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12.12.14

Software Patents in Canada Not Dead Yet

Posted in Site News at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Canadian flag

Summary: Canada’s patent status quo increasingly like that of the United States and Canadian giants like BlackBerry now pose a threat to software developers

THE case of i4i was a reminder of the fact that Canada is not a software patents-free zone. There is actually evidence to the contrary and also a new article in patent lawyers-leaning press about the subject (see “Computer And Software Related Innovation – Is There A Rationale For Filing Software Patent Applications In Canada?”). It serves to show that Canada more or less follows the neighbours to the south (not the UK or France, which also have profound impact on Canadian politics), especially when it comes to patent practices. This includes patents on software, genetics, etc. These breeds of patents, which originate from rulings in the US, are spreading to other nations including Canada [via], despite the severe implications for practitioners, let alone public interests. To quote The Star:

Canadian courts have not yet ruled on whether genes can be patented. A lawsuit filed Monday over cardiac disorder Long QT aims to clear that up.

In recent years we became increasingly worried about a Canada-based company that had joined Rockstar (Apple- and Microsoft-backed, against Linux/Android) and it is now turning into a patent troll. We are talking about BlackBerry here as “the company also owns a stake in Rockstar – which may itself come up for sale in the near future, based on recent events.”

“Software patents are not only a threat to Free/libre software but to all software developers, except conglomerates that are essentially business entities.”BlackBerry’s transformation into patent troll has been covered here before and there is a chance that negative publicity will discourage it from attacking FOSS (as it already seems to be heading in that direction).

The bottom line is, Canada — like many Five Eyes nations — is silently a supporter of software patents. Our Canadian readers need to contact their politicians in an effort to change that. Software patents are not only a threat to Free/libre software but to all software developers, except conglomerates that are essentially business entities.

09.29.14

More Good News About Demise of Software Patents and Along With Them, Consequently, Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Site News at 2:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A weekly roundup of news about patents in the United States and elsewhere, with special focus on software patents

Free/libre software has much less to worry about now that software patents are getting weaker if not fewer, too. There are changes that affect not only software patents but patents as a whole. In the US, for example, patents on genes/genetics were ruled illegal not too long ago. Here is an explanation of why Australia might soon follow suit. Titled “Australian Court Disagrees With US: Claim Genes Are Totally Patentable”, the article reminds us that “Last year, the Supreme Court made an important ruling in the Myriad Genetics case, effectively saying that genes aren’t patentable, even if you can separate them out from the rest of a strand of DNA. Myriad Genetics had isolated two key genes related to breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 and argued that only it could test for those genes, because of its patent. The Supreme Court soundly rejected that, noting that you cannot patent something in nature, and clearly Myriad did not “make” the genes. Unfortunately, as we’d noted just a few months earlier, a court in Australia had come to the opposite conclusion, saying that Myriad Genetics had legitimate patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2. That case was appealed, and there was some hope that after the US’s ruling, higher courts in Australia might see the light. Not yet apparently. An appeals court has agreed that genes are patentable Down Under, which means that such important genetic tests there are likely to be much more expensive and limited.”

Australia, quite infamously as we pointed out before, was one of the countries that succumbed to US lead on software patents, so on genetics too there might be changes afoot. Here is a timely reminder that India still wrestles with software patents, having done so for years. India is famous for its heroic opposition to patents on medicine where life is at stake.

One new article from the Indian press quotes a few people who follow this closely. One of them “said that many of the companies that work on open source software and related segments have raised their opposition while the originator companies are demanding for a patent.”

Actually, many proprietary software patents are also against software patents. It is not a FOSS issue but a CS issue (computer science, not closed source).

“Currently,” continues this article, “software is not patentable under the existing Act and it needs to be registered under copyright. Many experts think that a patent would be stringent than a copyright is and would be advisable for the innovators to protect their software from infringement.

“The draft has been issued in the public domain for comments and the government has to consult every stakeholder on it. The issuance of the guideline is in final stage, he said.

“As per the Intellectual Property Office report, about 80% of patent applications at the Indian Patent Office are filed by foreign global technology companies. In the past decade the number of applications by foreign applicants has risen from about 8,221 to 34,276, said industry leaders.”

So these patents have a strong correlation to and with digital colonialism. Why would Indians ever accept them? The multinational corporations surely want these, but what’s in it for India itself? India has fantastic software engineers of its own. It need never be dependent on multinational entities, especially for software.

Here is a US-based pro-software patents site (run by patent lawyers) saying that “Big Banks Get Software Patents Despite Alice”. It is selective and selection-centric spin. The reality, on the whole, is the very opposite. The pro-business, News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal very recently published “Hard Times for Software Patents” followed by the detailed report titled “Courts Nix More Software Patents” and “Federal Courts Reject More Software Patents”. It says what one ought to expect.

Speaking of large corporations and software patents, watch what BMC is doing. The British press said that “BMC has accused ServiceNow of violating seven of its patents (5,978,594, 6,816,898, 6,895,586, 7,062,683, 7,617,073, 8,646,093 and 8,674,992), spanning incident management, performance analytics, configuration management, discovery, orchestration and change release management.

“The company lodged its suit on Tuesday in the generally litigant-friendly US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.”

BMC is acting like a patent troll and attacks small rivals. Witness the glory of software patents! The weapon of abuses indeed, injustice galore!

Contrariwise, Van Lindberg from Rackpace (very large company) says that they have killed a software patent and potentially a troll. The title says “Another Patent Troll Slain. You Are Now Free To Rotate Your Smartphone.”

Here is more on that: “Over the last few years it’s been great to see companies like Newegg and Rackspace decide that they’re not going to give in to bogus patent troll lawsuits. As we’ve discussed, it’s almost always easier, faster and cheaper to just settle and pay up whatever the troll is asking for. That’s part of why trolling works. Fighting a patent lawsuit — even a totally bogus one (i.e., not infrigning) — on a clearly invalid patent will still cost many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. If the troll is offering to settle for tens of thousands of dollars, many, many companies will do the obvious short-term cost-benefit analysis and settle. It’s hard to directly fault them for this — but it only makes the problem worse for everyone else. Not only does it fund the patent trolls to keep suing others, often they’ll use some of that money to buy more bogus patents and shakedown companies over that new ones as well. On top of that, settling patent threats just puts a big “sucker” sign on your company, meaning that more trolls will start circling. Making a stand and saying that you will not compromise or deal with trolls actually helps in the long run by scaring off some trolls. Both Newegg and Rackspace have been getting a lot of publicity (and goodwill) for their anti-troll efforts.”

Here is a somewhat comical take on a troll that decided to attack the government. The headline says it all: “Patent Troll Told That It Can’t Sue The FTC For Merely Investigating Its Shakedown Scam”

Well, “just when US starts correcting them,” writes Dr. Glyn Moody, Europe, with the corrupt EPO, decides to “Repeat US’s Past Mistakes”:

Back in May, I wrote about a very interesting paper discussing some potential pitfalls of the new Unified Patent Court. Given the magnitude of the change that it and the unitary patent system will bring, it is extraordinary that we still don’t really know how things will work out in practice. That makes another paper called “The Unified Patent Court (UPC) in Action – How Will the Design of the UPC Affect Patent Law? ” particularly welcome, since, as its title suggests, it explores how the new UPC is likely to shape the contours of patent law in Europe.

[...]

Since the new paper appeared, there has been a further US Supreme Court ruling, Alice v. CLS Bank, that has already led to no less than 11 software patents being thrown out by lower courts. Indeed, there is every indication that the era of completely insane software patents is drawing to a close in the US. It is therefore deeply ironic – and rather frustrating – that at precisely the moment when sanity starts to break out in the US, the EU incomprehensibly decides to take exactly the same path of madness that produced so many problems across the Atlantic.

[...]

Those are all good ideas, but it’s rather depressing that we must already be thinking of ways to minimise the damage the new UPC is likely to cause Europe’s economy in general – and the world of software in particular.

In the coming weeks we will continue to show how the EPO turned rogue and corrupt. It would be foolish to adopt software patents when the US relents.

Here comes another smackdown of a troll. As Mike Masnick put it: “We recently noted that a bunch of courts had been killing off bad software patents thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank. And now, that ruling is even leading the trolls themselves to give up. Notorious patent troll Lumen View recently dropped its appeal in its case against the website FindTheBest, saying that the ruling in Alice made it clear it wouldn’t win…”

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote about this trend as a whole, saying that patent trolls are starting to get trampled. He also quotes OIN:

First, the Open Invention Network (OIN), whose members include Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony, now has more than a thousand licensees in its Linux and open-source, defensive patent pool. In an e-mail , Keith Bergelt, OIN’s CEO said, “The OIN license is becoming part of a broader set of community norms and is increasingly being integrated into the culture of open source/Linux-centric companies. It is for many the foundation around which their IP [intellectual property] strategy is built and a critical enabler of patent non-aggression and freedom to operate.”

We recently wrote about the podcasting troll winning against CBS, but this is definitely not over. As TechDirt put it: “The trial (in East Texas, of course) for CBS came first and the jury sided with Personal Audio, because that’s how East Texas patent juries typically roll. In a moment of semi-kindness, the jury awarded Personal Audio $1.3 million, rather than the nearly $8 million they supposedly requested. This story is really just a stepping stone, however. CBS has made it clear that it will appeal the case to CAFC, and given how software/business method patents are getting tossed out left and right these days, the company has a decent chance of prevailing. Meanwhile, the EFF reminds us that it’s still working hard to invalidate the patent at the Patent Office, which would help accelerate the process of killing off these bogus lawsuits.”

CBS is a bad company, but hopefully it will win on appeal.

Here is Matt Levy quoting the partly pro-software patents Michael Risch while saying: “We cannot continue the excesses of the past. Invalid patents don’t benefit innovation, they block innovation. And we have a patent system where a substantial portion of the issued patents, if not most, are invalid. And the patents in the software area are even worse.”

At the end of the day we will hopefully see patents on software universally invalidated. Until then we will have rumour mills and speculations (e.g. about prices) telling us that Free software is not free, thanks in part to lack of comprehension of what patents really are for and how they affect the industry (it’s a poor article which reveals its author’s ignorance on this subject). We have already covered this issue before (it’s about Samsung and Microsoft).

