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09.08.19

Links 8/9/2019: New Debian Images and GNOME 3.34 RC2

Posted in News Roundup at 1:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

  • Leftovers

    • Tradition, Marketing and Blacked Cognac

      The moment the liquid hits the mark, lips on the balloon rim, the hand having swirled the mellow colouring to life, the throat anticipates. It is tenderising, the gentle burn finding its way down to the belly. Most cultures have their tribute of firewater, or hellfire’s brew, but France’s brandy Cognac, in its various incarnations, applies the blow with soft relentlessness. You are drinking a chronicle of pleasure, a full archive of sensations.

    • Science

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • MoviePass Left Tens Of Thousands Of Credit Card Numbers Exposed Online

        MoviePass initially seemed like it might be a plausible idea, though recently the outfit has been exposed for being terrible at this whole business thing. The service initially let movie buffs pay $30 a month in exchange for unlimited movie tickets at participating theaters, provided they signed up for a full year of service. But recent reports have made it clear company leaders had absolutely no idea what they were doing, the service was routinely hemorrhaging cash (particularly after an unsustainable price drop to $10), and execs even tried to change user passwords to prevent users from actually using the service.

      • [Debian] Andreas Metzler: exim update

        Testing users might want to manually pull the latest (4.92.1-3) upload of Exim from sid instead of waiting for regular migration to testing. It fixes a nasty vulnerability.

      • Linux Fu: Interactive SSH Applications

        [Drew DeVault] recently wrote up some interesting instructions on how to package up interactive text-based Linux commands for users to access via ssh. At first, this seems simple, but there are quite a few nuances to it and [Drew] does a good job of covering them.

        One easy way — but not very versatile — is to create a user and make the program you want to run the default shell. The example used is to make /usr/bin/nethack the shell and now people can log in as that user and play nethack. Simple, right? However, there are better ways to get there.

      • Supermicro Bug Could Let ‘Virtual USBs’ Take Over Corporate Servers

        A newly disclosed vulnerability in Supermicro hardware brings the threat of malicious USBs to corporate servers.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Robert Mugabe, Liberator Turned Dictator, Dies at 95

        Former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, an ex-guerrilla chief who took power when the African country shook off white minority rule and presided for decades while economic turmoil and human rights violations eroded its early promise, has died in Singapore. He was 95.

      • War in All But Name as US State Department Offers Bribes to Pirates of Iranian Ships

        If at first you don’t succeed, spread some money around. The Financial Times reports that the US State Department is offering cash bribes to captains of Iranian ships if they sail those ships into ports where the US government can seize them.

      • Any War on Terror is Bullshit

        The saying goes that the greatest trick the devil ever played was fooling the world that he doesn’t exist. I’ve long said that the greatest trick the state ever played was fooling the world that only its existence could keep the devil at bay. The devil in this case being a constantly evolving crop of scapegoats often labeled terrorists. Then again the Old Testament interpretation of the devil has always been the ultimate scapegoat. Lucifer’s great crime was trying to mimic god’s omnipotence with a failed coup. God cast the rebellious angel out of heaven but allowed him to continue to play god in hell because his existence served as the ultimate excuse for god’s unlimited power. My childhood priest, Father Foster, probably wouldn’t agree with this interpretation, but as a budding young anarchist, this is the way the tale sounded to me. The devil’s very existence was defined by god and god in turn needed the devil to justify his power. And this is what I see when I look at the issue of terrorism.

      • The War Ahead: Netanyahu’s Elections Gamble Will be Costly for Israel

        On September 1, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, struck an Israeli military base near the border town of Avivim. The Lebanese attack came as an inevitable response to a series of Israeli strikes that targeted four different Arab countries in the matter of two days.

      • “Everywhere is Kashmir”: Unraveling Weaponized, Corporatized Hindustan in India’s Northeast

        “In India today,” said an Indigenous activist I recently interviewed in the northeastern Indian state of Jharkhand, “everywhere is Kashmir.”

      • A Different​ War Story: the Soldier and Veteran Resistance Against the War in Vietnam

        The battle over American war stories began during the peak of the last revolution. Millions of Americans and tens of thousands of veterans and soldiers opposed the war in Vietnam. In the war’s moral outrages, crimes and betrayals, many saw the US empire for the first time. [1]

      • Arkhangelsk officials acknowledge that the pontoons damaged in last month’s rocket explosion are a public safety risk

        Nearly a month after a mysterious explosion apparently involving a radioactive-isotope-fueled rocket engine, authorities in the Arkhangelsk region have officially recognized the pontoons damaged in the blast as “potentially dangerous objects.” The local government says it’s formally informed Rosatom, the Defense Ministry, the National Weather Service, and the Consumer Protection and Welfare Federal Service. Officials stress that the danger posed by the radioactive pontoons is not life-threatening.

      • We Are Teetering on the Brink of War With Iran

        What follows is a conversation between “The Age of Jihad” author Patrick Cockburn and Greg Wilpert of The Real News Network.

