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01.15.17

America Invents Act Improved Patent Quality, But Right Wingers Threaten to Make It Worse Again

Posted in America, Patents at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rumours suggest that Donald Trump will add Randall R. Rader to his swamp

Randall R. Rader
Photo from Reuters

Summary: The past half a decade saw gradual improvement in assessment of patents in the United States, but there is a growing threat and pressure from the patent microcosm to restore patent maximalism and chaos

The USPTO has been gradually improving under Michelle Lee, who sought positive reform and is said to be on her way out after Trump’s inauguration. The former Director, David Kappos, is now lobbying (in exchange for money!) to make things worse again. It looks as though Trump is about to blow away any progress with Rader as Director (or similar position). Rader is not only corrupt but is also a software patents proponent.

The following new post by Jason Rantanen links to this new report from the USPTO:

USPTO Releases its 2016 Performance and Accountability Report

I’m pleased to announce that the USPTO has published its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for fiscal year (FY) 2016. The PAR serves as the USPTO’s annual report, similar to what private sector companies prepare for their shareholders. Each year the USPTO publishes this report to update the public on our performance and financial health.

[...]

We will continue efforts in the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, which is a multifaceted initiative that builds on past efforts and includes future programs aimed at improving the accuracy, clarity, and consistency of patents; continue implementation of the patent dispute resolution portions of the AIA; meet the wave of legal challenges to the USPTO’s interpretation of the AIA and its regulations implementing the statute; develop outreach at both headquarters and regional offices; expand on dissemination of data; attain and maintain full sustainable funding; and provide IT support for a nationwide workforce with a “24/7/365” operational capability.

Watchtroll, in the mean time, being the software patents proponent that the site always is, suggests changes that would inherit bad elements of the EPO, where software patents are habitually being granted in defiance of the rules (more so under Battistelli than before, to the point where legal firms say it’s easier to get software patents at the EPO than at the USPTO). To quote from the summary:

In summary, there is a plausible case that the US law on obviousness is indeed compatible with the above-explained EPO problem-and-solution approach. It could even be said that the steps of the problem-and-solution approach appear to have been inspired by US law and practice!

Under present working styles, USPTO examiners concentrate on the claims and spend little or no time reading the description. If they are to initiate obviousness rejections using the problem-and-solution format they would have to change habits and consult the description to locate any effects related to the distinguishing features.

I remark that the problem-and-solution approach is not a new statement of the law of obviousness: it is a statement of practical steps to be taken by a practitioner in order to come to an objective assessment of obviousness/non-obviousness compatible with the Statute Law and Case Law. It is an approach designed for large organizations like the USPTO who need to maintain uniformity.

[...]

The US Law on obviousness is indeed compatible with the EPO problem-and-solution approach. The USPTO, unlike the EPO, may be bound by the ratio decidenti of superior court decisions, but this should not impede completing the MPEP with instructions like the problem-and-solution approach. All that is needed is to arouse interest in potential long-term advantages for the USPTO notably the perspective of increased quality. Application of the approach does not imply any change in the Statute or Case Law, simply a determination to complement the current piecemeal guidelines by a coherent methodology.

It follows that the USPTO not only could adopt an approach for assessing obviousness like the EPO problem-and-solution approach, but in my view the quest for quality is a good reason why it should do so.

A guest post at Patently-O, composed by Professors Arti Rai (Duke) and Colleen Chien (Santa Clara), is titled “Patent Quality: Where We Are” and it names the legacy of Kappos, which is similar to that of Battistelli (compromising patent quality to artificially make ruinous ‘gains’):

When former USPTO Director David Kappos took the helm in 2009, budgetary strains and application backlog demanded immediate attention. Even so, then-Director Kappos pushed through redesign of the agency’s IT system, gave an across-the-board increase in time to examiners, adjusted count allocation so as to reduce incentives for rework, and emphasized quality improvements through international worksharing, industry training, and the creation of the Common Patent Classification system. Then, with the passage of the American [sic] Invents Act of 2011, the agency’s budgetary position stabilized and the stage was set for further focus on quality. The backlog subsided, with the queue of patents reduced by 30% over the last eight years, according to statistics released by the USPTO.

It was only after the America Invents Act (AIA), which then created PTAB, that patent quality started to make more sense. We hope that even in the era of a Trump Administration the same kind of trend will persist, though we are not particularly optimistic about it.

PTAB — Not Deterred by Courts — Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 10:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t believe the legal paper ‘industry’ (or the patent microcosm)

Some paperwork

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to make progress reforming the patent system by eliminating a lot of patents and setting an example (or new standards) for what is patent-eligible after Alice

THE patent microcosm wants us to believe that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has devalued or stopped what PTAB was doing. They want us to think there’s some kind of feud or conflict — one that they themselves inflame.

Let’s wait and see how many law firms will bother covering the frequent outcomes from cases where CAFC sides with PTAB on issues pertaining to invalidation of patents. Here is one such new case. To quote MIP:

The Federal Circuit has dismissed an appeal of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) final written decision in an inter partes review (IPR), arguing that because “Phigenix has not offered sufficient proof establishing that it has suffered an injury in fact, it lacks standing to bring suit in federal court”.

Here is a direct link to the decision [PDF]

PTAB is breaking some records again (based on some criteria), as shown by these latest figures. For the uninitiated, PTAB is slaughtering/squashing software patents more frequently than anything else, including courts. Petitions to PTAB, or IPRs as they are commonly called once processed, are also more reachable/accessible to small businesses that hope to undermine patents which large companies should never have been granted in the first place.

MIP’s PTAB round-up says:

December Patent Trial and Appeal Board petition filing was the fourth-highest of 2016, the Federal Circuit recently heard en banc arguments in one PTAB appeal and granted en banc rehearing in another, the appeals court remanded the Board in In re NuVasive, and the District of Delaware interpreted the scope of estoppel narrowly in Intellectual Ventures v Toshiba

When patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures go after large companies such as Toshiba they expect to get a lot of money. Intellectual Ventures was recently defeated in an epic cases where quite a few of its patents — software patents to be exact — got rejected by a prominent CAFC judge.

There is no compelling evidence to suggest that things are changing in favour of the patent microcosm, at least not in PTAB. No doubt, however, they will continue to lie to everyone — their clients included — in order to improve their bottom line. The term “fake news” seems applicable here.

EPO Abuses Come Under Fire From Politicians in Luxembourg

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Latest among many countries to express concern

Claudia Dall'Agnol
Source: Wikipedia

Summary: Luxembourg is the latest nation in which concerns about the EPO’s serious abuses are brought up not only by the media but also by politicians

THE EPO is very quiet this month. No “news” or “blog” items have been published since before Christmas.

Around Christmas time the media in Luxembourg published this article, which we mentioned here before. There is not much new information in there (not of great significance anyway) except parts which pertain to political interventions in Luxembourg. Notably, Claudia Dall’Agnol (pictured above) raises concerns and Etienne Schneider acts like a Battistelli mouthpiece, which makes Schneider look rather foolish and gullible. Does anyone out there still believe any word that comes out of Battistelli’s mouth? He’s a chronic, shameless liar. He’s a manipulative politician disguised as a manager.

Here is the English translation from SUEPO [PDF], which we reproduced below in HTML form:

“We’ve got our eye on it”

EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE

Behind the façade of the European Patent Office (38 countries belong to it, Luxembourg among them) a massive social conflict has broken out.

The battle between the President and the staff union Suepo, which represents the majority of the 7,000 strong workforce, has been raging for more than five years. Minister Etienne Schneider is now providing a reply to the question raised in Parliament on this issue by LSAP deputy Claudia Dall’Agnol.

The management style adopted by President Benoît Battistelli, who took this office in 2010, appears to have led from escalation to escalation. Only recently, staff members took to the streets in their thousands in Munich to march to the consulates. If we are to believe what the union members are saying, Battistelli has been tightening the screws for a long time, to such an extent that the environment at work can sink no lower. In the course of the year, three senior Suepo members have been summarily kicked out. Our information is that the President has produced very flimsy excuses for doing this – some would say totally far-fetched.

Another senior Suepo figure was dismissed without notice at the beginning of November at the branch of the Office at The Hague, and a further member is said to have been subjected to extreme pressure. How, why, when, and who is concerned is not clear from the accusations. Two weeks ago, EPO officials at The Hague were called upon to carry out a protest demonstration at the Dutch branch office. A majority of the 2,800 or so personnel working there took part, and really made their voices heard (► Link).

“Focus of attention”

The Minister responsible, Etienne Schneider, in his reply to the question raised in Parliament by Deputy Claudia Dall’Agnol simply repeated the official version put about by the EPO President. There have allegedly been cases of bullying, but those responsible have been identified and punished. The staff member who was ejected in November at The Hague is said to have been the main person responsible.

But we have received entirely different information, too, which points to the President unleashing a systematic campaign of harassment against many of his staff, but in particular against the personnel representatives who are members of Suepo.. Schneider appears to be equally at ease in his reply,since he goes on to write: “I can give assurance that the Luxembourg delegation continues to pay close attention to the development of the social dialogue at the EPO, and to provide its support to any initiative in that context.”

According to Etienne Schneider, the agenda at the next meeting of the Advisory Board is scheduled to include the results of an internal survey on the issue of social dialogue and working conditions at the branches of the European Patent Office.

As can be seen from the above (last three paragraphs), Battistelli’s apologists seem to be relying on paid-for propaganda from PwC. We previously we wrote about it in the following articles:

SUEPO is very quiet these days, but the same goes for the EPO in general, including the management. This gives us more time to unearth and publish older material whose analysis is well overdue. Expect much more to come out in the coming days.

Constitutionality as a Barrier and Brexit Barriers to UPC Keep the Whole Pipe Dream Deadlocked

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 4:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPC, RIP

Summary: The UPC is still going nowhere fast, but the demise (or death) of the UPC as we know it must not be taken for granted

THE UPC may be unconstitutional (or un-Constitutional) in a lot of states. Does Battistelli care? Well, he hardly cares about the laws, let alone constitutions. According to this or this, quoting the new (and latest) paper from Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna, “German ratification proceedings comprise several options for bringing the ratification legislation before the German Constitutional Court (“BVerfG”) for a constitutional law review in which the CJEU would be invoked as regards Union law questions by way of a request for a preliminary ruling.”

“We need more Free Open/Source software companies to help us battle the UPC, which would definitely usher in not only patent trolls but also software patents in Europe.”Given Germany’s selfish interests, as we recently noted in relation to Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas, we very much doubt the government will care if the UPC turns out to be un-Constitutional. Things have gotten so bad in fact that Maas also flagrantly disregards/ignores EPO abuses (as per German law) on German soil. As for Team UPC, it’s paying for propaganda. These people play dirty. Very dirty.

Thankfully, as we repeatedly pointed out before, the UPC in in a limbo. In fact, based on the abstract of this upcoming FOSDEM talk, Robinson Tryon too agrees with the “limbo” analogy. “With the future of the European Union’s Unitary Patent Court in limbo due to the Brexit,” he writes, “leaders in Free Software owe it to themselves and their companies to be more agile and more prepared to address patent issues…”

We need more Free Open/Source software companies to help us battle the UPC, which would definitely usher in not only patent trolls but also software patents in Europe. Here is the full abstract of the upcoming talk:

Are FOSS Companies Ready to Deal with Patents in the US and Europe?

Most small businesses have no patent strategy. Though many FOSS companies have policies in place regarding copyright and keeping detailed records of code contributions, few have paid enough attention to how patent litigation could affect them. For those FOSS businesses active in multiple countries or looking to expand into an international market, failure to understand the patent ecosystem in each jurisdiction could be a costly mistake.

Most small businesses have no patent strategy. Though many FOSS companies have policies in place regarding copyright and keeping detailed records of code contributions, few have paid enough attention to how patent litigation could affect them. For those FOSS businesses active in multiple countries or looking to expand into an international market, failure to understand the patent ecosystem in each jurisdiction could be a costly mistake.

This talk will use recent cases and ongoing changes in the patent systems of the US & Europe as modern examples for our discussion. We’ll describe the pitfalls that can affect any company, tabulate the costs of litigation, and offer methods businesses can use to reduce overall risk.

With the future of the European Union’s Unitary Patent Court in limbo due to the Brexit, and with no public position on patents from the United States’ next administration, leaders in Free Software owe it to themselves and their companies to be more agile and more prepared to address patent issues — whether they work at a small startup or at a large multinational corporation.

We previously coordinated some action (such as petitioning) regarding the UPC, but seeing how things are moving in the UK (with the business-oriented Madame Tesco leaving to be replaced by Boris Johnson's brother after just months in her job), it seems like the UPC is falling apart anyway, even without some outside intervention.

01.14.17

Links 14/1/2017: Wine 2.0 RC5 and AryaLinux 2017 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Tired of Windows? Switching to Linux Will Be Easy If You Know This

      Linux sounds intimidating, but it’s essentially just another operating system. When you buy a pre-built PC, it arrives with an operating system pre-installed, usually Windows or Mac. But Linux distros such as Ubuntu are just as capable as Windows.

      The process of installing Linux is rather simple. But actually using Linux is a bit different. There are many incentives for migrating from Windows to Linux. For instance, Linux variants often use less RAM or offer a lightweight environment.

      Overall, there’s simply more choice. If you’re tired of Windows, switching to Linux will be pretty easy if you know these things.

    • A first Look at the Samsung Chromebook Plus

      Based on this video, it appears as if this Chromebook from Samsung would be a great machine with GNU/Linux installed on it.

  • Server

    • Many IT Pros Ask for Linux and Cloud Training

      A significant share of technology professionals said they encounter barriers in getting necessary, regular training on Linux and cloud systems, according to a recent survey from the Linux Academy. Very few reported that their IT department has such an advanced grasp of these topics that it requires little training. Many, in fact, would like to get up to speed on Linux, DevOps and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. However, time constraints, budget limitations and inadequate employer support are keeping these workers from getting the training they need. It doesn’t help that, thanks to the shortage of available talent, it’s taking two months or longer to fill open job vacancies that demand Linux or cloud skills. “The advancement of [open source and cloud] technologies is clearly outpacing the pool of professionals who are able to service and manage them,” said Anthony James, founder of the Linux Academy. “By the time professionals receive the training they need, the technologies have progressed, making their training obsolete. This underscores not only the need for access to timely and affordable training, but also for companies to further invest in their employees’ skills.” Nearly 890 IT professionals took part in the research.

    • New framework uses Kubernetes to deliver serverless app architecture

      A new framework built atop Kubernetes is the latest project to offer serverless or AWS Lambda-style application architecture on your own hardware or in a Kubernetes-as-a-service offering.

      The Fission framework keeps the details about Docker and Kubernetes away from developers, allowing them to concentrate on the software rather than the infrastructure. It’s another example of Kubernetes becoming a foundational technology.

    • A Story of a Microservice: Lessons from the Trenches

      A lot has been written about microservices over the years, but we feel that not many of these articles have presented real-life and long-term experiences of building and maintaining microservices. In this blog post we aim to address this shortcoming.

      Microservices are loosely coupled, independently deployable applications that are focused on fulfilling a single cohesive responsibility. The microservices mindset encourages continuous deployment cycles, promotes choosing the right tool for each job, and helps to build a highly fault-tolerant architecture that can be evolved and scaled on a fine-grained level. Implementing a microservice architecture requires a substantial investment in an automated deployment infrastructure.

  • Kernel Space

    • Laptop Mode Tools 1.71

      I am pleased to announce the 1.71 release of Laptop Mode Tools. This release includes some new modules, some bug fixes, and there are some efficiency improvements too. Many thanks to our users; most changes in this release are contributions from our users.

    • Laptop-Mode-Tools 1.71 Adds VGA Switcheroo Support, Kbd-Backlight

      For those using Laptop-Mode-Tools to conserve power consumption when running on battery or using it to be more power efficient on your desktop or server, a new version is now available.

      Laptop Mode Tools 1.71 adds new modules for vgaswitcheroo and kbd-backlight. This package update also revives the Bluetooth module, has some wireless/WiFi changes, AC/battery determination improvements, fixes, and other smaller improvements.

    • Amdocs Joins Forces with Linux Foundation to Accelerate OpenECOMP Adoption in Open Source
    • Amdocs Joins Forces with Linux Foundation to Accelerate OpenECOMP Adoption in Open Source

      Amdocs to contribute key modules to OpenECOMP to help accelerate the industry uptake of common SDN and NFV standards and faster service delivery architectures

      ST. LOUIS, Jan. 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Amdocs (NASDAQ:DOX), the leading provider of digital customer experience solutions, today announced that it will partner with the Linux Foundation to accelerate the global adoption of the open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform. Hosted by the Linux Foundation, this new project will make ECOMP open source available to service providers and cloud developers in 2017.

    • Amdocs Will Contribute Modules to OpenECOMP
    • Amdocs Aids Linux Foundation in Open Source ECOMP
    • Blockchain will secure global derivatives trading

      Starting next year, one of the major providers of financial-markets infrastructure will begin using blockchain, the cryptographic software underlying bitcoin and other digital currencies, to help settle post-trade transactions in credit derivatives. It’s the first use of the breakthrough technology to undergird the global financial system.

      The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, in a release this week, said it would “re-platform” its existing Trade Information Warehouse, which automates record keeping and payment management for about 98 percent of all credit derivative transactions globally — or about $11 trillion a year.

    • Why IBM CEO Ginni Rometty Believes in Blockchain

      Close attention has been paid in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic victory in the US presidential election to bitcoin, which rose on safe-haven demand in reaction to Trump’s victory and uncertainty in global markets also related to Brexit’s looming impact.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.41 LTS Update Comes With Improved Radeon, Nouveau And Power PC

      Greg Kroah-Hartman, the Linux kernel maintainer for the stable branch gives us the impression that he doesn’t need any sleeps whatsoever as he is delivering update after updates at a timely interval. The latest update is the Linux 4.4.41 kernel and has brought Linux OS users a wide array of interesting features.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Etnaviv Gallium3D Driver Lands, Premiering With Mesa 17.0

        In time for this weekend’s feature freeze of Mesa 17.0, the Etnaviv Gallium3D driver has landed in Mesa Git after years of work on this reverse-engineered, open-source driver stack.

      • Intel ANV Vulkan Driver Lands Last Minute HiZ Improvements

        Some more exciting last minute work landing in Mesa Git before this weekend’s Mesa 17.0 branching are the potentially performance-improving HiZ work within the Intel Vulkan driver.

      • Google releases ‘Draco’ 3D graphics open source compression library on GitHub

        Google is a significant contributor to the open source community. This is notable, as the company is wildly successful and its products are used by many. It incorporates open source code in its offerings, and then contributes back too. The search giant’s visibility lends credibility to open source ideology.

        Today, Google announces yet another open source project. Called “Draco,” it is a compression library designed for 3D graphics. The project can dramatically reduce the size of 3D graphic files without significant visual impact to the person viewing.

      • Introducing Draco: compression for 3D graphics

        3D graphics are a fundamental part of many applications, including gaming, design and data visualization. As graphics processors and creation tools continue to improve, larger and more complex 3D models will become commonplace and help fuel new applications in immersive virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Because of this increased model complexity, storage and bandwidth requirements are forced to keep pace with the explosion of 3D data.

      • Google Announces “Draco” For 3D Graphics Compression

        Google’s Chrome Media team has developed Draco as an open-source compression library designed for 3D graphics.

      • Fedora 25 Switching Over To Using GLVND For Mesa, Happier NVIDIA Driver Installation

        A Mesa update coming down the pipe for Fedora 25 Linux users will see GLVND support enabled by default.