09.27.14

Tux Machines Under DDOS Attack

Posted in Site News at 2:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Most of Tux Machines continues to work as usual, but some parts are temporarily restricted to keep the server running

Windows botnets have been hammering on Tux Machines for nearly a week. It got a lot of worse yesterday and the site became unaccessible much of the time. We don’t know who the attacker is and what the motivations are, but in the mean time the site can be read via the RSS feed. The RSS feed links to all the latest news and the pages ought to work as usual. We apologise for this issue and we are working hard to find a permanent solution.

09.06.14

Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

Posted in News Roundup, Site News at 11:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-source player-tracking project kicks off

    “Coming from a scientific background, where transparency is a key part of doing repeatable research, makes me very skeptical of anything proprietary,” he said. “How can you trust the analysis if you can’t see the raw data?”

  • Open Xchange Launches Simple Email Encryption

    German developer of open source productivity software, Open Xchange, has launched an email encryption product that can secure messages with a single click.

    Called OX Guard, the new tool is an integral part of the OX App Suite – a carrier-grade cloud platform that includes OX Text, OX Spreadsheet and OX Drive, as well as email server, calendar and social network feeds.

    Open Xchange CEO Rafael Laguna told TechWeek that one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of wider adoption of encryption is complexity, so OX Guard was designed to be as simple to use as possible – users just need to click the padlock icon, set the password and their messages will be protected by AES encryption.

  • Events

    • Call for organizers: 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Each year, the Linux Foundation’s Technical Advisory Board seeks an organizing committee for the annual Linux Plumbers Conference. That process has now begun for the 2015 event, which will be held during the week of August 17-21 in Seattle, Washington, alongside the LinuxCon North America event. This is your chance to put your stamp on one of our community’s most important gatherings.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • HP offers OpenStack services offerings

      So, you think OpenStack is perfect for your company’s cloud-needs, but you just discovered that finding OpenStack-savvy architects, designers, or even just administrators is like looking for the perfect New York style pizza… in San Diego.

  • CMS

    • What’s New in September for Open Source CMS

      There are plenty of free and open source content management systems (CMS). But no platform is as big or as common as WordPress. WordPress powers more than 12.7 million websites — an astounding 47.38 percent of the World Wide Web, according to BuiltWith, which monitors such things.

  • BSD

Leftovers

  • Suburban Express Wants Round 4: Re-Files Lawsuits It Had Previously Dropped

    Jeremy Leval, the Redditor who got this whole saga started after being sued and harrassed by Toeppen simply for sticking up for a foreign exchange student who a bus driver was mocking, is of course among those Toeppen is re-re-filing against. One begins to get the impression that Toeppen and Suburban Express are masochistic, getting some kind of perverse joy out of getting blasted in the media and online. I’m at a loss as to what other forces could be at work here. Though, judging by some of the other customers’ stories from those being attacked legally by Suburban Express, the simple answer may be that Toeppen is simply a jerk.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Three more to be charged for Victor Jara’s murder

      MARTYRED Chilean communist folk singer Victor Jara’s widow Joan Jara welcomed the announcement yesterday that three more people have been charged over his murder during the country’s 1973 CIA-backed military coup.

    • The Other 9/11

      Ten days after the Salvador Allende government was overthrown in a Sept. 11, 1973, coup in Chile, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jack Kubisch told the House Subcommittee on Inter-American Affairs: “Gentlemen, I wish to state as flatly and as categorically as I possibly can that we did not have advance knowledge of the coup.”

      [...]

      “Make the economy scream…”

      When the 1970 Chilean presidential election rolled around, Salvador Allende was still a major player and, despite another wave of U.S.-funded propaganda, he was elected president of South America’s longest functioning democracy on Sept. 4, 1970.

      However, he had a new and powerful enemy: Dr. Henry Kissinger.

      The 40 Committee was formed with Kissinger as chair. The goal was not only to save Chile from its irresponsible populace but to yet again stave off the Red Tide™.

      “Chile is a fairly big place, with a lot of natural resources,” explains Noam Chomsky, “but the United States wasn’t going to collapse if Chile became independent. Why were we so concerned about it? According to Kissinger, Chile was a ‘virus’ that would ‘infect’ the region.”

      At a Sept. 15, 1970, meeting called to halt the spread of infection, Kissinger and President Nixon told CIA Director Richard Helms it would be necessary to “make the [Chilean] economy scream.” While allocating at least $10 million to assist in sabotaging Allende’s presidency, outright assassination was also considered a serious and welcome option.

      The respect held by the Chilean military for the democratic process led Kissinger to pick as his first assassination target not Allende himself, but General Rene Schneider, head of the Chilean Armed Forces. Schneider, it seems, had long believed that politics and the military should remain discrete. Despite warnings from Helms that a coup might not be possible in such a stable democracy, Kissinger urged the plan to proceed.

      When the killing of Schneider only served to solidify Allende’s support, a CIA-sponsored media blitz similar to that of 1964 commenced. Citizens were faced with daily “reports” of Marxist atrocities and Soviet bases supposedly being built in Chile. U.S. threats to sever economic and military aid were also used to help cultivate a “coup climate” among those in the military. These two approaches represented the hard and soft lines outlined by Nixon and Kissinger.

    • Ethan Hawke’s ‘Good Kill’: A Searing Indictment of America’s Drone Warfare Obsession

      In Andrew Niccol’s devastating character study, Hawke plays a drone pilot who’s ordered by the CIA to off terrorists—as well as civilians—in a series of targeted strikes.

    • Irresponsibly Blaming Russia for US-Led Western Crimes

      Washington is public enemy No. 1. It’s the real evil empire. It’s a longstanding serial aggressor. Rogue Western partners share blame.

      On September 2, Wall Street Journal editors echoed the same narrative. They headlined “Deterring a European War.”

      They called this week’s NATO summit meeting “one of the most important in its 65-year

      Southeastern Ukraine’s conflict is Obama’s war. Behind the scenes US manipulation controls things. Kiev is infested with CIA and FBI operatives. Blackwater USA (now Academi) type mercenaries operate in Southeastern Ukraine. Perhaps alongside covert US special forces.

      Since conflict erupted in April, Russia went all-out for diplomatic resolution. It has no ongoing military campaign.

      It didn’t invade Ukraine. It’s not shelling cross-border. Or from inside Ukrainian territory.

      Its troops aren’t involved in fighting. It’s not out to seize Ukrainian territory. Western sources lie claiming otherwise.

    • CIA-linked Libyan General Haftar’s helicopters bomb Benghazi

      Several mysterious night bombings attacks were launched on Islamist positions in Libya while they were in the process of defeating Haftar allies there and driving them out of the city.

      Haftar claimed these attacks were joint operations with the international community.

    • Fox Changes Meaning Of “Stand Down” Order To Keep The Benghazi Hoax Alive

      After multiple investigations concluded that no “stand down” order was given to security personnel responding to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Fox News alleged that the delay security personnel took to enlist support amounted to a “stand down” order.

      On the September 5 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier once again hyped the asked-and-answered question from his Fox News special, “13 Hours at Benghazi,” based on the accounts of three CIA security personnel who alleged they were delayed in responding to the diplomatic facility under attack in Benghazi, Libya. Baier criticized the “semantics” used by deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, who during a press briefing explained that “there was no stand-down order” but there was a short delay “for very good security reasons to get additional backup and additional weapons” for the security personnel before responding to the attack.

    • Fox’s Latest Benghazi Hoax Used As Justification For Wasteful Select Committee
    • Selling Fear and Lies to Control the Public

      The media is selling fear of beheadings to the public.

    • The Imperial Rot of Armchair Warriors

      An occasional misconception of history is the contention that geo-political outcomes are the result of rational calculation. Or put differently, local rationalities don’t always, or even most of the time, aggregate to global rationalities. The Obama administration used the CIA to organize a neo-nazi putsch in Ukraine after NATO spent the last twenty years squeezing (heavily) nuclear-armed Russia and immediately involved the IMF and Western oil company executives in Ukrainian ‘government’ affairs? At about the same time part of the Syrian ‘opposition’ that the U.S. had armed and financed morphed into IS (Islamic State) and promptly marched into Iraq to confiscate and use the weapons the U.S. had supplied leading Mr. Obama to once again bomb the country while re-committing combat troops. Given that there is no conceivable ‘good’ outcome to any of this, just what local ‘rationalities’ could be driving the serial disasters of U.S. foreign policy?

    • ISIS Atrocities and US Imperialism

      The murder, following that of James Foley last month, is a further demonstration of both the reactionary character of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the terrible consequences of a half-century of intervention in the Middle East by US imperialism.

    • How to Decode the New York Times

      So what, then, is the “more nuanced picture”? Kershner writes that the legal documents “depict the plot as more of a family affair, a local initiative organized and carried out by members of a clan in Hebron.” That was what many analysts had been saying all along, offering a very different interpretation than the one being put forth by Israel–though it was the Israeli line, not the one offered by independent analysts, that made its way into US media (FAIR Blog, 7/2/14, 7/28/14). Kershner speaks to one Israeli source who, she reports, still thinks it “was fair to blame Hamas, as an organization, for the kidnappings.” The source added that “it is still possible that we will find evidence of a direct connection.”

    • When Fox News Didn’t Blame The (GOP) President For Beheadings

      After terrorists kidnapped and beheaded two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, while releasing gruesome videos of the act, Fox News focused much of its ire on President Obama, portraying him as a source of troubling weakness.

    • Have You Watched This Airstrike in Iraq?

      CENTCOM has been helpfully posting declassified footage to YouTube for the past three weeks.

    • NZ director’s attack of the drones at Venice

      Don’t be fooled. Unmanned aerial vehicles have changed the way wars are fought, turning some forms of combat into a computer game with flesh-and-blood victims.

    • Legal basis for Iraq troop deployment called into question as days wear on

      The legal basis for the recent introduction of more than 1,000 US ground troops in Iraq was called into question on Friday, after the White House confirmed that it does not consider itself bound by time limits that usually constrain such deployments.

    • First Controversial Drone Movie Strikes, Questions U.S. Policy

      The first movie examining the morality of drone warfare has arrived and it’s sure to add fuel to the debate over the growing use of the controversial technology by the Obama administration and the concern that too many innocent civilians are being killed.

      Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill, starring Ethan Hawke as a troubled U.S. Air Force pilot grappling with the ethical consequences of attacking from afar, makes its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival Sept. 5 before playing at the Toronto Film Festival Sept. 9.

    • Epiphanies From Teju Cole

      The Nigerian-American novelist discusses the pitfalls of hashtag activism, the destructiveness of U.S. foreign policy, and that time he dreamed about meeting Obama at a Brooklyn house party.

    • The warrior and moral injury

      -One effect of the rise of remote-controlled warfare will be that moral injury will assume an increased share of war’s psychological injuries. Remote-control warriors do not suffer life-threatening duress in combat, and they don’t vicariously experience extreme stress via the experiences of individuals they know and love (such as their witnessing a fellow platoon member being shot and killed). This means they’re immune from most forms of PTSD, as this condition is currently defined. They’re also immune from Traumatic Brain Injury (unless they spill their coffee and slip on it). They’re not immune, however, from moral injury. The potential for moral injury in combat veterans will only grow as sensors on “drones” and other remote-controlled machines improve. Soon, there will be little subjective difference between a WWI infantryman bayoneting an enemy soldier and what a drone pilot/sensor operator experiences when they kill someone.

    • The Fatal Flaw in American Foreign Policy

      The American definition of “murder” in the midst of war now seems to depend upon the technical methodology for the homicide, not the deliberate intentions of the killers. Beheading is barbaric. High-tech bombing picking off individual “bad guys” is okay. In fact, US leaders claim to be conscientiously selective, though the innocent bystanders killed by drones are dismissed as “collateral damage.”

    • All God’s Children Got Drones

      The Convention’s other goal is nonproliferation. The danger here is that a “Geneva Convention” for drones may turn drone proliferation into a distraction. Yes, drone proliferation is real. We’ve already remarked that some 80 countries now have drones. And according to Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK, 10 to 15 countries are working to produce drones that can kill. Naturally, we should be concerned about this. But shouldn’t our first concern be states which already possess killer drones? Medea Benjamin writes that there have been 350 lethal drone strikes on Pakistan since 2004 which have killed from 2,500 to 3,500 people. Those strikes weren’t launched by Burundi.

    • ‘Good Kill’ meant to start debate, director says

      Ethan Hawke stars as a drone pilot near Las Vegas who has a mental breakdown while killing targets 7,000 miles away (11,000 km) in “Good Kill,” a Venice Film Festival entry shown yesterday and meant to spark debate.

    • Open thread for night owls: Los Angeles Times reporter cleared stories about CIA with the CIA
    • Emails: L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories with CIA, Promised Positive Coverage
    • CIA Emails Expose Access Journalist at Work
    • LA Times reporter Ken Dilanian worked with CIA to cover up drone program casualties

      A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

      The reporter, Ken Dilanian, appears to compromise any honest representation in the stories, even submitting revised drafts to appease the CIA.

    • Ken Dilanian sent CIA drafts of stories
    • National security reporter shared drafts with CIA press office, emails reveal
    • LA Times Says It’s ‘Disappointed’ In Former Reporter Who Shared Stories With CIA
    • L.A. Times Disowns Reporter Outed as a CIA Collaborator

      Recently released emails indicate that prominent national security reporter Ken Dilanian — formerly with the Los Angeles Times, currently with the Associated Press (and from 1997-2007 the Philadelphia Inquirer) — shared stories prior to publication with CIA press office seeking their approval, according to a story up on The Intercept. Now, it is not uncommon for national security reporters to vet facts with government functionaries, but the emails indicate Dilanian went much further than that, not only sharing stories prior to publication (a big no-no in almost every newsroom) but he also entered into discussions about how the CIA could bend public opinion of drone strikes their way.

    • Ex-Tribune reporter said to have ‘collaborative’ relationship with CIA

      A website cofounded by journalist Glenn Greenwald has published emails suggesting that a former Tribune Washington bureau national security reporter submitted some of his work to CIA officials prior to publication, a practice banned by many media outlets, including Tribune.

    • Former LA Times Reporter Submitted Drafts For Approval By CIA
    • NatSec Reporter Allegedly Had ‘Closely Collaborative Relationship’ with CIA
    • The CIA’s Mop-Up Man: L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories With Agency Before Publication

      Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.

    • Roboski Villagers Condemn US Hand, but Still Hold Turkey Responsible

      For the people of Roboski it does not matter that the deadly 2011 Turkish air attack may have been due to bad US intelligence. It still does not absolve the Turkish government, whose planes killed the 34 Kurdish villagers, they said.

      “The United States shares responsibility in the massacre, but we also hold Turkey responsible because in the end it was they who bombed us,” said Ferhat Encu, who lost his 15-year-old brother in the attack.

    • Rand Paul’s Strategic Slipperiness on Foreign Policy

      As Senior Editor Jacob Sullum notes below, there has been a lot of chatter this week about the apparent flip-floppery, or at least slipperiness, of Sen. Rand Paul’s ideas about what the United States should do to the Islamic State. (In addition to Sullum’s strong critique, see Leon H. Wolf, Steve Benen, and the indefatigable Jennifer Rubin, as well as the senator himself.)

    • Anti-Interventionism and Its Discontents

      Polls showing Rand Paul as the frontrunner in the GOP presidential sweepstakes have the neocons in a lather, with their online media phalanx frantically attacking him at every opportunity. It’s kind of funny to watch: the first fusillades were aimed at labeling him an “isolationist,” while more recently they’ve pointed out how he deviates from his father’s more angular policy positions. If you can’t smear and marginalize, then there’s always the strategy of cutting him off from his base.

    • Hamas Emerges Buoyant Despite Bloodshed and Devastation in Gaza

      Ismail Haniya, the top Hamas leader in Gaza, worked the crowd in what used to be the Boura neighborhood of this battered northern border town, kissing the cheeks of elders and the foreheads of masked fighters. He waved at the women standing in front of makeshift huts next to the homes flattened in Israeli attacks, as children watched from atop concrete piles where green Hamas flags were planted as though on conquered lands.

    • Ukraine Retracts Ceasefire Claim; U.N. Says Displaced Top 1 Million

      Ukraine has retracted an earlier claim to have reached a ceasefire with Russia. The office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko initially said he agreed with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on steps toward a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. But the Kremlin then denied a ceasefire agreement, saying it is not in a position to make a deal because it’s not a party to the fighting. Ukraine has accused Russia of direct involvement in the violence amidst a recent escalation. The confusion comes as President Obama visits the former Soviet Republic of Estonia ahead of a major NATO summit in Wales. More than 2,600 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since April, the majority by Ukrainian forces. The United Nations says more than one million people have been displaced, over a quarter of them internally.

    • Inside Jobs and Israeli Stooges: Why Is the Muslim World in Thrall to Conspiracy Theories?

      Did you know that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis, was trained by Mossad and the CIA? Were you aware that his real name isn’t Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai but Simon Elliot? Or that he’s a Jewish actor who was recruited by the Israelis to play the part of the world’s most wanted terrorist?

      If the messages in my email in-box and my Twitter timeline and on my Facebook page are anything to go by, plenty of Muslims are not only willing to believe this nonsensical drivel but are super-keen to share it with their friends. The bizarre claim that NSA documents released by Edward Snowden “prove” the US and Israel are behind al-Baghdadi’s actions has gone viral.

      There’s only one problem. “It’s utter BS,” Glenn Greenwald, the investigative journalist who helped break the NSA story, told me. “Snowden never said anything like that and no [NSA] documents suggest it.” Snowden’s lawyer, Ben Wizner, has called the story a hoax.

    • US Boots in Iraq and Baltics, Authorization to Attack Syria…and US Troops in Ukraine!

      The peace president is clearly on war footing. US bombs are also going off in Africa and Pakistan. No one at home is talking about NSA spying anymore. NATO has a new mission.

  • Finance

    • How to screw tech workers and get away with it

      It wasn’t only eBay that got off scandalously light for such anticompetitive collusion. In a separate class-action suit against Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel, the four companies agreed to a collective settlement of $324 million.

      That might sound like a reasonable numbers until you do a little math. The class-action suit represented 64,000 workers, which means each would receive the munificent sum of $5,062; subtracting lawyers’ fees shrinks that amount further. Plaintiffs had sought $3 billion in damages in lost wages, which under antitrust laws could have tripled to a $9 billion reward had they won in court — $140,625 each, or about $102,780 after the lawyers’ cut.

    • Koch Operative: Raise the Wage, Totalitarianism and Terrorism Follow?

      Leaked audio from the latest Koch summit shows Charles Koch’s “intellectual sounding board,” Richard Fink, drawing a direct line between increasing the minimum wage and the rise of fascism, totalitarianism, and terrorist suicide bombers.

    • One in Four Americans With College Degrees Shouldn’t Have Bothered

      Roughly 25% of those with bachelor’s degrees in the US derive no economic benefit from their diplomas.

    • Fast food workers stage national sit-ins and walk-outs

      Fast food workers across the U.S. went on strike Thursday, staging sit-ins and walk-outs to bring attention to a years-long campaign to raise industry wages to $15 an hour and allow workers to join unions. The demonstrations spurred several arrests and the disruption of business at fast food restaurants in many major cities. Ashley Westerman reports from Washington, D.C.

    • Over 400 Arrested in National Fast-Food Workers’ Strike for Living Wage, Unionization

      More than 400 fast-food workers and their supporters have been arrested in a national day of action for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Workers staged a one-day strike in 150 cities across the country Thursday, from Las Vegas to Chicago and Detroit, to Little Rock, Arkansas, and here in New York City.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Huffington Post And The View From Bogustan: Standing Behind Blatantly False Claims Isn’t Journalism

      Ayyadurai has waged an incredibly bizarre public relations campaign, and the more you look at it, the more bizarre it becomes. However, anyone who looks over any of the primary documentation (much of which we’ve linked to in our previous posts) can only conclude that while Ayyadurai may have independently come up with some ideas, he most certainly did not invent email. It was widely in use. The key arguments in his claim are obviously false, and prey on (1) a misunderstanding or misrepresetation of copyright law and (2) an almost fraudulent misquoting of Dave Crocker, a guy who really was heavily involved in early email efforts. Again, all of that is discussed in the earlier posts.

