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Outline of Latest Press Coverage Regarding the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO article in French:

EPO article in French

EPO article in Greek:

EPO article in Greek

EPO article in English:

EPO article in English

And lots more to come…

Summary: European media is beginning to cover scandals associated with the European Patent Office (EPO), in spite of Battistelli’s attempt to silence and manipulate it, at the expense of millions of Euros per year

TIRED AFTER a sleepless night (covering EPO news right after the historic meeting had ended), we have finally recovered and can now resume coverage of the topic. Here is a 5-part explanation of what happened on Wednesday and Thursday (behind closed doors and in the streets of The Hague):

  1. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part I: Protest at The Hague and the Huge Things at Stake
  2. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part II: More Photos From Today’s Protest at The Hague
  3. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part III: How Benoît Battistelli Planned to Expand His Attacks on EPO Staff (But Failed)
  4. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part IV: When ~1,200 EPO Workers March in Protest and European Politicians Say “Battistelli Must Go”
  5. EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part V: “Siegfried Bross as President of the Boards of Appeal!”

Some more information about the The Hague demonstration was sent to us at the end of the week. The below message was posted by SUEPO The Hague on Facebook (late on Thursday or on Friday): “about 600 colleagues gathered today peacefully in The Hague to again and again request fairness and justice at EPO, this after another demo in Munich where also ca. 600 colleagues gathered to ask for the same.

“NL MP John Kerstens and FR MP Philip Cordery were again supportive of the demonstrants since they care for fundamental rights.


We have meanwhile received a translation of an article in French, published just days before the above in one of the largest papers in France. In English (with our emphasis):

In the discreet and civilized world of international organizations, the event is a very rare practice. The meetings scheduled Tuesday, 11 October, in Munich, and Thursday, 13 October, in The Hague, by the examiners of the European Patent Office (EPO) are yet just the latest in a long series [of meetings] started in 2013. The employees [of the EPO] have used this method to alert the 38 States meeting in the Council of Administration on 12 and 13 October about a workplace grievance which has remained unresolved for more than three years.

“This is not about money, money will not be the issue. We are not talking about remuneration to the “Board”. With more than EUR 5 000, the sum payable to employees on being hired, to which is added the payment of a premium based on being employed as an expatriate [that is, working in a country that is considered to be not the employees’ home country], and with children’s school-fees paid, and with a few other benefits, the employees will know that they are well paid. To attract scientists from all countries, the EPO Agency has had to indeed align on the best paid officials in Europe. Except that the money is not everything.

The EPO is one such international organization as its role is to identify a narrow field of /small handle/ intellectual property/ in the world, [and] the legal /status to share/ basis on which it can be made available to others/. The [EPO], whose headquarters is located in Munich and has branch offices in Berlin, The Hague and Vienna, employs 7 000 people to examine the applications of inventors, and issue in three languages the valuable patents of which it holds the monopoly for forty years.

In July 2010, the French Benoît Battistelli took over the reins. It is shortly after the arrival of this former Director General of the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) that the working conditions have deteriorated,…”

The above is imperfect and in fact an improved and complete translation would be very useful. As it stands, however, it does help one get the gist of this story.

As of today, SUEPO links to this article in Greek, whose headline is translated as saying “EPO: Patented medieval working conditions” (manual translations would be desirable); in addition to this, published on a Friday morning by Kieren McCarthy of The Register was the following detailed article that describes Battistelli as “terrifying boss”. It’s based on an open letter that we mentioned here before and it says:

Staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) have asked its administrative council to adopt new guidelines to protect them from the organization’s rampaging president.

The open letter [PDF] urges the council – which meets this week in Munich – to adopt the same rules for disciplinary proceedings and internal investigations that are being developed at another scandal-hit international organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The letter comes as EPO president Benoit Battistelli continues an extraordinary campaign of intimidation of union leaders at the organization that has led to repeated strikes at the EPO and a determined effort to push the president out at the administrative council’s previous meeting in July.

Since that failed attempt to boot Battistelli out, he has continued efforts to eject a number of union officials who resisted wide-ranging reform efforts, despite having been formally rebuked by the council and instructed to stop with his investigations.

A number of union officials have been suspended on questionable charges and have been under constant pressure to quit the organization, including the threat of withdrawals of their pensions. The suspensions follow an extraordinary campaign of intimidation through a special investigation unit set up by Battistelli, which included tapping people’s phones and sending investigators to their homes, as well as planting highly damaging allegations about specific individuals in the press.

Battistelli’s efforts to rid himself of anyone who opposes his reform proposals have been stymied by the organization’s structures, so the president has made repeated efforts to rewrite EPO rules to give himself increasing amounts of power over decisions – leading us to dub him “King Battistelli.”


Despite the allegations and extremely strong criticism leveled at WIPO by the US Congress, in which it called WIPO “the FIFA of UN agencies,” Gurry is still in his position and most recently attempted to get rid of its staff council in order to exert greater personal power over the organization.

The WIPO guidelines are designed to protect staff in future from a management team with its own agenda. EPO’s staff hope that by pushing for them to be adopted by the EPO too, it will both protect them and flag the continued abuses of Battistelli and his team.

The comments on this are few and rather short. No doubt the EPO harms the EU by giving it a bad name. As one person put it:

And yet, for largely political reasons, the Administrative Council – which consists of representatives from all the European countries that make up the EPO – refuses to fire the president.

It’s stuff like this that means I’m beginning to warm up to the whole Brexit thing.

“If only it were being run on the same lines as the IICSA,” one person responded. “Except that the EPO is not an organ of the EU – at all,” another person added. But a lot of people don’t know this. To them, the EPO is like an arm of the EU or the very notion/philosophy that Europe should be united with its centre/heart in the main continent.

Another person remarked: “Reforms?

“As with those done in the UK, you need to indicate the possible reality by calling them “reforms”.

“This quotation marks would indicate that someone had used the word but that they were not necessarily truly an advancement or improvement.”

A person then responded with: “Perhaps the best reform is to bulldoze the EPO and WIPO management and start over? I recommend a Cat D10.”

Regarding the name “King Battistelli” — a term which McCarthy routinely repeats (not because of McCarthyism but because the staff of the EPO calls him that in a derogative fashion) — another person wrote: “By the sound of all this – why ‘King’ when ‘Duce’ seems so much more appropriate?”

As far as we are aware, there are quite a few journalists and several publications that are going to write about the EPO in the coming week. Battistelli wasted a lot of money trying to prevent this, but he cannot just devour all the media all around the world. It would instantaneously bankrupt the whole Office.

Links 16/10/2016: Linux 4.9 RC1, Wine 1.9.21

Posted in News Roundup at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • NFV trends and open source SDN work with OpenDaylight

    Open source continues to gain momentum and is said to remain central to ongoing development and deployment of NFV and SDN for telecommunication operators

    The open source community remains active in bolstering support for the telecommunication market’s move towards network virtualization platforms using software-defined networking and network functions virtualization.

    In the past month alone, new platform iterations from the Open Platform for NFV project with its Colorado release; fellow Linux Foundation organization OpenDaylight with its Boron SDN platform; and the Open Networking Laboratory’s Open Network Operating System Project with its SDN-focused Hummingbird platform.

  • Google releases Open Source Report Card — does the company deserve an A+?

    The future of computing is open source. While there is still room for closed source software, more and more companies are going the open route. Major players such as Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook are all contributing to the open source community. Google in particular is a huge proponent of open source. Heck, two of the company’s operating systems — Chrome OS and Android — are Linux distributions.

    Today, the search giant announces the ‘Open Source Report Card’. This is essentially a report that explains the details of its open source projects. Google is undoubtedly a major open source contributor, but the question is, what grade should the company get?

    “Today we’re sharing our first Open Source Report Card, highlighting our most popular projects, sharing a few statistics and detailing some of the projects we’ve released in 2016. We’ve open sourced over 20 million lines of code to date and you can find a listing of some of our best known project releases on our website”, says Josh Simmons, Open Source Programs Office.

  • My FOSS Journey and Why I am applying for a Toptal Scholarship

    When I graduated from my high school in India, our class had an almost 50-50 ratio of boys-to-girls. My graduating class in one of India’s premier engineering institutions had less than 10%. It was even more interesting to see that there were more than 20% girls enrolled in Bachelors in Design (which offered courses like Product Design, Human Computer Interaction and User Experience Research) while there were none in Mechanical Engineering since the last three graduating classes. Was it that Design was considered a relatively non-technical course ? While I have never been openly discouraged from pursuing a career in technology – a predominantly male-populated field – there has always been an unconscious bias even from within my family. When I wanted to apply for a degree course in Mechanical Engineering, I was asked to take some more time to think about my future – was gently nudged towards more female-friendly engineering fields like Computer Science which wouldn’t involve as much strenuous physical effort. Was it even sublte experiences like this which had contributed towards the gender gap ? This feeling of being an ‘outsider’ in a predominantly male field never left till I started contributing to Open Source.

    I first learnt about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) via Outreachy, a program designed to increase participation of minorities in FOSS. I liked the fact that the program had no knowledge prerequisites so that anyone interested in contributing to FOSS could be a part of it.

  • Hello fans and followers of open source voting in San Francisco!

    The Open Source Initiative works with a variety of organizations to promote the adoption of open source software throughout government. San Francisco Elections Commissioner Chris Jerdonek provides the OSI with a breakdown of the latest happening with San Francisco’s efforts to develop and certify the country’s first open source voting system!

  • Events

    • Announcing Google Code-in 2016 and Google Summer of Code 2017

      One of the goals of the Open Source Programs Office is to encourage more people to contribute to open source software. One way we achieve that goal is through our student programs, Google Summer of Code (for university students) and Google Code-in (for pre-university students).

      Over 15,000 students from more than 100 countries have worked with 23,000 mentors and contributed to 560+ open source projects, so we’re excited to announce the next round of these programs.

  • Databases

    • MySQL 8.0: The end of MyISAM

      This blog discusses the gradual end of MyISAM in MySQL.

      The story that started 20 years ago is coming to its end. I’m talking about the old MyISAM storage engine that was the only storage provided by MySQL in 1995, and was available in MySQL for 20+ years. Actually, part of my job as a MySQL consultant for 10+ years was to discover MyISAM tables and advise customers how to convert those to InnoDB.

    • Devs Await Open Source Word After Commercial RethinkDB Effort Fails

      With the company behind the RethinkDB project having failed and its engineering team scooped up by Stripe, Big Data developers are awaiting further word on plans to continue it as fully open source.

      Although failing to achieve commercial success, the RethinkDB database was lauded by many developers for its different approach and solid technology on developer-oriented social sites such as Hacker News and Reddit.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • First LibreOffice 5.3 BugHunting Session

      LibreOffice is approaching the 5.3 release season with the first bug hunting session, on Friday, October 21, 2016. Tests will be performed on the Alpha version of LibreOffice 5.3, which will be available on the pre-releases server (http://dev-builds.libreoffice.org/pre-releases/) a few days before the event. Builds will be available for Linux (DEB and RPM), MacOS and Windows, and will run in parallel with the actual installation.

  • CMS

    • When it Comes to Open CMS Solutions, Take a Test Drive First

      Datamation is out with an extensive evaluation of which open source content management systems (CMS) really stand out, which is a topic near and dear to us here at OStatic. Our site runs on Drupal, which powers many sites around the web, but there are key differences between CMS offerings, and if you’re looking for the right solution, we have some good resources for you.

      The Datamation story provides a nice overview of the open CMS space, but here are some of out favorite ways to go about evaluating which is the right CMS for you.

      Marking a true renaissance for tools that can help anyone run a top-notch website or manage content in the cloud, open source content management systems (CMS) have come of age. You’re probably familiar with some of the big names in this arena, including Drupal (which Ostatic is based on) and Joomla. As we noted in this post, selecting a CMS to build around can be a complicated process, since the publishing tools provided are hardly the only issue.

  • Microsoft and Openwashing

  • Public Services/Government

    • The White House open sources President Obama’s Facebook Messenger bot

      The White House today shared open source code for President Obama’s Facebook Messenger bot to help other governments build their own bots.

      The White House says it’s sharing the code “with the hope that other governments and developers can build similar services — and foster similar connections with their citizens — with significantly less upfront investment,” according to a post published today by chief digital officer for the White House Jason Goldman.

      In August, the White House launched a Facebook Messenger bot to receive messages from American citizens. The messages are read alongside letters and other communique sent to the president.

      The open source Drupal module for the president’s bot is available to download on Github.

      “While Drupal may not be the platform others would immediately consider for building a bot, this new White House module will allow non-developers to create bot interactions (with customized language and workflows), and empower other governments and agencies who already use Drupal to power their digital experiences,” Goldman said on the White House website today.

    • Obama’s Facebook Messenger Bot Is Now “Open Source” And Available On GitHub
    • Why the White House is open-sourcing its chatbot code
    • White House open-sources chatbot
    • White House encourages local governments to embrace chatbots
    • Governments favor open source, Google releases 3 new projects, and more news: Russia and the Netherlands propose moves to open source

      For years now, governments throughout Europe have been enthusiastically adopting open source software. Their main reasons for doing so have been to lower costs and to be able to modify the software to suit their needs. Governments in Russia and the Netherlands are following that trend, but for divergent reasons.

      The Russian Duma announced earlier this month that it’s drafting a law to give preference to open source over proprietary software. Specifically, “the law will require local agencies to give preference to open source software and justify any purchases of proprietary software.” In an interview with Bloomberg News, Duma official Andrey Chernogorov cites security as a major driver behind this shift. Much of the government’s IT infrastructure is based on proprietary, foreign-made platforms, and Chernogorov said that the Russian government is “seeking to close this loophole for state purchases, as it causes security risks.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Senate supports open-source initiatives

        The ASWSU Senate passed a resolution to support the Office of the Provost’s open education initiatives at its meeting on Wednesday. The resolution supports the use of the OpenStax program to provide textbooks created with open-source material.

        This does not force professors to use a book that does not perfectly line up with their curriculum because they can freely edit and update the source material, said Sen. Matthew Morrow, author of the resolution.

        Researchers and professors collaborate to create open-source textbooks for students at other universities to use. Morrow said they are targeting UCORE courses because open-source textbooks are currently less suitable for upper-level classes.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

  • Programming/Development

    • TFW an obituary you wrote five years ago goes viral

      This is not a new phenomenon. Social media snap-posts have killed off celebrities hundreds of times before their actual deaths (to the point where some have required websites to constantly fact-check their mortality). Facebook is full of years-late “RIP” posts. The Internet may never forget, but the humans who use it have become increasingly absent-minded.

      It wasn’t even just my story that went viral—a similar Guardian story also resurfaced, probably because of the same “memories” feature on Facebook or some other social media feature that dredges up old content. Still, there was something personally unsettling about having words I had written in tribute of “dmr”—a man whom I credited personally for making my early exposure to computing and its potential possible—suddenly resurface five years later.

      The first few times I spotted Twitter acting up, I thanked people for resurfacing the story after so much time. But reading the post again—partially to make sure I hadn’t somehow written another tribute subconsciously from my perch at my dad’s bedside—was affecting in ways I didn’t expect. Maybe I got emotional because I was in a hospital room with my father, who was recovering from an other-than-routine knee replacement surgery, and I had spent the day before sitting in a surgical waiting room.

    • Tracing HTTP request latency in Go with OpenTracing
    • How it feels to learn JavaScript in 2016
    • Why should students learn to write code?

      There are lots of efforts underway to get students (young and old) to learn to write code. There are far-reaching efforts, like the Hour of Code, and plenty of smaller, more focused projects, such as the Design and Technology Academy (part of Northeast ISD here in San Antonio, Texas). These are excellent programs that enrich the education of many students.


  • Smartphones are “contaminating” family life, study suggests

    Parents, which do you respond to first – your ring tone or your toddler’s crying?

    Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can be distracting from child-rearing, upending family routines and fueling stress in the home, a small, new study finds.

    Incoming communication from work, friends and the world at large is “contaminating” family mealtime, bedtime and playtime, said study lead author Dr. Jenny Radesky. She’s an assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School.

    Her comments stem from her team’s study involving interviews with 35 parents and caregivers of young children in the Boston area.

  • Science

    • FCC CIO encourages creative problem solving in IT through compassionate leadership

      When speaking with Dr. David Bray, senior executive and CIO of the U.S. Federal Communication Commission, he is always quick to assign all the credit for achievements within his organization to his team of interdisciplinary change agents – from a successful move to the cloud, to saving millions on a legacy technology upgrade.

      Bray is firm in his belief that if digital C-Suite leaders aren’t first and foremost inspiring people to be creative problem solvers, their organizations simply won’t be able to move with the speed or the resiliency necessary to survive in the fast-paced digital world. Further, he says that leading a team of diverse change agents who are intrinsically motivated takes a unique approach. We touched base with Bray to learn more.

    • Opinion: Stop Submitting Papers

      PIXABAY, STARTUPSTOCKPHOTOSI woke up to three requests for review, and two papers to handle as a subject editor. It is unusual, but it happens. I declined to do all the reviews. This is not sustainable.

      Over the last six months, I kept informal track of the reviews I received, both as an author and as a subject editor. In the overwhelming majority of papers, about half of the “major” points were actually not major, but things that improve the paper because the reviewers see it from a different perspective.

      This is burdening the peer review process for very little return (because these comments, important as they may be, do not make the paper more correct or more robust).

      Here is what we should do: stop submitting papers to journals.

      Wait, what? No, I mean it. We should write our draft, go over it with our coauthors, and then put it on a preprint server. And wait. Some reasonable amount of time. A year, maybe. After a year, when we had the opportunity to share this paper with colleagues, then we can submit it.

    • Winner of the Norwegian Digitalisation Prize 2016, Deichmanske Public Library in Oslo

      A movie that shows that putting the user at the hub and thinking untraditionally makes exctiting things happen.

    • Status digitalisation in the Norwegian Public Sector
    • Digitalisation for Renewing, Simplifying and Improving the Norwegian Public Sector
  • Hardware

    • AMD x86 Zen Architecture Will Implement Game Changing Encryption Features Such as SME, SEV and HW Based SHA – Not Present In SkyLake or KabyLake

      Today I will be talking about a very disruptive feature that will be present in AMD’s upcoming compute architecture. Disruptive is probably the most misused word in the history of technology and I do not use it casually. While the readers of this site consist primarily of technology enthusiasts, for whom this news may not mean much. From a company like AMD’s standpoint, a vast majority of revenue will come from the Enterprise segment. For Enterprise users, data security is a very important consideration and on that front AMD Zen will be introducing some very significant advanced encryption features, such as SME and SEV. These features are not present in any competing Intel architecture.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security advisories
    • Metasploit eyeing Linux and usability improvements; iOS support uncertain

      Engineers at Rapid7, which owns the popular Metasploit penetration testing tool, are preparing a variety of enhancements for the ramp-up to version 5.0 in 2017.

      Metasploit evolved in 2003, Rapid7 acquired it from the original developers in 2009, and fourth-generation software debuted in 2011. Metasploit Pro is currently in version 4.2 and costs several thousand dollars for a license; Metasploit Framework currently in version 4.12.33 is open source, officials explained.

    • Self-Checkout Skimmers Go Bluetooth

      This blog has featured several stories about payment card skimming devices designed to be placed over top of credit card terminals in self-checkout lanes at grocery stores and other retailers. Many readers have asked for more details about the electronics that power these so-called “overlay” skimmers. Here’s a look at one overlay skimmer equipped with Bluetooth technology that allows thieves to snarf swiped card data and PINs wirelessly using nothing more than a mobile phone.

      The rather crude video below shows a Bluetooth enabled overlay skimmer crafted to be slipped directly over top of Ingenico iSC250 credit card terminals. These Ingenico terminals are widely used at countless U.S. based merchants; earlier this year I wrote about Ingenico overlay skimmers being found in self-checkout lanes at some WalMart locations.

    • 10-year-old OpenSSH vulnerability caught up in IoT DDoS attacks [iophk: "not an actual ssh problem despite the parrots"]

      THE THREAT WRANGLERS AT Akamai have come up with something new for us to worry about, except that it isn’t so much new as a decade old.

      An OpenSSH vulnerability is being used to fuel distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on the bloody Internet of Things (IoT).

      DDoS attacks are a constant pain, but attacks on the IoT are relatively new. A combination of the two would be a problem, unless you are the kind of company that makes its business discovering this kind of thing.