        GLVND, of course, being the OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch library. This is the NVIDIA-led effort that was also supported by upstream Mesa/X.Org developers for in effect a “new OpenGL Linux ABI” for allowing multiple Linux OpenGL drivers to happily co-exist on the same system. This makes things much easier than having different drivers overwriting the libGL files, complications with driver installation/uninstall, etc. It was long overdue but finally was seeing upstream support in 2016.

      • Wayland 1.13 Planned For Release Next Month

        Wayland 1.13 has been in development since September while the plans today were firmed up for releasing it in February.

      • Tegra/Nouveau Render-Only Gallium3D Support
      • Building Mesa from source, a guide

        If you are using Mesa (FOSS OpenGL/Vulkan drivers on Linux), you can be in situation when it introduces some new features upstream, but it didn’t make it into your distribution yet and it can take quite a long time for that to happen. Certain games can become playable with that change, or it can be a performance optimization that speeds up already working games, or may be you simply want to test the newest Mesa itself – either way, you might be interested in running the latest development version of Mesa for various reasons. At the same time you don’t want to mess up your system with an unstable graphics stack.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kdenlive 16.12.1 released with Windows version

        We are proud to announce the first maintenance release for the 16.12 cycle. Besides the usual bugfixes and usability improvements this release also marks the official release of the Windows port.

      • More Raspberry Pi, Linux Pressure, Plasma 5.9

        Jonathan Riddell announced the latest KDE Plasma today to “kick off 2017 in style.” While announcing Plasma 5.9 Beta, Riddell assured users that 5.8 LTS would continue to receive bug fixes. Weird thing to say for a developmental release. Relatedly, neon 20170112 was uploaded but not announced. In other news, Mint 18.1 took another one on the chin today at The Reg mainly for it’s old base and Update Manager. Jamie Watson tested other distributions on his Raspberry Pis, this time Fedora, Manjaro, and Ubuntu MATE and Robin “Roblimo” Miller said Windows users should be grateful to Linux. That followed a similar themed story from the other day where a developer claims Valve Linux choice forced Microsoft to beef up Windows gaming support. It was another interesting day in the land of The Penguin.

      • New Qt 5.8 rc snapshot for testing

        All known blockers should be fixed in these packages and we are targeting to release Qt 5.8.0 Tue 17th January if nothing really serious found during testing. So please inform me immediately if there is some new blocker in the packages.

      • Qt 5.8 Hoping To Release Next Week, Last Minute Test Builds

        Qt 5.8.0 will hopefully be released in the days ahead.

        The Qt Company has issued new Qt 5.8.0 release candidate snapshots this week for testing. The developers believe all official blocker bugs should be fixed with this release but are encouraging last minute testing. If nothing major is discovered, Qt 5.8.0 will be released next week on 17 January.

        Those wanting to test what could be the final builds of Qt 5.8 can find them via this Qt mailing list post. Since then some bugs have been pointed out, but it’s not clear yet if they’ll be promoted to being blocker bugs and thereby potentially delaying next week’s release.

  • Distributions

    • Best Linux Distributions for New Users

      Ah, the age-old question…one that holds far more importance than simply pointing out which Linux distribution is a fan-favorite. Why is that?

      Let me set the stage: You have a user—one who has, most likely, spent the majority of their time in front of either a Windows or Mac machine—and they’ve come to you for an alternative. You want to point them in a direction that will bring about the least amount of hiccups along the way and highlight the power and flexibility of Linux.

    • AryaLinux 2017 Drops 32-Bit Support, Adds MATE 1.17 and Linux Kernel 4.9

      AryaLinux has received its first release in 2017, and it looks like it’s a good one. AryaLinux is both a builder for those who want to create their own GNU/Linux distribution from scratch, and a computer operating system.

    • AryaLinux 2017 – Release Notes

      AryaLinux 2017 comes with package updates, the latest Linux kernel and updated build scripts to build system from scratch. Here are the features of this release…

    • AryaLinux 2017 is now available for public

      AryaLinux is an Indian Linux distribution which is made using Linux From Scratch guide. This distribution uses alps as package management. Few hours ago Arya team released AryaLinux 2017 in Xfce and MATE editions. There are various changes made in this release and lots of new updates are included too.

      According to official announcement, AryaLinux will be released in 64-bit only from now on. So guys if you want to test this distro then you better have newer hardware. Linux kernel is updated to 4.9. Mate is now updated to 1.17. LibroOffice is updates to 5.2.3. Simple screen recorder is returned with Qt5. Parole and Exaile are made default media and audio player respectively.

    • New Releases

      • OpenELEC 7.0 Gets First Point Release, Improves SolidRun’s CuBox-i4Pro Booting

        The last days of 2016 brought us the OpenELEC 7.0 operating system for embedded devices, such as Raspberry Pi, which was based on the Kodi 16.1 open-source media center and allows users to transform those devices in HTPC (Home Theater PC) units.

      • New User Distros, Powered By Linux, No Opera for You

        There are many companies who use or offer Linux and today Linux and Ubuntu rounded up 10 of the biggest. Elsewhere, Jack Wallen offered his suggestions for which distros might suite particular users of certain other operating systems. From Windows 7 to Mac, he found an Ubuntu-derivative for each. Yep, “there’s a distribution for everyone,” as long as it’s Ubuntu. OMG!Ubuntu! reported today that Opera won’t be providing new conceptual browser to Linux users, because they claim it’s being developed “just for fun.” Remember who else once said that? In other news, Canonical today plugged Dell’s new Ubuntu laptops, Ubuntu Budgie announced a wallpaper contest, and MakeUseOf made use of Linux versus Windows today to illustrate how easy it can be to switch.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Linux Arrives On Windows 10

        Sr. Product Manager SUSE Linux Enterprise SUSE, Hannes Kühnemund, has written a blog post and described how to run openSUSE Leap 42.2 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2 on Windows 10. Now, by running simple commands, the users can install SUSE Linux distributions in Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). The company has also prepared a detailed blog post and described the whole procedure. For those who don’t know, by default, Microsoft enabled Ubuntu within WSL.

      • OpenSUSE comes to Windows 10. Plus, can you trust WhatsApp?

        This is the first in a weekey series I’m calling ‘weekly roundup’ in which I will highlight some of the hottest stories of the week from the world of Linux and open source. This week, I want to call your attention to some excciting Windows 10/openSUSE news and alert you to a backdoor vulnerability in WhatsApp that allows messages to be intercepted.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 8 kernel security update

        There are a fair number of outstanding security issues in the Linux kernel for Debian 8 “jessie”, but none of them were considered serious enough to issue a security update and DSA. Instead, most of them are being fixed through the point release (8.7) which will be released this weekend. Don’t forget that you need to reboot to complete a kernel upgrade.

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Social network App.net to shut down, open-source its platform

    The next (and last) step for App.net is to offer all its infrastructure as open source. Previously, the company open-sourced key projects that ran on top of the service, such as the alpha microblogging client, but not its full underlying platform. One possibility is for App.net to go in the same direction as Diaspora—with the ability to be self-hosted, in much the same manner as a WordPress installation.

  • Open Source Helps Drive Citizen Engagement With Minimal Cost

    Open source software drives innovation. People with great ideas have the ability to develop software and make it available for others to use. Agencies receptive to using open source software can take advantage of this innovation, learning new ideas about how technology is used and deployed.

    For example, DevOps is a relatively new field in the federal market and there are number of open source tools that enable its implementation that will automate the task of code verification, automated testing, deployment, etc. thereby increasing adoption.

    A typical starting point for developing a citizen engagement platform is a web content management solution (WCMS). An engagement platform developed on a WCMS allows an organization to create and publish content that is engaging to the audience and available to anyone on any device.

    Some technologies, such as Drupal, have also extended their capability to integrate other open source technologies like JavaScript frameworks and search engines. They can be further leveraged to create the ideal experience that is needed for today’s audiences that use varying devices. Further, this content can be revised as often as needed without any need for IT involvement.

  • D-Wave open sources quantum app development software

    To foster a quantum software development ecosystem, the company created qbsolv, which lets developers build higher-level tools and applications leveraging the D-Wave quantum systems without the need to understand the complex physics of quantum computers.

  • Pantek, Metisentry merge to build on open source IT expertise

    Two local IT services firm that specialize in open source technologies have merged.

  • Hedge fund firm Man AHL says open sourcing software helps attract best developer talent

    A commonly held view of hedge funds is of secretive organisations that jealously guard the tools that make them money. Contrary to this is the trend among certain firms to open source their software and invite collaboration from the developer community.

    Firms that have blazed a trail in the open sourcing of this sort of technology are the likes of AQR, which kick-started the Pandas libraries project, and Man AHL, which has open-sourced its Arctic data storage system.

    Arctic powers Man AHL’s vast financial market data store and is built on top of the open-source no-SQL database MongoDB. The Arctic codebase was made available on GitHub back in 2015.

  • Software Company Anahata Announces Management Restructuring
  • Software Company Anahata Appoints Ambarish Mohan as the Head of Open Source
  • Apache Beam Graduates to Help Define Streaming Data Processing

    Open-source effort originally developed from code contributed by Google moves from the Apache incubator to become a Top Level Project

    The open-source Apache Beam project hit a major milestone on Jan.10, graduating from the Apache Incubator and officially becoming a Top Level Project. Beam is a technology that provides a unified programming model for streaming as well as batch data processing.

    The Apache Incubator is an entry point for new projects into the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), with graduation marking a level of maturity and adherence to established policies and processes.

    “Graduation is an exciting milestone for Apache Beam,” Davor Bonaci, Vice President of Apache Beam, said in a statement. “Becoming a top-level project is a recognition of the amazing growth of the Apache Beam community, both in terms of size and diversity.”

  • Yahoo Open Sources Tool for Continuous Delivery at Scale

    For the past year, we’ve taken note of the many open source projects focused on Big Data and infrastructure technology hat have been contributed to the community. Some of these are real difference makers–strong enough for new startup companies to align around them with business models focused on them. While the Apache Software Foundation has has announced many of these, some of the bigger tech companies are contributing as well.

    Yahoo recently open sourced a distributed “publish and subscribe” messaging system dubbed Pulsar that’s capable of scaling while protecting low latencies. Yahoo uses Pulsar to drive several of its own in-house applications. And now, Yahoo is open sourcing Screwdriver.cd, an adaption of its Continuous Delivery build system for dynamic infrastructure.

  • Events

    • State of the Union: npm

      Ashley Williams kicked off her colorful “paint by number” keynote at Node.js Interactive by explaining that npm is actually a for-profit company. Npm makes money by selling its enterprise services and, apart from the amounts required to run the everyday operations of a regular company, its revenue is invested in running the npm registry.

    • KEYNOTE: State of the Union: npm by Ashley Williams, npm

      In this keynote, Ashley Williams, Developer Community and Content Manager, discusses how npm works as a service and shares some of the remarkable numbers associated with the registry.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla and Market Researchers Herald Big IoT Future

        Early last year, Mozilla announced that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the next big opportunity for its open source software platform. “The Internet of Things is changing the world around us, with new use cases, experiences and technologies emerging every day,” wrote officials in a post. “As we continue to experiment in this space, we wanted to take a moment to share more details around our approach, process and current projects we’re testing.”

        We’ve heard similar predictions from several companies, and now two recent studies are confirming that the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised for huge growth.

        Studies from International Data Corporation (IDC), and one from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC), confirm that worldwide IoT spending is set to skyrocket.

      • Rust severely disappoints me

        I wanted to like Rust. I really did. I’ve been investigating it for months, from the outside, as a C replacement with stronger correctness guarantees that we could use for NTPsec.

        I finally cleared my queue enough that I could spend a week learning Rust. I was evaluating it in contrast with Go, which I learned in order to evaluate as a C replacement a couple of weeks back.

  • Education

    • Oviedo university studies to increase open source

      The University of Oviedo in Asturias, one of Spain’s autonomous communities, is studying ways to increase its use of free and open source software, reports La Nueva España, a newspaper. Using free and open source software will help to avoid the use of unlicensed software, the university management is quoted as saying in December.

      The university is also looking into using free software solutions to reduce academic plagiarism.

      The newspaper notes how Asturia’s one and only university is at the bottom end of the annual ranking of universities that use free software (Ranking de Universidades en Software Libre, RuSL.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • There’s A New Port Of RISC-V For GCC

      For those following the progress of the RISC-V open-source and royalty-free processor ISA, a new port of the GNU Compiler Collection for this architecture is now available.

      Palmer Dabbelt of UC Berkeley previously mentioned a few months ago their GCC RISC-V code was held up due to university lawyers due to upstream GCC contributions requiring copyright assignment to the Free Software Foundation, which upset the university. But it seems they’re past that now as Palmer announced this week the new RISC-V port for GCC.

  • Public Services/Government

    • FSFE: H2020 funded software should be free

      Software that is developed in research projects funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme should be published under a free software licence, says the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). The advocacy group wants to know how much of the H2020 budget is spent on paying for proprietary software licences.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The State of Open Source Licensing [Ed: Stop relying on Black Duck for information; was created as anti-GPL company.]

      Copyleft licenses, for example, of which the GPL is the most notable variant, are committed to the freedom of the source code. Code governed by a copyleft license asks for reciprocity from consumers; if changes to the code base are made and distributed (we’ll come back to that word), they must be released and shared under the original terms. Permissive licenses, on the other hand, are built around freedom for the developer: permissively licensed assets impose few if any restrictions on downstream users, and require no such reciprocity. Both communities are strongly committed to freedom; the difference lies in what, precisely, is kept free.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Renault Is Planning To Release Its Hardware As An Open-Source Automotive Platform

        Auto maker Renault is developing an open-source platform based on the Twizy that is a compact and lightweight electric vehicle with the bodywork parts removed. The POM will be made available to start-ups, independent laboratories, private customers and researchers, enabling third parties to copy and modify existing software in order to create a customizable electric vehicle. Renault has partnered with B2B company OSVehicle to develop and sell this open-source platform to the community. Bringing together entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and engineers, they will make it easier for them to build, share, distribute and modify the hardware designs of electric vehicles.

  • Programming/Development

    • A 5 year old girl vs. CoderDojo

      In early December’16 together with my 5 year old daughter we visited an introductory workshop about the Hello Ruby book and another workshop organized by Coder Dojo Bulgaria. Later that month we also visited a Robo League competition in Sofia. The goal was to further Adriana’s interest into technical topics and programming in particular and see how she will respond to the topics covered and the workshops and training materials format in general. I have been keeping detailed notes and today I’m publishing some of my observations.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Senate Takes Major Step Toward Repealing Health Care Law

      Senate Republicans took their first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, approving a budget blueprint that would allow them to gut the health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

      The vote was 51 to 48. During the roll call, Democrats staged a highly unusual protest on the Senate floor to express their dismay and anger at the prospect that millions of Americans could lose health insurance coverage.

      One by one, Democrats rose to voice their objections. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington said that Republicans were “stealing health care from Americans.” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he was voting no “because health care should not just be for the healthy and wealthy.”

    • Nutella maker fights back against fears over cancer-causing palm oil

      Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, has hit back at claims that palm oil used in their hazelnut and chocolate spreads could cause cancer.

      In May, the European Food Standards Authority warned that the contaminants found in the oil’s edible form are carcinogenic. It warned that even moderate consumption of the substances represented a risk to children and said that, due to a lack of definitive data, no level could be considered safe.

      Palm oil is found in hundreds of household name food brands including Cadbury’s chocolate, Clover and even Ben & Jerry’s, but Nutella has so far faced the brunt of a consumer backlash.

    • Flint water town hall leaves residents discouraged

      Flint residents hoping for some major news about the safety of their long-troubled drinking water got something less than that at a town hall meeting Wednesday.

      Government officials contend that city water reaching homes continues to improve in terms of proper lead, copper, alkaline and bacteria levels. They described Flint as very much like other American cities.

      Yet the distance between Flint residents and the ability to trust their water and those in charge of it appears wide. Before the start of the meeting, Flint resident Tony Palladino Jr. was realistic.

    • House Clears Path for Repeal of Health Law

      The House cleared the way on Friday for speedy action to repeal the Affordable Care Act, putting Congress on track to undo the most significant health care law in a half-century.

      With a near party-line vote of 227 to 198, the House overcame the opposition of Democrats and the anxieties of some Republicans to approve a budget blueprint that allows Republicans to end major provisions of President Obama’s health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

      President-elect Donald J. Trump, Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republican leaders now face a much bigger challenge: devising their own plan to ensure broad access to health care and coverage while controlling costs. While their party is far from a consensus on how to replace the health care law — under which more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance — they will need votes from Democrats in the Senate to enact a robust replacement plan.

      Republicans have argued that Americans have been crushed by soaring premiums and other unintended effects of the law, which was adopted without any Republican votes.

    • Teen Vogue features Free Press photographer’s Flint water journey

      Detroit Free Press photographer and Flint resident Ryan Garza has captured stunning, insider photos of the Flint water crisis.

      Now his images are being showcased by Teen Vogue magazine.

      In an essay for the magazine, Garza offers a personal account of rashes, foul-smelling water and memorable Flint residents whose stories he has shared since the city switched from Detroit water to Flint River water in 2014.

    • Officials: More than 30 months into Flint crisis, water still unsafe to drink

      On Wednesday, officials held a town hall meeting in Flint to deliver some good news and some bad news about the city’s water crisis. The good: Flint’s water quality is improving. The bad: The crisis isn’t over.

      Officials are still urging Flint residents to use bottled water and filters on their home faucets. They said it will take roughly three years to replace all of the city’s lead water pipes — a job for which they have not yet secured funding.

      The good news is that officials say that during the last six months of water sampling, 90 percent of homes have indicated average lead readings of 12 parts per billion, below the federal threshold of 15 ppb.

      But more than 30 months into the crisis, good isn’t good enough for many frustrated residents.

    • Woman killed by superbug resistant to every available antibiotic after visit to India

      A woman has died after suffering from a superbug that was resistant to every available type of antibiotic.

      The 70-year-old returned to the US state of Nevada in August 2016 after an extended trip to India, where she was reportedly been hospitalised multiple times.

      Although she was admitted to a hospital’s acute care ward shortly after her return, she died in September after her infection proved resistant to 26 different antibiotics.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Friday
    • New Windows backdoor targets intelligence gathering

      New versions of the MM Core Windows backdoor are being used to provide a channel into victims’ machines for the purpose of intelligence gathering, according to Carl Leonard, principal security analyst at Forcepoint Security Labs.

      The new versions were found by members of the Forcepoint investigations team.

      MM Core, which is also known as BaneChant, is a file-less advanced persistent threat which is executed in memory by a downloaded component. It was first reported in 2013 with the version 2.0-LNK and used the tag BaneChant in the network request sent to its command-and-control centre.

      A second version, 2.1-LNK, found shortly thereafter, had the network tag StrangeLove.

      Forcepoint researchers Nicholas Griffin and Roland Dela Paz, whose write-up on MM Core was provided to iTWire, said the two new versions they had found were 2.2-LNK (network tag BigBoss) and 2.3-LNK (SillyGoose).

    • Implementing Medical Device Cybersecurity: A Two-Stage Process

      Connectivity is ubiquitous – it’s moved beyond an overhyped buzzword and become part of life. Offering ever-advancing levels of access, control, and convenience, widespread connectivity also increases the risk of unauthorised interference in our everyday lives.

      In what many experts believe was a world first, manufacturer Johnson & Johnson recently issued a warning to patients on a cyber-vulnerability in one of its medical devices. The company announced that an insulin pump it supplies had a potential connectivity vulnerability. The wireless communication link the device used contained a potential exploit that could have been used by an unauthorised third party to alter the insulin dosage delivered to the patient.

