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12.02.18

Links 2/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC5, Snapcraft 3.0, VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3

Posted in Site News at 7:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • IBM’s Big Bet On ‘Hybrid’ Cloud, Will It Work?
  • Open Source Hits The Big Time With Red Hat

    The proposed acquisition of Red Hat by IBM, the largest-ever software deal in history, is obviously important from the signalling: it means that the open-source movement has finally arrived. If a firm that offers paid services around freely available source code (much of it written by volunteers) is valued at the astronomical sum of $34 billion, it surely suggests open source is now viable. It is the ultimate triumph of the ‘bazaar’ over the ‘cathedral’ as suggested by Eric Raymond in his seminal, eponymous paper some time ago: barely-organised chaos has defeated the hierarchical, top-down organisation.

    It is surely ironic that IBM, the ultimate in buttoned-down, rule-bound, navy-blue-suited firms (although I hear the tie is now optional even if the white shirt remains de rigeur) should be the one buying the biggest player in the Linux-Apache-mySQL world of be-sandaled, bearded, shorts-wearing geeks infused with the libertarian cry that “software yearns to be free” or words to that effect from the arch-priest of that cult, Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation.

    For, IBM was for long the epitome of the closed, hierarchical ‘cathedral’ as opposed to the ‘bazaar’ (though Microsoft took on the cathedral mantle later). It was the object of hatred by legions of computer science students, who decried its monolithic, impenetrable operating systems such as for the System/370 mainframes, the corporate staples in the bad old days of the 1970s. (Operating systems are the most core software of computers, the innards of the system that give them their character, such as Windows, Apple iOS, or Android).

    In fact, it was as an act of rebellion against the work of thousands of programmers and their inscrutable code at IBM that the legendary Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at AT&T’s Bell Labs wrote UNIX as a small, transparent operating system. It was a disruptive innovation, and it created a paradigm shift: here was the guts of the machine (reminiscent of Tracy Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine) done by just two creative people, not an entire army of drone-like, faceless souls (as suggested in Apple’s famous ‘1984’ commercial where IBM is the Big Brother analog).

  • Open Source Software: Are maintainers the only ones responsible for software sustainability?
  • Alibaba Open-Sources Its X-Deep Learning Framework

    Alibaba has announced it will open-source X-Deep Learning (XDL), the algorithm framework behind its marketing technology and big data platform Alimama. The source code and support documents’ release is slated for December.

    XDL is the industry’s first deep learning framework for super-large-scale high-dimensional sparse data scenarios such as advertising, recommendation and search. It was developed by Alibaba’s marketing technology and big data platform Alimama based on its advertising business, and has been deployed at scale in demanding production scenarios such as this year’s “Singles Day” (Nov 11, China’s annual online shopping extravaganza).

  • Elasticsearch twangs out Elastic App Search beta

    Elasticsearch is a Java-developed ‘application search’ engine based on the Lucene library, it is open sourced under the Apache License

    It provides a distributed, multi-tenant-capable full-text search engine with an HTTP web interface and schema-free JSON documents.

    Elasticsearch developers David Harsha, Marshall Scorcio, Brian McGue, Kellen Evan have come together to note that Elasticsearch has now been downloaded over 100,000,000 times.

  • Will Plume’s Open Source Plan Pay Off?
  • There Is a Moral Imperative to Make Certain Technologies Widely Available

    Gary Rieschel of Qiming Venture Partners, says until most technology is open-source, it remains an asset of only the wealthy.

  • Further transformation ahead for open source industry
  • Unlock Open Source value

    The spirit of collaboration and peer-to-peer problem solving is particularly important at a time when cybersecurity threats are escalating the complexity of security and compliance. The need for trust in the app development and delivery space is also intensifying.

    In some circles, experts believe open source is on the wane. I strongly disagree. At its best, open source software explodes barriers to progress and accelerate innovation in ways licensed software with all its legislative impediments can only dream about. Furthermore, adopting open software as a strategy means users can add value and diversify with more speed and flexibility than ever before – all while raising overall operational standards.

  • Dremio Strengthens its Commitment to Developer and Open Source Communities with Donation of Open Source Code to The Apache Software Foundation
  • How Secure is Open Source for DevOps? 5 Considerations

    Open source libraries and frameworks have important roles to play in a DevOps culture that emphasizes shorter development life cycles, collaboration and innovation. However, it’s vital not to neglect the security of these open source components.

  • Open Source powers innovation, transformation across government

    For government users, open source is no longer a bleeding-edge technology. Open source tools are powering innovation and transformation across government agencies because they offer affordable, secure, and innovative alternatives to traditional solutions.

    An open source approach allows developers to download code, start building prototypes and deploy solutions that meet their agency’s mission needs within days or weeks instead of months. It’s a far cry from the traditional government technology procurement cycle which often taking years from procurement to installation. Moreover, that solution still may not fully deliver on what was promised after being in development for years. Open source solutions don’t just shorten the procurement and development cycle, they also give developers and system users more confidence that the solutions will actually work because it’s faster and less expensive to build working proof of concepts (POCs).

  • 20 Years of Open Source: Why the Best Payment APIs Use Shared Code

    Although the idea of open source has been around since the pre-internet days of the early 20th century, its modern meaning dates back to early 1998. In these days, free software was a much more prevalent term that promoted the idea of “users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.” This concept is still around today, with many of its devotees, including Richard Stallman, the creator of the Free Software Movement (FSM), claiming it to be more accurate than what we now call open source software.

    Disagreements over the interpretation, actual and perceived, are what pushed the creators of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to challenge the status quo. Since the idea of free software is more figurative than literal (think of “free speech,” not “free beer,” as Stallman puts it), open source software was meant to clarify the meaning behind the term and encourage companies to get on board with it.

  • TrueConf Releases an Open Source Application for Video Enabled Kiosks

    Embedded video conferencing systems traditionally require recruiting skilled software engineers, commissioning a custom development, or learning SDK. To make the process easier, TrueConf created a ready-made and easy-to-customize application for video kiosks which resolves many of the typical challenges and can be installed on any Windows-based PC within several minutes.

  • Open source AI voice assistant takes aim at Amazon and Google

    Some frontrunning hospitals are already forging how patients experience healthcare with voice AI. Commonwealth Care Alliance chief of clinical innovation John Loughnane, MD, said the industry is on the verge of voice technologies that can be used to tailor individualized care regimens.

    Indeed, there are still some growing pains to be endured. Speaking at the Boston Children’s Voice Health Summit in October, Sara Holoubek, CEO of Luminary Labs, called 2018, the year of the voice tech pilot. “We’re in this extensive period of trial and error,” she said.

    ON THE RECORD

    From Mycroft: “Voice is coming to every device, every platform and every household globally. The technology has a growing presence within the home as an AI assistant. This calls for voice to be flexible, customizable, vendor neutral, and privacy focused; things that the proprietary voice assistants on the market today don’t offer.”

  • KC’s Mycroft will double employee base, showcase tech at CES 2019
  • An Open-Source Platform to Span the Auto Industry

    A collaborative, cross-industry effort at developing an open platform for the connected car, Automotive Grade Linux (AGL)…

  • How organisations can unlock the commercial value of open source software

    The spirit of collaboration and peer-to-peer problem solving is particularly important at a time when cybersecurity threats are escalating the complexity of security and compliance. The need for trust in the app development and delivery space is also intensifying.

  • Open-Source Database For Cryptoassets Launched By Crypto Research Firm Messari

    Crypto data and research tools provider Messari has officially launched its open-source disclosures registry for basic cryptocurrency information.

    Based in New York, Messari is a company that aims to promote transparency in the cryptoasset community by providing an open-source library to help make sense of the industry. In March of this year, the company secured early-stage seed funding to create the crypto-equivalent of US Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database, which contains a wealth of information about the commission and the securities industry that is freely available to the public via the Internet.

  • Lambda Unveils Open Source Blockchain Algorithm PoST

    Lambda launched its PoST protocol in a press release on 27th November 2018. The PoST algorithm by Lambda ensures efficient project development along with constant and random challenges on blockchain through validator nodes.

  • Lambda has Launched the First Ever Blockchain Open-Source Proof-of-Space-Time (PoST) Algorithm

    Recently, the crypto industry witnessed the unveiling of the first-ever blockchain open source Proof-of-Space-Time algorithm, as Lambda launched the transparent PoST protocol. The PoST comes with repetition computation, streamlined proofs and high-speed verification capabilities. According to the press release, the algorithm is available on the popular software development platform— GitHub.

  • Unbound Tech Releases Its Blockchain Crypto Asset Wallet Security Protocol Via Open Source On GitHub

    The Unbound Tech has just announced that it has made the bank-grade security solution available through the open source. This is a new blockchain-crypto-mpc library that has been launched by the company, one that has been made available on GitHub.

    It has been designed as an open source library that can be used for the crypto and blockchain assets that are able to protect the cryptographic keys; this has been achieved through the use of the company’s technology based on the MPC that is used by the fortune 500.

  • Genode OS 18.11 Gets SSH Server Support, MirageOS Unikernels & SDK

    Genode, the open-source operating system framework focused on a micro-kernel layer and various innovative user-space components, is out with its latest feature update. The developers at Genode Labs also continue bringing up their Sculpt OS effort for Genode as a general purpose operating system.

    The Genode 18.11 feature release brings support for Mirage-OS unikernels, a new health-monitoring mechanism for the system, the start of a Genode SDK, window layout system improvements, and they have finally developed SSH server support.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Maximizing password manager attack surface: Learning from Kaspersky

        I looked at a number of password manager browser extensions already, and most of them have some obvious issues. Kaspersky Password Manager manages to stand out in the crowd however, the approach taken here is rather unique. You know how browser extensions are rather tough to exploit, with all that sandboxed JavaScript and restrictive default content security policy? Clearly, all that is meant for weaklings who don’t know how to write secure code, not the pros working at Kaspersky.

        Kaspersky developers don’t like JavaScript, so they hand over control to their beloved C++ code as soon as possible. No stupid sandboxing, code is running with the privileges of the logged in user. No memory safety, dealing with buffer overflows is up to the developers. How they managed to do it? Browser extensions have that escape hatch called native messaging which allows connecting to an executable running on the user’s system. And that executable is what contains most of the logic in case of the Kaspersky Password Manager, with the browser extension being merely a dumb shell.

      • The Patch that converts a Firefox to a Tor Browser

        Have you ever wondered was makes the Tor Browser the Tor Browser? That is, what patch you would have to apply to Firefox in order to end up with a Tor Browser.

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: December’s Featured Extensions
      • Socorro: November 2018 happenings

        Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla’s products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the Breakpad crash reporter asks the user if the user would like to send a crash report. If the user answers “yes!”, then the Breakpad crash reporter collects data related to the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that crash report as an HTTP POST to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Video interview: Muhammet Kara on the LibreOffice community and migrations in Turkey

      At our recent conference in Tirana, Albania, we sat down with Muhammet Kara from the Turkish LibreOffice community. He talks about the conference, recent FOSS migrations in his home country, and why he joined the Membership Committee:

    • LibreOffice Fundraising, December 1st

      Consider a donation to support activities such as the LibreItalia Conference and other events organized by native language communities https://www.libreoffice.org/donate

    • Fundraising, December 2
    • VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3 released

      Please do NOT use this VirtualBox Beta release on production machines! A VirtualBox Beta release should be considered a bleeding-edge release meant for early evaluation and testing purposes.

    • VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3 Released: Enables VMSVGA Device By Default, OCI Improvements

      Oracle’s VirtualBox 6.0 multi-platform virtualization software continues inching closer to release.

      VirtualBox 6.0 already has added support for guest additions on OS/2, better Oracle Cloud integration, improved audio/video recording support, improved host/guest file copying/handling, and a range of other fixes and improvements. With yesterday’s release of VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3 there is yet more feature work landing.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • The digital open-source future of scientific research in Europe

      According to Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science, and Innovation “Science should have no borders.” This is the idea that prompted the setting up of Europe’s “digital coffeehouse” known as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), officially unveiled on 23 November at the University of Vienna, Austria.

      The first influx of funding for the EOSC will come from the European Commission, with a promise to invest €600 million to support the core functions of the EOSC up until 2020. Further financial support may come from a mix of funding sources, such as deposit fees from national funders, user-generated revenues.

      TheEuropean Commission also announced a team of eleven that will run the huge EOSC project, who were selected from the European research infrastructure and public research and funding organisations. Karel Luyben, vice president for research at CESAER ― a European association of 50 leading universities of science and technology in 25 countries ― was named as chair of the executive board, which will set the future directions of the cloud. Together with two additional management layers, a governance board and a stakeholder forum, the board will outline the annual work plans and rules of participation. The Commission will announce another team in January 2019 to run the stakeholder forum and deal with scientific outreach.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Naomi Wu On The Sino:Bit, 3D Printers, And Open Source Hardware In China
      • Cutting 3D Printing Costs with an Open Source Material Pelletizer

        Good filament can be pricey, although the polymers the filament is made from aren’t that expensive. That’s the opening observation of a paper entitled “3-D Printable Polymer Pelletizer Chopper for Fused Granular Fabrication-Based Additive Manufacturing.” The authors argue that the markup can be avoided by eliminating the process of creating filament and instead 3D printing directly from polymer granules. Fused granular fabrication (FGF), or fused particle fabrication (FPF), they point out, is held back by the lack of accessibility to low-cost pelletizers and choppers. So they developed their own open-source 3D printable pelletizer that can process both single thermopolymers as well as composites.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • WebP image file sizes compared to equivalent Guetzli and Zopfli

      I decided to offer WebP images in addition to the traditional JPEG and PNG formats after Microsoft Edge and then shortly after Mozilla Firefox added support for the format. However, I did so blindly assuming that WebP would always produce smaller files without checking my that it actually did what I wanted. A reader called me out on my mistake and pointed out some WebP images were 15 % larger than the traditional file format.

      As discussed previously, I use libvips for image processing and preparing thumbnails from my source images. I’ve previously used libgd, but that created unwanted artifacts that hurt compression levels. However, I also use post-processing with the image optimization tool Guetzli for JPEG images and Zopfli for PNG images. These tools really help to slash image sizes without compromising on image quality but at the cost of significant memory and processor utilization (a one-time investment).

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The 2017 Thanksgiving salmonella outbreak is still with us. Why?

      With Thanksgiving and Christmas comes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s reminder to cook turkey to 165 degrees to kill salmonella, a harmful bacteria, as in “Why a Salmonella Outbreak Shouldn’t Ruin Your Thanksgiving.” The reminder is particularly timely since an outbreak of salmonella-infected turkey resulting in foodborne illness was officially detected a bit more than a year ago. USDA, while active in detecting the slaughterhouse sites of the infected turkey, has yet to name those sites publicly and issue a whole turkey or turkey parts recall. USDA has recalled Jennie-O ground turkey products and issued a list of retailers carrying those products.

      This inadequate response should raise serious questions about the proposed USDA takeover of all federal food safety duties. In July, the Trump administration proposed to transfer the food safety duties of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the USDA. The proposal has many hurdles to realization, not the least of which is that new legislation would be required to transfer to USDA the duties assigned to FDA in the Food Safety Modernization Act. Even if such legislation were proposed, any Congressional hearings on the proposal must review USDA’s performance history of protecting consumers, other than reminding them of how to prepare turkey and other foods to prevent foodborne illness.

      On November 15, the Safe Food Coalition asked the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to declare a public health alert and recall turkey products from the 22 slaughterhouses and seven processing plants where FSIS identified the presence of Salmonella Reading, a particularly virulent serotype that is resisting a multi-drug antibiotic given to consumers of the infected turkey. The letter noted that FSIS’ recommendation for “proper handling” of turkey, with separate knives, cutting boards and preparation areas, “subjects consumers to an unrealistic standard for ‘proper’ handling and cooking.” The groups added that the “World Health Organization has estimated that cross-contamination [e.g. between infected meat and fresh vegetables] causes ten times as many Salmonella infections as eating undercooked poultry.” FSIS rejected the Safe Food Coalition request, characterizing it as “Monday morning quarterbacking” by NGOs in comfortable offices remote from turkey production facilities.

    • The Abortion Battle Continues

      On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued it momentous Roe v. Wade decision that legalizing a woman’s right to the privacy of an abortion. In his decision, Justice Harry Blackmun noted, “… throughout the 19th Century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn ….” The Roe decision forced 46 states to liberalize their abortion laws.

      The Court’s decision occurred two days after Richard Nixon was inaugurated to his second term as president. His landslide victory over Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) — who had been labeled the candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion” – was driven by the “Southern strategy” that reconfigured national politics. These two events helped foster the culture wars.

      Now, nearly a half-century later, Donald Trump’s election enabled the forces of the Christian right to seize state power, including two seats on the Supreme Court. Their efforts, combined with conservative legislators in states throughout the country, are intended to finally end – or severely restrict – the Roe decision and a woman’s right to an abortion.

