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08.26.16

Links 26/8/2016: Maru OS Resurfaces, Android More Reliable Than ‘i’ Things, PC-BSD Becomes TrueOS

Posted in News Roundup at 7:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Windows, Mac or Linux… Which operating system best suits your business?

      Linux is a free alternative. Apart from the zero-cost factor, it’s still less prone to viruses than Windows. Most Linux machines start out as Windows computers that are reformatted. Linux is also adaptable — Linux is an OS kernel, not a full system, but is the heart of software distributions such as Ubuntu or Fedora.

      As for cons, Linux is more complex to learn and use. There are also far fewer programs written for Linux systems. Of course, someone with an advanced online computer science master’s degree will help you make the most of a Linux system by supplying the skills needed to innovate and implement custom solutions for your business environment.

    • Eight free open source alternatives to Windows 10: Chrome, Ubuntu, Solus and more Linux-based alternatives – what’s the best alternative to Windows OS?

      Initially released in 2004, Ubuntu is Debian-based and part of the open source Linux family. Ubuntu uses Unity as its default user interface and can be run on smartphones, tablets and PCs.

      Key features: Libre Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, built-in Ubuntu Software Center, F-spot, an image editor, an instant messaging client called Empathy, and Ubuntu Make (developer tools centre).

      Pros: Comes with popular open source software pre-installed, like Firefox and Libre Office.

      Cons: Unfamiliar interface, perhaps aimed at more technical audience.

    • Windows 10 computers crash when Amazon Kindles are plugged in

      Dozens of Microsoft Windows 10 users are reporting that their computers crash when plugging in Amazon Kindles.

      The issue appears to be caused by the recent Windows 10 Anniversary update. Users of Amazon’s Paperwhite and Voyage attempting to either transfer books or charge their devices via USB are seeing their various Windows 10 laptops and desktops locking up and requiring rebooting.

      Pooka, a user of troubleshooting forum Ten Forums said: “I’ve had a Kindle paperwhite for a few years no and never had an issue with connecting it via USB. However, after the recent Windows 10 updates, my computer BSOD’s [blue screen of death] and force restarts almost as soon as I plug my Kindle in.”

      On Microsoft’s forums, Rick Hale said: “On Tuesday, I upgraded to the Anniversary Edition of Windows 10. Last night, for the first time since the upgrade, I mounted my Kindle by plugging it into a USB 2 port. I immediately got the blue screen with the QR code. I rebooted and tried several different times, even using a different USB cable, but that made no difference.”

      Another forum user, Tuscat, who found the issue affected both an HP laptop and a Dell desktop said: “It’s pretty frustrating because I need to transfer some PDFs to the Kindle for my son’s school classes.”

      The issue appears to be affecting regular Windows 10 Anniversary update users and those on Microsoft’s Insider programme for pre-release software testing.

    • Linux survival guide: These 21 applications let you move easily between Linux and Windows

      If you need to navigate regularly between Linux and the Windows world, there are many applications that can make your job easier. We spotlight 21 quality applications that will pave the way.

    • City of Bern starts open desktop proof of concept

      The council of the Swiss capital of Bern wants to increase the city’s use of open source software solutions. Last week, the city approved a CHF 843,00 (about EUR 750,000) proof of concept study for a switch to open source desktop solutions. The proposal was supported by a clear majority in the council, with 49 votes in favour and 18 against.

  • Server

    • Open Source, Containers and the Cloud: News from ContainerCon and LinuxCon

      LinuxCon and ContainerCon, events focused on Linux, containers and open source software, wrapped up this week in Toronto. Here’s a round-up of the announcements and insights related to cloud computing that emerged from the meeting.

      LinuxCon and ContainerCon are co-located events. That made for an interesting combination this year because Linux is an established technology, which is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. In contrast, containers remain a new and emerging enterprise technology. (Yes, containers themselves are much older, but it has only been in the past three years, with the launch of Docker, that containers are becoming a big deal commercially.)

      The two events thus paired discussion of a very entrenched platform, Linux, with one that is still very much in development. But open source, the coding and licensing model behind both Linux and container platforms like Docker, tied everything together.

    • Citrix Enables NetScaler for Containers and Micro-Services

      At the LinuxCon ContainerCon event here, a core topic of discussion is about how to enable enterprises to be able to embrace containers. Citrix has a few ideas on how to help and is announcing enhancements to its NetScaler networking gear to enable load balancing for containers and micro-services.

    • Want to Work for a Cloud Company? Here’s the Cream of the Crop

      What do Asana, Greenhouse Software, WalkMe, Chef Software, and Sprout Social have in common? They’ve been deemed the very best privately held “cloud” companies to work for, according to new rankings compiled by Glassdoor and venture capital firm Battery Ventures.

      For “The 50 Highest Rated Private Cloud Computing Companies,” Glassdoor and Battery worked with Mattermark to come up with a list of non-public companies that offer cloud-based services, and then culled them, making sure that each entry had at least 30 Glassdoor reviews, Neeraj Agrawal, Battery Ventures general partner told Fortune.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • ‘Show-and-Tell’ Cool Maker Projects on Hangouts

      Wow! This live Hangout show looks a lot like a DIY version of one of the morning shows on over-the-air TV — and if there’s any doubt that the maker movement thrives on open source, the first guest’s project is all about Python and Arduino. Be sure to check out the cool Star Trek combadge. Beam us up, Mr. Shapiro!

  • Kernel Space

    • 25 things to love about Linux

      Today marks 25 years of Linux, the most successful software ever.

      At LinuxCon this week, Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation spoke words of admiration, praise, and excitement from the keynote stage, saying “Linux at 25 is a big thing” and “You can better yourself while bettering others at the same time.”

      To celebrate, we asked our readers what they love about Linux and rounded up 25 of their responses. Dive into the Linux love!

    • The 25 biggest events in Linux’s 25-year history

      You can argue about Linux’s official birthday. Heck, even Linus Torvalds thinks there are four different dates in 1991 that might deserve the honor. Regardless, Linux is twenty-five years old this year. Here are some of its highlights and lowlights.

    • 25 Years of Linux: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

      Happy Birthday Linux! You’re 25!

      When Linux was born on Aug. 25, 1991, it was little more than a hobby for then 21-year old Linus Torvald. Today the Linux community is estimated to be upwards of 86 million users strong. It has become the backbone of large enterprises, and it is installed in government systems and embedded in devices worldwide.

      The Linux operating system started out as an alternative to other platform architectures in use on mainframes and enterprise back-ends. It has grown into a major mainstream computing platform for small through large companies’ server operations, and has made inroads into consumer computing.

      Linux has been ported to more hardware platforms than any other operating system, thanks to the popularity of the Linux-based Android operating system, noted Meike Chabowski, documentation strategist at Suse.

      “Today, Linux has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems worldwide. Linux is also the leading operating system on servers of any sort, and of 99.4 percent of the top 500 supercomputers,” he told LinuxInsider. “Also, you find embedded Linux in a huge quantity of devices and machines — built into cars, network routers, facility automation controls, entertainment equipment, and medical equipment such as X-rays.”

      Some people do not even know they are using it. Linux is everywhere, Chabowski said.

    • Google’s Continuing & Numerous Contributions To Open-Source

      Marc Merlin of Google presented at this week’s LinuxCon 2016 event in Toronto how the company has — and continues to — contribute to open-source software.

    • Why Linux is poised to lead the tech boom in Africa

      Certain emerging markets are advancing so quickly that they aren’t just speeding through the technology phases of developed countries. They’re skipping stages entirely — a phenomenon economists call “leapfrogging.”

      The most visible signs of leapfrogging are in consumer technologies, including the rapid adoption of the internet, mobile phones and social media. By 2020, Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be the world’s second-largest mobile Internet market, surpassing Europe and ranking only behind Asia-Pacific, according to Frost & Sullivan.

      These advances in consumer technologies are creating a corresponding need for advances in IT infrastructure. This week to help meet that need, IBM announced a new LinuxONE Community Cloud for Africa. Developers will have access at no charge for 120 days utilizing the cloud to create and test their applications on IBM LinuxONE, the industry’s most powerful Linux system.

    • 25 Awesome (And Some Unexpected) Things Powered By Linux

      From your kitchen to the reaches of outer space, Linux is truly everywhere. Here are 25 different places where you can hear the beating of an open-source heart.

    • Special Anniversary Edition: This Week in Open Source News
    • Linux turns 25 years old! Happy birthday Linux!

      Valve aren’t the only ones celebrating a birthday this week (see here). Linux also just got a bit older and wiser. Linux is officially 25 years old today!

    • ​Linus on Linux’s 25th birthday

      It’s been twenty-five years since Linux began. Today, we’re living in a world where Microsoft has embraced Linux and everything — and I mean everything — depends on Linux. It didn’t start that way. It began as a small project without any great ambitions.

    • Open source software changing the connected world
    • Linux celebrates the first of its two 25th birthdays
    • Linux turns 25: Containers, cloud and IoT present new opportunities and challenges
    • Linux turns 25, kind of runs (part of) the world
    • 25 Years of Linux and the GPL, and How Android Benefits
    • Happy 25th birthday, Linux!
    • Twenty-five years of Linux overcoming hurdles and overshooting goals
    • Linux Took Over the Web. Now, It’s Taking Over the World
    • Twenty-five years of Linux: A quiet revolution
    • Linux turns 25 years young: an open, free and exciting future lies ahead
    • Linux celebrates its 25th birthday today! But can it survive another 25 years?
    • Happy Twenty-Fifth Birthday, Linux!
    • Linux: 25 years on and still going strong
    • Tech Quiz Of The Week: Linux At 25
    • 25 Years of Linux — so far

      On August 25, 1991, an obscure student in Finland named Linus Benedict Torvalds posted a message to the comp.os.minix Usenet newsgroup saying that he was working on a free operating system as a project to learn about the x86 architecture. He cannot possibly have known that he was launching a project that would change the computing industry in fundamental ways. Twenty-five years later, it is fair to say that none of us foresaw where Linux would go — a lesson that should be taken to heart when trying to imagine where it might go from here.

    • Happy 25th Birthday, Linux!
    • Happy Birthday, Linux
    • Slides for my LinuxCon talk on Mainline Explicit Fencing

      For those of you that are interested here are the slides of the my presentation at LinuxCon North America this week. The conference was great with very good talks and very interesting meetings on the hallway track.

    • Linux 4.8 May Fix An Issue Of Some Laptops Burning Through Power While Suspended

      It looks like some newer Intel laptops will be much happier when S3 suspended with the upcoming Linux 4.8 kernel.

      For at least some newer Intel laptops with distributions like Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Fedora was a case where suspending the system would still still be consuming much power: a hot laptop and losing around 12% of the battery life per hour while “suspended.”

    • Linux 4.8 Intel P-State vs. CPUFreq Scaling Driver/Governor Benchmarks

      Given the underlying work that’s been happening in the CPUFreq/scheduler area and the introduce of the new Schedutil CPUFreq governor, I decided to run some fresh performance benchmarks of P-State and CPUFreq with the different governor options when testing from a Linux 4.8 Git kernel atop the current Fedora 25 development packages and using a Core i5 Skylake processor.

    • Upcoming Linux Tests With A $300 Broadwell-EP Xeon CPU
    • Linus Torvalds says first Linux release wasn’t public

      Keeping up with tradition, Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, and Dirk Hohndel, vice president and chief of open source at VMware, sat down to talk about Linux at LinuxCon NA. Here is an edited version of the conversation, in which they talked about the email Torvalds sent out 25 years ago to announce Linux.

    • LinuxCon: Tracing Linux’s Roots, Mapping Its Future

      On Aug. 25, 1991, a student at the University of Helsinki sent out a mailing announcing a new hobby operating system project. That student was Linus Torvalds, and his hobby operating system, now known as Linux, became the most widely used OS, powering stock exchanges, supercomputers, mobile phones and much more. From Aug. 22 to 25, the Linux community gathered at the annual LinuxCon North America event here to celebrate and discuss all things Linux. A highlight of the event was the appearance of Linus Torvalds, who reminisced about the past 25 years on what has gone wrong and what has gone right with Linux. A decade ago, LinuxCon was only about Linux, but this year, the event was co-located with ContainerCon, Xen Summit and Cloud Native Day. Linux in 2016 is about more than just an operating system. It is about a wider market of open-source technologies that Linux helps enable. (Highly telling is the fact that, starting next year, the conference will be renamed the Open Source Summit.) In this slide show, eWEEK takes a look at highlights of this year’s LinuxCon event.

    • Happy birthday Linux: 25 years later, the ‘Year of Linux’ may finally be here

      25 years ago, one Linus Benedict Torvalds started working on a part-time project. This was not any project like travel, working time, hacking, learning music or anything typical. Instead, this part-time hobby project was to work on an ‘Operating System’. Yes, that’s right, an operating system.

      While mere mortals like us would waste our time gaming or sleeping, Linus Torvalds decided to build an OS. Well, technically not an entire operating system, but an OS Kernel. It’s the most crucial part of the operating system anyway.

    • Linux Celebrates Its 25th Birthday This Week
    • As Linux turns 25, its lies beyond desktops and mobile devices

      Today marks the 25th anniversary of the open-source operating system used to do everything from powering supercomputers to surfing the web: Linux.

      Linux began its journey 25 years ago, and now it’s a top product platform for apps for smartphones, Internet of Things devices, and computers—all of which primarily run on Linux.

      Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu), said that the organization is continuing to “support Linux’s journey as the production platform for the enterprise and telecoms infrastructure we see today.” She added that while cloud technology runs almost entirely on Linux, Canonical still thinks the desktop is important to Linux’s growth. Ubuntu also started as a desktop OS, and it’s still used for both mobile and desktop programs, she said.

    • Linux turns 25, with corporate contributors now key to its future

      That developer was of course Linus Torvalds and his free operating system came to be known as Linux. It’s since more or less conquered the world, first becoming the de facto heir to proprietary Unix and latterly serving as the operating system for enormous numbers of devices large and small.

      El Reg runs on Linux and these even Microsoft is embracing the OS, offering it in its cloud, porting products to it and even putting Linux to work running is data centre switches.

    • 2016 LiFT Scholarship Winner Alexander Popov: Linux Kernel Contributor

      Since 2012, Alex has had 14 patches accepted into the mainline Linux kernel. With his employer, Positive Technologies, he has helped develop a bare metal hypervisor that they hope to open source soon. And this year he spoke at LinuxCon Japan about his work porting Kernel Address Sanitizer (KASan) to his company’s bare-metal hypervisor.

      He is using the free training and certification provided by the LiFT scholarship to take the Linux Kernel Internals and Development (LFD420) course from The Linux Foundation.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KaOS Brings Serious Relevance Back to KDE

        If you’ve been looking for a distribution to sway you back to the KDE desktop, look no further than KaOS. It’s beautiful, runs with the snap of a much lighter desktop, and feels as reliable as any other option available for Linux. I haven’t been this impressed with KDE for a very, very long time. And, I am certain users would find themselves equally happy to return to a desktop that has long needed a champion like KaOS.

      • Qt 5 based Colorpick

        Colorpick is one of my little side-projects. It is a tool to select colors. It comes with a screen color picker and the ability to check two colors contrast well enough to be used as foreground and background colors of a text.

      • KDE Connect 1.0 is here!

        Today we are officially publishing the first stable release of KDE Connect. Hooray! This version is the most solid yet feature-packed version we ever released. It’s been in development for a year now and it took a lot of hard work, we hope you like it!

      • KDE Connect 1.0 Released For Device/Phone Communication

        KDE Connect is the interesting project for integrating notifications and more from your phone or other mobile device onto the KDE desktop.

      • Qt Creator 4.1 Adds New Themes, Experimental Nim Support

        The Qt Company announced the release today of Qt Creator 4.1 as the newest version of its popular, cross-platform IDE.

