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11.18.19

Understanding Thierry Breton: “Rhodiagate” and the Vivendi Universal Affair

Posted in Europe, Finance, Fraud at 4:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Overview

Understanding Thierry Breton

Further parts pending review and research


Rhodia logo

Summary: When the “Rhodia affair” became the “Breton affair”

Rhodia was a French speciality-chemicals firm which floated on the stock exchanges in Paris and New York in June 1998 after being spun off from its parent Rhône-Poulenc.

“Stern was found in his apartment in Geneva in February 2005 dressed in a full-body latex suit with his hands tied behind his back and multiple gunshot wounds.”Five years after its debut the company ran into serious trouble. It reported a € 1.3 billion loss following write-downs worth €850m. At one stage its shares had lost 95% of their value since the IPO, reaching a low of € 0.95 in 2004.

The economic downturn was partly to blame but a string of risky and ill-judged acquisitions shortly after its IPO also dogged the company.

At its lowest ebb, Rhodia was confronted with a new phenomenon spreading across Europe – shareholder activism – which in the case of Rhodia was mainly aimed at its acquisitions, for example, the US company ChiRex, bought in 2000 for $ 510m in cash in a deal later described as “the most egregious of the many overpriced takeovers of the time”.

“Meanwhile, at Rhodia the French financial watchdog, Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), opened an official investigation into “misrepresentation of accounts, dissemination of false and misleading stock market information, insider trading and concealment of insider trading” on the company’s accounts between 1999 and 2003.”In 2004, the “Rhodiagate” affair erupted in France when the company became the subject of a French judicial enquiry after two minority shareholders filed a complaint accusing it of false accounting and other malfeasance.

The aggrieved shareholders were Hughes de Lasteyrie du Saillant, a scion of one of France’s oldest noble families resident in Belgium, and Edouard Stern, a French investment banker resident in Switzerland.

Hughes de Lasteyrie and Edouard Stern
Aggrieved shareholders Hughes de Lasteyrie and Edouard Stern whose complaints led to the “Rhodiagate” scandal.

Stern was found in his apartment in Geneva in February 2005 dressed in a full-body latex suit with his hands tied behind his back and multiple gunshot wounds. In the days following the initial reports of murder, the French and Swiss press ran riot with rumors and speculation about possible links between Stern’s death and Rhodia, the Russian mafia, or both. It was reported that a French prosecutor had suggested to Stern that he purchase a gun in the course of the Rhodia affair.

“What caused the most shock waves in France was that the meltdown of Rhodia happened under the noses of some of the country’s most respected business and government leaders.”But the Geneva investigators quickly identified a prime suspect, one of Stern’s paramours, Cecile Broussard, who confessed to the murder which she claimed to have committed in “a moment of passion”.

Meanwhile, at Rhodia the French financial watchdog, Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), opened an official investigation into “misrepresentation of accounts, dissemination of false and misleading stock market information, insider trading and concealment of insider trading” on the company’s accounts between 1999 and 2003.

“Although the two investigations concerned separate matters they were interconnected because the plaintiffs and those potentially implicated were the same in both cases.”The AMF settled the case in June 2007, fining Rhodia € 750,000 and ex-CEO Jean-Pierre Tirouflet € 500,000 for misleading investors about the group’s debt between 2001 and 2003 as well as financial details surrounding its acquisitions.

What caused the most shock waves in France was that the meltdown of Rhodia happened under the noses of some of the country’s most respected business and government leaders. The company’s board from 1998 to 2002 included Jean-René Fourtou, the former Rhône-Poulenc chief executive who was later brought in to restore financial health to media conglomerate Vivendi Universal after the disastrous reign of Jean-Marie Messier.

The affair was particularly embarrassing for Thierry Breton because he had only been in office as Minister for Economy for around four months when the investigating magistrates ordered a series of searches in connection with investigations relating to “Rhodiagate” and the sale of Canal+ Technologies to Thomson Multimedia by Vivendi Universal in 2002.

Although the two investigations concerned separate matters they were interconnected because the plaintiffs and those potentially implicated were the same in both cases.

“At Rhodia, Breton was a non-executive director and member of the audit committee during the period from 1998 to 2002 when the accounts were alleged to have been falsified.”Breton was implicated in both cases because they involved companies where he had been active at the time of the alleged irregularities. At Rhodia, Breton was a non-executive director and member of the audit committee during the period from 1998 to 2002 when the accounts were alleged to have been falsified. He was also chairman and CEO at Thomson Multimedia from 1997 to 2002 when the Canal+ deal was being brokered with Vivendi Universal.

Towards the end of June 2005, a total of 15 raids ordered by the magistrates were carried out by investigators and financial police within the space of 48 hours. The searches covered Breton’s ministerial office, his home, the offices of Rhodia, Vivendi Universal, the home of Vivendi’s supervisory board chairman, the offices of Canal+ television and of the Thomson group. The searches took place while Breton was out of the country on official business en route to a UN conference in New York.

This was the first in the history of the Fifth Republic, that the office of a serving minister had been raided. Breton admitted that he had been “flabbergasted” when he had heard about the raids but he rejected suggestions that his position had been in any way compromised by the operation.

Thierry Breton raid
After a raid on his office by investigators, the Minister for Finance (Thierry Breton) contemplates where he should start cutting public service posts.

Referring to Rhodia, he claimed that he had done nothing wrong. He insisted that none of the information presented by the management or by auditors had “offended my sense of ethics, my rigour and my principles”. He told the French media that he was “just one small administrator among others” and that attempts to implicate him in corporate malfeasance were “a nauseating manipulation”.

“Although Breton tried hard to play down the effect of the raids on his ministerial authority, members of the Socialist opposition insisted that he had been weakened. They called on him to explain himself and argued that, as Finance Minister, he was in a conflict of interest.”Asked about the raid on the offices of Canal+, he said that was “an entirely different matter” and claimed that he had no longer been at the head of Thomson when the deal was concluded.

Although Breton tried hard to play down the effect of the raids on his ministerial authority, members of the Socialist opposition insisted that he had been weakened. They called on him to explain himself and argued that, as Finance Minister, he was in a conflict of interest.

Chirac was particularly vulnerable after French voters’ rejection of the EU’s proposed constitution and, according to the WSJ, the criminal investigation spawned by de Lasteyrie had the “already scandal-scarred government on edge”.

On 30 June 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported that Breton was “on the ropes” recalling that his predecessor Hervé Gaymard had “only lasted four months before he was forced to leave over a property scandal”.

“It was starting to look as if the end was nigh for Breton’s political career.”In July 2005, Les Echos was informing its readers that the “Rhodia affair” had now become the “Breton affair”.

It was starting to look as if the end was nigh for Breton’s political career.

However, as things turned out, reports of his impending political demise were greatly exaggerated and somewhat premature.

At the beginning of 2016, the satirical French weekly Le Canard Enchaîné published allegations that officials at the regulatory authority AMF had toned down criticism of the way officials at Rhodia had managed the accounts in order to protect the Minister for Economy. AMF for its part strenuously denied that it had had “cut passages” that could have been embarrassing for Breton.

Whatever the truth of the matter may be, Breton succeeded in weathering the “Rhodiagate” and Vivendi Universal storms and he remained in office until the end of Chirac’s Presidency.

However, the remainder of his term was overshadowed by turbulences at EADS, including the insider trading scandal and the “golden parachute” affair, which we will look at next.

Links 18/11/2019: Last Linux RC, OSMC Updated

Posted in News Roundup at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • IBM

        • Queensland government looks to open source for single sign-on project

          Red Hat Single Sign-On, which is based on the open source Keycloak project, and the Apollo GraphQL API Gateway platform will be the two key software components underpinning a Queensland effort to deliver a single login for access to online government services.

          Queensland is implementing single sign-on capabilities for state government services, including ‘tell us once’ capabilities that will allow basic personal details of individuals to be, where consent is given by an individual, shared between departments and agencies.

        • Red Hat Releases Open Source Project Quay Container Registry
        • Red Hat open sources Project Quay container registry

          Yesterday, Red Hat introduced the open source Project Quay container registry, which is the upstream project representing the code that powers Red Hat Quay and Quay.io. Open-sourced as a Red Hat commitment, Project Quay “represents the culmination of years of work around the Quay container registry since 2013 by CoreOS, and now Red Hat,” the official post reads.

          Red Hat Quay container image registry provides storage and enables users to build, distribute, and deploy containers. It will also help users to gain more security over their image repositories with automation, authentication, and authorization systems. It is compatible with most container environments and orchestration platforms and is also available as a hosted service or on-premises.

        • Red Hat declares Quay code open

          Red Hat has open sourced the code behind Project Quay, the six year old container registry it inherited through its purchase of CoreOS.

          The code in question powers both Red Hat Quay and Quay.IO, and also includes the Clair open source security project which was developed by the Quay team, and integrated with the registry back in 2015.

          In the blog post announcing the move, Red Hat principal software engineer – and CoreOS alumnus – Joey Schorr, wrote, “We believe together the projects will benefit the cloud-native community to lower the barrier to innovation around containers, helping to make containers more secure and accessible.”

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • GNU World Order 13×47

        Starting and finishing the **t** section of **/usr/bin** from the util-linux package: **tailf** and **taskset**

      • Linux Action News 132

        Docker’s surprising news, new nasty Intel vulnerabilities, and why Brave 1.0 changes the game.

        Plus, our thoughts on the PinePhone BraveHeart limited edition, and Stadia’s potentially rocky launch.

    • Kernel Space

      • The 15 Best Linux Bootloader for Home and Embedded Systems

        A bootloader is a small but mandatory software program that allows your CPU to boot your operating system correctly. Bootloaders come in all sorts of variations, each with their trademark features and specific target architecture. Since Linux powers a wide variety of computer hardware, different types of Linux bootloaders exist. So, it’s quite impossible for many starting Linux users to determine the best Linux boot manager for their application. That’s why we’ve curated this research-intensive list of 15 widely used bootloaders. Stay with us to discover the best one for your needs.

