 chip will not be able to boot Linux operating systems. Apple’s T2 security chip being embedded into their newest products provides a secure enclave, APFS storage encryption, UEFI Secure Boot validation, Touch ID handling, a hardware microphone disconnect on lid close, and other security tasks. The T2 restricts the boot process quite a bit and verifies each step of the process using crypto keys signed by Apple.

    • Apple’s T2 Security Chip Is Currently Blocking Linux From Booting

      Linux enthusiasts must be knowing that one can run Linux distributions on Apple’s older hardware, including the MacBook Air. The quality of Apple’s solid hardware had even prompted Linux creator Linus Torvalds to use MacBook Air to run Linux in the past.

      However, the newer lineup Apple hardware is becoming increasingly hostile towards Linux. With the latest T2 security chip, Apple’s latest Mac Mini is stopping Linux from booting, as reported by Phoronix. I guess it would be safe to assume similar results on other newer Apple hardware.

    • Apple blocks Linux on new Macs with T2 security chips

      Right now, there is no way to run Linux on the new Mac hardware. Even if you disable Secure Boot, you can still only install macOS and Windows 10 – not Linux. Luckily, Linux users don’t have to rely on Macs for good hardware anymore – there are tons of Windows laptops out there that offer the same level of quality with better specifications at lower prices that run Linux just fine.

    • Apple T2 Security Chip removes Linux support from some newer Macs [Update]

      A reader has pointed out that it’s possible to disable Secure Boot on T2-equipped devices making it possible to boot and install Linux distributions. To run Linux you must first access the Startup Security Utility and choose the ‘No Security’ option, here are the instructions on how to access to the utility…

    • Linus Torvalds Says Linux 5.0 Comes in 2019, Kicks Off Development of Linux 4.20

      Linus Torvalds is back from a short vacation to rethink his strategy as the leader of the development of the Linux kernel, and kicked off a new development cycle for the next 6 weeks, this time for Linux kernel 4.20.

      That’s right, Linux 4.20 is the next kernel coming after Linux 4.19, which was released by Greg Kroah-Hartman on October 22,2018, not Linux 5.0 like many of you out there where hoping to see this year. Linus Torvalds decided it’s best to end 2018 with Linux 4.20 and release Linux 5.0 in 2019.

    • Adiantum Is Taking Shape As Google’s Speck Replacement For Low-End Device Encryption

      Earlier this year when Google added Speck-based file-system encryption support to the Linux kernel they intended it to be used by low-end Android phones/smartwatches with older ARM processors lacking the dedicated ARM cryptography extensions. Speck is fast enough to provide disk encryption on the low-end hardware, but ultimately they decided against Speck due to public outcry with the algorithm potentially being compromised by the US NSA. Instead Google engineers decided to pursue HPolyC as their new means of encryption on low-end hardware while now that has evolved into a new technology dubbed Adiantum.

    • Torvalds is already more empathetic in Linux code reviews

      He ended the email saying he would be taking some time off to get assistance on understanding people’s emotions and how to respond appropriately.

      Torvalds promised the email wasn’t him wanting to walk away from Linux development and that he ‘very much’ wants to continue working on it as he has for almost three decades.

      Last week, Torvalds showed off his more empathetic approach in an issue with the HID pull request and its introduction of the BigBen game controller driver that was introduced. In particular, that it was enabled by default.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Connect Everything: A Look at How NATS.io can Lead to a Securely Connected World

        Developing and deploying applications that communicate in distributed systems, especially in cloud computing, is complex. Messaging has evolved to address the general needs of distributed applications but hasn’t gone far enough. We need a messaging system that takes the next steps to address cloud, edge, and IoT needs. These include ever-increasing scalability requirements in terms of millions, if not billions of endpoints, a new emphasis toward resiliency of the system as a whole over individual components, end-to-end security, and the ability to have a zero-trust system. In this post we’ll discuss the steps NATS is taking to address these needs, leading toward a securely connected world.

    • Benchmarks

      • Phoronix Test Suite 8.4 Milestone 2 Now Available For Open-Source Benchmarking

        The second development release of the upcoming Phoronix Test Suite 8.4-Skiptvet is now available for driving open-source benchmarking on Linux, macOS, Windows, Solaris, and BSD systems.

        The Phoronix Test Suite 8.4 Milestone 2 test release is a minor update over last month’s first milestone. This new milestone offers a new phoronix-test-suite dry-run command, supports passing environment variables as arguments to phoronix-test-suite itself that will then be applied to the process’ environment, result parser additions for parsing frame timing data for more test profiles (games), a Vulkan version reporting update/fix in Phodevi, and other minor updates.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • i3 Window Manager v4.16 Released

      For fans of the i3 tiling window manager, version 4.16 was released this weekend as the project’s newest feature release.

      The i3 window manager 4.16 release has various documentation improvements, IPC communication enhancements, support for startup notifications in the i3-config-wizard and i3-nagbar, additions to the i3-sensible-terminal, GTK applications now display the correct window decorations, fullscreen containers can now be moved across outputs, and a wide variety of other enhancements along with dozens of bug fixes.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Will Make It Easier to Apply Updates, Improve Kickoff App Menu

        According to the report, the KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment will make it easier for users to check and uncheck all available updates or select only the ones they want to apply from Plasma Discover’s redesigned Updates page. This feature wouldn’t be possible with the hard work of Aleix Pol Gonzalez.

        KDE Plasma 5.15 also promises to allow NumLock enablement during boot on Wayland, improve the readability of the Kickoff Application Menu with subtle lines that separate the content view from the tab bar and header, as well as to fix the many inconsistencies between the light and dark variants of the Breeze theme.

      • Window Buttons Applet v0.1

        Window Buttons Applet presents its first release to the public. I always wanted to be able to make my top panel to behave as a window titlebar whenever it is needed. To achieve this some special applets are needed and of course specific behavior from the top panel.

      • Accessibility update – Kickoff, Kicker and KWin improvements

        Chrys took up the role of coordinator, fixer and new master of KDE accessibility, which I think is just fantastic. We have been working on what he decided to be most important, mostly chrys fixing issues to make things work with Plasma and screen readers. After getting Orca to read desktop icons he spent quite some time to improve the various start menus.

        With so much fresh energy around I started poking at KWin, which was a bit scary, to be honest. It was fun to read code I hadn’t looked at before. In the end, after I spent a while working on a huge work-around, it turned out that we could enable the task switcher to work with relatively little code added. The main issue was that KWin does really not want to give focus to the task switcher. My first attempt was to write sub-classes of QAccessibleInterface for everything in KWin. That started to work, but during some debugging I realized that KWin was actually creating the regular representations for its UI, it was just not properly announcing them to Orca. Thus I threw away my almost complete prototype. At least I verified that it’s possible to create an entire Qt UI for screen readers only, disconnected from the actual UI. Thanks to QAccessible::installFactory it is nowadays pretty easy to instantiate custom representations (subclasses of QAccessibleInterface).

      • KDE Connect 1.10 Released To Improve The Android Device Integration

        KDE Connect is the interesting project allowing communication/sharing between your KDE desktop and an Android smartphone/tablet whether it be multimedia content, text messages, or files and more. KDE Connect 1.10 further enhances this interesting effort to bridge Android mobile devices to the KDE desktop.

      • Kernel 4.20-rc1 Is Out, KDE Connect Android App 1.10 Released, Linux Mint 19.1 Coming Soon, Microsoft Ported ProcDump to Linux and Neptune Version 5.6 Now Available

        The KDE Connect Android app version 1.10 was released yesterday. Main changes include “mouse input now works with the same speed independent from the phones pixel density”; “the media controller now allows stopping playback”; the “run command supports triggering commands using kdeconnect:// URLs” and more. There are several desktop improvements as well, and the Linux Mobile App has also gained many new features.

      • Soon, RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) won’t support KDE

        Later last week, Red Hat announced that RHEL has deprecated KDE (K Desktop Environment) support. KDE Plasma Workspaces (KDE) is an alternative to the default GNOME desktop environment for RHEL.

        Major future release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux will no longer support using KDE instead of the default GNOME desktop environment. In the 90’s, the Red Hat team was entirely against KDE and had put lots of effort into Gnome. Since Qt was under a not-quite-free license that time, the Red Hat team was firmly behind Gnome.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Taking Out the Garbage

        From the title, you might think this post is about household chores. Instead, I’m happy to announce that we may have a path to solving GJS’s “Tardy Sweep Problem”.

        For more information about the problem, read The Infamous GNOME Shell Memory Leak by Georges Stavracas. This is going to be a more technical post than my previous post on the topic, which was more about the social effects of writing blog posts about memory leaks. So first I’ll recap what the problem is.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Neptune 5.6

        We are proud to announce version 5.6 of Neptune .

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

        In this update we improved hardware support further by providing Linux Kernel 4.18.6 with improved drivers and bugfixes. Updated the DDX drivers for AMD/ATI and Intel aswell as providing Mesa 18.1.9. The X-Server got an update to version 1.19.6 which fixes several bugs and brings speed improvements.

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How to install the Icinga2 Monitoring tool on Ubuntu Server 16.04

            As your data center is being populated with more and more Linux servers, you need to have the means to monitor those systems. As with anything in the open source world, there are a vast number of tools available for the task. One such tool is Icinga2, a web-based system monitor that keeps a constant check on the availability of network resources, generates real-time reporting on performance and services, and can even notify users of outages. Icinga2 also uses a RESTful API, so you can update configuration files on the fly and notifications can come by way of email, texts, or mobile messaging applications.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 552

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 552 for the week of October 28 – November 3, 2018.

          • Writing Up Plan B

            With the prominence of things like Liberapay and Patreon as well as Snowdrift.coop, I have had to look at the tax implications of them all. There is no single tax regime on this planet. Developers and other freelancers who might make use of one of these services within the F/LOSS frame of reference are frequently not within the USA frame of reference. That makes a difference.

          • What’s New in Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish

            Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish the new release of Ubuntu linux Distribution, this release ships with latest GNOME 3.30 as default desktop enviroment and Powered by a Linux kernel 4.18 series. Also include new Yaru theme, the bold, the frivolous, yet distinctly Ubuntu saw further improvements and touchups. Integrates beautifully with GNOME 3.30 Desktop and improves usability with its careful use of semantic colors.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • What’s New in Elementary OS 5.0 Juno

              Elementary OS 5.0 Juno, the latest release of Elementary OS has been released by Elementary OS developer , This new release is based on Ubuntu 18.04 Long Term Support (LTS) and powered by Linux Kernel 4.15.

              The pantheon desktop, default desktop of elementary OS get more polished and updated. added brand new Night Light feature with both a manual timer and an automatic Sunrise to Sunset option, Adjustable Window Tiling improved, introducing an all new Picture-in-Picture mode that makes it easier to keep tabs on a video or other window while working on something else, added new translucent light mode., added a new search icon to the Applications Menu, Introducing brand new Shortcut Overlay and more..

            • Trisquel 8.0 LTS Flidas – The 100% Libre Linux OS, Using MATE & Powered By Linux-Libre 4.4

              Trisquel 8.0 is the latest release of Trisquel Linux Distribution that’s endorsed by the Free Software Foundation. this release based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, using MATE desktop 1.12 as default desktop environment and powered by Linux-libre 4.4 LTS kernel.

