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Leaked: Minutes From the Administrative Council of the EPO Regarding the ‘Reform’ (Exile) of the Boards of Appeal

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Exile is to “independence” what prison is to “freedom”


Summary: Details of the relatively secret proceedings back in June (belatedly released only a short while ago), carefully abbreviated to demonstrate which delegations helped Battistelli crush the Boards of Appeal and which ones insisted on maintaining the status quo, as per the EPC

EARLIER TODAY we published one particular part of the Minutes referred to herein. The Minutes of the Administrative Council’s meeting at the EPO form the basis of the discussion and outcome, which is usually so abbreviated that it’s rendered quite useless (further sanitised when published in the public site rather than the Intranet).

Below is a very abbreviated version of the Minutes, which we have taken some time to analyse. This is just about the Reform on the Boards of Appeal, whereas the previous article was about the staff representatives. Reform of the Boards of Appeal, or rather the removal of those boards from the EPO’s building, is a subject we covered here many times before. In the EPO’s public site there was nothing but hogwash about it and AMBA’s Web site, understandably afraid, posted a polite protest, refuting that the EPO’s site had told stakeholders like applicants, attorneys, journalists and so on.

Here are the ‘gory’ details from the Minutes of day 1:


DAY 1:

On Day 1 of the meeting document CA/43/16 (Reform of the Boards of Appeal) was discussed. It has four parts: A (Structural Reform of the BOA), B (Career of Members and Chairmen of the BOA), C (Location of the Boards of Appeal), D (New Fee Policy for Appeals), and E (Conflict of Interest Rules).

The President started by explaining that transferring powers would mean revising the EPC, so “the only possible solution was a delegation of powers” to the new BOA President. He stated that there were two issues: the perception of independence and the boards’ efficiency. He added that “careers on the boards would be governed by special new rules reflecting the need to make board members aware that their career depended also on how they performed their duties”. Regarding the boards’ location he “remained convinced that a separation from the rest of the Office would increase the perception of the boards’ independence. But in view of the objections raised he was now proposing that although the boards would move to a separate building they would stay in Munich”. Also important was the boards’ rate of cost coverage, and he proposed that “the boards should aim at 20 to 25% cost coverage”.


The Croatian delegation was the only delegation that thought that a reform “should cover all aspects, not just independence”. It stated that “the President was always being attacked for various reasons, but to its knowledge he had never been accused of trying to interfere in any of the boards’ cases or decisions”. It added that “some people suspected the President of wanting to interfere in how the boards functioned and took their decisions, but this was completely unfounded and absurd.” The Bulgarian delegation thought that “the boards’ independence had been clearly shown by the disciplinary proceedings exercising the Council for over two years now, with the Enlarged Board so far refusing to take a substantial decision on the matter and give the disciplinary ruling requested by the Council”.

The Irish delegation “noted concerns expressed in some documents about the possibility of the President being able to withdraw his delegation of powers and that the consequence of the delegation being withdrawn is that the independence is withdrawn”. The French delegation agreed, stating that “revocation should not be possible without the Council’s consent”. The Swedish delegation said that “the EPO President should not be able to revoke his delegation of powers solely at his own initiative”. The Austrian, Swiss, German, Slovakian, Icelandic, Danish and UK delegations agreed.


The Irish delegation was “concerned about the proposals which introduce a performance-related system which appears contrary to the exercise of judicial functions”. The Italian delegation said that “(re) appointment of board members and chairman should be exclusively a matter for the boards’ President: the EPO President should have nothing to do with them”. The Netherlands delegation said that “the Office’s proposal that reappointment should in future depend on a board member’s performance could only be detrimental to independence”.


The Swiss delegation “suggests leaving them where they are”. The Irish delegation stated that “even a relocation within Munich would give rise to unnecessary expense”. The Swedish delegation considered that “the boards’ location had little to do with their independence, and the cost of any move also had to be taken into consideration”. The Austrian delegation said that “as far as relocating the boards was concerned, those most immediately affected, i.e. BOA members and users, would have to agree”. The Netherlands delegation stated that “there was no point relocating the boards”, because “this would merely waste money”. The Czech delegation said that “if the majority was in favour of a move, it would oppose it”.


The Irish delegation was “strongly opposed to any increase in appeal fees at the present time and was appalled at the original proposal for a fivefold fee increase which would be tantamount to a barrier to justice”. The Italian delegation said that “cost coverage had no direct bearing on the boards’ independence”. The German delegation said that “the fees issue had nothing to do with the boards’ independence.” It thought that “the Office’s proposals here were completely unacceptable”.


The French delegation said that “any former board member or other EPO employee temporarily refused permission to undertake paid work would have to receive appropriate financial compensation”. The German delegation said it would be necessary to “provide at least for financial compensation”. The Polish, Swedish and Austrian delegations agreed. The UK delegation said that the measures proposed “had caused surprise and even concern among UK user circles”. The Danish delegation “could not support at all” the proposal.

The President said that the proposed reform was “a package, to be approved or rejected as such. The post-service integrity measures were an integral part of that package”.

Here are the ‘gory’ details from the Minutes of day 2:

DAY 2:

On Day 2 an amended document, CA/43/16 Rev. 1 was presented. Amended were in particular Parts A (more information about “delegation of powers”), D (“new fee policy” changed to “better cost coverage”) and E (now only limited to the BOA).

The Swedish delegation was “not 100% satisfied” but “was prepared to accept it if its effects were reviewed in three years’ time”. The French delegation and the epi representative agreed. The Austrian delegation said that “increasing the fees should be the very last resort”. The Irish delegation remained convinced that the proposals in Section D “had nothing at all to do with the boards’ independence”. The Slovakian delegation agreed that “the measures in Section D had no bearing on the boards’ independence”. The Netherlands delegation said that Section D had to be deleted, and its vote would depend on that.

The President said that he was not 100% happy either, but this was a compromise.

CA/43/16 Rev. 1 was approved, with the Netherlands voting against, and Hungary and Italy abstaining.

The Council also said the reform and its effects should be reviewed in a few years’ time.

One can see the role played by the Netherlands (opposition), the Croatian delegation (associated with Battistelli’s ‘bulldog’), and the Irish delegation (which might want to protect the persecuted Irish judge). We think the most important message is that the proposal was only agreed on because it should (or would) be looked at again in a few years, probably when it’s too late to salvage the EPO because applications have run out and many workers (examiners in particular) will have been laid off to be replaced by unskilled workers (if any, maybe just machines).

No Promising Future For the EPO Under Battistelli (If Any Future At All)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Pessimism becomes realism at the European Patent Office as units are being torn apart, patent quality discarded, “unified” patent courts dreamed of (more patent lawsuits, higher damages), and EUIPO (EU-associated, unlike Eponia) gets closer to the EPO

THOSE WHO have followed this Web site for the past decade know we’re no enemy of the EPO. We actually used to take pride in it, especially after software patents were rejected (2005), assuring the high quality of patents (emphasis on quality, not quantity). We also sent letters and constructive feedback to the Organisation. This is all in the public record.

“Battistelli has already decided — with the usual complicity of the Administrative Council — to eject/kick out the appeal boards out of the EPO’s main building.”We fear that the EPO’s days may be numbered. Maybe it’s intentional, as we shall explain in this post in light of this morning’s announcement from the EPO (as expected).

We will share some of our observations and leave it for readers to decide what on Earth goes on at the EPO. Frankly, it does not look too good and we (even I personally) worry about the fate of the bright minds of EPO examiners (who are scientists like myself), not politicians/managers like Battistelli.

“Remember that EPO judges are already under attack (in a perpetual limbo with a warning sign that’s judge P. C.) and early next year they will have moved out, even though the UPC (the unified court — a threat to their very existence) is definitely not happening (with or without “hard” Brexit).”Battistelli has already decided — with the usual complicity of the Administrative Council — to eject/kick out the appeal boards out of the EPO’s main building. The temporary/rented office space that was allocated to them is meager and there are no long-term assurances, based on articles from the German media (there were very few of those as the EPO’s spokesperson used sordidly evasive language). Remember that EPO judges are already under attack (in a perpetual limbo with a warning sign that’s judge P. C.) and early next year they will have moved out, even though the UPC (the unified court — a threat to their very existence) is definitely not happening (with or without “hard” Brexit).

What does Battistelli envision here? Certainly nothing like the vision of those who actually signed the EPC. Now there’s the EU in place (with the EC) and along with that comes EUIPO (a new name or a rebrand for something older). Here they go again, as expected, strutting together hand in hand this morning, boasting a so-called ‘study’ (link above, but it’s epo.org and it’s propaganda, so don’t bother clicking).

For a moment there, based on tweets like this one, the EPO ‘forgot’ that it’s not really supposed to be part of the EUIPO (trademarks and patents are inherently very different and entirely separable, even if one attempts to lump them together under the propaganda/umbrella term “Intellectual Property”, as in the EPO’s new headline). Here is what the EPO wrote: “Joint @EPOorg @EU_IPO study confirms the economic benefits of IP rights for Europe http://buzz.mw/b199m_f #IPvalue pic.twitter.com/REJQsJ5NKF”

Here is what EUIPO wrote: “How are #IPR-intensive industries contributing to the #EU economy? Find out in a soon-to-be-released study by #EUIPO and @EPOorg”

“How do existing grantees of EPs feel about the status quo?”For a moment there, again, one can easily be led to believe that those two bodies are conjoined, not just in the staff/management sense (there are overlaps which we covered here before). One might crudely ask, when does Battistelli flush the EPO down the toilet and let the EU-centric EUIPO take over? When all impending applications are over? Layoffs imminent? For a while now we have been hearing about end of proper examination and expectation of large-scale examiner layoffs. Insiders tell us it won't be long before EPO workload/backlog/queue runs dry. What happens then? Two key data points cannot be overlooked here; one is the EPO loosening/ending examination and the other is the massive EPO layoffs that are expected unless there’s a dramatic change of course. Yesterday I spoke in length with Mancunian research head (a large local university). We spoke about the EPO and he now compares erosion in patent (EP) quality to rigging of the degree-granting process (undergraduate or postgraduate). How do existing grantees of EPs feel about the status quo? Or about files flying off the shelves and patents getting granted in bulk irrespective of their quality (or only with shallow/superficial checks due to unrealistic deadlines/quotas)? They should be up in arms and demand some kind of refund or compensation from the EPO. They’re not even being consulted about this, even though they’re the primary stakeholders. Battistelli lowered the perceived value of EPs. He ought to know it. So-called intellectual “assets” of corporations took a massive hit because of him. “Production” he says? Tell that to someone with an actual science degree, not an honorary Ph.D. from a university connected to his buddy from Spain.

“Think of software patents, among other families of patents.”A lot of EPO workers rightly feel as though big plans are afoot (other than the UPC, which is a disaster) and nobody has informed them about long-term ‘reforms’. Right now they just see their staff representatives and even judges coming under unprecedented (in the entire history of the Office!) attacks.

“Correct me if I am wrong,” one person wrote yesterday, “but wasn’t the concept of “cheaper patents” (of lower quality) [...] via the UPC?”

Think of software patents, among other families of patents. Here is the entire comment with more complete context:

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t the concept of “cheaper patents” (of lower quality) part of an integral package including the vital component of “cheaper litigation” (for the big players) via the UPC?

Now that the second part of the formula has apparently been “put on ice” for the foreseeable future it seems that we are going to be left with “cheaper patents” (of lower quality).

But “cheaper” for whom exactly ?

Roll up! Roll up! Get your cheap patents ‘ere!
One for everybody in the audience !

At the EPO, as another person put it, “to discuss or disclose a procedure is in itself a crime.” Here is the full comment:

Don’t know if he was/is a union member (DG3 tend not to be), but he was said to have had contact with a staff rep who has since been fired. Whether he did or didn’t and whether that was improper or not I don’t know – all such allegations are not allowed to be revealed by the parties hence any discussion between them could also have been a disciplinary matter in its own right. Such is the system in place – to discuss or disclose a procedure is in itself a crime.

Regarding the illegally-suspended judge, this one commenter says it should be “enough for him to be re-instated, probably with compensation, however in Eponia… ”

It is not actually known what he did as the merits on the case have never been heard. It has been thrown out by the EBoA on at least two occasions due to incompetence and interference by the senior management of the EPO. In any other legal system in the EU this would have been enough for him to be re-instated, probably with compensation, however in Eponia…

“The overpowering stench emanating from the manner in which the Office is being managed and overseen” is noted in the following comment:

When do we expect the decision of the Bundesverfassungsgericht in 2 BvR 2480/10 and 2 BvR 421/13?

Also, could the evident failure of the Office to carry out instructions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal undermine any argument that the Boards are independent of the Office?

The overpowering stench emanating from the manner in which the Office is being managed and overseen could well yet reach the noses of the judges in Karlsruhe.

Another person ponders aloud: “So union representatives were fired for reasons they cannot explain to the staff they represent?”

The full comment:

So union representatives were fired for reasons they cannot explain to the staff they represent? What precludes them to do so, if they are out anyway?

History tells us that the only reason union representatives are attacked by management is that management plans to degrade the staff working conditions considerably: reduce salaries, increase working hours or simply fire everyone and get cheaper staff. Probably present staff members should start looking for another job.

It is not necessarily a bad thing for the customers, by the way. Patents will be cheaper if the staff is replaced by cheaper employees.

Some people then brought up the subject of money, as the EPO reportedly has losses (it’s hard to verify this due to the secrecy the Office enjoys). To quote:

What precludes them?
A. Any appeal against dismissal would be before the ILO. It is an administrative tribunal I.e. It only checks that the rules were followed. To do something against the rules, no matter how lacking in justice they are, would be a negative point and endanger the appeal.
B. To do so would endanger the member of the Board of Appeal as it would provide ‘evidence’ to be used against him/her.
C. The EPO pays the sacked person’s pension. That can be reduced by the office so they are still under EPO control.
D. The office is also seeking to veto employment after leaving the office employment. Annoying them is a risky idea.

Does that answer your question?