      • Qt Creator 4.1.0 released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.1.0.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Fresh From the Oven: GNOME Pie 0.6.9 Released

        For a slice of something this weekend you might want to check out the latest update to GNOME Pie, the circular app launcher for Linux desktops.

      • GUADEC 2016 and the Butterfly Effect
      • GUADEC 2016 Notes

        I’m back from GUADEC and wanted to share a few thoughts on the conference itself and the post-conference hackfest days.

        All the talks including the opening and closing sessions and the GNOME Foundation AGM are available online. Big thanks goes to the organization team for making this possible.

  • Distributions

    • The Battle of The Budgie Desktops – Budgie-Remix vs SolusOS!

      Ladies and gentleman, it’s the moment you have all been waiting for… the main even of the evening! In this corner, wearing Budgie trunks, fighting out of Ireland, created by Ikey Doherty, the man behind Linux Mint Debian Edition — SolusOS! And in this corner, built on the defending champion, also wearing Budgie trunks, aiming to be the next flavor of Ubuntu, Budgie-Remix!

    • Reviews

      • An Everyday Linux User Review Of Antergos LinuxAn Everyday Linux User Review Of Antergos Linux

        So Antergos was recommended to me by a number of people and I have to say that the experience was decent.

        It isn’t difficult to install Antergos but if you have a slow internet connection then you have to be a bit patient.

        Most things worked ok and hardware support was fine across the board.

        The Steam thing I put down to something that the Steam developers need to resolve. Come up with a better installer.

        Would Antergos make my top five now that I have tried it? I would say no to that. It isn’t as good as Manjaro and that is the best distribution to pitch it against because they are both based on Arch. Manjaro has a more polished look and feel.

        Nevertheless Antergos is a good distribution and well worth a try.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Updates its Kernel-based Virtual Machine

        Red Hat updated its Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)-powered virtualization platform for both Linux- and Windows-based workloads.

      • Red Hat Virtualization 4 Takes on Proprietary Competition

        Red Hat continues to move well beyond its core enteprise Linux-based roots with a string of new releases. The company has announced the general availability of Red Hat Virtualization 4, the latest release of its Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) -powered virtualization platform. It fully supports OpenStack’s Neutron – the networking project leveraged in SDNs.

        The company emphasizes that Red Hat Virtualization 4 challenges the economics and complexities of proprietary virtualization solutions by providing a fully-open, high-performing, more secure, and centrally managed platform for both Linux- and Windows-based workloads. It combines an updated hypervisor, advanced system dashboard, and centralized networking for users’ evolving workloads.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 Beta Adds NVDIMM Support, Improves Security

        Today, August 25, 2016, Red Hat announced that version 7.3 of its powerful Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system is now in development, and a Beta build is available for download and testing.

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 Beta brings lots of improvements and innovations, support for new hardware devices, and improves the overall security of the Linux kernel-based operating system used by some of the biggest enterprises and organizations around the globe. Among some of the major new features implemented in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 release, we can mention important networking improvements, and support for Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Modules (NVDIMMs).

      • CentOS 6 Linux OS Receives Important Kernel Security Update from Red Hat

        CentOS developer and maintainer Johnny Hughes informed the community about the availability of an important Linux kernel update for the CentOS 6 Linux operating system.

        The new kernel update is here to patch various important security issues in the Linux 2.6.32 kernel packages used by CentOS 6, which is built on the freely distributed sources of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 operating system. This means that the new kernel has also been pushed upstream, in Red Hat’s repositories.

      • Release of Red Hat Virtualization 4 Offers New Functionality for Workloads

        Release of Red Hat Virtualization 4 Offers New Functionality for Workloads
        Red Hat has released Red Hat Virtualization 4 (formerly Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization), the latest release of its Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) virtualization platform that provides a centrally managed platform for Linux and Windows based workloads.

      • Red Hat CEO: Open-source innovation is always user-led

        According to Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, the prevailing narrative about the growth and spread of Linux is only half-true.

        The idea that a doughty community of coding geniuses, led by an irascible commissar in Linus Torvalds, quietly created a technological asset that eventually spread to the biggest users in the land is actually a little misleading, he told Network World at LinuxCon North America 2016 in Toronto.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Julita Inca Chiroque: How Do You Fedora?

          In 2012 Julita traveled to the Czech Republic for a hackfest. She participated with the GNOME Documentation team. She became aware of the relationship between Red Hat, CentOS and Fedora because the event was held in the Red Hat building. Chiroque was inspired to organize Fedora events after meeting Jiří Eischmann. Julita said, “I knew Jiří Eischmann from Fedora Czech Republic and I saw his work as organizer and I wanted to do the same in Peru.” She began working with Fedora LATAM to organize events, with Luis Bazan as her Fedora LATAM Mentor. Chiroque’s current focus is on young students interested in open source and Fedora.

          Julita organized the Fedora 17 release party, a five hour event, as her first in Peru. Activities included installation of Fedora and configuration of applications. The event also included a discussion on how to contribute to Fedora.

        • F25 Wallpaper

          Here are my rough designs so far for the Fedora 25 release wallpaper! Design inspiration? Archimedes; mathematician and inventor of the Achimedean screw. Note: none of these are the final design; they are just to give a sneak peak at the progress begin made by myself and the rest of the Design Team on this project

        • Another Set of Updated Fedora 24 Linux Live ISO Images Are Now Ready to Download

          Fedora Unity Project leader and Fedora AmbassadorBen Williams proudly announce the release of yet another set of updated Live ISO images for the Fedora 24 Linux operating system.

        • Wayland by default in Fedora 25?

          I’ve noticed various reports that Fedora has decided to switch to Wayland by default in Fedora 25. It’s true that the alpha release will default to Wayland, but these reports have misunderstood an authorization from FESCo to proceed with the change as a final decision. This authorization corrects a bureaucratic mistake: FESCo previously authorized the change for Fedora 24, but the Workstation working group decided to defer the change to Fedora 25, then forgot to request authorization again for Fedora 25 as required. An objection was raised on the grounds that the proper change procedure was not followed, so to sidestep this objection we decided to request permission again from FESCo, which granted the request. Authorization to proceed with the change does not mean the decision to proceed has been made; the change could still be deferred, just as it was for Fedora 24.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • 4Duino combines Arduino, WiFi, and a 2.4-inch touchscreen

      4D Systems launched a $79 “4Duino-24” Arduino compatible board, with a 2.4-inch resistive touchscreen and an ESP8266 WiFi module.

      One reason you might choose a Linux SBC like a Raspberry Pi over an Arduino is that it’s easier to control an LCD display for simple IoT GUIs and other HMI applications. Now the 4Duino-24 board aims to smooth the path to Arduino-based IoT displays with an Arduino Leonardo clone board that not only adds an ESP8266 WiFi module, but also includes a 2.4-inch TFT LCD display with resistive touch.

    • Tegra TK1 COM Express module runs Ubuntu at 15W

      Connect Tech has launched an Ubuntu-driven COM Express Compact Type 6 module with an Nvidia Tegra K1 and optional extended temperature support.

      Nvidia’s Tegra SoCs have faded fast in the smartphone world, but appear to be doing just fine in embedded, especially in automotive. (Nvidia just announced a Tegra-like, ARM Cortex-A57 based Parker SoC for its Drive PX 2 autonomous car platform.) Now Connect Tech has added to the growing market for Linux-driven, Tegra K1-based computer-on-modules aimed at the general embedded market with its “COM Express TK1 CMG601” COM Express Compact Type 6 module.

    • Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Code Club teaches kids skills to compete in our digital world

      For some time, the UK’s technology sector has been concerned about finding the right skilled workers to fill jobs in the future. This predicted “digital skills gap” warns that unless we help people to become confident with technology now, we will be facing a huge shortage in skilled workers in the future.

      One way to overcome the digital skills gap is to invest in training and education for the next generation.

      Code Club is a network of free coding clubs for primary school students, and all of the projects we work on are open source. There are over 4,500 Code Clubs currently in the UK, reaching an estimated 75,000 children.

    • Rugged 3.5-inch SBC runs Linux or Android on i.MX6

      Logic Supply has introduced a “ICM-3011” 3.5-inch board with a dual-core i.MX6, wide-range power input, and extended temperature support.

      Like the recent Pico-ITX form factor ICM-2010 SBC that’s also available in an ICS-2010 mini-PC, the ICM-3011 was built by Taipei-based Embux, and is being distributed and supported by Logic Supply. Like the ICM-2010, the $253 ICM-3011 runs on the 1GHz, dual-core DualLite version of NXP’s Cortex-A9-based i.MX6 SoC. It similarly is supported by images for Android 5.0.2 “Lollipop,” Yocto “Daisy” Linux 1.6.2, or Ubuntu Linux 12.04.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Comparison of the Samsung Z1 vs Z2 vs Z3 Tizen smartphones

          Compare Samsung Z1, Z2, and Z3 Tizen Smartphones

          Lets do a quick history lesson: The first Tizen Smartphone was the Samsung Z1, then came the Z3, and yesterday was the turn of the 4G touting Z2 to take centre stage. On the whole the Z2 is very similar to the Z1 and can be thought of a Z1 2016 edition with the inclusion of 4G cellular connectivity and updated software with user requested features.

      • Android

        • iPhones are much more likely to ‘fail’ than Androids

          Apple’s once glittering reputation for quality took quite a few hits during the last few years, especially when it comes to iOS, the software that runs on iPhones. In some cases, recurrent software bugs have plagued users with issues such as the inability to use Wi-Fi, frequent crashes, and ridiculously short battery life. This week reports surfaced about a hardware flaw that makes some iPhone 6 screens inoperable. (Apple hasn’t confirmed any related problems.)

          It’s hard to tell how widespread some of these issues are, but a new report from a company that monitors smartphone quality suggests iPhones are far more likely to “fail” or suffer serious glitches than Android phones. The Blancco Technology Group says it collected performance data from millions of mobile phones during the second quarter of 2016, and it found that iPhones had an overall failure rate of 58 percent, compared to just 35 percent failure for Android devices. The term “failure” doesn’t necessarily mean that the phone has become a brick, according to Blancco. Instead, it means the device or software running on the device suffered some serious problem.

        • Maru OS is now open source (Turns Android phones into Linux desktops)

          Maru OS is a software project that lets you plug an Android phone into an external display to run desktop Linux software. First unveiled earlier this year, the software is very much a work-in-progress. Initially it only supported one phone: the Google Nexus 5.

          But things could get a lot more interesting soon, because the developer behind Maru OS has finished open sourcing the project and a group of developers are planning to start porting the software to run on additional devices.

        • Maru OS wants to turn your phone into a desktop with its latest open source build

          Not to be confused with Maru the adorable YouTube cat, Maru OS, the bite-sized Android add-on that turns your phone into a desktop, just went open source.

          Maru OS doesn’t change much about the way your phone operates on its own, but once you connect a desktop monitor via a slimport cable, Maru really comes to life. When connected to a display, Maru OS allows you to run a desktop Linux environment straight from your phone.

          Your phone is still a phone, it’ll take calls, send texts and do everything else it normally does, even while it’s connected to a desktop monitor running Linux on the side. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s still very much a work in progress. Today’s announcement could help move things along for Maru.

        • The long-awaited Maru OS source release

          Hey guys,

          I’m happy to announce that Maru has been fully open-sourced under The Maru OS Project!

          There are many reasons that led me to open-source Maru (https://blog.maruos.com/2016/02/11/maru-is-open-source/),
          but a particularly important one is expanding Maru’s device support with
          the help of the community.

          If you’d like to help out with a device port (even just offering to test a
          new build helps a lot), let the community know on the device port planning
          list (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/maru-os-dev/YufKu…)
          . We currently have a few Nexus, LG, and Motorola builds being planned. If
          you don’t see your device on there and would like to help with development
          or testing, please do chip in and we’ll get it added to the list.

        • Living with Android 7.0 Nougat: The most important changes

          Android 7.0 Nougat has finally reached Google’s Nexus devices after more than five months of developer preview testing. The final version is more stable and has a ton of new features. Most phones won’t get a Nougat update for a few months at least, and that’ll only happen if the carrier and OEM consider it a high priority. What can you expect when that glorious day finally arrives? I’ve been using Nougat on both a Nexus 6P and a Pixel C for the last few days. I won’t bother reciting all the features, which you can find a simple list of them on Google’s site. Let’s talk about what it’s actually like to use Android 7.0 Nougat as a daily driver.

        • Apple’s iOS ‘Failure Rate’ Is Higher Than Android’s For First Time

          Apple’s iOS devices like iPhones and iPads crashed twice as often in the second quarter compared to the previous one, new data shows.

          Fifty-eight percent of iOS-based devices suffered from “performance failures” like apps crashing or components shutting down during the second quarter, up from 25% in the first quarter, according to a study by mobile technology service provider Blancco Technology Group (BTG).

        • Is Android malware more popular than Google’s own app?
        • Android 7.0 Nougat Tip: Manage Battery Life
        • Android 7.0 Nougat has already been ported to a phone that doesn’t support it
        • Night Mode Enabler Brings Back Android Nougat’s Night Mode
        • Is your Android phone being controlled by a rogue Twitter account? Botnet is first to receive commands via tweets
        • Nougat’s Nav bar customizer still an option for Nexus 6P owners
        • Geekbench listing shows two Nokia-branded Android phones in the works
        • How to Use Multi-Window View in Android 7 Nougat
        • 1.5m US iPhone users are about to switch to Android

          If we take ComScore figures for January 2016 we see that around 198.5 million people in the US own smartphones. 52.8 percent of these use Android and 43.6 percent use iPhones, ComScore claims.

          If we use ComScore’s figures as base we can make some estimates based on Fluent’s research. Fluent believes 29 percent of all iPhone users will definitely buy a new phone this year, and while 87 percent of them will stick with Apple (21.8 million), 6 percent will switch to Android. This suggests that around 1.5 million US iPhone users will make this switch.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 Ways to Solve the Open Source Industry’s Biggest Problems

    Over the last decade, open source software and its audience of end users have greatly matured. Once only used by a small subset of tech-savvy early adopters, the convenience, effectiveness and cost savings of open source solutions are now driving enterprise IT to explore more ways to take advantage of the power of open source in their daily business operations.

    In today’s economy, enterprise IT has less to gain from developing and licensing software and more to gain from actively working with existing open source technology. However, the march toward open source still faces major obstacles before it becomes mainstream. In this slideshow, Travis Oliphant, CEO and founder of Continuum Analytics, outlines five challenges preventing enterprise IT from shifting to open source and tips for tackling them to keep the future of open source heading in the right direction. The road may be winding, but it will eventually lead companies to open source to help them innovate and as the way of the future.

  • Latest attacks on privacy…

    With the EU (in this case France and Germany) gearing up for another attack on privacy I’m quite happy and proud to have been part of the release of Nextcloud 10!

  • Events

    • Conferences and Kids

      I’ve taken my daughter, now 13, to FOSDEM in Brussels every year that I had slots there. She isn’t a geek, yet enjoys the crowds and the freebies. When I could, I also took my kids to other events, where I was speaking. In this post I’d like to capture my feelings about why children should be part of conferences, and what conferences can do to make this easier.

      First off, the “why?” Traditional conferences (in all domains, not just software) are boring, ritualized events where the participants compete to see who can send the most people to sleep at once. The real event starts later, over alcohol. It is a strictly adult affair, and what happens at the conf stays at the conf.

      Now our business is a little different. It is far more participative. Despite our history of finicky magic technologies that seem to attract mainly male brains, we strive for diversity, openness, broad tolerance. Most of what we learn and teach comes through informal channels. Finished is formal education, elitism, and formal credentials. We are smashing the barriers of distance, wealth, background, gender, and age.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Rackspace to be Acquired for $4.3B

      Rackspace announced that it is being acquired in an all-cash deal valued at $4.3B. Pending regulatory anti-trust approval, the firm will be taken private by a group of investors led by Apollo Global Management in Q4 of 2016.

      This valuation equates to a price of $32/share. The 38% premium cited in the announcement is calculated against a base share price from August 3, as the news about the pending acquisition began increasing the company stock price as early as August 4.

