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Australia Kills Software Patent, Shelston IP and Other Patent Lawyers Up in Arms

Posted in Australia, Patents at 12:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let them whine…

Shelston IPSummary: In an important case which can serve as precedent in the future, IP Australia tosses away a software patent

THE subject of software patents in Australia was revisited recently because of the Commission’s findings that Australia should ban software patents [1, 2], much to the distress of the likes of Shelston IP.

A new report composed by Sam Varghese, a FOSS proponent, has the following quote: “Jack Redfern, a principal at Shelston IP, (above, left) said this decision had left people who had prospective software patents to deal with the resultant disarray and uncertainty.”

“It’s clearly a software patent at stake.”Well, they deserve this. Varghese continues: “Ward said while IP Australia found that RPL’s invention was both new and inventive, they blocked it on “anti-software” grounds which were not raised by the commercial opponent.”

Here is some background which shows what it was all about: “The patent in question was for a computerised method of updating one’s qualifications in order to submit them to educational institutions. Different institutions require different sets of documents for evaluating the possibility of granting a prospective student admission, and RPL’s system was designed to take the headache out of the process of collating these qualifications together and then submitting them to an institution.”

It’s clearly a software patent at stake. And that matters.

“What’s meant here by “bizarre and unfounded objections” is objections I don’t agree with because I make money from software patents.”Meanwhile, looking through some new comments from what’s mostly patent lawyers, we have this: “It’s good to hear that IP Australia is not the only IP office issuing bizarre and unfounded objections during examination of IP rights – yes, it’s not just limited to designs over here! If you ever want to feel completely stymied by unfounded objections and frustrated by bumbledom, just file a trade mark application with IP Australia and wait for the first Examiner’s report…”

What’s meant here by “bizarre and unfounded objections” is objections I don’t agree with because I make money from software patents. Let them whine.

Guest Article: Why 2016 is the year of the Linux Desktop (LD) and Microsoft is going to be the biggest in LD.

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An exclusive article about the future of the Linux Desktop (LD) — an article from Jaoquin Grosmann

In the seamless neverending LD discussion we don’t get the facts. Largely because of the faulty statistics presented to us by the different research companies, obviously with their hands tied to that other company so often convicted for criminal acts in every continent.

“But even democracies and the people themselves see the importance of being free of extortion, privacy and freedom of information.”Well, it’s already happening but just not under our nose. It’s happening in the East, in countries like China with astonishing statistics on Ubuntu Kylin, and in Russia, India, Philippines, Indonesia but also in Brazil and many other countries. And the pace will increase since Snowden showed there is no alternative to security. Both for state and business but also for civilian user data that could be used in the future for extortion when this person acquires an important position. So obviously the (forced) transformation can be seen first with the (semi) dictatorship countries, where the state can dictate. But even democracies and the people themselves see the importance of being free of extortion, privacy and freedom of information. In contradiction with those ‘statistics’ the acceleration of the LD market share can be seen almost everywhere.

In their panic to keep market share, that other company is pushing their 10 version for free, and pushing it against our will, even when we try to block that. Although many resist, resistance is futile against that new ‘free’ spyware. They too understand they are in their last moments with that other kernel and have started to incorporate the Linux kernel within it, so there will be an hybrid period where everything works well; our software and theirs. They already ported their cash cow to work with both to provide a smooth transition. A transition period they’ll try to extend until most of their acolytes are over to their data harvesting advertisement platform. After that, there is no use of maintaining that other kernel. That’s when the final transformation to the Linux kernel will take place. The most interesting thing will be that the average user will not even notice they’ll use Linux with a Microsoft Desktop flavor on top of it.

“In their panic to keep market share, that other company is pushing their 10 version for free, and pushing it against our will, even when we try to block that.”However, as the superior marketing machine – not software company – they always were they’ll reign the beginning of the Linux DT period too, even asking money for it because the average PC buyer will pay for that fake guarantee stamp. And don’t be mistaken: they’ll be there kind of like Oracle is. Not really necessary but out of laziness and convenience. Until a couple of recessions further, nobody is willing to pay the Microsoft taxes after which they’ll either be successfully transformed into a real software company or cease to exist and be taken over like a Nokia.

Meanwhile we will see in the very close future two other LD’s take over, or maybe one.

“Fortunately, the freedom within the platform will provide us with so many faces we’ll not recognize the similarity.”ChromeOS with the modified Linux kernel is nearing total market takeover in education in the US, and other parts of the world are following, due to the superior ease of use, security, Apps and most of all, unrivaled maintenance. Next week we’ll hear the merge with Android and that will give an even harder growth push, while on the other hand already lone Android All-in-Ones are arriving. Why should we keep a very close eye on this matter? Because the true reason of the decline of desktop computers and the rise of tablets is not only because of the handy format. As important, it is because of the lack of knowledge needed to use them. No more update, upgrade, registry, anti-virus anti-whatever, firewall, knowledge needed anymore. Just click the symbol and use the App. And that’s the reason the average user chooses tablets instead of that frustrating object on the desk where booting almost always results in question for maintenance not understood by the average user. And now that is not necessary anymore.

In the next couple of years we will see an unprecedented rise and dominance of Linux that will eat almost every other platform away. With a global budget of dozens of billions of Euros yearly, with the Linux tentacles without exception in every platform and every market there is, with a price and freedom unmatched, it is even sad to say there will be nothing else to survive.

Fortunately, the freedom within the platform will provide us with so many faces we’ll not recognize the similarity.

In time, newer, superior, safer kernels will, and already have, arrived. But, that again will take decades to take the world.

~ Jaoquin Grosmann ~

[ES] La USPTO Sigue Jodiéndo a la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos Al Continuar Emitiéndo Patentes de Software que Son Totalmente Fálsas

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Article as ODF

Publicado en America, Courtroom, Law, Patentes a las 6:46 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Las Cortes de los EE.UU continúan rechazándo patentes de software, pero a la USPTO no le importa y continúa emitiéndolas de todas maneras

Linux FEST

LinuxFest Northwest 2016: Las Patentes de Software después de Alice: Una larga y triste cola [via Montana Linux, que dice “Deb Nicholson habló acerca del estado de las patentes de software en los EE.UU después del veredicto de la Corte Suprema en el caso clave Alice vs. CLS Bank case.”]

Sumario: La “línea de producción”, que la USPTO ha degenerado a (limitarse a aceptar casi todo lo que entra) pasándo los costes de los procesos espurios al público (externalidad para ser gravados por los monopolistas, trolles, y los abogados de patentes) y la nueva información sirve para destacar esta gran injusticia que está motivado por la codicia y el control corporativo de la USPTO (cautiverio a manos del proveédor)

El Profesor Dennis Crouch, todavía se mantiene al corriente de los “casos pendiéntes de patentes en la Corte Suprema” (hay casos de patentes interesantes a nivel de SCOTUS en el camino), trayéndo actualizaciones sobre las adaptaciones de la USPTO a resoluciones como Alice, que básicamente trajó el fin a una gran cantidad de patentes de software (la USPTO debería obedecer los fallos judiciales y terminar las patentes de software, pero es demasiado codiciosa para hacerlo). Los artículos constituidos por Dennis Crouch son en realidad muy informativos ya que nos ayudan a rastrear cómo las cosas están cambiando (la obra del Profesor Crouch es académica/científica, por lo que no tiene mucho que ganar personalmente del maximalismo de patentes). Al escribir sobre lo último en el caso de Fitbit, un sitio de abogados de patentes dice: “Como una actualización de nuestros 13 de abril de, el año 2016 entrada del blog, la Comisión de Comercio Internacional de Estados Unidos juez administrativo (ALJ) Dee Lord ha concedido la determinación de resumen que las pretensiones formuladas de dos de las patentes restantes de la quijada en su acción contra el artículo 337 de Fitbit se dirigen a la materia inelegible bajo 35 USC § 101.”

No es díficil ver el porqué de que las grandes corporaciónes estén en armas.”

Este es básicamente el último legado de alto perfil de Alice, que la USPTO (a diferencia de los tribunales, incluido SCOTUS) todavía está tratando de ignorar. La USPTO sigue teniendo discusiones sobre el tema. De acuerdo con un nuevo fragmento de texto encontrado por Benjamin Henrion hace unos días, la USPTO dice “Funciones que no son funciones computadora genéricas, por tanto, no son significativamente más que una idea” (PDF en el mismo).

¿Intentará la USPTO obedecer los decretos de la corte? ¿O es tán reacia/pícara a aceptar que las cosas han cambiado? Su antiguo director, el néfasto David Kappos, actual Delfin de la Sagrada Familia de Patentes (IBM, Microsoft, Apple, HP entre otros) está actualmente cabildeándo contra la Corte Suprema a favor de sus amos – un movimiénto que contribuye a la percepción de corrupci ón en el sistema en su totalidad.

Otro nuevo análisis del Profesor Crouch refuérza la idea de que la oficina de patentes debería enforzar las fronteras de las patentes, y restr íngir su esfera.”

No es díficil ver el porqué de que las grandes corporaciónes estén en armas. Dennis Crouch, el académico pro-patentes, ha hecho algunas cartas de investigación y gráficos que muestran que el porque el sistema de patentes fue creado por no lo es más. El análisis de Crouch ha demostrando cómo las grandes empresas obtienen la mayor parte de las patentes (primer autor más jefes, etc y las personas que quieran obtener parte del crédito), no los desarrolladores independientes (lo mismo en Europa) y añade la siguiente interpretación de los números/gráficos:

El objetivo principal del sistema de patentes es fomentar la innovación – “. Promover el progreso de la ciencia y las artes útiles” Para mí, la naturaleza de la paternidad de la invención es una actividad fascinante: ¿cuáles son los factores que llevan a la invención y cuáles son los resultados de la invención ?

Un cambio importante en los últimos decenios en términos de los inventores que figuran en las patentes de EE.UU. es el aumento de la calidad de inventor en equipo. En 1975, la gran mayoría de las patentes de Estados Unidos se emitieron a un único inventor. Desde entonces, ha habido una tendencia constante hacia más inventores-por-patente. Alrededor de 1990, llegamos a un punto en el que, por primera vez, más de la mitad de las patentes de EE.UU. que aparecen múltiples inventores. Esa tendencia hacia más inventores por patentes continúa en la actualidad.

La perforación hacia abajo, el aumento se observa en las patentes con tres o más inventores. La siguiente tabla muestra el porcentaje de patentes de utilidad, ya sea con un inventor que aparece (pendiente negativa doble línea) o tres inventores que figuran + (pendiente ascendente línea). La caída en el primero se correlaciona casi exactamente con el aumento en el segundo. A lo largo de este tiempo, el porcentaje de las patentes de dos inventor se ha mantenido estable en torno al 25%.

Otro nuevo análisis del Profesor Crouch refuérza la idea de que la oficina de patentes debería enforzar las fronteras de las patentes, y restr íngir su esfera. Sin embargo, su enfoque, sin embargo, es el número de demandas por patentes, que muestra un descenso muy pronunciado el los últimos diez años (las barreras de patentes tal vez caendemasiado bajo, lo que permite prácticamente todas las aplicaciones de patentes sean aceptadas, o más del 90% de ellos). Él llama a esto “Patentes de Tamaño Adecuado“, y añade:

Muchas de las políticas progresistas se centran en la reducción de las disparidades (ingreso, la riqueza, la educación, y oportunidades) que reflejan alguna injusticia social entre los de arriba y los de abajo de nuestro espectro social. Los conservadores suelen reconocer los vacíos, pero no están de acuerdo acerca de si el resultado se califica como la injusticia, así como sobre el papel del gobierno en la redistribución.

política de patentes a menudo es más fácil de implementar que la política social (sobre todo en comparación con otros cambios en la ley de propiedad), ya que una nueva generación de patentes emerge cada veinte años y la vieja generación no se cuelga-en torno a la protección y la dirección de la riqueza, sino que se funde con el destino nos alcance de la dominio público.

En algunos aspectos, sin embargo, las patentes están revirtiendo la tendencia social y paso a una uniformidad y menos diversa – al menos por algunas mediciones externas tales como el tamaño del documento, las reclamaciones por patentes, y esté pendiente de persecución.

Para reformular la última frase (arriba), las patentes están revirtiendo la tendencia corporativa y convirtiéndose de baja calidad y más triviales. Esto significa que aquellos que son pobres serán más pobres y los que son ricos y poderosos tendrá más municiones para marginar a los chicos pequeños (o chicas). Cada vez más chicos pequeños (o chicas) estarán bajo más amenazas de más patentes en manos de las grandes corporaciones. Esto significa que pierden el control; que están siendo dominados. Las patentes falsas que son posibles para invalidar en un tribunal son demasiado caras para invalidar, ya todos aquellos que están en contra se enfrentan a enormes daños que no pueden justificar las facturas legales (por lo que se asientan el caso o quiebran). ¿Para esto se creó el sistema de patentes? Seguramente fué lo contrario. Lo más triste es que la EPO también se está convirtiendo poco a poco en lo mismo gracias a Battistelli, sus chácales y políticos corruptos.

[ES] La ‘Revista’ IAM Como Siempre Predicando (Maximalismo de Patentes), No Reportando

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


Article as ODF

Publicado en Apple, Decepción, Patentes a las 5:22 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IAM: el Pravda de IP

PravdaSumario: Una miraada a los ‘reportes’ de la semana pasada de IAM y lo que demuestra acerca de su agenda

Es divertido ver cuan abusivos algunos ¨periodistas¨se vuelven, por ejemplo, cuando las noticias se convierte en propaganda de grupos de presión/cabilderos mientras que tratan de mantener la apariencia o cubierta de “periodismo”. Tal es el caso de IAM, que incluso recibe dinero de los trolles de patentes, así como de los abogados de patentes (cuyos intereses son ampliamente conocidos). IAM no está solo en esta categoría y es lamentable que una gran cantidad de fuentes que se auto-describen de “noticias” se han convertido en portavoces de esos intereses. Es aquí donde Techrights típicamente trata/intenta contra esta caja de resonancia.

El mes pasado escribimos sobre las patentes de software en la conducción y en este momento, usando el término de Apple (“termonuclear“) IAM minimiza el riesgo o la cuestión, afirmando: “Mi conjetura es que a pesar del aumento de litigios en el sector comprendido entre las empresas operadoras y continuó ataques lanzados por NPEs -léase TROLLs-, no vamos a ver lo que vimos en la industria de las comunicaciones móviles “.

El meollo del asunto es que, IAM promueve(no reporta) más y más patentes, más proprietario, menos compartido, menos paz, y más trolles de patentes, juicios de patentes, etc.”

“NPE” significa trolles de patentes – un término que IAM nunca usa, ya que es finaciado/pagado por ellos. Las patentes sobre el acto de conducir (no es novedad) son un problema real y después de que Tesla renunció a muchas patentes relativas a los coches eléctricos, la ‘revista’ IAM (maximalistas de patentes con disfraz de ‘periodistas’) demuestran que están molesto en este acto que cambia el clima de temor de los litigios sobre patentes. Incluso se dice hace que las empresas Chinas piensen (vean el título “Memo a las compañías nuevas de vehículos eléctricos de China: la esperanza no es una estrategia de IP”).

¿Qué es esto? ¿Prédicar o reportar? Habiendose prestado términos de Apple, IAM también juega con las patentes de diseño, a pesar de ser lo suficiéntemente controversiales para alcanzar a la Corte Suprema. “El interest en patentes de diseño ha crecido reciéntemente,” IAM dice, “particularmente siguiéndo el éxito de Apple en afirmar sus patentes de diseño asociádas con el iPhone y el iPad. Apple descubrió que unas pocas y baratas patentes de diseño fueron tán efectiva contra los smartphones de Samsung en su arsenal de patentes utilitarioas en varias funciones de teléfonos y tabletas.”

No sean engañádos por IAM. No es realmente un sitio de noticias.”

Actualmente no. El caso todavía no se ha decidido. Incluso el Tribunal Supremo decidió tomar sobre el tema y evaluar este tipo de patentes, que hace mucho tiempo que están reivindicados relacionados con las patentes de software de interface del usuario (además de devolución de llamada funciones). Otro nuevo artículo de IAM quiere que los lectores crean que los problemas de Apple son debido a que son lo suficiénte propietarios y trae a Tesla a la vista. Observa cómo se predican de nuevo: “Sin duda alguna, parece ser el caso de que, enfoque basado en la colaboración orientado hacia los ecosistemas de LeEco ha impulsado muy rápidamente hacia la parte superior de los sectores de alta tecnología de China. Pero el rechazo de la característica patentada de la estrategia de Apple – entre muchos, muchos otros – en total podría llegar a ser una elección prudente.”

