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11.21.18

To Mask the Decline in Patent Quality, e.g. Granting of Software Patents a.k.a. Computer-Implemented Inventions (CII), EPO Makes Oppositions Harder

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Georg Weber
Photo source

Summary: Using a bunch of two-, three- and sometimes four-letter acronyms/buzzwords the EPO tries to rationalise the granting of patents on algorithms, dubbing these “emerging technologies”

FOR over a decade we have been protesting software patents in Europe, seeing how a directive against them was being worked around (“as such”) by Brimelow, then Battistelli and now more than ever by António Campinos, whom we mentioned this morning because of his blog advocating software patents.

“The above conference is yet more of the same advocacy of software patents under the guise of “emerging technologies” (marketing and buzzword).”Today’s EPO does not value quality, only money. The management of the EPO still believes it is a corporation that sells “products” to then send millions of euros into the bank accounts of its corrupt officials (or colleagues/other employers of theirs). As the EPO put it a few hours ago: “We aim at providing you with the best products for your patent information needs.”

“Products”?

Sadly, with the staff representatives gagged like never before and the media barely covering EPO affairs (see EPO PR from IP Kat, where earlier today Rose Hughes had nothing do say about EPO scandals, only press releases from the management of the European Patent Office), we often feel rather lonely in criticising serious abuses. Staff of the EPO essentially lost its voice. Instead of actual examiners expressing their views all we see out there is management spreading lies and engaging in mischievous behaviour. Hours ago the EPO wrote: “Georg Weber, operational director at the EPO, and Yann Ménière, EPO Chief Economist, will discuss how the EPO is rising to the challenge of searching #blockchain & its current patent landscape at our upcoming conference.”

“Management at the EPO suggests calling algorithms “AI” to get software patents in defiance of the EPC and the courts.”Georg Weber [1, 2] and Yann Ménière have long promoted software patents under the leadership of corrupt Battistelli. The above conference is yet more of the same advocacy of software patents under the guise of “emerging technologies” (marketing and buzzword). The EPO wrote earlier today: “Don’t delay – registration for our “Global patenting and emerging technologies” conference co-hosted with @GoI_MeitY on 29 Nov closes soon. See you in Munich!”

Then came the typical “AIpatents” nonsense: “If you are looking for insights from experts on patenting #AI, this summary of the EPO’s recent conference on the topic might be of interest to you: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

Management at the EPO suggests calling algorithms “AI” to get software patents in defiance of the EPC and the courts. They pretend it’s a new, emergent and separable discipline, but it clearly is not. José Santacroce (Moeller IP Advisors) wrote about it earlier today under the title “The European Patent Office (EPO) Publishes New Guidelines On Computer-Implemented Inventions (CII)” and to quote some bits:

The section on mathematical methods has been completely revised, adding a distinction between contribution in producing a technical effect that serves a technical purpose, by its application to a field of technology and/or by being adapted to a specific technical implementation.

[...]

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (G-II 3.3.1)

The new CII Guidelines for the first time provide a section relating to AI and ML, which are first defined as computational models and algorithms for classification, clustering, regression and dimensionality reduction. They are considered per se to be of an abstract mathematical nature, irrespective of whether they can be “trained” based on (real) training data.

In order to overcome the first hurdle, a causal link to the technical purpose should be established, e.g. use of mathematical method in a heart monitoring apparatus for the purpose of identifying irregular heartbeats, classification of digital images, videos, audio or speech signals based on edges or pixel attributes, and avoid using expressions that may encompass cognitive aspects of data (e.g. textual content of a document).

Furthermore, the new EPO CII Guidelines now specify that steps of generating the training set and training the AI models also may contribute to the technical character of the invention if they support achieving a technical purpose.

[...]

Inventions realized in a distributed computing environment (F-IV 3.9.3)

This new section relates to CII realized in a distributed computing environment, in order to give guidance on unity requirements.

The new EPO CII Guidelines specify that it may be necessary to refer to the specific features of the different entities in the environment and to define how they interact to ensure the presence of all essential features, unless this is not essential to performing the invention. The different entities participating in the distributed system can be claimed without incurring a non-unity objection, however it may happen that not all claimed entities are new and inventive. This is the case when for example an entity encodes information in a more efficient way, but an information-receiving entity decodes such encoded information in a conventional way: the information-receiving entity is normally neither new nor inventive.

Like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the EPO is trying to come up with new tricks to allow patents that should really be rejected outright. Can this be corrected? Well, it has just gotten a lot harder. As FRKelly’s David Brophy put it earlier today, the “EPO tightens up on inventive step attacks in opposition” (calling legitimate objections “attacks” is a gross inversion of narratives, presuming monopolies are benign).

So the management basically heralded changes that lower patent quality and make it harder to squash fake European Patents. To quote Brophy:

A recent change in the EPO Guidelines suggests that opponents will be constrained in the number of attacks which they can mount using different starting documents.

Opposition divisions have traditionally been reluctant to decide in advance which document is the closest prior art, and even less inclined to force an opponent to stick to that starting point. The opposition division will usually prefer to consider all attacks put forward (within reason) on the basis that the public interest requires them to be satisfied that the claims are non-obvious in the face of any plausible attack.

To be fair to the opposition divisions, the EPO Guidelines have traditionally supported this approach. Until a recent (November 1, 2018) revision, the instruction in the Guidelines stated:

In some cases there are several equally valid starting points for the assessment of inventive step… If a patent is to be granted, it may be necessary to apply the problem-and-solution approach to each of these starting points in turn… In such a situation, there is no need to discuss which document is “closest” to the invention; the only relevant question is whether the document used is a feasible starting point for assessing inventive step…”.

This passage gave opponents considerable latitude to present a multiplicity of attacks from different starting documents.

Some time soon the liars from the management of the EPO might claim a reduction in opposition, ‘proving’ that patent quality has improved rather than the decline obscured. The USPTO is trying to do the same thing by limiting access to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), particularly when it comes to inter partes reviews (IPRs). Appeals too have become a lot harder since Battistelli understaffed and attacked the independence of appeal boards’ judges.

Links 21/11/2018: Red Hat ‘Down Under’ and Microsoft Downtime

Posted in News Roundup at 5:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 ways to give thanks to open source and free software maintainers

    Every day, I use high-quality software that is developed and maintained by people who do not ask for payment, who respect my freedoms, and who are generous with their time and energy.

    In this season of giving thanks, I encourage those of you who also use and appreciate the work of open source and free software maintainers to express your gratitude. Here are ten ways to do that…

  • The best holiday gifts for open source enthusiasts

    Even the most hard-core open source users must spend their hard-earned dukets on computers, internet connectivity, and (on the occasion) software. So you don’t have to worry about being relegated to only giving them gifts released under the GPL (wrapping said gifts in pages torn from The Cathedral And The Bazaar).

    But what gifts should you give? Here are a few ideas that cover a wide spectrum of taste and price range for open source enthusiasts.

  • Where’s the beef? Wendy’s chooses an open source WCMS

    Wendys.com sells 1.5 million burgers a day via its website and app. At that scale, when it came time to update the back-end software supporting it, choosing a WCMS wasn’t as simple as running the Frosty machine.

    Earlier this year, the fast-food giant sought a simpler design but far more complex data tracking for personalization, said Michael Mancuso, the company’s head of digital analytics who also heads up Wendys.com. In this Pipeline podcast episode, he discusses the process for choosing a WCMS.

    Spoiler alert: Wendy’s didn’t weigh technology analyst reports that rank the market leaders. Acquia, the open source WCMS platform vendor, eventually beat out 24 other prospective vendors. (The vendor actually ranks well in such industry reports.)

  • Google Open-Sources BERT: A Natural Language Processing Training Technique

    In a recent blog post, Google announced they have open-sourced BERT, their state-of-the-art training technique for natural language processing (NLP) applications. Google has decided to do this, in part, due to a lack of public data sets that are available to developers. BERT also includes a new bidirectional technique which improves its effectiveness in NLP. To reduce the amount of time required for developers and researchers to train their NLP models, Google has made optimizations in Cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) which reduces the amount of time it takes to train a model to 30 minutes vs a few hours using a single GPU.

    [...]

    In addition to new techniques included in BERT, Google has made enhancements to Cloud TPUs which allow developers and researchers to quickly experiment, debug and tweak models. These investments allowed Google to exceed the capabilities of existing pre-training models.

  • ARM’s original operating system goes open source

    In today’s increasingly digital world, learning to code has become an integral part of STEM curriculums. Schools are using Raspberry Pi and other ARM-based hardware as a low-cost means of introducing students to coding.

    Following the recent news that RISC OS, the original ARM operating system, is going open source, TechRadar Pro sat down with the Director of RISC OS Developments, Richard Brown to learn more about how the operating system is being used in schools and other hardware projects.

  • Will Cloud Computing Kill Open Source Development? [Ed: Stupid headline, stupid article. There is no such thing as cloud, it's just servers and most of these run FOSS, so they're not competition to or incompatible with FOSS. The article is actually about a company going proprietary.]

    Redis changed the licensing of some of their enterprise modules to be licensed under the Apache 2.0+ Common Clause. These modules cannot be used as stand-alone commercial SAAS. This was specifically aimed at cloud providers.

    The surrounding controversy has raised an issue that has been lurking in the open source community for a while. The best case for open source has been with software infrastructure, rather than software application projects. If cloud computing companies become the infrastructure providers for software, their market control might allow them to take over open-source projects, and sell those software services at a lower price point than companies who market open source services.

    If this scenario comes to pass, is there any future for open source companies?

  • Open Source at 20: What’s Next? [Ed: FOSS is 35 years old, not 20. Stop setting to clock to when Free software came under attack.]

    As the open source movement reaches the two-decade milestone, thoughts turn to the movement’s achievements and future goals.

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2018. To mark the occasion, cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean surveyed over 4,300 developers on the movement’s health, as well as on how enterprises and employees are approaching and using open source technologies.

    [...]

    Open source is continuing to move toward increased corporate stewardship, advised Chris Kelly, director of engineering marketing and engagement at Salesforce. “We’ll continue to see more production-critical projects from companies being released as open source as a way to build industry consensus, accelerate hiring and [create] a gateway to their products,” he predicted.

  • Drone.io, Packet team on free continuous delivery service for open-source developers

    Drone.io, makers of the open-source Drone continuous integration/continuous delivery tool (CI/CD), announced Drone Cloud today, a new CI/CD cloud service that it’s making available for free to open-source projects. The company is teaming with Packet, which is offering to run the service for free on its servers.

    Drone.io co-founder Brad Rydzewski says his company is “a container-native continuous delivery platform, and its goal is to help automate the developer workflow from testing to release.” Continuous delivery is an approach built on cloud-native, the idea that you can manage cloud and on prem with single set of management tools. From a developer standpoint, it relies on containers as a way to continuously deliver application updates as changes happen.

    As part of that approach, the newly announced Drone Cloud provides a publicly hosted CI/CD cloud offering. “It’s free for the open-source community. So it’s an open source only offering. There’s no paid plan, and it’s only available to public GitHub repositories,” Rydzewski explained.

  • Red Hat partners with DICT on open source app platform

    RED HAT, INC. has partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on the creation of applications for the government using open source technology.

    “The collaboration with DICT is something with regards to developing a community of ISVs (independent software vendors) and developers within the Philippines that can leverage on open source innovations and the way that we have discussed, moving forward, with DICT is to provide DICT with a platform, a sandbox platform comprising Red Hat technologies,” Damien Wong, vice president and general manager of Asian Growth and Emerging Markets (GEM) at Red Hat, said during the launch of the company’s Philippine office.

  • Web Browsers

    • Best browsers for privacy

      No browser is 100 percent confidential. However, the best of the privacy-minded browsers promise to block ads and cookies and allow for extensions to disrupt trackers even further.

      With a number of options out there for private browsing, we take a look at the best browsers on the market for privacy.