PS Cheaper staff = cheaper patents? Really? Why? Do you think the saving will be passed on? Remember BB has studies that show the office has financial problems. Saving costs may save money but will that not be needed for his problems? I will leave the issue of whether cheaper staff means lower quality means more litigation means more cost – that needs another and deeper analysis.

Judging by his behaviour (e.g. cutting benefits, reducing illness days, short-term contracts to new staff), Battistelli has been acting more like an EPO liquidator (especially of the unions and appeal boards) than a manager. He threw the EPC down the trash and now he throws the EPO down the trash. If EPO workers genuinely want to save the EPO and secure their jobs, then they’ll need to overthrow Team Battistelli before it lays them off (which will probably happen given the present trajectory which extinguishes a backlog never to be replenished).

Here is a fiscal optimist (whose claims we’re unable to verify):

“We” are making more than 1.000.000 EUR per working day. We are self-financing, not more, not less.
Yet, we are making money on a scale that everyone could go on maximum pensions right now, and for the next ten years there will be absolutely no need for reforms.
And the last reforms (career) already means a saving of several hundred millions per year in 2035….

Nope, you will not see a single cent of any saved money. You can withdraw and get a full refund on exam fees.
That is as far as the AC will go, as that is not their money…

“We are self-financing, not more, not less,” says the above. Even if that was true, for how long? Applications are running out! The backlog will will have reached zero in a couple of year. The writings on the wall are pretty clear to some insiders, who believe EPO layoffs are coming. There is even the belief that examiners will be replaced by machines. Whatever goes on at the EPO these days is rather horrific; many things are happening (all of them bad), the future is growingly grim, and anyone who dares speak about it gets fired (or first “disciplined”, so as to induce depression if not bankruptcy too).

Will someone ever reprimand battistelli or even fire him? He should have been sacked quite a while back, but nobody seems bold enough to do it, certainly not his pet chinchilla. To close this off with a comment:

What did the guy do to justify all this nonsense?

Lèse-majesté ?

See more on Wikipedia:

This link to Wikipedia yields the following image. Picture Battistelli’s face on the wall and it will be a perfect metaphor for the way EPO workers feel about Battistelli and how they get treated for their views about the ‘king’.

Newton Bull farts

Leaked Minutes From the EPO Reveal That Battistelli is Detached From Reality and Blames Everything on “Union Officials”

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trying to decapitate the unions of the European Patent Office (EPO) before he attacks the staff these unions represent

Reality Deficiency Syndrome
Reference: Reality Deficiency Syndrome

Summary: Minutes of the Administrative Council’s meeting reveal some truly bizarre rants from Battistelli, who simply refuses to accept that the European Patent Office is burning (without a future direction, only burnout and brain drain) under his poor and abusive leadership

THE EPO is secretive to most people, but it’s transparent to us because thousands of disgruntled employee keep us informed/abreast of whatever happens inside the EPO, in particular when the management is trying to hide things.

People who can you send us material often do (this can be done quite securely) and in 10 years we have never compromised a single source, not even accidentally.

“It’s the crushing of the only major staff union, probably intended to leave the staff totally unprotected amid horrible impending changes.”Our source, or the source of today’s leak, needed to do “a bit of digging” as it wasn’t so easy for one to come across, especially given the age of the material (we have a lot more from that time, though not enough time to prepare and publish). “It makes an interesting comparison with how the meeting was perceived at the time,” the source told us. “Turns out that the BoA reform only just got through. Some great quotes from Battistelli as well about SUEPO.”

In order to keep this punctual and compact, we have decided to just publish a summary of the June Administrative Council (AC) Minutes. We have split it into two themes — “The Social Situation” and “Reform of the BoA”. We shall deal with the social situation first. It should be duly stressed that these are very short summaries, not the complete thing.

Here it is:


The President made an oral activities report, in which he mentioned that “sick leave rates were well down, to an average of 9.5 days per staff member. The number of staff suffering from psychological disorders had halved since 2011. Social dialogue had intensified”.

In response to this, the UK, Swedish, German, Polish, Netherlands and Italian delegations made comments such as “it was good to know that sick leave was falling, but that was the only crumb of comfort in a social climate that remained extremely worrying”, “the EPO social climate remained awful”, “in the long term, the work atmosphere could have very bad effects on quality and productivity”, and “the continued deterioration in the social situation remained an extremely serious matter”.

Replying to the various speakers, the President said that “EPO management was being subjected to a disgraceful campaign of defamation conducted by a handful of irresponsible union officials who, despite a dwindling following within the Office, managed their political connections in some member states effectively enough to give their outrageous attacks some plausibility in the eyes of the credulous and uninformed”.

Well, this is patently untrue. A lot of the criticisms of the EPO come from outside the Office and from ordinary people inside the office who are in no way affiliated with SUEPO (they are not even members of this union or any union). It is quite telling and it is ever more apparent that Battistelli tries to blame all of his own failings on “union officials” and is in complete denial (unless he maliciously lies) about the social climate inside the Office. It’s like the Democratic [sic] party blaming everything on “Russia!” these days, even if/when there is no evidence to prove/support it. SUEPO has become a boogeyman.

The following meme (taking into account the old bicycle tale) seems apt. Is it just an EPO “reform”? No. It’s the crushing of the only major staff union, probably intended to leave the staff totally unprotected amid horrible impending changes. Isolated, misinformed (by Battistelli's cronies) and helpless staff is what Battistelli wants.

It's just a reform - F**KING SUEPO!

Tata/TCS is Still Pushing for Software Patents in India

Posted in Asia, Law, Patents at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The obnoxious company that is promoting Microsoft and software patents in a country that needs neither makes the headlines again (Financial Express)

THE SUBJECT of software patents in India has not been explored here in a while. It seems safe to say that the latest massive effort/push/lobbying by Microsoft, IBM et al failed and India will continue to reject/decline/refuse to patent software.

“Tata has spent years pushing for software patents and promoting Microsoft’s interests/lock-in.”The Microsoft partners from Tata (or TCS), however, are still lobbying for software patents in India, in essence painting themselves a foe of the country’s interests. Based on this new article (published earlier today): “In yet another instance of saying no to exclusivity for innovations in software development, the country’s patent office has rejected a patent application by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) seeking protection to its claimed invention relating to organisation and development of technical documents, with few defects, minimal effort and less cost.”

Good. Tata has spent years pushing for software patents (see e.g. [1, 2]) and promoting Microsoft's interests/lock-in. We hope that our readers in India (a large proportion of our readers is from there) will push back against the likes of Tata. The country is better off without such corporations. Tata is often peripheral/adjunct/extension of foreign multinationals and it’s not alone. This harms Indian startups.

Links 25/10/2016: Rackspace’s Praise of FOSS, Chain Chooses the GPL(v3)

Posted in News Roundup at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

    • Krita 3.1 Digital Painting App Now in Development, Promises Cool New Features

      The Krita development team announced this past weekend that a second Beta pre-release version of the upcoming Krita 3.1 point release is now available for public testing.

      The current stable release of the Krita 3.x branch is version 3.0.1, and the Krita 3.0.2 maintenance update was planned for this fall, but it looks like it gained so many cool new features and improvements that the development team decided to bump the version number to 3.1.

    • Using Twitter From the Command Line Is Actually Really Fun

      The command line remains so incredibly popular because it’s so incredibly versatile. You can do a lot in a terminal.

    • FFmpeg 3.1.5 “Laplace” Multimedia Framework Released for GNU/Linux Distributions

      The fifth maintenance update to the latest stable FFmpeg 3.1 “Laplace” open-source multimedia framework was announced the other day for GNU/Linux systems, bringing more bug fixes and improvements.

      FFmpeg 3.1.5 was released on October 22, and it’s now considered the latest stable and most FFmpeg release from the 3.1 release branch, dubbed “Laplace,” which was officially released at the end of June 2016 and currently used in almost all GNU/Linux distributions.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK+ 3.22.2 Deprecates APIs That Will Be Removed in GTK+ 4, Improves Win32 Theme

        Today, October 24, 2016, the GTK+ development team released the second stable maintenance update to the GTK+ 3.22 GUI (Graphical User Interface) toolkit for GNOME-based desktop environments.

        GTK+ 3.22.2 comes just two weeks after the release of GNOME 3.22.1 and in time for the upcoming GNOME 3.22.2 milestone, which will also be the last one pushed for the GNOME 3.22 series. GTK+ 3.22.2 is mostly a bugfix release, but also adds various improvements to the win32 theme and deprecates APIs (Application Programming Interface) that’ll be removed in the next major branch, GTK+ 4.

  • Distributions

    • Gentoo Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Upgrading to Yakkety

            I UPGRADED the operating system on my MacBook Air last week and I figured I ought to do the same on my Linux desktop.

            Moving from Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) to 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) on my desktop PC was nowhere as quick and easy as it was to upgrade from OS X 10.11 to macOS 10.12, but the process was nonetheless pretty straightforward and relatively trouble-free.

            While it took less than an hour to perform the upgrade on my Mac, it took several hours to download and install the latest version of Ubuntu.

            Much has already been written about how Unity 8, the new converged interface being developed for mobile and desktop devices, again failed to make it to the latest version of Ubuntu—although a rough preview of it is built into Yakkety (just log out and choose Unity 8 in the log-in screen).

            On the surface, Ubuntu 16.10 doesn’t look very different than previous releases, and its built-in Unity 7.5 interface features just minor improvements and a few bug fixes.

            To find out what’s new about Ubuntu 16.10, you have to look inside.

          • Ubuntu 17.04 “Zesty Zapus” Is Open for Development, GCC Linaro Used for ARM Port
          • Canonical Pushes First Live Kernel Patch to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Users, Update Now
          • Ubuntu 16.10 Review

            The list of major new features in Ubuntu 16.10 is impressive and interesting, but only if you are using the server product. Very little has changed on the desktop side of things other than the included packages being slightly newer. In fact, other than touting the number of applications available as Snaps, the only desktop-focused feature in the release announcement is a developer preview of Unity 8 desktop.

            To see what the desktop version of Ubuntu 16.10 has to offer compared to the previous 16.04 LTS release, I downloaded the 1.48GB ISO and gave it a try. Below, I take a look at what is new and different. I also take a look at the Unity 8 developer preview.

          • Why is Ubuntu’s Unity 8 development taking so long?

            Canonical has included a preview version of the Unity 8 desktop in Ubuntu 16.10. But that has not stopped some Linux users from wondering why Unity 8 still hasn’t been finished.

            The topic came up in a recent post on the Linux subreddit, and folks there shared their thoughts about why Unity 8 still hasn’t been released in final form.

          • Ubuntu Snappy Core 16 Up to Release Candidate State, Raspberry Pi 3 Image Is Out

            This past weekend, Ubuntu Snappy developer Michael Vogt announced the availability of the Release Candidate (RC) development milestone of the upcoming Ubuntu Snappy Core 16 operating system.

          • Tool That Lets You Install Ubuntu Touch on Your Mobile Device Now Supports Maru

            It’s been a little over a week since we told you all about Marius Quabeck’s awesome new tool that lets you easily install the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system on your device, and it looks like the developer was quite busy adding new functionality.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Black Lab Enterprise Linux 8 Service Pack 1 Supports Rebootless Kernel Installs

              Softpedia was informed by the Black Lab Linux development team about the immediate availability of the first Service Pack (SP) of the Black Lab Enterprise Linux 8 OS.

              Based on the long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, Black Lab Enterprise Linux 8 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is now powered by Linux kernel 4.4.0-45.66, the same version used upstream, which is patched against the nasty “Dirty COW” bug that could have allowed a local attacker to gain administrative privileges.

              Now that Canonical is offering kernel live patch services for its Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release, Black Lab Linux developers also implemented the well-known Kspice tool for offering users rebootless kernel installs. Additionally, Black Lab Enterprise Linux 8 SP1 adds full UEFI support and the ability to install Snap packages.

              “Service Pack 1 is jam packed full of innovations and features,” reads the announcement. “Black Lab Enterprise Linux is the fastest growing Enterprise desktop Linux offering on the market today. Black Lab Enterprise Linux 8.0 SP1 is a hybrid operating system meaning you can deploy local applications that you need as well as the cloud-based applications that you want.”

  • Devices/Embedded

    • ARM/FPGA module runs Linux on Arria 10 SoC

      iWave’s rugged, Linux-friendly, 95 x 75mm “Arria 10 SoC Module” expands upon the dual-core, ARM/FPGA SoC from Altera with DDR4 and 24 transceivers.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • No One Is Buying Smartwatches Anymore

          Remember how smartwatches were supposed to be the next big thing? About that…

          The market intelligence firm IDC reported on Monday that smartwatch shipments are down 51.6 percent year-over-year for the third quarter of 2016. This is bad news for all smartwatch vendors (except maybe Garmin), but it’s especially bad for Apple, which saw shipments drop 71.6 percent, according to the IDC report

          Apple is still the overall smartwatch market leader, with an estimated 41.3-percent of the market, but IDC estimates it shipped only 1.1 million Apple Watches in Q3 2016, compared with 3.9 million in 2015. To a degree, that’s to be expected, since the new Apple Watch Series 2 came out at the tail-end of the quarter. But the news is still a blow, when you consider how huge the Apple Watch hype was just 18 months ago.

        • 10 must-have Android apps for Halloween

Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 open source time management tools

    For many people, one of the reasons they cite for using a Linux-based operating system is productivity. If you’re a power user who has tweaked your system just to your liking, and particularly if you adept at the command line, chances are you’ve realized significant gains in productivity.

    But do you have to be an extreme power user to make use of open source software’s ability to boost your productivity? Absolutely not!

  • The Rackspace State of Open Source

    As the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona kicks off, Rackspace has released a report entitled ‘The State of Open Source’. With every conference seemingly extolling the virtues of open source software, this report is timely. It manages to differentiate between enterprise open source and the wider open source software market.