El meollo del asunto es que, IAM promueve (no reporta) más y más patentes, más proprietario, menos compartido, menos paz, y más trolles de patentes, juicios de patentes, etc.

No sean engañádos por IAM. No es realmente un sitio de noticias. Simplemente dá a su limitada audiencia lo que quiere oir. Como un grupo de interés. Dejenlo allí para que el coro lo lea.

[ES] Estadísticas del Tribunal de Juicio de Patentes y Jurado de Patentes (PTAB) y El Nuevo Juez Supremo Quién Realmente es un Científico

Posted in America, Patents at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Article as ODF

Publicado en America, Patentes a las 10:40 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

La PTAB ayuda eliminándo muchas patentes de softwareal reevaluárlas apropiádamente

David Ruschke

David Ruschke foto oficial

Sumario: El Tribunal estadounidense que es responsable de la eliminación de muchas patentes de software (los abogados de patentes lo llaman el escuadrón de la muerte de patentes”) va a ser mejorado por el Dr. David Ruschke, quién es más que un juez

AHORA más que nunca, la EPO y la USPTO se apresuran a aprobar las solicitudes bajo presión desde arriba. Los examinadores son forzadas a ello; la búsqueda de la técnica es sólo un “lujo” (la carga de trabajo cada vez mayor)y ello se nota. ¿Qué hay de la revisión de las patentes falsas a petición? Bueno, eso sería disminuir el número de patentes Battistelli y sus chácales no podríán presumir, por lo que las divisiones (como las salas de recurso en Europa) están faltos de personal y marginados, especialmente en los últimos años. En la EPO, en base a unos informes recientes, los jurados ahora sufren de un retraso enorme y no se pueden eliminar las patentes falsas con suficiente rapidez (más sobre esto otro día, tal vez mañana). También vale la pena señalar que el juez a quien Battistelli suspendió es muy técnico, a diferencia de él (tal vez un motivo de envidia).

En la EPO, en base a unos informes recientes, los jurados ahora sufren de un retraso enorme y no se pueden eliminar las patentes falsas con suficiente rapidez (más sobre esto otro día, tal vez mañana).”

A principios de semana nos encontramos con una gran cantidad de cobertura sobre la PTAB, que es, en cierto sentido (no en el sentido completo) similar a las juntas de Europa en al menos algunas de sus funciones realizadas. MIP escribió: “Un nuevo estudio de la USPTO revela la prueba de Patentes y Junta de Apelación (PTAB) ha concedido el 5% de las proposiciones de modificación que ha tenido la oportunidad de revisar y está en camino de tener alrededor de 50 mociones presentadas este año, en comparación con el nivel presentó en 2013 y 2015 “(PTAB es sólo unos pocos años de edad en sí).

IAM dijo: “Una de las críticas a los procedimientos de exámenes posteriores a la emisión es que, mientras que la Junta de Apelación de la USPTO ha sido más que dispuestos para invalidar las patentes en sus decisiónes, los titulares de patentes tienen poca oportunidad de modificar sus reivindicaciones amenazadas.”

WIPR puso la figura (porcentaje) en el títulary dijo: “La Oficina de Patentes y Marcas de EE.UU. de América (USPTO) de prueba de Patentes y Junta de Apelación (PTAB) ha concedido el 5% de las mociones para modificar las reivindicaciones desde su creación hace casi cuatro años, las nuevas cifras han revelado.

“En los datos publicados por el PTAB, la junta dijo que había concedido, o concedido en parte, seis solicitudes de modificación de créditos en 118 intentos.

“Las cifras, publicadas ayer, 9 de mayo, fueron en respuesta a la preocupación por la falta de propuestas aceptadas para modificar las reivindicaciones en todas las actuaciones de la PTab.”

Enmiendas de reclamaciones suelen ayudar a la demandante defender una controvertida patente (o patentes falsas), por lo que el menor sea este ratio, mejor será la calidad de las patentes mantenida por la/s junta/s.

Patently-Oempujóun artículo por Saurabh Vishnubhakat, Profesor Asociado de Derecho en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Texas A & M. Vishnubhakat escribió: “Esta acción es en sí un hito, ya que la USPTO ha designado sólo tres otras opiniones como precedente en los últimos 22 meses.”

Enmiendas de reclamaciones suelen ayudar a la demandante defender una controvertida patente (o patentes falsas), por lo que el menor sea este ratio, mejor será la calidad de las patentes mantenida por la/s junta/s.

Volviendo al MIP, resulta que hay un nuevo juez principal de la PTAB. Para citar: “La USPTO ha anunciado un nuevo juez principal de la prueba de Patentes y Junta de Apelación (PTAB), después de 10 meses de Nathan Kelley en funciones de juez superior” (sólo 10 meses). Ruschke fue mencionado por un sitio centríco en patentes en una polémica donde dice que “tiene un doctorado en química organometálica del Instituto de Tecnología de Massachusetts y una licenciatura en química de la Universidad de Minnesota.” Bueno, al menos es un científico, para variar . Él tiene experiencia en “dispositivos médicos” o algo por el estilo. Aquí está el comunicado de prensa sobre su nombramiento, y otra cobertura (en su mayoría cubierta por sitios de noticias técnicas y de abogados).

Links 14/5/2016: GMOME Board of Directors Elections, ZFS Linux Compatibility

Posted in News Roundup at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Linksys WRT routers won’t block open source firmware despite FCC rules

    Linksys has been collaborating with chipmaker Marvell and the makers of OpenWrt to make sure its latest WRT routers can comply with the new rules without blocking open source firmware, company officials told Ars

  • FCC rules won’t kill open source Wi-Fi router firmware after all

    Open source advocates had warned the rules, which require manufacturers to prevent users from using the routers outside of legal frequency and power limits, could spell the end of programmable routers. But Linksys says it will instead store the FCC-regulated parameters outside the reach of configurable firmware.

  • Day of reckoning arrives for BitKeeper’s Larry McVoy

    Eleven years after he rocked the Linux community by withdrawing the non-commercial version of BitKeeper, his source code management system, Larry McVoy has finally been forced to open source the application.

  • Corsa Technology Uses SDN to Traffic-Slice the WAN

    Corsa Technology has been touting its programmable data-plane appliance as a way to implement SDN and OpenFlow. With the introduction of a smaller appliance today, the startup is talking more about a specific use case: virtualization for the metro and WAN networks.

  • Embracing SDN & NFV to Optimize Enterprise Data Center Operations

    Virtualization technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) offer new opportunities for how data centers can manage their IT infrastructures. As networks become more programmable, enterprise data centers can achieve greater agility. SDN and NFV are influencing the convergence of IT, data center, and telecommunications. They give data center managers the flexibility and scalability to anticipate changing market demands and stay ahead of customer expectations.

  • What’s the Difference Between Open-O & OSM?

    It’s ridiculously early in the existences of Open-O and Open Source MANO (OSM), two open source NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) efforts that emerged at almost the same time this year. But it’s not too early to spot differences between the two.

    Specifically, each group hopes to solve different problems. OSM will focus on network service orchestration, which fits on the right-hand (MANO) side of the ETSI NFV MANO diagram (see below). Open-O will expand the scope of its work beyond MANO to include orchestration over the entire network.

  • The Zen of Making: 13 Rules for Creating an Open Source Community
  • Evolution or Revolution? The Impact of Open Source on Communication Providers

    The march toward open source is rapidly turning into an all-out race, with research projects and applications extending to new industry sectors, including communication providers. What started out in the software realm has moved into the hardware space, bringing with it significant changes for providers and vendors alike. Most recently, the Open Compute Project (OCP) and its spin-offs, including the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), have not only reinforced this shift toward open source, but have accelerated the trend.

    The open source approach is about more than just lower costs. Improvements in innovation, reliability, security and flexibility are giving providers greater control of their development roadmap. Importantly, the current roster of projects indicates a strong relationship between the shift to open source and the trend toward virtualization. These projects and initiatives set the stage for communications providers to create new differentiated services and to deploy them quickly.

  • Amazon’s DSSTNE deep learning software now open source

    Amazon has decided to follow in the footsteps of Google and other technology companies by open-sourcing its deep learning software.

    The company has released its deep learning software DSSTNE (pronounced destiny) on GitHub under an open-source Apache license. Deep learning has gained a lot of traction in recent months and many tech companies are currently developing their own software to help teach computers.

    Around five months ago, Google made its own deep learning library TensorFlow open-source as well. Amazon included a frequently asked questions page along with its library to explain why it has decided to open-source DSSTNE: “We are releasing DSSTNE as open source software so that the promise of deep learning can extend beyond speech and language understanding and object recognition to other areas such as search and recommendations. We hope that researchers around the world can collaborate to improve it. But more importantly, we hope that it spurs innovation in many more areas”.

    Amazon’s deep learning software does have its limitations and currently it is unable to support convolutional workloads for image recognition and has limited support for recurrent neural networks. However, the software is able to utilize two graphics processing units (GPUs) simultaneously which other frameworks are unable to do.

  • Cloud Native Computing Foundation to Support Open Source Prometheus Platform

    The Cloud Native Computing Foundation has announced it is adding a second platform to its cloud native technologies initiative. The group’s first hosted project was Kubernetes and now it is adding the Prometheus platform, which offers an open source time series and metrics tool inspired by Google’s internal monitoring tools (Borgmon).

  • Google Opens Up What it Bills as the World’s Best Language Parser
  • Google makes its most powerful language engine ‘Parsey McParseface’ open-source
  • Google Open-Sources Neural Network Framework And Powerful Language Parser For Smarter AI: Meet Parsey McParseface
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • All Things Graph: Computing vs. Analytics vs. Transactions
    • Comparing graph with other database technologies

      Today’s cloud applications are intensely multi-faceted where data management is concerned. The data flowing through these applications is complex, ever-changing, large in volume, and highly connected.

      The number of data relationships coupled with the data distribution, scale, performance, volume, and uptime requirements of the application are not a fit for a relational database. However, these requirements are addressed natively by a graph database that possesses scale-out and active-everywhere capabilities.

    • Apache Spark Heavyweights Make Their Next Moves

      Two of the most prominent companies advancing the Apache Spark Big Data toolset are out with new releases. MapR has announced the immediate availability of Apache Spark 1.6.1 on the MapR Converged Data Platform. The company also noted that the free, online Spark On Demand Training (ODT) courses via MapR Academy have achieved the highest course enrollment rate since the ODT program’s initial launch.

  • Databases

    • Fifteen years with phpMyAdmin and free software

      Today it’s fifteen years from my first contribution to free software. I’ve changed several jobs since that time, all of them involved quite a lot of free software and now I’m fully working on free software.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Upcoming Features of LibreOffice 5.2

      The Document Foundation is currently planning on the release of the next major version of the LibreOffice open-source and cross-platform office suite, LibreOffice 5.2.

      And, in the good tradition of our “Upcoming features of” series of articles, and because more new features have been unveiled already for the upcoming LibreOffice 5.2 release, we thought that it will be a good idea to keep you guys in the loop and let you know what is to be expected from the LibreOffice 5.2 office suite.

    • Italian Military Goes LibreOffice, HBO Abuses DMCA & More…

      The Italian military is saving $43 million by migrating to LibreOffice. It’s finally beginning to seem as if the entire world is beginning to understand that in most cases proprietary software is a waste of money. We can now add the Italian military to our list of those who’ve wised up. We learned in September that the military was planing on dropping its use of MS Office entirely in favor of LibreOffice. On Wednesday, we learned that the migration is underway, with 5,000 workstations already running FOSS’ flagship office suite.


    • GCC Plugin Infrastructure Still Being Worked On For The Linux Kernel

      As part of the Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative, kernel developers continue working on a GCC plugin infrastructure for use by the Linux kernel with this code originally developed by the GrSecurity/PaX maintainers.

      This GCC plugin infrastructure is about providing extra features to the compiler, such as for runtime instrumentation and static analysis. The code they’re working on for the Linux kernel supports GCC 4.5 and newer for this feature of adding extra functionality to the kernel.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Perl 5.24 upgrade
    • Avoiding common hang-ups in DevOps pipelines

      This is not surprising; getting a basic continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) process to work correctly is difficult and takes time. Ideally, there is always some type of source control management (SCM) solution, build server and application platform for app deployment. Hooking these components together can be nontrivial.

    • Ben Rady’s Serverless Single Page Apps (The Pragmatic Programmers)

      Readers of Rady’s book will skip over building an application server, avoid messing around with middle-tier infrastructure and get right to the Web app their customers want. Using a Web browser, a prepared workspace and an editor, readers learn the fundamental technologies behind modern single-page apps and use Web standards to create lean Web applications that can take advantage of the newest technologies.

    • devRant — Here’s The Ultimate App That Every Developer Must Use

      devRants is an app that was created specifically for developers who want to laugh at things happening around them, vent their frustration and move on. I’m sure that you’ll love this different kind of lighthearted community. Happy ranting!


  • I Am His Hands. He Is My Eyes.

    Enough slime this week. Now meet two men from the Chinese village of Yeli who have made the most of it. Jia Haixia is blind; his best friend Jia Wenqi lost his arms as a child. Since 2002, they have spent their days planting trees for the environment and for future generations. Despite their respective hardships, they say, “When we work together, two become one.” At first, the village was skeptical the men could overcome what was “a wasteland.” Today, their over 10,000 new trees guard the village “like green soldiers.” “Planting trees has become an important mission of ours,” says Haixia. “It may be hard financially, but we’re so delighted spiritually.” Humanity may yet prevail.

  • Science

    • Exxon’s Lawyer in Climate Science Probe Has History Helping Big Tobacco and NFL Defend Against Health Claims

      Ted Wells, an attorney hired by ExxonMobil to represent the company against accusations it lied about the climate risks of burning fossil fuels, also represented the tobacco industry in the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, DeSmog has found. Wells also defended the National Football League (NFL) in the infamous “Deflategate” matter as well as in litigation over the far more serious issue of concussions.

      Wells has represented ExxonMobil since at least December 2015, following New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s announcement that his office would probe Exxon’s role in funding climate change denial despite its long-held understanding and pioneering research into climate change.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Is the EPA Being Pressured on Atrazine? New Findings of Environmental Concerns about Syngenta’s Crop Chemical Removed from EPA Site

      The Environmental Protection Agency released a very troubling preliminary risk assessment that the routine use of the chemical atrazine is likely harming animals and our ecosystems.

      Atrazine is manufactured and distributed by Syngenta, a foreign global chemical company, that markets the product in the U.S. to limit plants that may compete with commodity crops or would be considered weeds on golf courses.

      The EPA memo that was released was hand-signed by six scientists in the U.S. government’s Environmental Risk Branch of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division. The 500+ page study was co-authored by Dr. Frank T. Farrugia, Colleen M. Rossmeisl, Dr. James A. Hetrick, and Melanie Biscoe, and was subject to peer review by twelve other scientists.

      Its top-line findings are “based on the results from hundreds of toxicity studies on the effects of atrazine on plants and animals, over 20 years of surface water monitoring data, and higher tier aquatic exposure models.”

    • Ex-Health minister under fire over switch to private healthcare firm

      The Deputy Mayor of Helsinki responsible for Health and social care has quit her job and announced she is moving to a leading role at a private healthcare firm. Laura Räty, who served as a Health minister in the last government, has rejected claims of a possible conflict of interest.

    • Tests in Illinois Town Show Lead Problem Extends Beyond Flint

      This railroad town promotes its ties to Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and the poet Carl Sandburg. But Galesburg’s long history also shows in a hidden way: Aging pipes have been leaking lead into the drinking water for decades.

      Blood tests show cause for concern. One in 20 children under the age of 6 in Knox County had lead levels exceeding the state standard for public health intervention, a rate six times higher than the Illinois average, in 2014.

    • High Lead Levels Found in Water Systems Across Illinois: Report

      Nearly 200 public water systems in Illinois, which serve over 800,000 people, exceeded Environmental Protection Agency lead standards during at least one year since 2004, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis.

