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01.18.17

Rumours Suggest That EPO Management is Aware of Decline in Patent Quality and is Thus Actively Lying About it to the Media/Public

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 7:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pressure to grant rather than properly examine dooms the core function of the Office

EPO speech

Summary: Whenever Battistelli brags about patent quality he may be consciously and deliberately lying through his teeth if the latest rumours are correct

EARLIER this week we saw rumours about the EPO‘s battle at the top — something we had already become aware of last month. It’s hardly surprising; there is a somewhat of a blame game.

“Some say that the final straw was the most known symptom of the dropping patent quality, the famous patent on the ‘hairdressing container’.”
      –Anonymous
“There are several rumours about the reasons for VP1′s resignation,” told us a source about Battistelli’s Vice-President Mini Minion (Minnoye), “but nothing is confirmed. One of the rumours says that VP1 Minnoye is the scapegoat for the low patent quality, which has even been criticised by some delegations. Some say that the final straw was the most known symptom of the dropping patent quality, the famous patent on the ‘hairdressing container’.” (mentioned here back in November)

Either way, this serves to reinforce our claims that EPO management is aware of the decline in quality and is thus repeatedly lying about it. “The departure of private Minnoye further weakens the president,” our source told us, “since the VPs are appointed by the Council. They can now choose a VP1 to obtain more control over the Office.”

01.17.17

Links 17/1/2017: GIMP Plans, New Raspberry Pi Product

Posted in News Roundup at 7:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • D-Wave Unveils Open-Source Software for Quantum Computing

    Canada-based D-Wave Systems has released an open-source software tool designed to help developers program quantum computers, Wired reported Wednesday.

  • D-Wave builds open quantum computing software development ecosystem

    D-Wave Systems has released an open source quantum computing chunk of software.

    Quantum computing, as we know, moves us on from the world of mere 1’s and 0’s in binary to the new level of ‘superposition’ qubits that can represent many more values and therefore more computing power — read this accessible piece for a simple explanation of quantum computing.

  • FOSS Compositing With Natron

    Anyone who likes to work with graphics will at one time or another find compositing software useful. Luckily, FOSS has several of the best in Blender and Natron.

  • Hadoop Creator Doug Cutting: 5 Ways to Be Successful with Open Source in 2017

    Because of my long-standing association with the Apache Software Foundation, I’m often asked the question, “What’s next for open source technology?” My typical response is variations of “I don’t know” to “the possibilities are endless.”

    Over the past year, we’ve seen open source technology make strong inroads into the mainstream of enterprise technology. Who would have thought that my work on Hadoop ten years ago would impact so many industries – from manufacturing to telecom to finance. They have all taken hold of the powers of the open source ecosystem not only to improve the customer experience, become more innovative and grow the bottom line, but also to support work toward the greater good of society through genomic research, precision medicine and programs to stop human trafficking, as just a few examples.

    Below I’ve listed five tips for folks who are curious about how to begin working with open source and what to expect from the ever-changing ecosystem.

  • Radio Free HPC Looks at New Open Source Software for Quantum Computing

    In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at D-Wave’s new open source software for quantum computing. The software is available on github along with a whitepaper written by Cray Research alums Mike Booth and Steve Reinhardt.

  • Open Source, Vendor Lock-In Are Top of Mind for Execs This Year

    The use of open source software has increased dramatically in the past decade, and this year could be the one in which we see real maturity in the market.

    Couchbase Chief Executive Officer Bob Wiederhold spoke with Information Management about what he sees for the market in 2017, as well as issues related to digital infrastructure and vendor lock-in.

  • Events

    • Why events matter and how to do them right

      Marina Paych was a newcomer to open source software when she left a non-governmental organization for a new start in the IT sector—on her birthday, no less. But the real surprise turned out to be open source. Fast forward two years and this head of organizational development runs an entire department, complete with a promotional staff that strategically markets her employer’s open source web development services on a worldwide scale.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Equal Rating Innovation Challenge: And the Semifinalists are…

        About three months ago we launched this global Equal Rating Innovation Challenge to help catalyze new thinking and innovation to provide access to the open Internet to those still living without. Clearly the idea resonated. Thanks to the help of numerous digital inclusion initiatives, think tanks, impact hubs and various local communities that supported us, our challenge has spurred global engagement. We received 98 submissions from 27 countries around the world. This demonstrates that there are entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators in myriad fields poised to tackle this huge challenge with creative products and services.

        [...]

        Following the mentorship period, on March 9, we will host a day-long event in New York City on the topic of affordable access and innovation. We will invite speakers and researchers from around the world to provide their valuable insights on the global debate, various initiatives, and the latest approaches to affordable access. The main feature of this event will be presentations by our semifinalists, with a thorough Q&A from our judges. We will then have a week of open public voting on EqualRating.com to help determine the winners of the Challenge. The winners will then be announced at RightsCon on March 29 in Brussels.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Exploring OpenStack’s Trove DBaaS Cloud Servic

      You can install databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, or even MongoDB very quickly thanks to package management, but the installation is not even half the battle. A functioning database also needs user accounts and several configuration steps for better performance and security.

      This need for additional configuration poses challenges in cloud environments. You can always manually install a virtual machine in traditional settings, but cloud users want to generate an entire virtual environment from a template. Manual intervention is difficult or sometimes even impossible.

    • Mobile Edge Computing Creates ‘Tiny Data Centers’ at the Edge

      “Usually access networks include all kinds of encryption and tunneling protocols,” says Fite. “It’s not a standard, native-IP environment.” Saguna’s platform creates a bridge between the access network to a small OpenStack cloud, which works in a standard IP environment. It provides APIs about such things as location, registration for services, traffic direction, radio network services, and available bandwidth.

    • Serverless Computing: 10 Things You Need to Know

      In fact, Gartner referred to serverless computing in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017. The firm sees serverless as part of the trend toward mesh app and service architecture, and explains, “the mesh app and service architecture (MASA) is a multichannel solution architecture that leverages cloud and serverless computing, containers and microservices as well as APIs and events to deliver modular, flexible and dynamic solutions.” But the firm also cautions that this is a long-term trend that will require IT to adopt new tools and new ways of doing things.

    • Apache Beam Unifies Batch and Streaming Data Processing

      We’re only half way through January of 2017, and as we’ve steadily taken note of, the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating numerous promising open source projects to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent times. Just last week, Apache graduated its Eagle project to Top-Level status. Eagle is an open source monitoring and alerting solution for instantly identifying security and performance issues on Big Data platforms such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, and more.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Community-supported development of GEGL now live

      Almost every new major feature people have been asking us for, be it high bit depth support, or full CMYK support, or layer effects, would be impossible without having a robust, capable image processing core.

      Øyvind Kolås picked up GEGL in mid-2000s and has been working on it in his spare time ever since. He is the author of 42% of commits in GEGL and 50% of commits in babl (pixel data conversion library).

    • 2016 in review

      When we released GIMP 2.9.2 in late 2015 and stepped over into 2016, we already knew that we’d be doing mostly polishing. This turned out to be true to a larger extent, and most of the work we did was under-the-hood changes.

      But quite a few new features slipped in. So, what are the big user-visible changes for GIMP in 2016?

    • Meet Guix at FOSDEM

      FOSDEM takes place in Brussels, Belgium, on the 4th and 5th of February, with the Guile track all day long on Sunday 5th. Hope to see you there!

    • FSF announces a major overhaul of free software High Priority Projects List

      The HPP list highlights projects of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users. A committee of free software activists, assembled in 2014, spent a year soliciting feedback from the free software community for the latest revision of the list.

      “As the technological landscape has shifted over the last decade since the first version of the list was published, threats to users’ freedom to use their computers on their own terms have changed enormously,” said Benjamin Mako Hill, who is part of the High Priority Projects committee and also a member of the FSF’s board of directors. “The updated High Priority Projects list is a description of the most important threats, and most critical opportunities, that free software faces in the modern computing landscape.”

      Launched in 2005, the first version of the HPP list contained only four projects, three of them related to Java. Eighteen months later, Sun began to free Java users.

    • FSF New “High Priority Projects” List: Phone OS, Security, Drivers, More Inclusivity

      The list hasn’t made much sense at times and projects on the list didn’t necessarily advance during their time on the list or receive financial/developer support from the FSF along with other controversies. In 2014 they began forming a committee to maintain this high priority project list while today they announced a brand new list.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Happy birthday: Jimbo Wales’ sweet 16 Wikipedia fails

        Sixteen years ago, Larry Sanger had the idea for a wiki-based encyclopaedia anyone could edit: the “wiki-pedia”. On January 15, 2001, he and Jimmy Wales launched the site. Today, it’s everyone’s go-to place for quick factlets.

        Wikipedia’s convenience is undeniable. But its anonymously compiled content has flaws and quirks traditional encyclopaedias never had. Understanding these is vital for wiki-literacy.

        To illustrate the issues, here are sixteen of Wikipedia’s biggest cock-ups. Follow the hyperlinks to go down the Wikipedia wormhole…

  • Programming/Development

    • Dart-on-LLVM

      Dart already has an excellent virtual machine which uses just-in-time compilation to get excellent performance. Since Dart is dynamically typed (more precisely, it’s optionally typed), a JIT compiler is a natural fit — it can use the types available at runtime to perform optimizations that a static compiler can’t do.

    • Google Developers Experiment With Plumbing Dartlang Into LLVM

      It’s been a while since last hearing much excitement around Google’s Dart programming language that’s an alternative to JavaScript. This ECMA-approved language is now being used with IoT devices, can still be source-to-source compiled for JavaScript, and the latest is that the Google developers have been experimenting with wiring it into LLVM.

    • A behind the scenes look at Exercism for improving coding skills

      In our recent article, we talked about Exercism, an open source project to help people level up in their programming skills with exercises for dozens of different programming languages. Practitioners complete each exercise and then receive feedback on their response, enabling them to learn from their peer group’s experience.

      Katrina Owen is the founder of Exercism, and I interviewed her as research for the original article. There are some fantastic nuggets of information and insight in here that we wanted to share with anyone interested in learning to programming, teaching programming, and how a project like this takes contributions like this from others.

    • ‘You are Not Expected to Understand This’: An Explainer on Unix’s Most Notorious Code Comment

      The phrase “You are Not Expected to Understand This” is probably the most famous comment in the history of Unix.

      And last month, at the Systems We Love conference in San Francisco, systems researcher Arun Thomas explained to an audience exactly what it was that they weren’t supposed to understand.

Leftovers

  • Maybe it is time to tell new stories of Scotland

    Politics isn’t everything. Just as important is culture – a word used and over-used, seemingly about everything and everywhere, but difficult, and sometimes impossible to pin down and define.

    Culture when we forensically examine it can mean so many things. It can describe individual growth and enrichment. It can be about a group or community’s way of life. It expresses the activities of consuming culture. And finally, it is also used to define the way groups and organisations act and the codes and practices which shape them.

    The many facets of culture and the propensity not to define them can be seen in our nation. We have a politics which is meant to be all-encompassing, but often evades detail and substance. Reinforcing this is a widespread characteristic of not wanting to define Scottish culture – for fear of ghettoising and marginalising.

  • Science

    • The passing of Gene Cernan reminds us how far we haven’t come

      I was sitting with Apollo 7 veteran Walt Cunningham in his west Houston living room on Monday afternoon when his wife, Dot, stepped tentatively in. “I’m sorry for interrupting,” she said. “But Gene’s dead.”

      She meant Eugene Cernan, the US Navy Captain who commanded Apollo 17, and the last person to walk on the Moon. He was 82 and had been ill for about six months.

      We took a moment to process this. Six of NASA’s 12 Apollo Moonwalkers were now dead. The other six are in their 80s or older. And for Cunningham, this was personal. Cernan served as back-up to Cunningham as the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 7, the first flight of the Apollo capsule. Cunningham sighed. “I guess that’s the way it is,” he said. “I’ll be 85 in two months. I’m starting to face up to the fact that everybody I know is going to be gone soon, and probably me too.”

    • Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan has passed away

      Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, has died at the age of 82, according to NASA. He was a veteran of three spaceflights: as the pilot for Gemini 9A, the Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 10, and as the commander of Apollo 17.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • I’m an Abortion Provider in a Red State, and I Expect the Attacks on Reproductive Freedom to Intensify in Trump’s America

      In 2013, I opened my own medical practice in Phoenix, Arizona: Desert Star Family Planning, LLC. I had already been providing women’s health care for years as a board-certified OB-GYN, but I wanted to pursue my vision of a private practice that fully integrates abortion care with general gynecological services.

      Desert Star is exactly what I’d dreamed it would be: a home base for women’s wellness; a safe space for LGBT people and teens; a warm, supportive environment where, on any given day, my staff and I may be called on to provide cancer screenings or abortion care or treatment for acute gynecological problems.

      But I have been under assault by the Arizona Legislature since the day I opened, and Donald Trump’s election means that things are only going to get worse. The truth is, I couldn’t even bear to stay up late watching the election returns. Once the tide began turning, I turned in.

      There are many ways a Trump administration can make life even harder and more dangerous for abortion providers like me. At the federal level, Congress could pass legislation with President Trump’s support that would prohibit clinics that provide abortion care from receiving Medicaid reimbursement for the many nonabortion services we provide. If that happens, many of my patients will no longer be able to afford to come to me for care.

    • If we sign up to the TTIP trade deal with Trump, the first thing to be sold off to US corporations will be the NHS

      With Theresa May indicating that Britain’s future lies outside the EU single market and Donald Trump signalling his desire for a quick US-UK trade deal, the likelihood of a future deal with America has shot up the agenda. But, in line with Barack Obama’s warning, the “back of the queue” may be the best place when it comes to a deal with Trump’s America.

      Let’s not forget the USA is the UK’s most important “single country” trading partner. In the absence of any deal, the US is already the UK’s largest export partner and second-largest import partner.

      But transform this into a “new generation” trade deal similar to the controversial TTIP and CETA pacts, and we risk losing the NHS, triggering another financial crisis, and replacing the European Court of Justice with a dystopian set of secretive, one-way “corporate courts” designed for big businesses to sue governments for lost profits. In one fell swoop, the ancient British principle of “equality before the law” will be destroyed.

    • Scientists to Government: Make It Easier to Study Marijuana

      Even as more and more states allow their residents to use marijuana, the federal government is continuing to obstruct scientists from studying whether the drug is good or bad for people’s health.

      A report published last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine points out that scientists who want to study cannabis have to seek approvals from federal, state and local agencies and depend on just one lab, at the University of Mississippi, for samples. As a result, far too little is known about the health effects of a substance that 28 states have decided can be used as medicine and eight states and the District of Columbia have approved for recreational use.

      The situation is so absurd, the report says, that chemists and brain researchers are not allowed to study cannabis concentrates and edibles. Yet those forms of the drug are widely used. For example, in Colorado, where voters decided to create a regulated market for marijuana in 2012, sales of concentrates reached $60.5 million in just the first three months of last year.

    • 18 million would lose insurance in first year of Obamacare repeal without replacement, CBO report says

      At least 18 million people would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan, estimates a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

      The number of people without insurance would grow to about 32 million within the first decade if congressional Republicans follow a 2015 plan to repeal the health-care law without an alternative, the new report says. It also estimates that health insurance premiums for people buying individual non-group coverage would double within a decade, further complicating GOP promises that people will not lose coverage under their plan.

  • Security

    • Truffle Hog Finds Security Keys Hidden in GitHub Code

      According to commentors on a Reddit thread about Truffle Hog, Amazon Web Services has already been using a similar tool for the same purpose. “I have accidentally committed my AWS secret keys before to a public repo,” user KingOtar wrote. “Amazon actually found them and shut down my account until I created new ones. Kinda neat Amazon.”

    • 5 Essential Tips for Securing Your WordPress Sites

      WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform today.

      Being as popular as it is, it comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. The very fact that almost everybody uses it, makes it more prone to vulnerabilities. WordPress developers are doing a great job of fixing and patching the framework as new flaws are discovered, but that doesn’t mean that you can simply install and forget your installation.

      In this post, we will provide some of the most common ways of securing and strengthening a WordPress site.

    • Google ventures into public key encryption

      Google announced an early prototype of Key Transparency, its latest open source effort to ensure simpler, safer, and secure communications for everyone. The project’s goal is to make it easier for applications services to share and discover public keys for users, but it will be a while before it’s ready for prime time.