  • Why digital transformation needs open source

    As if there wasn’t already ample reason for businesses to switch to open source, Forrester analysts Paul Miller and Lauren E Nelson released a report in April 2016, entitled Open Source Powers Enterprise Digital Transformation — CIOs Need To Embrace Open Source Software To Drive Change, which further drives the point.

  • Despite Security Fears, Open Source Is Fuelling Innovation and Cost Savings in UK Businesses
  • Security concerns fail to hold back UK open source success

    However, despite its increasingly common use, many (54%) still perceive external security threats to be a big barrier to adoption, that’s according to a report published by Rackspace.

    The State of Open Source study, which was conducted among IT decision makers in UK businesses with over 1,000 employees and revenues over £500m, and looks at the ways open source is being used, its benefits, but also what is holding back adoption and business concerns.

    According to the report open source has come of age with 85% using open source technology to migrate a closed source project to open source.

    Open source also isn’t just a tool for small businesses; the vast majority (90%) of large businesses are now deploying open source-based enterprise applications, with 25% being completely open source.

    The reason for the growing adoption is because of the money and time savings. Rackspace found that for each project that had been migrated to open source technology, six out of ten organisations saved on average £30,146 and reduced project lifecycle by six months.

    Greater innovation was reported by many (49%), and 46% were driven to open source because of the competitive opportunities. Additionally, just under half (45%) said that it enabled them to get products and services to market faster.

    John Engates, Chief Technology Officer at Rackspace, said: “While open source technologies have been around for many years, it is great to see that enterprise businesses are finally dipping their toes in and seeing the tangible benefits.

  • Visa’s Blockchain Bet Opens Up to Developers

    Banks and financial firms have been tinkering for the past few years with the code that powers cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, with the intention of potentially overhauling their moldering infrastructure. Now they’re preparing to release their code into the wild.

    Chain, a two-year-old startup based in San Francisco, has decided to make its platform available to the public. The company is releasing an open source version of its Chain Core software to developers, any of who as of Monday can find the source code for its proprietary blockchain, or distributed ledger, on its webpage on Github, a code-sharing website.

  • As blockchain tech takes off, Visa preps a new pilot
  • Visa intros international B2B payment service built on blockchain technology
  • Chain opens up systems to ambitious blockchain developers
  • Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) Introduces International B2B Payment Solution Built on Chain’s Blockchain Technology
  • In Milestone Release, Chain Open-Sources its Blockchain Tech
  • Visa Introduces Blockchain-based Solution for Payment Services
  • Visa’s Massive Bet On B2B Blockchain Payments
  • Chain unchains open source blockchain platform
  • Blockchain hype takes hit as Chain releases code for anyone to use

    Software developers, engineers, traders and executives can now build and test any type of application they think will help improve efficiency in their business, said Adam Ludwin, Chain’s chief executive officer. Michael Nagle.

  • Chain Releases Open-Source Version of Distributed-Ledger Platform

    Chain, a fintech company focused on blockchain solutions, released Chain Core Developer Edition, an open-source version of Chain Core, its distributed-ledger platform.

  • R3 Corda Platform Is Open Sourced to the HyperLedger Effort
  • R3 blockchain code goes open source
  • R3 to Contribute Corda Code to Hyperledger Project
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • An introduction to Mozilla’s Secure Open Source Fund

        Thanks Mark. Mozilla is a unique institution—it’s both a nonprofit mission-driven organization and a technology industry corporation. We build open source software (most notably the Firefox Web browser) and we are champions for the open Internet in technical and political fora. We’ve been a global leader on well-known policy issues like privacy and net neutrality, and we’re also very active on most of today’s big topics including copyright reform, encryption, and software vulnerabilities.

  • Programming/Development

    • What’s wrong with Git? A conceptual design analysis

      We finished up last week talking about the how to find good concepts / abstractions in a software design and what good modularization looks like. Today’s paper jumps 40+ years to look at some of those issues in a modern context and a tool that many readers of this blog will be very familiar with: Git. With many thanks to Glyn Normington for the recommendation.


      The results of the reworking are made available in a tool called gitless, which I’ve installed on my system to try out for a few days. (Note: if you use oh-my-zsh with the git plugin then this defines an alias for gl which you’ll need to unalias). As of this paper (2013), Gitless was only just beginning as a project, but it continues to this day and tomorrow we’ll look at the 2016 paper that brings the story up to date.

      The kinds of concepts the authors are interested in are those which are essential to the design, to an understanding of the workings of the system, and hence will be apparent in the external interface of the system, as well as in the implementation.


  • ‘Nobody calls it Czechia’: Czech Republic’s new name fails to catch on

    With its imposing statue of the Czech patron saint and wide avenues leading toward historic Prague, Wenceslas Square should be the ideal place for defining a country’s national identity – or at least its name.

    So when the authorities decided to tamper with Czech Republic’s official branding they may have done well to road test the idea here, where national aspirations have often been asserted, and occasionally crushed, in dramatic fashion.

    Yet, six months after the shorter and supposedly punchier name of Czechia was officially adopted by the country’s leaders, citizens of the central European country of 10 million people seem in little doubt over what it should be called.

  • IT departments are the first line of defence for businesses

    “With hackers on the loose we need to secure our online defences” (Editorial, 22 October). Whilst I applaud and wholeheartedly support your point on why we must all secure our devices and agree with you that the hubris from entities in handling these issues has a large part to play, I must correct you on the picture you paint about IT departments.

    They don’t all shrug and they don’t all just say “switch it off and on again”. They are currently a lone voice in many organisations on this topic, often discounted as being alarmist (usually because the fix requires investment and no one really likes to invest in compliance type activity).

    The perception that digital is cool but technologists are boring is one of the most dangerous cultural vulnerabilities we have in many organisations. The rift between the two needs mending and the need for speed to market needs to be balanced by ensuring we are selling goods that are delivered wisely and safely.

  • MYOB demands users upgrade Microsoft software

    In a notice that has been described as unconscionable, Australian accounting software provider MYOB has sent out a notice to its users, asking them to upgrade their Microsoft Windows 7 operating systems and SQL Server database software before the end of the year.

    The company provides tax, accounting and other services to small and medium-sized businesses.

    Windows 7 has extended support from Microsoft until 14 January 2020.

    In a notice sent to users, which is also on its website, MYOB said:

    “Microsoft is making changes to the technologies that are covered under mainstream support. This will impact our ability to provide support if you are using MYOB software on those technologies.

  • Science

    • Seventy Years Ago, Humans Saw Earth from Space for the First Time

      The view of Earth from outer space has utterly transformed perspectives on our civilization, our planet, and our relationship to the universe beyond our skies. This Monday marks the 70th anniversary of the day we first saw the planet from this extraordinary, quasi-alien vantagepoint; a pivotal event that occurred on October 24, 1946, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

      Snapped from an altitude of 65 miles by a Devry 35-millimeter motion picture camera, the black-and-white image captures the Earth’s curvature and the sweep of cloud cover over the American Southwest.

      The camera was mounted on a V-2 rocket, a Nazi-developed series of long-range ballistic missiles that Hitler had deployed against Allied targets in London, Antwerp, and Liège during World War II, resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians.

      In the final months of the war, American forces accepted the surrender of key German rocket scientists, including Wernher von Braun, who later became the architect of the Saturn V Apollo Program rockets. These spaceflight experts immigrated to the United States in secret under Operation Paperclip, and they brought dozens of their V-2 rockets with them to help kickstart the American space program.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Horrific flesh-eating bacteria that killed man in four days expected to rise

      “It’s like something out of a horror movie,” Marcia Funk told the Daily Times of Salisbury, Maryland last week. In September, Funk watched helplessly as her husband of 46 years succumbed to an infection of flesh-eating bacteria in a mere four days.

      Michael Funk, her husband, became infected on September 11 while cleaning crab traps in the Assawoman Bay outside their Ocean City, Maryland condominium. The deadly bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, had slipped into a small cut on his leg as he waded into the bay’s still, warm, and brackish waters—ideal breeding grounds for the bacteria. Within hours, Funk fell ill and went to a nearby hospital where a surgeon removed infected, rotting skin from his leg. But with the flesh-eating bacteria circulating in his bloodstream, his condition quickly worsened. He was flown to a trauma hospital in Baltimore where surgeons amputated his leg. Still, the lesions spread and, on September 15, he died.

      Funk’s case is among the more severe examples of V. vulnificus infections—but it still could have been worse. In July, scientists reported that a 59-year-old man showed up at a hospital with a painful ankle lesion that expanded before their eyes (see photo above). His V. vulnificus infection, caught from warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, turned deadly even faster. Within hours, his whole body was covered in lesions. A little more than 48 hours later, he was dead.

    • New study looks at the health effects of Wi-Fi

      The answer to this question is, unfortunately, ‘we don’t know’…yet. This is because most studies on people need to be longitudinal. Studying the long-term effect of radiation can only be achieved after significant time has elapsed. It should be pointed out that the general scientific consensus is that Wi-Fi is safe. Although Wi-Fi has been anecdotally linked to electromagnetic hypersensitivity, no study has proven this.
      In addition, most governments have studies on-going looking at the thermal (and sometimes non-thermal) effects of electric magnetic fields.
      Trying a different data gathering approach to those set-up by most government backed laboratories, a research group have used bacteria to assess what might be happening in the context of the modern, urbanized environment. Wherever people go there is exposure to a similar range of unlicensed radio signals from baby alarms, radio-controlled cars, cordless (DECT) phones, Bluetooth headsets, security alarms and many other things. Wi-Fi (wireless local area network) at 2.45GHz falls in the microwave band along with baby monitors and mobile phones, although the radiation level is 100,000 times less than a microwave oven.
      With the new research, scientists from the Swansea University led National Research Network (NRN) in Advanced Engineering and Materials have looked at the effects occurring at the molecular level in relation to Wi-Fi.
      In a research brief, the person leading up the review, Dr. Catrin F Williams explains: “We are adopting a ‘bottom-up’ approach. In the first instance, we want to understand what interactions are occurring at the sub-cellular or molecular level.”

  • Security

    • The internet apocalypse map hides the major vulnerability that created it

      During Friday’s massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on DNS service provider Dyn, one might be forgiven for mistaking the maps of network outages for images of some post-apocalyptic nuclear fallout. Screenshots from sites like downdetector.com showed menacingly red, fuzzy heat maps of, well, effectively just population centers of the United States experiencing serious difficulty accessing Twitter, Github, Etsy, or any of Dyn’s other high-profile clients. Aside from offering little detail and making a DDoS literally into a glowing red menace, they also obscured the reality of just how centralized a lot of internet infrastructure really is. DNS is ground zero for the uneasy tension of the internet’s presumed decentralized resilience and the reality that as of now, translating IP addresses into domain names requires some kind of centralized, hierarchical platform, and that’s probably not going to radically change anytime soon.

      Other maps provided by various business to business network infrastructure companies weren’t much more helpful. These maps seem to exist mostly to signal that the companies in question have lots of cool data and that it can be made into a flashy map — which might impress potential customers, but that doesn’t offer a ton of insights for the layperson. For example, threat intelligence company Norse’s map appears to be mostly a homage to the Matthew Broderick movie War Games: a constant barrage of DDoS attacks beaming like space invader rockets across a world map. Akamai has an impressive 3D visualization that renders traffic as points beaming into the atmosphere. And website monitoring service Pingdom offers a dot map at such a far-out zoom level that it’s essentially useless for seeking out more meaningful patterns than “outages happen in population centers, also there are a lot of outages.”

    • CoreOS Patched Against the “Dirty COW” Linux Kernel Vulnerability, Update Now
    • World’s first hack-proof router launched

      Turris Omnia router, tagged the world’s first hack-proof router, was launched yesterday at the CES Unveiled Show in Prague, Czech Republic.

      As an essential part of any home internet network, routers are rather poorly secured and protected against cyber attack. More often than not, the only security feature is the default password. With easily required internet knowledge and some skills, these routers can be hacked, providing unauthorized access to a complete internet network. From there on, anything is possible.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis

      Löfven met representatives of the royal family – King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayif and Vice Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman – on Sunday.

      “We have brought up issues such as women’s rights, the death penalty, even corporal punishment. We’re doing it in the way that we believe will have the greatest effect,” Löfven told Swedish media after the meeting.

      The absolute monarchy Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Stockholm in March 2015 after what it called “flagrant interference in internal affairs” by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.

      The foreign minister had criticized the kingdom’s treatment of blogger Raef Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison for insulting Islam. “One must protest against what are nearly medieval methods” of punishment, Wallström said.

    • Sweden and Saudi Arabia — a Treacherous Romance

      Today, on October 23, a Swedish delegation consisting of key government officials, led by PM Stefan Löfvén will meet their Saudi counterparts. The delegation also includes Marcus Wallenberg and Maria Rankka, chair and vice chair of «Saudi-Swedish joint Business Council». More importantly, Marcus Wallenberg is chairman of the board of SAAB, Sweden’s most important arms manufacturer and exporter. In essence, Sweden’s top political leadership and among the most important representatives of the arms export lobby of Sweden will meet the most heinous war criminals of our time to discuss issues of common interest, such as Sweden’s role as new member of the UN Security Council, as well as (arms) business opportunities.

      To understand the current situation, a recap of the main events in the Saudi/Swedish entanglement is necessary. It dates back to at least 2005 when Sweden and Saudi Arabia concluded an agreement of «extended» defence cooperation, including the secret building of an advanced missile factory in Saudi Arabia with the assistance of Swedish expertise. The agreement was so sensitive that it was kept as a state secret, and an obscure front company was set up to hide the affair, which was nevertheless leaked to the public in 2012. The ensuing scandal killed the weapon’s factory project and lead to the resignation of the Swedish minister of defence. However, the abundant arms export from Sweden to Saudi Arabia remained «business as usual», as well as the extended defence agreement. This concludes phase one of the scandal, in Sweden denoted as the «Saudi Affair».

    • At least 58 killed as Pakistan militants storm police training centre in Quetta

      At least 58 people were killed when militants attacked a police training college near Pakistan’s south-western city of Quetta late on Monday, officials said.