      Federal officials are also encouraging local officials to supply bottled water or filters to affected residents in downstate Galesburg, which has faced repeated problems with lead-contaminated water.

    • You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know Hunt is getting the NHS wrong – this week, everyone does!

      MPs are waking up to the scale of the unnecessary destruction being wrought on the NHS. But with local NHS leaders now told to choose between sacrificing services or their careers, will it be too late?

    • Whistleblower Fired for Exposing Flint Mayor’s Plan to Take Water Donations

      Every time the Flint, Mich., water crisis seems to have finally hit rock bottom, a new development tosses that assumption out the window. A lawsuit filed this week claims Flint city administrator Natasha Henderson was fired by Mayor Karen Weaver unjustly, but why?

      According to Henderson’s lawyer, her dismissal came after becoming aware of allegations that Mayor Weaver had been instructing her staff to redirect donor funds to the mayor’s PAC — not the actual campaign aimed at helping Flint families.

      The suit asserts City Administrator Natasha Henderson was approached by a city employee “in tears” with fears of going to jail. She told Henderson that Weaver had specifically ordered her and a volunteer to show would-be donors, step by step, how to contribute to the “Karenabout Flint” fund, rather than the official Safe Water/Safe Homes charity.

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security advisories
    • Friday’s security updates
    • I never imagined a nuclear plant’s control system being online

      Many people think that the web is the internet. They see the Googles, the Facebooks, the Reddits… but the web is something built on top of the internet and so only the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg is composed of webcams, power plants, printers… billions of devices.

    • Heart Surgery Stalled For Five Minutes Thanks To Errant Anti-Virus Scan [Ed: Microsoft Windows]

      If you’ve ever had the pleasure of simply asking one medical outfit to transfer your records to another company or organization, you’ve probably become aware of the sorry state of medical IT. Billions are spent on medical hardware and software, yet this is a sector for which the fax machine remains the pinnacle of innovation and a cornerstone of daily business life. Meanwhile, getting systems to actually communicate with each other appears to be a bridge too far. And this hodge podge of discordant and often incompatible systems can very often have very real and troubling implications for patients.

    • How to make containers more secure

      CoreOS’s Matthew Garrett talks about the security risks in containers and how he and others are working to mitigate such risks.

    • Docker Ramps Up Container Security

      Docker this week announced the rollout of security scanning technology to safeguard container content across the entire software supply chain.

    • Jenkins security patches could break plug-ins

      Popular open source automation server Jenkins has fixed multiple security vulnerabilities. The latest version changes how plug-ins use build parameters, though, so developers will need to adapt to the new process.

    • Security From Whom?

      To take advantage of the X11 protocol issues, you need to be able to speak X11 to the server. Assuming you haven’t misconfigured something (ssh or your file permissions) so other users’ software can talk to your server, that means causing you to run evil X11 protocol code like XEvilTeddy.

    • Convenience, security and freedom – can we pick all three?

      Moxie, the lead developer of the Signal secure communication application, recently blogged on the tradeoffs between providing a supportable federated service and providing a compelling application that gains significant adoption. There’s a set of perfectly reasonable arguments around that that I don’t want to rehash – regardless of feelings on the benefits of federation in general, there’s certainly an increase in engineering cost in providing a stable intra-server protocol that still allows for addition of new features, and the person leading a project gets to make the decision about whether that’s a valid tradeoff.

    • Announcing Certbot: EFF’s Client for Let’s Encrypt
    • Signal Return Orientated Programming attacks

      When a process is interrupted, the kernel suspends it and stores its state in a sigframe which is placed on the stack. The kernel then calls the appropriate signal handler code and after a sigreturn system call, reads the sigframe off the stack, restores state and resumes the process. However, by crafting a fake sigframe, we can trick the kernel into executing something else.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • US Army Chaplain Resigns in Protest Over Drones, ‘Policy of Unaccountable Killing’

      An Army chaplain has resigned in protest over the United States “policy of unaccountable killing” through drone warfare and the nation’s continued investment into nuclear weapons, which “threaten the existence of humankind and the earth.”

      In his letter sent April 12, 2016 to President Barack Obama, Rev. John Antal, a Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Rock Tavern, New York, wrote, “The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any tie, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials.”

      Antal served as a chaplain from September 2012 to February 2013 at the Kandahar Airbase in southern Afghanistan. “While deployed,” he wrote in Feb. 2015 a the Times Herald-Record, “I concluded our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people.”

    • LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason’

      The 1968 election had one shocking turn after another, but its final and arguably worst twist – still largely unknown to Americans – traded untold death in Vietnam for political power in Washington, Robert Parry wrote in 2012.

      By Robert Parry (Originally published on March 3, 2012)

    • The Ghosts of ’68 Haunt the Election of 2016

      A slender, long-forgotten work of fiction foresees the rage and frustration of Donald Trump’s America.

    • Ghosts of ’68 in Election 2016

      In the midst of all this, civil rights giant Martin Luther King Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, and riots erupt across the cities of the United States. Two months later, Kennedy is murdered in the kitchen of a Los Angeles hotel just minutes after winning the California primary.

    • The US in Korea: Lessons Lost, Lessons Learned

      With the American public’s limited attention span for international affairs tied up by fears of ISIS (also known as Daesh), intractable wars in the Middle East and unease about Putin’s Russia, Obama’s much-touted Asia-Pacific pivot frequently gets third or fourth billing on the foreign policy marquee.

      The “pivot” (also called the “Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance”) is centered on exerting a greater US economic, diplomatic and military influence in the world’s most populous and economically vibrant region.

      But on the Korean peninsula, even as the United States bolsters its military posture with more troops, training and weapons, US politicians and the public view the standoff with North Korea without fully knowing or considering important historical realities and potential opportunities.

    • Apologize for Nagasaki?

      This monumental crime marked the U.S as the only nation to use nuclear weapons on civilian populations. It was perpetrated to demonstrate unassailable U.S. power to the world and especially to the Soviet Union in the post-WWII era. The purpose was clear, as Gar Alperovitz and numerous other historians have shown. with abundant primary source research.

    • U.S. Hypocrisy: Front and Center, as Always

      In its never-ending need to flex military muscle around the world, the United States, not content with creating chaos in the Middle East, has now decided to bait China. If ever a country was itching to start World War III, the U.S. seems to be that country.

      Let us look at the current situation, and see not only the U.S.’s typical saber-rattling, but its astounding hypocrisy as well.

    • The GOP’s Veil of Unity

      McCain’s military service was a profile in courage; what he’s doing now is not. Leaving aside the personal insult, McCain has spent his career advocating a muscular foreign policy. His has been one of the loudest and most persistent voices arguing that more U.S. troops be sent to Syria and Iraq. Trump, by contrast, has proclaimed an “America first” doctrine that focuses resources on solving problems at home. Trump has even expressed deep skepticism about NATO, which has been the cornerstone of the West’s security architecture for more than half a century.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fires in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

      Suomi NPP’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument captured a look at the fire and the smoke generated by numerous fires burning over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Actively burning areas detected by VIIRS are outlined in red. February to May is the dry season in this part of the world, and these fires may be intentional agricultural fires set by people to prepare for the upcoming growing season, or they may be accidental forest fires.

    • The Coal vs. Fracking Canard

      It’s not coal versus fracking that we should be debating; it’s fossil fuels versus renewables.

    • Colorado Legalizes Rain Barrels

      Until Thursday when Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill legalizing rain barrels, it was a crime to catch and use rainwater in the state of Colorado. That’s right — the state legalized recreational use of marijuana before a commonplace water conservation tool.

      Yesterday, Coloradans gathered at the bill-signing event to celebrate this win for water-conscious consumers.

    • Another Reason to Keep It in the Ground: Shell Spills 90,000 Gallons of Oil Into the Gulf of Mexico

      In case you needed another reason to join the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground, Shell Oil is here to give you one. Yesterday, the company spilled nearly 90,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

    • ‘Status Quo’: Shell Spews Nearly 90,000 Gallons of Oil into Gulf of Mexico in Latest Spill

      Royal Dutch Shell’s offshore drilling operations were pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, ultimately releasing nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the water off the Louisiana coast.


      The company said the spill was spotted above an underwater pipeline system, although specific details regarding the leak’s cause were not made public.

    • Break Free from Fossil Fuels for Our Collective Survival

      My name is Arianne Kassman. I am a Pacific Climate Warrior from Papua New Guinea. I want to tell you about why it’s important for my people, and for the Pacific, that fossil fuels remain in the ground.

      I am fourth generation Tatana, a descendent of a strong beautiful woman called Dihanai. I carry the name of her daughter Philomena’s husband and my Great Grandfather Arien. My Great Grandfather worked as a Plantation Manager and together with his eldest son, Allan, he worked in two villages called Pinu and Obo. He was a fair, honest and hard-working man; this earned him great respect among the local labourers from Pinu village, and in turn, was gifted Toutu Village. This is where both my maternal grandparents are laid to rest.

      Last week marked one year since my family laid my grandmother to rest in the village, and so to commemorate that, we travelled to the village to celebrate her life with a Holy Mass. As I sat at their grave sides last Sunday, I was overcome with joy and peace being surrounded by family.

    • Climate Actions Underway Worldwide for Final Days of Break Free 2016

      ‘Climate change is a global problem, and we need global resistance to make sure fossil fuels remain in the ground’

    • No, Humans Are Not Like ‘Slowly Boiling Frogs’

      It’s as hard to kill the boiling frog metaphor as it is to kill an actual boiling frog.

      Even though people keep saying that the slow human response to climate change makes us “like the proverbial frog in boiling water” — or that “the Universal Windows Platform is like Facebook and a boiling frog” — the metaphor/simile is not merely a cliché. It isn’t even accurate.

      Since May 13 is Frog Jumping Day — and since just two weeks ago was “Save The Frogs” Day — it seems like a good time to explain once again why this cliché should be retired.

    • Canadian PM Arrives in Fire-Ravaged Fort McMurray

      Canada’s Prime Minister arrived in wildfire-ravaged Fort McMurray on Friday and after taking a helicopter tour to assess the damage said he doesn’t think most Canadians comprehend yet the scope of what happened in the oil sands capital, where more than 88,000 people were forced to evacuate.

      Just Trudeau arrived in the northern Alberta city almost two weeks after a massive wildfire ignited, tearing through the isolated region and surrounding areas, causing several oil sands operations to shut down. Alberta officials say they will have a plan within two weeks for getting residents back into their homes.

  • Finance

    • Washington Coup in Brazil? Was Incoming President US Embassy Informant?

      Adding to suspicions of a US role in the ouster of independent-minded Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is a revelation making the rounds today that Michel Temer, the opposition leader who will step in as interim president, had met with US embassy officials in Sau Paulo to provide his assessment and spin on the domestic political situation in Brazil. Thanks to Wikileaks, we have the US embassy cable that resulted from the incoming president’s visit to US political officers.

      Acting president Temer will hold office for up to six months while impeached president Rousseff stands trial in the Brazilian senate. If her impeachment is finalized by a two-thirds vote, Temer will remain in office until elections in 2018.

    • Brazil’s First Female President Has Just Been Suspended, And The New Cabinet Is All Men

      On Thursday, Brazil’s Senate voted after an all-night debate to suspend President Dilma Rousseff and begin an impeachment trial. Rousseff, the country’s first female president, has been replaced by Vice President Michel Temer, who immediately unveiled a new cabinet entirely devoid of women or people of color.

    • With Rousseff Out, Brazil’s Interim President Installs Conservative All-White, All-Male Cabinet

      Brazil’s former vice president, Michel Temer, assumed power as interim president Thursday after the country’s Senate voted to suspend President Dilma Rousseff and begin impeachment proceedings over accusations she tampered with accounts in order to hide a budget shortfall. Rousseff called the move a coup. Temer is a member of the opposition PMDB party and has been implicated in Brazil’s massive corruption scandal involving state-owned oil company Petrobras. He was sworn in Thursday along with a new Cabinet that is all white and all men, making this the first time since 1979 that no women have been in the Cabinet. We are joined from Rio de Janeiro by Andrew Fishman, researcher and reporter for The Intercept, who discusses the role of the United States in protests against Rousseff, and the background of Temer’s new Cabinet members.

    • Bank Lobby Takes Aim at Last Remaining House Republican Who Backed Dodd-Frank

      The American Bankers Association, a lobby group for the banking industry, this week used a subsidiary called the Fund for Economic Growth to pour $50,000 into campaign advertisements in support of Taylor Griffin, a candidate seeking to unseat Jones in the Republican primary on June 7.

    • MPs Protest against Government’s Decision on Possible Privatisation of Major Companies

      Yesterday’s decision by the government that some companies might be privatised causes strong reactions in Parliament.

      Yesterday’s telephone session of the government, at which the government decided to remove eight companies from the list of strategically important state-owned companies which cannot be privatised, prompted on Thursday many members of Parliament to express their strong disapproval, reports Index.hr on May 12, 2016.

    • Trump Says His Tax Rate Is No One’s Business

      Donald Trump says he doesn’t keep money in Swiss banks or offshore accounts and his tax rate is no one’s business.

    • ‘A Corporate Agenda Is Really What’s Driving the Process’

      Corporate media talk about trade pacts, which have little to do at this point with actual trade, but the coverage is generally pretty thin and vague, perhaps in part because for corporate media, corporate globalization is simply inevitable. If the horse-trading of livelihoods and lives for markets is unseemly, well, let’s not try to take too close a look.

      The leak of a draft of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, by Greenpeace Netherlands may have thrown a wrench in that deal’s inevitability, though media’s interpretation of the document’s meaning will play a role there. So what’s in and what’s not in the TTIP, according to these revelations? We’re joined now by Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of trade, technology and global governance at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Karen Hansen-Kuhn.

    • Trade Deals and the Environmental Crisis

      With the release of leaked documents from the TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) ‘trade’ deal Greenpeace framed its conclusions more diplomatically than I will: the actions of the U.S. political leadership undertaken at the behest of American corporate ‘leaders’ and their masters in the capitalist class make it among the most profoundly destructive forces in human history. At a time when environmental milestones pointing to irreversible global warming are being reached on a daily basis, the U.S. political leadership’s response is to pronounce publicly that it favors environmental resolution while using ‘trade’ negotiations to assure that effective resolution never takes place.

    • Where’s the corruption Mr Cameron? Look behind you!

      Cameron’s bizarre pantomime routine with the Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury and a couple of nervous court jesters having a go at the former colonies was the perfect platform for today’s anti-corruption celebration of British-ness. And he will not be worried about the fallout. He has the force of international (elite) opinion behind him. Despite the panama papers revelations that implicated huge numbers of British-owned shell companies in British Overseas Territories and British Crown Dependencies, he can still plausibly claim that corruption is not Britain’s problem, but the rest of the world’s. After all, he has the league tables to prove it.

      In January of this year it was reported that the UK was now the 10th least corrupt country in Transparency International’s benchmark Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). It was a remarkable rise up the charts from 2010, David Cameron’s first year of office, when Britain was in 20th place. Robert Barrington, the head of Transparency International UK qualified the result by pointing our there “good reasons why people are skeptical about whether Britain really merits a top 10 ranking”.

    • Economic Update: False Economic Recovery, True Journalism

      This episode provides updates on “carrried interest” tax loopholes, state subsidies for businesses, negative interest rates and bank “bail-ins” versus “bailouts.” Finally, we interview reporter Bob Hennelly about the United States’ false economic recovery and dissolving society, and real journalism.

    • Hillary thinks America’s great. Why don’t you?

      How can Hillary Clinton be so out of touch with the concerns of working-class people and be so sure she can run the country?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Anatomy of a Propaganda Blitz

      We live in a time when state-corporate interests are cooperating to produce propaganda blitzes intended to raise public support for the demonisation and destruction of establishment enemies.

    • Sanders’ Wins In West Virginia, Indiana Prove He Should Fight To The Convention

      Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won a landslide victory in West Virginia on May 10, beating Hillary Clinton by fifteen points. With that victory, Sanders has won 19 state primaries, and his campaign is now in a position to do very well in the remaining primaries.

      West Virginia is a state, where Clinton crushed Obama and won by over 40 points in 2008. This time around she lost by double digits.