      • Linux 5.4-rc8
        I'm not entirely sure we need an rc8, because last week was pretty
        calm despite the Intel hw workarounds landing. So I considered just
        making a final 5.4 and be done with it, but decided that there's no
        real downside to just doing the rc8 after having a release cycle that
        took a while to calm down.
        
        But it *has* calmed down, and I expect the upcoming week to be quiet
        too (knock wood).
        
        In fact, considering that the week after that is Thanksgiving week in
        the US, I'm hoping that most of the pull requests I get next week
        aren't fixes for 5.4, but people sending me early pull requests for
        when the merge window for 5.5 opens. That way those proactive
        developers can then sit back and relax during that turkey-filled
        feast...
        
        Anyway, looking at the rc8 diffs, the bulk of it is for the intel hw
        issues, both on the CPU side (TSX Async Abort, and the iTLB multihit
        thing), and on the GPU side (GPU hang and invalid accesses). None of
        the patches are big, and honestly, shouldn't affect anybody.
        
        The other noticeable thing in the diffs is the removal of the vboxsf
        filesystem. It will get resubmitted properly later, there was nothing
        obviously wrong with it technically, it just ended up in the wrong
        location and submitted at the wrong time. We'll get it done properly
        probably during 5.5.
        
        Outside of those two areas, there's some kvm fixes, and some minor
        core networking, VM and VFS fixes. And various random small things.
        
        Nothing really looks all that worrisome from a release standpoint, and
        as mentioned I was toying with just skipping this rc entirely. But
        better safe than sorry.
        
        Please do go give the tires a final few kicks before the expected 5.4
        release next weekend.
        
        Thanks,
        
        Linus
        
        
      • Linux 5.4-rc8 Released – Things Are Calm For Linux 5.4′s Debut Next Week

        As expected, Linus Torvalds opted for doing a 5.4-rc8 kernel release today rather than going straight to Linux 5.4 stable. However, he says he could have just as well done the stable kernel release thanks to the cycle settling down.

        Linus decided to release Linux 5.4-rc8 and then ship Linux 5.4.0 next Sunday to allow for extra testing. But he wouldn’t mind if kernel maintainers begin sending in their Linux 5.5 pull requests early especially since the week after next is the US Thanksgiving week.

      • The Exciting Linux 5.4 Changes From exFAT Support To Intel Tiger Lake Graphics

        It’s possible this afternoon Linus Torvalds will release Linux 5.4 stable but considering his communications in recent weeks and many changes still flowing in this week, it’s more than likely he will divert and release Linux 5.4-rc8 today and then ship this next stable kernel update on the next Sunday.

      • Linux 5.5 Should Bring Another Power Management Improvement For Intel Ice Lake

        The upcoming Linux 5.5 kernel cycle should bring an improvement for power management on Intel’s latest-generation Ice Lake processors.

        With my Dell XPS 7390 Ice Lake Core i7 testing the power management has been quite good, but it looks like Linux 5.5 will be even better. On Saturday this commit was staged as part of USB testing code ahead of the upcoming Linux 5.5 merge window.

    • Benchmarks

      • Zink Benchmarks – Mesa OpenGL Running Over Vulkan

        With the upcoming Mesa 19.3 release one of the big new features is the “Zink” driver that provides a Mesa OpenGL implementation over Vulkan. This in theory allows for a generic OpenGL driver running over Vulkan hardware drivers, but there is a lot of work ahead before it’s really a viable option.

        Zink is one of the OpenGL-over-Vulkan options to date that in the future could make it so hardware vendors don’t need to maintain OpenGL drivers for future hardware generations but instead could just focus on Vulkan and leave it to these generic implementations. However, a lot of work is needed before it’s really to that state in being able to replace existing hardware OpenGL drivers.

        With Mesa 19.3, Zink only fully supports OpenGL 2.1. Support for OpenGL 3.x/4.x and OpenGL ES 3.0 is still a work-in-progress likely taking at least a few months to get there if not longer. When trying to launch even the Steam client with Zink, Steam was simply crashing.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Sketchnotes at Capitole du Libre 2019

          During this week-end, I attended the Capitole du Libre in Toulouse. I didn’t attend many talk for once since I wanted to benefit a lot from the “hallway track”. Still, I did a few sketchnotes of the talks I attended.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Review: Emmabuntüs DE3-1.00

          It was recently pointed out to me that I have never written a review of the Emmabuntüs distribution and I was asked to address this oversight. With that in mind, I downloaded the latest version of this Debian-based, desktop distribution. Emmabuntüs features the Xfce desktop and runs on packages provided by Debian 10 “Buster”. The project, which is designed to be run on older or used computers in order to extended their usefulness, is available in 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x86_64) builds.

          The distribution strives to lower the bar for trying Linux by providing support for multiple languages and using the friendly Calamares installer to set up the operating system. I downloaded the 64-bit version of Emmabuntüs which is a hefty 3.1GB.

          Booting from the Emmabuntüs media brings up a boot menu asking us to pick our preferred language from a list. Then we are asked if we want to try the distribution’s live desktop or launch either a text-based or graphical installer. The installer options launch Debian’s text and graphical installers, respectively. The Try option launches a live desktop environment running the Xfce 4.12 desktop. I decided to use the live desktop to test the distribution before installing it.

          When the Xfce desktop first loads we are shown a series of welcome windows. The first one just displays a short greeting. The next one invites us to change our keyboard’s layout (the default mapping is US). Another pop-up asks if we want to turn on a number of features. These include enabling a dock, activating the taskbar, activating the workspace, and enabling a dark theme. To be frank, I’m not sure what the utility means by activating the workspace and none of the options are explained. Enabling the dock gives us a macOS style launcher at the bottom of the screen and the other two options did not appear to have any significant effect whether turned on or not.

          The next window offers to install Flash and media codecs. It will then try to download and install these packages while we wait. When it is done, another welcome window appears. This one displays a grid of buttons that provide short-cuts to on-line documentation and a forum, a local PDF with tips on using Debian, and quick access to the software manager, settings panel, and some convenience tools. I will talk about these features later.

          A panel at the top of the Xfce desktop holds the application menu, task switcher, and the system tray. In the upper-right corner is a menu we can use to logout or shutdown the computer. Icons on the desktop offer to run the Calamares installer, run an uninstaller, launch the Disks utility to partition the hard drive, and open a tool to change the keyboard layout. There is also an icon for opening a tool to repair the boot loader. The concept of an uninstaller intrigued me since usually people do not remove operating systems so much as remove their partition or install over them. I tested this tool and found the uninstaller will search for partitions with an operating system installed and then offer to format the selected partition with either the NTFS or ext3 filesystem.

          The live environment, once we navigate through the welcome windows, worked well for me. Xfce was responsive and straight forward to use. My hardware was working well with the distribution and I was happy to move ahead with running the installer.

      • New Releases

        • OSMC’s November update is here with Kodi 18.5

          OSMC’s November update is now here with Kodi v18.5. Please be aware that there are currently issues with the TVDB scraper. This is not related to the update and we expect these issues to be resolved shortly.

          We continue our development for 3D Frame Packed (MVC) output for Vero 4K / 4K + and a significantly improved video stack which will land before the end of the year.

          Our work on preparing Raspberry Pi 4 support continues.

          Team Kodi recently announced the 18.5 point release of Kodi Leia. We have now prepared this for all supported OSMC devices and added some improvements and fixes.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Arch Family

        • Arch Linux Held Their First Internal Conference Last Month In Berlin

          Key stakeholders of the Arch Linux distribution quietly met in Berlin last month for their first conference.

          Arch Conf 2019 was the first organized meeting of the key Arch Linux developers for this internal event but they hope for Arch Conf to become an annual tradition.

      • Debian Family

        • Debian 10.2 ‘Buster’ Linux distro released with many security updates and bugfixes

          Debian is a great Linux distribution in its own right, but also, it serves as a solid base for many other distros. That’s why when a new version of Debian is released, it has a huge impact across the Linux community.

          Today, you can download the newest version of Debian 10 “Buster.” Debian 10.2 is the latest and greatest, but it is hardly exciting. To be fair though, Debian point releases shouldn’t really be seen as a source for new features. Instead, you should expect security updates and bugfixes. And this time, with version 10.2, we get many of them. In addition, Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) is being dropped from the ARMEL variant of Debian, but that really shouldn’t have any impact on desktop users.

        • Announcing extrepo

          While there is a tool to enable package signatures in Debian packages, the dpkg tool does not enforce the existence of such signatures, and therefore it is possible for an attacker to replace the (signed) .deb file with an unsigned variant, bypassing the whole signature.

          In an effort to remedy this whole situation, I looked at creating extrepo, a package that would download repository metadata from a special-purpose repository, verify the signatures placed on that metadata, and if everything matches, enable the repository by creating the necessary apt configuration files.

          This should allow users to enable external repository “foo” by running extrepo enable foo, rather than downloading a script from foo’s website and executing it as root — or other similarly insecure options.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 3D Subscription software driving move to open source

        3D software makers’ move to subscription models is pushing people to use open-source software because users are fed up with the price and neurotic terms and conditions.

        For a while now professional 3D software like 3DMax, Maya, AutoCAD (Autodesk) and Substance Painter (Adobe) are only available on a monthly or yearly subscription basis which means that you cannot get your paws on a perpetual license for these industry-standard 3D tools anymore, cannot offline install or activate the tools, and the tools also phone home every few days over the internet to see whether you have “paid your rent”.

        This means if you stop paying your “rent” the software shuts down, leaving you unable to even look at any 3D project files you may have created with software.

        But this has created so much frustration, concern and anxiety among 3D content creators that, increasingly, everybody is trying to replace their commercial 3D software with Open Source 3D tools.

      • Huawei to develop open-source software Huawei Ecosystem

        Huawei Mobile Services is working on developing open-sources software ‘Huawei Ecosystem’ to ensure smart living.
        At the Asia-Pacific Huawei Developer Day, the Chinese tech giant revealed a wide range of developer incentive programmes and open capabilities, showing its determination in growing quality content, said a release.
        It also introduced new services and user benefits in the Asia-Pacific market to enhance the user experience.