      Secure communications should be de rigueur, but it remains frustratingly out of reach for most people, more than 20 years after the creation of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Existing methods where users need to manually find and verify the recipients’ keys are time-consuming and often complicated. Messaging apps and file sharing tools are limited in that users can communicate only within the service because there is no generic, secure method to look up public keys.

    • How to Keep Hackers out of Your Linux Machine Part 2: Three More Easy Security Tips

      In part 1 of this series, I shared two easy ways to prevent hackers from eating your Linux machine. Here are three more tips from my recent Linux Foundation webinar where I shared more tactics, tools and methods hackers use to invade your space. Watch the entire webinar on-demand for free.

    • 3 Lessons in Web Encryption from Let’s Encrypt

      As exciting as 2016 was for encryption on the Web, 2017 seems set to be an even more incredible year. Much of the infrastructure and many of the plans necessary for a 100 percent encrypted Web really solidified in 2016, and the Web will reap the rewards in 2017. Let’s Encrypt is proud to have been a key part of that.

      But before we start looking ahead, it’s helpful to look back and see what our project learned from our exciting first full year as a live certificate authority (CA). I’m incredibly proud of what our team and community accomplished during 2016. I’d like to share how we’ve changed, what we’ve accomplished, and what we’ve learned.

      At the start of 2016, Let’s Encrypt was supporting approximately 240,000 active (unexpired) certificates. That seemed like a lot at the time! Now we’re frequently issuing that many new certificates in a single day while supporting more than 22 million active certificates in total.

    • [Older] Kali Linux Cheat Sheet for Penetration Testers
    • Report: Attacks based on open source vulnerabilities will rise 20 percent this year [Ed: The Microsoft-connected Black Duck spreads FUD against FOSS again, together with IDG; Black Duck was created for the purpose of attacking the GPL, by its very own admission.]

      The number of commercial software projects that were composed of 50 percent or more of free, open source software went up from 3 percent in 2011 to 33 percent today, said Mike Pittenger, vice president of security strategy at Black Duck Software.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • UK cosying up to Trump over Middle East peace process, say EU ministers

      Britain has been accused of cowering in the face of Donald Trump after becoming involved in a second row in 24 hours with European leaders over the future of the Middle East peace process.

      The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, with support from Estonia and Hungary, blocked an EU foreign ministers’ statement on how the EU could support the process, it emerged on Monday.

    • The Drone Assassination Assault on Democracy

      What do Reyaad Khan, Ruhul Amin, Samir Khan, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Junaid Hussain and Micah Xavier Johnson have in common? All of these young, brown-skinned males were killed extrajudicially through the use of remote-control technology under authorization by their very own government.

      British nationals Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin had traveled to Syria to join up with ISIS (the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in response to Western military intervention in the Middle East. Both were killed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in August 2015 using lethal drones, even though the British parliament had voted down Cameron’s call for war in Syria. Ironically, in the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the prime minister chose to deploy missiles to destroy these compatriots without indicting or trying them for crimes. Following the precedent set by US President Barack Obama four years earlier, Cameron claimed to be acting in national self-defense. Obama had authorized the drone killing in Yemen of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, an outspoken opponent of US militarism and an advocate of jihad.

    • The Horror of the Iraq War, One Hundred Years From Now

      AFTER SADDAM HUSSEIN, after the U.S. invasion, after the Islamic State, what will Iraq ultimately look like? The future of Iraq, its borders, economy, religious and cultural identity, is a matter of constant speculation for foreign policy experts.

      Now there’s a literary response, in the form of a new collection of short fiction, Iraq +100: Stories from a Century After the Invasion. In the book, Iraqi writers who are inside the country and outside it imagine their homeland one hundred years from the fateful month of March 2003, when the U.S. invasion began. Iraq +100 is a fine example of critical dystopia, a genre that the writer Junot Diaz recently described as “not just something that is ‘the bad place.’ It is something that maps, warns, and hopes.”

      Iraq +100 was edited by Hassan Blasim, the author of a chilling, excellent book of stories called The Corpse Exhibition, which was published in 2014. Blasim is perhaps the best-known of the writers in Iraq +100. Almost all of the stories in The Corpse Exhibition include a fantastical element, but they are dark and grotesque, and the violence in them is surreal only until you think of what Iraqis have endured in recent decades. In the title story of The Corpse Exhibition, master assassins compete with one another to construct the most elaborate and impressive public displays of the bodies of their victims, describing maiming, splaying, and dismembering as an art form. Those and other stories made for grisly satire not far removed from real atrocities committed by U.S. troops and sectarian militias, and a queasy preview of the theatrical violence of executions carried out by the Islamic State, which swept through Iraq after Blasim’s book came out.

    • Jeremy Corbyn Accused of Being Russian “Collaborator” for Questioning NATO Troop Build-Up on Border

      The leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called for a “de-escalation” of tensions between NATO and Russia, adding in a BBC interview on Thursday: “I want to see a de-militarisation of the border between them.” Along with the U.S., the UK has been rapidly building up its military presence in the Baltic region, including states which border Russia, and is now about to send another 800 troops to Estonia, 500 of which will be permanently based.

      In response, Russia has moved its own troops within its country near those borders, causing serious military tensions to rise among multiple nuclear-armed powers. Throughout 2016, the Russian and U.S. militaries have engaged in increasingly provocative and aggressive maneuvers against one another. This week, the U.S. began deploying 4,000 troops to Poland, “the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the cold war.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The CIA’s Secret History Is Now Online

      Decades ago, the CIA declassified a 26-page secret document cryptically titled “clarifying statement to Fidel Castro concerning assassination.”

      It was a step toward greater transparency for one of the most secretive of all federal agencies. But to find out what the document actually said, you had to trek to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and hope that one of only four computers designated by the CIA to access its archives would be available.

      But today the CIA posted the Castro record on its website along with more than 12 million pages of the agency’s other declassified documents that have eluded the public, journalists, and historians for nearly two decades. You can view the documents here.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Study says pesticide is a threat to survival of bats

      Imidacloprid — a neonicotinoid pesticide that the US Environmental Protection Agency says can be harmful to bees — is a threat to the survival of bats, a research team said.

      The team, headed by National Taiwan Normal University professor of life sciences Wu Chung-hsin (吳忠信) found that bats feeding on imidacloprid-tainted insects were unable to fly along learned paths and often got lost while hunting.

      With Formosan leafnosed bats as their experimental subject, the team found that animals treated with a low dose of imidacloprid developed neural apopotosis — a process of programmed cell death — in the brain, Wu said.

      “The sonogram of ultrasounds emitted by such bats becomes incomplete,” Wu said on Wednesday, discussing research published in April last year in Neuroreport, a peer-reviewed journal of neuroscience.

    • Saudi Plans for Early End to OPEC Pact May Leave Job Undone

      OPEC and Russia won’t need to prolong output cuts beyond June because the agreed reductions will have already ended the oversupply in world crude markets, Saudi Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Al-Falih said in Abu Dhabi on Monday. However, ending the deal by mid-year and restoring production would mean the surplus just starts building again, thwarting OPEC’s ambition of whittling down bloated oil inventories.

    • Global Sea Ice Hits Lowest Levels ‘Probably in Millenia’

      Global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, according to new statistics from the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center.

      In the Arctic, the loss is due to climate change and extreme weather events that are likely influenced by global warming, while the changes in the Antarctic may be attributed to natural variability, the center said.

    • @Ivanka from Brighton sends climate change reply to Donald Trump

      Replying to Trump, she tweeted: “And you’re a man with great responsibilities. May I suggest more care on Twitter and more time learning about #climatechange.”

      She also tweeted data pointing out that 97.5% of publishing climatologists and about 90% of all publishing scientists supported the human-induced climate change theory.

  • Finance

    • Clintons Shutter Global Initiative as Donations Dry Up

      The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) filed a WARN — Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification — with New York State’s Department of Labor on Thursday, announcing that, effective April 15, 2017, it would be closing its doors and laying off 22 employees. The CGI’s stated reason: “Discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative.”

      Following the election, foreign governments that had been regular donors began cutting their contributions to the Clinton Foundation, some severely. For example, news.com.au noted that the Australian government “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway, which had been contributing as much as $20 million a year to the foundation, cut its contribution by nearly 90 percent.

    • Donald Trump’s businesses owe $1.8bn to more than 150 different institutions, new study suggests

      Donald Trump’s companies are almost $1.8 billion in debt to more than 150 institutions, a new report has suggested – raising fresh questions about potential conflicts of interests when the Republican takes office in January.

      The new evidence exposes the extent to which the businessman will soon be responsible for regulating many of the institutions he owes sizeable amounts of money to.

      Mr Trump has previously declared $315 million (£254 million) of debt owed to ten different lenders.

    • Moody’s to Pay $864 Million for its Role in Subprime Mortgage Crisis

      Moody’s Corporation will pay $864 million to settle federal and state claims that it gave misleading ratings to risky mortgage investments, leading to the subprime mortgage crisis in the US and to the Great Recession.

      In the deal, announced January 13, the ratings agency will give $437.5 million to the Justice Department and $426.3 million to be divided among the 21 involved states and the District of Columbia.

    • Taxi races show black cabs beat Uber on speed but not cost [iophk: “neglects to mention that the passenger costs are subsidized by venture capital”]

      London Bridge to Trafalgar Square. You take an Uber, I’ll take a black cab. Ready, set, go!

      A group of researchers led by Anastasios Noulas at Lancaster University, UK, recently raced to settle the debate over which taxi service is fastest. They ran a three-day experiment taking 29 journeys from different locations around London. One researcher hailed a taxi from the Uber app while another took a traditional black cab to the same destination, with the route left up to the driver.

      At the end of their trial, black cabs worked out faster, taking on average 88 per cent of the time an Uber did – although they were also around 35 per cent more expensive.

      “Uber drivers rely on navigation apps, but in dense parts of the city these can be slower than a black cab driver to react to traffic build up,” says Noulas.

      The researchers ran their experiment while developing a taxi price comparison app called OpenStreetCab, which is currently available in London and New York and aims to be like Skyscanner for taxis. Comparing prices for taxi services is more difficult than for flights, however, because Uber’s prices constantly change depending on demand. For both services, the final cost also depends on the route the driver takes.

    • Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

      Theresa May has said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.

      But the prime minister promised to push for the “freest possible trade” with European countries and to sign new deals with others around the world.

    • Crippling costs for sheep sector in ‘hard’ Brexit, NSA warns
    • Prime minister vows to put final Brexit deal before parliament

      Theresa May has committed to putting the final Brexit deal to a vote in parliament in a speech on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, and insisted that if she failed to get what she wanted no deal would be better than a bad deal.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit focus should be on the least harmful way of leaving

      Theresa May, who makes a major speech on Tuesday, has reached a moment of truth on Brexit. No one can blame her for the result of the referendum – she was a remainer – but from now on she takes responsibility for the consequences. If Britain not only leaves the EU but also loses free access to its main export market in Europe, our economy will become smaller and poorer.

      Of course, she will argue that British exporters will not be barred from Europe’s vast marketplace, and technically that is true. But from now on we will be selling our goods and services on Europe’s terms; not as insiders but as competitors and rivals. Any deal that helps us will depend on Europe’s willingness to grant us preferential access.

      Without favoured treatment, many exports to the EU could face tariffs in some cases of 10% or a lot more. Robust customs barriers will add significant export costs and expensive delays, and many exports of services will be blocked once we abandon Europe’s single regulatory rulebook. This means not just a hard Brexit but a destructive and harmful rupture that will, over time, reduce trade, shrink manufacturing investment and destroy jobs.

    • See you in Davos (not)

      It’s hard to find examples of how the World Economic Forum lives up to its motto of ‘improving the state of the world.’

    • Netherlands will block post Brexit trade deal if UK doesn’t ‘firmly tackle’ tax avoidance, says deputy PM

      The deputy prime minister of the Netherlands has said his country will block any post-Brexit EU trade deal with the UK unless it can agree on “firmly tackling” tax avoidance.

      Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Dutch Labour party, fears a “race to the bottom” led by a British Conservative government, which would have negative ramifications across Europe.

      This is reminiscent of the fears of many Remain campaigners, who believe the government could try to entice businesses to the UK after EU withdrawal by cutting taxes and regulation.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit speech: ‘No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal’ – Politics live

      The Irish government has signalled its intent to exploit May’s plans to leave the single market and customs union with bids to woo EU agencies from London to Dublin.

      A spokesperson for the government in Dublin said there were now “economic opportunities that may arise for Ireland” following the UK’s decision.

      “Bids for the EU agencies currently located in London – the European Medicines Board and the European Banking Authority have already been announced and the state enterprise agencies are actively pursuing opportunities for increased investment, business and job creation in Ireland,” they said.

      “Economic opportunities for Ireland will be pursued vigorously”, the government spokesperson continued.

      The government in Dublin said it welcomed the prime minister’s commitment to maintaining the pre-EU common travel area between Britain and Ireland as well as her promise that there would be no “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

      May will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin later this month to discuss ares of common interest, the spokesperson said.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit plan is taking ‘extreme gamble’ with UK’s future, says Caroline Lucas

      Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, has responded to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit.

      Ms May laid out 12 objectives for negotiations to take Britain out of the European Union and said the UK will no longer be a part of the Single Market.

      Ms Lucas said it was an “extreme gamble”.

    • Inflation at 29-month high of 1.6% as food and air fares rise

      The headline rate of inflation has hit its highest level since the summer of 2014 as weaker sterling starts to affect the cost of many everyday prices.

      Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) hit an annual rate of 1.6% in December – up from 1.2% the previous month.

      It meant the measure was at its highest level since July 2014 and came in above the expectations of economists who had pencilled in a rise to 1.4%.

    • Worried This Billionaire Will Destroy Public Education, Teachers Have Some #Questions4Betsy

      Defenders of public education have a few questions they want to ask Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial pick to lead the Department of Education, when she appears at her senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

      With a new campaign targeting members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as well as its members and supporters, are sharing questions they’d like to see answered by the billionaire Amway heiress and notorious critic of public schools.

      “DeVos has no relevant experience in public education, but as a billionaire with an agenda she’s promoted disastrous ideology and pushed destructive policies across her home state of Michigan—working to undermine, defund and privatize public schools, expand for-profit charters without accountability, and push unconstitutional private school vouchers,” Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, wrote in an email to supporters on Monday.

      “We need a secretary of education who would strengthen and improve public schools, not one who is out to destroy them,” Weingarten added. “We need our questions answered before she gets anywhere near our children’s futures.”

    • At the Birthplace of Auto Workers’ Sit-Down Strikes, Locked Out for Eight Months and Counting

      This month, auto workers from Chicago and Detroit made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of auto workers’ sit-down strikes to lend solidarity to workers who’ve been locked out for eight months and counting.

      Honeywell locked out 320 aerospace workers with Auto Workers (UAW) Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9 after they voted 270-30 to reject the company’s offer. Another 40 Honeywell workers with Local 1508 at in Green Island, New York, are also locked out.

      Honeywell was demanding the power to change health care premiums and deductibles unilaterally. The rejected proposal would also have eliminated cost-of-living increases and retiree health care, frozen pensions, curtailed overtime pay, subcontracted work, and voided seniority rights.

    • Is MLK’s Legacy to the 99 Percent Being Reversed in the Age of Trumpian Reaction?

      Reaction has two main meanings in English. One is to respond to some new situation (not specifying the nature of the reaction). The other is to resist some innovation. In this second sense, a reactionary is one who wants to go back to a previously existing condition of society. A reactionary is worse than a conservative. A conservative resists progressive change that benefits large numbers of people but does not help the rich. A reactionary wants to undo a progressive change already long since effected, taking achievements away from the people for the sake of the 1%.

