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08.16.16

A Surge of Staff Complaints About the European Patent Office Drowns the System, Disservice to Justice Noted

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 8:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Self-explanatory graphs about the state of the justice [sic] system which is prejudiced towards/against EPO workers, based on internal reports

EPO justice 1

EPO justice 2

EPO justice 3

EPO justice 4

EPO justice 5

EPO justice 6

If EPO management cannot guarantee justice to its own staff, will it ever guarantee justice to patent holders (defendants and plaintiffs)?

Links 16/8/2016: White House Urged by EFF on FOSS, Go 1.7 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Why private clouds will suffer a long, slow death

      Analyst firm Wikibon believes that no vendor is making more than $100 million via OpenStack. If that’s anywhere near true, the sum total of all vendors has to be less than $2 billion.

    • M$ Shoots Foot, Again

      Not being able to sell software unbundled from hardware is a terrible deficit in a world where people are building open servers.

    • Microsoft: Why we had to tie Azure Stack to boxen we picked for you

      Microsoft has explained the rationale behind last month’s announcement that you won’t be allowed to simply download Azure Stack and get going.

      In July Redmond informed fans the only way they’d be able to get Azure in their own data centres would be on hardware of its choosing.

      Specifically, Azure Stack will only come pre-installed on pre-integrated servers from Dell, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Lenovo. Other OEMs, we’re promised, will follow.

      The Dell, HP and Lenovo will come “sometime” in 2017. Azure Stack had been expected by the end of 2016, but the work with to produce integrated systems will mean a delay.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds Announces the Second Linux Kernel 4.8 Release Candidate Build

      As expected, Linus Torvalds made his Sunday announcement for the second RC (Release Candidate) build of the upcoming Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now available for public testing.

      Linux kernel 4.8 entered development last week, when the merge window was officially closed and the first Release Candidate development milestone released to the world. According to Linus Torvalds, the second RC build is here to update more drivers, even more hardware architectures, as well as to fix issues for supported filesystems and add some extra mm work.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks Now Requires Qt 5.5 or Later, Build 5.25.0 Updates Breeze Icons

        The KDE project announced this past weekend the release of KDE Frameworks 5.25.0, another monthly update to the collection of over 70 add-ons for the Qt5 GUI toolkit and the latest KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment.

        KDE Frameworks 5.25.0 comes in time for the recently released KDE Plasma 5.7.3 maintenance update of the modern and widely used Linux desktop, promising to update many of the core components, including but not limited to Attica, which now follows HTTP redirects, the Breeze icon set with lots of additions, extra CMake modules, KDE Doxygen tools, KXMLGUI, KWindowSystem, and KWidgetsAddons.

        KDE apps like KTextEditor, KArchive, and Sonnet received bugfixes and other improvements in the KDE Frameworks 5.25.0. The release also comes with many other updated components, among which Plasma Framework, NetworkManagerQt, KXMLGUI, KCoreAddons, KService, Kross, Solid, Package Framework, KNotification, KItemModels, KIO, KInit, KIconThemes, KHTML, KGlobalAccel, KFileMetaData, and KDeclarative.

      • Chakra GNU/Linux Users Get KDE Plasma 5.7.3, Mozilla Firefox 48.0 & Wine 1.9.16

        Chakra GNU/Linux maintainer Neofytos Kolokotronis has been happy to inform the community about the availability of the latest KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment and software applications in the main repositories of the distribution.

        We bet that Chakra GNU/Linux users have been waiting for this announcement for quite a while now, and the main reason for that is the KDE Plasma 5.7.3 desktop environment, which brings a month’s worth of bug fixes, updated language translations, and improvements to many KDE apps and core components.

        In addition to the KDE Plasma 5.7.3 desktop environment, Chakra GNU/Linux users can now install some of the latest open-source applications, among which we can mention the Oracle VirtualBox 5.1.2 virtualization software, SQLite 3.13.0 SQL database engine, LibreOffice 5.1.5 office suite, Mozilla Firefox 48.0 web browser, and Wine 1.9.16.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Report of GUADEC 2016

        So this year was our first GUADEC, for both Aryeom (have a look at Aryeom’s report, in Korean) and I. GUADEC stands for “GNOME Users And Developers European Conference”, so as expected we met a lot of both users and developers of GNOME, the Desktop Environment we have been happily using lately (for a little more than a year now). It took place at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MParted 19.0 Distrolette Now In Beta, Based on 4MLinux 19.0 and GParted 0.26.1

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki informs Softpedia today, August 15, 2016, about the availability of the first public Beta release of the upcoming 4MParted distrolette people can use to partition disk drives independent of a computer OS.

      • Server-Oriented Alpine Linux 3.4.3 Lands with Kernel 4.4.17 LTS, ownCloud 9.0.4

        The Alpine Linux development team is happy to announce the release and general availability for download of the third maintenance update to the Alpine Linux 3.4 series of server-oriented operating systems.

      • First Beta of Black Lab Linux 8 “Onyx” Hits the Streets, Based on Ubuntu 14.04.5

        Until today, Black Lab Linux 8.0 “Onyx” has been in the Alpha stages of development and received a total of four Alpha builds that have brought multiple updated components and GNU/Linux technologies, but now the Ubuntu-based operating system has entered a much more advanced development state, Beta, and the first one is here exactly six months after the development cycle started.

        “Today the Black Lab Linux development team is pleased to announce the release of Black Lab Linux 8 ‘Onyx’ Beta 1. Bringing us one step closer to our goal of a stable, secure, and long term supported Linux desktop for the masses. ‘Onyx’ Beta 1 is a culmination of over 6 months of user collaboration and feedback,” says Roberto J. Dohnert, Black Lab Software CEO.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 Goes Stable with KDE Plasma 5.6.5 and Linux Kernel 4.6.5

        Softpedia was informed by the OpenMandriva team about the general availability of the final, production-ready release of the OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 operating system.

        OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 has been in development for the past four months, as the first Alpha build got released sometime in the third week of April 2016. Since then, the hard working development team behind this open source project have managed to keep up with the latest GNU/Linux technologies and software releases, so that they can bring you an usable and up-to-date computer OS.

        “OpenMandriva Lx is a cutting edge distribution compiled with LLVM/clang. Combined with the high level of optimization used for both code and linking (by enabling LTO) used in its building, this gives the OpenMandriva desktop an unbelievably crisp response to operations on the KDE Plasma 5 desktop which makes it a pleasure to use,” reads the announcement.

      • OpenMandriva 3.0, Google Linux Snub, TCP Vulnerability

        OpenMandriva Lx 3.0 was announced Saturday with Linux 4.6.5, Plasma 5.6.5, and systemd 231. An early reviewer said he liked OpenMandriva but Plasma not as much. Elsewhere all anyone can seem to talk about is Google’s decision to use something other than Linux to power its next embedded devices and a TCP vulnerability that could allow remote hijacking of Internet traffic. Patrick Volkerding has upgraded the toolchain in Slackware-current and Red Hat security expert said you can’t trust any networks anywhere.

    • Slackware Family

      • Zenwalk Linux 8.0 – A more Zen Slackware

        There were a few things I enjoyed about Zenwalk 8.0 and several I did not. Before getting to those, I want to acknowledge that Zenwalk is, in most ways, very much like Slackware. The two distributions are binary compatible and if you like (or dislike) one, you will probably feel the same way about the other. They’re quite closely related with similar benefits and drawbacks.

        On the positive side of things, I like that Zenwalk trims down the software installed by default. A full installation of Zenwalk requires about two-thirds of the disk space a full installation of Slackware consumes. This is reflected in Zenwalk’s focused “one-app-per-task” approach which I feel makes it easier to find things. Zenwalk requires relatively little memory (a feature it shares with Slackware) and, with PulseAudio’s plugin removed, consumes very few CPU cycles. One more feature I like about this distribution is the fact Zenwalk includes LibreOffice, a feature I missed when running pure Slackware.

        On the other hand, I ran into a number of problems with Zenwalk. The dependency problems which annoyed me while running Slackware were present in Zenwalk too. To even get a working text editor I needed to have development libraries installed. To make matters worse, the user needs a text editor to enable the package manager to install development libraries. It’s one of those circular problems that require the user to think outside the box (or re-install with all software packages selected).

        Other issues I had were more personal. For example, I don’t like window transparency or small fonts. These are easy to fix, but it got me off on the wrong foot with Zenwalk. I do want to acknowledge that while my first two days with Zenwalk were mostly spent fixing things, hunting down dependencies and tweaking the desktop to suit my tastes, things got quickly better. By the end of the week I was enjoying Zenwalk’s performance, its light nature and its clean menus. I may have had more issues with Zenwalk than Slackware in the first day or so, but by the end of the week I was enjoying using Zenwalk more for my desktop computing.

        For people running older computers, I feel it is worth noting Zenwalk does not offer 32-bit builds. The distribution has become 64-bit only and people who still run 32-bit machines will need to turn elsewhere, perhaps to Slackware.

        In the end, I feel as though Zenwalk is a more focused flavour of Slackware. The Slackware distribution is multi-purpose, at least as suited for servers as desktops. Slackware runs on more processor architectures, has a live edition and can dump a lot of software on our hard disk. Zenwalk is more desktop focused, with fewer packages and perhaps a nicer selection of applications. The two are quite similar, but Slackware has a broader focus while Zenwalk is geared to desktop users who value performance.

      • New Toolchain on Current

        Patrick is now upgrading basic toolchain in current branch. The basic trio combination (GCC, GLIBC, and Kernel) are normally the first one to update since it will be used as a base for next Slackware release.

        GCC is now upgraded to 5.4.0, which is the latest version for 5.x branch. Their latest version is at 6.1 while their development version is at 7.0.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Booting Lenovo T460s after Fedora 24 Updates
        • Flock 2016
        • Ideas for getting started in the Linux kernel

          Getting new people into OSS projects is always a challenge. The Linux kernel is no different and has it’s own set of challenges. This is a follow up and expansion of some of what I talked about at Flock about contributing to the kernel.

          When I tell people I do kernel work I tend to get a lot of “Wow that’s really hard, you must be smart” and “I always wanted to contribute to the kernel but I don’t know how to get started”. The former thought process tends to lead to the latter, moreso than other projects. I would like to dispel this notion once and for all: you do not have to have a special talent to work on the kernel unless you count dogged persistence and patience as a talent. Working in low level C has its own quriks the same way working in other languages does. C++ templates terrify me, javascript’s type system (or lack there of) confuses me. You can learn the skills necessary to work in the kernel.

        • Żegnajcie! Fedora Flock 2016 in words

          From August 2 – 5, the annual Fedora contributor conference, Flock, was held in the beautiful city of Kraków, Poland. Fedora contributors from all over the world attend for a week of talks, workshops, collaboration, fun, and community building (if you’re tuning in and not sure what Fedora is exactly, you can read more here). Talks range from technical topics dealing with upcoming changes to the distribution, talks focusing on the community and things working well and how to improve, and many more. The workshops are a chance for people normally separated by thousands of miles to work and collaborate on real issues, problems, and tasks in the same room. As a Fedora contributor, this is the “premier” event to attend as a community member.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Elive 2.7.2 Beta Is Out with Spotify Support, Improved Artwork, and Thunar Fixes

          On August 14, 2016, the Elive development team was proud to announce the release and immediate availability of yet another Beta version of the Elive Linux operating system.

          Elive 2.7.2 comes only three weeks after the release of the previous Beta build, version 2.7.1, to implement out-of-the-box support for the popular Spotify digital music service, giving users direct access to millions of songs if they have a paid subscription, and a much-improved artwork, as both the system and icon themes were enhanced.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Show Off Converged Terminal App Design

            Reshaping the classic terminal app to fit multi-form factor world isn’t easy, but it’s the task that the Canonical Design team face as part of their work on Unity 8.

          • Canonical Plans on Improving the Ubuntu Linux Terminal UX on Mobile and Desktop

            Canonical, through Jouni Helminen, announced on August 15, 2016, that they were planning on transforming the community-developed Terminal app into a convergent Linux terminal that’s easy to use on both mobile phones and tablets.

            Terminal is a core Ubuntu Touch app and the only project to bring you the popular Linux shell on your Ubuntu Phone or Ubuntu Tablet devices. And now, Canonical’s designers are in charge of offering a much more pleasant Linux terminal user experience by making Terminal convergent across all screen formats.