      About 18 pledged delegates were awarded to Sanders while 11 pledged delegates were awarded to Clinton. It brought the number of pledged delegates Sanders needs to bypass her in the pledged delegate count down to approximately 280 pledged delegates.

    • Post-truth politicians such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are no joke

      In this era of post-truth politics, an unhesitating liar can be king. The more brazen his dishonesty, the less he minds being caught with his pants on fire, the more he can prosper. And those pedants still hung up on facts and evidence and all that boring stuff are left for dust, their boots barely laced while the lie has spread halfway around the world.

      The proof is on show most visibly in the US, where Republican nominee-to-be Donald Trump enjoys a relationship to the truth that is chilly, occasional and distant. The Washington Post’s fact-checker blog has awarded its maximum dishonesty rating – four Pinocchios – to nearly 70% of the Trump statements it has vetted. And it’s vetted a lot. That doesn’t mean the other 30% turned out to be true. They just earned three Pinocchios rather than the full four, which means the Post found a shrivelled kernel of veracity wrapped inside the thick layers of fraud, distortion and deception.

    • Two very different Donalds, one White House goal
    • Could Trump presidency close down Washington?

      Donald Trump’s campaign for the nomination showed an intimidating style. He attaches ugly labels to those who compete with him — and then announces that the other guy “started it.”

    • Immigrant Advocates Deliver Taco Bowls To GOP Lawmakers Who Support Donald Trump

      The presumptive GOP nominee has made inflammatory remarks characterizing Latino immigrants as rapists, criminals, and drug dealers. He also favors deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country; stripping away an executive action issued by President Obama that would grant temporary work authorization and deportation relief to certain undocumented immigrants; and banning Muslim immigrants from entering the country. And though Trump’s rhetoric has inspired some of his supporters to become violent toward Latinos and immigrants, the presidential nominee has yet to condemn those acts.

    • Democrats, Too Clever by Half on Clinton

      Indeed, some Democrats reportedly are slipping into panic mode as they watch Clinton’s poll numbers tank and the Republican Party come to grips with the Trump phenomenon. The new storyline of Campaign 2016 is the tale of top Republicans reconciling to Trump’s populist conquest of the party. At least, these GOP leaders acknowledge, Trump has excited both average Republicans and many independents.

    • NYT’s Glass Is Half Full of Half-Truths

      Easterbrook is particularly upset about progressive pessimism. “In recent decades, progressives drank too deeply of instant-doomsday claims. If their predictions had come true…crop failures would be causing mass starvation.” According to the UN World Food Programme, malnutrition kills more than 3 million children a year. I guess that’s not mass enough for him.

    • Why Bernie Sanders Should Stay in the Race—and How He Can Win

      Make no mistake: Settling for Hillary Clinton means abandoning the political revolution that Bernie Sanders has inspired. It means unconditional surrender after overcoming many obstacles in a rigged primary. That’s why the revolution must continue through November and beyond, and the Vermont senator’s supporters must urge him to keep fighting.

    • The BBC may soon be unable to compete

      The requirement for output to be “distinctive”, coupled with the growth of media consortia, could force the BBC out of the game.

    • What is the vision behind the BBC White Paper?

      After weeks of rumour and speculation about an imminent assault on the BBC the publication of the White Paper on the corporation’s future has been seen by some as anti-climactic. But while the headlines have been restrained, the document makes several suggestions that would have a significant impact on the corporation, including major changes to governance, programming and the mission statement. Last night The Media Society hosted a discussion about the paper, unpacking its key points and asking how they might unfold in the long-term.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Yes, Facebook’s Algorithm Is Biased. So Is Literally Everything.

      Facebook news curators elevate stories based on whether the world’s top 10 media organizations — CNN, BBC, Fox News, the Guardian, NBC, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Yahoo — are covering them. They follow a style guide and dismiss certain topics or keywords, either permanently or temporarily, if they are redundant or can’t be tied to an actual news event. All of this is done in addition to Facebook using an algorithm to find top trending stories.

    • Zuckerberg: Facebook investigating censorship claim [Ed: mentioned before]

      Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said the company is investigating claims it censored news reports with conservative viewpoints.

    • Is Facebook Lying?

      Did Facebook lie publicly about how it determines which stories to put in its trending news module?

      The company has been under intense fire since a Gizmodo investigation earlier this week that alleged the company has a liberal news bias. In response, Facebook vehemently denied the accusations and released what it says are the current guidelines for its trending news section.

      However these guidelines, and a set of older training documents leaked to The Guardian, appear to show that Facebook lied or misrepresented the truth to journalists.

      The documents appear to conflict with previous statements from the company assuring that algorithms—not humans—select what you see in your news feed, and that its curators never “inject” stories into the trending tool.

    • A long talk with Facebook about its role in journalism

      If consumers’ embrace of the format was easy to predict — who enjoys waiting for a website to load? — publishers’ feelings about Instant Articles were harder to gauge. The run-up to launch was met with tremendous anxiety among some publishers as they grappled with two realities: one, the majority of their audience is consuming news on Facebook; and two, allowing Facebook to host their articles directly meant giving up some control over their appearance and the ads that could run inside them. More than one publisher worried Facebook’s end game was to get publishers “hooked” on the format and then demand an ever-growing share of their ad revenue.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Promises an Investigation Into Facebook Trending Topics

      The social network denies accusations that conservative media is suppressed on its trending list

    • Politician recites bestiality poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in German parliament

      A German politician has ignited a diplomatic row between his country and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by reading out a poem suggesting he likes fornicating with goats.

      Detlef Seif, a backbench member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, quoted extensively from the controversial poem which also implies Mr Erdogan enjoys child porn, kicking Kurdish people and attacking Christians in his spare time.

      When the poem was first performed by German comedian Jan Böhmermann in April it sparked a diplomatic row between Ankara and Berlin as Mr Erdogan’s demanded he be arrested under the terms of an out-of-date German law which forbids insulting foreign leaders.

      Ms Merkel gave in to the demand and the comedian is now facing prosecution and up to five years in prison.

    • Turkey’s Erdogan Clears Path to Dictatorship

      The ouster of Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu marks another troubling milestone in President Erdogan’s consolidation of dictatorial power, a development that Alon Ben-Meir sees as further enflaming the region.

    • Egyptians Are Using Selfies To Send A Powerful Message About Government Censorship

      Thousands of Egyptian citizens are proving that selfies are more than just fun — they can also send an important political message. In response to crackdowns on political dissent, recent social media posts are asking the government, “Does a mobile phone camera shake you?”

      The protest was sparked by an incident earlier this week in which five members of a satirical group called Atfal al-Shawarea (Street Children) were arrested for mocking the country’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in a selfie-style video. The group members are reportedly being investigated for “inciting protests.”

    • Total Croatia News Announces Affiliate Partnership with Index on Censorship

      An interntional affiliate partnership for TCN on May 13, 2016, as we team up with London-based Index on Censorship to cooperate on the documentation of declining press freedom in Croatia.

    • MPAA Signs Anti-Piracy Deal With Large Domain Registry

      The MPAA has signed its first anti-piracy partnership with a domain name registry outside the United States. The Hollywood group will act as a “trusted notifier,” helping Radix, Asia’s largest new gTLD applicant, to prevent pirate sites from using their domain names.

    • Leaked EU Draft Reveals Geo-Blocking Can Stay For Video

      Excitement over the European Commission’s plans to abolish geo-blocking and filtering restrictions across EU member states is in jeopardy following the publication of a leaked draft. The 34-page document proposes exceptions for audio-visual content, meaning that services like Netflix would be excluded.

    • A Document With a Mission

      The introduction is a reiteration of Zionist slogans. It purports to set out the historical facts, and very dubious facts they are.

      For example, it starts with the words “Eretz Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious, and political identity was shaped.”

      Well, not quite. I was taught at school that God promised Abraham the land while still in Mesopotamia. The 10 Commandments were given to us by God personally on Mount Sinai, which is in Egypt. The more important of the two Talmuds was written in Babylon. True, the Hebrew Bible was composed in the country, but most of the religious texts of Judaism were written in “exile”.

    • A Palestinian Perspective on Britain’s ‘Anti-Semitic’ Controversy

      There is a witch-hunt in the British Labour Party. Britain’s Opposition party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is being hounded for not rooting out alleged anti-Semitism in his party. Those leading the charge are pro-Israel Zionists and their supporters within the party, members who are mostly allied with the former Prime Minister, the largely discredited pro-war Tony Blair. The Blairites are quite unhappy that Corbyn, who won the party’s leadership election last September with a landslide victory is a non-elitist politician, with a deep-rooted grassroots activist past, and, yes, a strong stance for Palestinian rights.

    • Censorship Of Media Dampens Burgeoning Filmmakers In Arab World
    • Arab Filmmakers Strive For Wider Audience Reach On Both Local And International Fronts
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Security clearances in the age of social media

      Of the roughly 323 million citizens of the United States, more than four million hold federal security clearances. An even smaller number of these individuals hold the highest clearances. They are simultaneously the most trusted—and some of the most scrutinized—individuals in the world. Until now, that scrutiny generally stopped where the real and virtual worlds coalesce: social media.

    • Prep for next-gen encryption should start yesterday

      The National Institute of Standards and Technology is getting nervous about quantum computers and what they might mean for the cryptographic systems that protect both public and private data. Once seen as far off — if not borderline science fiction — quantum computing now seems a much closer reality.

      A few days ago, IBM announced that students, researchers and “general science enthusiasts” can now use a cloud-based, 5-quibit quantum computing platform, which it calls the IBM Quantum Experience, to see how algorithms and various experiments work with a quantum processor.

    • FBI Questions Veracity Of Emails It Released To FOIA Requester While Defending Refusal To Discuss Hacking Efforts

      The FBI has entered its explanation for its declaration that it won’t discuss the NIT (Network Investigative Technique) in open court or with the defense — no matter what. Its decision to run a child porn website for two weeks while it deployed the NIT has backfired immensely, resulting in successful challenges of the warrant and the evidence obtained. For the most part, the NIT warrant used by the FBI has been declared invalid because it violates Rule 41′s limitations on deployment: a warrant obtained in Virginia can’t be used to search computers located in other jurisdictions.

      The FBI says it will only discuss the NIT with the judge in an ex parte in camera proceeding, cutting the defense entirely out of the loop. It also argues against the defendant’s portrayal of the agency as inherently untrustworthy, what with its long history of hiding information from the courts, starting with its Stingray NDAs.

    • FBI Response To FOIA Request About Whether It Is Hacking Your Amazon Echo: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      We’ve talked in the past about how claims of dangerous silence from certain law enforcement and intelligence groups within the American government are so much the crying of “wolf!” As some will decry the use of security tools like encryption, or other privacy tools, the fact is that the so-called “internet of things” industry has created what is essentially an invited-in army of confidential informants. Domestic surveillance, once a time-consuming, laborious, and difficult task for those doing the spying has since become laughably easy by relative standards. One can imagine J. Edgar Hoover having to change his trousers if he learned exactly to what degree Americans today have accepted hackable or easily-compromised cameras and microphones into our homes, so excited would he be.

      In this era, then, it would seem the public buying these IoT products would have an interest in learning if their government is using those products against them in this way. In large part, it seems that the government ain’t telling. Take the Amazon Echo, for instance, a device with a microphone that is voice-activated to play your favorite music, tell you the weather, read you the latest news, *cough*-let the government spy on you-*cough*, tells you the traffic, and reads you your audiobook– wait, what was that government spying thing? Is that for real?

    • FBI Hid Surveillance Devices Around Alameda County Courthouse

      Federal agents planted hidden microphones and conducted secret video surveillance at Alameda County’s Rene C. Davidson Courthouse for ten months, despite having no court warrant. The surveillance operation was part of an investigation into alleged bid rigging at foreclosed property auctions where thousands of houses and apartment buildings were sold by banks. But defense attorneys for some of the individuals accused say the FBI’s surveillance tactics violated their clients’ constitutional rights, and everyone else whose conversations might have been captured on tape.

      One of the people recorded by the hidden surveillance devices was Michael Marr, the East Bay landlord who is at the center of our feature story in this week’s edition of the Express. Marr and his business associates frequently attended the foreclosure auctions. They bought hundreds of properties, many of them in Oakland, but were indicted in November 2014 on charges that they conspired to rig the auctions. Marr’s case is now being heard in federal court. He has pleaded innocent.

    • FBI Found To Be Harvesting Surreptitious Recordings Around Two Other California Courthouses

      Earlier this year, the FBI was catching heat for some undersupervised and overly-broad surveillance it deployed around the San Mateo courthouse in California. Hoping to catch conversations related to suspected bid-rigging during real estate auctions, the FBI scattered hidden microphones around the courthouse steps where the auctions took place.

      The defendants’ legal representation raised hell, claiming the surreptitious recordings violated their clients’ rights. After all, the Supreme Court had declared in 1967 that closing a phone booth door was not dissimilar to holding a conversation in hushed tones, bringing a limited expectation of privacy to public places.

      The FBI couldn’t have felt all that confident about its secret recordings as it vowed not to enter any of the conversations it captured into evidence. That wasn’t enough for the judge, however, who said he still needed to determine whether other evidence had been tainted by this questionable surveillance.

      Not only was there a question about the legality under the Fourth Amendment, but there were unanswered questions about how many completely irrelevant conversations the FBI’s bugs might have picked up — like privileged discussions between lawyers and clients, both of whom are often at courthouses simultaneously.

    • UK.gov is about to fling your data at anyone who wants it. How? Why? Shut up, pleb

      The government is poised to legislate on how it intends to use your data for public services – but its woefully worded “data sharing” consultation suggests it hasn’t learnt much from the ongoing controversies of Care.data.

      Whitehall is due to publish a response to the consultation, set out in Better Use of Data – Consultation Paper, which recently closed following a two-year series of “open policy” meetings.

      That will feed into the long-rumoured Digital Economy Bill and is expected to get a mention in the Queen’s Speech next week.

      It will create the governance framework for how mandarins share our information between government departments and with third parties, as well as setting out the security principles for using personal information.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • EU mission ‘failing’ to disrupt people-smuggling from Libya

      The EU naval mission to tackle people smuggling in the central Mediterranean is failing to achieve its aims, a British parliamentary committee says.

      In a report, the House of Lords EU Committee says Operation Sophia does not “in any meaningful way” disrupt smugglers’ boats.

    • Alabama Prison Strike Organizer Speaks from Behind Bars: We Are Engaged in a Struggle for Our Lives

      We go behind bars to get an update on the end of a 10-day strike by Alabama prisoners to protest severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans slavery and servitude “except as a punishment for crime,” thus sanctioning the legality of forced, unpaid prison labor. “These strikes are our methods of challenging mass incarceration, as we understand the prison system is a continuation of the slave system, which is an economic system,” says Kinetik Justice, who joins us by phone from solitary confinement in Holman Correctional Facility. He is co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement and one of the organizers of the strike. He says organizers tried petitioning their conditions via the courts and lawmakers, but when they were unsuccessful, “we understood our incarceration was pretty much about our labor and the money that was being generated from the prison system, therefore we began organizing around our labor and used it as a means and a method to bring about reform in the Alabama prison system.”

    • Part 2: Alabama Prison Strike Organizer Joins with Pastor to Achieve Criminal Justice Reform

      We continue our interview with an Alabama prisoner about the end of a 10-day strike to protest severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans slavery and servitude “except as a punishment for crime,” thus sanctioning the legality of forced, unpaid prison labor. We speak with Kinetik Justice, who joins us by phone from solitary confinement in Holman Correctional Facility and is co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement and one of the organizers of the strike, and with Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, founder and national president of The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS), a faith-based organization focusing on criminal justice reform and rehabilitation of repeat offenders.

    • ‘They Place These Kids on a Superpredator Pedestal’

      New York tabloids didn’t bother with terms like “alleged” in their stories on the early morning raid in the Bronx in which law enforcement—local and federal—arrested more than a hundred people accused of gang membership. There was no need to observe such niceties in a tale of “violent thugs” being “taken down.”

      The New York Times did use the word “accused,” but their depiction of the community involved was no less cartoonish. “For the last ten years,” the Times told readers, “life in the northern Bronx has largely been defined by wanton violence.” One wonders how much the Times knows about what defines life in the northern Bronx, and why they and other media are so ready to cheer uncritically for this style of militarized intervention ostensibly aimed at reducing violence.