      More than 100 people were also injured as commandos conducted a five-hour operation to rescue cadets who being held hostage inside the complex.

      Major General Sher Afgan, Inspector General of the Frontier Corps (FC), said after the operation had ended that six terrorists carried out the attack, three of whom were wearing suicide vests.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate change could spark the world’s next financial crisis, former Bank of England executive warns

      ‘You don’t need to believe in climate change, you don’t need to believe that it is man-made. You just need to believe that governments are going to do stuff and that is going to affect your business. And then it is a material risk’

    • CO2 levels mark ‘new era’ in the world’s changing climate

      Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have surged past an important threshold and may not dip below it for “many generations”.

      The 400 parts per million benchmark was broken globally for the first time in recorded history in 2015.

      But according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2016 will likely be the first full year to exceed the mark.

      The high levels can be partly attributed to a strong El Niño event.

    • Testing the climate-drought-conflict connection

      Academics do not agree on the relationship between climate change and armed conflicts. Weather events driven by climate change, like droughts and extreme precipitation, might be societally destabilizing. But attempts to determine whether this connection is happening in the real world have produced ambiguous and sometimes contradictory results.

      A new study published in PNAS looks at up-to-date conflict data from 1989-2014 in Asia and Africa, examining the relationship between these events and droughts. The study finds that droughts affect the level of conflict, but only in poor societies that are dependent on agriculture.

      Drought can incite conflict because it can cause food scarcity, but is that actually happening today? To probe this relationship, the authors used geo-referenced data on armed conflict events between ethnic groups. The procedure used to link the ethnic groups to conflict behavior included consideration of how localized drought affected groups’ behavior regardless of the physical location of the fighting relative to the drought. In other words, if the group suffered a drought but ended up fighting in a region that received sufficient rain, that still counted. For this analysis, “ethnic group” was defined as discrete groups of humans with a shared culture and language living in the same geographic space.

  • Finance

    • Microsoft Hikes U.K. Prices of Enterprise Products Amid Brexit

      Microsoft Corp. will increase the price of its enterprise software and cloud offerings in the U.K. by as much as 22 percent to adjust to the falling pound in the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

      From Jan. 1, prices of on-premises enterprise software will be hiked 13 percent, while those of cloud services will increase 22 percent, all to realign with euro-based contracts, the company said in a blog post. Consumer software or cloud products won’t be affected, Microsoft said.

      The slump of the pound since the Brexit vote has translated into a series of price hikes for consumers in the U.K. In the technology space, British consumers found out last month they’d pay as much as 16 percent more for the latest iPhone models compared to previous versions, a bigger inflation than for buyers in the U.S. or Germany.

    • Brexit: Microsoft jacks up prices, SAP sees UK growth, and Adobe doesn’t blink

      The precipitous drop in the value of the pound caused by Brexit has led to rocketing prices for Microsoft’s cloud and on-premise business services in the UK.

      From the start of next year, Microsoft’s enterprise software will be 13 percent more expensive, while enterprise cloud services will be hiked by 22 percent, the company has warned.

    • Corporate Sovereignty Helps To Bring EU-Canada Trade Deal To Brink Of Collapse

      The trade deal between the EU and Canada, known as CETA — the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement — is remarkable for the fact that it has still not been signed and ratified, even though its completion was “celebrated” over two years ago. That’s partly because of growing resistance to the inclusion of a corporate sovereignty chapter — also known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). In an attempt to head that off, the European Commission persuaded Canada to swap out vanilla ISDS for a new, “improved” version called the Investor Court System (ICS). As Techdirt noted before, this is really just putting lipstick on the pig, and doesn’t change the fact that companies are being given unique privileges to sue a country for alleged harm to their investments using special tribunals, as well as in national courts.

      CETA has faced other problems, notably from Bulgaria, Romania and Belgium. The first two said they wouldn’t sign because of Canada’s refusal to lift visa requirements for their citizens. That blackmail seems to have paid off. The Sofia Globe reports that Canada has agreed to remove the visa requirements from December 2017, and Bulgaria and Romania now say that they will sign CETA.

    • Belgium given EU ultimatum to secure Canada trade deal, but Wallonia defiant

      The European Union has given Belgium’s federal government until late on Monday to secure backing for an EU-Canada trade deal from the region of Wallonia or a planned summit to sign the pact will be cancelled.

      European Council president Donald Tusk, who chairs the collective body of the EU’s 28 national leaders, will speak to Belgian prime minister Charles Michel by late on Monday, an EU source told Reuters, so that Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau can decide whether to fly to Brussels for the signing on Thursday.

      If Michel cannot assure Tusk that Belgium will be able to let the EU sign the Ceta agreement, then Thursday’s EU-Canada summit will be postponed.

    • The truth about trade

      To keep a scorecard on TPP, TTIP, and other related trade policy measures, it’s important to keep track of four components of international economics. The first is trade in goods and services, when the US exports or imports merchandise (like coffee) or services (like shipping). The second is the movement of foreign capital, such as when General Motors opens a subsidiary to manufacture parts in Mexico. The third is offshoring of jobs, such as when Apple contracts with the Taiwanese company Foxconn to assemble iPhones in China. And the fourth are global regulatory policies such as the terms of patents and copyrights. Modern trade agreements are not just about trade; they include all four parts of the international economic system.

    • Trans-Pacific Partnership makes Australia vulnerable to court challenges, report claims

      Australia could face a growing number of expensive legal claims from foreign corporations if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) comes into force, a new report has warned.

      Dr Kyla Tienhaara, from the Australian National University, said Australia ought to learn from Canada’s experience after it signed the North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which came into force in 1994 and led to dozens of legal cases against Canada by US corporations.

      She said the frequency of trade-based legal cases against Canada had increased significantly since 2006, in line with the global trend of such disputes, and warned a similar thing might happen to Australia under the TPP, because it has an investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision similar to Nafta’s.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • [Old] ‘FOBs’: How Hillary’s State Dept. Gave Special Attention to ‘Friends of Bill’ After Haiti Quake

      In a series of candid email exchanges with top Clinton Foundation officials during the hours after the massive 2010 Haiti earthquake, a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly gave special attention to those identified by the abbreviations “FOB” (friends of Bill Clinton) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs).

      “Need you to flag when people are friends of WJC,” wrote Caitlin Klevorick, then a senior State Department official who was juggling incoming offers of assistance being funneled to the State Department by the Clinton Foundation. “Most I can probably ID but not all.”

    • State IT official repeatedly takes Fifth Amendment in Clinton email lawsuit

      A retired State Department information technology official asserted his Fifth Amendment rights more than 90 times during a deposition Monday in a civil lawsuit related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to the conservative group that brought the litigation.

      In August, a federal judge ordered John Bentel — former director of the Information Resources Management staff in Secretary of State Clinton’s office — to submit to a sworn deposition in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch.

    • Reddit Exposes Hillary Clinton Staff Trying To Frame Assange As ‘Pedo’

      A Reddit investigation has directly linked a pro-Democrat Super PAC and a tech company with employees with close ties to Hillary Clinton with a smear campaign plot to falsely accuse Julian Assange of pedophilia.

      The investigation was sparked after WikiLeaks released a series of tweets on Wednesday outlining an elaborate plot by a dating website currently attempting to frame and smear Assange.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook Needs to Fix Its Censorship Double Standards

      Facebook has finally accepted that its algorithms that decide whether or not a post is “acceptable” may not be that good, and has announced that over the next few weeks it will start allowing more items that people find newsworthy and significant onto Facebook, even if they violate its community standards.

      The about turn comes as the social network has in recent months come under fire for deleting posts such as the iconic Vietnam War image of anapalm-burnt Kim Phúc and a Le Monde news feature that showed an image of a cancer victim’s mammogram.

      It’s understandable that dealing with the subjective nature of historically and culturally significant images or news stories is a complex task, but it’s so far been clear that the task should not be left to computer algorithms at their current stage of intelligence. Facebook also has to deal with differing cultural norms and laws in countries around the world—another problem that is not yet best left to algorithms. On top of this, as I explained in September, Facebook must not overstep its role of a news aggregator to become a gatekeeper.

    • PINAC Director Sues Miami Beach Mayor Over Refusal To Release Social Media Blocklists

      Executive director of Photography is Not a Crime (PINAC) Grant Stern is taking Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine to court over public records request denials. As Fusion’s Ethan Chiel reports, the mayor has been busy blocking critics on both Twitter and Facebook, and Stern aims to find out just how many constituents the mayor is tuning out.

    • YouTube vs. Conservative Speech
    • Petition of 65000 Demand YouTube Remove Video Restrictions on PragerU’s Videos
    • Google/YouTube Censorship Alive and Well in Prager U Case
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • China wants to give all of its citizens a score – and their rating could affect every area of their lives

      Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how “trustworthy” you are.

      In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticising the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points. And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are – determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant – or even just get a date.

      This is not the dystopian superstate of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, in which all-knowing police stop crime before it happens. But it could be China by 2020. It is the scenario contained in China’s ambitious plans to develop a far-reaching social credit system, a plan that the Communist Party hopes will build a culture of “sincerity” and a “harmonious socialist society” where “keeping trust is glorious.”

    • From Personality To Property: Data Protection Needs Competition, Consumer Protection Law, Conference Says

      for the public sector, will go some way to protect users’ autonomy in deciding over his personal data. Provisions on data portability and transparency, coupled with considerable sanctions in case of violations, all would try to hand back some control to the users, Manon Ootvees. from the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam, said before 40 international young researchers from fields as diversified as IP, competition and antitrust law, economy and consumer protection.

      Still data protection could not do it alone. “It might not work in the context of big data, or at least be less strong than we expect,” Ootvees said. Will people exercise the rights, will they be lured by the benefits platforms offer and how difficult will it be to proove, for example, that their personally identifiable data, spilled in aggregated versions to third party providers all over and used to construct profiles again for personalised adds or personalized pricing? “I see a lot of scepticism here,” said Ootvees.

    • Alibaba’s Jack Ma Urges China to Use Data to Combat Crime

      Chinese billionaire Jack Ma proposed that the nation’s top security bureau use big data to prevent crime, endorsing the country’s nascent effort to build unparalleled online surveillance of its billion-plus people.

    • PayPal payments and notifications are coming to Facebook Messenger [Ed: Facebook Messenger is malware on people’s phones (spying every few seconds), will soon spy on payments too]

      PayPal has been pushing to expand its reach into the consumer realm, having struck partnerships with MasterCard, Visa, Vodafone, and Alibaba, among other companies in the past few months alone. With Facebook Messenger on board, this opens PayPal up to a potential one billion users.

      Facebook first unveiled plans to expand Messenger beyond a messaging app and into a platform last year, letting retailers connect with customers on one of the world’s most popular messaging services. Retailers including Everlane and Zulily were among the first partners announced, while big-name brands such as KLM have since signed up to embrace Messenger as a platform.

    • U.S. courts: Electronic surveillance up 500 percent in D.C.-area since 2011, almost all sealed cases

      Secret law enforcement requests to conduct electronic surveillance in domestic criminal cases have surged in federal courts for Northern Virginia and the District, but only one in a thousand of the applications ever becomes public, newly released data show.

      The bare-bones release by the courts leaves unanswered how long, in what ways and for what crimes federal investigators tracked individuals’ data and whether long-running investigations result in charges.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Douglas Murray: “First They Came for Asia Bibi”

      The same week that (Humza) Yousaf was extolling the idea that Britain is a proto-Nazi state and Pakistan a potential safe-haven, the Pakistani authorities saw the latest round of the interminable and unforgivable saga of Asia Bibi. This is the woman who has been on death-row in Pakistan for no crime other than the crime of being a Christian. Bibi has been awaiting execution for five years, purely because a neighbour claimed that Bibi had insulted Mohammed during an argument.

      …While the Conservative party in Westminster is portrayed by these supposed defenders of human rights as some kind of Nazi offshoot, life is, in fact, unequalled in Britain for being good for people of any faith or background. It would be hard to find a society anywhere that has been more tolerant of mass immigration or tried to make life good for the immigrants who arrive, whatever background they are from. Pakistan, on the other hand, is a country which could hardly have a worse record on all of these matters. It is a country where racism and ethnic and religious hatred are rife. People of the “wrong” background, caste, or ethnicity experience infinitely more racism in Pakistan than in any country in Europe. Even people who are the “wrong” type of Muslim, such as Ahmadiyya Muslims, are the subject of constant and routine persecution and bigotry. The persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims is so rife in Pakistan that this July, it even spilled out onto the streets of Glasgow in the murder of an Ahmadiyyan shopkeeper, Asad Shah.

    • Pakistani policeman slaps female journalist and assaults cameraman in public (VIDEO)

      A shocking video has emerged of a policeman violently slapping a female journalist during a scuffle at a government office in Karachi.

      The officer from the Frontier Constabulary was seen arguing with Saima Kanwal from channel K-21 as she was doing a live program.

      The journalist was doing a report on the issues people face at Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) when she got into a rift with the guard after he grabbed hold of the camera man.

    • Leaked Audio: Austin Police Chief Threatens to Fire Commanders who don’t keep Officers from Abusing Citizens

      “If your heart isn’t in this job, either step down or step out,” Austin Police Chief Hubert “Art” Acevedo said to his top brass during a private meeting on August 10 where he expressed his anger over the way his cops treat minorities, urging his commanders to push new community-friendly styles of policing to their officers – or lose their jobs.

      The recording from the meeting, leaked this week by an unknown commander, reveals tension between Acevedo and a number of his 18 commanders and their subordinates as he apparently attempts to cross the thin blue line for the first time during his 9-year tenure as the Austin Police Chief.

      Acevedo can be heard in the recording calling some of his commanders out for not supporting his decision to take disciplinary action against one of his cops for shooting an unarmed black kid, which is something he hasn’t done much since landing the job as chief in 2007.

      It’s not clear which specific officers Acevedo is referring to, but he indicates details may be forthcoming.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T’s Time Warner Deal Is For Shareholders, Not You

      This weekend brought about the biggest media merger of the year: AT&T will buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion. So Batman, Tony Soprano and CNN may end up under the ownership of the largest pay-TV operator in the country.