      • U.S. Propaganda Doesn’t Get More Shameless Than ‘Jack Ryan’

        A new trailer out Thursday for Amazon’s television series “Jack Ryan” featuring the titular hero racing against time to stop Venezuela from obtaining a nuclear weapon was widely ridiculed for its jingoistic nature and reliance on conspiracist tropes, with critics deriding the plotline of the new season of the nationalist series.

      • Hassan El Tayyab on US Out of Yemen, Kate Bronfenbrenner on Labor Board vs. Labor

        This week on CounterSpin: A UN panel has just announced that the US could be deemed complicit in war crimes being carried out in Yemen. “Third state” parties, including the US, that supply weapons and other support “[perpetuate] the conflict,” the panel said, and contribute to the immiseration of Yemen, where a near-incomprehensible 80% of the population require humanitarian aid. US media bring images of Yemen’s suffering, but you could think it was happening on Mars, if the dots are not connected between the bombs and the hunger and the cholera, and elected US congressmembers voting again and again to be part of it. We’ll talk about how to change that with Hassan El Tayyab,  legislative representative for Middle East policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

      • New Season of Amazon’s Jack Ryan Focused on Venezuela Denounced as ‘Over-the-Top and Ridiculous’ US Propaganda

        “No matter how cynical you might be about propagandistic American media, you are not prepared for how much watching this trailer is like snorting 100% pure John Bolton.”

      • Defying the Nuclear Sword

        “. . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” These lost words — Isaiah 2:4 — are nearly 3,000 years old. Did they ever have political traction? To believe them today, and act on them, is to wind up facing 25 years in prison. This is how far we

      • Should We Feed Hungry Children, or the War Machine?

        In August 21, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, put out a heartbreaking call for nations to make good on their pledges to send humanitarian aid to feed destitute families in war-torn Yemen.

      • From Military Jets to Snipers, Icelanders—Who Live in World’s Most Peaceful Country—Shocked by All the Guns Surrounding Mike Pence

        “Americans intended to give every Reykjavik citizen a paralyzing drug during Pence’s visit,” joked a satirical Icelandic newspaper

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Judge Orders White House To Restore Reporter’s Press Pass It Illegally Removed

        Just a few weeks ago, we wrote about how the White House was clearly setting itself up for another embarrassing failure in court when it removed the press pass of Brian Karem. This wasn’t new. The same thing had happened a year ago. And yet, our comments filled up with a lot of nonsense about how we were wrong and “there is no right to a White House press pass” and a bunch of other nonsense.

      • The Most Consequential Whistleblower Who Wasn’t

        While so many have heard of whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden making history in recent years, few have heard the story of Katharine Gun, the subject of the film “Official Secrets,” directed and co-written by Gavin Hood. On the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” the “Official Secrets” director tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer that he learned about Gun from Ged Doherty, a producer he’d worked with on the film “Eye in the Sky” about drone warfare, and realized the whistleblower’s compelling story needed to be told.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Jerome Powell, Labor Day Hero?

        The Federal Reserve Board chair might seem an odd pick of a person to honor on Labor Day, but he really does deserve some recognition. In addition to dealing with incoherent tirades from the whiner-in-chief, Jerome Powell has led a hugely important shift in the focus of the Fed.

      • Joni Ernst Wants to Cut Social Security Behind Closed Doors

        Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) just said out loud what Republican politicians usually only talk about in secret meetings with their billionaire donors: The GOP wants to cut our earned Social Security benefits—and they want to do it behind closed doors so that they don’t have to pay the political price. | By Nancy J. Altman

      • Tax the Rich Before the Rest

        Presidential candidates should take a pledge: The middle class should not pay one dollar more in new taxes until the super-rich pay their fair share.

      • ‘Shameful’: Warren Warns Trump Plan to Privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Would Make Housing Crisis Worse

        “The Trump administration wants to make it harder for creditworthy working families—especially families of color—to buy a home and build wealth.”

      • Puerto Rico, Military Schools to Lose Money for Trump’s Border Fencing

        The Pentagon will cut funding from military projects like schools, target ranges and maintenance facilities to pay for the construction of 175 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, diverting a total $3.6 billion to President Donald Trump’s long-promised barrier.

      • Corporations Getting to Zero With GOP’s Inside Help on Tax Avoidance

        Aircastle Ltd. is not a household name, but if you’ve flown on South African Airways, KLM, or any of more than 80 other airlines, you’ve probably traveled on an airplane the Connecticut-based company owns and manages.

      • The Walton Family Plot to Privatize the Public Schools of Arkansas

        The headquarters of the Walton/Walmart billionaires is in Bentonville, Arkansas, so it is not surprising that the Walton Family Foundation and the members of the family (net worth: $100 billion) have decided to privatize the public schools of Arkansas.Arkansas is a poor state. It doesn’t have an abundance of private schools that are as good as its underfunded public schools

      • Severance Pay: Corporate Obligation to Long-Term Workers

        In recent months there have been a number of large retail companies that went into bankruptcy, most notably Sears and Toys “R” Us. In these and other cases, the public is naturally concerned about the plight of long-term workers who have often spent decades working for the same company.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Trump Year Three: Three Random Late Summer Thoughts

        The underlying premise was never plausible, but for a while it was still possible to hope that, under Trump, American foreign policy would be less bellicose than it would have been had Hillary Clinton not managed to lose the 2016 election.