      We live in a reactionary age. Trump crony Newt Gingrich wants to undo the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt entirely, getting rid of social security and condemning large numbers of elderly Americans to penury. (In the 1930s the elderly were the poorest segment of society; that is no longer true today, and people can hope to retire and live with dignity, because of social security). We live in a moment where 8 billionaires are as rich as the poorer half of humankind and when the top 1% takes home 20% of the US national income (up from 10% only a few decades ago). Ironically, it is in this moment, when workers and the middle classes are prostrate and the lion’s share of resources is going to 1.2 million households out of 124 million American households– it is at this very moment that reactionaries are demanding that ordinary people surrender their pensions and social security and health care for the sake of a further fat tax cut for the super-rich. The average wage of the average worker has been flat since 1970 in the US, as any increases in productivity or real economic growth appears to have been taken right to the top and the 1% by the Republican tax-cut conveyor belt. A loss of entitlements would actually reduce their incomes substantially, sending them back to the 1950s.

    • Corona has a Trump-Mexico problem

      Just one day after Donald Trump was elected president, the U.S. company that distributes Corona took a 7% dive in the stock market — and it hasn’t recovered.

      Constellation Brands’ stock remains down 10% since the election, seriously missing out on Wall Street’s big Trump rally.

    • Trump would win trade war with China, says aide

      One of Donald Trump’s closest advisers has told the BBC that the US would win a trade war with China.

      Anthony Scaramucci warned that if China chose to retaliate when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imports, it would cost them “way more” than it would cost the US.

      He added the current trade relationship was “more favourable to China than us”.

    • Polls And Politics: There’s No Mandate For A Hard Brexit

      During the referendum campaign I argued strongly that the European Union has fostered and supported democracy in our continent. I must admit that at the time I had in mind the transition from communism in Eastern Europe and fascism in Mediterranean Europe. But the disturbing reality is that we are witnessing how our own democracy has been weakened by our vote to leave.

      Democracy relies on a shared vision of the future. Those who do not win an election still have a right to be respected and some of their wishes to be included in the political compromise. The Brexit chant: ‘We won; you lost: shut up!’ is not compatible with democracy.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Bush Counting Down Days Until He Is No Longer Worst President in History
    • America’s Self-Destructive Obsessions

      The U.S. population is led from one hysteria to the next, now transitioning from the Global War on Terror to the New Cold War with Russia, a fearful madness that is infecting the collective psyche, says Michael Brenner.

    • Democrats Lost in a Corporate Wilderness

      Over the past quarter century, the national Democratic Party merged with the Clinton pay-for-play money machine and lost touch with American populism. So, what must be done and what are the party’s prospects, asks Lawrence Davidson.

    • Playing Politics with Terrorism List

      Legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) is regrettable on multiple counts. It represents a perversion of the FTO list and reflects an attitude that is likely to increase rather than decrease Islamist terrorism.

      [...]

      The 1996 legislation established a procedure in which the various departments and agencies involved participate in a lengthy review process to examine which groups should be listed as FTOs. The law spells out the criteria to govern the review, which basically are that the group must be an identifiable organization that is foreign and has engaged in terrorism that somehow affects U.S. interests. The review process has been thorough and laborious, including the preparation of detailed “administrative records” assembling the available information about each group under examination. The Secretary of State makes the final determinations regarding listing or delisting.

      There has been some political manipulation of the list, though it has been to keep or move a group off the list rather than putting it on. The most salient case of this involved the Iranian cult and terrorist group known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delisted in 2012. The group, which has killed American citizens in terrorist attacks and clearly met the criteria for being on the FTO list, had not changed its stripes. Instead, the delisting was a response to the group’s long-running and well-financed lobbying campaign to win favor in Washington and especially among members of Congress.

    • Trump’s Remaking of US Foreign Policy

      Over the weekend, President-elect Trump received two journalists from mainstream European print media — The Times of London and the German magazine Bild — for a joint interview in New York City’s Trump Tower. The event was videotaped and we are seeing some remarkable sound bites, particularly those of interest to the British and German publics.

      [...]

      For the general public’s consumption, Donald Trump used the interview to explain his special affection for Britain, speaking about his Scottish mother’s delight in the Queen and her watching every royal event on television for its unequaled pageantry. But we may expect that Prime Minister May will find there is a bill to pay for the “special relationship” with the U.S. under President Trump.

      Rather than the British media’s early speculation that Prime Minister May would be the one to set the misguided Trump straight about the nefarious Vladimir Putin, she may now have to become a leading European advocate for détente with Russia at Trump’s behest. In this connection, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to Congress during his visit to Washington last week that Official Washington “stop demonizing Putin” may well have been a straw in the wind.

    • The Real Reason Any Russian Meddling Is an Emergency

      The bizarre saga of potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has created a genuine emergency in American politics. This isn’t necessarily because of Russia’s actual actions — unless the most peculiar allegations turn out to be accurate — but because of Donald Trump’s response, and what this indicates about how he’ll govern.

      Ignore the Trump “dossier” for the moment and forget the baseless conjecture about Russia hacking the U.S. voting process itself. All we need to know about Trump and the Republican Party can be found in their position on the simplest, most plausible part of the story: that Russia was behind the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and John Podesta.

      Is this in fact what happened? Certainly the Obama administration did itself no favors by failing to release any of the evidence underlying the strong conclusions in the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report. But Trump himself said at last week’s press conference, presumably based on a classified briefing, that “I think it was Russia.” Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, agreed during his confirmation hearings. There’s also the crucial dog that hasn’t barked: Unlike during the lead up to the Iraq War, no one from the intelligence agencies has been leaking doubts or claims that they’re being leaned on by the White House to provide the desired conclusion.

    • Could Trump Have Been Caught in a Classic “Honey Trap”?

      Finally, some fun. Finally, something to off set the angst, the fear, the crushing dread of a Trump presidency. Of course, nothing has been verified as yet (and very likely never will be), but given the Soviet Union’s history of espionage, and Trump’s notorious impetuosity, the first reports to leak out have proven to be tantalizingly believable.

      Basically, the story going around is that the Russians have compromised Donald Trump. They did it by tricking him into committing some fairly bizarre sexual indiscretions, recording them on film (their standard Cold War modus operandi), and filing them away for future use, which is to say, for blackmail purposes.

    • Actually Mr. Trump, Turns Out Americans ‘Care a Lot’ About Your Tax Returns

      President-elect Donald Trump has claimed that the American people “don’t care at all” about whether he releases his tax returns. Turns out, he was wrong.

      In fact, new ABC News/Washington Post polling data released on Monday shows that 74 percent of all Americans, including 49 percent of his own supporters, say he should release his tax returns.

      What’s more, the number of people curious about Trump’s finances has risen since he’s been elected. “In May, 64 percent said he should release the returns, and in September, 63 percent said he was not justified in withholding them,” ABC News reports.

      Last week, the incoming president held a news conference during which he announced that he would not divest his holdings in his business empire and stood by his refusal to release his tax documents.

    • Filmmaker Michael Moore Organizing Pre-Inauguration Rally
    • A Demand for Russian ‘Hacking’ Proof

      You, on the other hand, enjoy far more credibility – AND power – for the next few days. And we assume you would not wish to hobble your successor with charges that cannot withstand close scrutiny. We suggest you order the chiefs of the NSA, FBI and CIA to the White House and ask them to lay all their cards on the table. They need to show you why you should continue to place credence in what, a month ago, you described as “uniform intelligence assessments” about Russian hacking.

      At that point, if the intelligence heads have credible evidence, you have the option of ordering it released – even at the risk of damage to sources and methods. For what it may be worth, we will not be shocked if it turns out that they can do no better than the evidence-deprived assessments they have served up in recent weeks. In that case, we would urge you, in all fairness, to let the American people in on the dearth of convincing evidence before you leave office.

    • People Are RSVPing To Trump’s Inauguration In The Most Hilarious Wa

      On Saturday, Mike Pence shared a video of Trump “inviting” people to come to his inauguration. Almost immediately, the comments section went wild.

    • Brian Covert

      Peter and Mickey spend the hour with journalist and media scholar Brian Covert, discussing the too-close relationship between the CIA and U.S. media, as well as other issues, including the Obama Administration “pivot” toward Asia. Brian Covert is an independent journalist, and a lecturer at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. His chapter on the CIA and the media, “Played by the Mighty Wurlitzer,” appears in the Censored 2017 yearbook.

    • WaPo, Organ of Extreme Center, Calls MLK ‘True Conservative’

      Because words and history evidently have no meaning, the Washington Post (1/16/17) decided to honor civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. by painting him as a “true conservative.” In what one can only hope was a terribly botched attempt at high-wire satire, the Post’s editorial board attempted to use King’s frequent appeals to the “founding fathers” as evidence King should be lumped in the same ideological category as William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater.

    • CIA Director John Brennan Rejects Donald Trump’s Criticism

      Outgoing Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan on Monday rejected Donald Trump’s suggestions that he may have leaked an unsubstantiated dossier on the president-elect while defending the U.S. intelligence community more broadly from Mr. Trump’s recent attacks on its credibility and integrity.

    • Donald Trump tweets at wrong Ivanka during daughter’s CNN interview

      The President-elect mistook a woman in the United Kingdom for his 35-year-old daughter while proudly live-tweeting her interview airing on CNN Monday night.

    • Donald Trump will reportedly keep tweeting from his personal account

      The @realDonaldTrump handle is the most notorious account in Twitter’s brief history, and it appears as though its owner and author isn’t yet ready to let it go. NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell reports word directly from the transition team of US president-elect Donald Trump that he will continue to use his personal Twitter account. The widespread presumption, with any other president, might have been that he (or she) would pick up the @POTUS handle to conduct all his public-facing tweeting. Mr. Trump, however, has expressed a desire to keep growing his following, which at this point surpasses 20 million people on Twitter alone — and that’s just direct followers, many follow him indirectly through endless waves of reverberating reactions to his latest proclamations.

    • Politician Arrested for Pinching Woman’s Genitals ‘Said He No Longer Had to Be Politically Correct’

      Connecticut Republican politician Christopher von Keyserling was arrested and charged with sexual assault after he was caught on a security camera pinching the genitals of a woman with whom he got into a political disagreement.

      Von Keyserling, the 71-year-old chair of the Representative Town Meeting in Greenwich, encountered the unnamed woman in the hallway of an unnamed town facility on Dec. 8, according to the Westport Weston. She told him it was “a new world” politically, to which he allegedly replied, “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct,” according to the warrant.

      She told him that if he was “proud of that I can’t help you,” after which he called her a lazy, bloodsucking union employee, the warrant said. He allegedly followed her into her office, saying he wanted to talk to her co-worker. Her co-worker came into the office, refused to talk with him, and left.

      The first woman attempted to do the same, at which point von Keyserling “reached in from behind to place his hand between her legs and pinch her in the groin area,” according to the police arrest warrant. She threatened to hit him if he tried to pinch her again, and he replied, “It would be your word against mine and nobody will believe you,” according to the warrant.

    • Celebrating Two Centuries of Thoreau

      For someone generally associated with serenity, Henry David Thoreau can get people riled up. In a 2015 essay in The New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz wrote that the transcendentalist and his work had become “simplified and inspirational,” and that our beatific vision of him “cannot survive any serious reading of ‘Walden,’ ” which reveals a writer “in the fullest sense of the word, self-obsessed: narcissistic, fanatical about self-control, adamant that he required nothing beyond himself to understand and thrive in the world.” Donovan Hohn counterargued at length in The New Republic, saying that Schulz simply replaced “the distortions of hagiography with those of caricature, and the caricature has been drawn before.”

      Many political observers have recently noted the renewed relevance of the essay “Civil Disobedience” with Donald Trump moving into the White House, but that’s not the only reason the 19th-century thinker is on our minds. In 2017, if the air at Walden had been really, really health-giving, Thoreau would have turned 200. With the bicentennial arrive several books about the naturalist. (Kevin Dann’s “Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau” is reviewed on Page 13 this week by John Kaag.) This spring will see a focus on narrow slices of his work, like Richard Higgins’s “Thoreau and the Language of Trees,” and “Thoreau’s Animals,” edited by Geoff Wisner. Robert M. Thorson’s “The Boatman,” about Thoreau’s relationship to the Concord River and alterations made to it during his lifetime, promises what the publisher, Harvard University, calls, “the most complete account to date of this ‘flowage controversy.’ ”

      An ambitious new full biography by Laura Dassow Walls, an English professor at Notre Dame, will be published in July — the month when Thoreau officially turns the big 2-0-0.

    • Trump Team Considers Moving Press Corps, Alarming Reporters

      In the 1890s, journalists covering the president were forced to stand vigil outside the White House fence, querying visitors for scraps of information and appealing for audiences with presidential aides.

      Today’s reporters are concerned that President-elect Donald J. Trump could send them back into the past.

      The White House press corps was stunned on Sunday by reports of a proposal by the Trump administration to eject reporters from their home in the West Wing — a move that, if carried out, would uproot decades of established protocol whereby journalists are allowed to work in the White House close to senior officials.

    • Donald Trump blames dissolution of European Union on refugees — ‘all of these illegals’

      President-elect Donald Trump blamed Europe’s acceptance of Mideast refugees — as he put it, “all of these illegals” — for the decision by Britain to leave the European Union, and predicted the organization would disintegrate barring a reversal of immigration policies promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

      “People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” Trump told representatives of the Times of London and the German publication Bild about the June Brexit vote. “But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”

      “I believe others will leave … I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”

      Merkel, a longtime U.S. ally who is facing election this year, came in for tough treatment from Trump, who also criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that has been the western bulwark against Russia on the European continent.

    • Britons’ trust in government, media and business falls sharply

      Levels of trust in the UK government, media and businesses have plummeted, according to a key survey.

      The annual trust barometer survey by PR firm Edelman has for the first time published a separate UK-specific supplement, which showed a sharp drop in levels of trust in the last 12 months.

      Trust in the British government, which was already low at 36% at the start of last year, fell to 26% by the start of 2017, the survey showed.

      In a separate question, the prime minister, Theresa May, was given a trust rating of 35% following the EU referendum but this compared favourably with 23% for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.

      The number of people in the UK saying they trusted the media fell from 36% in 2016 to 24%, while trust in businesses fell from 46% to 33% and charities from 50% to 32%.

    • Former Intelligence Official: Trump Conflict With Spy Agencies Creates ‘Dangerous Moment’

      I think it’s a dangerous moment. Because of how important it is for the political leadership of the country, up to and including the president, to have confidence in the information and analysis that we are getting from the intelligence community. And right now the intelligence community is being told that what they say doesn’t matter, or that it’s biased, or that it’s partisan, and those criticisms cut to the core of the whole reason for the existence of the intelligence community. That is, to be outside of the political process, to be expert, so your opinions do matter, and then to be able to inform political leaders in a way that gives leadership a decision advantage. That’s the mission of the intelligence community. And if the President-elect is saying that those things aren’t true, then there’s no reason for the intelligence community to exist. That’s why the most significant criticism that can be levelled at an intelligence professional is this idea that they’re biased.

      In the short term, if the president just ignores the intelligence community that’s obviously extremely dangerous, because the decisions won’t be made based on the facts. But in the long run, you can actually have an impact on the intelligence community itself. So that a young person coming out of a graduate program decides instead of going to the CIA, I’m going to instead go to Goldman Sachs, and make a lot more money anyway.

      For now, what I experienced at the National Counterterrorism Center, out of the thousand or so people there, across the board there were just incredibly talented, mostly young people, who could’ve gone to Wall Street or to Silicon Valley, but wanted to go fight al-Qaida. And it was enormously gratifying to walk into a briefing room and have these people who were just incredibly talented and dedicated. And I’m concerned that one of the impacts of the latest controversy over the Russian hacking starts to undermine the fact that the intelligence community can continue to recruit and retain the most talented thinkers in the country.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • President Duterte has banned porn in the Philippines; Filipinos now need to unblock porn websites

      Internet users in the Philippines are now being forced by their government to use technological means to unblock porn. The South East Asian country is the latest to ban the world’s biggest legal porn websites, following in the steps of the UAE and Russia. Major porn sites such as Pornhub and Xvideos have been blocked by the government as of Saturday. Those attempting to visit these websites from within the Philippines without a VPN or proxy end up seeing this message:

    • The Philippine government has reportedly shut down a range of adult sites

      THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN SWIFT action after it discovered that a lot, and we mean a lot, of its citizens are accessing adult sites and probably masturbating over them.

      People reckon that the cold shower of a block on pages is down to a recent report from at least one page that we have never heard of called PornHub. PornHub recently revealed that it gets a lot of visitors from the country and that they hang around on its pages.