      • Look east as the IT center of gravity shifts

        Now that a little time has passed since the Huawei Connect conference was held in Shanghai, it seemed like a good time to look back on a couple of the underlying trends from the event. The jumping off point for this is a round table Q&A with Guo Ping, one of the company’s rotating chairmen.

        Three main themes emerged that are crucial to a number of wider issues related to what CIOs need to be thinking, particularly just how much the three main prongs of Huawei’s game plan they need to be considering. The chances are growing that they will soon need to address all three.

        Open source

        One of the interesting undercurrents here is the company’s commitment to open source software, both as a user and a contributor. Even when it does set out to develop significantly new lines of software, as it did earlier this year with the introduction of HamornyOS, open source contributions from many others play an important part.

        For example, though Hauwei’s primry contribution to 5G development is in the communications infrastructure, it is well aware that much of the reason for anyone using it will come from the applications that are developed as a consequence of its existence. Those applications will come from around the world, and some will certainly have global impact over time. Being as open as possible with the software infrastructure, therefore, gives those developers the best possible chance to flourish.

      • LG introduces Auptimizer, an open-source ML model optimization tool for efficient hyperparameter tuning at scale

        Hyperparameters are adjustable parameters that govern the training process of a machine learning model. These represent important properties of a model, for instance, a penalty in Logistic Regression Classifier or learning rate for training a neural network.

        Tuning hyperparameters can often be a very tedious task, especially when the model training is computationally intensive. There are currently both open source and commercial automated HPO solutions like Google AutoML, Amazon SageMaker, and Optunity. However, using them at scale still poses some challenges. In a paper explaining the motivation and system design behind Auptimizer, the team wrote, “But, in all cases, adopting new algorithms or accommodating new computing resources is still challenging.”

      • New Open Source Offerings Simplify Securing Kubernetes

        In advance of the upcoming KubeCon 2019 (CyberArk booth S55), the flagship event for all things Kubernetes and Cloud Native Computing Foundation, CyberArk is adding several new Kubernetes offerings to its open source portfolio to improve the security of application containers within Kubernetes clusters running enterprise workloads.

      • Java Applications Go Cloud-Native with Open-Source Quarkus Framework

        “With Quarkus, Java developers are able to continue to work in Java, the language they are proficient in, even when they are working with new, cloud-native technologies,” John Clingan, senior principal product manager of middleware at Red Hat, told IT Pro Today. “With memory utilization measured in 10s of MB and startup time measured in 10s of milliseconds, Quarkus enables organizations to continue with their significant Java investments for both microservices and serverless.”

        Many organizations have been considering alternative runtimes to Java, like Node.js and Go, due to high memory utilization of Java applications, according to Clingan. In addition, Java’s startup times are generally too slow to be an effective solution for serverless environments. As such, Clingan said that even if an organization decided to stick with Java for microservices, it would be forced to switch to an alternative runtime for serverless, or functions-as-a-service (FaaS), deployment.

      • Styra Secures $14M in Funding Led by Accel to Expand Open Source and Commercial Solutions for Kubernetes/Cloud-native Security

        New technology—like Kubernetes, Containers, ServiceMesh, and CICD Automation—speed application delivery and development. However, they lack a common framework for authorization to determine where access should be allowed, and where it should be denied. Styra’s commercial and open source solutions—purpose-built for the scale of cloud-native development—provide this authorization layer to mitigate risk across cloud application components, as well as the infrastructure they are built upon.

      • Pakistan makes impressive strides in open source development [Ed: More of that Microsoft FUD, reinforcing the lie that only projects Microsoft control should count and nothing else exists]
      • Open Source: Tech Companies Commandeer Open Source [Ed: Formtek uses Microsoft data to spread Microsoft propaganda; as if FOSS does not exist except what Microsoft controls]
      • Want to make the world a better place? Fund open source developers. [Ed: Microsoft is trying to hijack the narrative surrounding "Open Source", urging all developers to give all their work/code to proprietary software trap of Microsoft. In this ITWire Microsoft 'ad' the headline means "give money to Microsoft/GitHub" when it says "Fund open source developers."]
      • With Open-Source Caravan Wallet, Unchained Wants to Make Multisig Mainstream

        Revealed exclusively to Bitcoin Magazine in anticipation of the launch, Caravan is the latest tool in Unchained Capital’s suite of bitcoin investor products. Like the Collaborative Custody that came before it, Caravan is a multisignature bitcoin wallet, meaning it requires multiple devices/parties to sign off on a transaction before it is sent.

      • Texas A&M and Simon Fraser Universities Open-Source RL Toolkit for Card Games

        In July the poker-playing bot Pluribus beat top professionals in a six-player no-limit Texas Hold’Em poker game. Pluribus taught itself from scratch using a form of reinforcement learning (RL) to become the first AI program to defeat elite humans in a poker game with more than two players.

        Compared to perfect information games such as Chess or Go, poker presents a number of unique challenges with its concealed cards, bluffing and other human strategies. Now a team of researchers from Texas A&M University and Canada’s Simon Fraser University have open-sourced a toolkit called “RLCard” for applying RL research to card games.

      • Open Source Saturday aims to build coding skills

        A gap exists between those entering the workforce and those looking for talented workers in the tech industry.

      • How does Plume get all these ISP partnerships? Open source software

        Releasing Plume’s front end as open source software (OSS) does more than accelerate the development pipeline for ISPs. It also overcomes a potential objection to adoption—vendor lock-in.

      • MemVerge Introduces Open Source Solution to Improve Spark Shuffle Processes

        MemVerge, the inventor of Memory-Converged Infrastructure (MCI), today announced MemVerge Splash, a first-of-its-kind, highly performant open source solution that allows shuffle data to be stored in an external storage system. MemVerge Splash is designed for Apache Spark software users looking to improve the performance, flexibility and resiliency of shuffle manager.

        Traditionally, when shuffle data is stored remotely, system performance can degrade due to network and storage bottlenecks which can negatively impact performance and stability. MemVerge Splash, working together with MemVerge’s distributed system software named Distributed Memory Objects (DMO), solves these issues to make Spark highly performant through a high performance in-memory storage and networking stack.

      • BSC to Open Global Collaboration Facility to Develop Open Computer Architectures
      • New LOCA Facility to Develop Open Computer Architectures at BSC in Barcelona
      • Bangle.js open source hackable smartwatch £47

        If you are searching for a less restrictive smartwatch when it comes to operating systems, you may be interested in the new Bangle.js hackable smartwatch that can easily be customised and is completely open source. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the Bangle smartwatch which is this month launched via Kickstarter to raise the required funds needed to make the jump from concept into production.

      • The Non-Contradiction of Proprietary Finance and Community Open Source Programming

        I work in financial services, typically quantitative technology applications. A recent employer of mine was an imagery company, providing satellite and drone-sourced data into finance and insurance. In this heady mix of finance and space, I worked with people from defence, aerospace, geospatial, surveying and satellite communications backgrounds who were intrigued and often surprised to hear about the relevance of open source and community programming in financial services.

        [...]

        Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are certainly driving open source, often with ulterior motives, consciously supporting the sale of proprietary tools and services. Unconsciously, they can be accused of driving liberal west coast values and weeding out smaller commercial competition – I will be fascinated to see the consequences of Google releasing its Quantitative Finance Tensorflow. I also acknowledge the historical and continuing proprietary tendencies of financial services. A finance technology VP once told me around Year 2000 that “open source would never take off in quantitative finance”. While factually wrong even then, his assumptions were reasonable – management reputation, internal risk management and regulators beyond wouldn’t want untraceable, dangerous code running key algorithms. Key algorithms and the packages and languages in which they were embedded were also differentiators, hence proprietary. At the time, institutions did what they could to make the most, hire the best and beat the rest, and proprietary languages and code were the norm.

      • Appear.in Vs. Jitsi: Subscription WebRTC Faces Off Against Open-Source VC

        Open-source video conferencing is one of the few remaining glimpses of the utopian potential of the internet. If you’re willing to get a little sentimental about what the internet is or was supposed to deliver, you can see it within the chat windows of apps such as Jitsi–emerging technologies developed and given away for free so that anyone and everyone can participate in the digital communications revolution.

        That’s the idealized version of Jitsi’s existence, anyway. The reality is that while the highly adaptable, open-source app is still free to use and deploy within personalized platforms, it has become something of a research and development unit for subscription content providers. So, Jitsi stands as a kind of glorified public Beta test of the latest video conferencing technology.

        Its logical counterpoint in many ways is Appear.in (recently rechristened Whereby). This WebRTC-powered video platform has taken the same open-access ideals of Jitsi and turned them into a commercial subscription service.

      • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Gitea

        “The goal of this project is to make the easiest, fastest, and most painless way of setting up a self-hosted Git service. Using Go, this can be done with an independent binary distribution across all platforms which Go supports, including Linux, macOS, and Windows on x86, amd64, ARM and PowerPC architectures,” according to the project’s GitHub page.

      • Voyage Launches Open-Source Self-Driving Simulation Platform

        Voyage, which is developing self-driving vehicles, today announced the public release of Voyage Deepdrive, a free and open-source self-driving car simulator.

      • Ether1.org, Open Source Blockchain Project, Rolls-Out ethoFS – A Decentralized Website Hosting & File Sharing Protocol That Aims to Combat Web Censorship

        In an industry first move, Ether-1 (ether1.org) has completed a network wide deployment of their decentralized, immutable data hosting protocol called ethoFS. With their unique democratized and “decentralize everything” approach, this latest technological advancement furthers the ideals originally taken mainstream by people like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

        EthoFS (ethofs.com) combines blockchain technology and IPFS creating a simple to use hosting platform that allows anyone to store data across a network of nodes with several levels of redundancy and immutability built into the decentralized system. The ethoFS system prevents a multitude of attack vectors and censorship efforts to allow any data or website to be hosted beyond the reach of “big brother.”

      • Project Alvarium: The Open-Source Project to Bolster IoT Security

        The Linux Foundation’s Project Alvarium aims to harness collective wisdom to create enterprise trust and drive IoT security.