      A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and arecent lower-court abortion decision in Mississippi may take some of most virulent wind out of the anti-abortion movement. Unfortunately, like the culture wars in general – and hardcore support for Trump in particular – reactionary rage has little to do with statistical facts let alone court decisions. These religious warriors, like fundamentalists the world over, blindly seek to impose their beliefs on everyone under their ostensible control.

    • Sacrificing Children: Pesticides in the Time of Oligarchy

      All past civilizations protected children. It was self-evident that healthy children assured continuity, security and happiness.

      However, machine-powered civilizations give the illusion corporations, oligarchies, and the government control everything. Children fade in this confused vision. The disproportional power of the few dehumanizes everything, including children.

      Oligarchs control medicine, drugs, chemicals, farming and politics. If their products harm children, their lobbyists, scientists and politicians cover up the truth.

    • Unlike a Globalized Food System, Local Food Won’t Destroy the Environment

      If you’re seeking some good news during these troubled times, look at the ecologically sound ways of producing food that have percolated up from the grassroots in recent years. Small farmers, environmentalists, academic researchers, and food and farming activists have given us agroecology, holistic resource management, permaculture, regenerative agriculture and other methods that can alleviate or perhaps even eliminate the global food system’s worst impacts: biodiversity loss, energy depletion, toxic pollution, food insecurity and massive carbon emissions.

      These inspiring testaments to human ingenuity and goodwill have two things in common: They involve smaller-scale farms adapted to local conditions, and they depend more on human attention and care than on energy and technology. In other words, they are the opposite of industrial monocultures — huge farms that grow just one crop.

      But to significantly reduce the many negative impacts of the food system, these small-scale initiatives need to spread all over the world. Unfortunately, this has not happened, because the transformation of farming requires shifting not just how food is produced, but also how it is marketed and distributed. The food system is inextricably linked to an economic system that, for decades, has been fundamentally biased against the kinds of changes we need.

    • Type 1 Diabetics Need Affordable Insulin, Not “Innovation”

      It’s nearly 2019, and people with Type 1 diabetes are dying from diabetic ketoacidosis. Akin to an 1800s time-warp, Americans with Type 1 are losing their lives for the same reasons they did back then: They lack a treatment. Of course, there is insulin now, but many have little access due to the manufacturers’ exorbitant price hikes.

      From 1996 to today, virtually unchanged analog insulins have increased in cost from $21 per vial to $300 per vial and higher, for reasons that can only be attributed to greed. A month’s worth of insulin and supplies for the uninsured or underinsured can easily reach — or surpass — the cost of a monthly mortgage. There is no generic analog insulin equivalent, but instead mainly the relentless focus and pursuit of patent-extending delivery methods that are then being trumpeted disingenuously by the manufacturers as much needed innovation to serve patients.

      Discovered in 1921 by Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and John Macleod, insulin remains the treatment for Type 1 diabetes. Regular injections are required to provide the essential hormone that a nonfunctioning pancreas can’t make. We all need insulin to get glucose into our cells — provided either by a working pancreas or by injection. It’s that simple. But the US government has done nothing to stop the price-gouging.

    • Attention, Marketplace Shoppers: Don’t Delay On 2019 Enrollment

      Don’t procrastinate. Most consumers who buy their own insurance on the federal health insurance marketplace face a Dec. 15 deadline. Advocates are reminding these customers that if they miss the deadline, they may not have a plan that starts in January 2019.

      Despite repeated efforts by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it remains the law of the land, and subsidies that help bring down premiums and reduce cost sharing are still available to help people afford plans sold on the marketplaces, also called exchanges. Those plans still must provide comprehensive benefits and limit out-of-pocket costs for consumers. If you buy an exchange plan, insurers can’t turn you down or charge you more if you have a preexisting medical condition.

      But Republicans did push through a major change in the law that takes effect in 2019: Consumers will no longer owe a fine if they don’t have health insurance. It’s not yet clear if that has tamped down interest, but data released by federal officials showed that the number of people who had signed up during the first two weeks of open enrollment was down by about 20 percent from a year ago.

    • Why Don’t Detroit Public Schools Have Safe Drinking Water?

      It’s a pretty frightening scenario for many residents of Detroit — a city just 60 miles southeast of Flint, where residents kept getting sick in 2016, even though officials insisted that the drinking water was just fine. In fact, the Flint crisis was what prompted Detroit officials to begin testing their school water supplies in the first place.

      “In the poorer neighborhoods, in the black neighborhoods, we always have a problem with issues of environment,” said Detroit resident Ricky Rice, who has a grandson in sixth grade and another grandchild beginning kindergarten. “Look at the water up in Flint. Now, look at the water here. They should have known it was going to be a problem with this old infrastructure.”

      And yet Detroit is far from the only school district to have problems with water quality. At the beginning of this school year, several Maryland school districts also found lead in their drinking water and turned off their water fountains.

    • Mitch McConnell Determined to Confirm Trump’s Radical Anti-Choice Judges (Updated)

      Senate Republican leaders are poised to advance dozens of President Trump’s judicial nominations before the new U.S. Congress convenes in January, despite an attempt from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to impede the process.

      The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to advance six Circuit Court nominees on Thursday, but the committee canceled its meeting after Flake vowed to vote against judicial nominations unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) schedules a vote on bipartisan legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump.

      While Flake’s tactic could slow down the nomination process, McConnell could still bring nominees directly to the floor. He has repeatedly stated the judiciary remains his top priority during the lame duck session.

  • Security

    • Hackers access data of half a billion guests at Marriott hotels

      The personal data of half a billion guests of upmarket hotels belonging to Marriott International was illegally accessed by hackers over four years.

      Experts estimate that more than a million British customers could be affected by the breach of the booking system of the group’s Starwood division, which owns hotels including the Sheraton Grand Park Lane and Le Méridien Piccadilly in London.

    • Email Security & Privacy

      If you want to learn more about the topic, you can take a look at the slides I used and do some research of your own. If something seems wrong please let me know in the comments below so that we all can benefit. You can also access (I think?) the speaker notes for more context behind the content on the slides.

      If you are pressed for time, skip to the last slide to learn about some interesting attacks. One of them makes use of Cyrillic script. If you haven’t heard of Cyrillic script before you would love that slide.

    • Out-of-Bounds Vulnerability In Microsoft VBScript Can Cause Internet Explorer To Crash

      Microsoft VBScript is actually an active scripting language modeled on Visual Basic. It’s very similar to visual basic and can be used to create a server-side scripting environment for creating dynamic web pages which use VBScript or JavaScript.

    • Spectre v2 mitigation causes significant slowdown on Linux 4.20

      One of Intel’s mitigations for a variant of the Spectre vulnerability will reportedly significantly slow down performance of the latest Linux kernel.

      The mitigation, called Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors (STIBP), was put in place by Intel earlier this year when the Spectre vulnerability and its variants were first publicly disclosed. Intel proposed two other mitigations to this particular version — Spectre variant 2, tracked as CVE-2017-5715 — but this one, it turns out, would have a negative effect on Linux 4.20.

      If Linux 4.20 is run with Intel chips that implemented the STIBP mitigation for Spectre v2, performance could drop 30% to 50%, depending on the application.

    • Over 45,000 routers hacked via NSA exploit

      From 3.5 million devices examined, Akamai says that around eight per cent carry a vulnerable version of UPnP. The attack exposes ports 139 and 445, opening up nearly two million computers, phones, smart speakers, robot vacuum cleaners, tablets, and other devices connected to said routers.

    • Marriott: Data on 500 Million Guests Stolen in 4-Year Breach

      Marriott said the breach involved unauthorized access to a database containing guest information tied to reservations made at Starwood properties on or before Sept. 10, 2018, and that its ongoing investigation suggests the perpetrators had been inside the company’s networks since 2014.

    • Marriott group hit by massive breach, details of 500m stolen

      Marriott said it had become aware of the breach on 8 September and investigations had shown that data was being exfiltrated since 2014.

    • Bing is Warning that the VLC Media Player Site is Unsafe [Ed: Microsoft loves Linux. So much in fact that GNU/Linux software it is marking as "unsafe"; like it did Firefox and Chrome only months ago.]
    • PewDiePie vs T-Series: [Cracker] hijacks 50,000 printers urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie

      The [cracker] reveals that he used Shodan, a repository for [Internet] connected devices where he found 80,000 connected printers and decided to attack 50,000 of them to raise awareness about printer security, The Verge reported. Of the attacked printers, about 15000 printers were in India.

    • Someone [cracked] printers worldwide, urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie

      TheHackerGiraffe told The Verge that he got the idea for the [attack] while browsing Shodan.io, a repository for [Internet]-connected devices. Here, they claim that they found 800,000 available printers, and decided to attack 50,000 of them.

    • Indian police claim breaking up international computer [sic] virus scam

      The pop-up messages prompted victims in the United States, Britain, Australia and other countries to call a phone number shown on their computer screens, he said. They would then be scammed out of money in exchange for supposedly fixing the problem.

    • Hackers are using leaked NSA hacking tools to covertly hijack thousands of [Windows-running] computers
    • NSA tools are still letting hackers take over unpatched systems

      As TechCrunch reports, hackers are now using a pair of exploits developed by the NSA to burrow through the router and attack connected systems. The two exploits, known as EternalBlue and EternalRed, target Windows and Linux-based systems respectively. This new attack is being termed “EternalSilence” by Akamai, which warns that with 45,000 infected devices, more than a million connected computers could also be vulnerable.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Keep it cool: With Pakistan, India should never confuse deep friendships for the deep state

      For me, the turning point in understanding Pakistan came with Daniel Pearl’s killing.
      In 2002, the 38-year-old Washington Post journalist, with an oval, clever face and a jaunty smile, was kidnapped in Karachi and slain, executed on video by a mad Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who slit his throat and sent out the filmed murder to the world.
      It was the first ISIS-style execution. But it was enough for me to understand Pakistan, the old Pakistan, even its genial post-Partition ghost which I had seen, was dead.
      The new Pakistan was a very different nation.

    • Five Men Responsible for 7,200-Foot Mushroom Cloud Explosion in Louisiana Sentenced to Prison

      Explo Systems filed for bankruptcy in 2013, abandoning 7,800 tons of M6 at Camp Minden. The National Guard subsequently hired another company to remove the leftover waste.

    • The Saudis’ Reputation: A Tale Told in Three Acts
    • Saudi crown prince reportedly sent at least 11 messages to adviser who oversaw Khashoggi killing around time of his death

      The crown prince told his advisers “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements” if Khashoggi, who was previously based in Virginia, did not return to Saudi Arabia.

    • Putin high-fives MBS: Russian leader and Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman bro down at G20
    • Putin enthusiastically high-fived the Saudi crown prince at the G20 summit

      Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman enthusiastically high-fived each other when they met up in Argentina on Friday.

    • The White House Coverup of the Saudi Coverup of the Jamal Khashoggi Murder

      Congress has been outraged over the Administration’s response to the Khashoggi murder, especially Trump’s willingness to give the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a pass. “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,” Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted recently. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis went to the Hill to explain U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia—in the context of the Khashoggi murder—and U.S. military support propping up the kingdom’s brutal four-year war in Yemen. Moves to punish Saudi Arabia for the murder by curtailing its war have rapidly gained momentum in recent weeks. Mysteriously missing from the briefing, however, was Haspel.

    • ‘May His Many Victims Across the Globe Rest in Peace’: George H.W. Bush Dead at 94

      As corporate media gloss over the former U.S. president’s record with fawning tributes and sanitized obituaries, some observers took to social media to highlight key aspects of the record and legacy of George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at 94.

      Among the 41st president’s acts during his political life Twitter users noted were his role in the Gulf War, Central America, and the Iran-Contra affair.

      While it’s fair to offer condolences to Bush’s family members as they grieve, “As a public figure with lots of innocent blood on his hands, his record has to be examined without any whitewashing,” asserts The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan.

    • America Is Headed For Military Defeat in Afghanistan

      There’s a prevailing maxim, both inside the armed forces and around the Beltway, that goes something like this: “The U.S. can never be militarily defeated in any war,” certainly not by some third world country. Heck, I used to believe that myself. That’s why, in regard to Afghanistan, we’ve been told that while America could lose the war due to political factors (such as the lack of grit among “soft” liberals or defeatists), the military could never and will never lose on the battlefield.

      That entire maxim is about to be turned on its head. Get ready, because we’re about to lose this war militarily.

      Consider this: the U.S. military has advised, assisted, battled, and bombed in Afghanistan for 17-plus years. Ground troop levels have fluctuated from lows of some 10,000 to upwards of 100,000 servicemen and women. None of that has achieved more than a tie, a bloody stalemate. Now, in the 18th year of this conflict, the Kabul-Washington coalition’s military is outright losing.

    • After 17 Years of War, Afghanistan Is All But Forgotten

      Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-con wild boys who came to power with George W. Bush in 2001 all shared a vision. In their minds, they saw a cowed, conquered Iraq as the stepping stone to a wider conflict that would, in the righteous fullness of Republican time, lead to broad regional transformation and the enforced peace of empire, all of it lubricated by “liberated” Middle Eastern petroleum.

    • Azov Again

      This is a deliberate misreading of the situation, and actually Trump’s actions have been correct and no doubt guided by the State Department’s maritime law experts.

      As explained in my last post, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the Ukrainian navy, and any other vessel, has an absolute right of innocent passage to the Ukrainian coast through the Kerch Straits and the Sea of Azov. They do however have an obligation to comply with sea lanes and notification regimes established for reasons of navigational safety.

      It appears Ukraine may not have observed the navigational safety regulations, so Russia had a right to take proportionate action for enforcement. The Russian action was a bit heavy handed, but probably did not stray over the proportionate boundary.

      However Russia did not have a right to detain the vessels or the crews, other than briefly. This is specifically not allowed. So at some point in Russia’s continued detention of the vessels and crews, Russia’s actions switched from legal to illegal. The timing of Trump’s decision to cancel the Putin meeting makes perfect sense in terms of the stage at which Russia went from being in the right in the incident, to being in the wrong. In taking prisoners to Moscow Russia is very, very definitely in the wrong.

    • Sentinelese Islanders Reject Jesus, Shoot Missionary Dead on Beach

      I write to memorialize John Allen Chau, the young man from Vancouver, Washington who after multiple trips to the Andaman Islands, preparing to land on the shore of the forbidden North Sentinel Island, did just that on Nov. 15 and 17, getting himself almost immediately skewered by a hail of primitive but highly effective arrows. (A reminder that Stone Age technology can kill as effectively as a 7.62 caliber AK-47 bullet.)

      Chau’s tragic death is perhaps a small matter, a footnote to our troubled times when we need to be focusing on preparations for war on Iran based on lies, or war in Syria or Ukraine based on lies, or the descent of fascism on the west, or the melting of polar ice and rise of ocean levels, or other overriding historical issues. But just as another footnote—the murder of a journalist in a consulate in Turkey—causes us to linger a moment thinking about the banality of evil, so this episode causes one to reflect on the banality of stupidity.

      Let us be honest about it. We’re talking about religious stupidity. This with patriotism is a final refuge of fools.

    • Yemen’s Humanitarian Nightmare Be Damned, Pompeo Doubles Down on US Support for Saudi Coalition

      Pompeo’s comments to CNN on Saturday come days after the U.S. Senate advanced legislation to bring an end to U.S. involvement in the 3-year war, as a United Nations official warned that “Yemen is on the brink of a major catastrophe,” and as the Wall Street Journal reports on a CIA assessment strongly implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

      Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Pompeo said the administration was intent on keeping “the strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

      Asked by Blitzer about dwindling support within Congress for participation in the war and whether the U.S. would continue to support the kingdom’s bombing campaign of Yemen, Pompeo replied, “The program that we’re involved in today we intend to continue.”

      The heads of prominent aid humanitarian organizations, however, this week pleaded for a cessation of that “program.”

    • Yes, You Have the Right to Talk Back to the Government, But It Could Get You Killed

      What the architects of the police state want are submissive, compliant, cooperative, obedient, meek citizens who don’t talk back, don’t challenge government authority, don’t speak out against government misconduct, and don’t step out of line.

      What the First Amendment protects—and a healthy constitutional republic requires—are citizens who routinely exercise their right to speak truth to power.

      [...]

      Colten was one of 20 or so college students who had driven to the Blue Grass Airport to demonstrate against then-First Lady Pat Nixon. Upon leaving the airport, police stopped one of the cars in Colten’s motorcade because it bore an expired, out-of-state license plate. Colten and the other drivers also pulled over to the side of the road.

      Fearing violence on the part of the police, Colten exited his vehicle and stood nearby while police issued his friend, Mendez, a ticket and arranged to tow his car. Police repeatedly asked Colten to leave. At one point, a state trooper declared, “This is none of your affair . . . get back in your car and please move on and clear the road.”

      Insisting that he wanted to make a transportation arrangement for his friend Mendez and the occupants of the Mendez car, Colten failed to move away and was arrested for violating Kentucky’s disorderly conduct statute.

    • Trump inherited Obama’s drone war and he’s significantly expanded it in countries where the US is not technically at war

      President Donald Trump has significantly increased the number of drone strikes in places the US is not technically at war, according to an analysis from The Daily Beast.