    • Dockerfile security tuneup

      I recently watched 2 great talks on container security by Justin Cormack from Docker at Devoxx Belgium and Adrian Mouat from Container Solutions at GOTO Stockholm. We were following many of the suggestions but there was still room for improvement. So we decided it was good time to do a security tuneup of our dockerfiles.

    • FTC Sues D-Link For Pretending To Give A Damn About Hardware Security

      If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that the so-called Internet of Things isn’t particularly secure. Hardware vendors were so excited to market a universe of new internet-connected devices, they treated things like privacy, security, and end-user control as afterthoughts. As a result, we’ve now got smart TVs, smart tea kettles, WiFi-connected barbies and all manner of other devices that are not only leaking private customer data, but are being quickly hacked, rolled into botnets, and used in historically unprecedented new, larger DDoS attacks.

      This isn’t a problem exclusive to new companies breaking into the IoT space. Long-standing hardware vendors that have consistently paid lip service to security are fueling the problem. Asus, you’ll recall, was dinged by the FTC last year for marketing its routers as incredibly secure, yet shipping them with easily-guessed default username/login credentials and cloud-based functionality that was easily exploitable.

      The FTC is back again, this time suing D-Link for routers and video cameras that the company claimed were “easy to secure” and delivered “advanced network security,” yet were about as secure as a kitten-guarded pillow fort. Like Asus, D-Link’s hardware also frequently ships with easily-guessed default login credentials. This frequently allows “hackers” (that term is generous since it takes just a few keystrokes) to peruse an ocean of unsecured cameras via search engines like Shodan, allowing them to spy on families and businesses in real time.

    • The eight security backdoors that helped kill faith in security

      With the news of WhatsApp’s backdoor granting Facebook and government agencies access to user messages, fears over users’ privacy issues are sure to be at an all-time high for WhatsApp’s 1 billion users.

      Backdoors in computing equipment are the stuff of legend. A decade ago a security expert informed me with absolute certainty that a prominent non-US networking company had designed them into its products for years as a matter of course as if nobody much cared about this fact. Long before the average citizen had heard the letters NSA, it struck me at the time as extraordinary suggestion. It was almost as if the deliberate compromise of an important piece of network equipment was a harmless novelty.

    • Hacker group Shadow Brokers retires, dumps more code as parting gift

      The Shadow Brokers claimed to have held even more valuable cyber tools in reserve and offered to sell them to the highest bidder in an unorthodox public auction. On Thursday, they said their sales effort had been unsuccessful and were therefore ceasing operations. “So long, farewell peoples. The Shadow Brokers is going dark, making exit,” the group said according to a screenshot of the webpage posted Thursday on the news website CyberScoop.

    • Suspected NSA tool hackers dump more cyberweapons in farewell

      The hacking group that stole cyberweapons suspected to be from the U.S. National Security Agency is signing off — but not before releasing another arsenal of tools that appear designed to spy on Windows systems.

    • Shadow Brokers announce retirement, leak NSA Windows Hacking tools as parting gift
    • The Shadow Brokers Leaves the Stage with a Gift of So-Called NSA-Sourced Hacking Tools
    • Shadow Brokers group bids adieu, dumps hacking tools before going silent
    • ‘It Always Being About Bitcoins’: Shadow Brokers Retire
    • Hacking Group ‘ShadowBrokers’ Release NSA Exploits, Then Go Dark
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Giuliani to advise Trump administration on cybersecurity

      President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced Thursday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani “will be sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend concerning private sector cybersecurity problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector.”

      Giuliani is the CEO of Giuliani Partners, an international security consulting firm. The group recently struck a deal with BlackBerry to offer companies and governments cybersecurity support.

    • Swan Song from a “Reluctant” Hawk

      President Obama will deliver his Farewell Address tonight to a capacity crowd in Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center. It’s the right venue for the speech, the president explained last week, because Chicago is “where my career in public service began.”

      Indeed, it’s the city where, as a young state senator in 2002, Obama gave an antiwar rally speech railing against the “dumb,” “rash” rush to war in Iraq; and where, as a presidential candidate five years later, he promised to “turn the page on the imperial presidency” and usher in “a new dawn of peace.” And yet, 2008’s “peace candidate” will leave office as the first two-term president in American history to have been at war every day of his presidency, having dropped over 25,000 bombs on seven countries in 2016 alone.

    • Yet Another Lawsuit Hopes A Court Will Hold Twitter Responsible For Terrorists’ Actions

      So, this is how we’re handling the War on Terror here on the homefront: lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit against social media platforms because terrorists also like to tweet and post stuff on Facebook.

      The same law firm (New York’s Berkman Law Office) that brought us last July’s lawsuit against Facebook (because terrorist organization Hamas also uses Facebook) is now bringing one against Twitter because ISIS uses Twitter. (h/t Lawfare’s Ben Wittes)

      Behind the law firm are more families of victims of terrorist attacks — this time those in Brussels and Paris. Once again, any criticism of this lawsuit (and others of its type) is not an attack on those who have lost loved ones to horrific acts of violence perpetrated by terrorist organizations.

      The criticisms here are the same as they have been in any previous case: the lawsuits are useless and potentially dangerous. They attempt to hold social media platforms accountable for the actions of terrorists. At the heart of every sued company’s defense is Section 230 of the CDA, which immunizes them against civil lawsuits predicated on the actions and words of the platform’s users.

    • Teenage boy killed in Malmö shooting

      A teenage boy has died after being shot in the Rosengård district of southern Swedish city Malmö on Thursday evening.

      The boy was found injured at a bus stop in the area just before 7pm. He was taken to hospital, but police later confirmed that he had died from his injuries at 7.27pm.

      The boy was born in 2000 and was only 16. His relatives have been informed by the police.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Rex Tillerson’s Jaw-Dropping Testimony Just Completely Disqualified Him

      Rex Tillerson’s witless, contradictory, and obfuscatory testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmed fears that the ExxonMobil CEO is too conflicted, too ill-prepared, and too disengaged from accepted understandings with regard to diplomacy, sustainable development, and human rights to be seriously considered for the position of secretary of state.

      But the most unsettling exchange took place after an initial round of questioning by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. The veteran member of the Foreign Relations Committee asked what should have been a simple concluding question.

      Tillerson’s response was incredible.

      Senator Menendez: “For all of these answers you’ve given me, does the president-elect agree with you?”

  • Finance

    • Lost generation: Millennials are earning 20 percent less than their boomer parents

      Baby Boomers: your millennial children are worse off than you.

      With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated, according to a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles.

      The analysis being released Friday gives concrete details about a troubling generational divide that helps to explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Millennials have half the net worth of boomers. Their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher.

      The generational gap is a central dilemma for the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who essentially pledged a return to the prosperity of post-World War II America. The analysis also hints at the issues of culture and identity that divided many voters, showing that white millennials — who still earn much more than their blacks and Latino peers — have seen their incomes plummet the most relative to boomers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We all knew about this: The leaked dossier on Donald Trump’s Russia ties had been circulating in D.C. for months

      It was a bombshell story, emerging on the eve of Donald Trump’s first news conference as president-elect: U.S. intelligence officials had presented Trump with unsubstantiated claims that Russia had amassed compromising personal and financial allegations about him.

      The purported Russian efforts were described in a newly released and uncorroborated dossier produced in August. But they had circulated more widely in Washington in October — following early reports and opaque warnings from elected officials that something was afoot involving the Kremlin and Trump.

      In October, Mother Jones magazine described how a former Western spy — assigned to look into Trump’s Russian ties for a private American firm — had presented his findings to the FBI in August. Those findings, the magazine said, were produced for political opposition research and said that Russian intelligence had compromised Trump during his visits to Moscow — information that, if true, could be used to blackmail him or undermine his presidency.

    • WikiLeaks Docs Reveal Obama Believed Intelligence Community Lacked ‘Credibility’ In 2008

      Barack Obama believed the U.S. intelligence community lacked sufficient “credibility” in 2008, according to leaked documents from the Obama 2008 transition team.

      According to the documents, which were made public by anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks last fall but have gone largely unnoticed until now, one of Obama’s goals for his administration was to “restore credibility” that he believed the intelligence community needed but didn’t have.

    • Trump NSA director arranges telephone talks between Trump and Putin as Russia thaw on fast track
    • Trump adviser had 5 calls with Russian envoy on day of sanctions
    • Trump Adviser Spoke With Russian Ambassador On Day Sanctions Announced
    • Rudy Giuliani To Head Up Trump’s Cybersecurity Team As The Internet Laughs At Giuliani’s Security Bona Fides

      Our soon-to-be American President has made quite a show about bolstering the country’s efforts for cybersecurity. The “cyber”, as he is wont to call the issue, is claimed to be in disrepair and requires brave new minds to protect the country’s computer systems from hacks and attacks from outside forces. We’ve already discussed in the past how depressing it is to learn just how little actual computer science knowledge exists floating in the minds of our elected leaders and their top-level appointees. There is an opportunity to get very smart, very well-educated people on matters of cybersecurity involved in government.

    • Dems ‘outraged’ with Comey after House briefing

      A number of House Democrats left Friday’s confidential briefing on Russian hacking fuming over the actions of FBI Director James Comey and convinced he’s unfit to lead the agency.

      “I was nonjudgmental until the last 15 minutes. I no longer have that confidence in him,” Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said as he left the meeting in the Capitol.

      “Some of the things that were revealed in this classified briefing — my confidence has been shook.”

      Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, delivered a similar condemnation.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Media censorship of unrest in Mexico continues, but why?

      The people of Mexico have had enough of government corruption, drug cartel influence, and high prices. Since the New Year, millions of Mexican citizens have taken to the streets to protest. Some of those protests are turning violent. Government attempts to quell the violence have failed. Border crossings have been closed several times due to protests. As the situation worsens, a baffling media blackout continues.

    • Slavic Scholar Compares Putin’s Censorship to Soviet Era Speech Restrictions

      A Slavic scholar and alumna spoke at the Seminary Co-Op Wednesday on Russian censorship and her “love affair with Russian.”

      Marianna T. Choldin returned on Wednesday to Hyde Park to discuss her most recent memoir, Garden of Broken Statues, with fellow alumna Judith E. Stein.

    • Streisand Effect Derails Man’s Analog Plan To Buy Up All The Newspapers Detailing His DWI Arrest

      The concept of buying up all the newspapers in town to avoid some embarrassing story or picture of oneself is old humor. The concept, featured in sitcoms of yester-yore, relies on a couple of things: newspapers being the single source of a story or photo and for news stories to not travel quickly nor beyond the insular community in which they occurred. Because of that, the joke doesn’t really work in a hyperconnected world with digital media.

      This was a lesson painfully learned by Joseph Talbot of Newark, it seems. Talbot, an otherwise apparently well-respected businessman, was arrested recently for driving while intoxicated. Understandably, he was embarrassed upon learning that news of his arrest had been written up in the local newspaper. His solution was to deploy the sitcom-level chicanery previously discussed.

    • German hosts will bar critical journalists from European far-right summit

      German organizers of a meeting of European right-wing populist and anti-immigration parties said on Thursday they would bar a number of journalists they deem hostile, sparking protests from media groups.

      The Alterative for Germany (AfD) plans to meet France’s far-right chief Marine Le Pen, Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders and Italy’s Matteo Salvini of the Northern League on January 21st in the western city of Koblenz.

      The AfD’s Marcus Pretzell, a co-organiser of the conference for some 1,000 delegates, announced that all publicly funded media would be barred, reported German news agency DPA.

    • Over 5,500 Academics Arrested in Turkey since Rule of Law Suspended

      Scholars At Risk report that the pressure on Turkish academics has persisted into the 2017 as a new decree was issued dismissing over 600 scholars and more than 100 administrative personnel from higher level educational institutions.

    • Mocha, MTRCB, and censorship

      No one has so far come forward to formally question and ask the courts to stop President Duterte’s appointment of Mocha Uson as member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

      It could be done, especially if critics of both the President and Uson could present arguments and bases for her disqualification and ineligibility. They could even formally appeal to the President first, if they are really serious.

      But it is both difficult and self-defeating for the critics to make such a legal move, if it would be based on the arguments and bases they have so far been able to present.

    • Porn censorship laws and age checks breach human rights and threaten privacy, says UN official

      Age verification checks to prevent children from accessing pornography are a breach of human rights, a UN official has warned.

      David Kaye, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said that amendments to the UK’s Digital Economy Bill could violate international law on freedom of speech.

    • “Hate crime” reporting risks becoming a tool for censorship

      In the weeks following the EU referendum there was a spike in reported “hate crime” incidents, where people feel they have been badly treated on account of their race, religion, gender or sexuality. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, suggested this was a good thing: the Government’s data gathering was obviously working and “more victims are finding the confidence to come forward to report these crimes,” she said.

    • Outcry over ‘hate’ report for Govt minister’s speech
    • Amber Rudd defends comments about foreign workers
    • Free Speech Advocates, Publishers Wrestle With Questions Of Censorship
    • Doug Lamborn takes part in Ferguson artwork fight that pits censorship versus sensitivity
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chelsea Manning Describes Bleak Life in a Men’s Prison

      Most mornings at 4:30 a.m., half an hour before the “first call” awakens inmates at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas, an alarm rings within an 80-square-foot cell. Inmate 89289, slightly built with close-cropped hair, rises to apply makeup and don female undergarments and a brown uniform before the still-slumbering men in the adjacent cells stir.

      That is the routine for Chelsea Manning, America’s most famous convicted leaker and the prison’s most unusual inmate. She is serving the longest sentence ever imposed for disclosing government secrets — 35 years — and her status as a celebrity of sorts and an incarcerated transgender woman presents continuing difficulties for the military.

      During the day, Ms. Manning, who was an Army intelligence analyst known as Bradley Manning when she disclosed archives of secret military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks in 2010, builds picture frames and furniture in the prison wood shop. In the evenings, before the 10:05 p.m. lockdown, she reads through streams of letters, including from antisecrecy enthusiasts who view her as a whistle-blower.

    • ‘I escaped death by reciting from the Koran’

      When five armed Islamist militants stormed a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 1 July 2016, 29 people lost their lives. Emerging from the appalling, bloody debris are stories of immense courage. There are also unanswered questions about what happened to some of those who died.

      It was about 20:45 on a Friday evening just before the Islamic festival of Eid. The restaurant – the Holey Artisan Bakery and O’Kitchen in Gulshan, Dhaka’s leafiest, most exclusive area – was filling up, mostly with Japanese and Italian customers.

      Suddenly, the five young militants burst in shooting and began hacking at the diners with sharp weapons.

    • Teenage refugee ‘stabbed and kicked to death’ by Muslim gang on New Year’s Eve in Germany

      The 15-year-old Yazidi refugee, named only as Odai KH due to privacy laws, had fled the horrors of Syria to Luessum, a neighbourhood of the German city of Bremen.

      The attack took place during a fight that broke out on New Year’s Eve at around 2am on Lüssumer Heide.

      The boy was described as being a “cheerful lad who was full of dreams” and wanted to escape the “cruel violence and ethnic cleansing” so left to start a new life with his family, and applied for asylum in Germany in 2015.

    • A fifth social activist has been reported missing in Pakistan, alarming rights groups

      A fifth Pakistani social activist has gone missing from the capital Islamabad, a colleagues said on Wednesday, days after four other campaigners disappeared in a way that has alarmed supporters of free speech.

      Samar Abbas, president of the Civil Progressive Alliance of Pakistan (CPAP), an anti-extremism activist group, went missing on Saturday, according to Talib Raza, who worked with him at the Karachi-based organisation.

      Abbas’s brother, also named Talib, told local media on Wednesday that his brother had vanished over the weekend.

      “The family waited for a few days to inform people. When the stories about other activists disappearing started emerging, it became clear what was going on,” Raza told Reuters.

    • New US law says kids can walk to school by themselves

      After years of documenting instances in which parents and kids are terrorized by law enforcement and child welfare authorities because the kids were allowed to be on their own in public places, the Free Range Kids movement has gotten some justice: a new Federal law gives its official okey-doke to parents who let their kids get to school on their own.

      Section 8542 of the Every Student Succeeds Act specifically does not limit “a child from traveling to and from school on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission” nor does it “expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is age appropriate.”

    • Court Says Tossing A Flashbang Grenade Into A Room With A Toddler Is ‘Unreasonable’ Police Behavior

      The Evansville (IN) Police Department has seen a drug bust go up in a cloud of flashbang smoke. A search warrant for drugs and weapons, based on an informant’s tip, was executed perfectly… if you’re the sort of person who believes it takes a dozen heavily-armed officers, a Lenco Bearcat, and two flashbangs to grab a suspect no one felt like arresting when he was outside alone taking out his trash. (via FourthAmendment.com)

      The state appeals court decision [PDF] hinges on the deployment of a flashbang grenade into a room containing a toddler. Fortunately, in this case, the toddler was only frightened, rather than severely burned. But it was this tossed flashbang that ultimately undoes the PD’s case. The evidence is suppressed and the conviction reversed.

    • Islamic extremists get local official in Yogyakarta removed because he is Catholic

      The authorities in Bantul Regency (Yogyakarta special province), central Java, removed from office Yulius Suharto, head of Pajangan sub-district, following a massive lobbying campaign launched on social media by Islamic extremist groups and radical Muslims who targeted him because he is Catholic.

      The decision to dismiss the sub-district chief was made on Monday as a result of the unrelenting campaign against the official (pictured).

      In a statement, the authorities state that the decision is backed by scores of officials and citizens in Pajangan, ostensibly opposed to a Catholic holding the top office in the civilian administration of a predominantly Muslim area.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New FCC report says AT&T and Verizon zero-rating violates net neutrality

      Just a week and a half before he is set to leave office, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued a new report stating that the zero-rated video services offered by AT&T and Verizon may violate the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

      Assembled by the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the report focuses on sponsored data programs, which allow companies to pay carriers to exempt exempt their data from customers’ data caps. The programs have always been controversial, but the issue has grown particularly urgent in recent years, as carriers have bought up media companies and launched aggressive new mobile video packages.

    • Outgoing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: Net Neutrality’s Not Dead

      Republicans have been fighting to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules since before they were even passed in 2015. They may finally get their wish. The party will soon control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the FCC itself. But on the eve of his resignation as chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, who ushered in the rules, says it’s not too late to save net neutrality.

      “Vigilance to protect things that we enjoy today must be our watchword,” said Wheeler in a speech at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC, today. The Obama appointee plans to resign his post on Inauguration Day next week.

    • Killing net neutrality at FCC is “not a slam dunk,” departing chair says

      In his final speech before leaving the Federal Communications Commission, Chairman Tom Wheeler today made the case for why net neutrality rules are working and said that Republican commissioners won’t necessarily have an easy time overturning the rules.

      “Contrary to what you might have heard, reversing the Open Internet rules is not a slam dunk,” Wheeler said at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC. “The effort to undo an open Internet will face the high hurdle, imposed by the Administrative Procedure Act, of a fact-based showing that so much has changed in just two short years that a reversal is justified.”

    • Outgoing FCC chief Tom Wheeler offers final defense of net neutrality

      The outgoing head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, used his final public speech to make a closing argument for maintaining net neutrality, the signature achievement of his time at the agency.

      “The overarching goal of the new policies was to promote a thriving broadband ecosystem, and that’s exactly what has happened,” Wheeler said.

      Under Trump, Republicans will regain a majority at the FCC and have already made clear their intention to begin pushing back on, if not completely rewriting or wiping out, the Open Internet Order that established net neutrality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • ARIPO Lines Up IP Enhancing Activities For 2017 [Ed: The idea that Africa is ‘behind’ or ‘less developed’ BECAUSE it doesn’t have “IP” (or lots of patents) is ludicrous to the extreme]

      “In spite of this development, Africa has however not fully exploited the IP system for the benefit of its people. Uptake of intellectual property is still very low on the continent,” he said, adding that of the 2.57 million patent applications that were filed worldwide in 2013, Africa contributed only 0.6 percent.