      What I still cannot fathom is how the Huffington Post can stand behind this “reporting.” I’ve now heard from three different HuffPost reporters on the news side who all say that they’re horrified that no one at the company has done anything about this. The only official response I got stood by the stories, but actual reporters at the company recognize that their own credibility has been absolutely destroyed by this. It’s been pointed out that the five part series is on HuffPo’s “blogging” side — which gives a platform to PR folks with no editorial oversight.

    • Huffington Post Finally Responds, Stands By Its Completely Bogus, Totally Debunked ‘History Of Email’ Series
  • Censorship

    • Harrop: Stopping the ‘spiral of silence’

      The “spiral of silence” is a theory that people hesitate to say things they believe others in their group won’t agree with. It predates the Internet age.

      Let me add that the “spiral of silence” disproportionately affects the shy, the thoughtful and the female.

      Social media were supposed to free these cooped-up opinions by offering new venues for speaking one’s piece. But this high-minded promise of a vast online town hall for pensive argument has fallen flat, according to a new report by Pew Research Center and Rutgers University.

    • Automattic Rejects Series Of Bogus Janet Jackson Takedown Attempts By Using Janet Jackson Song Titles

      As you can clearly see that’s using a photo of Jackson’s famous “wardrobe malfunction” from the Superbowl many years ago, and applying the Things Tim Howard Could Save meme to it. Marginally funny. But not copyright infringement. Not only does Jackson not hold the copyright on that image, it’s obvious fair use for whoever does hold the copyright.

    • UN holds Internet Governance Forum in a country known for digital censorship
    • ‘Hypocrite’ Turkey Holds Internet Governance Forum While Twitter Users Face Trial
    • Internet Governance Forum: A missed opportunity for human rights
    • Protecting the open internet: the Internet Governance Forum in Turkey

      Let me be clear, while Turkey has made good progress in some areas of digital development and education, and done more in recent years to integrate the Kurdish community and language into the Turkish nation, there are still too many worrying steps with regard to freedom of speech. That freedom must exist equally online and offline. Not only are around 51,000 websites blocked at the moment, but dozens of journalists are in jail or on trial: one female journalist I met, Fusun Erdogan, was sentenced to 789 years in jail!

    • Forbes Praises YouTube Censoring Steven Sotloff Beheading Video

      Following the horrific actions of ISIS/ISIL, in which the group beheaded American journalist James Foley and plastered the video in online forums like Twitter and YouTube, I argued that it is important that the American Public be given the chance to repudiate the aim of the video: paralyzing us with fear. Adding to that thought, Glenn Greenwald argued that the reason one must fight against censorship in the most egregious of speech cases is that such cases are often where the limitation of speech is legitimized. While this may not be a First Amendment consideration, since those sites are not affiliated with the government, it would be a mistake to suggest that free speech is limited as a concept to that narrow legal definition. Free and open speech is an ideal, one that is codified into law in some places, and one which enjoys a more relaxed but important status within societal norms.

    • Austrian ISPs Sued For Actually Wanting A Court Order Rather Than Just Blocking Websites Based On Entertainment Industry’s Requests

      Furthermore, the industry seems to believe that everyone else has a legal responsibility to carry out its wishes once it declares a site as bad. It thinks hosts should take down sites, search engines should stop linking to them, advertisers should block ads, registrars should pull domain names and ISPs should block access. You’d think that maybe actually adapting to new technologies and giving people more of what they want might be a more compelling strategy, but the legacy entertainment industry prefers demanding that everyone else go out of their way to protect the legacy industry’s obsolete business model, without the industry itself doing anything more than pointing at sites (often incorrectly).

    • Record Labels Issue Takedown To Take Kim Dotcom’s Album Down From His Own Site

      We’ve heard some folks claim that all these bogus takedown notices we write about are just “anomalies” rather than a pattern of abuse of the law for the purpose of censorship. And yet, there are more and more examples every day. The latest one is particularly bizarre. IFPI (the international version of the RIAA) has apparently been issuing a series of bogus takedown notices to get Kim Dotcom’s album “Good Times” taken down off of his own site, Mega. That’s… quite incredible. This does not appear to be a strange attempt to hide Dotcom’s music, but it looks to just be pure sloppiness on the part of the IFPI issuing misguided takedowns. That is, the IFPI takedown notice lists a totally different song (and it turns out this is the second time this has happened to Dotcom’s album in the past month). As short-sighted as the IFPI is, it would take an other wordly level of stupidity to directly target Dotcom’s music with a bogus takedown. Even the IFPI must know that that would backfire badly. The story that it’s an “accident” makes much more sense.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Ferguson Police Department tactics will be focus of federal investigation

      The U.S. Justice Department is getting ready to launch an investigation into the practices and training of the Ferguson, Missouri, police department, a Missouri official and a federal official told CNN.

    • Meeting at University of Michigan connects police violence to imperialist war

      Dozens of students, workers, and youth attended a meeting at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Thursday night to discuss the significance of the August 9 police killing and subsequent repression of protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

      Titled “Military-police violence in Ferguson, Missouri: The war comes home” and hosted by the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), the meeting took up the interconnections between increasing police brutality and attacks on living conditions and democratic rights in the US and the escalating geopolitical tensions and military predations of American imperialism internationally.

    • The Miraculous Works Of The Criminal Justice System

      So, apparently White, with his hands cuffed behind him, shot himself in the chest.

    • Authorities claim handcuffed man shot himself in the chest, ruled ‘suicide’

      Authorities claim that a man committed suicide via gunshot while handcuffed and unattended in the back of a police cruiser. However, an autopsy report states that the man — who had his handcuffed behind his back, and was already searched for weapons — was shot in the chest.

    • Ferguson Police Chief Lied About Why He Released Alleged Michael Brown Robbery Tape: Report

      Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson lied when he said he had received “many” specific requests for the videotape that allegedly shows Michael Brown robbing a convenience store, according to a new report.

      “All I did — what I did was — was release the videotape to you, because I had to,” Jackson told reporters on Aug. 15 when asked why he released the robbery footage. “I’d been sitting on it, but I — too many people put in a [Freedom of Information Act] request for that thing, and I had to release that tape to you.”

      Writing for The Blot, Matthew Keys reports that the police department did not receive any specific requests for the videotape.

      “A review of open records requests sent to the Ferguson Police Department found that no news organization, reporter or individual specifically sought the release of the surveillance tape before police distributed it on Aug. 15,” Keys writes.

    • Guy Blouin ID’d as cyclist run over by Quebec City police car

      Witness says he saw cruiser run over man twice; bicycle and police car moved from scene by officers

    • This Week in Transparency: Shenanigans at the CIA, open-source FOIA reform, and more
    • CIA Redacted ‘Off The Record, No Comment’ From Released Documents

      Over at The Intercept, there’s an article claiming that the AP’s national security reporter Ken Dilanian had a too cozy relationship with the CIA while he was at the Tribune Company. It’s an interesting read, based on pages upon pages of emails between reporters and the CIA that were released under a FOIA request. However, what caught my attention, more than the full story, was something in all of those emails, spotted by Katherine Hawkins. And it’s that, on page 363, it seems clear that the CIA, when releasing these emails, redacted the line “Off the record, no comment.” It’s rather obvious, because Dilanian immediately repeats that line right back, somewhat angrily at the ridiculousness of it.

    • Militarization, Surveillance, and Profit: How Grassroots Groups are Fighting Urban Shield

      In the San Francisco Bay Area, the answer is yes. A coalition of community groups has come together to call attention to Urban Shield, a four-day long “preparedness” exercise for law enforcement and other agencies that will take place from September 4-8. They’ve organized a week of education, including a march and demonstration outside of the event on Friday, September 5. To these community groups, Urban Shield represents state violence and political repression, not public safety.

    • You Can’t Say Something Like That And Not Do Something About It

      Amnesty International also calls attention to how wrong Obama was to characterize torture as an understandable error of judgment in the immediate wake of 9/11, by people who meant well. (“He even called us patriots!” John Rizzo, former CIA acting general counsel, kvelled afterwards.)

      By contrast, the extensive paper trail that has emerged over the years is clear: The Bush/Cheney torture regime was “a chillingly detailed, planned and resourced operation incorporating systematic unlawful and criminal conduct stretching over years.”

      If Obama really wants to prevent this from happening again some other time, Amnesty says, he needs to start by releasing the full Senate intelligence committee report on torture — not just the executive summary, but the whole thing, and without the redactions the White House proposed in early August.

      As I wrote on Wednesday, Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein expects that she will be able to release the approximately 500-page executive summary of the 6,000-plus page report within two to four weeks — redacted, but not so redacted it isn’t “readable and understandable.”

    • New York’s Shield Law Protects Reporter From Subpoena

      Risen fought the subpoena all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices declined to review a lower court’s ruling affirming the subpoena’s legality. Having exhausted his options, Risen’s day of judgment may be coming soon, forcing him either to be jailed for his convictions or to tell the government what it wants to hear.

    • Holder: No Jail for NYT Reporter

      During a press conference to announce a broadened probe of the Ferguson, Mo. police department, Holder was asked whether he stood by statements he has reportedly made in private meetings insisting that Risen is not at risk of being jailed for contempt despite prosecutors’ success in defeating his legal effort to avoid testifying against his alleged source, Jeffrey Sterling.

    • Up to 2,100 Photos of US Soldiers Abusing Prisoners May Soon Be Released

      Would the release of 10-year-old detainee abuse photographs, such as one depicting US soldiers pointing a broom handle at a hooded detainee’s rectum, incite terrorist organizations and threaten national security?

      That’s a question government attorneys will have to answer next week when they explain to a federal court judge why as many as 2,100 unclassified photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqi and Afghan captives should continue to be concealed from the public.

    • UK records undermine Government’s claims over damaged CIA rendition documents

      Last month, FCO Minister Mark Simmonds told MPs that records of flights passing through Diego Garcia had suffered “water damage” as a result of “extremely heavy weather in June 2014.”

      However, weather records for Diego Garcia obtained from the FCO under Freedom of Information have cast doubt on this explanation: official logs for the island show that the total rainfall for June 2014 was just 3.25 inches (83mm). This is a low figure, considering the average annual rainfall is 102 inches (2591mm) – or 8.5 inches (216mm) per month.