      In former President Barack Obama’s first two years in office, the US conducted 186 drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, where the US is engaged in “shadow wars.”

      Comparatively, in 2017 and 2018 so far, Trump has launched 238 drone strikes in these countries, The Daily Beast reported. The report is based on data provided by US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has tracked US drone strikes for years.

    • Australia Enters The Drone Age: Military To Buy Reapers

      Within two years, Australia will be operating weaponised drones.
      They’re known as ‘Reapers’, or the MQ-9 Reaper to be exact. And Australia is buying between 12 and 16 of them, at a cost of $2 billion dollars.

      The MQ-9 Reaper is the next generation of the MQ-1 Predator drone, that the United States has been operating since the Balkan’s War in 1990.

      And while the data about their use hasn’t exactly been made clear, drones are controversial in particular because of civilian deaths.

      In 2016 the Obama Administration said its drones had killed between 64 and 116 civilians in non-war zones since 2009.

    • Literature, Modernism, and the CIA

      What did the CIA do in the arena of literature? What did literary modernism have to do with colonialism? And how and why have foundations actively collaborated with U.S. intelligence agencies? Juliana Spahr considers the impact of politics and cultural diplomacy on literary production and on the ability of certain writers to achieve canonical status.

    • The US Loves To Charge Other Governments’ Hackers With Crimes. What Happens When One Of Those Countries Returns The Favor?

      Starting near the end of the second Obama administration and rapidly escalating under Trump’s, the US has employed a tactic of “name-and-shame” in which it identifies and charges individuals who were hacking under orders of foreign governments. The idea is that the hackers will be arrested and likely extradited if they ever set foot in a country that’s friendly to the US.

      As of September, when the Justice Department indicted North Korea’s Park Jin Hyok and accused him of being employed by the government when he helped hack Sony Pictures Entertainment and stole millions from the Bank of Bangladesh, the US has formally accused people of working for all four of its primary adversaries in cyberspace: China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

    • Justice Department charges Iranians with hacking attacks on U.S. cities, companies

      The Justice Department unsealed charges Wednesday accusing two Iranian men of hacking into American hospitals, universities, government agencies…

    • MEK Sources of funds are Iran’s regional rivals: ex-CIA official

      Pillar says terrorist group is still a terrorist group even if the blood it spills is not American blood. The MEK certainly has been involved in lethal political violence since 2009.

      He also adds that “The sources of funds always have been unclear. The most likely sources are states that are regional rivals of Iran.”

    • The Pivotal GHW Bush Presidency: How the US became Mired in the Mideast

      On the occasion of the death of George H. W. Bush, I’d like to reflect on the meaning of his presidency for American foreign policy in the Middle East.

      Bush was the last representative of the old Republican Party of wealthy northeast businessmen and Midwestern farmers and small town dwellers, before the Religious Right took over the party. That the Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals did not form part of his base allowed Bush to view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more dispassionately than have any of his successors.

      Bush admitted that he struggled with having a political vision. In 1989, the first year of his presidency, he experienced the windfall of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He called for a new world order, but it was unclear what the content of that order would be except the dominance of Capital and national interest. He appeared to hope (unrealistically) that the charity sector (“a thousand points of light”) could make up for the steep decline in government-provided services impelled by the Reagan tax cuts. Workers and the poor were not his priority.

      Bush was a pragmatist, and was happy to negotiate with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev over several key issues. He once pulled Gorbachev aside and explained to him that he was surrounded by “intellectual thugs” and that he might have to say harsh things about the Soviet Union publicly but that Gorbachev shouldn’t pay attention to it.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • [Old] Julian Assange of WikiLeaks May Face U.S. Prosecution

      Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has confirmed that the Justice Department is examining whether Julian Assange could be charged with a crime.

    • Unkempt, Heavily Bearded Julian Assange No Longer Has Embassy Cat For Company [Ed: What an utterly nasty article. Chelsea Clinton is on Board of this publication, along with some writers there who have burned Wikileaks sources]

      WikiLeaks founder is living in isolation with limited human contact. Even his cat found it too lonely.

    • Open Source Intelligence: A Key Under The Proverbial Mat
    • Julian Assange reportedly gave away his cat so it wouldn’t be trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy with him anymore [Ed: Bill Bostock is a troll. No, Assange gave the cat to keep him safe after cruel Moreno had issued threats to lock up the cat in a pen]
    • Project Censored: ‘Open-source’ intelligence secrets sold to highest bidders

      “Sure, the CIA has all these tools available,” Eliason pointed out. “Yes, they are used on the public. The important part is [that] it’s not the CIA that’s using them. That’s the part that needs to frighten you.”

      As Eliason went on to explain, the CIA’s mission prevents it from using the tools, especially on Americans.

      “All the tools are unclassified, open-source, and can be used by anyone,” Eliason explained. “It makes them not exactly usable for secret agent work. That’s what makes it impossible for them to use Vault 7 tools directly.”

      Drawing heavily on more than a decade of reporting by Tim Shorrock for Mother Jones and The Nation, Eliason’s OpEdNews series reported on the explosive growth of private contractors in the intelligence community, which allows the CIA and other agencies to gain access to intelligence gathered by methods they’re prohibited from using.

    • Hot fake news about Assange & RussiaGate! Read about it!

      The major accomplishment of President Trump might be to bring America’s Deep State out into the open. Each day more evidence of their activities emerges as they step out of the shadows to attack Trump. We can only guess as the reasons for this conflict among our ruling elites, but we can learn much from it. Here ex-UK diplomat Craig Murray debunks the new propaganda: attacking Julian Assange, one of the West few remaining journalists, while boosting RussiaGate. Their success in these projects will indicate what kind of future we will give the Republic.

      [...]

      The problem with this latest fabrication is that Moreno had already released the visitor logs to the Mueller inquiry. Neither Manafort nor these “Russians” are in the visitor logs. This is impossible. The visitor logs were not kept by Wikileaks, but by the very strict Ecuadorean security. Nobody was ever admitted without being entered in the logs. The procedure was very thorough. To go in, you had to submit your passport (no other type of document was accepted). A copy of your passport was taken and the passport details entered into the log. Your passport, along with your mobile phone and any other electronic equipment, was retained until you left, along with your bag and coat. I feature in the logs every time I visited.

      There were no exceptions. For an exception to be made for Manafort and the “Russians” would have had to be a decision of the Government of Ecuador, not of Wikileaks, and that would be so exceptional the reason for it would surely have been noted in the now leaked supposed Ecuadorean “intelligence report” of the visits. What possible motive would the Ecuadorean government have for facilitating secret unrecorded visits by Paul Manafort? Furthermore it is impossible that the intelligence agency – who were in charge of the security – would not know the identity of these alleged “Russians”.

    • Special counsel, Democrats step up pressure on Trump over Russia, Assange

      The latest moves by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation underscore the close coordination between the former FBI director and dominant factions of the military/intelligence establishment, which, in alliance with the Democratic Party, are using the fabricated charges of Russian “meddling” and alleged Trump campaign collusion to pressure Trump into pursuing an even more provocative and reckless policy against Russia.

      This campaign is increasingly combined with an effort by Mueller to frame up WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on espionage or conspiracy charges. The aim is to force Assange from his enforced refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, so that British authorities can arrest him and extradite him to the US, where he already faces federal charges that carry a possible death sentence.

      This week’s moves by Mueller also highlight the reactionary substance of the Democratic Party’s opposition to the right-wing Trump administration.

      [...]

      That meeting, where Trump failed to give unqualified backing to US intelligence claims of Russian hacking of Democratic Party emails, triggered furious condemnations from the Democrats and media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN, and charges by former top intelligence officials that Trump was guilty of treason.

      Since then, Trump has escalated the confrontation with Russia, including by withdrawing from the US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty. This, however, is not considered a sufficient demonstration of Trump’s readiness to engage in full-scale diplomatic, economic and, ultimately, military war with Russia.

      Leading Democrats seized on Cohen’s plea bargain to step up their anti-Russia campaign and ratchet up the pressure on Trump. California Congressman Adam Schiff, who is slated to chair the intelligence committee when the new, Democratic-controlled House of Representatives takes office in January, announced that his committee would launch an investigation into Trump’s business dealings abroad.

    • What’s good for Hillary Clinton is good for Ivanka Trump: Readers sound off

      President Donald Trump was quite clear on Hillary Clinton’s use of her private email server, given her access to government affairs. He said she should go to jail, no ambiguity there.

      And if he has a legal point on that one, I would presume the same would apply to Ivanka Trump — a member of the White House staff who appears to have used a private email, with obvious national security implications.

      So I would suggest to Mr. Trump — who said he’s all about bringing people together — that if Clinton should go to jail, Ivanka should be her roommate. It will be an upscale cell no doubt, and an easy bipartisan sell.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • More states opt to phase out oil production

      A growing number of governments are choosing to phase out oil production, reasoning that cutting the availability of fossil fuels can help to cut the demand for them.

      The world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible, yes? And one of the main causes of the emissions is the burning of fuels such as oil, gas and coal? Right again. So the simple and obvious answer, these governments are deciding, is to stop the drilling and mining which extract fossil fuels.

      That’s the argument examined in a report by researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). There’s already a growing movement to leave fossil fuels in the ground. But their study concentrates specifically on governments.

      They say phasing out oil production could be the next big step in climate policy, thanks to an initial group of first-movers who’ve already taken the plunge.

    • Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch

      In a 1965 speech to members, American Petroleum Institute president Frank Ikard outlined the findings of a report by then-president Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee, based in part on research the institute conducted in the 1950s.

      “The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world’s peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out,” Ikard said, adding, “One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”

      Many scientists were reaching similar conclusions, based on a body of evidence that had been growing at least since French mathematician Joseph Fourier described the greenhouse effect in 1824. In the 1950s, Russian climatologist Mikhail Budyko examined how feedback loops amplify human influences on the climate. He published two books, in 1961 and 1962, warning that growing energy use will warm the planet and cause Arctic ice to disappear, creating feedback cycles that would accelerate warming.

      The predictions have proven to be accurate, and evidence for human-caused global warming has since become indisputable.

      What happened? Over the ensuing decades, the fossil fuel industry didn’t try to resolve what it knew would become a crisis. Instead, it worked to downplay and often deny the reality of climate change and to sow doubt and confusion. Knowingly putting humanity — and countless other species — at risk for the sake of profit is an intergenerational crime against humanity, but it’s unlikely any perpetrators will face justice.

    • The Short Sad Life of a Christmas Tree

      Born on a vast, flat tract of land in Tennessee, a small Virginia pine was raised among hundreds of other saplings on a tree farm. Without parents, or family, or community, like the wild pine saplings have, it never learned its history, or the pine tree stories, or the long, low songs of the pines. It never even learned the pine tree language. Alienated from the web of life, sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, it led an isolated existence.

      Each day on the tree farm blended into the next, and the little tree grew and grew. Spring arrived and blossomed into summer. Summer ripened into fall. Winter came, followed by spring again. Then, one day, for no apparent reason, men appeared with axes and began to chop down the trees. They chopped down one after another until they reached and chopped our small tree down, too.

      In agony, bleeding from its stump, the tree was loaded onto a truck. Piled among many others it traveled hundreds of miles to a large city. Unloaded, sprayed with flame retardant, it found itself in a market. On display, it soon learned that it was to be sold, that it would live in a home, with a family. This gave it hope. I hope I’ll live with a nice family, it thought.

      After leaning about in a crowd of trees for several days, a group of humans arrived who inspected and ultimately purchased the tree. They brought it to their home. Tending to it with care, they fed it fresh water. Though it felt weak, and its stump continued to throb, it was warm and comfortable in the house. The people adorned it with precious decorations, and treated it with respect. They even sang to it.

    • ‘To Live, to Thrive, Not Only to Survive’: San Juan Mayor Calls for Replacing Austerity With Green New Deal to Save Puerto Rico

      The hope for a House Committee that would work to pass a Green New Deal—now supported by 15 representatives thanks to grassroots pressure—was the subject of much discussion at the Sanders Institute Gathering this weekend, and on Saturday the specifics of how the bold proposal for a new nationwide sustainable infrastructure would help some of the Americans most affected by austerity policies came into view.

      San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz led a panel discussion with Political Economic Research Institute (PERI) co-director and University of Massachusetts professor Robert Pollin and community development advocate John Davis, about how a Green New Deal could radically change the daily lives of Puerto Ricans and the outlook for the island, more than a year after the two hurricanes which decimated the country—leaving some communities still in disrepair as federal funds slowly trickle in.

    • As Coal-Sponsored Climate Summit Opens, Campaigners Declare, ‘Business as Usual’ Not an Option

      Seated indoors and marching through the streets, climate justice campaigners marked the start of the summit known as COP24 with demands to end “business as usual” and for world leaders to commit to measures in line with the urgency of the climate crisis.

      “We’re on a fast road to suffering unless we act now,” said Jens Mattias Clausen, the head of Greenpeace’s delegation at the conference. “People are already dying from the impacts of climate change. This is the harsh reality that leaders must confront at COP24. They are the last generation of leaders who still have the time to act. They must put the Paris Agreement to work and ramp up action now. Only through fast, bold change can we alter the course of history.”

    • Woolsey Fire Started at Santa Susana Field Lab — Site of “[fourth] largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power”

      In my Nov. 16 column, I reported on potential radiation risks posed by California’s Woolsey wildfire having burned over parts or all of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory—south of Simi Valley, Calif., 30 miles outside Los Angeles—site of at least four partial or total nuclear reactor meltdowns.

      The field laboratory operated 10 experimental reactors and conducted rocket engine tests. In his 2014 book Atomic Accidents, researcher James Mahaffey writes, “The cores in four experimental reactors on site … melted.” Reactor core melts always result in the release of large amounts of radioactive gases and particles. Clean up of the deeply contaminated site has not been conducted in spite of a 2010 agreement.

      Los Angeles’s KABC-7 TV reported Nov. 13 that the Santa Susana lab site “appears to be the origin of the Woolsey Fire” which has torched over 96,000 acres. Southern Calif. Public Radio said, “According to Cal Fire, the Woolsey Fire started on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 8 … on the Santa Susana site.” (https://abc7.com/sce-substation-outage-occurred-before-woolsey-fire-reported/4675611/)

      In my column I noted that Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, estimated that the partial meltdown of the lab’s Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) in 1957, caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Gar Smith in his 2012 book Nuclear Roulette. But Makhijani was speaking in 2006, so now of course the SRE meltdown counts as the fourth largest radio-iodine release—after the triple meltdowns at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986, and Windscale in England in 1957.

    • Yet Another Benefit of Renewable Energy: It Uses Practically No Water Compared to Fossil Fuels

      The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently highlighted a little-discussed benefit of using renewables like wind and solar to produce electricity: Unlike most power sources, they require “almost no water.”

      This is remarkable because thermoelectric power generation is the leading use of water in America. (That said, only three percent of power generation’s 133 billion gallons a day of water is considered “consumptive use,” as the U.S. Geological Survey says, “meaning it is lost to evaporation or blowdown during generation.”)

      According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data from 2015, 41 percent of the water used in America is for power generation. The next highest use is irrigation for agriculture, accounting for 37 percent of U.S. water use (and close to two-thirds of that is consumptive).

    • How Climate Change Helped Create the Migrant Caravan

      The “caravan” of hopeful immigrants from Central America that was tear gassed by the US government on November 25 continues to be shamelessly exploited as political fodder. Trump depicts the immigrants as a security threat to the US, while Democrats like Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compare the Central American immigrants to Jews fleeing Germany because of the threat of physical violence and death in their own country. But both these narratives overlook one of the main contributors of the migrant caravan.

      The Southern border has seen a sharp increase in the number of Guatemalans trying to enter the US, starting in 2014. That was coincidentally the first year of a severe drought tied to an extreme El Niño that struck Central America’s “Dry Corridor,” which includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, collectively known as the Northern Triangle. El Salvador’s rivers are drying up and Guatemala’s semiarid region is expanding. Temporary relief from the drought has only come from occasional, devastating flooding, which has only added to the destruction of crops. One-third of all employment in Central America comes from agriculture, and that is now failing across the entire region.

      Guatemala is ranked as one of the top 10 of the world’s nations most vulnerable to the climate crisis — meaning an agricultural crisis that is now evolving into a human crisis. The current weather patterns wreaking havoc on Central American agriculture are consistent with what climate scientists have predicted, and climate models indicate it will only get worse. Those areas of the world prone to drought will see even less precipitation (like the American West), and those that see too much will get even more, with overall temperatures on the rise.

  • Finance

    • The semiconductor industry and the power of globalisation

      Two forces are now thrusting the semiconductor industry firmly into the spotlight. The first is geopolitics. Chips are caught up in an increasingly bad-tempered rivalry between America, the incumbent techno-superpower, and China, the aspiring one. The second is physics. This brewing technological struggle comes at a historic moment. For 50 years progress has been driven by Moore’s law, which states that the number of components that can be crammed onto a chip doubles every two years and thus, roughly, so does its computational power. But the law is breaking down, leaving the future of the industry looking messier and less certain than at any time in the past.