    • Mozilla

      • This Week in Rust 261

        This week’s crate is cargo-sweep, a cargo subcommand to clean cargo’s various temporaries. Thanks to Viktor Holmgren for the suggestion!

      • Translate the Web

        With 100+ languages at the ready, Google Translate is the go-to translation tool for millions of people around the world. But for folks who need to make frequent translations on the web, it?s a hassle to copy text from a web page, navigate over to translate.google.com, paste it in, return to your page, etc. Fortunately there are a number of Firefox browser extensions that streamline the translation process, and in some cases even add new features. Here are two exceptional examples:

      • WebRender newsletter #31

        Greetings! I’ll introduce WebRender’s 31st newsletter with a few words about batching.

        Efficiently submitting work to GPUs isn’t as straightforward as one might think. It is not unusual for a CPU renderer to go through each graphic primitive (a blue filled circle, a purple stroked path, and image, etc.) in z-order to produce the final rendered image. While this isn’t the most efficient way, greater care needs to be taken in optimizing the inner loop of the algorithm that renders each individual object than in optimizing the overhead of alternating between various types of primitives. GPUs however, work quite differently, and the cost of submitting small workloads is often higher than the time spent executing them.

        I won’t go into the details of why GPUs work this way here, but the big takeaway is that it is best to not think of a GPU API draw call as a way to draw one thing, but rather as a way to submit as many items of the same type as possible. If we implement a shader to draw images, we get much better performance out of drawing many images in a single draw call than submitting a draw call for each image. I’ll call a “batch” any group of items that is rendered with a single drawing command.

      • The EU Terrorist Content Regulation – a threat to the ecosystem and our users’ rights

        In September the European Commission proposed a new regulation that seeks to tackle the spread of ‘terrorist’ content on the internet. As we’ve noted already, the Commission’s proposal would seriously undermine internet health in Europe, by forcing companies to aggressively suppress user speech with limited due process and user rights safeguards. Here we unpack the proposal’s shortfalls, and explain how we’ll be engaging on it to protect our users and the internet ecosystem.

        As we’ve highlighted before, illegal content is symptomatic of an unhealthy internet ecosystem, and addressing it is something that we care deeply about. To that end, we recently adopted an addendum to our Manifesto, in which we affirmed our commitment to an internet that promotes civil discourse, human dignity, and individual expression. The issue is also at the heart of our recently published Internet Health Report, through its dedicated section on digital inclusion.

        At the same time lawmakers in Europe have made online safety a major political priority, and the Terrorist Content regulation is the latest legislative initiative designed to tackle illegal and harmful content on the internet. Yet, while terrorist acts and terrorist content are serious issues, the response that the European Commission is putting forward with this legislative proposal is unfortunately ill-conceived, and will have many unintended consequences. Rather than creating a safer internet for European citizens and combating the serious threat of terrorism in all its guises, this proposal would undermine due process online; compel the use of ineffective content filters; strengthen the position of a few dominant platforms while hampering European competitors; and, ultimately, violate the EU’s commitment to protecting fundamental rights.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • What’s Coming in OpenStack Stein?

      In a video interview with ServerWatch, Jonathan Bryce, Executive Director of the OpenStack Foundation outlines some of the new an enhanced capabilities that will be coming in the OpenStack Stein release.

      “There is a focus on operations, there is a focus on security and there are updates to the upgrade process and continuing to improve that,” Bryce said.

      In the Queens release cycle, OpenStack starting talking about the notion of “fast forward” upgrades, whereby OpenStack operators could skip a release, instead of needing to upgrade to each consecutive release, in order to stay current.

      In terms of new things coming in OpenStack Stein, Bryce said that he expects to see a lot of accelerator work. The accelerator work is being done in the core OpenStack Nova compute project as well as the OpenStack Cyborg project, which provides a framework for managing hardware and software acceleration resources. Acceleration resources include multiple hardware components including GPUs, FPGAs, ASICS and other different processor types.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • The State of the Octoverse: top programming languages of 2018 [Ed: The programming world according to Microsoft]

      At the core of every technology on GitHub is a programming language. In this year’s Octoverse report, we published a brief analysis of which ones were best represented or trending on GitHub. In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into why—and where—top programming languages are popular.

      There are dozens of ways to measure the popularity of a programming language. In our report, we used the number of unique contributors to public and private repositories tagged with the appropriate primary language. We also used the number of repositories created and tagged with the appropriate primary language.

    • Oracle BrandVoice: By Welcoming Women, Python’s Founder Overcomes Closed Minds In Open Source [Ed: Oracle is a sexist company; this is Oracle trying to smear FOSS with stigma.]
  • BSD

    • [Old] How to Increase OpenBSD’s Resilience to Power Outages

      Most of the OpenBSD systems I am in charge of are deployed in data centres, powered by UPSs which provide them with electrical power during periods of public grid power outages. But there is also a number of OpenBSD systems I administer, which are deployed in much less favourable conditions; where frequent power outages last longer than UPS batteries do, or where there are no UPSs at all (such as branch office routers in godforsaken places where having electricity and Internet access at all is considered a lucky circumstance). These latter systems are likely to have high rate of unclean shutdowns caused by prolonged or unexpected power outages, which in turn increase the probability of their inability to boot without human intervention. This article describes steps to make OpenBSD system more resilient to unexpected power outages by minimising the possibility of inconsistent file systems after unclean shutdowns, which is achieved by mounting all disk partitions in read-only mode. Filesystems which have to be writable – /var, dev and /tmp – are mounted as writable memory file systems.

    • Games on FreeBSD

      What do all programmers like to do after work? Ok, what do most programers like to do after work? The answer is simple: play a good game! Recently at the Polish BSD User Group meetup mulander was telling us how you can play games on OpenBSD. Today let’s discuss how this looks in the FreeBSD world using the “server only” operating system.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP is a free, open source and powerful image editing software

      GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is undoubtedly the most popular free image editing software, and some even call it as the free Photoshop Alternative. If you are looking for a free tool that can let you edit your Photoshop files and offers a rich experience, GIMP is the right choice. This raster graphics editor comes with a lot of powerful features and enjoys support from an ever-growing open source community. Learning it, however, will take some time.

      GIMP was originally designed for Linux systems, but that does not mean Windows support is loose. It has been beautifully ported to Windows and runs as smooth as it does on Linux. I have very less experience in image editing, but I have seen this tool being used by a number of Photographers, Graphic Designers and people in the imaging industry. It is good to go for free alternatives to expensive tools like Photoshop.

    • Ampere eMAG Tuning For The GCC Compiler

      A revised patch was posted on Tuesday for adding ARMv8 tuning support for Ampere Computing’s eMAG platform.

      Ampere eMAG is the very compelling ARM 64-bit server platform we began benchmarking last month. With up to 3A revised patch was posted on Tuesday for adding ARMv8 tuning support for Ampere Computing’s eMAG platform.

      Ampere eMAG is the very compelling ARM 64-bit server platform we began benchmarking last month. With up to 32 cores and up to 3.3GHz turbo clock frequencies, it’s quite a speedy ARM server platform. But with some GCC tuning can perhaps be even more competitive.

      The patch adds the “emag” target for tuning and adds its tuning values to the table. 2 cores and up to 3.3GHz turbo clock frequencies, it’s quite a speedy ARM server platform. But with some GCC tuning can perhaps be even more competitive.

      The patch adds the “emag” target for tuning and adds its tuning values to the table.

  • Red Hat and Oracle

    • Oracle Exploring DTrace With eBPF

      While this year Oracle was successful in getting DTrace working well on Linux assuming you apply their patches or (more easily) using their Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel on Oracle Linux, they are looking at enhancing DTrace with the increasingly-used eBPF framework / in-kernel JIT.

    • Red Hat Exec Says IBM Must Keep the Open-Source Culture Untouched

      IBM buying Red Hat for $34 billion took many by surprise, including none other than the company’s senior vice president of Customer Experience and Engagement, Marco Bill-Peter.

      Speaking at the Red Hat Forum 2018 in Sydney, Bill-Peter explained that the acquisition “shocked” the company’s employees, suggesting that this takeover should take place smoothly in order to leave the open-source culture untouched.

      Otherwise, Red Hat’s mission would be altered and this could eventually lead to en-masse departures from the company.

      “At Red Hat we have like 13,000 people. If the open source culture gets impacted, trust me, many of those 13,000 people will leave,” he was quoted as saying.

      [...]

      Red Hat has long been a target for tech giants, and while the IBM takeover took many by surprise, people familiar with the matter revealed many years ago that talks over a potential acquisition involved several other companies, including software firm Microsoft and Google.

    • Red Hat announces full support for Clang/LLVM, Go, and Rust
    • PyCon Canada 2018

      I’ve very happy to have had the opportunity to attend and speak at PyCon Canada here in Toronto last week.

      PyCon has always been a very well organized conference. There are a wide range of talks available, even on topics not directly related to Python. I’ve attended previous PyCon events in the past, but never the Canadian one!

      My talk was titled How Mozilla uses Python to Build and Ship Firefox. The slides are available here if you’re interested. I believe the sessions were recorded, but they’re not yet available online. I was happy with the attendance at the session, and the questions during and after the talk.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Govt pledge to put all services online by 2025

      The Federal Government has said it would make all services with which citizens have to interact accessible online by 2025, according to a Digital Transformation Strategy released by Human Services and Digital Transformation Minister Michael Keenan on Wednesday.

    • The DIY Tinkerers Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence

      So the age of homebrew AI may not be all sweetness and light. Nor will it be all darkness and porn. Mostly, its expressions will be marvelous in their specificity. Meet some of the pioneers showing what happens when the masses can teach computers new tricks.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump Administration Defends Legality of VA Shadow Rulers

      The Trump administration is defending the legality of having three Trump associates help steer the Department of Veterans Affairs from the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort, asserting that a Watergate-era sunshine law on advisory committees shouldn’t apply.

      In a court filing last week, the government lawyers argued in part that the trio didn’t fit the law’s definition of an advisory committee because rather than being under the agency’s control, the three men reportedly wielded influence over the agency.

      “Far from alleging that the department managed or controlled the three individuals, the complaint asserts quite the opposite: that the three individuals asserted influence over the department,” Justice Department lawyers said in the filing, which was submitted on Friday.

    • With ‘Unlimited Funds to Lie,’ Insurance Industry Readies Propaganda Blitz as Medicare for All Surges

      Medicare for All is rapidly surging in popularity among the American public and gaining momentum in Congress, but private insurance interests and Big Pharma have no intention of giving up their immensely profitable stranglehold on the U.S. healthcare system without a fight.

      According to strategy documents obtained by The Intercept and the watchdog group Documented, the private healthcare industry is working aggressively alongside corporate Democrats to spread anti-single payer propaganda and “minimize the potential” for Medicare for All as an alternative to the current for-profit status quo.

    • Paradise Lost

      The air quality of the San Francisco Bay Area is the worst in the world right now. We all have air quality apps on our phones now to keep up and as I type the air particles pollution index just went up to 217, as a comparison Beijing, for years vilified as the city with the worst air quality in the world, today is 75. It is really dangerous for anyone to be out in it even with a N95. That is the best over the counter face mask that is now common and known just by its number. As we go into the second week of this, more and more people are inside and those few outside are wearing N95’s, and for the thousands of homeless, well they, as usual, are on their own.

      What is sinking into the consciousness of all is that the destination State; the so called Golden State is seriously tarnished. The streets seem abandoned as schools, businesses – and even San Francisco’s famed cable cars are closed. The common view of seeing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge across the bay is becoming a thing of the past and part of the wardrobe of our grand children will most likely require face masks.

      There are 3 major fires still not under control in California, 2 in the South and one in Butte County, 165 miles up wind from where we live in Oakland and that fire is the source of the worst air quality here ever. The Butte wildfire is now on record as the worst fire in California history and the worst in the U.S. in over a century. Over 140,000 acres have burned and over 13,000 structures have been turned to ash; 9,800 of them homes.