      • Home intruder attacks Russian Central Election Commissioner with electric-shock device

        Russian police say a masked intruder broke into Central Election Commissioner Ella Pamfilova’s home and attacked her repeatedly with an electric-shock device. The assailant reportedly entered her home through a terrace window. Police have launched a robbery investigation, and top officials from the Interior Ministry are managing the case.

      • The Tough Guy Presidencies

        Numerous Democrats have quoted Ronald Reagan, trying to show how far the Republican Party has fallen under Trump, yet there is much in Reagan’s approach that Trump has taken and elaborated on: specifically, the tough guy presidential persona.

      • U.S., Chinese Envoys to Meet in October for Tariff War Talks

        U.S. and Chinese envoys will meet in early October for more talks aimed at ending a tariff war that threatens global economic growth.

      • Progressives Can’t Play Nice With Democrats Anymore

        Progressive activists often see a frustrating pattern. Many Democrats in office are good at liberal platitudes but don’t really fight for what we need. Even when constituents organize to lobby or protest, they have little leverage compared to big campaign donors, party leaders and corporate media spin. Activist efforts routinely fall short because—while propelled by facts and passion—they lack power.

      • Neoliberal Democrats Need to Stop Blaming the Internet and Take Some Responsibility for 2016

        Ever since the 2016 elections, neoliberals have been looking for reasons to explain why Hillary Clinton lost and why Donald Trump won.  They’ve blamed the Russians, Bernie Bros, the media … anything but themselves.  Now, a new study gives them another reason—blame it on the Internet.

      • The Hitler-Stalin Pact, a Reply

        There are many inaccuracies in the Proyect/Szelegieniec essay, but I will comment only on a few of the most important ones…

      • Your Vote, Your Voice: Don’t Waste It

        More than a year out from the 2020 presidential election, we’re already starting to see “spoiler” fear-mongering from supporters of America’s two largest political parties and their candidates.

      • Come Home to Montana, Wanderin’ Steve Bullock, There’s Work to Do

        It’s not unusual for politicians in one elected office to seek higher office and that’s just what Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock has been doing for much of the last few months. But reality has a way of chiming in on political ambition and given that Bullock will not make the next Democratic debate due to his lack of widespread — or even marginal — support, it’s time for him to come home to Montana, where there is plenty of challenging work to do.

      • The Problem With Warren

        A new poll shows that support for former vice president Joe Biden is falling. The survey, produced by Monmouth University, shows Biden dropping from 32 percent amongst Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters in June – when Monmouth produced its last poll – to below 19 percent now. The stats, meanwhile, place Biden’s two progressive competitors, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, ahead at 20 percent each.

      • No Joe: On Character, Quality and Authenticity

        The Democratic Party establishment might want to heed Santayana’s warning about how people who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. One of the many lessons of the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign is that your candidate better damn well possess strong quality and character if you are going to run on, well, candidate quality and character.

      • Biden’s Unappealing Fundraising Appeal Letter to My Mother
      • ‘This Is Incredible,’ Says Corbyn, as Voter Registration Surges Amid Boris Johnson’s Chaotic Lurch Towards UK General Election

        “This Brexit crisis has now come down to a simple question about whether we live in a democracy: can we allow Boris Johnson to force No Deal on our country, without all of us having our voice heard?”

      • We’re Forked
      • NOAA disavows National Weather Service tweet that contradicted Trump

        The controversy reached a fever pitch on Wednesday when Trump displayed a map in the Oval Office that apparently was altered with black marker to show the storm’s projected path extending into southeastern Alabama.

        Trump has denied knowing about the apparently altered map that he showcased, though The Washington Post reported that the president had marked it up.

      • Donald Trump: A Hero of Our Time?

        How can we explain that the victim of another Trump slur nonetheless stated afterward that this president “is the best thing that ever happened to this country”? How—after the president bawled out his victim, Frank Dawson,  for being overweight and told him to go home to his mother—could thousands in his Manchester, NH rally on August 15 just  sit there and stomach Trump’s claim that his campaign is based on “love”?

      • ‘Not Exactly a Vote of Confidence’: Amid Brexit Chaos, Boris Johnson’s Own Brother Resigns

        Week of legislative defeats and popular ridicule continues for embattled UK Prime Minister

      • The EU’s Ursula von der Leyen: Who Voted for Her?

        July heatwave luckily distracted public attention in Europe from disruption in another area: democracy. Few hot and bothered Europeans noticed that the political line they had been fed for at least three years had just been dropped. The media, busy with other investigations, did not try hard to alert them.

      • Brexit and Ye Olde Ordo Ab Chao as But Another Nine Inch Stab Neoliberal

        The manufacture of crisis as ‘reality owned’ continues to exist within a dialectical paradigm of political abuse by Stateless Bastards condemned to relish filth and as ‘ascendant’ Geopolitical?