    • US Issues Updated Antitrust Guidelines For Licensing Of IP

      The United States Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission today released updated antitrust guidelines for the licensing of intellectual property.

      The guidelines are for the public and businesses to better understand the enforcement approach of the federal antitrust agencies. The update followed a comment period based on a draft made available in August.

    • WIPO Green Platform Expanding With Experts Database, Seeks Experts [Ed: greenwashing]

      The World Intellectual Property Organization internet platform WIPO GREEN is expanding by building a database of experts meant to help technology seekers find green technology specialists to provide their service and expertise.

      WIPO GREEN, “The Marketplace for Sustainable Technology,” is an internet platform established in 2013. According to WIPO, “it brings together a wide range of players in the green technology innovation value chain, and connects owners of new technologies with individuals or companies who might be looking to commercialize, license or otherwise distribute a green technology.”

    • Copyrights

      • Advertisers Promise to Boycott Pirate Sites After Police Visit

        The UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit says that it visited several companies found to be advertising on pirate sites. The visits, made alongside FACT, IFPI, BPI and PRS, resulted in promises from the organizations to stop advertising on 1,232 pirate sites.

      • Study: Content owners should communicate with pirates

        A research study in the International Journal of Business Environment suggests that content providers must take a pragmatic view based on social consensus to persuade illicit downloaders that their behaviour is economically and ethically unacceptable behaviour among their peer group or other social group to which they belong.

        According to Eva Hofmann of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK and Elfriede Penz of the Institute for International Marketing Management, at Vienna University of Economics and Business, in Austria, the unauthorised sharing of digital content is well-entrenched in popular culture. However, they have discerned a difference in the way those downloading pirated content and the legal downloaders decide on how to obtain the content they desire from the Internet.

      • New Study Essentially Suggests That Publishers Should Do CwF + RtB Instead Of Going Legal To Combat Piracy

        We have talked about the power of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy, along with using public shaming, as tools for combating piracy in its various forms. Tools far better, in fact, than twisting in litigious winds hoping that the construct of law will be sufficient to curb natural human behavior… and finding out that it isn’t. What these routes offer content producers is a way to ingratiate themselves with their fans, building a community that not only wants to buy content themselves, but also will decry any attempt to pirate that content by others. Morality is shaped by the herd, in other words, so having the herd on your side finds content producers a powerful ally.

        But philosophy like that doesn’t penetrate industry in and of itself. Perhaps, then, data and academic studies may. The International Journal of Business Environment recently released just such a study suggesting that content providers are far better off reaching out and connecting with fans, including those pirating their works, rather than trying to fight piracy legally.

      • Germany tries to cripple “right to read” EU Marrakesh Treaty legislation for visually-impaired persons with a “publishers compensation right”

        The German Permanent Representation to the EU has proposed to MEPs and to the Council to include in the draft Directive for implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty an article that would grant economic compensation to secondary rightsholders such as publishers. This would greatly weaken the “right to read” objectives of Marrakesh Treaty as an exception to copyright for print-disabled persons. Germany proposes to integrate “article 12” of the European Commission´s new general copyright proposal draft that has not yet been considered by the European Parliament which says: “Member States may provide that where an author has transferred or licensed a right to a publisher, such a transfer or a licence constitutes a sufficient legal basis for the publisher to claim a share of the compensation for the uses of the work made under an exception or limitation to the transferred or licensed right.”

      • Panels Present Importance Of Fair Use In South Africa’s Draft Copyright Amendment

        “Fair use” was at the heart of discussions between intellectual property stakeholders at a recent workshop called to discuss the revised draft copyright amendment bill of South Africa.

        The one-day workshop, held in Cape Town on 6 December was the first of two IP sector workshops that brought together academics, activists and IP practitioners to discuss the merits and demerits of the copyright amendment bill and its anticipated revisions. The second one-day workshop was held in Johannesburg the same week on the 8th of December.

        The draft copyright amendment bill, was published in the government gazette by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTi) in July 2015. This opened a public submissions process into the bill which ran until 16 September 2015. During this period, government called a one day conference in Johannesburg to further inform the refinement process of the bill (IPW, Africa, 28 August 2016).

      • Google Removes MEGA Frontpage From Search Results

        Google has removed the homepage of the popular cloud storage service Mega from its search index. The surprise move, which is the result of an inaccurate DMCA takedown notice from a movie company, directly impacts the site’s incoming search traffic.

      • UK ‘Piracy Warnings’ Are Coming This Month; Here’s How it Works

        This month UK Internet providers will start their long-awaited piracy alerts campaign. With help from copyright holders and support from the Government, ISPs will send email notifications to subscribers whose connections are allegedly being used to pirate content. Today we take a look at what’s in store.

      • BREIN Reveals Anti-Piracy Tactics and Achievements

        BREIN pulled 231 illegal sites and services offline, for example. This includes 84 linking sites, 63 streaming portals, and 34 torrent sites. Some of these shut down completely and others were forced to leave their hosting providers.

01.13.17

Links 13/1/2017: Linux 4.9.3 and Linux 4.4.42

Posted in News Roundup at 7:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux People Should Say, ‘You’re Welcome, Windows Users’

    There was a time when a computer operating system called Windows totally dominated the market, and it sucked. I mean, really sucked. Blue screens of death, unexplained crashes, viruses and worms galore, re-re-reboots all the darn time…and still, despite all the problems, people used this Windows thing. Why? Because except for the artsy/hipster $MacOS, it was the only computer OS you could get for your desktop, and it was the one that ran all the 17 jillion programs businesses wanted their office workers to use. Luckily, Windows has gotten a lot better over the years. Except…was it luck or was it Linux that made Windows improve?

    Before we get into that, let’s talk about cars for a minute. Specifically Volkswagens, Renaults and Fiats. Once upon a time. American cars ruled our nation’s highways and byways. They were big. They had 738 cubic inch Hemiverberator V-8 engines, and loved to stop at gas stations. But hey! Gas was cheap. A couple of friends, maybe me and Indian Ron, could put $5 worth of premium into the big black Chrysler and cruise Van Nuys Boulevard all night or until we found honeys to ride with us, after which…. Sorry, this is a family website.

  • The reason why I can’t use GNU/Linux (for now)

    2) The migration to systemd.

    I won’t write something long here. Because this is not an anti-systemd post.

    I don’t really care if a distribution have or not systemd. If somebody tell me to try X distribution, I do without paying attention of the init.

    What I don’t really like about this is that a lot of distributions are moving to systemd as it was the best thing ever. Some of the did it even when most of the users were against the change.
    For example, Slackware had some users just because it had BSD-style init scripts. But since they moved to systemd, they are like any other distribution but without dependencies handling.

  • Insights on RedHat, SUSE & Canonical; The Major Linux Companies

    Open source software were always promisable. Thanks for the collaboration, opportunities and infrastructure that it provides to both end users and enterprises. Linux is an amazing example for a successful open source code which shapes future.

    The 25-years-old operating system has grown so fast. Today, it is used almost everywhere. From web servers, android devices, supercomputers and to IoT devices. Linux became more than just an operating system to run some lab servers. And because of this, it created huge opportunities for enterprises to benefit from. This market allowed great tech companies to be established to fulfill its needs. Which gave us the 3 major1) Linux companies: Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical.

    The business model for each of the major companies was similar; selling support services and subscriptions for their own open source and Linux-based products. It was the case for most business models in the open source world as well; profit from around the product, not the product itself.

  • 10 Top Companies That Are Powered By Linux

    Linux is one of the most popular operating systems used for many companies, in this article you are going to find 10 companies that use Linux.

  • Desktop

    • Papa’s Got a Brand New NAS

      At the beginning of my search, I started down a more traditional route with a cheap 1U server and a modern motherboard, but I quickly started narrowing down the motherboards to small, lower-power solutions given this machine was going to run all day. As I started considering some of the micro ATX solutions out there, it got me thinking: could I use a Raspberry Pi? After all, the latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi has a reasonably fast processor, a decent amount of RAM, and it’s cheap, so even if one by itself wasn’t enough to manage all my services, two or three might do the trick and not only be cheaper than a standard motherboard but lower power as well.

    • Traditional PCs Continue To Decline

      I’m joining the 21st century by switching to GNU/Linux on ARM instead of what the remains of the Wintel monopoly ships. 2017 should be the last year an x86-based PC runs in my home, except for a print-server. I don’t have an ARMed driver for the damned printer, but that printer is getting old. Maybe it will die…

  • Server

    • What benefits do Open Source, SDN, NFV, and new cloud standards bring to the networking industry?

      Remember proprietary networks – where you were expected to buy everything from a single provider (and its certified partners)? Those were the good old days for those proprietary vendors’ shareholders and investors, but they were a nightmare for customers who wanted to be free to choose the best solutions, embrace cutting-edge innovation, mix-and-match different capabilities and price points, and avoid the dreaded vendor lock-in. The good news is that proprietary networks are dead, dead, dead.

    • Report: Agile and DevOps provide more benefits together than alone

      DevOps and agile are two of the most popular ways businesses try to stay ahead of the market, but put them together and they provide even more benefits. A new report, Accelerating Velocity and Customer Value with Agile and DevOps, from CA Technologies revealed businesses experienced greater customer satisfaction and brand loyalty when integrating agile with DevOops.

    • The Hard Truths about Microservices and Software Delivery – Watch our LISA16 Talk

      Everybody’s talking about Microservices right now. But are you having trouble figuring out what it means for you?

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.9.3

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.3 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

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

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

    • Linux 4.4.42
    • Linux Kernel 4.4.42 LTS Updates USB Drivers, Improves ARM64 Support

      Only three days after announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.4.41 LTS, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman is informing us today, January 12, 2017, about the immediate availability of the Linux 4.4.42 LTS kernel.

      If you’re reading our reports on the latest Linux kernels, you should already be aware of the fact that Linux 4.4 is an LTS (Long Term Support) branch, used in various popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Arch Linux, and the security-oriented Alpine Linux. The new version, Linux kernel 4.4.42 LTS, it’s pretty hefty and changes a total of 92 files, with 903 insertions and 410 deletions.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.3 Rolls Out with Over 200 Changes, Lots of XFS Improvements

      You won’t believe this, but Greg Kroah-Hartman announced today, January 12, 2017, the release of the third maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 kernel stable series, just three days after the release of Linux kernel 4.9.2.

      From the appended shortlog, it looks like there are a total of 201 files changed in this third point release of Linux kernel 4.9, with 1929 insertions and 945 deletions, so we can only think that all these patches were out for a while now, but they didn’t make it into the mainline kernel because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. However, they are more than welcome, and it’s really great work.

    • New CloudLinux 7 Kernel Now in Beta, Disables Procfs Restricted Mode by Default

      CloudLinux’s Mykola Naugolnyi is announcing today, January 12, 2017, the availability of a new kernel for the CloudLinux 7 series of enterprise-ready operating systems in the Beta channels.

      The updated CloudLinux 7 kernel, versioned 3.10.0-427.36.1.lve1.4.32, is now available from the company’s “updates-testing” repository, and those brave enough to take it for a test drive to see if it fixes some issues that had with previous kernel version can use the command below to install it.

    • Heterogeneous Memory Management Aims For Linux 4.11

      Jerome Glisse published his sixteenth version of the patches for implementing Heterogeneous Memory Management within the Linux kernel.

      For those unfamiliar with the impact or new possibilities opened up by HMM, it’s further explained here. HMM will make it easier to write code targeting GPUs in a manner more similar to CPUs, can use malloc’ed memory transparently on all supported devices by allowing device memory to be used transparently inside any process and for mirroring a process address space on a different device.

    • It’s Now Possible To Disable & Strip Down Intel’s ME Blob

      Many free software advocates have been concerned by Intel’s binary-only Management Engine (ME) built into the motherboards on newer generations of Intel motherboards. The good news is there is now a working, third-party approach for disabling the ME and reducing the risk of its binary blobs.

      Via an open-source, third-party tool called me_cleaner it’s possible to partially deblob Intel’s ME firmware images by removing any unnecessary partitions from the firmware, reducing its ability to interface with the system. The me_cleaner works not only with free software firmware images like Coreboot/Libreboot but can also work with factory-blobbed images. I was able to confirm with a Coreboot developer that this program can disable the ME on older boards or devices with BootGuard and disable Secure Boot. This is all done with a Python script.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Google Developer Back To Working On Another Vulkan C++ Abstraction Library

        The proliferation of Vulkan abstraction libraries continues.

        After covering NVIDIA’s Vulkan VkHLF framework that was released yesterday, it was pointed out to us that a Google developer is back to working on google/vulkan-cpp-library.

      • Valve Developer Posts New AMD GPU Debugging Tool, Part Of Improving Linux Driver

        Another Valve developer has begun contributing to the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack. Besides posting some RADV Vulkan patches last week, today he’s announced a new GPU debugging tool he’s been working on for AMD’s driver/hardware.

      • A Valve developer has released a tool to debug AMD graphics cards on Linux

        Andres Rodriguez sent in a message to the mesa-dev mailing list announcing ‘gputool’ for debugging AMD graphics cards on Linux. It’s also open source under the GPL, so that’s awesome.

        It currently only supports “POLARIS 10″, but hopefully with community help it can support more card generations from AMD.

      • AMD Has Been Working On An Open-Source GPU Debug Tool, To Be Released Soon

        Yesterday we noted the new open-source AMD GPU debugging tool being developed by a Valve engineer as part of their work on the open-source RADV/RadeonSI/AMDGPU code. It turns out AMD has officially been working on a GPU debugging tool too.

        As noted in that article yesterday it was sad that AMD hadn’t to date worked on a full-featured debug tool, especially considering how good Intel’s intel-gpu-tools is for debugging and testing, and how many years already AMD has been working on their open-source driver stack without having some official and public open GPU debug tool. Fortunately, it turns out that AMD has been working on such a utility.

      • OpenGL 4.3 Lands For Maxwell With Nouveau Gallium3D, Plus 1.5~3.5x Performance Boost

        It should be a busy end of week for Mesa with the Mesa 17.0 feature freeze being this weekend. In addition to Haswell hitting OpenGL 4.2, Nouveau’s NVC0 Gallium3D driver has enabled OpenGL 4.3 support for newer Maxwell and Pascal hardware.

      • OpenGL 4.3 now available in Mesa for nouveau (NVIDIA) for Maxwell and above

        Samuel Pitoiset (Valve developer) just put some fresh work into Mesa-git that enables OpenGL 4.3 with nouveau (NVIDIA) for Maxwell and above.

      • Haswell should now see OpenGL 4.2 thanks to recent work in Mesa

        Mesa is continuing to progress rapidly, as of today Haswell should now support OpenGL 4.2 ready for the next release of Mesa. Only a few days ago Haswell gained OpenGL4, so this progress is amazing.

        Mesa 17 should arrive soon, which means this will be in the next stable release. Mesa switched their versioning, so Mesa 13.1 is now Mesa 17 as they are using a year-based version model.

      • OpenGL 4.2 Now Exposed For Intel Haswell On Mesa 17.0

        Days ago we mentioned the patches were lining up to get Intel’s Haswell to OpenGL 4.2 and this morning those patches have landed in Mesa Git ahead of the branching for the Mesa 17.0 release.

      • Updated AMD DC/DAL Patches For Polaris 12, 5K VSR

        Harry Wentland of AMD on Wednesday posted updated DC (DAL) display patches for the AMDGPU code-base.

        This is just the latest of long-running work on getting the DC display stack into shape for hopefully merging into the mainline Linux kernel later this year.

      • X.Org Server 1.19 Gets First Point Release, Fixes XWayland and RandR Issues

        X.Org Foundation’s Adam Jackson was happy to announce the other day the release of the first maintenance update to the X.Org Server 1.19 display server series for Linux-based operating systems.

        X.Org Server 1.19.0 launched almost two months ago, on the 15th of November 2016, and we still haven’t seen a GNU/Linux distribution making the switch to the most advanced X.Org Server version to date, which brings many improvements for AMD Radeon (AMDGPU/Radeon) and Intel graphics cards.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta Kicks off 2017 in Style

        Today KDE releases the beta of this year’s first Plasma feature update, Plasma 5.9. While this release brings many exciting new features to your desktop, we’ll continue to provide bugfixes to Plasma 5.8 LTS.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta Released, Adds Global Menus & Better Wayland Support
      • KDE Kicks Off 2017 in Style with KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta, Brings Back Global Menus
      • KDE Applications 16.12 Gets Its First Point Release, over 40 Recorded Bugs Fixed

        Immediately after announcing the release of the KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta desktop environment, the KDE development team was pleased to unveil the first point release of the KDE Applications 16.12 software suite.

      • KDE releases Kirigami UI 2.0

        Soon after the initial release of Kirigami UI, KDE’s framework for convergent (mobile and desktop) user interfaces, its main developer Marco Martin started porting it from Qt Quick Controls 1 to Qt Quick Controls 2, the next generation of Qt’s ready-made standard controls for Qt Quick-based user interfaces. Since QQC 2 offers a much more extended range of controls than QQC 1, the port allowed the reduction of Kirigami’s own code, while improving stability and performance. Kirigami 2 is kept as close to QQC 2′s API as possible in order to extend it seamlessly.

      • KDE Kirigami UI 2.0 Released

        KDE developers are having a busy day with not only releasing the feature-packed Plasma 5.9 Beta but also publishing the KDE Kirigami UI 2.0.

      • Conf.kde.in 2017

        Carrying on the successful tradition of conf.kde.in since 2011, we are moving to the north-east region of India for this year’s conf.kde.in. Join us for conf.kde.in 2017 on 10, 11, and 12 March at Guwahati in Assam, India. conf.kde.in 2017 will focus on the promoting Free and Open source including but not limited to Qt and KDE software.

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro 17.0 alpha 2 is now available for public

        If you know Arch Linux, then you must have heard about Manjaro Linux too. A few hours ago Manjaro development team released Manjaro 17.0 alpha2. This release is made in two flavors, the main KDE flavor and Xfce flavor. Community releases are yet to get updated. The new version is named Gellivara. next releases will be codenamed differently rather than older month codenames.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Now Powered by Linux Kernel 4.9, Gets KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS

        openSUSE Project’s Douglas DeMaio informed those running the Tumbleweed rolling operating system about the latest software updates that landed in the official, stable repositories.

        openSUSE Tumbleweed is always getting the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source applications, and today we’re happy to inform you that the Linux 4.9 kernel finally made its way into the software repos of the distributions, along with cleaned up configuration settings for the Mesa 3D Graphics Library.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Modern and secure instant messaging

        I now have an XMPP setup which has all the features of the recent fancy chat systems, and on top of that it runs, client and server, on Free Software, which can be audited, it is federated and I can self-host my own server in my own VPS if I want to, with packages supported in Debian.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Will Soon Make It Easier to Enable Unity 7 Low Graphics Mode in Ubuntu

            Canonical’s Eleni Maria Stea is reporting today on the upcoming availability of a new option that would allow users to easily enable the low graphics mode for the Unity 7 desktop environment in Ubuntu Linux.

          • Man, I Used To Think My Ubuntu Desktop Looked So Cool…

            It is crazy how fast — and how drastically — tastes change.

            The desktop screencast in the video player aboves my Ubuntu 8.10 desktop as it looked back in 2008, in all its gaudy over-glossed glory. AWN? Check. Screenlets? Check. Compiz cube? Ch-ch-check!