    • In Throes Of Turkey Salmonella Outbreak, Don’t Invite Illness To Your Table

      As Americans prepare to cook and consume nearly 50 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day, an ongoing outbreak of salmonella poisoning linked to the poultry means food safety at home is more critical than ever.

      Federal health officials have identified no single source of the outbreak of Salmonella Reading, which has sickened at least 164 people in 35 states during the past year.

      As of Nov. 5, the bacterial strain has led to 63 hospitalizations and, in California, one death.

      Many who fell ill reported preparing or eating such products as ground turkey, turkey parts and whole birds. Some had pets who ate raw turkey pet food; others worked at turkey processing plants or lived with someone who did.

      Late Thursday, Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales LLC of Barron, Wis., recalled more than 91,000 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may be connected to the illnesses.

      There is no U.S. requirement that turkeys or other poultry be free of salmonella — including antibiotic-resistant strains like the one tied to the outbreak — so prevention falls largely to consumers.

    • Leaks reveal the health care industry’s playbook for smearing and spinning Medicare for All out of existence by 2020

      The effort to reframe the debate has two prongs: a set of messages crafted for elite DC policymakers and another set aimed at heading off the mounting public approval for Medicare for All, now supported by 70% of Americans including a majority of registered Republicans.

    • Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology

      What people communicate is a matter of choice. But what can be more revealing are the issues they choose to avoid. There are certain prominent pro-GMO activists who describe themselves as ‘science communicators’. They hit out at those who question their views or who have valid criticisms of GM technology and then play the role of persecuted victim, believing that, as the self-appointed arbiters of righteousness, they are beyond reproach, although given their duplicity nothing could be further from the truth.

      Instead of being open to questioning, they attempt to close down debate to push a flawed technology they have a vested (financial-career) interest in, while all the time appealing to their self-perceived authority, usually based on holding a PhD in molecular biology or a related discipline.

      They relentlessly promote GM and industrial agriculture and unjustifiably cast critics as zealots who are in cahoots with Greenpeace or some other group they have a built-in dislike of. And they cynically raise or lower the bar of ‘credibility’ by ad hominem and misrepresentation so that studies, writers and scientists who agree with them are commended while those who don’t become subjected to smear campaigns.

    • You Snooze, You Lose: Insurers Make The Old Adage Literally True

      Millions of sleep apnea patients rely on CPAP breathing machines to get a good night’s rest. Health insurers use a variety of tactics, including surveillance, to make patients bear the costs. Experts say it’s part of the insurance industry playbook.

      [...]

      Schmidt, 59, has sleep apnea, a disorder that causes worrisome breaks in his breathing at night. Like millions of people, he relies on a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine that streams warm air into his nose while he sleeps, keeping his airway open. Without it, Schmidt would wake up hundreds of times a night; then, during the day, he’d nod off at work, sometimes while driving and even as he sat on the toilet.

      “I couldn’t keep a job,” he said. “I couldn’t stay awake.” The CPAP, he said, saved his career, maybe even his life.

      As many CPAP users discover, the life-altering device comes with caveats: Health insurance companies are often tracking whether patients use them. If they aren’t, the insurers might not cover the machines or the supplies that go with them.

      In fact, faced with the popularity of CPAPs, which can cost $400 to $800, and their need for replacement filters, face masks and hoses, health insurers have deployed a host of tactics that can make the therapy more expensive or even price it out of reach.

      Patients have been required to rent CPAPs at rates that total much more than the retail price of the devices, or they’ve discovered that the supplies would be substantially cheaper if they didn’t have insurance at all.

    • Your Medical Devices Are Not Keeping Your Health Data to Themselves

      Medical devices are gathering more and more data from their users, whether it’s their heart rates, sleep patterns or the number of steps taken in a day. Insurers and medical device makers say such data can be used to vastly improve health care.

      But the data that’s generated can also be used in ways that patients don’t necessarily expect. It can be packaged and sold for advertising. It can anonymized and used by customer support and information technology companies. Or it can be shared with health insurers, who may use it to deny reimbursement. Privacy experts warn that data gathered by insurers could also be used to rate individuals’ health care costs and potentially raise their premiums.

      Patients typically have to give consent for their data to be used — so-called “donated data.” But some patients said they weren’t aware that their information was being gathered and shared. And once the data is shared, it can be used in a number of ways.

    • HHS Holding Fetal Tissue ‘Listening Sessions’ With Scientists and Anti-Choice Groups

      The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is continuing its audit into its fetal tissue research policies by consulting with scientists and anti-choice groups.

      HHS officials scheduled a “listening session” for Friday with several scientist groups including the American Society for Cell Biology, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and the Society for Neuroscience to discuss the agency’s policies and funding for research using fetal tissue. Agencies officials have already met with anti-choice groups on the issue according to a report by Politico. An HHS spokesperson confirmed to Rewire.News that the agency would be holding multiple listening sessions “with various stakeholders e.g. scientists, pro-life groups, ethicists” on this issue.

      It’s unclear exactly which anti-choice groups have consulted with HHS regarding fetal tissue policies, but the Susan B. Anthony List has been named in multiple reports as having met with agency officials. The president of the group, Marjorie Dannenfelser, signed a September letter from several anti-choice groups to HHS Secretary Alex Azar calling for a ban on federal fetal tissue research grants.

      “HHS has initiated a comprehensive review of all research involving fetal tissue to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations governing such research, and to ensure the adequacy of procedures and oversight of this research in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved,” said the spokesperson in an email. “Finally, HHS is continuing to review whether adequate alternatives exist to the use of human fetal tissue in HHS-funded research and will ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • How Azure AD Could Be Vulnerable to Brute-Force and DOS Attacks

      Azure AD is the de facto gatekeeper of Microsoft cloud solutions such as Azure, Office 365, Enterprise Mobility. As an integral component of their cloud ecosystem, it is serving roughly 12.8 million organizations, 950+ million users worldwide, and 90% of Fortune 500 companies on a growing annual basis. Given such a resume, one might presume that Azure Active Directory is secure, but is it?

      Despite Microsoft itself proclaiming “Assume Breach” as the guiding principle of their security strategy, if you were to tell me a week ago that Azure or Office 365 was vulnerable to rudimentary attacks and that it could not be considered secure, then I probably would have even laughed you out of the room. But when a client of ours recently had several of their Office 365 mailboxes compromised by a simple brute-force attack, I was given no alternative but to question the integrity of Azure AD as a whole instead of attributing the breach to the services merely leveraging it and what I found wasn’t reassuring.

      After a simple “Office 365 brute force” search on google and without even having to write a line of code, I found that I was late to the party and that Office 365 is indeed susceptible to brute force and password spray attacks via remote Powershell (RPS). It was further discovered that these vulnerabilities are actively being exploited on a broad scale while remaining incredibly difficult to detect during or after the fact. Skyhigh Networks named this sort of attack “Knock Knock” and went so far as estimating that as many as 50% of all tenants are actively being attacked at any given time. Even worse, it seems as if there is no way to correct this within Azure AD without consequently rendering yourself open to denial of service (DOS) attacks.

    • Looking for an open source password manager? Give Bitwarden a spin

      Everyone needs a password manager to surf the web safely — they enable you to set virtually crack-proof passwords for all your online accounts, plus store a range of other sensitive data too, all locked behind a single master password.

      If you’re unsatisfied with your current offering, or looking to support an open source alternative, then look at 8bit Solutions LLC’s Bitwarden 1.10.0 and Bitwarden for mobile 1.19.4.

    • This ML Algorithm Can Find Hackers Who Have Broken In Before

      Cybersecurity agencies generally focus on preventing hackers from getting inside systems instead of stopping them from leaking information out. Now a new cybersecurity company called Darktrace is acting on this idea.

      They have developed a tool, in collaboration with mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, that uses machine learning to catch internal breaches.

    • UserLAnd Now Available on F-Droid, New Darktrace Cybersecurity Company, France Is Dumping Google, KDE Bug Day Focusing on Okular November 27th and SuperTux Alpha Release

      A new cybersecurity company called Darktrace has developed a tool in collaboration with the University of Cambridge that uses machine learning to detect internal security breaches. According to FossBytes, Darktrace created an algorithm that “recognizes new instances of unusual behavior”. This technique is “based on unsupervised learning, which doesn’t require humans to specify what to look for. The system works like the human body’s immune system.”

    • Did you hear? There’s a critical security hole that lets web pages hijack computers. Of course it’s Adobe Flash’s fault
    • Critical Adobe Flash Bug Impacts Windows, macOS, Linux and Chrome OS
  • Defence/Aggression

    • In Death, Khashoggi Exposes the Corruption of Kushner and Trump

      Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are nominally U.S. allies. We need the former for its strategic military bases and the latter for both its oil and its vast investment capital. Despite being a NATO member and ostensibly a democracy, Turkey jails more journalists than almost any other country in the world. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is a full-blown dictatorship, and despite a valiant attempt to portray MbS as a Western-style reformer, the crown prince has tightened, not loosened, his grip on absolute power in Saudi Arabia.

    • Trump signals Saudis won’t face severe punishment for Khashoggi killing

      Trump refused to blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s killing even though the CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered his assassination. The CIA on Tuesday was expected to share its full report on the killing with Trump.

    • Washington Post rips Trump’s Saudi statement

      “[Trump] is placing personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests in his desire to continue to do business as usual with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Ryan said in a statement.

      “The CIA has thoroughly investigated the murder of this innocent journalist and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the crown prince. If there is reason to doubt the findings of the CIA, President Trump should immediately make that evidence public.”

    • Corker mocks White House as ‘public relations firm’ for Saudi crown prince

      “I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Corker wrote in a retweet of Trump’s statement questioning whether the crown prince was responsible for the death of U.S.-based dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    • Trump Saudi statement: What the president’s words reveal

      “Statement from President Donald J Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia” – the title of the White House release leaves little doubt about where he comes down on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    • Lockheed tapped to mitigate F-35 processor obsolescence

      Lockheed Martin is being contracted to mitigate the upcoming obsolescence of F-35 JSF essential semiconductors. Awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command, the $41.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order provides for procurement of new Xilinx and Intel-Altera field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). [...]

    • The Ingredients Powering the DOD’s New Nonlethal Weapons

      We may never know whether Cuba attacked American diplomats with microwave weapons—but we do know similar devices exist. The US Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, along with a host of private arms companies, has spent decades testing everything from long-range wireless Taser bullets to sonic guns that can disable a car engine from 150 feet away. The one requirement: These weapons must emit less than 10,000 joules, the amount of energy it takes to kill a person. Bombs incite wars, the thinking goes—but North Korea miiight forgive the “accidental discharge” of a directed-energy laser pulser (also, as it happens, in the works).

    • America’s nuclear arsenal relies on this brand-new supercomputer
    • What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?

      On the afternoon of 11 November 1918, my father Claud Cockburn, then aged 14, covertly threw the keys of the main gate of his school out of an upstairs window to a soldier waiting below. His purpose was to allow the soldiers being trained locally to break into Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire and thrash it in retaliation for the refusal of the headmaster, Charles Greene, to call a school holiday to celebrate the armistice, which had just been declared. Many pupils, including Claud, objected to this decision, as did the soldiers, angry at what they saw as an unpatriotic failure to celebrate victory adequately after four years of war.

      But the soldiers and schoolboys were both mistaken about the headmaster’s motives: Charles Greene, whose third son was the novelist Graham Greene, supported the war, but he was acutely aware of its terrible cost, not least to former Berkhamsted pupils, of whom no less than 230 had been killed, their names commemorated by plaques outside the school chapel, while a further 1,145 were still in the armed forces as the war ended. “Most of the sixth form were wiped out year after year,” Claud recalled 60 years later. “I know when I was in the sixth form, I think that only 10 per cent of the previous year were still alive.” Greene, a liberally minded man with great force of character, had had the grim experience of seeing those whom he had just been teaching called up when they reached the age of 18 and, all too often, they were reported killed or wounded a few months later.