      “The Philippines is holding onto its first place position here with an average visit length to Pornhub of 12:45, exactly the same as where they were at in 2015,” says Pornhub.

    • YouTube under siege as porn is hidden in its privates

      YOUTUBE IS under siege from drive-by smut-peddlers who are uploading dinkles and fou-fous to the video-sharing site using a loophole to pull it off.

      As long as the video isn’t posted publically, it doesn’t appear in YouTube listings and is served up from the old Google Videos site.

      TorrentFreak reports that the embed code for these private videos still works, meaning that any budding Paul Raymonds can start their own debauched domain of dinkles and use YouTube to host the video.

    • Record Labels Target ‘Singing’ President Obama with Takedown Notices

      President Obama has many talents, and with help from the people at “baracksdubs” he can sing virtually any song. Whether it’s Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ or Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas,’ Obama can do it. These parodies have also drawn the attention of some rightsholders who, perhaps unintentionally, are targeting them with takedown requests.

    • Women talk about self-censorship

      On Wednesday January 11, a salon-style discussion about women’s experiences with self-silencing was organized by Imago Theatre, in partnership with Béatrice Média, at Cafe Sfouf, an intimate venue welcoming approximately thirty people.

      Hosted by Rebecca Munroe, a radio host at CJLO – 1690AM, the talk featured three panelists: Dominique Pirolo, a Talent Acquisition Specialist for the German multinational software corporation SAP; Tracey Steer, a writer and blogger whose work has appeared in Today’s Parent and Reader’s Digest; and Christina Vroom, the Associate Director of University Advancement at McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry.

      The panel discussion accounted for the first part of the event, in which the panelists explored when and why they censored themselves. Following this, audience members were invited to share their own experiences of self-censorship. Eventually, the conversation progressed into a collective exchange of strategies to combat the entrenched structures that contribute to why women feel inclined to recede and self-silence.

    • Milo isn’t dangerous, but censorship is

      Thanks to its decision to publish a book by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, Simon & Schuster is the latest company threatened with a consumer boycott. ‘YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS’, comedian Sarah Silverman elegantly tweeted after news of his $250,000 advance. He may well earn more from royalties, especially if feminists and other progressives continue providing him with free publicity and an excuse to proclaim himself a victim of political correctness.

      But the prospect that Yiannopoulos stands to profit from a boycott should trouble his opponents less than the chilling effect of consumer book boycotts on speech. As the National Coalition Against Censorship points out, boycotts like this are increasingly familiar: ‘We are aware of at least seven other similar situations involving threats or fears of boycotts, four of which were successful in having books withdrawn, delayed, revised, or not reprinted.’ As boycotts become more common, corporate media may become less willing to publish controversial books, right and left. Simon & Schuster’s entire publishing enterprise, not just the Yiannopoulos screed or the imprint publishing it, is being targeted, which means that Yiannopoulos could prosper while the company and other authors suffer.

    • Robin Greenler: DNR censorship of science is shameful

      The DNR website now says that “the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change … are being debated and researched by academic entities …” The best scientists our country has ever produced have done the research and they are in consensus: Climate change is real and caused by human actions (see the National Academy of Sciences, Science Magazine, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports). That train has left the station.

    • From the Quad to the Kremlin: Exploring Russian Censorship

      On Wednesday, January 11, Choldin gave a talk at the Seminary Co-Op on her latest book, Garden of Broken Statues: Exploring Censorship in Russia. The memoir begins here in Chicago, with Choldin growing up in Hyde Park and listening to her grandmother’s stories of life as a young Jewish girl in Ukraine.

      Judith Stein, Choldin’s interlocutor and close friend since O-Week 1958, said Choldin has been an impressive force since her days at the College. (Other friends from the audience jumped in: “Since the College? No, since high school!” And another: “No, since elementary school!”) Insatiably curious, with a drive to match, she even translated a book from English to German in her spare time while she was a student.

      Indeed, Choldin described herself as a “conference kid,” going to academic talks and conferences from a young age with her father, an anthropology professor at UChicago. It was at one of these conferences that Choldin’s “love affair with Russian” began. She was 14, sitting on a bench outside the lecture hall, nose buried in an English translation of War and Peace. Two Soviet anthropologists—the first Soviets she met, as it was during the heart of the Cold War—noticed her book. They sternly told her that if she was to read War and Peace, she must read it in Russian.

      Later, as a first-year at UChicago, she drilled verb patterns in her Russian 101 class in preparation for a trip to Moscow that summer, benefiting from a slight thaw in the Cold War. For Choldin, the experience was like walking “onto another planet—not another world, another planet.” The people looked different, spoke differently, and lived by different rules and customs. Her curiosity was irreversibly piqued as she explored the city, pushing the bounds of her one-year knowledge of Russian. Choldin would eventually return to UChicago for her doctorate in the 1970s.

      A run-in with a Soviet customs officer, who confiscated books and magazines from passengers entering Russia by train, spurred Choldin’s obsession with censorship. Her responsibilities of organizing and managing the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign led her to stumble upon literary works that had been marked up and edited by Tsarist censors.

      According to Choldin, censorship in Imperial Russia was blatant. Books arriving from Western Europe would have lines blacked out with pen, pages cut out with razor blades, and passages taped over with scraps from other books.

    • Manchester City’s Bacary Sagna fined £40,000 by FA for social media post

      Bacary Sagna has been fined £40,000 for misconduct in relation to a comment on social media about the referee Lee Mason. The Manchester City defender has also been warned about his future conduct.

    • In Our Opinion: Apple caved in to censorship and tyranny

      We know it’s an outrageous concept, but there should be some things more important than profit.

      Things such as integrity and the courage to tell a major client that there are just some things his threats won’t make you do.

      Well, we did say it was an outrageous concept.

      We doubt very much whether the folks who own the majority shares in Apple — the multi-multibillion-dollar operation that sold you your iPhone — are hurting for money.

      We mean, how many billions of dollars are enough? As the old saying goes, how many horses can you ride when you only have one tushie?

    • Another brick in the Great Firewall: China begins censoring mobile apps
    • China Continues to Crack Down on App Stores – Tightens App Oversight
    • App stores must register with state: China
    • Enough with the self-censorship
    • Your Voice Deserves to be Heard
    • Syrian Migrant Says He’s Tired Of Being The Subject Of ‘Fake News,’ Sues Facebook For Posts Linking Him To Terrorism

      No sooner had Germany announced it was looking to start fining Facebook for the publication of “fake news” than we have a lawsuit being filed to take advantage of this brand new breed of criminal violation.

      Syrian migrant Anas Modamani has announced he will sue Facebook over posts by users depicting him as a supposed participant in multiple terrorist attacks.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Obama approves expansion of NSA’s power to share private data on US citizens

      In his final few days in office, President Barack Obama has overseen a measure that dramatically expands the power of the National Security Agency (NSA) to share intercepted data with other intelligence agencies.

      The new rules put into place by President Obama permit the sharing of data the NSA gathers on private citizens with a number of other intelligence and law enforcement agencies, all before applying the legally required privacy protections or obtaining a warrant. In order to be intercepted legally, communications such as phone calls and emails must cross network switches abroad, so any digital interactions you have with people outside of the United States, or even domestic communications that travel across international switches, are already susceptible to legal NSA surveillance, but now the data gathered can be shared more freely within the law enforcement community.

    • Now It’s Much Easier for Government Agencies to Get NSA Surveillance Data

      Just days before Donald Trump takes office, the director of national intelligence and attorney general have issued new procedures that undermine Americans’ right to privacy and Fourth Amendment constitutional protections. These procedures will allow the NSA to share with other intelligence agencies “raw intelligence” that it collects while conducting mass surveillance under Executive Order 12333, which has been in effect since 1981. Raw intelligence just what it sounds like—emails and phone calls and anything else that the NSA collects during its daily surveillance. These records aren’t minimized or redacted to mask identifying information.

    • Why Is Obama Expanding Surveillance Powers Right Before He Leaves Office?

      On Thursday, the Obama administration finalized new rules that allow the National Security Agency to share information it gleans from its vast international surveillance apparatus with the 16 other agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.

      With the new changes, which were long in the works, those agencies can apply for access to various feeds of raw, undoctored NSA intelligence. Analysts will then be able to sift through the contents of those feeds as they see fit, before implementing required privacy protections. Previously, the NSA applied those privacy protections itself, before forwarding select pieces of information to agencies that might need to see them.

    • A Plea to President Obama: Pardon Edward Snowden

      The constitutional pardon power is best known for its association with historic events like Watergate, which is why it is generally discussed in terms of the worthiness of its beneficiaries, rather than the god-like authority it vests in the president alone. There are only theoretical restrictions on the scope of federal lawbreaking the president has the power to forgive. But precisely because the power is so broadly applicable, and so narrowly held, its potential for abuse is tightly circumscribed by politics. Presidents might be tempted to pardon many people, but few want to answer for why this or that high-profile felon or suspect deserves leniency when others don’t.

      There is a regular exception to this dynamic, though. The end of every presidency eases political constraints considerably, and makes the pardon power a potential source of incredible good or, as in Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich, gross impropriety.

      President Barack Obama has been relatively stingy with the pardon power over the past eight years, but he has an important opportunity in this final week of his presidency to use the power in a way that pays lasting political dividends, and signals his belief that the Trump era will be a trying one for liberal democracy.

    • Google Launches Key Transparency While a Trade-Off in WhatsApp Is Called a Backdoor

      The issue at question is WhatsApp’s answer to the question of what applications should do when someone’s phone number changes (or they reinstall their app, or switch phones).

      Suppose Alice sends a message to Bob encrypted with Bob’s key K1. Alice’s message is stored encrypted at the server until Bob can connect and download it. This behavior is required for any app that allows asynchronous communications (meaning you can send a message to somebody while they are offline), which nearly all popular messaging apps support.

    • Let’s save ‘backdoor’ for the real thing

      The Guardian reported on Friday last week that WhatsApp – owned by Facebook – has a “backdoor” that “allows snooping on encrypted messages”. The report was based on research by Tobias Boelter, published in April 2016. The Guardian has since changed the word “backdoor” in its article to “vulnerability” or “security vulnerability”.

      A few days before the Guardian article was published, the journalist contacted ORG for a quote. She couldn’t discuss the details of the alleged security flaw so we gave a generic quote about the importance of transparency from companies that offer end-to-end encryption and the dangers to encryption within the Investigatory Powers Act.

    • Will Mark Zuckerberg run for political office?

      That’s the question percolating in tech and media circles in recent days.

      The Facebook (FB, Tech30) CEO announced this week he has hired David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, to head policy and advocacy efforts at his philanthropic effort.

      The high-profile politico’s appointment came just days after Zuckerberg unveiled his New Year’s resolution to meet with people from every state in the U.S.

      “After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post, sounding curiously like a politician.

    • What you eat, how you drive and even if you’ve brushed your teeth: What insurance companies want to know about you

      Twice a day, Scott Ozawa’s Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush tells his dental insurer if he brushed for a full two minutes.

      In return, the 41-year-old software engineer gets free brush heads and the employer which bought his insurance gets premium discounts.

      The scheme, devised by Beam Technologies Inc, is just one of the latest uses of technology by insurers hungry for more real-time information on their customers that they say lets them assess risk more accurately and set rates accordingly.

    • Over 1 million people signed a petition urging Obama to pardon Edward Snowden

      According to PardonSnowden.org, the Pardon Snowden campaign submitted a petition to President President Obama last Friday that it claims contained over 1 million signatures, urging the president to see to it that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is pardoned.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Smearing Snowden and WikiLeaks In The Name Of Anonymous

      The WikiLeaks and Snowden smears are getting more disingenuous by the day.

      In the latest attack on what is without doubt the most significant media organization in the world—WikiLeaks—a far less consequential publisher—The Daily Kos—has managed to squeeze an entire article out of one Twitter rant by what they describe as a “quasi-official Anonymous Twitter account” – @YourAnonCentral, also known as YAC.

      In doing so, The Daily Kos is the latest to demonstrate that there is nothing more intellectually insubstantial than the recent trend of quasi-journalists slapping together an entire quasi-article about someone having had a moan on Twitter.

    • More Swedish Women Haunted by Fears of Rape

      Sweden was once known as one of the world’s most secure countries, where violent crime was almost non-existent. Apparently, this is not the case any longer, as almost a third of Swedish women (31 percent) believe the streets are unsafe. Sexual assaults have more than doubled in the Nordic nation in the past three years.

    • Viral Washburn High School fight video was a hoax, district says

      A video posted Friday afternoon to Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook purportedly showing a Muslim student at Washburn High School using her fists to exact revenge on a boy who tugged her hijab is fake, a Minneapolis schools spokesman said Saturday.

      The video, titled “Welcome to Washburn,” has gone viral since it was posted to Facebook, with more than 6.5 million views, more than 161,000 shares and more than 29,000 comments — many supporting the girl, who appears to be defending herself.

      But Dirk Tedmon, a spokesman for the school district, said Saturday that school officials who talked to families of the students after viewing the video learned that it was a “play fight” and intended as a joke. School safety and security staff confirmed the alleged incident never happened. By the time it was discovered to be a hoax, the video had gone viral, Tedmon said.

    • Egypt Drops Case Against Mob That Attacked Christian Woman

      Egyptian prosecutors have thrown out a case brought by an elderly Christian woman against several members of a Muslim mob who stripped off her clothes and paraded her naked through the streets, her lawyer said Sunday.

      Last May’s assault in the central Minya province began after rumors spread that the son of the 70-year-old woman had an affair with a Muslim woman — a taboo in majority Muslim and conservative Egypt.

      Saturday’s decision by the prosecutors cited lack of sufficient evidence, according to the lawyer, Eihab Ramzy. Another case against the alleged perpetrators of the violence, which also targeted Christian homes, remains ongoing.

    • Martin Luther King Day: Lady Liberty is Black

      The United States will release a gold coin featuring Lady Liberty as a Black woman, the first time she has been depicted as anything other than white on the nation’s currency.

      “Part of our intent was to honor our tradition and heritage,” stated a spokesperson from the Mint. “But we also think it’s always worthwhile to have a conversation about liberty, and we certainly have started that conversation.”

      Good for everyone. Only the most dark hearted could be upset that a fictional character is represented in any particular way. This can’t be bad.

    • US Refusing to Intervene as Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition, Prison in Italy

      Time continues to tick away for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who faces extradition from Portugal to Italy on Tuesday to face a four-year jail sentence for her involvement in the highly classified Bush-era rendition of a radical Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar.

      The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has been aggressively advocating on her behalf.

      An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 for allegedly planning the operation. None of the defendants were informed of the charges against them by their Italian court-appointed lawyers.

    • As Obama’s Presidency Comes to an End, Take Some Time to Reflect but Never Forget to Keep Climbing

      When thinking of President Obama’s presidency, I invariably return to thoughts of the night in 2008 when he was elected. I spent the early part of the evening watching the returns with my now 97-year-old mother. My mother was born in Summerville, South Carolina, and came up to New York at age 9 in 1928 to rejoin her mother, who had moved north to work as a domestic for white families in Pennsylvania and New York. Like so many black families who were part of the great migration, they had moved north to escape discrimination and the lack of opportunity in the South only to face different manifestations of America’s original sin in the North.

    • Remember Dr. King—and What He Endured

      Annual celebrations of the life and work of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often lionize the civil rights era, rightfully focusing on its achievements.

      But celebrations often overlook the federal government’s attempts to “neutralize” the movement. While we remember Dr. King’s many achievements today, we also must remember the documented and unfounded vilification by U.S. intelligence agencies that he, and others in the civil rights movement, endured.

      As our nation approaches a new administration, led by a president-elect whose rhetoric has shown little respect for constitutional limits on executive power and armed with an entrenched surveillance state, that experience offers a prescient warning.

    • EU: Orwellian counter-terrorism laws stripping rights under guise of defending them

      Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe reveals how a deluge of laws and amendments passed with break-neck speed, is undermining fundamental freedoms and dismantling hard-won human rights protections.

      “In the wake of a series of appalling attacks, from Paris to Berlin, governments have rushed through a raft of disproportionate and discriminatory laws,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

      “Taken alone these individual counter-terrorism measures are worrying enough, but when seen together, a disturbing picture emerges in which unchecked powers are trampling freedoms that have long been taken for granted.”