      • Steve King Is Drinking From Toilets (Sort Of) to Own the Libs and We Feel Bad For the Toilet

        Another day, another racist clown. Seeking to rebut AOC with a big “Oh yeah?” for slamming conditions at Trump’s concentration camps so barbaric migrant women had to drink water from toilets, Iowa’s Steve ‘What’s Wrong With Being A Nazi’ King got into a camp so he could film himself drinking water from said toilets and declare “Not bad!” Except he used the attached fountain,

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Federal Gov’t Gives Customs Officers Permission To Break Social Media Platform Rules Forbidding Fake Accounts

        The scanning of visa and green card applicants’ social media accounts during the application process continues to escalate. Even though the program hasn’t shown itself to be effective in keeping the country free of terrorists or criminals, the DHS and its components continue to believe this is an essential part of our national security infrastructure.

      • FTC’s Latest Fine Of YouTube Over COPPA Violations Shows That COPPA And Section 230 Are On A Collision Course

        As you probably heard, earlier this week, the FCC fined Google/YouTube for alleged COPPA violations in regards to how it collected data on kids. You can read the details of the complaint and proposed settlement (which still needs to be approved by a judge, but that’s mostly a formality). For the most part, people responded to this in the same way that they responded to the FTC’s big Facebook fine. Basically everyone hates it — though for potentially different reasons. Most people hate it because they think it’s a slap on the wrist, won’t stop such practices and just isn’t painful enough for YouTube to care. On the flip side, some people hate it because it will force YouTube to change its offerings for no good reason at all and in a manner that might actually lead to more privacy risks and less content for children.

      • Police officer reportedly visits Moscow high school and warns that protesting will ruin their lives

        An anonymous high schooler in Moscow has leaked an audio recording to the website Mediazona, capturing a speech by a visitor dressed in a police uniform, who introduced herself to the class as a juvenile case inspector. In her remarks, the woman threatened the students with criminal prosecution for attending political protests, warning that they’d have no legal recourse, if a case against them is opened.

      • Devin Nunes Drops One Ridiculous Lawsuit, Only To File Another One

        A month ago we wrote about Devin Nunes’ third lawsuit against his critics over their speech, and noted that he was promising in the press that more lawsuits were coming. We noted that the latest lawsuit was slightly odd in that he actually filed it in California, rather than Virginia (as with his first two lawsuits), and in California he could face real anti-SLAPP penalties (i.e., paying the other side’s legal fees). Perhaps that’s why that lawsuit was not actually filed by Nunes himself, but rather his campaign. If it got tossed out via anti-SLAPP, then suckers who donated to his campaign would foot the bill, rather than Nunes directly himself. Either way, we’ll likely never find out because as suddenly as that case was filed, it’s now been dismissed by Nunes. Amusingly, Nunes’ lawyer is claiming victory:

      • Chinese Giant Tencent Is Suing Bloggers Who Criticize The Company For ‘Reputational Damage’

        It appears that the idea of SLAPP suits has moved to China. The Chinese internet giant Tencent is apparently fed up with its own users criticizing the company on its own WeChat blogging platform, and has sued a bunch of them (possibly paywalled — here’s another link for the story). The details are pretty ridiculous, even recognizing that China doesn’t (by a long shot) have a history of protecting free expression. What’s incredible here, of course, is that Tencent could have just shut down the accounts of the WeChatters. But, instead it’s trying to completely destroy them with these lawsuits.

      • Court Tosses $100 Million Defamation Suit Brought By Former Trump Spokesman Over Reporting On Court Documents

        A federal court has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against the Splinter website by a former Trump staffer. Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, sued after Splinter published an article that included allegations made by another Trump staffer Miller had an affair with. The allegations being sued over weren’t your normal allegations. These allegations were made in court by A.J. Delgado, Miller’s affair partner who later had Miller’s child.

      • Facebook, Twitter, and Google must remove disinformation, Beto O’Rourke demands

        Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s campaign is demanding that Facebook, Twitter, and Google more aggressively counter disinformation on their platforms. In letters addressed to the companies Friday, O’Rourke’s team outlines how they believe each of them could address the issue after his campaign was falsely linked to a suspected shooter on social media last weekend.

      • Members of Congress Question Google CEO about YouTube’s Content-ID System

        YouTube’s Content ID system aims to protect copyright holders, but for now, it’s not open to everyone. This limited availability of one of the largest copyright enforcement tools has raised questions among several US members of Congress. They question Google CEO Sundar Pichai on several Content ID issues, hoping the company will open it up to more rightsholders.

      • Ukraine releases separatist air-defense commander suspected of being ‘important eyewitness’ to downing of MH17

        A court in Kyiv has released Vladimir Tsemakh on his own recognizance. Tsemakh was arrested in June inside the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk and then transferred to Kyiv. His daughter, Maria, confirmed to the news agency Interfax that she learned from his lawyer that her father has left the courthouse.

      • Moscow university administrator bans student journal from festival after it invites signatures for letter to political prisoners

        The administration of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics has threatened to ban the student journal Doxa from a university celebration at Gorky Park on September 5, if the editors refuse to “depoliticize” the activities they plan to conduct at their booth during the event. 