      • Events

        • LAS 2019: A GNOME + KDE conference

          Thanks to the sponsorship of GNOME, I was able to attend the Linux App Summit 2019 held in Barcelona. This conference was hosted by two free desktop communities such as GNOME and KDE. Usually the technologies used to create applications are GTK and QT, and the objective of this conference was to present ongoing application projects that run in many Linux platforms and beyond on both, desktops and on mobiles. The ecosystem involved, the commercial part and the U project manager perspective were also presented in three core days. I had the chance to hear some talks as pictured: Adrien Plazas, Jordan and Tobias, Florian are pictured in the first place. The keynote was in charge of Mirko Boehm with the title “The Economics of FOSS”, Valentin and Adam Jones from Freedesktop SDK and Nick Richards where he pointed out the “write” strategy. You might see more details on Twitter.

          [...]

          It was lovely to see again several-years GNOME’s members as Florian, who is always supporting my ideas for the GNOME games

          [...]

          Thanks again GNOME, I will finish my reconstruction image GTK code I started in this event to make it also in parallel using HPC machines in the near future.

      • Web Browsers

        • Brave 1.0 launches, bringing the privacy-first browser out of beta

          Today marks the official launch of Brave 1.0, a free open-source browser. The beta version has already drawn 8 million monthly users, but now, the full stable release is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

          Brave promises to prioritize security by blocking third-party ads, trackers, and autoplay videos automatically. So you don’t need to go into your settings to ensure greater privacy, though you can adjust those settings if you want to.

          Several browsers have taken steps to block trackers and ads, but in many cases, they’re limited or need to be enabled. Firefox started blocking some trackers by default earlier this year. Safari goes a step further by blocking almost all third-party trackers from sites you don’t visit frequently while allowing trackers from sites you check regularly but limiting their duration to 24 hours.

          Microsoft Edge is still testing a feature that also only blocks some trackers by default, which should arrive on January 15th. Google announced in May that it plans to launch some tracker-blocking tools, but doesn’t plan to block cookies on a large scale and hasn’t rolled out those tools quite yet; instead, the company has said it’s expecting to deliver a way to block certain “classifications” of cookies in Chrome by default in February 2020.

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla, Intel and Red Hat form Bytecode Alliance for better open-source security

            THE MOZILLA FOUNDATION has joined forces with three big industry players to form the Bytecode Alliance.

            The new open-source consortium sees the browser maker snuggle up with edge-cloud maker Fastly, chipmaker Intel and enterprise Linux distro Red Hat.

            The Bytecode Alliance has been formed to up the security game in the open-source development field, with a secure platform that will allow developers to run code safely on any device, running any operating system, to test it before it’s released to the big wide world.

            Essentially, think of it as a world of sandbox but a sandbox for cheetah poop, not domestic kitty poop.

      • Intel

        • Intel Releases oneAPI Base Toolkit Beta For Performance-Focused, Cross-Device Software

          The oneAPI Base Toolkit is for writing code that runs across CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs among other possible accelerators. The primary programming language is their Data Parallel C++ and SYCL fits into the toolchain as well. OpenMP and MPI are supported with the oneAPI HPC toolkit. While other components include the oneAPI IoT Toolkit for developing IoT software and the oneAPI rendering toolkit for ray-tracing and visual rendering. The different toolkits can be found here.

        • IWD 1.1 Released For Intel’s Linux Wireless Daemon

          IWD 1.0 stabilized this wireless daemon’s interfaces and made it ready for embedded and desktop use-cases as an alternative to the likes of WPA-Supplicant. With IWD 1.1 are just a few changes amounting to some basic fixes while the new feature is radio resource management.

        • Intel Confirms Ponte Vecchio As 7nm General Purpose GPU

          Intel confirmed the ANL Aurora supercomputer due to be ready in 2021 will feature two Xeon Scalable “Sapphire Rapids” CPUs and six Ponte Vecchio GPUs per node.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

      • CMS

        • Acquia, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert on open source, Vista, CDPs

          Dries Buytaert: No. We were profitable, we really didn’t need more investment. But at the same time, we have an ambitious roadmap and our competitors are well-funded. We were starting to receive a lot of inbound requests from different firms, including Vista. When they come to you, you’ve got to look at it. It made sense.

        • New Acquia Drupal tools show open source loyalty post-Vista deal

          Web content management vendor Acquia Inc. delivered new marketing automation and content personalization platforms for the open-source Drupal faithful and for commercial customers.

          In late September, venture capital firm Vista Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in Acquia, but commitment to Acquia Drupal open source content management applications remain steady, according to Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi.

      • Blockchains

      • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

      • Funding

        • New challenges for Free Software business models

          This year the FSFE community meeting was combined with the “South Tyrol Free Software Conference” (SFScon) in Bolzano. For me this was a special event because the first international FSFE community meeting ever happened as well at the SFScon in 2006. Back then I met many people from FSFE in person for the first time. For me this was the starting point for getting more and more involved in the Free Software Foundation Europe.

          At this years conference I gave a talk about the “New challenges for Free Software business models” at the FSFE track. A few weeks ago I published a article about this topic in the German Linux Magazine. As many of you may know, Free Software as such is not a business model but a license model which can be combined with many different business and development models.

        • Docker restructure sees enterprise platform business sold to open source cloud firm Mirantis

          Container technology firm Docker has secured a $35m investment to fund a restructure of its business, after disposing of its enterprise arm to OpenStack distribution provider Mirantis.

      • BSD

        • DragonFlyBSD Pulls In AMD Radeon Graphics Driver Code From Linux 4.9

          DragonFlyBSD developer François Tigeot has continued doing a good job in continually updating their kernel’s graphics driver code with a port of the AMD Radeon graphics source code from the Linux kernel along with related components like TTM memory management.

          It’s a never-ending process for the BSDs of pulling in newer Linux Direct Rendering Manager code into their kernels and addressing various Linux-isms in the process. With the code pushed over night, the DragonFlyBSD kernel is now riding off a Linux 4.9 era Radeon driver stack. This update cleans up the code, provides better DisplayPort support, improvements for atomic mode-setting, performance improvements, better stability, and more. This was just an update of the Radeon code with the Intel graphics driver code not being touched this round.

      • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

      • Public Services/Government

        • Crunchy Data, ORock Technologies Form Open Source Cloud Partnership for Federal Clients

          Crunchy Data and ORock Technologies have partnered to offer a database-as-a-service platform by integrating the former’s open source database with the latter’s managed offering designed to support deployment of containers in multicloud or hybrid computing environments.

          The partnership aims to implement a PostgreSQL as a service within ORock’s Secure Containers as a Service, which is certified for government use under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, Crunchy Data said Tuesday.

        • Crunchy Data and ORock Technologies Partnership Brings Trusted Open Source Cloud Native PostgreSQL to Federal Government

          Crunchy Data and ORock Technologies, Inc. announced a partnership to bring Crunchy PostgreSQL for Kubernetes to ORock’s FedRAMP authorized container application Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution. Through this collaboration, Crunchy Data and ORock will offer PostgreSQL-as-a-Service within ORock’s Secure Containers as a Service with Red Hat OpenShift environment. The combined offering provides a fully managed Database as a Service (DBaaS) solution that enables the deployment of containerized PostgreSQL in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

          Crunchy PostgreSQL for Kubernetes has achieved Red Hat OpenShift Operator Certification and provides Red Hat OpenShift users with the ability to provision trusted open source PostgreSQL clusters, elastic workloads, high availability, disaster recovery, and enterprise authentication systems. By integrating with the Red Hat OpenShift platform within ORock’s cloud environments, Crunchy PostgreSQL for Kubernetes leverages the ability of the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform to unite developers and IT operations on a single FedRAMP-compliant platform to build, deploy, and manage applications consistently across hybrid cloud infrastructures.

      • Licensing/Legal

        • Developers still care a lot about open source licensing [Ed: Mac Asay of AWS calls GPL "restrictive license" and echoes the Microsoft-connected claims of its demise]

          But licensing sits atop that heap, and for good reason: No developer wants to get into a new open source package without knowing how she’s going to get out. This is one critical reason that highly permissive licenses (Apache, BSD, MIT) have been on a steep climb for many years while more restrictive licenses (GPL) have declined.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Data

        • Open Hardware/Modding

          • Ntablet Linux commercial open-source tablet from $225

            The Ntablet open source tablet has been created to provide developers, enthusiasts and hobbyists with a programmable learning platform offering an all in one device for creative projects. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the world’s first commercial open source tablet.

            Launched via Kickstarter this week and is now available with earlybird pledges from $225 or roughly £176, offering a 50% discount off the recommended retail price. Full goes to plan worldwide shipping of the open source tablet is expected to take place during March 2020

            “As a portable tool, it gives not only convenience to your projects, but also help to create more innovative designs as what you imagine. With it, you can start programming and developing anywhere, you can freely DIY and control TV, air conditioner, curtain, light, and even Robot. Ntablet is also a Linux based tablet, the inside core-board and motherboard are connected in the way of the socket, which enables users to change the core-board anytime, to run different operating systems or applications, like Android and Linux. 20 pins and 4 pins sockets are designed on the motherboard, to be used to connect with GPIO board, users can do kinds of debug or control after connection.”

          • FieldKit Is The Grand Prize Winner Of The 2019 Hackaday Prize

            While some are still waiting for the age of the Linux desktop, this project moves past that and achieves an open design for a Linux-based tablet. Goals of the project focus on sidestepping the OS lock-in present in many consumer tablets, and delivering a hardware design that is both repairable and upgradable — traits currently absent in all consumer tablets. Recognized for Best Design, this project is awarded a cash prize of $10,000.

      • Programming/Development

        • What is -pipe and should you use it?

          This argument may have been needed in the ye olden times of supporting tens of broken commercial unixes. Nowadays the only platform where this might make a difference is Windows, given that its file system is a lot slower than Linux’s. But is its pipe implementation any faster? I don’t know, and I’ll let other people measure that.

          The “hindsight is perfect” design lesson to be learned

          Looking at this now, it is fairly easy to see that this command line option should not exist. Punting the responsibility of knowing whether files or pipes are faster (or even work) on any given platform to the user is poor usability. Most people don’t know that and performance characteristics of operating systems change over time. Instead this should be handled inside the compiler with logic roughly like the following:

        • ABlog v0.10 released¶

          ABlog v0.10 is released with the main focus being to support the latest version of Sphinx as well as Python 3 only support.