      The report, based on more than two years’ research across 14 EU member states, as well as analysis of initiatives at international and European levels, reveals the extent to which new legislation and policies intended to address the threat of terrorism have steamrolled rights protections.

    • What the “Santa Clausification” of Martin Luther King Jr. Leaves Out

      The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated annually on a federal holiday on the third Monday of January. Politicians across the political spectrum put out statements praising his life’s work, and children in classrooms across America are told the tale of a man who stood up defiantly against racism and helped changed civil rights law.

      But what they don’t mention is that King was not just a fighter for racial justice, he also fought for economic justice and against war. And as a result, he spent the last years of his life, before being assassinated in 1968, clashing not just with reactionary Southern segregationists, but with the Democratic Party’s elite and other civil rights leaders, who viewed his turn against the Vietnam War and the American economic system as dangerous and radical.

    • Dr. King, Labor Leader

      The photograph is iconic. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only 39 years old but the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader, lay fatally wounded on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. His lieutenants stood over his body, pointing frantically across the parking lot in the direction of the shooter.

      Dr. King was in Memphis to support the city’s sanitation workers — members of the union I’m proud to serve as president, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — who were striking in protest of poverty wages and dangerous, degrading working conditions. Their fight for dignity and respect was expressed with a simple, compelling slogan: “I Am a Man.”

    • Let’s not forget — Martin Luther King Jr. was preaching economic justice, too

      “Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service,” wrote King’s widow, Coretta Scott King.

      In Atlanta, where King pastored, volunteers will hand out energy-efficient light bulbs in low-income communities. In Chicago, where King lived briefly to draw attention to segregated housing, volunteers will package food for needy elderly residents and give coats to the homeless.

      In Memphis, Tennessee, where King was killed nearly 50 years ago, volunteers will pick up trash in more than a dozen neighborhoods.

    • Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

      President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

      The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

      Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

      The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

    • Chelsea Manning: majority of prison sentence commuted by Obama

      Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who became one of the most prominent whistleblowers in modern times when she exposed the nature of modern warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who then went on to pay the price with a 35-year military prison sentence, is to be freed in May as a gift of outgoing president Barack Obama.

      In the most audacious – and contentious – commutation decision to come from Obama yet, the sitting president used his constitutional power just three days before he leaves the White House to give Manning her freedom. She will walk from the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on 17 May, almost seven years to the day since she was arrested in a base outside Baghdad for offenses relating to the leaking of a vast trove of US state secrets.

    • DOJ, Obama Administration Fight Order Requiring The Full CIA Torture Report To Be Turned Over To The Court

      The Obama administration has responded to calls to declassify the full CIA Torture Report with a “will this do?” promise to lock up one copy in the presidential archives. While this ensures one copy of the full report will survive the next presidency, it doesn’t make it any more likely the public will ever see more than the Executive Summary released in 2014.

      Other copies may still be scattered around the federal government, many of them in an unread state. The Department of Defense can’t even say for sure whether its copy is intact. Meanwhile, an ongoing prosecution in which the defendant is alleging being waterboarded by the CIA has resulted in an order to turn over a copy of the full report to the court.

      This order would preserve a second full copy — with this copy being as close as we’ve gotten so far to seeing it become part of the public record. Of course, the DOJ is challenging this court order on behalf of the Obama administration, which certainly never intended to participate in this much transparency. Charlie Savage of the New York Times notes (on his personal blog) that a motion has been filed seeking to reverse the court’s preservation/deposit order.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC chairman warns next administration: Don’t go backward

      The outgoing chairman of the Federal Communications Commission issued an impassioned warning to the next administration: Don’t go backwards.

      “We are at a fork in the road. One path leads forward. The other leads back to re-litigating solutions that are demonstrably working,” Tom Wheeler said in his final public speech as head of the FCC on Friday, according to prepared remarks.

      “It is time to keep moving forward,” he added in the speech at the Aspen Institute. “This is not the time to retreat and take things away.”

      Wheeler focused much of his speech on upholding net neutrality regulations, which are intended to keep the Internet and open fair. The rules, approved in early 2015, require Internet service providers to treat traffic from all web services and apps equally.

    • Outgoing FCC Boss Warns New FCC About The Perils Of Killing Net Neutrality

      We’ve noted a few times how the incoming Trump-lead FCC has made it clear it not only wants to roll back net neutrality and new broadband privacy rules, but defund and defang the FCC entirely. The majority of Trump telecom advisors believe that the FCC serves absolutely no role as a consumer protection agency, and should be torn down to the studs — its only function being to help manage wireless spectrum. With the broadband market clearly broken and uncompetitive (exhibit A: Comcast and its hidden fees, usage caps, and historically awful customer service), eliminating most regulatory oversight of the sector would obviously compound most of the existing problems.

      In his last speech as acting agency head (pdf) ahead of his resignation this week, FCC boss Tom Wheeler warned the new, incoming FCC that rolling back net neutrality is going to not only drive massive consumer backlash against net neutrality opponents, but it’s going to be legally difficult after the FCC’s court victory last year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • UK Company Sues Disney Over Its Use Of The Same Public Domain Book Title

        Because the Disney corporation is so overprotective of its IP and generally willing to pull the trigger on legal threats/lawsuits, it’s always a bit entertaining to see lawsuits filed against it for alleged infringement. But the quality of lawsuits brought against the entertainment giant are very much hit-and-miss. And just because it’s the courtroom villain being sued, it doesn’t automatically make those bringing the suits the heroes.

        UK company Alice Looking Ltd. has registered trademarks on the phrase “Alice Through The Looking Glass” covering a wide variety of products, most of them being expensive shirts. What it doesn’t have is any claim to “Alice” the character, or anything from the Lewis Carroll original, or really anything else other than those words in that order. (h/t Courthouse News Service)

        Disney, on the other hand, recently released a film entitled “Alice Through The Looking Glass” — a live-action take on the Carroll original and yet another rerub of stuff taken from the public domain by a studio that has done its best for the last 70 years to ensure nothing it owns will ever end up in the public’s control. Alice Looking Ltd. feels the release of the Disney movie undercuts the US market for high-end goods with its trademarked phrase on them.

      • It’s Copyright Week: Join Us in the Fight For A Better Copyright Law

        Copyright law touches everyone. But despite its constitutional mandate to serve the public, policymakers have often treated it as the private preserve of major media and entertainment industries. Those industries built entire empires on copyrighted works, and they’ve shaped the law to reflect their interests and desires. But with copyrighted software and digital technologies now integral to our daily lives, copyright affects everyone – and the law should serve all of us.

        Today, copyright law not only impacts the music you hear or the movies you watch, it shapes your ability to communicate with others online, to create, post or share content to online platforms, to make art that talks back to popular culture, and to use, fix, and tinker with your own belongings. When copyright law is out of balance – when content holders are given too much power to control how new technologies and copyrighted works are used – it limits our basic freedoms to access information, to express ourselves, to control our own digital devices, and to innovate to create new tools and creative works.

      • Landmark Movie Streaming Trial Gets Underway in Sweden

        A landmark trial of two men accused of running a popular streaming site begins today. The operators of Swefilmer, whose case had been put on hold pending a copyright ruling from the European Court, face charges of copyright infringement and money laundering. The case is a first of its kind in Sweden.

Resumption of EPO Propaganda (‘Meet the President’) Officially Starts Tomorrow

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pre-filtered questions to help construct the impression of an attentive king

Meet the President

Summary: Yet another one of these foolish ‘Meet the President’ stunts (not the first), scheduled to take place tomorrow morning

Caricature: Battistelli’s New Year’s Resolution (More EPO Lies)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Humour, Patents at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO speech

Summary: The latest cartoon being circulated within the European Patent Office (EPO)

Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Donald Trump's friend Bill Gates as President is likely good news for Bill’s close friend, Nathan Myhrvold from Intellectual Ventures

Nathan Myhrvold as Trump

Summary: Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism

With President (starting Friday) Donald Trump rumoured to be putting a corrupt man in charge of the USPTO (a man who also promotes software patents and defends patent trolls) we have some legitimate reasons for concern. United for Patent Reform said: “The best thing the administration and Congress can do is to let USPTO continue on this course” (citing an article we mentioned here a few days ago). But the Director of the USPTO is said to be on her way out and Trump is likely to nominate/appoint some pro-business Conservatives to SCOTUS Justice positions. Not too promising…

As Patently-O has just put it in its SCOTUS 2017 patent review:

A new Supreme Court justice will likely be in place by the end of April, although the Trump edition is unlikely to substantially shake-up patent law doctrine in the short term.

Patent trolls are a symptom of the patent maximalism syndrome. When even basic algorithms are considered patentable a whole lot of companies become easy litigation targets and some opportunistic non-producing firms exploit that.

Pieter Hintjens died a few months ago and he knows the cost of being a target of patent trolls. “If you have not read it yet,” Benjamin Henrion told me, “there is a chapter in Confessions of a Necromancer [PDF] on AllisBlue patent troll” (mentioned here 7 years ago as it attacked many companies).

“When I started to work with him in late 2005, he was firing all the people that were working on the SMS@ gateway project. Search for SMS@ in the PDF, there are other mentions as well.”

Here is one of the relevant parts from the PDF:

Around the same time, I got involved in the FFII, fighting software patents in Europe. One of my motivations was that our SMS@ application had been attacked by a patent troll (AllIsBlue). I’d fought back by building an industry association, yet was the only firm willing to take a stance. In the end I shut the app and fired that team, too.

Fighting software patents was easy at that stage. The FFII was in chaos after a long and hard fight in the European Parliament to defeat a law that would have let firms patent software, along the American model. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me yet, I was elected president. Somewhat out of nowhere, I’d no such ambition.

Sadly, the US continues to have an epidemic of patent trolls, albeit the problem is getting smaller. It is always a very bad sign when company has nothing to show except patents. Here is an example from last night. This is all BOS Global has to show:

Then there is also Microsoft, which totally failed in the mobile market (barely any sales!) and increasingly relies on patent blackmail against Android, ChromeOS, and other operating systems with Linux in them. Last night we found at least a dozen articles in English about the latest Microsoft patent, e.g. [1, 2], including puff pieces from Microsoft boosters. How long before Microsoft uses this patent to extort if not embargo Linux-based products? In the same way it has done for almost a decade…

“If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.”Also based on news from last night, Cisco uses patents to embargo its competition yet again [1, 2, 3]. Background about Cisco’s strategy of using patents to virtually embargo Arista’s products can be found in [1, 2, 3].

It’s going to be interesting to see if later in the year patent aggression and trolling will see a resurgence. If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.

More Fake News About the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Based on Lobbying Tactics From Bristows UPC and the Preparatory Committee

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”

Dr. Glyn Moody

Summary: Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying has gotten so bad that it now infiltrates general media outlets, where people are asked to just blindly assume that the UPC is coming and is inevitable, even though it’s clearly in a limbo and is unlikely to see the light of day

THE UPC Big Lie refuses to die. There is so much money at stake and those who hope to grab that money will just lie ad infinitum. Yesterday, Alan Johnson from Bristows (chronic liars [1, 2, 3]) wrote this blog post in the firm’s growingly-neglected site (as the UPC is clearly in a limbo).

“They have a TERRIBLE, truly appalling track record on facts.”Bristows has made false predictions so many times in the past that anyone with a braincell should learn to simply ignore them by now. But no; those who want to believe (like alien enthusiasts) just keep boosting all that nonsense. Whatever seems more optimistic is deemed better, but basing anything one publishes based on the liars from Bristows is not safe. They have a TERRIBLE, truly appalling track record on facts.

Here we have Alexander Esslinger (a.k.a. “Patently German”) propping up the latest nonsense from Bristows et al by saying “Provisional phase of #UPC to start in May 2017; fully operational in December 2017″ (he is actually citing Withers & Rogers, whose employee Dave Croston has just published fake news about the UPC).

“Many people have already explained why UPC is definitely inseparable from the EU.”“Unified Patent Court to be operational by December 2017 says the Preparatory Committee,” says this firm liking to this blurb from Team UPC. The Preparatory Committee is basically like a group of UPC boosters; they’re not independent actors. “Funfair fortunetellers predicting the future,” one person called it. If credibility depends on past predictions, Bristows and Team UPC should be regarded as chronic liars and repeating lies from Team UPC is hardly good journalism. They said 2015 about UPC ratifications, then 2016, now they say 2017. When will people learn to distrust people who continuously lie in an attempt to pressure/compel politicians to make an error, under the false impression of UPC inevitability?

Watch WIPR bragging about their “top story”, which is basically not fact-checked. The title is also misleading, as “can” (in the body) becomes “due to become” (in the headline). Never mind that Lucy Neville-Rolfe (whom they quote/cite) left or has been sacked after just months at her job.

“If the UPC became a reality, British businesses would be subjected to court rulings from places like Brussels.”According to this new tweet, Lucy’s successor “Jo Johnson who said ‘ #UPC isn’t an EU institution’ http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2015/intellectural-property-ev4-16-17/ … at 11:08″

Well, Jo Johnson (who is very young for a politician) is wrong. Maybe he is still clueless because he’s new at the job and has no prior experience in this area. Many people have already explained why UPC is definitely inseparable from the EU. See for example this older series:

Johnson clearly does not understand how the UPC works if he claims it not to be an EU institution, or at least something that is disconnected from the EU. If the UPC became a reality, British businesses would be subjected to court rulings from places like Brussels.

Going back to the aforementioned fake news, citing WIPR, Patent Attorneys like this one hope to convince us that the UPC is coming (never mind if the UPC Preparatory Committee has itself put the brakes on it). The Preparatory Committee is nothing but chronic liars and self-serving manipulators. Just look at their affiliations! And WIPR trusts them (along with Bristows) enough to say — in the headline even! — that “UPC due to become operational in December 2017″?

Sorry, but this is fake news. It’s lobbying by misinformation. Here is how the article starts:

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) preparatory committee has announced that the UPC can become operational in December this year.

Today, January 16, the committee announced that it is now “working under the assumption” that the provisional application phase will start at the end of spring 2017, “presumably in May”.

The committee said that the court can become operational in December 2017.

It confirmed that judicial interviews can begin and “appointments eventually confirmed”.

In October last year, WIPR reported that the UPC had postponed the recruitment of UPC judges in light of the Brexit vote.

“The current timetable is being revisited in light of the result of the referendum in the UK, which will to some extent delay the entry into operation of the UPC,” it said at the time.

In November last year, former UK Minister of State for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, made the announcement that the UK will implement the unitary patent and UPC.

“With UK ratification expected in April,” Benjamin Henrion quoted from this. But he is quoting the group of liars, Bristows UPC, who have been repeatedly misleading the public about it and are now promoting their blog post along with their marketing hashtag. Perhaps they hope to attract attention to their business by making ludicrous claims. We don’t know for sure…

The bottom line is, a lot of what we’re seeing in the media, manipulated by Team UPC, is fake news. We must respond to that in order to avoid confusion. These people are playing dirty.

EPO Totally Silent for a Month, But Deep Inside There Are Serious Cracks

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

René Kraft
Photo credit (CC): Groupe LINAGORA

Summary: The situation at the EPO seems to be pretty grim, even at the top-level management, and the EPO has gone into permanent silence mode

“Solidarity with the victims in Berlin” was the last time the EPO said anything publicly (other than banal tweets that say nothing new). In our entire history covering EPO affairs we never saw such long timespan of silence. We started asking about the silence from SUEPO and the EPO. “Cease-fire” one person suggested as a possibility for SUEPO saying virtually nothing, adding that: “It’s probably the well known silent before the storm situation. We both know too well that Battistelli & thugs can’t be trusted…”

We are pretty certain Battistelli intends to sack some more staff representatives, maybe the ones that he’s currently busting at The Hague.

Meanwhile, as revealed by this comment yesterday, the French “principal director in charge of IT is a personal friend of Battistelli,” continuing a tradition of nepotism and institutional corruption at the Office. At the end of last year we learned about possible tensions between two French ladies (Battistelli cronies), Elodie Bergot and Nadja Merdaci-Lefèvre, and now we have this:

more insight into VP1′s “resignation for personal reasons”: according to a very well informant within principal directors in The Hague (a young man who cannot hold his mouth and shares privileged info with some), here is how it would have actually happened:

during the Admin. Council, Battistelli called VP1 in his luxury suite overlooking Munich’s city on floor 10 of the Isar building, to tell him that he was very happy with the production figures and that VP1 did an excellent job before to eventually tender him a letter of resignation ready to sign on the spot.