      “Researchers at Akamai have been monitoring the growth of attacks leveraging IoT devices,” said Eric Kobrin, director of adversarial resilience at Akamai, in a blog post about the SSHowDowN Proxy.

    • a single byte write opened a root execution exploit

      As one of the maintainers of the c-ares project I’m receiving mails for suspected security problems in c-ares and this was such a one. In this case, the email with said subject came from an individual who had reported a ChromeOS exploit to Google.

      It turned out that this particular c-ares flaw was one important step in a sequence of necessary procedures that when followed could let the user execute code on ChromeOS from JavaScript – as the root user. I suspect that is pretty much the worst possible exploit of ChromeOS that can be done. I presume the reporter will get a fair amount of bug bounty reward for this.

    • Parrot Security 3.2 “CyberSloop” Ethical Hacking OS Is Out with Linux Kernel 4.7

      Today, October 15, 2016, the ParrotSec team unleashed the second point release to the Debian-based Parrot Security 3.x GNU/Linux distribution designed for ethical hackers and security researchers.

    • Parrot Security 3.2 “CyberSloop” Ethical Hacking OS With Linux Kernel 4.7 Released
    • Alpine edge has switched to libressl

      We decided to replace openssl with libressl because we believe it is a better library. While OpenSSL is trying to fix the broken code, libressl has simply removed it.

    • German nuclear plant infected with computer viruses, operator says

      A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility’s operations because it is isolated from the internet, the station’s operator said on Monday.

      The Gundremmingen plant, located about 120 km northwest of Munich, is run by the German utility RWE.

      The viruses, which include “W32.Ramnit” and “Conficker”, were discovered at Gundremmingen’s B unit in a computer system retrofitted in 2008 with data visualisation software associated with equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods, RWE said.

    • The Slashdot Interview With Security Expert Mikko Hypponen: ‘Backupception’

      Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at security firm F-Secure, has answered a range of your questions. Read on to find his insight on the kind of security awareness training we need, whether anti-virus products are relevant anymore, and whether we have already lost the battle to bad guys. Bonus: his take on whether or not you should take backups of your data.

    • SourceClear Brings Secure Continuous Delivery to the Developer Workflow [Ed: I don’t trust them; they’re Microsoft connected with a negative track record]
    • Serious security: Three changes that could turn the tide on hackers

      The state of tech security is currently so dire that it feels like anything you have ever stored on a computer, or a company or government has ever stored about you, has already been hacked into by somebody.

    • Crypto needs more transparency, researchers warn

      Researchers with at the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) and the University of Pennsylvania have called for security standards-setters to publish the seeds for the prime numbers on which their standards rely.

      The boffins also demonstrated again that 1,024-bit primes can no longer be considered secure, by publishing an attack using “special number field sieve” (SNFS) mathematics to show that an attacker could create a prime that looks secure, but isn’t.

      Since the research is bound to get conspiracists over-excited, it’s worth noting: their paper doesn’t claim that any of the cryptographic primes it mentions have been back-doored, only that they can no longer be considered secure.

      “There are opaque, standardised 1024-bit and 2048-bit primes in wide use today that cannot be properly verified”, the paper states.

      Joshua Fried and Nadia Heninger (University of Pennsylvania) worked with Pierrick Gaudry and Emmanuel Thomé (INRIA at the University of Lorraine on the paper, here.

      They call for 2,048-bit keys to be based on “standardised primes” using published seeds, because too many crypto schemes don’t provide any way to verify that the seeds aren’t somehow back-doored.

    • Is Let’s Encrypt the Largest Certificate Authority on the Web?

      By the time you read this, Let’s Encrypt will have issued its 12 millionth certificate, of which 6 million are active and unexpired. With these milestones, Let’s Encrypt now appears to us to be the the Internet’s largest certificate authority—but a recent analysis by W3Techs said we were only the third largest. So in this post we investigate: how big is Let’s Encrypt, really?

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. Enters Yemen War Directly for the First Time With Attack on Houthis

      When the Houthis fired on the U.S.S. Mason earlier this week, sailors were able to deploy countermeasures and the ship was not damaged.

      The Department of Defense issued a statement describing the U.S. attack as a series of “limited self-defense strikes,” but promised to “respond to any further threat” to U.S. ships “as appropriate.”

      “The intent of our strikes were to deter future attacks and to reduce the risk to U.S. and other vessels,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said Thursday. “We are prepared to respond if necessary to any future missile launches.”

      The U.S. Navy tweeted a video of the destroyer U.S.S. Nitze launching cruise missiles, captioning it with the hashtag “#Yemen” — commonly used by activists to draw attention to the humanitarian catastrophe.

    • Biden vows US will retaliate against Russia for hacks

      Vice President Biden is vowing the U.S. will retaliate against Russia for its alleged hacking of American political groups.

      “We’re sending a message,” Biden said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that will air Sunday.

      Biden did not detail the type of response the U.S. is preparing but said Russian President Vladimir Putin will “know it” when it happens.

      “It will be at the time of our choosing,” he added. “And under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.”

      The vice president is the highest-ranking member of the Obama administration who has pledged a response to Russia for its alleged hacking.

      His comments come a week after the administration took the unprecedented step of publicly blaming Moscow for hacking the computer systems of political organizations with the goal of influencing the outcome of the November elections.

      The Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the hacks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and campaign officials were authorized by senior Kremlin officials.

    • The Left’s Fatal Dismissal of Islamic Imperialism

      There is a general dearth of leftist discourse critical of Islamism in the English speaking West. In fact, the dominant leftist discourse in that regard is characterized by a mixture of portraying Islam as the ultimate victim and Islamism as a force of resistance to, or at least an excusable reaction to, Western policies. Meanwhile, millions of people throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continue to struggle against the rising wave of Islamism on a daily basis in the absence of acknowledgement or support from the Western left.

      For the colonized peoples of the MENA region such as Amazighs, Assyro-Chaldeans, Copts, Nubis, Kurds, and Yezidis, Islamic imperialism is the most serious threat to their very existence. One would hope that the situation of these peoples would form the foundational parameters of the international left’s outlook on the MENA region. However, it is far more often the right in the West that takes issue with the genocidal campaigns waged against these peoples.

    • Hiding US Role in Yemen Slaughter So Bombing Can Be Sold as ‘Self-Defense’

      To hear US corporate media tell it, the US was dragged into a brand new war on Wednesday.

      US destroyers in the Gulf of Aden launched airstrikes against Houthi rebels, a Shia insurgent group currently withstanding a massive bombing campaign from a Saudi-led coalition in a year-and-half conflict between largely Shia rebels and the Saudi-backed Sunni government in Yemen. The Pentagon insisted that cruise missiles had been fired onto the USS Mason on Sunday and Wednesday from Houthi-controlled territory, and called the airstrikes a “limited self-defense” response.

      Needless to say, US media followed the Pentagon’s lead. The fact that the United States has been literally fueling Saudi warplanes for 18 months while selling weapons and providing intelligence support to the Gulf monarchy—acts which even the US State Department believes could expose the US to war crimes prosecution—was either downplayed or ignored. Nor did media recall the US’s long history of drone warfare in Yemen, where the military and CIA have been carrying out long-range assassinations since 2002, killing more than 500 people, including at least 65 civilians.


      Why are American ships in those waters? Why are Tomahawk missiles “flying”? The conflict is never explained; it’s only brought up so that Maddow can warn that the GOP nominee could make things worse. Of course, it isn’t Trump who backed the Saudis in an air campaign that’s left thousands dead, but Obama—and it’s Hillary Clinton who as secretary of State enthusiastically pushed to sell warplanes to Riyadh (The Intercept, 2/22/16). But such facts would messy up the election-season narrative.

      Maddow, like the other reports, used the loaded modifier “Iran-backed” to describe the Houthis (even though experts and Pentagon officials think Iran’s support is overblown). This is a stark asymmetry, considering that none of the reports referred to the Yemeni government as “US-backed” or “Saudi-backed.” She also said that the Navy blamed the attacks on the Houthis, when the Pentagon only claims the missiles came from rebel territory, and could very well be from other allied groups (New York Times, 10/13/16).

      Not only is the US’s backing of Saudi Arabia omitted from all these reports, the word “Saudi” isn’t uttered in any of them. The viewer is given the impression that the war, aside from Iranian meddling, is an entirely internal affair—when it actually involves over 15 different countries, mostly Sunni monarchies propping up the Yemeni government—and that the rebels just randomly decided to pick a fight with the largest military in the history of the world.

      The Houthis, for their part, vehemently deny having carried out the attack on the Mason, and there is no publicly available evidence it was them or allied forces. It should be noted, however, that Houthi forces took credit for sinking a United Arab Emirates supply ship two weeks earlier.

      As is often the case with war, the issue of “first blood”—or who started the fighting—gets muddied. Governments naturally want global audiences and their own citizens to view their actions as defensive—a necessary response to aggression, not aggression itself. US corporate media are aiding this official spin in their reporting on the US bombing of Yemen.

    • Regime Change In The Philippines

      When will the neoconservative chant begin: “Duterte must go”? Or will the CIA assassinate him?

      President Rodrigo Duterte has indicated that he intends a more independent foreign policy. He has announced upcoming visits to China and Russia, and his foreign minister has declared that it is time for the Philippines to end its subservience to Washington. In this sense, regime change has already occurred.

      Duterte has suspended military maneuvers with the US. His defense minister said that the Philippines can get along without US military aid and prefers cooperation over conflict with China.

    • I Support a No-Fly Zone in Syria – A Real One that Applies to NATO Too

      When the neo-cons in the UK parliament and the serial warmonger Hillary Clinton call for a “no-fly zone” they actually mean the opposite. They mean that NATO should be given untrammelled access to the airspace to carry out mass bombings – but that nobody else should.

      We saw it in Libya. The argument goes like this. NATO aircraft need to enforce the no-fly zone. To do this in safety, they need to attack and destroy any ground to air weapons capabilities on the ground. That does not just include surface to air missiles, both carriage mounted and hand held, but anything that can be pointed upwards and fired. They need to take out by more bombing any stores that may house such weapons. They need to take out any radar installations, including civilian ones, that may pinpoint NATO aircraft. They need to destroy any runways and hangars, including civilian ones. They need to destroy by bombing all military command and control centres, including those in built up areas. They need to destroy the infrastructure on which air defence relies, including electricity generation and water supply, including civilian assets.

      I am not exaggerating. That really is the doctrine of NATO for enforcing a “no fly zone”, as previously witnessed in Iraq and Libya. It really was NATO aircraft which did to the beautiful Mediterranean town of Sirte the destruction which you see in that picture – in order to enforce a no-fly zone. Enforcement of the no-fly zone was the only authorisation NATO had for the massive bombing campaign on Libya which enabled regime change, which enabled rival jihadist militias to take over the country. They showed their gratitude by murdering the US Ambassador. The failure of central government led to Libya becoming the operating site from which a number now in the hundreds of thousands of boat refugees have crossed to Europe.

    • How Much Will Brexit Add to the Cost of Trident and Hinkley Point?

      The spectacular and continuing fall in the value of the pound will add over £50 billion to the cost of Trident. Yes, bits of steel are being welded together in the UK, but the steel is imported and so is the missile technology.

      Similarly, Hinkley Point will be in trouble. The Chinese and French are to build it against guarantees of income from future energy prices fixed at double the cost of current wholesale electricity. But the hard currency value of that income has now been slashed. I do not know the precise details of the contracts, but the French and Chinese not being stupid, my guess is that their income from it is set in a proper stable currency not in sterling. Which means that electricity prices to the British consumer will have to not just double as planned, but go up 50% again, to cover the diminished value of sterling.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pamela Anderson reveals fears for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange on Embassy visit

      Pamela Anderson has revealed her fears over Julian Assange’s health after visiting him at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

      The former Playboy model said the WikiLeaks founder was doing “really well” but expressed concern for him and his family.

      The Australian has been living in the embassy for over four years and has been granted political asylum by Ecuador.

      He is due to be questioned over a sex allegation in Sweden – which he denies. Mr Assange believes that if he goes to Sweden he will be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • As She Campaigns With Al Gore, New Emails Show Hillary Told Environmentalists to ‘Get a Life’

      Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s relationship with the environmental movement has never exactly been the epitome of cordiality. At a campaign event in March, she blew up at a Greenpeace activist who asked her about her relationship with fossil fuel companies. Annoyed at the young woman’s question, she angrily pointed her finger at her and said she was “sick!” of the Bernie Sanders campaign lying about her. Now, thanks to WikiLeaks, we have proof that Clinton outright mocked green activists in her speeches to trade unions.

    • Greenland Is Very Mad About the Toxic Waste the US Left Buried Under Its Ice

      Greenland isn’t happy about being treated as a dumping ground for abandoned US military bases established at the height of the Cold War—and in a newspaper editorial, it’s calling on Denmark to deal with the mess left behind by the Americans, since the Danish long ago took responsibility for them. This editorial notes that, after decades, Greenland is “losing its patience.”

      One of the abandoned bases, called Camp Century, is full of nasty chemicals and some radioactive material, as Motherboard previously reported.

      At Camp Century, which was built in 1959, soldiers called “Iceworms” practiced deployment of missiles against Russia and literally lived inside the ice. When the US decommissioned the base in the 1960s, the military left basically everything behind, thinking that its waste would stay locked up in the Greenland ice sheet forever.

      Well, climate change has made that unlikely. Melting ice threatens to expose all kinds of toxic debris in decades to come, and Greenland wants it cleaned up, now.

    • Climate change: ‘Monumental’ deal to cut HFCs, fastest growing greenhouse gases

      More than 150 countries have reached a deal described as “monumental” to phase out gases that are making global warming worse.

      Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) are widely used in fridges, air conditioning and aerosol sprays.

      Delegates meeting in Rwanda accepted a complex amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will see richer countries cut back their HFC use from 2019.

      But some critics say the compromise may have less impact than expected.

    • Nations, Fighting Powerful Refrigerant That Warms Planet, Reach Landmark Deal

      Negotiators from more than 170 countries on Saturday reached a legally binding accord to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.

      The talks in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, did not draw the same spotlight as the climate change accord forged in Paris last year. But the outcome could have an equal or even greater impact on efforts to slow the heating of the planet.

      President Obama called the deal “an ambitious and far-reaching solution to this looming crisis.”

    • Bernie Sanders Just Asked President Obama to Halt the Dakota Access Pipeline

      The Dakota Access pipeline currently hangs in a state of uncertainty. On October 9, a federal appeals court dismissed the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s request for a permanent injunction to stop to the project. Meanwhile, Obama administration officials continue to stall; one day after the court ruling, the departments of Justice, Interior, and the Army issued a joint statement refusing to authorize construction along part of the proposed route.

      And while a federal review of the permitting process began this week, a handful of Senate Democrats, led by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have now penned a powerful letter to President Barack Obama, calling on him to suspend all construction permits for the project and to order a full environmental impact statement. Check it out below.

    • NOAA Collects Aerial Imagery in Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

      From October 7-10, 2016, the National Geodetic Survey collected damage assessment imagery for more than 1,200 square miles in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The aerial imagery was collected in specific areas identified by FEMA and the National Weather Service.

    • ‘All the Warning Signs Are There, Loud and Clear’ – CounterSpin interview with Dahr Jamail on climate disruption

      New research on attitudes to climate change suggests that people believe they are entitled to their own facts on the matter, even as scientific evidence points one way, only one way, and every day more urgently. Corporate media bear some responsibility: years of matching every piece of evidence with some statement of doubt or denial, years of placing scientific consensus alongside politicians’ folkloric ideas as though they merited the same sort of attention.

  • Finance

    • The Tax Code for the Ultra-Rich vs. the One for Everyone Else

      The revelation of details from Donald Trump’s 1995 state tax returns created exactly the political firestorm that it merited. Before they came to light, the Republican presidential candidate’s flimsy excuses for not releasing his returns produced two lines of speculation: Either he wasn’t as rich as he claimed, or he wasn’t paying any taxes. Trump’s colossal $916 million loss in 1995 partially confirmed both theories, with opponents portraying him as a bumbling businessman who exploits tax loopholes to shift his losses onto ordinary taxpayers.

      When it comes to tax policy, however, Trump’s tax returns are a distraction that crowds out more important issues. In The New York Times, the columnist James Stewart outlined how to prevent Trump’s particular form of tax avoidance: Shorten the period in which losses can be used to offset income, limit the deduction for depreciation, and so on. These are perfectly good solutions—to a minor issue. The poster child for the problems of the tax code isn’t Donald Trump; it’s Warren Buffett.

    • Why For-Profit Education Fails

      Earlier this year, LeapFrog Enterprises, the educational-entertainment business, sold itself for $1 a share. The deal came several months after LeapFrog received a warning from the New York Stock Exchange that it would be delisted if the value of its stock did not improve, a disappointing end to the public life of a company that had the best-performing IPO of 2002.

      LeapFrog was one of the very last remaining of the dozens of investments made by Michael Milken through his ambitiously named Knowledge Universe. Founded in 1996 by Milken and his brother, Lowell, with the software giant Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison, as a silent partner, Knowledge Universe aspired to transform education. Its founders intended it to become, in Milken’s phrase, “the pre-eminent for-profit education and training company,” serving the world’s needs “from cradle to grave.”

    • The battle of Hastings: What’s behind the Netflix CEO’s fight to charterize public schools?

      Silicon Valley electrical engineer Brett Bymaster was optimistic when Rocketship Education, a non-profit charter school chain, began building its flagship Mateo Sheedy elementary school next to his San Jose home in 2007. He and his family lived in a lower-income community, so he figured the new approach could help local kids. “I didn’t know anything about charter schools, so I thought it was a good thing,” he said.

      But the more he learned about Rocketship and charter schools, which receive government funding but operate independently of local school boards, the more concerned he became. He was struck by the school’s cramped quarters: over 600 students on a one-acre campus, compared to the 9.2 acres per 450 students recommended for elementary schools by the California Department of Education. All those students meant big classes; last year Mateo Sheedy had one teacher for every 34 students, more than the maximum allowed for traditional elementary schools under state law.

      The teacher deficit seemed to be compensated for with screen time: Thanks to its so-called “blended learning” approach, Rocketship kindergarteners were spending 80 to 90 minutes a day in front of computers in a school learning lab, nearly the daily maximum screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. And when the kids weren’t in front of computers, they seemed to be getting disciplined throughout their extra-long school days. Bymaster says he’d constantly see teachers yelling at students. “It’s a military-style environment,” noted Bymaster, who spearheaded a 2013 lawsuit that caused Rocketship to scrap one of its planned San Jose schools. “It’s really a kill-and-drill kind of school.”

    • On TTIP, CETA, free trade and a free and open Internet

      I’m a free marketeer. I believe that free trade would be hugely beneficial for all.

      I also believe in a free and open Internet. Especially as it provides a level playing field on which entrepreneurs from all over the world can join a global market, 24/7.

      And I’m not at all happy with politicians and bureaucrats trying to force me to choose between the two.

      The CETA (EU-Canada) and TTIP (EU-US) trade agreements are problematic. CETA will undermine Europeans right to data protection and privacy online. The same goes for TTIP, which also might contain intellectual property regulations undermining the principle that Internet service providers are not responsible for what their customers are up to in their cables (the mere conduit principle). That would have huge implications, leading to a strictly controlled Internet where everything you are up to must be approved in advance. When it comes to TTIP, we still have no comprehensive information about what is going to be included or not when it comes to IP – as negotiations are carried out behind closed doors.

      Also, the ISDS mechanism in these trade agreements will make a much needed and long overdue copyright reform impossible.

    • CETA puts the protection of our privacy and personal data at risk

      We are constantly sharing parts of our lives on the internet. We feel free to do this because we believe that we can still preserve some privacy and remain in control of what we share. Governments have a moral and legal duty to protect our privacy, prevent abuses and preserve a climate of trust. This is done through laws. Nowadays, our online privacy and the protection of our personal information are threatened in “creative” ways. One of these ways can be found in the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. Unlike traditional “trade agreements”, CETA goes far beyond trade, touching upon privacy and data protection, as well as other fundamental rights.

      Fifteen years ago, the European Union formally recognised that Canada offered EU citizens an adequate level of protection of their privacy and personal information, and this permitted EU data to be exported to Canada without additional restrictions. However, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) has recently clarified in the Schrems case that this means that non-EU countries must provide not just “adequate” but essentially equivalent protection as the EU does.