          Ablog V0.9.X will no longer be supported as Python 2 comes to an end in a few months and it is time people upgraded.

        • How and why I built Sudoku Solver

          The process was pretty intensive first of all i went to the drawing board thinking of how to actually do this i drew a 3×3 matrix and thought how it could be done on this miniature matrix of 3×3.But figuring out the right path was difficult and to get inspiration or an idea as to how to solve this problem I started solving sudoku problems on my own easy to expert level but once I got a hang of them I got back to my project I noted down every technique or idea in the notebook that I always carried with me,I made sure not too look this up on google I wanted to build this thing from scratch on my own.Experimenting day after day lines of code stacking up it took me 15 days to complete the code and the moment correctly filled sudoku matrix was given out well I was on cloud nine.

        • Unconventional Secure and Asynchronous RESTful APIs using SSH

          Some time ago, in a desperate search for asynchronicity, I came across a Python package that changed the way I look at remote interfaces: AsyncSSH.

          Reading through their documentation and example code, you’ll find an interesting assortment of use cases. All of which take advantage of the authentication and encryption capabilities of SSH, while using Python’s asyncio to handle asynchronous communications.

          Thinking about various applications I’ve developed over the years, many included functions that could benefit from decoupling into separate services. But at times, I would avoid it due to security implications.

          I wanted to build informative dashboards that optimize maintenance tasks. But they bypassed business logic, so I wouldn’t dare expose them over the same interfaces. I even looked at using HTTPS client certs, but support from REST frameworks seemed limited.

        • Winter is coming even more quickly

          Motivated by my work at the DFINITY Foundation, I was looking into interpreters for WebAssembly written in Haskell, and found my colleagues John Wiegley’s winter: A straight-forward port of the WebAssembly reference interpreter, written in Ocaml by Andreas Rossberg (another colleague of mine … I guess there is a common theme here.)

          Obviously, an interpreter will never be as fast as a real compiler implementation (such as the one in v8, lucet or wasmtime). But for my purposes an interpreter is fine. Nevertheless, I don’t want it to be needlessly slow, and when I picked up wasm, it was clear that I had to work at least a little bit on performance.

        • Faster Winter 1/7: Vectors
  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • An Open Source Toolbox For Studying The Earth

        Fully understanding the planet’s complex ecosystem takes data, and lots of it. Unfortunately, the ability to collect detailed environmental data on a large scale with any sort of accuracy has traditionally been something that only the government or well-funded institutions have been capable of. Building and deploying the sensors necessary to cover large areas or remote locations simply wasn’t something the individual could realistically do.

        But by leveraging modular hardware and open source software, the FieldKit from [Conservify] hopes to even the scales a bit. With an array of standardized sensors and easy to use software tools for collating and visualizing collected data, the project aims to empower independent environmental monitoring systems that can scale from a handful of nodes up to several hundred.

      • The Early History of Usenet, Part II: Hardware and Economics

        There was a planning meeting for what became Usenet at Duke CS. We knew three things, and three things only: we wanted something that could be used locally for administrative messages, we wanted a networked system, and we would use uucp for intersite communication. This last decision was more or less by default: there were no other possibilities available to us or to most other sites that ran standard Unix. Furthermore, all you needed to run uucp was a single dial-up modem port. (I do not remember who had the initial idea for a networked system, but I think it was Tom Truscott and the late Jim Ellis, both grad students at Duke.)

        There was a problem with this last option, though: who would do the dialing? The problems were both economic and technical-economic. The latter issue was rooted in the regulatory climate of the time: hardwired modems were quite unusual, and ones that could automatically dial were all but non-existent. (The famous Hayes Smartmodem was still a few years in the future.) The official solution was a leased Bell 801 autodialer and a DEC DN11 peripheral as the interface between the computer and the Bell 801. This was a non-starter for a skunkworks project; it was hard enough to manage one-time purchases like a modem or a DN11, but getting faculty to pay monthly lease costs for the autodialer just wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately, Tom and Jim had already solved that problem.

      • UNIX Version 0, Running On A PDP-7, In 2019

        WIth the 50th birthday of the UNIX operating system being in the news of late, there has been a bit of a spotlight shone upon its earliest origins. At the Living Computers museum in Seattle though they’ve gone well beyond a bit of historical inquiry though, because they’ve had UNIX (or should we in this context say unix instead?) version 0 running on a DEC PDP-7 minicomputer. This primordial version on the original hardware is all the more remarkable because unlike its younger siblings very few PDP-7s have survived.

        The machine running UNIX version 0 belongs to [Fred Yearian], a former Boeing engineer who bought his machine from the company’s surplus channel at the end of the 1970s. He restored it to working order and it sat in his basement for decades, while the vintage computing world labored under the impression that including the museum’s existing machine only four had survived — of which only one worked. [Fred’s] unexpected appearance with a potentially working fifth machine, therefore, came as something of a surprise.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availabilitiy)

      • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 170 – Until that quantum computer is cracking RSA keys, go sit back down!

        Josh and Kurt talk about banking and privacy. It’s very likely nothing will get better anytime soon, humans will continue to be terrible at understanding certain risks. We also discuss what quantum supremacy means (or doesn’t mean) for security.

      • Cisco: there’s a bad bug in open source software that a Netflix engineer abandoned in 2016 [Ed: Notice how IDG will never say things like "there’s a bad bug in proprietary software something something" because it's all about propping up anti-FOSS stigma and dogma]

        Cisco has disclosed a bug in Exhibitor, a popular open source package for the Apache Zookeeper server for distributed applications in the cloud.
        Exhibitor is an open source program developed by Netflix to help deal with ephemeral cloud instances within Zookeeper, which wasn’t built to handle cases where hosts don’t know the hostnames of other hosts within an ‘ensemble’ of container engines.
        As Google Cloud explains, Exhibitor is “a supervisor process that coordinates the configuration and execution of Zookeeper processes across many hosts”, which gives Zookeeper users backup and restore capabilities and provides a GUI for Zookeeper nodes among other things.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Forgotten Plunder of Iraq

        Victor Hugo said of the devastated Balkans in the 19th century: ‘The Turks have passed by here. All is in ruins or mourning.’Welcome to modern Iraq. The British were always masters of efficient imperialism. In the 19th century, they managed to rule a quarter of the Earth’s surface with only a relatively small army supported by a great fleet.

      • Risking Lives in Endless US Wars Is Morally Wrong and a Strategic Failure

        We just celebrated Veterans Day last week, paying tribute to the young men and women who have served our country. Across the country, families gathered at the gravesites of those who gave their lives. Veterans drank toasts to their fellow soldiers.In football and basketball stadiums, crowds offered a moment of silence for the fallen. The rituals are heartfelt, but far from

      • Hong Kong police warn of ‘live fire’ as stand-off at university continues

        Pro-democracy demonstrators holed up in a Hong Kong university campus set the main entrance ablaze Monday to prevent surrounding police moving in, after officers warned they may use live rounds if confronted by deadly weapons.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Julian Assange’s lawyer says his health is ‘seriously deteriorating’

        WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains ill and effectively isolated in a high-security prison alongside inmates facing charges for violent offences and terrorism, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson told a Sydney audience on Friday night.

        “I was with Julian on Tuesday… and his health is obviously significantly and seriously deteriorating,” said Ms Robinson, a prominent human rights advocate and barrister who has defended Mr Assange since 2010.

    • Environment

      • 70% of Venice Is Now Submerged, And It’s a Disturbing Preview For Coastal Cities

        Venice, over the centuries, has diverted rivers to protect the lagoon and extended the barrier islands. But now, the sea level is rising several millimeters a year.

        Offshore, at the inlets between those barrier islands, a massive project known as MOSE could potentially boost Venice’s protection — with floodgates that could be raised from the sea during high tide, sealing off the lagoon.

        The project, launched in 2003, was once forecast to finish in 2011. Then 2014. Now, projections call for completion in 2022.

      • Italian council is flooded immediately after rejecting measures on climate change [iophk: social control media in place of official communications]

        And the council chamber in Ferro Fini Palace started to take in water around 10 p.m. local time, as councilors were debating the 2020 regional budget, Democratic Party councilor Andrea Zanoni said in a long Facebook post.

        “Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected our amendments to tackle climate change,” Zanoni, who is deputy chairman of the environment committee, said in the post, which also has photographs of the room under water.

      • What Felled the Great Assyrian Empire?

        Weiss and the research team synchronized these findings with archaeological and cuneiform records and were able to document the first paleoclimate data for the megadrought that affected the Assyrian heartland at the time of the empire’s collapse, when its less drought-affected neighbors invaded. The team’s research also revealed that this megadrought followed a high-rainfall period that facilitated the Assyrian empire’s earlier growth and expansion.

        “Now we have a historical and environmental dynamic between north and south and between rain-fed agriculture and irrigation-fed agriculture through which we can understand the historical process of how the Babylonians were able to defeat the Assyrians,” said Weiss, adding that the total collapse of Assyria is still described by historians as the “mother of all catastrophes.”

        Through the archaeology and history of the region, Weiss was able to piece together how the megadrought data were synchronous with Assyria’s cessation of long-distance military campaigns and the construction of irrigation canals that were similar to its southern neighbors but restricted in their agricultural extent. Other texts noted that the Assyrians were worrying about their alliances with distant places, while also fearing internal intrigue, notes Weiss.

      • Role of climate in the rise and fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

        Northern Iraq was the political and economic center of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (c. 912 to 609 BCE)—the largest and most powerful empire of its time. After more than two centuries of regional dominance, the Neo-Assyrian state plummeted from its zenith (c. 670 BCE) to complete political collapse (c. 615 to 609 BCE). Earlier explanations for the Assyrian collapse focused on the roles of internal politico-economic conflicts, territorial overextension, and military defeat. Here, we present a high-resolution and precisely dated speleothem record of climate change from the Kuna Ba cave in northern Iraq, which suggests that the empire’s rise occurred during a two-centuries-long interval of anomalously wet climate in the context of the past 4000 years, while megadroughts during the early-mid seventh century BCE, as severe as recent droughts in the region but lasting for decades, triggered a decline in Assyria’s agrarian productivity and thus contributed to its eventual political and economic collapse.