      For historical context, this valuation falls considerably below the company’s peak market capitalization in January 2013 when Rackspace was worth $10.9B. This means that the company’s current valuation – including the premium – is less than 40% of what it was at its highest point.

    • More on Open Source Tools for Data Science

      Open source tools are having a transformative impact on the world of data science. In a recent guest post here on OStatic, Databricks’ Kavitha Mariappan (shown here), who is Vice President of Marketing, discussed some of the most powerful open source solutions for use in the data science arena. Databricks was founded by the creators of the popular open source Big Data processing engine Apache Spark, which is itself transforming data science.

      Here are some other open source tools in this arena to know about.

      As Mariappan wrote: “Apache Spark, a project of the Apache Software Foundation, is an open source platform for distributed in-memory data processing. Spark supports complete data science pipelines with libraries that run on the Spark engine, including Spark SQL, Spark Streaming, Spark MLlib and GraphX. Spark SQL supports operations with structured data, such as queries, filters, joins, and selects. In Spark 2.0, released in July 2016, Spark SQL comprehensively supports the SQL 2003 standard, so users with experience working with SQL on relational databases can learn how to work with Spark quickly.”

    • SDN, open source nexus to accelerate service creation

      What’s new in the SDN blog world? One expert says SDN advancements will be accelerated, thanks to SDN and open source convergence, while another points out the influence SDN has in the cloud industry.

    • Platform9 & ZeroStack Make OpenStack a Little More VMware-Friendly

      Platform9 and ZeroStack are adding VMware high availability to their prefab cloud offerings, part of the ongoing effort to make OpenStack better accepted by enterprises.

      OpenStack is a platform, an archipelago of open source projects that help you run a cloud. But some assembly is required. Both Platform9 and ZeroStack are operating on the theory that OpenStack will better succeed if it’s turned into more of a shrink-wrapped product.

    • Putting Ops Back in DevOps

      What Agile means to your typical operations staff member is, “More junk coming faster that I will get blamed for when it breaks.” There always is tension between development and operations when something goes south. Developers are sure the code worked on their machine; therefore, if it does not work in some other environment, operations must have changed something that made it break. Operations sees the same code perform differently on the same machine with the same config, which means if something broke, the most recent change must have caused it … i.e. the code did it. The finger-pointing squabbles are epic (no pun intended). So how do we get Ops folks interested in DevOps without promising them only a quantum order of magnitude more problems—and delivered faster?

    • Cloud chronicles

      How open-source software and cloud computing have set up the IT industry for a once-in-a-generation battle

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle reveals Java Applet API deprecation plan

      Oracle has revealed its interim plan to help Java devs deal with browser-makers’ imminent banishment of plug-ins.

      Years of bugs in Java, Flash and other plugins have led browser-makers to give up on plugins. Apple recently decided that its Safari browser will just pretend Java, Flash and Silverlight aren’t installed. Google has announced it will soon just not run any Flash content in its Chrome browser.

      Oracle saw this movement coming and in January 2016 announced it would “deprecate the Java browser plugin in JDK 9”

  • Education

    • Marist College, Rockefeller Archive Center Partner on Open Source Digital Archival Tech

      Marist College and the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in New York have partnered to develop and implement an open source digital records management system to support researchers, archival staff and the broader archival community.

      [...]

      At the same time, one of the goals of Marist College “is to offer open source technologies, such as Liferay and Blockchain, to like-minded organizations that create a lasting impact on our community,” said Bill Thirsk, vice president of information technology and CIO at the college, in a news release.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • More Details On PC-BSD’s Rebranding As TrueOS

      Most Phoronix readers know PC-BSD as the BSD operating system derived from FreeBSD that aims to be user-friendly on the desktop side and they’ve done a fairly good job at that over the years. However, the OS has been in the process of re-branding itself as TrueOS.

      PC-BSD has been offering “TrueOS Server” for a while now as their FreeBSD-based server offering. But around the upcoming FreeBSD 11.0 release they are looking to re-brand their primary desktop download too now as TrueOS.

    • PC-BSD > TrueOS, BSD’s Legacy, f25 Wayland Maybe

      A few days ago we reported that Wayland is set to be the default graphical server in upcoming Fedora 25 but today Michael Catanzaro said only if it’s ready. PC-BSD is renaming their desktop operating system to TrueOS and Christopher Tozzi looked at why BSD didn’t become the dominate Unix-clone. Elsewhere, Michael Mason examined Budgie Desktop distros and, of course, there’s more on Linux’ 25th.

    • FreeBSD 11.0-RC2 Arrives With Fixes

      The second release candidate to the upcoming FreeBSD 11 is now available for testing.

      FreeBSD 11.0-RC2 ships with various bug fixes, several networking related changes, Clang compiler fixes, and other updates.

      FreeBSD 11.0 is bringing updated KMS drivers, Linux binary compatibility layer improvements, UEFI improvements, Bhyve virtualization improvements, and a plethora of other work. Those not yet familiar with FreeBSD 11 can see the what’s new guide.

    • Open Source History: Why Didn’t BSD Beat Out GNU and Linux?

      If you use a free and open source operating system, it’s almost certainly based on the Linux kernel and GNU software. But these were not the first freely redistributable platforms, nor were they the most professional or widely commercialized. The Berkeley Software Distribution, or BSD, beat GNU/Linux on all of these counts. So why has BSD been consigned to the margins of the open source ecosystem, while GNU/Linux distributions rose to fantastic prominence? Read on for some historical perspective.

      Understanding BSD requires delving far back into the history of Unix, the operating system first released by AT&T Bell Labs in 1969. BSD began life as a variant of Unix that programmers at the University of California at Berkeley, initially led by Bill Joy, began developing in the late 1970s.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Uganda to cut costs with open source software

      Some of the FOSS customizable applications on the market include Word Press, Mozilla Firefox, and open office among others. The applications can be used to create websites, marketing business ideas, and conduct online business. Most startups find it difficult to break through but creation of an online presence has made some business gain faster traction. James Saaka, the NITA-U executive director, said government struggles to pay licenses to use programmes from Microsoft, Oracle which is so expensive to maintain.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Is Big Pharma Out to Stop—Or Take Over—Marijuana Legalization?

      Geoffrey Guy stood out when he began attending conferences of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, DC, in the mid to late 1990s. The stout British gentleman, dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit, was hard to miss among the other attendees dressed in tie-dye shirts and psychedelic parkas, recalled Allen St. Pierre, then NORML’s deputy national director.

      But while he might not have fit in, Guy, a doctor in his early 40s who’d already made millions by founding a UK-based pharmaceutical company, was eager to learn all he could at the events about medical marijuana.

      “He was like a dry sponge who desperately wanted to be thrown in a bucket of water,” said St. Pierre, who recently resigned from his 11-year stint as NORML’s executive director to pursue private-sector opportunities.

    • NHS cuts ‘planned across England’

      Plans are being drawn up that could see cuts to NHS services across England.

      The BBC has seen draft sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which propose ward closures, cuts in bed numbers and changes to A&E and GP care in 44 areas.

      There have been have been no consultations on the plans so far.

      NHS England, which needs to find £22bn in efficiency savings by 2020-21, said reorganising local services is essential to improve patient care.

      But the Nuffield Trust think tank said while STPs could lead to “fundamental changes”, many of the plans do not meet the financial targets set by the government and will face a “dauntingly large implementation task”.

      Laura Townshend, director of the campaign group 38 Degrees, said the plans had received very little public or political scrutiny.

      She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “A key concern is why it hasn’t been this transparent up until now.

    • NHS plans closures and radical cuts to combat growing deficit in health budget

      NHS bosses throughout England are quietly drawing up plans for hospital closures, cutbacks and radical changes to the way healthcare is delivered in an attempt to meet spiralling demand and plug the hole in their finances, an investigation by the Guardian and campaign group 38 Degrees has revealed.

      Without the changes, the NHS at local level could be facing a financial shortfall of about £20bn by 2020-21 if no action is taken, the research suggests.

      The cost-cutting shakeup is being overseen by NHS England, but is already sparking a series of local political battles over the future of services, and exposes the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to fresh criticism after his controversial role in the junior doctors dispute.

      Last year’s Conservative manifesto pledged an extra £8bn a year for the NHS by the end of this parliament, as demanded by the NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, in his 2014 “five-year forward view”. But Stevens made clear that was the minimum money needed, and radical reforms to the way healthcare is delivered would also be necessary to make the NHS hit its budgets.

    • Virus Sharing Key Against Next Flu Pandemic: Global Database Hosts Genetic Data Of Flu Viruses

      When a deadly influenza virus appears and threatens to become a pandemic, time is of the essence. The 1918 flu epidemic infected a large portion of the global population and killed millions of people. The next pandemic is inevitable, and surveillance of flu viruses is essential through the timely sharing of flu virus genetic data with the scientific and research communities. A collaborative database has become prominent in recent years.

    • The feminisation of males

      An increasing number of baby boys in the UK are being born with genital disorders. One in 350 male babies have a condition known as hypospadias. Instead of the opening of the penis being at the tip, it may be lower down the penis or even around the scrotum. In a few rare cases, there may not be an opening at all.

      Other disorders of the male reproductive system are also on the increase. Cryptorchidism is the most common genital malformation of all, when one of both testes fail to descend into the scrotum, affecting between two and four per cent of baby boys. Chordee – a downward curve of the penis, especially when erect – is usually, but not always, associated with
      hypospadias. Boys with chordee often have to sit down when they relieve themselves. In later life, the severe curvature from chordee can make intercourse impossible.

      Many experts believe that the defects seen in male babies are related to a broader problem- the feminisation of men. Male sperm counts have halved since 1941. Infertility and cancer of the testes are also on the rise. Testicular cancer is now the most common cancer of young men. Hypospadias is a congenital (present at birth) anomaly (abnormality), which means that the malformation occurs during foetal development. As the fetus develops, the urethra does not grow to its complete length. Also during fetal development, the foreskin does not develop completely, which typically leaves extra foreskin on the top side of the penis and no foreskin on the underside of the penis.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Death Toll in Yemen Is So High the Red Cross Has Started Donating Morgues to Hospitals

      Almost a year and a half into Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed bombing campaign in Yemen, the humanitarian toll has become so extensive that the International Committee of the Red Cross has taken the unusual step of donating entire morgue units to Yemeni hospitals.

      “The hospitals were not able to cope,” said Rima Kamal, a Yemen-based spokesperson for the Red Cross. “You could have more than 20 dead people brought into one hospital on one single day. The morgue capacity at a regular hospital is not equipped to handle this influx of dead bodies.”

      “At times several dead bodies had to be stored on one shelf to avoid further decomposition,” Kamal continued. “The situation was not sustainable.”

      Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, after Houthi rebels took control of the capital and forced Yemen’s Saudi-backed leader, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, into exile. The United Nations has since attributed the majority of the war’s 6,500 deaths to the Saudi coalition, which the U.S. and U.K. have resupplied with tens of billions of dollars of weapons.

    • Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana

      In a healthy democracy, people are not shot at from helicopters for collecting food. They are certainly not then arrested, stripped bare and beaten while in custody without facing trial.

      Nor are people banned from their legitimate livelihoods, or persecuted on false pretenses.

      Sadly in Botswana, southern Africa’s much-vaunted ‘beacon of democracy’, all of this took place late last month in an incident which has been criminally under-reported. Nine Bushmen were later arrested and subsequently stripped naked and beaten while in custody.

      The Bushmen of the Kalahari have lived by hunting and gathering on the southern African plains for millennia. They are a peaceful people, who do almost no harm to their environment and have a deep respect for their lands and the game that lives on it. They hunt antelope with spears and bows, mostly gemsbok, which are endemic to the area.

      According to conservation expert Phil Marshall, there are no rhinos or elephants where the Bushmen live. Even if there were the Bushmen would have no reason to hunt them. They hunt various species of antelope, using the fat in their medicine and reserving a special place for the largest of them, the eland, in their mythology. None of these animals are endangered.

    • U.S. Military Now Says ISIS Leader Was Held in Notorious Abu Ghraib Prison

      In February 2004, U.S. troops brought a man named Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry to Abu Ghraib in Iraq and assigned him serial number US9IZ-157911CI. The prison was about to become international news, but the prisoner would remain largely unknown for the next decade.

      At the time the man was brought in, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was finalizing his report on allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib’s Hard Site — a prison building used to house detainees singled out for their alleged violence or their perceived intelligence value. Just weeks later, the first pictures of detainee abuse were published on CBS News and in the New Yorker.

      Today, detainee US9IZ-157911CI is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. His presence at Abu Ghraib, a fact not previously made public, provides yet another possible key to the enigmatic leader’s biography and may shed new light on the role U.S. detention facilities played in the rise of the Islamic State.

      Experts have long known that Baghdadi spent time in U.S. custody during the occupation of Iraq. Previous reports suggested he was at Camp Bucca, a sprawling detention facility in southern Iraq. But the U.S. Army confirmed to The Intercept that Baghdadi spent most of his time in U.S. custody at the notorious Abu Ghraib.

    • Support for Saudi Arabia Gives U.S. Direct Role in Yemen Conflict

      It was a frenetic Monday afternoon at Abs Hospital in northern Yemen, with doctors and nurses busily shuttling among the patients and a maternity ward filled with 25 women expecting to give birth.

      The bomb from the Saudi jet dropped into the middle of the hospital compound, a facility run by Doctors Without Borders, landing between the emergency room and a triage area for new patients. Nineteen people were killed, dozens were injured, and a humanitarian group that for decades has braved war zones across the globe decided it had had enough.

      Doctors Without Borders announced in the days after the Aug. 15 strike that it was pulling out of six medical facilities in northern Yemen, the latest turn in a war that has further devastated one of the Arab world’s poorest countries and has bogged down a Saudi military ill-prepared for the conflict.

    • Dad accused of imprisoning his daughter in Saudi Arabia has ‘two weeks’ to allow her home

      A Saudi academic accused of imprisoning his 21-year-old daughter at his home in Jeddah has about two weeks to comply with a British judge’s order which says the woman must be allowed to return to the UK.

      Mr Justice Holman ordered Mohammed Al-Jeffery to return Amina Al-Jeffery to Britain on August 3 after analysing the case at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

      The judge said Mr Al-Jeffery had to “permit and facilitate” Miss Al-Jeffery’s return to England or Wales by 4pm on September 11.

      Solicitor Anne-Marie Hutchinson, who represents Miss Al-Jeffery and is a partner at London law firm Dawson Cornwell, says her client has yet to return.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Indonesia fires: Environmentalists urge authorities to act

      Smoke is rising once again from the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, one year after haze from Indonesian land-clearing fires caused major health problems across South-East Asia.

      Environmentalists have urged Indonesian authorities to make good on their promises to get serious about the burning-off.

      So far, much of the haze seems to be coming from the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.

    • Billionaire’s 28-Year-Old Son Picks Digital Music Empire Over Palm-Oil Riches

      Kuok Meng Ru didn’t spend much time with his billionaire father when he was growing up.

      As the third child of an agribusiness tycoon, he was sent off to a British boarding school at 10, graduating later from Cambridge University with a mathematics degree.

      His father Kuok Khoon Hong was busy building Wilmar International Ltd. into the world’s largest palm-oil business, starting from scratch in 1991. His mother constantly reminded him: “Much has been given, much will be expected.”

      Yet it was the father who introduced his son to Eric Clapton’s music. That led to an obsession with B.B. King and a love affair with the blues guitar.

      “I always felt like I had a personal relationship with him,” Kuok said of the late guitarist.

    • Smoke from Indonesian fires hits ‘unhealthy’ level in Singapore

      Air pollution in Singapore rose to the “unhealthy” level on Friday as acrid smoke drifted over the island from fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

      Every dry season, smoke from fires set to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia clouds the skies over much of the region, raising concern about public health and worrying tourist operators and airlines.