              The desktop environment shifted over to MATE as they wanted a Linux desktop not requiring OpenGL acceleration due to not wanting to require binary drivers or even binary GPU microcode files for that matter, ruling out 3D hardware acceleration for most newer GPUs.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Time for Net Giants to Pay Fairly for the Open Source on Which They Depend

    Licensing lies at the heart of open source. Arguably, free software began with the publication of the GNU GPL in 1989. And since then, open-source projects are defined as such by virtue of the licenses they adopt and whether the latter meet the Open Source Definition. The continuing importance of licensing is shown by the periodic flame wars that erupt in this area. Recently, there have been two such flarings of strong feelings, both of which raise important issues.

    First, we had the incident with Lerna, “a tool for managing JavaScript projects with multiple packages”. It came about as a result of the way the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been separating families and holding children in cage-like cells. The Lerna core team was appalled by this behavior and wished to do something concrete in response.

  • Google open-sources its BERT system for NLP researchers

    Google has made its natural language processing (NLP) pre-training model, bidirectional encoder representations from transformers (BERT), available as open source for NLP researchers.

    The BERT model can be used for various tasks such as “question answering and language inference, without substantial task-specific architecture modifications”, a research document outlined.

    According to Google AI research scientists Jacob Devlin and Ming-Wei Chang, the shortage of training data is one of the main challenges in NLP, which is a diverse and extensive field with distinct tasks, with most datasets containing only a few hundred or thousand human-labeled training examples. However, with modern deep learning-based NLP models, researchers can gain benefits from much larger amounts of data, the scientists said.

  • Martin: an Open Source PostGIS vector tiles server created by Urbica

    Moscow IT company Urbica is releasing an Open Source PostGIS Mapbox Vector Tiles server suitable for large databases. Martin is the only vector tiles server capable of creating tiles using database functions directly. It solves the problem of working with large geospatial datasets. Martin allows passing parameters from a URL into a user function to filter the features and aggregate the attribute values.

  • vScaler Cloud Adopts RAPIDS Open Source Software for Accelerated Data Science

    vScaler has incorporated NVIDIA’s new RAPIDS open source software into its cloud platform for on-premise, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments. Deployable via its own Docker container in the vScaler Cloud management portal, the RAPIDS suite of software libraries gives users the freedom to execute end-to-end data science and analytics pipelines entirely on GPUs.

  • An All-In-One Water Cooling Setup That Can Be Controlled Under Linux

    For those looking to have an all-in-one water cooling setup where the pumps and lighting can be controlled under Linux, there is now a viable option thanks to the open-source GKraken project.

    While Linux hardware support in general has improved sharply over the past nearly 15 years that Phoronix has been around, one of the areas that hasn’t advanced as much has been in regards to supporting various enthusiast/gaming peripherals — especially for products like water cooling systems that offer some controls exposed over a USB interface. There are few independent, community-driven efforts out there while now jumping out as one of the most promising is GKraken, which is to support NZXT Kraken water cooling systems.

  • OPNids Integrates Machine Learning Into Open-Source Suricata IDS

    A new open-source intrusion detection system (IDS) effort is officially getting underway on Nov. 5 with the launch of the OPNids project.

    The OPNids effort is being led by threat hunting firm CounterFlow AI and security appliance provider Deciso, which also leads the Opensense security platform project. OPNids is built on top of the open-source Suricata IDS, providing a new layer of machine learning-based intelligence to help improve incident response and threat hunting activities.

    “We created a pipeline that will actually take the Suricata logs and analyze the packets to provide context around any alerts,” Randy Caldejon, CEO and co-founder of CounterFlow AI, told eWEEK. “We like to call this alert triage. It’s like taking it to the last mile of what the analysts would do anyhow because typically when there’s an alert, they want some context.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1.3 Open-Source Office Suite Released with 66 Bug Fixes

      While it remains the choice of early adopters, technology enthusiasts, and power users, the latest LibreOffice 6.1 series of the open-source office suite, which is used by default in numerous Linux-based operating systems, gets no less than 66 bug fixes in the LibreOffice 6.1.3 point release, as detailed here and here.

      Coincidentally, the LibreOffice 6.0.7 point release also comes with a total of 66 bug fixes, detailed here, here, and here. The LibreOffice 6.0 series remains the main choice for enterprises and all sorts of organizations who want to use the best free and open-source office suite on the market, according to The Document Foundation’s Italo Vignoli.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • HashiCorp’s Cloud Tools Fuel $100 Million Funding Round

      While the big story last week was the $33 billion IBM shelled out to take Red Hat under its wing, another open source company was busy attracting investor interest as well. On Thursday, the six-year-old open source startup, HashiCorp, whose cloud tools are popular with DevOps, announced it has raised $100 million in Series D funding.

  • CoC

    • Now Intel signs up to open-source code of conduct after Torvalds’ Linux hiatus

      Intel’s open-source projects have now committed to the widely-adopted Contributor Covenant, a code of conduct that was recently taken up by Linux, following Linus Torvalds’ brief break to reflect on his insensitive treatment of other kernel developers.

    • Debian Project announces quarterly anti-harassment transparency reports

      Martin Ferrari from the Debian anti-harassment team has announced that they’re going to be releasing transparency reports to the project’s mailing list. The team, which currently consists of Laura Arjona Reina, Martin Ferrari, and Molly de Blanc, is responsible for ensuring that project members abide by the project’s diversity statement and two code of conduct documents (1, 2).

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • The best free photo-editing software

      Often heralded as the best free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source application that relies on a community of volunteer developers who maintain and improve the product. Available for MacOS, Windows, and Linux, you get a lot of professional-level editing and retouching tools — perfect for designers who can’t or won’t shell out hundreds of dollars to Adobe.

      Once you launch the program, you’ll find a dedicated window that displays the image, and separate windows to organize the toolbox and layers. When using a large display, or two displays, you have a nice, big workspace to play with your images. Icons in the toolbox represent actions such as the crop, lasso, paint and brush tools, and you can apply various effects to your photos. It may seem like Photoshop, but GIMP has its own look and feel. Making the jump from one to the other will take a little time, but you’ll save yourself a monthly subscription fee if you do.

    • Alyssa Rosenzweig’s summer internship wrap up

      As you already know if you read my introductory blog post, over the summer, I interned with the Free Software Foundation tech team. A free software enthusiast, I joined the FSF in order to grow my appreciation, to work on interesting free software projects for which I normally would not have the opportunity, and to meet other free software supporters. My dreams were exceeded!

      For my first project of the internship, I researched single-board computers in order to update the FSF’s page detailing the freedom status of various single-board computers — the page needed updating to reflect how software freedom continues to advance. You can read about my updates here.

      For my second project, I was tasked with researching out-of-band remote server management. Like many organizations, the FSF hosts a number of servers, both on premises controlled by the FSF as well as external data centers. However, as anyone who has futzed with servers knows, computers are fickle. Even the most robust setup is prone to breaking once in a while… and sometimes those breakages can hang the server or prevent it from booting. Cue comic of a sysadmin asking, “Did you try turning it off and on again?”

      The in-vogue free software solution is OpenBMC, a free software implementation of the IPMI remote administration stack. Unfortunately, due to the diversity of server boards we use, OpenBMC risked becoming a maintenance burden in and of itself.

    • libredwg-0.6.1 released [alpha]

      This is a minor bugfix release, fixing
      mostly a decoding error with LWPOLYLINE points.

    • Guile-CV version 0.2.1

      For a list of changes since the previous version, visit the NEWS file.

  • Open Hardware/Modding

    • Hands On With The Most Open-Source, High-Performance System For 2018

      While there are several vendors working on open-source hardware systems with goals of fully open designs and open-source software down to the firmware, there is only one vendor that has achieved that mission while delivering server/workstation class performance as we approach the end of 2018… Raptor Computing Systems’ Talos II. We finally have this dual POWER9 system in our labs for some interesting benchmarks ahead.

      We have done remote benchmarks in the past of the Talos II POWER9 system that is fully open-source, but only this past week were we able to touch one of these systems for the first time with Raptor Computing Systems kindly sending over a unit so we can run more benchmarks on it and the POWER9 architecture moving forward.

    • Research Team From IIT Indigenously Develops And Fabricates India’s First Microprocessor “Shakti”

      Designing and building microprocessors from the ground up is no easy task. But a research team from IIT-Madras managed to create India’s first indigenously built microprocessor.

      Unlike China, India doesn’t have massive fabrication plants, so innovations like these help improve self-reliance on an import based sector. The processor was fabricated by the Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL) in India, which is based on the old 180nm fabrication process.

      The Shakti line of microprocessors are based on RISC V, which is an open-source instruction set architecture. An initial batch of 300 chips, codenamed RISECREEK was produced under Project Shakti, in July this year, but it was fabricated on Intel’s Multinational Chip Manufacturing facility at Oregon, USA. The chips fabricated in the US were on the 20nm process. Lead Researcher on the project, Prof. Kamakoti Veezhinathan stated “With the advent of Digital India, there are several applications that require customizable processor cores. The 180nm fabrication facility at SCL Chandigarh is crucial in getting these cores manufacturers within our Country“.

    • Open-Source Kitten Takes a Nybble out of Arduino Market

      After decades of sci-fi speculation and the likes of Doctor Who’s K-9 and Mega Man’s Rush, the robotic pet market is finally becoming a reality. Just this spring, Boston Dynamics announced that SpotMini will become commercially available in 2019. But with the advent of home-robotics tools like Arduino chips and Raspberry Pi computers, the amateur engineer no longer requires an MIT affiliation to build a robot pet in their own living room.

      This is the idea behind Nybble, a small robotic kitty whose mobility is driven by an Arduino-compatible micro-controller. Although Nybble comes with some pre-programmed “muscle memory” movements, the idea behind the robo-pet is that you program its cat-like behaviors yourself. Nybble’s creator, Rongzhong Li, recommends that you connect Nybble to an AI chip such as a Raspberry Pi, and code whatever tricks you desire from your silicon feline companion.

  • Programming/Development

    • Migrating from Oracle JDK to OpenJDK on Red Hat Enterprise Linux: What you need to know

      Oracle announced it will stop releasing public updates of Oracle JDK in January 2019 and will require a commercial license for its use. An alternative is to use OpenJDK and effort is underway to make them fully interchangeable. A number of companies who are currently using Oracle JDK in production are making the decision to switch to OpenJDK or have already done so.

      Andrew Haley (Red Hat’s Java Platform Lead Engineer) recently wrote a great article on the direction of OpenJDK.

      In this article, I’ll discuss: the technical and support implications of the migration, what developers and operations teams need to know, and solutions to potential challenges.

    • Kids Can Learn Coding With This $299 ‘Hack’ Laptop In A Fun Way

      The makers of Endless OS are back with a new low-cost laptop dubbed The Hack Computer — for teaching kids how to code.

      Endless Computers didn’t design this Hack computer themselves entirely. Instead, they used a low-cost ASUS laptop and added their Linux-based full-stack software environment that is easy to use for kids.

    • The Best flake8 Extensions for your Python Project

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Report Finds “Overpatenting”, Overpricing Of Top Diabetes Drug In US

      The Initiative for Medicine, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) released a new report last week, “Overpatented, Overpriced: Lantus Special Edition,” which details evidence that the drug company Sanofi is pursuing an “overpatenting strategy” in the United States for its insulin drug Lantus, used to treat diabetes.

      “Sanofi has filed 74 patents on Lantus,” which “has enabled Sanofi to raise prices unchecked,” according to an I-MAK press release.