      • Extinction Rebellion Members Blockade Private Jet Terminal Used by Wealthy Elites in Geneva

        “We want to denounce this completely absurd means of transport since a private jet emits twenty times more CO2 per passenger than a conventional airplane.”

      • Venice Is Flooded—A Look at Our Coastal Future

        If humans have been lucky, basking in the comforting warmth of an inter-glacial period for the last 10,000 years, that luck may be about to turn.  Rest assured we are not entering a glacial period.  No, our quest for greater comfort has us pumping fossil fuel residues in the air—particularly CO2—warming the earth beyond its natural trajectory.  One consequence is melting

      • DeSmog Was Created to Combat Climategate-Style Misinformation. We’re Still Going

        Little did we know that climate science denial was spreading throughout the English-speaking world, and we would have to follow it to the UK and beyond.

      • Where Are the Ring-Leaders of the Manufactured Climategate Scandal Now?

        Climate science deniers pounced on the leaked emails as supposed proof that scientists were manipulating data and creating panic about climate change out of nothing.

      • Here Are 3 Climategate Myths That Have Not Aged Well

        In 2016, it happened to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That was déjà vu for climate scientists, who seven years earlier had experienced a nearly identical chain of events leading up to the 2009 UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. 

      • Interview: Climategate Felt Like a Disaster, But Climate Science Is Now Stronger Than Ever

        Brulle is a professor of sociology and environmental science at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, who has researched the environmentalism movement for more than two decades, and has focused in recent years on the funding of climate denial. In some sense, his prediction would be proven correct. 

      • How the Climategate Email Hack Laid the Foundations for the Fake News Era

        Lord Lawson stepped to the curb hailing a taxi. We had both been at an event in a swish Fleet Street hotel discussing illegal phone hacking by journalists. I had followed him out onto the pavement and asked whether the hacking of scientists’ emails from the servers of the British university had been unethical — as well as criminal. “It was a whistleblower,” he scowled. The black taxi took off, leaving me in a cloud of diesel.

      • Climate Change Is Threatening Newborn Babies

        Today’s world is not a welcoming place for babies, who – across the globe – face multiple climate health risks.

      • Overpopulation

        • Club of Rome: Looking to Africa for solutions to climate collapse

          In 1972, the global think-tank Club of Rome issued a chilling warning that the global economy could not assume infinite growth on a finite planet. Nearly half a century later, the collapse of life-supporting natural systems foretold in its ‘Limits to Growth’ study is unfolding before our eyes. This month, the group came ‘home’ to Africa, to see what the world can learn from the mother continent.
          “Extractive industry is not development. When you come to extract what is in the soil for the benefit of shareholders, when you come to pollute water, destroy biodiversity and natural resources, and the ecological infrastructure, that is not development. The kind of development trajectory we want is one that is ecologically sustainable.”

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • On Bolivia: Four Provocations for the International Left

        After President Evo Morales’ resignation on Sunday, November 10, violence has been spreading around Bolivia. Following the “shock doctrine” formula, the neoliberal, racist and revanchist Right is quickly taking advantage of the political chaos. Bolivia urgently needs international solidarity to protect basic human rights. However, we must also challenge the simplistic myths

      • With 67% of the Vote, California Young Democrats Endorse Bernie Sanders for President

        Sanders received more than twice the number of votes as Elizabeth Warren and while Pete Buttigieg received just one vote, former Vice President Joe Biden received zero.

      • Democrats Not Headed Too Far Left, Says Ocasio-Cortez, ‘We Are Bringing the Party Home’

        “I want to be the party of the New Deal again,” says the progressive congresswoman from New York. “The party of the Civil Rights Act, the one that electrified this nation and fights for all people.”

      • Democrats Invite Trump to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry

        Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited President Donald Trump to testify in front of investigators in the House impeachment inquiry ahead of a week that will see several key witnesses appear publicly.

      • Democrat Wins Reelection in Conservative Louisiana

        Deep in the heart of the conservative South, Louisiana’s voters reelected Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards to a second term, shocking Republicans who had hoped to reclaim the seat on the strength of President Donald Trump’s popularity.

      • Did Obama Make a Mistake by Deporting 3 Million People? Bernie Sanders: ‘Yes’

        “We’re not talking about tearing down the system—we’re fighting for justice,” said 2020 candidate in response to former president’s reported warning that some Democrats moving too far left.

      • Bernie Sanders Denounces Obama’s Deportations

        Asked at a presidential candidate forum in California Saturday night if the Obama administration made a mistake by deporting an estimated 3 million people during its 8-year tenure, 2020 hopeful Bernie Sanders offered a direct and one word response: “Yes.”

      • Left Twitter Responds With Viral #TooFarLeft Hashtag After Obama Counsels Democrats to Tamp Down Progressive Ambitions

        “I launched the #TooFarLeft tag,” declared Peter Daou, “because I’ve had it with Republicans, media elites, and corporate Dems enabling fascists while denigrating those who seek economic and social justice as ‘too far left.’  I’d like to ONCE hear them complain America is too far right.”

      • The Progressive Press Is Facing Mass Extinction

        About a month before Deadspin was throttled by its new private equity owners, those same owners shut down Splinter, the progressive politics website I contributed to for a little over a year. Last week, at an emergency all-hands meeting, G/O Media’s editorial director, Paul Maidment, elaborated on the decision to kill Splinter.

      • Episode 54 – In Pod We Trust – Along The Line Podcast

        Along the Line, is a member of the Demcast network, brought to you by the Media Freedom Foundation. On today’s episode hosts Nicholas Baham III (Dr. Dreadlocks), Janice Domingo,  and Nolan Higdon discuss how podcasts are being used to combat neofascism. ATL’s  Creative Director is Dylan Lazaga.  Mickey Huff is ATL’s producer. ATL’s engineer is Janice Domingo. Adam Armstrong is ATL’s webmaster.

      • Women’s rights activists in Russia lobbying for new legislation against domestic violence have started receiving threats online

        Activists working to develop legislation to curb domestic violence in Russia have started receiving threats on social media, says State Duma deputy Oksana Pushkina, who has co-authored a draft bill in parliament. Law-enforcement agencies were alerted to the threats last week, according to Pushkina, who says the messages were addressed to Alyona Popova, a Moscow lawyer and women’s rights activist, and the attorneys Mari Davtyan and Alexey Parshin, who are defending the Khachaturyan sisters (three women charged with murdering their abusive father).

      • The Electoral College’s Racist Origins

        Is a color-blind political system possible under our Constitution? If it is, the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 did little to help matters. While black people in America today are not experiencing 1950s levels of voter suppression, efforts to keep them and other citizens from participating in elections began within 24 hours of the Shelby County v. Holder ruling and have only increased since then.

        In Shelby County’s oral argument, Justice Antonin Scalia cautioned, “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get them out through the normal political processes.” Ironically enough, there is some truth to an otherwise frighteningly numb claim. American elections have an acute history of racial entitlements—only they don’t privilege black Americans.

        For centuries, white votes have gotten undue weight, as a result of innovations such as poll taxes and voter-ID laws and outright violence to discourage racial minorities from voting. (The point was obvious to anyone paying attention: As William F. Buckley argued in his essay “Why the South Must Prevail,” white Americans are “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally,” anywhere they are outnumbered because they are part of “the advanced race.”) But America’s institutions boosted white political power in less obvious ways, too, and the nation’s oldest structural racial entitlement program is one of its most consequential: the Electoral College.

      • Global storm clouds threaten our democracy. Let’s do something about it

        Former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC has published two books with Andrew Butler calling for a written, codified constitution that sets out ‘in an accessible form and a single document the fundamental rules and principles under which New Zealand is to be governed’. A road trip and consultation attracted hundreds of submissions, but relatively little political pick-up. Here Palmer reflects on the process, explains why it’s so pressing, and where to next.

        There are a number of reasons why elected politicians and political parties are leery of constitutional change. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that people who are elected tend to believe they should be able to legislate freely and without restraint.

        [...]

        First, there is climate change. This is bringing terrible disruption with sea level rise and increasing extreme weather events. While the public has a better understanding of the issues now than was the case a few years ago, the problems have been evident since before 1990. The public do not appreciate the enormous economic and social consequences of the transitional change that will be required.

        That is not the end of the environmental problems faced by the planet. Species extinction and environmental degradation generally has gone on at pace. And look at the water degradation that has occurred in New Zealand.

      • The Disdain for Ukraine Is Mainly in Trump’s Brain

        Watching the first two days of the House impeachment inquiry’s public hearings, what struck me once again is the utter contempt Donald Trump has for other sovereign nations and fellow heads of state. We’ve seen the evidence of it many times before—”shithole countries,” disdain for NATO, the UN and the European Union—but this current mess really brings it home.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Iran’s Top Leader Warns ‘Thugs’ as Protests Reach 100 Cities

        Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday cautiously backed the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices by 50% after days of widespread protests, calling those who attacked public property during demonstrations “thugs” and signaling that a potential crackdown loomed.

      • Internet disrupted in Iran amid fuel protests in multiple cities

        Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm disruptions with multiple fixed-line and mobile providers in Iran, amid protests against rising fuel prices. The outages have partial (update: now near-total, see below) impact at the time of writing affecting multiple cities including Tehran.

      • How vaginas are finally losing their stigma

        Such censorship proves we’re still far from being as comfortable with vaginas as we should be, even if creative depictions of vaginas and vulvas in all their varied glory – messy, silly, funny, sexy, beautiful, and empowered – do seem to increasingly be able to take a place at the table. Not to mention, at last, being given a museum all of their own.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Majority of Americans know they’re under constant surveillance, don’t trust the companies doing it, and feel helpless to stop it

        A Pew Study found that 60% of Americans believe that they are being continuously tracked by companies and the government, 69% mistrust the companies doing the tracking, 80% believe that advertisers and social media sites are collecting worrisome data, 79% think the companies lie about breaches, and 80% believe that nothing they do will make a difference.