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • 9/11 and the American Orwellian Nightmare

        Next week will mark the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Politicians and bureaucrats wasted no time after that carnage to unleash the Surveillance State on average Americans, treating every citizen like a terrorist suspect.   Since the government failed to protect the public, Americans somehow forfeited their constitutional right to privacy. Despite heroic efforts by former NSA staffer Edward Snowden and a host of activists and freedom fighters, the government continues ravaging American privacy.

      • Facebook’s Dating Service is Full of Red Flags

        If you open Facebook’s mobile app today, it will likely suggest that you try the company’s new Dating service, which just launched in the U.S. after a rollout in 19 other countries last year. But with the company’s track record of mishandling user data, and its business model of monetizing our sensitive information to power third-party targeted advertising, potential users should view Facebook’s desire to peek into our bedrooms as a huge red flag.

        Just this week, Facebook’s lax data privacy practices resulted in a huge database of phone numbers linked to accounts surfacing on a third party’s unprotected server. Generally, this is how the story goes: sensitive user data is leaked or found to be available in a way that Facebook users didn’t expect. But don’t worry, the company says—we’ve updated those practices. While improvements are appreciated, this cycle gets repeated so regularly that you could almost set your watch by it. 

      • Ring Let Cops Know How Often Their Requests For Camera Footage Were Ignored

        I have seen the future and it’s hundreds of law enforcement agencies morphing into Amazon subsidiaries. Amazon’s Ring doorbell camera currently commands 97% of the doorbell camera market. It’s easy to see why. Amazon has the marketing power and cash flow to hand out discounted cameras to police departments, using them as loss leaders to ensure buy-in by end users, many of whom get these cameras for free from local cops.

      • News anchor sues Facebook and Reddit after a convenience store creepshot showed up in dating ads

        Hepp’s lawsuit names Facebook, Reddit, the image repository Imgur, the animated GIF site Giphy, and the porn site XNXX, alongside 10 other operators of unnamed sites. She writes that approximately two years ago, she discovered that a convenience store security camera photo of her had appeared online in some unwanted contexts. That included a Facebook ad promising meetups with “single women,” an unspecified ad for erectile dysfunction, a Reddit forum for sexualized pictures of older women, and the “MILF” tag on Imgur.

      • The founders of a billion-dollar Israeli spyware startup accused of helping Saudi Arabia attack dissidents are funding a web of new companies that hack into smart speakers, routers, and other devices

        NSO Group’s founders and alumni have spawned a web of more than a dozen similar startups, many of which operate in secret, that sell attacks against routers, computers, smart speakers, and other digital devices.

      • Google Has My Dead Grandpa’s Data And He Never Used The Internet

        Further down the list I found other, more unsettling revelations about what Google knows about me. It turns out Google has info connecting me to my grandma (on my dad’s side) who’s alive and well but has never had the internet, and my grandpa (on my mom’s side), who recently passed away in March 2019 and also never had the internet.

        This was disturbing for several reasons, the biggest of which being that neither of them had ever logged onto the internet in their lives. Neither even had the internet in their homes their entire lives! Beyond that, Google knew their exact addresses and their middle initials. I couldn’t even have told you those things about my grandparents. Sure, I could drive you to their houses, but I couldn’t tell you their address off the top of my head. And lastly was the format of the data entry. The all-caps address on my grandpa’s account really threw me off because it made me feel as if the info was machine processed at one point or another, because I don’t enter information in all caps anywhere except in my handwriting, on paper. After seeing this, I began to investigate how Google might have 1) gained access to this info and 2) connected it to me.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • T-Mobile Employees Want Promises They Won’t Be Fired Post Merger

        We’ve noted repeatedly how the Sprint, T-Mobile merger isn’t great. There’s forty years of history showing how telecom industry megamergers almost always result in less competition, higher prices, and fewer jobs, and this deal is no exception. Eliminating one of just four US wireless carriers is likely to result in higher prices (see: Canada or Ireland). And Wall Street analysts not only predict the deal could eliminate anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 jobs, data suggests the consolidation could result in employees across the sector making less money even if they work at other companies.

      • Key California Officials Join the Voices Opposing Broadband Deregulation Law

        Right now, a vast majority of Californians have just one choice—or no choice at all—for high-speed broadband service, thanks to a law that removed any state oversight over California’s broadband market. When that law passed in 2012, its supporters, including AT&T and Comcast, promised that removing oversight of any telecommunications service that worked over the Internet would allow high-speed broadband to flourish, and would create a better and more competitive market.

        As California’s current broadband market clearly shows, it did not. Yet A.B. 1366, authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, exempts broadband carriers from state regulation. Such a move would leave Californians with little or no option for affordable high-speed broadband internet, and no regulators empowered to change that situation—while others across the country and around the world move ahead of California.

    • Monopolies

      • ‘A Major Step Forward’: Multi-State Probe Targets Facebook’s Possible Antitrust Violations

        “Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers.”

      • US states hit Facebook and Google with new antitrust probes [iophk: again Microsoft should also be on the same list]

        The first probe, led by New York and including seven other states and the District of Columbia, focuses on Facebook. The second, announced by Texas and likely to include up to 40 other states, did not specify the targets among large tech companies but was expected to center on Google.