      The end of the slaughter might have led Greene to declare a holiday, but he reached a radically different conclusion about how the peace should best be celebrated. He had time to think about this because the news that the German kaiser and crown prince had abdicated reached Berkhamsted on Sunday 10 November and the announcement of the end of the war would clearly follow shortly. When the armistice was signed at 11am the following day, Greene announced the fact to staff and pupils who sang “God Save the King” before dispersing. He did not make the expected announcement about the holiday but instructed everyone to go on working as if this was a normal day. He justified this by arguing that, with 5 million allied soldiers killed, the survivors had to work even harder to make best use of the victory for the good of civilisation and could not afford to take holidays. “We must go on,” he said. “Now is the time for effort.”

    • Criminal Behavior: US May be Developing Biological Weapons

      The United States has great tolerance for wholesale killings. Think Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Think civilians killed in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq – in U.S. wars. Think biological weapons.

      An article appearing October 4, 2018 in Science magazine deals with a U.S. Defense Department project named “Insect Allies” which began in 2017 and runs for four years. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)is providingfour U.S. Universities with $45 million in funding to enable researchers to alter the gene make-up of plants grown as crops on farms. DARPA claims to be “addressing national security challenges in agriculture domestically and abroad.” Genes are being “edited”, says DARPA, so that plants can resist diseases, drought, floods, excessive heat, or “natural or engineered harmful biological agents,”

      Yet the five authors of the report, evolutionary biologists and lawyers at German and French Universities, see the U.S. Defense Department as probably developing offensive biological-warfare capabilities. The United States, they explain, actually may be working on an innovative mechanism of genetic modification programmed to reduce productivity rather than to maintain or increase it.

      The authors write that the “knowledge to be gained from this program appears very limited in its capacity to enhance U.S. agriculture or respond to national emergencies.” They condemn the project “as probably in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which tookeffect under United Nations auspices in 1975.

      The 182 nations ratifying the BWC as of 2018 are committed to prohibiting the “development, production, and stockpiling” of such weapons. In 1969 President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would no longer be making offensive biological weapons.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Indictment of Julian Assange Is a Threat to Press Freedom

      “I love WikiLeaks!” candidate Trump proclaimed in 2016. Now Julian Assange has learned what Donald’s love is worth: a sealed criminal indictment.

      If the consequences for the First Amendment weren’t so sobering, it would be a savage cosmic joke. First, Assange—convinced the Obama administration would snatch him up if given half a chance—sentences himself to indefinite confinement in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Then, believing Hillary Rodham Clinton is a “sadistic sociopath,” he publishes those Russia-hacked Democratic National Committee e-mails at a pivotal moment in the campaign. Now the administration that Assange helped elect (headed by a genuinely sociopathic president who actually endorsed torture and rendition) takes the very step against him that Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, consistently refused.

      What to make of this bizarre turn? The murky hints inadvertently revealed in a Justice Department filing leave much about the Assange indictment unclear. Do the charges relate to Robert Mueller’s Russian-hacking inquiry? Or to earlier leaks of classified documents? (My money says the latter: A sloppy breach of news about Assange would seem out of character for the fiercely disciplined and silent Mueller team.) Is it an unprecedented charging of a publisher under the Espionage Act, or some more conventional criminal complaint? Is there even an active indictment at all, or merely a determination by Trump’s Justice Department to pursue one? Regardless, what we know is enough: The notion of sealed charges against a publisher of leaked documents ought to have warning sirens screaming in every news organization, think tank, research service, university, and civil-liberties lobby.

      Assange, of course, doesn’t make it easy. From the founding of WikiLeaks he has been a confounding figure. His historic innovation—an anonymous dropbox for otherwise-secret data—changed investigative reporting. The breadth of WikiLeaks’ disclosures, commingled with Assange’s own idiosyncratic motivations for what to publish and what to withhold, have tied lawyers and press-freedom advocates into knots for the better part of a decade. But now—with the charge against Assange coming amid the Trump administration’s broader assault on journalists—this once-academic debate takes on fierce urgency.

      Is Assange a journalist at all? That’s where the argument usually begins, and too often ends. As NYU law professor Stephen Gillers points out in his penetrating and essential new book Journalism Under Fire: Protecting the Future of Investigative Reporting, the most far-reaching federal shield law proposed in recent years to protect reporters—the Free Flow of Information Act, introduced by Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham in 2013 but never passed—explicitly wrote WikiLeaks out of the equation, denying protection to outfits whose “principal function” is publishing “primary source documents…without authorization.” The dividing line, says Gillers, is “editorial judgment”: What defines WikiLeaks as non-journalism is that it is an undiscriminating document dump. For years that same argument has allowed many traditional news organizations to keep their distance from WikiLeaks’ overtly activist publishing.

    • Trump: ‘I don’t know anything’ about Julian Assange
    • Australian establishment collaborates in US vendetta against Julian Assange

      A court document surfaced last week confirming that the United States Department of Justice has secretly filed criminal charges against Australian citizen Julian Assange for his journalistic work as the editor of WikiLeaks. For exposing US and allied war crimes and diplomatic conspiracies, Assange has been threatened since 2010 with extradition to the US for a show trial on charges of “espionage” or “conspiracy.”

      The revelation that US charges have been laid vindicates the position taken by Assange and his defenders to fight against the arrest warrant issued against him, in November 2010, to answer “questions” over spurious allegations he had committed sexual assault in Sweden. The allegations were fabricated to give ammunition for pro-US mouthpieces to discredit Assange and as the means of rendering him to a country from where he could be rapidly extradited.

      The US-motivated Swedish warrant, and the support given to it by the British government and courts, forced Assange to seek political asylum in the small Ecuadorian embassy in London on June 19, 2012. For over six years, he has lived under fraught conditions, deprived of direct sunlight and adequate medical care.

    • Ecuador won’t last forever: Assange will likely stand trial in US, ex-CIA director says

      Julian Assange can’t stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London forever – and when he finally does leave, he’ll likely be extradited to the US, former CIA director John Brennan mused in a recent interview.

      Asked by MSNBC’s Brian Williams on Monday if he thought “we’ll ever seen Julian Assange on American soil” or “inside an American courtroom,” the Obama-era top spook responded in the affirmative.

    • WikiLeaks ‘absolutely protected under the First Amendment’ – Lionel

      As the US Department of Justice files undisclosed criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warn that prosecuting Assange could lead to crackdowns on other journalists and news organizations. Lionel of Lionel Media joins Steve Malzberg to share his insights.

    • Trump denies knowing ‘much about’ WikiLeaks’ Assange
    • Case against WikiLeaks founder Assange is a crisis for the First Amendment

      The Justice Department has prepared criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is working behind the scenes to have him extradited to the United States. Press freedom and the right to dissent may hang in the balance.

      The criminal charges were accidentally revealed last week when Assange’s name was found on the court filing of an unrelated case, suggesting that prosecutors had copied a boilerplate text and forgotten to change the defendant’s name.

      Barry Pollack, a US lawyer on Assange’s team, told the New York Times: “The news that criminal charges have apparently been filed against Mr. Assange is even more troubling than the haphazard manner in which that information has been revealed.” Pollack continued, “The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take.”

      Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after seeking protection against sexual assault allegations in Sweden. While the initial arrest warrant has since been revoked, if Assange leaves the embassy he runs the risk of being apprehended by UK authorities and extradited to the United States, a process greatly facilitated by the recent criminal charges.

    • Trump: ‘I don’t know anything’ about Julian Assange

      President Trump said Tuesday that he doesn’t “know anything” about WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who is reportedly facing a secret criminal case filed by the Trump administration.

      “I don’t know anything about him, really,” Trump said on the south lawn of the White House after being asked if Assange should go free and if the Justice Department should drop its case. “I don’t know much about him. I really don’t”

    • Trump says he ‘does not know anything’ about Assange, gets called out on hypocrisy

      President Donald Trump said he doesn’t “know much” about WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, dodging a reporter’s question on whether the editor should go free. The claim follows reports that the US has secretly charged Assange.

      Speaking to reporters at the White House on Tuesday, Trump produced a stunning claim, saying that he has a very superficial knowledge about the most famous self-exiled fugitive in the world.

    • Randy Credico Claimed Not To Know Any WikiLeaks Lawyers. Turns Out He Is Represented By One

      Mueller grand jury witness Randy Credico’s relationship with an attorney for WikiLeaks is emerging as a key point of contention in the special counsel’s investigation.

      Roger Stone, the longtime Trump confidant, has asserted that Credico passed him information about WikiLeaks’ pre-election plans from activist lawyer Margaret Ratner Kunstler.

    • Trump Says He Doesn’t Know Anything About Assange Amid Alleged Secret Indictment

      A few days ago CNBC reported that the US Justice Department had prepared to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, although it remains unclear whether any charges had already been filed.
      US President Donald Trump said that he didn’t know “much” about Julian Assange when reporters outside the White House asked him whether the whistle-blower should go free and the Justice Department should drop the case against him.

    • Julian Assange: The battle to save freedom of press

      There are some in the West who are fully convinced that Assange deserves to be tried and thrown in jail for “threatening” US national security and “undermining” its democratic processes. Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden have called him a “terrorist”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then the director of the CIA, has described WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said prosecuting Assange is a “priority” for him.

      Many have also come to see him as a political player who purposefully sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential elections, while others consider him a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin, although no evidence for this was ever found. It is more likely that Assange’s indictment is coming not as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 US election, but in response to WikiLeaks publishing the biggest leak in the history of the CIA called #Vault7.

      Whatever Assange’s political leanings or views, his case is not about whether you like him or not, but about freedom of the press. As Edward Snowden rightly said: “You can despise WikiLeaks and everything it stands for. You can think Assange is an evil spirit reanimated by Putin himself, but you cannot support the prosecution of a publisher for publishing without narrowing the basic rights every newspaper relies on.”

      If Assange is eventually arrested, extradited to the US and stands trial there, he is almost certainly going to be found guilty – just as Chelsea Manning was. He would probably end up in a Guantanamo-like prison. And his prosecution and jailing would have global repercussions for whistle-blowers, publishers and journalists.

    • Trump Now Pretending He’s Barely Heard of Julian Assange
    • In Ecuador, rock icon Waters defends Julian Assange

      Rock icon Roger Waters, a founding member of the British band Pink Floyd, expresses support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whom he says “needs to be protected”.

    • Donald Trump’s professions of ignorance about Julian Assange are very hard to believe

      During a question-and-answer session with reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was asked if he thinks WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should “be able to go free.” The president attempted to deflect the question with a bizarre rant about how Chuck Schumer’s daughter works for Facebook.

      But a few minutes later, the reporter tried asking Trump about Assange again. This time, the president claimed that “I don’t know anything about him. Really, I don’t know much about him, I really don’t.”

      [...]

      Trump may not know Assange personally, but it’s impossible to believe he’s not familiar with his work.

      As ThinkProgress documented, in the final month before the 2016 presidential election, Trump mentioned WikiLeaks and the hacked emails it published at least 164 times during speeches, media appearances, and debates. Trump’s own intelligence officials acknowledge Russian hackers were responsible for obtaining emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign that were later published by WikiLeaks.

      “WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks!” Trump professed during a speech on October 10. “And I said write a couple of them down. Let’s see. ‘During a speech crooked Hillary Clinton’ — oh she’s crooked folks. She’s crooked as a three-dollar bill. Okay here’s one. Just came out. ‘Lock her up’ is right.”

      During an interview that aired the next day, Trump told Bill O’Reilly: “The press is hardly even talking about WikiLeaks. You know that. WikiLeaks is amazing. The stuff that’s coming out, it shows she’s a real liar.”