    • Boris Johnson’s ‘secret’ case against Brexit

      Boris Johnson thought Britain should stay in the European Union to avoid worsening “geostrategic anxiety” and a potential break-up of the United Kingdom, according to a “secret,” unpublished newspaper column by the foreign secretary.

      Johnson, the former mayor of London, was the figurehead for the Leave campaign in the run-up to the June 23 Brexit vote, but had flirted with supporting the other side earlier in the year.

    • Aide Planted Anti-Bank Comments in One Paid Clinton Speech to Throw Reporters Off the Scent

      A top aide calculatingly inserted a passage critical of the financial industry into one of Hillary Clinton’s many highly-paid speeches to big banks, “precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those fat cats,” he wrote in an email posted by Wikileaks.

      In late November 2015, campaign speechwriter Dan Schwerin wrote an email to other top aides floating the idea of leaking that passage, which had come in a speech Clinton gave to Deutsche Bank in October 2014 in return for $260,000.

      “I wrote her a long riff about economic fairness and how the financial industry has lost its way,” for that purpose, Schwerin wrote. “Perhaps at some point there will be value in sharing this with a reporter and getting a story written. Upside would be that when people say she’s too close to Wall Street and has taken too much money from bankers, we can point to evidence that she wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power.”

      Another email, from among the thousands posted by Wikileaks over the past week from Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account, shows how panicked members of the Clinton campaign intervened at the last minute to cancel a paid Bill Clinton speech to Morgan Stanley because it was timed too close to the launch of her campaign — against the initial wishes of the candidate herself.

      In the passage that Schwerin wanted to leak from Clinton’s speech to Deutsche Bank, she quoted Chicago Mercantile Exchange president Terry Duffy warning that “some Wall Streeters can too easily slip into regarding their work as a kind of moneymaking game divorced from the concerns of Main Street.”

      In his email to his fellow aides, however, Schwerin recognized that the press response might not be entirely in the campaign’s favor. “Downside would be that we could then be pushed to release transcripts from all her paid speeches, which would be less helpful (although probably not disastrous). In the end, I’m not sure this is worth doing, but wanted to flag it so you know it’s out there.”

    • As the Spirit of Enoch Powell Presides Over England, Scotland Must Leave the Union Now

      I am genuinely stunned that, following the competitive racism-fest that was the Tory Party conference, the Tories have gone up in the opinion polls.

      I quite admit my judgement was completely wrong. I was feeling happily that the Tories had finally overreached themselves, and the implications of employers drawing up lists of foreign employees, or primary schools writing to parents demanding birth certificates, would be met with popular revulsion from the inherently decent British people.

      Well, I was wrong. Racism pays, at least in England. After their Conference the Tories are up to 43%. The Tories and UKIP combined are up to 54%. I am afraid it is intellectually dishonest to avoid the grim truth. At present, you cannot be too racist for popular English taste. The underlying theme of the Labour Party conference was Blairite calls for Labour to join in the mood of xenophobia. Of the existence of that mood there can now be no doubt.

    • I am Warming to Nicola

      The BBC spin on Nicola Sturgeon’s speech was that actually it was a move further back from Indyref2. It can be interpreted that way. In effect she was saying that leaving the EU is perhaps not a “material change” triggering Indyref2, only hard Brexit would be a “material change”. On this reading, as given by Brian Taylor of the BBC, the publishing of a draft Indyref bill is simply a sop to placate the SNP troops in the hall.

      But I am satisfied that Nicola has in fact deliberately set conditions for Scotland to remain in the Union which she knows Theresa May will under no circumstances meet. Barring continued full access for Scotland to the single market, which simply cannot happen if England leaves it, then she insists that not only must the powers held by Brussels come to Scotland (eg fisheries) but that Scotland must control its own immigration policy and run its own foreign relations.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Leaked Podesta emails address Obama polling in 2008, executive privilege

      Emails leaked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s private email account Friday by WikiLeaks addressed using executive privilege to keep the emails between Hillary Clinton and President Obama from being released, a 2008 survey testing reaction to then-Sen. Obama’s Muslim father and use of cocaine, and a suggestion from former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholme on how to take Clinton out of the “bubble.”

    • Roaming Charges: a Wikileak is a Terrible Thing to Waste

      + I’ve spent the week greedily consuming the treats offered up by Wikileaks’s excavation of John Podesta’s inbox. Each day presents juicy new revelations of the venality of the Clinton campaign. In total, the Podesta files provide the most intimate and unadulterated look at how politics really works in late-capitalist America since the release of the Nixon tapes.

      + There’s a big difference, though. With Nixon, the stakes seemed greater, the banter more Machiavellian, the plots and counter-plots darker and more cynical.

      + The Podesta email tranches show the inner mechanics of a much more mundane, petty and banal political machine. Instead of shaping a campaign around an ideological movement, the Clinton operation resembles the packaging of a political mutual fund, a balanced, low-risk portfolio of financial interests, captive NGOs and dependent demographic sectors.

      + The red meat in the emails can be found in the disclosures of the internal rivalries, self-aggrandizement and sycophancy of hired guns and consultants, especially as they gravitate toward Podesta, whose chilly presence looms behind the scenes like the ghost of Thomas Cromwell.

    • Latest Wikileaks Releases Boost Case for DNC Class Action Lawsuit

      Shortly after the Democratic Primaries, attorneys Jared Beck and Elizabeth Beck, Harvard and Yale Law School graduates, filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee and disgraced former DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for the millions of Bernie Sanders supporters they allegedly suppressed and silenced. The latest Wikileaks releases of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails has revealed further evidence that the scales were heavily tipped in favor of Hillary Clinton by both the DNC and the mainstream media.

      “The latest documents provided by Wikileaks confirm and add considerable detail to what prior leaks have disclosed: that the DNC was actively working to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign while colluding with the Hillary Clinton campaign behind the scenes,” Jared Beck told the Observer. “This is further evidence in support of our lawsuit, which seeks to hold the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz accountable under the law for their failure to ensure a fair and neutral presidential nominating process.”

      The latest leaks include evidence current DNC interim chair Donna Brazile forwarded the Clinton campaign information about the Sanders campaign while she served as DNC vice chair and was obligated to remain neutral per the DNC Charter. Brazile also tipped off the Clinton campaign to a planned question on the death penalty the day before a Democratic town hall on CNN. “As soon as the nomination is wrapped up, I will be your biggest surrogate,” Brazile wrote to Podesta in a January 2016 email.

    • From liberal beacon to a prop for Trump: what has happened to WikiLeaks?

      How did WikiLeaks go from darling of the liberal left and scourge of American imperialism to apparent tool of Donald Trump’s divisive, incendiary presidential campaign?

      Thursday brought another WikiLeaks dump of nearly 2,000 emails hacked from the Hillary Clinton campaign, allegedly by Russians. As usual, they were inside-the-beltway gossip rather than game-changing: the campaign tried to push back the Illinois primary, believing it would make life harder for moderate Republicans.

      That has not stopped Trump trying to make hay from the leaked emails and deflect attention from allegations of sexual harassment against him. “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “So dishonest! Rigged system!”

    • Want to Know Julian Assange’s Endgame? He Told You a Decade Ago

      Amid a seemingly incessant deluge of leaks and hacks, Washington, DC staffers have learned to imagine how even the most benign email would look a week later on the homepage of a secret-spilling outfit like WikiLeaks or DCLeaks. In many cases, they’ve stopped emailing altogether, deleted accounts, and reconsidered dumbphones. Julian Assange—or at least, a ten-years-younger and more innocent Assange—would say he’s already won.

      After another week of Clinton-related emails roiling this election, the political world has been left to scrub their inboxes, watch their private correspondences be picked over in public, and psychoanalyze WikiLeaks’ inscrutable founder. Once they’re done sterilizing their online lives, they might want to turn to an essay Assange wrote ten years ago, laying out the endgame of his leaking strategy long before he became one of the most controversial figures on the Internet.

    • WikiLeaks Sources Face Serious Charges Following CIA, FBI, DHS Hacks

      Two North Carolina men were arrested in September for their alleged roles in a hacking group responsible for breaching the email accounts of CIA Director John Brennan, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — and providing the contents to WikiLeaks.

    • David Crosby: America is no longer a democracy

      At three o’clock in the morning on the day we talk, David Crosby woke from a sound sleep and wrote a song. He’ll be the first one to tell you that wasn’t the case years ago when he was touring huge venues with Crosby, Stills and Nash and CSNY in between bouts of his public struggles with drugs, alcohol and prison (he was jailed for five months in 1986 for on weapons and drugs charges).

      But with Lighthouse, a new album due this month, Crosby continues the hot streak he started in 2014 with Croz, his first solo album in 20 years. As a founding member of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash – and one of the finest voices of his generation – Crosby could well be sitting on his laurels. But the stunning material on Lighthouse, which is focused squarely on his vocals and guitar, suggest he is more creatively engaged than he has been since his much younger days.

    • Warnings of conspiracy stoke anger among Trump faithful

      In an arena normally reserved for ice hockey, the Donald Trump crowd was on edge.

      Some wore shirts with slogans like “[Expletive] Your Feelings” or, in reference to the female Democratic nominee, “Trump that Bitch.” Others had buckets of popcorn, ready for the show. When the media entourage entered, thousands erupted in boos.

      Anger and hostility were the most overwhelming sentiments at a Trump rally in Cincinnati last week, a deep sense of frustration, an us-versus-them mentality, and a belief that they are part of an unstoppable and underestimated movement. Unlike many in the country, however, these hard-core Trump followers do not believe the real estate mogul’s misfortunes are of his own making.

    • Transcripts of Clinton’s Wall Street talks released in new Wikileaks dump

      U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s full remarks to several Wall Street audiences appeared to become public on Saturday when the controversial transparency group Wikileaks dumped its latest batch of hacked emails.

      The documents showed comments by Clinton during question-and-answer sessions with Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and Tim O’Neill, the bank’s head of investment management, at three separate events in 2013 in Arizona, New York and South Carolina.

      Some excerpts of Clinton’s speeches had already been released. For more than a week, Wikileaks has published in stages what it says are hacked emails from the account of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

      Clinton’s campaign has declined to verify the emails. Goldman Sachs did not immediately provide any comment on Saturday.

    • Donald Trump’s Son & Campaign Manager Both Tweet Obviously Fake Story

      It’s no secret that there’s been a huge number of totally fake news websites popping up in the past few years. Apparently, it’s a fun and profitable venture. While some of the fake news sites come up with generic names, like National Report, Hot Global, The Valley Report and Associated Media Coverage, some of the most successful fake news sites just make use of the big well-known broadcaster websites… and just get a .co domain: using nbc.com.co or abcnews.com.co. Some of the hoax stories are really well done — and, yes, even we’ve been fooled, though in our defense, the fake story we fell for… was so believable it became true just months later. But, of course, we’re just a bunch of random bloggers, not a Presidential campaign.

      The Trump campaign, on the other hand, should know better. Amusingly, of course, this week we’ve talked about the Trump campaign’s willingness to fall for hoaxes, but they seemed to take it up a notch this week. I first noticed it when I saw Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway tweet an obviously fake story, claiming that an anti-Trump protestor was really paid by the Clinton campaign.

    • How One Young Black Man Supporting Trump Massively Skews The LA Times Presidential Poll

      Let’s jump right into this, because this post is going to be a bit on the wonky side. It’s presidential silly season, as we have said before, and this iteration of it is particularly bad, like a dumpster fire that suddenly has a thousand gallons of gasoline dropped onto it from a crop-duster flown by a blind zombie. Which, of course, makes it quite fascinating to watch for those of us with an independent persuasion. Chiefly interesting for myself is watching how the polls shift and change with each landmark on this sad, sad journey. It makes poll aggregating groups, such as the excellent Project FiveThirtyEight, quite useful in getting a ten-thousand foot view as to how the public is reacting to the news of the day.

      But sites like that obviously rely on individual polls in order to generate their aggregate outlooks, which makes understanding, at least at a high level, just how these political polls get their results interesting as well. And, if you watch these things like I do, you have probably been curious about one particular poll, the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, commonly shortened to the USC/LAT poll, which has consistently put out results on the Presidential race that differ significantly from other major polls. That difference has generally amounted to wider support for Donald Trump in the race, with specific differences in support for Trump among certain demographics. To the credit of those that run the poll, they have been exceptionally transparent about how they generate their numbers, which led the New York Times to dig in and try to figure out the reason for the skewed results. It seems an answer was found and it’s gloriously absurd.

    • Speaker Paul Ryan Tries to Change the Topic

      One day after Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of 20,000 in Cincinnati, Speaker Paul Ryan spoke to a group of about 100 undergraduates, 50 reporters and a phalanx of cameras on the “Failures of Liberal Progressivism” in a heavily controlled and scripted event in Madison on Friday.

      The students were members of the College Republicans of UW-Madison, a student group led by Gov. Scott Walker’s son Alex Walker.

      Acknowledging that the election has taken “a dark turn,” Ryan quickly pivoted to his hallmark message of fiscal austerity and his Better.GOP site, a website and policy plan first unveiled in June.


      The invitation-only speaking engagement and managed “Q&A” at the Madison Masonic Center Foundation followed a tumultuous week for Ryan which began last Friday with the release of an Access Hollywood audio tape in which Trump brags about his ability to grope women. When you’re a star, “they let you do anything,” said Trump.

      The following day, Ryan rescinded Trump’s invitation to his annual “Fall Fest” in his congressional district. But Ryan was booed and heckled by some of Trump’s grassroots supporters and even called a “traitor,” according to news accounts. On Monday, Ryan said in a conference call with House Republicans that he will no longer defend Trump, nor campaign for him, over the objections of some.

    • Trump, Victim Shaming, Coincidences and Some Questions About the New York Times

      Did none of the many, many Republican primary candidates do any opposition research about Trump during the months and months of the primary season? Given the apparent accessibility of Trump sexual assault material, how was none of this found by Trump’s earlier opponents, who were certainly digging for dirt? A Ted Cruz or a Marco Rubio could have knocked Trump out of the race in April with half this information.

      Similar question; did no media investigate Trump’s background during his 18 months of candidacy?

      Coincidences happen, just not as often as we’d like to believe. Was any of the timing of any of this indeed coincidental, given much of this information was never reported for decades but is now front paged a few weeks before the election? I am well-aware of the reasons a woman might choose not to report an attack for many years. I am sometimes a bit more skeptical when after 30 years, during which Trump was in the media spotlight, and then another 18 months of Trump as a leading candidate, the accusations emerge only weeks before the election, timed nearly to the day with bookended presidential debates.

      And the big one.

      What process did the New York Times pursue before it decided to print the stories of the two initial Trump accusers? How did the Times vett their stories? If I were to walk into the Times’ newsroom today and report that either Trump or Hillary had inappropriately touched me in 1979, what process would unfold at the Times before my statement was published?

      I’m not being a smartass. I am not “victim shaming.” I do not believe asking these questions, especially the procedural questions about how the Times conducted its journalism, amounts to victim shaming. This is politics. No one is saying they are suing Trump, or engaged in a criminal case against him. It is at this point pure politics.

    • Russia, Terror and Taxes Dominate Debates; Climate, Poverty, Abortion Barely Mentioned

      A review of topics mentioned and questions asked in the first three presidential/vice-presidential debates shows a significant emphasis on Russia, terrorism and taxes—pushing aside most other issues, including climate change, abortion, education, campaign finance and LGBTQ rights.

      The total mentions of Russia and Putin—the number of times the words were said by either candidates or moderators—was 137. For ISIS and “terrorism” combined, it was 101. “Taxes” were mentioned 171 times—94 times in the context of tax policy, 77 times in regard to Donald Trump’s unwillingness to release his tax returns.

      In contrast, “climate change” (or “global warming”)—widely recognized as the biggest existential threat facing humanity—has only been mentioned three times. All three mentions were by Hillary Clinton, made in passing.

      “Poverty” (and “the poor”), “drugs,” “abortion” (with “right to choose” and “pro-life”) and “environment” have each been mentioned less than 10 times. LGBTQ issues (“LGBT,” “gay,” “trans,” “marriage equality”) were brought up in passing three times—once for the sole purpose of criticizing Russia. “Campaign finance” and/or Citizens United was brought up once by Clinton.

      The NSA (along with “privacy” and “surveillance”) and Native Americans have not been mentioned onstage once.

      In the first three debates, Russia and Putin have been mentioned more than the TPP, trade, race, guns, Social Security, the Supreme Court, education, student debt, poverty, drugs, abortion, climate change, LGBTQ issues and the environment combined, with 137 vs. 132 mentions.

    • Engage In Sex, Not War

      During the sexual scandals of Bill Clinton—the “bimbo eruptions” as Hillary called them—the Democrats and progressive opinion ruled out a person’s sex life as a political factor. Now suddenly nothing more than juvenile locker room banter without the actual sex has become the determinant of political unfitness.

      Where did the 11-year old recording of locker room talk between Donald Trump and Billy Bush come from? Who recorded it and kept it for 11 years for what purpose? Why was it released the day prior to the second debate between Trump and Hillary? Was the recording an illegal violation of privacy? What became of the woman who recorded Monica Lewinsky’s confession to her of sex with Bill Clinton? Wasn’t she prosecuted for wiretaping or some such offense? Why was Billy Bush, the relative of two US presidents, suspended from his TV show because of a private conversation with Trump?

    • The Donald Lives!

      The press had to cover it. Then the women marched into the auditorium at Washington University to watch Hillary Clinton defend her behavior toward them after their encounters with Bill.

      As the moderators and Hillary Clinton scrambled to refocus on Trump’s comments of a decade ago, Trump brought it back to Bill’s criminal misconduct against women, his lying about it, and Hillary’s aiding and abetting of the First Predator.

    • After the Republic

      Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory.


      Because it is difficult to imagine a Trump presidency even thinking about something so monumental as replacing an entire ruling elite, much less leading his constituency to accomplishing it, electing Trump is unlikely to result in a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction. Continuing pretty much on the current trajectory under the same class will further fuel revolutionary sentiments in the land all by itself. Inevitable disappointment with Trump is sure to add to them.

    • Blaming Millennials for Their Elders’ Trump Attraction

      Mahken, Stern and Boot all argue that declining civic education standards—a popular target of neoliberal criticism—gave rise to the ignorant population that bred Trump. There’s one basic problem with this premise: It doesn’t make any sense.

      If Trump’s support were tethered to declining education standards, the younger someone is (e.g. the more recently they were educated), the more likely they would be to vote Trump. But Trump’s voters trend overwhelmingly older: He’s most popular with voters 65 and over, least popular with those under 30

      The two most recent examples of this argument, by Stern and Boot, are textbook think piece sophistry: They begin with a superficially appealing premise designed to flatter the reader (people are dumber, therefore Trump; but not you, you’re smart) and throw out some data points, pivot to a conclusion that doesn’t follow and hope no one notices. While Boot doesn’t use the word Millennial, it’s the logical implication of what’s he’s advancing. (His examples supporting his claim that people are getting more stupid are all relatively recent.)

    • Dear Clinton Team: We Noticed You Might Need Some Email Security Tips

      There is probably no one more acutely aware of the importance of good cybersecurity right now than Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, whose emails have been laid bare by WikiLeaks, are being mined for news by journalists (including at The Intercept), and are available for anyone with internet access to read.

      So as a public service to Podesta and everyone else on Clinton’s staff, here are some email security tips that could have saved you from getting hacked, and might help you in the future.

    • White House Brief: Things to Know about Jill Stein

      This isn’t Stein’s first foray into presidential politics. She ran on the Green Party line in 2012, failing to crack 500,000 votes or generate any significant spotlight. She thinks this time could be different, thanks to Sanders. Stein wasted no time swooping in on his political revolution, campaigning in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention and rallying throngs of angry Sanders’ supporters outside of the convention hall when the Vermont senator conceded the nod to Hillary Clinton.

      Stein’s running on a platform of erasing all existing student debt, mobilizing what she calls a wartime effort to switch the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and disengaging from foreign wars that she says the United States has no business being in. She’s offering a dark view of the future, saying both Republicans and Democrats are leading the country into imminent disaster.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • CPJ calls on Thailand to not censor news during royal transition

      The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Thailand’s military government to lift a blanket censorship order on television news broadcasters imposed in the wake of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death yesterday.

      According to local news reports, all television news channels including foreign broadcasters were blocked and replaced with Royal Household Bureau footage eulogizing the Thai king. Local media were also barred from using Facebook live indefinitely, according to reports. Bhumibol, the world’s longest-serving monarch at the time of his death, reigned for 70 consecutive years.