            “I would like to share the work so far, invite users of the app to comment on the new designs, and share ideas on what other new features would be desirable,” says Jouni Helminen, Lead Designer at Canonical. “These visuals are work in progress – we would love to hear what kind of features you would like to see in your favorite terminal app!”

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Coffee Shop DevOps: How to use feedback loops to get smarter
  • How to design your project for participation

    Working openly means designing for participation. “Designing for participation” is a way of providing people with insight into your project, which you’ve built from the start to incorporate and act on that insight. Documenting how you intend to make decisions, which communication channels you’ll use, and how people can get in touch with you are the first steps in designing for participation. Other steps include working openly, being transparent, and using technologies that support collaboration and additional ways of inviting participation. In the end, it’s all about providing context: Interested people must be able to get up to speed and start participating in your project, team, or organization as quickly and easily as possible.

  • Events

    • Open Source//Open Society Conference Live Blog

      This conference offers 2 huge days of inspiration, professional development and connecting for those interested in policy, data, open technology, leadership, management and team building.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • So long, Firefox Hello!

        After updating my PCLinuxOS install, I noticed that the icon of Firefox Hello had changed: it was read and displayed a message reading “Error!”

        I thought it was a simply login failure, so I logged in and the icon went green, as normal. However, I noticed that Hello did not display the “Start a conversation” window, but one that read “browse this page with a friend”.

        A bit confused, I called Megatotoro, who read this statement from Mozilla to me. Apparently, I had missed the fact that Mozilla is discontinuing Hello starting from Firefox 49. Current Firefox version is 48, so…

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.0 Up to Release Candidate State, Support for SSH Protocol v1 Removed

      The FreeBSD Project, through Glen Barber, has had the pleasure of announcing this past weekend the general availability of the first Release Candidate for the upcoming FreeBSD 11.0 operating system, due for release on September 2, 2016.

      It appears to us that the development cycle of FreeBSD 11.0 was accelerated a bit, as the RC1 milestone is here just one week after the release of the fourth Beta build. Again, the new snapshot is available for 64-bit (amd64), 32-bit (i386), PowerPC (PPC), PowerPC 64-bit (PPC64), SPARC64, AArch64 (ARM64), and ARMv6 hardware architectures.

  • Public Services/Government

    • White House Source Code Policy Should Go Further

      A new federal government policy will result in the government releasing more of the software that it creates under free and open source software licenses. That’s great news, but doesn’t go far enough in its goals or in enabling public oversight.

      A few months ago, we wrote about a proposed White House policy regarding how the government handles source code written by or for government agencies. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has now officially enacted the policy with a few changes. While the new policy is a step forward for government transparency and open access, a few of the changes in it are flat-out baffling.

  • Programming/Development

    • Go 1.7 is released

      Today we are happy to announce the release of Go 1.7. You can get it from the download page. There are several significant changes in this release: a port for Linux on IBM z Systems (s390x), compiler improvements, the addition of the context package, and support for hierarchical tests and benchmarks.

      A new compiler back end, based on static single-assignment form (SSA), has been under development for the past year. By representing a program in SSA form, a compiler may perform advanced optimizations more easily. This new back end generates more compact, more efficient code that includes optimizations like bounds check elimination and common subexpression elimination. We observed a 5–35% speedup across our benchmarks. For now, the new backend is only available for the 64-bit x86 platform (“amd64″), but we’re planning to convert more architecture backends to SSA in future releases.

    • Go 1.7 Brings s390x Support, Compiler Improvements

      Go 1.7 includes a new port to the IBM System z (s390x) architecture, numerous compiler improvements, and more. Compiler work for Go 1.7 includes a new SSA back-end that yields 5~35% speedups on 64-bit x86, a new and more compact export data format, speed increases to the garbage collector, optimizations to the standard library, and more.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Serving Up Security? Microsoft Patches ‘Malicious Butler’ Exploit — Again

      It’s been a busy year for Windows security. Back in March, Microsoft bulletin MS16-027 addressed a remote code exploit that could grant cybercriminals total control of a PC if users opened “specially crafted media content that is hosted on a website.” Just last month, a problem with secure boot keys caused a minor panic among users.

      However, new Microsoft patches are still dealing with a flaw discovered in November of last year — it was first Evil Maid and now is back again as Malicious Butler. Previous attempts to slam this door shut have been unsuccessful. Has the Redmond giant finally served up software security?

    • Let’s Encrypt: Why create a free, automated, and open CA?

      During the summer of 2012, Eric Rescorla and I decided to start a Certificate Authority (CA). A CA acts as a third-party to issue digital certificates, which certify public keys for certificate holders. The free, automated, and open CA we envisioned, which came to be called Let’s Encrypt, has been built and is now one of the larger CAs in the world in terms of issuance volume.

      Starting a new CA is a lot of work—it’s not a decision to be made lightly. In this article, I’ll explain why we decided to start Let’s Encrypt, and why we decided to build a new CA from scratch.

      We had a good reason to start building Let’s Encrypt back in 2012. At that time, work on an HTTP/2 specification had started in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a standards body with a focus on network protocols. The question of whether or not to require encryption (via TLS) for HTTP/2 was hotly debated. My position, shared by my co-workers at Mozilla and many others, was that encryption should be required.

    • PGP Short-ID Collision Attacks Continued, Now Targeted Linus Torvalds

      After contacted the owner, it turned out that one of the keys is a fake. In addition, labelled same names, emails, and even signatures created by more fake keys. Weeks later, more developers found their fake “mirror” keys on the keyserver, including the PGP Global Directory Verification Key.

    • The Brewing Problem Of PGP Short-ID Collision Attacks
    • Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG hit by malware: HEI

      A data breach at 20 U.S. hotels operated by HEI Hotels & Resorts for Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt and Intercontinental may have divulged payment card data from tens of thousands of food, drink and other transactions, HEI said on Sunday.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The U.S. will rearm Saudi Arabia to the tune of $1.5 billion as airstrikes resume in Yemen

      This week, the Pentagon announced its intention to sell $1.5 billion in armaments, tanks, and military advisory support to Saudi Arabia. If that sounds like a major deal, consider that the United States sold more than $20 billion worth of military equipment and support to the Saudis last year. And this is an alliance that goes back decades.

      All of that and much more from the United States is put to use in the fierce war that the Saudi military is waging against Shiite militias in Yemen. For instance, the Saudis command U.S.-made fighter jets that drop U.S.-made cluster bombs — a munition that is so imprecise that it has been banned by 119 nations. The U.S. provides targeting assistance, intelligence briefings and even daily aerial jet refueling for the Saudis and their coalition partners, which are mostly other oil-rich Persian Gulf nations.

    • China launches quantum satellite for ‘hack-proof’ communications

      China said it had launched the world’s first quantum satellite on Tuesday, a project Beijing hopes will enable it to build a coveted “hack-proof” communications system with potentially significant military and commercial applications.

      Xinhua, Beijing’s official news service, said Micius, a 600kg satellite that is nicknamed after an ancient Chinese philosopher, “roared into the dark sky” over the Gobi Desert at 1.40am local time, carried by a Long March-2D rocket.

      “The satellite’s two-year mission will be to develop “hack-proof” quantum communications allowing users to send messages securely and at speeds faster than light,” Xinhua reported.

      The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, or Quess, satellite program is part of an ambitious space programme that has accelerated since Xi Jinping became Communist party chief in late 2012.

    • China Launches “Hack-Proof Quantum Satellite” To Transfer Secure Data
    • Trouble Follows When the U.S. Labels You a ‘Thug’

      There is a nasty pattern in American political speech, going back into the 1980s at least: when a senior U.S. official labels you a thug, often times wars follow. Thug is the safest word of American Exceptionalism.

      So it is with some concern that lots of folks are pushing each other away from the mic to call Putin a thug (fun fact: Putin has been in effective charge of Russia for 15 years. As recently as the Hillary Clinton Secretary of State era, the U.S. sought a “reset” of relations with him.)

      While the current throwing of the term thug at Putin is tied to the weak evidence presented publicly linking a Russian hacker under Putin’s employ to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computers, there may be larger issues in the background. But first, a sample of the rhetoric.

    • Putin’s incredible shrinking circle

      True to the informal tradition that August brings surprises in Russia, on the 12th it was announced that Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, was leaving his position as head of the Presidential Administration (AP) and taking up the new and rather less pivotal job of presidential representative for transport and the environment. In his place, Putin elevated one of Ivanov’s deputies, the essentially-unknown 44-year old Anton Vaino. Whatever Vaino’s strengths, this points to the way Putin is hollowing out his inner elite, surrounding himself with fewer but also less substantial peers, who are unlikely to challenge his worldview and opinions.

    • Doctors Without Borders Hospital Bombing in Yemen Earns Rare Saudi Rebuke at State Department

      After the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombed a hospital in Yemen supported by Doctors Without Borders on Monday, the U.S. State Department offered a rare condemnation of the coalition’s violence.

      “Of course we condemn the attack,” said Elizabeth Trudeau, a spokesman for the State Department.

      The State Department has previously deflected questions about coalition attacks by referring reporters to the Saudi government — even though the U.S. has supplied the coalition with billions of dollars of weapons, and has refueled Saudi planes.

      Trudeau also stressed that “U.S. officials regularly engage with Saudi officials” about civilian casualties — a line that spokespeople have repeated for months. Saudi Arabia has nevertheless continued to bomb civilian sites, including homes, markets, factories, and schools.

    • In Rudy Giuliani’s Universe, 9/11 Is Everything and Nothing

      Warming up the crowd for Donald Trump on Monday in Youngstown, Ohio, former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani offered a glimpse into the alternate reality he has now signed on to by describing the presidency of George W. Bush as a time of undisturbed peace and security for Americans.

      During “those eight years, before Obama came along,” Giuliani said, “we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States — they all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”

    • Aid Worker in Aleppo Says Joint U.S.-Russian Airstrikes Would be “Diabolical”

      A British aid worker based in rebel-held East Aleppo says that reported plans by the United States and Russia to conduct joint airstrikes against the city are “ludicrous and diabolical,” and, if carried out, would have a disastrous impact on civilians living there.

      Tauqir Sharif, 29, speaking to The Intercept from a hospital in Aleppo, says that Russian and Syrian government airstrikes on the city are creating nightmarish conditions for ordinary people. The addition of American forces to the mix would compound the misery of civilians, while giving the impression that the United States was openly siding with the Assad government.

      Last week an alliance of Syrian rebels and Islamist groups broke the longstanding government siege on the eastern half of the city. Sharif says that since then, the frequency and intensity of airstrikes has increased. “There has been an almost constant bombardment from strikes because the regime is very, very angry that a corridor has been opened into the city from the south,” Sharif says. “The siege in some ways is still in place because it is very difficult to bring aid in due to constant airstrikes on vehicles driving the routes to the city.”

    • Six Years Later, the US Continues to Facilitate Saudi War Crimes

      Over six years ago, according to a State Department cable liberated by Chelsea Manning, the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia met with Prince Khalid bin Sultan to complain about all the civilians the Saudis killed in an airstrike on a health clinic. Prince Khalid expressed regret about the dead civilians. But the Saudis “had to hit the Houthis very hard in order to ‘bring them to their knees.’”

    • US War Crimes or ‘Normalized Deviance’

      The U.S. foreign policy establishment and its mainstream media operate with a pervasive set of hypocritical standards that justify war crimes — or what might be called a “normalization of deviance,” writes Nicolas J S Davies.

    • Simplistic Second-Guessing on ISIS

      Official Washington’s neocons, the mainstream U.S. media and Donald Trump are on the same page at least in blaming President Obama for ISIS, a case of all three parties being wrong, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Morrissey says leave voters were victimised and made to look irresponsible after Brexit

      Morrissey has accused the British media of victimising those who voted to leave the EU.

      The 57-year-old singer said he was left “shocked” by the unfair reporting following the outcome of the EU referendum.

      He claimed those who voted in favour of Brexit were judged as “racist, drunk and irresponsible” yet those who voted to remain were not questioned in the same way.

      Speaking to Israeli publication Walla! he said: “I am shocked at the refusal of the British media to be fair and accept the people’s final decision just because the result of the referendum did not benefit the establishment.