      On October 21, Trump told his audience at a rally that “We love WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks. They have revealed a lot. They’ve revealed that there is a great hostility toward Catholics. They reveal a great hostility toward evangelicals.”

    • MuckRock Release ALPR Dataset Covering 200 Gov’t Agencies And 2.5 Billion License Plate Records

      Agency policies and state-level data privacy protections become background noise when billions of records pour into a central database maintained by ALPR manufacturers. On average, law enforcement agencies are sharing data with 160 agencies. But there are outliers. MuckRock has compiled a list called the “800 Club:” agencies that share their captured plate data with at least 800 other government agencies, most of which are located in California or Texas.

      The dataset [available to download here] appears to be as comprehensive as anyone can make it, given the reluctance to release this information and some lack of clarity in law enforcement agency responses. The good news is most law enforcement agencies were cooperative with requesters. The bad news is pretty much everything else. Billions of plate records are collected every year and stored indefinitely by ALPR manufacturer Vigilant. But if there’s any inconsistencies or errors in the data received from the agencies polled, one entity in particular could clear up any and all misunderstandings.

    • Former New York Times Chief Lawyer: Rally to Support Julian Assange — Even If You Hate Him

      It’s not a stretch to say that few people are disliked more within media circles than WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Yet with the news that Trump’s Justice Department has filed secret charges against him, the rights of many journalists who despise Assange may also hang in the balance.

      It’s still unclear what charges the Justice Department is bringing against Assange, who has lived under diplomatic protection in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years. But if the secret charges implicate any of WikiLeaks’ publishing activities, it could ironically be just the precedent the Trump administration needs to directly go after journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post.

      With that in mind, I recently spoke to James Goodale — the famed First Amendment lawyer and former general counsel the New York Times, who led the paper’s legal team in the famed Pentagon Papers case — about the dire impact the Justice Department’s move may have on press freedom, regardless of whether people consider Assange himself a “journalist.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Every new car sold in 2040 will be zero-emission, B.C. government says

      All new cars and trucks sold in B.C. in the year 2040 will have to be zero-emission vehicles, the premier promised Tuesday.

      John Horgan said the government is planning to introduce legislation in the spring to gradually phase in targets for the sale of electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and will take steps to make those vehicles cheaper.

      “If we want British Columbians to be part of the solution for reducing air pollution, we need to make clean energy vehicles more affordable, available and convenient,” Horgan said in a news release.

    • Andy McKay: BC going electric

      I’m unreasonably interested and excited by this. There is a simple fact that we need to do this and car companies will not do it, they are too invested in the existing carbon economy. My first thought is that 2040 is way too far off, but this really isn’t a simple change and the political and societal desire to change is not strong enough to force a sudden change yet.

    • Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism

      American political power is based on fossil fuels, and the US military is the engine that consumes those fuels to produce that power. So long as there is an American political elite that craves lucrative personal prestige and the ability to dominate internationally, the US economy will be fossil-fueled capitalism that maintains the military colossus that enables and protects those elite ambitions.

      US military-enabled imperial power is of two varieties:

      first: the hard power that overtly invades and seeks to control territory to impose American capitalist domination, as for example capturing pipeline routes south through Afghanistan and Pakistan–away from China–out of Central Asian oil fields; the guarding of sea lanes crucial for petroleum transport west, as at Suez and the Strait of Hormuz, and east to Japan, Korea and Australia (if they behave); and the securing of scarce metal ore and rare earth deposits in Afghanistan and Africa (for elements used in solid state electronics); and

      second: the soft power of buying compliance to US hegemony from client states by gifting them with arms sales that enable them to exercise their own mini-imperialistic ambitions, as with Israel’s threat-projection in the Levant that is consistent with US aims of regional control, and Zionism’s own manifest destiny colonialist mania of persecuting the occupied Palestinians and shrinking their reservations; and with arms sales to Saudi Arabia enabling its genocidal war against Yemen, and giving the U.S. leverage to induce the opulent Saudi royalty to keep oil production high and oil prices low on the world market, so as to grease Western capitalism and also undercut the revenue streams supporting Venezuelan socialism and Iranian economic development.

      Because of the fracking (oil shale) boom of the last two decades, the U.S. now produces as much oil as Saudi Arabia and is energy independent as a fossil fueled economy, but hegemonic ambition compels it to seek global control of petroleum distribution because to control the flow of oil around the globe is to throttle the imperial ambitions and economic development plans of all others.

    • Climate Change Should Make the Republican Party Impossible

      I watched Puerto Rican relief workers pull a shopping cart on ropes across a riverbed after Hurricane Maria destroyed the bridge. The food it carried kept families trapped on the hillside from starving. It was 2017. I drove along the island, shocked at the battered buildings and telephone wires spilled on the street and thought, we’ll need tons of money to rebuild.

      As I flew back home, Texas was just recovering from Hurricane Harvey. A year later, Californian wildfires burned neighborhoods to ash, then Hurricane Michael smashed homes in Florida. Now, more fires on the West Coast have caused a quarter of a million people to flee, and hundreds are missing. Each new disaster adds to a growing crisis. Our nation’s survival means a new role for its citizens and a larger one for the federal government.

      Climate change demands changes that conflict with Republican and even Democratic dogma. Ultimately, the nation’s survival may mean the GOP is impossible. “Big government” will be necessary. Populist solidarity will be, too. The poor and the working class, long divided by Republicans, may be forced by their shared vulnerability to climate change into a new coalition.

  • Finance

    • Amazon employees snapped up NYC real estate before headquarters announcement

      “While employees aren’t permitted to buy and sell stocks based on nonpublic information, several real estate lawyers said they were aware of no such prohibition for real-estate transactions.”

    • HQ2 … and 3

      Amazon’s HQ2 search was not a contest but a con. Amazon will soon have 3 HQs. And guess what? The Bezos family owns homes in all 3 cities. And, you’ll never believe it, the new HQs (if you can call them that) will be within a bike ride, or a quick Uber, from Bezos’s homes in DC and NYC. The middle finger on Amazon’s other hand came into full view when they announced they were awarding their HQ to not one, but two cities. So, really, the search, and hyped media topic, should have been called “Two More Offices.” Only that’s not compelling and doesn’t sell. Would that story have become a news obsession for the last 14 months, garnering Amazon hundreds of millions in unearned media?

    • Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow

      The world’s wealthiest individual went on to acknowledge, “Technologies always are two-sided. There are ways they can be misused.” Convinced that they are being misused, Google employees mounted a protest that caused Alphabet (Google’s parent company) to step back from a contract to develop AI pattern recognition technology for targeting military drones, worrying the Pentagon.

      More recently, thousands of employees at scores of Google facilities worldwide staged a walkout (chronicled here) over gender inequality and sexual harassment. At a time when women in tech are demanding to be treated respectfully and paid and promoted equally, two pioneering women engineers in the male-dominated national intelligence community have quietly been shaping the technology landscape for three decades. Any complaints they may have had about working conditions along the way are presumably classified, but we can probably guess what they are.

      At least one of the women, Sue Gordon, is among defense and intelligence officials scurrying to Silicon Valley on damage control missions, prodding tech leaders to “have the same fierce commitment to align technology with public purpose,” as Ash Carter, who directs the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center recently editorialized in Wired (9/14/18). The former Secretary of Defense, who also runs the Kennedy School’s Project on Technology and Public Purpose, disparagingly contrasted current high tech leaders to his “mentors in subatomic physics …from the Manhattan Project. They were proud to have created nuclear weapons that helped end World War II.” If those scientists were so proud of their work, why did they straightaway wind up that still-ticking Doomsday Clock?

      The Bomb, digital computers, the Internet, Google Maps, and the Maven project that Google is abandoning were or stemmed from government-funded R&D projects employing scientists and engineers from government, academia and industry. NASA has long partnered likewise, as has the Department of Energy. The government likes to call such projects “dual use,” as they have both civilian and military applications. Yet, many serve a single purpose, which of course is to align corporate agendas with US foreign policy to achieve world domination.

    • HUD Tallied Numerous Violations in New York City Public Housing. It Still Gave Passing Grades.

      For months, federal housing officials and prosecutors have alleged that the New York City Housing Authority misled them about conditions, rendering federal oversight ineffective as conditions worsened.

      New York City officials used “every trick in the book to conceal building violations from federal inspectors,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman alleged at a news conference this summer announcing a federal complaint against the authority.

      Berman declared it a “cover-up.”

      But inspection records from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suggest there’s more to the story. HUD officials were well aware of the severe mold, infestation and countless other health and safety violations inside New York City’s public housing units, according to a review of the two most recent inspection records for a dozen properties. The Southern Illinoisan obtained the records, which date from 2013 to 2017, from HUD in October through a public records request.

      In most of the apartments reviewed, inspectors found severe cases of mold and mildew, broken and missing appliances, inoperable windows and doors, electrical system problems and water leaks.

    • Why Europe Will Never Build Its Own Digital Giants

      A few years back, I was asked to create a presentation for a few visiting European executives, to explain “what makes Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley.” It was a fun presentation, and one of the people who saw it later had me give it to an ever rotating crew of visiting European execs and policymakers (I even got to give the talk once over in the UK). I believe I did the presentation half a dozen times or so. The person who set up most of those talks later moved on to another job and it’s been years since I last gave the presentation. It always led to an interesting discussion, though, because so much of what I talked about seemed to go against their core instincts about innovation (the presentation also debunks some of the common myths about the success of Silicon Valley). Maybe, one day, I’ll get to give the talk again.

      However, what fascinated me most was the general resistance to understanding the fundamentals of both innovation and the internet. But in the past few years, it’s become increasingly clear that the EU’s concept of the internet is almost entirely out of sync with how digital innovation works, especially with the ways in which the EU has gone about regulating the internet — from the GDPR to the Copyright Directive, to the antitrust efforts, to the Terrorism regulation.

    • Jordan Peterson’s Disturbing Views on Inequality

      In recent years, Jordan Peterson, the 56-year-old Canadian clinical psychologist, has become the new star of the political right. His books are bestsellers, and his YouTube videos are watched by hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes even millions. Although he is an educated man with a lot of interesting things to say, some of his views are very disturbing, if not potentially dangerous. Perhaps the best illustration of this is his position on inequality and capitalism.

      According to Peterson, inequality is both natural and inevitable. In his talks, he likes to invoke Price’s Law, which states that the square root of the number of people in a domain do 50% of the work, while the rest, the majority, takes care of the other half. This inequality, Peterson continues, can be found everywhere. A tiny number of musicians, for instance, create 50% of the music that is played; a few of the best hockey players score most of the goals; a small number of stars contain most of the mass and so on. So the fact that a small number of people own most of the wealth is, according to his reasoning, an inevitable result caused by a natural law. Capitalism, therefore, cannot be held responsible for the inequality that we observe today.

      This argument by Peterson has some serious problems. While he is probably right that it is impossible to create and maintain a perfectly equal world, it is without a doubt that capitalism nurtures inequality. After all, inequality is built into the very core of any capitalist system.

      Perhaps capitalism’s most fundamental feature is the way how it organizes the economy. In a capitalist society, one will find two groups. The first group consists of the ‘owners’ who possess the means of production. And since they own everything, they get to decide. The second group is made up of ‘workers’, people who do not own any capital and thus have to offer their labor to one of the owners whom they then have to obey. The owners, in their position of power, not only decide what is produced by whom and how, they also decide how the rewards are shared. Unsurprisingly, they give a disproportionate amount to themselves, thus creating inequality.

      Unfortunately, capitalism’s ability to generate inequality does not end here. The power and wealth which the owners accumulate are used by them to gain control over the political system, making sure that politicians implement policies that are beneficial to them, no matter the consequences to others. This then increases their wealth even more, which allows them to further extend their control over politics. It is this vicious cycle that for the past several decades has resulted in increasingly higher levels of inequality. And, as will be discussed below, there is nothing inevitable about this process.