    • Thai TV flicks back to colour, subdued, after king’s death

      Thai television flicked back to colour today – but with orders to keep it subdued – as the government lifted a black-and-white rule imposed out of respect for the country’s late king.

      All channels, including international satellite networks, have been replaced with prepared state media programmes praising revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, who died Thursday after a 70-year reign.

    • 12 unspoken censorship rules for Bollywood, if it still wants to make movies

      The following are the unspoken censorship rules that Bollywood must follow if it still wants to make movies.

      1. Even if the Government of India issues visas to Pakistan talent you will not make films with them. You must understand that the government of India is not bothered about how our jawans are dying in the border fire but you, as a proud Indian, should be.

      2. Even if the Central Board of Film Certification clears your film, it can still be censored by political parties. The CBFC does not have people of any merit. They can only determine the length of the kiss in a film. It is our political parties who really know how to protect the value, culture and integrity of India.

    • Kashmir, Dylan, censorship hog limelight

      Sleepy Kasauli town reverberated with the sights and sounds of authors, intellectuals and actors as the three-day Khushwant Singh Literature Festival-2016 got underway on Friday.

      Apart from a number of panel discussions, the day also saw Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh declaring the Khushwant Singh trail open.

      One of the highlights of the day was the panel consisting of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, author and journalist Rahul Pandita and author and historian Dilip Simeon talking about the crisis in Kashmir with the topic being “Kashmir: Cry the Beloved Country.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Police Around the Country Regularly Abuse Law Enforcement Databases

      For more than a year, EFF has been investigating how police in California misuse the state’s law enforcement database with little oversight from officials. An investigation published by the Associated Press today shows that abuse of law enforcement systems is a nationwide problem.

      The AP’s investigation analyzed records from all 50 states and three dozen of the country’s largest cities. The reporters found that officers have routinely used law enforcement and driver databases to stalk ex-partners, dig up dirt on their neighbors, and even spy on celebrities and journalists.

    • [Old] Why the Warrant to Hack in the Playpen Case Was an Unconstitutional General Warrant

      Warrants are often considered the basic building block of the Fourth Amendment. Whenever the government seeks to engage in a search or seizure, it must first get a warrant, unless a narrow exception applies. In a previous post, we explained the significance of the Fourth Amendment “events”—several searches and seizures—that occurred each time the government employed its malware against visitors to Playpen.

      But simply calling something a warrant doesn’t make it a constitutionally valid warrant. In fact, the “immediate evils” that motivated the drafters of the Bill of Rights were “general warrants,” also known as “writs of assistance,” which gave British officials broad discretion to search nearly everyone and everything for evidence of customs violations. In the words of colonial lawyer James Otis, general warrants “annihilate” the “freedom of one’s house” and place “the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.”

    • What Yahoo’s NSA Surveillance Means for Email Privacy

      This is a terrible precedent and ushers in a new era of global mass surveillance. It means that US tech companies that serve billions of users around the world can now be forced to act as extensions of the US surveillance apparatus. The problem extends well beyond Yahoo. As was reported earlier, Yahoo did not fight the secret directive because Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and the Yahoo legal team did not believe that they could successfully resist the directive.

      We believe that Yahoo’s assessment is correct. If it was possible to fight the directive, Yahoo certainly would have done so since they previously fought against secret FISA court orders in 2008. It does not make sense that US surveillance agencies would serve Yahoo Mail with such an order but ignore Gmail, the world’s largest email provider, or Outlook. There is no doubt that the secret surveillance software is also present in Gmail and Outlook, or at least there is nothing preventing Gmail and Outlook from being forced to comply with a similar directive in the future. From a legal perspective, there is nothing that makes Yahoo particularly vulnerable, or Google particularly invulnerable.

    • CIA threatens cyber attacks against Russia

      The CIA was recently reported to have issued the threat of cyber attacks against the Russian leadership, in retaliation for alleged and unsubstantiated claims that Russia is trying to influence the American elections.

    • Five EFF Tools to Help You Protect Yourself Online

      Do you get creeped out when an ad eerily related to your recent Internet activity seems to follow you around the web? Do you ever wonder why you sometimes see a green lock with “https” in your address bar, and other times just plain “http”? EFF’s team of technologists and computer scientists can help. We engineer solutions to these problems of sneaky tracking, inconsistent encryption, and more. Our projects are released under free and open source licenses like the GNU General Public License or Creative Commons licenses, and we make them freely available to as many users as possible. Where users face threats to their free expression, privacy, and security online, EFF’s technology projects are there to defend them.

    • How a Facial Recognition Mismatch Can Ruin Your Life

      It was just after sundown when a man knocked on Steve Talley’s door in south Denver. The man claimed to have hit Talley’s silver Jeep Cherokee and asked him to assess the damage. So Talley, wearing boxers and a tank top, went outside to take a look.

      Seconds later, he was knocked to the pavement outside his house. Flash bang grenades detonated, temporarily blinding and deafening him. Three men dressed in black jackets, goggles, and helmets repeatedly hit him with batons and the butts of their guns. He remembers one of the men telling him, “So you like to fuck with my brothers in blue!” while another stood on his face and cracked two of his teeth. “You’ve got the wrong guy,” he remembers shouting. “You guys are crazy.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s Encryption Proposal Was “Impossible,” Said Top Adviser

      Hillary Clinton’s advisers recognized that her policy position on encryption was problematic, with one writing that it was tantamount to insisting that there was “‘some way’ to do the impossible.”

      Instead, according to campaign emails released by Wikileaks, they suggested that the campaign signal its willingness to use “malware” or “super code breaking by the NSA” to get around encryption.

      In the wake of the Paris attacks in November, Clinton called for “Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary,” and called for “our best minds in the private sector to work with our best minds in the public sector to develop solutions that will both keep us safe and protect our privacy.”

      When asked during a debate in December whether she would legally compel companies to build a backdoor into their products to give law enforcement access to unencrypted communications, Clinton responded “I would not want to go to that point.”

      But she then called for a “Manhattan-like project” to develop secure communication while allowing the government to read messages.

      Cryptography experts overwhelmingly agree that backdoors inevitably undermine the security of strong encryption, making the two essentially incompatible.

    • Researchers Ask Court To Unseal Documents Related To Technical Assistance Requests And Electronic Surveillance Warrants

      This has the makings of a movement along the lines of the highly-unofficial “Magistrates Revolt.” More efforts are being made more frequently to push federal courts out of their default secrecy mode. The government prefers to do a lot of its work under the cover of judicial darkness, asking for dockets and documents to be sealed in a large percentage of its criminal cases.

      Just in the last month, we’ve seen the ACLU petition the court to unseal dockets related to the FBI’s takedown of Freedom Hosting using a Tor exploit and Judge Beryl Howell grant FOIA enthusiast Jason Leopold’s request to have a large number of 2012 pen register cases unsealed.

      Now, we have researchers Jennifer Granick and Riana Pfefferkorn petitioning [PDF] the Northern District of California court to unseal documents related to “technical assistance” cases — like the one involving the DOJ’s attempted use of an All Writs Order to force Apple to crack open a phone for it.

    • ‘NITE Team 4′ Announced, Seeks Crowd Funding – Screens & Trailer

      You play as a new recruit in the covert hacking cell, Network Intelligence & Technical Evaluation (NITE) Team 4. Engaged in cyberwarfare with black hat groups and hostile states, you will be in a struggle to penetrate highly secure targets. Your job is to use the STINGER hacking system to infiltrate hardened computer networks and coordinate strike teams on the ground to carry out missions that feature real espionage tradecraft terminology taken straight from leaked NSA documents.

    • New Story-Driven, TSW Inspired Sim Game Announced

      Alice & Smith have announced a new story-driven military hacking simulation game based on The Secret World. Called NITE Team 4, the game is based on both strategy and RPG elements with an emphasis and base on NSA top secret documents in the real world. A Kickstarter project has started and is already fully funded.

    • Military hacking RPG NITE Team 4 blends real NSA documents with gamified espionage

      In a world where hacking groups are a powerful tool in clandestine political warfare, we sure don’t exploit that rich fictional seam much in games. NITE Team 4, a currently funded Kickstarter title, looks to breach into that world and create an RPG out of what lies within.

    • Appeal Court Revives Lawyer’s Lawsuit Against The NSA’s Email Dragnet

      Another lawsuit against the NSA has been revived. Previously dismissed by a district court for lack of standing, attorney Elliott Schuchardt’s suit against the NSA for its domestic surveillance has been remanded back to the court that tossed it.

      Like several other surveillance lawsuits, Schuchardt’s springs from the Snowden leaks. Unlike some of the others, it doesn’t focus on the NSA’s phone metadata collection — the subject of the first Snowden leak. Instead, his challenges the constitutionality of the NSA’s Section 702 collection. With this program, the NSA apparently collects not just metadata on electronic communications, but also the content.

    • Even NSA BFF Verizon Thinks Warrantless Location Data Collection May Have Gone Too Far

      You’d be hard pressed to find companies more bone-grafted to the nation’s intelligence gathering apparatus than AT&T and Verizon. So much so that it’s often difficult to determine where the government ends, and where the telecom duopoly begins. From Mark Klein highlighting how AT&T was giving the NSA live access to every shred of data that touched the AT&T network, to Snowden’s revelation of Verizon’s handover of customer metadata, these are companies that were not only eager to tap dance around privacy and surveillance law, but actively mocked companies that actually stood up for consumer privacy.

      That’s why it’s notable to see one of Verizon’s top lawyers, Craig Silliman, penning an op-ed over at Bloomberg implying that location data hoovering has jumped the shark. Silliman details the problems arising in the age of location data collection, and specifically how four recent district courts have ruled that law enforcement can get location data without a warrant. These rulings relied on the “third-party doctrine,” or the argument that consumers lose privacy protections to this information if they’re willing to share it with a third party — aka Verizon.

    • Top German court rejects lawmakers’ request for NSA targets [Ed: same as below]
    • Top German court rejects lawmakers’ request for NSA targets

      Germany’s top court has rejected German lawmakers’ demands for access to a secret list of U.S. eavesdropping targets.

      Parliament’s intelligence oversight panel, known as the G 10 committee, had asked the Constitutional Court to force the German government to hand over the list. It contains “selectors” — such as phone numbers and email addresses — that the U.S. National Security Agency wants allies to monitor.

      Following ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks in 2013, German media reported that the targets included officials and companies in Germany and other European countries.

    • Salesforce CEO has “walked away” from deal with beleaguered Twitter

      In the wake of Salesforce’s CEO publicly saying Friday that his company would not buy Twitter, the popular social network’s stock price has dropped more than six percent as of this writing.

      “In this case we’ve walked away. It wasn’t the right fit for us,” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told the Financial Times.

      For months, rumors have swirled that numerous tech giants, ranging from Apple to Google, would snap up the San Francisco startup, which has lost nearly $2 billion from 2011 through 2015.

      Twitter has had a hard time attracting new users, which, in turn, has resulted in flat or slow growth.

    • After being outed for massive hack and installing an NSA “rootkit,” Yahoo cancels earnings call

      What do you do if your ailing internet giant has been outed for losing, and then keeping silent about, 500 million user accounts, then letting American spy agencies install a rootkit on its mail service, possibly scuttling its impending, hail-mary acquisition by a risk-averse, old economy phone company? Just cancel your investor call and with it, any chance of awkward, on-the-record questions.

    • DOJ: Microsoft Email Ruling Leaves Evidence Out of Authorities’ Hands

      In July, a court ruled that Microsoft did not have to provide the Department of Justice with the emails of a criminal suspect stored in Ireland. The case reportedly revolves around Gary Davis, who is charged with being a staff member of the dark web marketplace Silk Road.

      That ruling was seen as a victory for privacy and civil liberties campaigners. But the DOJ is not giving up. On Thursday, government attorneys filed a petition asking for the case to be reheard.

      The July ruling, “is significantly limiting an essential investigative tool used thousands of times a year, harming important criminal investigations around the country, and causing confusion and chaos among providers as they struggle to determine how to comply,” the DOJ writes in its petition, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and sent to Motherboard by DOJ spokesperson Peter Carr.

    • Verizon reportedly wants $1 billion discount on Yahoo

      Verizon may not have bailed out of its deal to purchase Yahoo for $4.8 billion, but amid a growing case of bad news at the search engine company, the telecommunications giant is reportedly pushing to reduce the acquisition price by $1 billion.

      According to the New York Post, AOL chief Tim Armstrong, who runs the Verizon subsidiary that would be the umbrella company for Yahoo, is “getting cold feet.” Sources tell the publication that he’s “pretty upset about the lack of disclosure and he’s saying can we get out of this or can we reduce the price?”

      Yahoo is currently embroiled in two scandals, one of which involves hackers illegally accessing 500 million account. Members of the U.S. Congress have called upon the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Yahoo’s disclosures in light of the hacking. The other issue involves Yahoo’s apparent compliance with U.S. intelligence agencies in secretly scanning customer emails, especially years after the Snowden revelations.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Amy Goodman Is Facing Prison for Reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline. That Should Scare Us All.

      This Monday afternoon, as the sun hits its peak over Mandan, North Dakota, the award-winning journalist, and host of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman will walk into the Morton County–Mandan Combined Law Enforcement and Corrections Center and turn herself in to the local authorities. Her crime: good, unflinching journalism.

    • Why Is North Dakota Arresting Journalists For Doing Journalism?

      Two years ago, we wrote about the ridiculousness of police arresting reporters for reporting in Ferguson, Missouri, even though courts had told police to knock it off. Even more ridiculous is that those reporters were eventually charged, leading to a ridiculous settlement earlier this year.

      And yet… arresting journalists for doing journalism continues to be a thing. As you probably know, there have been a bunch of protests in North Dakota lately concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline. Back in September, after covering the protests and having some of her videos of an attack on the protestors go viral, famed Democracy Now reporter Amy Goodman found out an arrest warrant had been issued for her. It’s pretty clear that this arrest warrant was solely because of the coverage reflecting poorly on officials.

      On Thursday, Goodman said that she’ll surrender to authorities next week. As Democracy Now points out, the criminal complaint against her is so transparently unconstitutional and so transparently about intimidating reporters, that it actually notes that “Amy Goodman can be seen on the video identifying herself and interviewing protesters about their involvement in the protest.” Right. That’s called journalism. Goodman was basically arrested for doing journalism that the powers-that-be dislike.

    • Outrageous! Felony Charges Given to Journalist Filming Anti-Pipeline Protest

      Many of you may have read my post on EcoWatch this morning, and already know that Deia Schlosberg, the producer of my new climate change documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change, was arrested Tuesday in Walhalla, North Dakota, for filming a protest against a pipeline bringing Canadian tar sands oil into the U.S.

    • The New Federal Safety Guidelines For Self-Driving Cars Are Too Vague… And States Are Already Making Them Mandatory

      The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earned plaudits from across the tech sphere for its recently released safety guidelines for self-driving cars.

      With the NHTSA looking to offer guidance to this emerging industry, the agency issued a set of rules that largely just asks manufacturers to report on how they were following the guidelines. The 15-point checklist is vague in quite a few details, but that isn’t necessarily a tremendous problem so long as the standards remain voluntary, which they purport to be. To many, this approach struck a good overall balance between oversight and flexibility.

      Regulatory ambiguity can, however, turn out to be a real nightmare with standards that are mandatory. Vague rules can leave even the best-intentioned firms at a loss as to how to proceed. Given how much of a premium consumer confidence will be in a market as revolutionary and potentially transformative as autonomous vehicles, it’s crucial that manufacturers comply with whatever standards the federal government promulgates.

    • My Secret Evidence to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee

      I have been considering my appearance before the Committee.

      As you will know, there has been very substantial doubt in the human rights community about the good faith of your committee’s inquiry. I have been prepared to give the benefit of the doubt and offer to cooperate.

      However if the committee really are genuine, they should wish me to be able to prepare and give the best evidence that I am able to do. There is no doubt that something went very wrong in terms of the UK government’s collusion with overseas torture programmes. The Feinstein report made plain that the CIA was very wrong in what it did, and your committee know very well that the CIA was sharing with SIS the intelligence obtained by torture. The British government has settled with large payments cases where the British government was involved more actively.

    • Structural Racism and Human-Rights

      In the first half-hour, author and professor Carol Anderson rejoins the Project Censored Show to discuss structural racism in the US, especially in the context of the presidential campaign. In the second half of the program, human-rights activists Hector Aristizabal and Isabel Garcia speak about conditions on the US-Mexico border, and how multiple US administrations have enforced border policies that bring death to many immigrants. They also discuss the Border Convergence taking place October 7 – 10.

    • A Missed Chance to Put Discriminatory Policing on Campaign Agenda

      But only a few—like Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post (10/7/16), Steven Holmes at CNN (10/7/16)—reminded us of Trump’s full-page screed in the New York Times, calling uncryptically for the young men to be executed and demanding an end to “our continuous pandering to the criminal population.” Trump’s CNN statement indicates that he would still support executing people whom the courts have found innocent. But no one withdrew their support or demanded an apology, and the comments were pushed off the page just hours later by the unearthing of tape of Trump joking about sexual assault.

      Those abhorrent remarks deserve the attention; but as The Intercept‘s Liliana Segura (10/11/16) noted, Trump’s comments on the Central Park Five also have wider repercussion. The ugly truth, she writes, is that his attitude is all too common in district attorneys’ offices. Prosecutors routinely defend the convictions of innocent people even after exoneration, and often block efforts to test for such evidence as DNA in the first place. When convictions are overturned, DAs often refuse to drop charges, dragging out the legal fight and forcing people found innocent to live under constant threat of re-imprisonment.

      Governors play a role—like Mike Pence, who recently refused to grant pardon to a man in Indiana, exonerated with DNA evidence after 10 years in prison. (Pence’s office said he refused to consider granting a pardon “out of respect for the judicial process.”)

      Hillary Clinton has shown more concern about wrongful convictions, but, Segura notes, she still supports the death penalty. And while in theory one might support executions while opposing killing innocent people, reality—preeminently, the exoneration of more than 150 death row prisoners to date — shows these positions are irreconcilable.

    • UK Torture Secrets Will Remain Secret

      The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has agreed that I shall be able to review Top Secret and other classified documents which contain the evidence of UK complicity in torture and my attempts to stop it, before giving evidence to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. But under conditions which make plain the determination that the dirtiest of secrets will remain firmly shut away. Given that parliament actually defers to the FCO over what can and cannot be done, the entire pointlessness of the Intelligence and Security Committee Inquiry is starkly revealed.

      Gareth Peirce as my counsel is not to be allowed in to any of my evidence where anything secret is being discussed – which is 100% of it. I think that really says everything about the “Inquiry” that you need to know.

    • For Black Men, Running Is a Reasonable Reaction to Police Harassment and Racial Profiling, Concludes Massachusetts’ Supreme Court

      The justices found that it’s reasonable for Black men to run from police because of the indignity of stop and frisk.

      In 2004, University of Virginia football player Marquis Weeks returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. After the game he described how he did it: “That was just instinct,” Weeks said with a laugh. “Kind of like running from the cops, I guess you could say.”

      It’s funny until it isn’t. The “instinct” exists for a reason. Black and brown people have been running from people with badges for generations, going all the way back to the days of the slave catchers, who were predecessors of modern-day police.

      Despite his obvious speed, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court caught up with Mr. Weeks this month. The court found that the facts of the case, including that the young Black male suspect tried to avoid the police, did not justify a stop and search of the young man.

    • Report: Every 25 Seconds, Cops Arrest Someone for Drug Possession

      The war on drugs may have failed, but it certainly hasn’t ended: Every 25 seconds in the U.S., someone is arrested for drug possession.

      Arrests for the possession and personal use of drugs are boosting the ranks of the incarcerated at astonishing rates — with 137,000 people behind bars for drugs on any given day, and 1.25 million every year. Possession of even tiny quantities of illicit drugs is criminalized in every state, a felony in most, and the No. 1 cause of all arrests nationwide. And while marijuana is now legal in a handful of states and decriminalized in others, in 2015 police nationwide made over 547,000 arrests for simple marijuana possession — more than for all categories of violent crime combined. These arrests are feeding people into a criminal justice system that’s rife with inefficiencies, abuse, and racism, and compounding drug users’ substance abuse with the lifelong impact of a criminal record.