    • Banks Won’t Wait Around to See What Brexit Deal the U.K. Can Get

      Big investment banks with their European headquarters in London will start the process of moving jobs from the U.K. within weeks of the government triggering Brexit, a faster timeline than their public messages of patience would imply, according to people briefed on the plans being drawn up by four of the biggest firms.

    • Upset by Brexit, Some British Jews Look to Germany

      But looking for a way to ensure that he could still work and live in Europe once Britain leaves the bloc, Mr. Levine, 35, who was born in Britain and lives in London, decided to do what some Jews, including his relatives, might consider unthinkable: apply for German citizenship.

    • Brexit Timing Illusions Exposed in Unusual Tale of Greenland

      There’s a man in the European Union who has already led a country out of the bloc. His name is Uffe Ellemann-Jensen. He’s a former foreign minister of Denmark who handled negotiations on Greenland after its citizens voted to leave the EU in 1982.

      With a population of just 56,000 and a gross domestic product of about $2.5 billion, Greenland still took three years to exit. Ellemann-Jensen says any notion in Britain that all it needs to do is trigger Article 50 and two years later it will be out is illusory.

      “Negotiating Greenland’s exit was a fairly simple task that resulted in a relatively simple and easy to understand protocol,” Ellemann-Jensen, 74, said in an interview. “That took three years. Britain will take much longer. It’s impossible to say how long.”

    • U.K. Input Costs Jump as Pound’s Brexit Drop Fuels Prices: Chart

      The drop in the pound caused by the U.K.’s European Union referendum is already affecting manufacturers. Manufacturers’ costs for materials and fuels jumped an annual 4.3 percent in July, the fastest pace in three years. Still, the surge may not worry Bank of England officials yet, since policy makers have indicated they intend to look through any inflation generated by the currency’s slump as they add stimulus to bolster growth.

    • 7 Brexit promises that have already been abandoned

      As soon as we voted to Leave the EU, the phrase “post-truth” started to be thrown about a lot more, assisted in part by a certain national embarrassment running for US president.

      It’s probably fair to say the Leave campaign may have had something to do with this – campaign promises were literally abandoned the morning after the Brexit vote.

      Just to remind you, here’s what those who campaigned to Leave are really hoping people will shut up about.

    • Brexit Bulletin: Banks Already Plotting City Exodu

      Larger investment banks with their European headquarters in London are already making plans for their own withdrawal.

      Many plan to start the process of moving jobs from the U.K. within weeks of the government triggering Brexit, people briefed on the plans of four of the biggest firms told Bloomberg’s Gavin Finch.

      That suggests the banks may move faster than their public messages of patience would imply, and reflects dismay with the U.K.’s lack of a clear plan to protect its status as a global financial hub. There are concerns British-based banks will lose the right to sell services freely around the European Union.

    • Brexit damage to economy will outweigh modest wage gains, says study

      Damage to the economy caused by Brexit will more than offset the modest wage gains for British-born workers in low-paid jobs caused by cutting net migration to the tens of thousands a year, a study has found.

      A report by the Resolution Foundation thinktank said there would be a small pay increase to native-born employees in sectors such as security and cleaning if there was a big cut in the number of workers arriving in Britain from overseas.

      But it estimated that these benefits would fail to compensate for the reduction in real incomes caused in the short term by the higher inflation triggered by a falling pound, and in the long term by a slowdown in the economy’s growth rate.

    • Will ‘decent work’ or Victorian brutality mark India’s dash for the top?

      Although all too often glossed over, Victorian Britain’s harsh working conditions are no secret.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Assange: DOJ set ‘new standard’ for Clinton

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the Department of Justice (DOJ) set a new standard for its investigations with its probe of Hillary Clinton.

      “Our D.C. lawyers are delivering a letter tomorrow to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to explain why it is that the now six-year-long national security and criminal investigation being run against WikiLeaks, the reason I have political asylum, has not been closed,” he said on CNN’s “The Lead” on Monday.

      “Because the DOJ, whose actions seem to be setting a new standard by closing the Hillary Clinton case,” Assange added. “The Hillary Clinton case has only gone for one year.

      “Hillary Clinton’s case has been dropped, the case against WikiLeaks continues. So why is it that the quote, ‘pending law enforcement proceedings’ against WikiLeaks continue? There’s a problem here.”

      Assange compared the DOJ’s investigation of his organization with the agency’s probe of Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee.

      “It was closed under the basis that [FBI Director] James Comey said that they couldn’t establish that there was an intent to damage national security,” he said of the DOJ’s probe of Clinton. “In our case, there’s no allegation that we have done anything except publish information for the public.

      “The U.S. government had to say under oath in 2013 not a single person has been physically harmed by our publication. You don’t have intent. You don’t have serious harm.”

      Assange added Clinton’s campaign is trying to discredit WikiLeaks by focusing on his lack of American citizenship.

      “Of course they’re desperate for anything,” he said. “We operate and report on all different countries. We have staff in the United States. That’s what we do for every country.

    • Ten years ago, Trump’s campaign manager warned of a rigged election — in Ukraine

      “The only way” Hillary Clinton can win in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump said at a rally in that state on Friday evening, “and I mean this 100 percent — [is] if in certain sections of the state they cheat, OK?” That was “the way we can lose the state,” he said, of a state where he currently trails by 9 points. “And we have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.” On Saturday, his campaign unveiled an effort to somehow formalize the campaign’s fraud-prevention system, encouraging sign-ups on their website for “Trump Election Observers.”

      There’s no demonstrated in-person voter fraud problem in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else, for that matter), and it’s not clear if Trump’s fraud-prevention effort is simply an attempt to collect voter contact information and boost GOP voter enthusiasm, or if it’s actually meant to combat a problem that doesn’t exist. But it’s not surprising that this is a part of Trump’s campaign in one sense: When Trump’s campaign director Paul Manafort was helping to coordinate the campaign effort of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine in 2006, he used similar tools and rhetoric.

    • Democratic National Committee Creates A ‘Cybersecurity Board’ Without A Single Cybersecurity Expert

      The Democratic National Committee, still reeling from the hack on its computer system that resulted in a bunch of leaked emails and the resignation of basically all of its top people, has now created a “cybersecurity advisory board” to improve its cybersecurity and to “prevent future attacks.”

    • Con vs. Con

      During the presidential election cycle, liberals display their gutlessness. Liberal organizations, such as MoveOn.org, become cloyingly subservient to the Democratic Party. Liberal media, epitomized by MSNBC, ruthlessly purge those who challenge the Democratic Party establishment. Liberal pundits, such as Paul Krugman, lambaste critics of the political theater, charging them with enabling the Republican nominee. Liberals chant, in a disregard for the facts, not to be like Ralph Nader, the “spoiler” who gave us George W. Bush.

      The liberal class refuses to fight for the values it purports to care about. It is paralyzed and trapped by the induced panic manufactured by the systems of corporate propaganda. The only pressure within the political system comes from corporate power. With no counterweight, with no will on the part of the liberal class to defy the status quo, we slide deeper and deeper into corporate despotism. The repeated argument of the necessity of supporting the “least worse” makes things worse.

    • Did Trump Campaign Manager Reap Millions in Stolen Ukrainian Wealth?

      The bromance between Donald Trump and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin—even when reminded of the murders of anti-Putin journalists—has been one of the oddities of the 2016 presidential campaign. Besides Trump’s praise of Putin as a strong leader, and the GOP presidential nominee’s invitation to Russia to hack into the email server of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, there’s the work done on behalf of a Putin ally by Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager.

    • Milwaukee’s War on Black People

      Donald Trump supporter and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke has built a national profile by openly declaring war on the Black Lives Matter movement, from the floor of the Republican National Convention to the pages of national media outlets, once even proclaiming on social media that racial justice protesters will “join forces” with ISIS.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • WordPress blocks latest Guccifer 2.0 docs

      The blog platform WordPress blocked or obfuscated public access to the entire recent cache of documents from the account of hacker Guccifer 2.0, including the contact information for Democratic members of Congress and lists of passwords.

      Guccifer 2.0, the hacker or hackers behind the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) breach last month, published some of the documents taken from the DCCC system on Friday.

      “Some content on this page was disabled on August 13, 2016 upon receipt of a valid complaint regarding the publication of private information,” the site posted in place of the documents and accompanying blog post, along with a link to its privacy policy.

      While the site only deleted one file — the database of congressional contact information — deleting the post removed all links to other documents in the recent cache. Knowing a direct web address of the files, a user could still download them. The site no longer provides any direction on how to get to those documents.

    • “A Honeypot For Assholes”: Inside Twitter’s 10-Year Failure To Stop Harassment

      For nearly its entire existence, Twitter has not just tolerated abuse and hate speech, it’s virtually been optimized to accommodate it. With public backlash at an all-time high and growth stagnating, what is the platform that declared itself “the free speech wing of the free speech party” to do? BuzzFeed News talks to the people who’ve been trying to figure this out for a decade.

    • Abuse on Twitter is a ‘fundamental feature,’ report says

      Its commitment to free speech since its very beginning, plus the pressure to grow the number of users, have overshadowed efforts to curtail the abuse on the platform, former employees told BuzzFeed News. Add to that the general internal chaos of a startup.

      [...]

      The article echoes some of the well-known criticisms of the internet firm, such as the allegation that it takes better care of celebrities who complain of abuse than it does average people.

      Twitter has deployed something called the “censoring algorithm” — for example, when it has hosted town halls with famous people such as Caitlyn Jenner — the story said.

      Perhaps Twitter’s “original sin” was its homogenous leadership team, a former employee told BuzzFeed. White, male leaders didn’t prioritize the abuse problem in part because they were not victimized.

    • National anti-censorship group weighs in on book battle in Chesterfield County

      In a letter sent to Chesterfield’s School superintendent this month, the National Coalition Against Censorship asked the school system to do away with plans to review several books from a summer reading list some parents voiced concerns over, alleging they are not age appropriate and are objectionable.

      “Parents have complete control. This was an optional book list. The right response at this point is if parents don’t want their kids reading things, then they tell their kids not to read it,” said Claire Guthrie-Gastanaga with the ACLU of Virginia.

      The ACLU is part of the coalition and says beyond limiting diversity in education, there are legal troubles with taking books off reading lists.

    • AdWeek Articles On Google Ad VP Torrence Boone Hit With Bogus DMCA Notices Issued By Bogus ‘News’ Websites

      It appears there’s still no shortage of quasi-reputation management efforts being deployed in the form of bogus DMCA takedowns issued by bogus “news” websites.

      Pissed Consumer uncovered this shady tactic back in April, noting that legitimate-sounding sites like the “Frankfort Herald” and the “Lewisburg Tribune” were issuing takedown notices on complaints posted to the gripe site. These fake news sites tended to be filled with a blend of scraped content and and negative reviews/posts from sites like Pissed Consumer and Ripoff Report copy-pasted in full and backdated to make them appear as if they’d appeared at the bogus sites first.

      Our article about this tactic, containing some additional details we tracked down, caught the eye of an entity called Web Activism, which is now digging up as many details as it can about this DMCA-abusing reputation management tactic. Web Activism notified Adweek that a couple of past articles hosted there were being targeted by bogus DMCA notices.

    • Who Filed Fake Copyright Infringement Complaints Against AgencySpy?

      Earlier this year, someone using a fake name, a fake employer and a fake job description filed a fraudulent Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request with our parent company’s legal team.

      Here’s what almost certainly happened: A reputation PR firm had a client who wanted a post written way back in 2010 to disappear from Google’s search results forever, so an employee of this firm copied and pasted our post into a fake news story, backdated it to make the claim more believable, then used a fictional but official-sounding identity to threaten our employer with unspecified legal action.

    • Which Crazy Copyright Holder Took Down Katie Ledecky/Carlos Santana ‘Smooth’ Mashup First?

      Someone — either the Olympics or whoever holds the copyright to the song — issued a takedown. This is ridiculous. The use here was almost certainly fair use. But when you have two of the most aggressive copyright aggressors around — record labels and the Olympics — I guess it’s no surprise that they would ignore fair use and take down content like this, which is the kind of content that would likely only get more people interested in either the Olympics or the music. But, no, copyright is apparently more important than that.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Alain Philippon pleads guilty over smartphone password border dispute

      A Quebec man who refused to give his smartphone password to border officials at Halifax Stanfield International Airport last year has pleaded guilty and been fined $500.