    • Crowdfunding Is a Symptom Of America’s Sick Health Care System

      “I nearly went to the hospital for the 22nd time in 7 months. As you can imagine this has depleted all of my money,” writes Tara. She continues: “My family has done so much and will help me once I’m there, but I need to move on my own…So look, I’m a responsible girl, I’ve been holding it down for 16 years while feeling like I could be taken at any time.”

      Tara is running a campaign on the popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe. She has fibromyalgia and a host of complications, and needs to relocate to access health care. She started fundraising in March 2017, and a year and a half later, she’s raised less than a quarter of what she needs. She’s not alone. Medical expenses are already the leading crowdfunding cause and donations can’t keep up with demand; a 2017 study showed that 90 percent of medical crowdfunding campaigns failed to reach their goals.

      [...]

      Perusing crowdfunding sites reveals ample glossy, well-prepared pleas for help that are netting healthy proceeds, like “Join Oscar’s Village,” featuring a baby with acute flaccid myelitis, a brief, emotive story, and pictures of a happy family. Other campaigns have few to no donations and haven’t been optimized for an audience, like Tara’s: rambling, poorly-punctuated pleas for help, lengthy and apologetic stories, and blurry photos that don’t catch the eye of visitors. It’s a brave new world of health care financing in which those with socioeconomic privilege are better positioned for success than others.

      Berliner and Kenworthy fear crowdfunding may be exacerbating socioeconomic inequalities. “Crowdfunding normalizes a means of health care financing that runs counter to a more rights-based system of values,” says Berliner. “

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Know Your Limits

      The English and Welsh voted to leave the EU. They are entitled to leave the EU, and it is not the job of the leader of the Scottish National Party to frustrate their intention, or even try to influence the terms on which the English and Welsh leave the EU. Just as it is not the job of the Scottish National Party to stop Westminster having the Tory governments the English people inexplicably keep voting for.

      It is the job of the leader of the Scottish National Party to secure Independence for Scotland, and to ensure that the vote of the Scottish people, to remain within the EU, is respected. I am therefore entirely unconvinced that for Nicola Sturgeon to try to play a role as the darling of the Remainer population of England is of any use to the people of Scotland. And the truth is that knowing the very last detail of the eventual Brexit outcome, of which we know the essential outlines, will have virtually no effect on the prospects of an Independent Scotland.

      Now is the moment of maximum chaos; whatever eventually emerges between London and Brussels will work without immediate catastrophic effects. People will not starve and run out of medicine, in the real world. The UK will continue to be a Tory hell with some changes of arrangements. Scotland should not be in Tory Hell, whatever Tory Hell’s relationship with the EU.

      I am here considering Brexit only as it affects Independence.

    • But Her Emails: Ivanka Trump Also Used A Private Email Account For Official Government Business

      According to White House counsel, this was all a misunderstanding. Apparently, Ivanka Trump wasn’t aware of the rules governing the discussion of official government business on private channels. This would only be excusable if her father hadn’tspent a great deal of time calling for Hillary Clinton to be locked up for the same behavior.

      Given the (still!) ongoing excoriation of Clinton by Donald Trump, you’d think his administration would have tried to lead by example and make sure everyone was on official channels from day one. Instead, his admin team did the same thing Clinton did, minus the setup of a private server.

      [...]

      If a government official has used private email accounts for official business, Techdirt has criticized them. Ivanka Trump doesn’t get a pass and neither does anyone on the other side of the gaping political divide. She may not have known the specifics governing official communications but the Trump Administration has no one to blame but itself for the black eye it’s now sporting.

      HER EMAILS was a major plank in Trump’s election platform. His administration team could have prevented this but was too busy keeping their own communications off the record to straighten out Ivanka Trump.

    • Liar Liar

      Hillary, too, came from a dysfunctional family environment.

    • New White House Press Conference Rules Leave Door Open To Future Challenges

      Basically, the White House seems to be setting itself up with the absolute bare minimum framework that it could kinda-sorta claim constitutes viewpoint-neutral due process the next time it wants to kick out a reporter. Functionally the rules don’t seem to change much, since who gets the floor at White House press conferences has always ultimately been at the discretion of the person at the podium, but this formalizes the threat of pass revocation for those who don’t play nice enough for Trump’s tastes. Though many reporters are (rightfully) speaking out against the clear anti-press tone of the rules, and (correctly) pointing out that followup questions are one of the most critical components of good journalism, the reality is that this just puts things in a holding pattern until the next time Trump kicks someone out.

    • Noam Chomsky: Moral Depravity Defines US Politics

      The US midterm elections of November 6, 2018, produced a divided Congress and essentially reaffirmed the existence of two nations in one country. But they also revealed, once again, the deep state of moral and political depravity that prevails in the country’s political culture — at least insofar as political campaigns go. In the exclusive interview below, world-renowned scholar and public intellectual Noam Chomsky discusses how the major issues confronting the United States and the world at large were barely addressed by the majority of candidates of both parties.

    • Police Response To ‘We The People’ White Supremacist Rally Shows How Little Has Changed Since Charlottesville

      Despite left-wing efforts to revoke the permit for Saturday’s “We the People” rally, the late morning demonstration occurred at Independence National Historical Park, a landmark in Philadelphia’s historic district.

      The rally, which has ties to the white supremacist groups the Proud Boys (recently deemed a white nationalist group by the FBI) and the Three Percent movement, drew attendance that varied from 20 to 40 participants throughout the afternoon. They were accompanied by four American flags, one Gadsden (“don’t tread on me”) flag, and two different Trump flags.

      One flag bore a navy blue Trump campaign logo. The other had the same logo on one side, and a slight modification of the Thin Blue Line/Thin Red Line flag, which represents support for police and firefighters, on the other. The latter is a variation of the Blue Lives Matter flag, which represents a reactionary movement to defend Officer Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

      But the Blue Lives Matter flag wasn’t the cause for alarm at the rally.

      Initially, Philly.com reported there was “no indication of attendance by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or members of hate groups such as the Proud Boys or Three Percenters.” Despite having three reporters assigned on the story, the news outlet failed to recognize several Proud Boys and people wearing the Three Percenter logo on their sweatshirts.

    • Mob boss gone mad: Trump longs to go after Clinton, apologizes for murderers

      Last week, the Federalist Society grand poobah Leonard Leo, widely credited as the mastermind behind Trump’s extremist court-packing scheme, got into a bit of spat with another high powered conservative legal luminary. That would be George Conway, the prominent Trump critic who is also the husband of Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. Leo was upset because Conway had started a legal organization called Checks and Balances, which is dedicated to opposing Trump’s abuse of presidential power and degradation of the rule of law.

      Leo said he found the whole concept outrageous. Just because the president spouts off day and night wondering why the Department of Justice isn’t jailing his political rivals and demanding that its top officials pledge fealty to him as he imagines Joe McCarthy’s lawyer (and Trump mentor) Roy Cohn would have done — well, isn’t an abuse of power unless he takes action.

    • How Media, Tech, and News Networks Normalize Trump’s Propaganda

      Throughout his life, Edward Bernays (1891−1995), known as the “father of public relations,” argued in favor of using “third parties” to influence public opinion.

      “If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway,” Bernays wrote in Propaganda (1923), his popular book that explored the psychology behind manipulating public opinion.

      “Because man is by nature gregarious he feels himself to be member of a herd, even when he is alone in his room with the curtains drawn. His mind retains the patterns which have been stamped on it by the group influences,” wrote Bernays.

      In the age of Citizens United — and with Trump in the White House — Bernays’s insights on public manipulation have become plain to see for anyone willing to look.

      This is because President Trump doesn’t use propaganda to just sell hotels, steaks, and hats—he also uses his platform to rile up his racist and xenophobic supporters, and channel hatred toward immigrants, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and progressives.

      In October 2018, a Trump supporter was arrested for mailing bombs to high-profile figures within the Democratic party and critics of the President. Shortly after, a right-wing extremist, who has been linked to anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant posts on social media, killed 11 Jewish Americans inside of a Pittsburgh synagogue.

    • “Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018

      I expected this, actually. I just didn’t think it would be so crude, so buttheadedly amoral.

      Trump’s view of the Saudis, in a nutshell, was announced last week: “They’re a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development.” Okay, ’nuff said.

      The Saudis buy billions in war planes, missiles, tanks, helicopters and other military equipment every year. Over half of their arms come from the U.S., Britain serving as number two supplier. This means jobs. The annihilation of 50,000 Yemeni men, women and children puts bacon on the tables of Lockheed and Boeing workers in Seattle. The meddling in Syria, where Riyadh has supported al-Nusra-linked (al-Qaeda-linked) jihadis against the secular regime, means more jobs. The suppression of protesters during the Arab Spring in Bahrain was carried out by Saudi-led troops using U.S. small arms.

      Trump was briefed on the Khashoggi matter last Friday. He knows that the CIA has concluded, with a “high degree of confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Salman is “personally responsible” for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Istanbul consulate Oct. 5 But Trump said after the meeting that it was “premature” to assess responsibility.

      I suspect it wasn’t premature at all. An announcement was merely timed to give the appearance of a decision after a formal procedure. The moral decision had been made. Billions in arms sales, billions from cheap oil, the priceless gift of Saudi help in destroying Iran (to help Israel assert hegemony over the region in tandem with the U.S.), the invaluable retention of the Jared-MbS blood brotherhood bond made the decision easy.

      Now Trump, albeit in peculiar language that virtually advertises his amorality, language that frankly acknowledges that maybe the prince did it —“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”—has proclaimed his satisfaction with the Saudi explanation. Much of his base might accept it.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Alphabet Chairman Struggles With Google CEO’s China Strategy

      Google pulled out of mainland China in 2010, when founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page decided that removing controversial links from search results, as the government in Beijing requires, was unacceptable. But in 2016 a small team that included Pichai began working on China-related projects, including a program, known as Dragonfly, to bring Google’s search engine back into the country.

      The plans included protocols to censor results to the government’s liking, barring search terms such as “Tiananmen Square” and ensuring that users looking for information about air quality would only get data approved by Beijing. Pichai has called the efforts “exploratory,” but they have caused a firestorm inside and outside the company.

    • Ubisoft Cancels Plans of Global Censorship in Rainbow Six Siege
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Talk about a cache flow problem: This JavaScript can snoop on other browser tabs to work out what you’re visiting

      Computer science boffins have demonstrated a side-channel attack technique that bypasses recently-introduced privacy defenses, and makes even the Tor browser subject to tracking. The result: it is possible for malicious JavaScript in one web browser tab to spy on other open tabs, and work out which websites you’re visiting.

      This information can be used to target adverts at you based on your interests, or otherwise work out the kind of stuff you’re into and collect it in safe-keeping for future reference.

      Researchers Anatoly Shusterman, Lachlan Kang, Yarden Haskal, Yosef Meltser, Prateek Mittal, Yossi Oren, Yuval Yarom – from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, the University of Adelaide in Australia, and Princeton University in the US – have devised a processor cache-based website fingerprinting attack that uses JavaScript for gathering data to identify visited websites.

    • Nicholas Kristof and the China Trade War

      You really have to wonder if there is a ban on columnists and reporters mentioning wanton violation of the copyrights and patents of U.S. companies as a potential weapon for China in its trade war with the United States. Incredibly, as aspects of the trade war get highlighted and debated, wholesale violations of copyrights and patents held by U.S. companies never gets mentioned.

      The latest conspicuous ignorer is Nicholas Kristof. In a column that warns Trump of all the non-trade measures China could pursue, he never once mentions patents and copyrights.

      If this sounds obscure, let me be as specific as possible. Suppose China announces that it is working with a large domestic computer manufacturer to make tens or even hundreds of millions of computers, using Windows and other Microsoft software, which will be sold not only in China but exported to any country interested in getting low cost computers. Microsoft will not get a dime in royalty payments.