            Like an old photo of a bad haircut, this video is very much of its its time.

            But aside from being a bit cringe, it shows how far the Linux desktop aesthetic has come, and how far our own tastes have too.

          • Does Ubuntu Budgie Need a New Logo?

            Now that Ubuntu Budgie is an official Ubuntu flavor we’re excited to see what developers plan to do this cycle — but could that mean a new logo?

          • Ubuntu Budgie Devs Would Like You to Vote for New or Old Logos of the Linux OS

            It would appear that the Ubuntu Budgie development team is now complete. They were looking for a graphics designer in December, and it looks like they found the right person for the job.

            We told you a while ago that Ubuntu Budgie, the GNU/Linux distribution formerly known as budgie-remix and based on the latest Budgie desktop environment and Ubuntu Linux operating system, achieved official Ubuntu flavor status from Canonical, and will join all the other editions as part of the Ubuntu 17.04 release in April.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Why Mint’s Not Best, Tumbling Tumbleweed, Fedora Elections

              It’s that time of year again when all good blue hatters rush to the virtual polls to vote for their trusted leaders. The 2017 January Fedora elections are in full swing and Fedora account holders are urge to vote in the three categories this term. Elsewhere, Scott Gilbertson felt the need to explain his best distribution of the year choice and Douglas DeMaio is back from holiday with a report from Tumbleweed development. M.Hanny Sabbagh summarized Red Hat, SUSE, and Canonical today and VAR Guy contributor Christopher Tozzi concluded that the lines between Windows and Linux are blurring. Cynthia Harvey points out areas in everyday life that are already run by artificial intelligence and a cookie campaign convinced developers to bring Civilization 6 to Linux.

            • Mint 18.1 review: Forget about Wayland and get comfy with the command line

              All that changed a couple of years ago when Mint opted to stop chasing Ubuntu and built off the LTS cycle. Mint is no longer quite as cutting edge as it once was, which shows up in some important areas like the kernel (which is only at 4.4 even now). Mint is also still plagued by the some of the poorly implemented update and security issues that have dogged it for years. You can keep Mint up-to-date and secure, but Mint actively encourages users (especially inexperienced) users to avoid updates. That more than anything else would prevent me from picking Mint 18.1 over, well, any other distro.

            • Oi, Mint 18.1! KEEP UP! Ubuntu LTS love breeds a laggard

              The Linux Mint project dropped a last-minute gift during the Christmas period – Mint 18.1.

              Mint 18.1 builds on the same Ubuntu LTS release base as Mint 18.0, the result being a smooth upgrade path for 18.0 users and the relative stability of Ubuntu’s latest LTS effort, 16.04.

              In keeping with Ubuntu’s LTS releases, Mint isn’t stuck chasing Ubuntu updates. Rather the project can pursue its own efforts like the homegrown Cinnamon and MATE desktops, and the new X-Apps set of default applications.

            • You Can Now Have a Single ISO Image with All the Essential Ubuntu 16.10 Flavors

              Softpedia was informed by Linux AIO developer Željko Popivoda about the availability for download of the Linux AIO (All-in-One) Ubuntu 16.10 Live DVD that contains all the essential Ubuntu 16.10 flavors.

            • Ultimate Edition 5.1 Final

              Welcome aboard Ultimate Edition 5.1, 2 Operating Systems released in a week, not to mention new software. A day of Vacation has paid off. Let’s do some math. 4.2 GB X 4,193 downloads in less then a week I believe is roughly 17610 Gigabytes of transfer, 17 Terabytes in 5 days, thanks Sourceforge once again. I look for Ultimate Edition 5.1 to fold that. No screenie, I am hoping to lessen their burden. This I did not know until today, I am the #1 downloaded KDE project on sourceforge. Did you know I hate KDE?

            • Ubuntu Budgie Devs Launch Wallpaper Contest for First Release as Official Flavor

              In the good tradition of “wallpaper contests” organized for various Ubuntu flavors, the Ubuntu Budgie team is informing the Linux community about their Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) wallpaper contest.

              If memory recalls, this is not their first rodeo, but it’s the first wallpaper contest put together as official Ubuntu flavor. As usual, they are looking for talented artists and graphic designers who create the most fabulous and original images, and who would be proud to showcase their work in front of millions of Ubuntu users around the world.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • My first three contributions to open source

    Getting started with an open source project can be intimidating. I wanted to contribute to open source projects, but struggled with where to start. When the time came and I finally took the shot, I ended up having an excellent learning experience. Here is my experience with my first three open source contributions.

  • 5 ways to be successful with open source software

    The skills gap in big data will remain relatively constant in the next year, but this shouldn’t deter people from adopting Hadoop and other open-source technologies. As most of us know, when new technologies are created and vie for users, they are known by few.

    Only once a particular type of software is a mature standard part of the canon do we begin to have a substantial number of folks skilled in its use — but even then the skills gap can persist. It will disappear only when we stop seeing big improvements to the stack, which I doubt we want. In short, the skills gap is one of the primary factors gating the rate of platform change, but it’s also a sign innovation is at hand.

  • The 6 unwritten rules of open source development

    The sports world is rife with unwritten rules. These are the behaviors and rituals that are observed but rarely documented in an official capacity. For example, in baseball, unwritten rules range from not stealing bases when well ahead to never giving up an intentional walk when there’s a runner on first. To outsiders, these are esoteric, perhaps even nonsensical guidelines, but they are followed by every player who wants to be a valued teammate and respected opponent.

    Software development, particularly open source software development, also has an invisible rulebook. As in other team sports, these rules can have a significant impact on how an open source community treats a developer, especially newcomers.

  • Tips for non-native English speakers working on open source projects

    The primary language of most open source projects is English, but open source users and contributors span the globe. Non-native speakers face many communication and cultural challenges when participating in the ecosystem.

    In this article, we will share challenges, how to overcome them, and best practices for easing onboarding of non-native speakers, as non-native English speakers and contributors to OpenStack. We are based in Japan, Brazil, and China, and work daily with the huge OpenStack community that is spread around the world.

    The official language of OpenStack is English, which means we communicate daily as non-native speakers.

  • How companies can help employees contribute to open source

    I’m a part of the Drupal community, which has more than 100,000 active contributors worldwide. And among them is a growing group of employees who are encouraged by their employers to contribute to open source.

    These days, finding a seasoned developer whose resume or CV doesn’t mention an open source contributionor two (or more) is rare. The best developers know it matters, and it’s becoming normal for contributions to help you get, or keep, a job. If you’re an employer in technology, you know that. So how can you help your employees contribute to open source?

  • Events

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Report Notes OpenStack Gaining Traction with Telcos, and In Europe

      The OpenStack cloud computing platform is evolving in a number of notable new directions, notes Forrester’s report OpenStack’s Global Traction Expands For Its Newton Release. In particular, the report notes that OpenStack is gaining traction as a public cloud solution, and much of that trend is playing out in Europe. Additionally, telcos are flocking to OpenStack, says Forrester.

      Here are more details.

      “In the past year, telcos like CableLabs, SK Telecom, and Verizon have shelved their previous objections to the Neutron networking project and flocked to the OpenStack community, contributing features like Doctor,” notes the report. “Leading infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals, application developers, and CIOs at firms like American Express, Disney, and Walmart have embraced OpenStack for their digital businesses. It’s the foundation of many private (and, increasingly, of many public) cloud services that give your company the agility it needs to respond to customer demand, from core systems to the mobile apps that deliver differentiated customer experiences.”

    • Mirantis to Support and Manage OpenContrail SDN

      In 2016, the SDN (Software Defined Networking) category rapidly evolved, and it also became meaningful to many organizations with OpenStack deployments. IDC published a study of the SDN market earlier this year and predicted a 53.9% CAGR from 2014 through 2020, at which point the market will be valued at $12.5 billion. In addition, the Technology Trends 2016 report ranked SDN as the best technology investment for 2016.

  • Healthcare

    • Open source enlightenment needed to end ‘dark ages’ of health IT

      Your article – “Whatever happened to Open Source in 2016?” highlights the brief vogue that open source recently enjoyed in the NHS – 2014-15 – and now seems to have lost. It raises some good questions and important issues, though I sense some broader perspective may be worth adding here.

      It’s worth remembering that healthcare is a well-established science – the first medical school established in the 9th century. While information technology is still a young science – the first MSc in software engineering dates from 1979.

      We know that the relatively risk averse culture of healthcare differs very significantly from the frenetic pace of innovation we see in the software world.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Proof that openness scales

      Recently I’ve had the immense pleasure of discovering Slalom Consulting, and I was fascinated to learn how they do open. Aaron Atkins and Shannon Heydt, both working in talent acquisition for Slalom, sat down with me to share challenges related to scalability—and explain how recruiting and talent management play a strong part in shaping company growth.

      Slalom’s case is rich and illustrative. But to understand it, we must first understand scabaility.

      Scalability is the ability of something to adapt to increasing demands. Meeting your business demands starts with your people and frameworks far before you fulfill a service or product.

    • Why open source seeds could be vital for the future of food

      Open source, a movement most commonly associated with tech, coding and hacking, is now becoming an increasingly important issue for food according to a recent article published on Ensia and GreenBiz. It might be somewhat surprising, for example, to learn that more than one-third of all carrot growing material has been patented and is protected by intellectual property rights (IPs). This raises a host of new challenges for small scale, independent breeders, who are responding by endorsing an “open source movement for seeds”, and could become a critical topic for those advocating a vision for a regenerative, more distributed food system with greater resilience designed in.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

Leftovers

  • Yahoo May Be In Transition But Its Software Troops Forge Ahead
  • Health/Nutrition

    • We’re Suing to Keep Kentucky Politicians Out of the Exam Room

      The Kentucky legislature had hardly been gaveled into session on January 3 when lawmakers rushed to pass the latest offensive abortion restriction into law. HB 2 forces doctors to describe an ultrasound to a women seeking an abortion in detail, even if she objects, even if the doctor believes that forcing the description on the woman would be harmful, and—most absurdly—even if the woman is covering her eyes and ears.

    • Cory Booker Joins Senate Republicans to Kill Measure to Import Cheaper Medicine From Canada

      Bernie Sanders introduced a very simple symbolic amendment Wednesday night, urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, where they are considerably cheaper. Such unrestricted drug importation is currently prohibited by law.

      The policy has widespread support among Americans: one Kaiser poll taken in 2015 found that 72 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing for importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.

      The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46, with two senators not voting. Unusually, the vote was not purely along party lines: 13 Republicans joined Sanders and a majority of Democrats in supporting the amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.

    • Flint Residents Barred From Closed-Door Water Quality Meeting

      Residents of Flint, Michigan who traveled to Chicago were barred from attending a private meeting Tuesday between Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other officials, who advocates say are rushing to declare the city’s water supply safe.

      Outrage over the closed-door meeting prompted protests in Flint and Chicago, where residents held signs outside the Water Quality Summit asking for their detailed water quality report.

      Inside the summit, officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), as well as Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, who is credited with exposing the lead contamination crisis, met with Snyder to discuss current sample data, ignoring testimony from residents.

      “My eyes are still burning. I can’t breathe when I get out of the shower…we’re still melting here,” Flint resident Tony Palladeno said in a recording aired on The Young Turks (TYT). Many residents have reported similar symptoms, particularly in regards to the city’s shower water, which TYT host Cenk Uygur notes was not tested.

    • NHS England chief says May ‘stretching it’ to say NHS getting more extra money than it asked for

      Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, has undermined Theresa May’s claim to be funding health properly by flatly contradicting her assertion that the service has been given all the money it wants. He made the point during an assertive appearance before the Commons public accounts committee during which he also disagreed openly with Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health. Wormald said spending on health in the UK was in line with the OECD average. Stevens said that that was misleading because the OECD figures included countries like Mexico, that the UK spent less than on health than comparable advanced nations, and that it spent 30% less on health per head than Germany. May has repeatedly said that the NHS was given more than Stevens requested when he set out his five-year plan. But Stevens denied this.

    • Trump Asks Anti-Vaccine Activist Robert Kennedy Jr. to Lead Panel on Vaccine Safety

      Donald Trump, who promoted the debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism during his presidential campaign, asked a fellow skeptic of the scientific consensus on the issue, Robert Kennedy Jr., to chair a commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity” during a meeting at Trump Tower on Tuesday.

    • Make your own meat with open-source cells – no animals necessary

      IMAGINE producing meat at home without killing animals. With a few cells and a keg, the process could be no more complicated than brewing your own beer or pickling vegetables. That’s the vision of Isha Datar, the CEO of New Harvest, a non-profit organisation aiming to create everything from burgers to silk from cell cultures. “It’s like designing a new universe,” she told Hello Tomorrow, an event that brought together technology entrepreneurs in Paris last year.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Third Party Patch Roundup – December 2016
    • The MongoDB hack and the importance of secure defaults

      If you have a MongoDB installation, now would be the time to verify that it is secure. Since just before Christmas, over 28,000 public MongoDB installs have been hacked. The attackers are holding the hacked data ransom, demanding companies pay using Bitcoins to get their data back. From the looks of it, at least 20 companies have given in and paid the ransom so far. This post explains the hack, how to protect yourself, and what we can learn from it.

    • Implantable Cardiac Devices Could Be Vulnerable to Hackers, FDA Warns

      Low-level hackers can play with your heart. Literally. Pacemakers, defibrillators and other devices manufactured by St. Jude Medical, a medical device company based in Minnesota, could have put patients’ lives at risk, the US Food & Drug Administration warned on Monday, the same day a new software patch was released to address these vulnerabilities.

      There are several confirmed vulnerabilities that could have granted hackers remote access a person’s implanted cardiac device. Then, they could change the heart rate, administer shocks, or quickly deplete the battery. There hadn’t been any report of patient harm related to these vulnerabilities as of Monday, the FDA said.

    • Thursday’s security updates
    • CVE-2016-9587: an unpleasant Ansible vulnerability
    • Docker 1.12.6 Fixes Privilege Escalation Vulnerability

      It’s great to see Docker move quickly to patch security issues like this. Let’s hope that users, patch quickly too, before Proof of Concept exploit code shows up in the wild (or worse – in Metasploit so script kiddies can point/click escape..).

    • Don’t Pay the MongoDB Ransom
    • WordPress 4.7.1 Updates for 8 Security Issues

      Just over a month after the first WordPress 4.7 release, new incremental update debuts fixing 62 bugs, including a security flaw in the popular PHPMailer email library that was first publicly reported in December 2016.
      WordPress 4.7.1 was officially released on Jan. 11, providing users of the popular open-source content management system with an incremental update fixing 62 bugs and 8 security issues.

    • After Lawsuits And Denial, PaceMaker Vendor Finally Admits Its Product Is Hackable

      So we’ve noted how the lack of security in the Internet of Things is a bit of a problem. Initially, many of us thought that easily hacked smart tea kettles and smart refrigerators were kind of cute. Then we realized that this same, paper-mache grade security is also apparently embedded in everything from automobiles to medical gear. Then, more recently, we realized that all of these poorly-secured devices were being quickly compromised and used in botnets to help fuel massive, historically unprecedented, new DDoS attacks. The warnings were there all along, we just chose to ignore them.

      For more than a decade people had been warning that the security on pacemakers simply wasn’t very good. Despite these warnings, many of these devices are still vulnerable to attack. This week the FDA was forced to issue a warning, noting that security vulnerabilities in the St. Jude Medical implantable cardiac device and corresponding Merlin@home Transmitter could be a serious problem. It’s notable as it’s the first time we’ve seen the government publicly acknowledge this specific type of threat.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Kolkata Cleric Threatens to Slit Tarek Fatah’s Throat on a TV Show

      Two days after issuing a ‘fatwa’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Kolkata cleric on Monday threatened to slit the throat of Pakistan-born author and political commentator Tarek Fatah, with whom he appeared on a television programme.

    • Devastated Swede brands city ‘lawless’ after thugs set her car on fire

      Lejla Heco was left traumatised after she was forced to watch as her vehicle was targeted by vandals, who have been wreaking havoc across the city.

      The shocking incident happened just 50 minutes after the 28-year-old parked the car outside her father’s house in Malmo last Monday.

    • Obama’s Unkept Promise on Nuclear War

      By ratcheting up tensions with Russia, U.S. national security is raising risks of accidental nuclear war with missiles still on hair-trigger alert — despite President Obama’s promises, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • How Obama Spread the Mideast Fires

      With President Obama down to less than two weeks in office, everyone is busy assessing his legacy. So let’s begin with the Arab world. Not since the Vietnam War, we can safely say, has an administration left a region in ruins the way Obama has left the Middle East (although it’s true that George W. Bush contributed mightily to the mess).

    • The seeds of the next Arab Spring

      The 2016 Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was focused on the region’s youth – those aged between 15 and 29 – a significant group that keeps on growing. This is the first report of its kind to be released after the Arab Spring, and details how young people are more politically aware and motivated to achieve their civil and human rights. Yet they face considerable challenges, primarily economic and security-related. The poor economic planning by the existing regimes is only prolonging and worsening these problems, as a more politically-conscious population grows.

    • Rex Tillerson Wants to Provide Saudi Arabia With More Help to Bomb Yemen

      For 21 months, a coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia has been relentlessly bombing Yemen, using U.S.- and U.K.-produced weapons and intelligence in a war that has devastated Yemen and killed well over 10,000 civilians.

      There is abundant evidence that the high civilian death toll in Yemen is the result of deliberate — not accidental — strikes by Saudi Arabia. During its air campaign, Saudi Arabia has bombed endless civilian targets — including homes, farms, markets, factories, water infrastructure, hospitals, and children’s schools — and has even gone so far as to use internationally banned cluster weapons, which are designed to inflict damage over a wide area and often remain lethal years after being dropped.

      But when secretary of state nominee and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was asked about Saudi Arabia’s use of cluster weapons during his confirmation hearing Wednesday, he declined to answer, and suggested that the way to discourage Saudi Arabia from hitting civilians in Yemen is to provide them with additional targeting intelligence.

    • Pompeo Goes Dark in CIA Nomination Hearing

      The darkness that fell over a roomful of senators, reporters, and onlookers on Thursday thanks to an unexpected power outage was fitting for a discussion of the future of the Central Intelligence Agency under Rep. Mike Pompeo, a nominee few career intelligence veterans know much about.

      The Republican lawmaker from Kansas donned two hats while trying to convince the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence he deserves to be the next spy chief: the congenial small business owner whose license plate reads “EAT BEEF,” and the tough-talking former soldier, first in his class at West Point, ready to defend the country at any cost.

      While he promised to abide by current legislation on surveillance and intelligence collection — even suggesting he didn’t intend to seek any policy changes in those areas — his views on making maximum use of government authorities to collect and analyze sensitive personal data alarmed some members of the committee.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WaPo’s Factcheck of WikiLeaks Highlights Paper’s Strange View of Facts

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Fox News, 1/3/17) again denied that the leaked e-mails he published during the election came from Russia—an assertion contradicted by many anonymous US intelligence officials. “We can say, we have said repeatedly over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government, and it is not a state party,” Assange told Sean Hannity.

      It is perfectly reasonable for the media and the public to be skeptical of Assange’s claims, just as they should be of the anonymous intelligence officials who say otherwise. How can we know what the truth is, absent any evidence? This is an especially pressing question since the release of a declassified Intelligence Community Assessment on the matter (1/6/17) which, as released to the public, is big in bold assessments but lacking in forensic evidence. “The message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us,’” as the New York Times observed (1/6/17).