    • People underestimate teachers’ hours and say they should be paid more
    • Amazon ‘dumbfounded’ police in Spain by asking them to intervene in a mass warehouse strike and patrol worker productivity

      A source at Spanish union CCOO, which helped coordinate the strikes, told Business Insider that Amazon “wanted to send the police inside the warehouse to push people to work.”

    • AMLO vs Bolso: Opposing Views on Development

      Andrés Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO, will take office at Mexico City’s Zócalo on December 1, while President-elect Jair Bolsonaro will do so a month later, on January 1, 2019. The differences between the two are profound, in terms of their origins, political trajectories, ideologies, and styles. But in these turbulent times of absolute failure of Latin American states, the main battleground will be that of economic proposals, in two countries that are world champions of inequality.

      The far-right Bolsonaro has already stated that he is going to reduce the number of ministries and “extinguish and privatize” a large part of the public companies, an announcement that provoked euphoria all over the financial markets. He also wants to lower Brazil’s corporate income tax, currently between 24% and 34%, to a flatrate of 20%. The former army captain’s team justifies this decision by referring to Donald Trump’s tax reform in the U.S., which reduced corporate taxes from 35% to 21%. To be competitive on the foreign market and attract foreign investors, Brazil would have to join this race to the bottom.

    • Free the Free Press From Wall Street Plunder

      A two-panel cartoon I recently saw showed a character with a sign saying: “First they came for the reporters.” In the next panel, his sign says: “We don’t know what happened after that.”
      It was, of course, a retort to Donald Trump’s campaign to demonize the news media as “the enemy of the people.” But when it comes to America’s once-proud newspapers, their worst enemy isn’t Trump — nor is it the rising cost of newsprint or the “free” digital news on websites.
      Rather, the demise of the real news reporting by our city and regional papers is a product of their profiteering owners.
      Not the families and companies that built and nurtured true journalism, but the new breed of fast-buck hucksters who’ve scooped up hundreds of America’s newspapers from the bargain bins of media sell-offs.
      These hedge-fund scavengers know nothing about journalism and care less. They’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast.

    • Nationalisation Without Compensation

      When slavery was abolished in the British Empire, taxpayers paid huge sums in compensation to slave owners for the loss of their “property”. No compensation was ever paid to the slaves for the loss of their freedom.

      The problem with that approach is, of course, that the state did not take into account that the “property” of which it was relieving the landowners was acquired as part of an inhuman and immoral situation.

      I was considering the same question in relation to the constitutional moves of South Africa to redistribute land without compensation. It seems to me this is plainly morally justified. The only question marks I can see are of practicality, in terms of making sure those taking over the land are trained to keep it properly in production, and that redistribution is not corrupt. Those are not insuperable problems, and I support the South African government in its endeavours.

      But I wish to apply the same principle, of the state acting to right historic injustice on behalf of the people, much more widely and in the UK.

    • China Policy: Disappointment Is No Excuse

      I think the writer correctly cites America’s disappointment with China. We can go back three or four administrations and find presidents and other top US officials expressing the same sentiment: the more deeply engaged China is in the global economic system, the more cosmopolitan its leaders will become and the more likely it is to succumb to liberal political change. But that all-too-easy formula hasn’t worked. Nor should there have been such widespread expectations that it would work. It rested on an inflated notion of capitalism’s magic, and on a misunderstanding of China’s political history.

      For Chinese leaders during and since Mao’s time, the chief purpose of economic strength has been to promote social stability and elevate China’s standing in the world. Political liberalization, far from being the goal of a more powerful economy, has been the outcome to be avoided. “A fortress can be most easily captured from within,” China’s leaders have said, and “bourgeois capitalism” is the kind of force that, if not properly managed, can undermine the one-party state. Under Xi Jinping, China’s extraordinary economic rise has been coupled with stark social controls and emphasis on communist party discipline, precisely in order to prevent certain dangerous features of Western politics from infecting China. Chinese Communist Party Document No. 9 in 2013 cited seven threats to party control, including “Western constitutional democracy,” human rights, pro-market “neoliberalism,” and Western-inspired ideas of media independence and civic participation. That view, reminiscent of Mao’s concerns, should have been taken into account long ago by US leaders.

    • G-20 Agrees on Trade and Migration; U.S. Goes Own Way on Climate

      But China also pushed back in talks on steel, South Africa objected to language on trade, Australia didn’t want the statement to be too soft on migration and Turkey worried it would push too far on climate change, according to the officials.

    • Across the Troubles in Northern Ireland: From the Jacobite Rising to the Mountbatten Bombing

      When I rode the train across Ireland in summer 1990, most of the west country was rural, dotted with farmland and thatched cottages. I also expected mist on the horizon.

      Thirty years on, most of the thatch has been replaced with modern (read ugly) tiles, and spliced into the farmland, at suitable intervals, are malls and convenience stores. Meandering in the car, I wondered what ballads Irish poets would write about divided highways and Costa Coffee outlets.

      I was pleased to make it to Aughrim, as the year before, together with a friend from Dublin, I had gone to visit the battlefield of the Boyne, where in 1690 a Catholic coalition was routed on the banks of a meandering streaming (the Boyne). In effect, the two battles are bookends in the same war.

      If Aughrim was the end game of the Jacobite rising in Ireland, the Boyne was more decisive, in that Catholic King James II of Britain and his French Catholic allies were scattered by a coalition of Dutch and British mercenaries, who ended any dreams that the Catholic population had for an autonomous Ireland.

      I had not known much about the Boyne until that springtime visit. My only acquaintance with it came from childhood conversations with my father, who lived as much in the past as he did in the present. (Over dinner we would be quizzed about the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and other happenings in our day.)

      Whenever a political conversation would touch on the Troubles raging in Northern Ireland (the 1960s and 70s were bad times), he would bring up the battle of the Boyne—to set the cause of the violence in its historical context, which was that Ireland, after the Boyne, was an English dependency.

      [...]

      After Brexit, unless there is what is called “a hard border,” it will be possible for goods and people to continue to cross unchecked between the EU (Ireland) and a non-EU country (the United Kingdom). Hence all the talk in the negotiations about “a backstop,” which would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU and allow the border to remain unfettered.

      One of the reasons that peace came to Northern Ireland is that both Ireland and the UK were EU members, which meant that the once-deadly frontier between Northern Ireland and Ireland blurred when EU membership on both sides allowed residents on each side of the divide to cross easily during the course of their days. (Technically, neither Ireland or the UK is in what is called theSchengenAgreement, which abolished border checks within the EU, but since they both opted out, it kept the border open. I know, it’s confusing.)

      Kevin and I were in the suburban town of Strabane—about fifteen miles from Derry—when we crossed from the Republic into the UK. I was interested to see if there might be an army checkpoint or a frontier gate but all I saw was a cheap, roadside sign, with the words: “Welcome to the United Kingdom.” It reminded me of the non-borders between France and Belgium or Germany and the Netherlands. (Later, in one of the books with me on the trip, I came across this sentence about Northern Ireland: “The real border, it was now said, was not geographical but in men’s minds.”)

    • Salaried Workers Beware: GM Cuts Are a Warning for All

      For generations, the career path for smart kids around Detroit was to get an engineering or business degree and get hired by an automaker or parts supplier. If you worked hard and didn’t screw up, you had a job for life with enough money to raise a family, take vacations and buy a weekend cottage in northern Michigan.

      Now that once-reliable route to prosperity appears to be vanishing, as evidenced by General Motors’ announcement this week that it plans to shed 8,000 white-collar jobs on top of 6,000 blue-collar ones.

      It was a humbling warning that in this era of rapid and disruptive technological change, those with a college education are not necessarily insulated from the kind of layoffs factory workers know all too well.

      The cutbacks reflect a transformation underway in both the auto industry and the broader U.S. economy, with nearly every type of business becoming oriented toward computers, software and automation.

    • US Housing Crisis Inexcusable, Says Bernie Sanders, When Wall Street Bailed Out After Financial Crisis

      On the third and final day of The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led a panel of experts and advocates to discuss the crisis of, the solutions to, he says, “that gets far too little discussion”: the nation’s housing crisis.

      In an era of unaffordable housing, gentrification, and discriminatory housing policies, the panel conversation explored the “innovative initiatives including land trusts, non-profit landlord ownership and the progress towards fairer housing policies in America.”

      “I hope everyone here remembers that we are the wealthiest country in the world,” Sanders said as he introduced the talk.

      And so, he added, after referencing the many billions spent to bail out Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, if there is a shortage of affordable housing—or childcare or other needed social programs—it “is not lack of resources; the reason is lack of political will. And the reason is a set of priorities set by the wealthiest people in this country and large campaign contributors, not working families.”

    • With Workers Under Attack, Labor Leaders Say Only ‘Full-Throated Economic Populism’ Can Defeat Corporate Elites

      With the American labor movement under relentless assault by the right-wing Supreme Court, the Republican Party at both the state and federal level, and President Donald Trump’s plutocratic administration, prominent union leaders convened during the final day of The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday to confront the existential threat facing the working class and emphasize the urgency of organizing at the grassroots level to fight back and build political power.

    • Meanwhile in #paris https://www.truthdig.com/articles/worst-riot-in-a-decade-engulfs-paris-macron-vows-action/

      France’s most violent urban riot in a decade engulfed central Paris on Saturday as “yellow jacket” activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti.

      Protesters angry about rising taxes and the high cost of living clashed with French riot police, who closed off some of the city’s most popular tourist areas and fired tear gas and water cannon as they tried to quell the mayhem in the streets.

      French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the violence from the G-20 summit in Argentina, saying those who attacked police and vandalized the Arc de Triomphe will be “held responsible for their acts.” He said he will hold an emergency government meeting Sunday on the protests.

      “(Violence) has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger” and “no cause justifies” attacks on police or pillaging stores and burning buildings, Macron said in Buenos Aires. He refused to answer any questions from journalists about the situation in Paris.

    • GM, Jobs, and Corporate America’s Incentive to Exploit

      The communities where those workers live will lose out, too. In Lordstown, the Ohio locale that hosts one of the plants set to be shuttered, officials estimate that every GM job cut will cost seven other workers outside GM their employment.

      Did the GM executives who made the shut-down decision take that spin-off devastation into account? Did they soberly conclude that they had no choice, that only massive job cuts could ensure their enterprise a stable and sustainable future? Or do the GM job cuts reflect, in the end, nothing more than naked self-interest on the part of those executives, an attempt to enrich their own future — at worker expense?

      The simple answer: We can’t get into the minds of the GM execs who’ve ordered the job cuts. We can’t divine how much greed determined their decision. But we can, rather easily, see who stands to gain from GM’s massive job cutting. Certainly not GM workers. In the wake of the GM layoffs, thousands of workers and their families will be poorer. GM execs, on the other hand, will be richer.

      Substantially richer. At GM, as at all major U.S. corporations, the ultimate compensation top executives take home rests either directly or indirectly on their enterprise’s share price. The more that price rises, the more they pocket. In the afternoon after the GM job-cut announcement morning, Wall Streeters bid up the company’s shares a whopping 7.9 percent. Shares ended the week almost as high.

    • 2017 Financials of the Koch’s Dark Money Network

      Charles and David Koch maintain an extensive, powerful network of nonprofit organizations to further their libertarian and conservative ideological values.

      Four nonprofits at the crux of the network — the Charles Koch Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Freedom Partners — bring in millions each year to further the Koch brothers’ agendas.

      The brothers, who own Koch Industries, are known for supporting conservative policies, such as President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax policy overhaul and environmental regulation rollbacks.

      Aside from the Charles Koch Institute, these groups made and spent less money last year compared to 2016, according to new tax returns obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics.

    • Billionaire Heiress Lashes Out at Unions Because Her Fortune Didn’t Buy Election

      She and her family spent boatloads of money this election cycle and few of their candidates won.

      Instead, lawmakers were largely selected by these things called… ew… voters.

      She was so enraged that she used her platform as Secretary of Education – another prudent purchase by her family – to lash out at teachers unions for – get this – having too much influence!!!!!

    • Flirting with Fascism: America’s New Path?

      While academics and historians argue whether America is becoming a fascist state, Henry Giroux believes the evidence is mounting that it is. Giroux holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest. And he argues that a “savage capitalism” has moved America from a landscape of certainty to a fog of precarity. Politically, this movement creates a kind of rootlessness, and as thinkers like Eric Fromm and Hannah Arendt remind us, rootlessness can create the foundations of totalitarianism.

      Giroux points to other indicators of America’s flirtation with fascism, like the increase in racist language entering the public sphere. In his book American Nightmare, Giroux includes this quotation from public intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates: “Not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, but every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The art of civilised dialogue is dead

      There is something seriously wrong in the quality of our public discourse. A certain coarseness has pervasively invaded it that does little credit to our claim of being one of the oldest and most refined civilisations. People talk at each other, not to each other. Abuse, slander, malice, innuendo and below the belt diatribes, flourish. There is a brittleness in public life that recognises only absolute black and whites, cutting out all shades of grey, or doubt, or the possibility of another equally valid point of view. In short, the great art of civilised dialogue appears to be mostly dead in the world’s largest democracy.

      How has this come to pass? [...]

    • What The Heck Is Happening In That North Carolina House Race?

      The week of the election, investigators began looking into possible absentee-voter fraud in Bladen and Robeson counties, in the 9th District’s less populated eastern end. On Thursday, local media reported on several affidavits submitted by the North Carolina Democratic Party in which voters said that people came to their doors to collect their unsealed absentee ballots. One voter alleged that her ballot was incomplete at the time and that the collector said “she would finish it herself.” Another claimed to have received an absentee ballot that she did not request.

    • Laura Loomer, a far-right activist banned from Uber and Lyft after she went on an anti-Muslim rant, handcuffed herself to Twitter’s HQ after the company kicked her off the platform

      Loomer has also accused Twitter of holding up a “double standard” that allows anyone on the platform who is liberal or Muslim to do “whatever they want.” During her protest, Loomer wore a Jewish star reminiscent of the Holocaust as a symbol of what she says is rampant anti-Semitism on Twitter.

    • A shakeup at Condé Nast highlights the disruptive impact Facebook and Google are having on legacy media brands — and how they’re trying to adapt

      Condé Nast is chucking its CEO Bob Sauerberg and combining its separate US and international arms while starting an outside search for a new CEO with global experience.

    • Mic was a poster child for publishers depending on Facebook. But its demise has broader lessons for the media industry.

      Mic has emerged as a poster child for publishers’ overly relying on Facebook for traffic, only to see their audiences tumble when Facebook changes its priorities. Many publishers saw their Facebook traffic drop in January when Facebook decreased the amount of news content that users see in their news feeds.

    • Sheryl Sandberg ordered Facebook staff to investigate George Soros after he gave THIS speech (READ IT)

      If she was willing to do this over a mere billionaire, imagine what Facebook might have done in researching news organizations and reporters who are critical of Facebook?

    • George H.W. Bush’s Entitlement Cool

      THERE WAS NEVER ANY LOVE LOST BETWEEN GEORGE Herbert Walker Bush and me. How’s that for presumption? As if the Skull-and-Crossbones, blueblooded captain of the Yale baseball team, who went on to become the Director of the CIA, would give much thought to the individual reporters who covered him. Trust me, I didn’t welcome the attention, certainly not after he called his good friend and my boss, Otis Chandler, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, to demand that I be fired.

      Before I get too far ahead of my story here, let me explain that once again, as with Jimmy Carter four years earlier, I had managed to get myself embroiled with a leading candidate for President. This time, the controversy arose over a Republican who, like Carter, was threatening to leave the pack of his party’s presidential hopefuls behind.

      By then I was no longer the gonzo journalist interviewing prominent people for the likes of Playboy; I was a national reporter for the Los Angeles Times, which at that point was still very staid; the very same paper that Richard Nixon always favored over the pinko mass media based on the East Coast. Those East Coast reporters were gutter snipes in Nixon’s mind, whereas when he called on a scribe from this West Coast publication at a press conference, he would turn to “the gentleman from the Los Angeles Times.”

    • It’s a Disgrace to Celebrate George H.W. Bush on World AIDS Day
    • Elizabeth Warren Just Took a Crucial Stand for Democracy and Enlightened Internationalism

      Warren is proposing to break the grip of billionaire campaign donors and corporate interests on US foreign policy.

    • Hilarious moment Trump wanders off G20 stage

      Trump, while off camera, is heard saying: ‘Get me out of here.’

    • Wisconsin GOP Hopes to Pull Rug Out from Under New Governor, Rig Key Supreme Court Election in Lame Duck Session

      If you pick up an election administration manual anywhere in America, what you won’t find are instructions on how to minimize voter turnout.

      But that is what is what the Wisconsin GOP is contemplating as they struggle to maintain their grip on the legislative agenda and the state Supreme Court in the face of a “blue wave” that shows no signs of receding.