      Due to these price-hikes, “the average price of the drug for Medicare beneficiaries [in the US] has nearly doubled from $1,284 in 2012 to $2,431 in 2016,” with “total spending on the drug by Medicare and Medicaid” skyrocketing “to over $22 billion dollars, a 132% increase from 2012 to 2016,” the release states.

      “Drugmakers often argue that additional patent applications filed prior to regulatory approval incentivize companies to invest in the development of a new drug, and should not be characterized as evergreening,” according to the report. However, the report’s findings “indicate Sanofi filed 95% of its patents on Lantus after US Food and Drug Administration approval,” the release explains.

    • Illinois DCFS Agrees to Outside Inquiry at Psychiatric Hospital Where Children Have Reported Abuse

      The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services agreed Monday to a full, independent assessment involving children in its care placed at a Chicago psychiatric hospital rocked by allegations of abuse and assault.

      DCFS and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois have been negotiating since Thursday over the investigation at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital and how the child welfare agency would ensure the safety of its children hospitalized there, especially those who have been kept at the hospital despite being cleared for discharge.

      In a written response to the ACLU on Monday, DCFS said it would allow the independent review to “address the safety, care and treatment of DCFS youth” at the hospital. The ACLU said it welcomed the agency’s change of course.

      “We are glad that the department agreed to this, but we need to remain vigilant,” ACLU attorney Claire Stewart said. “This is a small step in a longer fix, but it’s a step.”

    • On Eve of Election, the Washington Post Keeps Hogan Out of UMD Scandal

      The scandal engulfing the University of Maryland couldn’t come at a worse time for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, just ahead of Tuesday’s election.

      Fortunately for Hogan, the Washington Post – which wants him reelected, and is highly influential in the vote rich Maryland counties outside D.C. – is downplaying the governor’s role in this sordid affair.

      The precipitating event was the death of Jordan McNair. The 19 year old football player collapsed during a late May practice and died in the hospital two weeks later.

      The response to this preventable death by the university, and in particular by the Board of Regents, which oversees the school system, made a tragic situation worse.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • US Drones and the Khashoggi Murder

      In Washington, there is not much mystery about Mohammed bin-Salman’s (=MBS) behavior. He is an ego-maniac, somewhat unhinged. He is drunk with power and accustomed to torture and kill at whim.

      His campaign of annihilation against the Houthis of Yemen indicates the depths of his depravity and the scope of his ambition.

      So, too, did his imprisoning of 400 wealthy Saudis in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton where they were physically abused until they coughed up their riches for his personal use (e.g., spending $500 million for a mislabeled “Leonardo” painting). MBS thus presents a good imitation of Caligula and Nero.

      So, too, did his kidnapping and physical abuse of the Prime Minister of Lebanon (Saad Hariri) – who owed MBS money and, therefore, political fealty.

    • CIA communications flaw led to ‘dozens of spy deaths’ in Iran and China

      Dozens of US spies were reportedly killed in China and Iran following a communications flaw that was exploited in order to track the use of Google by intelligence agents, according to a new report.

      Citing official sources, the Yahoo News report says that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) experienced a “catastrophic” communications failure, which exposed a website used by agents to contact each other.

      The report cites 11 former intelligence and government officials familiar with the matter.

    • James Carroll, Entering the Second Nuclear Age?

      He was the candidate who, while talking to a foreign policy expert, reportedly wondered “why we can’t use nuclear weapons.” He was the man who would never rule anything out or take any “cards,” including nuclear ones, off the proverbial table. He was the fellow who, as president-elect, was eager to expand the American nuclear arsenal and told Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” I’m referring, of course, to the president who, early on, spoke with his top national security officials of returning the country to a Cold War footing when it came to such weaponry and called for the equivalent of a tenfold expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. I’m thinking of the president who once threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” and proudly claimed that he had a “bigger nuclear button” than that country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

      Given his fascination with nuclear weaponry, it’s hardly surprising that the very same president would decide to pull the U.S. out of the Cold War-era 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) or that his vice president would refuse to rule out — another potentially treaty-busting act — the deployment of nuclear weapons in space. It’s a gesture that, as TomDispatch regular and former Boston Globe columnist James Carroll explains today, could not be more devastating when it comes to creating a new nuclear arms race on this increasingly godforsaken planet of ours. Reading Carroll’s piece, I thought of a mobilizing nuclear moment in my own life. It was the time in 1982 when I read Jonathan Schell’s bestselling book The Fate of the Earth, which helped create a global anti-nuclear movement, millions of active citizens desiring a nuke-free world, that prepared the way for the INF Treaty. In that remarkable volume, Schell offered a stunning vision of what a ten-thousand-megaton nuclear strike on the U.S. might mean. (“In the ten seconds or so after each bomb hit, as blast waves swept outward from thousands of ground zeros, the physical plant of the United States would be swept away like leaves in a gust of wind.”) In the end, after radiation had also taken its toll, he wrote, the United States — in a phrase that’s haunted me ever since — “would be a republic of insects and grass.”

    • This Too Shall Pass: “Birthright Citizenship” Kerfuffle is Mostly a Get Out The Vote Tactic

      In a late October interview with news website Axios, US president Donald Trump announced his intention to sign an executive order doing away with “birthright citizenship” — the notion that persons born on US soil are citizens from birth with no need for any naturalization process.

      It’s not exactly an “October surprise.” Trump used birthright citizenship as a rallying complaint on the campaign trail in 2016. He’s done nothing about it in the nearly two years since.

      Now he’s weaponizing it again, along with fear-mongering about a migrant caravan wending its way through Mexico toward the US, in a last-minute effort drive an extra (and possibly decisive in places) fraction of a percent of Republican-leaning voters to the polls for the 2018 midterms.

      After which he will almost certainly go back to doing nothing about it for another two years, until he trots it out a third time when seeking re-election in 2020.

    • Scaremongering is the Only Thing Trump and Republicans Have Got

      Here it is. See for yourself the terrifying “caravan” advancing through Mexico from Honduras, set to “invade” the US, bringing, according to President Trump and the reactionary media that support him, “rapists, killers, Arab terrorists, and diseases.”

      This “caravan,” according to a report in the UK newspaper theIndependent, is actually an assemblage of several thousand desperately poor Hondurans whose country, besides being one of the poorest in Latin America, is beset by a dictatorial government installed by a US-backed military coup that ousted a popularly elected progressive president back in 2009. It is a society that is wracked by drug-related violence and gangs and military thugs, and that has never really recovered from having been commandeered as a base by the US for covert warfare against neighboring Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua.

      The Independent says this supposedly threatening throng of refugees is actually composed of mostly young men and women traveling by foot with young children, many of them barefoot, or in rickety strollers — people who have banded together for protection as they travel northward towards the southern US border through countries like Guatemala and especially Mexico that are hostile towards them.

      The very term “caravan” is being deliberately used to mislead. It’s early use was of course to describe travelers in the desert — a subtle suggestion that these desperate Latinos might be Arabs, a group that evokes irrational fear among some in the US ever since 9-11. But this is no caravan. There are no vehicles or pack animals. It’s just a mass of people trudging by foot to the US border to present themselves as refugees.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Gun Control’ By Molly Nilsson

      It is the current generation that faces the prospect of going to school with the fear of being shot. It is the young that face the prospect that the planet will become inhabitable as a result of adult greed.

    • CIA “hid reports about massacres committed against Serbs”

      Analyst Robert Spencer told Vecernje Novosti daily in an interview – commenting on the newspaper’s recent discovery of the role of US intelligence officials in hiding reports about crimes perpetrated against Serbs in Podrinje (along the Drina River), said the Saudi authorities had a huge impact on the state apparatus in Washington.

      That’s how, he claims, it came to the CIA hiding the real ruth about the events in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) in the 1990s.

      Spencer expressed his view that it is possible for the US to change its policy towards BiH, but “only in case of a turning point in relations between America and Saudi Arabia.”

      He assessed that former US President Bill Clinton “made a catastrophic decision to work with the Muslims during the civil war in the Balkans.”

    • Turkey: Saudi investigators worked to remove evidence

      The official said Turkey believes that two members of the team “came to Turkey for the sole purpose of covering up evidence” before Turkish police were allowed to search the Saudi Consulate, where Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2 after he entered to collect a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.

      The official said the fact that a clean-up team was dispatched suggests that Khashoggi’s killing “was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules.

      The official also confirmed the Sabah report which identified the two experts as Ahmed Abdulaziz Al-Janobi and Khaled Yahya al-Zahrani.

      The information was the latest in a series of leaks from Turkish officials apparently aimed at keeping up the pressure on Saudi Arabia and ensuring that the killing is not covered-up.

      Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, who is leading the investigation, announced last week that Khashoggi, who lived in exile in the United States, was strangled immediately after he entered the consulate as part of a premeditated killing and that his body was dismembered before being removed.

    • Can MBS survive the Khashoggi fallout?

      On this episode of The Stream, we discuss three stories that have our community talking: the continuing fallout over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, growing violence in Gaza, and the trial of notorious Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”.

    • Japan to propose underwater drones to monitor East China Sea

      Tokyo wants to introduce unmanned underwater vehicles into territorial waters in order to step up monitoring activities, Kyodo News reported Monday.

      The deployment is part of revisions to the defense ministry’s medium-term defense plan, according to the report.

      The plan has only been revised four times since 1976, and the medium-term defense plan is drafted every five years.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pamela Anderson puts pressure on Scott Morrison to bring Julian Assange home

      Speaking with 60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett from her home in the South of France, Anderson was frank in her support for the controversial computer hacker who is living in the British Ecuadorian embassy as a political asylum.

      If Assange left the embassy it is suspected he would be extradited to the United States to face possible spying charges for the leaking of highly sensitive US classified information.

    • Attempted Break-in at Ecuador Embassy Raises Concerns for Safety of Julian Assange

      An attempted break-in at Julian Assange’s residence inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Oct. 29, and the absence of a security detail, have increased fears about the safety of the WikiLeaks publisher.

      Lawyers for Assange have confirmed to activist and journalist Suzie Dawson that Assange was awoken in the early morning hours by the break-in attempt. They confirmed to Dawson that the attempt was to enter a front window of the embassy. A booby-trap Assange had set up woke him, the lawyers said.

      There was a previous break-in attempt at the embassy in August 2016.

    • How Did Julian Assange Become a Political Prisoner of Our Time?

      Over 7 months have passed since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was deprived of his ability to communicate with the outside world in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he was granted asylum with the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his organization’s publications. Recently, after UN Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression and Refugees visited the country, it appeared that Ecuador would finally end this isolation of its refugee and own citizen, which Human Rights Watch general counsel described as being similar to solitary confinement.

      Yet, injustice on Assange continues. President Lenin Moreno who was said to partially restore Assange’s communication, now with a special protocol, imposes prison-like surveillance and restriction on his free speech. Under the new rules, Assange is banned from expressing opinions that are considered political or could interfere with Ecuador’s relationship with other nations. Journalists, lawyers and anyone else who seek to visit Assange are required to disclose their private details including email accounts and links to their social media, which then will be shared with UK authorities.

      On Monday, a judge in Ecuador ruled against the suit filed by WikiLeaks lawyer, the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon who argued that this Ecuadorian government’s inhumane treatment of Assange violates his basic human rights. This came while there is an increasing pressure from the US on Ecuador to evict Assange. Joining the aggression of the Trump administration, members of the US Congress urge the Ecuadorian President to persecute Assange, calling him a ‘dangerous criminal’ and a ‘threat to global security’.