      The 24-hour Pollution Standards Index (PSI), which Singapore’s NEA uses as a benchmark, rose as high as 105 in the afternoon. A level above 100 is considered “unhealthy”.

      The NEA said it planned a “daily haze advisory” as “a burning smell and slight haze were experienced over many areas” in Singapore.

      Indonesia has been criticized by its northern neighbors and green groups for failing to end the annual fires, which were estimated to cost Southeast Asia’s largest economy $16 billion in 2015, and left more than half a million Indonesians suffering from respiratory ailments.

    • Smoke from Indonesian fires hits ‘unhealthy’ levels in Singapore as authorities push to hunt offenders

      Air pollution in Singapore has risen to the “unhealthy” level as acrid smoke drifted over the island from fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, the city-state’s National Environment Agency (NEA) said, in a repeat of an annual crisis.

      Every dry season, smoke from fires set to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia clouds the skies over much of the region, raising concern about public health and worrying tourist operators and airlines.

      The 24-hour Pollution Standards Index (PSI), which the NEA uses as a benchmark, rose as high as 105 in the afternoon — a level above 100 is considered “unhealthy”.

      The NEA said it planned a “daily haze advisory” as “a burning smell and slight haze were experienced over many areas” in Singapore.

    • Indonesia Steps up Fire Response as Haze Blankets Singapore

      Six Indonesian provinces have declared states of emergency as forest fires blanketed a swath of Southeast Asia in a smoky haze.

      Singapore’s air quality deteriorated to unhealthy levels on Friday as winds blew smoke from fires on Sumatra, where millions of people are already affected by haze, across the city-state and into southern Malaysia.

      The number of hotspots detected in Sumatra and Borneo by weather satellites has increased in the past month though they are below levels last year when massive fires in Indonesia caused a regional crisis.

      Singapore’s three-hour air pollution index was at 157 by late afternoon, after peaking at 215. Its environment agency doesn’t give a health warning with the limited duration index, but on a 24-hour basis it says levels above 100 are unhealthy and above 200 very unhealthy.

    • Singapore air quality worsens overnight as Indonesia fire arrests jump

      Southeast Asia is bracing itself for its annual, uncomfortable tryst with haze as raging fires at Indonesian plantations worsen pollution in the region.

      On Friday, Singapore woke up to a deterioration in air quality overnight, as a thin cloak of haze hung over the city-state. The country’s environment agency said that its 3-hour Pollution Standards Index hit the unhealthy level at 10am SIN.

      Neighboring Malaysia had already been feeling the effects of the drifting smog since mid-August, local media reported.

      The latest bout of pollution comes even as Indonesia steps up efforts against the ‘slash-and-burn’ technique of cutting down vegetation on a patch of land, then burning off the undergrowth to make space for new plantations.

      The country has arrested 454 individuals in connection with forest fires so far this year, more than double the 196 arrests made in 2015, Reuters reported, citing police data released on Thursday.

      The ‘slash-and-burn’ method is prevalent in Indonesia as it the easiest, fastest and most cost-effective way to clear land. According to the World Bank, about 35 percent of the Indonesian workforce is employed in agriculture, with palm oil and pulp-and-paper industries key contributors.

    • Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

      Standing before several dozen students in a college classroom, Travis Rieder tries to convince them not to have children. Or at least not too many.

      He’s at James Madison University in southwest Virginia to talk about a “small-family ethic” — to question the assumptions of a society that sees having children as good, throws parties for expecting parents, and in which parents then pressure their kids to “give them grandchildren.”

      Why question such assumptions? The prospect of climate catastrophe.

      For years, people have lamented how bad things might get “for our grandchildren,” but Rieder tells the students that future isn’t so far off anymore.

      He asks how old they will be in 2036, and, if they are thinking of having kids, how old their kids will be.

  • Finance

    • Apple could be on the hook for $19 billion in taxes, and the Obama administration is livid

      The European Commission is expected to levy a judgment against Apple in the next few months that could total in the billions of euros.

      JPMorgan has estimated that Apple could be on the hook for as much as $19 billion — or about 17 billion euros — the Financial Times reports.

      The commission is accusing Apple of striking a sweetheart tax deal with Ireland, in which the iPhone maker would move its profits to wholly owned Irish subsidiaries to reduce its corporate taxes.

      Apple has one major defender in its corner, though: the US Treasury Department and, by extension, the Obama administration.

    • Uber & Lyft As An Extension Of… Or Replacement For… Public Transit
    • Bay Area transit system to subsidize Uber, Lyft rides

      In a first for California, a public transit agency next month plans to begin subsidizing fares of people who take private Uber and Lyft cars to local destinations rather than riding the bus.

    • Uber Loses at Least $1.2 Billion in First Half of 2016

      The ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. is not a public company, but every three months, dozens of shareholders get on a conference call to hear the latest details on its business performance from its head of finance, Gautam Gupta.

      On Friday, Gupta told investors that Uber’s losses mounted in the second quarter. Even in the U.S., where Uber had turned a profit during its first quarter, the company was once again losing money.

    • Uber Is Playing a $16 Billion Game of Chicken

      A Bloomberg report Thursday revealed that Uber continues to lose an astounding amount of money as it tries to figure out a business model that works internationally. Uber lost $1.27 billion globally in the first half of 2016, according to the report. But more concerning for domestic riders is the fact that, after a profitable quarter in the United States, Uber is now once again losing money in the US market as it tries to use the enormous amount of financing it’s raised ($16 billion) to destroy competitors such as Lyft.

      In its quest to corner the ridesharing market, that has meant steep price discounts and promotional fares for consumers that are subsidized by Uber’s investors. Uber lost $100 million domestically in the second quarter. Lyft isn’t faring any better—its goal is to lose less than $50 million per month, according to the Bloomberg report.

      “Uber has been engaged in a fierce price war with Lyft Inc. this year, and that has also contributed to the enormous losses,” Bloomberg reporter Eric Newcomer wrote. “Uber told investors on Friday’s call that it’s willing to spend to maintain its market share in the US. The company told investors that it believes Uber has between 84 percent and 87 percent of the market in the US, according to a person familiar with the matter. One investor said that he was expecting Uber to continue losing money in the US for the next quarter or two.”

    • Uber lost at least $1.27bn in first half of 2016 – report

      Ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies lost at least $1.27bn before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the first six months of 2016, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

      The subsidies Uber grants its drivers was the main reason for the loss, finance head Gautam Gupta told investors in a quarterly conference call, Bloomberg said, citing sources.

      Uber, whose investors include Goldman Sachs Group and Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, could not immediately be reached for comment.

      The company lost about $520m in the first quarter of the year and another $750m in the second quarter, Bloomberg said.

    • Brexit pushes up price of bacon butty as China takes advantage of weak sterling to buy British pork

      The price of a bacon butty has dramatically increased after Brexit as China snaps up Britain’s pork supply and takes advantage of the UK’s weak sterling.

      Pork suppliers have revealed they had bumped up the price of a pack of British smoked bacon by as much as 38 per cent since the beginning of August, causing price increases for Britons of up to 19 per cent.

      The rise is attributed to higher demand from China who are desperately trying to import British pork to make up for their own domestic shortage after floods wiped out huge swathes of Chinese pigs.

    • Government brings forward measures to boost tourism after Brexit puts UK into bargain basement bin

      The Government is bringing forward a raft of measures to boost tourism, as a weak pound makes trips to Britain cheaper for foreigners.

      Brits’ summer holidays became more expensive across the board following the Brexit vote, as the pound fell from $1.49 on referendum day to lows of $1.28 in July and August.

      As a result the cost of a beer in New York City bar went from £3.98 to £4.65 overnight for British visitors – with similar rises for all other expenses like hotels, museums, and some flights.

    • Brexit shock fades as consumer confidence jumps at highest rate in three years

      UK consumer confidence rose the most in more than three years this month as the initial shock from the Brexit vote faded.

      An index of sentiment by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research jumped to 109.8 from 106.6 in July, which was a three-year low. The gauge is still below the level it was a year ago.

      While the Brexit vote initially knocked sentiment, it’s not yet clear how this might ripple into economic activity. The Bank of England took pre-emptive action in early August, cutting interest rates and restarting quantitative easing to counter any slowdown.

    • The top 10 reasons Brexit isn’t working, according to Brexiteers

      Over the next few years, it is likely that the economy will shrink, that the entire government will be consumed by trade negotiations at the expense of every other priority, and that EU leaders will use their considerable negotiation advantages to theatrically screw us. As this unpretty story unfolds, those who argued confidently for Brexit, in parliament and in the press, will feel compelled to maintain that they were right, and that if it hadn’t been for some other impossible-to-foresee factor everything would be going splendidly. What follows is an attempt to anticipate the most predictable post-rationalisations; I’m sure there will be more creative efforts.

    • Why the Norway model is a flawed blueprint for Brexit

      The Norway option contradicts most claims of “taking back control” made during the referendum campaign. This is because, in order to benefit from membership of the single market, Norway has to accept the free movement of persons, along with goods, services and capital. Free movement within the EEA is a package deal.

      Even if the UK was able to secure an agreement to join the EEA and introduce limits on free movement of persons (which seems unlikely), the Norway option would still betray the “control over our laws” promise, as the UK would, in practice, continue to be bound by a large proportion of EU law.

    • Brazil’s Congress — a den of corruption

      Brazil’s Senate is big on decorum, not even letting men in without a coat and tie. But when it comes to corruption allegations, the politicians judging suspended president Dilma Rousseff seem less worried.

      Analysis by corruption watchdog Transparencia Brasil reveals that 59 percent of the 81 Senate members who will vote on Rousseff’s impeachment have been convicted or been investigated for crimes at some point.

      It is the same proportion in the lower house, whose 513 deputies first ignited the impeachment process now in its final stage in the Senate.

      Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating government accounts to mask the depth of the economic crisis. However, her alleged crime, which she argues is an accounting maneuver used by several previous governments, does not suggest personal corruption or common crime.

      The same cannot be said of many of those sitting in Congress in recent years with rap sheets ranging from embezzlement and vote buying to murder.

    • Finland plans to give out cash to create jobs

      The experiment aims to show if the measure can simplify the welfare benefits system and lower unemployment in the country.

      “The primary goal of the basic income experiment is related to promoting employment,” the ministry said.

      As part of the testing, which will begin next year, 2,000 randomly selected working-age recipients of unemployment benefit will receive a monthly tax free income of €560 instead of their current payment.

    • Finland gearing up to launch basic income experiment

      Finland is set to launch an experiment in which a group of randomly-selected recipients of unemployment benefits will receive a monthly basic income of 560 euros instead of their current benefits.

    • Finland tests giving every citizen a universal basic income

      Finland is pushing ahead with a plan to test the effects of paying a basic income as it seeks to protect state finances and move more people into the labour market.

      The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, known as Kela, will be responsible for carrying out the experiment that would start in 2017 and include 2,000 randomly selected welfare recipients, according to a statement released on Thursday.

      The level of basic income would be €560 euros per month (£480) tax free, and mandatory for those picked.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • “The Spoiler” Speaks

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on her campaign and building an alternative to the two corporate parties.

    • Did an ISIS Fighter Try to Sell Sex Slaves on Facebook?

      Well, maybe. It is amazing how these horrific stories about ISIS just happen to appear on global social media, and then are instantly picked up by the mainstream media as fact.

      Why, it is almost as if someone is creating them, and then calling the mass media’s attention to them on obscure sources, for anti-ISIS propaganda purposes. Hmm.

    • Clinton Wins in A Cakewalk? Don’t Bet the Ranch on It

      If you listen to the media and the pundits, most are predicting a surefire Clinton victory – if not a landslide. One of the reasons for this misplaced optimism is that they seem to believe Sanders’ revolutionaries are all prepared to join hands with the PACster politicians and DLC types dominating the Democratic Party and sing Kumbaya.

      [...]

      The 2014 mid-terms are a good guide in terms of what to expect. The President’s party usually loses in a mid-term, but the Democratic defeat in 2014 was off the charts. Republicans ended up with 247 House seats – their best showing since Hoover was President, and they took the Senate, ending up with 54 seats.

      Most of the pundits and even many of the Democrats themselves ascribed the 2014 shellacking to their favorite fantasy – that the majority of Americans are right-of-center and liberal issues like Obamacare sunk the Party. The fact is, the majority of Americans are left of center, and except for a brief blip in the 70’s and 80’s, they have been since World War II.

      In reality, “none of the above” won in 2014, and the Democrats lost because instead of running on progressive values they ran from them, and progressives – disgusted and with no one to vote for — stayed home in droves.

      As a result, 2014 ended up with the lowest voter turnout in over 70 years. If you were to ask what Democrats stood for in 2014, about the only conclusion you could come up with would be something like, “We’re not with the black guy, and well … er… um we really don’t like Obamacare much either …”

      Conservatives, in contrast, ran fanatically on their usual platform of jingoism, anti-government, free-marketeer nonsense, and while their base is much smaller, they got fired up and they showed up. Throw in the gerrymandered districts they got from strategically targeted down-ballot interventions in 2010, and the defeat was crippling.

    • Should Gary Johnson, Jill Stein be included in debates? Reader respond to our question: Letters

      Given the unpalatable candidates chosen by the two major parties for the upcoming presidential election, I feel it is essential that all credible third-party candidates be included in the debates, regardless whether they have polled at 15 percent or better.

      Should either the Democratic or the Republican candidate be elected president, I shudder at the tragic consequences that are sure to result. I certainly don’t plan on voting for the lesser of the two evils and hope that having third-party candidates in the debates may convince others to seriously consider voting for a third party.

    • From Dana Milbank, Trite Objections To Jill Stein

      One week after a CNN town hall event which created a momentary spike of interest in her presidential campaign, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. She hoped to convince reporters from establishment media outlets to give her campaign more coverage because voters are “hungry for more” information about her candidacy.

      Washington Post columnist and contrarian Dana Milbank was present. He published a piece on Stein based on what he heard (and decided not to hear) at the Press Club. This was not the kind of media coverage Stein wanted, but it is about what her campaign could expect from a seasoned Beltway hack, who thinks everything he does is hot fire.

      Columns from the Washington Post are syndicated widely. Just as the Washington Post introduced Americans to Jill Stein through an article that underhandedly suggested she was anti-vaccine, this column will make an impression on voters. That is why it deserves to be rebutted in its entirety.

      In the piece, Milbank attacks Stein for a tactical disagreement with left-wing scholar Noam Chomsky and does so with a joke because Milbank thinks he is hilarious. He once made a joke about what kind of a beer Hillary Clinton would be, “Mad Bitch Beer,” and had to apologize for it. (Yes, sometimes his edginess gets the best of him.)

    • If You’re Worried About Trump’s ‘Alt-Right’ Then Vote Jill Stein, Not Hillary Clinton

      Donald Trump has pandered to the extreme right this election, but Republicans have always engaged in this form of politics. My first Salon article (long before Joan Walsh lobbied the publication to stop publishing me) was in 2014, regarding Paul Ryan’s “tailspin of culture” comments. From Romney’s “47% Percent” remark to Reagan’s use of the “welfare queen” stereotype, Republicans have used race as a political weapon. Trump didn’t start the GOP’s use of racism to gain votes, but he’s been more vocal than previous Republican nominees. There’s a reason he won the Republican Primary and Tea Party politics has gained greater influence within the GOP.

      However, to assume that Hillary Clinton’s speech on Trump’s “alt-right” political alliance makes the case for voting Democrat ignores recent history. Clinton and Trump are two sides of the same coin, especially considering Trump donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation and is friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Voting for the lesser evil in 2016 (assuming you view Clinton to be less evil) only bolsters the ability of establishment Democrats to take money from prison lobbyists, without the condemnation of progressive media. Therefore, the only logical choice to truly undermine “alt-right” political ideology is voting for the Green Party’s Jill Stein. I explain in this YouTube segment why progressives shouldn’t worry about Trump and must vote Jill Stein to transform America’s lesser-evil political system.