      Ministers have previously admitted that Diego Garcia, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), was used by CIA planes carrying detainees as part of the ‘extraordinary rendition’ programme, which saw prisoners flown to countries where they could be subjected to torture. However, the UK Government has so far refused to make documents relating to such flights public.

    • Diego Garcia: Heavy Rain That ‘Destroyed’ Flight Logs in CIA Rendition Row Wasn’t So Heavy
    • Compare North Korea’s Judicial System to Gitmo

      The inmates at Guantanamo are treated no differently from the way suspects are treated in North Korea. As most everyone knows, some of the prisoners at Gitmo have been there for 12 years, without charges, trials, or even the semblance of due process of law. If they were ever to be given trials, the proceedings would be kangaroo in nature, in that the outcomes of the trials would be preordained by the president and Pentagon officials. Much of the trials would be in secret and evidence acquired by torture and hearsay evidence could be used to buttress the preordained verdict, just like in North Korea. Meanwhile, prisoners at Gitmo have been brutally tortured and have no hope of ever securing justice. It’s not surprising that many of them have gone on hunger strikes in the hopes of killing themselves.

    • What the CIA is attempting to keep under wraps
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • FCC’s Tom Wheeler Admits There Isn’t Really Broadband Competition

      The big broadband providers have all been spinning a yarn for a while now pretending that there’s widespread competition. A key partner in this has been the FCC, which for years has helped spread this myth by pushing out totally bogus broadband data. If you want a good laugh, go over to BroadbandMap.gov and type in your address — and discover a bunch of bogus claims about broadband which you really don’t have. The speeds are inflated. The services are inflated. It includes mobile data broadband, despite it being priced much, much higher and with very low caps and limits — and speeds that no one truly considers to be broadband but, that doesn’t stop the big broadband players from using that bogus data to claim there’s tons of competition.

    • The Neutered Net: Why the FCC Can’t Save the Internet

      There’s no question that Net Neutrality has been this year’s most hotly debated and passionately defended political issue regarding the internet. It has often been painted as the next no-brainer that every internet user should hop on the bandwagon in support of—the next SOPA, PIPA, or NSA scandal. Opposition to shocking revelations such to these controversies sent a shockwave through the status quo of corporate government power. It was a signpost that the millennial generation can and will rise up to resist the oppression of personal liberties—at least when the fabric of their daily lives are at risk.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Corporate Sovereignty Debate Heats Up In Australia

      As Techdirt has reported, so far corporate sovereignty has emerged as the most contentious issue in the TTIP/TAFTA negotiations. In response to the growing public concern in Europe, the European Commission held a consultation on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), although that proved largely a sham, with the desired outcome clearly signalled by the choice of questions and how they were framed. Indeed, Karel De Gucht, the EU Commissioner with overall responsibility for TTIP, even went so far as to call the unprecedented 150,000 public responses an “outright attack” — which is an interesting way to characterize democracy in action.

    • Copyrights

      • How Canada Shaped the Copyright Rules in the EU Trade Deal

        In late December 2009, Wikileaks, the website that publishes secret government information, posted a copy of the draft intellectual property chapter of the Canada – European Trade Agreement (CETA). The CETA deal was still years from completion, but the leaked document revealed that the European Union envisioned using the agreement to mandate a massive overhaul of Canadian law.

      • Leak Of Complete CETA Text Shows Canada Fought Off EU Demands For More Extreme Copyright Rules

        As we wrote back in July, it seems that the trade agreement between Canada and the EU, generally known as CETA, is finally nearing completion, after premature claims to that effect. One reason why we might believe so is that thanks to some public-spirited whistleblower(s), we now have both CETA’s main text (pdf) and the annexes (zip). This has permitted Michael Geist to perform an analysis of how the copyright provisions in CETA have evolved since the first leak of the chapter covering intellectual monopolies, posted by Wikileaks back in 2009.

      • U.S. Government Wants Kim Dotcom’s Cash and Cars

        The U.S. Government is going after Kim Dotcom’s bank accounts, cars, art and other property. In a complaint filed at a Virginia federal court the Department of Justice argues that the property of the Megaupload and its founder should be forfeited as it was obtained through criminal means.

08.16.14

Links 16/8/2014: Microsoft Linux, US Government Turns to Free Software

Posted in News Roundup, Site News at 11:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How to crack an open source community

    This can be hard for developers new to a project, because “many would-be devs are intimidated by the perception of an existing ‘in-crowd’ dev group, even though it may not really be true,” ActiveState vice president Bernard Golden told me. Developer Tony Li echoes this, suggesting, “There is often a intimidation factor when thinking about submitting code to the maintainers (even though it is not on purpose).”

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • The why and how of becoming a cloud architect

      It’s certainly not news. We’ve talked before about how learning OpenStack is a great way to kickstart an IT career. But just how valuable is it? And if you want to make the transition from doing traditional IT infrastructure administration to becoming a cloud architect, how do you get there?

    • Running Hadoop as a Cloud Service is on the Rise

      For a while there, working with Big Data–sorting and sifting large data sets with new tools in pursuit of surfacing meaningful angles on stored information–meant leveraging the open source Hadoop platform in on-premise fashion. Typically, enterprises deployed Hadoop in-house as a platform tool.

    • Deciding on the Right Cloud for Your Organization
    • Scott Sanchez on OpenStack: Shifting a Mindset

      “I often stand in front of audiences filled with people who use storage servers. I ask them if they still name their servers. Inevitably, two-thirds of the people raise their hands. Their servers have names. … It is definitely a mindset. … You are not yet building quality applications. All of the innovation in the world is not going to solve that from an infrastructure perspective.”

    • Could fundamental open cloud freedom die?

      Balkan claims he is working to create independent technologies that protect our fundamental freedoms & democracy.

      Trust in the cloud forms the cornerstone of the Summit agenda with topics covered including:

      • the surveillance state,
      • the encryption economy,
      • honest business models and,
      • keeping trust amongst customers.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Organs of democracy

      Oh, yes, creation of human organs no longer requires divine oration, just a walk to the laboratory.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Gaza Strip Crisis: Melbourne Palestine Action Group Shuts Down Israeli Arms Factory

      Sam Castro, spokesperson for the Melbourne Palestine Activist Group, claims drones produced in the factory are being used in the current conflict in Gaza.

      She said: “By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”

    • U.S. arms for Iraq’s Kurds could backfire, as similar aid has in the past

      The U.S. decision to arm Iraqi Kurds shows a dangerous and deplorable disregard for the lessons of history. The move is understandably tempting, given the threat Islamist extremists pose to civilians and the integrity of the Iraqi state, especially when the redeployment of U.S. troops is all but off the table.

    • Iraq crisis: US launches fresh drone strikes

      Fresh airstrikes have been launched by US drones against Isis forces close to a village where there were reports that dozens of civilians had been massacred.

    • Anger Over Missouri Police Shooting Resonates Across Bay Area and Nation
    • To Draw A Line

      There have been other disquieting trends too in recent times. Osama bin Laden was, of course, a Saudi and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. We have it on testimony by ex-CIA director James Woolsey that Saudi Wahabism is “the soil in which Al Qaeda and its sister terrorist organisations are flourishing”.

    • With Friends Like These: NATO and the Afghan Leadership

      On 12th June 2011 Ahmed Wali Karzai (AWK), a key ally of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s mission in Afghanistan was assassinated. His fate was sealed by his own security chief of many years Mohmad Sardar, who shot him at point-blank range in his own home. Recent years in the conflict have seen a rise in such attacks by inside men, usually members of the Afghan National Army and police forces. It is rarer that that such a high level figure is killed at the behest of the Taliban in this way, since these attacks are usually carried out to create fear in the ranks of these forces. It is rarer still that the victim is none other than the President’s half brother. As if to add insult to injury, the Taliban detonated a suicide bomb at AWK’s funeral.

    • Americans can expect escalation of Iraq airstrikes

      The president’s authorization was confined to protecting American personnel and preventing the genocide of the Yazidis religious group. But it also suggested increased military involvement if the Iraqi government replaced Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, a Shiite widely seen as responsible for implementing sectarian policies that have severely alienated Sunni Iraqis. Al-Maliki resigned this week in favor of another Shiite, and Americans can expect to see an escalation of the airstrikes.

    • Elite commandos train for mission

      The men included Green Berets from the 10th Special Forces Group headquartered at Fort Carson, Colo., and an unidentified Navy crew who are training together for a classified mission somewhere in Africa.

    • US, NATO And The Destruction Of Libya: The Western Front Of A Widening War – OpEd

      NATO claimed that its intervention in Libya was a historic success. But three years later, Libya is in complete chaos. Some 1700 militias have a combined total of 250,000 men under arms. Another external intervention seems necessary to stabilize the country. But the US and NATO must never be involved

    • Libya’s new parliament asks for UN intervention
    • The Clintons, Duvalier, Martelly and Haiti

      If you vote and you live in the USA, you should try to become educated about the multiple recent and ongoing misdeeds of the Clintons in Haiti.

      So far, they’ve managed to hide their hands cleverly using the puppets (Martelly, Duvalier, Lamothe…) they have imposed upon the people of Haiti.

    • Nepal must be Stand against the CIA & EU’s Conspiracies

      Since 2006, due to the traitors’ regime, Nepalese society is suffering due to inflation, shortage, insecurity and indefinite pain. The leaders of Nepal only listen to foreign powers and do what they are told. That is why Nepal is facing such dire consequences. Anarchy prevailed in the country after Hindu status and royal institution were removed forcibly. The leaders of NC and UML are hostage to indecision. Most of the intellectuals of the country can be bought for money. Maoist leader Mohan Vaidya led group have not abandoned Leninism that is 88 years old date expired formula. A man unable to swim will drown. We must show commitment for progress of Nepal. To save our nation we must get rid of prejudice and support constitutional monarchy and Hindu and Buddhist status of the country.

    • Top 10 Fidel Castro assassination attempts
    • CIA Records: They Wanted to Kill, Using Chemical, Biological Substances

      By analyzing CIA documents from earlier days, we can understand the programs of the Agency and its government cousins.

      Given the fact that the CIA’s umbrella research program, MKULTRA, went completely dark in 1962, and given the technological advances that have been made in the intervening years, we can draw inferences about present-day covert ops.