      The staggering numbers, detailed in a report released today by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, shed new light on the colossal impact of the criminalization of drug use, as well as on the discriminatory impact of its enforcement. These laws have done nothing to stem the public health problem of drug addiction and in the process have destroyed countless lives and cost incalculable amounts of public resources in arrests, prosecution, and incarceration, the report charges.

      Nearly half a century after it was first launched by President Nixon, the war on drugs has been widely recognized to have been a failure, yet little of substance has been done to reverse its course and the catastrophic damage it continues to inflict. In fact, while piecemeal approaches to fixing some of its symptoms — like sentencing reform, marijuana reclassification, and some discussion of police abuse — have by now been embraced within mainstream politics, the drug war’s founding policy, the criminalization of the personal use and possession of drugs, has rarely been questioned.

    • Drawing Representative Districts

      FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY, “one person, one vote” has been essential to American representative democracy. Key to preserving equal representation is redistricting, occurring most broadly every 10 years. The decennial census records population changes, which states must reflect in legislative districts to make the democratic process fair.

      But in many states this is a highly partisan process that is not always fair or in voters’ interests, says Laughlin McDonald, ACLU special counsel, who has fought voter suppression for decades. “Somewhere down the line they may consider the interest of the voters, but that’s not really what drives the process,” he says.

      Without Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, states are now free, without federal oversight, to make election-related changes that could adversely affect racial and language minorities.

    • It Is Time to Get Real About School Policinga

      Interactions between young people and police don’t occur just on the streets of America — they’re happening in our nation’s K-12 schools, too. Increasingly police have become “embedded” in schools, in many cases working there full-time. Many are considered school staff and have daily authority over students, even in situations that have traditionally been seen as everyday disciplinary matters.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The World Trade Organization Sets its Eyes on the Internet

      This week, EFF has been at the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s annual Public Forum. Best known to the general public as the locus of anti-globalization protests at its 1999 Ministerial Conference, it’s ironic that the WTO is today the most open and transparent of trade negotiation bodies—an honor it holds mainly because of how closed and opaque the trade negotiations conducted outside the WTO are, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or on its margins, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).

      This year’s Public Forum, although notionally focusing on inclusive trade, has featured unprecedented interest in digital trade, with dozens of sessions dealing with this topic. Just a few of them, including the workshop “Boundaries and Best Practices for Inclusive Digital Trade” organized by EFF, have been summarized by the Geneva Internet Platform (you can also read slides from some of our workshop’s presentations below).

  • DRM

    • Amazon launches new ‘Music Unlimited’ service, starting at $4/month for use on just one Echo [Ed: DRM. Avoid.]

      Would you pay a few extra bucks a month to turn your smart home speaker into an intelligent, unlimited jukebox? Amazon is betting people will.

      The company on Wednesday is launching a new subscription music service, Amazon Music Unlimited, that starts at $3.99 a month for a library of tens of millions of songs. That’s less than half the cost of Apple Music, Spotify Premium and other competing music services.

    • Studio Ghibli’s first TV series getting English dub courtesy of Amazon

      Famed animation studio Studio Ghibli launched its first TV series, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, in 2014, and fans’ wait for an official Western version is now coming to an end, thanks to Amazon.

      After the series’ 26-episode run wrapped, the studio began shopping an English-language version to various international channels and distributors. That shopping apparently concluded this week, as Amazon confirmed via a Friday press release that Ronja’s dub will debut exclusively on Amazon Video in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan. The news didn’t include a release date, but it did confirm one familiar voice joining the Ronja cast: Gillian Anderson, whose voice previously appeared in famed Ghibli film Princess Mononoke.

    • …And Here Come The Device-Restricted Music Subscriptions

      And so we enter a world with yet another means of fragmenting digital music services and making them way, way less appealing. At least they were decent enough to drop the price — but now that the floodgates are open, it’s entirely possible such heavily limited subscriptions will eventually become the new baseline, and truly open subscriptions that can be played anywhere (one of the biggest advantages of digital music) will morph into an expensive luxury. The key difference between this and our speculation about Apple limited output devices is that the restriction happens further upstream, with the subscription only being piped to one specific device — and if that device is an Echo Dot, there’s even still an analog jack so it can be plugged into just about anything else. But the next step — a subscription on a general purpose device like a phone with music that is artificially limited to only be output through certain devices, thanks to the DRM capabilities of digital-only connectors — feels slightly and worryingly closer to reality. And what will this accomplish? Nothing more than ensuring legal digital music continues to suck in unnecessary ways.

      The grand, omnipresent and incorrect assumption about music piracy is that it’s primarily motivated by price, and the desire to get content without paying. It’s not and it never has been: it’s motivated by restrictions, and the desire to easily access a wide variety of content how, when and where you choose. It’s about music being free, but not free as in beer.

      And so, naturally, the legacy music industry has sought out almost every opportunity to add restrictions and limitations to their digital offerings. Disruptive innovators like Spotify and Pandora fight an ongoing uphill battle to secure the necessary rights to offer something more open and appealing, and the massive digital retailers — Apple, Google and Amazon — drift around in between: aware and capable of the type of technological innovation necessary to make digital music services appealing, and armed with the money and clout to secure better licensing deals from rightsholders, but also prone (to varying degrees) to following in those rightsholders’ restrictive footsteps in order to fulfill their own dreams of total control and a captive audience. Amazon isn’t banking on people who are out searching for a digital music service deciding to go with the absurdly limited $4 option — it’s targeting existing Echo customers who might see it as a cheap add-on for some extra music around the house. It wants to upgrade those Echo users into Prime subscribers if they aren’t already (for even more music, since the services are weirdly fragmented from each other), and eventually turn new Echo-only music subscribers into fully dedicated Amazon Music customers. Instead of making it really, really easy to sign up for a music subscription that gives you everything you want on every device you own, it’s ensuring there are plenty of different ways for people to pay up for a tiny slice of that experience.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Lawmakers Warned That 10 Year Sentences Could Apply to File-Sharers

        The UK is currently forming new legislation that will harmonize sentences for offline and online piracy. While the theoretical 10-year maximum sentence is supposed to target only large-scale pirates, this week MPs were warned that wording in the Digital Economy Bill is not tight enough to exclude file-sharers.

      • Company Offers “Fraudulent” and Deceptive Copyright Registrations

        A ring of misleading websites is charging people to pay for copyright registrations in the UK, Australia and elsewhere, even though it’s a free and automatic right. In India, where there’s also an official registration office, the authorities are taking legal action to stop the “fraudulent” operation.


        Interestingly the Indian Copyright Office has now become the center of a rights dispute itself. As it turns out, the website copyright.in is offering ‘unofficial’ copyright registrations to Indians as well.

        The website in question offer users “anteriority proof for their copyrights” in 164 countries, charging roughly $10 for a copyright registration.

      • AllMyVideos.net to Shut Down, No Longer Profitable

        Video-hosting service AllMyVideos.net has announced that it will shut down its website next weekend. The operator says that it’s no longer profitable to host videos due to a lack of revenue and encourages users to back up their files before it’s too late.


Links 14/10/2016: 20th Birthday for KDE, Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3

Posted in News Roundup at 6:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Google offers baseball bat and some chains with which to hit open source software

    For a while now, Google’s Chrome team has had a fuzzing tool to help them find bugs in the browser before bounty hunters do. Now, Mountain View has decided the same techniques can be applied to open source software in general.

    The company’s emitted the first generalised version of its OSS-fuzz software at GitHub.

    A quick primer: fuzzing involves sending random data at a piece of software to crash it and capturing the conditions at the time of the crash.

    Chrome’s in-process fuzzing is described in this blog post, in which security engineer Max Moroz introduced libFuzzer.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Bringing the Power of the Internet to the Next Billion and Beyond

        At Mozilla, we believe the Internet is most powerful when anyone – regardless of gender, income, or geography – can participate equally. However the digital divide remains a clear and persistent reality. Today more than 4 billion people are still not online, according to the World Economic Forum. That is greater than 55% of the global population. Some, who live in poor or rural areas, lack the infrastructure. Fast wired and wireless connectivity only reaches 30% of rural areas. Other people don’t connect because they don’t believe there is enough relevant digital content in their language. Women are also less likely to access and use the Internet; only 37% access the Internet versus 59% of men, according to surveys by the World Wide Web Foundation.

        Access alone, however, is not sufficient. Pre-selected content and walled gardens powered by specific providers subvert the participatory and democratic nature of the Internet that makes it such a powerful platform. Mitchell Baker coined the term equal rating in a 2015 blog post. Mozilla successfully took part in shaping pro-net neutrality legislation in the US, Europe and India. Today, Mozilla’s Open Innovation Team wants to inject practical, action-oriented, new thinking into these efforts.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • 14 facts about Newton, OpenStack’s 14th release

      Last week the OpenStack community celebrated its 14th release, Newton. Packed with new features, fixes, and improvements, Newton offers substantial upgrades in a number of areas. The official software project page includes more detailed information about the specific changes with individual components.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3 released

      12 October 2016 – Apache OpenOffice, the leading Open Source office document productivity suite, announced today Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3, now available in 41 languages on Windows, OS X and Linux.

      Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3 is a maintenance release incorporating important bug fixes, security fixes, updated dictionaries, and build fixes. All users of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 or earlier are advised to upgrade.

  • BSD


    • Friday ‘Skeleton GNU’ Directory IRC meetup: October 14th

      Participate in supporting the FSD by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on freenode.

      Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

      While the FSD has been and continues to be a great resource to the world over the past decade, it has the potential of being a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

      This week we’re the ‘Skeleton GNU’ looking to beef up bares bones entries with more information. While even the most skeletal entry can be useful, the best ones have robust description, links to documentation and other resources. We’ll be looking for entries with minimal information, adding as much as we can and making sure they’re up to date.

  • Public Services/Government

    • “Netherlands lagging in transition to open government”

      The Dutch government is not doing enough to further its transition to an open government. It should step up its ambition in this area and start working on implementation. This was the main message from a meeting that the Standing Parliamentary Committee of the Interior had last month with the substitute Minister of the Interior Stef Blok on the National Action Plan Open Government 2016-2017 and the National Open Data Agenda (NODA).

    • US federal source code repository about to be launched

      The portal will serve as a software repository, i.e. a catalogue of all software the US government is procuring or building, and as a central place from which to disseminate a collection of tools, best practices, and schemas to help government agencies implement the policy. That makes this initiative closely related to the objectives of the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR) project of the European Commission, of which the publication of this news article is a part too.

      The source code for the code.gov portal itself has been made available under a Creative Commons Zero licence, thereby donating the code to the public domain. The public is invited to contribute to its (further) development.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Digital Republic Bill Uses Crowdsourcing To Promote Data Protection, Net Neutrality And Openness In France

      As the population of Internet users ages, this is likely to become a major issue. It’s good to see France tackling it head-on with the Digital Republic Bill — one of the few countries to do so. The proposed law now passes to the French Senate, but is unlikely to undergo any major modifications there, not least because it has already been subject to unusually wide consultation thanks to the innovative approach used in drawing it up.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7 & Clang Are Nearing Full C++1z/C++17 Support

      While C++17 hasn’t even been officially released yet, this specification also known as C++1z, has nearly all of the expected features implemented in the GCC 7 and Clang compiler releases.

      C++17/C++1z features had begun landing in the GNU Compiler Collection since GCC 5 while some functionality even dates back to GCC 4.8, but the GCC 7 SVN/Git code implements a majority of the new language features. Support for inline variables was the latest feature to be added while many other new language features were previously added to GCC 7 development that’s been open since April.

    • Taking PHP Seriously

      Slack uses PHP for most of its server-side application logic, which is an unusual choice these days. Why did we choose to build a new project in this language? Should you?

      Most programmers who have only casually used PHP know two things about it: that it is a bad language, which they would never use if given the choice; and that some of the most extraordinarily successful projects in history use it. This is not quite a contradiction, but it should make us curious. Did Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress, Etsy, Baidu, Box, and more recently Slack all succeed in spite of using PHP? Would they all have been better off expressing their application in Ruby? Erlang? Haskell?

      Perhaps not. PHP-the-language has many flaws, which undoubtedly have slowed these efforts down, but PHP-the-environment has virtues which more than compensate for those flaws. And the options for improving on PHP’s language-level flaws are pretty impressive. On the balance, PHP provides better support for building, changing, and operating a successful project than competing environments. I would start a new project in PHP today, with a reservation or two, but zero apologies.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Celebrating open standards around the world

      Today, October 14, is World Standards Day, an event reminding us both of the importance of standards in our day-to-day lives, and recognizing the efforts of the countless individuals and organizations around the globe who are working to create and promote these standards.


  • Hardware

    • VMS will be ready to run on x86 in 2019!

      VMS Software Inc (VSI), which became the custodian of the venerable OpenVMS in 2014, is getting close to its Holy Grail of running the OS on x86.

      HP had decided that the operating system it inherited from DEC was end-of-life back in 2013, but in 2014 signed over an exclusive licence to VSI.

      At that time, the company’s CEO Duane Harris said VSI’s “passion for taking OpenVMS into future decades” would see it ported to Itanium and then x86 architectures.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • FDA: Homeopathic teething gels may have killed 10 babies, sickened 400

      To practice homeopathy, one must master the skill of diluting things in water—an awe inspiring talent, no doubt.

      At its core, homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like,” and remedies are made by watering down selected poisons that cause or mimic the disease being treated. Practitioners must at least dilute those poisons until they’re safe for consumption, but often dilute them to the point that only plain water remains. Tossing aside the pesky rules of physics and chemistry, believers argue that water molecules have “memory.” Those liquefied ghosts of poisons can cure a wide range of ailments, from allergic reactions to HIV/AIDS, they say.

      Though Ars has previously pointed out that this pseudoscience is clearly a “therapeutic dead-end,” providing a placebo effect at best, Americans still spent $2.9 billion on them in 2007. Some may argue that such spending on expensive placebo water is harmless. But the discussion changes dramatically when federal regulators catch homeopaths that aren’t so skilled at the art of dilution.

    • Grand jury investigation sought over Snyder legal fees for Flint

      A former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party has asked the Ingham County Circuit Court to appoint a one-person grand jury to investigate Gov. Rick Snyder charging taxpayers for his criminal defense legal fees related to the Flint drinking water crisis.

      Snyder’s office says the contract in dispute — a $2-million contract with Warner Norcross of Grand Rapids — is lawful because the legal advice relates to actions Snyder took in his official capacity as governor.

      Mark Brewer held news conferences in Lansing and Flint on Wednesday to announce he had filed a complaint Tuesday against Snyder on behalf of Flint resident Keri Webber, arising from the lead contamination of that city’s drinking water.

    • Swedish coffee culture: How to take a fika

      Autumn marks the end of Sweden’s brief but glorious summer, yet it’s still a great time to visit. Despite the notoriously fickle weather, moody skies provide an excellent excuse for hanging indoors, indulging in the Swedish tradition of a coffee break called fika. Along with its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden is among the world’s top coffee consumers per capita, far exceeding the USA.

      All this coffee sipping has served to refine Sweden’s café culture, with traditional baked goods like cinnamon buns and cookies, perfectly matched to a fresh cup. The country even boasts a town devoted to the art of “taking a fika” or going “to fika.” (They use the word as both a noun and a verb).

      Fika does not have a literal English translation; rather, it’s a concept of getting a coffee, having it with cake or cookies, enjoying it with friends or co-workers, and chatting about topics other than work. It’s about breaking mentally and physically from the day-to-day grind and socializing with one’s community. Americans have their version, too: stand up, walk over to the Keurig, push a button, and return to the desk with a paper cup. Not in Sweden. You’d get the death stare for failing to give proper pause and appreciation for your food, drink and each other. Fika is so ingrained in the population, some believe the government decreed that companies allow employees a certain number of breaks per day. (Like recent internet chatter over the advent of the six-hour working day, this seems to be urban legend, too.)

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security updates
    • Guile security vulnerability w/ listening on localhost + port
    • Akamai Finds Longtime Security Flaw in 2 Million Devices

      It’s well known that the Internet of Things is woefully insecure, but the most shameful and frustrating part is that some of the vulnerabilities that are currently being exploited could have been eradicated years ago. Now evidence of how these bugs are being used in attacks is calling attention to security holes that are long overdue to be plugged.

      New research released this week from the content delivery network Akamai takes a closer look at how hackers are abusing weaknesses in a cryptographic protocol to commandeer millions of ordinary connected devices—routers, cable modems, satellite TV equipment, and DVRs—and then coordinate them to mount attacks. After analyzing IP address data from its Cloud Security Intelligence platform, Akamai estimates that more than 2 million devices have been compromised by this type of hack, which it calls SSHowDowN. The company also says that at least 11 of its customers—in industries like financial services, retail, hospitality, and gaming—have been targets of this attack.

      The exploited protocol, called Secure Shell (SSH), is commonly used to facilitate remote system access and can be implemented robustly. But many IoT manufacturers either don’t incorporate it or are oblivious to the best practices for SSH when setting up default configurations on their devices. As makers scramble to bring their products to market, these oversights sow widespread insecurity in the foundation of the Internet of Things.

    • IoT Devices as Proxies for Cybercrime

      However, WPS also may expose routers to easy compromise. Read more about this vulnerability here. If your router is among those listed as vulnerable, see if you can disable WPS from the router’s administration page. If you’re not sure whether it can be, or if you’d like to see whether your router maker has shipped an update to fix the WPS problem on their hardware, check this spreadsheet.

      Finally, the hardware inside consumer routers is controlled by software known as “firmware,” and occasionally the companies that make these products ship updates for their firmware to correct security and stability issues. When you’re logged in to the administrative panel, if your router prompts you to update the firmware, it’s a good idea to take care of that at some point. If and when you decide to take this step, please be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter: Failing to do so could leave you with an oversized and expensive paperweight.

      Personally, I never run the stock firmware that ships with these devices. Over the years, I’ve replaced the firmware in various routers I purchased with an open source alternative, such as DD-WRT (my favorite) or Tomato. These flavors generally are more secure and offer a much broader array of options and configurations. Again, though, before you embark on swapping out your router’s stock firmware with an open source alternative, take the time to research whether your router model is compatible, and that you understand and carefully observe all of the instructions involved in updating the firmware.

      Since October is officially National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it probably makes sense to note that the above tips on router security come directly from a piece I wrote a while back called Tools for a Safer PC, which includes a number of other suggestions to help beef up your personal and network security.

    • Microsoft says hackers have exploited zero-days in Windows 10′s Edge, Office, IE; issues fix

      Microsoft’s October Patch Tuesday fixes dozens of critical flaws, among them five affecting Internet Explorer, Edge, and Office that have already been under attack.

      Tuesday’s update addresses 49 vulnerabilities within 10 security bulletins. Five bulletins are rated as critical and concern remote code execution vulnerabilities affecting Edge, Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash Player, Office, Windows, and Skype for Business.

      According to Microsoft, there were four so-called zero-day flaws, or previously unknown bugs that were being exploited in the wild. However, none has been publicly disclosed before now.

      All these bugs serve as a reminder for users to be cautious when clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources.

    • Like it or not, here are ALL your October Microsoft patches

      Redmond kicks off the era of the force-fed security update


      Microsoft is kicking off a controversial new security program this month by packaging all of its security updates into a single payload.

      The October security release introduces Redmond’s new policy of bundling all security bulletins as one download. While more convenient for end users, who now get just one bundle, the move will irk many administrators, who had preferred to individually test and apply each patch to avoid compatibility problems.

    • A New Linux Trojan Called NyaDrop Threatens the IoT Landscape

      The Krebs DDoS attacks have proven that the IoT landscape is a fertile ground that can breed huge botnets capable of launching massive DDoS assaults. As such, it should be to no surprise that malware authors are now focusing their efforts on this sector and putting out new threats in the hopes of building the next Mirai botnet.

    • Amazon resets recycled user passwords out of precaution
    • Amazon Password Resets
    • As Amazon uncovers login credential list online, does controversial GCHQ password advice still stand?
  • Defence/Aggression

    • WikiLeaks reveals Hillary Clinton said US could ‘ring China with missile defense’

      Hillary Clinton privately said the US would “ring China with missile defense” if the Chinese government failed to curb North Korea’s nuclear program, a potential hint at how the former secretary of state would act if elected president.

      Clinton’s remarks were revealed by WikiLeaks in a hack of the Clinton campaign chairman’s personal account. The emails include a document excerpting Clinton’s private speech transcripts, which she has refused to release.

      A section on China features several issues in which Clinton said she confronted the Chinese while leading the US State Department.