    • Democratic Pundits Downplay Serious Ethical Issues Raised by the Clinton Foundation

      The Associated Press story this week revealing that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton frequently met with donors to the Clinton Foundation, set off a firestorm in the media. Many Democrats and sympathetic pundits are criticizing the article — and have made the sweeping claim that, contrary to many deeply reported investigations, there is no evidence that well-heeled backers of the foundation received favorable treatment from the State Department.

      While there are some legitimate criticisms of the AP story — its focus, for instance, on a Nobel Peace Prize winner meeting with Clinton distracts from the thesis of the piece — it is nonetheless a substantive investigation based on calendars that the State Department has fought to withhold from the public. The AP took the agency to court to obtain a partial release of the meeting logs. Other commentators took issue with a tweet promoting the AP piece, which they said might confuse readers because the AP story reflected private sector meetings, not overall meetings.

      But in challenging the overall credibility of the AP story, Clinton surrogates and allies are going well beyond a reasoned critique in an effort to downplay the serious ethical issues raised by Clinton Foundation activities.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • China announces strict rules for P2P lenders, Yirendai’s stock price plummets

      After months of very high profile problems, China’s regulators have finally announced how they’re going to fix the online P2P lending industry. Among the new rules for P2P lenders:

      No accepting public deposits
      No pooling investor money to support the lender’s own projects
      No selling financial/wealth management products
      No issuing asset-backed securities
      All lenders must use third-party banks to watch over investors’ money

    • Lawyer Sues Basically All Mainstream Media For RICO Violations For How They Report On Donald Trump

      If you do a Google search on Roy Den Hollander, as I just did, you may discover that basically every result is a story about some absolutely ridiculous lawsuit he has filed. There was the time he sued a nightclub claiming that requiring him to buy a $350 bottle of vodka was a human rights violation. Or the time he sued a bunch of night clubs for violating the 14th Amendment by having “Ladies’ Nights.” Or the time he sued Columbia University for offering women’s studies courses. Or the time he wanted to file a lawsuit to force women to register for the draft. And these are all stories from just the first page of Google results (or following links from those stories). But, you get the idea.

      And now he’s back with a new lawsuit. He’s basically suing the entire mainstream media claiming that how they report on Donald Trump is a RICO violation. No, really.

    • Ai Weiwei Says He Was Removed from Inaugural Yinchuan Biennale for Political Reasons

      Ai Weiwei at his exhibition in 2015 at London’s Royal Academy of Art. Photo Alex B. Huckle/Getty Images. Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says that his work was removed from the inaugural Yinchuan Biennale for political reasons.

    • Dissident artist Ai Weiwei says work was pulled from Yinchuan Biennale due to ‘political sensitivity’

      Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei says his work has been pulled from the upcoming biennale in Yinchuan, China, due to his “political sensitivity.”

      Ai said on Instagram that he received a “vague” letter from Hsieh Suchen, art director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Yinchuan, China. The letter stated that his participation in the upcoming Yinchuan Biennale is now cancelled. The decision was made by higher officials due to his “political sensitivity,” Ai said.

      Scheduled to run from September 9 to December 18, the Yinchuan Biennale is the first biennale in the north west of China and the second in China. As the museum’s first Biennale, the exhibition represents Yinchuan’s entrance into the international art scene.

    • Groups charge censorship over relocation of paintings

      Anti-censorship groups recently appealed to the University of Wisconsin-Stout not to remove or relocate two 80-year-old paintings that depict First Nations people and French fur traders.

      UW-Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer said the paintings were being relocated for display under “controlled circumstances” because of student complaints.

      Meyer said Native American students feel the paintings symbolize a time when their land and possessions were taken from them, according to the AP. The school is moving the paintings because of their potential for harmful effect and because they could reinforce racial stereotypes.

    • Twitter, Google, Facebook “consciously failing” to police extremism, MPs claim

      Twitter, Facebook, and Google are “consciously failing” to tackle the promotion of terrorism and killings on their services in the UK, a cross-party panel of MPs has claimed.

      The home affairs committee released a report on radicalisation on Thursday morning, following a 12-month-long inquiry. And the conclusion is damning for popular online sites such as YouTube.

      “The use of the Internet to promote radicalisation and terrorism is one of the greatest threats that countries including the UK face,” it said, before adding: “Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the vehicle of choice in spreading propaganda and they have become the recruiting platforms for terrorism. They must accept that hundreds of millions in revenues generated from billions of people using their products needs to be accompanied by a greater sense of responsibility and ownership for the impact that extremist material on their sites is having.”

    • Newspaper Archive Disappears From Google, Because Company Wants To Cash In

      Another day, another case of copyright being used to lock up information, rather than make it more accessible. In this case, it’s the news archives of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, according to an interesting piece by Henry Grabar over at Slate. A decade or so ago, the newspaper partnered with Google to digitize all of its archives and make them publicly accessible.

    • After Outpouring Of Islamophobia, Oxford Dictionaries Suspends Most-Hated Word Survey

      Oxford Dictionaries suspended its #OneWordMap most-hated words project today. An update to the blog post describing the feature stated: “We regret to inform users that due to severe misuse we have had to remove this feature from our website.”

      It’s possible that the suspension stemmed from the apparent outpouring of anti-Islam sentiment in the submissions to the project. Some Twitter accounts posted screenshots purporting to show that Oxford Dictionaries had barred certain sensitive words, like “Islam,” from submission prior to the decision to take down the project.

      However, the nature of the misuse was not specified in the site’s statement, and as of this update, Oxford Dictionaries had not responded to a request for more details about why the program was halted.

    • UK lawmakers say Facebook, Google, and Twitter are ‘consciously failing’ to fight ISIS online

      A committee of UK lawmakers this week said that Facebook, Google, and Twitter are “consciously failing” to combat terrorist propaganda and recruitment on their platforms, escalating an ongoing debate over the role of social media companies in curtailing online extremism. In a wide-ranging report on radicalization published Thursday, the UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee said that social media platforms have become “the vehicle of choice in spreading propaganda and the recruiting platforms for terrorism.” The Wall Street Journal first reported on the committee’s findings on Wednesday.

      Lawmakers in the US and Europe have called on social media companies to crack down on propaganda spread by ISIS and other extremist groups, following a spate of recent attacks. The Obama administration has been working with tech companies to create counter-messaging campaigns, and some social networks have publicly touted an increase in suspended accounts linked to extremist groups. But some rights groups have said that the crackdown could curtail free speech, expressing concerns over governments delegating too much power to private tech firms.

    • Twitter developing keyword filtering tool to fight abuse, says report

      Twitter is reportedly working on a feature that will let users block certain keywords in order to fight abuse, reports Bloomberg. According to anonymous sources, Twitter has been discussing the tool internally for about a year, although it’s unclear when or if it might be put into place. Bloomberg compares the keyword filtering to a feature recently added by Instagram, which lets users block comments containing certain words from appearing on their posts. But where that would outright remove messages, this system sounds more like an expansion of Twitter’s existing “mute” feature, which simply lets people avoid seeing tweets from specific accounts.

      The report suggests that users could set these filters and avoid being shown tweets with racial or gendered slurs, or they could use it for inoffensive tweets about events or conversation topics they’re not interested in. That’s different from the filters Twitter has been suspected of using in the past, which would actively prevent people from tweeting specific keywords at another user. In fact, the description makes it sound a lot like the filtering systems that already exist in third-party clients like Tweetdeck or Tweetbot, although these aren’t mentioned.

    • Political Correctness: What Words Are Okay to Say?
    • Some Words One College Won’t Encourage
    • UWM ‘Just Words’ campaign sparks criticism of censorship
    • Korryn Gaines Shooting Prompts ‘Censorship’ Change

      A collective of activists sent an open letter to Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg asking him to implement an “anti-censorship policy” at the company for its dealings with law enforcement officials in the wake of the death of Korryn Gaines.

      Gaines, 23, died shortly after a standoff with Baltimore police. Her confrontation with police officers, which was streamed via the social media site’s Facebook Live feature, was turned off shortly after her death.

      Archived video footage from the stream was briefly unavailable as well. According to the letter, Facebook said the inconvenience was due to a “technical glitch.”

      But the consortium of activist groups say they don’t buy the “glitch” explanation.

    • Why Did Facebook Censor the Fatal Police Shooting of Korryn Gaines?
    • Black Lives Matter Demands Facebook Revive Account Of Woman Killed For SHOOTING AT COPS With Large Gun
    • Activists Request Anti-Censorship Policy from Facebook Following Death of Korryn Gaines
    • As Summer Ends, Tensions Remain High Between Black Community and Police
    • UPDATE: Amos Yee Pleads Guilty to Three Charges of ‘Wounding Religious Feelings’
    • Singaporean dissident blogger Amos Yee pleads guilty to three more charges
    • Amos Yee enters guilty plea on three more charges
    • Don’t censor terrorists’ names
    • Terrorists’ names, faces should be published
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • British Companies Are Selling Advanced Spy Tech to Authoritarian Regimes

      Since early 2015, over a dozen UK companies have been granted licenses to export powerful telecommunications interception technology to countries around the world, Motherboard has learned. Many of these exports include IMSI-catchers, devices which can monitor large numbers of mobile phones over broad areas.

      Some of the UK companies were given permission to export their products to authoritarian states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Egypt; countries with poor human rights records that have been well-documented to abuse surveillance technology.

      “At a time when the use of these surveillance tools is still highly controversial in the UK, it is completely unacceptable that companies are allowed to export the same equipment to countries with atrocious human rights records or which lack rule of law altogether. There is absolutely a clear risk that these products can be used for repression and abuses,” Edin Omanovic, research officer at Privacy International, told Motherboard in an email.

    • BAE Systems Sells Internet Surveillance Gear to United Arab Emirates

      A Danish subsidiary of British defense contractor BAE Systems is selling an internet surveillance package to the government of the United Arab Emirates, a country known for spying on, imprisoning, and torturing dissidents and activists, according to documents obtained by Lasse Skou Andersen of the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information.

      The documents from the Danish Business Authority reveal an ongoing contract between the defense conglomerate, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence A/S, and the Middle Eastern oil federation dating back to at least December 2014.

      The contract describes an internet surveillance product capable of deep packet inspection — “IP monitoring and data analysis” for “serious crime” and “national security” investigations. That could include capabilities like mapping a target’s social networks and extracting personal information and communications from devices including voice recordings, video, messages, and attachments.

    • Why can’t Apple spend its way out of security vulnerabilities?

      On most days, it’s the largest company in the world by market cap, and a surprising amount of that money is already in the bank. At the close of Q1 this year, the company had $55 billion in easily accessible cash along with another $178 billion in long-term securities that could be cashed in if the need arose. With the core business already at its peak, there’s no obvious place to put that money, which is why it’s so easy for Tim Cook to pour cash into areas like health-tracking or Frank Ocean albums.

    • IPhone Users Urged to Update Software After Security Flaws Are Found

      One of the world’s most evasive digital arms dealers is believed to have been taking advantage of three security vulnerabilities in popular Apple products in its efforts to spy on dissidents and journalists.

      Investigators discovered that a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit that sells software that invisibly tracks a target’s mobile phone, was responsible for the intrusions. The NSO Group’s software can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user.

      In response, Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5. Users can get the patch through a normal software update.

    • WhatsApp privacy backlash: Facebook angers users by harvesting their data

      Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Facebook rolls out a new feature and/or acquires a new company, vowing to protect the privacy of its users’ personal information with its last dying breath. A year or two later, it backtracks and decides it wants spin your data into gold after all – and if users don’t like it, they can delete their accounts.

      And so it is with today’s news about WhatsApp, the messaging service acquired by the world’s most unavoidable social network in February 2014. In a blogpost, WhatsApp announced it would begin sharing names and phone numbers with its parent company, to allow its more than 1 billion users “to communicate with businesses that matter to you too” – like notifications from airlines, delivery services or your bank, for example.

      Facebook will also use that data to make friend suggestions and combine that data with the reams of information it has already collected so that it can tailor ads even more specifically to your interests.

      Facebook did not want to comment on the change.

      The reaction was nothing if not predictable. Tech news site Gizmodo sums up the feeling of many tech observers: “The sentiment that WhatsApp is an app that protects and cares for your privacy is no longer a reality. It was nice while it lasted.”

      Some used Reddit to voice their disappointment, like Redditor Rakajj: “WhatsApp just lost a user. Was just a matter of time once the FB acquisition went through. Guess it’s time to finally give Telegram a whirl.”

    • You can stop WhatsApp from sharing your phone number with Facebook

      Hyper-popular messaging app WhatsApp announced yesterday that it would start sharing some user data — including your phone number — with parent company Facebook. The two companies say the new policy will help you find friends and “improve your Facebook ads and products experiences,” but it will also give businesses a new avenue to reach potential customers, with WhatsApp describing situations where banks and airlines will use your phone number to get in touch about fraudulent payments or delayed flights.

      WhatsApp has promised that it won’t sell or share that number with advertisers, but if you still balk at the idea of putting your phone number where a legion of hungry brands could potentially see it, you’re in luck — you’ve still got a chance to stop WhatsApp from handing Facebook this new data if you act fast. There are two methods, as Motherboard notes, but the first has to be done before you accept the messaging app’s new terms of service. Rather than clicking “agree” blindly, press the smaller “read more” option below, and uncheck the box that reads “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook…”

    • Facebook Takes First Step Toward Making Money From WhatsApp Deal

      Facebook Inc. is laying the groundwork for its free messaging service WhatsApp to begin making money, easing its privacy rules so data can be used for Facebook advertising and allowing businesses to message its more than one billion users. It’s the first step toward monetizing the platform since the social network’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg paid $22 billion for the app in 2014.

      WhatsApp announced the change to its terms of service policy today. It allows businesses to communicate with users, including appointment reminders, delivery and shipping notifications and marketing pitches. In a corresponding blog post, WhatsApp said it will be testing the features over the coming months.

    • Here’s How to Prevent WhatsApp from Giving Facebook Your Phone Number

      A little more than two years ago, after Facebook bought his messaging startup for a cool $19 billion, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum stressed that “nothing would change” regarding his company’s well-regarded privacy policy and its handling of user data. “There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product,” Koum said.

      Times change.

      WhatsApp said on Thursday morning that it will now share with Facebook the phone numbers of its users in an effort “to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences.” So far, this “improved experience” primarily appears to mean giving businesses the ability to contact you via WhatsApp: banks will be able to message you when they detect fraudulent activity on your account, and airlines will be able to alert you when your flight is delayed. WhatsApp noted that it expects to begin testing these features within the next few months.

    • Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine

      Open your Facebook feed. What do you see? A photo of a close friend’s child. An automatically generated slide show commemorating six years of friendship between two acquaintances. An eerily on-target ad for something you’ve been meaning to buy. A funny video. A sad video. A recently live video. Lots of video; more video than you remember from before. A somewhat less-on-target ad. Someone you saw yesterday feeling blessed. Someone you haven’t seen in 10 years feeling worried.

    • NSA’s SNMP exploit cyberweapon affects all Cisco ASA software

      The danger of the NSA-linked EXTRABACON exploit grew after researchers found an easy way to modify the SNMP exploit to be effective against newer versions of Cisco’s ASA software.

      EXTRABACON, released earlier this month as part of the Shadow Brokers dump of NSA cyberweapons, was described by Cisco as an exploit targeting a buffer overflow vulnerability in the Simple Network Messaging Protocol (SNMP) code used in Cisco’s Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) software.

      Cisco admitted the underlying vulnerability could be found in all supported versions of SNMP and therefore all Cisco ASA software releases were also affected. But, preliminary research indicated EXTRABACON was designed to be effective against Cisco ASA versions 8.4(4) and earlier.

      Silent Signal, a cybersecurity company based in Budapest, Hungary, proved the EXTRABACON code was modular and could easily be modified to make the SNMP exploit work on all Cisco ASA software.