        Once lauded as engines of economic growth, the companies in social media, Internet search, e-commerce and other digital technologies have increasingly been on the defensive over lapses such as privacy breaches and their outsized market influence.

      • Eight US states are taking Facebook to court over dominance

        Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have announced a class action in the New York courts to investigate anti-competitive and unethical behaviour from the social media giant. This is in addition to the US Federal Trade Commission investigation, currently ongoing.

        State officials from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee are joining forces with Columbia and they’re not pulling punches: [...]

      • States to Launch Google, Facebook Antitrust Probes

        Top state law-enforcement officials from across the country are formally launching antitrust probes into Facebook Inc. FB -1.79% and Alphabet Inc. GOOG -0.53% ’s Google starting next week, further pressuring tech giants already under federal scrutiny over whether their online dominance stifles competition.

        The moves, involving two large bipartisan coalitions of state attorneys general, add considerable heft to the investigative efforts under way in Washington. As in the government’s antitrust action against Microsoft Corp. two decades ago, state attorneys general are likely to provide important contributions to the substance of the investigations, complementing the federal efforts.

      • State attorneys general teaming up on antitrust probes of Facebook and Google

        Tech giants Facebook and Google are facing more scrutiny into their business practices.

        A multi-state antitrust investigation, led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, is focusing on “Facebook’s dominance in the industry and the potential anticompetitive conduct stemming from that dominance,” she said Friday.

        Other states involved in the bipartisan initiative, says James, who is a Democrat, include the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.

        Another collective of states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, plans to announce the launch of a multi-state investigation “into whether large tech companies have engaged in anticompetitive behavior that stifled competition, restricted access, and harmed consumers,” the attorney general’s office announced Friday.

      • Google uses paid search results to shake down businesses, says Basecamp CEO

        “When Google puts 4 paid ads ahead of the first organic result for your own brand name, you’re forced to pay up if you want to be found,” tweeted Basecamp CEO and co-founder Jason Fried, yesterday, along with the funny ad he bought to show up in Google’s search results.

      • Google confirms DOJ antitrust scrutiny, preps for probe from states

        Google on Friday said the US Department of Justice has asked the company for information on previous antitrust investigations, confirming that the federal government is looking into its business practices.

        The search giant also said it’s preparing for scrutiny from state attorneys generals. An official announcement of that probe is expected Monday in Washington, DC.

        “The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post. “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Sharp asks Judge Koh to confirm that Continental’s motion for U.S. antisuit injunction won’t impact its own German Daimler patent suits

          At the beginning of this week, Daimler supplier Continental Automotive Systems was forced to withdraw a motion for a U.S. antisuit injunction motion with respect to the ten above-mentioned Nokia cases. As I explained in that post, it remains to be seen whether that partial withdrawal of the U.S. antisuit motion, further to a German anti-antisuit-injunction injunction (“AAII”) obtained by Nokia in Munich, will be deemed sufficient–but in the meantime, before any hypothetical contemption motion would be adjudged, the Munich appeals court may very well lift the injunction.

          Continental’s withdrawal-in-part specifically stated that the motion was not withdrawn with respect to “the other defendants in this proceeding,” and not in the same sentence, but in the wider context, the withdrawal notice reminded the U.S. court of “Sharp’s separate and ongoing proceedings against Continental’s customer Daimler.”

        • iNO Therapeutics LLC v. Praxair Distribution Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

          Albert Einstein once famously (albeit perhaps apocryphally) said that “[c]ompound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” Not to contradict the creator of 20th Century physics, but it is just as likely that the most powerful force in the universe is the power of unintended consequences. The Federal Circuit illustrated this power in its recent decision in iNo Therapeutics LLC v. Praxair Distribution Inc. with regard to Justice Breyer’s exhortation, in his Mayo Collaborative Serv. Inc. v. Prometheus Laboratories opinion, regarding the need to beware of “interpreting patent statutes in ways that make patent eligibility ‘depend simply on the draftsman’s art’ without reference to the ‘principles un­derlying the prohibition against patents for [natural laws],’” citing Flook v. Parker.

          Plaintiffs iNO Therapeutics, LLC, Mallinckrodt Hospital Products Inc., and Mallinckrodt Hospital Products IP Inc. asserted U.S. Patent Nos. 8,282,966; 8,293,284; 8,795,741; 8,431,163; and 8,846,112, which the opinion “collectively [termed the] ‘heart failure patents’ or ‘HF patents’” against Praxair Distribution Inc. and Praxair Inc. Plaintiffs also asserted U.S. Patent Nos. 8,573,209; 8,776,794; 8,776,795; 9,265,911; and 9,295,802 which the opinion “collectively [termed the] ‘delivery system infrared patents’ or ‘DSIR patents’” and which were directed to devices for administering nitric oxide gas. As explained in the opinion, inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) gas had been “used to treat infants experiencing hypoxic respiratory failure” since at least the early 1990′s. However, in certain cases this treatment results in increased pulmonary edema for infants having a congenital defect, left ventricular hypertrophy.

          [...]