Indeed the Admin. Council was heavily complaining (in confidential sessions) about the lack of progress of the IT roadmap for which TONS of applicants’money has so far been wasted for no tangible results. Enough! Someone’s head had to roll

Since the principal director in charge of IT is a personal friend of Battistelli (who recruited him at this position where money flows like the Seine in Neuilly) he had to protect him and instead to find another culprit. Battistelli considered that old VP1′s one would do the trick.

Since then old VP1 is down, deeply affected (we actually ignored he was such a delicate soul…) and finds he was brutally abused by the man he served so faithfully during all these years. Indeed to end ones long career like an old pair of knickers thrown in the bin must be hard.

If the following (slightly later) comment is correct, then it confirms rumours we heard about Team Battistelli being in a crisis which it hides from the media:

Indeed VP1 was always a relatively simple soul who didn’t get where he is other than by following the leader rather than having a particular affinity for his DG. His lack of any examination experience (he was working only as a search examiner) helped him drive for numbers without any understanding of the eventualities. So he’s been stabbed in the back? I suppose he thought that meeting the numbers was all that mattered for keeping him in his position. Brutal.
At least I’m happy to hear it isn’t a cover for a serious health issue.

If anyone could provide additional information about this (preferably with some evidence/proof for backing), we would greatly appreciate it. We can be contacted anonymously.

01.16.17

Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Turn an old laptop into a Chromebook-Linux hybrid

    Common scenario: You buy a new laptop, thinking you’ll sell, donate or hand down the old one… but it never happens. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the hassles of Craigslist or Ebay, not to mention wiping all your data, reinstalling Windows and so on.

    Whatever the case, now it’s just taking up space. But it doesn’t have to: You can give that old laptop new life.

    With Linux, right? Wrong! I mean, yes, you could install Linux, which has always been the go-to option, but not everybody needs or wants the complexity of that operating system. For some, Chromium might be the better choice.

    Chromium is the OS that’s at the heart of Chromebooks — those fast-booting, cloud-powered devices that are so popular these days. Think about it: For whatever reason, no one buys Linux laptops. They buy Chromebooks.

    If you like the idea of giving your old system a Chromebook-like lease on life, good news: It’s fast, free and easy. And it’s not even permanent unless you want it to be.

  • When Peer Pressure Nukes Linux for Windows

    Several months ago, my 16-year-old grandson decided he wanted a powerful computer for gaming. I showed him Steam and some other stuff in Linux and he thought that looked good, so I started accumulating parts. If it was substantially more powerful than anything I have for myself, it was on the list. Sorry I don’t have the details list nearby, but it had a motherboard with a name I had heard, a fairly fast AMD processor with six cores, maxed out RAM, 1TB hard drive, video that took up two slots and had two fans, power supply you could use for welding, and a pair of 22″ monitors.

    I installed Mint 17.3 KDE in less than half an hour (the usual), including separate swap and home partitions (it’s a neurotic thing), setting wallpaper and the like, and doing whatever came to mind at the time. It ran flawlessly and I was happy, so I played with it a while. I really liked it. If I could think of a use, I’d build one for myself.

  • That Other Operating System Continues Its Decline

    The big winner is the Linux kernel. The vociferous opponents of GNU/Linux who haunt this blog can’t have it both ways. If GNU/Linux is not “GNU” and is Linux, then Android/Linux can’t be just Android. It’s Linux underneath.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 417: OpenHMD

      Fredrik Hultin is the Co-founder of the OpenHMD project (together with Jakob Bornecrantz). OpenHMD aims to provide a Free and Open Source API and drivers for immersive technology, such as head-mounted displays with built-in head tracking. The project’s aim is to implement support for as many devices as possible in a portable, cross-platform package.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.10-rc4

      Things are still looking fairly normal, and this is the usual weekly
      Sunday rc release. We’re up to rc4, and people are clearly starting to
      find the regressions. Good, good.

      it’s a slightly more random collection of fixes from last week: the
      bulk of it is still drivers (gpu, net, sound, usb stand out), and
      there’s the usual architecture work (but mostly just x86 this time
      around), but there’s a fair amount of fixes all over. Filesystems
      (xfs, btrfs, some core vfs), tooling (mostly perf), core mm,
      networking etc etc.

      This is also the point where I start hoping that the rc’s start
      shrinking. We’ll see how the tiny rc2 affects things – this may
      technically be rc4, but with that one almost dead week, it feels like
      rc3. But I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll have less next week.

      Regardless, go out and test. This was not a huge merge window, I think
      we’re in pretty good shape for people to dive in..

      Linus

    • Linux 4.10-rc4 Kernel Released

      The fourth weekly test release of the Linux 4.10 kernel is now available.

      For those not up to speed on Linux 4.10, see our Linux 4.10 feature overview. There is a lot of great work included like Nouveau atomic mode-setting, Nouveau boost support, AMD Zen/Ryzen work, new ARM board/platform support, EXT4/XFS DAX iomap support, ATA command priority support, Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0, and much more.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Fourth Linux 4.10 Kernel Release Candidate, Get It Now

      It’s Sunday evening, again, and Linus Torvalds just made his weekly announcement to inform the community about the immediate availability for download of a new Release Candidate of the upcoming Linux 4.10 kernel.

      One more week has passed in our lives, but the development of the Linux kernel never stops, and we’re now seeing the release of fourth RC (Release Candidate) build of Linux kernel 4.10, which appears to be fairly normal, yet again, bringing only a collection of assorted bug fixes and improvements from last week.

    • Linux 4.9.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.4 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.9.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.4.43
    • Linux Kernel 4.9.4 Released with Various ARM/ARM64 and Networking Improvements

      Only three days after announcing the release of the third maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 kernel series, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman is now informing us about the availability of Linux kernel 4.9.4.

      If you were afraid that your patch did not land in Linux 4.9, which is currently the most advanced stable kernel branch available for GNU/Linux distributions, or if you thought that your device hasn’t yet received the right drivers, think again, because Linux kernel 4.9.4 is full of goodies. Yes, again, but this time the patch is a little smaller and fixes a total of 59 files, with 507 insertions and 205 deletions.

    • A Yet-To-Be-Merged Kernel Patch May Boost Kabylake Graphics In Some Cases
    • A Look At Where The P-State Linux Driver Does Bad Against CPUFreq, Clear Linux Tests

      I’m still running more benchmarks in investigating the Core i5 7600K Linux performance and with even its graphics performance being slower than Skylake. I fired up Clear Linux on this Kaby Lake system this weekend and it’s indeed faster than Ubuntu, though there still is some sort of fundamental issue at play with these new CPUs on Linux. But what is clear is that there are cases where the P-State CPU frequency scaling driver does perform very poorly over the mature, generic CPUFreq scaling driver.

    • The Linux Test Project has been released

      the Linux Test Project test suite stable release for *January 2017* has been released.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At The Huge Performance Boosts With Nouveau Mesa 17.0-devel On Maxwell

        Landing this week in Mesa 17.0-devel Git was OpenGL 4.3 for NVC0 Maxwell and a big performance boost as well for these GeForce GTX 750 / 900 series NVIDIA “Maxwell” graphics processors. Here are some before/after benchmarks of the performance improvements, which the patch cited as “1.5~3.5x better”, when testing a GeForce GTX 750 Ti and GTX 980.

      • Fresh Tests Of Intel Beignet OpenCL

        When firing up Intel’s Beignet OpenCL implementation on Clear Linux this weekend, I was surprised to see it was happily chugging along with many of our different CL benchmarks.

  • Applications

    • Top Software

      The number of open source applications and tools that are available on today’s popular operating systems is simply mind-blowing. They come in all forms. Small scripts and console tools that can be easily integrated into large projects, feature-rich applications that offer everything a complete solution, well designed tools, games that encourage real participation, and eye catching candy.

      Open source software holds many compelling advantages over proprietary software. Open source improves the quality of the code, keeps costs down, encourages innovation and collaboration, combined with superior security, freedom, flexibility, interoperability, business agility, and much more.

    • Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” Release Candidate 3 Updates Estuary Skin, Fixes More Bugs

      The wait is almost over, and you’ll finally be able to enjoy a much modern, improved, and full of new technologies Kodi media center on your PC or HTPC device, be it an Apple TV or Raspberry Pi.

      Martijn Kaijser announced the third Release Candidate (RC) development version for the Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” media center, and it looks to us like these pre-releases are getting smaller by the day, the RC3 build including only seven changes listed on the release notes attached to the official announcement.

    • Proprietary

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 Improves Compatibility For Origin, GOG Galaxy & More

        Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 was released on Sunday as the newest version of this experimental/testing Wine build. This time around there are some exciting new patches.

        On top of re-basing off Friday’s Wine 2.0-rc5 release and continuing to maintain quite a number of patches that haven’t yet made their way into mainline Wine, a few more patches were added. Upstream Wine is currently under a code freeze until the 2.0 release later this month but that doesn’t stop the Wine-Staging crew.

      • Release 2.0-rc5

        Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 improves the compatibility of various applications that require at least Windows Vista or Windows 7. This includes Origin, Uplay, GOG Galaxy and many more. Several bugs were fixed in the PE loader to support loading of packed executables with truncated headers and/or on-the-fly section decompression. If you are using the 64 bit version of Wine, you may also benefit from the memory manager improvements, which allow applications to reserve/allocate more than 32 GB of virtual memory. The memory allocations are now only constrained by resource limitations of the hardware / the operating system and no longer by an artificial design limit in Wine.

      • Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 released, better support for Origin, GOG Galaxy and more
    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Calligra 3.0 released

        A new wonderful era for the Calligra Suite has begun with the release of version 3.0.

        We have chosen to cut back on the number of applications. Krita has left us to be independent and although it was emotional it was also done with complete support from both sides. We are saying goodbye to Author, which never differentiated itself from Words. We also removed Brainstorm the purpose of which will be better fitted by a new application (nothing planned from our side). Flow and Stage has gone in this release but we intend to bring them back in the future.

      • Calligra 3.0 Officially Announced, Drops Some Apps, Ports To KF5/Qt5

        This six-year-old split from KOffice is finally living in the KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt5 world with the Calligra 3.0 release. Besides the porting to KF5/Qt5, Calligra 3.0 does away with Krita since it’s moved onto releasing as its own project, the Author e-book application was dropped since it never became much different from Words, and the Brainstorm note-taking app was droped. The Flow flowchart software and Stage presentation program were also dropped from Calligra 3.0 but they are expected to be brought back in the future, such as when fully-ported to KF5/Qt5.

      • Kirigami 2.0 Released, KDE’s Framework for Convergent Mobile and Desktop UIs

        After being in development for the past six months, KDE’s Kirigami 2.0 open-source UI (User Interface) framework has been officially released in its final, production-ready state.

        If memory recalls, the first public release of the Kirigami UI framework saw the light of day at the beginning of August last year, allowing early adopters to test drive KDE’s brand-new tool for creating beautiful, convergent user interfaces written in Qt for both mobile and desktop applications.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • My next EP will be released as a corrupted GPT image

        Endless OS is distributed as a compressed disk image, so you just write it to disk to install it. On first boot, it resizes itself to fill the whole disk. So, to “install” it to a file we decompress the image file, then extend it to the desired length. When booting, in principle we want to loopback-mount the image file and treat that as the root device. But there’s a problem: NTFS-3G, the most mature NTFS implementation for Linux, runs in userspace using FUSE. There are some practical problems arranging for the userspace processes to survive the transition out of the initramfs, but the bigger problem is that accessing a loopback-mounted image on an NTFS partition is slow, presumably because every disk access has an extra round-trip to userspace and back. Is there some way we can avoid this performance penalty?

      • This week in GTK+ – 31

        In this last week, the master branch of GTK+ has seen 52 commits, with 10254 lines added and 9466 lines removed.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MParted 21 Disk Partitioning Live CD Gets Beta Release, Based on GParted 0.26.1

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki is informing Softpedia today about the Beta release of his upcoming 4MParted 21.0 distribution, a small Live CD that you can use to partition disk drives without having to install any software application or script.

      • Q4OS 1.8.2, Orion

        New version 1.8.2 is based on the the most recent release of stable Debian Jessie 8.7, important security patches have been applied and core system packages have been updated. Q4OS Update manager has been rewritten from scratch to provide a robust and reliable tool for safe system upgrades. Other Q4OS specific fixes and under the hood improvements are delivered as usual. All the updates are immediately available for existing Q4OS users from the regular Q4OS repositories.

        Most attention is now focused on the development of the testing Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ version 2.2, based on Debian 9 Stretch. Q4OS 2.2 Scorpion continues to be under development so far, and it will stay as long as Debian Stretch will be testing, the release date is preliminarily scheduled at about the turn of April and May 2017. Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ will be supported at least five years from the official release date.

      • NuTyX 8.2.93 released
      • Linux Top 3: Parted Magic, Quirky and Ultimate Edition

        Parted Magic is a very niche Linux distribution that many users first discover when they’re trying to either re-partition a drive or recover data from an older system. The new Parted Magic 2017_01_08 release is an incremental update that follows the very large 2016_10_18 update that provided 800 updates.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian from 10,000 feet

        Many of you are big fans of S.W.O.T analysis, I am sure of that! :-) Technical competence is our strongest suit, but we have reached a size and sphere of influence which requires an increase in organisation.

        We all love our project and want to make sure Debian still shines in the next decades (and centuries!). One way to secure that goal is to identify elements/events/things which could put that goal at risk. To this end, we’ve organized a short S.W.O.T analysis session at DebConf16. Minutes of the meeting can be found here. I believe it is an interesting read and is useful for Debian old-timers as well as newcomers. It helps to convey a better understanding of the project’s status. For each item, we’ve tried to identify an action.

      • Debian Outs First Release Candidate of Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” Installer

        Work on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system is ongoing, and Debian Project’s Cyril Brulebois announced today the availability of the first Release Candidate of the Debian Installer for Stretch.

        A lot of things have been implemented since the eight, and last Alpha development release of the Debian Stretch Installer, but the most important changes outlined in the announcement for the RC1 build are the revert of the switch to merged-/usr as default setting for debootstrap and disablement of Debian Pure Blends support.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 release

        The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the first release candidate of the installer for Debian 9 “Stretch”.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 Arrives, The /usr Merge Has Been Postponed

        The Debian Installer is getting ready for the 9.0 “Stretch” release.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available for Download

        We reported the other day that the Debian Project released Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie,” which is the seventh maintenance update to the current Debian Stable series of Linux-based computer operating systems.

        As promised, we told you then that installation mediums aren’t yet available for download, nor Live ISO images, which help users install the latest, most up-to-date version of Debian Linux on their PCs or laptops without having download hundreds of updates from the official software repositories.

      • Debian Project launches updated Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 with bug fixes

        An updated version of Debian, a popular Linux distribution is now available for users to download and install. According to the post on the Debian website by Debian Project, the new version is 8.7. This is the seventh update to the Debian eight distribution, and the update primarily focuses on fixing bugs and security problems. This update also includes some adjustments to fix serious problems present in the previous version.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, December 2016

        The number of sponsored hours did not increase but a new silver sponsor is in the process of joining. We are only missing another silver sponsor (or two to four bronze sponsors) to reach our objective of funding the equivalent of a full time position.

      • APK, images and other stuff.

        Also, I was pleased to see F-droid Verification Server as a sign of F-droid progress on reproducible builds effort – I hope these changes to diffoscope will help them!

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 2.10 Will Upgrade to Linux Kernel 4.8 and Tor 0.2.9, Add exFAT Support

          A new stable release of Tails, the beloved anonymous Live CD that helps you stay hidden online when navigating various websites on the Internet, is being prepared.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • MATE 1.16 Desktop Now Available for Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Here’s How to Install It

            The wait is finally over, as the MATE 1.16 desktop environment is now available for those who use the Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system or later versions, such as 16.04.1.

            After thoroughly testing them, Martin Wimpress and his team updated the PPA (Personal Package Archive) containing the MATE desktop packages for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS, a long-term supported version of the officially recognized Ubuntu flavor built around the lightweight and customizable MATE desktop environment, to version 1.16.