    • Intruder tried to break in to Ecuadorian Embassy to kidnap Julian Assange, claim his legal team

      Julian Assange foiled a break-in at his flat in the Ecuadorian Embassy, his legal team has claimed.

      The WikiLeaks founder was woken up in the middle of the night after an alleged intruder attempted to enter a window at the front of the embassy building.

      However the opening of the window knocked over a fire hydrant that Mr Assange had set up as a ‘booby trap’, his lawyers have said.

      Scaffolding was later erected against the embassy building in Knightsbridge, west London, which representatives said ‘obscures the embassy’s security cameras’.

    • Break-in Attempt Occurred at Assange’s Residence in London

      Someone reportedly attempted to break into Julian Assange’s residence inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on October 29, a journalist connected to the Wikileaks founder claims, adding that he’d relayed to her that new surveillance devices had been installed to keep an eye on him.

      On Sunday, Consortium News, citing a message provided by Assange’s legal team to activist and journalist Suzie Dawson, reported that there had been a break-in attempt at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

    • Australian PM Jeers at Pamela Anderson’s Calls to Throw Assange Welcome Parade

      Several days earlier, the Blonde and Blonder star revealed that she regularly visits WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, who has been confined for six years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London; she even shared details of their “romantic struggle.”
      Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has laughed off Pamela Anderson’s calls to bring Wikileaks founder Julian Assange back to Australia and throw a welcome-home parade in his honor.

      When asked by Gold Coast radio station Hot Tomato FM if he intends to heed the Baywatch icon’s tip, Morrison chuckled at the proposal before saying “no”, and went on to state resolutely:

    • Pamela Anderson calls on PM to bring Julian Assange home
    • The Plot To Kidnap Julian Assange

      Assuming we can actually believe this, there was an attempted break-in at the Ecuadorian embassy in London a couple of weeks ago which marked an attempt to kidnap Julian Assange from his flat there. If this sounds like something out of a bad Netflix film to you, you’re probably not alone. The more you read into the details, the stranger it sounds, though there’s no word on whether or not Assange’s cat was involved in saving him from the intruders. Here are the few details we’re getting thus far from the Daily Mail.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Australia ratifies the TPP-11, Media release, 31 Oct 2018, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham

      Australia is the sixth country to ratify the agreement, meaning it can now enter into force on 30 December this year. We join Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore as part of the first group to ratify.

    • My Amazon Interview Horror Story

      So that was it. I have to say that I was severely disappointed by the whole process. Not because I didn’t get an offer, but due to constant delays, last minute changes, all the turmoil and set expectations that were not met. It was very confusing because the Amazon leadership principles were pushed so hard, yet the very same Amazon staff, especially the recruiters, didn’t seem to follow them throughout the process. The choice of interviewers was bizarre – very much a mismatch for the role they were meant to be interviewing me for; it’s not often you apply for a job in one field only to be interviewed by people working in a very different field. So what I’d sum my experience up as is a huge disorganised mess.

    • The future of work and the future of poverty

      In demarcating the most important changes in the nature of work in recent years, Anannya Bhattacharjee, a participant in BTS’s recent Future of Work Round Table, rightly points to the emergence of global production networks as a crucial development. Moreover, she is absolutely correct in calling attention to the fact that employment relationships in these global production networks are very often short-term, insecure, and poorly paid. “In India,” she argues, “job creation is really the creation of miserable jobs”. This is no exaggeration. Despite very high levels of economic growth since the early 2000s, more than 80% of India’s workers scramble to earn a precarious living in the informal sector. The richest 1% of the population, meanwhile, corner more than 70% of all wealth generated in the economy.

      In addition to being a sharp diagnosis of the emerging world of work under capitalism in our times, Bhattacharjee’s observations also point us towards an important insight about poverty in the Global South. It is created and reproduced through global production networks.

      The emergence of global production networks since the late 1970s has been propelled by transnational corporations relocating parts of their production process – in particular labour-intensive manufacturing – from the Global North to the Global South. The industrialisation of Southern economies has, in turn, resulted in a massive increase in the size of the global working class. In fact, the global workforce doubled between 1980 and 2005. This transformation also accelerated economic growth, and low-income countries became middle-income countries as they were integrated into global production networks.

    • Chicago Considers Wiping Away Old Ticket Debt for Motorists Who File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

      The Chicago City Council’s finance committee approved a measure Monday that would forgive ticket debt for some city motorists, but only those who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

      The move is meant to steer indebted drivers away from Chapter 13 bankruptcies that rarely eliminate their debt. The proposed reform, which comes amid growing calls to overhaul the city’s ticketing and debt collection practices, was drafted by the Law Department and included in the 2019 budget package approved by the finance committee.

      The measure would wipe away unpaid tickets, fines and fees issued more than three years before debtors file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as long as their bankruptcy plan is successful and they complete a city payment plan for more recent ticket debt. Late penalties and other fines, including boot and impound fees, would also be forgiven.

    • Breaking: Whistleblowers say Arron Banks ‘misled’ viewers on BBC Andrew Marr show

      Arron Banks has been accused by MPs of “not telling the truth” after whistleblowers told openDemocracy that the Leave.EU founder misled viewers about his controversial Brexit campaign on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show.

      Banks, who is now under criminal investigation over his £8m Brexit donations, told the BBC that staff at his Eldon Insurance company who worked on his Leave.EU campaign were put on separate contracts. Banks also claimed that this arrangement was declared to the UK’s electoral watchdog, as is required by law.

      But interviews with former Eldon staff and documents seen by openDemocracy suggest that employees regularly worked on both Banks’s insurance business and his political campaign. “There were no separate contracts for the Leave work. None at all. You were just told to do that at the same time as working on the insurance business,” a former Eldon staffer told openDemocracy.

      The Electoral Commission also said that it “has no record of Leave.EU reporting services it received from Eldon Insurance for the referendum.”

    • Where “Homework” Means Building Affordable Houses

      Each year, beginning in the fall, a group of third-year architecture students from Auburn University take up residence in a small rural Alabama town to begin building a house.

      In the winter, when a new semester begins, they are replaced at the Newbern, Alabama, project site by another cohort of 16 students who finish up the job and prepare the house for its new occupants.

      The 20K Home Project began 13 years ago as a challenge to architecture students at Auburn to build a $20,000 house, with $12,000 in material and $8,000 for labor.

      The idea was to create “the perfect house” for needy families in rural areas where dwellings are often substandard and where affordable building can be a logistical challenge.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Mysterious Facebook Group Is Using Bernie Sanders’ Image to Urge Democrats to Vote for the Green Party

      A Facebook page for a group called “America Progress Now” is running ads online urging progressives to vote for Green Party candidates in seven competitive races in the Midwest.

      “People of Color NEED Marcia Squier in the Senate to represent them,” one of the ads says, promoting a Green Party candidate in Michigan. “Americans don’t have control over our government anymore. We’ve lost it to greedy, corporate capitalists,” says another, calling for voters to support Ohio Green Party candidate Joe Manchik.

      The page features ads with images of prominent progressive politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

      Problem is, America Progress Now hasn’t registered with the Federal Election Commission, as all groups making independent political expenditures are required to do. Six of the Green Party candidates being promoted by America Progress Now say they have no affiliation with the Facebook page, and most say they’ve never heard of the group.

    • Before the Midterms, Five Questions for the Political Left

      Participating in US politics as a radical Black feminist often feels like I’m walking at an unsustainable pace, angrily chewing gum and balancing two tons of problems I didn’t create upon my shoulders. As the 2018 midterm elections near, and I prepare to vote, I join political leftists across the country who remain skeptical about the significance and power of voting.

      The pending Democratic Party “blue wave” does not excite me. I am not inspired by the candidates running for statewide office in my home state of Illinois, because I’m a Black political leftist who sees the potential, not promise, of movements participating in electoral politics.

    • It’s Brillig in America

      Lewis Carroll knew nonsense. He pretty much invented the verse version. We, who live in a country in which nonsense defines national behavior, are effectively blind to that reality, judging by our universal acceptance of it.

      We’ve been force-fed bullshit by ruling elites forever and, though bullshit is not nonsense, it’s the perfect cover for it. Nonsense, by definition, has no rational basis and makes no sense. Bullshit, in contrast, is often coherent and plausible and disseminated by authority it has caused Americans to embrace reams of pernicious nonsense immeasurably ruinous to them.

      Goebbels assertion that the Big Lie, repeated and robustly defended, could enlist a people against itself was proven for us by Reagan’s “morning in America” and Obama’s “hope and change” hustles, classics of bullshit, that enabled the infliction of much sanctimonious idiocy on H.L.’s Booboisie.

    • Handwriting Disputes Cause Headaches for Some Absentee Voters

      Elisabeth Warner drove 12 hours the weekend before Election Day so her daughter could vote.

      Her daughter, Emma Warner-Mesnard, 20, attends Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, but is registered to vote in her hometown, Columbus, Ohio — about a three-hour drive away. Warner-Mesnard mailed the Franklin County Board of Elections her request for an absentee ballot in mid-October, but officials there determined her signature on the application didn’t match what they had on file and placed her ballot on hold.

      Warner-Mesnard sent in a second absentee ballot application, which the county accepted Oct. 31. Aaron Sellers, a public information officer for the Board of Elections, said her ballot was on track to be delivered Saturday, giving Warner-Mesnard just enough time to get it in the mail by Ohio’s Monday postmark deadline. But the campus post office isn’t open on weekends, and she wasn’t willing to take any chances. So the mission to vote became a road trip: On Saturday, Warner-Mesnard’s mother picked her up in Lexington and drove her to Columbus to cast an early ballot in person at the Franklin County Board of Elections. On Sunday, her mother ferried her back to Lexington, spending a total of about 12 hours on the road.

      “It’s just annoying that that’s the way that it has to go,” Warner-Mesnard told ProPublica.

    • How Congress Stopped Working

      For more than 200 years, Congress operated largely as the country’s founders envisioned — forging compromises on the biggest issues of the day while asserting its authority to declare war, spend taxpayer money and keep the presidency in check.

      Today, on the eve of a closely fought election that will determine who runs Capitol Hill, that model is effectively dead.

      It has been replaced by a weakened legislative branch in which debate is strictly curtailed, party leaders dictate the agenda, most elected representatives rarely get a say and government shutdowns are a regular threat due to chronic failures to agree on budgets, according to a new analysis of congressional data and documents by The Washington Post and ProPublica.

      The study found that the transformation has occurred relatively fast — sparked by the hyperpolarized climate that has enveloped politics since the 2008 election of President Barack Obama and the subsequent dawn of the tea party movement on the right. During that time, as the political center has largely evaporated, party leaders have adhered to the demands of their bases, while rules and traditions that long encouraged deliberative dealmaking have given way to partisan gridlock, the analysis found.

    • Trump Following the Hungarian Model in Demonizing Refugees and Jews

      Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller are very possibly advising President Trump to follow the Hungarian Model in confronting refugees at the southern border, in order to win wider support for his far-right authoritarian policies. Trump is now exactly following the playbook of far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who in 2015-16 deployed national police and army troops to the southern contiguous boundary of the EU, on the Serbian border. They interned Syrian and other Muslim refugees in cages, police beat refugees, troops built a barbed-wire fence, and fascist vigilantes threatened other migrants. A media photographer who tripped a Syrian father at the border was arrested, but last week had her conviction overturned. To respond to police violence and harassment as they tried to board trains at the Eastern Train Station in Budapest, and to find greater safety in numbers, the Muslim refugees held a dramatic march to a refuge across the Austrian border, in a scene that closely resembles the Central American refugee caravan.

      Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller are very possibly advising President Trump to follow the Hungarian Model in confronting refugees at the southern border, in order to win wider support for his far-right authoritarian policies. Trump is now exactly following the playbook of far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who in 2015-16 deployed national police and army troops to the southern contiguous boundary of the EU, on the Serbian border. They interned Syrian and other Muslim refugees in cages, police beat refugees, troops built a barbed-wire fence, and fascist vigilantes threatened other migrants. A media photographer who tripped a Syrian father at the border was arrested, but last week had her conviction overturned. To respond to police violence and harassment as they tried to board trains at the Eastern Train Station in Budapest, and to find greater safety in numbers, the Muslim refugees held a dramatic march to a refuge across the Austrian border, in a scene that closely resembles the Central American refugee caravan.

      Before 2015, the far-right in Hungary only had their old stand-by enemies, the Roma (Gypsies) and Jewish liberals, to blame for the country’s problems. But now they had Muslim immigrants to scare the voters, just like the far-right movements in Western Europe. Orbán’s standing in polls and elections increased, so much so that his Fidesz party eclipsed the even-farther-right Jobbik because it had stolen its signature issues. Steve Bannon has visited Hungary, and sung the praises of Orbán, who openly idolizes Trump. Orbán has felt confident enough in the past year to launch a hate poster campaign against Hungarian Jewish philanthropist George Soros, blaming him for underwriting the refugee crisis, and closing the Central European University that he founded. Using coded anti-Semitism is exactly how Trump’s followers at Fox have connected Soros to the Central American refugee caravan. Because some Hungarian Christian and Jewish citizens had aided the Muslim refugees, Orbán outlawed such humanitarian assistance, so we can expect that same move by Trump.

    • Why I’m Not Voting

      On a short visit to Austin, Texas in June, I heard that one of my favorite one-hit wonders from the long-ago British punk-pop scene, Wreckless Eric (“(I’d Go) the Whole Wide World”), was playing at a local club. I quickly bought tickets.

      Wreckless gave a tremendous show. The songs from his new album were terrific, angry and political, and he interspersed them with acid, dead-on comments about the Trump administration and America’s descent into racist right-wing populism.

      Then he let us have it. “You know, if you didn’t vote, you might just as well have voted for him.”

      That would include me. I’ve heard a lot of this kind of thing in the months since.

      On Tuesday, millions of people will vote in a midterm election that’s touted as one of the most consequential in decades. This is perfectly understandable. Depending upon the outcome, America could effectively re-endorse President Trump and his party. Or it could reject the celebritician in the Oval Office and re-embrace the party of the Obamas and the Clintons.

      Millions of people, perfectly eligible to do so, will not vote, however. Once again, I’ll be one of them, and I’m happy to explain why.

    • New Report Details Massive Mysterious Influence Campaign On Twitter

      Over the weekend, the group Guardians.ai released a fascinating report detailing what appears to be a massive influence campaign taking shape on Twitter. By way of disclosure, one of the three key authors of the report, Brett Horvath, is also one of the key people behind the election simulation game that we helped create and run, though I have nothing to do with this new report. The report is fascinating, and if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, Bloomberg also has a write up.

      The key to the report is that they have identified some truly fascinating patterns that they’ve spotted among a cluster of users on Twitter, who, at the very least appear to be acting in a manner that suggests some attempt to influence others. I should note that unlike other such reports that jump to conclusions, the authors of this report are very, very, very clear that they’re not saying these are “bots.” Nor are they saying these are Russian trolls. Nor are they saying that a single source is controlling them. Nor are they saying that everyone engaged in the activity they spotted is officially part of whatever is happening. They note it is entirely possible that some very real people are a part of what’s happening and might not even know it.

      However, what they uncovered does appear strange and notable. It certainly looks like coordinated behavior, at least in part, and it appears to be designed to boost certain messages. The report specifically looks at statements on Twitter about voter fraud using the hashtag #voterfraud, but it appears that this “network” is targeting much more than that. What made the report’s authors take notice is that in analyzing instances of the use of the tag #voterfraud, they noticed that it appeared to have a “heartbeat.” That is, it would spike up and down on a semi-regular basis, based on nothing in particular. There wasn’t a specific news hook why this entire network would suddenly talk about #voterfraud, and they wouldn’t talk about it all the time. But… every month or so there would suddenly be a spike.

    • What to do When Voting Machines Fail

      With Election Day just hours away, we are seeing reports across the country that electronic voting machines are already inaccurately recording votes and questions are being raised about potential foreign interference after 2016. While the responsibility to deal with these issues falls to state election officials, here is a quick guide for how to respond to some issues on Election Day, along with a handy resource from our friends at Verified Voting indicating what equipment is used in each polling place across the nation.

    • Georgia’s Brian Kemp And The No Good, Very Bad Claim That Democrats Were Hacking Voter Registration System

      Okay, let’s start with this. Can we all agree — no matter what your party, ideological, or candidate preference — that in any election where you are up for one of the offices, that you shouldn’t be the one in charge of safeguarding the integrity of the election? This seems like a fairly basic point concerning democracy, that if you’re a candidate for office, you should recuse yourself from anything involving election integrity. However, that’s not the way things work around here, apparently. In at least three key elections this year, current secretaries of state, who are in charge of election integrity, are running for higher office while being in charge of counting their own votes. It just so happens that this year all three of those cases involve Republicans (and all three of those Republicans have a long and fairly detailed history of voter suppression tactics), but the issue applies equally to Democrats who might be in the same position. No one who is in charge of election integrity should ever be in the position of running for office at the same time.

      But let’s focus in on just one of the three individuals in that situation this year: Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State, who is in a very heated campaign to be Governor of Georgia, campaigning against Democrat Stacey Abrams. As you may know, our stated policy on Techdirt is that we tend not to name the party affiliation of any politician, unless it truly matters to the story. That’s because in this age of red team/blue team insanity, many people determine what they agree or disagree with depending on the color of the uniform. However, in this story, the party affiliations matter, not for which one is which (we could have posted an identical story with the party’s changed), but because the dispute here clearly involves partisan politics.

    • In Trump’s Hands, the Census Becomes a Weapon

      We use the census as a tool to build power in communities. The administration wants to use it against those communities.
      Almost a decade ago, I ran the Minkwon Center for Community Action, a grassroots organization serving the Korean-American community in Queens. Getting immigrants to participate in the 2010 census was one of our top priorities. Why? Because I knew we could use the census to build power for our communities, just by standing up and being counted. And we did, but it wasn’t easy.

      First, we had to educate people about the census’s importance. After all, it’s not just a head count. The census determines how billions of federal dollars are allocated on a state and national level, and it is also used to draw political districts, thus determining political representation.

      Our educational effort required breaking down communication barriers by organizing volunteers and literature that could reach the 40 different languages and dialects that people speak in our section of Queens. It also meant addressing the real fears that immigrants, particularly those of color, have about turning personal information over to the government. We spent months knocking on doors, meeting with community members, and holding trainings to overcome these challenges.

      But once we broke it down for them, our community realized that the census could indeed be a powerful tool not only to ensure that our communities got the federal dollars they needed but also to build our political power. The end result was the creation of three Asian-American-majority political districts and the election of Rep. Grace Meng — a true champion for our communities — to New York’s first-ever Asian American-plurality congressional district.

    • The tightrope of Brexit and class appeal: can Corbyn make it?

      In 2015, when Corbyn was running for the leadership of Labour, he proposed a fund to enable working class members to become MPs. The leadership candidate explained the reasons for this fund in the following way: “If the party is to win back the five million predominantly working-class voters lost since 1997, then we must reflect those we seek to represent. It is not enough to be for working people – we have to be of working people as well”.

      [...]

      A possible solution to this challenge is to focus on the votes Labour has lost in the working class, not to UKIP or the Conservatives, but to reduced voter turnout. And if Labour seeks to mobilize its traditional working-class base, changes in MPs´ backgrounds may be far more relevant than any change in its policies. There is a limit to how much appeal any mere cold policy offer has in actually mobilizing the electorate. But there may be an important opportunity for Corbyn’s leadership to face its current dilemma by maintaining a programme that appeals to a liberal middle class, but to reinstate the salience of class and working-class identity through its descriptive representation.

    • The Election Is Only Half the Battle: Challenges of Progressive Governance

      Primary wins by New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum have generated much excitement among progressives and socialists as well as much conversation about the role that progressives and the broader left could play in electoral politics. No matter what happens Tuesday, these campaigns have demonstrated the power and potential of left-wing social movements and grassroots-driven politics in a country where the two-party system has historically marginalized them.

      Yet, there seems to be less discussion about how the left can actually govern — not just win elections — in institutional conditions that are hostile to progressive governance. Would elections of Ocasio-Cortez and Gillum inspire more leftists to run for office, and make it more possible to implement progressive changes? What would it take for the left to turn electoral wins into policy? Electoral success for the left also raises other strategic questions, not just for progressive elected officials, but for social movements. What kind of accountability structures need to be created in order to ensure progressives’ commitment to enacting policy and not succumbing to the reactionary impulses embedded in established political institutions? How will their elections affect radical social movements as organizers continue to mount critiques and push for transformative change?

    • “He Set Out to Kill Women”: Self-Proclaimed Misogynist Murders 2 Women at Florida Yoga Studio

      Two women were shot and killed at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, on Friday when a far-right extremist and self-proclaimed misogynist entered a yoga class and opened fire. Forty-year-old gunman Scott Beierle murdered 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem, a medical doctor and a faculty member at Florida State University, and Florida State University student 21-year-old Maura Binkley in the deadly shooting. He critically injured four other women, including one woman who was shot nine times. Beierle also pistol-whipped a man in the rampage before turning the gun on himself. Police say Beierle was found dead at the yoga studio from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Beierle had a track record of attacking women, black people and immigrants via online videos and songs and had previously been investigated for harassing women and arrested at least twice, once on allegations of battery against women. We speak with Soraya Chemaly in Washington, D.C. She is a longtime writer and feminist activist and author of the new book “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger.” She is also director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project.

    • #WalkOutToVote: Harnessing Demand for Change, Youth-Led Alliance Set to Bring Power to Polls

      Among other actions, throughout the summer and into fall March for Our Lives students have been taking part in the Road to Change, a tour making pit-stops in dozens of states and scores of communities across the country.

      The goal of the tour is “to get young people educated, registered, and motivated to vote.” They say the massive March For Our Lives rallies “showed our politicians that we refuse to accept gun violence as an unsolvable issue. Now, we’re turning our energy into action.”

    • Poll Forecast: Slight GOP Edge in House for Midterms Could Be Overcome by People of Color and Progressive Women Candidates

      Heading into Tuesday, the race to control the U.S. House of Representatives remains extremely tight according to CounterPunch’s election modeling based on a combination of polls and fundamentals. Our modeling accurately forecast in 2016 that Michigan and a handful of other toss-up states could put Trump at or beyond the 270 electoral votes necessary to become President. I have been #BlueWave skeptical since at least March when we published “Numbers Suggest Democrats Are Not Currently Set to Take Back the House of Representatives.” Republicans still hold a slim 220-215 lead for House control in our projection if no race is considered a toss-up. Including toss-ups in the model, likely more accurate, currently puts Democrats at 202 seats to 196 for Republicans with 37 toss-ups. The Generic Congressional Ballot average, usually a fairly accurate indicator of national popular vote totals, puts Democrats up by 7.3%. Our way of taking that metric, as always, involves averaging the latest poll from all firms in the field in the last ten days without weighting or adjustment. Other forecasters have long set 7% as the most likely vanishing point between the GOP holding the House and Democrats taking back control. A final seat count and Generic Ballot projection, taking into account small changes from the final day of polling, will be posted at the end of this Twitter thread around 10am on Tuesday.