      The news is notable for many reasons, starting with the hefty price tag. AT&T will pay a 35% premium above Time Warner’s value before reports of the merger surfaced last week. But the deal could also affect consumers who subscribe to DirecTV, surf online via AT&T’s U-verse or pay for content from Warner Brothers’ media empire.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Shadow Warrior 2 Developers: We’d Rather Spend Our Time Making A Great Game Than Worrying About Piracy

        With the time we spend discussing the scourge of DRM that has invaded the video game industry for some time, it can at times be easy to lose sight of those in the industry who understand just how pointless the whole enterprise is. There are indeed those who understand that DRM has only a minimal impact on piracy numbers, yet stands to have a profound impact on legitimate customers, making the whole thing not only pointless, but actively detrimental to the gaming business. Studios like CD Projekt Red, makers of the Witcher series, and Lab Zero Games, makers of the SkullGirls franchise, have come to the realization that focusing on DRM rather than focusing on making great games and connecting with their fans doesn’t make any sense.

        And now we can add Polish game studio Flying Wild Hog to the list of developers that get it. The makers of the recently released Shadow Warrior 2 game have indicated that it basically has zero time for DRM for its new game because it’s entirely too busy making great games and engaging with its fans. On the Steam forum, one gamer noticed that SW2 did not come with any embedded DRM, such as Denudo, and asked the studio why it wasn’t worried about piracy.

      • Police Confiscate Hundreds of Computers Over Movie Piracy Allegations

        Copyright trolling is usually handled in the civil courts but over in Poland, things are getting out of control. Police have reportedly visited hundreds of homes and seized hundreds of computers, each alleged to have shared a movie without permission. There are fears that up to 40,000 people could eventually be affected.

        During the summer, Poland became entangled in what is likely to be one of the world’s most important copyright battles. Alleged KickassTorrents founder Artem Vaulin was arrested in the country, where he continues to fight extradition to the United States.


Links 24/10/2016: Linux 4.9 RC2

Posted in News Roundup at 8:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Distributing encryption software may break the law

    Developers, distributors, and users of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) often face a host of legal issues which they need to keep in mind. Although areas of law such as copyright, trademark, and patents are frequently discussed, these are not the only legal concerns for FOSS. One area that often escapes notice is export controls. It may come as a surprise that sharing software that performs or uses cryptographic functions on a public website could be a violation of U.S. export control law.

    Export controls is a term for the various legal rules which together have the effect of placing restrictions, conditions, or even wholesale prohibitions on certain types of export as a means to promote national security interests and foreign policy objectives. Export control has a long history in the United States that goes back to the Revolutionary War with an embargo of trade with Great Britain by the First Continental Congress. The modern United States export control regime includes the Department of State’s regulations covering export of munitions, the Treasury Department’s enforcement of United States’ foreign embargoes and sanctions regimes, and the Department of Commerce’s regulations applying to exports of “dual-use” items, i.e. items which have civil applications as well as terrorism, military, or weapons of mass destruction-related applications.

  • GitHub open-sources tool to track and preview Puppet changes

    If tweaks to your Puppet setups are causing breakage across your deployments, GitHub’s Octocatalog-diff ensures that new Puppet settings don’t wreck old ones

  • Puppet Unveils New Docker Build and Phased Deployments

    Puppet released a number of announcements today including the availability of Puppet Docker Image Build and a new version of Puppet Enterprise, which features phased deployments and situational awareness.

    In April, Puppet began helping people deploy and manage things like Docker, Kubernetes, Mesosphere, and CoreOS. Now the shift is helping people manage the services that are running on top of those environments.

  • 9 reasons not to install Nagios in your company
  • Top 5 Reasons to Love Kubernetes

    At LinuxCon Europe in Berlin I gave a talk about Kubernetes titled “Why I love Kubernetes? Top 10 reasons.” The response was great, and several folks asked me to write a blog about it. So here it is, with the first five reasons in this article and the others to follow. As a quick introduction, Kubernetes is “an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications” often referred to as a container orchestrator.

  • Website-blocking attack used open-source software

    Mirai gained notoriety after the Krebs attack because of the bandwidth it was able to generate — a record at well over 600 gigabits a second, enough to send the English text of Wikipedia three times in two seconds. Two weeks later, the source code for Mirai was posted online for free.

  • Alibaba’s Blockchain Email Repository Gains Technology from Chinese Open Source Startup

    Onchain, an open-source blockchain based in Shanghai, will provide technology for Alibaba’s first blockchain supported email evidence repository.

    Onchain allows fast re-constructions for public, permissioned (consortium) or private blockchains and will eventually enable interoperability among these modes. Its consortium chain product, the Law Chain, will provide technology for Ali Cloud, Alibaba’s computing branch.

    Ali Cloud has integrated Onchain’s Antshares blockchain technology to provide an enterprise-grade email repository. Onchain provides the bottom-layer framework for Ali Cloud, including its open-source blockchain capabilities, to enable any company to customize its own enterprise-level blockchain.

  • Events

    • CloudNativeCon Unites Leaders in Open Source, Container and Cloud Native Tech

      Today’s cloud native ecosystem is growing at an incredibly rapid pace – as new technologies are continuously introduced and current applications are ever-evolving.

      Taking the lead in bringing together the industry’s top developers, end users, and vendors, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) hosts critical components of the cloud native software stacks including Kubernetes, Prometheus, and OpenTracing and serves as a neutral home for collaboration.

      To help spread cloud native practices and technology across the world, CNCF is hosting CloudNativeCon to bring together leading contributors in cloud native applications and computing, containers, microservices, central orchestration processing, and more November 8-9 in Seattle.

    • Spark on Kubernetes at Spark Summit EU

      I’ll be speaking about Spark on Kubernetes at Spark Summit EU this week. The main thesis of my talk is that the old way of running Spark in a dedicated cluster that is shared between applications makes sense when analytics is a separate workload. However, analytics is no longer a separate workload — instead, analytics is now an essential part of long-running data-driven applications. This realization motivated my team to switch from a shared Spark cluster to multiple logical clusters that are co-scheduled with the applications that depend on them.

    • Meet Opensource.com writers, moderators, and interviewees at All Things Open
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Netflix on Firefox for Linux

        If you’re a Firefox user and you’re a little fed up with going to Google Chrome every time in order to watch Netflix on your Linux machine, the good news is since Firefox 49 landed, HTML5 DRM (through the Google Widevine CDM (Content Decryption Manager) plugin) is now supported. Services that use DRM for HTML5 media should now just work, such as Amazon Prime Video. Unfortunately, the Netflix crew haven’t ‘flicked a switch’ yet behind the scenes for Firefox on Linux, meaning if you run Netflix in the Mozilla browser at the moment, you’ll likely just come across the old Silverlight error page. But there is a workaround.

        For some reason, Netflix still expects Silverlight when it detects the user is running Firefox, despite the fact that the latest Firefox builds for Linux now support the HTML5 DRM plugin.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • AtScale Delivers Findings on BI-Plus-Hadoop

      Business intelligence is the dominant use-case for IT organizations implementing Hadoop, according to a report from the folks at AtScale. The benchmark study also shows which tools in the Haddop ecosystem are best for particular types of BI queries.

      As we’ve reported before, tools that demystify and function as useful front-ends and connectors for the open source Hadoop project are much in demand. AtScale, billed as “the first company to allow business users to do business intelligence on Hadoop,” focused its study on the strengths and weaknesses of the industry’s most popular analytical engines for Hadoop – Impala, SparkSQL, Hive and Presto.

    • Study Says OpenStack at Scale Can Produce Surprising Savings

      Revenues from OpenStack-based businesses are poised to grow by 35 percent a year to more than $5 billion by 2020, according to analysts at 451 Research. In its latest Cloud Price Index, 451 Research analyzes the costs associated with using various cloud options to determine when it becomes better value to use a self-managed private cloud instead of public or managed cloud services.

      The idea is to createa complex pricing model that takes into consideration the major factors impacting total cost of ownership (TCO), including salaries and workload requirements.The 451 study found that because of the prevalence of suitably qualified administrators, commercial private cloud offerings such as VMware and Microsoft currently offer a lower TCO when labor efficiency is below 400 virtual machines managed per engineer. But where labor efficiency is greater than this, OpenStack becomes more financially attractive. In fact, past this tipping point, all private cloud options are cheaper than both public cloud and managed private cloud options.

    • How OpenStack mentoring breaks down cultural barriers

      Victoria Martinez de la Cruz is no stranger to OpenStack’s mentorship opportunities. It’s how she got her own start in OpenStack, and now a few years later is helping to coordinate many of these opportunities herself. She is speaking on a panel on mentoring and internships later this week at OpenStack Summit in Barcelona, Spain. In this interview, we catch up with Victoria to learn more about the details of what it’s like to be a part of an open source internship, as well as some helpful advice for people on both sides of the mentoring process.

  • Databases

    • IBM Power Systems solution for EnterpriseDB Postgres Advanced Server

      The primary focus of this article is on the use, configuration, and optimization of PostgreSQL and EnterpriseDB Postgres Advanced Server running on the IBM® Power Systems™ servers featuring the new IBM POWER8® processor technology.

      Note: The Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.2 operating system was used. The scope of this article is to provide information on how to build and set up of PostgreSQL database from open source and also install and configure EnterpriseDB Postgres Advanced Server on an IBM Power® server for better use. EnterpriseDB Postgres Advanced Server on IBM Power Systems running Linux® is based on the open source database, PostgreSQL, and is capable of handling a wide variety of high-transaction and heavy-reporting workloads.

  • Valgrind

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD


    • What is the GRUB2 boot loader?

      There are various things that make up an operating system. In any operating system, one of the most critical parts is powering on the machine. During this process, the computer will execute a small program in read-only memory (ROM) to begin initiating the startup process. This small program is known by many names, but most often called a boot loader. In almost every Linux distribution, including Fedora, GRUB2 (or GRand Unified Bootloader 2) is the default boot loader. Even though it is a critical piece of the operating system, many people aren’t aware of the boot loader, all that goes into it, or how it can be customized.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Study: Administrations unaware of IT vendor lock-in

      Public policy makers in Sweden have limited insight on how IT project can lead to IT vendor lock-in, a study conducted for the Swedish Competition Authority shows. “An overwhelming majority of the IT projects conducted by schools and public sector organisations refer to specific software without considering lock-in and different possible negative consequences”, the authors conclude.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • How open access content helps fuel growth in Indian-language Wikipedias

        Mobile Internet connectivity is growing rapidly in rural India, and because most Internet users are more comfortable in their native languages, websites producing content in Indian languages are going to drive this growth. In a country like India in which only a handful of journals are available in Indian languages, open access to research and educational resources is hugely important for populating content for the various Indian language Wikipedias.

  • Programming/Development

    • Where to find the world’s best programmers

      One source of data about programmers’ skills is HackerRank, a company that poses programming challenges to a community of more than a million coders and also offers recruitment services to businesses. Using information about how successful coders from different countries are at solving problems across a wide range of domains (such as “algorithms” or “data structures” or specific languages such as C++ or Java), HackerRank’s data suggests that, overall, the best developers come from China, followed closely by Russia. Alarmingly, and perhaps unexpectedly, the United States comes in at 28th place.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Iraq parliament bans alcohol in surprise vote

      Iraq’s parliament has voted to ban the sale, import and production of alcohol in a surprise move. Proponents of the ban argue the ban is justified by the constitution, which prohibits any law contradicting Islam.

      Opponents say it violates the same constitution which guarantees the traditions of religious minorities such as Christians and have vowed to appeal against the decision.

      Those violating the law will be fined between 10 million and 25 million dinars (roughly £7,000 to £17,500).

    • Court of Appeal on Pregabalin – Pfizer still in pain, but Swiss claims re-interpreted again [Ed: Poor Pfizer "still in pain" because it cannot globally defend a monopoly that harms the poor and ill using patents]

      While this moggy was struggling to get back from Indonesia, the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in the pregabalin appeal Warner-Lambert Company LLC v Generics (UK) Ltd (t/a Mylan) & Ors [2016] EWCA Civ 1006 (13 October 2016), and finally the IPKat has managed to blog about it (the lateness by no means reflecting on the importance of the judgment).

      It is very much a judgment of three halves.

      In the first part of the judgment (up to [135]), which substantively disposes of the case, Lord Justice Floyd (with whom Lord Justic Kitchin and Lord Justice Patten agreed) upheld the decision of Mr Justice Arnold on the validity of the patent. Arnold J had considered that the claims of the patent that were alleged to be infringed were insufficient, and in particular claim 3 directed towards use of pregabalin for neuropathic pain, because the patent did not render it plausible that pregabalin would be effective at treating central neuropathic pain, only peripheral neuropathic pain. Floyd LJ agreed with Arnold J’s construction of the claims, and rejected the challenge to the finding that claim 3 was not plausible across its breadth.

  • Security

    • How your DVR was hijacked to help epic cyberattack

      Technology experts warned for years that the millions of Internet-connected “smart” devices we use every day are weak, easily hijacked and could be turned against us.

      The massive siege on Dyn, a New Hampshire-based company that monitors and routes Internet traffic, shows those ominous predictions are now a reality.

      An unknown attacker intermittently knocked many popular websites offline for hours Friday, from Amazon to Twitter and Netflix to Etsy. How the breach occurred is a cautionary tale of the how the rush to make humdrum devices “smart” while sometimes leaving out crucial security can have major consequences.

    • Find Out If One of Your Devices Helped Break the Internet

      Security experts have been warning for years that the growing number of unsecured Internet of Things devices would bring a wave of unprecedented and catastrophic cyber attacks. Just last month, a hacker publicly released malware code used in a record-breaking attack that hijacked 1.5 million internet-connected security cameras, refrigerators, and other so-called “smart” devices that were using default usernames and passwords.

      On Friday, the shit finally hit the fan.