      Scott Walker was swept out of office by an historic turnout November 6th, bested by State Superintendent Tony Evers, but the iron-clad gerrymander of the State Assembly meant that Democrats picked up only one seat. Now Walker and his cronies are publicly mulling a “lame duck” session to weaken Evers’ powers and move the date of a key election to make sure that their favored Supreme Court candidate, Justice Daniel Kelly, is not swept out of office in another blue wave.

      The 2020 Supreme Court election will be a pivotal one. At stake is not only the makeup of the state’s highest court, but the agenda of the newly elected Democratic governor.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Bottomless Dishonesty of CNN on Palestine and Marc Lamont Hill Firing

      CNN has fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill for a speech he gave on Palestinian rights at the UN. The speech can be found here.

      You can protest this outrageous firing at this petition site.

      And here is a link to his book, Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond, which everyone should buy and read.

    • 7 Twitter censors more conservatives

      Twitter appears determined to destroy its own website by banning interesting, witty contributors who dare to be, shock horror, conservatives.

    • 5 movies Hollywood will never make

      Movies can help to change the world. Great movies can help to change perceptions. But there are some movies that Hollywood will not make.

      In the majority of Hollywood movies and TV series Muslims and Middle Eastern characters have been typecast to fit specific storylines. Isn’t it about time this changed.

      The fact of the matter is certain issues will remain unsaid because they are too controversial for audiences.

    • ‘Dohon’ receives uncut censor certificate

      In this action thriller, Siam plays a young drug addict, Puja plays a garment factory worker, and Zakiya Bari Mamo plays a reporter

      Jaaz Multimedia’s latest production “Dohon” received uncut certificate from Bangladesh Film Censor Board (BFCB) on Tuesday, according to their official Facebook page.

      The film will hit the cinema on Friday, and the production company is running a promotional campaign for its release.

      This is the second film, starring the popular newcomer duo Siam Ahmed and Puja Chery, after “Poramon 2.” In a press statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the film’s producer and Jaaz Multimedia owner Abdul Aziz said: “We are hoping ‘Dohon’ will be more commercially successful than ‘Poramon 2’.”

    • Russian Rappers Hold Solidarity Concert for Detained Musician, Blast Censorship

      A group of popular Russian hip hop artists staged a concert in Moscow on Monday night in support of a rapper who was detained last week in what critics called the latest expression of censorship against independent Russian artists.

      The rapper, who performs under the stage name Husky, was detained in southern Russia on Nov. 21 after local authorities raided a venue in which he had been scheduled to perform over alleged “extremist activity.” Husky was released on Monday after a public outcry, hours before the solidarity concert was scheduled to take place in Moscow. Russian artists have spoken out against increasing pressure from the authorities in recent months, which has included bans on music videos and songs over indecent lyrics and alleged extremism.

    • The CIA’s dank Soviet meme stash

      For as long as it’s existed, the Central Intelligence Agency has used Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) in its hunt for information that could serve as fuel for its analysis. This often meant simply reading major foreign newspapers, and monitoring for trends. When it came to understanding foreign cultural movements, CIA took it a step further – they studied the political cartoons of foreign countries. Cartoons that were essentially memes. As then-CIA Director William Casey explained in a 1985 memo to the White House, “pictures can tell what they’re thinking about how they’re being conditioned in Moscow.”

    • How will Google plug into China’s all-encompassing internet censorship regime?

      After deflecting questions from reporters for months, CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged in October Google’s plan to build a mobile app that will serve Chinese users — and thus comply with Chinese government censorship mandates.

      But big questions remain. Namely, how will this actually work? To keep the censors happy, Google will need to invest significant human, financial and technical resources to keep up with China’s unique and exhaustive approach to controlling online information and speech. While the company may be prepared to make some concessions (and substantial investments) in order to enter the Chinese market, this move will force Google to undermine its own commitments ”to advancing privacy and freedom of expression for [its] users around the world”.

    • Google Workers Sign Letter Seeking End to China Project

      A group of Google employees has signed a public letter calling on the company to abandon its plans for a Chinese search product that censors results.

      Project Dragonfly, as the initiative is known, would enable state surveillance at a time when the Chinese government is expanding controls over the population, according to the letter signed initially by at least 10 employees, predominately software engineers and researchers. The document also called on management to commit to transparency, be accountable and provide clear communication.

      Ever since plans for Dragonfly emerged in August, Google parent Alphabet Inc. has been riven by internal dissent at the prospect of a search engine bending to Beijing’s censorship. It was that sort of government control that prompted co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to effectively pull out of China in 2010 when it decided to stop removing controversial links from web queries.

    • South Africa: Kekana Calls for Investigation On SABC Censorship

      Investigation into the censorship allegations at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

      This follows allegations of censorship by the SABC, which occurred during the appearance of SABC board members and its executive before the Portfolio Committee on Communications and Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).

      Portfolio committee members noted that during the SABC’s appearances, coverage by the SABC focused exclusively on board members and the executive, thus creating the impression that parliamentarians’ oversight duties were not being conducted.

    • The silencing of Pakistan

      Pakistan is silencing discussion on a growing number of topics, causing concern among human rights activists, journalists and political dissidents in the country. A Committee to Protect Journalists report published in September this year concluded that the country’s powerful military establishment is using fear, intimidation and even violence to pressure the media to self-censor. In October, journalists and media workers held rallies across the country to protest against measures aimed at curbing newspapers’ circulation and TV channels’ transmission in certain areas. A number of high-profile TV anchors who were critical of the security establishment’s interference in Pakistani politics were fired from their positions.

    • In academia, censorship and conformity have become the norm

      A new academic journal, titled The Journal of Controversial Ideas, launching in the new year, will be peer-reviewed and offer a diverse range of viewpoints, calling upon liberals, conservatives, as well as those who are religious and secular, to submit their work. Most notably, it will allow academics to publish under pseudonyms.

      Much of the response to this journal has been criticism alleging that only academics with hateful ideas would require the option to publish under a pseudonym. In truth, facts today are deemed controversial if they deviate from accepted narratives, and professors must self-censor out of fear of being condemned and losing their jobs.

      Based on conversations I’ve had with colleagues still working in academia and from what I can tell about recent cases of censorship, the antagonism is primarily from left-leaning colleagues attacking other liberals. The problem has been increasing and was the reason I chose to leave the field of sex research.

    • Belgium: student bureaucrats censor anti-racist struggle

      On 8 November, the student council of the Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, VUB) refused to recognise a student Marxist society, set up by the IMT in Brussels (Vonk – Marxistische jongeren), on the grounds that our organisation is… anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-fascist! We reiterate: this was a decision taken by the majority of the student council, not the university bosses.

    • Social Media Censorship

      Laura Loomer stops by The Rob Maness Show to discuss how social media companies have been censoring her and many others just doing their job, but only when it pertains to the right and what “they” don’t agree with.

    • Chinese translation app censors words – but not on iPhone – Cult of Mac
    • Artistic freedom in Hong Kong: self-censorship, culture of fear growing, creatives say

      Wen Yau’s eyes were covered with a blindfold made of the China flag. Slowly, carefully, she inched her way forward with one hand outstretched, feeling her way through space. In the other hand she held a blank sign – a silent protest against self-censorship.

      She had performed a similar piece back in 2014 during the Occupy Central mass protest, but felt compelled to blind herself once again for others to see.

    • A Chinese translation app is censoring politically sensitive terms, report says

      More Chinese tech firms are erring on the side of caution when it comes to policing content on their platforms.

      iFlytek, a voice recognition technology provider in China, has begun censoring politically sensitive terms from its translation app, South China Morning Post reported citing a tweet by Jane Manchun Wong. Wong is a software engineer who tweets frequently about hidden features she uncovers by performing app reverse-engineering.

    • China’s iFlytek censors politically sensitive terms on its translation app

      Voice-recognition technology provider iFlytek, one of China’s designated artificial intelligence (AI) champions, has censored politically sensitive terms from its popular translation app amid the government’s broader campaign to clean up online content.
      The Android version of the company’s iFlyTranslate app has removed items such as “Tiananmen”, “independence” and the name of China’s President, “Xi Jinping”, from showing up as results in its system.
      A voice query of those items on the app will return a text translation without the sensitive word or name, and in some cases no results are returned at all, according to a recent tweet by Jane Manchun Wong, a software engineer who regularly reverse-engineers apps to uncover hidden features.

    • Bring in ratings instead of imposing censorship: Mehra

      There is a need to have a rating system, instead of censorship, in Indian cinema to determine the age-group suitability of a film, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra told TOI. The filmmaker who was attending the 49th International Film Festival of India said that ratings are used in the West to indicate if people of all ages can watch a film or not.

      “I think there should be no censorship. There should be a rating system. It is important for a government agency to give film certification and not censorship,” he said.

    • Judge censors TV Globo’s coverage of Marielle Franco’s murder

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a judge’s “disproportionate” decision to ban TV Globo, Brazil’s biggest TV channel, from broadcasting any further information about the police investigation into the murder of a well-known Rio de Janeiro city councillor. This ban censors public interest reporting on a major political case, RSF says.

      A Rio de Janeiro state judge issued the ban on 17 November after TV Globo broadcast two reports on 14 November based on information obtained from the police investigation into the fatal shootings of city councillor and human rights activist Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes on 14 March.

    • Google employees push to cancel Chinese search engine in new letter
    • Google employees condemn China censorship plans
    • Google staff protest against Chinese censored search engine project
    • China’s ‘responsive’ authoritarianism
    • Google employees revolt as Chinese censorship project gains traction
    • Russia Opens Probe After Google Doesn’t Censor Search Results

      Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor opened an official investigation into Google after the company failed to censor certain Search results for its users in the transcontinental country, the agency said Monday. The probe is predicted to run until next month when the regulator will make a final decision of whether to pursue the matter in the court of law. The actual contents of Google’s alleged “administrative violations” haven’t been disclosed, with Roskomnadzor’s announcement of the investigation only containing vague references to Russian censorship laws that require Internet companies to censor “illegal” information, which in turn is defined by other legislation. The Mountain View, California-based company has yet to publicly reflect on the situation.

    • Why We Need Anti-Censorship Legislation For Social Media, Stat
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Is Censoring The Designs Of Female Spirits
    • Israel blocks Hamas sites as military censor fights alleged IDF raid leaks
    • Congress Investigates Twitter Over Censorship
    • Artists Fight Increasing Censorship in Cuba

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

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

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

    • China: The Mastery of Internet Censorship

      Freedom House, a watchdog organization that advocates for political freedom around the world, reported that China has recently begun working with a cohort of countries to expand so-called digital authoritarianism. This export of censorship may well lead to a global decline in Internet freedom. After all, nine state-run operators maintain China’s gateways to the global internet, enabling authorities to cut off cross-border information requests. This means that all service providers must subscribe through these operators, which function under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

      It is no secret that Chinese internet regulations are very stringent. Since there are no hard rules regarding freedom of the press, speech or expression on the internet, the government may decide to censor content whenever it sees fit. In the past, China has even censored Winnie the Pooh— people thought the character resembled Xi and often derisively referred to him as “Pooh.” In addition, the government censored talk show host John Oliver’s name, because he mocked the president in an episode of Last Week Tonight.

    • Freedom of speech for me, not thee: tyrannies of social media censorship

      The election of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president proved the power of social media. No, not in the way Russians formed silly and ineffective Facebook groups in opposition to Hillary Clinton. Rather, it was what the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) discovered. In a study conducted shortly after Trump’s victory. CJR found it was average folks passing along political content (via Facebook, Twitter, and Google) from the Trump-supporting Breitbart and Daily Caller websites. The forwarding of these stories to their aunt Martha and cousin Tom proved the deciding factor in Clinton’s defeat.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Multiple threats from EU’s GDPR to today’s corporate surveillance and targeted advertising system

      Eighteen months ago, Privacy News Online wrote about how pervasive corporate surveillance is threatening the privacy of everyone who uses the Internet. Nearly every move people make online is being tracked and recorded. This is not in order to spy on the public directly, but to create vast databases about people’s interests and habits, which can then be sold to advertisers.

      [...]

      Any of these complaints, if successful, could have a major impact on the way that advertising works online. However, at the moment, they are only complaints, which may lead nowhere. That’s what makes a recent development involving France’s data protection regulator, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), so significant: it is a final ruling that will affect how all EU data protection bodies will operate, since they are all implementing the same law – the GDPR.

      CNIL’s decision strikes at the root of real-time bidding, which works by sending out personal information to many potential advertisers, who then use automated systems to make bids to place advertisements on a Web page. The GDPR requires those targeted to consent to their personal data being shared in this way. That’s clearly difficult, since it is not known in advance which companies will be sent the data. To get around that, the ad industry employs what are sometimes known as “consent management platforms”. These are typically screens that are presented to visitors to a site, offering them the chance to specify which personal data can be sent to other companies. The idea is that people can pre-authorize the sharing of their personal data with many sites.

      However, in a landmark ruling, CNIL has said that this does not satisfy the requirements of the GDPR. Instead, companies have to be able to show that they have checked they really do have permission from everyone whose data they receive as part of the real-time bidding process. What makes this particularly bad news for the advertising industry in the EU is that it seems to apply to a very widely-used framework for managing GDPR “consent flow” that has been created by the industry trade association and standards body, IAB Europe.

    • GCHQ opens up about concealing cyber threats from global community

      In a series of publications from GCHQ and the NCSC, security directors explain why and how it keeps security threats a secret
      GCHQ and NCSC have revealed that when they encounter vulnerabilities in its tech, including the technology that other government departments and some businesses use, they don’t always inform the vendor.

      In an impressive display in transparency, the two national security agencies said that during daily operations, analysts working at GCHQ or other areas of government sometimes encounter vulnerabilities and while its default stance on the situation is to notify the vendor as soon as practicable, “sometimes – after weighing up the implications – we decide to keep the fact of the vulnerability secret and develop intelligence capabilities with it”.

      Stockpiling exploits doesn’t have a strong history. Most recently, the WannaCry ransomware, which cost the NHS an estimated £92 million, was so successful as a result of stolen exploit information from the NSA. While the NCSC understands that its process might not be met with everyone’s approval, the logic is sound.

    • Theresa May spokesman sparks fresh suspicion of British ‘spying’ on EU officials

      Theresa May’s director of communications, Robbie Gibb, has re-opened suspicions that British intelligence bugged European Union officials during Brexit talks. Gibb revealed to an audience of senior business figures that Downing Street held “intelligence, including pages and pages of transcriptions of conversations” and knew “what the Europeans are thinking”.

      Details of Gibb’s comments to the Enterprise Forum in London earlier this week, which have been obtained by openDemocracy, are understood to have been passed to the office of Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator.

      EU officials, given a full account of what Gibb told the private business gathering, are said to be privately “furious” that Number 10 appeared to be boasting about covert surveillance, rather than the agreed Brexit deal, according to a source connected to Barnier’s deputy, Sabine Weyand.

      In August this year Weyand is reported to have privately told the European Council’s Article 50 Working Party to not rule out that British intelligence had penetrated EU private meetings, which evaluated progress on the Brexit talks.

    • DOJ continues push for encrypted comms

      The Department of Justice continues to pressure tech companies to provide workarounds for law enforcement to access encrypted apps and devices during investigations, even as DOJ officials decline to outline specific proposals that would address longstanding security and privacy concerns.

      In a Nov. 29 speech at Georgetown University Law School, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein lamented the culture of lax security and first-to-market mentality that has left many commercial devices and apps insecure while also advocating for increased access for law enforcement to bypass encryption of those same devices and apps.

    • UK’s NCSC Explains How They Handle Discovered Vulnerabilities

      When the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) performs operational tasks, they may find technology vulnerabilities.

    • AWS ready for court over encryption

      AWS CISO Steve Schmidt says the company is prepared to take the Australian Government to court if the proposed encryption legislation requires it to build backdoors.

      Speaking to journalists at this week’s AWS re:Invent conference, Schmidt said the best way to protect data from state access was to encrypt it with keys that stay under the user’s control.

    • Electric vehicle makers serving up customer location data to China on a silver platter

      Apparently, the Chinese government has demanded that Tesla vehicles purchased in China send a steady stream of information concerning the vehicle’s whereabouts and who knows what else to the Chinese government, in real-time. It’s some greasy, invasive bullshit that comes at a time when China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on dissent, privacy and freedoms in the country.

      At the very least, Tesla isn’t alone: other makers of electric vehicles are being forced to make their customers’ information available to the Chinese government as well.

    • In China, your car could be talking to the government

      More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to government-backed monitoring centers, The Associated Press has found. Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge.

      The automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.

    • Alphabet Aims to Win Over Toronto With Affordable Housing

      Sidewalk Labs LLC, the urban innovation unit of Google parent Alphabet says about 40 percent of the 2,500 residential units on the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) development dubbed “Quayside,” will be below-market housing, including 20 percent affordable. Just over half will be purpose-built rental.

    • Beijing Won’t Brook Corporate Competition in Spying

      China’s Consumer Association on Wednesday issued a statement saying that 91 percent of the apps it tested were suspected of collecting too much data. Meitu’s photo-editing app, as well as products from NetEase Inc. and China Mobile Ltd., are among those in the firing line.