    • Washington Staged Egypt’s “Arab Spring” Revolution, U.S. Knew About 9/11 Warning, Former Egypt Interior Minister Reveals

      One of these claims was that the United States was behind the 2011 Egyptian revolution which overthrew Hosni Mubarak. The other, however, was that the Egyptian intelligence agencies and Interior Ministry received information regarding a developing terrorist operation against the United States in September, 2001 and that the Egyptians warned the United States twice ahead of time. According to El-Adly, these warnings were completely ignored.

    • Nixon believed CIA involved in Kennedy assassination

      A new book, to be released Sept. 2, discloses a previously unknown connection between Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy and the CIA. In fact, author Roger Stone, a former Nixon aide, asserts that Nixon “knew the CIA was involved in JFK’s assassination” and was so pesky in his attempts to get them to disclose all their records that the CIA contemplated the assassination of Nixon as well. Nixon believed CIA involved in Kennedy assassination

    • Top 10 Fidel Castro assassination attempts

      Cuba celebrated Castro’s 88th birthday yesterday and he famously survived 638 assassination attempts – the Americans tried so many ways that they had to get creative. Here are his top 10 assassination attempts

    • Washington: Plans against Cuba lay bare

      The most recent leaks about Cuba reveal the hiring of young Costa Ricans, Peruvians, and Venezuelans whose goals were to recruit possible dissidents in Cuban universities. These activists would later play the role of organizers of a “velvet” revolution. The AP has released the names of their top agents. When this project is linked to the mission of USAID contractor Alan Gross, currently serving a prison sentence in Cuba, and the so-called Zunzuneo, and Piramideo —Twitter-like social networks to unite thousands of Cuban people to carry out destabilization actions— it takes shape a very-well orchestrated plan to boost up a future rebellion in Cuba.

    • ISI, CIA aiding northeast Indian militants: Tripura CM

      Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has alleged that Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and America’s CIA are in constant touch with anti-India militants, a section of whom are still using Bangladesh to operate.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • More Trans-Pacific Partnership details leaked

      The United States and other countries in the Americas and Asia are involved in secretly negotiating a Free Trade Agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, much of the news about the deal comes from leaks as none of the details are publicly published. In the latest leak, activists reveal Certification which allows the US to withhold the the final steps that are necessary to bring a trade and investment treaty into force until the other party has changed it’s relevant laws to meet US expectations.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • Anonymity and Censorship

      How far can government go in forcing people to reveal their identities, or protecting people from being forced to reveal their identities? The issues of anonymity, free speech, and privacy are once again central topics of debate, made so by the refusal of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri to reveal the identity of the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager Saturday night, based on fears for the officer’s safety. The decision to keep his identity secret has been a factor in the violent protests in the St. Louis suburb.

    • Google: We must reverse the new tide of censorship sweeping Europe

      You may have heard of the DA-Notice. This is a formal request, from the government of the day to the editors of newspapers such as this, to kill a story on the grounds of national security. The DA-Notice system is voluntary, and it works because it is not deployed as a method of censorship. Tiny numbers of DA-Notices are issued. Tiny numbers of stories are killed. But, in our internet age, in which communication is supposed to be easier, and freer, than ever before, that is changing, and not for the better. Welcome to the world of the G-notice.

    • The problem with censorship in social media

      When it comes to social media, and the Internet in general, censorship is a sensitive topic. You probably didn’t read the small print when you signed up to Facebook or Twitter but all your favourite sites have rules, and with so many users posting so much content daily it can be difficult to police them – especially without pissing people off. Free speech is pretty popular after all.

    • Crowdfunding Lantern, a P2P anti-censorship tool
    • CIA security luminary: ‘Right to be forgotten is not enough’

      The EU’s so-called “right to be forgotten” laws have not gone far enough to protect citizens’ privacy, according to Dan Geer, one of the world’s best-known security experts.

    • Essay: Censorship, police intimidation at missile defense conference

      Upon exiting the room he was immediately surrounded by four to six armed police officers in uniform, two of whom identified themselves as members of the Huntsville Police Department.

    • Bulgaria: Disputed sections of “bank censorship” proposal axed

      Bulgarian journalists covering the financial beat can breathe freely as the most controversial parts of the so-called “bank censorship” amendment to the criminal code have been removed by the legal committee of the national assembly.

    • Draw the Line: Do wars justify censorship?

      The British government established the War Office Press Bureau 100 years ago this month to censor reports from the British Army before they were issued to the press. Colonel Ernest Swinton, the first man to be appointed the Army’s official journalist, wrote later: “The principle which guided me in my work was above all to avoid helping the enemy… I essayed to tell as much of the truth as was compatible with safety, to guard against depression and pessimism, and to check unjustified optimism which might lead to a relaxation of effort.”

    • Erdoğan brought censorship, chilling effects on journalism

      Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is preparing to assume the office of president on Aug. 28 following his election to the state’s top post on Aug. 10, has left a legacy on journalism which is filled with confrontation and rebuke of journalists, attempts at censorship, prosecution and even deportation of critical journalists.

  • Privacy

    • Blogging History: NSA audit shows 1000s of privacy violations; RECAP for US law launches; Wiretapping the Web
    • Hillary Clinton’s phone ‘hacked by German intelligence’

      Hillary Clinton’s phone was hacked during her time as US Secretary of State, German media reports. Allegations are set to question US-German relations just months after Merkel hacking scandal.

    • German secret service ‘spied on Hillary Clinton’as NSA spied on Merkel
    • Pro Hackers Could Be Spying On You Through YouTube

      Morgan Marquis-Boire, a celebrated hacker turned security researcher, just published a lengthy and rather scary paper on so-called “network injection appliances”. The NSA-calibre hacking tool is sold by companies like Hacking Team and FinFisher for as little as $US1 million and can crack into your hard drive any time unencrypted data is exchanged with a server. YouTube videos, by the way, are not encrypted.

    • You Can Get Hacked Just By Watching This Cat Video on YouTube
    • Former NSA Director Doesn’t Remember Taking A Photo With Edward Snowden

      Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden says a picture of him with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the September issue of Wired magazine wasn’t a memorable experience because he doesn’t remember taking the photo.

    • Your Cellphone’s Tiny Motion Sensor Could Be Eavesdropping on You

      Researchers just found yet another reason to be paranoid: Even if hackers or the NSA are locked out of your cellphone’s microphone, camera and data, they might still be able to snoop on you through the tiny chip that tracks the device’s orientation. Gyroscopes in modern phones, unlike the spinning gyroscopes of old, work by a method that also allows it to detect vibrations in the air at certain frequencies — including some that overlap with the human voice. And worse still, Android apps don’t have to alert the user that they’re accessing the gyro, meaning practically any game or website could be listening in on you (neither do iPhone apps, but the technique doesn’t work as well on iOS).

    • Gyroscope In Your Phone Acts As A Microphone
    • A chance to limit spying on Americans

      When Congress returns from its August recess, surveillance reform will be high on the agenda. In May, the House passed the USA Freedom Act, a measure aimed at ending bulk collection of Americans’ phone records under the Patriot Act. And in July, a much stronger version of the bill was introduced in the Senate.

    • How US Government Surveillance Threatens Attorney-Client Privilege

      Documents leaked to the press over the past year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the US government is sweeping up vast amounts of private data and communications, including confidential information related to ongoing legal matters and privileged communications between attorneys and their clients.

    • Russia Denies Asking Snowden About Intelligence Secrets
    • ICYMI: Data breach disclosure, European privacy & internet outages

      Data breach disclosure is a legal necessity in the US and will soon be in the EU too, what with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (still awaiting legislative approval) stipulating that breaches must be reported within 72 hours of the initial incident.

      This is – by and large – being actively encouraged in an era of escalating data breaches and post-NSA transparency. Simply hiding the bad news can no longer be tolerated and has too many business repercussions (legal fines, brand damage) anyway.

    • Questioning Edward Snowden’s Cure-All

      Such a mindset no doubt serves the interests of an entrepreneur like Pierre Omidyar, a billionaire who plans to generate income by peddling security products. Products that will address the very scandals that his new media venture unearths.4 Isn’t that convenient? To be able to present a problem with one hand and then proffer a solution with the other? Problem-Reaction-Solution; also known as the Hegelian dialectic. By the way this tactic has also been employed, to the hilt, by a Pentagon carpetbagger named Keith Alexander.5

    • Cybersecurity’s History Provides Lessons for the Future

      In 2003-2004, deploying wireless networks was hot. Government IT executives were eager to offer wireless Internet access in conference rooms, but I was against it. Armed with white papers from three-letter agencies in D.C. and scary headlines describing “war driving” with breaches, I declared, “No wireless!”

    • FBI Snooping on Attorneys for 9/11 Suspects Has ‘Sown Chaos,’ Team Says

      The lead counsel for the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks claimed Thursday that an FBI investigation of the defense attorneys has “sown chaos” in the proceedings, as another week of pretrial hearings drew to a close.

    • The FBI Spied on the Wrong People Because of Typos

      The FBI unintentionally spied on the communications data of some Americans who were not targets of investigations because of typographical errors, according to a government watchdog.

    • Government Invokes ‘Privacy’ Exemption To Conceal Secrets

      When the National Security Agency wanted to block the public release of former contractor Edward Snowden’s emails, it found an unlikely ally: His privacy.

      The government cited a federal law protecting privacy rights to deny journalist Matthew Keys’ request for Snowden’s messages. Experts said Snowden is far from an exception. From Osama bin Laden to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, “privacy” claims are the government’s latest excuse to keep its secrets secret.

      “For an agency whose core mission is the violation of our privacy, privacy is an especially Orwellian rationale for the NSA to invoke in justifying its non-compliance” with the Freedom of Information Act, said Ryan Shapiro, an MIT graduate student who frequently files public records requests with the NSA and other agencies. “That it’s Edward Snowden’s privacy the NSA now claims to defend only heightens the irony.”

    • Meet the Man Who’s Gauging the Damage From Snowden

      Tapped in May 2014 by James Clapper, director of the Office of National Intelligence, Evanina is now immersed in coordinating multi-agency efforts to mitigate the risk of foreign infiltration, assess damage from intelligence leaks and tighten the security clearance process.