    • Qatar gave Bill Clinton $1MILLION for his family’s foundation as a birthday present in 2012, WikiLeaks reveal

      Qatar, an Islamist state in the Persian gulf, gave former President Bill Clinton $1million for his birthday in 2012, according to emails released by WikiLeaks.

      According to a message that was released in the leak of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails this week, Ami Desai, director of foreign policy for the Clinton Foundation, told several other staffers about the check.

      ‘[Qatar] Would like to see WJC “for five minutes” in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011,’ Desai wrote. p

    • How Saudi Arabia spreads extremism — Medea Benjamin on the U.S. alliance and Yemen war

      Salon’s Ben Norton sat down with Medea Benjamin, the activist, author and co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK, to discuss her new book “Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.”

      Benjamin discusses the hypocrisy of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that brutally represses internal dissent and refuses to grant basic rights to women.

      Saudi Arabia spreads its extremist state ideology known as Wahhabism throughout the world. Benjamin notes that ISIS shares a similar fundamentalist ideology. As Salon has previously reported, recently released emails from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton show that, according to U.S. intelligence sources, the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported the Islamic State.

    • King of Thailand dead: World’s longest reigning monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies aged 88

      The world’s longest-reigning monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, has died aged 88, the palace has confirmed.

      The palace said the King passed away peacefully on Thursday at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital after a 70-year reign.

      Bhumibol Adulyadej became king in 1946 and was revered in Thailand as a demigod. He anchored the South-east Asian country through violent upheavals at home and communist revolutions next door, as well as a period of rapid development.

    • 5 Time Bombs Our Grandparents Planted (Are About To Go Off)

      All of human history has been one gigantic, ruinous circle jerk, with Mother Nature crouching awkwardly in the center. Previous generations accidentally ruined the entire planet, and it was up to us to fix their many environmental blunders. Now that we’ve learned from their mistakes and put them behind us, we can finally begin the long, slow process of healing. But the problem with putting something behind you is that it’s the perfect position for that thing to kick you in the ass when you’re not looking.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiTweaks

      The article was based on a 10 October 2016 piece penned by Eichenwald which went viral and has since been significantly edited. Daily News Bin asserted that Eichenwald “proved” the inauthenticity of “Podesta Emails” in his article, but what his piece actually claimed was that the Russian news outlet Sputnik had (deliberately) misreported the content of a leaked e-mail, and that Donald Trump’s repetition of that misreporting proved he was sourcing information fed to him by Russian propaganda outlets attempting to manipulate the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

    • Hacked WikiLeaks emails show concerns about Clinton candidacy, email server

      WikiLeaks released yet another batch of hacked emails from inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign Wednesday, and with them came another round of embarrassing headlines and new glimpses of internal anxiety over the candidate’s weaknesses.

      Republican Donald Trump and his allies seized on the emails, which reveal comments by an aide about Catholics, a line from a paid speech in which Clinton might be seen as playing down the threat of terrorism and an internal dispute over potential conflicts of interest posed by the Clinton Foundation.

      The drip-drip-drip of damaging attention is likely to continue. WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, began releasing new messages last Friday from the personal email account of Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and has promised to issue tens of thousands more.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • [Older] Bees Added To U.S. Endangered Species List For 1st Time

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given endangered status to seven species of yellow-faced bees native to the islands. These are “the first bees in the country to be protected under the Endangered Species Act,” according to the Xerces Society, which advocated for the new designation.

    • New pictures show Great Barrier Reef is not repairing itself as it should

      New images of the Great Barrier Reef have revealed the extent of the damage climate change has caused to the coral.

      The world’s largest reef system, which stretches for over 1,400 miles off the coast of Australia, has been severely affected by rising water temperatures.

      In May, researchers found more than a third of corals in central and northern parts of the reef had been killed and 93 per cent of individual reefs had been affected by a condition known as coral bleaching, where too warm water causes corals to expel algae living in their tissue and turn completely white. Corals depend on a symbiotic relationship with algae-like single cell protozoa, so when these are expelled they stop growing and often die.

  • Finance

    • Data Reveals the American Dream Is Alive and Well—in Canada

      If Donald Trump is to be believed, the so-called American dream—the one where you can start at the bottom of life’s proverbial ladder and wind up at the top—is dead. But take a closer look at the data: the story’s much more nuanced than that. Turns out that whether the American dream is dead or alive depends a whole lot on where you live.

      For instance, the American dream is alive and well—in Canada.

      Raj Chetty, an economist at Stanford University who studies economic mobility, described the American dream’s geography today at the White House Frontiers Conference, inspired by WIRED’s November issue guest-edited by Barack Obama. Chetty studies people’s movements up and down the economic pyramid and compares their trajectories to where they grew up. And in one way, he’s found that Trump is right. The United States is one of the toughest places to achieve economic mobility.

    • MPs urge ministers to ‘get a grip’ in midst of Southern strike woes

      MPs have attacked the government’s handling of rail franchises, saying passengers have been let down badly.

      A Transport Select Committee report cited the “woeful” experience of Southern passengers, who have faced months of industrial action and staff shortages.

      Ministers were urged to “get a grip” on monitoring rail franchise agreements.

      The Department for Transport (DfT) said improving Southern services was a priority for the government.

      The RMT union, which is locked in a bitter dispute with the rail operator over the future role of conductors, said the report was an indictment of the failure of rail privatisation.

      It was published as Southern timetables returned to normal after a three-day strike by union members.

      A further 11 days of strikes are planned before Christmas.

      Southern’s owners, Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) said the report covered many issues already in the public domain.

    • Finance Ministry mulls further corporate tax cuts [iophk: "it's not working so do it more!"]

      The Finnish government is considering a further reduction in corporate tax rates. Three years ago, the previous administration attempted to boost business competitiveness by dropping the rate from 24.5 percent to 20 percent. Although the move would take a big bite out of government’s tax take, it hopes that a dynamic effect on the corporate sector will make up for the losses.

    • Barroso ‘Goldman Sachs’ petition handed to EU officials

      A petition started by EU employees against former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso with more than 150,000 signatures has been handed to officials in Brussels.

      They want action to be taken against Barroso for joining Goldman Sachs, a bank that helped Greece hide the true extent of its budget deficit and sold toxic subprime mortgage products in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

      The petition says he should be stripped of his EU pension and other perks awarded to former leaders of the institution.

      Officials who signed the petition have called Barroso’s appointment to the US investment bank as “a gift for eurosceptics.”

      Amid the Barroso uproar, former Commissioner Neelie Kroes was found to be listed as a director of an offshore fund in Bahamas during her tenure in Brussels.

      There is no suggestion either have done anything illegal, but it underlines the blurry EU ethics rules.

    • EU staff blocked from delivering Barroso petition

      The European Commission has refused to accept a petition drafted by EU employees urging it to end the “revolving door” between its top management and big business.

      The appeal was launched after former commission president Jose Manuel Barroso landed a top job at US investment bank Goldman Sachs, and has now been signed by 152,000 people.

    • The Most Important WikiLeaks Revelation Isn’t About Hillary Clinton

      The most important revelation in the WikiLeaks dump of John Podesta’s emails has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. The messages go all the way back to 2008, when Podesta served as co-chair of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team. And a month before the election, the key staffing for that future administration was almost entirely in place, revealing that some of the most crucial decisions an administration can make occur well before a vote has been cast.

      Michael Froman, who is now U.S. trade representative but at the time was an executive at Citigroup, wrote an email to Podesta on October 6, 2008, with the subject “Lists.” Froman used a Citigroup email address. He attached three documents: a list of women for top administration jobs, a list of non-white candidates, and a sample outline of 31 cabinet-level positions and who would fill them. “The lists will continue to grow,” Froman wrote to Podesta, “but these are the names to date that seem to be coming up as recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.”

      The cabinet list ended up being almost entirely on the money. It correctly identified Eric Holder for the Justice Department, Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security, Robert Gates for Defense, Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff, Peter Orszag for the Office of Management and Budget, Arne Duncan for Education, Eric Shinseki for Veterans Affairs, Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services, Melody Barnes for the Domestic Policy Council, and more. For the Treasury, three possibilities were on the list: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner.

    • WikiLeaks: Clinton Called Common Core a ‘Political Failure’ in Speech

      Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the Common Core State Standards a “political failure” in a speech to an education technology company, according to excerpts published by WikiLeaks earlier this week.

      And in the same speech, Clinton expressed skepticism that most politicians actually will be able to exert a lot of influence on K-12 policy.

      Clinton gave the speech about the common core to Knewton, an adaptive-learning company, in 2014, according to the document posted by WikiLeaks, an organization that published information the group says points to government and corporate misconduct. The Clinton campaign has not confirmed the authenticity of the speech excerpts and other material posted by WikiLeaks, and has charged that hackers linked to the Russian government illegally obtained the material related to Clinton and the campaign. We reached out to Knewton to see if it would confirm that Clinton delivered the speech excerpts published by WikiLeaks, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.

    • Austerity Fan Olli Rehn Appointed to Bank of Finland Board

      Olli Rehn was named to the board of the Bank of Finland, putting the former chief advocate of European austerity on track for a spot in the decision-making body of the European Central Bank.

      The 54-year-old, who was the EU’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner before becoming economy minister in Finland, will take up his new position on Feb. 1, 2017, the Helsinki-based Parliamentary Supervisory Council said in a statement. Marja Nykanen, the current deputy director general of Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority, was also appointed to the board for a five year term.

      As board member of Finland’s central bank, Rehn will be able to shape the Nordic country’s stance on ECB monetary policy. He will also be in a good position to replace Bank of Finland Governor Erkki Liikanen after his second and final seven-year term expires, in 2018.

    • Ex-EU economic chief Rehn chosen for Finnish central bank board

      Oct 14 Finland’s Olli Rehn, the former top economic official of the European Union, has been selected for a board seat at the Bank of Finland, a move which means he must resign from the country’s government, the central bank’s supervisory council said.

      Rehn is currently Finland’s minister of economic affairs.

    • “Ahtisaari and Holmsröm seem to have an elitist view of labour markets”

      Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari has warned that the stubbornness of trade unions has become a threat to the welfare state.

      Heikki Taimio, a senior researcher at the Labour Institute for Economic Research (PT), has pointed out that both of the two recent Nobel Prize Laureates from Finland, Martti Ahtisaari and Bengt Holmström, have, on the one hand, expressed their support for the welfare state and, on the other, criticised the trade union movement.

      Taimio points out that studies conducted in several countries have found a link between income inequality and declining trade union membership.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Media Bias And The Death Of Intellectual Honesty, Doubling Down

      Yesterday we wrote about the bizarre story of Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald completely overselling his story about Trump repeating some misinformation that was printed by a Russian news site. I won’t replay the whole thing, but the short version: WikiLeaks released a cache of Clinton campaign boss John Podesta’s emails. In them was an email from Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal, with a link and text of an Eichenwald piece. Some people — first on Twitter, apparently, and then in an article on the Russian site Sputnik News — misrepresented the email in two ways. First, they took a single sentence of the long article out of context and second, they attributed that one sentence to Blumenthal instead of Eichenwald. Then, Donald Trump, at a rally, repeated the false claim that Blumenthal had said this. Again, there is a story here: Trump is willing to repeat false information from sketchy sources (whether Twitter or a Russian news organization). That’s interesting (though, perhaps not a new revelation).

      But Eichenwald massively oversold the piece, with a massive tweetstorm repeatedly suggesting that it proved a connection between Russia and the Trump campaign — even falsely claiming that “only” the Russians and Trump had the same info, despite it being public on WikiLeaks. He also kept claiming that this showed the email was “manipulated.” Except it wasn’t. It was just misrepresented, perhaps on purpose, or perhaps just being oversold by those in search of a good story — just like Eichenwald did. Eichenwald had also suggested that this proved WikiLeaks was connected to the Russians as well, though it appears he’s since deleted those tweets.

    • Libertarians and Greens Can Win—Even If They Lose

      Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have a difficult task—though this election year it might be easier than most. The trick for third parties in American politics is convincing voters that they aren’t “wasting” ballots by supporting the Libertarian or Green Party candidate, since neither will make it to the White House.

    • 8 Less Known Trump Stories That’d Derail Any Other Campaign

      During an election cycle in which the Republican nominee has urged voters to check out a nonexistent sex tape, accused Mexico of sending us rapists, slyly hinted that Second Amendment fans should “handle” his opponent (with their guns), and — oh yeah — admitted to being a zealous “pussy”-grabber, it’s easy to forget that those horrific moments were only the tip of the shit-stained iceberg that’s been the Trump campaign. Funny story: Trump’s own staff wanted to hire a private investigator to get a heads up on this stuff ahead of time, and Trump was too cheap / arrogant / busy planning his next gaffes to pay for it.

    • A Modest Proposal for an Immodest Campaign
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Blogger Amos Yee starts serving 6-week jail term

      Blogger Amos Yee on Thursday (Oct 13) surrendered himself at the State Courts to begin serving a six-week jail term – his second prison sentence for wounding religious feelings.

      The 17-year-old was sentenced two weeks ago, on Sept 29, but was allowed to defer his jail term.

      He had pleaded guilty to eight charges – two for failing to turn up at a police station and six for intending to wound the feelings of Muslims and/or Christians.

      On July 6 last year, Yee was given four weeks’ jail for making remarks that were derogatory and offensive to Christians in an online video and for uploading an obscene image on his blog.

      But he was released the same day as the punishment was backdated to include his time in remand. He had spent about 50 days in prison after repeatedly breaching bail conditions.

    • Beijing said Facebook and Google are welcome back to China as long as they “respect China’s laws”

      Will Facebook and Google come back to China? The Chinese government says they can, as long as they “respect China’s laws.”

      Yesterday at a press conference held in preparation for the upcoming World Internet Conference, a Bloomberg reporter asked Ren Xianliang, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (which oversees internet governance) if the government would permit the two American internet giants to re-enter China. Both companies still have business-facing services in China, but Google effectively closed its consumer-facing search engine there in 2010, and authorities have blocked Facebook’s social network since 2009.

    • Charles Harder Sends Ridiculous Threat Letter To People On Behalf Of Melania Trump

      Oh Charles Harder. You just keep supplying more and more fodder for Techdirt stories. You may remember Harder as the lawyer thrust into the public realm after Peter Thiel allegedly bankrolled him to start a new law firm with a focus on taking on any lawsuit that might help bring down Gawker. Having succeeded in bringing down Gawker through dubious lawsuits, Harder has moved on (well, not entirely) to bigger fish, including Roger Ailes and Melania Trump.

      And while Donald Trump has been focusing his defamation threats mostly on the NY Times, Melania and Harder have decided to focus on People Magazine. As you probably have heard by now, among the fairly long list of articles that came out on Wednesday and Thursday involving women saying that Donald Trump sexually assaulted (or engaged in other sketchy behavior) was a really disturbing story at People Magazine, where People writer Natasha Stoynoff wrote about Trump pushing her against the wall and kissing her, while she was there to interview both Donald and Melania. In fact, Stoynoff claims that the assault happened during a break in the interview with the couple, while a pregnant Melania had gone upstairs to change.

      Some people had been asking how Melania had been reacting to this story, which (unlike many of the other accusations) much more closely involved her, in that it took place while she was in the home and happened to a reporter who was writing a story on the couple. Well, now we know. Melania tweeted out a retraction demand to People written by Charles Harder. And it’s even more ridiculous that Harder’s usual threat letters. The crux of it is that Melania denies a few unimportant side details of the article around Stoynoff’s claim that she ran into Melania a year or so later, after she’d left the Trump beat (because of Trump’s actions).

    • As Donald Trump Ramps Up Threats To Sue Newspapers, A Reminder Of Why We Need Free Speech Protections

      Just last week, we discussed Donald Trump’s ridiculous and almost instinctual reaction to threaten to sue the media any time they write something about him that he dislikes. That’s now how defamation law works, and Trump should know since he’s sued for defamation a few times in the past, and lost. Of course, Trump has also flat out admitted that he sometimes sues for defamation just to cost opponents money, which is the classic definition of a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit.

      This is all quite relevant today, seeing as a whole bunch of stories broke in the past 24 hours or so about Trump, mainly focusing on claims by women of (frankly) horrific things he’s accused of doing to them (and, again, we’re not a political site, and I’d really, really appreciate it if the comments on this post don’t go down a political path, even if I know such a request is unlikely to be respected). Trump and his lawyers immediately started threatening to sue. The main target so far is the NY Times, which published the first major story, focusing on the allegations of two women.

    • Academic freedom lecture explores ‘the right to be forgotten’

      Personal privacy and free expression in the online world often are seen as competing interests, but they are not incompatible and actually work together, according to a leading scholar and advocate in electronic privacy law.

      Marc Rotenberg, president and chief executive officer of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, made that case Thursday when he delivered the 26th annual University Senate Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom.

      “My view has always been that privacy and freedom of expression are deeply intertwined, that you can’t actually have true intellectual freedom without the ability to protect privacy,” said Rotenberg, who also is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

      Acknowledging his view is controversial, he walked his audience in the Law School’s Honigman Auditorium through the details of a 2014 case before the European Court of Justice — Google vs. Spain, which Rotenberg referred to as “the right to be forgotten.”

      In that case, a Spanish citizen had filed for bankruptcy and subsequently paid off his debts, but not before the bankruptcy was reported in a local newspaper. Many years later, after the paper’s archives had been digitized online, the man asked that the information be removed, arguing it was no longer relevant.

    • Love, language and censorship – the bittersweet appeal of Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons
    • Good-time Censorship of Language and Your Brain

      En.M.Wikipedia.org: “Orwell explains that the Party [State] could not protect its iron power without degrading its people with constant propaganda. Yet knowledge of this brutal deception, even within the Inner Party itself, could lead to the implosion of the State. Although Nineteen Eighty-Four is most famous for the Party’s pervasive surveillance of everyday life, this control means that the population…including the ruling elite – could be controlled and manipulated merely through the alteration of everyday thought and language. Newspeak is the method for controlling thought through language; doublethink is the method of directly controlling thought.”

      With the shockingly apparent “dumbing down” of Americans everywhere—from so-called, university ‘stoonts’, to uneducated, or de-educated, street rioters, the usable, traditional language is reduced, corrupted, and replaced.

    • Gitmo Judge Approves Retroactive Censorship of Open-court Hearings

      The 9/11 trial judge has ruled that government censors can retroactively seal public war court testimony, saying state secrets sometimes slip through Camp Justice’s special national security screening system.

      In doing so, Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge, rejected a challenge brought last year by 17 news organizations to a Pentagon transcript of an Oct. 30, 2015, hearing that blacked out swaths of open-court testimony.

      “Given the scope of classified information involved in this case, occasional unintentional disclosure of classified information during commission proceedings is inevitable. Spillage, however, does not equal declassification,” Pohl wrote in a 12-page ruling. It was dated Oct. 3 but recently made public on the Pentagon war court website.

      At issue was five hours of uncontested open-court testimony by a Colorado National Guard soldier about restrictions on using female guards in the 9/11 case. Reporters, Sept. 11 families and other members of the public heard a soldier called “Staff Sgt. Jinx” testify on a 40-second audio delay designed to let the judge or a court security officer mute the sound if anyone spilled national security secrets.

    • Liberals decry arts censorship

      Opposition politicians Thursday heaped blistering criticism on President Park Geun-hye and her ruling camp over the allegation that the presidential office created a blacklist of dissenting artists to deny them state support.

      Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, whose supporters in art circles were allegedly included in the blacklist, urged the National Assembly to investigate the scandal, saying that if found to be true, President Park should be impeached.

      “I can’t tolerate it anymore. If the same thing had happened in western democracies, their Cabinet would have stepped down,” said Park on his Facebook account. “It reminded me of Watergate. It is the epitome of power abuse.”

      The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea’s former leader Moon Jae-in joined the criticism, denouncing the scandal as something that makes the government “feel ashamed” and shows “how ignorant” the Park administration has been about cultural affairs.

    • Sultan al-Qassemi: Arab artists are key amid censorship

      UAE-based commentator says artists are key in absence of civil society, free media and political parties in Arab world.

      “To Be Continued,” a 2009 video installation by the Palestinian artist Sharif Waked, features a young, handsome fighter sitting at a table with an assault rifle and a book. Behind him, a flag adorned in Quranic text and images of two guns is pinned to the wall.