            MATE 1.16.1 is, in fact, the current version of the desktop environment included in said PPA for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS users, which they can install as we speak by using the installation instructions provided in the next paragraphs, and it looks like it was derived from those prepared for the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” release.

          • Intel Haswell GPUs Now Support OpenGL 4.2 for Ubuntu Gamers in Padoka/Oibaf PPAs

            Ubuntu gamers relying upon their Intel Haswell graphics card series to play various games that support these GPUs will be happy to learn that the open-source Intel drivers now support OpenGL 4.2.

            Until today, the Intel i965 graphics drivers offered by the well-known Padoka and Oibaf PPAs for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating systems exposed only OpenGL 4.0 for Intel Haswell GPUs, thus support for some demanding games just wasn’t there.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ultimate Edition 5.1 Linux OS Is Out, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Kernel 4.4

              After announcing the release of Ultimate Edition 5.0 Gamers Edition, an Ubuntu-based operating system designed for Linux gamers, last week, TheeMahn is now releasing Ultimate Edition 5.1.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta is available for download now

              A Beta release for Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE is here. There are already versions available featuring other desktop environments, such as Cinnamon, Mate, and Xfce. You’d think that would be enough, but no! Apparently a fourth edition is needed. Some people feel that a KDE version is a waste of resources, but either way, here we are.

              So what is new? The KDE Plasma 5.8 desktop environment is the star of the show — after all, if you do not want KDE, you wouldn’t choose this version. The shipping Linux kernel is 4.4.0-53, which is surprisingly outdated. Ubuntu-based operating systems are never known for being bleeding-edge, however.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Gets a Beta Release, Ships with KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS

              After landing on the official download channels a few days ago, the Beta version of the upcoming Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Edition operating system got today, January 16, 2017, an official announcement.

              The KDE Edition is the last in the new Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” stable series to be published, and it was delayed a little bit because Clement Lefebvre and his team wanted it to ship with latest KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS desktop environment from the Kubuntu Backports PPA repository.

            • Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 — Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu In One ISO

              Linux AIO is a multiboot ISO carrying different flavors of a single Linux distribution and eases you from the pain of keeping different bootable USBs. The latest Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 is now available for download in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions. It features various Ubuntu flavors including Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google’s open-source Draco promises to squeeze richer 3D worlds into the web, gaming, and VR

    Google has published a set of open source libraries that should improve the storage and transmission of 3D graphics, which could help deliver more detailed 3D apps.

  • Why every business should consider an open source point of sale system

    Point of sale (POS) systems have come a long way from the days of simple cash registers that rang up purchases. Today, POS systems can be all-in-one solutions that include payment processing, inventory management, marketing tools, and more. Retailers can receive daily reports on their cash flow and labor costs, often from a mobile device.

    The POS is the lifeblood of a business, and that means you need to choose one carefully. There are a ton of options out there, but if you want to save money, adapt to changing business needs, and keep up with technological advances, you would be wise to consider an open source system. An open source POS, where the source code is exposed for your use, offers significant advantages over a proprietary system that keeps its code rigidly under wraps.

  • Events

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Target CIO explains how DevOps took root inside the retail giant [Ed: Don’t ever make/give Target any payments, certainly not digitally. They use a lot of Microsoft Mindows i.e. back doors]

      When I arrived at Target in mid-2015, I was excited to find an active grassroots DevOps and agile movement in pockets of the technology team. We’d already seen some great results with our digital teams and our enterprise architecture group moving to agile and DevOps. And we had a lot of engineers and team members who were hungry to start working this way.

    • OpenStack Vendor Mirantis Offers Managed OpenContrail SDN Services

      The open-source OpenContrail Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology is one of the most widely used and deployed networking approaches in the OpenStack cloud market. That’s a fact that is not lost on OpenStack vendor Mirantis, which is why today Mirantis is announcing commercial support for OpenContrail.

    • Cloud Kindergarten preps students for OpenStack careers

      Cloud Kindergarten began this year to offer students a chance to learn about OpenStack and how to work with it. The students taking part in this program have access to Devstack so that they can learn about different commands and how to best utilize them in practice. Students are also able to create a tenant or network with routers and host an application like WordPress with databases and web servers.

    • OpenStack private cloud: benefits, challenges and what the future holds

      Many businesses in the UK have turned to private cloud to run mission-critical applications, with 80 percent of senior IT professionals having moved, or planning to move, to the OpenStack private cloud.

      The impact and adoption rates of this “cloud of choice” were explored in a recent study by SUSE, looking into the key benefits of private cloud and the effect its growth is having on UK businesses.

    • Navigating OpenStack: community, release cycles and events

      Hopefully last week we piqued your interest in a career path in OpenStack. Like any other open source project, if you’re going to use it—professionally or personally—it’s important to understand its community and design/release patterns.

    • Containers on the CERN cloud

      We have recently made the Container-Engine-as-a-Service (Magnum) available in production at CERN as part of the CERN IT department services for the LHC experiments and other CERN communities. This gives the OpenStack cloud users Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm on demand within the accounting, quota and project permissions structures already implemented for virtual machines.

    • Effective OpenStack contribution: Seven things to avoid at all cost

      There are numerous blogs and resources for the new and aspiring OpenStack contributor, providing tips, listing what to do. Here are seven things to avoid if you want to be an effective OpenStack contributor.

    • Tips for contributors, managing containers at CERN, and more OpenStack news

      Are you interested in keeping track of what is happening in the open source cloud? Opensource.com is your source for news in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP’s Progress In 2016, What’s Ahead For 2017

      GIMP contributor Alexandre Prokoudine published a lengthy blog post today looking back at what were the accomplishments for this open-source image manipulation program in 2016 and some of what’s ahead for the program this year.

      [...]

      Among the work still being done before GIMP 2.10 is released includes cleaning up libgimp, changing linear/gamma-corrected workflows, and 16/32-bit per color channel support, a new color management implementation, and more. GIMP 2.10 will hopefully ship later in 2017.

    • How To Install The Latest GIMP 2.9 Development Build on Ubuntu
    • What To Expect In GIMP 2.10

      The GIMP is our favorite image editing app for Linux, and this year it’s set to get even better. The development team behind the hugely popular open-source project this week shared word about ‘what’s next for GIMP‘ in 2017.

    • AMD HSA IL / BRIG Front-End Still Hoping To Get Into GCC 7

      For many months now there’s been work on an AMD HSA IL front-end for GCC with supporting the BRIG binary form of the Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language (HSA IL). It’s getting late into GCC 7 development and onwards to its final development stage while this new front-end has yet to be merged.

      Developer Pekka Jääskeläinen has been trying to get in the finishing reviews and changes for getting approval to land this BRIG front-end into the GNU Compiler Collection. It’s a big addition and with GCC 7 soon just focusing on wrong-code fixes, bug fixes, and documentation fixes starting on 19 January, there would be just a few days left to land this new front-end for GCC 7 to avoid having to wait until next year for it to debut in stable with GCC 8.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Can academic faculty members teach with Wikipedia?

        Since 2010, 29,000 students have completed the Wiki Ed program. They have added 25 million words to Wikipedia, or the equivalent of 85,000 printed pages of content. This is 66% of the total words in the last print edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. When Wiki Ed students are most active, they are contributing 10% of all the content being added to underdeveloped, academic content areas on Wikipedia.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Can RISC-V – Linux of Microprocessors – Start an Open Hardware Renaissance?

        I share the hope with many people that we will soon have access to modern, capable devices powered by both open hardware AND software. There have been advancements in recent years and more hardware is being opened up, but the microprocessors in our pc’s and other devices are stuck running one of the dominant, closed Instruction Set Architectures. RISC-V aims to fix this.

  • Programming/Development

    • Rcpp 0.12.9: Next round

      Yesterday afternoon, the nineth update in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp made it to the CRAN network for GNU R. Windows binaries have by now been generated; and the package was updated in Debian too. This 0.12.9 release follows the 0.12.0 release from late July, the 0.12.1 release in September, the 0.12.2 release in November, the 0.12.3 release in January, the 0.12.4 release in March, the 0.12.5 release in May, the 0.12.6 release in July, the 0.12.7 release in September, and the 0.12.8 release in November — making it the thirteenth release at the steady bi-montly release frequency.

      Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C or C++ code. As of today, 906 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further. That is up by sixthythree packages over the two months since the last release — or about a package a day!

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • MSI X99A RAIDER Plays Fine With Linux

      This shouldn’t be a big surprise though given the Intel X99 chipset is now rather mature and in the past I’ve successfully tested the MSI X99A WORKSTATION and X99S SLI PLUS motherboards on Linux. The X99A RAIDER is lower cost than these other MSI X99 motherboards I’ve tested, which led me in its direction, and then sticking with MSI due to the success with these other boards and MSI being a supporter of Phoronix and encouraging our Linux hardware testing compared to some other vendors.

    • First 3.5-inch Kaby Lake SBC reaches market

      Axiomtek’s 3.5-inch CAPA500 SBC taps LGA1151-ready CPUs from Intel’s 7th and 6th Generations, and offers PCIe, dual GbE, and optional “ZIO” expansion.

      Axiomtek’s CAPA500 is the first 3.5-inch form-factor SBC that we’ve seen that supports Intel’s latest 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” processors. Kaby Lake is similar enough to the 6th Gen “Skylake” family, sharing 14nm fabrication, Intel Gen 9 Graphics, and other features, to enable the CAPA500 to support both 7th and 6th Gen Core i7/i5/i3 CPUs as long as they use an LGA1151 socket. Advantech’s Kaby Lake based AIMB-205 Mini-ITX board supports the same socket. The CAPA500 ships with an Intel H110 chipset, and a Q170 is optional.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Veterans’ Corner: Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

      The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to expand disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune.

      Water sources at Camp Lejeune were contaminated from 1953-1987 with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has proposed presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemicals.

      The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks. It has been determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions.

    • Medicare for All should replace Obamacare: Column

      Even before the election of Donald Trump, Obamacare was in trouble. Premiums on the government exchanges for individual policies are projected to increase an average of 11% next year, nearly four times the increase for employer-based family policies. And some large insurers are pulling out of that market altogether in parts of the country.

      Those who buy insurance on the exchanges often find that even with subsidies, they can’t afford to use the insurance because of mounting deductibles (about $6,000 for individual Bronze plans). It has become clear that health insurance is not the same as health care.

  • Security

    • Microsoft slates end to security bulletins in February [iophk: “further obscuring”; Ed: See this]

      Microsoft next month will stop issuing detailed security bulletins, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches.

      One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. “I’m on the fence right now,” said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. “We’ll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise].”

    • Reflected XSS through AngularJS sandbox bypass causes password exposure of McDonald users

      By abusing an insecure cryptographic storage vulnerability (link) and a reflected server cross-site-scripting vulnerability (link) it is possible to steal and decrypt the password from a McDonald’s user. Besides that, other personal details like the user’s name, address & contact details can be stolen too.

    • DragonFlyBSD Installer Updated To Support UEFI System Setup

      DragonFlyBSD has been working on its (U)EFI support and with the latest Git code its installer now has basic UEFI support.

    • Monday’s security updates
    • What does security and USB-C have in common?

      I’ve decided to create yet another security analogy! You can’t tell, but I’m very excited to do this. One of my long standing complaints about security is there are basically no good analogies that make sense. We always try to talk about auto safety, or food safety, or maybe building security, how about pollution. There’s always some sort of existing real world scenario we try warp and twist in a way so we can tell a security story that makes sense. So far they’ve all failed. The analogy always starts out strong, then something happens that makes everything fall apart. I imagine a big part of this is because security is really new, but it’s also really hard to understand. It’s just not something humans are good at understanding.

      [...]

      The TL;DR is essentially the world of USB-C cables is sort of a modern day wild west. There’s no way to really tell which ones are good and which ones are bad, so there are some people who test the cables. It’s nothing official, they’re basically volunteers doing this in their free time. Their feedback is literally the only real way to decide which cables are good and which are bad. That’s sort of crazy if you think about it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Taiwan’s President Takes a ‘Walk on the International Stage’ While Trump Baits Beijing

      The U.S. President-elect’s insistence that recognition of the “one China” policy is negotiable has infuriated China

      Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has risked Beijing’s wrath by remarking that her trip to Central America via the U.S. has allowed “Taiwan to walk on the international stage,” just a day after President-elect Donald Trump reiterated that American recognition of the “one China” principle was up for negotiation.

      China and Taiwan effectively split in 1949 following a civil war, though Beijing considers the self-governing island of 25 million a breakaway province with which it must one day be reunified — by force if necessary. Chinese officials are extremely wary of any statement — like Tsai’s — that might give the impression that Taiwan is an independent nation.

    • Donald Trump warned Beijing will ‘take off the gloves’ if he continues Taiwan agenda, says Chinese state media

      President-elect Donald Trump has been warned he is “playing with fire” and that Beijing will “take off the gloves” if he continues to provoke China’s government by suggesting the “One China” policy could change.

      Mr Trump once again suggested the “One China” principle, in which the US recognises the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of China, is up for negotiation in a recent interview.

      Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the President-elect said: “Everything is under negotiation, including One China”. China’s foreign ministry responded to the comments by stating that the “One China” principle is the foundation of US ties and is non-negotiable.

    • Yemen death toll has reached 10,000, UN says

      At least 10,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen, according to the United Nations, which is urging both sides to come together to end nearly two years of conflict.

      The UN’s humanitarian affairs office said the figure, which is a low estimate, was reached using data from health facilities that have kept track of the victims of the war, which has largely been ignored by the international community.

      The figure does not include those recorded by hospitals and health centres as having died, which is likely to be most of the combatants on both sides of the conflict.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange: Scapegoat or villain?

      One of the most banal tropes of Hollywood blockbuster trailers is about one man pitted against an all-powerful enemy, and ultimately prevailing. The figure of the lone ranger battling on with his back to the wall is a popular figure of American pop culture. How ironic, then, that this very figure seems to have become the bane of the country’s righteous political establishment.

      So one man, holed up in the embassy of a tiny Latin American nation, a man who hasn’t seen much sunlight in four years, who is under round-the-clock surveillance, and is subject to arbitrary denial of Internet access, has managed to swing the presidential election of the most powerful country in the world in a direction it ought not to have gone. Or so we are told by influential sections of the Western press.

    • Media beware, your credibility is all you have: Column

      BuzzFeed News drew a tongue-lashing from President-elect Donald Trump this week for publishing a 35-page bombshell document with inflammatory allegations about his ties to Russia.

      Disclosing the Trump dossier — with its errors and unproven claims — reflects BuzzFeed’s principles “to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers,” editor Ben Smith said in a memo to his staff. He said it also reflects “how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”

      But many journalists and critics aren’t so sure. “It’s never been acceptable to publish rumor and innuendo,” Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post. The Atlantic’s David Graham, meanwhile, worried about the ethics of publishing specific claims other reporters had tried to verify but could not.

      Once again, it comes down to credibility — the only real currency journalism has.

    • Social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news in the 18th century: Thomas Jefferson and the “Mazzei letter”

      In today’s public discourse, nothing is more super-charged than social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Japan criticised after whale slaughtered in Australian waters

      Australia’s federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, has criticised Japan following the release of photographs allegedly showing the slaughtering of protected whales inside Australia’s Antarctic whale sanctuary.

      Frydenberg’s statement came as conservationists called for tougher action from Australia.

      “The Australian government is deeply disappointed that Japan has decided to return to the Southern Ocean this summer to undertake so-called ‘scientific’ whaling,” Frydenberg said.

    • Green MEP calls on police chief to investigate ‘threats’ against anti-drilling campaigners

      Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has written to Chief Constable Giles York of Sussex Police urging the force to investigate ‘harassment’ claims made by various anti-drilling campaigners.

      In November, Keith visited constituents at the peaceful anti-drilling protection camp in Leith Hill, Dorking before meeting with the Keep Billingshurst Frack Free campaign group. During the meetings, and in subsequent correspondence, campaigners reported escalating levels of ‘stalking’ and ‘harassment’ by individuals they allege to be shareholders of the drilling company, UK Oil and Gas (UKOG).