      But thanks to the Washington Post’s dutiful commitment to verifying facts through its “Fact Checker” column, the mystery should be over. Assange’s claim that there no connection between Russia and the leaked documents were put through the Post’s rigorous factchecking criteria (1/5/17) and subjected to its penetrating “Pinocchio Test” scale, earning a damning “three Pinocchio” grade. This, according to the Post’s methodology, means that Assange’s assertion contains “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.

    • What Impact Will Trump Presidency Have on Freedom of Edward Snowden & Julian Assange?
    • Julian Assange Not Charged With Anything

      Contrary to mainstream media fake news, Julian Assange has never been charged with any sexual offence. His status was that he was wanted for questioning. But the questioning by Swedish police and prosecutors took place exactly two months ago in the Ecuadorean Embassy, at length over several days. So he is no longer wanted for questioning, yet is still not charged. The pretence there is any kind of genuine criminal investigation in progress, already transparently thin, is now in shreds.

      The Swedish police and prosecutors have had over six years to gather and assess all the evidence. The only missing piece was the further interrogation of Assange, which happened in November. After six years of preparing the jigsaw, they have had two months to slot the last piece into place. Policemen are used to having to prepare a case for charging within days, not months. What is more, the remaining charge (the minor ones having time expired) is a single, extremely simple incident in which there is nothing else left to investigate.

    • How Wikileaks Keeps Its 100% Accuracy Record

      When I resigned as Ambassador to blow the whistle on UK/US complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition, I had a number of official documents I wished to leak to prove my story. They were offered to WikiLeaks through two friends, Andrew and Jonathan. WikiLeaks declined to publish them because they could not 100% verify them.

      Their reasons were firstly that they were suspicious of me and whether I was a plant; British ambassadors are not given to resigning on principle. Secondly a few of the copies were my own original drafts of diplomatic communications I had sent, not the document as it printed out at the other end.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dakota Access protest policing costs exceed $22M

      The cost of policing the Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota has surpassed $22 million — an amount that would fund the state Treasury Department for two decades and $5 million more than the state set aside last year.

      Protest-related funding decisions will be made by state lawmakers during the 2017 session. Leaders of the House and Senate appropriation committees say more funding will be approved, though the amount and method isn’t known.

      Rep. Jeff Delzer says state officials also still hope the federal government will help with funding.

    • Rex Tillerson is big oil personified. The damage he can do is immense

      In one of the futile demonstrations that marked the run-up to the Iraq war, I saw a woman with a sign that read “How Did Our Oil End Up Under Their Sand?” In nine words she managed to sum up a great deal of American foreign policy, back at least as far as the 1953 coup that overthrew Mossadegh in Iran and helped toss the Middle East into its still-boiling cauldron.

      If the Senate approves Rex Tillerson after his testimony on Wednesday, they’ll be continuing in that inglorious tradition – in fact, they’ll be taking it to a new height, and cutting out the diplomats who have traditionally played the middleman role.

    • A Brief Guide to Rex Tillerson’s Controversial Foreign Ties

      When Rex Tillerson goes before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday for his confirmation hearings to become the next secretary of state, he’ll likely face standard questions a range of international issues including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Syria, and tensions in the South China Sea. But the committee has perhaps never assessed a pick like Tillerson, who spent his 10 years as the CEO of the energy multinational ExxonMobil focused on long-term shifts in the energy market and their impact on geopolitics.

    • Tillerson’s Hearing Seals It: the US Won’t Lead on Climate Change

      Protesters at Wednesday’s senate confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, had one thing on their mind: climate change. One woman yelled that her house had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. “Reject Rex Tillerson and honor the earth!” a man cried.

      Tillerson, a 40-year veteran of one of the world’s largest oil companies, is up for the country’s most powerful diplomatic position at a time when climate change threatens global security. From food scarcity and drought to migration and war, climate change is one of the great destabilizers that will plague the Trump era.

    • Tillerson Time-Warp

      I suppose it could be a failure of recollection but it just made no sense. These events were just two years ago. $3.44 million spent lobbying EPA is not just a visit. It’s a campaign. We don’t know what they spent lobbying over sanctions, yet… Lobbying is what Trump’s “Swamp” is all about and Trump said he understood it well and that he would drain it. Presumably one of the reasons he chose Tillerson was to have another man on the team who knew the swamp well. Perhaps not.

    • Trump won’t drop ownership of business

      President-elect Donald Trump plans to relinquish management of his businesses, but he still intends to retain an ownership stake in his sprawling real-estate and branding empire.

      Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, will run the company, along with a Trump Organization executive. Trump will not make any corporate decisions during his time in the White House, his aides said.

      Trump will put his business assets into a trust, and an ethics adviser will join the company’s management team. The adviser, who has not yet been named, will review and sign off on any new business deals that raise potential conflicts of interests, lawyer Sheri Dillon announced Wednesday. The company also will hire a chief compliance counsel to police potential conflicts.

    • Pesticide ban: New evidence shows ‘strong case’ for ban on chemicals linked to bird and bee deaths

      Evidence that controversial pesticides linked to “large-scale population extinctions” of bees should be banned has got stronger since a moratorium on their use was introduced three years ago, according to a new report.

      Scientists at Sussex University carried out a review of the scientific studies since the European Union restricted the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering plants in 2013.

      In their report, published by environmental campaign group Greenpeace, they concluded there was greater evidence that wild plants near fields of crops treated with the chemicals were being contaminated.

    • Will Trump’s Climate Team Accept Any ‘Social Cost of Carbon’?

      President-elect Donald Trump and members of his proposed cabinet and transition team have taken aim at many of President Obama’s climate and clean-energy policies, programs and legacies — from the Paris Agreement to the Clean Power Plan.

      But there’s probably no more consequential and contentious a target for the incoming administration than an arcane metric called the “social cost of carbon.”

      This value is the government’s best estimate of how much society gains over the long haul by cutting each ton of the heat-trapping carbon-dioxide emissions scientists have linked to global warming.

    • The Future Of The Green Investment Bank Is In Peril

      The Green Investment Bank is a publicly-owned institution that funds low-carbon projects across the UK. From financing vast offshore wind farms to supporting innovative energy efficiency projects, the GIB is playing a crucial role in the transition the UK needs to make to a zero-carbon economy. With the Government talking boldly about leading the world on combatting climate change you might expect them to be guarding this institution and building it up but, instead, they’re planning to flog it off.

      The government’s preferred buyers, Macquarie, have a deeply regressive approach to environmental issues, and, in selling off its stake without the appropriate safeguards, the Government is placing the GIB at risk of being dismantled – putting at risk all the green projects it has invested in.

    • Rex Tillerson Would Put the Dollar Sign on the American Flag

      Norris, La Follette and the courageous foes of US involvement in World War I—most of them Midwestern progressive populists—recognized the profound danger that arose when US foreign policy became intertwined with the pecuniary demands of plutocrats and profiteers.

      It is not just in matters of war and peace that those dangers arise, of course. When CEOs are calling the shots, everything from trade policy to energy policy and responses to climate change are warped by unenlightened self-interest. The potential for the corruption of America’s foreign policy expands dramatically when businessmen with international interests assume positions of power. This is one of the reasons Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, and 21 of their colleagues, in December, urged President-elect Donald Trump to follow the advice of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics and divest his business holdings before taking office.

    • Tidal lagoons are one step closer to powering Britain

      Once the first lagoon is generating power in Swansea, a fleet of other projects harnessing electricity from the rise and fall of the tide will be possible at Cardiff, Newport, Colwyn Bay in north Wales, the Cumbrian coast and off Bridgwater Bay Somerset.

      The price of generating electricity from tidal lagoons means that we can have a good-value source of power here in the UK for many years to come.

    • Rex Tillerson Doesn’t Sound Like a Climate Denier, But He Acts Like One

      The U.S. Senate will soon decide whether Rex Tillerson, the longtime leader of the world’s largest oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil, is qualified to serve as the U.S. secretary of state.

      His confirmation hearings this week came at a moment of climate emergency, when scientific studies indicate that dramatic international action is required to avoid massive deterioration of coastlines, intensification of drought, increased frequency of big storms, acidification of oceans, and all the other problems associated with climate change: mass migrations, violent conflicts, loss of languages, and species extinctions.

      Although Tillerson faced a few tough questions from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his climate change record on Wednesday, he was also shown deference for his allegedly scientific views on climate, with senators particularly praising his perspective on the issue as that of an engineer.

      And news stories favorably juxtaposed Tillerson’s acknowledgment of climate change with Trump’s 2012 tweet that the whole thing is a Chinese hoax.

  • Finance

    • William Carroll, Sunsara Taylor, and Rafael Caderas

      For the first half of the program, Peter and Mickey speak with sociologist William Carroll, about his latest research into the “transnational corporate class” — top corporate board members and executives — who wield vast influence over public policy.

    • What DeVos Might Do to Public Schools

      Donald Trump is stocking his administration with fellow rich people including “school voucher” advocate Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, a choice that makes many public school defenders nervous, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

    • The Illegitimacy of Brexit

      What we may call constitutional ‘populism’ has thrown the British constitution into a state of confusion. Old certainties about the supremacy of parliament, the role of parties and the independence of the civil service and the courts are being challenged. Alarmingly, the nebulous idea of a remote and ‘illegitimate’ establishment seems now to include our democratic representatives in parliament, as well as the civil service and the courts. Theresa May, who, ironically, is an unelected prime minister who won office through the internal processes of her party, said in a speech last October that those that challenged the legality of the Article 50 notification were ‘subverting democracy’.

    • Democrats can’t win until they recognize how bad Obama’s financial policies were

      During his final news conference of 2016, in mid-December, President Obama criticized Democratic efforts during the election. “Where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, you know, politically correct, out-of-touch folks,” Obama said, “we have to be in those communities.” In fact, he went on, being in those communities — “going to fish-fries and sitting in VFW halls and talking to farmers” — is how, by his account, he became president. It’s true that Obama is skilled at projecting a populist image; he beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa in 2008, for instance, partly by attacking agriculture monopolies .

      But Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. Recovering Democratic strength will require the party’s leaders to come to terms with what it has become — and the role Obama played in bringing it to this point.

    • An argument as to why a “hard Brexit” will be the natural and direct consequence of an Article 50 notification

      This post sets out in summary form an argu

      ment I have set out at the FT (here and here) and on Twitter.

      My argument is that, regardless of the express statements of the prime minister and her government, the UK is bound to have a “hard Brexit”.

      By “bound” I mean that it will be the natural and direct consequence of an Article 50 notification.

      By “hard Brexit” I mean that, once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (either at the end of the Article 50 period of two years (or as extended) or at the end of any transitional/adjustment period) the United Kingdom will not be part of the “single market”.

    • Puerto Rico Turns to Lewandowski to Lobby Trump on Debt

      The hedge funds and insurance companies that want financially strapped Puerto Rico to pay them back in full may have found a new ally: Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

      The newly elected governor of Puerto Rico is in discussions to hire Lewandowski’s lobbying firm, at a time when the island’s creditors are hoping that the incoming Trump administration will be more sympathetic to them than the Obama administration has been. Such a shift would add to concerns that the new administration’s tight ties to banks and investment funds could tilt its policies in favor of Wall Street.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Russian tech expert named in Trump report says US intelligence never contacted him

      A Russian venture capitalist and tech expert whose name and company are mentioned in the now-notorious document alleging connections between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian hackers says no intelligence officers have ever contacted him about the accusations, which he says are false.

      A report compiled by a former Western intelligence official as opposition research against Trump was made public Tuesday when BuzzFeed posted its 35 pages. The document included unsubstantiated claims of collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin.

      It also alleged that global tech firm XBT Holding, with operations in Dallas, was instrumental in the hack of leaked Democratic Party emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton and fellow Democrats.

    • Obama’s legacy: eight years of not holding executives criminally responsible for their companies’ misdeeds

      The most remarkable criminal justice story of 2017 is that the FBI has arrested a real corporate criminal, a VW executive who tried to engineer a coverup of the Dieselgate scandal, and that he might go to jail — it’s remarkable because the Obama administration spent eight years resolutely not sending criminal executives to jail, preferring instead to let their corporations buy their way out of criminal sanctions with huge fines, a doctrine pioneered by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder back when he worked for Bill Clinton’s administration. But while Clinton rejected this idea, Obama put it into practice.

      Holder believes that jailing executives — and exacting other forms of significant criminal justice against criminal corporations — is fundamentally unjust, because of all the collateral damage to investors, employees and customers. Instead, Holder preferred to fine companies very large sums (but not so large that the companies were jeopardized), effectively turning criminal lawbreaking into a predictable line item, one of the costs of doing business. Meanwhile, the collateral damage from the jailing of poor people — damage to their families and their communities — was considered an unavoidable and tolerable result of a functional criminal justice system.

    • Donald Trump in angry exchange with CNN reporter after President-elect refuses question

      Donald Trump refused to take a question from CNN – the organisation that had reported US intelligence officials had briefed the tycoon about unverified claims about his relationship with Russia.

      On Tuesday, CNN reported that officials had provided a summary of a dossier of information that was apparently generated by political opponents. The information claimed Mr Trump had been compromised by “salacious” information about his personal and business dealings in Russia.

      Mr Trump had tweeted that the claims were not correct and amount to nothing more than “fake news”. At a news conference he refused to take a question from CNN. He also criticised BuzzFeed News, which had published the allegations in their entirety.

    • Dear Meryl Streep, About That Golden Globe Speech

      And Trump is an ass, he did indeed mock a disabled person, hate breeds hate. Thank you, Meryl, for saying those truths.

      However, by confining your criticism, and not speaking out against Obama and his NSA, drones, Gitmo, wars (Libya, Syria, Iraq, etc), use of the Espionage Act, poor record on Freedom of Information Act requests, shielding CIA torturers from prosecution, never mind just making nice speeches while doing nothing practical to curb racism and mass killings, you leave all those bad things on the table. Silence insulates Trump from criticism for, for example, future drone terror, because he’ll be able to say “Well, Obama did it and no one complained.”

    • Evaluating “Sources” in Fake News Like You’re in the CIA

      The use of anonymous sources was once a major line for a journalist to cross.

      By not naming a source, the journalist insists you trust them. Did they talk to an intern or a policymaker? Every source has an agenda; if we don’t know the source we have no idea of the agenda. Was the journalist trying to act carefully, but was fooled themselves? Remember the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, and the way the press facilitated that via articles based on unnamed sources we now know were Bush administration officials with fake tales of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

      Anonymous sources have their place. With Deep Throat during the Watergate scandal, the Washington Post tried to use his information as a tool to work backwards to verifiable truths, or to allow them to reach people who would go on the record. Part of Edward Snowden’s credibility came from his named status.

    • The Hitler Diaries Mark II – or I Hope They Changed the Mattress

      The mainstream media’s extreme enthusiasm for the Hitler Diaries shows their rush to embrace any forgery if it is big and astonishing enough. For the Guardian to lead with such an obvious forgery as the Trump “commercial intelligence reports” is the final evidence of the demise of that newspaper’s journalistic values.

      I suspect that we are supposed to “conclude” falsely that the reports were written by Mark Allen at BP.

    • In Absence of Evidence, Media Evoke ISIS in Jerusalem Attack

      Despite headlining its piece “Jerusalem Lorry Attacker ‘Was IS Supporter,’” the BBC’s very first sentence would concede, “Although Benjamin Netanyahu did not give evidence for the claim….” Lack of evidence, evidently, is no reason not to frame your reporting around an official charge.

      The BBC would rationalize this by claiming ISIS has “threatened” Israel in the past, while ignoring the far more material reality that ISIS has never attacked Israel—a rather glaring piece of historical context that was left unmentioned.

      Netanyahu, it’s worth noting, has much incentive to inflate the threat as an ISIS one. Aside from needing a distraction from the ongoing investigation by the Israeli attorney general over bribery and corruption, Netanyahu has long-sought to conflate Israeli security threats with those to of Western Europe and the United States to garner sympathy and support. Despite the lack of ISIS attacks on Israel, and the hostility the militant group has received from Palestinians, Netanyahu has frequently evoked their specter, once even insisting “Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas.” (Hamas, which is Islamist but not Salafist, has frequently arrested Palestinians suspected of being sympathetic to the Islamic State.)

      The conflation also serves to distract from legitimate Palestinian grievances, including preeminently the decades-long occupation by the IDF, massive displacement by settlements in the West Bank (likely to increase with a new wave of settlement construction) and periodic large-scale bombings of Gaza.

    • Donald Trump Contradicts Himself, and Reality, at Press Conference

      Donald Trump, who will be sworn in as president of the United States next week, to the delight of 37 percent of the nation, held his first news conference since July on Wednesday. The raucous event in New York was supposed to have been devoted to Trump’s explanation of how he intends to dodge the many and varied conflicts of interest he will face as president, without selling off his businesses and putting his assets in a blind trust.

      Instead, the main topic of discussion was the fallout from the explosive and entirely unsubstantiated claims in a private intelligence dossier compiled by a former intelligence agent working for Trump’s political opponents, which was published by Buzzfeed on Tuesday night. Buzzfeed published the dossier after CNN reported that both President Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed last week on the allegations contained in it — chiefly that Trump’s campaign collaborated with the Russian government and that, according to anonymous sources, Russia has compromising personal information about Trump.

    • ‘We’re Seeing the Result of a 40-Year Assault on the Liberal Mainstream’ – CounterSpin interview with Ellen Schrecker on the New McCarthyism
    • ‘We Need to Give Voice to the People Who Feel Terrified’

      There are pundits who still say we should wait and see what a Trump White House will do before expressing concerns. But that ignores how Trump’s media-assisted prominence, the mainstreaming of his brand of brazen hatred, has encouraged and emboldened racist, sexist xenophobes around the country already. Donald Trump didn’t invent hate crime, but he has put the relationship between legitimizing talk and violent action on a plate for media. So how will a press corps that still talks about “race relations” when they mean white supremacy deal with the particular brew now concocted?

    • The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer

      In January, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

      This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

      Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

      The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

    • Pharma and Lockheed Martin Stocks Tumble After Trump Criticizes Overpayments

      President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at overspending on drugs and fighter jets during his press conference on Wednesday, giving progressives something to hope for but sending stocks in related companies diving.

      First, he took aim at the drug industry, complaining that it is making too many of its products overseas and that the government does not negotiate with the industry for prices for the Medicare program.

      “We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous, they’ve been leaving left and right,” he said. “The other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder. Pharma, Pharma has a lot of lobbyists — a lot of lobbyists — a lot of power, and there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over time.”

    • Maybe This Is How Democracy Ends

      The election of Donald Trump has triggered as much wonderment abroad as it has in the United States. David Runciman, a professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, has written in the London Review of Books a provocative reflection on the nature of democracy in the age of Trump: “Is this how democracy ends?” There is much to praise in his essay, including his heavy qualification that we really don’t know for sure if what we are seeing is the end phase of mature Western democracies since we do not have the appropriate historical precedents to be certain.

      Runciman is correct; as an admirer of Karl Popper, I believe that there is no such thing as historical determinism, either in the form of the Marxist dialectical process, or in the guise of its mirror image, the invisible hand of laissez-faire. Accordingly there is no surefire way to tell in advance whether Trump, Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders would spell the end of democracy as we have known it. History, as Popper would tell us, is an open system, full of contingency. Waterloo, the Battle of Britain and Stalingrad were all close-run things.

    • A War on Regulations

      Are we going to let interest group politics undermine public safety?

    • Intel agencies ask Americans to ‘trust, don’t verify’ in new Cold War

      Just as the first casualty of war is said to be the truth, the first casualty of the new Cold War is irony. Our most prominent journalists seem to have missed the Orwellian irony of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asking Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper at Friday’s Senate hearings if Julian Assange has any credibility. Assange has maintained that the hacked or leaked emails of Democratic Party officials did not come from the Russian government, or any other government.