      Alain Philippon, of Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que., had said he would fight the charge of hindering or obstructing border officials, but changed course Monday morning when his lawyer entered a guilty plea on his behalf in provincial court in Dartmouth, N.S.

    • Malaysian maid agencies stunned by new directive barring non-Muslim maids for Muslims

      Maid agencies in Malaysia are stunned by a “new” directive imposed by the Immigration Department barring them from hiring non-Muslim maids.

      Employers have questioned the rationale behind the policy, which department officials said was not new, as they were worried that they may not get any maids at all.

      Malaysian Maid Employers Association (MAMA) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi said the policy would limit the supply of maids for Muslims.

      “Religion should not be an obstacle. When you work in an office, you don’t base it on religion and likewise, this should not be the case for the maid in the home,” he said on Sunday (Aug 14).

    • Helsinki Uber drivers now face criminal charges when caught

      Police in Helsinki are criminally charging drivers caught working for the smartphone-based chauffeur service Uber. Previously, drivers found behind the wheel of an Uber only faced a misdemeanor fine.

    • Egyptian judo athlete sent home after refusing to shake hand of Israeli opponent

      For all the professionalism that has overwhelmed the Olympics, the games are supposed to be conducted with a spirit of sporting fraternity.

      And officials reacted sternly after a member of the Egyptian judo team refused to shake hands with the Israeli athlete who had just defeated him.

      The International Olympic Committee said Islam El Shehaby received a “severe reprimand” for his behaviour following his first-round heavyweight bout loss to Or Sasson last Friday.

    • Police to hire law firms to tackle cyber criminals in radical pilot project

      Private law firms will be hired by police to pursue criminal suspects for profit, under a radical new scheme to target cyber criminals and fraudsters.

      In a pilot project by the City of London police, the lead force on fraud in England and Wales, officers will pass details of suspects and cases to law firms, which will use civil courts to seize the money.

      The force says the scheme is a way of more effectively tackling fraud – which is now the biggest type of crime, estimated to cost £193bn a year. It is overwhelming police and the criminal justice system.

      The experiment, which is backed by the government and being closely watched by other law enforcement agencies, is expected to lead to cases reaching civil courts this year or early next year.

      Officers will use the private law firms to attempt to seize suspects’ assets. If unsuccessful, police could decide to leave it at that or pursue the case themselves through the criminal courts.

      Commander Chris Greany, head of economic crime at City of London police, said: “It is a huge shift … Civil recovery allows us to get hold of a criminal’s money sooner, and repay back victims sooner.”

    • Study Says Police Body Cameras Have Contributed To Increased Uses Of Deadly Force

      While I don’t doubt that some officers believe footage may assist them in justifying shootings, there’s very little here that suggests anything more than a statistical blip. No such increase was noted in 2013 or 2014, and a 3.64% increase would seem to be a fluctuation, rather than anything correlative.

      The authors of the study note one issue that may be skewing the numbers slightly upward: there’s very little data available to differentiate between justified shootings and unjustified shootings. Without this, it’s difficult to draw the conclusion that officers have made conscious or unconscious decisions about the perceived exculpatory value of capturing deadly force incidents on tape. And yet, such a conclusion is being tentatively drawn.

    • Study Links Police Bodycams to Increase in Shooting Deaths

      In the wake of high-profile police shootings, the Obama administration has encouraged local police departments to equip their officers with body-worn cameras. The devices, said Attorney General Loretta Lynch, “hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability, and advancing public safety.”

      A new study by Temple University researchers, however, suggests that the wearable video cameras may not lead to fewer police shootings of civilians, but may actually make officers more likely to use lethal force.

    • African-American Women Make Olympic History

      After winning an Olympic medal, Simone Manuel said, “It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on.”

    • This Is What You Get

      The police shooting of another young black man, this time in Milwaukee, has proved “a spark to a powder keg” that is the city’s decades-long segregation, toxic racial climate, gross economic inequity, police abuses, and political leadership that not only ignored but often exacerbated those tensions. The death of Sylville Smith, 23, has provoked two days and nights of sometimes violent protests by a community that, said the brother of another police shooting victim, “has nothing. It’s a neglected community. To burn down something, to them, it meant, ‘Do you hear us now?’”

      The shooting and riots have put a spotlight on what has been called the worst place to be black in America, a city so segregated and divided from its suburbs that an old racist joke claims the city’s 16th Street viaduct bridge is the longest in the world because it links “Africa to Europe.” Milwaukee’s population of 600,000 is roughly 60% black and Latino, with a poverty rate of over 30%, dilapidated infrastructure, and little or no access to decent jobs; its suburbs are rich, up to 96% white and staunchly Republican – and Gov. Scott Walker is blamed for long working to keep it that way.

    • Tribute to Fidel Castro on His 90th Birthday
    • Fidel the Guerrilla in 2015–16 and Beyond

      Fidel stepped out of his hideaway, as though from a mountain hideout, to provide the very first salvo against illusions about U.S. imperialism. However, this is coupled with the expressed desire for a peaceful solution of the decades of conflict between the two neighbours, which is worth repeating: “I do not trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged one word with them, though this does not in any way signify a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or threats of war.”

    • Fidel Castro: 90 Revolutionary Years

      In October 1960, Senator John Kennedy said: “Fulgencio Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in 7 years – a greater proportion of the Cuban population than the proportion of Americans who died in both World Wars, and he turned democratic Cuba into a complete police state – destroying every individual liberty.” This gives a measure of Fidel’s audacity to undertake his own legal and political defence.

    • Human Rights Groups Hold Candle Lighting for the Victims of Extra Judicial Killings; Call on President Duterte to Stop the Killing & Respect the Rights of Every Individual, and Follow Due Process

      iDefend, composed of Human Rights Defenders, has come out with a public statement and organised the candle lighting as a form of protest to #StopTheKillings on 15th August 2016, Monday at Tomas Morato cor. Timog Cirlce and Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City.

    • Kerry’s Brazil Meeting: Showing Support for an Illegitimate Government

      On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) also weighed in, noting, “After suspending Brazil’s first female president on dubious grounds, without a mandate to govern the new interim government abolished the ministry of women, racial equality and human rights.” He added: “The United States cannot sit silently while the democratic institutions of one of our most important allies are undermined.”

      It is extremely rare to see this type of challenge to the policy of an administration from members of Congress of the same party, over a country as big and important as Brazil. In dealing with such a country, with a land mass that is bigger than the continental United States, more than 200 million people, and the seventh largest economy in the world, it is normal for Democratic legislators to defer to their Democratic president, especially in an election year.

  • DRM

    • It looks like the headphone jack dilemma will be pretty messy to start

      As you’ve heard ad nauseam, Apple appears extremely likely to remove the headphone jack from its next iPhone. This hasn’t gone over well! Apart from forcing some people to buy new wired (or wireless) headphones, it’s likely to raise the cost of the average headphone, and make many learn to live with dongles.

      Still, there are some potential benefits to adopting a digital audio connection like Lightning — noise-cancelling could become standard, for instance, and higher-end Lightning cans could provide better sound. Plus, if Apple makes jack-less iPhones the norm, it’d at least do so in one fell swoop. Lightning replaces 3.5mm, and that’s that.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • AbbVie v Amgen: Is the “patent dance” fair for both sides?

      The suit is the first filed under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) in which two parties have disagreed upon which patents should be in dispute, and raises a question about the efficacy of the “patent dance” process established by the BPCIA.

    • A Specification’s Focus on Particular Embodiment Not Limiting if Other Embodiments are also Expressly Contemplated

      The claim at issue is directed to a conveyor and “automatic” collating system for prescription containers. U.S. Patent No. 6,910,601, Claim 8. The claim itself does not specify how the collation occurs, but throughout the specification the patentee indicates that the containers will be collated by patient name and storage space availability. Seeing that distinction, the district court agreed with the challenger that the claims fail because they were not commensurate with the written description of the invention. [...]

      “Without including a limitation to address the storage by patient name, the claims are simply too broad to be valid.”

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Office Tosses Phyllis Schlafly’s Opposition To Her Son’s Brewery Name Trademark Application

        We discuss trademark disputes centering on the beer and alcohol industry around here because that particular industry is finding itself at something of a barrier centered on how brews are named. Still, one story from a couple of years ago was particularly head-scratching. That story was that of Schlafly beer, made by Tom Schlafly’s St. Louis brewery, and the opposition to his trademark application from his aunt and cousin, Phyllis and Bruce Schlafly repsectively. Both family members filed oppositions to the trademark application, claiming that having their last name associated with an alcoholic product would negatively impact them. Bruce is an orthopedic surgeon, making one wonder exactly how bone-shattering Schlafly beer actually is. Phyllis, meanwhile, is a super-conservative commentator with an audience particularly cultivated amongst Mormons and Baptists, therefore an alcohol product with her surname on it would be ultra negative for her commentating business.

    • Copyrights

      • Attribution on the web

        The web is a great thing that’s come a long way, yadda yadda. It used to be an obscure nerd thing where you could read black Times New Roman text on a gray background. Now, it’s a hyper popular nerd thing where you can read black Helvetica Neue text on a white background. I hear it can do other stuff, too.

        That said, I occasionally see little nagging reminders that the web is still quite primitive in some ways. One such nag: it has almost no way to preserve attribution, and sometimes actively strips it.

        As a programmer, I’m here to propose some technical solutions to this social problem. It’s so easy! Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

      • Lots Of Newspapers Discovering That Paywalls Don’t Work

        For many years, while some journalists (and newspaper execs) have been insisting that a paywall is “the answer” for the declining news business, we’ve been pointing out how fundamentally stupid paywalls are for the news. Without going into all of the arguments again, the short version is this: the business of newspapers has never really been “the news business” (no matter how much they insist otherwise). It’s always been the community and attention business. And in the past they were able to command such attention and build a community around news because they didn’t have much competition. But the competitive landscape for community and attention has changed (massively) thanks to the internet. And putting up a paywall makes it worse. In most cases, it’s limiting the ability of these newspapers to build communities or get attention, and actively pushing people away.

        And, yes, sure, people will point to the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times as proof that “paywalls work.” But earth to basically every other publication: you’re not one of those publications. The paywalls there only work because of the unique content they have, and even then they don’t work as well as most people think.

        Not surprisingly, more and more newspapers that bet on paywalls are discovering that they don’t really work that well and were a waste of time and effort — and may have driven away even more readers.

      • Newspapers rethink paywalls as digital efforts sputter

        Newspapers in the English-speaking world ended paywalls some 69 times through May 2015, including 41 temporary and 28 permanent drops, according to a study by University of Southern California researchers.

      • US Seizes Dotcom’s Millions, Entrepreneur Fights Back

        On Friday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected efforts by Kim Dotcom to regain control over millions of dollars in assets seized by the US Government. By remaining outside the US, the court found that the Megaupload founder is a fugitive from justice. But Dotcom isn’t ready to give in and will take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

08.15.16

Links 15/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC2, Glimpses at OpenMandriva Lx 3.0

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • One Of The Best Note-Taking Apps ‘Simplenote’ Is Now Open Source

    Simplenote, a lean but powerful note-taking app, has been made open source by its owner Automattic. Released under the GPLv2 license, developers can use its code for different platforms and take the app in new directions. But, it seems like the server-side code of the app is not yet released.

  • Research reports explore the open-source software market

    The mantra “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always to software. Because sometimes the best software really is free.

  • Events

    • Where in the World is the OSI?

      If you’re out and about at conferences this month, we hope that you’ll have a chance to attend one of these talks by OSI Board Members. If you’re an OSI member and you’ll be giving at talk about open source topics, please get in touch. We’d love to let folks know about your talk!

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 49 for Linux gains plugin-free support for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

        The Linux version of Firefox 49 is due for a proper release in September, although preview versions are currently available for those who want to try it out. With Widevine being free for anyone to use, Firefox’s adoption of plugin-free support for it could well mean that the standard is embraced by a larger number of sites. Support for DRM makes the protocol particularly appealing to content providers, as does the lack of license fee.

      • Firefox 49 for Linux Will Let You Watch Netflix Without Plugins

        Firefox is to begin supporting the Google Widevine CDM on Linux from next month, allowing native, plugin-free playback of encrypted media content like Netflix.