    • Once more, with passion: Fingerprints suck as passwords

      Fingerprints aren’t authentication.

      Fingerprints are identity. They are usernames.

      Fingerprints are something public, which is why it should really bother nobody with a sense of security that the FBI used them to unlock seized phones. You’re literally leaving your fingerprints on every object you touch. That makes for an abysmally awful authentication token.

    • Strengthen cyber-security with Linux

      Using open source software is a viable and proven method of combatting cyber-crime

      It’s encouraging to read that the government understands the seriousness of the loss of $81 million dollars via the hacking of Bangladesh Bank, and that a cyber-security agency is going to be formed to prevent further disasters. Currently, information security in each government department is up to the internal IT staff of that department.

    • Canonical announces live kernel patching for Ubuntu

      Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, has announced that it will provide a live kernel patching services for version 16.04 which was released in April.

    • Everything you know about security is wrong

      If I asked everyone to tell me what security is, what do you do about it, and why you do it. I wouldn’t get two answers that were the same. I probably wouldn’t even get two that are similar. Why is this? After recording Episode 9 of the Open Source Security Podcast I co-host, I started thinking about measuring a lot. It came up in the podcast in the context of bug bounties, which get exactly what they measure. But do they measure the right things? I don’t know the answer, nor does it really matter. It’s just important to keep this in mind as in any system, you will get exactly what you measure.


      If you have 2000 employees, 200 systems, 4 million lines of code, and 2 security people, that’s clearly a disaster waiting to happen. If you have 20, there may be hope. I have no idea what the proper ratios should be, if you’re willing to share ratios with me I’d love to start collecting data. As I said, I don’t have scientific proof behind this, it’s just something I suspect is true.

    • Home Automation: Coping with Insecurity in the IoT

      Reading Matthew Garret’s exposés of home automation IoT devices makes most engineers think “hell no!” or “over my dead body!”. However, there’s also the siren lure that the ability to program your home, or update its settings from anywhere in the world is phenomenally useful: for instance, the outside lights in my house used to depend on two timers (located about 50m from each other). They were old, loud (to the point the neighbours used to wonder what the buzzing was when they visited) and almost always wrongly set for turning the lights on at sunset. The final precipitating factor for me was the need to replace our thermostat, whose thermistor got so eccentric it started cooling in winter; so away went all the timers and their loud noises and in came a z-wave based home automation system, and the guilty pleasure of having an IoT based home automation system. Now the lights precisely and quietly turn on at sunset and off at 23:00 (adjusting themselves for daylight savings); the thermostat is accessible from my phone, meaning I can adjust it from wherever I happen to be (including Hong Kong airport when I realised I’d forgotten to set it to energy saving mode before we went on holiday). Finally, there’s waking up at 3am to realise your wife has fallen asleep over her book again and being able to turn off her reading light from your alarm clock without having to get out of bed … Automation bliss!

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Reproducible Builds: week 78 in Stretch cycle
    • Murphy’s Law: The security version

      Since the first of the month, I’ve heard colleagues and others report each of the 10 security variants to Murphy’s Law listed below. Murphy is not only alive but has been reincarnated.

    • Easy-to-exploit rooting flaw puts Linux computers at risk [Ed: The latest CVE is very scary. It’s scary because it has a scary name, a logo, and even a dedicated Web site. Barely anything happened. Should we start assessing the severity of bugs by the investment that goes into their marketing, e.g. site, logo, and scary branding?]
    • Linux has had a huge bug for nine years
    • Linux Bug Could Cause Linux Users to be Hacked in Seconds
    • ‘Dirty Cow’ Linux Vulnerability
    • Linux & Open Source News Of The Week — “Dirty COW” In Linux, JS Foundation, Fedora on RPi And More
    • ‘Dirty COW’ flaw lets hackers gain control of Linux systems every single time
    • Linux Exploit in the Wild; Gives Any User Root Access in Less Than Five Seconds
    • An 11-year old bug is threatening the whole Linux ecosystem. Update now!
    • Linux exploit gives any user full access in five seconds [Ed: Another case of attractive headlines that mislead (need local access, locally exploitable only)]
    • Red Hat Virtualization and Security

      The usage of open source technologies has grown significantly in the public sector. In fact, according to a published memo, open source technologies allow the Department of Defense to “develop and update its software-based capabilities faster than ever, to anticipate new threats and respond to continuously changing requirements”. Cybersecurity threats are on the rise and organizations need to ensure that the software they use in their environments is safe. IT teams need the ability to quickly identify and mitigate breaches. They also need to deploy preventative measures and ensure that all stakeholders are protected.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Report: Middle East now Finland’s biggest arms export market

      The Middle East has become Finland’s most important market for arms exports. According to a new report by the think tank SaferGlobe Finland, local arms manufacturers sold some 99 million euros of mainly armoured vehicles and mortars in 2015, the bulk of it to countries outside the European Union.

    • ‘Civilization VI’ Found Religion, So I Responded With Genocide

      My glorious Roman Empire ignored religion for too long and it almost destroyed me. While I built roads, raised armies and sought trade deals with nearby city-states and rivals, my neighbor Spain kept to itself, built churches and spread the good word of Protestantism. Which was fine. As the Roman Emperor Trajan, I’d established a religion based on the worship of the mighty turtle and then forgotten about my people’s spiritual needs as I concentrated on getting tanks before my rivals.

      “Foolish Spain,” I thought. “This is a Civilization game. Glory and riches goes to the ruler who builds a spaceport or conquers their rivals. There’s no easy path to victory through the gods.” Then, almost too late, I checked the scorecard and realized Spain was about to declare victory … a religious victory.

      Civilization 6 is very different and much better than its predecessors.

    • Victory over Isis will stream live on Facebook. But defeat won’t

      Some 34 years ago, almost by accident, Britain’s ministry of defence solved the pesky problem that had laid the Pentagon low in Vietnam. What do you do about journalists running wild in your warzone? You put them on a long, slow boat to the other side of the world. You – ahem! – take control.

      And so, from Grenada to Panama to Iraq War One, journalists were locked in little boxes as far from the action as possible before (Iraq Two) being cautiously “embedded” with units they depended on to keep them safe. No freelance trips here. No unwanted questions asked. Control was still the theme of each and every fighting day.

      So what are we to make of Mosul, as Kurds and Iraqis advance on the city via 24/7 streaming on Facebook Live from Al-Jazeera, Channel 4 News and a Kurdish agency? Do we want an emoji on every blast of destruction? “Like”, “like”, “like” the carnage … Is this some sort of macabre computer game?

      You’d expect tabloid foes of Channel 4 News to have a predictable view on that – and they do. The Sun is apocalyptic as usual. But there’s a deeper, continuing theme here. As David Patrikarakos, a specialist on the use of social media in war, blogs for CNN, this battle is about more than just a military defeat of Isis: it’s also about “winning the hearts and minds of the local population” – “it becomes not just a military war, but also a narrative war, in which the latter is arguably more important”.

    • Malta plane crash: All five people on board killed as light aircraft goes down at airport in ‘take-off accident’

      A plane has crashed in Malta, killing all five people on board in the country’s worst peacetime air disaster.

      The light aircraft went down during take-off from Malta International Airport at around 7.20am local time (6.20am BST) on Monday morning.

      A witness told the Times of Malta newspaper the propeller plane suddenly tipped to its right side and “went straight down to the ground”.

    • Appeals Court Says Government Doesn’t Have To Disclose Contents Of Its Secret Terrorist Organization List

      An attempt to force the government to reveal its secret list of terrorist groups has been shot down by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals [PDF]. The Heartland Alliance Immigrant Justice Center’s FOIA request for “Tier III” terrorist groups can remain unfulfilled. [h/t Brad Heath]

      Without giving too much away (and neither the court nor the government does), “Tier III” is apparently more nebulous and fluid than tiers I and II.

    • Philippines’ Duterte ends US ties, embraces China

      During his recent visit to China, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared “it’s time to say goodbye” to the United States. The Philippine leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping are getting closer, while Washington now is ignored.

      Duterte spoke to the press in Beijing on Wednesday and his conference coincided with talks of unprecedented agreements, mainly granting the Philippines the use of Scarborough Shoal territories.

      Duterte declared in allusion to Washington, “Your stay in my country was for your own benefit. So time to say goodbye, my friend.”

      “No more American interference. No more American exercises. What for,” Duterte told the Filipino expat community in Beijing.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks, political hacks and the US election

      Is Julian Assange playing a political role, meddling with US electoral affairs, or is WikiLeaks a neutral mouthpiece?


      Some say the revelations are valuable information for voters. Others have accused Russia of being behind the hack and argue WikiLeaks is aiding foreign interference in the elections. Julian Assange’s haven, Ecuador, has recently pulled the plug on his internet usage, claiming that interference with other countries’ electoral processes is against their policies.

      Putting aside the agendas of all the players involved, one institution comes out undeniably sullied by the publication of the emails: the US news media. While some of the emails released presented typical behaviours, with the Clinton campaign reaching out to particular publications with stories, others are more problematic.

    • Greenpeace, others sought US intervention after action by India: Wikileaks

      Environmental groups such as Greenpeace and other international NGOs working in India had sought US government intervention after their funding came under increased scrutiny of the Modi government, according to emails released by the Wikileaks.

      The emails, hacked from the email account of John Podesta, who is the chairman of the Clinton Campaign, also indicates the global funding links of these NGOs, including those environmental groups opposing a massive mining project in Australia being undertaken by the Adani Group.

    • How To Help Defend WikiLeaks

      As I said at the start, this is just one example of media spreading lies about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It happens every day, all round the world. WikiLeaks represents a serious threat to the status quo, exposing the corruption of politicians and corporations. They are constantly targeted by journalists who choose to act as stenographers and gate-keepers of power. While these so-called journalists survive in their jobs at the mercy of the boardroom, WikiLeaks is 100% funded by people like you and me. Please help keep them strong.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A Hotter World Is Poorer and More Violent

      What will a planet plagued by escalating climate change look like? No one really knows. But speaking at EmTech MIT 2016, Solomon Hsiang, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, presented results based on his recent analysis of economic and climate data that begin to more clearly define what the world might look like as it gets hotter.

    • Feeling Paleolithic? We’re On The Way Back In Time.

      Further south, about 40% of USAians apparently support Trump and his denial of global warming so I expect it will take another generation suffering even larger effects before real action is taken.

  • Finance

    • Tens of Thousands Protest TTIP, CETA Across Europe

      An estimated 8,000 people hit the streets in Paris, chanting against police brutality, labor reform, deportations and airport construction in Nantes that will displace dozens of farmers. The converged on the site of Nuit Debout protests, an occupation that lasted months against pro-business labor reforms and drew direct parallels with Occupy Wall Street and the Indignados.

      Tens of thousands also rallied across Spain, Belgium, Germany and other countries that will be affected by the deals.

    • Canada’s two Trump towers facing troubles

      In Vancouver, the developer of a new Trump Tower has been under pressure for months to drop the Republican presidential candidate’s name from the project. Meanwhile, the Trump Tower in Toronto is the subject of a lawsuit after facing years of controversy.

      Donald Trump’s controversial run for US president is having an impact on his businesses in Canada and knock-on effects for those who have partnered with his brand.

      The opening date for the Vancouver hotel has been delayed until 2017, well after November’s US election. A contest offering a chance to meet with the Trump family for the grand opening caused a stir.

      Across the country, the Toronto building, which opened in 2012, has been the target of a lawsuit by small investors who claim they were misled into buying into the project. Its developer, Talon Development Inc, has tried to remove the Trump name from the troubled hotel and condominium complex.

      The story is similar in other countries.

    • Bulgarian expert: CETA to lead to loss of jobs, domination of big business, and countries like Bulgaria to be most affected

      “The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is in fact a political agreement that will decrease the value of European democracy.”

      This is what economist Professor Boyan Durankev said speaking for Radio FOCUS.

      In his words, there are too serious concerns that the agreement will lead to loss of jobs, lower standards in the ecology, domination of the big business, while the countries like Bulgaria will be most affected.

    • Wallonia’s red card for CETA is a chance for the EU to be a beacon to the world

      We are at a crossroads for international trade policy. The failure of TTIP and CETA would pave the way for a fairer and more democratic world, argues Paul de Clerck.

      Paul de Clerck is the economic justice programme coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe.

      The European Union, the world’s biggest trading bloc, is, for the second time in a matter of months, on the verge of seeing one of its mega trade deals fall into disarray.

      If the objections of several regions in Belgium are upheld, the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada planned for next week will most likely be cancelled. This follows the near collapse of TTIP, the EU’s proposed agreement with the US. Rather than despairing at the state of the EU, we should see how these developments provide a unique opportunity for the EU to take the lead in shaping new trade regimes for the future that are beneficial for people and the environment.

      The opposition to CETA and TTIP has been unprecedented in the history of the EU. Concerns have been expressed by millions of people across the continent, including lawyers, academics, political parties, local authorities and virtually all sectors of civil society. Many governments have also expressed reservations on CETA. Only the Walloons, however, had the guts to show it the red card.

    • Trade Deals and the Paris Climate Agreement

      The Paris Climate Agreement is now a reality. More than 55 countries representing over 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the pact, which means the historic agreement is set to enter into force faster than was ever anticipated. As we celebrate this landmark and get ready to grapple with the next steps of how to implement it—a key topic of discussion at COP 22, the upcoming international climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco—the U.S. Congress may soon vote on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other countries, and the administration continues to negotiate the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Clinton’s WikiLeaks strategy: Doubt, delay, distract

      The emails are full of potential damage for Hillary Clinton. She weighed the political implications of policies. She is close to Wall Street. Her aides gathered information to discredit a woman who’d accused her husband of rape.

      So how has she so far remained largely unscathed by the unprecedented release of hacked emails? It’s one part a deliberate strategy of casting doubt on the authenticity and distracting from the content of the emails, one part fatigue by Americans who already have seen tens of thousands of Clinton’s emails and one part a whole lot of luck.

      With Clinton leading in both national polls and battleground-state surveys, the Democrat is in some ways trying to run out the clock on the election.