      The scene is reminiscent of dozens of videos to emerge in recent years of fighters who recite their will or deliver a political message before an attack. But listen carefully. He is reading a familiar tale, not declarations of war. Played by the Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, the fighter reads an excerpt from One Thousand and One Nights.

      As the story goes, queen Scheherazade spent each night recounting the folk tales to her husband, who planned to execute her the following morning. To prolong her life, she broke off the story each night before it ends. By depicting the “living martyr” as Scheherazade, Waked jolts the viewer into questioning the dominant narrative of the moment of sacrifice.

      The artwork, acquired last year by the Guggenheim Museum, was one of around 60 pieces discussed by Sultan al-Qassemi at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar’s capital on Thursday.

    • YouTube censoring videos from conservative group

      In the latest example of bias against conservatives, YouTube is censoring videos from conservative group PragerU by placing them on “restricted mode.”

      The category, which is applied to videos that may contain “potentially objectionable content,” was applied to 21 PragerU videos, the group announced on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

      The group has created a petition to get YouTube to stop the censorship, and has already received more than 20,000 signatures. The 21 videos account for 10 percent of PragerU’s video collection, and include videos asking: “Are the Police Racist?” “Are 1 in 5 Women Raped at College?” and “Is America Racist?”

      PragerU, or Prager University, is the brainchild of radio host Dennis Prager, and offers short, five-minute videos about a range of topics presented from a Judeo-Christian and conservative perspective. The videos use slick graphics and statistics to summarize complex issues such as racism and foreign policy.

    • Is YouTube censoring Prager University?
    • Why Is YouTube Censoring 21 Educational Videos From PragerU?
    • YouTube Has Blacklisted Dozens of Educational Videos From Conservative PragerU
    • Group Claims YouTube Is Restricting PragerU Educational Videos
    • When fascism comes to America
    • The absurd face of China’s censorship: Bookstore tears out Taiwan page from Webster’s
    • The absurd face of China’s censorship: Bookstore tears out Taiwan page from dictionaries
    • Strict censorship: Pakistan bans Christian TV channels, hits religious freedom in country
    • Pakistan bans 11 Christian TV channels in ‘sweeping attack on religious freedom’
    • Pakistan Bans 11 Christian TV Stations, Leaving Believers With No Media Presence
    • Pakistan Steps Up Persecution With Ban On 11 Christian TV Stations
    • Christian TV networks in Pakistan ordered to close over lack of permits
    • Pakistani archbishop says Christians fight persecution with dialogue
    • Changing Faces of Censorship
    • Free-speech panelists say college campuses need dialogue
    • ‘The K2′ Called Out By Censorship Board For Controversial Scenes; Series Still Going Strong With Higher Weekend Ratings
    • Is Censorship Curbing Innovation In Southeast Asia?

      The outlook of the Southeast Asian startup market so far in 2016 is best described as “evolving”.

    • The demonisation of Louis Smith: This is how a de facto blasphemy law works

      The castigation of a British gymnast for ‘mocking Islam’ is illustrative of a troubling return of blasphemy, argues Stephen Evans.

      If you’ve been following the hounding of British Olympic gymnast Louis Smith this week, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that blasphemy laws were abolished in England back in 2008.

      The very public castigation of the British gymnast is illustrative of the troubling return of blasphemy. As the former Strictly Come Dancing winner has discovered – and to his immense cost – Britain’s bourgeoning ‘culture of offence’ is ensuring that any action deemed likely to offend religious sensibilities, but particularly Muslim sensibilities, is strictly taboo.

      The ‘offending’ footage, published by The Sun shows him with fellow gymnast Luke Carson drunkenly goofing around yelling “Allahu Akbar” and mocking aspects of Islamic belief.

      Condemnation came swiftly from Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation, who asserted “our faith is not to be mocked” and called on Smith to “apologise immediately”.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook shuts down ads for an entire country

      The social network said it has turned off ads in Thailand following the death of the country’s deeply revered king. It’s the first time Facebook has imposed an ad blackout for a whole country.

      King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 70-year reign came to an end on Thursday when he died at the age of 88. Facebook (FB, Tech30) said in a post that removing ads is “a cultural custom” during the mourning period.

      It admitted that it doesn’t yet know how long Thailand will be mourning the king, whose unifying appeal stretched across Thai society.

    • Tor Project and Mozilla Making It Harder for Malware to Unmask Users

      Generally, the Tor network provides a high level of protection and anonymity for its users. So much so that law enforcement agencies, instead of attacking the network itself, have opted to hack individual users’ computers, or end-points. This way, investigators have learned Tor users’ IP addresses.

      But the Tor Project, the nonprofit that maintains the Tor software, and the team behind Mozilla’s Firefox, have quietly been working on improvements that, they say, should make such attacks more difficult. By tweaking how the browser connects to the Tor network, malware designed to unmask users may have a harder time doing so.

      “We’re at the stage right now where we have created the basic tools and we’re working on putting them together to realize the security benefits,” Richard Barnes, Firefox Security Lead, told Motherboard in an email.

      As Barnes explained, the Tor Browser is basically made up of two parts: a modified version of Firefox, and the Tor proxy, which routes the browser’s traffic into the Tor network. Usually, the Firefox part also has network access, as it needs this to talk to the proxy.

    • Open Sorcerers: Can you rid us of Emperor Zuck?

      Back in the dot com heyday, around 1999 and 2000, Linux and open source conferences were huge events: they were packed and brimming with excitement. There was optimism, new initiatives in every conceivable direction, and anything seemed possible. Move over, Grandad: everything traditional was going to be up-ended by open source.

      The logic that innovation gets “sedimented” (the great buzzword of the day) into open protocols and code was very seductive at the time. (“Sedimented” really meant “copied”, but has a geological flavour to make it look inevitable, like a natural element.)

      Some of us wanted to believe it – but we couldn’t put aside a few nagging doubts. There was no shortage of talent, but we wondered how you’d motivate a developer to do the really boring stuff like write and maintain whatever-the-open-source-equivalent-of-SAP would be. Bug-fixing is tedious on sexy software – who’d want to do it for dull commercial data processing? Not only was the whatever-the-open-source-equivalent-of-SAP not there, but nobody in the room knew what it was.

    • EFF’s Challenge Of NSL Gag Orders Reaches The Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals

      In a rather quick turnaround, the EFF has had its brief [PDF] it filed under seal in September unsealed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief challenges the FBI’s use of gag orders with its National Security Letters — the administrative subpoenas the FBI issues to recipients without having to run them by a judge.

      Unfortunately, the brief has been heavily redacted and both the appellee and appellant remain undisclosed. The filing challenges NSL gag orders, claiming them to be unconstitutional infringements on the First Amendment. The EFF is arguing on behalf of its redacted clients, both “electronic communications providers.”

      Beyond preventing the providers from informing the FBI’s targets that their communications/data are being turned over to the government, the EFF points out that the gag orders have been stopping them from discussing these limitations with Congress — even to the point of correcting bad information given to legislators by the FBI itself.

    • No Matter Who’s Elected, Surveillance Powers And Programs Unlikely To Be Scaled Back

      The Times is far too kind to Clinton. (No one really needs to rehash Trump’s inability to form coherent sentences when discussing policy…) Clinton may be more measured, but what she has discussed suggests a return to form when Obama exits office. A return to GEORGE W. BUSH form, really — basically another 4-8 years of post-2001 fear-based legislating, like her predecessor engaged in.

      After the attack in Orlando, Clinton joined Trump in calling for expanded watchlists and denial of Constitutional rights to those placed on them. She has occasionally hinted at vague surveillance reform, but has also made it clear Snowden should hop on the next plane home and spend some time in prison. She has also suggested tech companies partner with the government to create backdoors in encryption — but in an imaginary “safe” way that won’t threaten their customers’ security. And she’s made it clear that deploying the military is a perfectly acceptable response to state-led cyberattacks.

      Either way the election goes, the surveillance business will remain as usual. This is troubling, due to the fact that Section 702 — which authorizes the NSA’s internet backbone-based surveillance dragnet PRISM — is up for renewal at the end of next year. With recent revelations about Yahoo’s very proactive surveillance assistance generating some interesting questions about what the NSA can or can’t do under this authority, it would be nice to have someone in the White House that would amplify these concerns, rather than help drown them out.

    • Verizon Wants $1 Billion Discount After Yahoo Scandals, Still Fancies Itself The New Google

      With wireless and fixed-line broadband growth slowing, Verizon has been steadily expanding into new growth territories to try and please insatiable investors. So far, that apparently includes buying failed 90s internet brands like Yahoo and AOL in the belief that it can somehow become a Millennial advertising juggernaut. Except that hasn’t been going particularly well, as the stodgy old telco realizes that it’s kind of hard to innovate when you’ve spent the last thirty years bumbling about as a government-pampered telecom monopoly almost solely focused on turf protection.

    • New GCHQ unit: Psst, breached biz bods. We won’t rat you out to the ICO

      The new National Cyber Security Centre is pitching itself to CEOs as a friendly government organisation which won’t get the regulators involved after data breaches.

      Those gathered this morning on the 18th floor of 125 London Wall heard one of the NCSC’s deputy directors address CEOs on how they should lead their businesses’ recovery from cyber attacks—and it was primarily by contacting NCSC, a part of GCHQ.

      Peter Yapp, the deputy director for the incident management directorate, explained how his role worked: “If something [regarding a cyber incident and your company] breaks in the press, I’ll get a call from someone in government,” he said, and he would be expected to explain what the incident meant.

      “If you haven’t phoned me and told me about it, I will phone you,” stated Yapp.

      “It is worth telling me about the most serious incidents,” he told his audience, acknowledging that these were difficult to define, before comforting them: “We do not tell the ICO what you tell us.”

    • Scotland Yard, Terrorism, and Encryption: How wording of charges contain hidden layers designed to shape public opinion

      Several people objected to the claim that “Scotland Yard says HTTPS is terrorism” by asserting that Scotland Yard is following the law to the letter. Maybe they are, but that wasn’t the point of the rather harsh (and admittedly oversummarizing) headline the other day – the point is that the terrorism case discussed has very nasty undertones that need to be understood, addressed, and countered. This is best understood through examples from other times.

      Two days ago, I posted about Scotland Yard’s case against an alleged terrorist, and how part of the terrorism charges were for the act of “developing an encrypted version of a blog site”, which sounds like publishing a WordPress over HTTPS. It probably is publishing a WordPress over HTTPS, but even if it weren’t, those charges could easily describe that act going forward, once this case is settled.

    • Police Use Surveillance Tool to Scan Social Media, A.C.L.U. Says

      A Chicago company has marketed a tool using text, photos and videos gleaned from major social media companies to aid law enforcement surveillance of protesters, civil liberties activists say.

      The company, called Geofeedia, used data from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as nine other social media networks, to let users search for social media content in a specific location, as opposed to searching by words or hashtags that would be less likely to reveal an exact location.

      Geofeedia marketed its abilities to law enforcement agencies and has signed up more than 500 such clients, according to an email obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. In one document posted by the organization, as part of a report released on Tuesday, the company appears to point to how officials in Baltimore, with Geofeedia’s help, were able to monitor and respond to the violent protests that broke out after Freddie Gray died in police custody in April 2015.

    • US start-up Geofeedia ‘allowed police to track protesters’

      Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have revoked access to their data to an analytics firm accused of selling information that allowed US police to track activists and protesters.

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Chicago-based Geofeedia had allowed police to “sneak in through a side door” to monitor protests.

      Geofeedia said it was committed to the principles of personal privacy.

      It comes amid growing concern about government access to social media.

      ACLU said Geofeedia had been marketing its services to police agencies to help track activists using location data and social media posts.

      The group said it had seen internal documents in which Geofeedia said that it “covered Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success,” referring to protests which erupted in 2014 after an unarmed African-American man was shot dead by police.

      “The ACLU of California has obtained records showing that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram provided user data access to Geofeedia, a developer of a social media monitoring product that we have seen marketed to law enforcement as a tool to monitor activists and protesters,” the group said in a statement.

      “We know for a fact that in Oakland [California] and Baltimore [Maryland], law enforcement has used Geofeedia to monitor protests.”

    • Your Social Media Fingerprint

      Without your consent most major web platforms leak whether you are logged in. This allows any website to detect on which platforms you’re signed up. Since there are lots of platforms with specific demographics an attacker could reason about your personality, too.

    • Verizon expresses doubts about Yahoo! deal

      Yahoo! has said it is confident about its value after Verizon expressed doubts that the deal to acquire the search pioneer could collapse in the face of the data breach that saw 500 million accounts exposed.

      On Thursday, Verizon’s general counsel Craig Silliman told a group of reporters that the data breach could trigger a clause in the US$4.83 billion deal that would allow his employer to back out.

      This clause says Verizon can pull out if a new event “reasonably can be expected to have a material adverse effect on the business, assets, properties, results of operation or financial condition of the business”.

      Yahoo! said in a statement: “We are confident in Yahoo!’s value and we continue to work toward integration with Verizon.”

    • The Attention Merchants: a deep dive into the origins of the surveillance economy

      Tim Wu is a multiple threat: the originator of the term “net neutrality”; a copyfighting lawyer who cares about creator’s rights; a fair use theorist; Zephyr Teachout’s running mate in the NY gubernatorial race; an anti-monopolist who joined the NY Attorney General and used open source to catch Time Warner in the act; a lifelong deep nerd who was outraged by the persecution of Aaron Swartz, and the author of one of the seminal books on telcoms policy and human rights.

      Now, he’s back with his best book yet: The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, an erudite, energizing, outraging, funny and thorough history of one of humanity’s core undertakings — getting other people to care about stuff that matters to you.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Documentary Filmmaker Faces Up to 45 Years in Prison for Covering Pipeline Protest

      In the same week that activist and celebrity Shailene Woodley was arrested while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a documentary producer was arrested at yet another pipeline protest and charged with conspiracy.

      Deia Schlosberg, producer of the 2016 film “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change,” was following the actions of activists in North Dakota who were protesting against a pipeline. Both activists and documentarian Schlosberg were arrested by police and charged with conspiracy to commit theft of property and services.

      Protesters were attempting to take matters into their own hands and planned to physically stop the flow of crude oil through valve stations at five locations on Tuesday. Schlosberg attended the event in order to document the protest – something a journalist often does.

      The filmmaker continues to be held in jail and all three arrested appeared in court on Thursday for a bond hearing. None were bailed and they all remain in police custody.

    • Asia Bibi blasphemy appeal adjourned in Pakistan as judge pulls out

      The long-awaited final appeal of a Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws has been adjourned after a judge said he could not hear the case.

      Justice Muhammad Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, one of three judges who met amid heightened security in Islamabad to hear the appeal, said he could not rule on whether Asia Bibi’s 2010 conviction for insulting the prophet Muhammad should stand because of his involvement in a related case.

      The supreme court judge said he had overseen the appeal hearing of Mumtaz Qadri who was convicted of murdering Salmaan Taseer, a leading liberal politician who had campaigned for Bibi to be released.

      Bibi’s laywer, Saif-ul-Mulook, said it would probably take weeks or months for a replacement judge to be found and for the appeal to be rescheduled.

      Bibi was accused of blasphemy after rowing with two Muslim women in her village in Punjab in 2009. The lawyer said the case against her was weak, not least because the testimony of the women was contradicted by other witnesses and did not meet the high standard of proof demanded by Islamic law.

    • Pakistan delays Christian woman’s blasphemy appeal after judge steps down

      Pakistan’s Supreme Court delayed an appeal into the infamous blasphemy case against Asia Bibi, the Christian mother on death row, on Thursday after one of the judges stepped down.

      Security was beefed up in Islamabad with police and troops stationed across the capital as the court readied to hear a final appeal in the case of Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2010. Observers had warned of “tremendous” repercussions in the case.

      But one of the three-judge bench, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, told the court he had to recuse himself, claiming a conflict of interest.

      “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that,” he told the court, which was overflowing with journalists, lawyers, activists and clerics.

    • Dr. Walter Rodney: Revolutionary Intellectual, Socialist, Pan-Africanist and Historian

      Walter Rodney demonstrated that it is not inevitable for intellectuals to perpetuate exploitation. They have the option of committing “class suicide.”

    • Journalist Amy Goodman to Turn Herself in to North Dakota Authorities

      October 13, 2016 – Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, charged with criminal trespassing for filming an attack on Native American-led pipeline protesters, will turn herself in to North Dakota authorities on October 17.

      Amy Goodman will surrender to authorities at the Morton County–Mandan Combined Law Enforcement and Corrections Center at 8:15 a.m. local time (CDT).

    • Documentary Filmmaker Faces Up to 45 Years in Prison for Covering Pipeline Protest

      In the same week that activist and celebrity Shailene Woodley was arrested while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a documentary producer was arrested at yet another pipeline protest and charged with conspiracy.

      Deia Schlosberg, producer of the 2016 film “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change,” was following the actions of activists in North Dakota who were protesting against a pipeline. Both activists and documentarian Schlosberg were arrested by police and charged with conspiracy to commit theft of property and services.

      Protesters were attempting to take matters into their own hands and planned to physically stop the flow of crude oil through valve stations at five locations on Tuesday. Schlosberg attended the event in order to document the protest – something a journalist often does.

    • North Dakota needs to immediately drop its outrageous charges against journalist Amy Goodman

      Award-winning journalist and the host of Democracy Now, Amy Goodman, has been facing an outrageous arrest warrant in North Dakota for “criminal trespass” since early September—the result of her merely doing her job as a reporter and covering police violence against oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota.

      Today, she announced she would return to the state in order to turn herself in and contest the charges on Monday.

      “I will go back to North Dakota to fight this charge,” she said. “It is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” said Goodman. “I was doing my job as a journalist, covering a violent attack on Native American protesters.”

    • North Dakota must drop outrageous charges against journalist Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now”

      Today, she announced she would return to the state in order to turn herself in and contest the charges on Monday.

      “I will go back to North Dakota to fight this charge,” she said. “It is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” said Goodman. “I was doing my job as a journalist, covering a violent attack on Native American protesters.”

    • Filmmaker Arrested At Pipeline Protest Facing 45 Years In Felony Charges

      documentarian arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest on Tuesday has been charged with three felony conspiracy charges ― and could face decades in prison if convicted.

      Deia Schlosberg, the producer of the upcoming documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change,” was detained while filming a protest against TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota. Activists at the event, associated with the group Climate Direct Action, shut down the pipeline, which carries oil from Canadian tar sands to the U.S, for about seven hours.

      Two of the protestors, Michael Foster and Samuel Jessup, were also charged and Schlosberg’s equipment and footage from the event was confiscated. Schlosberg said shortly after being released on bond that she couldn’t comment on her arrest until she spoke to a lawyer.

      She has been charged with three felonies: conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences.

    • How Not to Think About Drone Policy

      Today, The Oklahoman published an editorial that serves as a good example of how not to think about drone policy. According to The Oklahoman editorial board, a proposed drone weaponization ban was a solution in search of a problem, and concerns regarding privacy are based on unjustifiable fears. This attitude ignores the state of drone technology and disregards the fact that drones should prompt us to re-think privacy protections.

    • How Soon Before Armed Drones Are Overhead in America? Time Now.

      Protocols exist allowing the president to select American citizens, without a whit of due process, for drone killing.

      Only overseas, he says, but you can almost see the fingers crossed behind his back. Wouldn’t an awful lot of well-meaning Americans have supported an aerial drone killing in San Bernardino, or at the Pulse club in Orlando? Didn’t many support using a robot to blow up a suspect in Dallas?

      How soon before armed drones are over our heads?

    • Judge Tears Apart Law Enforcement’s Ridiculous Assertions About ‘Suspicious’ Behavior

      This opinion — written by Texas appeals court judge Brian Quinn — is a breath of fresh air for those of us who have watched as courts have continually deferred to law enforcement officers and their declarations that nearly everything drivers do — or DON’T do — is “suspicious.”

      It’s also a slap in the face of those same law enforcement officers — the ones who use their “experience and training” to find nearly any action, or lack thereof, to be supportive of a warrantless search.

    • High court overturns lifetime bans for Trojan horse teachers

      The high court has thrown out the lifetime bans imposed by the Department for Education on two teachers caught up in the Trojan horse controversy.

      The decision is a latest setback for the DfE in its handling of allegations of Islamic influence at Park View secondary school in Birmingham dating back to 2014, and may hinder disciplinary hearings against others still under way.