      • Firefox 49 To Offer Linux Widevine Support, Firefox Also Working On WebP Support

        There are two exciting bits of Mozilla Firefox news to pass along today: Winevine support on Linux out-of-the-box to handle Netflix and friends. Separately, WebP image support is being worked on.

        Trailing the Windows and OS X support, Winevine is being advertised as supported out-of-the-box now on Firefox for Linux. This change will happen for the upcoming Firefox 49 release.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • This Theme Pack Makes GIMP Look and Behave like Photoshop

      We’re all aware The GIMP is the best free alternative to Photoshop — but is there a way to make it look like Photoshop, too? This is open-source software we’re talking about, of course there is a way! Why Use a GIMP Photoshop Theme?

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing/Legal

    • VMware survives GPL breach case, but plaintiff promises appeal

      Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig’s bid to have VMware’s knuckles rapped for breaching the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) has failed, for now, after the Landgericht Hamburg found in Virtzilla’s favour.

      The Software Freedom Conservancy backed Hellwig when he alleged that some of his contributions to the Linux kernel have found their way into VMware’s very proprietary flagship ESXi product, in a component called “vmklinux”. Hellwig and the Conservancy believe that as ESXi includes code licensed under the GPLv2, ESXi should itself be released as open source code under the same licence.

    • Linux developer loses case against VMware

      Hellwig claimed the outfit had violated version 2 of the GNU General Public Licence and says he will appeal against the verdict.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Open data on open data portals

        The Open Data Inception project presents a comprehensive list of more than 2600 open data portals all over the world. The information is geotagged so it can be searched by topic as well as country.

        The list has been compiled by the Open Data Soft company as a showcase. They wanted to bring together as many open data resources as they could, and present these on a map per country for easy browsing.

        The creators aim to maintain the list and ask visitors to contribute links to portals and datasets that are currently not yet in the list. The dataset itself has also been made available as open data.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Chemists to get their own service for preprint sharing

        Physics researchers have a long history of sharing work they’re preparing for publication in order to solicit suggestions and comments from their peers. Like so many things, this behavior migrated to the Internet: Cornell University’s arXiv server hosts over 1.1 million documents, many of which later appeared in formal peer-reviewed literature.

        The physics and astronomy communities see arXiv as beneficial, and biologists put together their own database called The BioRxiv. Now it appears that chemists are going to get their own equivalent. The American Chemical Society is asking for input from the research and publishing communities about what they’d like to see in a ChemRxiv.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Amazon Announces Application Load Balancer for the Cloud

        Load balancers have been part of the networking landscape for decades, more often than not in recent years being lumped together under the category of Application Delivery Controllers (ADC). Various load balancing services have been available in the cloud, but this week Amazon announced a significant new entrant – the Application Load Balancer for Elastic Load Balancing.

      • Carnegie Mellon U aims to unlock industrial 3D printing potential with new consortium that includes GE, Alcoa and United States Steel

        You don’t need to be an expert to see that 3D printing is slowly finding its way into the hands of designers throughout the world. From prototype airplane parts to hip replacements and implantable organs; 3D printing is appearing everywhere. But for the 3D printing revolution to really pick up steam, a major push or technological breakthrough is needed to make this a truly accessible and affordable large-scale manufacturing option. In an attempt to realize that breakthrough, Carnegie Mellon University has announced a new consortium that brings together major companies, nonprofit institutes and the US government. Together, they will be working to fully unlock the potential of industrial 3D printing.

Leftovers

  • Kenny Baker, ‘Star Wars’ Actor Behind R2-D2, Dead at 81

    Kenny Baker, the actor who portrayed the robot R2-D2 in six Star Wars films, died Saturday after a long illness. He was 81.

  • Orkut, once India’s social media darling, is back

    In 2004, a Turkish engineer at Google, Orkut Buyukkokten, started the social network Orkut.com. According to a Forbes report, it gathered 27 million users by 2009. Most of them were from India and Brazil. With time, its sheen wore off as Facebook and Twitter got ahead in the race. When Google finally shut it down in September 2014, the internet saw nostalgic tributes. For many, Orkut was their introduction to social networking. Now, 41-year-old Buyukkokten is back in the game. His new social network, Hello, is already off the ground and active in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Ireland, among other countries. The location-based social network is due for launch in India by September. Buyukkokten spoke to TOI over a video call from San Francisco and discussed his time spent at Google, building Orkut, and the way we are online.

  • Kenyan Start-Ups Make The Ride Tough For Uber

    After making a dramatic entry into the African market late last year that was marked by as much drama as elsewhere in the world, global taxi hailing service Uber is facing tough times in the Kenyan market, thanks to a number of innovative tech start-ups that are giving the company a run for its money.

    Local start-ups in the East African country have come up with innovative apps similar to that of Uber, but which have additional features suited to the local market situation and demands.

    While Uber in Kenya has a provision for cash payments in a country where electronic payments remain a preserve of the elite, local firms have come up with a payment feature where fares can be paid by use of the popular and ever-growing mobile money service M-Pesa, a Kenyan creation that has caught the attention of the entire world of money transfers.

  • Population projections reveal shocking future trends

    Finland is home to fewer children now than at anytime in the last century. In a decade the number of pensioners will exceed the number of working-aged adults. The latest projections from Statistics Finland paint a sparse and elderly future.

  • Science

    • Switzerland Stars, China In Top 25, Innovation Rating Finds

      A global innovation rating has found Switzerland to be the most innovative nation in the world for the sixth consecutive year even if some other countries are on its heels. The lead group of countries continued to be mainly composed of most economically advanced nations, while innovation is lagging in many developing countries, but China and India made notable leaps up the list this year. The rankings stirred a broader discussion today of the shifting global economy and the role of innovation, including a call for a new approach to global innovation governance.

    • Is 5G technology dangerous? Early data shows a slight increase of tumors in male rats exposed to cellphone radiation

      As wireless companies prepare to launch the next generation of service, there are new questions about the possible health risks from radiation emitted by cellphones and the transmitters that carry the signals.

      Concerns about the potential harmful effects of radiofrequency radiation have dogged mobile technology since the first brick-sized cellphones hit the market in the 1980s.

      Industry and federal officials have largely dismissed those fears, saying the radiation exposure is minimal and that the devices are safe. Incidences of and deaths from brain cancer have shown little change in recent years despite the explosion in cellphone usage, they note.

    • Vikings Possibly Spread Smooth-Riding Horses Around the World

      This week, equestrian athletes at the Rio Olympics are competing in an event called “dressage,” in which they guide their horses to perform complex combinations of different gaits, including the walk, trot and canter.

      One type of footwork (or hoofwork, if you will) you likely won’t see is an “amble,” a sometimes comical four-beat gait that’s faster than a walk, slower than a gallop and well-suited for smooth, long rides.

  • Hardware

    • Storage Solutions – All You Need To Know

      Being a computer user, at some point of time we all were introduced to the fear of losing our data. I know it sounds familiar because we all love our data. The data can be of many types but most importantly you would not like to know that your precious pictures have been deleted due to new operating system installation or hard drive has been damaged. In this article, I’ll discuss the importance of cloud storage and different popular cloud storage that provide more free space.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Social costs of Flint’s lead drinking water crisis equal $395 million

      The social costs stemming from dangerous levels of lead in the drinking water of Flint, Mich., such as the effect on children’s health, amount to $395 million, according to an analysis by a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

    • Patient groups that backed new cancer drug received £60,000 from pharma firm

      THREE patient groups that successfully lobbied for a new leukaemia drug to be on the NHS received over £60,000 from the pharma firm behind the product.

      One of the charities relies on Big Pharma for 70 per cent of its funding and has a trustee with financial links to Janssen-Cilag, which manufactures the Ibrutinib drug.

      Professor David Miller, an academic who is also a transparency campaigner, said the practice of healthcare giants funding these groups “distorts” the decision-making process.

    • Grizzly Delisting and the Irony of Public Comments

      When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asks for public comments, they don’t mean you, and they don’t mean me. In fact, they don’t mean the public at all.

      Dan Ashe, the Director of the USFWS, highlighted the public’s ability to make public comments in his March 3rd announcement of the agency’s proposal to delist grizzlies from the endangered species list and he made much ado about the importance of the public’s input.

      Did he mean it? In a word, no.

    • Florida Keys Residents Resist Controversial GMO Mosquito Trial

      Residents of the Florida Keys are up in arms over a plan to release genetically-modified (GM) mosquitoes in the Key Haven neighborhood and are trying to get the word out about the trial, which they say would make them “lab rats” in their own community.

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the controversial study by U.K.-firm Oxitec earlier this month, amid renewed fears over mosquito transmission of the Zika virus.

      “We need to help educate the public about the very real, scientifically based problems with this genetically modified mosquito release,” Mara Daly, who has been helping organize a protest at the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, told the Miami Herald.

    • Protest planned at bug board over genetically modified mosquitoes

      A Keys woman says a protest Tuesday at the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board will target the release of genetically modified mosquitoes.

      “We will be outside with signs protesting peacefully. I think this will be the opportunity for moms, teachers, nurses to have a voice. I just wanted to give people a little push to do it,” said Mara Daly, who works at a Key Largo salon. “It’s to let them know there are concerns from people they have not heard from. Maybe the fat lady has already sung, I don’t know.

      The meeting starts at 3 p.m. at the board’s building, 503 107th St. in Marathon. Agenda items include an update on the Zika virus and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Aug. 5 approval to allow a test release of GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Lower Keys neighborhood of Key Haven. Aedes aegypti spread Zika, which can cause birth defects in the children of pregnant women, and whose symptoms include fever and pain in the joints, bones and muscles.

    • Holding Monsanto to Account: the People’s Tribunal in The Hague

      As one of the world’s leading seed and chemical companies, Monsanto’s activities affect us all.

      Its best-selling weedkiller is made from a chemical called glyphosate that the World Health Organisation has found to probably cause cancer. Yet its use is now so widespread that traces are found in one out of every three loaves of bread in the UK.

      That’s why earlier this year, in the lead up a EU decision about whether to relicense glyphosate, we mounted public pressure on decision makers through our Monsanto honest marketing campaign.

  • Security

    • Hacker demonstrates how voting machines can be compromised [Ed: Microsoft inside]

      Concerns are growing over the possibility of a rigged presidential election. Experts believe a cyberattack this year could be a reality, especially following last month’s hack of Democratic National Committee emails.

      The ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee sent a letter Monday to the Department of Homeland Security, saying in part: “Election security is critical, and a cyberattack by foreign actors on our elections systems could compromise the integrity of our voting process.”

      Roughly 70 percent of states in the U.S. use some form of electronic voting. Hackers told CBS News that problems with electronic voting machines have been around for years. The machines and the software are old and antiquated. But now with millions heading to the polls in three months, security experts are sounding the alarm, reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.

    • Another Expert Weighs in on Election Hacking

      Today the old Gray Lady, the New York Times, no less, weighed in on election hacking in an Op/Ed piece titled The Election Won’t be Rigged. But it Could be Hacked. Of course, anyone who’s read my second cybersecurity thriller, The Lafayette Campaign, a Tale of Election and Deceptions, already knew that.

      The particular focus of the NYT article is that since voting can be hacked, it’s vital to have a way to audit elections after they occur to see whether that has been the case, and to reveal the true electoral result.

    • Linux.Lady Trojan Turns Redis Servers to Mining Rigs
    • New release: usbguard-0.5.11
    • New release: usbguard-0.5.12
    • New FFS Rowhammer Attack Hijacks Linux VMs

      Researchers from the Vrije University in the Netherlands have revealed a new version of the infamous Rowhammer attack that is effective at compromising Linux VMs, often used for cloud hosting services.

    • Minica – lightweight TLS for everyone!

      A while back, I found myself in need of some TLS certificates set up and issued for a testing environment.

      I remembered there was some code for issuing TLS certs in Docker, so I yanked some of that code and made a sensable CLI API over it.

    • Guy Tricks Windows Tech Support Scammers Into Installing Ransomware Code

      A man named Ivan Kwiatkowski managed to install Locky ransomware on the machine of a person who was pretending to be a tech support executive of a reputed company. Ivan wrote his experiences in a blog post tells that how the tech support scammer fell into the pit he dug for innocent people.

    • Fixing Things

      Recent reports that TCP connections can be hijacked have kicked an anthill at Kernel.org. Linus and others have a patch.