    • Marcia Gallo on Kitty Genovese

      This week on CounterSpin: The 1964 New York city murder of Kitty Genovese started as a personal tragedy and a tiny item on a New York Times back page. Within months, it had become an internationally known, emblematic tale—not about Genovese, whose life most reports dispensed with quickly with the phrase “Queens barmaid,” or about her killer, Winston Moseley—but about the neighbors, 38 of them, we were told, who reportedly watched Genovese die in the street but did nothing, didn’t come to her aid or call the police. They just, we heard, didn’t want to get involved. The idea of “urban apathy” struck a deep cultural chord that resonates to this day.

    • How the High Cost of Justice Pushes the Poor into Prison

      In the American justice system, there’s often an assumption that if you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you. But thousands of Americans arriving in court each year over family disputes, domestic violence, eviction, foreclosure, denied wages, discrimination on the job, and an array of other civil issues have no right to counsel. If they can’t afford a lawyer, they’re on their own to face a system that is often confusing and riddled with fees. For poorer citizens, the cost of seeking justice often becomes so prohibitive they just give up.

      Even as criminal justice reform and the reduction of mass incarceration gain support across party lines, civil rights advocates warn that the inaccessibility of the civil justice system tends to channel people into the criminal system. Those with no access to the courts are more likely to take justice in their own hands, lose homes, or face incarceration over failure to pay child support or fines they can’t afford. For some, denials of justice in civil cases can lead to crimes of survival.

    • Social Media Fame Shields Dissidents, Until It Doesn’t

      The first time I spoke with Zainab al-Khawaja, in a Skype video conversation in late 2011, the Bahraini dissident explained to me that the popularity of her @angryarabiya Twitter feed — which she used to chart the violent suppression of Bahrain’s Arab Spring uprising that year — seemed to have given her a measure of protection from the authorities.

      I asked why she had not been immediately arrested at a protest the week before, when she stood defiantly in front of the riot police firing tear gas at other pro-democracy protesters — an image of defiance that went viral and embarrassed the Persian Gulf monarchy, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Khawaja replied that she had overheard officers being instructed not to detain or beat her. “One officer kept telling the police, ‘Not this one,’” she recalled.

      Khawaja was detained and briefly interrogated by a female police officer later that day, before being released. “I think the reason is that I am active, I am known, in the country and internationally, not to a big extent, but I have a big following on Twitter.”

      “I wish that every Bahraini was protected the way I am,” she added. “Just because I’ve been speaking out on Twitter and other places doesn’t have more rights.”

    • Appeals Court Shoots Down ACLU, Says Full CIA Torture Report Is Beyond The Reach Of FOIA Requesters

      Unless the Supreme Court chooses to get involved, it looks like we’ll never get to see the full “Torture Report.” We’ll just have to make do with the Executive Summary, which was released at the end of 2014. The summary is just 500 pages out of ~7,000 total. The rest of these pages remain in the hands of the Senate and the CIA, and neither is willing to part with them.

      FOIA enthusiast Jason Leopold’s request for the full document has already been shut down. The ACLU’s request was similarly denied by the DC District Court. The Appeals Court has reached its decision, and it agrees with the lower court.

      The denial hinges on the court’s determination that the full report is nothing more than a collection of Congressional communications and documents, rather than being in the possession of the CIA where they could (theoretically) be accessed via FOIA requests. The court cites a 2009 letter from the Senate Committee to the CIA that spells this out explicitly.

    • Amos Yee arrested, police ransacked his house in ongoing investigations

      A police spokesman said that a 17-year-old has been arrested under Sections 174 and 298 of the Penal Code. Alfred Dodwell has confirmed that the individual arrested by the police is Amos Yee. Amos was convicted at about this time last year for wounding the feelings of Christians and uploading an obscene image. Mr Dodwell, a lawyer, defended him in Court at that time.

      Section 174 pertains to failure to attend a session as ordered by public servant, whereas Section 298 involves uttering words with an intent to wound religious and racial feelings.

    • Who is Amos Yee, teen blogger in Singapore police crosshairs?

      Singapore’s controversial teen blogger Amos Yee has been arrested yet again a year after he was convicted of hurting religious feelings and spending time in the jail.

      Singapore authorities said several reports were lodged against him for allegedly hurting religious or racial feelings deliberately. Yee was ordered to report to a police station a number of times for investigations after the police reports were lodged, but he failed to do so.

    • Local Fox Affiliate’s Reaction To Brutal Police Beating Is A Dereliction Of Its Duty

      What you see is the suspect surrendering, exiting the vehicle, lying upon the ground as instructed, and then being pummeled for a brief moment before the camera quickly zooms out and renders the action indiscernible. Why the camera operator did so remains unanswered, but we know from other footage captured by an NBC affliate that the police spent the next half-a-minute or so beating the shit out of a man who was lying surrendered on the pavement. Were we to need to rely on the Fox footage to determine what had happened, we wouldn’t have this full picture of the beating in our minds. Instead, we’d have a moment or two of the violence, which could quite possibly be excused and waived off by what would be a typical dismissal by the authorities.

    • Massachusetts State Police Beat Man On Live News

      A 50 year old man led police on a chase for a few hours before he decided that enough was enough and pulled over to give up. The news cameras on scene captured the man pulling over and putting his hands outside the window. He then followed orders to lay on the ground. The shocking gang beating that happened next is hard to describe. Watch the video to judge it for yourself.

    • Analyst Uses NYPD’s Open Data To Uncover Millions Of Dollars Of Bogus Parking Tickets

      The following story — sent in by an anonymous Techdirt reader — shows the power of opening up government data for examination by citizens… as well as the reason many government agencies may be reluctant to do so.

      Ben Wellington, a research analyst who has used New York City’s open data to push for policy changes, runs the I Quant NY blog. Looking through the city’s parking ticket data, he found some addresses were listed on an extremely high number of tickets for blocking pedestrian ramps.

    • James Comey Still Trying To Blame Increase In Violent Crime On ‘Viral Videos’

      FBI Director James Comey says we’re “going dark” as more platforms move towards encryption. Nobody’s buying it. Not Congress. Not NSA officials. Definitely not those who have actually researched the subject.

      He also says people with cameras are causing spikes in crime rates by making police officers so self-conscious they can’t do their job. Comey blamed citizens with cameras for escalating crime rates last October. He was immediately contradicted by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Having learned nothing from the experience, Comey has dusted off his 2015 talking points for redeployment in 2016.

    • Undercover Uncovered: Govt. Spy Truck Found Disguised As Google Street View Car
    • Philly Cops Tried To Disguise An SUV With License Plate Readers As A Google Maps Vehicle

      Well, we have a WHO. What we don’t have is a WHY. Of what possible use was this crappy, little fakeout? Anyone stupid enough to believe a hulking SUV with a city parking permit was a Google Maps vehicle is also too stupid to know what the cameras mounted on it are actually used for. For everyone else above that level, the easiest conclusion to draw is that the Philly police are stupid enough to think this would work. If so, they’ve shorted the wrong set of collective IQ.

      A more benign explanation is also possible, though. It could have just been a poorly thought out attempt at a joke. Who sports more cameras and hoovers up more photos than Google’s mapping vehicles? This may have just been a few cops poking fun at themselves, co-opting Big Data’s look for their Big Brother plate scanning: the Google Maps of law enforcement, making sure no obscure side road goes “unmapped.”

    • Barring Prisoners From Voting Undermines Democracy

      For those who have done time in U.S. prisons, punishments often extend beyond the point of sentencing, reaching well into their post-prison lives. From job applications that inquire into one’s criminal background to states throwing people back in prison for failing to pay fees they owe to the state, the penalty decreed by the judge can be more extensive than it initially appears.

      A staggering 5.85 million Americans weren’t able to vote in 2014 because of laws that disenfranchise citizens. While much attention has been given to freed citizens who can’t vote because of a previous felony, less has been paid to those still behind bars who may want to take part in the voting process.

    • Baltimore’s election results decertified, state begins precinct-level review of irregularities

      State election officials ordered the results of Baltimore’s primary election decertified Thursday and launched a precinct-level review of irregularities.

      State election administrator Linda H. Lamone said she became concerned when city officials — who on Monday certified their primary election results — later reported they had found 80 provisional ballots that had never been analyzed.

    • It’s official: employers can’t force you to be happy. Hallelujah

      Rejoice, haters! The law now says that you don’t have to be happy about coming to work.

      In April, the National Labor Relations Board presided over a conflict between T-Mobile and some employees who felt that the company was asking too much by demanding that workers maintain a “positive work environment” at all times.

    • Petition Calls on Progressive Corp. to Pull Its Name From Cleveland Indians’ Stadium

      Amid growing national outcry from activists and sports fans alike who argue that it’s time to change racially charged team names and mascots, the Cleveland American Indian Movement (AIM) has spent decades pushing for the end of the “Cleveland Indians” baseball team name.

    • Michael Ratner, attorney for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, dies at 72

      Civil and human rights lawyer also helped start group representing Guantánamo Bay detainees pro-bono, considered ‘largest mass defense effort in US history’

    • Julian Assange: Michael Ratner was a “Campaigner for Justice” from Guatemala to Palestine

      And so, he was very effective as a lawyer and as a campaigner for justice, because he would do things—for example, seeing that people might be extradited to the United States, take up the battle at the place of extradition—for example, here in the United Kingdom, with one of my other lawyers, both on my case and in relation to some alleged terrorism cases, Gareth Peirce. Other lesser lawyers, lesser human beings, might have gone, “Well, I can get the glory, and I can get the credit, once that person is extradited to the United States, and then can be—the trial can be exploited, and great precedence can be set in the United States.” Michael was much more concerned, at a human level, to take action early in the process, and try and stop grand juries or try and stop extraditions, before the person entered in to a U.S. justice system that has become increasingly difficult to deal with.

    • Noam Chomsky on US Military Presence in Europe and the Case of Edward Snowden

      In this interview with MIT professor, anarchist, philosopher and renowned linguist Noam Chomsky, we discuss US military presence in Europe and the case of Edward Snowden.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ISPs Are Now Forcing Cord Cutters To Subscribe To TV If They Want To Avoid Usage Caps

      We’ve noted time and time again how broadband usage caps on fixed-line networks are arbitrary, unnecessary, and harm innovation. They’re also a useful weapon against streaming video competitors, and the natural evolution of TV competition. Caps can be used to either punish users who try and cut the cord with higher prices, but they also allow ISPs to exempt their own streaming services from said caps (something currently being done by both Verizon and Comcast), thereby giving these services a distinct and unfair advantage in the market.

      But broadband ISPs are now coming up with a new way of attacking cord cutters: forcing them to subscribe to television if they want to avoid usage caps.

  • DRM

    • Open letter to from EFF to members of the W3C Advisory Committee

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has made a sea-change: now, in addition to making open web standards that anyone can implement, they’re creating a video DRM standard designed to prevent people from implementing it unless they have permission from the big movie and TV companies, by invoking the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its international equivalents.

      The committee that’s designing this standard is called the Media Extensions Working Group, and its charter from the W3C runs out in September. When that happens, all W3C members will have a say in whether to renew that charter, and so I’m writing to those organizations and companies on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to get them to pledge to block the charter, unless the W3C takes steps to safeguard web users, security researchers and browser implementers from the DMCA.

    • What Do Customers Think They’re Getting When They Buy Media Online?

      Until recently, it was uncontroversial that you could take books or music from your collection, and lend them, sell them, or give them away.

      Rightsholders, however, have long tried creative ways to restrict your ability to do these things, as they believe it would let them make more money by either charging you for the privilege or simply by reducing “competition” from the sale or lending of used media.

      Of course, making media less valuable for the purchaser would also hurt sales of that same media, but only if the reduction in value is apparent to purchasers. A seller could both maintain high prices and strip away the ability to resell or lend books if enough purchasers don’t notice at the time of sale that they’re getting less for their money.

      Enter the “Buy Now” button. A team of researchers from UC Berkeley and Case Western have published a study showing that customers think they are getting traditional ownership rights when they buy digital media online, even when a vendor’s site includes legal terms (often buried in click-wrap agreements) purporting to limit those rights.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • India Releases New Intellectual Property Policy; Reactions Building

      The Indian government today released its long-awaited new intellectual property policy, and preliminary reactions appear to be that it caters to international pressures while attempting to provide a national focus. A more careful reading with reactions will follow.


      Initial reactions from industry suggest that they are happy. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chair and managing director of Biocon Limited, said India has its stood its ground on the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), while respecting genuine innovators and start-ups.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Sony Pictures Targets Torrent Sites With Preemptive Takedowns

        Copyright holders commonly ask torrent sites to remove links to pirated content, such as the latest blockbuster movies. However, Sony Pictures Networks goes a step further. This week the Indian company sent a stark warning to torrent sites, urging them to keep an eye out for pirated versions of an unreleased film, or else.

      • Former Sun chief says Java APIs were free for use

        The former chief executive of Sun Microsystems, Jonathan Schwartz, took the stand at the second Google-Oracle trial on Wednesday, testifying that Sun and Google tried to negotiate a deal for the latter to use parts of Java but failed to come to an agreement.

        The trial is trying to decide on what damages, if any, Google should pay Oracle — which became the owner of Java when it acquired Sun in 2009 — for the use of 37 APIs in its Android mobile operating systems.

        Schwartz testified that Java and its APIs were free and open to use when the language was under Sun’s umbrella. But subsequently, APIs have been declared copyrightable following the reversal of a judgement that was made in the first trial in 2012.


        In an email that was produced in the 2012 trial, and again on Wednesday, a software engineer from Google, who had been asked by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to evaluate technical alternatives to Java, wrote that everything else sucked and Google needed to negotiate a licence to use Java.

      • Oracle-Google trial over Android has software industry on edge
      • Trial Focuses on Google’s Past Efforts to License Java Software
      • Google, Oracle court battle hinges on rights to brew with Java software
      • Why everyone in Silicon Valley should care about Google-Oracle battle

        Oracle and Google are back in court debating a 6-year-old case tied to the Android operating system. The stakes extend well beyond the walls of the two Silicon Valley giants.

      • Google Foreshadows Legal Strategy in Epic API Copyright Case Against Oracle

        That was the sound of the bell as two titans — Oracle and Google — came out of their corners on Tuesday to duke-out the final round in their epic legal battle over the latter’s usage of Java APIs in the Android operating system. Already, this final round lacked no shortage of star power as Google started by putting its CEO Eric Schmidt on the witness stand. His role? To answer questions about many of the assumptions that Google made at the time it decided to base key parts of the Android operating system on Sun’s Java technology; a technology that now belongs to Oracle.

      • Former Sun CEO backs up Google’s claim, Java was ‘free and open to use’

        The Oracle v Google case continued yesterday with another full day of testimony. It continues today, with former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz taking the witness stand to give his side of the story. During questioning by Google’s lawyers, Schwartz confirmed that Java and its APIs were “free and open to use.” He explained that by making Java free, it allowed the company to expand its reach, allowing Sun to sell its products to a broader client list.

      • Former Sun CEO: Google Is Right, Java Was Free

        The multi-billion dollar legal drama between Google and Oracle regarding alleged infringement of Java-related licenses continues. This Wednesday, the former CEO of Oracle’s defunct subsidiary Sun Microsystems that created the Java language in the 90s – Jonathan Schwartz – testified at court in favor of Google. Schwartz stated that the Java language and its APIs were “free and open to use” since the very inception of the thereof, which was long before he even arrived at the company.

      • Google Engineer Admits Scrubbing Java References in Android

        Google, owner of the Android mobile device operating system, took another set of body blows from Oracle attorneys May 13 on Day 5 of the third Oracle v. Google copyright infringement trial in San Francisco.

      • In Oracle v. Google, a Nerd Subculture Is on Trial

        The problem with Oracle v. Google is that everyone actually affected by the case knows what an API is, but the whole affair is being decided by people who don’t, from the normals in the jury box to the normals at the Supreme Court—which declined to hear the case in 2015, on the advice of the normals at the Solicitor General’s office, who perhaps did not grasp exactly how software works.

      • Mega Ordered to Hand Over Users’ Details to U.S. Court

        Mega, the cloud storage site founded by Kim Dotcom, has been ordered to hand the IP addresses and personal details of some of its users to a U.S. court. The ruling follows the uploading of sensitive documents to Mega following a hack on a foreign government computer system. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Mega chairman Stephen Hall expressed concerns over the process.