      • Most Americans think they’re being constantly tracked—and that there’s nothing they can do

        Despite these concerns, more than 80% of Americans feel they have no control over how their information is collected.

        The small print: Very few people read privacy policies, the survey shows. That’s understandable. A review of 150 policies from major websites found that the average one takes about 18 minutes to read and requires at least a college-level reading ability. Few people have time for that—and even if they did, most people are forced to agree anyway if they really need the service.

      • Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information

        A majority of Americans believe their online and offline activities are being tracked and monitored by companies and the government with some regularity. It is such a common condition of modern life that roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults say they do not think it is possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government.

      • Edward Snowden calls for the restructuring of the Internet

        Speaking to Journalist James Ball who was interviewing him for the Web Summit, Snowden reiterated his reasons to speak out: “On the first day you work at the CIA, you have to take what they call an oath of service. It’s a very solemn vow in a dark room, with flags all over the place, with everybody else that’s entering government service on the same day. And here you have to swear an oath to support and defend not the agency, not a secret, not even a president, but the Constitution of your country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and many years later, you find that what you are doing, what everyone at your agency is doing is a gigantic conspiracy to violate precisely that oath you took on the very first day. This is what I struggled with for many years and eventually drove me forward. What do you do when you have contradicting obligations? To what do we owe our greater loyalty?”

        To answer the question about what his primary message was, Snowden said that what drove him forward in the first place was the observation that information about everyone – even those who had done nothing wrong and were not suspected of anything- was being collected, just in case it would be useful. “And nobody in a position of power tried to stop it, because it benefited them.”

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Conservative radio host says he was fired mid-show for bashing Trump

        Craig Silverman told The Denver Post that he was discussing the president’s notorious former New York lawyer, Roy Cohn, when his weekly 710 KNUS radio station suddenly cut to a news bulletin.

        As he looked to his crew to see what was wrong, he says program director Kelly Michaels suddenly walked into the room.

        “You’re done,” Michaels told Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver, according to the report.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • A New Arab Spring in Lebanon and Iraq

        Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Lebanese have been demonstrating in the streets against corruption and for democratic rights. The protestors come from all economic classes and religious/ethnic groups. Like the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2010, these protests are spontaneous and without traditional leaders.

      • Sudan: Justice Needed for Protester Killings

        Fatal attacks on protesters in Sudan in June were planned and could amount to crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Sudan’s transitional authorities should commit to genuine accountability for unlawful violence against protesters since December, in which hundreds were killed.

      • Uganda: Stop Police Harassment of LGBT People

        The Ugandan authorities should drop charges against dozens of people arrested over the last month in Kampala, the capital, on the basis of their presumed sexual orientation or gender identity.

      • While Warning of Nazi-Like Fascism and Corporate Crimes, Pope Francis Proposes Adding ‘Ecological Sin’ to Church Teachings

        In remarks at the Vatican, the leader of the Catholic Church condemned “the large-scale delinquency of corporations.”

      • US held record number of migrant children in custody in 2019

        This month, new government data shows the little girl is one of an unprecedented 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more children detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.

      • China is still harvesting organs from prisoners and covering it up

        Now, a new report in BMC Medical Ethics Journal has affirmed the tribunal’s conclusion, concluding that the official accounts of organ transplants in China contain a “systematic falsification and manipulation of official organ transplant datasets.”

      • Analysis of official deceased organ donation data casts doubt on the credibility of China’s organ transplant reform

        A variety of evidence points to what the authors believe can only be plausibly explained by systematic falsification and manipulation of official organ transplant datasets in China. Some apparently nonvoluntary donors also appear to be misclassified as voluntary. This takes place alongside genuine voluntary organ transplant activity, which is often incentivized by large cash payments. These findings are relevant for international interactions with China’s organ transplantation system.

    • Monopolies

      • Trade Secrecy Injunctions, Disclosure Risks, and eBay’s Influence

        Historically, intellectual property (IP) owners could rely on injunctive remedies to prevent continued infringement. The Supreme Court’s eBay v. MercExchange decision changed this, however. After eBay, patent courts no longer apply presumptions that push the deliberative scales in favor of injunctions (or “property rule” protection). Instead, patent injunctions require a careful four-factor analysis, where plaintiffs must demonstrate irreparable injury (i.e., that money damages cannot compensate). The eBay decision has made it harder for patent plaintiffs to secure injunctions, and has led many district courts to consider innovation policy concerns (e.g., the strategic behavior of patent “troll” plaintiffs) in the injunction calculus. By and large, courts’ more deliberative approach to patent injunctions post-eBay has been viewed as beneficial for the patent system.

        Over the past decade, eBay’s influence has migrated to other areas of IP. This Article analyzes eBay’s impact on federal trade secrecy injunctions. Important differences between trade secret law and other areas of IP — for example, the hard-to-quantify risk that disclosure poses to trade secret owners — has lessened eBay’s influence on trade secrecy injunctions. This Article argues that disclosure risks likely justify a bifurcated approach to trade secrecy injunctions. That is, in cases involving the dissemination of trade secrets, courts should presume irreparable harm. However, in cases involving only the unauthorized use of a trade secret — i.e., where a defendant builds upon a plaintiff’s trade secret — courts should apply the eBay framework. As part of this assessment, courts should consider policy concerns related to cumulative innovation and employee mobility.

      • External Knowledge and Technology Transfer, Transfer, Partnership and Diffusion of Innovation

        Technology transfer means technology transfer towards the application of knowledge. For developing countries, international knowledge and technology transfer is a key channel for economic growth, a key advantage for outbound countries.

        Technology transfer is divided into commercial and non-commercial. Financial gain is the main purpose of commercial technology transfer. The objects of commercial technology transfer are: industrial property (patents for inventions, patent licenses, know-how, trademarks, industrial designs, design certificates and utility models), except for trademarks, service marks and commercial names, unless they form a significant part of technology transfer transactions; know-how and technical experience in the form of feasibility studies, models, designs, instructions, drawings, specifications, technological equipment and the university.

        The objects of non-commercial technology transfer are: scientific-technical and educational literature, reference books, reviews, standards, patent descriptions, catalogues, brochures, etc. international conferences, seminars, round tables, expert councils, working groups, congresses, meetings, symposiums, exhibitions, venture fairs, contests, shows; training and internship of scientists and specialists on a gratuitous basis or on special conditions of parity reimbursement of expenses by the parties.

        Necessary and sufficient conditions. As the current international practice has shown, even having spent considerable funds on R&D, the country is not immune from failure in innovative development. For example, the United Kingdom has had some recognized success in creating innovative technologies. For example, an EMI CT scanner.

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • The Interaction of Patent Exhaustion and Transactions in Patented Goods After Impression Products v. Lexmark International

          In Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court provided a justification for patent exhaustion and established rules governing its application. Both U.S. and foreign sales of a patented product trigger application of the doctrine to the article sold. This allows patented articles to flow in commerce without any attached patent rights in­terfering with the free alienability of such articles. Further, conditions attached to the sale of patented articles are enforceable via breach of contract actions rather than by patent infringement actions. Analogizing to copyright law, these bright-line rules should permit avoidance of exhaustion by licens­ing mere use rights for patented products. However, it is proposed that bona fide purchaser rules apply to such licenses so that downstream users of pat­ented products may possess these products free of any use restrictions they lack notice of; thereby furthering the policy of minimizing restraints on alien­ation of such goods.

        • Apple Loses PTAB Bid to Kill Claims in Universal ID Patent

          A mobile payment company has fended off Apple Inc.’s bid to kill claims in an information identification patent involved in an infringement lawsuit against the tech giant.

          The Patent Trial and Appeal Board rejected Apple’s argument that claims in Universal Secure Registry LLC’s U.S. Patent No. 8,856,539 were obvious due to prior inventions and invalid. The patent covers an identification system for providing a person’s financial or other information to authorized users.

        • United States Files Complaint against Pharmaceutical Company Gilead for Patent Infringement Related to Truvada® and Descovy® For Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis of HIV

          The Department of Justice announced today that the United States has filed a complaint alleging infringement by Gilead Sciences Inc. and Gilead Sciences Ireland UC (collectively, Gilead) of four U.S. patents awarded to and owned by the United States, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These patents cover specific drug regimens used for pre-exposure prophylaxis (commonly referred to as PrEP) that prevents HIV transmission. The complaint alleges infringement in connection with two of Gilead’s drugs, Truvada® and Descovy®, which Gilead markets for use to prevent HIV as part of the PrEP regimen.

          “Gilead has received billions of dollars in revenue from HIV prevention regimens invented by HHS researchers and patented by the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “This lawsuit demonstrates the Department’s commitment to protect the government’s intellectual property and hold accountable those who seek to unfairly gain from the government’s research without paying reasonable royalties as the law requires.”

          “HHS recognizes Gilead’s role in selling Truvada® and Descovy® to patients for prevention of HIV. Communities have put these drugs to use in saving lives and reducing the spread of HIV,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar II. “However, Gilead must respect the U.S. patent system, the groundbreaking work by CDC researchers, and the substantial taxpayer contributions to the development of these drugs. The complaint filed today seeks to ensure that they do.”

        • Trump Administration Sues Drugmaker Gilead Sciences Over Patent on Truvada for HIV Preventio
      • Copyrights

        • Disney Wants to Reinforce Its ‘Piracy Intelligence’ Team

          Disney entered the streaming market this week with its own video on demand platform. While there is plenty of interest in the new service, piracy remains a major concern. This is an area Disney’s “piracy intelligence team” is keeping a close eye on, and they are currently looking for reinforcement.

        • Judge Recommends Denial of $150,000 Piracy Judgment Against APK Download Site

          Several independent movie studios, including the makers of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” and “London Has Fallen,” have suffered a setback in a Hawaii court. A magistrate judge is recommending a denial of their request for a $150,000 default judgment against the foreign operator of an APK site that offered copies of the pirate apps Popcorn Time and Showbox.