    • Linux TCP flaw fix likely in next stable release

      A patch to fix a weakness in the transmission control protocol used in the Linux kernel since 2012, which could lead to remote hijacking of Internet connections, is available in the public stable queue tree and is likely to be included in the next stable release.

    • Linux Has a TCP Flaw, Researchers Find
    • Can’t Trust This!
    • Monday’s security advisories
    • Running a Hackathon for Security Hackers

      H1-702 was one piece in a picture to ensure HackerOne is the very best platform and community for hackers to hack, learn, and grow.

    • It’s the Year of Application Layer Security in Public Clouds

      The cloud continues to be a significant force in enterprise computing and technology adoption. Enterprises that have adopted cloud have seen slashes capital expenses, increased agility, centralized information management, and scaled their businesses quickly.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Isis ranks dwindle to 15,000 amid ‘retreat on all fronts’, claims Pentagon

      A top US commander has claimed the military campaigns in Iraq and Syria have taken 45,000 enemy combatants off the battlefield and reduced the total number of Islamic State fighters to as few as 15,000.

      Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland said both the quality and number of Isis fighters was declining, while warning that it was difficult to determine accurate numbers. Earlier estimates put the number of Islamic State fighters at between 19,000 and 25,000 but US officials say the range is now roughly 15,000 to 20,000.

    • ISIL fighter number falls to 15,000 as Manbij capture Cuts off Route to Europe

      Without Manbij, Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) will find it more difficult to import weapons and foreign fighters to al-Raqqa. Other routes still open to it, such as Jarabulus, are also under pressure and could be the next target of the Syrian Democratic Forces. It is much further to import foreign munitions.

      Daesh as a territorial power is coming to a slow end; Daesh as a source of terrorism still has a good long run.

    • No, Obama did not found ISIL, Mr. Trump: That was the GOP

      There had been no al-Qaeda in Iraq before Bush invaded. Operatives flocked there to fight the US troops, and gathered under the rubric first of al-Tawhid of the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But al-Zarqawi initially had bad relations with Usama Bin Laden. In order to fight the US presence, he made up and joined al-Qaeda and formed al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. AFter he was killed by the US in 2006, the new, Iraqi leadership declared itself the Islamic State of Iraq and deepened their al-Qaeda affiliation.

    • Jeremy Corbyn interview: ‘There are not 300,000 sectarian extremists at large’

      I have just heard the result. Very disappointed. People joined the Labour party in order to take part in the party and were specifically told that they were able to vote in the leadership election and that was decided by the high court that they could. The appeal court has said they can’t and I would imagine that those who brought the case will be considering whether or not to take it to the supreme court.

    • Trashing Nicaragua’s Success

      The New York Times is the best old-style, broad-sheet newspaper in America; it still covers the world with resourceful and enterprising reporters and commentators. But, then, there’s the other New York Times, the imperial rag that prints editorials like the one on August 5 titled “ ‘Dynasty,’ the Nicaraguan Version.” It’s not that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is a saint or even a model democrat; it’s that the editorial department and the writer who penned this sloppy embarrassment are still playing a version of the Reagan Cold War game of the 1980s. Those days are over; one hopes for something a bit more worldly.

    • Seymour Hersh on White House Lies About bin Laden’s Death, Pakistan and the Syrian Civil War

      In The Killing of Osama bin Laden, Seymour Hersh offers a compelling alternative version to the details that led to bin Laden’s death. He also investigates unproven assertions justifying the US’s thus far disastrous involvement in the Syrian civil war. Truthout recently interviewed Hersh about the book.

    • Hillary Clinton Donors and Jeb Bush Donors Are the Same People

      It seems that Hillary Clinton donors and Jeb Bush donors don’t care much which of the two of them wins, as long as one of them does.

      Mark Horne has written about how easily George Bush and Bill Clinton get along. We also find that Hillary Clinton is perfectly acceptable to the financial elite as a speaker when George Bush can’t make a scheduled (and highly paid) speaking event.

      If you needed confirmation for what you might guess on the basis of such stories, here it is from the Daily Beast: “Hillary Clinton’s Mega-Donors Are Also Funding Jeb Bush.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s Mega-Donors Are Also Funding Jeb Bush

      For some wealthy donors, it doesn’t matter who takes the White House in 2016—as long as the president’s name is Clinton or Bush.

      More than 60 ultra-rich Americans have contributed to both Jeb Bush’s and Hillary Clinton’s federal campaigns, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by Vocativ and The Daily Beast. Seventeen of those contributors have gone one step further and opened their wallets to fund both Bush’s and Clinton’s 2016 ambitions.

      After all, why support just Hillary Clinton or just Jeb Bush when you can hedge your bets and donate to both? This seems to be the thinking of a group of powerful men and women—racetrack owners, bankers, media barons, chicken magnates, hedge funders (and their spouses). Some of them have net worths that can eclipse the GDPs of small countries.

    • The bombing comes just as the U.S. announced a $1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia

      A Saudi-led coalition airstrike has hit a hospital in Yemen on Monday, killing at least seven and injuring at least 13, Reuters reports.

      A witness said the attack on the clinic, located in the Abs district in Yemen’s northern Hajja province and supported by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), could not be immediately evacuated because rescue crews feared more bombings were coming as warplanes continued flying over the area.

    • 10 Children Killed in US-Backed Coalition Strike: Yemeni Officials

      Ten children were killed and 28 other children were wounded on Saturday when an airstrike struck a school in northern Yemen, medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders said.

      All the casualties were 8-15 years old, the group, which uses its French acronym, MSF, posted on Twitter.

      Yemeni officials say that the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition was responsible for the attack, the Associated Press reports.

      As Reuters explains, “Saudi Arabia and its allies have launched thousands of air strikes against the Houthis since they drove the internationally recognized government into exile in March 2015.”

    • Airstrike on Yemen school kills 10 children, wounds dozens

      Yemeni officials and aid workers say an airstrike on a school purportedly carried out by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has killed at least 10 children and wounded dozens more.

      The Islamic school says in a statement that the Saturday strike in Saada, deep in the Houthis’ northern heartland, was part of raids that have resumed against the rebels after peace talks collapsed earlier this month.

    • As ISIS Brewed in Iraq, Clinton’s State Department Cut Eyes and Ears on the Ground

      An investigation by ProPublica and The Washington Post finds that Secretary of State Clinton initially pressed to keep civilian programs and listening posts after the U.S. troop pullout in 2011, but then her State Department scrapped or slashed them at the behest of the White House and Congress.

    • People in Syria’s Manbij Rejoice by Shaving, throwing off Veil as ISIL fighters Flee

      People in Syria’s norther town of Manbij, now entirely liberated from the rule of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), rejoiced on Saturday. Men shaved their beards (which had been imposed on them by the fundamentalists) and women threw off their burqas (full-face veils) and burned them. The burqa is a Gulf custom, not a Muslim one, and many Muslim countries frown on it, including Egypt. In 2010 it was banned in Syrian schools.

      People were also happy in the city that Daesh fighters, who had taken 2,000 hostages, released some of them as they escaped for Jarabulus, the last major border town they hold.

    • Liberals rally to sink Obama trade deal

      Liberals are amping up their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on and off of Capitol Hill, amid escalating concerns that the package will get an 11th hour vote after the November elections.

      Republican leaders in both chambers have said it’s unlikely the mammoth Pacific Rim trade deal will reach the floor this year. But the accord remains a top priority for President Obama in the twilight of his final term, and the critics — leery of pro-TPP members in both parties — aren’t taking anything for granted.

      Liberal TPP opponents this month have launched a new wave of petition campaigns and fundraising drives; a free concert series is touring the country through the summer; and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are vowing to do “everything we possibly can,” in the words of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), to block a vote this year.

      “Make no mistake about it, Speaker [Paul] Ryan and the administration are working hand-in-hand to plot a path for the TPP in a lame duck session of Congress,” DeLauro, who’s among the loudest TPP critics, said this week in an email. “They will do everything possible to try to pass the TPP after the election.”

    • How Blocking the Saudi Arms Deal Could Help Stop Lame Duck TPP

      In this strategy memo on why progressive Democrats and Empire-skeptic Republicans should do what they reasonably can to assist efforts to block the recently proposed Saudi arms deal, I will cover four points.

    • Amid More Civilian Deaths, Lawmakers Push to End Saudi Arms Flow

      U.S. senators are attempting to block the State Department’s deal to sell Saudi Arabia nearly $1.5 billion in weapons, just days after the move was announced by the Obama administration.

      Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Foreign Policy that he would “work with a bipartisan coalition to explore forcing a vote on blocking this sale. Saudi Arabia is an unreliable ally with a poor human rights record. We should not rush to sell them advanced arms and promote an arms race in the Middle East.”

      Congressional opposition to the arms sale came as the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed military coalition broke an unsteady five-month ceasefire in Yemen last week and resumed bombing in the capital city of Sana’a—prompting immediate reports of civilian deaths. On Saturday, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that an airstrike on a school in northern Yemen killed 10 children and wounded 28 others.

      Paul and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), both of whom sit on the Foreign Relations Committee, are outspoken critics of the coalition.

      “If you talk to Yemeni Americans, they will tell you in Yemen this isn’t a Saudi bombing campaign, it’s a U.S. bombing campaign,” Murphy said in June. “Every single civilian death inside Yemen is attributable to the United States.”

    • New Hacks Threaten Chaos for Soros and Democratic Party

      Online hacktivists have thrown the Democratic elite into complete chaos after a pair of websites, Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks, posted a series of leaks this weekend exposing the personal data of federal lawmakers and the internal records of party donor and influencer George Soros.

      Purporting to “shed light on one of the most influential networks operating worldwide,” DCLeaks on Saturday published more than 2,500 documents, which included “workplans, strategies, priorities, and other activities” related to George Soros’s Open Society Foundation.

      The Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist a major donor to the Democratic Party and, predictably, conservative and other ideological websites are having a field day with the data drop.

      Less than 24 hours before that leak, the infamous Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacker Guccifer 2.0 late Friday published a spreadsheet containing the personal cellphone numbers and email addresses of nearly 200 current and former members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and their staff.

    • DNC creates cybersecurity advisory board following hack

      The Democratic National Committee is creating a four-member cybersecurity advisory board, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO on Thursday.

      The advisory board is a response to the recent DNC hack and subsequent email leak that led to the resignation of former Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other top DNC officials.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Watch Your Coastal Property. Here Comes the Sea

      Climate scientists have long warned of a rise in sea level as global warming melts the world’s glaciers. But while the level has been increasing at about 3.5 millimeters a year, the rate of increase itself has fluctuated, leading some people to doubt the warnings and the broader impact of rising carbon emissions.

      Fresh evidence, in a study published today in Scientific Reports, suggests the scientists were right, and that satellite measurements have been distorted by the eruption in 1991 of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

      The volcanic eruption, the second-largest of the 20th century, is estimated to have spewed almost 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, lowering global temperatures by about 1 degree Fahrenheit from 1991 to 1993, as gas and dust particles blocked solar radiation, and causing sea levels to drop. The researchers, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Old Dominion University, used models to calculate the impact of the Pinatubo eruption and found that sea levels fell about six millimeters.

    • McKibben: Time to Declare a War (Literally) on Climate Change

      We’re under attack, says author and climate campaigner Bill McKibben, and the only way to defeat the enemy is to declare a global war against the destructive practices that threaten the world’s imperiled ecosystems and human civilization as we know it.

      In a new piece published Monday in The New Republic, the co-founder of the global climate action group 350.org says there is simply no more time to waste and that a full-scale mobilization, like the one orchestrated by the U.S. government during World War II, is now necessary if the adversary—human-caused global warming and the climate change that results—is to be vanquished.

      “World War III is well and truly underway,” writes McKibben. “And we are losing.”

    • We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.

      In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”

    • ExxonMobil’s Latest Campaign to Stonewall Federal Climate Action

      Recent press accounts report that ExxonMobil is now actively promoting a carbon tax. If true, that’s big news. It would mean that, after nearly 20 years of blocking action on climate change, the world’s biggest energy company has finally come to its senses.

      But wait a minute. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. So one might well ask: Is this anything more than a PR ploy?

    • Hunger Strike Pushes South Korea to Defer Coal Plant Plan

      Finally, on the afternoon of July 26, the Ministry announced the proposed plant would be delayed indefinitely.