    • If your electric car manufacturer knows where you are, China may too

      Tesla is not alone. China has called upon all electric vehicle manufacturers in China to make the same kind of reports potentially adding to the rich kit of surveillance tools available to the Chinese government as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Authoritarianism, powered by the Cloud

      China’s social-credit sytem has been making headlines in the West of late. It was first launched in 2014 with the aim of ‘strengthening sincerity in government affairs’, to ‘improve government credibility and establish an honest image of an open, fair and clean government’. Since then the Chinese government has proceeded – in its usual technocratic manner – to develop a total monitoring system to ensure that its ‘good behaviour’ model is rolled out across society. There is no escape.

      The initial party directive centres on the need to ‘build a harmonious socialist market economy. A relentless armoury of rewards and punishments is used to ensure that good behaviour is feted and anti-social behaviour eradicated. It gives marks – or credits – to individuals who engage in socially worthy activities, and black marks to those indulging in dishonest, nefarious, illegal or simply anti-social activities. The intention is to ‘raise the entire society’s sense of sincerity’. It is currently being piloted and will be rolled out across the country by 2020.

    • #ThotAudit is just the latest tactic people are using to harass sex workers online

      Online harassment of sex workers has existed as long as sex workers have been online — and it has often served as a harbinger of what’s to come for non-sex-working harassment victims. Three years before Gamergate — the campaign that helped bring online harassment into mainstream awareness — porn performers experienced a mass harassment campaign of their own. A database connected to what was then the leading health clinic for the adult industry was hacked and the personal information of hundreds of porn performers — including their legal names and home addresses — was posted online, exposing numerous porn performers to stalking and offline harassment, and even outing them to friends and family members.

    • With Trump’s Justice Department Retreating, Who Will Now Police the Police?

      Last month, a video was released of two police officers in Elkhart, Indiana, repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the face. The episode was just the latest in a long-troubled Police Department where nearly all of its supervisors have disciplinary records.

      This is the sort of problem that Congress sought to address in 1994 when it authorized the Justice Department to overhaul troubled local police agencies under court-monitored consent decrees. These agreements lay out a reform plan negotiated by federal law enforcement officials and the local government.

    • The corporations that helped a Confederate apologist hold a Senate seat

      Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi won a special runoff election this week to the U.S. Senate seat she was appointed to fill earlier this year after Thad Cochran resigned for health reasons. She defeated Democratic challenger Mike Espy, former congressman and U.S. agriculture secretary under President Clinton, by a 55-45 margin. Her win expands the GOP’s Senate majority to 53 of 100 seats and makes her Mississippi’s first woman U.S. senator. She will face re-election in 2020.

      Hyde-Smith is a former state senator, agriculture commissioner (she and her husband operate a cattle sale barn), and Democrat who switched parties in 2010, citing her “belief of conservative policies.” In an officially nonpartisan “jungle primary” held on Nov. 6 that included tea party Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel and first-time Democratic candidate Tobey Bartee, a retired military intelligence officer, Hyde-Smith and Espy each captured about 41 percent of the vote, leading to the Nov. 27 two-person runoff.

      Despite competing in a GOP stronghold, Hyde-Smith worried her party by making a controversial statement earlier this month while campaigning with a local cattle rancher in Tupelo. “If he invited me to a public hanging,” she said of the supporter, “I’d be in the front row.” Mississippi is the state that experienced the greatest number of lynchings of black people in U.S. history. Hyde-Smith is white while Espy is African-American; had he won, he would have been the state’s first black senator since Reconstruction. Hyde-Smith defended the remark as an “exaggerated expression of regard.”

      The “hanging” remark was not the only racial controversy to dog Hyde-Smith during the campaign. She was captured on video joking about making it harder for liberals to vote. She came under fire for co-sponsoring a measure as a state senator that praised a Confederate soldier’s effort to “defend his homeland” and took a revisionist view of the Civil War. She was criticized for posting photos to Facebook of herself wearing a Confederate cap and holding a rifle during a visit to the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Biloxi and another with neo-Confederate activist Greg Stewart who was previously associated with Free Mississippi, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classified as a hate group, and writing that this represented “Mississippi history at its best!” (One of her first acts as state senator was to introduce a bill to rename a portion of a highway after Davis; it died in committee.) She also faced questions for attending a so-called “segregation academy” — a private school created to skirt government integration orders — and for sending her daughter to one as well.

    • The Left and Our Fight Against Anti-Semitism

      After the massacre of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in late October, people flocked to social media and to the streets with messages of unity and collective opposition to the anti-Semitism behind the killing.

      It didn’t take long, however, for the forces of racism and reaction to turn their outrage on the main people capable of mobilizing opposition to the rising tide of anti-Semitism: broadly speaking, the left and the social movements.

      After the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which anti-racist protester Heather Heyer was murdered, people around the world responded with horror to Trump’s comment that there were “good people on both sides.”

      The left argued — rightly — that it is unconscionable to equate whatever violence might take place on the anti-fascist/anti-racist left with the violence of a movement rooted in calls for ethnic cleansing and genocide. But people in the political center were taken aback by Trump’s apologia for white supremacy.

      Yet after last month’s shooting, much of the mainstream response was cut from the same cloth as Trump’s.

    • Our Elites Refuse to Accept Responsibility for Leaving Behind the Left Behind

      There have been several analyses of the 2018 election results showing that the Republican regions are disproportionately areas that lag in income and growth. In response, we are seeing a minor industry develop on what we can do to help the left behinds.

      The assumption in this analysis is that being left behind is the result of the natural workings of the market — developments in technology and trade — not any conscious policy decisions implemented in Washington. This is quite obviously not true and it is remarkable how this assumption can go unchallenged in policy circles.

      Just to take the most obvious example, the natural workings of the market were about to put most of the financial industry out of business in the fall of 2008. In the wake of the collapse of Lehman, leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties could not run fast enough to craft a government bailout package to save the big banks, almost all of whom were facing bankruptcy due to their own incompetence and corruption.

      It is worth contrasting this race to bailout with the malign neglect associated with loss of 3.4 million jobs in manufacturing (20 percent of the total) between 2000 and 2007 (pre-crash). This job loss was primarily due to an explosion in the trade deficit. The latter was due to an over-valued dollar, which in turn was attributable to currency management by China and other countries, that kept their currencies below the market level.

      While most economists now acknowledge the impact of China’s currency management, at the time there was a great effort to pretend that this was all just the natural workings of the market. The loss of jobs, and the destruction of families and communities, was not a major concern in elite circles, unlike the prospect of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup going bankrupt.

    • Intolerance, Portland-Style

      Portland, Oregon, has a reputation as being deep “blue,” a liberal bastion where Republicans get no traction. And it’s true. Hillary got 3/4 of the vote in Multnomah County, which is dominated by the Portland metro. But it has been breeding its own forms of intolerance that, though they are being produced by people ostensibly in opposition to Trump, are part and parcel of the same race to the bottom.

      [...]

      What do I mean by Trumpism? It’s the current flavor of what, in the 80’s, started out under Reagan as “creeping fascism,” but which is now what we might call “leaping fascism.” Though I just mentioned two Republicans, it’s actually bipartisan in nature, or, considering the number of US Americans who are aligned with neither major party, non-partisan. Clinton and Obama had as much to do with bringing about the current cultural climate, which is one of fear and repression. The walls have been systematically closing in, the noose gradually tightening, the boot steadily increasing its force on our face. No relief whatsoever has been offered from above. Worse yet, the peer pressure has intensified. Our attacks on each other have escalated.

      A place like the co-op, with its history of dissidence (mild, but legitimate), should be a center of real resistance to Trumpism. Instead, it ends up expressing it in its own way, on its own terms. As Trumpism seeks to narrow the range of the acceptable, what we need to do is to widen the scope of discussion. If the collective mind is closing, we must step into the breach and wrench it back open. As the society tries to smother us, we should struggle, throw it off, and do what we need to do to breathe free.

      Liberation is not gained through limitation. Quite the opposite. Yet, what we are seeing in places like the co-op, in cities like Portland — in the “blue” places, in other words — is a tightening of the screws. Rules that are supposed to protect are instead inventing an exclusivity. Rather than throwing the doors open and inviting all comers to shake off the yoke and fight the power, we are getting clubs: members-only spaces with requirements that continually grow more specific. The range of the acceptable is shrinking at an alarming rate. That’s Trumpism. It’s not just top-down, it’s also bottom-up and side-to-side and every other way it can go.

    • Trump and the Courts: the Polish Precedent

      The Trump has been busy with so many things he didn’t notice that his right wing friend in Poland just took a left turn. Until that happened, they were like two peas in a pod.

      Jaroslaw Kaczyński is to Poland, what Trump is to the United States. According to a report in The Guardian, he is considered the leader and driving force behind the Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland, and in that capacity, has hand picked leaders of the country, and made decisions that affect its future. Among other things, he gave impetus to legislation that took control of the Constitutional Tribunal that is responsible for determining the constitutionality of legislation, and took over the agency responsible for selecting new judges.

      In April 2018, at the urging of the PiS and Mr. Kaczyńsk, a law was passed that lowered the retirement age for judges to 65, and provided that all judges who reached that age by July 3, 2018, would have to retire. The PiS said that change was needed to rid the court of communist judges and improve its efficiency.

      The Trump was understandably envious of Mr. Kaczynski’s ability to control the courts in Poland. The only thing the Trump could do with respect to the courts and judges he didn’t like in the United States, was to rail against them and he did that with great enthusiasm.

      [...]

      The description of a judge as an “Obama judge” was too much for John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In a statement released by the Court’s public information office, the Chief Justice said that the U.S. “doesn’t have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges, or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

      The Chief Justice’s response was not well received by the Trump. It so angered him that after he’d had a pleasant afternoon of golf at Mar a Lago, playing with Jack Nicklaus, he took time out of his busy schedule to fire off a tweet contradicting the Chief Justice. He said that the country does have “Obama judges” and those judges have a much different point of view “than the people charged with the safety of our country.” The Trump went on to say that “It’s a disgrace what happens in the 9th Circuit.”

    • Netanyahu’s Predicament: The Era of Easy Wars is over

      When Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered his army to carry out a limited operation in the besieged Gaza Strip on November 12, he certainly did not anticipate that his military adventure would destabilize his government and threaten the very survival of his right-wing coalition.

      But it did, far more than the multiple police investigations into various corruption cases involving Netanyahu’s family and closest aides.

    • Netanyahu Faces Another Possible Indictment for Bribe to Get Glowing Media Coverage

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing calls to resign after Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting him and his wife on fraud and bribery charges.

      It’s the third such recommendation to hit the prime minister this year.

    • The First-Ever National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Was Just Unveiled—And It’s a Game Changer

      When Rosa Sanluis arrived in the United States, she earned $60 per week for a seemingly endless set of household tasks, working for a family in Texas. She worked from 5 a.m. until late at night, sometimes 3 a.m. on weekends, when her employers would go out and leave her to babysit. Like most domestic workers, Sanluis didn’t receive a written contract, uninterrupted breaks, sick leave, or overtime pay—because she wasn’t entitled to them under law.

      Today, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) announced a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to raise wages and labor conditions for workers like Sanluis. The legislation is expected to be introduced when the new Congress convenes next year.

    • The DNA Industry’s Role in the Erosion of Native Rights

      Amid the barrage of racist, anti-immigrant, and other attacks launched by President Trump and his administration in recent months, a series of little noted steps have threatened Native American land rights and sovereignty. Such attacks have focused on tribal sovereignty, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and the voting rights of Native Americans, and they have come from Washington, the courts, and a state legislature. What they share is a single conceptual framework: the idea that the long history that has shaped U.S.-Native American relations has no relevance to today’s realities.

      Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated event, Senator Elizabeth Warren, egged on by Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” taunts and his mocking of her claims to native ancestry, triumphantly touted her DNA results to “prove” her Native American heritage. In turning to the burgeoning, for-profit DNA industry, however, she implicitly lent her progressive weight to claims about race and identity that go hand in hand with moves to undermine Native sovereignty.

      The DNA industry has, in fact, found a way to profit from reviving and modernizing antiquated ideas about the biological origins of race and repackaging them in a cheerful, Disneyfied wrapping. While it’s true that the it’s-a-small-world-after-all multiculturalism of the new racial science rejects nineteenth-century scientific racism and Social Darwinism, it is offering a twenty-first-century version of pseudoscience that once again reduces race to a matter of genetics and origins. In the process, the corporate-promoted ancestry fad conveniently manages to erase the histories of conquest, colonization, and exploitation that created not just racial inequality but race itself as a crucial category in the modern world.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T May Sell 10% Stake in Hulu, Worth Up to $930 Million, Potentially Giving Disney More Control

      If AT&T sells the WarnerMedia stake in Hulu, that could bulk up Disney’s ownership in the streaming TV company — giving the Mouse House even more incentive to invest in Hulu and expand it to international markets. Disney already is set to assume a majority ownership stake of 60% in Hulu under its deal to buy big chunks of 21st Century Fox’s assets, a transaction expected to close in the first half of 2019.

    • Your 4K Netflix Streaming Is on a Collision Course With Your ISP’s Data Caps

      The problem: As monthly household bandwidth consumption soars courtesy of 4K Netflix streaming and other new services, many broadband users are likely to run into usage caps and overage fees that jack up their monthly rates.

      Critics have long argued that broadband usage caps are arbitrary and unnecessary network limits imposed simply to increase revenues and punish users who cancel a telecom operator’s traditional pay TV service, but retain their broadband services.

    • A Message from Internet Archive Founder, Brewster Kahle

      This is it. Today, a generous supporter will match your donation. So your $5 gift becomes $10 for the Internet Archive. That’s right, for the price of a paperback, you can sustain a library the whole world trusts.

    • HTTP/3 is the next coming HTTP version.

      This time TCP is replaced by the new transport protocol QUIC and things are different yet again! This is a presentation about HTTP/3 and QUIC with a following Q&A about everything HTTP.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patents And Competition Policies: What Is The Degree Of Compatibility?

      The basic objective of any competition policy is to ensure that there is legal entry/ exit of firms and smooth functioning of companies without the exercise of any malpractices. Some prominent anti-competitive practices are collusive bidding, abuse of dominant position, refusal to provide goods, exacting excessive prices for products etc. which adversely affect the competition in a particular market. There is a very close link between intellectual property rights and the competition laws or policies of a land. Where on one hand, intellectual property rights complement the competition policies by safeguarding the rights of the inventor in the market from exploitation by other competitors; on the other hand, the competition policies prevent any abuse of rights at the hand of the intellectual property owners.

    • Delaware Jury Awards $24 Million Royalty to Bio-Rad and University of Chicago, Finds Patent Infringement Willful

      On Tuesday, November 13th, a jury in the United Stated Federal District Court for the District of Delaware delivered a verdict awarding nearly $24 million dollars in reasonable royalty damages to plaintiffs Bio-Rad Laboratories and the University of Chicago. Along with finding that defendant 10x Genomics had infringed upon patents covering genetic analysis technologies, the jury also found that 10x Genomics’ infringement was willful and found it “highly unprobable” (i.e., the words of the jury verdict form) that the asserted patent claims were valid.

      [...]

      The past year has been very active in terms of legal proceedings which are taking place between Bio-Rad and 10x Genomics according to data collected from Lex Machina. In January of this year, Bio-Rad filed a separate patent infringement case against 10x Genomics in the Northern District of California where it alleged more willful patent infringement claims against 10x Genomics based on claims asserted from a separate series of four patents covering genomic sequencing technologies. Then in October, Bio-Rad filed another complaint in the District of Delaware alleging patent infringement. In both complaints, Bio-Rad noted that a collection of former employees left the company to found 10x Genomics in 2012 to compete in the genetic testing field.

    • Defensive Collateral Estoppel Applies Only if Essentially Identical Accused Product Found Non-infringing

      The Federal Circuit recently issued an opinion vacating the District of Delaware’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement based on collateral estoppel. Specifically, the Federal Circuit held that collateral estoppel did not apply because material differences existed between the accused products in the two actions. The Court remanded for further proceedings. ArcelorMittal Atlantique et Lorraine v. AK Steel Corp., No. 17-1637, 2018 (Fed Cir. Oct. 5, 2018) (Before Reyna, Wallach, and Hughes, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the court, Reyna, Circuit Judge).

      The asserted U.S. Patent No. RE44,940 (the RE940 patent) relates to boron steel sheets that become highly mechanically resistant when hot-stamped—a process in which steel blanks are rapidly heated, inserted into a stamping machine, stamped into a particular shape, and then rapidly cooled. The representative claim 17 of the RE940 patent is a product-by-process claim. The claimed “thermal treatment’” of the steel sheets results in “mechanical resistance in excess of 1500 MPa,” a quality that is highly desirable for auto part production. The RE940 patent is a reissue of US Patent No. 6,296,805 (the ‘805 patent) with nearly identical claims, and both are owned by ArcelorMittal.