    • Kid Tracking ‘Smart’ Watches, Like Most IOT Devices, Prove Not So Smart, Easy To Hack

      We’ve long noted how the painful lack of security and privacy standards in the internet of (quite broken) things is also a problem in the world of connected toys. Like IOT vendors, toy makers were so eager to make money, they left even basic privacy and security standards stranded in the rear view mirror as they rush to connect everything to the internet. As a result, we’ve seen repeated instances where your kids’ conversations and interests are being hoovered up without consent, with the data frequently left unencrypted and openly accessible in the cloud.

      When this problem is studied, time and time again we’re shown how most modern, internet-connected toys can be fairly easily hacked and weaponized. Granted since we haven’t even gotten more pressing security and privacy problems tackled (like the vulnerability of our critical infrastructure), problems like Barbie’s need for a better firewall tend to fall by the wayside.

      Another recent case in point: A location-tracking smartwatch worn by thousands of children has proven… you guessed it… rather trivial to hack. The MiSafes Kid’s Watcher Plus is a “smart watch for kids” that embeds a 2G cellular radio and GPS technology, purportedly to let concerned helicopter parents track their kids’ location at all times. But security researchers at UK’s Pen Test Partners have issued a report calling the devices comically unsecure.

    • Facebook CEO Says He Hopes to Work With Sandberg for ‘Decades’

      The New York Times reported last week that Sandberg sought to prevent the public from learning more about Russia’s propaganda campaign on the social network ahead of the 2016 election. Even when the public was eventually told about misinformation spreading through fake Facebook accounts, it took many more months before the company directly linked that activity to Russia.

    • Mark Zuckerberg: I Won’t Step Down As Facebook Chairman

      Following the various scandals Facebook has been getting entrapped in, Mark Zuckerberg has cleared the air by stating that he is not leaving Facebook. During an interview with CNN, an emphasis was laid on whether or not Mark Zuckerberg is stepping down as Facebook chairman, and he confirmed that he is not going anywhere.

    • Zuckerberg says neither he nor Sandberg will step down from Facebook

      The report also said Facebook used a Republican opposition research firm called Definers Public Affairs to accuse liberal financier George Soros of funding some of the groups that were speaking out against Facebook.

    • How to Check How Much Time You Spend on Facebook and Instagram
    • Russian firm linked to election meddling sues Facebook over ban

      A Russian company whose accountant was charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to meddle in US elections has sued Facebook, claiming it is a legitimate news outlet and its Facebook account should be restored.

      The Federal Agency of News LLC, known as FAN, and its sole shareholder, Evgeniy Zubarev, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the northern district of California, seeking damages and an injunction to prevent Facebook from blocking its account.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Special Report: How ZTE helped Venezuela create China-style social control

      The following year, when he raised concerns with Venezuelan officials, Daquin told Reuters, he was detained, beaten and extorted by intelligence agents. They knocked several teeth out with a handgun and accused him of treasonous behavior, Daquin said, prompting him to flee the country.

      Government spokespeople had no comment on Daquin’s account.

      [...]

      As part of a US$70 million government effort to bolster “national security,” Venezuela last year hired ZTE to build a fatherland database and create a mobile payment system for use with the card, according to contracts reviewed by Reuters.

      A team of ZTE employees is now embedded in a special unit within Cantv, the Venezuelan state telecommunications company that manages the database, according to four current and former Cantv employees.

    • Lawless: the secret rules that govern our digital lives

      This pressure is not sustainable in the long term. No matter how benevolent and thoughtful tech executives appear to be, the lack of transparency and accountability will continue to breed allegations that they are uncaring, incompetent, biased, or even just downright evil. No matter how much technology companies protest, their central power as focal nodes on the internet makes them irresistible targets for people who want better control over users.

    • 9-Year-Old Alleges Staff Member at Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Choked and Restrained Her

      As Illinois’ child welfare agency works to clear out its remaining patients at a Chicago psychiatric hospital beset by allegations of sexual abuse and assault, problems continue to emerge.

      The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on Monday opened an investigation into a 9-year-old girl’s allegation that a staff member at Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital choked and restrained her.

      The girl did not have any bruises or marks, DCFS officials said, and the employee is not currently working on the unit. The report brings the number of DCFS investigations into allegations of abuse or neglect at the hospital to 19 since January.

      [...]

      The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which monitors DCFS as part of a consent decree, had demanded that the agency put in place several safeguards after a ProPublica Illinois investigation first revealed the troubles at Lakeshore. The two groups have been locked in contentious negotiations as they continue to hammer out details of an independent review at the hospital, among other proposals. (The Chicago Tribune also has reported on the issues at Lakeshore.)

      At Tuesday’s hearing, the ACLU blasted the agency for providing little or no information on matters the group said were key to the children’s safety. ACLU lawyers argued that the DCFS employees doing the monitoring should have training, clinical experience and knowledge of psychiatric hospitalizations.

      “To act as if someone can walk off the street, even with a child welfare background, and understand what to watch for, I think is really misguided,” ACLU general counsel Heidi Dalenberg said. “Would someone know that one of the things to watch for is don’t let two kids sit together under the same blanket?”

      Dalenberg was referring to an allegation this month in which two patients, a 14-year-old male and a 16-year-old transgender female, fondled each other under a blanket in a hospital day room while a staff member was present.

    • Did Israel Kill Yasser Arafat? Stunning Investigation Exposes Israel’s Secretive Assassination Program

      Israeli intelligence officials desperately tried to prevent Ronen Bergman from writing “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” a stunning book exposing the details of Israel’s extrajudicial killing program. Israel even changed and extended secrecy laws to prevent Bergman from gaining access to historical documents. Despite this, Bergman gained unprecedented access while writing the book, scouring thousands of documents and meeting with some 1,000 sources. The result is a stunning investigation that dives deep into the targeted killing programs of Israel, which has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world since World War II. We speak with Ronen Bergman about Israel’s many attempts to kill the former chair of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, and the possibility that they succeeded.

    • Survivors Confront Far Right’s #HimToo Campaign in Portland

      As the speakers began sharing survivors’ stories of sexual assault and trauma, the crowd of several hundred rally attendees stood in breathless silence in a downtown Portland, Oregon, park on Saturday, November 17. This event, called Survivors Are Everywhere: A Survivor Shout Out, had been organized by the anti-fascist coalition Pop Mob (short for Popular Mobilization) and was meant to bring together survivors’ stories as a challenge to another event being held only feet away, one organized by affiliates of the far-right Patriot Prayer organization. In response to the growing movement toward accountability for sexual assault and abuse, Patriot Prayer followers organized a #HimToo rally to address what they claim without evidence is a rash of “false rape allegations.”

      In Oregon, Patriot Prayer has been front and center of this far-right revival, and the far-right events have escalated into vicious strikes on counterdemonstrators. Along with aggressive policing tactics, Portland has become dangerous for the growing number of activists who flood the city streets to stop Patriot Prayer from advancing.

      “The ‘alt-right’ is trying to silence survivors, erase trans identities, control the bodies of women and people of color, and criminalize families and individuals seeking safety,” Alyssa Pariah, the co-chair of Portland Jobs with Justice and rally speaker, told Truthout. Instead of just organizing to counter the far-right contingent that was occupying a public park, organizers decided to use this as an opportunity to make the stories of survivors a hard edge of the anti-fascist resistance.

    • Migrant Caravan: Branding Migrants “Human Shields” Has a Deadly Motive

      US president Donald Trump has long lambasted the migrants. He first characterised them as “invaders”, who sheltered among their ranks “unknown Middle Easterners”. Later, Trump admitted that this thinly veiled attempt to portray the migrants as terrorists was not based on any “proof” but nevertheless went on to calm the public by declaring that the US military would be waiting for the caravan at the Mexican border. Initially announcing that he would send as many as 5,200 troops, he later upped this number to a possible 15,000 soldiers.

      [...]

      Interestingly, the president, secretary of state, and DHS did not pluck these allegations out of thin air. They are simply repeating claims made in a 2014 report published by the US right-wing Tea Party organisation.

      The report described the movement of migrants as an “offensive whereby the southern borders of America are being swarmed”, adding: “This offensive is an invasion, not led by troops, but by divisions of mothers, children and young adults marching north from Central America and Mexico”.

    • Child bride auctioned on Facebook in ‘barbaric use of technology’

      According to children’s rights organization Plan International, the girl was bid on by five men, some of whom were reportedly high-ranking South Sudanese government officials.

    • Facebook used to auction off a teenage girl for marriage in South Sudan

      The original post marketing the 17-year-old was published on October 25th. It was only removed by Facebook on November 9th, days after the girl is said to have been married. According to a spokesperson for Plan International, a girls’ rights activist group, the post went viral in South Sudan. “So anyone who was on Facebook in South Sudan was well-aware of this situation far before the rest of the world,” they said.

    • Child marriage Facebook auction reminiscent of slave markets
    • Facebook Used For Selling A Teenage Girl For Marriage In Sudan

      Nearly a month ago, a post on Facebook advertising a teenage girl for marriage went viral in South Sudan. Several men engaged in a bidding war over a 16-year-old girl. The post circulated online for two weeks before Facebook finally came to its senses and took it down.

      However, the social media giant was too late to take the necessary steps, and by the time Facebook removed the post, the girl was already purchased by a wealthy businessman to be his wife.

    • Boston Police Has a Secret Point System That Turns Normal Teenage Behavior Into Gang Membership

      The department arbitrarily labels immigrant teenagers as gang members and helps the federal government deport them.

      In the face of the Trump administration’s stepped-up deportation efforts, officials in Boston and other progressive cities have declared their communities safe spaces for immigrants. But behind the scenes, progressive havens like Boston are facilitating the deportations of some of our most vulnerable young people.

      As the federal government’s rhetoric and action around immigration have sharpened and hardened, young immigrants are being systematically slandered and deprived of their rights here in Massachusetts. Too many are inaccurately and unfairly alleged to be involved in gangs, according to a Boston Police Department database, and as a result, find themselves on the fast track to deportation.

      There’s a lot we don’t know about Boston Police Department’s “gang database” — which is why this week, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, and other groups filed a public records lawsuit to bring some transparency to the system. Here’s what we do know: Being included in it can have dire consequences for a young person’s life.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Accused Of Burying Data Highlighting Sorry State Of US Broadband

      Back in 2011 the FCC launched something called the Measuring American Broadband program. It was revolutionary in the fact that for the first time, the FCC refused to simply take ISPs at their word in terms of the speed and connection quality of their broadband offerings. Instead, the FCC hired UK firm Samknows to embed custom-firmware modified routers in the homes of thousands of real world broadband volunteers, providing insight into the real state of US broadband network performance, not the rosy picture of US broadband telecom industry lobbyists like to paint.

      Not surprisingly, actually using real world data to inform policy paid dividends. The FCC’s first report (pdf) in 2011 showed that some ISPs, like New York’s Cablevision, were delivering just 50% of the bandwidth they advertised during peak usage hours. Cablevision didn’t much like being called out in this way, and by the next report (pdf) in 2012 was shown to have fixed its problems, now offering actually more bandwidth than they had previously advertised (120%). It was, in the absence of more competition, a novel way to nudge ISPs toward doing the right thing.

      Each year like clockwork these reports were released to the public. Until last year, that is, when then new FCC boss Ajit Pai simply refused to release the report at all, despite the fact that taxpayer dollars were still funding it and volunteers were still participating.

    • What We’re Thankful for at EFF This Year

      We’re thankful that California’s lawmakers listened to your demands and signed the state’s landmark net neutrality bill, S.B. 822, into law. States such as California had to step up to offer these protections after the Federal Communications Commission repealed the national Open Internet Order in 2017. Despite heavy lobbying from the telecommunications industry to gut the bill, popular support for net neutrality helped send a measure with strong net neutrality protections to the governor’s desk.