      • Court Orders Pirate Bay Domains to be Forfeited to the State

        The Swedish Court of Appeal has today ruled that The Pirate Bay will have its Swedish domains confiscated. ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se will both be forfeited to the state but Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij informs TorrentFreak that he will appeal claims that he owns the domains at the Supreme Court.

      • California’s Legislature Wants to Copyright All Government Works

        AB 2880 will give state and local governments dramatic powers to chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain.

        The California Assembly Committee on Judiciary recently approved a bill (AB 2880) to grant local and state governments’ copyright authority along with other intellectual property rights. At its core, the bill grants state and local government the authority to create, hold, and exert copyrights, including in materials created by the government. For background, the federal Copyright Act prohibits the federal government from claiming copyright in the materials it creates, but is silent on state governments. As a result, states have taken various approaches to copyright law with some granting themselves vast powers and others (such as California) forgoing virtually all copyright authority at least until now.

        EFF strongly opposes the bill. Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain. It is our hope that the state legislature will scuttle this approach and refrain from covering all taxpayer funded works under a government copyright.

      • User Content Platforms Take the Heat for Artists’ Struggles at WIPO

        All this week, EFF has been at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, debating with delegates from around the world at the 32nd session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). We could write an exhaustive report of the discussions at the meeting (tl;dr: proposals for a broadcasting treaty continue to edge forward, while rich countries remain at loggerheads with users and poorer countries about copyright exceptions for education and libraries). But what’s more remarkable are the persistent themes that are recurring in these discussions, as well as the motivations of regional groups, rightsholders and individual countries that propel them.

      • Hesitant Steps For Broadcasting Treaty At WIPO; Study On Copyright Exceptions Praised

        The protection of broadcasting organisation against signal piracy has been discussed at the World Intellectual Property Organization for two decades. However technological advances might have made the draft treaty as it stands obsolete some say, while others maintain that the treaty should stick to its original intent, leading to difficult discussions on core principles. On another subject of the WIPO committee on copyright meeting this week, a draft study was presented mapping the copyright limitations and exceptions provisions for educational activities in most WIPO member states.


Links 13/5/2016: ZFS in Debian, RBS Chooses Red Hat

Posted in News Roundup at 9:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • How Typography Can Save Your Life

    Since 1984 all cigarette packages have been required to include one of four specific health warnings, with the “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING” phrase set in capital letters. In 2009, President Obama signed a new law that would require larger labels with vivid graphics, but the tobacco industry put up a legal fight, and the new labels have been in limbo ever since.

    Companies can (and do) claim that they are trying to “emphasize” the important stuff by putting it in all caps. This is actually the reason so many legal documents and contracts have sections that seem to be shouting. You can blame U.S. law for this one (specifically, the Uniform Commercial Code) which requires that certain sections of a contract be “conspicuous.”

    Usually those guidelines apply to the parts of the contract that sound something like: “COMPANY X DOES NOT GUARANTEE THAT WE’LL KEEP ANY OF OUR PROMISES AND EVERYTHING IS AT YOUR OWN RISK.” Makes sense that those sections should be hard to miss.

    Except that in this case, making text “conspicuous,” also makes it harder to read. And that’s because of a historical quirk.

  • Science

    • After Nine Years Of Censorship, Canada Finally Unmuzzles Its Scientists

      It’s important to remember that Canada is not alone in having these muzzling problems. The article notes that during the administration of President George W. Bush, US government scientists complained that inconvenient data was being altered or simply suppressed. More recently, the UK government unveiled plans to forbid its scientists from lobbying for changes in their own field. Although it has now introduced some exemptions from the controversial “gagging clause”, these seem half-hearted and possibly temporary. It obviously needs to pay more attention to Justin.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • UK Russian Embassy tweets screenshot from Command & Conquer Generals

      The Russian Embassy in London has tweeted a screenshot from PC real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Generals.

      The image, of three green army trucks, was posted with the accompanying text: “Extremists near Aleppo received several truckloads of chemical ammo.”

    • Remembering Michael Ratner, Pioneering Lawyer Who Fought for Justice from Attica to Guantánamo
    • Michael Ratner, Champion of Human Rights and the Oppressed, Dies at 72
    • Michael Ratner Is Gone; You’re Still Here
    • Michael Ratner, Pioneering Civil and Constitutional Rights Lawyer, Dies at Age 72
    • From the Archives: Michael Ratner on American Imperialism
    • Web Exclusive: Reed Brody & Michael Smith Remember Michael Ratner (Part 2)

      The trailblazing human rights attorney Michael Ratner has died at the age of 72. For over four decades, he defended, investigated and spoke up for victims of human rights abuses across the world. In this web-only interview, Reed Brody and Michael Smith pay tribute to their close friend.

    • Michael Ratner, Lawyer Who Won Rights for Guantánamo Prisoners, Dies at 72

      Michael Ratner, a fearless civil liberties lawyer who successfully challenged the United States government’s detention of terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay without judicial review, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 72.

      The cause was complications of cancer, said his brother, Bruce, a developer and an owner of the Brooklyn Nets.

      As head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner oversaw litigation that, in effect, voided New York City’s wholesale stop-and-frisk policing tactic. The center also accused the federal government of complicity in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects and argued against the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency, the waging of war in Iraq without the consent of Congress, the encouragement of right-wing rebels in Nicaragua and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war.

      “Under his leadership, the center grew from a small but scrappy civil rights organization into one of the leading human rights organizations in the world,” David Cole, a former colleague at the center and a professor at Georgetown Law School, said in an interview this week. “He sued some of the most powerful people in the world on behalf of some of the least powerful.”

      Mr. Ratner, who majored in medieval English at Brandeis University in the 1960s, was radicalized by the teachings of the New Left philosopher Herbert Marcuse and the preachings of a classmate, Angela Davis, who went on to become a leading counterculture activist and American Communist and continues to teach and speak publicly.

    • U.S. Officials Ask How ISIS Got So Many Toyota Trucks

      Is Wallace saying to ISIS they better “buy American?” Is Wallace in the tank for ISIS? I don’t know.

    • Donald Trump Calls Hillary Clinton “Trigger Happy” as She Courts Neocons

      Donald Trump derided Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy record over the weekend, a glimpse into a potential general election strategy of casting Clinton as the more likely of the two to take the nation to war.

      Just moments after maligning Syrian refugees at a rally in Lynden, Washington, Trump pivoted into a tirade against Clinton as a warmonger.

    • State Department Fails to Vet or Monitor Military Aid to Egypt

      The U.S isn’t sufficiently vetting the sale of weapons to the repressive government of Egypt, and doesn’t know enough about how those weapons are being used – including night vision goggles and riot control weapons.

    • Obama Should Heed Hiroshima’s Survivors

      The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a beautiful, haunting place. The most iconic landmark is the “A-bomb dome,” atop a large building that was not completely destroyed. As we left the memorial, Koji Hosokawa told us to stop. He looked us in the eye and told us not to forget the victims: “People lived here. They lived here.” President Obama should meet Koji Hosokawa and other hibakusha, and hear their stories.

    • Washington’s Military Addiction

      Put another way, in a Washington that seems incapable of doing anything but worshiping at the temple of the U.S. military, global policymaking has become a remarkably mindless military-first process of repetition. It’s as if, as problems built up in your life, you looked in the closet marked “solutions” and the only thing you could ever see was one hulking, over-armed soldier, whom you obsessively let loose, causing yet more damage.

    • Obama Broke Pledge To Demand Syrian Opposition’s Separation From Nusra Front

      The gradual erosion of the cease-fire in Syria over the past month is the result of multiple factors shaping the conflict, but one of the underlying reasons is the Obama administration’s failure to carry out its commitment to Russia to get US-supported opposition groups to separate themselves physically from the Nusra Front – the al-Qaeda organization in Syria.

    • A Need to Rethink Mideast Wars

      The request by a U.S. Army captain to a federal court for a declaratory judgment about his constitutional duties regarding going to war is the latest reminder of the unsatisfactory situation in which the United States is engaged in military operations in multiple overseas locales without any authorization other than a couple of outdated and obsolete Congressional resolutions whose relevance is questionable at best.

    • Army Chaplain Resigns over Drone Wars

      The U.S. government’s reliance on drones to sustain perpetual war in the Mideast is meeting resistance from some assigned to carry out and justify these tactics, including a U.S. Army chaplain who resigned in protest, writes Ann Wright.

    • George Zimmerman and the Long History of Selling “Souvenirs”

      Former neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman’s decision, one he has apparently reconsidered, to sell, as he describes, “the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin” is just an another link in the long chain of America’s historical obsession with selling and owning memorabilia connected with the murder of African Americans.

    • Baghdad gov’t paralysis made capital vulnerable to massive ISIL bombings

      Daesh (ISIL, ISIS) launched a series of suicide car and truck bombs in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing nearly 100 and wounding nearly 200 persons. Baghdad security had improved over the past couple of years, but the Coalition United for Reform blamed political wrangling on sectarian and party bases for the security lapses that allowed the attacks to take place. The president’s spokesman suggested that Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi might need to fire some security officials responsible for the capital’s well-being for this major lapse.

    • Do British international relations scholars question British foreign policy enough?

      Recently I came across a 2006 article that Eric Herring published in the Journal of International Studies titled ‘Remaking the mainstream: the case for activist IR scholarship’. In the article Herring argues that “British IR [International Relations] academics… produce very little primarily empirical work which documents the record of the British state in creating human misery abroad”. In addition he goes onto note “British IR academics engage in very little research exposing the deceptions and self-deceptions deployed by the British state to deny its responsibility for that human misery”.

      A rare self-critical admission from an academic about his own work and that of his profession, Herring’s argument struck me as very important and deserving of a wider audience. Currently a Professor of World Politics and Research Director in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol, I asked Herring about his 2006 article and whether anything had changed ten years later.

    • Drone warfare: the cost of progress

      Hambling argues that although most people think of armed-drones as being large pilotless aircraft such as the Reaper and Predator, their development is being paralleled by much smaller devices such as the Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS). The latter is suitable for use by individual soldiers, each of whom would carry small but lethal explosives with a range of several miles.

    • Former 9/11 Commissioner: ’28 Pages’ Clearly Expose Saudi Support

      Revealing serious fractures within the 9/11 Commission, a former member of that panel has called for the immediate declassification of the so-called “28 pages” that detail Saudi ties to the 2001 terrorist attack, saying they expose evidence that Saudi government officials were involved in the hijackers’ support network.

      “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government,” Republican John Lehman said in an interview with the Guardian published Thursday. Referring to the commission’s final report, issued in 2004, Lehman stated: “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.”

      He said recent claims made by the Commission’s former chairman and vice-chair—that only one Saudi government employee was “implicated” in supporting the hijackers, and that the Obama administration should be cautious about releasing the 28 pages because they contain “raw, unvetted material” but no “smoking gun”—was “a game of semantics.”

    • ‘Saudi Arabian government officials supported September 11 hijackers,’ former 9/11 Commission member claims

      A former member of the independent commission that investigated the September 11 terror attacks has claimed that Saudi government officials supported the hijackers.

      John F Lehman, who sat on the 9/11 Commission from 2003 to 2004, said there was an “awful lot of circumstantial evidence” implicating several employees in the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

      “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government,” he told the Guardian.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Disobedience and the New “Public Trust” Laws of Nature

      This ancient idea, applied since Roman days, is pretty straightforward: The government has an affirmative duty to protect natural resources that are shared by everybody. In the past, the doctrine has been used to prevent the selling off of lakefront shorelines or the bulldozing of rare fossil beds. With the clock ticking on the climate crisis, many legal scholars and activists have begun asking whether it’s time to put the public trust to work on climate change.

    • West Virginia Democrats Just Nominated A Climate Denying Coal Baron Billionaire For Governor

      In November, West Virginians will have two choices. A a party-switching, self-funding, brash billionaire who denies climate change and loves coal, and a lawmaker who talks about bringing jobs back to the state.

      And that’s just the gubernatorial race.

      On Tuesday night, Jim Justice easily won the West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary and will face off against Republican state Senate President Bill Cole in the general election.

    • Obama Just Cracked Down on Pollution From Fracking

      For the first time ever, the EPA will regulate methane emissions.

    • Coal made its best case against climate change, and lost

      Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company (now bankrupt), recently faced off against environmental groups in a Minnesota court case. The case was to determine whether the State of Minnesota should continue using its exceptionally low established estimates of the ‘social cost of carbon’, or whether it should adopt higher federal estimates.

      The social cost of carbon is an estimate of how much the damages from carbon pollution cost society via climate change damages. In theory, it represents how much the price of fossil fuels should increase to reflect their true costs.

      The coal company called forth witnesses that represented the fringe 2–3% of experts who reject the consensus that humans are the primary cause of global warming, including Roy Spencer and Richard Lindzen, while their opposition invited witnesses like Andrew Dessler and John Abraham who represent the 97% expert consensus.

    • Brazil prepares to roll back green laws

      Taking advantage of Brazil’s present political turbulence, as the battle to impeach President Dilma Rousseff reaches its climax, reactionary politicians are quietly rolling back environmental and indigenous protection laws in defiance of the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

      Environmentalists say that if the bill known as PEC 65/2012, now at the Senate committee stage, is approved, it means that major infrastructure projects will be able to go ahead regardless of their impacts on biodiversity, indigenous areas, traditional communities and conservation areas.

    • What Brazil’s New President Means For Its Environmental Laws

      As the suspension of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Thursday triggers a political reshuffling, environmentalists in Latin America’s largest ailing economy worry that powers in the new administration favor infrastructure development and financial recovery over environmental laws.

      As it is now customary in multiple countries, Brazil requires environmental assessments prior to construction projects. But the Senate is now considering a bill that would give fast-track status to projects like roads, dams or ports deemed in the national interest by the president. That would allow developers to move forward simply by saying an environmental impact study is in the works, but bar agencies from halting the project once construction begins. Moreover, there is a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate environmental licensing altogether. These proposals aren’t new, but their political backing could get a push within Brazil’s new interim government.

    • Dilma Rousseff suspended as senate votes to impeach Brazilian president

      Speaking after the vote, Rousseff remained defiant, denying that she had committed any crime, and accusing her opponents of mounting a “coup”.

    • Brazil Senate Votes for Impeachment Trial as Rousseff Vows to Fight ‘Coup’
    • We Can Stop Searching For The Clean Energy Miracle. It’s Already Here.

      Key climate solutions have been advancing considerably faster than anyone expected just a few years ago thanks to aggressive market-based deployment efforts around the globe. These solutions include such core enabling technologies for a low-carbon world as solar, wind, efficiency, electric cars, and battery storage.

    • Beyond Climate Confusion: Why Both Energy Innovation and Deployment Matter
    • How Anti-Coal Bernie Sanders Won Coal Country

      If you know about West Virginia’s attitude toward coal, and you also know about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) attitude toward coal, then Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential primary results might have come as a bit of a surprise.

      Sanders — a staunch environmentalist pushing for more pollution regulations and a nationwide carbon tax — easily won West Virginia over his opponent Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. His win, some environmentalists said, was proof that you don’t have to be pro-coal to win in coal country.

    • BREAKING: EPA Finalizes Methane Rule For New Oil And Gas Operations
    • Six States Join TransCanada To Sue Obama Over Rejection Of The Keystone XL Pipeline

      Six states have joined with TransCanada to sue the Obama administration over its rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline permit application.

      TransCanada filed the suit in a federal court in Houston in January, alleging that the president had overstepped his constitutionally granted powers. The right to regulate trans-border commerce is reserved for Congress, the suit says.

      But the president denied the permit based on national security grounds, which is well within his rights, Center for Biological Diversity attorney Bill Snape told ThinkProgress.

      “They are basically asking the court to second-guess the president on a national interest decision,” Snape said.

    • ‘We’ll Do What It Takes To Stop It’: Kinder Morgan Pipeline in Crosshairs

      This weekend, hundreds of activists will encircle a Kinder Morgan facility in British Columbia on the ground and on the water, while demanding that Canada break free from fossil fuels, listen to science, and transition to a 100 percent renewable energy.