          Returning to the majority’s blessedly non-precedential opinion, it will bring cold comfort to patent-divested patentees, as well as being somewhat ironic that the upshot of the opinion leads patent prosecutors to the inevitable conclusion that the Federal Circuit is counseling exactly what Justice Breyer cautioned against in Mayo, that we should beware of the clever draftsman who attempts (or worse, succeeds) in obtaining claims that are enforceable and pass the patent eligibility test that the Federal Circuit has crafted, based predominantly on such claim-drafting cleverness. This is not the first time that this has been the outcome of the Federal Circuit’s patent eligibility jurisprudence. For example, in In re Roslyn, Judge Dyk’s opinion held patent-ineligible claims to Dolly the sheep which was, after all, just a sheep (notwithstanding being a sheep unlike any sheep that had ever lived). But a careful review of that opinion leads ineluctably to the conclusion that, had the draftsman been clever enough (or prescient enough to realize before the fact the quantum and quality of cleverness required) to have claimed a flock of genetically identical sheep, the Court’s objections to patent ineligibility would have perforce fallen, because it would be undeniable that flocks of genetically identical sheep do not occur in nature. This state of affairs is frankly Byzantine and antithetical to Congress’s purpose (uniformity and predictability in U.S. patent law) for creating the Federal Circuit, as well as being contrary to the principles of clarity and the creation of “bright line rules” that arguably prompted the Supreme Court to begin its heightened scrutiny of the Court and its opinions (if not philosophy). The Federal Circuit’s current path is contrary to the idea that patent claims should be readily understandable to well-intended business people and frank (or in current parlance, “efficient”) infringers alike and also contrary to the Founders’ attitudes regarding patenting as a way to encourage disclosure of new inventions for the public good. Having such a path will give little relief to those who have lost patent rights under the current regime, but at least it provides a way for inventors to obtain patent-eligible claims no matter what other branches of government do in addressing this issue. Innovation, especially in the diagnostic and life sciences arts, requires no more and is entitled to no less.

        • Eligibility: Commercial Success is Irrelevant to Inventive Concept Analysis

          Mark Greenstein is trying to patent an automated investment system to “automatically adjust the amount [a] person saves” in order to achieve a projected income amount. A key element of the claims, according to Greenstein, is to “utilize a projected amount of income at a future date for at least one person.” The Examiner and PTAB found the claims unpatentable as both lacking eligibility and as either anticipated or obvious.

          [...]

          On appeal, Greenstein argued that the claimed utilization of projected income was an inventive concept and noted that it “was the basis for the successful commercial launch of a new product, demonstrating its material advantages to persons in the relevant market.” On appeal, the Federal Circuit found that argument failed to connect the dots.

        • Federal Circuit Issues Order Clarifying Status of Doctrine of Equivalents

          The Federal Circuit affirmed, in an opinion by Judge Lourie joined by Judges O’Malley and Reyna. There was nothing remarkable about the opinion, which agreed with the District Court’s claim construction and that Sandoz did not literally infringe under that interpretation of the scope and meaning of the claims. Where the opinion got interesting (and where the en banc court felt the need to grant in part Amgen’s petition to rehear the case) was when the panel dismissed Amgen’s argument that infringement could be found under the doctrine of equivalents by stating:

          [...]

          Prudence suggests the Court would have done itself a better service if it had struck the entire sentence, because the sentiment remains that the doctrine is not “readily available to extend protection beyond the scope of the claims.” Indeed, the doctrine is readily available to extent protection beyond the literal scope of the claims is warranted; if the Court wants to know why it should be readily evident by now that the reason is that the Supreme Court has said so, in Winans v. Denmead, 56 U.S. 330 (1854); Seymour v. Osbourne, 78 U.S. 516 (1870); Graver Tank & Mfg. Co. v. Linde Air Prod. Co. 339 U.S. 605 (1950); Warner-Jenkinson v. Hilton Davis Chemical Co., 520 U.S. 17 (1997); and Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., 535 U.S. 722 (2002). This judicial sentiment to the contrary by the Federal Circuit is reminiscent of language that arguably was at least in part responsible for energizing the Supreme Court to review more closely the Federal Circuit’s stewardship of the Court’s patent jurisprudence (inter alia, in Warner-Jenkinson and Festo) and we all see where that has gotten us (see, e.g., “The Proper Role of the Federal Circuit”).

          What is particularly disheartening is that this was a precedential decision, available for review by the entire Court. Whilst comprising just 6 words in a 16-page opinion, it is unfortunate that the impact of those 6 words was unappreciated (or worse, that concerns about them were disregarded) by the members of the Court. The precedential value (or risk) of these words in the decision is (for the time being) past, but the circumstances under which they arose in the first place may remain with the patent community for some time.

        • Questioning Patent Alienability

          The standard economic rationale for the alienability of property rights is that it facilitates the flow of resources to those who can put it to the most valuable use, or the “highest utility user.” But patents do not come with a right to productively use some social resource—patent rights consist only of a right to stop others from using the claimed invention. The per-son who is most able to extract rents with a patent’s veto power is not necessarily the same as the person who will put an invention to its most socially valuable use. If one simply applied the conventional economic justification for the alienability of property rights onto patents, then having patents flow to the highest rent extractor is not obviously desirable from a social viewpoint. Restricting transfers to predatory users would accordingly seem justified.