    • The National Security Agency has no idea how a rogue hacking group leaked its exploits

      The US intelligence community is still attempting to figure out how a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers was able to obtain and leak a slew of NSA computer exploits used to circumvent security of routers and firewalls, top officials have admitted.

      “We are still sorting this out,” said James Clapper, director of national intelligence, at an event at the Nixon Presidential Library on 24 August. As reported by AP, he added: “It’s still under investigation. We don’t know exactly the full extent – or the understanding – of exactly what happened.”

      In what amounted to the first official comment on the hack, it’s clear the US government is still attempting to find out the true scope of the embarrassing blunder.

      The leaked toolkits, reportedly from 2013, contained NSA surveillance and infiltration exploits that relied upon previously unknown zero-day vulnerabilities.

    • Cisco starts patching firewall devices against NSA-linked exploit

      Cisco Systems has started releasing security patches for a critical flaw in Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) firewalls targeted by an exploit linked to the U.S. National Security Agency.

      The exploit, dubbed ExtraBacon, is one of the tools used by a group that the security industry calls the Equation, believed to be a cyberespionage team tied to the NSA.

      ExtraBacon was released earlier this month together with other exploits by one or more individuals who use the name Shadow Brokers. The files were provided as a sample of a larger Equation group toolset the Shadow Brokers outfit has put up for auction.

      ExtraBacon exploits a buffer overflow vulnerability in the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) implementation from Cisco’s ASA software. It allows attackers to remotely execute rogue code on the affected devices, as long as they can send traffic to their SNMP interface. This typically requires being on the same internal network as the targeted devices.

      Even though the ExtraBacon exploit was designed to work for versions 8.4(4) and earlier of the ASA software, other researchers demonstrated that it can be modified to also work on newer versions. Cisco confirmed in an advisory that all versions of SNMP in Cisco ASA software contain the flaw.

    • The Secret Behind the NSA Breach: Network Infrastructure Is the Next Target

      Advanced attackers are targeting organizations’ first line of defense–their firewalls—and turning them into a gateway into the network for mounting a data breach. On Aug. 13, the shady “ShadowBrokers” group published several firewall exploits as proof that they had a full trove of cyber weapons. Whether intended to drive up bids for their “Equation Group Cyber Weapons Auction” (since removed), or to threaten other nation-states, the recent disclosure raises the question: if organizations can’t trust their own firewalls, then what can they trust? Does the cache of cyber weapons exposed by ShadowBrokers signal a shift in attack methods and targets?

    • NSA Leaks are Scaring Big Tech. Heres Why

      After an unknown group came public with a cache of hacking tools from the National Security Agency earlier this week, some of the biggest tech companies in the world are in a hurry to fix their systems and software to protect themselves and customers from attacks.

      The leak came from an anonymous group and is calling itself The Shadow Brokers. While the group’s beginnings and reasons for the leak are unknown, cybersecurity experts and former agency employees have authenticated the NSA hacking tools.

      By exposing the custom-made malware online, the Shadow Brokers have made many of the systems American corporations rely on for security online more vulnerable to cyberattacks from criminals and spies.
      Many cybersecurity pros are asking why the NSA would stockpile so many of these kinds of security vulnerabilities without telling the affected companies such as networking giants Cisco and the digital security firm Fortinet.

    • Cisco Patches ASA Devices Against EXTRABACON

      Cisco has begun releasing software updates for its Adaptive Security Appliance devices to patch a zero-day flaw that was revealed via leaked Equation Group attack tools. Cisco ASA devices provide anti-virus, firewall, intrusion prevention and virtual private network capabilities (see Equation Group Hacking Tool Dump: 5 Lessons).

    • The Shadow Brokers Release More Potent Exploits To The Public

      The Shadow Brokers continue to make a name for themselves. Although their Bitcoin auction is not seeing much success, the group recently leaked some Cisco firewall exploits.

    • The NSA hacked equipment from Cisco, Huawei, and Juniper

      With sensitive NSA documents falling into the hands of hacking group Shadow Brokers, it was only a matter of time before the world gained some further insights on the security agency’s latest work.

    • Apple Updates iOS To Close Three Separate 0days That Were Being Exploited

      As you may have heard, if you have an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, even iPod Touch) you should be updating your devices, like a few hours ago. Seriously, if you haven’t done it yet, stop reading and go update. The story behind this update is quite incredible, and is detailed in a great article over at Motherboard by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai. Basically after someone (most likely a gov’t) targeted Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates with a slightly questionable text (urging him to click on a link to get info about prison torture), a team of folks from Citizen Lab (who have exposed lots of questionable malware) and Lookout (anti-malware company) got to work on the text and figured out what it did. And, basically the short version is that the single click exploits three separate 0days vulnerabilities to effectively take over your phone in secret. All of it. It secretly jailbreaks the phone without you knowing it and then accesses basically everything.

    • To The NSA, The Word ‘Security’ Is Synonymous With ‘Gaping, Unpatched Holes In US Developers’ Software’

      Suck it up, Cisco. That gaping hole uncovered by the Shadow Brokers was discovered at least three years ago by the NSA and if it chose not to tell you about it, it had its reasons. Namely: national security.

      The Obama administration made sympathetic noises in the wake of the Snowden leaks, suggesting the NSA err on the side of disclosure. It simultaneously gave the agency no reason to ever do that by appending “unless national security, etc.” to the statement.

      But part of the phrase “national security” is the word “security.” (And the other part — “national” — suggests this directive also covers protecting US companies from attacks, not just the more amorphous “American public.”) Allowing tech companies who provide network security software and hardware to other prime hacking targets to remain unaware of security holes doesn’t exactly serve the nation or its security. So, while Tanji may claim the NSA isn’t in the QA business, it sort of is. The thing is the NSA prefers to exploit QA issues, rather than give affected developers a chance to patch them.

    • Germany Interior Minister Pushing For Deployment Of Facial Recognition Software In Public Areas

      Facial recognition software is the wave of the future present. The FBI — acting without a required Privacy Impact Assessment — rolled out its system in 2014, finding that a 20% false hit rate was good enough for government (surveillance) work.

      Following in the footsteps of Facebook, governments slanting towards the authoritarian side (that’s you, Russia!) have deployed facial recognition software to help ensure its citizens are stripped of their anonymity.

      Other governments not so seemingly bent on obedience to the state have done the same. UK law enforcement has quietly built a huge facial recognition database and Brazil experimented with police equipment that would turn officers into Robocops — providing real-time facial recognition to cops via some sort of Google Glass-ish headgear. If what we know about facial recognition software’s accuracy rates holds true, the goggles will, indeed, do nothing.

      Germany has maintained an arm’s-length relationship with its troublesome past. The Stasi and Gestapo’s lingering specters still haunt current legislators, occasionally prompting them to curb domestic surveillance efforts. Concerns for the privacy of its citizens has also sometimes resulted in the government making angry noises at tech companies it feels are overstepping their boundaries.

    • EU backs Franco-German bid for access to encrypted messages

      France and Germany want to compel operators of mobile messaging services to provide access to encrypted content to terrorism investigations, after a series of deadly attacks in both countries.

      French intelligence services, on high alert since attackers killed hundreds of civilians in Paris in November and in Nice in July, are struggling to intercept messages from Islamist militants.

      Many of the groups now use encrypted messaging services rather than mainstream social media, with Islamic State a big user of such apps, investigators in several countries have said.

      French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the European Commission should draft a law obliging operators to cooperate in investigations of militants.

      “If such legislation was adopted, this would allow us to impose obligations at the European level on non-cooperative operators,” he told a joint conference with his German counterpart in Paris.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden

      The power of independent journalism was demonstrated last week when the Justice Department announced the end of privately run prisons in the federal prison system. Seth Freed Wessler explains what it took to uncover dozens of questionable deaths in these corporate, for-profit facilities in his yearlong investigation for The Nation.

      [...]

      Plus: Amnesty for Edward Snowden. ACLU attorney Ben Wizner argues that President Obama should do the right thing in view of the NSA whistle-blower’s contributions to freedom and democracy.

    • Canadian Law Enforcement Want Government To Force People To Turn Over Their Passwords

      Mandating the divulging of passwords relies on some very dubious assumptions. One, it assumes that any information still unseen by prosecutors or investigators is of evidentiary value — hence the perceived need to force suspects to unlock devices. As was seen in the San Bernardino case, a lengthy court battle and a million-dollar payout to Israeli hackers recovered nothing of interest from the shooter’s iPhone.

      Second, it assumes law enforcement will use this power wisely and with restraint — something that has historically been a problem for it. When an agency uses repurposed military technology (Stingrays) to (almost) hunt down fast food thieves, it’s safe to assume forcing someone to expose their “whole personal life” by turning over a password is likely to result in the same sort of misuse… and abuse. It won’t be reserved for the “worst of the worst” criminal suspects and will likely be legislated into existence without enough statutory restrictions to prevent device seizures incident to even the most innocuous of arrests to be viewed as evidentiary fishing expeditions.

      The only standing between this law (if it becomes law) will be Canada’s judges. While some judges may be unwilling to expose a person’s entire life just because law enforcement swears it’s necessary, others will be more amenable. Bring on the forum shopping!

    • Jeff Wood’s Stay of Execution Casts More Doubt on the Texas Death Machine

      Terri Been was being interviewed by a reporter inside a Whataburger restaurant in East Texas on the afternoon of August 19 when the text came in: Her brother, Jeff Wood, on death row for his alleged involvement as an accomplice in the 1996 murder of his friend, and facing imminent execution, had been granted a stay. She read the text sent by Wood’s attorney twice before dialing him up. “Are you serious?” she asked.

      It had been a long and emotionally taxing day: Been and her husband, her parents, Wood’s daughter, and another friend had traveled to Huntsville, Texas, the location of the state’s execution chamber, for the first of several eight-hour visits with Wood in anticipation that he would be executed sometime after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24. The news from the lawyer, Jared Tyler, was a serious relief. “I consider it a miracle,” she told The Intercept. “He’s stopped Texas from killing my brother.”

      That afternoon the state’s highest criminal court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, agreed with Tyler that a state district court should determine whether the punishment hearing portion of Wood’s 1998 trial was infected by junk science and misleading testimony offered by the notorious Dr. James Grigson. If the district court agrees that it was tainted, Wood could get a new hearing, and a chance to get off of death row.

      Grigson, who died in 2004, was known even among peers in the psychiatric community as “Dr. Death” for routinely offering scientifically unsupportable testimony that helped to send defendants to death row in a number of capital cases. He was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association and its Texas counterpart prior to testifying in Wood’s case, where he opined that unless sentenced to die Wood would continue to be violent, a determination he made without ever examining Wood.

    • When Boats Brought Hope to Gaza

      Israel continues to cut off the 1.8 million people of Gaza from receiving relief supplies from sea, an illegal blockade that will be challenged again this year by the Women’s Boat to Gaza, writes retired Col. Ann Wright.

    • What Israel’s Actions Have Wrought

      Israel’s repression of the Palestinians is often rationalized by the historical abuse of the Jews, but Israel’s misconduct is having the disturbing effect of stirring up new anti-Semitism, observes Lawrence Davidson.

    • Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State

      The nation’s young people have been given front-row seats for an unfolding police drama that is rated R for profanity, violence and adult content.

      In Arizona, a 7-year-old girl watched panic-stricken as a state trooper pointed his gun at her and her father during a traffic stop and reportedly threatened to shoot her father in the back (twice) based on the mistaken belief that they were driving a stolen rental car.

      In Oklahoma, a 5-year-old boy watched as a police officer used a high-powered rifle to shoot his dog Opie multiple times in his family’s backyard while other children were also present. The police officer was mistakenly attempting to deliver a warrant on a 10-year-old case for someone who hadn’t lived at that address in a decade.

      In Maryland, a 5-year-old boy was shot when police exchanged gunfire with the child’s mother—eventually killing her—over a dispute that began when Korryn Gaines refused to accept a traffic ticket for driving without a license plate on her car.

    • Baltimore Police Can’t Explain Why Their All-Seeing Spy Planes Were Kept Secret

      Police officials in Baltimore are trying to deflect controversy over an aerial mass-surveillance program exposed earlier this week, in which a private company quietly keeps watch over a 32-mile radius of the city by flying planes overhead for as many as 10 hours a day.

      The pilot program, which according to Bloomberg Businessweek has been run by the Ohio-based company Persistent Surveillance Systems since January, allows Baltimore police to do retroactive and real-time aerial tracking of people and vehicles using technology adapted from the Iraq war, which its creator describes as “Google Earth with TiVo capability.”

      During a press conference on Wednesday, Baltimore Police Department spokesperson TJ Smith attempted to dismiss privacy concerns about the BPD’s eye in the sky, going as far as refusing to call the program “secret.”

      “Secrecy is not the right word because it’s not a secret spy program … this is something that we’re looking into,” Smith said during the press conference, which was streamed on Periscope and Facebook Live.

    • ‘You are now in Canada’: Anger management ordered for Iranian-born man who attacked wife’s boss

      An Iran-born Edmonton man has been ordered to take anger management courses following a “nasty” attack on his wife’s boss stemming from a male co-worker saying hello to her in a mall.

      Aadel Moradi, 39, was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation for 18 months on Tuesday in provincial court after pleading guilty to assault charges over what was an apparent clash of cultures.

      “This was very nasty,” said Judge Kirk MacDonald, who described the Nov. 6, 2015, incident as a minor assault with “disturbing” undertones.

      “You are now in Canada. We do not place restrictions on the way that women live here, unlike in some other countries,” said MacDonald, adding it is “very sad” that Moradi doesn’t see it.

      The judge told Moradi — a Kurd who emigrated here from a city near Tehran about 15 years ago — that he had considered sending him to jail, but accepted the joint submission by Crown and defence.

      “Just because you think someone has displayed bad manners, getting into a fight is no remedy for that,” said MacDonald.

      Crown prosecutor Bethan Franklyn told court that Moradi and his wife had been at a city mall in late October 2015 when one of her co-workers came up to say hello.

    • Hindus flee Muslim extremists after Koran burned in Pakistan

      In the provincial town of Ghotki near Pakistan’s border with India, Ashok Kumar is packing his bags.

      He’s reached breaking point. Like many of his neighbours, and other Hindus in Sindh province, the small trader is fleeing to India.

      “I have four daughters and I fear that one day they will be kidnapped and will be converted to Islam forcibly and will be forced to marry Muslims,” he says.

    • Saudis and Extremism: ‘Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters’

      Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do not agree on much, but Saudi Arabia may be an exception. She has deplored Saudi Arabia’s support for “radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.” He has called the Saudis “the world’s biggest funders of terrorism.”

      The first American diplomat to serve as envoy to Muslim communities around the world visited 80 countries and concluded that the Saudi influence was destroying tolerant Islamic traditions. “If the Saudis do not cease what they are doing,” the official, Farah Pandith, wrote last year, “there must be diplomatic, cultural and economic consequences.”

      And hardly a week passes without a television pundit or a newspaper columnist blaming Saudi Arabia for jihadist violence. On HBO, Bill Maher calls Saudi teachings “medieval,” adding an epithet. In The Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria writes that the Saudis have “created a monster in the world of Islam.”

      The idea has become a commonplace: that Saudi Arabia’s export of the rigid, bigoted, patriarchal, fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism. As the Islamic State projects its menacing calls for violence into the West, directing or inspiring terrorist attacks in country after country, an old debate over Saudi influence on Islam has taken on new relevance.

    • Literal Fashion Police Arrest Hundreds Of WhatsApp And Instagram Users In Iran

      I’ll admit I’ve had some fun in these pages with my friends over in the Iran over the years. In my defense, they have at times made the job quite easy for me, between trying to bolster their military reputation through video game footage, trying to suggest that the West carve out a non-free speech zone when it comes to criticizing Islam or members of its faith, and the country’s policy of futility in trying to block its citizens from using the wider internet. These are actions worth criticism and scorn.