      The WikiLeaks emails do threaten to reinforce voter doubts about Clinton’s honesty. But her strategy – refuse to confirm the authenticity of the emails, blame Russia for the hack and say little else – has so far successfully defused the impact by avoiding any talk that would keep voters looking at the content of the messages. Her undisciplined opponent has taken care of the rest.

      “When you start explaining, you’re in trouble,” said G. Terry Madonna, the director of the Franklin & Marshall College poll in Pennsylvania. “They are handling it the best way they can. It’s about as an effective argument you can make.”

    • Donna Brazile Complains She’s Being ‘Persecuted’ Over Leak To Clinton Campaign [VIDEO]

      Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile complained during an interview on Wednesday that she is being “persecuted” by being asked questions about leaking a town hall question to the Clinton campaign.

      And during the interview, conducted on Fox News after the presidential debate, Brazile said that her interviewer, Megyn Kelly, was “like a thief” because her questions cited emails that were stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and released by Wikileaks.

      Kelly grilled Brazile, who was a CNN and ABC News contributor prior to taking over the DNC in July, about an email revealed by Wikileaks showing her providing a tip about a March 13 town hall question to the Clinton campaign.

    • Green Party’s Baraka: Obama has been ‘moral disaster’

      Voters who want to fight against racial profiling, human rights violations, war and the two-party system should cast their ballots for the Green Party, vice presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka said Tuesday.

      Baraka, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s running mate and a self-described socialist from Atlanta, spoke to about 55 people at Wayne State University in a campaign stop. A Glengariff Group poll released last week to The Detroit News and WDIV showed the Green Party ticket receiving 4.6 percent of support from 600 likely Michigan voters, trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson.

      A Stein-Baraka presidency, he said, would be focused on using executive powers to create an “emergency jobs bill” to address inner cities and rural areas, notify the “right-wing” government in Israel “that we’re no longer going to allow for them to have unfettered freedom to expand settlements and undermine the rights to Palestinians” and reverse the attempt at regime change in Syria.

    • Your Vote For Jill Stein Is Not A Wasted Vote

      When Jill Stein ran as the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, media attention to her candidacy was rare. Now, with two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in history, she has received widespread attention. There seems to be record interest in third party campaigns, including Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.

      The Nation published a debate between Socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant and Nation contributor Joshua Holland.

      The editors gave Sawant’s column the negative headline—”Don’t Waste Your Vote On the Corporate Agenda—Vote for Jill Stein and the Greens”—but column does not hinge on loathing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Rather, it makes a positive case for supporting Stein by primarily arguing the need for progressives to build an alternative to the two pro-capitalist political parties in America. It has a long-term focus on bringing about radical change.

    • Clinton Ally Aided Campaign of FBI Official’s Wife

      The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.

    • And the winner is … crony capitalism: Choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is no choice at all

      It is as Bernie Sanders has foreseen it, you might say.

      With its publication of thousands of less-than-flattering emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta over the past two weeks, Wikileaks has done much to undermine Hillary Clinton in her ongoing effort to appeal to millennials who see Washington as a corrupt town where big business and big government are deeply intertwined.

      Excerpts from various six-figure speeches that Clinton made in 2013 and 2014 reveal a politician who is not only quite friendly with Wall Street in private, but somewhat resentful of the American public for constantly attacking and scapegoating big banks for the financial crisis.

      “The people who know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry,” said Clinton in one speech. Reform, she continued, “really has to come from the industry itself.” In another speech, Clinton stated that you have to have “both a public and a private position,” which has cast further doubt on her trustworthiness among young voters.

    • WikiLeaks reveals Clinton considered a Texas Republican for the Supreme Court

      Hours after conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia passed away, the Clinton campaign floated a Texan as a possible replacement.

      Wallace Jefferson, a former chief justice on the Texas Supreme Court, was the subject of an email titled “Scalia replacement” written by the president of a George Soros-backed grant-making organization.

      “Remember our discussion of Wallace Jefferson, Chief Justice in Texas?” said Open Society Foundations president Chris Stone in the email.

      “Yup,” replied Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.

      The hacked email was one of thousands released by WikiLeaks in recent weeks and the authenticity of the email could not be independently confirmed. The Clinton campaign declined to confirm the authenticity of the email mentioning Jefferson.

    • TYT’s Jimmy Dore: Democrats Are Restarting The Cold War To Hide From WikiLeaks

      Jimmy Dore, host of ‘Aggressive Progressives’ on ‘The Young Turks’ network, says he is disappointed to see the Democratic Party using Russia as a scapegoat for the information revealed by WikiLeaks.

      “This is a complete distraction,” he said about the DNC’s pivot to blaming Russia for WikiLeaks. “I hate that it is the Democrats now. We now have two parties of war. And now the Democrats are saber-rattling and building up a boogie-man in Putin, instead of what they should be doing, saying we both have a common enemy: ISIS. Let’s join hands and work to defeat them. That’s not what they’re doing because it makes more political sense for the Democrats to ratchet it up, to ratchet up the Cold War, which is what they’re doing now.”

      “By the way, when the [Berlin] Wall went down, Reagan assured them that we would not expand NATO, and we’re expanding NATO,” he said. “So we are the ones right now, we are the expanders… This McCarthyism that they’re trying to smear Trump with. There’s so much, you don’t have to smear that guy. But Trump has said he wanted to work with Putin to fight ISIS, while Hillary Clinton has called for a no-fly zone in Syria, which means dead people on the ground, and boots on the ground. And who are we going to shoot down? ISIS doesn’t have any planes. That means a war with Russia. This is beating the drums for war, in fact.”

      “I’m bothered by this more than anything: A lot of people are saying that we’re closer to nuclear war now than we ever were during the Cold War,” Dore said.

    • The media — and many Democrats — need to stop attacking Jill Stein unfairly

      There is both a principled and strategic component to voting choices in presidential elections. In principle, citizens should cast their votes for whichever candidate’s views align most with their own. Strategic voting, on the other hand, includes a voter’s assessment of the probability that various voting choices will lead to desired outcomes.

      These components are related to some degree; voters are more likely to agree about which candidate to vote for if they agree in principle on which candidate is best. Yet principled and strategic voting are not the same. One might believe a third-party candidate to be optimal, for example, but still vote for a major party candidate because of the higher probability that the major party candidate will win the election.

      This decision can be a self-fulfilling prophecy —third-party candidates would be more electable if their supporters decided to vote for them — but it can also be rational, depending on how one evaluates the differences between major party candidates and the downside risk to voting for a bad nominee.

    • Wasserman Schultz Tells Sanders Protesters Dems Are ‘Completely United’

      Disgraced former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has mostly attempted to avoid the spotlight after her resignation in the wake of emails released by WikiLeaks.

      Throughout the primaries, Wasserman Schultz was viewed unfavorably by Bernie Sanders supporters for overtly favoring Hillary Clinton, despite the DNC charter stipulating her and fellow DNC staff remain neutral to ensure a fair and balanced primary election. When indefensible evidence exposed the pro-Clinton environment at the DNC that Wasserman Schultz created, she and several other top DNC leaders were forced to resign—but there were almost no repercussions or changes made as a result of these resignations.

      Instead, Clinton immediately hired Wasserman Schultz as honorary chair of the Clinton campaign’s 50-state program, while President Obama, VP Joe Biden, and other establishment Democrats made unprecedented appearances to help Wasserman Schultz survive her re-election bid to Congress. Another Clinton surrogate, Donna Brazile, was appointed interim DNC chair to take Wasserman Schultz’s place.


      However, Sanders supporters refuse to forget Wasserman Schultz’s role in rigging the primaries, and made sure to demonstrate that they wouldn’t let her off the hook as easily as the Democratic Party had.

      Around 20 Sanders protesters showed up with signs outside the event in contrast to the 50 or 60 Clinton supporters attending the inside. A few minutes into Wasserman Schultz’s speech, the protesters interrupted her, at which point the regional organizing director for the Florida Democratic Party and former field organizer for Clinton campaign, Omar Rashid, ran up to one of the two protesters and began yelling “Hillary” while fist pumping in their face face. Other Clinton supporters joined in the “Hillary” chant. While there are several constructive ways to de-escalate an interruption by protesters, this certainly wasn’t one of them.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NSA Says Federal Cyber Strategy Needs More NSA More Often, And On The Information Sharing Ground Floor

      The NSA doesn’t like the fact that it didn’t get a big enough slice of the tax-dollar-grabbing cyber pie. After much discussion about which agencies would oversee what aspects of the US government’s cyberwar defense systems, the NSA — despite all of its computing power and hoarded exploits — ended up with the unenviable task of protecting the home turf rather than engaging in more offensive maneuvers.

    • Taxpayer-funded grants to NZ tech firm used to build surveillance equipment for UK government

      Taxpayer-funded grants to a private New Zealand tech firm were used to build mass surveillance equipment for Britain’s largest intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

    • ‘Germany kowtowing to NSA & US to amplify spying capabilities across Europe’

      Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer for MI5, the UK Security Service, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incompetence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler.

    • German spy law infringing privacy rights: Expert

      The German parliament has approved a controversial legislation to tighten the oversight of the BND spy agency amid criticism that the law violates the privacy rights of people.

    • UK spy agency GCHQ paid NZ firm Endace to power Internet fiber-optic taps

      The 2013 Snowden documents revealed UK intelligence agency GCHQ to be tapping into the undersea cables that carry Internet traffic, covertly gathering vast amounts of digital comms data under a surveillance program code-named Tempora — apparently with the help of commercial partners.

      Now leaked documents obtained by The Intercept confirm GCHQ paid New Zealand-based Endace to create data capture systems to enable it to tap high speed Internet traffic.

    • The Little-Known Company That Enables Worldwide Mass Surveillance

      It was a powerful piece of technology created for an important customer. The Medusa system, named after the mythical Greek monster with snakes instead of hair, had one main purpose: to vacuum up vast quantities of internet data at an astonishing speed.

      The technology was designed by Endace, a little-known New Zealand company. And the important customer was the British electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

      Dozens of internal documents and emails from Endace, obtained by The Intercept and reported in cooperation with Television New Zealand, reveal the firm’s key role helping governments across the world harvest vast amounts of information on people’s private emails, online chats, social media conversations, and internet browsing histories.

      The leaked files, which were provided by a source through SecureDrop, show that Endace listed a Moroccan security agency implicated in torture as one of its customers. They also indicate that the company sold its surveillance gear to more than half a dozen other government agencies, including in the United States, Israel, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Spain, and India.

    • China’s plan to organize its society relies on ‘big data’ to rate everyone

      How China tamed the Internet |This is part of a series examining the impact of China’s Great Firewall, a mechanism of Internet censorship and surveillance that affects nearly 700 million users.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pardon the American Taliban

      In the mid-1960s a young American teacher in a small central African country became involved with a group of political rebels — former government ministers mostly — who had been active in the struggle for independence. They had fallen out with the authoritarian prime minister, objecting to his dictatorial style. The country was newly independent, hardly a year old. The men advocated democratic elections and feared that the prime minister would declare himself leader for life in a one-party state.

      Fluent in the local language, obscure because he was a teacher in a bush school, and easily able to travel in and out of the country on his United States passport, the American performed various favors for the rebels, small rescues for their families, money transfers, and in one effort drove a car over 2,000 miles on back roads to Uganda to deliver the vehicle to one of the dissidents in exile. On that visit he was asked to bring a message back to the country. He did so, without understanding its implications. It was a cryptic order to activate a plot to assassinate the intransigent prime minister.

    • Shailene Woodley: The Truth About My Arrest

      I was arrested on Oct. 10, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday where America is meant to celebrate the indigenous people of North America.

      I was in North Dakota, standing in solidarity, side-by-side with a group of over 200 water protectors, people who are fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      People who carry a rainbow of colors on their skin. People who gathered together because they realize that if we don’t begin taking genuine steps to protect our precious resources—our soil, our water, our essential elements—we will not have a healthy or thriving planet to pass on to future generations.

    • Actor Shailene Woodley on Her Arrest, Strip Search and Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance

      At least 27 people, including Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, were arrested during the Standoff at Standing Rock on October 10, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, while attempting to blockade the Dakota Access pipeline construction at two separate worksites. Footage of Woodley’s arrest was streamed live to roughly 40,000 viewers on her Facebook page. She was later strip-searched in jail. She says her dedication to protest with indigenous people who are at the forefront of the fight remains strong: “Every time we allow another pipeline … we are endorsing the fossil fuel industry and only prolonging the time it is going to take to switch to renewable energy.” Woodley recently starred in the new Edward Snowden film, “Snowden.” She has appeared in the TV series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and has also starred in films including “The Divergent Series” and “The Fault in Our Stars.” She received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Alex King in “The Descendants.”

    • RIP Gavin MacFadyen, 1940-2016

      Courage founding Trustee and Centre for Investigative Journalism founder and director Gavin MacFadyen has passed away at the age of 76, after a few months of illness.

      Gavin devoted his life to independent, investigative journalism, exposing truths, challenging power and championing truthtellers at every turn. Gavin championed the rights and principles of the persecuted, even when it was controversial to do so. He supported WikiLeaks when it was targeted by US prosecutors and he cofounded Courage, to assist those most in danger for shining a light on the powerful.

    • 105 British MPs call on Obama to stop Lauri Love’s extradition

      A cross-party coalition of 105 backbench Members of Parliament have signed a letter asking US President Barack Obama to withdraw the extradition requests for British activist Lauri Love before he leaves office.

      The letter, whose initial signatories were David Burrowes MP, Barry Sheerman MP and Alistair Carmichael MP, has been signed by more than a fifth of the Parliamentarians able to do so. By convention, government ministers and their opposition shadows do not sign letters of this type, although Culture Minister Matt Hancock MP – the Love family’s local constituency MP – has also added his name to the appeal.