      The U.S. Government has sued to block this law, and it’s been paused while the D.C. Circuit settles a federal challenge to decide if the FCC, by abandoning its authority over Internet service providers, also abandoned any power to preempt state laws.

      California’s net neutrality law sets a gold standard for the rest of the country, and we look forward to defending it as the court considers its next steps.

    • Senators Press Wireless Carriers On Streaming Video Throttling

      Three U.S. Senators are pressuring wireless carriers for answers after recent studies showed they routinely throttle video services — not to protect the network from congestion — but to simply make an extra buck.

      One of the core goals of net neutrality was to prevent ISPs from imposing arbitrary restrictions on the network just to harm competitors or boost revenues. Of course lax enforcement and now dismantled rules have made that hard to stop. As a result, ISPs like Comcast routinely impose completely arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps, then exempt their own content from those limits, but punishing users if they step outside the Comcast walled garden. Wireless carriers have similarly throttled music, games and videos, then begun charging users more money if they want those services to operate as the creators intended.

      Even with net neutrality rules intact, the FCC didn’t really do a good job understanding how these arbitrary restrictions (like usage caps and zero rating) could prove anti-competitive. And in the year or two since things have only gotten worse, with wireless carriers like Verizon throttling all video on its network unless you pay the company for an even more expensive plan. The perils of this should be obvious–especially for Americans who already pay some of the highest prices for mobile data in the developed world.

    • I May Have to Quit Harvard Because the TSA Won’t Stop Searching Me

      I started researching the Transportation Security Administration’s “secondary security screening selection” process to understand why I was being stopped every time I got on a plane or came back home to the United States after a foreign trip. Nearly two years later, I am still being stopped and searched, and I still don’t know why.

      I’m a graduate student at Harvard University, and missed flights and travel anxiety were beginning to affect my schoolwork. So with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, I have filed a formal complaint with the Department of Homeland Security asking that I be allowed to travel freely, which is my constitutional right.

      Am I being stopped because I am Muslim, or because my family once traveled to Iran to visit a holy shrine? Is it because of my criticism of U.S. policies on the multimedia website I run to raise awareness about injustices around the world? Maybe it’s all three. Federal officers have asked me about my writing and religion, both of which are protected by the First Amendment.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • China patent improvements increasing foreign filers’ confidence

      Corporate confidence is growing in the Chinese patent system, particularly since the introduction of new offerings such as two dedicated IP courts and the hiring of more trained IP examiners into its patent office.

      According to in-house sources, there are still challenges when it comes to registering, validating and litigating patents, but considerable improvements have been made that have smoothed the path to easier patent portfolio management in the region.

      “The patenting system in China has become collectively robust,” says the patent lead at a Swiss confectionery company. “There was a time when most patent applications would have been challenged or questioned, but today most of our patents are granted.”

      Many companies are still finding it difficult to determine whether they have freedom to operate in China, but overall its IP developments are helping it shed its anti-IP and protectionist reputation and beginning to cement it as a region for top-tier patent protection.

    • Wednesday Whimsies

      That decision has now been fully reversed by a panel of three judges of the same Court of Milan, after having heard the appeal filed by Eli Lilly against the first instance decision. On 15 October 2018, the Court of Milan found that Lilly’s patent EP1313508 is infringed by equivalence by Fresenius Kabi’s product containing pemetrexed diacid and tromethamine and issued a preliminary injunction against the latter.

      [...]

      On the facts, the Court held that the amendments made by Lilly did not restrict the interpretation of the patent’s scope of protection in such a manner as to exclude compounds that are equivalent to pemetrexed disodium. The Court then agreed with the independent panel of experts that the skilled person would treat the disodium as a non-essential part of the invention since the invention was aimed at solving the clinical issue of toxicity by administering vitamin B12 with the pemetrexed anion. The skilled person would understand that the active moiety is the pemetrexed anion and the counterion has no therapeutic or toxic effect. The Court agreed that it would therefore have been obvious to the skilled person to replace pemetrexed disodium with pemetrexed diacid (with tromethamine as in Fresenius Kabi’s product) and that Fresenius Kabi’s products infringed Lilly’s patent by equivalence.

    • No more pemetrexed?

      In the UK the Supreme Court in its judgment of 12 July 2017 ([2017] UKSC 48) ruled that the Lilly patent is not limited to the disodium salt of pemetrexed, and that Actavis’ diacid form and other salts of pemetrexed, representing immaterial variants of the claimed invention, directly infringe the patent.

      In other jurisdictions, including Germany (Federal Supreme Court X ZR 29/15 of 14 June 2016), Switzerland (Federal Supreme Court 4A_208/2017 of 20 October 2017) and Italy (Court of Milan Case No. 45209/2017 of 15 October 2018), the courts also acknowledged infringement under the doctrine of equivalence.

      In the UK cross-border case, the claimant Actavis was irrevocably bound to its undertaking not to challenge the validity of the Lilly patent.

      The Lilly patent had survived EPO opposition proceedings, but in Germany its validity was again challenged by third party generics.

    • Trademarks

      • What to look for in ITC’s second go at secondary meaning

        In Converse v ITC on remand from the Federal Circuit, the ITC will have to decide “one of the most complex trade mark cases they’ve seen”

        The International Trade Commission (ITC) must grapple once again with the issue of secondary meaning, in the remand of a case involving sneakers.

    • Copyrights

      • SoundCloud Troll Getting DMCA Takedowns Shows The Weakness Of Notice And Takedown Systems

        Much has been written at this point about the problems with various “notice and takedown” policies, including in the DMCA. Much of the problems arise from the DMCA’s requirement that service providers “expeditiously” remove infringing material upon notice, which naturally leads to platforms erring on the side of removal versus taking a hard — and manual — look at the material in question to see if it’s really infringing. This results in all kinds of takedowns of speech that is not infringing, typically as a result of human error, a dispute over the actual ownership of rights, a lack of recognizing fair use, or, perhaps most often, an automated system for sending DMCAs simply screwing up.

        But another weakness in the notice and takedown policy is in how much power it places in the hands of trolls and bad actors to simply fuck with people. This can be seen in action in the case of one SoundCloud troll getting all kinds of music taken down by pretending to be a rights holder.

      • The Media Industry and the “Make-Google-Pay” Fantasy

        By pushing to the “link tax”, publishers are shooting themselves in the foot three times over. One, there is a tangible risk that Google opt for the Spanish/German jurisprudence. Two, the optics will look terrible: by persisting to collect a small revenue from snippets, publishers will seem to wage a rearguard battle. Three, the news publishing world has more appealing options when it comes to working with Google at improving the economics of their ecosystem. The search giant is already investing hundreds of millions of dollars for technologies that could directly, or indirectly, benefit to the news media. So far, publishers haven’t used the full extent of it. It’s time to “think different”.

      • Upload Filters & Article 13: The Latest EU Proposals

        The latest proposals surrounding the controversial Article 13 indicate that upload filters – the mechanism that has been widely warned about for months – are front and center in negotiations. Sites like YouTube will be required to obtain licenses for content they make available and cooperate with rightsholders to ensure no unauthorized communications to the public, unless they want to be held liable.

Patent Trolls in EPO Events That Promote Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Extortionists on stage

The Times Profiles a Patent Troll
Reference (EFF article): The Times Profiles a Patent Troll

Summary: The thugs who run the European Patent Office invite other thugs to speak at their events, reaffirming the perpetuation of thuggery and service to patent trolls from the United States

THE STAFF UNION of the European Patent Office, SUEPO, is not saying much. It’s just linking to a few reports here and there, occasionally producing word-by-word translations of these. Three days have passed and SUEPO never reinstated what it wrote about USF, so it was quite likely censored by threats (nastygram from Bergot yet again? Her name was rubbed off by USF).

Meanwhile, the EPO management persists in union-busting (some say it's worse or more effective than before), followed by systematic gagging of all staff representatives, not just SUEPO. It means that EPO staff lost its voice. It’s almost mute.

“…software patents in Europe are on the rise; they’re just described or categorised using hype waves and buzzwords.”This is a perfect opportunity for this corrupt management to further lower patent quality and fake ‘production’ figures, then give itself bonuses for the ‘accomplishment’. As we’ve been stressing many times in recent months, software patents in Europe are on the rise; they’re just described or categorised using hype waves and buzzwords.

Aaron Gin, Michael Krasniansky and Alexandra MacKenzie have just published this article about software patents disguised as “AI”. Their opening paragraph says: “The field of artificial intelligence has progressed rapidly over the last few decades, resulting in billions of people using AI of some form or another in their daily lives.”

The article speaks of “Patenting Trends For Artificial Intelligence,” but “AI” nowadays gets (mis)used (more often than not) as synonym for “computer”, “algorithm”, or “program” (which nowadays has its own synonym, “app”). As long as it’s “smart” — another widely-misused term that refers to constant monitoring of users.

“The EPO has created many loopholes — more so recently — for software patents (and told its examiners they must swallow these buzzwords and grant… or else!).”As someone put it yesterday: “Does it mean I can now easily patent anything if I append “… using AI” after it? Just joking, remembering “… with computer” or “… over Internet” craze few years back (with fallout still felt).”

The EPO has created many loopholes — more so recently — for software patents (and told its examiners they must swallow these buzzwords and grant… or else!).

With a hiring freeze in effect (lowing staffing numbers), the EPO already sent the signal that those who don’t ‘perform’ will be sacked. That’s one heck of a motivator right there.

Yesterday too, as usual, the EPO advocated lots of computer vision patents i.e. bogus software patents, “on a car”.

“In 2017 alone,” it wrote, “almost 4 000 patent applications for self-driving vehicles were filed at the EPO.” It also linked to the blog of António Campinos, summarising as follows: “New on the EPO President’s blog: Patent information: past, present and future…”

“With a hiring freeze in effect (lowing staffing numbers), the EPO already sent the signal that those who don’t ‘perform’ will be sacked.”The EPO then retweeted a patent maximalist, Anthony Trippe from the US. We suppose they put the interests of the litigation ‘industry’ from another continent ahead of 1) Europe and 2) science.

“So fabulous to see one of the influential people in #patents talking about the importance of patent #data and #machinelearning,” he wrote, linking to yesterday’s blog post.(warning: epo.org link)

It’s similar to the press release they issued. One paragraph before the last paragraph and signature the President of the EPO promoted illicit patents on software using all the familiar hype waves and buzzwords:

The other element of managing patent information – investigating new technologies – is already well underway. A lot of you know that we’re serious about harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence, based on a full understanding of the impact of the technologies. That was helped by a major conference on AI earlier this year but now we turn our attention to another subject that could impact upon patent information: Blockchain. In theory this new way to record ownership and other elements of information may have ramifications for patent data but exactly how it will impact this field, and how much, is still unclear. It’s the kind of issue we want to investigate further with your help. So I hope many of you will consider attending our conference on 4 December to discuss how Blockchain could affect various parts of the whole patent landscape.

Shortly afterward the EPO wrote about “Patenting Blockchain” (warning: epo.org link): “Marieke Flament from Circle, Benoît Abeloos from DG CONNECT – @EU_Commission, Jon Wright from @SterneKessler & Erich Spangenberg from @ipwe_ will discuss the possible future impact of blockchain at our event in The Hague: http://bit.ly/EPOblockchain18 pic.twitter.com/shNp3B8dk1″

“Nothing has changed under Campinos; he’s still union-busting and gagging staff representatives, using the likes of Bergot for indirection (to make himself look “clean” and “friendly”).”I am disgusted but not shocked that the EPO now entertains the highly notorious patent troll Erich Spangenberg, who sends me death wishes. New low for EPO and for Europe in an event that promotes software patents (likely illegal).

The EPO isn’t just run by thugs; it’s also proudly inviting them. Nothing has changed under Campinos; he’s still union-busting and gagging staff representatives, using the likes of Bergot for indirection (to make himself look “clean” and “friendly”). Surely the staff can recognise this by now?

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