      But things got a just a bit more dangerous for some in Iran this past week, as the country has announced it is cracking down on its citizens for actions against Islam and for infractions of fashion on display on several social media services. It seems some portion of the Revolutionary Guard has quite literally become the Fashion Police.

    • France’s Highest Court Suspends Burkini Ban In One Town, Other Challenges May Follow

      France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État, reversed the burkini ban imposed in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet near Nice on Friday.

      At a hearing Thursday, the court heard a challenge — brought by the Human Rights League of France (LdH) — to the town’s decision to ban the full-body swimsuits with hoods that are popular with Muslim women. The attire has been at the center of a fierce religious and political debate in the country.

      The court invalidated the decree banning the burkinis for the city of Villeneuve-Loubet. In its ruling, also issued in English, the court said, “The mayor’s order had seriously infringed, in a manner that was clearly illegal, fundamental liberties such as the freedom to come and go, religious freedom and individual freedom.”

    • Lack of Accountability Has Made Baltimore an Overpoliced Panopticon
    • Private Prison Involved in Immigrant Detention Funds Donald Trump and His Super PAC

      Geo Group, the second largest private prison company in the U.S., and a major player in for-profit immigrant detention, filed a disclosure this month revealing that it provided $50,000 through its political action committee to Rebuilding America Now, the Super PAC backing the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

      While Trump has not used his campaign to purchase campaign advertisements, an unusual dynamic noted by many in the campaign press, Rebuilding America Now has become his de facto paid media voice, with $2 million in recent anti-Hillary Clinton ad buys.

      Trump has promised sweeping policies to detain and deport millions of undocumented immigrants, a policy platform that he routinely references at rallies across the country.

      “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely,” Trump explained on MSNBC last year. He also called for tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and ending birthright citizenship, a right enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

    • French muslim gang probed after British women GROPED and ASSAULTED on Spanish holiday

      One woman, a 19-year-old from Farnborough in Hampshire, suffered a broken nose after being punched in the face.

      A second woman, a 20-year-old from Essex, was taken to hospital semi-conscious with arm and head injuries.

      Witnesses claimed the men, French-born but of Arabic origin, began to attack the young women in the upmarket resort of Puerto Banus near Marbella after one tried to touch up the teenager who suffered the broken nose.

      One man was arrested for assault and three friends taken with him to a nearby police station so they could be identified as part of an ongoing investigation.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WIPO External Offices In High Demand As 18 Countries Offer Hosting [Ed: So they want violations?]

      Hosting a regional or national office of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization seems to be a high prize for WIPO members, 18 of which have submitted hosting proposals to be considered at the WIPO Program and Budget Committee next week. Most of those 18 countries are developing nations and all sought to demonstrate their commitment to intellectual property rights and IPR protection, with some underlining the importance of considering level of development. According to regional press reports, Algeria and Nigeria have been selected by the African region to host the two African external offices.

    • Copyrights

      • Is hosting providers’ safe harbour the real problem of copyright owners? A new article [Ed: No, the problem is that we’re led to assume ISPs are in the business of copyright judgment and policing]

        In the context of its Digital Single Market Strategy [Katposts here] the EU Commission is currently engaged in a discussion of whether the liability principles and rules contained in that EU directive for the benefit of ISPs should be amended [the next EU copyright package is awaited for release in the second half of September - see here for a leaked version].

        With specific regard to copyright, one of the principal concerns relates to a particular type of ISP, ie hosting providers.

        Unlicensed hosting providers have been increasingly said to invoke the relevant safe harbour immunity in the EU Ecommerce Directive [Article 14] lacking the conditions for its application. This alleged abuse has led to a distortion of the online marketplace and the resulting ‘value gap’ indicated by some rightholders.

      • The FBI’s Megaupload Domains Are Now Hosting Porn Ads

        Well, we know the FBI is particularly adept at hosting porn on the internet. After all, just a few days ago it was revealed that in the short time it was running a child porn site as a honeypot, it actually made the site run much faster. But now Torrentfreak points us to the news that some other FBI sites are serving up porn as well, though mostly out of FBI incompetence, rather than competence. Apparently the domain the FBI was using for its nameservers for the domains it seized from Megaupload expired, and someone else snapped it up and redirected all the sites using those nameservers to advertisements basically for porn. So, the FBI is now essentially pointing people to porn via Megaupload.

      • Dotcom Wants Extradition Hearing Live-Streamed, U.S. Does Not

        Kim Dotcom is hoping to have his fight with the U.S. government pushed further into the public consciousness by having his extradition appeal streamed live on the Internet. U.S. authorities are already objecting to Dotcom’s application but they could be up against stiff opposition since New Zealand is proud of its courtroom transparency.

      • Team Prenda Done Fighting Judge Otis Wright

        Well, one of the big Prenda cases may finally be over. As you may recall, the first truly scathing legal ruling against Team Prenda came a little over three years ago when Judge Otis Wright basically lit Team Prenda on fire.

      • Comcast/NBC Tone Deafness, Not ‘Millennials’ To Blame For Olympics Ratings Drop

        Olympics watchers repeatedly begged Comcast for live opening ceremonies, more live events, less host prattle, and fewer ads ahead of the recent games in Rio. What did Comcast deliver instead? A smorgasbord of abysmal bloviation, tape delays, and so many advertisements that many people stopped watching in disgust. As a result, the Rio Olympics were the lowest rated Summer Olympics since 2000, with average viewership down 17% and an overall audience that was 25% smaller than 2012 in the 18-to-49 demo.

      • If You’re Angry About Twitter Banning Someone ‘Permanently’ For Sharing Olympics GIFs, Blame Copyright Law

        The story has gone pretty viral (on Twitter, naturally), with lots of people expressing anger at Twitter. It also appears that soon after the story started spreading, Twitter actually changed its mind and put back his account.

        Here’s the thing, though: if you want to get upset about this, don’t get upset at Twitter. Get furious at parts of the DMCA and how some courts have interpreted it lately (and the International Olympic Committee — it almost always deserves the anger that is pointed in its direction for its extreme protectionist/copyright policies). But remember, not too long ago, the ISP Cox lost big time in an important DMCA case, at the key issue that swayed the judge was the lack of a competent “repeat infringer policy.” And what was one of the key things in that case? The fact that Cox didn’t permanently ban people.

        So if you’re the legal team at Twitter, and you’re keeping up on the caselaw, you better believe that you’re going to make sure that you have a serious “repeat infringer policy” that kicks people off permanently for sharing a few pieces of copyright-covered material. Because even as basically everyone is saying “what? you shouldn’t lose your account permanently for sharing a few happy gifs from the Olympics,” in court it would be spun as “Twitter has a history of failing to reasonably implement a repeat infringer policy, as required by the DMCA in Section 512(i)(1)(A).” And if the Olympics or whoever gets a judge like the one in the Cox case, who doesn’t seem to care much about whether people use the internet or not, Twitter might just lose.

Good Job, David Kappos, Says the ‘Boss’ (IBM)

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How shallow, spotted just hours after publication by Kappos

Manny Schecter screenshots
Manny Schecter works for IBM, the former employer of Kappos

Summary: Responses to the latest call against Alice (eliminator of many software patents), courtesy of the man from IBM (still paid by IBM) who was responsible for the policy that blindly approved a lot of software patents in the US

Our latest article about David Kappos (who has in essence been helping Microsoft's extortion of Linux using low-quality patents in large numbers) was well received by quite a few people. They know a lot better now what Kappos stands for and who pays him. Our many articles on the subject contributed to that. Interest groups and lobbyists are among the things we have been exposing for nearly a decade. Once exposed, they are a lot less capable of operating. Sometimes they need to rename.

As Henrion put it/told Manny Schecter (IBM), “he [Kappos] is a Microsoft/Apple spokesman.” He is also a former IBM employee who is now being paid by IBM for his lobbying.

This article from Kappos led to an article by Mike Masnick (via Professor James Bessen) shortly after we had mentioned it. Masnick said that “of course, if you’re former US Patent and Trademark Office boss David Kappos — who presided over a massive increase in patenting, which the Government Accountability Office recently noted was mainly due to basically no quality standards being used — this is a bad thing. Perhaps he takes it personally that the current patent situation really puts an exclamation point on the fact that he helped usher in hundreds of thousands of anti-innovation weapons that could be used to shake down actual innovators.”

Like the Battistelli-led EPO right now? AntiSoftwarePat highlights the part of the above article which says Kappos “presided over a massive increase in patenting… mainly due to basically no quality standards being used” (i.e. rubberstamping, with approval rates soaring).

Being for Patent Quality or Against Patenting Excess Does Not Make You Anti-Patents

Posted in Deception, EFF, Patents at 2:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Black or white: either you’re a patent maximalist or you are “anti-patents” (or “anti-patent” as Watchtroll puts it, see below)

IP Watchdog and EFF

Summary: Like IAM, which tries to portray sceptics and critics of software patents as “anti-patents”, IP Watchdog (or Watchtroll as we call it) is ‘trolling’ the Electronic Frontier Foundation, simply because it expressed an opinion that patent maximalists cannot tolerate

Watchtroll’s site, being the usual loud-mouthed proponent of software patents (sometimes even very rude), responded to a topic on which we commented this morning. Daniel Nazer (EFF) noticed that this “New IP Watchdog post [is] slamming “DC Based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leftist anti-patent activist coalition”” (it’s not anti-patent, it is pro-patent quality, as are we).

Here is the relevant passage from the post: “Another incursion into research university governance and operations is now underway. And this time all research universities are affected. Led by the DC Based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leftist anti-patent activist coalition that has initiated a 50-state legislative campaign to shrink research university patent licensing rights at the state level. (See) The measure’s purported objective is to prevent publicly funded university research patents from being licensed to so-called “Patent Assertion Entities” (PAEs, also known by the pejorative term “patent trolls”).”

Like IAM's editor in chief, they are also in denial about the trolls problem, just like people who are in denial about climate change (because this reality, once realised by the public, is a threat to one’s business).

The OSI took note and wrote about my article via Former OSI Dir. Jim Jagielski who wrote: “Shows the danger of s/w patents… is it time to finally squash them once and for all?”

Carlo Piana, a famous lawyer for Samba and generally a very nice intellectual (against software patents) wrote on Friday: Has anybody, ever, read a #patent on software without thinking “WTF”? Honestly. And now I have read like 100 of them. And I’m no developer.”

Benjamin Henrion (FFII) responded: “the state urgently needs to intervene between me and my keyboard to save innovation!”

The matter of fact here is clear; anyone with a keyboard and some rudimentary coding skills is affected by software patents and the population in general suffers from slowed innovation and artificially increased prices (often due to lawyers’ fees and patent trolls if not billionaire patent bullies such as Microsoft and Apple). We wrote about it this morning.

Erosion of Patent Quality Enables Patent Extortion With Large Portfolios of Low Validity Rate

Posted in America, Apple, Courtroom, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 7:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Quality of patents causes markets to prosper or contrariwise perish

Many sacks
Giving aggressors like Microsoft sacks of patents to breed Mafia-like behaviour, not healthy competition

Summary: Revisiting the EPO’s vision of poor patent examination and the effect of discriminatory granting practices, favouring patent bullies such as Microsoft (which actively attacks Linux using low-quality and usually pure software patents)

“A skilled patent attorney working with a qualified searcher could cobble together a colorable obviousness argument against the vast majority of issued patent claims,” says a new article from Patently-O. Not to mention “abstract” criteria, prior art and so on. “Part of the difficulty for patentees,” continues the article, “stem from the the billions of prior art references available via increasingly effective search tools. Even when an invention results from a ‘flash of genius,’ patent law typically back-fills extensive knowledge for the obviousness analysis – even when that knowledge was not actually available at the time of the invention. The larger difficulty though is likely the large number of hard-to-pin-down facts such as the motivations, common sense, and level of creativity of a person having ordinary skill in the art.”

“In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO]) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial.”If the EPO replaces examiners with algorithms, things will exacerbate further and patents get granted incorrectly, leading to an ocean of frivolous lawsuits. In the case of large companies like Microsoft, mountains of patents (granted in bulk by the EPO) can be used to compel companies to pay up without even a trial. Recall the Microsoft v TomTom case. Picking on small companies is Microsoft’s thing; it doesn’t sue Google.

The above reminds us of the danger of poor patent quality as well as streamlining grants, which is what Battistelli’s EPO has in effect done for Microsoft (and evidence we showed for that led to legal threats from the EPO). They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.

“They — like the USPTO — in effect facilitate patent racketeering by Microsoft.”Watch this new article titled “Primetime: Microsoft’s Android Cross Patent Dealings”. That’s misleading because it's not cross-licensing, it's a patent settlement (in bundling form) and it’s essentially a patent shakedown without even a trial and without an opportunity to properly assess the quality (and thus in/validity) of patents. The article says that “to press on this advantage, Microsoft does need to sign into more cross licensing or similar patent deals with manufacturers. Given Microsoft’s patent portfolio and how useful this will be to those manufacturers wishing to break into the North American market, such as Xiaomi, we may be seeing more of these arrangements in the coming months. The alternative might be Microsoft suing any manufacturer that tries to sell devices into a patent-friendly market.”

But again, these are not cross-licensing deals, these are patent shakedowns. One might even call this extortion or racketeering, even though Microsoft is too well-connected to face court charges brought forth by the government.

It is worth noting that many of Microsoft’s patents — those which it uses to shake down Android players (OEMs) — are not even valid anymore (if properly scrutinised), but there are so many of them that it would cost a fortune to demonstrate it to the court. It’s a numbers game, quantity rather than quality. It’s cheaper to just settle and let Microsoft continue to wield software patents like a weapon, even post-Alice. PTAB cannot take a request to review hundreds of patents from just one single company because it’s already overburdened by a growing number of reviews (IPRs).

Speaking of patent aggressors, there is this new software patent from Facebook (the usual, see our Facebook wiki page). These are oftentimes surveillance patents, but this time is’s about languages, at a time of increased competition with Google. Facebook's growing stockpile of patents is a real problem (Facebook has a history of going aggressive with them) and The Next Web says that “the US patent office issued 6,789 patents. Each patent adds a little something new to the human knowledge base. As we cannot list all six thousand, the PatentYogi team has selected the five most interesting patents.” How many of these are software patents that oughtn’t have been granted? How many of these will be toothless some time in the near future?

Patently-O says “The number of pending Ex Parte appeals continue to drop. Great work PTO.” There are other statistics of interest, based on PDFs from the USPTO (like this one). Patently-O claims they suggest that: “Design patent applications expected to reach 40,000 for FY2016 – up from under 30,000 in FY2010. The PTO is working to improve design patent prosecution speed – current wait of more than a year for a first office action.”

Well, the Office may have granted 40,000 patents on designs, but once reassessed the Office may need to throw them all away, on a per-request basis (post-Apple v Samsung at SCOTUS). Granting again for the sake of granting? Until the next Alice happens?

Patent quality control is the principal pillar of true and potent patent offices, otherwise they would be just archives of untested claims (a registration/filing system).

The EPO’s Francesco Zaccà Presenting in Turin Alongside Patent Trolls (Like the Patent Mafia Sisvel) and Lobbyists/Front Groups for Software Patents, UPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In the pockets of the patent microcosm

Card in pocket

Summary: Benjamin Henrion (FFII) on seeing the EPO alongside patent trolls and other nefarious actors, doing what they do best, which is undermining public interests and harming patent quality

“PUBLIC SERVANTS” has become misnomer for EPO officials. Consider the EPO‘s Francesco Zaccà, whom we first mentioned in this leak about "Closer Contact with Major Applicants" (with special ties to Qualcomm and Ericsson in his case). Benjamin Henrion drew attention to this recent talk, showing even the patent troll Sisvel at this recent event, which included Zaccà.