        • Steal This Show S05E02: ‘‘On The Frontline Of The Code War’’

          Today we bring you the next episode of the Steal This Show podcast, discussing renegade media and the latest decentralization and file-sharing news. In this episode, we talk to John P. Carlin, author of Dawn of the Code War and former Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

        • KodiUKTV Considers its Future Following FACT Cease & Desist

          This week, the Federation Against Copyright Theft confirmed that it had sent cease-and-desist notices to at least two players in the Kodi add-on community. Amid the uncertainty, both took a quick decision to close down. The founder of one of them, KodiUKTV, has been sharing his thoughts with TorrentFreak, reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future.

        • Safeguarding User Freedoms in Implementing Article 17 of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive: Recommendations from European Academics

          On 17 May 2019 the new Directive (EU) 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market was officially published (DSM Directive). Article 17 (ex-Article 13) is one of its most controversial provisions. Article 17(10) tasks the Commission with organising stakeholder dialogues to ensure uniform application of the obligation of cooperation between online content-sharing service providers (OCSSPs) and rightholders, and to establish best practices with regard to appropriate industry standards of professional diligence.

          This document offers recommendations on user freedoms and safeguards included in Article 17 of the DSM Directive – namely in its paragraphs (7) and (9) – and should be read in the context of the stakeholder dialogue mentioned in paragraph (10).

What GitHub is to Open Source

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 3:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lots of prisoners inside GitHub

Summary: Lots of prisoners inside GitHub

Openwashing Institutionalised NPEs (OIN) and Software Patents With Notorious Managers From the EPO

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fake European Patents disguised as “hey hi” (AI), 4IR, and other mumbo jumbo

Grants lots of fake patents. Waits for S* to hit the fan.

Summary: There’s a strong push for software patents in Europe (basically fake European Patents on abstract ideas) and IAM leads/participates in it with help from OIN, Grant Philpott (EPO) and — maybe soon — Breton (EU)

European Patent Office (EPO) President António Campinos and his predecessor Battistelli have both promoted illegal software patents in Europe. They know those patents cannot be legally granted, so they make up new words, buzzwords, acronyms, misleading terms and sometimes they ride hype waves — the same ones Iancu at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is riding as well because 35 U.S.C. § 101 otherwise stands in the way.

“This is of course most devastating to those who cannot afford legal battles — those who can be abused — threatened with litigation or actually sued — and be compelled to shell out ‘protection money’ (for patents that are not valid).”We’ve entered a new kind of ‘era’ in the patent system; many patents can now be presumed invalid. It just takes money (petitions or court time) to prove the invalidity. This is of course most devastating to those who cannot afford legal battles — those who can be abused — threatened with litigation or actually sued — and be compelled to shell out ‘protection money’ (for patents that are not valid). In last night’s daily links we provided about a dozen new examples of software patents perishing in the US; we stopped covering such pertinent cases last year because priorities have changed. What hasn’t changed is this reality of software patents being worthless garbage.

Over in IRC, oiaohm pointed out this paper that says: “In German bifurcated litigation system, in 12% of infringement cases where infringement was found by the courts, the infringed patent was eventually invalidated.”

Got that? We’ve heard similar stories from the US lately. But nowadays Europe becomes more of the same. Caselaw centered around SCOTUS and the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is used, sometimes in Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) and sometimes in court cases, to throw out patents which were deemed “infringed”. Well, if “1+1=2″ is a patent, then everything and everyone is infringing, but the patent itself is a joke.

This past weekend Benjamin Henrion said that “CAFC belongs to the patent industry, fully captured court. SCOTUS vs CAFC is a 10:0 score at the moment.”

“CAFC actually improved in recent years,” I responded, as “SCOTUS has overturned CAFC decisions from the Rader — not Sharon Prost — era.”

Over the weekend Henrion did some research into Openwashing Institutionalised NPEs (OIN) — a subject that we covered here in relation to that awful EU paper. We nowadays find ourselves having to rely on our own research because investigative reporting in the area of patents barely exists. Henrion’s tweets contain more information in them than this ‘shopping list’ journalism (a data dump of no value, entitled generically “Patents were assigned in New Hampshire from Nov. 3 to Nov. 10″ as if it’s machine-generated). We’ve also just seen this ‘article’ from the patent maximalists of “Bloomberg Law” — a site that constantly pushes for litigation and for abstract patents under the guise of the “hey hi” (AI) hype, a buzzword resurrected for some corporate agenda. The site is composed almost purely by the litigation industry and for the litigation industry; but it’s presented as “news”. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has no money for journalists. Instead he lets ‘news’ (self-promotional corporate propaganda) be written by lawyers, such as Yohan Liyanage and Kathy Berry of Linklaters LLP in this case. They say that “[t]he software code underlying the AI system may be protected by literary copyright, although its functionality and underlying algorithms may not (as copyright protects the expression of ideas and not the ideas themselves). Training datasets may also be protected by literary copyright if they are sufficiently creative and, in the European Union, potentially also by the separate “sui generis” database right if they have been subject to sufficient investment. All elements of an AI system (code, algorithms, data etc.) may comprise trade secrets if they are kept confidential.”

Then it proceeds to the usual suggestion that such code should also have patents on it. Because hey, why the heck not? More litigation! More money for lawyers like them.

But getting back to the point, Henrion took note of this new agenda of an EU conference. “Open Source Beyond 2020″ is the title of this conference and it “does not even mention the threat of software patents, especially with Unitary software Patents and patent trolls, one of the top worries for software companies and developers…”

Well, take a quick look at who’s in this conference. These people do not represent FOSS, but the EU tells us that they do. The likes of OIN, i.e. front groups for the interests of IBM et al. Henrion also wrote: “The GNOME Foundation now wants 1M USD. They have also failed to answer FFII’s demand. Time for an open letter #gnome #troll #oin”

As an associate of ours put it this morning: “Any word on how GNOME will deal with the patent troll? Better for them to fight software patents in general but it looks like they will make the mistake of aiming for the individual troll instead.”

They’re being led by OIN, which clearly uses the wrong approach — the software patents-friendly approach. Henrion was rightly upset to see OIN working and co-authoring papers with Fraunhofer. “We suffered for 20 years with the Fraunhofer MP3 patents,” he said. “People have short memories.”

OIN calls them “charitable”…

Then again, look who runs OIN.

IAM is meanwhile preparing another software patents lobbying ‘event’. It’s coming up this week (2 days from now) and hype waves will be used to promote software patents, with front groups such as CIPU in the shadows, based on this page. Looking through the list of speakers, it’s very much as revealing as it gets; Grant Philpott (EPO), Microsoft and others in this IAM event. Philpott threatened me for showing his E-mail about Microsoft et al. EPO is deeply corrupt and it threatens those who produce evidence of it. The EPO is a bullying organisation, but that’s “small potatoes” for the likes of Philpott; he used to work in the Army, which literally kills people. Is it Philpott or Pol Pot?

Henrion took note of the next EPO phase: “EPO now uses software patents instead of CII: “Previously, Philpott was Chief Operating Officer in the information communication technology sector, where he was at the forefront of ensuring the EPO’s stable and predictable approach to software patenting.” http://www.iam-events.com/events/iot-ip-2019/speakers-6e588d27158140d98ee1f35b75c3e976.aspx …”

They’re so shameless about it. They’re doing illegal things. And going back to OIN, watch how it not only participates in the EPO’s software patents advocacy events but also IAM’s (the patent trolls’ lobby):

Mirko Boehm, our Linux System Definition Director, will join senior executives from Bosch, Telefonica, and Siemens in a panel discussion to address the “New Protection Paradigms” during the IoT IP conference November 20 in Munich, Germany. Experts estimate there will be 22.5 billion IoT devices globally by 2025. IAM’s IoT Intellectual Property (IP) conference provides a platform for senior IP decision makers across industries to discuss the opportunities, challenges and strategies which are rapidly changing in a world that depends on interoperability and security, increasingly through the use of Open Source Software (OSS).
Register here: http://www.iam-events.com/…/event-summary-6e588d27158140d98…

That’s what the Open Invention Network published in Facebook (yes, Facebook) this weekend and on November 12th it said:

As Open Source Software (OSS) continues to transform software development — from start-up companies to worldwide enterprises — the conversations are shifting towards new business models, technology’s impact on all industries, and the intersection of open source and standards. Our Director for the Linux System Definition, Mirko Boehm, has co-authored “The Relationship Between Open Source Software and Standard Setting,” a Joint Research Centre (JRC) Policy Report for the European Commission (EC). It will be presented during its “Open Source Beyond 2020 – Powering a Digital Europe” workshop in Belgium Nov 14-15.

https://ec.europa.eu/…/workshop-about-future-open-source-so…

#opensource #linux #patent #openinventionnetwork

Stay classy, OIN. You’re rather blatantly on the side of the trolls these days. Your management has patent trolls in it.

You do not speak for “Open Source Software (OSS)”; you sometimes speak for companies that attack “Open Source Software (OSS)”.

Later today we shall publish part 7 of the Breton series. Breton’s series will have at least 18 parts and it is very much relevant to the EPO, as later parts will show. Breton’s French nationality isn’t key here but his connection to a bunch of French patent trolls. He’s friends with Battistelli and companies that lobby for software patents, so if elected to EU leadership, he would ‘champion’ software patents for sure… just like OIN. Maybe he’ll appoint OIN official spokesperson for “Open Source Software (OSS)”, speaking for members like IBM and Microsoft.

As Henrion put it, “Someone should ask Breton if he will propose a new software patent directive if the Parliament asks for it, under the inter-institutional agreement [] Breton in the hands of the EPO and the patent mafia https://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2018/20180607.html … #epo #breton [] Still does not have answers on how SMEs are supposed to defend themselves against patent trolls. Mr Breton was driving many patent extorsion/licensing plans, and is an EPO friend. Don’t know if Thomson was still extracting MP3 royalties when he was active, but still.”

He worked for that company 1997-2002 when MP3 was ‘all the rage’ with almost no ubiquitous alternatives; all these patents were software patents.

IRC Proceedings: Sunday, November 17, 2019

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:47 am by Needs Sunlight

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