  • Finance

    • A Republican Privatization of Social Security Is a Real Possibility

      Social Security was among the most important issues heading into the 2016 election. Yet, interestingly enough, it wasn’t paid very much attention during the debates, which is surprising when you consider that 61% of current retired beneficiaries count on Social Security to provide at least half of their monthly income.

      The reason Social Security is causing such concern among retirees and working Americans is an expected budgetary shortfall in the program that’s being caused by the retirement of baby boomers from the workforce and the relatively steady lengthening of life expectancies since the mid-1960s. According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Trust is slated to exhaust its more than $2.8 trillion in spare cash by 2034. Should Congress fail to find a way to generate more revenue, cut benefits, or enact some combination of the two, the Trustees report estimates that a 21% across-the-board benefit cut would be needed to sustain Social Security through the year 2090. For those aforementioned reliant seniors, a 21% cut in their benefits is a terrifying reality.

      During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump offered one simple solution to the American public: that he would leave Social Security alone. Trump opined that it was the duty of congressional leaders to fulfill their promise to retired workers of a steady monthly benefit check.

    • World’s eight richest men own as much as poorest 50%

      The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released on Monday.

      Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem.

      If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

    • The Coming Crusade Against Public Education

      Betsy DeVos, whose nomination for secretary of education will be reviewed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, has never taught in a classroom. She’s never worked in a school administration, nor in a state education system, nor has she studied pedagogy. She’s never been to public school, and neither have her children. She has no record on higher education, except as an investor in the student-loan industry, which the Department of Education oversees. As Massachusetts Senator (and HELP Committee member) Elizabeth Warren wrote recently, there is “no precedent” for an education secretary with DeVos’s lack of experience in public education.

    • Sterling Options Signal More Turmoil as May Speech, Ruling Loom

      A measure of anticipated swings for the pound climbed to the highest in three months before U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit plans Tuesday and a court ruling this month on whether the British leader or Parliament carries the power to invoke the exit.

    • World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

      The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.

      In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

      The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

    • [Old] Gates Foundation accused of ‘dangerously skewing’ aid priorities by promoting ‘corporate globalisation’

      They are among the richest people on earth, have won plaudits for their fight to eradicate some of the world’s deadliest and prolific killers, and donated billions to better educate and feed the poorest on the planet.

      Despite this, Bill and Melinda Gates are facing calls for their philanthropic Foundation, through which they have donated billions worldwide, to be subject to an international investigation, according to a controversial new report.

      Far from a “neutral charitable strategy”, the Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” according to the report published by the campaign group Global Justice Now. Its influence is “dangerously skewing” aid priorities, the group says.

      [...]

      The report is critical of the close working relations between the Foundation and major international pharmaceutical corporations and points out many of the same firms have been criticised for their over-pricing of life-saving vaccines. It warns that philanthropic influence is skewing health priorities “towards the interests of wealthy donors (vaccines) rather than resilient health systems”.

      [...]

      It accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting specific priorities through agriculture grants, some of which undermine the interests of small farmers. These include promoting industrial agriculture, use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, and a focus on genetically modified seeds. “Much of the Foundation’s work appears to bypass local knowledge,” the report claims.

      The criticism echoes the accusations made by the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva who called the Gates Foundation the “greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.”

      [...]

      It calls for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to carry out an inquiry into the foundation’s work on top of a British Parliamentary inquiry.

    • The Clinton Foundation Shuts Down Clinton Global Initiative

      The Clinton Foundation’s long list of wealthy donors and foreign government contributors during the 2016 elections provoked critics to allege conflicts of interests. Clinton partisans defended the organization’s charitable work, and dismissed claims that it served as a means for the Clintons to sell off access, market themselves on the paid speech circuit, and elevate their brand as Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency.

      But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.

    • Looking forward to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit

      This week’s speech is expected to say that the United Kingdom is prepared to leave the single market. But, as I have set out on this blog and at the FT, the departure of the United Kingdom from the single market is the necessary implication of the positions which the prime minister has admitted to holding.

      Perhaps the speech will reveal something about how the United Kingdom is seeking to attain the objectives. Perhaps there will be some statements about still-unknown issues such as the United Kingdom’s position on a customs union.

      Or perhaps it will be a sequence of slogans and ambitions, without any substance on how they will be converted into reality.

      More important may be the interview from the chancellor of the exchequer Phillip Hammond with a German newspaper. He often seems to be the only grown-up in the cabinet.

    • Swedish minister ‘shocked’ by xenophobia towards Swedes in UK

      The Swedish government wants the issue of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British people settled elsewhere in Europe to be resolved urgently and removed from the Brexit negotiating table as quickly as possible.

      Ann Linde, the Swedish minister for EU affairs and trade, said she was shocked by the uncertainty and xenophobia experienced by Swedes in the UK since the referendum.

      She said the future of an estimated 100,000 Swedish people in Britain and 30,000 British people in Sweden, had to be urgently dealt with. She said: “This is one of the very most important issues and we have to solve it in a very constructive way in the first part of the negotiations.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • French progressives dare to hope as maverick Macron surges in polls

      From the stage in a packed concert hall, France’s youngest presidential candidate looked up at the thousands of people who had come to witness his trademark thunderous speaking style.

      “Never accept those who promote exclusion, hatred or closing in on ourselves!” Emmanuel Macron urged the audience in Lille, a city surrounded by France’s leftwing northern heartlands that are increasingly turning to Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National. “When the Front National promises to restore security points at the border, they are lying,” he said.

    • Donald Trump v. the Spooks

      In that corner, we have a deal-making, billionaire “man of the people” who, to European sensibilities at least, reputedly espouses some of the madder domestic obsessions and yet has seemed to offer hope to many aggrieved Americans. But it is his professed position on building a rapprochement with Russia and cooperating with Moscow to sort out the Syrian mess that caught my attention and that of many other independent commentators internationally.

      In the opposite corner, Trump’s opponents have pushed the CIA into the ring to deliver the knock-out blow, but this has yet to land. Despite jab after jab, Trump keeps evading the blows and comes rattling back against all odds. One has to admire the guy’s footwork.

      So who are the opponents ranged behind the CIA, yelling encouragement through the ropes? The obvious culprits include the U.S. military-industrial complex, whose corporate bottom line relies on an era of unending war. As justification for extracting billions – even trillions – of dollars from American taxpayers, there was a need for frightening villains, such as Al Qaeda and even more so, the head choppers of ISIS. However, since the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015, those villains no longer packed as scary a punch, so a more enduring villain, like Emmanuel Goldstein, the principal enemy of the state in George Orwell’s 1984, was required. Russia was the obvious new choice, the old favorite from the Cold War playbook.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Calling Something Hate: The New Form Of Silencing

      See how easy it is to tar someone as an unacceptable person?

      They say something you don’t like.

      Or maybe they’re in your way for some reason — perhaps keeping you from having an entirely clear path to the top.

      “J’accuse!” time!

      I think this is becoming — and will continue to become — an extremely convenient way to go after people who’ve done nothing wrong…well, that is, in a society that values civil liberties, including free speech, enough to protect them.

    • ‘Telly viewers hate censorship more than swearing’, say academics

      Television viewers are less offended by swear words than censorship when it comes to regulators, academics have found.

      Researchers from Leicester and Birmingham City universities travelled the country – and Germany – to study people watching daytime TV.

      They watched programmes reported to be offensive or problematic and discussed these with the viewers.

      Dr Ranjana Das, from Leicester’s School of Media, Communication and Sociology, and Dr Anne Graefer, from the Birmingham School of Media, found swear words, bad language or flashy lighting were rarely considered worth complaints to regulators.

    • IMDb Draws Support In Fight Against California Censorship Law

      A California law requiring Amazon’s IMDb to scrub actors’ ages from its site could pave the way for other new measures aimed at squelching truthful information, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says in new court papers.

      “If it is constitutional for the government to suppress IMDb’s public site from reporting age information, there will be virtually no limit to the government’s ability to suppress the reporting of many other truthful facts by many other sources,” the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues in a friend-of-the-court brief filed last week. “In an age where the media is struggling to combat the pernicious effects of false news, the truth should not be suppressed.”

      The organization, along with a host of legal scholars, is backing IMDb’s effort to block enforcement of the new law, which was passed last year at the urging of the Screen Actors Guild and took effect on January 1.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Obama administration signs off on wider data-sharing for NSA

      The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) has signed off on new rules to let the National Security Agency (NSA) share globally intercepted personal information with the country’s other 16 intelligence agencies, before it applies privacy protection to or minimizes the raw data.

      Or, as Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), put it in an interview with the New York Times, 17 intelligence agencies are now going to be “rooting… through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant”.

      The new rules mean that the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, and intelligence agencies of the US military’s branches and more, will be able to search through raw signals intelligence (SIGINT): intercepted signals that include all manner of people’s communications, be it via satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, as well as messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

    • Obama Expands NSA Spying. Attack against Democratic Rights
    • Barack Obama Allowed NSA to Share Surveillance Data With All Government Intelligence Agencies

      Barack Obama, the outgoing US president, allowed the NSA (National Security Agency) to share surveillance data with all government security and intelligence agencies. The new rules were signed by Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, on January 3, 2017. There are 16 government security and intelligence agencies in total, some of them are the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

    • White House Approves New Rules for Sharing of Raw Intelligence Data

      President Obama last week approved a change in the way the National Security Agency shares raw signals intelligence data with the rest of the U.S. intelligence community, a shift that privacy experts worry will erode the civil liberties of Americans.

    • Pardon Snowden Campaign Delivers Over One Million Signatures to Obama

      With less than a week left of Obama’s presidency, a coalition of organizations has collected more than a million signatures on a petition urging Obama to issue a full pardon to Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who revealed the size and scope of the surveillance conducted by the NSA and other federal agencies. Snowden (shown) fled the country and has lived in exile in Russia since May of 2013. If pardoned, he could return to American soil a hero to many.

    • Records show timesheet falsifications at NSA

      The National Security Agency’s internal watchdog has found more than 100 cases in five years in which civilian employees and contractors falsely claimed to have been at work.

      Details about the cases were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Baltimore Sun (http://bsun.md/2iuZO9g ). An NSA spokesman says the incidents cost the agency almost $3.5 million, though about 80 percent of the money lost to the fraud has been recovered.

    • Amazon snapped up an AI security startup for around $20 million

      Amazon has acquired a San Diego security startup called Harvest.ai for around $20 million (£17 million), TechCrunch reports.

      The acquisition was reportedly made through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud services group.

      Founded by two former NSA employees, Harvest.ai has developed technology that can help companies to find and stop targeted attacks on their data.

    • 3Apple, please help to save private e-mail encryption

      After the latest Mac OS upgrade (Sierra) – GPG encryption of mail doesn’t work. Apparently, the GPGTools-people need to do a lot of reverse engineering. And as they kindly offer the world encryption for free their resources are limited.

      This might lead to people turning away from e-mail encryption, at a point in time where more people ought to take it up. This should be an argument strong enough for Apple to give the GPG-team a helping hand.

    • When It Comes to Police Surveillance, Local Politics Matter

      On Friday, the Boston Police Department said that it would not go ahead with a controversial plan to spend $1.4 million dollars on software used to monitor social media activity.

      “After reviewing the submitted proposals I felt that the technology that was presented exceeds the needs of our department,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement.

      The announcement comes after a sustained campaign led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Fight for the Future, and other community organizers to defeat the proposal, which was first made public in late October.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Obama’s Legacy: A Historic War On Whistleblowers

      As President Barack Obama soared into office eight years ago, he promised, on his first day in the White House, to launch “a new era of open government.”

      “The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama said in a Jan. 21, 2009 memorandum.

      Obama was urging the attorney general to issue new guidelines protecting The Freedom of Information Act. “In the face of doubt,” Obama proclaimed, “openness prevails.”

    • Sick Muslim migrant gang that broke girl’s jaw accused of REGULAR ‘Sharia patrol’ attacks

      The girl, named only as Leonie, heads up the gang of six migrants who are purported to have carried out several Sharia-inspired attacks across the European capital of Vienna.

      Leonie, 15, was among the six Muslim youths from Chechnya who allegedly beat up a teenage girl, named as Patricia, in the centre of the Austrian capital city.

      Patricia, a Polish schoolgirl, was falsely accused of pulling off a Muslim woman’s headscarf.

      The attack, which left her with a broken jaw in two places, shocked Austria when footage of the beating went viral.

    • Pastor vandalized for fourth time after anti-mosque remarks

      A pastor who has been outspoken about his opposition to construction of a mosque in Bayonne is the victim of vandalism for the fourth time.

      [...]

      Basile says he asked the men in charge if they believed in Sharia law and they refused to answer. Their lawyer wouldn’t let them answer.

    • Saudi Arabia cleric warns of ‘depravity’ of cinema, concerts

      Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric has warned of the “depravity” of cinemas and music concerts, saying they would corrupt morals if allowed in the ultra-conservative kingdom. “We know that singing concerts and cinemas are a depravity,” Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said in a television interview cited by Sabq news website late Friday. The head of the Saudi supreme council of clerics was responding to a question about the plans of the kingdom’s General Authority for Entertainment to licence concerts and study opening cinemas.

    • Saudi Arabia religious chief says legalising cinemas risks ‘mixing of sexes’ and ‘rotten’ influence

      Saudi Arabia’s religious authority has said the legalisation of cinemas and concerts could lead to the “mixing of sexes” and “atheistic or rotten” influences in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

      Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh made the statements on his weekly television programme as the Saudi government prepares to begin cultural and economic reforms known as Vision 2030.

      The head of the General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani has raised the potential for opening cinemas and holding concerts as early as this year.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • In Final Speech, FCC Chief Tom Wheeler Warns GOP Not to Kill Net Neutrality

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered an impassioned defense of US net neutrality protections on Friday, one week before Republicans who have vowed to roll back the policy are set to take control of the agency.

      In his final public speech as the nation’s top telecom regulator, Wheeler warned that Republican efforts to weaken FCC rules ensuring that all internet content is treated equally will harm consumers, stifle online innovation, and threaten broadband industry competition.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patents and know-how power new GE move into China battery market

      The fact that GE is willing to eventually part with the concerned patents altogether, if the price is right, is a good sign that this particular technology is a decent candidate for an external partnership in China. It signals that not having control of the relevant IP is an eventuality the business is prepared to face – to the extent that it has put an approximate dollar price on. GE does appear to know its way around China’s patent sales market – this blog reported last year on its transfer of 131 LED-related patents to Beijing-based display maker BOE Technology.

    • New Book Highlights IP Trade Law Flexibilities For Public Health

      “Private Patents and Public Health: Changing intellectual property rules for access to medicines” by Ellen ’t Hoen, an authoritative public health advocate who previously led the global Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, and the Medicines Patent Pool.

      Ellen ‘t Hoen is a member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management, and a researcher at the University Medical Centre at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

    • Copyrights

      • Don’t Go Back on the Deal – IFLA, EIFL and EBLIDA call on EU Member States to Deliver on Marrakesh Treaty Ratification

        As IFLA and partner organisations have underlined, this is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people with print disabilities – who cannot pick up and read a book in the same way as everyone else – both in Europe and beyond.

      • Understanding the fundamental, irreconcilable conflict between copyright enforcement and privacy of communication

        Enforcement of copyright is fundamentally, conceptually incompatible with privacy of correspondence. You can’t have the sealed and private letter in existence at the same time as you enforce copyright, once communications have gone digital. This is the reason you see VPN companies and other privacy advocates fight copyright enforcement and copyright law: because society has to choose between privacy and copyright, and basic civil liberties are considered more important than one particular entertainment business model.

        Why is a VPN company interested in copyright law? Why does a VPN company even question copyright law expansion and enforcement? Why do the most appreciated internet operators talk back a lot to the copyright industry – and are appreciated by their customers for that very reason? Why does the net generation generally say, as a blanket statement, that copyright law just has no place in an Internet world?

        Is it, as some would claim, because BitTorrent users make up a majority of the paying customers of a VPN company or an internet operator? That the net generation just wants everything for free? That the VPN company profits from protecting criminals? You know, there are people who would actually claim this with a straight face, apparently serious. The facts are clear on the matter, though: BitTorrent usage is neither a majority reason for using a VPN, nor are heavy-bandwidth users particularly profitable. And the net generation has no illusion about everything-for-free being sustainable or even desirable – but they do defend their liberty ferociously.

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