          If the unrestricted alienability of patents is to be justified on economic grounds, it must be by reference to other reasons, such as an argument that allowing alienability increases the value of a patent and therefore increases ex ante incentives to invent. But such alternative justifications come with their own limits. Alienability is neither the only means to increase ex ante incentives to invent, nor a particularly effective one, given that inventors must share the surplus generated by alienability with the (more sophisticated) transferee. The case for unlimited alienability of patents is therefore an uneasy one.

        • Patent Board Invalidates Part of Uniloc Battery Charging Patent

          Apple Inc. has convinced a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office administrative law tribunal that prior inventions render some claims in a Uniloc 2017 LLC battery charging patent invalid.

          The Patent Trial and Appeal Board voided more than half of the claims in Uniloc’s U.S. Patent No. 6,661,203, which involves “charging, discharging, and recharging rechargable batteries under adverse thermal conditions.” Apple had challenged the patent at the PTAB in an inter partes review, in which the board weighs the validity of patent claims in light of prior art.

          The Aug. 19 decision is the latest in a running battle between Apple and Uniloc over technology patents that has played out at the PTAB and in courts.

          Apple argued that two U.S. patents and a Japanese patent application rendered claims in the ‘203 patent obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art, meaning an individual knowledgeable about the relevant technology.

        • A Functional Approach to Judicial Review of PTAB Rulings on Mixed Questions of Law and Fact

          The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) has long relied on active appellate review to bring uniformity and clarity to patent law. It initially treated the PTO the same as the federal district courts, reviewing its factual findings for clear error and its legal conclusions de novo. Following reversal by the Supreme Court in Dickinson v. Zurko, the Federal Circuit began giving greater deference to PTO factual findings. But it continued to review the PTO’s legal conclusions de novo, while coding an expansive list of disputed issues in patent cases as legal conclusions, even when they rest on subsidiary factfinding.

          Congress expanded the role of the PTO in adjudicating challenges to patent validity in the Leahy–Smith America Invents Act of 2011 (“AIA”), authorizing new adjudicatory proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) as an alternative to federal district court litigation. The AIA provides for Federal Circuit review of PTAB decisions, without specifying standards of review. The scope of review could determine the success of these proceedings as a quicker, cheaper, and more expert alternative to district court litigation of patent challenges. The Federal Circuit applies the same standards of review to PTAB decisions in AIA proceedings that it applies to other PTO rulings, reviewing legal conclusions de novo and factual findings for substantial evidence. It also follows the same characterizations of issues as legal or factual that it has long used in the context of court/court review. In the past, by maximizing the scope of appellate review, these characterizations allowed the Federal Circuit to exercise greater quality control over generalist trial courts with limited competence to resolve patent matters. The net benefits are more dubious as applied to decisions of expert PTAB panels in AIA adjudications. Yet reversal rates at the Federal Circuit are essentially the same for PTAB decisions as for decisions of district courts in patent cases, threatening to frustrate a system designed to improve patent quality while limiting litigation costs.

          This Essay reconsiders the proper scope of judicial review of PTAB rulings on two issues that the Federal Circuit codes as legal conclusions with factual underpinnings: nonobviousness and claim interpretation. Drawing on a functional approach to judicial review of mixed questions of law and fact, it argues for more deferential review of PTAB rulings on nonobviousness and claim interpretation given the expertise of the administrative tribunal and the case-specificity of the rulings. The Federal Circuit would do better to confine de novo review to generalizable legal rulings that provide guidance in future matters rather than replicating the work of the PTAB from the appellate bench on routine case-specific rulings.

      • Trademarks

        • A New ‘Taco Tuesday’ Trademark Challenger Approaches: LeBron James

          As we’ve previously discussed, restaurant chain Taco John’s has waged at least a decades-long war to try to pretend that its trademarked term, “Taco Tuesday,” hasn’t become generic. How the chain ever got what sure looks to be a purely descriptive trademark is anyone’s guess, but armed with its trademark the company has since gone after other restaurants big and small for daring to host their own “Taco Tuesdays.” If all of this sounds depressingly stupid to you, well, you’re not wrong.

        • Patent Office to Tom Brady: You are not that ‘Terrific’

          The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office told Tom Brady that there’s only one “Tom Terrific” — and it’s not him.

          The office rejected Brady’s application to have the moniker all to himself, with regulators ruling that the alliterative title is too closely linked to New York Mets pitching icon Tom Seaver.

      • Copyrights

        • Epic Accuses Cheating Minor Of Continuing To Promote Cheat Software Even After Lawsuit

          Over the past year or so, we’ve been discussing Epic’s somewhat strange ongoing legal dispute with a minor from Illinois over cheating software he developed for Fortnite. Epic initially went after a host of so-called cheaters for developing these tools, claiming that they were violating both copyright and TOS agreements for the game. It found out later that one of these targets was a minor. Instead of backing off in any respect, even after the child’s mother petitioned the court with a letter asking it to dismiss the case as the minor can’t have entered into a TOS agreement, Epic has since pressed the throttle to go after a child.

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