      As is well-known, Clapper lied to Congress about a serious violation of the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans. This lie is a crime for which he actually could have been prosecuted. In March 2013, Clapper falsely answered, “No, sir” to the question, “Does the NSA [National Security Association] collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

      He later admitted that his answer was untrue.

      Clapper lied again in Friday’s testimony, saying that Assange was “under indictment” for “a sexual crime.” In fact, Assange has not been indicted for anything, and the government of Sweden has never even charged him with a crime. (He was initially questioned by Swedish police but allowed to leave the country.)

    • Did Trump Kill ‘Liberal Democracy’?

      Donald Trump’s victory has spurred commentary about the “death of liberal democracy,” but the seeds of that demise were planted in the 1980s amid elite orthodoxy in favor of neoliberal economics, argues Mike Lofgren.

    • Pulling a J. Edgar Hoover on Trump

      The decision by the U.S. intelligence community to include in an official report some unverified and salacious accusations against President-elect Donald Trump resembles a tactic out of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s playbook on government-style blackmail: I have some very derogatory information about you that I’d sure hate to see end up in the press.

    • The Lobby

      36 hours after I first asked the FCO Media Department for a statement clarifying Shai Masot’s immigration and visa status, given that he was not on the Diplomatic List, the FCO has still not responded, despite my putting my request in writing as they asked. I am going to phone the FCO again in a few minutes, and I am very much afraid I may become heated and impolite.

    • Homeland Security Nominee Gen. John Kelly Failed to Disclose Position at Lobbying Firm on Ethics Disclosure

      John F. Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general nominated by Donald Trump to be secretary of homeland security, did not disclose his position as a vice chairman at a lobbying firm called the Spectrum Group on his federal ethics forms made public this week.

      The failure to disclose the position may run afoul of federal law requiring Senate-confirmed nominees to reveal potential conflicts of interest to the lawmakers and the public.

      “He came on as a vice chairman in the end of last year,” said Esther Lofgren, the vice president of the Spectrum Group, when reached for comment.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Woman blogger from Bangladesh faces threat to life, seeks international help

      A college student from Bangladesh, who is a secularist-feminist blogger has sought assistance from the international community after facing life threats at home. A few months ago, after the Gulshan cafe attack, she travelled to India in search of help. When she returned to Bangladesh, the situation had worsened.

      [...]

      My Facebook ID was banned twice because of the campaign launched against people like me by fundamentalists.

      [...]

      According to fellow blogger Zobaen Sondhi who has fled to Germany, groups like Ansar Al Islam, Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent, IS, Jamaat-ul-Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), New JMB, Ittehad-Ul-Mujahidin have published multiple hit lists with names of bloggers and writers they plan to kill. “The Bangladesh government is unwilling to ensure safety for secular bloggers and the fundamentalist organisation Hefajat-E-Islam operates with impunity. The Bangladeshi Cabinet Committee for Law & Order, headed by minister of industries Amir Hossain Amu, decided at its meeting on August 9, 2015, to declare atheist authors as criminals, thereby making them liable to prosecution; and intelligence agencies were asked to monitor blogs to trace them. Recently, one of the most powerful politicians of the country, MP Selim Osman vowed to punish atheist bloggers in the presence of high profile police officers.”

    • New Facebook project aims to strengthen ties with media

      Facebook has a message for the media: Let’s be friends.

      A new Facebook journalism project aims to strengthen the giant social network’s ties with the media by collaborating more closely on publishing tools and news products, helping the advertising-supported organizations find new readers and training journalists to more effectively use the platform.

      “We want to work with publishers to build products that enable them to tell better stories, connect with their audiences in richer ways and support emerging business models for publishers,” Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations and media partnerships, told USA TODAY.

    • Port: Anti-porn activist flips out after censorship bill gets withdrawn from N.D. legislature

      Today on my radio show I had on as a guest anti-porn activist Chris Severe to talk about that “pornography vending machine” censorship legislation which was withdrawn in the state House earlier today.

      Severe is part of a group that’s been pushing similar legislation in a number of states, calling it the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” Which seems entirely misleading. While there’s no question that human tracking, and stuff like child pornography, are real problems the idea that mandating censorship hardware/software in every internet-capable device we own is the way to solve those problem is ridiculous.

    • Facebook bows to Thai censorship demands

      Facebook has given in to demands from the government of Thailand to censor content that it deems unsuitable, gagging a number of individuals from discussing the royal family and the ongoing transition to a new king.

    • Facebook Is Already Flirting With Censorship
    • Facebook is censoring posts in Thailand that the government has deemed unsuitable

      For millions of people, Facebook is the internet — but many of those who rely on the social network for news and views may not be aware that Facebook isn’t immune to internet censorship itself.

      That’s become apparent in Thailand, where Facebook is blocking content from a number of users following an apparent request from the government. Thailand’s lèse-majesté law prevents criticism of the country’s royal family, and it looks like it is being used to suppress postings from a number of high-profile users who are writing about the transition to a new king, including journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall. The former Reuters correspondent, now a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, is already well known to Thai authorities. His 2014 book on the Thai royal family was banned and branded a “danger to national security and peaceful and orderly society.”

      TechCrunch has independently confirmed that, as MacGregor Marshall noted, at least one of his posts is not available in Thailand but can be read outside of the country. Marshall McGregor’s profile and the rest of his feed remain visible in Thailand. The post in question is from late December and, while it isn’t clear when it was blocked, a reposting made this week was visible in Thailand at the time of writing.

    • EFF to Court: Don’t Let the Right of Publicity Eat the Internet

      Imagine if every depiction of a real person on social media could support a lawsuit. That’s the strange and dangerous logic of a recent lower court decision from California. In that case, Cross v. Facebook, a superior court judge ruled that any “use” of a person’s identity on a site that also included advertising could support a right of publicity claim. If allowed to stand, this ruling could destroy long-settled immunity for hosts of user-generated content. Today EFF filed an amicus brief urging the California Court of Appeal to overturn the lower court’s decision. Our brief explains that the ruling is inconsistent with right of publicity law, CDA 230, and the First Amendment.

      The case was brought by a country-rap artist named Jason Cross who performs under the stage name Mikel Knight. He promotes his music using “street teams” who sell his CDs out of vans. After a fatal accident involving one of these vans, Knight’s sales practices began getting unfavorable media attention. He has been accused of pushing his sales teams too hard and created an unsafe environment. A Facebook page called ‘Families Against Mikel Knight’ was created where ex-street team members and others could comment on Knight’s operation.

      Knight filed a lawsuit against Facebook asserting a collection of claims ranging from negligent interference with prospective business relations to right of publicity. Facebook filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking to dismiss the complaint. Since Knight was effectively trying to hold Facebook liable for content posted by users, the court correctly dismissed most of Knight’s claims as barred under CDA 230 (which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech against a range of claims that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do).

    • Amos Yee’s asylum bid could last between weeks & years

      Amos Yee will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan. 30, 2017.

      Grossman Law, the legal firm representing the 18-year-old Singaporean, said an initial asylum application will be filed at the hearing along with evidence.

      How the case proceeds will depend on the judge.

    • Amos Yee’s US asylum application could take years: Lawyers

      Amos Yee, the teenage blogger who is applying for asylum in the United States, will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan 30.

      Grossman Law, the legal firm acting for the 18-year-old Singaporean, said that his lawyer will file an initial asylum application at the hearing along with evidence.

      If the judge finds that a legitimate claim for asylum or protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture exists, a further hearing will be scheduled, according to a statement by Grossman Law on Wednesday (Jan 11).

      If Yee remains in custody, the hearing could be scheduled within eight to 10 weeks of the initial hearing.

    • Getty’s French Office Sends Out Letters To US Websites Demanding They Take Down Anything Linking It To ‘Legalized Extortion’

      Getty Image’s long history of copyright thuggery can be found all over Techdirt. This litany of uncivil public discourse finally resulted in it being force-fed its own medicine by a plaintiff who demanded $1 billion from the image licensing service for taking her public domain photos and adding them to the Getty library.

      Thanks to some serious misjudgment, and incomplete knowledge of how national laws work, Getty has now (briefly) earned a reputation for another form of thuggery: censorship.

      Matthew Chan runs Extortion Letter Info (ELI), a site that specializes in collecting threatening letters for various entities (usually copyright-related) and gives guidance on how to fight back against this form of speculative invoicing.

      Chan, along with others, has been loudly critical of Getty’s tactics. Getty likes to send out threatening letters and demand licensing fees for images it happens to see in use around the web. Visitors to ELI’s forums are no less disdainful of the company than Chan is. And, the internet being the great communicator it is, this sort of criticism isn’t limited solely to Chan’s site.

    • Trump Not Even Waiting To Get Into Office Before Threatening The First Amendment, Press Freedoms

      During the campaign and after his win, President Elect Donald Trump has been remarkably consistent on his calls for curtailing the rights afforded to the American people and our news organizations by the First Amendment. Between threatening lawsuits over campaign ads, suggesting that political protests ought to be stopped, and mocking free speech in more general terms, the soon-to-be President has positioned himself to be a challenger to long-held freedoms for which very real blood has been shed to protect.

      But it seems the President Elect is not content to wait to enter office to try to begin this erosion of the First Amendment. Amidst a week of turmoil over the publication of comments about the classified briefing he, amongst others, received detailing intelligence findings about Russian involvement in the previous election cycle, Donald Trump has called upon Congress to investigate how this information was leaked to NBC News.

    • Publications forced to join state-approved regulator
    • Ryan Confident Student’s ‘Disgusting’ Ferguson Painting Will Be Removed
    • Dem Rep Accuses Ryan Of ‘Vigilante Censorship’ Over Anti-Cop Painting
    • The Weird War Over Congress’s Pig-Cop Painting
    • Op-Ed: Expensive data is a new form of censorship in Zimbabwe
    • Turkish Politicians Livestream Censored Political Power Grab
    • Age Checks on UK Porn Sites Against ‘Free Speech’ – UN Rapporteur
    • Child blocks on porn breach adults’ rights, says the UN: Official claims new laws interfere with the right to freedom of expression and privacy
    • UK: Child block on porn sites breaches adults’ rights, says UN official
    • Porn censorship & age checks breach human rights, says UN official
    • UN free speech advocate criticises UK plan to curb access to online porn
    • Dissent Is Patriotic. It’s Also a Powerful Antidote to Propaganda.

      Fifty-five years ago this January, the ACLU of Northern California was busy filling orders from across the country for copies of its recently produced film, “Operation Correction.” The film was a response to a piece of Red Scare propaganda, “Operation Abolition,” which was produced by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and depicted civil liberties activists in San Francisco as violent “communist agents” bent on destroying the fabric of America.

      In those days, the federal government was deeply concerned with the political affiliations of ordinary Americans — if those affiliations were left-leaning.

      My own grandfather, who was a World War II veteran and affiliated with the Communist Party in San Francisco, was under FBI surveillance. In 1950, he was fired from a good union job at a glass company after FBI agents paid his employers a visit and informed them of his history as a labor organizer before the war.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New Video on Encrypting the Web

      Encrypting the web is a more important challenge than ever. Now, EFF has teamed up with Sandwich Video and Baratunde Thurston to explain and promote this mission via video. Sandwich is the production company behind some of the best product launch videos in tech, and you may know Baratunde from his work on The Daily Show, The Onion, and New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. We brought these creative forces together to show you why we need to continue moving from non-secure HTTP to more secure HTTPS, and how you, with EFF tech tools HTTPS Everywhere and Certbot, can help us get there.

    • Court Documents Appear To Confirm The FBI Is Using Best Buy Techs To Perform Warrantless Searches For It

      As we covered last week, the FBI has apparently been paying Best Buy Geek Squad members in exchange for tips about illegal material discovered on customers’ computers. This is problematic for a couple of reasons.

      First, adding a financial incentive could lead to Best Buy employees digging around in users’ computers in hopes of finding something to turn in, rather than limiting themselves to the job at hand: repairing the device.

      Second, while companies are legally obligated to report the discovery of child porn to law enforcement, this occurs as a “private search.” As such, it’s perfectly legal and can result in the probable cause needed to perform a forensic search of the computer, as well as (possibly) any other electronic devices the customer owns. But when the FBI turns Best Buy employees into confidential informants — paid or not –it’s no longer a private search. It’s a third-party search at the government’s request. The government can’t task private individuals with performing warrantless searches on its behalf — at least not if it wants to hold onto the evidence.

    • It’s Official: Sixteen Government Agencies Now Have Access To Unminimized Domestic NSA Collections

      The NSA can now be used for second-hand domestic surveillance, thanks to new rules approved by President Obama that went into effect on January 3rd. Those unhappy to see Trump in control of these expanded powers have no one to thank but their outgoing president for this parting gift.

      This was first reported early last year, gathered from anonymous intelligence community sources and the now-useless PCLOB’s report on the FBI’s use of unminimized intelligence passed on to it by the NSA. At that point, it was mostly speculation, with the PCLOB’s report being the only thing in the way of factual information. The administration was confirmed to be working towards loosening restrictions on data sharing, even as the FBI was swearing it was tightening up control of its own use of unminimized data.

      As the New York Times reports, this change in rules on data-sharing is now in place, as confirmed by a declassified copy of the new procedures [PDF] released to the paper.

    • ePrivacy: Commission’s weak proposal forecasts harsh debates

      On Tuesday 10 January, the European Commission put forward a series of new texts on personal data protection in the EU. It includes the upcoming ePrivacy Regulation which will frame the confidendiality and security of our electronic communications, as well as the famous internet cookies, among other things. Before the legislative process had even started, lobbies from the digital industry and telecom operators collaborated closely to water down as much as possible the reform that was supposed to not only provide better security and confidentiality to electronic communications, but also to give users control of their data back. Nonetheless, civil society has not had its last word just yet. In the coming months, we are set to engage in a harsh legislative battle to make the ePrivacy a really ambitious Regulation that protects our rights and freedoms.

    • New Windows 10 privacy controls: Just a little snooping – or the max

      Microsoft has built an online dashboard of privacy controls in an attempt to soothe lingering anger over Windows 10 and its ability to phone home people’s private information.

      The new web portal lists some of the personal data that is collected from PCs and devices and sent back to Redmond, and allows people to somewhat limit the snooping. Meanwhile, Microsoft will also tweak Windows 10′s built-in privacy controls, giving Home and Pro users a choice between some system surveillance or full-blown system surveillance.

      It’s the software giant’s way of dampening last year’s outcry over its silent slurping of telemetry data from people’s machines. The changes are also a result of Switzerland’s data protection watchdog threatening to prosecute Microsoft for allegedly breaking Swiss privacy law with its Windows telemetry. Redmond promised to modify its software worldwide to avoid any trouble, and that has satisfied the Swiss: the privacy regulator this week dropped its investigation.

      “We are continuing this commitment to make it as easy as possible for you to make informed choices about your privacy with Windows 10,” Terry Myerson, executive veep of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group, blogged on Tuesday. “With that in mind, in the Creators Update, we are making some changes by simplifying the privacy settings themselves and improving the way we present the privacy settings to you.”

    • Obama Just Made It Easier For Trump To Use NSA Data Against Americans

      With just over a week left until Inauguration Day, the Obama administration has alarmed privacy advocates by significantly weakening rules that prevent the troves of raw data collected about American citizens by the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance programs from being shared with other U.S. agencies.

    • Thanks, Obama: NSA to stream raw intelligence into FBI, DEA and pals
    • Obama expands the NSA’s ability to share data with other agencies
    • Just in Time for Trump, the NSA Loosens Its Privacy Rules
    • NSA reportedly to share intercepted communications with other agencies
    • Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out

      With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.

      New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report today by the New York Times.

    • N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications

      In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

      The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

      The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.

    • Finally Revealed: Cloudflare Has Been Fighting NSL for Years

      Like EFF’s other client, CREDO, Cloudflare took a stand against the FBI’s use of unilateral, perpetual NSL gag orders that resulted in a secret court battle stretching several years and counting. The litigation—seeking a ruling that the NSL power is unconstitutional—continues, but we’re pleased that we can at long last publicly applaud Cloudflare for fighting on behalf of its customers. Now more than ever we need the technology community to stand with users in the courts. We hope others will follow Cloudflare’s example.

    • Cloudflare’s transparency report reveals secret FBI subpoena

      Tech titans like Google and Apple aren’t the only ones that receive government requests for customer information — lesser-known companies like Cloudflare get them, as well. The service, which makes websites load faster, has revealed that it’s been fighting a national security letter (NSL) from the FBI since 2013 in its latest transparency report. NSLs are subpoenas the government hands out when it wants to gather information for national security purposes. It also comes with a gag order, which is why the company wasn’t able to include the information in previous transparency reports.

    • Florida PD’s Stingray Documents Oddly Don’t Mention Stingrays Once

      Curtis Waltman, filing his public records request through MuckRock, has obtained several hundred pages of documents related to IMSI catchers/Stingray devices from the Sarasota (FL) Police Department. There are a handful of interesting aspects about this haul, not the least of which is the fact that US Marshals basically raided the Sarasota PD’s office in 2014 to remove Stingray-related documents ahead of the ACLU’s scheduled examination of the files.

      What’s been obtained by Waltman is presumably part of the stash the Marshals didn’t take. The other interesting fact is that there is no reference whatsoever to Stingray devices or IMSI catchers in the documents, despite that being specifically what was requested.

    • Indonesia’s First Billion-Dollar Startup Races to Kill Cash [Ed: war on anonymity]

      Go-Jek became Indonesia’s first billion-dollar startup by offering ride-hailing services that became ubiquitous in the country. Now the company is planning a second act in digital payments amid rising competition from local rival Grab and Uber Technologies Inc.

      Go-Jek, backed by Sequoia Capital, KKR & Co. and Warburg Pincus, rolled out the technology in April to let customers pay for rides and other services with digital payments instead of cash. Since then, the Go-Pay service has grown to account for more than 50 percent of the company’s transactions, according to Chief Executive Officer Nadiem Makarim.

    • Regulators criticize banks for lending Uber $1.15 billion

      Federal regulators criticized several Wall Street banks over the handling of a $1.15 billion loan they helped arrange for Uber this past summer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

      Led by Morgan Stanley, the banks helped the ride-sharing network tap the leveraged loan market in July for the first time, persuading institutional investors to focus on its lofty valuation and established markets rather than its losses in countries such as China and India.

    • Mystery Hackers Blow Up Secret NSA Hacking Tools in ‘Final F–k You’
    • Shadow Brokers give up NSA tools auction and opts for January sale instead
    • NSA-leaking Shadow Brokers lob Molotov cocktail before exiting world stage
    • Shadow Brokers abandon NSA cyberweapons sale publicly leaking hacking tools
    • Hacking Group Releases Files, Says It Is Ceasing Operations
    • Hacker group Shadow Brokers retires after failing to sell NSA exploits
    • Shadow Brokers Announce Retirement After Failed Attempts to Sell Their Hacking Tools
    • NSA hackers to stop selling stolen cyber weaponry
    • Shadow Brokers Calls It Quits After Failing To Get Buyers For NSA Exploits
    • NSA Exploit Peddlers The Shadow Brokers Call It Quits
    • Suspected NSA tool hackers dump more cyberweapons in farewell
    • The Shadow Brokers call it quits, release free Windows hacks
    • Shadow Brokers leak NSA-linked Microsoft hacking tools
    • Shadow Brokers quit operation; giving away free Windows hacking tools
    • Shadow Brokers spew Windows hack tools after exploit auction flop
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chelsea Manning on Obama’s ‘shortlist’ to commute prison sentence – report

      Chelsea Manning, the army soldier who leaked state secrets in 2010 and has been imprisoned longer than any other official leaker in US history, has called on President Obama to show her clemency in the final days of his presidency, saying that this amounts to her last chance for freedom “for a very long time”.