    • If It Hadn’t Been for Those Meddling Climate Kids

      In 1962, Diane Arbus took a photo of a lanky young boy in Central Park holding a hand grenade. He stands before the camera, a deranged look on his face, his free hand contorted into a menacing claw. It’s an iconic image that captured the generational tension around the Vietnam War and, according to songwriter of that time Graham Nash, one that questions the lessons we teach our children.

    • “Don’t Rely on Your Past Experiences:” La. Battles “Unprecedented” Flooding

      Louisiana continues to battle “unprecedented” flooding on Sunday, as experts warn that the historic rainfall that sparked the rising waters is the kind of extreme weather event to expect on a warming planet.

      Over 7,000 people have been rescued, at least three people have died, and a state of emergency has been declared.

      “This is unprecedented,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday. “Please don’t rely on your experiences in the past.”

    • Louisiana Flooding: At Least Three Dead, 7,000+ Rescued

      More than 7,000 people have been rescued from their homes after massive floods swept across Louisiana, and officials warned Sunday that even though the rain had subsided, dangers loomed.

      “It’s not over,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday. “The water’s going to rise in many areas. It’s no time to let the guard down.”

    • Is Undead Smallpox Reemerging From Siberian Graves?

      As if the news that resurrected anthrax from thawed-out reindeer wasn’t bad enough, increasingly warming temperatures are prompting renewed fears that permafrost could thaw enough to unleash smallbox from remote Russian cemeteries.

      As The Siberian Times reports, this year the permafrost melt has been three times more extreme than usual above the Arctic Circle, causing erosion near graveyards of a town where smallpox wiped out 40 percent of the population decades ago.

      Yet, some scientists argue that it’s not the graves we should be worried about.

      Scientists from Russia’s Virology and Biotechnology Center (or Vector) in Novosibirsk are investigating the bodies, some of which show bone sores associated with smallpox. Fortunately, only fragments of the strain’s DNA were found, rather than any evidence of surviving smallpox. However, the center plans to conduct more research on “deeper burials” in the future, just to make sure. So far, luckily, that’s been the case for years, as another expedition in 2012 found only “fragments” as well.

    • Anthrax Strikes Wildlife in Rapidly Thawing Arctic

      A full-scale medical emergency has broken out in the Yamal region of Siberia, with troops from the Russian army’s special biological warfare unit spearheading efforts to contain an outbreak of anthrax.

      A 12-year-old boy died after consuming infected venison, other people are believed to have died or become infected with the disease, and thousands of reindeer suspected of carrying it have been killed and incinerated.

      One of the main reasons cited for the outbreak of anthrax – one of the world’s most deadly pathogens – is an unprecedented heatwave experienced in the north Siberia region in recent weeks. Temperatures have been between 25°C and 35°C, which is way above the average for the time of year.

      Anthrax, an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillum anthracis, can occur naturally in certain soils, with infection usually spread by grazing animals. It has also been developed for use in chemical warfare.

    • Are Climate-Related ‘Hot Blobs’ Spreading and Killing Marine Life Worldwide?

      A massive swath of hot water off the West Coast of North America devastated marine life for years—killing sea lions, whales, starfish, birds, and more—and new research finds that such marine heatwaves are growing more and more frequent.

    • ‘The blob’: how marine heatwaves are causing unprecedented climate chaos

      First seabirds started falling out of the sky, washing up on beaches from California to Canada.

      Then emaciated and dehydrated sea lion pups began showing up, stranded and on the brink of death.

      A surge in dead whales was reported in the same region, and that was followed by the largest toxic algal bloom in history seen along the Californian coast. Mixed among all that there were population booms of several marine species that normally aren’t seen surging in the same year.

      Plague, famine, pestilence and death was sweeping the northern Pacific Ocean between 2014 and 2015.

    • The Blob That Cooked the Pacific

      The first fin whale appeared in Marmot Bay, where the sea curls a crooked finger around Alaska’s Kodiak Island. A biologist spied the calf drifting on its side, as if at play. Seawater flushed in and out of its open jaws. Spray washed over its slack pink tongue. Death, even the gruesome kind, is usually too familiar to spark alarm in the wild north. But late the next morning, the start of Memorial Day weekend, passengers aboard the ferry Kennicott spotted another whale bobbing nearby. Her blubber was thick. She looked healthy. But she was dead too.

      Kathi Lefebvre is talking about the whales as we crunch across a windy, rocky beach, 200 miles north of Kodiak. In a typical year eight whales are found dead in the western Gulf of Alaska. But in 2015 at least a dozen popped up in June alone, their bodies so buoyant that gulls used them as fishing platforms. All summer the Pacific Ocean heaved rotting remains into rocky coves along the more than 1,000-mile stretch from Anchorage to the Aleutian Islands. Whole families of brown bears feasted on their carcasses.

      Lefebvre, a research scientist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington, had examined eye fluid from one of the carcasses in a failed attempt to winnow the cause of death. Now the two of us are on Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska, inching toward a wheezing, dying sea otter sprawled out on the shore. Otter deaths are skyrocketing on the shoreline beneath the snowcapped Kenai Mountains, so Lefebvre is here to see whether the fates of these otters and whales are somehow intertwined.

    • The Earth Just Experienced the Hottest Month on the Books. Period.

      On Monday it was confirmed that the Earth has broken an ominous climate milestone amid a wave of troubling records: July 2016 was the hottest recorded month—ever.

      According to new NASA data, the global mean surface temperatures last month were 0.84° Celsius (1.51° Fahrenheit) above average and was the warmest July in their data set, which dates back to 1880.

      This marks the 10th straight month to set a new monthly warming record, based on NASA’s analysis. “Every month so far this year has been record hot,” reported Climate Central’s Andrea Thompson. “In NASA’s data, that streak goes back to October 2015, which was the first month in its data set that was more than 1C hotter than average.”

      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases its monthly temperature report on Wednesday and it is likely theirs will reflect a 15-month streak of record-shattering heat. (Some previous reporting on monthly records here, here, here, and here.)

      What’s more, because July is typically the hottest month of the year, it stands that July 2016 was “the warmest month of any in a data record that can be extended back to the nineteenth century,” according to the U.K.-based Copernicus Climate Change Service (CCCS), which last week published similar temperature results.

    • Spotting the Havoc Wreaked by Climate Change

      I returned home angry. How can we, as Americans, be even contemplating the idea of installing at such a moment of crisis in mankind’s history, either of two candidates who don’t really give a damn that we are destroying the earth’s ability to sustain human life, or for that matter, most of the astonishing ecosystem that has evolved over hundreds of millions of years of evolution? Trump denies that climate change is real, while Clinton, vastly funded by a banking industry that finances the industries that are destroying the earth, by energy companies, power companies and automotive companies that are doing the actual destruction, has no intention of taking dramatic action to halt the pumping of more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    • Evidence Suggests the Oil Industry Wrote Big Tobacco’s Playbook, Then Used It to Lie About Climate Change

      A recent analysis of more than 100 industry documents conducted by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a Washington, DC-based advocacy group, has revealed that the oil industry knew of the risks its business posed to the global climate decades before originally suspected.

      It has also long been assumed that, in its efforts to deceive investors and the public about the negative impact its business has on the environment, Big Oil borrowed Big Tobacco’s so-called tactical “playbook.” But these documents indicate that infamous playbook appears to have actually originated within the oil industry itself.

      If that is true, it would be highly significant — and damning for Big Oil — because the tactics used by the tobacco industry to downplay the connection between smoking and cancer were eventually deemed to have violated federal racketeering laws by a federal court. The ruling dashed efforts by Big Tobacco to find legal cover under the First Amendment, which just happens to be the same strategy that ExxonMobil and its GOP allies are currently using to defend the company against allegations of fraud. If the playbook was in fact created by the oil and gas industry and then later used by ExxonMobil, it ruins the company’s argument of plausible deniability, making it highly likely that the company violated federal law.

    • How Bad Is Your Air-Conditioner for the Planet?

      As of 2009, nearly 90 percent of American homes have air-conditioners, which account for about 6 percent of all the country’s residential energy use…

  • Finance

    • Housing official in Silicon Valley resigns because she can’t afford to live there

      Once Kate Downing and her husband Steve did the math, it was obvious that if they wanted to raise a family, staying in Palo Alto, California, was not an option. Although Steve, 33, works as a software engineer at a nearby Silicon Valley technology company and Kate, 31, is a product attorney at another tech firm, the cost of owning a home near their jobs has simply become too steep for them.

      If they wanted to purchase their current house – which they rent with another couple for $6,200 a month total – it would cost $2.7m plus monthly mortgage and tax payments of $12,177, adding up to more than $146,000 a year.

      Instead, the couple will soon relocate 45 miles south to Santa Cruz, a city by the beach where they can afford to purchase a home and eventually raise children.

    • Raise America inspires a new generation of organizing for low-wage workers

      While the Fight for $15 raises headlines and wages across the United States, June 15 saw a national day of action in cities around the country for the annual anniversary of the Justice for Janitors campaign. For SEIU Local 32BJ, which handles 155,000 property service workers along the East Coast from New Hampshire to Florida, this was a chance to reclaim the history of a campaign that did the unthinkable in the early 1990s.

    • The ‘Big Lie’ Behind the Rosy Unemployment Rate

      When Donald Trump on Monday questioned the accuracy of the federal government’s glowing employment reports, it may have seemed like another unsubstantiated outburst from a famously loose-with-the-facts candidate. But in this case, he was joining a bipartisan chorus of businesspeople, economists and lawmakers who say the monthly employment report is an artificial portrait deliberately airbrushed by statisticians to make the jobs picture look better than it really is.

    • How labor’s decline opened door to billionaire Trump as ‘savior’ of American workers

      Out of the economic maelstrom of the last decade, Donald Trump has emerged as the improbable, and self-proclaimed, champion of American workers.

      And that’s despite the fact that Trump has failed to articulate substantive policy positions regarding labor issues, other than generic railing against foreign competition and bad trade deals. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, for one, has attacked him by tweeting a number of examples in which Trump’s past behavior shows that he is no friend to working people.

    • Are You Sure You Want to Eat That?

      Whether we shop for sustenance at a chain grocery store, the corner bodega or even at a farmers market, we all share a basic desire—to not get sick from the food that is supposed to nourish us. In fact, much of the time, most of us don’t think twice about the safety of our food.

      But not all nations have the same food safety standards as ours, and if the controversial trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) goes into effect, some of the food in our stores may not be safe to eat.

      The TPP puts the interests of Big Food ahead of yours and mine. That’s because it wasn’t negotiated in the public’s interest. The TPP is instead intended to allow corporations to expand into new markets and make more money. If passed, it will overwhelm already overtaxed border inspectors, flood our food system with potentially unsafe imports and even empower other countries to challenge our common sense food safety protections as illegal trade barriers.

    • Social Security and the 1 Percent

      Between 1982 and 2014, the percentage of wage income escaping taxation went from 10.0 percent to 17.3 percent, an increase of 7.3 percentage points; the top 1 percent of wage earners saw their share of total wage income go up 5.1 percentage points during the same time period. This means that the greater share of wages going to the top 1 percent of wage earners accounts for over 70 percent of the increase in untaxed earnings.

    • The Brexit Hangover Just Got Worse

      Those who supported a departure from Europe are only now coming to terms with the crippling economic realities—including the fact that many didn’t quite understand the rules and the whims of their neighbors.

    • Economists have worked out how much Brexit could cost us

      Or at least that is the theory put forward by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which has calculated the cost of leaving the single market.

      Not being a member (which is a possible scenario) could see the UK lose out on an additional 4% of GDP by 2030, the IFS has said.

      That 4% is equivalent of two years worth of growth, and equates to around £70 billion in today’s money – or £2,900 for each household.

      It said that loss would outweigh the benefit of no longer paying in a net £9bn a year into the European Union budget.

      The gloomy forecast comes after senior European politicians made it clear Britain can’t keep its membership of the single market unless its makes sizeable contribution to the EU budget and allows the free movement of EU workers.

    • Sports Direct will pay back thousands of workers after giving them less than minimum wage

      Sports Direct has agreed to pay money back to thousands of workers who lost out after being effectively paid less than minimum wage by the company while employed in its warehouses, according to a report from The Guardian.

      The payments centre around an investigation into Sports Direct’s working and employment practices by the House of Commons Business Select Committee, which found that conditions in some of the company’s warehouse facilities were akin to those in a “Victorian workhouse.”