      District polling in the field in the last three weeks, and especially in the last few days, shows that four kinds of Democratic candidates, many of whom are seriously outperforming the model’s baseline expectations, could put Democrats over the top. Another kind of candidate, seriously pushed by and expected to do well by establishment Dems who control the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), is not faring quite so well on average.

    • Georgia Officials Quietly Patched Security Holes They Said Didn’t Exist

      On Sunday morning, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp unleashed a stunning allegation: State Democrats had committed “possible cyber crimes” after a tipster told party officials he had found gaping security holes in the state’s voter information website. The affair quickly degenerated into volleying charges about whether Democrats had promptly informed officials of the possible security breach.

      A representative for Kemp, the state’s Republican candidate for governor, denied vulnerabilities existed in the state’s voter-lookup site and said the problems alleged could not be reproduced. But in the evening hours of Sunday, as the political storm raged, ProPublica found state officials quietly rewriting the website’s computer code.

      ProPublica’s review of the state’s voter system followed a detailed recipe created by the tipster, who was described as having IT experience and alerted Democrats to the possible security problems. Using the name of a valid Georgia voter who gave ProPublica permission to access his voter file, reporters attempted to trace the security lapses that were identified.

      ProPublica found the website was returning information in such a way that it revealed hidden locations on the file system. Computer security experts had said that revelation could give an intruder access to a range of information, including personal data about other voters and sensitive operating system details.

    • Early Voting Brought a Surge of Voters. What Will Election Day Bring?

      During three weeks of early voting, many of the problems Electionland has identified have been driven by higher-than-expected turnout. While experts say we won’t know if this means record-breaking turnout on Election Day, early voting in some states has already outpaced 2014, leaving election administrators struggling to keep up.

      “There are two scenarios: One is that it’s been an unprecedented number of early voters, and the next is that it’s an equally historic Election Day,” said Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who studies voter turnout. He said that while we won’t know which is correct until Election Day, “all signs” point to higher turnout on Tuesday. “We’ve never seen this level of engagement during a midterm election,” he said.

    • Voting systems in Wisconsin and Kentucky are running FTP. Seriously.

      TP — the “file transfer protocol” — is a long-supplanted Unix tool for transferring files between computers, once standard but now considered to be too insecure to use; so it’s alarming that it’s running on the voting information systems that will be used in elections in Wisconsin and Kentucky tomorrow.

      The FBI has warned that “criminal actors” use FTP in targeting US voting systems. The Wisconsin Elections Commission and DHS have reported hacker attacks on Wisconsin voting machines in the 2016 elections.

    • How the Election Assistance Commission Came Not to Care So Much About Election Security

      In a rush of preparation for this year’s midterm elections, scores of state and local governments have been working to safeguard their election systems from being hacked or otherwise compromised.

      At the same time, according to interviews with more than a dozen national, state and local election officials, the federal commission responsible for providing assistance to them has either been missing in action or working to thwart their efforts.

      The Election Assistance Commission has ceded its leadership role in providing security training, state and local officials say, forcing them to rely on the help of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which lacks the same level of experience in the issues confronting the country’s voting systems.

    • The Power That Must be Resisted

      When the outright fascist Jair Bolsonaro won the Brazilian presidency in October, it wasn’t just the poor, people of colour, LGBTQ, or indigenous peoples that lost. Indeed, the earth’s weakened biosphere and imperiled climate lost even bigger. The president elect of the world’s 4thlargest democracy has vowed to open up vast swaths of the iconic rainforest to multinational logging, cattle, mining and agricultural industries. With this one political victory the world’s ruling capitalist elite saw more dollar signs than in their wildest dreams, and the earth’s “lungs” were given a terminal prognosis.

      Bolsonaro’s rise to power bears a strong resemblance to that of Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Rodrigo Duterte and Viktor Orban. All of them have employed the techniques of classic fascism: demonizing political opponents and the media, rhetoric endorsing violence, stoking chauvinistic nationalism, scapegoating marginalized people. All them possess a disgruntled, demoralized, yet loyal base of supporters, and regularly connect with them through rallies that ridicule or bully those who dissent or disagree from their position. All of them manipulate information to spread confusion, false information or to obfuscate facts. But the most important thing these men share in common is their eagerness to wed corporate and state power, the hallmark of fascist governance. All of them sit atop treasure troves of “exploitable resources” and it is for this reason alone that they are lauded among the global capitalist elite.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Dutch envoy’s life at risk amid growing TLP agitation

      According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior, there are reports that zealots, with alleged links to the Labbaik, have planned to stage an attack on the Dutch envoy in a bid “to seek revenge for uploading of blasphemous caricatures by Greet Wilders, Dutch parliamentarian, on his personal Twitter account.”

    • Asia Bibi’s lawyer flees Pakistan in fear for his life, associate says

      Under Pakistan’s penal code, the offense of blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment. Widely criticized by international human rights groups, the law has been used disproportionately against minority religious groups in the country and to go after journalists critical of the Pakistani religious establishment.

    • The abandonment of Asia Bibi

      Last week, however, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned Bibi’s sentence. It accused the women who made the accusations against her of lying – their story was ‘concoction incarnate’, it said – and it decreed that Bibi was ‘free to go’.

      Only Bibi has not been free to go. In response to the Supreme Court’s acquittal there have been massive and violent Islamist protests across Pakistan. ‘Kill Asia’, they have demanded in their thousands. They have burned rickshaws, cars and lorries. The protests are thought to have caused damage in the region of £900million.

    • ‘Self-censorship flourishes in environment of fear and intimidation’

      The two-day School of Tomorrow event ‘A World of Tomorrow Reimagined’ kicked off at a hotel on Saturday.

      The session titled “Freedom of Expression: Where Do We Draw the Line?” was moderated by journalist Mehmal Sarfaraz and had artist Salima Hashmi, Nida Mushtaq of Feminist Collective and senior journalist Ghazi Salahuddin as panelists.

    • The death of Facebook: The censorship of Conservative thought

      For what is at least the 12th time this year Facebook has prevented me from sharing articles I wrote to Facebook groups I belong to. I just received notice that, after sharing my previous column, It’s Still the Economy, Stupid: Why Republicans will win on Tuesday, that I would be prevented from sharing any more posts to any groups until, you guessed it, Tuesday, November 6th, Election Day.

    • Political talk remark ‘was not censorship warning’

      A stern warning against “political speeches” made during a Local Councils Association meeting should not be interpreted as an attempt to gag freedom of expression, according to its president.
      Mario Fava was commenting when the Times of Malta sought his reaction to a statement issued by the Nationalist Party’s College of Councillors. It said statements similar to those made by Mr Fava, a Labour councillor in Fgura, were tantamount to political censorship.
      The controversy erupted following remarks made last Saturday when addressing the association’s plenary meeting.
      Reacting to comments made by Opposition spokesman Robert Cutajar, who had criticised the central government on various fronts, Mr Fava insisted the forum was no place to raise such points. Noting he had no problem with politicians taking part in the debate, he insisted the event was ultimately a meeting for mayors and their deputies.

    • Letters protest censorship of Niles Niemuth election campaign by WDIV

      The WSWS is publishing a selection of the letters that were sent in response the open letter written by Niles Niemuth, the Socialist Equality Party candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 12th District, protesting WDIV’s censorship of his campaign. As of publication Voet has not replied to the open letter.

    • Sense and censorship: An Irishman’s Diary on Edna O’Brien

      The writer Edna O’Brien was carrying hardback first editions of her internationally acclaimed first five novels when she walked into the Arrivals terminal at Dublin Airport in December 1966.

      A mere eight years had passed since she had emigrated from Ireland to London in 1958 – 60 years ago this month – with little more than a byline in the Irish Press newspaper to signal her resolve to be a writer.

      [...]

      A Censorship Reform Society was formed at the meeting. Its aim, the Irish Press reported, was “not to abolish censorship, but to ensure that all measures of censorship in Ireland are conducted on legal, democratic and constitutional grounds, and in accordance with the principles of natural justice”.

    • Censorship and Gun Control Will Not Make Us Safe

      Others are using the shooter’s history of posting anti-Semitic comments on social media to call for increased efforts by both government and social media websites to suppress “hate speech.” The shooter posted anti-Semitic statements on the social media site Gab. Gab, unlike Twitter and Facebook, does not block or ban users for offensive comments. After the shooting Gab was suspended by its internet service provider, and PayPal has closed the site’s account. This is an effort to make social media websites responsible for the content and even the actions of their users, turning the sites’ operators into thought police.

    • Internet Platforms Censor Campaign Ads

      ‘One of the restraints on the vitriol and the filth that so often is part of the American political debate,” noted Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in 2012, “is that candidates have to stand by their ads.” For many online platforms, however, fixing your name to your claim is no longer good enough for an ad to pass muster. Web publishers increasingly are censoring campaign advertisements for being “shocking” or “disrespectful.”

    • Bizarre: TrustedReviews Pulls Website Reporting on ‘Red Dead’ Leak, Pays More Than A Million To Charities Of Rockstar’s Choice

      When it comes to the private sector, it’s not rare thing to see lawsuits over press leaks. Typically, those lawsuits target the person or entity responsible for the leak itself. While the real irritation in these leaks for companies comes from seeing them reported in the press, suing the press for reporting on a leak is fraught with statutory barriers.

      Which is what makes it so odd to discover that TrustedReviews, a website that publishes news and reviews in the video game industry, disappeared an article it posted months ago discussing leaked information on the now released Red Dead Redemption 2. Oh, and it agreed to pay over a million dollars to charities of Rockstar’s choice.

      [...]

      Nothing about this makes sense, unless TrustedReviews was somehow involved in the leak itself, rather than simply reporting on it. There is nothing publicly suggesting that is the case, so we’re instead left to assume that the site simply didn’t want to engage in a costly lawsuit brought by Rockstar, who we have to assume threatened one. On the other hand, a $1.3 million payout isn’t exactly peanuts either.

    • A Decade After Realizing It Can’t Threaten A Critic Online, UCLA Returns To Threaten A Critic Online

      Back in the early days of Techdirt, we used to talk about legal disputes involving so-called “sucks sites” — i.e., web addresses that use a company or organizations’ name along with a disparaging adjective, in order to setup a website criticizing the company. In the early 2000s there were a bunch of legal disputes in which overly aggressive lawyers would threaten and/or sue the operators of such sites, claiming they were trademark infringement. Spoiler alert: they were not trademark infringement. There was never any confusion over whether or not the sites were actually endorsed by the trademark-holder (because the sites were criticizing the trademark holder.) Nor, in most cases, was there any commercial activity, which is necessary for a trademark violation.

      For the most part, lawyers have finally learned that going after sucks sites is a bad idea and we don’t hear of as many cases these days. But they do sometimes pop up. The latest is particularly stupid, involving the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The details are laid out for you nicely by Adam Steinbaugh of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), an organization focused on protecting free speech on campus.