    • The PTAB Is Not an Article III Court, Part 1: A Primer on Federal Agency Rule Making

      What rules may the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) promulgate? What procedures must the agency follow when it promulgates a rule? What effect do various rules have? Some are binding against the public, some are only hortatory. Some require extensive rule making procedure, some can be promulgated with the stroke of a pen. Some are unilateral in binding only agency employees but not the public. And some are simply invalid. How is agency rule making power different than an Article III court’s?

      Administrative law expertise is becoming more and more important to successful representation of clients in intellectual property matters. This article gives an overview of the basic framework of agency rule making. In particular, I provide a table that classifies agency rules-this table simplifies and clarifies a great deal of overly complicated discussion in the standard administrative law treatises. This table and its discussion describe the choices and trade-offs that agencies face in their rule making decisions, and the opportunities that those choices create for parties before the agency. Expertise in administrative law and agency rule making can guide agency tribunals to favorable decisions, and present compelling arguments to courts after unfavorable decisions.

    • U.S. Patent Litigation Juries and a Solution for Improving Jury Comprehension

      The right to a trial by jury is a basic and fundamental feature of American federal jurisprudence, protected by the Seventh Amendment. Over the past several decades, patent litigation has gone through several transformations in an effort to resolve disputes fairly and efficiently.

      The Apple-Samsung trial increased the publicity of high profile patent litigation cases and provoked skepticism from legal scholars on the validity of the current patent litigation system. Judge Richard Posner mistrusted judges’ and jurors’ abilities to decide complex patent cases effectively. Judge Posner, and others, argue that it’s time to end jury trials in patent cases.

      However, improvements can be made to the current patent litigation system without eliminating patent jury trials. This article focuses on the current U.S. patent litigation system, patent litigation systems in other countries, current revisions to improve U.S. patent litigation trials, and proposes a mixed jury solution to ensure jurors fully understand the complex and technical facts of a patent case.

    • Distinguishing between “Res Judicata” and “Law of the Case”

      In 2013, accused-infringer DeLorme signed a stipulated settlement with the ITC agreeing to stop importing products certain products accused of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,991,380. Later that year, the ITC re-opened the action — finding that DeLorme violated the Consent Order and assessed a $6.2 million penalty. Subsequently, a district court found the asserted patent claims invalid. Those cases were appealed and the Federal Circuit and the court affirmed both: (1) agreeing that the patent was invalid, but that DeLorme was still liable for violating the Consent Order. DeLorme Publ’g Co. v. BriarTek, 622 Fed. App’x. 912 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

      Following the Federal Circuit decision, DeLorme petitioned the ITC to rescind the civil penalty in light of the invalidity finding — based upon “changed conditions
      in fact or law or in the public interest.” 19 C.F.R. § 210.76. However, the Commission refused act — finding the whole matter “res judicata” based upon the prior Federal Circuit decision.

      Now on appeal, the Federal Circuit has sided with DeLorme — finding that the ITC improperly relied upon estoppel principles to refuse to reconsider its civil penalty.

    • Copyrights

      • The EU took the word “filters” out of the Copyright Directive, but it’s still all about filters

        Some drafts of Article 13 of the pending EU Copyright Directive no longer contain the word “filters” — because the world’s leading technical, legal and human rights experts all say these will lead to widespread censorship of legitimate, noninfringing materials.

        But it doesn’t take a lot of work to understand that the Directive still mandates filters. In a nutshell, if you demand that, say, Youtube must vet all of the 300 hours of new video it receives every minute to ensure it doesn’t infringe copyright, with massive penalties for letting even a single frame of infringing material through, there just isn’t any other conceivable way to even approximate that, apart from filters.

      • Scammers Hit Pirate Game Sites With ‘Irreversible’ Google Takedowns

        Scammers are abusing Google’s takedown system to remove popular game piracy sites from search results. The notices are not standard DMCA notifications. They accuse the sites of circumventing DRM instead, which means that there is no counter-notification option available. Making matters worse, malware-ridden sites are now rising in Google’s search results.

      • Sci-Hub “Pirate Bay of Science” Blocked in Russia Over Medical Studies

        Many of Sci-Hub’s domains have been blocked in Russia following a complaint from academic publisher Springer Nature. According to a complaint filed with the Moscow City Court, the ‘pirate’ research paper platform offered three studies covering heart and brain health without obtaining an appropriate license.

      • Ahead of ’2.0′ release, Madras HC orders blocking of 12,000 piracy [sic] sites including Tamilrockers

        Ahead of Rajinikanth-starrer ‘ 2.0′ release on Thursday, the Madras High Court has directed 37 [Internet] service providers (ISPs) to block over 12,000 websites that exhibit pirated versions of Tamil movies. The list includes more than 2,000 websites operated by ‘TamilRockers.’

The Patent Microcosm Hopes That the Federal Circuit Will Get ‘Tired’ of Rejecting Software Patents

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last year: PTAB and CAFC Crush Patents on Business Methods and Software, So Dennis Crouch Tries to Slow Them Down

Summary: Trolls-friendly sites aren’t tolerating this court’s habit of saying “no” to software patents; the Chief Judge meanwhile acknowledges that they’re being overrun by a growing number of cases/appeals

IN SIGHT or in view of the declining value of software patents in the US (no matter if the Patent and Trademark Office grants these), patent maximalists have already resorted to SCOTUS bashing, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) bashing, and earlier this year Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) bashing. It’s pretty bad and it alienates judges. Imagine being Judge Mayer and then seeing this unfair headline from Watchtroll (after Mayer rejected/thwarted a software patents lawsuit of Intellectual Ventures):

Watchtroll

Earlier today patent maximalists from Patent Docs advertised the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s (FCBA) upcoming “webcast” about the Federal Circuit, which they have nothing to do with [1, 2] (misleading name). It’s just another one of those stacked panels.

“It’s pretty bad and it alienates judges.”Stephen Yelderman, a Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School, has meanwhile released this prior art analysis (based on measurable rates). Authored quite recently and dealing with 35 U.S.C. § 103, this relates to something we published earlier today. Dennis Crouch added (also regarding U.S.C. § 103): “One ongoing debate among patent attorneys is the proper abbreviation of the statutory phrases “person having ordinary skill in the art,” 35 U.S.C. 103, and “person skilled in the art,” 35 U.S.C. 112(a). [...] I prefer PHOSITA (Person Having Ordinary Skill In The Art) [...] The chart below shows that the PTAB’s favorite is POSITA with 68% of the cases having abbreviations. Still, most PTAB cases just spell out the rule without any abbreviation at all.”

Kevin Noonan from Patent Docs has meanwhile dealt with the subject (35 U.S.C. § 103) by saying that CAFC’s Chief Judge Sharon Prost expressed “dismay over the number of patent cases coming to the Court.” They should take it back to the lower court/tribunal, as they did in the following case (Tris Pharma, Inc. v. Actavis Laboratories FL, Inc.):

A certain amount of comment has recently been evinced from the patent bar by the voicing from several members of the Federal Circuit, including the Chief Judge, of their dismay over the number of patent cases coming to the Court. In particular, this increase in the patent case census in Court is due in not some small degree to the number of cases arising from decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the Court is tasked with reviewing regarding the validity vel non of patents from the various post-grant review proceedings (the largest number of which arise from inter partes reviews, IPRs). Perhaps in reaction to its dismay, the Court in several cases has remanded PTAB decisions based on failure of the Board to properly support their decisions to be amenable to appellate review; see, for example, Securus Tech v. Global Tel*Link (Fed. Cir. 2017) (IPR2014-01278) (Pat. No. 7,860,222); Ultratec v. CaptionCall and Matal (Fed. Cir. 2017). This basis for eschewing review has been much more rare in district court appeals but arose last week in the Court’s decision in Tris Pharma Inc. v. Actavis Laboratories FL, Inc.

[...]

The District Court found the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,465,765 (’765 patent), 8,563,033 (’033 patent), 8,778,390 (’390 patent), 8,956,649 (’649 patent), and 9,040,083 (’083 patent) were invalid as being obvious under 35 U.S.C. § 103.

[...]

Based on all these deficiencies the Federal Circuit remanded to the District Court for “further fact-finding.” Whether an increased frequency of these types of decisions based on Rule 52(a) in appeals from District Court opinions by a beleaguered Federal Circuit remains to be seen.

Watchtroll too has just touched 35 U.S.C. § 103 in relation to Judge Reyna, whom Crouch mocked earlier this year (and later apologised for). “Writing for the panel,” it said, “Judge Reyna explained that the Board did not err in construing the relevant claim terms. Because substantial evidence supported the Board’s decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed.”

“So long story short, this court may be overworked.”It then mentioned Chief Judge Sharon Prost’s dissent in another case (covered the following day). “On Friday, November 16th,” it said, “the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential opinion in Amazon.com, Inc. v. ZitoVault, LLC, affirming a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that e-commerce giant Amazon failed to prove a patent owned by security solutions provider ZitoVault was unpatentable. The Federal Circuit majority of Circuit Judges Kara Stoll and Kathleen O’Malley disagreed with Amazon’s that the PTAB erred in its claim construction. Dissenting, Chief Judge Sharon Prost wrote that she believed the PTAB’s analysis of a specific claim term was flawed, and she would have vacated the PTAB decision and remanded the case for further consideration.”

So long story short, this court may be overworked. It’s a strain. Prost’s track record has been largely positive in our view and we hope she’ll be strong enough to endure the heckling.

35 U.S.C. § 101 Continues to Crush Software Patents and Even Microsoft Joins ‘the Fun’

Posted in America, Courtroom, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 4:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents are truly a threat to Free/Open Source software

“Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too. [and also] Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy. [...] Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.” [...] Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. “We’re happy to get you under license.” That was code for “We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download” – the digital version of a protection racket.”

Jonathan I. Schwartz, Sun

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and even courts below it continue to throw out software patents or send them back to PTAB and lower courts; there is virtually nothing for patent maximalists to celebrate any longer

AS promised earlier today, here’s a quick outline of the smashing of software patents, erroneously granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) only to be squashed in district (lower) courts, the higher court (Federal Circuit, CAFC) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), where inter partes reviews (IPRs) are undertaken.

As usual, it’s hard to find even a single example of a software patent withstanding scrutiny at a higher court (CAFC or SCOTUS). Those are rare exceptions — ones that patent extremists would tout for many months if not years.

“An appeal would likely have this decision overturned because of the district’s notoriety.”Looking at the blog dedicated to advocacy of software patents (it’s a law firm’s blog), Mark St. Amour looks downwards to the notorious Eastern District of Texas for examples — however rare — of software patents finding feet (until CAFC throws them out if defendants can afford justice). He found this: “In IDB Ventures, LLC v. Charlotte Russe Holdings, Inc. (2:17-CV-660-WCB-RSP), the Eastern District of Texas highlighted the effectiveness of showing that a patent claim is directed to a specific improvement to computer functionally for overcoming a challenge based on 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

An appeal would likely have this decision overturned because of the district’s notoriety. Charles Bieneman, a colleague of Amour apparently, meanwhile admits that gifting (or a gift certificate) is not an “invention” just because you do it “on a computer” or “over the Internet”; why does the USPTO grant such laughable software patents in the first place?

To quote Bieneman (this is in Delaware, not Texas):

Patent claims directed to electronic gift certificates are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, according to a US magistrate judge’s recommendation to grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Coqui Technologies, LLC v. Gyft, Inc., No. 17-777-CFC-SRF (D. Del. Nov. 16, 2018). The court found that claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,580,864, entitled “Method for circulating an electronic gift certificate in online and offline system,” were “directed to the abstract idea of selling, gifting, and using electronic gift certificates” without an additional inventive concept.

Another new pick/highlight comes from the District in California, which finds software patents pertaining to “User Interface Features Not Patent-Eligible,” according to Mike McCandlish. Thanks to 35 U.S.C. § 101, as usual…

Finding a lack of technical innovation, a court held claims for three features for a user-vehicle interface to be directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas under the Mayo/Alice test and 35 U.S.C. § 101. Thunder Power New Energy Vehicle Development Co. Ltd. v. Byton North America Corp., No. 18-cv-03115-JST (N.D. Ca., Oct. 31, 2018).

Plaintiff, Thunder Power, alleged infringement by Defendant Byton of claims of Patent Nos. 9,547,373, 9,563,329, and 9,561,724. Byton moved to dismiss, contending that the asserted claims failed to recite patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The court granted the motion to dismiss.

Did Watchtroll find anything new that it can trumpet and shout about? No, not really. It returned to a month-old case, Ancora Techs. v. HTC Am., Inc.

The firm behind the outcome is still celebrating in paid articles and seeing how Watchtroll is still falling back on the HTC case (old news that it covered several times before) is rather revealing. There has been nothing for them to brag about for a very long time. “The Federal Circuit,” they said, “recently [sic] reversed the Western District of Washington’s grant of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where the district court held that the claimed subject matter was ineligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

“Did Watchtroll find anything new that it can trumpet and shout about? No, not really.”They say “recently” about something roughly a month old. They find it noteworthy because it’s a CAFC case, but Watchtroll is begrudgingly coming to accept that the high court, CAFC, is even stricter than PTAB when it comes to software patents as software patents almost always come there just to be thrown away. As Steve Brachmann put it a few days ago, “Federal Circuit Vacates PTAB Decision That Video Messaging Patent Claims Were Nonobvious” (most patent maximalists just tried to ignore it as it doesn’t suit their agenda).

Funnily enough, Rachel Elsby, Rubén Muñoz and Dorian Ojemen (Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP) would have us believe that CAFC gives or offers “tips” but that’s actually shameless self-promotion from them. We spotted this earlier today and our only comment is amusement. “On Wednesday, November 14th,” they argued, “the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in WhatsApp, Inc. v. TriPlay, Inc., which vacated a final written decision terminating an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding and remanded the case back to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).”

Wow. So basically it’s back to PTAB. What a ‘victory’…

CAFC very much insists that software patents are bunk and void. Here’s a new example titled “Fed. Circ. Won’t Reconsider Nixing Robotics IP Under Alice” (Section 101 basically).

“CAFC very much insists that software patents are bunk and void.”“The Federal Circuit has refused to reconsider its September ruling that parts of four robotics patents asserted against Invensys Systems Inc. and other automation companies are invalid,” Law360′s Matthew Bultman wrote. His colleague Tiffany Hu wrote that “Microsoft scored a win Tuesday when the Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated a technology company’s patent covering a way to attach conversation point reminders for mobile contacts…”

When Microsoft doesn’t blackmail the competition using software patents it is trying to invalidate others’. Precious.

Speaking of Microsoft’s patents, OIN has just recalled Microsoft’s history when it comes to such patents and the Irish media covered it as follows some days ago:

“OIN was conceptualized about 15 years ago largely in response to some activities that Microsoft was involved in. Microsoft funded litigation by a company called SCO against Red Hat, IBM and Suse. While these three companies were sued for violations of copyrights, the litigation triggered a concern around broader IP risks.

There was a belief that patents could be used to slow or stall the progress of Linux. The rhetoric from Balmer and Gates historically had been very negative about Linux being a ‘cancer’ and that it would be eradicated. It was for hobbyists. It would never be used for mission-critical applications. It wouldn’t scale. All the things ironically that IBM said against personal computing 20/25 years before. It was eerily similar. It’s what happens when you control the market and can’t make sense of what you see so you retreat to fear, you retrench to control.”

Reuters’ Jan Wolfe, who routinely covers patent matters, took note of another defeat for notorious patents. CAFC has gutted fake patents of a patent troll from Canada (WiLAN). To quote:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday said it would not reconsider an earlier decision that likely doomed patent litigation cases the licensing firm WiLAN Inc brought against industrial automation companies Rockwell Automation Inc, Schneider Electric SE and the Emerson Electric Company.

Joe Mullin (EFF) has meanwhile named and shamed some more fake patents granted by the USPTO even though software patents are bogus, worthless, and harm society, science etc. This is the latest “Stupid Patent of the Month”:

In some fields, software bugs are more than the proverbial pain in the neck. When software has to ensure that an airplane lands safely, or that a pacemaker keeps operating, there’s no room for error.

The idea that mathematical proofs could be used to prove that software is error-free has been around since the 1970s, and is known as “formal verification.” But like a lot of technologies that some visionaries saw coming, it took time to develop. In recent years, computing power has become cheap enough for formal verification to become practical for more software applications.

Unfortunately, last month, the field had a monkey wrench thrown into it, in the form of U.S. Patent No. 10,109,010, which the patent office awarded to a U.K.-based company called Aesthetic Integration Ltd.

Claim 1 of the patent describes creating mathematical “axioms”—formal mathematical statements—that describe a computerized trading forum. The patented method then describes analyzing, with a “computer assessment system … the mathematical axioms that describe the operation of the trading forum.” In other words, the patent describes using formal proofs to check for bugs in a “computerized trading forum.” It’s formal verification—just applied to the financial services industry.

Of course, Aesthetic Integration didn’t invent formal verification, nor did the company invent the idea of software powering a “trading forum.” The company has apparently created software that utilizes formal verification in the financial services space, and that software might be perfectly good. But the Patent Office has effectively allowed the company to patent a whole sector of formal verification.