      In Birmingham’s high court the judge, Stephen Phillips, overturned the ban imposed against two former Park View teachers, Inamulhaq Anwar and Akeel Ahmed, on the grounds of “serious procedural impropriety”, because of the DfE’s failure to reveal evidence used in other cases to the pair.

      The two teachers were appealing against findings of unacceptable professional conduct by a disciplinary panel of the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), and their lifetime bans from teaching which were imposed by the education secretary earlier this year.

    • How Iran’s war on internet freedom saw a web developer branded a paedophile and jailed for life

      October 4 marked eight years since the life of Iranian web developer Saeed Malekpour turned into a nightmare. Saeed Malekpour is a graduate of Iran’s prestigious Sharif University, and a permanent Canadian resident who was pursuing a PhD in Canada.

      On that day in 2008, while visiting Iran to see his sick father, Saeed was snatched from a Tehran street in broad daylight and stuffed into the back of a car. He was blindfolded, beaten, and then taken to a detention centre to be brutally tortured both physically and psychologically. His torturers said they wouldn’t stop torturing him until he “confessed”. The bizarre crime he was asked to confess to? “Running a network of porn sites”.

      Saeed had no idea what they were talking about, or why they would accuse him – in particular – of such a thing. He was unfortunate enough to be a freelance web developer and open-source programmer in 2008 – the same year in which the blogging scene peaked in Iran, and the same year the Iranian regime decided to “fight back” against the right of Iranians for free expression, by creating their own “cyber army”.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Facebook plans to extend Free Basics internet service to Americans – report

      Facebook is planning to extend its controversial Free Basics service, which offers a free but limited internet access to people who don’t have it, to the US.

      The social networking company has been in talks with the White House and wireless carriers about introducing the program in a way that doesn’t attract the criticism and regulatory scrutiny it has faced elsewhere, according to a report in the Washington Post.

      Free Basics, which started life as Internet.org, is an app that provides users with access to Facebook-curated online services, such as news, employment and health education. These services are “zero-rated”, which means that users don’t get charged for the data.

      The company intended to provide a means for the world’s poorest people to access the benefits of the internet without having to pay for expensive data plans, but it attracted criticism for cherry-picking websites instead of giving people unfettered access to the web.

      Proponents of net neutrality, who say that internet service providers should not get to pick and choose which online services count against data caps because it gives an unfair advantage to those that are zero-rated. Free Basics was banned in India under net neutrality rules following a 11-month public debate – an expensive blow for Facebook.

    • Dutch net neutrality law goes too far say critics

      The Dutch Senate has passed the revised Net Neutrality Law as part of an amendment to the country’s Telecommunications Act. The strict new law seeks to ensure that telcos and ISPs treat all internet traffic equally and cannot favour one internet app or service over another. Opponents, however, say the legislation, which was approved by the lower house of parliament in May this year, is overly severe and is out of line with the EU’s own open internet standards.

      Afke Schaart, Vice President Europe at mobile industry body the GSMA, commented: ‘We are greatly disappointed with the outcome of today’s vote. We believe that the Dutch Net Neutrality Law goes far beyond the intent of the EU regulation. We therefore call on the European Commission to ensure the harmonised implementation of Europe’s Open Internet rules.’ The GSMA says the tighter laws in the Netherlands will ‘hinder development of innovative services and consumer choice’.

    • Verizon Punishes Techs That Try To Repair DSL Customers It No Longer Wants

      For decades Verizon has enjoyed billions in tax breaks and subsidies in exchange for fiber optic upgrades the telco either partially or never actually deploys. Now, for the last half decade or so, the telco has been trying to hang up on these unwanted, un-upgraded DSL customers entirely as it shifts its focus to more profitable (read: usage capped) wireless service. Well, that and buying up old and uninteresting 90s internet brands in a quest to become the next media and advertising juggernaut (note: it’s not going all that well).

      While it’s understandable that Verizon executives want to migrate to higher-growth sectors, there’s a few problems. Most of these networks were built on the backs of taxpayers, and the “burdensome regulations” governing them exist in many instances to ensure nobody can unceremoniously disconnect phone service from the elderly. And Verizon has been far from ethical as it tries to back away from networks that should have been upgraded years ago, even going so far as to refuse to repair them after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.

      Pennsylvania is one of several states where Verizon nabbed billions in subsidies, didn’t do all that much with it, and now wants to just walk away from frustrated broadband customers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • A close look at survey methodology for proof of acquired distinctiveness

        The grounds for the German Federal Court of Justice’s decision in the Sparkassen Group/Banco Santander dispute over the validity of Sparkassen’s colour mark “red” (HSK 13) for financial services, namely retail banking, have been published last week. The 46-page judgment takes a very close look at the proper methodology of consumer surveys designed to prove acquired distinctiveness. Since no less than four surveys were submitted by the parties, two by each side, the Court had a wealth of material to work with.

    • Copyrights

      • Who’s On (The) Second (Circuit)… And Why Are They Screwing Up Copyright Law?

        So, last year, we wrote about the ridiculous situation in which the heirs of Abbott and Costello had sued for copyright infringement over a broadway play, Hand to God. In that play, which is a dark drama, and not a comedy, about a puppeteer, there’s a scene in which the puppeteer performs a bit of the famous “Who’s On First?” routine with puppets. The district court wasted little time in dumping the lawsuit. As we detailed in our first post, the copyright issues here were already somewhat complex for a variety of reasons. The short version is that (1) lots of comedy teams performed the same basic act before Abbott & Costello, and (2) the “copyright” is not actually for the whole routine, but rather two separate performances in two separate movies, where Abbott & Costello did (different) versions of the act. It is true that Universal Pictures transferred whatever copyright interest it might have in those two scenes to the heirs of Abbott & Costello in 1984, but it was never clear what copyright they could actually claim in those particular scenes & whether or not it had been properly registered and renewed.

        The district court sided with the producers of Hand to God based on fair use, skipping over the more thorny question of whether or not there was a copyright at all. Basically, the court (correctly) noted at the motion to dismiss stage that it needed to interpret things in the most favorable manner to the plaintiff, and thus it would just assume that the copyrights were valid, and said that even if the copyrights were valid, fair use would lead the case to be dismissed.

      • US Chamber Of Commerce Complains About People ‘Pirating’ The Presidential Debate

        The US Chamber of Commerce is somewhat infamous for its dishonest and misleading claims about copyright, which are often so ridiculous as to be laughable.

      • NATO Chief Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Deal With iPic
      • Theater Association Boss Reminds Theater Owners, Netflix To Stay In Their Own Lanes

        There’s probably a tad more defensiveness than usual in NATO’s statement. Now that there’s a group containing respected directors and producers backing a day-and-date release startup, the “threat” is more substantial than a few streaming providers whose libraries have been stripped to nearly nothing by major studios over the last few years.

        Theaters aren’t going to go away completely. Under-performers who can’t offer an experience worth leaving the house for will fall by the wayside, but day-and-date releases will only slightly hasten their demise. If there were more experimentation, everyone involved might find new ways to make money. But as long as people like Fithian are in charge, nothing will move forward. It a small roll out of Netflix films to theaters — solely for the purpose of allowing the streaming company to get some entries in the Oscar race — results in these sorts of statements, any chance of studios and theaters moving on from traditional windowed releases is still a long way off.

      • Insanely Popular YouTuber KSI Goes F****ing Ballistic at Movie Pirates

        One of the most popular YouTubers on the planet has launched a prolonged, four-letter word-laden attack on fans who pirated his movie. Olajide “JJ” Olatunji, Jr., aka KSI, went off the deep end after people started tweeting him links of Laid in America on torrent sites. Trouble is, KSI is also a pirate.

      • RIAA: CloudFlare Shields Pirates and Frustrates Blocking Efforts

        The RIAA has submitted its most recent overview of “notorious markets” to the U.S. Government. As usual, the music industry group lists various torrent sites, download portals and stream ripping sites as direct threats. In addition, it points out that these sites are becoming harder to take enforcement action against, since they increasingly use CloudFlare.

EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part V: “Siegfried Bross as President of the Boards of Appeal!”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Siegfried Broß
Image courtesy: campact.de

Summary: Retired judge Siegfried Broß is jokingly named as the person who should head the independent Boards of Appeal that keep the Office in check

In the first, second, third and fourth parts we gave away pretty much all the information which we are safe to publicly share. There is more that we know, but now isn’t the best time to speak on all matters. The EPO will certainly issue some face-saving statement some time very soon. Don’t trust it. The EPO’s statements have had a 100% track record of lying as of late (unless they speak of some major tragedy in an opportunistic appeal for sympathy). Here is a recent classic.

“The EPO’s statements have had a 100% track record of lying as of late (unless they speak of some major tragedy in an opportunistic appeal for sympathy).”“I am hearing some very encouraging news from the EPO today,” I stated earlier tonight, and “I will write about this later.” Whatever the EPO may say today (or later than today), we are prepared to rebut/correct/respond. “Danish journalists get interested,” we have meanwhile been told regarding the situation. In fact, we have been in touch with some. Will the press write about the latest issues or has the media been paid enough to be thoroughly gagged across Europe (self-censorship and spiking of important stories)? We shall see…

One person asked the other day: “Are there any news about the fate of the suspended member of the BoA?”

Well, it seems as though it’s forever limbo for him, at least while Battistelli stays in power and his term is not officially over. Frankly, after making some jokes about it (not especially quote-worthy) the subject of the BoA’s member’s new boss came up, then more notably (albeit still rather funny, maybe not by intention) a response to a comment mentioned here the other day:

“VP4 has applied for the job as President of the Boards of Appeal”

Siegfried Bross as President of the Boards of Appeal! – who’s with me?

VP4 is Battistelli’s ‘bulldog’ and Siegfried Broß, whom we wrote about several times before, is like the ‘anti-Battistelli’. Here is a polite reply to this:

Siegfried Bross as President of the Boards of Appeal! – who’s with me?

Certainly not Blatterstelly and his chums in the Admin Council.

The Prof. has publicly exposed them as the parcel of rogues that they are:


And the Procurator-General of the EPO, VP5 is also likely to take a dim view of the public criticism of that exquisite Corsican delicacy “la justice à la sauce Battistelli”:


With enemies like that his prospects of securing the job – were he interested it – would be sub-zero.

But someho I doubt whether the good Professor would even be interested in a role as a second-grade Kapo in the wilderness of Haar.

Whatever happened next at the EPO, it sure looks like Battistelli’s plans come tumbling down and he just isn’t getting his way anymore. Siegfried Broß, who was on Bavarian television and Juve (several times on this topic, which he is very familiar with), often compared the situation at Eponia to that of Guantánamo Bay. Could Eponia be redeemed before the entire Office (and Organisation which recognises "a crisis") becomes a footnote of history? We certainly hope so. Eponia needs to recognise, respect, accept, follow, obey, and/or embrace the Rule of Law.


EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part IV: When ~1,200 EPO Workers March in Protest and European Politicians Say “Battistelli Must Go”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli liar
Source (original): Rospatent

Summary: Battistelli’s reign of terror at the European Patent Office (EPO) has brought the Office to a boiling point and no magnitude of lies cover the harsh reality which workers are protesting against

In the first, second and third parts we showed that EPO watchdogs (at least in principle, not in practice) were starting to show their teeth to Battistelli and not because they were begging for more dental treatments but because this ‘pack of wolves’ is turning against the President, not against independent judges and staff representatives. The fangs are starting to show. This is the “Turning Point” the headline in this series refers to. The "Social Conference" propaganda/stunt clearly has not been as effective as Battistelli hoped. It’s just a scandalous waste of money. Battistelli should have been immediately sacked a long time ago (many sackable offenses from him and frequent violations of the Code of Conduct).

“The “Social Conference” propaganda/stunt clearly has not been as effective as Battistelli hoped.”Some information about the The Hague demonstration was sent to us earlier today. “About 600 colleagues gathered today peacefully in The Hague to again and again request fairness and justice at EPO,” told us this source, “this after another demonstration in Munich where also ca. 600 colleagues gathered to ask for the same.”

“On 13 October,” said a different source, “about 550 to 600 colleagues gathered in the center of The Hague in front of the office of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Dutch MP John Kerstens and French MP Philip Cordéry made supportive speeches in front of the protesters. Another well-attended demo.”

See the pictures that we published earlier on. It’s quite revealing and they prepared some nice, professional-looking signs.

“Pressure at work, prohibition of the right to strike, redundancies among staff and so many other daily humiliations in total violation with the basic principles of labour law.”
      –MP Philip Cordery
“Dutch MP John Kerstens and French MP Philip Cordery,” told us one of the sources, “were again supportive of the demonstrants since they care for fundamental rights.”

Yes, both have a good track record which we wrote about before.

Here is a post from MP Philip Cordery’s timeline, posted today on his Facebook wall. Original French text: “J’étais aujourd’hui avec les salariés de l’Office européen des brevets pour exprimer mon ras-le-bol de la gestion autoritaire de l’institution par le président Batistelli. Pressions au travail, interdiction du droit de grève, licenciements de réprésentants du personnel et tant d’autres humiliations quotidiennes en violation totale avec les principes élémentaires du droit du travail. Ca suffit. Batistelli doit partir. Les gouvernements et la commission europeenne doivent prendre leurs responsabilités et agir vite avant qu’un autre drame se produise.

“NB. J’ai été obligé de flouter la photo pour protéger les salariés qui ont eu le courage de venir à la manifestation. Je veux leur assurer de mon soutien plein et entier. On ne vous laissera pas tomber.”

English translation: “I was today with the employees of the European patent office to express my ras-Le-Bowl of the authoritarian management of the institution by president Battistelli. Pressure at work, prohibition of the right to strike, redundancies among staff and so many other daily humiliations in total violation with the basic principles of labour law. That’s enough. Battistelli must go. Governments and the European commission must take their responsibilities and act fast before another tragedy occurs.

“That’s enough. Battistelli must go.”
      –MP Philip Cordery
“NB. I was forced to blurring the photo to protect the employees who have had the courage to come to the event. I want to assure them of my full support. We will not let you fall.”

“GOOD NEWS,” another person wrote regarding the claims covered in part 3. “It seems that as the result of a coordinated effort by the AC delegates, both the Investigation and Disciplinary guidelines proposed by the EPO have been removed from the AC agenda. The first, CA 52/16 rev.1,  as a result of the somewhat unfruitful discussion in the B28 (B28/12/16) and the second, CA 53/16 rev.1 as the result of a long controversial debate in plenum today. It might even happen that the AC will implement at least part of its March Resolution in the December Council. Let’s be optimistic!”

So therein we have yet more corroboration of what happened. This sounds promising.

“So therein we have yet more corroboration of what happened.”Another demonstration and possibly more news are on the way.

“I have seen a report from a staff rep,” wrote to us yet another source. “It is, as you say, excellent news.”

“I will provide you with more news as soon as I get new information,” told us a source. There will probably be a lot of talking about this around the water cooler (to use the idiom), the cafeteria, or whatever. The emperor is naked, the king is undressed and all that malarkey….

It’s nearly 6AM here, so it must be 7AM CET. The difference between “today” and “yesterday” is truly beginning to blur.

“I learned about a lot more details of the AC meeting,” told us one person. “But I cannot share it with you now since I don’t want to expose my source to any risk, and it is not yet confirmed. I guess, you will get that information tomorrow from other of your usual sources.”

“No respectable politicians seem to want to affiliate/associate with Battistelli anymore.”Yes, we do keep an eye of things and we are aware of things that we cannot even publish yet.

“Long story short,” as I said earlier today (publicly), Battistelli’s days at the EPO may be numbered and he seems to be in trouble. He failed to implement any of the changes demanded 6 months ago. King for a year? Maybe two years? His career is destroyed now for sure. The guy is now associated with 0% approval rating from his own (well-paid) staff and never-ending lies. No respectable politicians seem to want to affiliate/associate with Battistelli anymore.

The next and final part (for tonight/today) will give workers reasons for optimism and maybe even laughter.

EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part III: How Benoît Battistelli Planned to Expand His Attacks on EPO Staff (But Failed)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli: “An Earthquake Would be Needed for the Administrative Council… Not to Support My Major Proposals.”

Battistelli's plan - page 1

Battistelli's plan - page 2

Summary: Battistelli’s plans to destroy the careers of people who stand in the way of his misguided ambitions have fallen on deaf ears and he was forced to backtrack, which is unusual but not entirely unprecedented

IN part one, the introduction, we spoke about the EPO protest at The Hague (earlier today, more photos here).

“Has Battistelli’s time run out? Will the large nations (EU member states) realise that he — not those whom he accuses — is the villain who needs dismissing?”Denmark — like The Netherlands — still has a rather controversial monarchy culture (same as here in the UK), so it’s not entirely shocking — perhaps even expected — that a man with a name like Kong-Stad (kong in Danish means king) overlooks Battistelli’s bad behaviour, which resembles the behaviour of kings. Look at who Jesper Kongstad hangs out with — people who wear dead animals on them and call it a “fashion”.

Based on information we have been receiving, Mr. Kongstad might have to change his behaviour. Has Battistelli’s time run out? Will the large nations (EU member states) realise that he — not those whom he accuses — is the villain who needs dismissing? It sounds as though the big EU/non-EU nations are no longer willing to be lied to, bamboozled, manipulated, and 'bought' by Battistelli. The remainder of the series will shed some light on what is going on behind closed doors, based on reliable sources of ours.

We begin by showing what Battistelli was hoping to accomplish.

“It’s quite revealing that Battistelli didn’t have an easy time.”“B28/12/16 contains the “SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS” of the Board 28 meeting on 22 September 2016. The president insists that the judge of the Boards of Appeal (Disciplinary Case D1/15) will be accused again (item 3),” a source told us. We will certainly expect more of that as Battistelli sinks deeper and deeper in the mud or the quicksand.

Above is the text in the form the above images (included to help reassure readers that it’s not faked as we have a 100% track record of not uploading forged or manipulated material).

Also see a few pages of CA/52/16 Rev. 1 (Investigation Guidelines [PDF]). “The recent IP Watch,” our source told us, “cites a passage of item 7. The German delegation criticised the President’s view of “the right to be silent“ in CA/52/16 Rev. 1 + additional documents (which is Battistelli’s proposal for the new Investigation Guidelines). Have a look at item 27 and Article 21a “Ethics and compliance” (5) of CA/52/16 Rev. 1.”

“So quite a few sources are telling us the same thing.”It’s quite revealing that Battistelli didn’t have an easy time. Ernst et al never gave Battistelli too much leeway. “Latest Rumors from the EPO’s Administrative Council Meeting Held in Munich on the 12 & 13 October,” another person told us, are quite revealing. We have actually been in touch with quite a large number of sources and this helps us corroborate or ascertain some claims.

“We have to wait till tomorrow for confirmed news about the latest AC,” one person told us, but we keep saying we will wait until it’s all confirmed. What about the rumours? Are they not worth airing already? We cannot emphasise strongly enough that this is — at least for now — an article that is mostly based on rumours, with confirmation yet to be made, e.g. in the official statements, reports, meetings, etc.

“Are “earthquakes” as he once called them starting to happen in Germany?”“Here is the information I got from an insider,” one person told us. “I hear now [that] three papers were withdrawn. The Board of Appeals building, investigation guidelines, disciplinary measures.”

“Seems the bigger countries all piled in against the president,” this source added, dubbing it “Excellent news!”

“I can confirm 2 documents,” added this source, “but I hope that the 3rd document about the Board of Appeals building will also be confirmed! One delegate said two [some time] this morning. The third was during the discussion today.”

“I can say the following,” another source told us. “Battistelli made a last-ditch attempt to propose a revision to the investigation guidelines where he continued to insist that the accused should have no right to remain silent because the European Convention of Human Rights didn’t cover Disciplinary Proceedings. It turned out he wasn’t telling the truth. After resistance from Board 28 he was forced to withdraw the document from the agenda.”

So quite a few sources are telling us the same thing. What a disaster for Battistelli and a fiasco that damages his credibility even within the upper circles at the Administrative Council. Are “earthquakes” as he once called them starting to happen in Germany? We shall say more about that in the next part.

EPO Administrative Council Meeting Turning Point – Part II: More Photos From Today’s Protest at The Hague

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Today’s demonstration by EPO staff at The Hague, in pictures

Protest at The Hague

Protest at The Hague

Protest at The Hague

Protest at The Hague

EPO Caricature: EPO-Funded PwC on EPO Happiness

Posted in Europe, Humour, Patents at 10:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PwC on EPO

Summary: A new cartoon about the so-called Social Conference of the EPO

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