    • Another Lawsuit And Another Loss For Plaintiffs Trying To Make Twitter Pay For Terrorism

      This flow of especially pointless lawsuits doesn’t appear be drying up — fed mainly from the (revenue) streams maintained by 1-800-LAW-FIRM and Excolo Law. Neither does the flow of courtroom losses. These two firms are responsible for most of the lawsuits we’ve covered that attempt to hold social media companies responsible for international acts of terrorism.

      The legal theory behind the suits is weak. Attempting to avoid Section 230 immunity, the suits posit that the presence of terrorists on social media platforms is a violation of various federal laws targeting terrorist organizations. Section 230 defenses have been raised by Twitter, Facebook, et al, but these usually aren’t addressed by the courts because there’s not enough in the terrorism law-related arguments to keep the suits alive.

      According to Eric Goldman — who has snagged the latest dismissal [PDF] — this is the seventh time a federal court has tossed one of these suits. If you’re familiar with the other cases we’ve covered, you know what’s coming. The California federal court’s decision quotes Ninth Circuit precedent from a similar lawsuit that said plaintiffs have to show a direct relationship between social media services’ action and the act of terrorism prompting the lawsuit. In this case, the complaint fails to do so.

    • Great. Global internet freedoms take another dive as censorship and fake news proliferate

      China is ‘remaking the world in its techno-dystopian image’

      [...]

      According to the report (PDF), the top-rated countries were Iceland and Estonia, with scores of 6 (the lower the better) and Canada, with a score of 15. They were followed by Germany (19), Australia (21) and the US – which slipped from a score of 21 to 22 thanks to repeals of net neutrality laws and a failure to reform sweeping surveillance rules. The UK was in the seventh spot, with a score of 23.

      Unsurprisingly, China was the worst offender, with a score of 88 – and the report was at pains to emphasise the country’s approach to censorship and surveillance was spreading across the world, saying it was “remak[ing] the world in its techno-dystopian image”.

    • Wuzhen to host 5th World Internet Conference on Nov 7
    • Chinese Rainbow Six Siege Players Respond to Censorship Changes
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EFF Unveils Virtual Reality Tool To Help People Spot Surveillance Devices in Their Communities

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched a virtual reality (VR) experience on its website today that teaches people how to spot and understand the surveillance technologies police are increasingly using to spy on communities.

      “We are living in an age of surveillance, where hard-to-spot cameras capture our faces and our license plates, drones in the sky videotape our streets, and police carry mobile biometric devices to scan people’s fingerprints,” said EFF Senior Investigative Researcher Dave Maass. “We made our ‘Spot the Surveillance’ VR tool to help people recognize these spying technologies around them and understand what their capabilities are.”

      Spot the Surveillance, which works best with a VR headset but will also work on standard browsers, places users in a 360-degree street scene in San Francisco. In the scene, a young resident is in an encounter with police. Users are challenged to identify surveillance tools by looking around the scene. The experience takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

    • Illuminating the ‘dark web’

      Defining the dark web only by the bad things that happen there ignores the innovative search engines and privacy-conscious social networking – as well as important blogging by political dissidents.

      Even complaining that dark web information isn’t indexed by search engines misses the crucial reality that search engines never see huge swaths of the regular internet either – such as email traffic, online gaming activity, streaming video services, documents shared within corporations or on data-sharing services like Dropbox, academic and news articles behind paywalls, interactive databases and even posts on social media sites. Ultimately, though, the dark web is indeed searchable as I explain in a chapter of my book.

    • How to Lock Down What Websites Can Access on Your Computer

      In fact, websites now ask for almost as many permissions as the apps on your phone do, though you might not be as familiar with how to manage them. We’ll show you how.

      We’ll also explain how to restrict the cookies and other data websites can save locally on your laptop. It’s up to you whether you let sites track your identity across the web to better personalize the ads you see, but you should know the options that are available.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Murder Charge Can’t Deter Sharpton’s Brother From Voting Rights Crusade

      As more states adopt laws that could restrict turnout, Kenneth Glasgow and his allies are pushing to extend the vote to millions of ex-felons. Will the flimsily supported charge against him undermine this movement on the verge of its greatest success?

      [...]

      The police arrived almost as soon as the shooting ended. Glasgow watched them inspect the Monte Carlo, which had come to a stop 60 yards up the road. Townes was up there as well, talking to a couple of officers. Glasgow said he’d been too busy taking cover to notice the younger man slip out of the car. It was at police headquarters that he learned the identity of the person who’d stolen Townes’ car: a 23-year-old woman Glasgow had never heard of, named Breunia Jennings. Even before taking the car, she’d been acting strangely that day, ranting on Facebook, shaving her head. Now she was dead.

      [...]

      On May 23, 2001, he appeared before the Orlando judge who’d presided over his last case. Glasgow was free to go home. In a video he made for TOPS, he summed up those years: “Fourteen different drug cases, two armed robberies, two or three batteries, and one grand theft.” Then he added an important caveat: “That’s my criminal record. That’s not my life record.”

    • #MeToo and human liberation

      It was about 50 years ago that the Women’s Liberation Movement began to speak out and protest against not only gender inequality and patriarchal social norms, but also forms of abuse against women. The classic name for men who sexually harassed women was ‘chauvinist pigs’. Back then, this term was widely and enthusiastically deployed in many different (and entirely appropriate) situations of sexual harassment. Having been a psychotherapist with female clients who were experiencing or had experienced abusive behaviour by males, I joined other men in severely criticizing that behaviour. But I am saddened that women still, in the twenty first century, need to demonstrate in mass against sexual harassment and sexual assault and that the #MeToo movement still needs to exist 50 years on. I am incredulous at the suffering that is the result of these forms of violence and abuse.

    • Indiana Police Officer Before Punching Handcuffed Man: “If You Spit Again, We’re Gonna Party”

      The mayor of Elkhart, Indiana, said Monday “in hindsight” his police chief should have handed down more severe punishment than reprimands to a pair of officers who now face criminal charges for repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the face.

      At the same time, Mayor Tim Neese defended Chief Ed Windbigler, who earlier told a civilian oversight board that the two officers had gone “a little overboard” with a man in custody, while saying nothing of punches being thrown. Windbigler also told the oversight board that no one suffered injuries, even though video shows the man being taken from the police station on a stretcher.

      “I think probably Chief Windbigler was not attempting to mislead anyone,” Neese said.

      The city announced Friday that misdemeanor battery charges would be filed against officers Cory Newland and Joshua Titus over their role in the incident. In the interview on Monday, the mayor said the case was only sent to prosecutors after a reporter for the South Bend Tribune asked for a copy of video of the incident.

    • The Violence Today: It’s Not Just “Hate”

      Look deeply into the violence on display today in the United States and we will see more than just generalized “hate.” We are not suffering only from disrespectful discourse or some deficiency in liberal civility. On the contrary, today’s hate has a certain structure. There is a specific matrix of vitriol that we must name and resist.

      The shooters are steeped not just in uncontrolled hateful rage, or even in eccentric personal despair and derangement. They have imbibed and ooze white racism and American nationalist xenophobia, directed at select groups at home and abroad.

      Such shooters are ready to kill innocent targets if they are members of what to them are threatening groups. These may be Blacks in a Black church or grocery store near Louisville, Kentucky as on last Wednesday, or American Jews at worship in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that Robert Bowers bloodied last Saturday morning.

      Trump like even some of CNN media opponents has decried the generalized “hate in our country.” Since the Pittsburgh massacre Trump seems to have learned the word “anti-Semitic” and is denouncing it. White House advisor Kellyanne Conway says “the lesson” from Pittsburgh is “anti-Semitism, the evil in the world.”

      [...]

      HIAS had condemned Trump’s travel ban against Muslim countries. It had called “shameful” Trump’s lowering of the ceiling for the number of refugees admissible into the U.S., bringing it to an all-time low. It had condemned the Trump administration for planning to send thousands of migrant children to an encampment in the Texas desert, and had partnered with other synagogues, also with churches and mosques for refugee resettlement, as in HIAS’s work celebrating Syrian refugee children in the U.S. While the HIAS hoped migrants moving across Mexico would observe all immigration rules and laws, the HIAS stated “Most fundamentally, we must remain committed to upholding the human rights of those seeking asylum.”

      Not surprisingly, then, it is not just Jews Bowers targeted, but the vast numbers of those in the migrant caravan from Central America who are Christians.

    • Hate Speech at Homeland Security

      Someone scrawled “KILL NIGGERS” on the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York this week, not thirty-five feet from the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE and the FBI.

      The racist graffiti showed up shortly before noon, Thursday, on the burial ground of 15,000 free and enslaved Africans on a memorial sign.

      The burial ground sits directly across from 26 Federal Plaza, down the block from the federal and state court houses, a stone’s throw from City Hall. The burial ground is on a short block of Duane street that is also home to the IRS, the NYPD and the US Court of International Trade. The street is closed to traffic by checkpoints and crash barriers and patrolled around the clock by federal police as well as the NYPD, the Parks Department and private guards.

      A bare expanse of grass with just a few explanatory plaques, the African Burial Ground attracts passers-by, and Thursday was a glorious day.

      Which is to say, someone, most likely in broad daylight beneath half a dozen surveillance cameras, felt confident enough to write “KILL NIGGERS” in capital letters on what has got to be one of the most highly policed blocks in the world.

      Who?

      Will we ever know? A picture of the graffiti was sent to the Public Advocate’s office and to a City Councillor. A call was made to the Hate Crimes Task Force, who transferred the caller to the NYPD, who have a precinct office a few feet away. The federal police are aware of the situation, I was told.

    • Democratic women outraise men among female donors — another record-breaking first

      With one week left before the 2018 elections, all eyes are on the female nominees after a set of primaries broke a number of glass ceilings — notably, a record number of women running as congressional candidates, a record amount of money donated to congressional candidates by women, and a record number of women as major party nominees in both the House and the Senate. There was a significant increase in the percentage of congressional campaign contributions coming from female donors, and the trends benefiting Democratic candidates, notably Democratic women, have continued through the pre-general election deadline.

      The 2018 election cycle largely shows increased participation by female donors to the benefit of Democratic candidates, both men and women. As with candidates, there has been a major surge in congressional contributions from women, again, to the benefit of Democratic candidates.

    • Tuesday’s Election: Racism and Anti-Semitism Versus Social Security and Medicare

      have followed politics closely since 1968. I have seen many unpleasant political figures. I have also seen many clear dog whistles to racists, with the racism lurking just below the surface.

      When Richard Nixon talked about being tough on crime, everyone knew the race of the criminals whose specter he was invoking. The same was true of Ronald Reagan with his racist stories about young Black men buying steaks with food stamps. And when George H.W. Bush ran an ad featuring Willie Horton, a convicted murderer, no one thought he was talking about prison reform.

      But, these politicians felt a need to at least put a thin veneer over their appeals to racism. That is not the case with Donald Trump and today’s Republicans. The racism is there for all to see, mixed in with a huge helping of anti-Semitism.

      Blatant racism and anti-Semitism is on display as the election approaches with Donald Trump hyperventilating about the prospect that a few thousand people from Central America may seek asylum in the United States. But there is a long list of actions and words that tie Donald Trump and the Republican Party to racists and anti-Semites.

    • The Census Citizenship Question Trial Starts Monday

      Trial begins Monday in a Manhattan federal court in two of the cases challenging the Trump administration’s controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Supreme Court Rejects Telecom Industry Calls To Hear Net Neutrality Case… For Now

      Before Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and friends convinced the Trump FCC to ignore the public and kill net neutrality, they attempted to dismantle the rules legally. That effort didn’t go very well, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholding the FCC’s Open Internet Order in June of 2016, and ISPs losing a subsequent en banc appeal. More specifically, the courts found that the former Wheeler-run FCC was well within its legal right to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under the Telecom Act.