    • Center Victorious in ‘Clockboy’ Lawsuit Aimed at Suppressing Free Speech, Defeating Sharia-Supremacism

      The Center for Security Policy commended today the judiciary of Texas for upholding that state’s commitment to freedom of speech by dismissing a frivolous lawsuit aimed at punishing the Center for Security Policy and its Executive Vice President, Jim Hanson for exercising that constitutional right.

      The suit alleging defamation was brought last year by Mohammed Mohammed, the father of Ahmed, widely known as the “Clock Boy,” after the latter brought a clock device resembling a bomb to his school in 2016. It sought damages from the Center and its EVP in response to public statements made by Mr. Hanson, a former Green Beret, noting the resemblance of the younger Mohammed’s self-declared “invention” to a bomb. The plaintiffs also took exception to Mr. Hanson’s opinions regarding the potential motivations of the Mohammed family and Islamist groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that actively promoted the Clock Boy’s claims that he was a victim of discrimination and Islamophobia.

    • Federal Agents Arrest a Former Guatemalan Soldier Charged With Massacring Civilians

      Advancing an investigation that has spanned two continents and three decades, U.S. federal agents have arrested a Guatemalan immigrant suspected of involvement in the massacre of about 250 villagers in 1982 during Guatemala’s civil war.

      Jose Mardoqueo Ortiz Morales, 54, was arrested at his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, last Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Tuesday. Ortiz is a legal permanent resident of the United States who worked in a mail room at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, authorities said. He faces charges in U.S. immigration court and potential deportation to Guatemala to stand trial for one of the worst massacres in Latin American history, the officials said.

      Ortiz becomes the fifth suspect arrested in the United States for the slaughter of men, women and children in the hamlet of Dos Erres in northern Guatemala more than three decades ago. Five veterans of an elite Guatemalan commando force known as the “kaibiles” have been convicted by courts in Guatemala on charges arising from massacre. But six others have eluded capture, some of them aided by Guatemalan security forces whose power has impeded the quest for justice, according to Guatemalan and U.S. investigators.

    • Britain’s Most Undesirable Immigrant: Why Was Shai Masot Given a Visa?

      Astonishingly, the Israeli Embassy’s Senior Political Officer Shai Masot, implicated in a plot against the Deputy Foreign Minister, was not on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Diplomatic List, the Bible for the status of accredited diplomats. This opens up a number of extremely important questions. Who was he, what was his visa status and why was he resident in the UK? It is very plain that the work he was doing as “Senior Political Officer” would equate normally to senior diplomatic rank.

      He was a major in the Israeli Navy – in the FCO’s own table of equivalent rank, Major equates to Second Secretary in the Diplomatic Service. After that he went on to apparently executive positions in the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, before moving to the Israeli Embassy in London. There he held many recorded meetings with politicians, including giving briefings in parliament and at party conferences, and acted in a way that in general would accord with a rank around First Secretary to Counsellor.

    • Will Dylann Roof’s Execution Bring Justice? Families of Victims Grapple With Forgiveness and Death

      The first thing you see when you walk into the home of Arthur Stephen Hurd is a row of oversized photographs of his wife, Cynthia. They are displayed along the wall on the right, placed on chairs and propped against the fireplace. In one corner is a portrait taken around the time they met. She’s in her early thirties, radiant in a colorful high-neck sweater and gold earrings. Further down is a picture from their wedding day – they wear dark, formal outfits; Cynthia beams, holding a red bouquet. Leaning on the fireplace is a photo of the pair boarding a Carnival cruise ship a year later – a trip to celebrate their anniversary. In the middle of the display is a framed picture of the luminous stained glass windows above the pulpit at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. This is where Cynthia died, shot to death alongside eight fellow parishioners by 21-year-old Dylann Roof in 2015.

    • James Burns Chose to Go Back Into Solitary Confinement for 30 Days, and He Livestreamed His Experience to Show the World Its Cruelty

      James Burns suffered through solitary confinement as a young man. He went back between the walls to push for its abolition.

      For the last 30 days, I was worried about James Burns.

      He was once again in solitary confinement, only this time it was of his own accord and live-streaming on VICE. As a kid and a young man, Burns repeatedly was put in solitary, and it hurt him badly. Now a journalist, Burns volunteered to go back between those four lonely walls to raise awareness and push for an end to solitary confinement in America.

      Today, Burns gets out. Today the isolation ends. Today he goes home.

    • Why President Obama Should Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

      Chelsea Manning has suffered long enough. It’s time for President Obama to do the right thing and send her home.

      This morning, NBC News reported that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” to receive a commutation of her sentence. Chelsea applied for clemency in November, urging the president to commute her sentence to time served and give her a chance “to live [her] life outside the USDB as the person [she] was born to be.”

      With nine days left in office, action by Obama may be Chelsea’s last chance for survival.

      Seven years into her 35-year sentence, Chelsea has already served longer than any person in United States history for disclosing information to the news media. The information she disclosed served a clear public interest, helping raise awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians.

    • After 15 Years, Prisoners at Guantánamo Face More Uncertainty Than Ever

      “With respect to Guantánamo,” President Obama told reporters in November, “it is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing.”

      Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of Guantánamo’s use as a detention facility for terrorism suspects. On Inauguration Day, the prison will pass to its third president, almost eight years after Obama ordered it closed within 12 months.

      After a transfer of four Yemeni captives to Saudi Arabia last week, Guantánamo — which held nearly 780 people under President Bush — now holds 55 men. Nineteen have been approved for release to other countries, while 26 are held in indefinite detention: “forever prisoners” of the war on terror. Only 10 have been charged with a crime.

    • Top UK Cop Says Hackers Should Be Punished Not With Prison, But With Jammed WiFi Connections

      Here’s a story that starts out well. One of the UK’s top police officers, Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, has said that putting people in prison for offenses like hacking into computers makes no sense. He points out that it costs around $50,000 a year to keep someone in a traditional prison, and that education programs are likely to be a far more cost-effective solution, especially in terms of reducing recidivism. This is absolutely right, and it’s great to hear a senior officer admit it. Unfortunately, things go downhill from here.

      [...]

      Given his belief that jamming bracelets would stop convicted computer criminals from using the Internet, the worry has to be that he shares the mistaken view that tech companies can create a safe system of crypto backdoors or “golden keys” that only the authorities can use. Let’s hope he takes some expert advice before offering an opinion on that one.

    • Cop Objects To Editorial About Community Policing, Sets Fire To 20-Year Career In Response

      Well, that would appear to align with Wolff’s stated desire to be fired. With twenty years on the force, Wolff likely has a pension locked up and would probably be given the option to resign, which means taxpayers will continue paying a former public servant that has zero respect for them for the next several years.

      As for the article that started it all, it simply makes the same point that could be made in nearly any major city: it’s tougher to build relationships with the communities you serve while living as far away as you can from them. It’s a problem everywhere and frankly, there’s not much to be done about it. Coaxing, pleading, offering housing, etc. are about the limit of what city governments can do to help close this gap between the police and the policed. Anything else places tremendous restrictions on officers’ freedoms. True, communities may be better served by officers with closer ties to the people they police, but mandating this would create larger rifts by adding a whole bunch of resentment and anger to the mix. In other words, the public would get Officer Wolff, who somehow maintains this level of anger and resentment despite living miles away from the neighborhood he works in.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why Marsha Blackburn’s Rise Is Bad News for Net Neutrality and Science

      Big Telecom’s best friend in Congress just got a very big promotion.

      Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the arch-conservative Tennessee Republican who has received mountains of campaign cash from the telecom industry, has been chosen by the GOP to lead a key Congressional subcommittee with broad jurisdiction over cable, phone, and internet issues.

      For years, Blackburn has worked tirelessly to undermine pro-consumer policies advanced by the Federal Communications Commission—policies that have invariably been opposed by the very corporate giants that have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into her campaign coffers.

      In particular, Blackburn has waged a relentless campaign against the FCC’s policy safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible, which she has disparaged as “socialistic.” She has also opposed efforts to promote community broadband networks, to make internet access more affordable for underserved communities, to increase competition in the video “set-top box” market, and to protect consumer privacy from broadband industry abuses.

    • FCC Report Clearly Says AT&T & Verizon Are Violating Net Neutrality — And Nobody Is Going To Do A Damn Thing About It

      When the FCC was crafting net neutrality rules, it refused to ban zero rating — or the practice of giving an ISP’s own content an unfair advantage by exempting it from usage caps. At the time we noted how this would open the door to all manner of anti-competitive shenanigans, and that’s precisely what happened. Before we knew it, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast were all zero rating their own content while still penalizing streaming competitors, documenting how companies can abuse the lack of broadband competition to impose unnecessary and arbitrary caps — then use those caps as an anti-competitive weapon.

      This is not “free market competition.” It’s duopolists using their domination over the broadband last mile to hamstring emerging new markets and competitive threats. Caps aren’t necessary. They don’t actually even help manage congestion. Caps and overage fees are glorified, confusing and arbitrary price hikes that let incumbent broadband mono/duopolists extract additional revenues from captive customers, with the added bonus of hamstringing streaming market competitors.

  • DRM

    • Wireless Headphone Sales Soared After Apple Dropped Headphone Jack

      Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack from new iPhones last year prompted lots of consumers to switch to wireless headphones, according to a new report on holiday shopping.

      Three-quarters of all headphones sold online in December were wireless models, up from 50% a year earlier, according to shopping tracker Slice Intelligence. Apple was the biggest beneficiary of the shift, as both its new AirPods earphones and models from its Beats subsidiary led the sales charts.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Software Copyright Litigation After Oracle v. Google

        Many observers, including me, predicted that the 2014 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in Oracle America v. Google would provoke a new wave of litigation concerning copyright and interoperability. In particular, we worried that the decision would encourage dominant vendors to bring copyright claims against competitors that replicated interface specifications for the purpose of interoperating with the dominant vendors’ products. We were right.

        Sure enough, Oracle America has factored into at least four cases so far. One of these cases settled, one is on appeal, and the other two likely will be appealed in the near future. The latter two cases also involve patent claims, so appeals will be heard by the CAFC. (The CAFC has nearly exclusive appellate jurisdiction over cases with patent claims.) One can assume that the plaintiffs added the patent claims to ensure CAFC jurisdiction.

      • La Quadrature du Net calls to support the campaign #SaveTheLink!

        A group of MEPs of all political orientations, including Julia Reda, representative of the Pirate Party, calls on citizens to mobilize to prevent the introduction of dangerous measures in European copyright reform. Their campaign “Save the Link!” aims to preserve our ability to share information on the Internet, by preserving the freedom to make hypertext links and preventing widespread automated filtering of contents. La Quadrature du Net calls for support of this campaign to prevent the copyright reform from leading to further incursion on our freedoms.

      • “Everyone Made Themselves the Hero.” Remembering Aaron Swartz

        On January 18, 2012, the Internet went dark. Hundreds of websites went black in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The bills would have created a “blacklist” of censored websites based on accusations of copyright infringement. SOPA was en route to quietly passing. But when millions of Americans complained to their members of Congress, support for the bill quickly vanished. We called it the Internet at its best.

        As we approach the fifth anniversary of the blackout, we also note a much sadder anniversary. A year after we beat SOPA, we lost one of the most active organizers behind the opposition. While being unfairly prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Aaron Swartz took his own life on January 11, 2013.

        When you look around the digital rights community, it’s easy to find Aaron’s fingerprints all over it. He and his organization Demand Progress worked closely with EFF to stop SOPA. Long before that, he played key roles in the development of RSS, RDF, and Creative Commons. He railed hard against the idea of government-funded scientific research being unavailable to the public, and his passion continues to motivate the open access community. Aaron inspired Lawrence Lessig to fight corruption in politics, eventually fueling Lessig’s White House run.

      • Aaron Swartz and me, over a loosely intertwined decade

        I don’t remember the first time I heard about Aaron Swartz. It probably was from reading Dave Winer’s blog more than 10 years ago when I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The guy effused glowingly about Swartz as a young teenager.

        “Aaron is the brightest 13 year old I’ve ever met on the Internet,” Winer wrote in February 2001. “It’s not just bit smarts, he marshals power very well and is persistent. Eventually you come around to his way of thinking, or he comes around to yours. These are the essential ingredients in good technology. We’re looking for the right answer, not to be proven right, or to prove the other guy wrong.”

      • The entire modern copyright was built on one fundamental assumption that the Internet has reversed

        When copyright was reinstated in 1710, the justification was that of publishing being many orders of magnitude more expensive than authoring, and so without it, nothing would get published. But the Internet has reversed this assumption completely: publishing is now many orders of magnitude cheaper than writing the piece you want to publish.

        The copyright monopoly, as we know, was created on May 4, 1557, when Queen Mary I introduced a complete censorship of dissenting political opinions and prevented them from being printed (and thus the “right to copy” was born as a privilege within a guild, by banning all wrongthinkers of the time from expressing ideas). This stands in contrast to France’s attempt at banning the printing press entirely by penalty of death in at least two aspects: One, England’s suppression was successful, and two, the suppression has survived (albeit mutating) to present day.

      • Public consultation on Building the European data economy

        Data has become an essential resource for economic growth, job creation and societal progress. Data analysis facilitates better decision-making, innovation and the prediction of future events. Europe aims to exploit this potential without infringing the rights and freedoms of people or damaging economic investments made into generating data. Within this context, the Commission aims to foster an efficient, competitive single market for data services including cloud-based ones. It needs to identify the legal, economic, and regulatory challenges, and to launch a discussion with stakeholders on future action.

      • No ‘copyright’ on raw data!

        In its Communication on Building a European Data Economy, the European Commission is taking steps towards a new copyright-like protection for raw data (“Data producer’s right”, pg. 13). This is the final bad idea Günther Oettinger submitted as parting digital Commissioner – it would have far-reaching dire consequences and must be rejected.

        This idea would protect any series of ones and zeros like creative works are protected today. This would create immense transactional costs and huge legal uncertainty for anyone creating and re-using data, such as researchers or innovative startups. Dealing with pure data such as access logs, sensor data or measurements would become as complex as dealing with copyrighted works is today.

01.12.17

Brexit Means No UPC (Unified Patent Court)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unitary Patent may already be dead, but Team UPC and the EPO won’t tell us that

Brexit and UPC

Summary: Now that Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson’s brother, is officially declared the new minister for intellectual property in the UK everything that Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote is as solid as paper bag on a rainy London day

PUTTING aside the patent microcosm (including scholarly sites like Patently-O), Team UPC, and the EPO, rational and objective people seem to know that Brexit is the death knell to the UPC as we know it. We wrote about it when/after Lucy had joined Battistelli, only to be sacked (or leave) weeks later, under still-unknown circumstances.

Confirmed by UK-IPO on Wednesday afternoon, just before we published what we knew about it, “Jo Johnson [is] chosen as new UK IP minister”:

Jo Johnson chosen as new UK IP minister

The UK government has chosen Jo Johnson, a member of parliament (MP) and the current innovation minister, as the new minister for intellectual property.

Johnson, MP for Orpington, Bromley, takes over from Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

The UK Intellectual Property Office confirmed the news on its Twitter page.

Johnson is the brother of Boris Johnson, the UK’s foreign secretary. Both are members of the Conservative party, led by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Jo Johnson will remain as minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, a position he was appointed to in July 2016. He was elected as an MP in May 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

Jo’s brother was a big proponent of Brexit, even if he fooled a lot of people into voting that way (like empty promises about the NHS).

Well, no word about the UPC has been said by Johnson, the above report from WIPR or UK-IPO, so one can only guess what will happen next.

There is a new UPC paper (English version [PDF]) composed by Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna from Düsseldorf (Germany has the most to gain from the UPC). Here is the outline:

Allegedly for an independent assessment of “Brexit” vote implications for a potential ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (“UPCA”) by the UK, three associations interested in this ratification commissioned the barristers Gordon and Pascoe to prepare a legal opinion on several related questions. The Opinion, which widely appears to develop legally far-fetched results in support of desired results, assumes almost self-evidently that the Unified Patent Court is not a court common to the Contracting Member States of the UPCA. Since the political approach for ensuring the UPCA’s compatibility with Union law after Opinion 1/09 was always based on the opposite understanding, it supports the voices arguing that the Agreement violates Union law and demanding it to be submitted to CJEU scrutiny as to create legal certainty for the users. Such scrutiny could be initiated in the German ratification proceedings.

Judging by recent events, especially the removal of Lucy (in favour of Jo Johnson), the UPC’s future looks anything but bright; it looks virtually non-existent and bleak. That’s just what many patent practitioners from London expected all along, even if some were in convenient denial over it, especially after the nonsense from Lucy.

Patent Trolls and Software Patents: CloudTrade, Patent Practitioners Density, and Via Licensing

Posted in America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Patents at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CloudTrade patents

Summary: Software patents armament from a British company, charted concentration of the patent microcosm in the United States, and US-leaning patent trolls that prey on China

“CloudTrade Awarded US Patent for Its Proprietary Document Data Extraction Software,” says a press release that was widely circulated yesterday [1, 2, 3]. CloudTrade is British and is not a patent troll, but it sounds as though it has nothing to brag about except crappy (and creepy) software patents — those that PTAB and patent courts would likely trash immediately (if a petition or lawsuit gets filed).

Why is a British company pursuing software patents in the US? Has it not heard yet about the futility of such as exercise? Did it receive bad advice from patent practitioners? Previously, the firm bragged about “patented e-invoicing technology” and “patent-pending technology”. They went as far as Australia for software patents. Unless they intend to start suing competitors (sometimes threaten to sue unless competitive products are removed from the market or settlement money is paid out of court), we fail to see what CloudTrade is thinking here. Maybe too much Kool-Aid from the patent microcosm…

Published hours ago was also this analysis by Jason Rantanen, who put together some data to find out which places in the US have a disproportionate number of patent practitioners (lawyers, attorneys etc.) and it was preceded by the following text. It emphasises that it’s about utility patents, not software patents:

A question from two economist friends, Nicholas Ziebarth and Michael Andrews, got me interested in the geographic distribution of patent practitioners in the U.S. and any correlations with issued utility patents and populations. Using the January 8, 2017 list of patent practitioners from the USPTO, the PTO’s data on utility patents issued to inventors by state, and population estimations for 2016 (wikipedia), I put together the following figures. They show what one might expect: patents, population and patent attorneys exhibit high degrees of correlation, although there is some interesting variation. All the linear regressions are highly significant (p<0.001).

It would be interesting to see these methods applied to software patents. It is widely known by now that patent trolls are highly dependent on such patents and it would be interesting to see where Texas fits in an analogous chart (or set of charts).

It is also widely known and recognised that many patent trolls work at the behest of some large, practicing companies. By using a troll for litigation they don’t risk the defendant following suit with a reactionary lawsuit. IAM has a new example of this. It speaks of some entity called Via Licensing (Web site indicates it’s just a troll) and reveals who it’s working for, much like MPEG-LA. To quote:

Dolby-backed patent pool operator Via Licensing has announced some high profile new licensing agreements in Greater China over the past month, with Lenovo and Xiaomi having joined the pool covering AAC technology. A big factor in this apparent momentum is the fact that the pool has introduced a new alternative rate structure which codifies a discount for devices sold in developing markets. This effort to accommodate local market realities in countries like China also adds a welcome dose of transparency to the licensing market.

Terms like “licensing market” are misleading. Intermediaries or satellites or proxies are hardly a “market”. They are a parasite which mostly serves to exclude small players and emergent technologies (competition).

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