      The 105 signatories demonstrate strong opposition to Lauri Love’s extradition across the political spectrum. The letter has been signed by 39 Conservative MPs, 39 MPs from Labour, 22 MPs from the Scottish National Party, three Liberal Democrat MPs, Mark Durkin MP from the SDLP and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

    • UN Meeting Looks At Legally Binding Instrument On Corporations And Human Rights

      A gathering at the United Nations in Geneva this week is hearing a litany of views on a prospective legally binding international instrument to regulate within human rights law the activities of transnational corporations and other businesses. The meeting is being webcast live.

    • Judge Orders FBI To Turn Over Information On How Many People Around The World It Snagged With Its Playpen NIT

      This might be big, depending on how much of this information is passed on to the general public, rather than delivered ex parte or under seal. Joseph Cox of Vice/Motherboard was the first to snag this ruling [PDF] by a Washington district court judge ordering the FBI to turn over tons of info about the NIT it deployed in the Playpen child porn investigation.

      As we’re already aware, the NIT was deployed by the FBI in Virginia but obtained identifying information about Tor-cloaked site visitors not just all over this country, but all over the world. The motion to compel discovery asked for several details about the NIT and its deployment and most of them have been granted.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Doubles Down on the Ampersand [Ed: zero-rating. Shame on AT&T.]

      But even beyond this ad campaign, AT&T is talking up the value of getting this and that, and on the consumer side this has its most concrete instantiation in what AT&T has done with DirecTV since the merger. This isn’t just about traditional bundling and the discounts that come with it, but about additional benefits you get when you bundle. The two main examples are the availability of unlimited data to those who bundle AT&T and DirecTV, and the zero-rating of data for DirecTV content on AT&T wireless networks. Yes, AT&T argues, you can watch DirecTV content on any device on any network, but when you watch it on the AT&T network it’s free. The specific slogan here was “All your channels on all your devices, data free when you have AT&T”.

    • AT&T’s $85 Billion Time Warner Buy Could Be An Anti-Consumer Shit Show Of Monumental Proportions

      As fixed and wireless broadband growth crawls to a halt and cord cutting begins to hammer TV numbers, incumbent telecom giants have been trying to pivot into the media and advertising game with mixed results. Verizon so far has shelled out billions to acquire aging 90s internet brands Yahoo and AOL, believing this can somehow transform the stodgy duopolist into a sexy, sleeker Facebook and Google competitor. So far these efforts to woo Millennials have been arguably underwhelming and occassionally comical, highlighting how innovation and disruption is somewhat foreign to these companies’ DNA.

      AT&T has decided to follow a similar tack, over the weekend announcing a mammoth $85 billion deal to acquire Time Warner (not to be confused with Time Warner Cable) and its media properties (CNN, HBO). AT&T was quick to proclaim that the deal would be a “perfect match of two companies with complementary strengths,” who can bring a “fresh approach to how the media and communications industry works for customers, content creators, distributors and advertisers.” The deal comes not too long after AT&T decided to spend $79 billion to acquire DirecTV, adding notable debt for the already giant company.

    • VIDEOS: AT&T to acquire Time Warner for US$85 billion in major media/comms shakeup

      Remember when AT&T was broken up in the US? Whether you do, or don’t, AT&T is on the verge of becoming the most powerful telco and media organisation in the world.

      It’s the stuff of Telstra’s dreams: a telco servicing a population of more than 300 million, with enough clout and earnings to support a US$85 billion buyout of Time Warner – and that’s after spending US$49 billion to buy DirecTV.

      Talk about relegating dumb pipes to the dustbin of history, AT&T wants to own the content, create it, serve it, charge for it and everything in between and beyond.

      Telstra’s half share of Foxtel looks like a tiny molehill against AT&T’s Everest-size mountain in comparison.

    • Dumb & Dumber Claims About Last Week’s Internet Attack (SOPA?!? Really?)

      As you know, last week, large chunks of the internet spent hours writhing on the ground and totally inaccessible thanks to a giant DDoS attack that appears to have been launched via a botnet involving insecure DVR hardware (which can’t be patched — but that’s another post for later). Of course, whenever this kind of thing happens, you know that some people on the politics side of things are going to come up with dumb responses, but there were some real whoppers on Friday. I’m going to focus on just two, because I honestly can’t decide which one of these is dumber. I’ll discuss each of them, and then you guys can vote and let us know: which of these is dumber.

      First up, we’ve got Marsha Blackburn, who is not just a member of Congress, but (incredibly) on the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which is often considered to the subcommittee that handles internet related issues. We’ve written about her quite a few times before, highlighting her efforts to block broadband competition and gut net neutrality. She’s also argued that fair use is just a buzzword and we need stronger copyright laws. Not surprisingly, she was one of the most vocal supporters of SOPA who only finally agreed to dump the bill days after the giant online protest.

      And apparently she’s still upset about all that.

      On Friday she went on CNN to discuss a variety of things, and the first question from Wolf Blitzer was about the DDoS attacks, and her answer is the sort of nonsense word salad that is becoming all too common in politics these days, but where she appears to suggest that if we’d passed SOPA this kind of attack wouldn’t have happened. She’s not just wrong, she’s incredibly clueless.

    • Chinese Company Recalls Cameras, DVRs Used In Last Week’s Massive DDoS Attack

      For some time now, security researchers have been warning that our lackadaisical approach to Internet of Things security would soon be coming home to roost. Initially it was kind of funny to read how “smart” fridges, tea kettles and Barbie dolls did an arguably worse job than their dumb counterparts with a greater risk to privacy and security. But as we collectively realized that these devices not only created millions of new home and business attack vectors, but could also be used to wage historically-unprecedented DDoS attacks, things quickly became less amusing.

      Last week, the theoretical became very real with the massive attack on DNS provider DYN, which knocked a swath of companies and services off the internet for a large portion of Friday. In a piece discussing the attack over at Flashpoint, the security firm (which worked with Akamai to help DYN) notes that the DDoS was indeed thanks to compromised IoT devices, and the Mirai botnet malware recently released to make compromising and harnessing such devices easier than ever. But the group also notes that targeted devices included everything from cameras to…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • IP Rights, Corporate Interests Threaten Small Farmers’ Right To Seeds, Biodiversity

      A new report by civil society groups defending the right to food and nutrition lays bare threats to seeds and biodiversity created by intellectual property rights, and calls for states to respect their human right obligations to protect small farmers’ right to seeds and food security.

    • Freedom To Utilize Genetic Resources? The Nagoya Protocol Two Years Later

      Two years ago this month, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity (“Protocol”) entered into international force. To date, 87 countries have ratified or acceded to the agreement, and that number is expected to reach 100 by the end of this year. With its entry into force, the Protocol is ushering in a new international system to govern research, development and intellectual property rights surrounding a potentially vast array of products derived from non-human genetic resources. Those products include, among others, pharmaceuticals, products of synthetic biology and biotechnology, seeds, biocides, horticultural and microbiome products, nutritionals, supplements, cosmetics, perfumes, fragrances and industrial enzymes.

    • Copyrights

      • US Copyright Office: Pallante Moved To Digital Strategy Advisor; Search On For New Register

        The United States Copyright Office Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has changed roles to become senior advisor for digital strategy. In her place, Karyn Temple Claggett will move up to serve as acting register of copyrights while a search is conducted for the next permanent register.

        The announcement, available here, was made on 21 October by the US Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

        A news report suggested Pallante was asked to step down and was locked out of the Library of Congress computer system on 21 October. At press time, details on that assertion were unconfirmed, but the official press release gives little indication of a problem.

      • iKeepSafe Inadvertently Gives Students a Valuable Lesson in Creators’ Rights

        In partnership with pro-copyright group Creative Future, iKeepSafe has launched a competition asking students to submit projects that promote the creation and ethical sharing of content. Whether kids will take the time to read the small print is debatable, but doing so will provide a valuable lesson in getting a fair price for creative works.

        Children and students of all kinds are some of the most valuable assets to society. After all, they’re literally the future of the planet. As a result, hundreds of groups around the world dedicate themselves to protecting their interests, from general welfare and healthcare to Internet safety.

      • US acting register of copyrights announced as Pallante takes new role

        Maria Pallante has been appointed senior adviser for digital strategy by the Librarian of Congress after serving as register of copyright since 2011, with Karyn Temple Claggett appointed acting register of copyrights

      • The new French law targeting “automated image referencing services”: does EU law allow it?

        As explained by Brad Spitz in a post published on the Kluwer Copyright Blog, “the new provisions will apply to ‘automated image search services’, which Article L.136-1 IPC defines as any online public communication service that reproduces and makes available to the public for purposes of indexing and SEO, plastic, graphic or photographic works, collected in an automated way from online public communication services (i.e. internet websites). In other words, these provisions target search engine services like Google Images.”

Battistelli Plans to Expand the Social [sic] ‘Study’ (Then ‘Conference’) Propaganda Until Next Month, Under the ‘Workshop’ Umbrella

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This has just appeared on the Intranet:

Battistelli's conference

Summary: Milking his shameless propaganda (paid-for ‘studies’), Battistelli wants to rewrite the record by all means possible, then pretend that EPO staff participates in it

THE EPO‘s management has stooped down to full-blown propaganda mode. It’s not even funny, especially when truth itself becomes a casualty and victims are people this propaganda is about. By endless repetition the circle of Battistelli believes it can fool everyone, but instead it just enrages everyone. The examiners are not ignorant and their tolerance for propaganda is understandably low.

Watch how the announcement (above) from the EPO tries to cast this latest upcoming stunt as a participatory thing. It also did it last week and the week before that, by shamelessly stating how many people watched the so-called ‘conference’ (while SUEPO was locked out), even if they watched it out of disgust rather than support. They certainly don’t play along. It’s like Battistelli’s circle basically trolls them and then brags about the amount of attention it gets for the trolling. As usual, quality and quantity are not the same thing.

Injustice and abuse prevail at the EPO. In fact, it’s still getting worse. Things are escalating and exacerbating. About the suspended BoA judge one person asked this morning: “I still don’t understand. What did the guy do to justify all this nonsense? Is he active in the union like the others who were fired?”

As far as we know, he wasn’t in any way associated, but he’s accused of — gasp! — communicating with someone from SUEPO.

As a side note, the EPO’s Twitter account is truly strong poison. The other day it wrote: “Access patent documents to find out more about the technical aspects of your competitors’ work” (link to the EPO’s site).

Everyone who works in this area/domain and is honest enough would say that it’s a bad idea. Even legal councils/departments in large corporations openly say so. If one looks into a rival’s patent, then it becomes WILLFUL infringement, i.e. an infringement for which one is liable with vastly higher damages (fees/penalty).

When will the EPO quit lying? Tomorrow we expect it to jointly (with the EUIPO) start a new propaganda push.

EPO and EUIPO Join Hands to Release Propaganda (for European Media to Parrot) Some Time Tomorrow

Posted in Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 6:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: EPO and EUIPO in collaboration for the promotion of the notion that they are both necessary (and reinforced speculations about growing overlap between them)

RUMOURS have been swirling for quite some time — both within and outside the EPO — that growing overlap between the EUIPO and the EPO is likely if not inevitable. This does not necessarily imply unification; at the very least it means collaboration. There are already some HR overlaps, as we pointed out earlier this year [1, 2].

EPO collaborations are not out of the ordinary. When the EPO does not privately boast collaborations with Stasi-connected spying agencies (Desa/Control Risks) and PR firms it publicly brags about collaboration with other patent offices. Watch this new article from the Korea Herald:

Korea, EU see surge in intellectual property rights exchange


In 2015, the EPO proceeded 6,400 applications from Korea, making the country the fifth-largest source of European patent applications, according to Pihlajamaa.

In EPO’s company rankings, Samsung and LG have been among the four largest company applicants for six years.

These are incorrect English terms, starting in the headline and continuing inside the article. Not “exchange” is at stake here but expansion. And it mostly benefits large/multinational corporations, like those which the EPO gives preferential treatment to. Imagine if the public at large knew this. The EPO has been trying to change the story since; it was an act of revisionism and damage control. Now they say that this preferential treatment is available to everyone, everywhere, which practically defeats the purpose of it. In a sense, this programme was undermined once exposed publicly.

Going back to the EUIPO, the EPO said: “What is the contribution of IPR-intensive sectors to the European economy? Stay tuned & you’ll find out on Tuesday.”

“The EPO has been trying to change the story since; it was an act of revisionism and damage control.”The tweet says Tuesday after it said Monday (tweet deleted for the mistake in it). So that’s tomorrow, not today. Expect lots of hogwash and protectionism advocacy. Why is this significant? See this other tweet which demonstrates overlaps between the EPO and EUIPO: “#EUIPO and @EPOorg will shortly launch a new study on the contribution of #IPR-intensive industries to the #EU economy. Stay tuned!”

The EPO retweeted this, adding to growing evidence of the overlap.

The EPO also wrote: “What are the economic benefits for Europe of patents, trademarks, designs and other forms of IP? Find out on Tuesday #IPvalue #IPRindustries”

As the EPO under Battistelli threw away the notion patent quality (for “production”, i.e. quantity), all of this is doomed. It’s just beneficial to trolls (wait and watch!) and to large corporations that patent in bulk. Given the reputation of EPO ‘studies’ as of late, we don’t expect the above to be anything but propaganda — something to be used to ‘plant’ puff pieces in the media later this week.

“It’s possible that something pretty big is happening (other than the relentless UPC efforts) and only few people at the top are “in the know”…”“Just #3daysleft until we publish a further EU-wide study of the impact of IP rights on the European economy,” EPO PR people wrote, adding hashtags like #IPvalue #IPRindustries (which themselves smack of propaganda, not true studies).

Imagine what would happen if the EPO was shut down and folded into the EUIPO (the USPTO already deals with patents and trademarks in tandem). Would patent applications be dealt with by a process of registration only (like in France)? The US, based on this new post from Patently-O, moves in a similar direction (“Maria Pallante Out as Chief of Copyright Office: New Calls for Unified US Intellectual Property Office”).

Never say never. It’s possible that something pretty big is happening (other than the relentless UPC efforts) and only few people at the top are “in the know”…

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