      But, last August, lawyers for the FCC and Department of Justice (at direct telecom industry behest) filed a brief (pdf) with the Supreme Court, urging it to vacate the 2016 court ruling that upheld the Wheeler-era net neutrality rules. The move was necessary, FCC lawyers claimed, because the FCC’s comically-named “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal had somehow “repudiated those factual and legal judgments.” If you watched as the FCC repealed net neutrality using little more than lobbyist fluff and nonsense, it should be fairly obvious to you that wasn’t true.

      So what was the telecom industry and its BFFs in the Trump administration trying to do? They know their repeal of net neutrality was so filled with procedural missteps and outright fraud that they’re worried it will be overturned by next year’s net neutrality lawsuits, opening arguments for which begin in February. As such, they were hoping to undermine the established legal precedent supporting the 2015 rules in a bid to ensure they couldn’t and wouldn’t be restored.

    • The Unresolved Issue of Verizon Throttling Santa Clara’s Fire Department Shows Why ISPs Need Rules

      In August, it was revealed that Verizon throttled the wireless broadband services of fire fighters in the middle of a state emergency and spent four weeks debating with the local fire department while trying to upsell them a more expensive plan. This week, the Santa Clara Board of County Supervisors held a hearing to review what happened during the state’s worst fire in history. The hearing revealed that, Verizon’s statements to the contrary, nothing about this public safety issue have been resolved.

      EFF testified at the hearing to provide an understanding as to the legal and technical issues that are part of the conflict to assist the county in its review. In addition, EFF believes Verizon’s conduct would have subjected them to penalties under the 2015 Open Internet Order, because the actions by Verizon’s sales team appeared to be unjust and unreasonable under Title II of the Communications Act. Verizon have fully admitted that they were at fault and wrong to have engaged in the conduct and have offered to end some of the business practices that led to the problem for the west coast states and Hawaii.

      That said, the fact that the debate has centered so much on what Verizon is willing to do is part of the problem.

    • Web pioneer wants new ‘contract’ for internet

      The inventor of the worldwide web, Tim Berners-Lee, on Monday announced plans for a “contract” to ensure the internet remains “safe and accessible” for all.

      “All kinds of things have things have gone wrong,” the computer scientist, who in 1989 invented the Web as a platform, said at the opening of the Web Summit, Europe’s largest tech event.

      “We have fake news, we have problems with privacy, we have people being profiled and manipulated,” he said.

  • DRM

    • Charter Spectrum’s CEO Continues To Whine About Streaming Password Sharing

      For years now, streaming video providers like HBO and Netflix have taken a relatively-lax approach to password sharing. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has gone so far as to say he “loves” password sharing, and sees it as little more than free advertising. Execs at HBO (at least before the AT&T acquisition), have similarly viewed password sharing in such a fashion, arguing that young users in particular that share their parents password get hooked on a particular product via password sharing, then become full subscribers down the road once they actually have disposable income.

      On the other side of the equation sits Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, one of the highest paid execs in media. He, in contrast, has long complained that he views password sharing as “piracy”, and has consistently promised to crack down on the practice.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • German Federal Patent Court in Truvada (4 Ni 12/17) expounds on the requirements for SPCs based on patents claiming functionally defined active ingredients

      Practitioners dealing with supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) have been holding their breath at the unfolding of the “Truvada saga” around Gilead’s SPCs for the HIV medicament Truvada, which contains the active ingredients tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine. The lawsuits involving the Truvada SPCs in various European countries have already given rise to such noteworthy decisions as the CJEU’s judgment in Teva UK v. Gilead Sciences (C-121/17) of 25 July 2018, which set the current standard as to how the requirement under Article 3(a) of the SPC Regulation (EC) 469/2009 that the product must be “protected” by the basic patent is to be applied in the context of functional definitions of active ingredients, as well as the Swiss Federal Supreme Court’s judgment 4A_576/2017 of 11 June 2018, which effectively put an end to the “infringement test” in Switzerland.

      The German chapter of the “Truvada saga” began in 2011 with the grant of SPC no. DE 12 2005 000 041 to Gilead Sciences for the product “tenofovir disoproxil and salts, particularly the fumarate salt, hydrates, tautomers and solvates thereof in combination with emtricitabine”, following a ruling of the German Federal Patent Court (15 W (pat) 24/07) of 12 May 2011. In this decision, which predates the CJEU’s seminal Medeva judgment (C-322/10), the Federal Patent Court still applied an “infringement test” and found that the combination of tenofovir disoproxil with emtricitabine fell within the scope of protection of the basic patent and was therefore “protected” by the patent within the meaning of Article 3(a) of the SPC Regulation.

    • Failure to Disclose Prior License

      This case before the 11th Circuit involves a patent sale with a hidden prior license. Hollister bought two pending patent applications from Zassi. As part of the transaction, Zassi and its founder (Peter von Dyck) represented that the rights were “free and clear of any licenses.”

      Later, when Hollister sued two competitors, Bard and ConvaTek, for infringement it learned that Zassi had already licensed the technology to ConvaTek. Thus, while Bard paid $6 million for a license, the case against ConvaTek was dismissed. Hollister Inc. v. ConvaTec Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66638 (N.D. Ill. June 21, 2011), aff’d without opinion, Hollister Inc. v. ConvaTec Inc., 470 F. App’x 904 (Fed. Cir. 2012).

      Hollister then turned back to Zassi and von Dyck and sued for damages associated with the undisclosed license to ConvaTek. The jury sided with Zassi and von Dyk for breach of warranty of title and fraud. As a twist, however, the court awarded no damages. Using a case-within-a-case analysis, the district court found that ConvaTek’s actions were infringing, but-for the prior license. Hollister relied upon its license to Bard as a mechanism to calculate a reasonable royalty damage amount for ConvaTek as the “best, most comparable, most reliable evidence.” However, the district rejected the argument — finding that the settlement with Bard had now foundational basis other than being the amount the parties agreed upon. In other words, Hollister provided no objective economic approach showing the $6 million settlement was a reasonable royalty.

    • Administrative Law Observations on Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee

      Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee illustrates an important lesson for the patent bar: federal courts are far more familiar with administrative law than with patent law. Almost every federal court hears several times as many administrative law cases as patent cases. Even the Federal Circuit sees at least as many administrative law issues (involving various federal employees and contracts) as patent law issues. We patent lawyers need better issue spotting skills for administrative law issues, and when a case presents them, to best serve our clients, we must argue on administrative law grounds with administrative law expertise. Basic principles of good advocacy urge us to argue our cases on the courts’ choice of turf.

      Cuozzo is a prime illustration. Cuozzo lost an eminently winnable case. Both the loss and the Court’s murky reasoning stem from Cuozzo’s brief: the brief fails to mention a dead-on statute, and is all but silent on the Supreme Court’s administrative law case law. The murkiness creates many future opportunities for informed administrative law advocacy, as the law redevelops in light of Cuozzo’s ambiguities.

    • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Pfizer: Evergreening and Market Power as a Blockbuster Drug Goes Off Patent

      In Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd [2015] FCA 113 the ACCC alleged that Pfizer’s ‘Project LEAP’ involved a scheme to lock pharmacists into substituting its generic version of the high sales volume anti-cholesterol drug patent-expired Atorvastatin (Lipitor) which took advantage of a substantial degree of market power for a purpose proscribed by s 46(1)(c) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). The ACCC also claimed that Pfizer’s actions constituted a course of exclusive dealing pursuant to s 47(1)(d) and (e) for the proscribed purpose of lessening competition. Flick J in the Federal Court of Australia in a judgment heavy with quotations but sparse in reasoning, dismissed the ACCC’s Amended Originating Application alleging abuse of market power and ordered the ACCC to pay Pfizer’s costs. This column explores that case in the context of Pfizer’s broader strategies to preserve its income globally from this high sales volume drug.

      Note: This article was first published by Thomson Reuters in the Journal of Law and Medicine and should be cited as ‘Faunce TA, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Pfizer: Evergreening and Market Power as a Blockbuster Drug Goes Off Patent, 2015, 22, JLM, 771’.

      This publication is copyright. Other than for the purposes of and subject to the conditions prescribed under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of it may in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, microcopying, photocopying, recording or otherwise) be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted without prior written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia Limited. PO Box 3502, Rozelle NSW 2039.

    • For Motorola, patents provide the sword and the shield

      Patents can be a source of protection as well as pride. Few companies know this better than Motorola.

      The company recently won a lawsuit in Germany against Chinese rival Hytera Communications, which was found to have violated Motorola Solutions patents on hand-held radios going back 18 years. Not only has Hytera been ordered to stop selling the two-way radios, it also must recall the ones it’s already sold and destroy them. Motorola also won a preliminary ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission, barring Hytera from importing radios to the U.S. A final ruling is expected Nov. 16. Motorola also has sued Hytera for patent infringement, trade-secret violations and copyright infringement in U.S. District Court in Chicago in a case that could go to trial next year.

      Since the patent office opened in 1790, a patent has been how inventors protect their innovation from rivals who would copy it. Patents generally prevent competitors from copying an inventor’s work for 20 years unless they pay for it. Lawsuits are rare but can result in big paydays or payouts. Groupon recently lost a suit to IBM and will pay $57 million to license its technology.

    • Patent Awarded for DNA-Targeting Complex at Heart of CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing
    • Broadcom Makes $1 Billion Patent Claim Against Volkswagen

      U.S. semiconductor supplier Broadcom (AVGO.O) has made a patent claim for more than $1 billion against Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and is threatening to seek a judicial ban on the production of several car models, German magazine Der Spiegel said on Friday.

      A Volkswagen spokesman on Friday told Reuters that a legal action had been filed by Broadcom against the German carmaker over a patent issue without confirming the size of the claim.

      [...]

      …18 patents on Broadcom semiconductors which Volkswagen uses for navigation and entertainment system in some of its cars.

    • Copyrights

      • Join Us For the Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day This Weekend at The Internet Archive

        Join EFF and others on November 10 and 11 to celebrate the sixth annual Aaron Swartz Day, with a weekend of lectures, a virtual reality fair and a hackathon. This weekend we’ll join our friends at the Internet Archive in celebrating Aaron’s work as activist, programmer, entrepreneur, and political organizer.

        Aaron’s life was cut short in 2013, after he was charged under the notoriously draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for systematically downloading academic journal articles from the online database JSTOR. Despite the fact that the CFAA was originally enacted to stop malicious computer break-ins, federal prosecutors have for years stretched the law beyond its original intent, instead pushing for heavy penalties for any behavior they don’t like that involves a computer.

        This was the case for Aaron, who was charged with eleven counts under the CFAA. Facing decades in prison, Aaron took his own life at the age of 26. He would have turned 32 this week, on November 8.

        This weekend, you can help carry on the work that Aaron started. The hackathon, hosted at the Internet Archive, will be focused on SecureDrop, a system that Aaron helped build for anonymous whistleblower document submission. It is now maintained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. This year’s Aaron Swartz Day will also feature a virtual reality fair, showcasing virtual, augmented, and mixed reality work and several talks about the ways that artists, archivists, and programmers can use these new technologies. EFF will be demonstrating our own virtual reality “Spot the Surveillance” project, which teaches people how to identify the various spying technologies that police may deploy in communities.

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