    • The surveillance debate, continued: Another response to the ACLU

      In a nutshell, I argued that the bill contained some problematic language that could actually allow more access to data by NSA; Rottman agreed that scrutiny was warranted but suggested the situation was not so bad — and certainly better than the status quo; Wheeler suggested the ACLU was too optimistic and pointed to other parts of the bill as potentially open to abuse.

    • New “TCP Stealth” tool aims to help sysadmins block spies from exploiting their systems

      The draft, authored by Tor’s Jacob Appelbaum and others, aims to standardize a technique called TCP Stealth, for keeping servers safe from mass port-scanning tools like GCHQ’s HACIENDA.

    • FTC Urged To Crack Down On Tech Firms’ Privacy Violations
    • New From 500-Year-Old Deutsche Post: Self-Destructing Encrypted Chats

      Deutsche Post offers the messenger, also available for Android phones, in eight languages and is targeting the global market, according to Mr. Edenhofer.

    • Apple slings fanbois’ data at Chinese servers in China Telecom deal

      In an effort to woo buyers in China, Apple has inked a deal to store Chinese customer data in Chinese servers for the first time.

    • Apple using China Telecom servers to store iCloud data
    • Understanding the Implications of Tor’s latest hack

      The security world got itself worked up in late July about an attack on the Tor network. The exploit, which ran from January to July, enabled the attackers to identify users looking for hidden services on Tor. Hidden services are typically web sites operated anonymously using Tor.

    • US must remedy NSA’s 2012 Syrian internet shutdown

      In this case, however, it turns out that the Syrian government was not to blame. Rather, the NSA caused the disruption by destroying a key router connecting the country to international networks.

      According to Snowden, the NSA’s aim was to spy on all Syrians. In the course of attempting to hack into the router for surveillance purposes, the NSA broke the equipment; rather than violating privacy, the NSA directly violated international law and policy on freedom of expression. Syrians lost the ability to communicate during a time when users at risk most needed access to accurate information, open media, and social networks.

  • Civil Rights

    • LAPD Officers Fatally Beat Father During Traffic Stop a Week Before Ezell Ford Shooting, Family Says

      Omar Abrego, a 37-year-old father of three, was driving home in an Amtrak truck in his work uniform on Aug. 2 when he was pulled over by officers right in front of his house in the 6900 block of South Main Street (map), which is just four blocks from where Ford was shot and killed by Los Angeles Police Department officers nine days later.

      Two sergeants from the Newton Division, which was also involved in the Ford shooting, pulled over Abrego because he was allegedly driving erratically, speeding and had almost hit a pedestrian, according to LAPD officials. When they attempted to pull him over, he kept going.

    • Has the Right Really Shifted on Police Militarization and Abuse?

      It would be a great thing if politicians were more critical of the obvious trend towards militarization of police forces. And there’s no doubt that some voices have been more critical of overzealous police practices than one might expect. But is it actually a widespread trend?

    • DoJ Memo Justifies Killing Anwar al-Awlaki by Citing US Law Enforcement’s Right to Use Deadly Force

      As a result of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times, President Barack Obama’s administration has released the first memo authored by federal appeals court judge and former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer David Barron to justify the killing of US citizen and terrorism suspect Anwar al-Awlaki.

      The Justice Department memo is dated February 19, 2010, a few months after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bomb a Detroit-bound plane on December 25, 2009. This memo was later superseded by a second memo that addressed issues the administration had overlooked, according to the Times.

    • The Secret US Drone Program that Killed JFK’s Eldest Brother

      Everything it seems. Over the course of 15 mission flown between August 4, 1944 and January 1, 1945 Operation Aphrodite managed to kill four American crewmen, including Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.—eldest son of the politically powerful Kennedy family and older brother to the future-35th president—while failing to damage any of their intended targets and, in most cases failing to even reach their target. Most were shot down, ran out of fuel, or just randomly fell out of the sky in a fiery ball of wreckage.

    • The Militarization of Law Enforcement in America: Blowback in Ferguson

      This is a short call from informing the mainstream media that the country has been living under pseudo martial law for decades.

    • More than 100 Cities Join Moment of Silence for Michael Brown
    • Blowback in Ferguson

      The fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager and the ensuing protests in Ferguson, Missouri has rocked America. Even the mainstream media with its aversion to the truth has been forced to address the militarization of the police in America – albeit years too late.

      This is a short call from informing the mainstream media that the country has been living under pseudo martial law for decades.

      On April 13, 2013, the ACLU (Shasta Chapter) invited me to be their keynote speaker to talk about government secrecy, drones, and the militarization of America. The Ferguson shooting and its coverage it the media prompted me to highlight some of the points made during that talk as they relate to today’s events.

    • Anger Over Missouri Police Shooting Resonates Across Bay Area and Nation

      To many observers in Oakland, the scenes in Ferguson of militarized police officers and clouds of tear gas are reminiscent of local clashes, including skirmishes between police and Occupy protesters and the protests that followed the 2009 BART police killing of Oscar Grant.

    • From Boston to Ferguson: Have We Reached a Tipping Point in the Police State?

      As journalist Benjamin Carlson points out, “In today’s Mayberry, Andy Griffith and Barney Fife could be using grenade launchers and a tank to keep the peace.”

      This is largely owing to the increasing arsenal of weapons available to police units, the changing image of the police within communities, and the growing idea that the police can and should use any means necessary to maintain order.

      To our detriment, local police – clad in jackboots, helmets and shields and wielding batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, and assault rifles – have increasingly come to resemble occupying forces in our communities. “Today,” notes Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, “17,000 local police forces are equipped with such military equipment as Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear and armored vehicles. Some have tanks. ”

      Unfortunately, whatever the threat to so-called security – whether it’s rumored weapons of mass destruction, school shootings, or alleged acts of terrorism – it doesn’t take much for the American people to march in lockstep with the government’s dictates, even if it means submitting to martial law, having their homes searched, and being stripped of one’s constitutional rights at a moment’s notice.

    • There’s no punishment for lying to Americans?

      Last April at a Senate hearing, National Security Agency Director James Clapper was asked by Sen. Ron Wyden whether the NSA was spying on the American people. He said no, but he admitted later that it was a lie.

      This lie is a felony offense.

    • Pop Music Needs to Be More Political. Here’s Why.

      By the beginning of the 1990s, that kind of opinionated, black-power-inspired hip-hop had morphed into gangster rap. Of course, it was easier for media and government to represent the likes of Tupac as a danger to society, indoctrinating America’s youth, black and white, with violent fantasies, flaunting the thug life as something to aspire to.

    • CHAPMAN: Fast facts on John Brennan

      A diplomat was once defined as someone whose job is to lie for his country. That’s apparently what makes them different from intelligence officers, whose function is to lie to their country.

    • Disappearing People and Disappearing the Evidence: The Deeper Significance of the SSCI Report

      When the executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SSCI) report on the CIA’s torture program is finally released, it is likely to discredit a story that defenders of “enhanced interrogation” have been telling for years. The narrative first appeared in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos that authorized the CIA program. President Bush repeated it in his September 2006 speech acknowledging the existence of CIA prisons, and in 2008 when he vetoed a bill outlawing waterboarding. Slightly different versions appear in Bush’s memoirs, and defenses of the CIA program by George Tenet, Michael Hayden, Michael Mukasey, Jose Rodriguez, John Yoo, Dick Cheney, and others.

    • CIA director should be fired
    • Media advocates hand Justice Dep’t. a petition supporting subpoenaed New York Times reporter
    • NY Times reporter honoured for fight to protect source
    • Reporter for New York Times honored for source protection
    • Petitioners Call on US to Stop Legal Action against James Risen
    • James Risen: ‘Happy to carry on the fight’
    • US reporter vows to ‘keep fighting’ to protect source
    • Press Freedom Groups Ramp Up Campaign For James Risen

      Press freedom organizations submitted a petition with more than 100,000 signatures to the US Department of Justice Thursday in support of New York Times reporter James Risen.

      The petition demanded that the government stop all legal action against Risen, who has been involved in a six-year battle for press freedom, McClatchy DC reported Friday.

    • 100,000 sign up to support New York Times reporter facing jail
    • 100,000-petition urges US to drop legal action vs Pulitzer-winning journalist
    • Is President Obama About to Send a ‘New York Times’ Reporter to Jail?
    • The CIA’s shameful secrets
    • Guest: CIA spying on Senate is the constitutional equivalent of Watergate
    • It’s logical to say torture doesn’t work

      Contrary to the claims of Debra Saunders in “DiFi’s tortured logic on interrogations” (Insight, Aug. 12), it is not illogical to think that torture is ineffective. It is instead, the consensus of interrogation experts at the FBI and British Intelligence, and has been for decades. The issue is not that torture victims don’t talk, but rather that they will say anything they think will make the pain stop, regardless of its accuracy.

    • America’s Real Patriots Fought to Expose and End Torture
    • Telecom petition calls on Obama to fire Brennan

      A telecom company and tens of thousands of supporters are calling on President Obama to fire CIA Director John Brennan over a report that showed his agency hacked into Senate computers.

    • Americans Should Be Ashamed Of Torture And CIA Cover-Up

      As a person of faith and as an American, the United States committing torture in my name and the subsequent CIA actions around torture are especially disturbing. It is against the very core of who I am as a Catholic and as a human being and is the antithesis as to who we are as a nation.

    • 5 Muslim Americans File Lawsuit over Terrorist Watchlist

      Five Muslim Americans have filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the U.S. government of unjustly placing them on the terrorist watchlist. One plaintiff in the suit, Yaseen Kadura, says a federal official tried to pressure him into becoming a government informant in Libya, using removal from the no-fly list as an incentive. The Intercept news site revealed last month the Obama administration has expanded the watchlist system by approving broad guidelines over who can be targeted. Hundreds of thousands of watchlisted individuals are recognized as having no ties to terrorist groups.

    • My Turn: Torture is a crime, so why don’t we treat it like one

      President Obama has now acknowledged America’s use of torture. “We tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.” Obama went on to try and place the use of torture in context. Recalling the desperation of law enforcement to prevent further attacks post-9/11, Obama said, “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job those folks had.”

      Although I am glad Obama acknowledged the fact of torture and did not try to call it a phony euphemism, I am disappointed in his response. Torture is a crime. It is not a public relations embarrassment that needs to be managed.