    • ‘Wholly Inadequate’: Environmentalists Decry EPA’s New Methane Rules

      Following President Obama’s promise to cut toxic methane leaks at oil and gas facilities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday announced the U.S. government’s “first-ever” set of standards to reduce such emissions—but the new regulations were decried by environmentalist critics as not far-reaching enough.

    • Old species have climate survival skills

      Study of more than 600 vertebrate species shows those that have faced extreme environmental pressures in the past are now best equipped to survive climate change.

    • Agriculture, A Huge Contributor To Climate Change, Is Starting To Clean Up Its Act
    • Bay Area Voters Will Decide Next Month If They Want To Pay To Adapt To Sea Level Rise

      California has long been a leader in tackling climate change. But in June, voters in the San Francisco Bay area will have the chance to take their state’s commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation a step further.

    • Palm Oil Is Burning Indonesia to the Ground

      Fire is a tool in this part of the world, and every year Indonesian farmers burn down wild forest to make room for more pulpwood, rubber plantations and palm oil. But last year was different. The fires fed on peatland raged beyond control, consuming the timber that burns so easily in the country’s dry season. Indonesia became Hell on Earth, with satellites showing the length of the country swaddled in smoke. Borneo and western Sumatra, the worst-hit areas, glowed like embers. Acid haze poured over the borders and into Malaysia and Singapore and Thailand.

  • Finance

    • Illiberal Hollywood: Unchanged or Worse One Year Later

      Like Disney — two of its seven biggest films over the last decade were directed/written/led by women (Frozen, 2013), or led by a woman (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2015). Yet its stock is languishing, and its lineup thin of women-directed/-written/-led. Maybe its board needs a shakeup and its stock needs to tank a little further before they wake up and realize an audience composed of +51% of the population shouldn’t be slighted by its hiring practices. Same goes for the rest of the entertainment industry: we expect better, and soon.

    • TTIP leaks highlight the dangers of regulatory cooperation

      TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) has sparked a public outcry in Europe. The recent leak of many parts of TTIP by Greenpeace, allowing us for the first time to read the negotiating position of the US, confirms the most serious concerns.

    • Kill TTIP Now

      The evil of American “democratic capitalism” is total and irredeemable. TTIP gives corporations unaccountable power over governments and peoples. The corporations must be slapped down hard, fiercely regulated, and forced by threat of long prison sentences to serve the public interest, and not the incomes of the executives and shareholders who comprise the One Percent.

    • How A Giant Restaurant Conglomerate Teamed Up With Banks To Stiff Its Workers

      Workers at Darden Restaurants chains are routinely told they must accept prepaid debit cards instead of paychecks, according to a new report from the worker organization Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United. A quarter of workers surveyed said they asked to be paid some other way and were told the cards are their only option.

    • As Wealthy Surge, U.S. Poor and Middle Class Incomes Have Gone Backward

      Middle- and low-income households in the U.S. made less money in 2014 than they did in 1999 as the middle class lost ground in almost 90 percent of the country’s metropolitan areas, a new analysis by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday has found.

      The report looked at 229 of the 381 federally designated “metropolitan statistical areas” in the U.S., from Seattle to Boston, which accounted for 76 percent of the nationwide population in 2014. It found that poorer households saw their income drop from a median of $26,373 in 1999 to $23,811 in 2014, while middle-class incomes fell from $77,898 to $72,919 in that same time period.

      The erosion of the middle class came as household incomes decreased, “a reminder that the economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-09,” Pew said—but more than that, it is a reflection of rising income inequality.

    • Another Way the Rich Get Richer: Their Parents Give Them Obscene Amounts of Money Nearly Tax-Free

      It’d be great if we were all self-made men, like Citizen Trump.

      Of course, his self-making, like that of many wealthy people, is based in large part on a wealthy parent giving him a ton of money. Why work for a living when you can just hang around drinking single malt until daddy dies and leaves you his money?

      Trump’s papa left an estate valued at between $100 and $300 million in 1999. A nice start for a career in real estate for Don and his siblings.

    • The London Mayoral Election: a Victory for Whom?

      During his election campaign, Khan vowed to be “the most pro-business Mayor London has ever had”; stated his opposition to the “mansion tax”, the nationalisation of banks, and has pledged to work with the Tory government to defeat Corbyn’s push for a “Robin Hood Tax” – a fee on buying stocks, shares and derivatives publicly backed by the Labour leader last summer; and in recent weeks, Khan has described the fact that there are 140-plus billionaires and 400,000 millionaires in London as “a good thing” – echoing the haughty words of Labour’s true blue Tory Peter Mandelson,

    • London Summit: US Must End Tax ‘Hypocrisy’ or Corruption Will Prevail

      If the U.S. does not end its “hypocrisy” and hold itself to the same tax transparency standards as other nations, efforts to reform offshore secrecy will fail, leaders of the UK’s overseas territories warned at the global anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday.

      The comments—from leaders of the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and the Isle of Man—came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told those gathered at the summit, “Corruption, writ large, is as much of an enemy [as terrorism], because it destroys nation states, as some of the extremists we are fighting or the other challenges we face.”

      The summit follows a massive leak of documents known as the Panama Papers which exposed how the world’s elite use offshore tax havens to hide their wealth, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, who hosted the conference.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Following Censorship Scandals, Obama Commits to ‘Fight Against Corruption’

      This just in from the Obama administration: corruption is bad, m’kay?

      No, seriously.

      Apparently, President Obama’s commitment to fighting corruption is so important that Secretary of State John Kerry actually felt the need to fly to London to reaffirm the United States government isn’t full of dirty rotten scoundrels who are just up to no good.

    • Parliament will fight to protect the BBC

      Today the government will publish a white paper setting out its plans for the future of the BBC. At the BAFTA awards on Sunday the director Peter Kosminsky rightly received a standing ovation. He used his acceptance speech to voice his fear that the White Paper will compromise our precious, independent, world-renowned organisation. He cautioned that the BBC was on a path to evisceration that would leave the broadcasting landscape bereft – and the output of television and radio determined solely by what lines the pockets of shareholders.

    • The BBC White Paper is a recipe for long-term decline

      The government’s proposals would be a blow to both the BBC’s freedom from government interference, and its place at the heart of British popular culture.

    • Decoding the BBC White Paper

      Apocalyptic rumours followed by a row-back and relief. It’s an age-old strategy, but what’s the reality behind the government’s BBC proposals?

    • Laura Kuenssberg Meet Barbra Streisand

      I have cropped this to protect the identity of the sender, but I assure you it is perfectly real and not at all unusual. (This is actually sexist on my part as if it were a man I would not have cropped it. I can only ask you to forgive me, I am old). I am sure Kuenssberg, being vastly more famous, gets more abuse than I do. But the fact either of us receives abuse does not mean we are above criticism. The young woman tweeting above being unpleasant is not evidence I am right about anything. Still less does it mean criticism of me should be suppressed.

      To say that abusers “hijacked” the petition criticising Kuenssberg for her terrible biased journalism, is like saying your car is hijacked by an insect landing on it.

      But the extremely cheerful news is that the furore caused by 38 Degrees removing the petition has meant that tens of millions more people have heard of the petition, than if it had gone ahead. David Cameron standing up in the House of Commons saying Kuenssberg is not biased in itself will have made a million people realise that she is. Laura Kuenssberg, meet Barbra Streisand. The “Streisand Effect”, named after the actress’ attempt to suppress photos of her mansion, is the internet phenomenon whereby attempts to suppress information lead to far more people knowing it.

    • Donald Trump’s Unsurprising Surprise

      Donald Trump’s ascension to the Republican presidential nomination was predictable, paved by years of right-wing fear-mongering and dissemination of anti-knowledge, says former GOP congressional staffer Mike Lofgren.

    • Will Trump’s ‘Man Card’ Play to Women?

      As the presidential election of 2016 unfolds, presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump seems bent on proving a simple aphorism: No one ever went broke overestimating the misogyny of the American people.

      Trump continues to spew rhetoric seemingly designed to alienate women voters, prompting pundits and analysts to search for the strategic significance of such utterances. “Donald Trump has been playing the man card,” Kelly Dittmar of the the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics told NPR’s Asma Khalid in an interview that aired on Tuesday.

      And lately, he seems to be micro-targeting the key domestic-violence constituency. At a campaign stop in Spokane over the weekend, Trump renewed his complaint against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for playing the so-called “woman’s card.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Anti-virus pioneer John McAfee: Your phone may be snooping on you

      Computer security pioneer John McAfee pulls out his cell phone to stare at a notification on the screen.

      “It says something changed in my account, please press next,” McAfee says. “I have the best (security) habits in the world and I cannot keep my phone secure.”

      McAfee, whose name became synonymous with antivirus protection, says he’s no longer as worried about computer security. Now, he says, the danger comes from the camera and microphones we carry everywhere in our pockets, attached to our smartphones. It’s a “trivial” matter, he says, for a hacker to remotely and secretly turn on a phone’s sensors.

    • Surveillance: Who owns you and your life?

      There are many dimensions to the concept of privacy.

      A fundamental question is: Who owns you and your life?

      If you are not the owner of your person – that will open up for abominations like slavery, organ farming, and some absurd utilitarian concepts.

      But if you are the owner of your person – this must include your body as well as your mind and your faculties.

      So… if you are the owner of your person – does anybody else (a private person or a collective of persons) have the right to look into your mind, your thoughts and your beliefs? Does anybody else have the right to look into your relations to other people, your quest for knowledge or your personal habits and preferences?

    • 45,000 People Ask Netflix to Stop VPN Crackdown

      A letter signed by nearly 45,000 people calls upon Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to reverse the company’s broad VPN ban. To enforce geographical restrictions Netflix started blocking VPN users more aggressively this year, but according to OpenMedia there are better alternatives that respect the privacy of users.

    • FBI Has Sights on Larger Battle Over Encryption After Apple Feud

      After buying a software tool to access a dead terrorist’s encrypted iPhone, the FBI is exploring how to make broader use of the hack while bracing for a larger battle involving encrypted text messages, e-mails and other data, Director James Comey said.

    • While It Is Reauthorizing FISA Amendments Act, Congress Should Reform Section 704

      If it’s not that, then you would think it’d have to be the wacky interpretation, the middle option. After all, Americans are at least as likely to use Gmail as foreigners are, so to get the Gmail of Americans overseas, the NSA would presumably ask Google for assistance, and therefore trigger 703, unless there were a wacky legal interpretation to bypass that. There are things that make it clear NSA has a great deal of redundancy in its collection, even with PRISM collection, which makes it clear they do double dip, obtaining even Gmail overseas and domestically (which is why they’d have GCHQ hack Google’s overseas fiber). It’s possible, though, that the NSA conducts so much bulk collection overseas it is actually easier (or legally more permissive) to just collect US person content from bulk collections obtained overseas, thereby bypassing any domestic provider and onerous legal notice. I suppose it’s also possible that NSA now uses 703 (my proof they don’t dates to 2012 or earlier), having had to resort to playing by the rules as more providers lock up their data better in the wake of the Snowden revelations. (Note, Mieke Eoyang has an interesting FAA suggestion that would require exclusivity when NSA accesses content from US providers, thereby preventing them from stealing Google data overseas.)

    • Your Conversation On The Bus Or Train May Be Recorded

      When you ride on buses or trains in many parts of the United States, what you say could be recorded. Get on a New Jersey Transit light rail train in Hoboken or Jersey City, for example, and you might notice an inconspicuous sign that says “video and audio systems in use.”

      A lot of riders are not happy about it.

      “Yeah I don’t like that,” says Michael Dolan of Bayonne, N.J. “I don’t want conversations being picked up because it’s too Orwellian for me. It reeks of Big Brother.”

    • FBI Doesn’t Want Privacy Laws To Apply To Its Biometric Database

      The FBI has been building a massive biometric database for the last eight years. The Next Generation Identification System (NGIS) starts with millions of photos of criminals (and non-criminals) and builds from there. Palm prints, fingerprints, iris scans, tattoos and biographies are all part of the mix.

      Despite having promised to deliver a Privacy Impact Assessment of the database back in 2012, the FBI’s system went live towards the end of 2014 without one. That’s a big problem, considering the database’s blend of guilty/innocent Americans, along with its troublesome error rate. The FBI obviously hopes the false positive rate will continue to decline as tech capabilities improve, but any qualms about bogus hits have been placed on the back burner while the agency dumps every piece of data it can find into the database.

      The FBI has shown little motivation to address Americans’ privacy concerns by providing an updated Impact Assessment (the one it does have dates back to the program’s inception in 2008), but has wasted no time in alerting legislators about its own privacy concerns.

    • Was NSA surveillance used on refuge occupiers labeled as ‘domestic terrorists,’ lawyer asks

      Oregon standoff defendants want a federal judge to order prosecutors to disclose whether law enforcement intercepted their emails, phone calls or other electronic communications using national security surveillance methods.

      “Defendants are entitled to know how the government monitored their communications and activities and then to test … whether the government’s evidence is derived from that surveillance,” defense lawyer Amy Baggio wrote in a court filing Wednesday afternoon.

    • What former NSA chief Michael Hayden said after watching the new Snowden trailer

      “You’re gonna make me do this?” Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA director, said to Business Insider before watching the “Snowden” trailer for the first time.

      After about 30 seconds, Hayden looked up from the iPad screen and said: “Could we be done?”

      Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” tells the story of NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden who infamously leaked classified information about the NSA’s surveillance activities to journalists in 2013. To Hayden, the portrayal is an “alternative universe.”

    • The NSA’s stunning 9/11 failure: How big-money contractors made us more vulnerable to attack

      On September 12, 2001, Bill Binney snuck back into work at the NSA dressed like cleaning staff so he could try to help understand who had attacked the United States. A top NSA mathematician, Binney had rolled out a sophisticated metadata analysis system called ThinThread, only to have it canceled less than a month before 9/11. Top executives at the agency had decided a clunky program called Trailblazer, contracted out to the intelligence contractor giant SAIC, would be NSA’s future, not the cheaper, more effective and privacy-protective ThinThread.

      While NSA Director General Michael Hayden had sent most NSA staffers home on 9/11 and the day after —hence Binney’s disguise — the contractors were hard at work. As Binney describes in “A Good American“ — a documentary about Binney due for wider release in September — some contractors working in his unit had gotten a warning. “While I was in there trying to look at the material on my computer, the president of the contracting group that I had working on ThinThread came over to me and said that he’d just been in a contractor meeting” with a former top SAIC official who moved back to NSA, supporting Trailblazer. The contractors, it turns out, were warned not to embarrass companies like SAIC, which (the implication is) had just failed to warn about the biggest attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor. “Do not embarrass large companies,” the former SAIC manager, according to Binney, said to the other contractor. “You do your part, you’ll get your share, there’s plenty for everybody.” Stay quiet about the failures that led to 9/11, and you’ll be financially rewarded.

    • FBI Won’t Say Whether It Bought These Gmail Password Stealing Boxes

      Ever heard of an “app interception system”?

      So-called app interception or cloud interception systems are small physical boxes that steal social media passwords, emails, Dropbox contents and more from smartphones of passers-by, all with no interaction from the target.

      Now, in response to Freedom of Information requests from Motherboard, the FBI has refused to neither confirm nor deny whether the agency has any contracts with two of the main companies selling such devices.

      “The mere acknowledgment of whether or not the FBI has any such records in and of itself would disclose techniques, procedures, and/or guidelines that could reasonably be expected to risk of circumvention of the law. Thus, the FBI neither confirms nor denies the existence of any records,” the responses to two requests read.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Prison Telecom Monopolies ‘Evolve,’ Now Rip Off Inmate Families With Shoddy Video Services, Too

      We’ve noted a few times how interstate inmate calling service (ICS) companies have a disturbingly cozy relationship with government, striking (technically buying) monopoly deals that let them charge inmate families $14 per minute. Worse, some ICS companies like Securus Technologies have been under fire for helping the government spy on privileged inmate attorney communications, information that was only revealed after Securus was hacked late last year. Given the apathy for prison inmates and their families (“Iff’n ya don’t like high prices, don’t go to prison son!”) reform on this front has been glacial at best.

      As such, ripping off inmate families and delivering sub-par services continues unabated. As many prisons eliminate personal visits, these ICS firms have expanded revenues by pretending to offer next-generation teleconferencing services. But while slightly more economical ($10 for 20 minutes), apparently companies like Securus with no competitors, a captive audience, and no repercussions for sloppy technology haven’t quite figured out how to make this whole video chat thing work yet.