[...]

Ultimately, the ’010 patent reflects a broader problem with Patent Office’s failure to apply a meaningful obviousness standard to software patent applications. We have explained before that the Patent Office is all too willing to hand out patents for using known techniques in a particular field. Flow charts and whirligigs can make a concept look new when it isn’t—especially when a patent owner fills its application with obscure language and “patentese.” The Federal Circuit has also encouraged this through its hyper-formalistic approach to obviousness. The end result is an arms race where people rush to patent routine software development.

Perhaps one day the USPTO will stop issuing such patents. Patent quality is very important, more so than revenue of the Office.

“In a better world there would be far fewer patents, albeit ones that are strong, solid, and defensible based on public interest and scientific merit (as opposed to law firms’ and Office revenue).”Michael Risch has just cited this relatively new paper from Christopher Anthony Cotropia (University of Richmond’s School of Law) and David L. Schwartz (Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law), introducing it as “Patents Used in Patent Office Rejections as Indicators of Value” and remarking:

The quest for an objective measure of patent quality continues. Scholars have attempted many, many ways to calculate such value, including citations, maintenance fee payments, number of claims, length of claims, and so forth. As each new data source has become available, more creative ways of measuring value have been developed (and old ways of measuring value have been validated/questioned).

From the abstract of the corresponding paper:

The economic literature emphasizes the importance of patent citations, particularly forward citations, as an indicator of a cited patent’s value. Studies have refined which forward citations are better indicators of value, focusing on examiner citations for example. We test a metric that arguably is closer tied to private value—the substantive use of a patent by an examiner in a patent office rejection of another pending patent application. This paper assesses how patents used in 102 and 103 rejections relate to common measures of private value—specifically patent renewal, the assertion of a patent in litigation, and the number of patent claims. We examine rejection data from U.S. patent applications pending from 2008 to 2017 and then link value data to rejection citations to patents issued from 1999 to 2007. Our findings show that rejection patents are independently, positively correlated with many of the value measurements above and beyond forward citations and examiner citations.

It is interesting that they study Section 102 and 103 rejections (prior art and obviousness) but not Section 101 rejections — the subject recently explored by Colleen Chien and Jiun Ying Wu based on a lot of data. In a better world there would be far fewer patents, albeit ones that are strong, solid, and defensible based on public interest and scientific merit (as opposed to law firms’ and Office revenue).

The Anti-Section 101 (Pro-Software Patents) Lobby Looks at New Angles for Watering Down Guidelines and Caselaw

Posted in America, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 3:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Section 101 (35 U.S.C. § 101) withstands endless lobbying against it

Section

Summary: By focusing on jury trials and patent trolls the proponents of bunk, likely-invalid abstract patents hope to overrule or override technical courts such as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

IT SHOULD NOT surprise anyone that USPTO officials who came from the litigation ‘industry’ are upset at the Federal Circuit under Chief Judge Sharon Prost. As we shall show in later posts, she too has come under criticism if not attacks from the usual suspects. For those who forgot or haven’t been following these affairs, Sharon Prost replaces a corrupt Chief Judge who was caught red-handed and is nowadays lobbying along with patent maximalists. They really hate Section 101, which basically invalidates just about any software patent.

A patent maximalist called Janal Kalis has just noted that “PTAB Affirmed an Examiner’s [Section] 101 Rejection of Claims in a Thompson Reuters Patent Application for Docketing: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017005527-11-07-2018-1 …”

This is the usual; whenever PTAB gets involved and Section 101 is brought up the likelihood of invalidation/rejection is very high. Berkheimer has changed practically nothing.

“…whenever PTAB gets involved and Section 101 is brought up the likelihood of invalidation/rejection is very high.”So what will those patent maximalists do about Section 101 and about PTAB? “Despite Misleading Question, Berkheimer Case Has Legs at the Supreme Court,” Dennis Crouch says. Crouch himself is a very vocal patent maximalist and opponent of Section 101. And no, he’s just trying to sway the court’s stance, having long promoted software patents and patent trolls. The EFF has also just urged the Justices at SCOTUS to examine the case because they want closure (the court repeatedly declines to revisit the subject). Crouch mentioned “go[ing] to a jury.” To quote: “In my view, the question presented by HP’s attorneys intentionally creates confusion as the Federal Circuit did not rule (1) that eligibility is a question of fact; or (2) that any aspect of the eligibility question goes to a jury. Rather, the Federal Circuit has repeatedly ruled, including in Berkheimer, that the question of “eligible subject matter is a question of law.” I’ll also note that no court following Berkheimer has seen eligibility itself as a question of fact or attempted to get a jury verdict on the issue. I contacted David Salmons (counsel of record for HP) to see what I’m missing about the misleading question, but he did not respond.”

He was later admitting a mistake, citing patent troll Finjan. These Berkheimer pushers (who are software patents boosters) cite Microsoft’s patent troll Finjan in relation to letting a nontechnical jury decide on patents (a big mistake). His mea culpa:

In my recent Berkheimer post, I wrote that “that no court following Berkheimer has … attempted to get a jury verdict on the issue.” Turns out that I’m potentially wrong.

In the pending case of Finjan, Inc. v. Juniper Network, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2018), Judge Alsup has ordered a jury trial on the “inventive concept” question. In its order, denying summary judgment, the court found that the Claim 10 of Finjan’s U.S. Patent No. 8,677,494 was directed to the abstract idea of “collecting data, analyzing data, and storing results.” (Alice Step 1). However, the court decided to wait for trial to determine the inventive concept question…

Looking at this troll’s affairs, it’s pretending to be an actual company, it attracts some investment, and it speaks of ‘sales’ when all it really does is litigation. This is the kind of firm that needs to go bankrupt because it’s a classic troll.

“Logical arguments about the scientific contribution of such patents (or detriment thereof) don’t seem to bother them. A facts-based, evidence-based discussion just doesn’t appeal to these people.”Jury trials, as we have been pointing out several times over the past year, are more likely to get things wrong; jury trials are not suitable for technical matters involving patents, which they don’t understand (particular scientific disciplines). This is misapplying one principle of law to granting of a monopoly. Juvan Bonni, who works with Crouch, has incidentally just promoted these two recent papers. One of these is sort of ‘court bashing’ by Cambridge Technology Law (a push against PTAB); they just loathe patent quality, so they try to discredit the court and AIA. How typical. More lobbying as “papers” (the Koch Brothers sponsor some other attacks on PTAB, using ‘scholars’ in institutions they sponsor). The second of those two speaks of juries in patent litigation. Watchtroll has meanwhile taken this further with N. Scott Pierce (Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP), who repeats the same arguments (more or less). What we find noteworthy here is that almost a year later (10 months) they are still pushing Berkheimer, engaging in revisionism about Oil States (no matter what SCOTUS ruled this past summer) and obsess over faulty jury trials (based on misinformation) so as to discredit the court. Logical arguments about the scientific contribution of such patents (or detriment thereof) don’t seem to bother them. A facts-based, evidence-based discussion just doesn’t appeal to these people. They never wrote a single line of code.

Patent Trolls, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and Section 101

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 1:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: António Campinos is Working for Patent Trolls at the Expense of Science and Technology

Trump and Iancu

Summary: The world’s most important patent office is now run by a courts-hostile person (an 'American Battistelli') who is happy to ignore the courts’ caselaw and listen to patent trolls instead; this means that science and technology, not to mention the law itself, will suffer

THE DEMISE of patentability of software in the United States is mostly being ignored by the USPTO, which prefers to ignore what courts are saying and carry on issuing software patents. The same thing has been happening at the European Patent Office (EPO) and we shall get to that in a moment. There’s a bit of a “shared struggle” on both sides of the Atlantic, impacting software developers in Europe and the United States. If the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office carries issuing all those abstract patents — as does the EPO — what will be the impact on presumption of validity of US and European Patents (EPs)? This is a key question which is increasingly being raised by technology-centric groups.

“Iancu, the current Director of the USPTO, has been acting like the patent trolls’ mole or at least their apologist.”“Try the Newly Upgraded Anticipat to Complement Your Patent Prosecution Practice,” Anticipat wrote a few days ago, ousting itself for what it really is other than an anti-PTAB ‘tank’ (or propaganda mill); it just targets trolls and prosecutors looking for people to blackmail. They know that their chances in courts or in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) are rather slim and therefore they try to assess risk and cost (an appeal to the Federal Circuit can be rather expensive, perhaps requiring millions of dollars set aside for legal bills). “Harness the power of patent analytics to make better-informed decisions using the power of aggregate appeals data,” they said. They’re not alone in this ‘business’ (of litigation). Sadly, however, today’s leadership at the USPTO sympathises with them.

Neil Wilkof has just published something titled “The IP term (thus far) of the millennium: the curious story of the adoption of ‘patent troll’ and ‘internet trolling’” in which he cites the father of patent trolling. Well, first of all, there's no such thing as "IP"; Wilkof could at least correct this misleading terminology and speak of patents instead. The only thing a “patent troll” and “internet trolling” have in common is that they engage in nothing constructive, just harassment.

Iancu, the current Director of the USPTO, has been acting like the patent trolls’ mole or at least their apologist. He has attracted some negative comments for this attitude of his and a few days ago Steven Seidenberg from IP Watch echoed the rhetoric of Iancu with a headline like, “Do Patent Trolls Exist?”

That’s the “teach the controversy” propaganda line; if a patent troll is defined as a firm which practices nothing but lawsuits, then the existence of it is not disputable; it is measurable, too. The name used to describe it may vary (used to be “shark”), but this phenomenon is very much real and it is extremely problematic.

From Seidenberg’s introductory paragraph:

They are called many things. Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs), Patent Trolls, and on occasion, names not suitable in polite company. They often are accused of harming innovation and the economy, while providing nothing useful in return. They, less often, are said to promote innovation, in part by helping small inventors monetize their discoveries. Two recent academic studies attempt to shed light on this dispute, but their findings seem contradictory – at least at first.

With words like “inventors”, “discoveries” and “monetize” it is hard to take this discussion seriously; most patent trolls use software patents, so we’re speaking of algorithms (programming, not inventions) and much of the ‘research’ that favours trolls is sponsored by the usual suspects.

For about a decade now we’ve been arguing that one effective way to combat patent trolls is to eliminate patents on software. At the moment such patents are being granted, still; they’re not of much/any use in court, but they’re being granted in order to fake production and bring more revenue to the patent offices. Let’s start with the EPO as our case of point.

As Poland turns 100 the “EPO congratulates Polish patent office on its 100th anniversary” (the EPO published this (warning: epo.org link) on Friday just to peddle some fluff/puff pieces); at the same time EPO corruption ruins ILO/ILOAT which are about 100 years old.

“A delegation from the European Patent Office led by EPO President António Campinos participated to the 100th anniversary,” it says and notice how the EPO’s press releases aren’t about the EPO. They’re making the publicity all about António Campinos — the hallmark of Battistelli (who sought to personify the European Patent Office to promote his personal “brand”). Like Donald Trump does…

Campinos frequently promotes software patents in Europe (under the guise of “AI” and other buzzwords). “The Official Journal 11/2018 is now available online,” the EPO wrote in Twitter on Friday; it has mentioned (warning: epo.org link) the EPC, which is routinely violated by the EPO. Who benefits from this?

It is worth noting that Kate Gaudry and Samuel Hayim wrote in Watchtroll a few days ago that “[t]he stark reality appears to be that artificial intelligence technologies are likely to be more heavily scrutinized under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and less likely to be allowed.” (the article’s headline is “Artificial Intelligence Technologies Facing Heavy Scrutiny at the USPTO”).

This is what we have been saying all along, namely that “AI” patents are software patents and are thus fake patents, connected to the “AI” bubble/hype. The EPO wrote on Friday: “Experts discussed how the EPO deals with the challenges of AI in patent applications at this recent conference: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

They call them “AIpatents”; that in its own right is quite a buzzword. Corporate media nowadays calls just about everything “AI” (even hardware that’s marketed this way); Nowadays everything is being labeled “AI” provided it does something ‘clever’; sometimes it’s exploited to get bogus patents that are software patents and associate them with “health”; Sometimes the patent law firms can just be replaced with some piece of software, whereupon this buzzword is again invoked; how about this financial context? These are all examples pertaining to patents and they’re all from the past week alone.

Campinos is not so unique in that regard however. Iancu and the rest of the Trump-assembled 'swamp' destroy the agenda set forth by Michelle Lee; The CCIA’s Josh Landau doesn’t seem too please and before the weekend he wrote:

The USPTO released the final version of its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan today. I previously wrote about the flaws in the draft strategic plan. The draft plan did, however, at least note the importance of stakeholder engagement. To assist in this goal, the Office asked for comments on the draft.

[...]

The problem is that a detailed comparison of the draft and final plans reveals that a total of two substantive changes were made to the text provided for comment. In one, the final plan notes that ensuring trademark validity is important and announces plans to regularly audit and “de-clutter” the trademark registry. The other change recognizes that user interface is important when rolling out new tools to examiners.

Watchtroll, contrasting CCIA as usual, keeps publishing press releases for the USPTO. This encourages the perception of a strategic link between these judge-bashing extremists and the Office. Some patent boosters who promote this new Watchtroll article (“Iancu Proposes Overcoming 101 ‘Morass’ by Strictly Following Supreme Court Precedent”) don’t want to deal with Section 101 but rather to work around it to get the Iancu-led USPTO (another patent maximalist) to grant fake patents that courts would, without a doubt, reject. In Watchtroll’s own words:

Earlier this week, on Monday, November 26, 2018, Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, delivered remarks to the 10th Annual Patent law & Policy Conference at Georgetown University law School. In his remarks Director Iancu again said what he has been saying for some time — the USPTO is working on fresh guidance relating to patent eligibility for computer implemented innovations (i.e., software related inventions). Director Iancu’s remarks gave a first look at what his reforms will look like, and by all indications these changes will be extremely innovator friendly.

Iancu likes patent trolls, having himself come from a law firm, and sites that groom trolls (and are sponsored by them) keep doing interviews with him. He never seems to speak to any site or publication which focuses on science and technology. He doesn’t even go to their forums, which is rather revealing. Some days ago the USPTO wrote: “USPTO Dir. Andrei Iancu recently spoke on judicial exceptions to Section 101 at @GtownTechLaw’s conference on the role of the courts in patent law and policy.”

These are lawyers, who are eager to water down Section 101; Iancu acts like their ‘mole’ — more and more each day (like Ajit Pai at the FCC). He’s an insider of the litigation industry, including patent trolls, working to harm technology and science for the sake of legal bills. As we shall show later tonight, Section 101 caselaw continues to pile up, consistently against Iancu’s agenda.

Be Wary of the Latest Lies About the Unified Patent Court (UPC), Courtesy of CIPA and Marks & Clerk (Team UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Margot Fröhlinger for UPC

Summary: It’s rather noteworthy that no matter how grim things have become for Team UPC, which drafted and promoted new laws for self-enrichment purposes, these people persist with all the same lies that predate several more barriers, which no doubt will prove fatal to the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA)

TODAY we shall focus primarily on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but first we shall give a little update from Europe.

IP Kat‘s Cecilia Sbrolli is promoting CIPA’s event, which takes place tomorrow (Monday), as follows: “On Monday 3 December 2018 The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) will organise the webinar Litigation Financing – Removing Financial Risks from Patent Infringement, with speakers Eric Morehouse (Kenealy Vaidya) and Chris Thornham (Taylor Wessing).”

“…it’s pretty incredible that even amid the resignation of Gyimah these people pretend that the sole question is, “can Britain participate?” (in something that doesn’t even exist!)”CIPA’s chief inside IP Kat was, in our humble assessment, one of several factors that ended coverage of EPO scandals. It just didn’t suit the authors’ interests; they’re leading proponents of the UPC, which is impeded by corruption at the EPO, not to mention an attack on judges’ independence.

“The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is not yet established,” said Team UPC (Marks & Clerk) just before the weekend as if it’s a matter of time. An article by Graham Burnett-Hall, Steven Gurney, Tom Farrand, Andrea Williams and Rayyan Mughal said this:

Intellectual Property In A ‘No-Deal’ Brexit: What Can We Expect? – Intellectual Property

[...]

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is not yet established and is dependent on ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement by Germany (which itself is dependent on the outcome of an ongoing constitutional challenge). It is currently unknown whether the UPC will be operational before Brexit day, i.e. 29 March 2019. Even in a ‘no deal’ situation, the UK is committed to exploring whether it will be possible to participate in the UPC and unitary patent system. It is worth noting that the UK ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement in April of this year, i.e. after having started with EU withdrawal process, which indicates that continued participation in the UPC is considered by the UK government to be politically acceptable, notwithstanding the fact that the UPC is required to apply relevant EU law in its decisions. If the UK is prevented from being involved with the UPC and unitary patent then patent protection and enforcement in the UK will continue just as it does now.

The above spreads (yet again) those two infamous lies; it’s pretty incredible that even amid the resignation of Gyimah these people pretend that the sole question is, “can Britain participate?” (in something that doesn’t even exist!)

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