    • FBI Urged to Purge Anti-Muslim Material

      US civil rights and religious groups have voiced their concerns over federal agencies of anti-Muslim training material, demanding an urgent audit of federal law enforcement training material.

      “The use of anti-Muslim trainers and materials is not only highly offensive, disparaging the faith of millions of Americans, but leads to biased policing that targets individuals and communities based on religion, not evidence of wrongdoing,” a letter signed by 75 groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Auburn Seminary and the NAACP, reads, Religion News Services reported on Thursday, August 14.

    • Come clean on torture by the military and CIA

      Ten years ago, the infamous photos from Abu Ghraib thrust the issue of torture onto the front page. While some tried to employ the few-bad-apples defense, it was clear then and it is even clearer now that the horror at Abu Ghraib grew out of problems at the top. Torture by U.S. military personnel and intelligence officers was, at its core, a failure of leadership.

    • New York Oath Keepers claim accusations by state intelligence agency to be false

      Is NYSIC suggesting that it is extreme and threatening to encourage our officials to honor their oath and refuse to obey unconstitutional orders?

08.11.14

Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents, Site News at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EU too is besieged by corporations

EU

Summary: A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens’ interests

Some well-meaning people still focus on patent trolls, not on software patents. The world’s largest corporations engage in a coup or an occupation against policy-makers and it shows. This includes some who purport to be supporting FOSS, fair competition, etc. Melanie Chernoff, the Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, says that “North Carolina says ‘no’ to patent trolls”. To quote the article published this afternoon:

North Carolina became the latest state to take a stand against patent trolls when NC Governor Pat McCrory signed a new law last week aimed at preventing bad faith assertions of patent infringement. Patent trolls (more officially called “patent assertion entities” or “non-practicing entities”) are known for sending very vague letters, with often meritless claims, to other businesses in the hopes of extorting a settlement to avoid the nuisance of a lawsuit.

But this is not the thing to strive for. The real (core) issue is patent scope and even those who spend all their time diverting attention and/or arguing about “trolls” (front groups CCIA with its lawyers who are funded by giant corporations) increasingly — however rarely — recognise the issue of scope while still trying to shift attention to “trolls”.

The other day The Economist, widely recognised for its pro-Big Business agenda, published this article titled “Patents that kill”. To quote some of the relevant parts:

IN 1742 Benjamin Franklin invented a new type of stove, for which he was offered a patent. Franklin refused it, arguing in his autobiography that because “we enjoy[ed] great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours.”

[...]

The pharmaceutical industry makes the best case for patents (and makes the most of patents when they are approved). Medical research and development (R&D) is costly. Moreover, although a patent application must be filed straight after a drug discovery, clinical trials necessary for drug approval may take several years. This shortens the effective life of the patent. As three economists argue in a recent paper this causes problems. In order to prove the efficacy of a drug, pharmaceuticals have to match the length of a clinical trial to the expected survival time of the patients. A clinical trial for patients with metastatic prostate cancer lasts only three years compared to an 18-year-long trial for those suffering from a milder, localised prostate cancer. Since a typical patent is in force for 20 years, firms only have two years of effective patent length left to commercialise a new drug against localised prostate cancer.

Here we deal with an issue that has nothing to do with patent trolls but with patent scope.

Dealing with the issue of European approach towards software patents, Glyn Moody put the words of some British patent lawyers in a frame of mind that assures us Europe is assimilating to the US (and USPTO), not the other way around. To quote Glyn Moody: “It would be easy to assume that the European Patent Office (EPO) stands in the same relationship to the European Union as the USPTO does to the United States, but that’s actually wide of the mark.”

There is corporate control of the USPTO, which is operating against the interests of US citizens (except the top 1% perhaps). The lawyers’ blog has apparently produced “a great piece, but its gentle humor exposes a serious point about the EPO: it is literally above the law.

“That emphasizes once more that the unitary patent system has been decoupled from the normal legislative and democratic processes of the European Union, and thus will be under no obligation to take heed of the economic interests of the European citizens.”

We are soon going expose corruption at the EPO, based leaks from a source which is pursuing encryption at the moment.

Moody continues: “There is no precedent in the political history of modern democracies where important property issues affecting the economic sustainability and development of a country, and the proprietary rights and business prospects of its people, were conclusively and exclusively taken by a judicial body at supranational level. A democratic policy-making process for the determination of patents as objects of property exists, of course, in all countries of the world, including the US, whose system the UPC tries to imitate. The difference is that the US unified patent system does not escape democratic control, and the economic policies that it serves are widely debated by legislators, judges, economists, lawyers and industry players, all of whom are residents of the same country.”

Finally, says Moody: “It’s still early days for the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court, so it’s not yet clear how the new system will work, and how serious the problems will be. The danger is that Eponia might turn out to be not so much a quaint oddity in the European political landscape as a dangerous rogue state with serious negative consequences for the region’s businesses and citizens.”

The system is out of control at the moment. It gets worse as patents expand in terms of scope (especially in Europe but also in other continent) while the US merely makes baby-steps in the opposite direction, while much of the effort is being diverted towards “trolls” (small abusers), of course at the behest of large corporations, as usual in US politics as per the modus operandi.

08.08.14

Microsoft’s Android Lawsuit Against Samsung Shows That Windows is Dead Beef

Posted in Site News at 4:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft resorts to AstroTurfing, lawsuits, vapourware, and attack ads, revealing that it is a feeble aggressor whose only remaining hope for revival is destruction of rivals

Samsung sells computers with Windows, but Microsoft is now suing Samsung. This is very revealing.

Now that Microsoft takes its Android-hostile patents to court we might finally see them defanged, or as SJVN put it, this “could be the beginning of a war over the validity of Microsoft’s Android patents.”

“The Apple vs. Samsung case recently suffered a setback after Samsung had used the SCOTUS ruling against ‘abstract’ patents.”There is no such thing as Android patents, just as there is no such thing as FOSS patents. This is the wording style of the aggressor. The Apple vs. Samsung case recently suffered a setback after Samsung had used the SCOTUS ruling against 'abstract' patents. Additionally, China told us which patents Microsoft is using against Android, so there too lies an opportunity for a final smackdown (prior art can be brought forth).

All this lawsuits talk ought to remind us that Microsoft really hates Linux and FOSS. It only pretends otherwise because it needs to (Slashdot gives some help to Microsoft’s “open” proxy/PR/charm offensive), as many businesses/people who use Windows also use GNU, Linux, Android, Firefox etc. We quite enjoyed this new analysis from Jim Lynch, who correctly said:

Microsoft has never been a…er…fan of Linux, to say the least. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer even likened Linux to cancer back in 2001. Now Microsoft has an unintentionally hilarious comparison of its server products and Linux on a site called Why Microsoft.

[...]

I hadn’t heard of this site before, but I bumped into it via a Reddit thread. Talk about a one-sided comparison bathed in “marketing-speak!” I particularly enjoyed the ridiculous bit about security threats where Microsoft just says this: “Persistent threats and dedicated attackers can slow your projects and put your IT environment at risk with Linux projects.”

It was a fun read this morning while I finished my first cup of coffee. I was fortunate not to snort coffee through my nose while reading through it. Thanks for the laughs, Microsoft.

[...]

Feel free to put me in the cynic category when it comes to Microsoft and open source. I think the Why Microsoft site is a much clearer indication of where Microsoft’s thinking is at than the speculation in this Dev Ops article. In other words, I’ll believe that Microsoft is actually embracing the open source community when it actually happens.

Windows is in trouble, so Microsoft’s lawsuit against a massive partner (Samsung) is not entirely shocking. Windows is in so much trouble that releases of it get altogether cancelled and Microsoft started using vapourware tactics (talking about versions of Windows that do not even exist). To quote the British press:

Microsoft has at last revealed the date when its second major update to Windows 8.1 will ship to customers: never.

Vista 8 has been an utter disaster (worse than Vista). No wonder Microsoft goes to court in a desperate attempt/attack to tax the Android leader. No wonder Microsoft uses vapourware tactics as well (all links to examples are omitted as we don’t wish to feed fiction, fantasy, and marketing).

Microsoft will mostly likely continue its attack ads against Google, even though Microsoft reads your mail [1] while repeatedly accusing Google of doing that.

Windows is a passing fad. We don’t expect it to be widely used 5 years from now. Other Microsoft products heavily rely on Windows’ inertia, so they too will gradually perish and be shut down (while more staff gets laid off by the tens of thousands).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft tip leads to child porn arrest in Pennsylvania

07.20.14

Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

Posted in Site News at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Matt Levy works for CCIA (occasionally a Microsoft proxy) now

Matthew Levy

Summary: Matthew (‘Matt’) Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)

WE ARE excited to see that after the USPTO had begun rejecting software patents and CAFC had ruled against 'abstract' software patents (owing to SCOTUS) there was impact by extrapolation. As TechDirt puts it, “Latest CAFC Ruling Suggests A Whole Lot Of Software Patents Are Likely Invalid”. Another patents expert (especially expert in patent trolls) puts it like this: “The most litigious “patent troll” in the US has lost a major case after the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found its patent was too abstract.”

We continue to be disappointed by the site Patent Progress (notice which controversial entities its writers are affiliated with). The name is misleading and it’s a dot-org too, despite corporate connections. We wrote about this in the past, before we knew that Matt Levy, its main writer, “joined the CCIA in 2013″ (see our Wiki page about CCIA).

Levy continues to favour the IBM-style OIN-esque aggregation of patents. From his latest post: “A coalition of tech companies (Google, Canon, SAP, Newegg, Dropbox and Asana) recently announced a new private initiative to disarm patent trolls: the License on Transfer Network (LOT). This is essentially an extension of Google’s Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge (OPN) that I wrote about in my very first Patent Progress post last year.”

We recently saw several links (e.g. in Twitter) pointing at our older (and sceptical) analysis of Patent Progress. It seems that not only us have noticed the change of agenda, or lack of coherent agenda. Not a word has been said in Patent Progress about the above news, which is massive! Is Patent Progress becoming as credible as ‘Consumer’ Watchdog’? To ‘Consumer’ Watchdog’, only Google is a problem (it seems like an extension of Microsoft’s “Scroogled” PR) and to Patent Progress, the only problem is patent trolls, not patent scope.

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