    • Amos Yee arrested again for charges of hurting religious feelings

      Amos Yee, the teenager who was found guilty for hurting the feelings of Christians and posting an obscene image online last year, was arrested by the police on Wednesday and since released on bail.

    • Amos Yee arrested for two offences

      Teenage blogger Amos Yee has been arrested again for offences under two sections of the Penal Code – a year after he was convicted of wounding the feelings of Christians and uploading an obscene image.

    • Singaporean blogger Amos Yee arrested

      Police told the newspaper that Yee had violated sections of Singapore’s Penal Code after he published a YouTube video in November last year.

    • Blogger Amos Yee arrested again

      Teen blogger Amos Yee has been arrested again, a year after he was convicted of wounding the feelings of Christians and uploading an obscene image.

    • Amos Yee arrested on Wednesday

      Teenage blogger Amos Yee, whose online comments on religion prompted police reports to be lodged against him, has been arrested, his former lawyer Alfred Dodwell confirmed. Yee was arrested on Wednesday (May 11), said Mr Dodwell, who was contacted by Yee’s mother seeking help.

    • Court Denies Immunity To Law Enforcement Officer Who Arrested Crew Sent To Clean Out His Foreclosed House

      Lieutenant Timothy Filbeck of the Butts County Sheriff’s Department found himself in a not-at-all unusual situation: his home was being foreclosed upon. Like many others who have undergone this process, Filbeck was served with a variety of notices explaining the steps of the process and warning him of the consequences of not complying.

      Filbeck moved out of the doomed home and into a family member’s. This would apparently be the last rational thing he would do in response to the foreclosure. The insurance company for the bank inspected the home four times before coming to the conclusion it had been abandoned by Filbeck. The utilties had been turned off and “cobwebs extended from wall to wall in every room.”

      When the company began preparing the house for auction, things started to get interesting. Employees spent a day cleaning the house out and removing any abandoned property inside it. At some point, Filbeck apparently decided to drop by his old house and noticed the things he had left behind were missing. He could have contacted any of the companies involved in the foreclosure proceedings. He could have done nothing after realizing that leaving a foreclosed house abandoned tends to result in the removal of property also considered abandoned. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals notes that Lieutenant Filbeck chose “none of the above.”

    • BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and team expelled from North Korea

      BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team have been expelled from North Korea after being detained over their reporting.

      Our correspondent, producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard were stopped by officials on Friday as they were about to leave North Korea.

    • Myth of the Ferguson Effect Is Hard to Kill

      The myth of the widely debunked “Ferguson effect” on policing is hard to kill. FBI Director James Comey once again raised the specter of the impact of protests against police brutality on police effectiveness yesterday, when he made comments suggesting that a spike in violent crime in some cities may be correlated to officers’ fear of doing their jobs because of community hostility and the growing popularity of cop watching.

    • What’s Missing From The Conversation About Education Reform? Student Voices.

      The education law that President Obama signed at the end of last year to replace No Child Left Behind, called the Every Student Succeeds Act, has garnered widespread bipartisan support. The legislation is particularly popular among states and teachers, who hope that ESSA will allow them to play a larger role in shaping the education system.

    • How Obama’s Efforts to Free Drug War Prisoners Are Being Stymied by His Own Bureaucrats

      With the sentence commutations announced last week, President Barack Obama has now cut more than 300 harsh drug war prison sentences, besting the previous six presidents combined. Thousands more could be eligible for commutations, but bureaucratic obstacles inside the Justice Department mean the clock is likely to run out before Obama gets a chance to free them.

    • Ferguson’s New Police Chief Slams Crooked Cops in First Speech

      The Ferguson police department has been in turmoil since the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown—but a newly appointed police chief hopes to correct the deep-seeded wrongs. It starts with clearing the department of crooked cops, which is the new police chief’s goal.

    • U.S. Government Agencies Probe Sexist Hiring Practices In Hollywood
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast, Wireless Industry Using ‘Diversity’ Groups To Oppose Net Neutrality, Fight Cable Set Top Box Reform

      We’ve noted several times how one of the sleaziest lobbying tactics in telecom is the co-opting of minority or “diversity” groups to support policies that actually hurt these groups’ constituents. Such theater benefits large telecom companies by presenting the illusion of broad support for what usually are extremely anti-consumer (or anti-small business and startup) policies. And it’s not just minority groups being used in such fashion; telecom lobbyists have long used “retired seniors,” hearing impaired groups and cattle rancher associations to push bad policy.

      This kind of disinformation is pervasive, incredibly destructive, and common practice in everything from the construction industry to patent reform.

      But telecom lobbyists have long been masters at this particular game. It works something like this: an ISP like Comcast (or some other telecom-affiliated lobbying group) will help fund a group’s new event center. In exchange, these groups parrot any policy Comcast puts forth, be it opposition to net neutrality or support for the latest merger. Quid pro quo obligations are never put in writing, letting these groups claim their positions only coincidentally mirror that of their donors.

    • Germany to Rescind Piracy Liability for Open Wifi Operators

      People operating open WiFi networks in Germany have long risked being held liable for the actions of those using them. However, to the relief of thousands of citizens that position will change later this year after the country’s coalition government decided to abolish the legislation which holds operators responsible for the file-sharing activities of others.

  • DRM

    • An Open Letter to Members of the W3C Advisory Committee

      Dear member of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Advisory Committee,

      You may have heard that over the past year we’ve been trying to insert legal safeguards into the Encrypted Media Extensions project at the W3C, which standardizes streaming video DRM. We’ve previously been opposed to the W3C adopting EME, because of the legal issues around DRM, and because DRM requires user agents to obey third parties, rather than their owners.

      However, we think that there’s a compromise that both DRM advocates and opponents should be able to live with.

      I’m writing today to see if you will support us in an upcoming W3C vote on the charter of the Media Extensions Group, where we will be proposing this compromise.

      This letter briefly describes briefly the problem, our proposed solution, and what you can do to help.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • US President Signs New Trade Secrets Law

      US President Barack Obama yesterday signed into law a measure aimed at strengthening trade secret protection including by allowing federal courts to hear cases involving trade secret theft.

    • At The Behest Of Big Pharma, US Threatens Colombia Over Compulsory Licensing Of Swiss Drug

      As Techdirt readers well know, Big Pharma really hates compulsory licensing of its patented drugs, where a country steps in and allows an expensive drug to be made more cheaply in order to provide wider access for its people. Such massive pressure is applied to nations contemplating this move, that even global giants like India quail. A new story is unfolding that reveals just how far companies are prepared to go in order to prevent it from happening. It concerns Colombia’s possible use of a compulsory license for the drug imatinib, sold under the name Glivec, and used to treat leukemia. Despite the fact that the company holding patents on the drug, Novartis, is Swiss, the US has started to lean heavily on Colombia in order to persuade it not to go ahead with the move.

    • Trademarks

      • Remembering Andy Grove, and maybe just the most audacious trademark ever

        There are two slogans that will be ever-identified with Andy Grove. The first is “Intel Inside”, while the second is “Only the Paranoid Survive”, the title of his 1996 book in which he emphasizes the importance of a company to avoid complacency, if it hopes to stay ahead of its competitors. The Economist magazine, in its remembrance of Andy Grove, could have chosen either slogan as best capturing Grove’s legacy. It chose to entitle the piece– “The man who put Intel inside”.

    • Copyrights

      • New UK copyright enforcement strategy: “Track down” infringers, brainwash kids

        The Intellectual Property Office has outlined harsher approaches towards copyright, trademark, and patent enforcement in the UK over the next few years.

        Rather than the “notice and takedown” approach currently used for handling copyright infringement, the UK government is mulling the idea of advancing it to “notice and trackdown,” although the details are not yet clear.

        Beyond increased enforcement, it appears that the IPO also wants to educate consumers and users of “the benefits of respecting IP rights, and do so.” The IPO wants to get ‘em young, too, by encouraging “greater respect” for copyright among children and students.

        These new strategies are outlined in a new UK government paper called “Protecting creativity, supporting innovation: IP enforcement 2020.” The document sets out how it will make “effective, proportionate and accessible enforcement of IP rights a priority for the next four years.”

      • Gene Kelly’s Widow Claims Copyright In Interviews Done By Gene Kelly, Sues Over Academic Book

        Another day, another story of copyright being used for censorship, rather than as an incentive to create. Here’s the headline: Gene Kelly’s widow is suing to stop an academic book exploring various interviews that were done over the decades with the famed actor/dancer. And here’s the lawsuit, in which Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, who was married to Gene Kelly for the last seven years of his life, claims that she holds the copyright on every interview that Kelly ever did.

      • Techdirt Reading List: Copyfight: The Global Politics Of Digital Copyright Reform
      • Copyright and consequences: Google’s Andy Rubin defends Android to jury

        During hours of unrelenting cross-examination today, Andy Rubin, Google’s former Android chief, was on the stand in the Oracle v. Google trial defending how he built the mobile OS.

        Rubin’s testimony began yesterday. He’s another one of the star witnesses in this second courtroom showdown between the two software giants in which Oracle has said it will seek up to $9 billion in damages for Google’s use of certain Java APIs in the Android operating system. Since an appeals court decided that APIs can be copyrighted, Google’s only remaining defense in this case is that its use of those APIs constitutes “fair use.”

      • Stakes Are High In Oracle v. Google, But The Public Has Already Lost Big

        Attorneys for the Oracle and Google companies presented opening statements this week in a high-stakes copyright case about the use of application-programming interfaces, or APIs. As Oracle eagerly noted, there are potentially billions of dollars on the line; accordingly, each side has brought “world-class attorneys,” as Judge William Alsup noted to the jury. And while each company would prefer to spend their money elsewhere, these are businesses that can afford to spend years and untold resources in the courtroom.

        Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the overwhelming majority of developers in the computer industry, whether they’re hobbyist free software creators or even large companies. Regardless of the outcome of this fair use case, the fact that it proceeded to this stage at all casts a long legal shadow over the entire world of software development.

      • The biggest problem for the Oracle v. Google retrial: Judge Alsup’s reality distortion field

        For purely emotional reasons, this retrial appears rigged to me. Various pretrial decisions didn’t seem evenhanded to me, with Google perhaps benefiting from Judge Alsup’s frustration with the fact that his highest-profile IP ruling was nullified by three higher judges than him. Judge Alsup would, of course, benefit from a final decision in Google’s favor in the sense that his 2012 non-copyrightability blunder would then be deemed inconsequential in retrospect.

      • Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz at trial: Java was free, Android had no licensing problem

        Former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz took the stand today in the second Oracle v. Google trial, testifying about how the Java language and APIs were used while he was at Sun’s helm.

        After a brief overview of his career path, Schwartz launched into a discussion about Java, a software language that Sun created and popularized. It’s critical testimony in the Oracle v. Google lawsuit, in which Oracle claims that Google’s use of Java APIs, now owned by Oracle, violates copyright law. Oracle is seeking up to $9 billion in damages.

        Was the Java language, created by Sun Microsystems in the 1990s, “free and open to use,” Google lawyer Robert Van Nest asked?


Large Firms Which Are Becoming Troll-Like Threaten Linux, Try to Embargo Imports

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents strike again

“Belief is no substitute for arithmetic.”

Henry Spencer

Summary: Legal battles which primarily involve Android (and by extension Linux) are noted by the media this week because there is a request for bans (injunction)

THERE is a growing trend in downturn economies because infinite growth is impossible and monopolists strive to make up for losses by overstepping new boundaries. Companies that once produced awesome products have nothing left but patents, so they resort to patent shakedowns and try to claw in other companies’ revenue. Watch how, amid massive layoffs, IBM is attacking legitimate companies using software patents these days, earning itself labels like "the World's Biggest Patent Troll". IBM’s victim said: “IBM, a relic of once-great 20th century technology firms, has now resorted to usurping the intellectual property of companies born this millennium.” Can anyone trust IBM with OIN anymore? IBM is not a credible ally, it’s a cornered animal afraid of not employing like half a million people anymore. ‘Poor’ IBM…

Not only companies which pretend to be all about Linux do this. One such company is Creative, which we wrote about the other day. As one new article put it, “Creative rises from the dead to try and destroy Android” and to quote:

Do you remember Creative? In the early 2000s, the company had a brief period of being cool, as its Zen MP3 players were the anti-establishment alternative to the iPod. These days, the Singapore-based company mostly makes gaming headsets and computer speakers — nothing to do with smartphones, in other words. But thanks to a complaint filed against every big Android phone manufacturer, Creative has quietly declared war on Android.

The complaint is filed against a who’s-who of Android smartphones: Samsung, LG, HTC, BlackBerry, Sony, ZTE, Lenovo and Motorola. The issue at hand is music players: all the phones have ’em, and Creative has a patent it thinks is being infringed on. Specifically, all the phones are capable of “playing stored media files selected by a user from a hierarchical display.”

Android Police wrote that “Creative Wants To Ban Most Android Phones From US Over Alleged Patent Infringement” and to quote some paragraphs:

Creative is not a name you hear as often in consumer electronics these days. The Singapore-based firm is known for making audio products, including the Zen line of media players. Creative has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that basically every maker of Android phones is infringing its Zen patents by displaying your music. It wants them all banned, but what it really wants is money.

The complaint targets ZTE, Sony, Samsung, LG, Lenovo, Motorola, HTC, and BlackBerry. At issue is how everyone shows you songs and albums in a hierarchical menu system, which Creative says it invented. It went after Apple for the same thing a decade ago and eventually got a $100 million settlement. If the ITC agrees with Creative, it could lead to a ban on infringing devices, which would be a lot of phones.

Now, remember Microsoft, a partner of Creative? There is definitely no patent ceasefire as publicly claimed some months ago. Google’s stake in Motorola’s mobile business in mind, see this new report which shows that Microsoft is still attacking Linux/Android with software patents (while claiming to “love Linux). To quote Reuters (short report): “Microsoft Corp’s patent on a way to show that a web browser is still loading content is not invalid, a U.S. appeals court said on Tuesday in the face of a challenge by Motorola Mobility and Google Inc.

“A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found in favor of Microsoft and its Klarquist Sparkman attorneys, affirming a ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that refused to cancel a key part of the patent. The panel did not give reasons for its decision, which came just two days after oral arguments in the case.”

So Microsoft is still going after Motorola Mobility and Google (i.e. Android) and it says it “loves Linux”. Makes sense, right? Injunctions were sought not only by Creative (resorting to the ITC as Microsoft did nearby a decade ago in order to block an east Asian rival); it’s probably just growing strategy in America, judging by these new articles authored by law firms from Canada and Brazil [1, 2] to be pinned at IAM earlier this week.

“ITC to investigate Samsung and Sony over patent claims” says another new headline. Who benefits from this? To quote:

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has said it will launch an investigation into smartphone makers including Sony, Samsung, ZTE and LG over alleged patent infringement.

In a statement on its website, the ITC said its investigation would centre on “portable electronic devices with the capability of playing stored media files”.

Lenovo, Motorola, HTC and BlackBerry will also be targeted in the investigation.

The section 337 investigation is based on a complaint filed by Singapore-based Creative Technology and Creative Labs, based in Milpitas, California, in March.

Creative used to be OK in the 1990s, but it’s now notorious for its poor treatment of Linux (there are Microsoft and Intel connections). In addition to this controversial move from Creative we have also just learned about Ericsson's own patent troll that is still active in the UK and will apparently stay in the UK Patents Court rather than the Competition Appeal Tribunal, based on yesterday’s report which says: “For anyone keeping tabs, the mammoth patent dispute in Unwired Planet v Huawei & Samsung continues to thunder along at pace. The latest decision from the Patents Court in the saga addressed the question as to whether the antitrust issues – arguably the juiciest part of the case – could be transferred to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)? At the end of April, Mr Justice Birss answered that question, deciding that the issues should remain in the Chancery Division [2016] EWHC 958 (Pat).”

We remain committed to meticulous tracking of these threats to Free software, including Android, as software patents are inherently not compatible with Free software such as Linux. When such patents start to overstep the European border we just know that this disease keeps spreading rather than contained (e.g. owing to Alice in the US). There is so much at stake.

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