From the page in question: “The panel chaired by Francisco Mingorance, IP Europe, stressed the importance of innovation protection as a growth factor. Pasquale Marasco, head of ICT Innovation Pole at Torino Wireless Foundation, highlighted the SME’s stakes and concerns, as Matteo Sabattini, Sisvel CTO, reinforced the message detailing Sisvel’s example. Francesco Zaccà, Director in ICT of EPO, echoed the keynote address and said that «the main goal of the patent system is to protect innovation, to enable the innovation circle from protecting the invention, securing remuneration and re-investing in research. Yet, every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection». His opening statement «we are here to support innovation» fired up the crowd.”

“Francesco Zaccà, speaking for the EPO, is quoted or paraphrased as saying that every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection.”Francesco Zaccà, speaking for the EPO, is quoted or paraphrased as saying that every challenge is a new opportunity for combining standards with open sources, and patents with protection. What an odd thing to say. This sure sounds like the FRAND loophole for software patents in Europe. Not good…

Francisco Mingorance, now in IP Europe, is a former software patents lobbyist from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a Microsoft front group which spent years lobbying for software patents in Europe (FRAND was one loophole they attempted to interject). Mingorance now chairs a panel with Zaccà in it. His employer, IP Europe, is a front for the patent microcosm and Henrion describes them, based on their words, as “Accelerating the entry into force of the Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement): more trolling powers http://www.iptalks.eu/”

“They’re supposed to be focused on patent examination, not lobbying and lawmaking.”Some people still act as though the UPC will become a reality. It probably never will. It’s zombie legislation like ACTA, but the patent microcosm still wants us to believe there will be UPC after Brexit. It’s that old self-fulfilling prophecy method and they really ought to just give it all up. Found via this tweet was a Team UPC blog post the UPC “post-Brexit” (it would probably have to be rewritten and renamed to have any chance at all).

Thomas F. Cotter, a law professor from the US, more recently referred to a “paper in the June 2016 issue of GRUR Int (pp. 513-30) titled Schadensersatz und Einheitspatentsystem: Rechtliche Grundlagen und Systematik des Schadensersatzanspruchs im künftigen Einheitspatentsystem (“Damages and Unitary Patent System: Legal Principles and Schematic of Damages Claims in the Future Unitary Patent System”).”

According to him, this “article notes, among other things, that article 68(4) of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court appears to permit a court to award the infringer’s profits without evidence that the infringer knew or should have known of the patent (in contrast to German law). Towards the end of the article, the author also questions whether the Agreement contemplates anything comparable to the German practice of permitting a court to award damages in its free discretion (nach freier Überzeugung) under article 287 of the German Civil Procedure Code (see my recent article on Patent Damages Heuristics at p.20 & n.76 for brief discussion). My one critique of the article is that it doesn’t take account of the change made in the 17th and 18th drafts of the UPC Rules of Procedure, which in a departure from the 16th draft have eliminated the provision (article 118(2)) that would have allowed the court to award damages in lieu of injunctive relief (see discussion on this blog here). Overall, though, a good read.”

“People who believe that the UPC will become a reality some very time soon are truly out of touch, much like Battistelli and his circle of ‘loyals’.”The patent microcosm (which dominates Team UPC) wants the UPC for more lawsuits, more/higher damages, and a generally litigious atmosphere that brings them more business. It’s truly a shame that EPO staff, including Zaccà’s colleagues, are openly promoting it at events (as Philpott did last year). What credibility will they have left? They’re supposed to be focused on patent examination, not lobbying and lawmaking.

Found via this tweet was yet more promotion of the UPC, courtesy of Team UPC again. “Unitary Patent reforms are welcome, even though patent litigation in Europe has worked quite well” says the headline and Francisco Moreno, a critic of the UPC, uses the hashtags #UPCbelievers and #PrayForTheUPC (sarcasm) in relation to what Tufty Sylvestris wrote about the above: “Another Remainer disappointed about the effect of #Brexit on the UPC, but still hopeful (or in denial).”

People who believe that the UPC will become a reality some very time soon are truly out of touch, much like Battistelli and his circle of ‘loyals’. Maybe they too should quit embarrassing themselves and work on fixing the EPO. Pushing towards software patents in Europe (directly or indirectly) is just about the dumbest thing they can do.

The EPO, USPTO, and Patent Microcosm Peddle Myths About Patents in Public Universities and Research

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 6:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EpiPen article

Summary: Tackling some of the commonly-spread myths about patents as “saving lives” and “promoting research” (in practice leading to the death of poor people and promoting trolls)

THE patent system exists for a reason, but nowadays that reason is no longer the original reason. “Page not found” says this link EPO‘s account regarding oppositions to particular patents, which is kind of poetic when one thinks about it. Battistelli’s EPO doesn’t want oppositions. Rubber-stamping is better for so-called ‘production’. That’s not what the patent system exists for.

Following its pattern of 'spamming' (not broadcasting to everyone on a per-subscription basis as in this new example), the EPO is pinging the University of Bonn with some template message like “Got any proposals for our Inventor Award 2017? Submit them here” (Battistelli’s lobbying event).

Why is the EPO bothering universities now? It has already sent dozens of such ‘spammy’ messages, but now it’s doing after universities.

“That’s not what the patent system exists for.”Mr. Nazer, writing about universities that pursue patents, correctly notes that many of these patents end up in the hands of patent trolls. Here is a portion of what he wrote for the EFF the other day:

EFF recently launched Reclaim Invention, a project to encourage universities to manage their patent portfolios in a way that maximizes the public benefit. Specifically, we’ve urged universities to sign a Public Interest Patent Pledge not to sell or exclusively license patents to patent assertion entities, also known as patent trolls. EFF is proud to partner with Creative Commons, Engine, Fight for the Future, Knowledge Ecology International, and Public Knowledge on this initiative.

As part of our project, we’ve also released draft state legislation that we hope state legislators can adapt to promote pro-innovation technology transfer at state universities. Our legislative language has two components. First, it requires university technology transfer offices to adopt a policy committing them to manage patent assets in the public interest.

If the public cares about innovation and good use of public money, then the public should prevent universities from filing for patents. Universities don’t need these, but friends of mine who work at the universities say that they are being pressured by administration staff to just amass patents, not just published academic papers. It’s not often that universities sue using patents because usually they do so indirectly or offload their patents to trolls.

“Patent lawyers want us to believe that effective and affordable medicine exists because of patents, but in reality it exists in spite of patents.”“75% of the 20 patent lawsuits filed yesterday were filed by patent trolls,” United for Patent Reform wrote the other day. “It’s time for Congress to take action to #fixpatents!”

The above seems to be a lot lower than the average. For technology patent lawsuits, it’s now estimated (based on a complete/exhaustive list) that just under 90% of the time these are filed by trolls. They dominate the system.

Research and development in the public sector need not rely on patents, no matter what nonsense the EPO spreads with stock photography and prose. Patent lawyers want us to believe that effective and affordable medicine exists because of patents, but in reality it exists in spite of patents. Cancer patients, as explained to the EPO, actually suffer from patents, but patent boosters are busy framing the USPTO as a friend of cancer research. To quote this new example from Professor Crouch: “The USPTO is playing an important role in the National Cancer Moonshot, a Presidential initiative we blogged about earlier this summer, to speed up cancer advances, make more therapies available to more patients, and improve the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage. Today, we are launching the USPTO Cancer Moonshot Challenge to enlist the public’s help to leverage our intellectual property data, often an early indicator of meaningful research and development (R&D), and combine it with other economic and funding data (ie. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Food and Drug Administration reporting, National Science Foundation grants vs. philanthropic investments, venture capital funding, etc.). This comes on the heels of our Patents 4 Patients program, which was launched in July and aims to cut in half the time it takes to review patent applications in cancer therapy.”

Actually, a lot of cancer research money comes from the public (government grants, not just donations); afterwards there’s privateering with patents (monopoly on treatments and thus overpricing), so who gains and who dies?

EpiPen is under heavy fire this week for price hikes owing to Congressional nepotism, but Professor Crouch links to this horrible new article which glamourises patents (even those that kill poor people) as well as a famous patent troll. It’s sad to see that patent myths continue to thrive not just because of the patent industry but also the EPO and USPTO. They want us to believe that the more patents we have, the better. It’s usually better for patent offices, trolls, and few opportunists with crooked nepotism (see EpiPen’s example).

Large Corporations’ Lobbyist David Kappos Disgraces Former Employer USPTO by Meddling in Their Affairs on Software Patents, Downplaying the Supreme Court

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 5:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft, IBM and few other large companies pay former USPTO officials to promote software patents

Microsoft links to David Kappos

Summary: The latest lobbying from David Kappos, who blatantly exploits his connections in patent circles to promote software patents and work towards their resurgence after Alice v CLS Bank

LAST NIGHT we wrote about the demise of software patents in the US. The USPTO, which David Kappos had turned into more of a rubber-stamping operation (because of the growing backlog), finally had to accept that many patents were erroneously granted (if not fraudulently granted to increase measurable figures).

“The FTC PAE report should be the final nail in the coffin for Software Patents,” AntiSoftwarePat wrote last night in response to my article. He or she has been saying this for quite a while. PAE is a type of patent troll, for those who don’t know.

“He doesn’t want people to know what he does for a living in his capacity as a de facto lobbyist.”Kappos deserves at least some of the blame for the terrible status quo. So many patents at the USPTO are junk and patent trolls needn’t even go to court and face the burden of proof; they just target small businesses in secret (divide and rule) to shake these down using bogus patents. Kappos is absolutely fine with that and we wrote a lot about this nefarious activity of his quite a lot this year. He doesn’t want people to know what he does for a living in his capacity as a de facto lobbyist. Instead, says his own description of himself: “Dave Kappos is a partner at Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP and previously served as under secretary of commerce and director of the United States Patent and Trade Office.”

He does not disclose he works for a front group funded by monopolists which support software patents. Yesterday, published in the Morning Consult Web site was this Kappos piece protesting Alice v CLS Bank. He took wonderful news, namely the gradual end of software patents in the US, and called it “the terrible” (not for software developers but for parasites like him and his ilk).

Once again he pretends it’s a loss to software innovation and other such malarkey. He does not disclose who pays him to utter this nonsense. Here is the ending paragraph:

Rather than celebrate or mourn the anniversary of Alice, we should recognize that its overly broad application stifles software innovation in fields that require major, sustained investments to address humanity’s truly daunting challenges—across industries from life sciences to information technology to transportation and beyond. There is some room for cautious optimism—recent decisions from the federal circuit in Enfish, Bascom and Rapid Litigation Management have upheld quality patents challenged on eligibility grounds—but unless the courts continue to provide clearer guidance, a long heritage of American innovation leadership will be at risk. We should seek balance by applying Alice narrowly, “lest [Section 101′s exclusionary principle] swallow all of patent law”— and let the other parts of the law do their work.

“When legislation and/or caselaw is up for sale we all lose.”It’s clear that he is asking for loopholes so that software patents can still be granted and asserted (successfully) in courts. It’s not about “clarity” (we explained this spin of his before and also showed the so-called whitepaper he published last year to reveal his bias on this topic). Quick to promote this article was IBM’s Manny Schecter, who is funding him through IBM (Kappos used to work at IBM, which now just pays him through a front group). Congratulating one’s own lobbyist again? Does he not see ethical breach amid all that patent aggression by IBM? Microsoft is paying Kappos as well and it too is attacking even Android/Linux using patents, as recently as a few days ago.

What will it take for these companies to stop bribing former officials and hide behind them while they lobby for the resurrection of software patents? Who are those people kidding? Can one file a formal complaint for “revolving doors” kind of abuse here? We might try soon, perhaps once we identify the best authority/institution to address regarding the unprofessional (and likely unethical if not in breach of contract) practice. When legislation and/or caselaw is up for sale we all lose.

08.25.16

Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice Calls the European Patent Office “Rotten”, Other Sources Scrutinise Recent Moves

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s like another FIFA but in slow(er) motion

A rotting door

Summary: The patent office which was once known for being the best bar none is rotting under the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, who made himself and his friends the main clients of the Office

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is trying to distract us all (staff and media) with the Italian earthquake (warning: epo.org links can be tracked by the EPO), but otherwise it has been largely silent for weeks. It just selfishly tries to maintain that sense of fear and emergency, especially when there are mass shootings (not just in Europe).

Recently, the local media (Süddeutsche Zeitung) published “Paris, London, Haar” which is an article about the EPO for which we need translation/s. Techrights is mentioned in this paragraph which says: “Innerhalb der Behörde wird jedenfalls schon heiß diskutiert, was solch ein Umzug an den Stadtrand mit sich bringen würde. In dem Internet-Blog Techrights lassen sich Mitarbeiter darüber aus, ob in Haar überhaupt die Hotels vorhanden sein würden, um die ausländischen Gäste passend unterzubringen. Über Sicherheitsfragen wird geredet und nicht zuletzt darüber, wie man ins Büro im Münchner Osten kommen kann, das mancher aus Versehen in der Gemeinde Vaterstetten ansiedelt. Mancher aus der betroffenen Abteilung sieht sich gar ins “Exil” nach Haar abgeschoben. Hintergrund ist ein seit Längerem schwelender Machtkampf mit dem Präsidenten des Patentamts, Benoît Battistelli.”

“The EPO’s reputation is so damaged right now (squarely the fault of Team Battistelli) that not much more damage can be done.”It has been said for quite some time that Benoît Battistelli might try to ‘gift’ Paris with some UPC court/s (or Administration). If true, it wouldn’t be the first time he did something nefarious like that. The EPO’s reputation is so damaged right now (squarely the fault of Team Battistelli) that not much more damage can be done. There’s already a crisis and talented people are leaving.

SUEPO mentioned the above in its public pages and so did a comment in IP Kat, which took note of another article shared by SUEPO. Coming from the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice (and composed by Darren Smyth from IP Kat), the article says this:

Recently, the EPO has been beset by problems. A programme of reform has been pushed through which has led to widespread industrial unrest amongst the workforce, and distrust between the examiners and senior management. The problems have been exacerbated by the fact that the only legal recourse for aggrieved EPO employees is the International Labour Organisation, which has an immense backlog (partly caused by the number of EPO grievances) leading to a delay of many years before cases are decided. While there was little dispute that some reform was needed, the pace and character of the reforms, as well as their style of introduction, created a toxic atmosphere, the scale and causes of which were denied by the management, and relatively unrecognized outside of the EPO itself. The relatively generous salaries of EPO examiners led to a lack of sympathy in some quarters. The wider world only noticed the increasingly troubled situation at the EPO when a member of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO was suspended by the President without the prior sanction of the AC, an action that appeared to compromise the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal. This occurred shortly after a seminal decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA), which upheld an objection of suspicion of partiality against its Chairman, on the sole basis of his dual administrative role within the management of the Office. The response of the President, transferring some administrative powers from the EBA Chairman to himself, seemed to make the problem worse rather than better.

The judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal is crucial to the finality of their decisions. If the Boards are not accepted as a judicial instance, a national court could decline to give effect to their judgments on the basis of lack of compliance with European legal norms such as those embodied in Article 6 ECHR (right to fair trial). Before recent events, although national courts had always accepted the judicial character of the Boards, Board members took the view, supported by some commentators, that more autonomy was desirable. However, a proposal to increase the autonomy of the Boards had been shelved by the current administration.

It was clear that action needed to be taken, but new proposals from the President to modify the administrative structure of the Boards seemed to conflate independence with efficiency, and also addressed other matters, such as the management of possible conflicts of interest of Board members, which had never in reality seemed to be a problem. There was more concern with the appearance of independence, such as the physical location of the Boards, than independence itself.

“In the last issue of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice an editorial has been published under the title Something is rotten in the state of the EPO,” one comment noted. “Eerie, this silence,” one person wrote, “probably there is a lot going on behind the screen?”

One person responded with: “Or the French are on holiday?”

Well, we have a lot of material we intend to publish this autumn. In the mean time, if someone can produce a translation of the Süddeutsche Zeitung article for us, this would be greatly appreciated (and of course published for the record).

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