    • Post-war fantasies and Brexit: the delusional view of Britain’s place in the world

      Claims about Britain’s past are made regularly in the referedum debate. But claims about Britain’s historical place in the world – courageously standing alone, being outnumbered and outgunned but in the end outperforming everyone – are not based on fact, writes Mike Finn. These myths could nonetheless have very real consequences: this is the self-image that the Brexit campaign portray and which many think they will revive by voting to Leave.

    • John Oliver: We Should Be Worried About the Subprime Car Loan Bubble That’s About to Burst (Video)

      In a scary and important episode, the “Last Week Tonight” host sounds a warning about a boom in subprime automobile loans that promises to make “your eye twitch with flashbacks to the mortgage crisis.”

    • Three More Reasons Why We Need to Stop CETA

      Last week I joined activists and campaigners from across the globe who came to Canada for the World Social Forum. A major topic of discussion was the problems with TTIP-style free trade agreements and how we can stop them.

      For us in Europe the big one is now CETA – the Canada-EU trade deal (formally the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement) which could become law as early as next year. Unless we stop it.

      Our allies from across Europe and Canada gave some strong reasons for us to get more active on CETA.

    • Congress: AWOL and Out of Control

      Taken as whole, with exceptions, the American people have the strangest attitude toward the Congress. Our national legislature spends nearly a quarter of our income and affects us one way or another every day of the year. Yet too many people withdraw in disgust instead of making Congress accountable to them. Warren Buffett once said, “It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them.”

      People have a low regard for Capitol Hill. Polls show less than 20% of people approve of what Congress does and does not do. In April a poll registered a 14% approval rate. People know that Congress takes a lot of days off – all with pay. Senators and Representatives work over 100 fewer days than average Americans do. Specifically, members were in session 157 days in 2015 and 135 in 2014. This year the House is scheduled to be in session for only 111 days, with the August recess alone stretching nearly six weeks.

    • Unruly Britannia: Why we can no longer call our kingdom ‘united’

      This is what shrunken dreams look like. This Britain post-Brexit contained not one reference to Scottish independence and the prospect of any future referendum. Worse, there wasn’t one mention of the threat to the Northern Irish peace process, which has been dealt a severe blow by the hauling out of Europe of the UK. Many people, particularly in London elites, will say that these divisions have always existed as they currently do. But that’s not true; they are in fact getting worse. Two conceptions of ‘Britain’ characterise and feed into this spiral of deepening divisions. One is the vision held by ‘winner Britain’: the view of those who have made it, think they can make it, or hang on the coat tails of this class. They tell themselves they are a cosmopolitan, outward focused group – but only with time for similar minded people. This was one of the defining features of the Brexit debate – that the Remain side and the large parts of the London media couldn’t understand anything beyond this class. Any opposition, from places such as ‘the North’ was about handing on to the past, or worse, about being losers. The second factor is the emergence of an English nationalism – which in large part presents itself in opposition to the above. It claims that in recent decades we have ‘lost’ control of our country – to immigrants, the PC brigade, and Europe – and now is the time to ‘take it back’.

    • The “$500 million club” of colleges tends to be stingy with aid to low-income students

      Call them the top four percent: elite private colleges and universities that together sit atop three-quarters of the higher education terrain’s endowment wealth.

    • Trade, Truth and Trump

      Donald Trump is a hateful bigot, but that doesn’t mean that everything he says is wrong. It would be a huge step forward if his critics could acknowledge that the recent pattern of trade has been harmful to large segments of the population. Furthermore, this is due to the way trade policy was designed, not the uncontrollable forces of globalization.

      If respectable leaders in politics and the media continue to repeat glib clichés rather than taking the economic reality of trade policy seriously, it should not be surprising that the victims of trade will look to demagogues like Trump. It is unfortunate when we get a more honest discussion of a major policy issue from Donald Trump than the New York Times.

    • The medical debt crisis: The prognosis is still dire for Americans struggling to pay off massive health care bills

      Recent evidence suggests that the Affordable Care Act is helping to reduce the burden of medical debt for American consumers. Yet, especially in states that have not expanded Medicaid, millions of Americans still lack insurance and many plans offer thin coverage. The result is that in 2014, 64 million people were struggling with medical debt, the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. In my latest Demos report, “Enough to Make You Sick: The Burden of Medical Debt,” I explore how medical debt affects household finances and why we need more aggressive policies to reduce medical debt.

      My report details the results of two surveys (in 2008 and 2012) Demos commissioned to explore the finances of lower to middle-income households carrying credit card debt. I find that households carrying medical debt on their credit card are more likely to take extreme measures to pay off their debts and forgo care. Medical debt has significant negative impacts on household finances, even when people are insured. A public option could help reduce the chances of people taking on medical debt, and that more rigorous consumer protection could mitigate the consequences.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ¡Fuera Trump!: Our Writer Traveled to Mexico City, Where People Definitely Had Choice Words for ‘The Donald’

      Responses varied. While the organillero didn’t believe Trump would win the election, some predicted that Trump would take it all in November. Others hinted at a conspiracy between Trump and Mexico’s president. A few bluntly compared Trump to Hitler. And some likened his campaign to a stunt, instead of an honest attempt to win the White House. Lots of people described the man with the darkest of humor: His campaign is a joke, but not a funny one.

    • The Summer of the Shill

      Campaign 2016 won’t just have lasting implications for American politics. It’s obliterated what was left of our news media

    • The BBC must improve how it reports statistics

      How much does the UK contribute to the EU each week? How tired did you get of hearing that question, and of the inaccurate answer that it’s £350 million?

      Even if you didn’t watch the debates or read the op-eds, it was hard to miss the pictures of Boris Johnson and other high profile Vote Leave campaigners standing in front of a big red bus with the inaccurate £350 million statistic emblazoned across the side.

      Misleading claims supported by murky statistics were used on both sides of the EU referendum debate. But the £350 million claim became the iconic slogan of the Leave campaign, and helped to show why the BBC needs to be braver in challenging statistical assertions if it is to be a useful public service.

    • The Racial Wealth Gap Will Persist Until Neoliberalism and Its Peddlers Are Defeated

      For the leaders of the fight for racial equality throughout the twentieth century, anti-discrimination and anti-capitalism went hand in hand; the struggle for economic justice was always viewed as integral to and inseparable from the struggle for racial justice.

      “Our needs are identical with labor’s needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community,” Martin Luther King Jr. said at an AFL-CIO convention in 1961, expressing the prevailing sentiment among the socialist leaders of the civil rights movement.

      Bayard Rustin, the key organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, emphasized the importance of organized labor in advancing the rights and material conditions of black Americans in a 1971 essay, in which he asserted both the centrality of unions and the need for a radical approach to inequality.

      He urged that “only a program that would effect some fundamental change in the distribution of America’s resources for those in greatest need of them” would be enough “to meet the present crisis.”

    • TV Networks Should Open Up the Presidential Debates

      If ten major TV networks got together and decided to nationally televise a presidential debate restricted to Republican nominee Donald Trump and right-leaning Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, while barring other candidates including Democrat Hillary Clinton, it would be recognized as an act of media bias or exclusion.

      But what if the televised debates this fall are restricted to just Trump and Clinton? That, too, needs to be recognized as an intentional act of media exclusion.

      In the coming weeks, we need to generate a debate about the debates – who controls them and which candidates are included. That’s the goal of a new petition launched by RootsAction.org, a group I co-founded.

      Beginning in 1988, major TV networks granted journalistic control over the debates to a private organization with no official status: the Commission on Presidential Debates. The CPD is often called “nonpartisan.” That’s absurdly inaccurate. “Bipartisan” is the right adjective, as it has always carried out the joint will of the Republican and Democratic parties. (See George Farah’s meticulously reported book, “No Debate.”)

    • The Pro-Nuclear War Party

      According to a Wall Street Journal report, the following people and entities would like the United States to begin a nuclear war: Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the U.K., France, Japan, South Korea, and Germany. If any of those people or entities believe they can prove a case of libel, it might be a huge one. (Are you listening, Rupert?)

      According to Mr. Murdoch’s newspaper, the White House has been discussing the possibility of declaring that the United States no longer has a policy of engaging in the first use of nuclear bombs. The trouble is that those individuals and nations named above object. They insist, we are told, that the United States should have the policy of beginning a nuclear war.

      Have the people of the UK, France, Japan, South Korea, Germany, or the United States itself been polled on this? Has any legislature pretending to represent any of those populations voted on this? Of course not. But what we could do, perhaps, is amend the policy to read: “When the United States begins the nuclear war, it shall announce that it is doing so in the name of democracy.” That should be good.

      Has Mr. Kerry, Mr. Carter, or Mr. Moniz been evaluated by a psychiatrist? Was Mr. Kerry against this before he was for it? The important question, I believe, is whether they want to start the nuclear war with any hatred or bigotry in mind. If what they intend is a loving, tolerant, and multicultural nuclear war, then really what we ought to be worrying about is the unfathomable evil of Donald Trump who has said that he’d like to kill families — and particular types of families.

      Now, I am not claiming to have fathomed the evil of Mr. Trump, but it has been U.S. policy since before there was a United States to kill families. And it is my strong suspicion that a nuclear war and the nuclear winter and nuclear famine it would bring to the earth would harm at least some families of every existing type.

    • ‘Bipartisan Fraud’: Debate Rules Shut Out Third-Party Candidates

      As of Monday, neither Libertarian Gary Johnson nor the Green Party’s Jill Stein had enough support to get a spot onstage alongside Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, which open debate advocates say amounts to a fraud of bipartisanism.

      One such advocacy group, RootsAction, launched a petition on Monday calling for the executives at ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Broadcasting, PBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Univision, and Telemundo to present debates including all four candidates, even if the commission—or Trump or Clinton—wants otherwise.

      “If Trump or Clinton balk, let them know you’re happy to leave their podium empty,” the petition states.

    • Third-party candidates on outside as debate criteria released

      The Commission on Presidential Debates has released the polls it will use to decide the participants of September’s first presidential debate as third-party candidates struggle to make the stage.
      Candidates will need to hit an average of 15 percent in polls conducted by ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC/Wall Street Journal. The 15 percent threshold had been announced months ago, but the commission released its polling selections on Monday after consultation with Frank Newport, the editor-in-chief of Gallup.

      Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump are virtually assured a slot each on the stage for the Sept. 26 debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. But it remains unlikely that a third-party candidate will join them, despite voters’ historic dislike of both Clinton and Trump.

      As of Monday, neither Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson nor Green Party nominee Jill Stein would qualify, and neither has come close to hitting 15 percent in any qualifying poll.

    • Political Word Games

      Understandably Mr. Trump took umbrage at the suggestion he had sacrificed nothing, and to prove his point, gave us all a new understanding of the word “sacrifice.” Mr. Trump said: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of job. . . built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.” Thus, the new meaning for sacrifice is being very successful in whatever you undertake.

      Hillary Clinton has imparted new meaning to words that were commonly associated with things electrical. The words are “Short Circuit.” “Short circuit” first entered the lexicon in its new incarnation when Ms. Clinton was discussing her use of email while serving as Secretary of State. Although the use or misuse of her email is of no substantive importance, her attempts to consistently explain her email procedures, while serving as Secretary of State, has given the question a life of its own that far overshadows any substantive concerns over her practices.

    • Inside the administration’s $1 billion deal to detain Central American asylum seekers

      As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.

      The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective. Arrivals of Central American families at the border have continued unabated while court rulings have forced the administration to step back from its original approach to the border surge.

      In hundreds of other detention contracts given out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, federal payouts rise and fall in step with the percentage of beds being occupied. But in this case, CCA is paid for 100 percent capacity even if the facility is, say, half full, as it has been in recent months. An ICE spokeswoman, Jennifer Elzea, said that the contracts for the 2,400-bed facility in Dilley and one for a 532-bed family detention center in Karnes City, Tex., given to another company, are “unique” in their payment structures because they provide “a fixed monthly fee for use of the entire facility regardless of the number of residents.”

    • With Trump certain to lose, you can forget about a progressive Clinton

      His chances, as measured in the polls, went almost overnight from fairly decent to utter crap. For much of this year, populism had the gilded class really worried. There was Bernie Sanders and the unthinkable threat of a socialist president. There was the terrifying Brexit vote. Just a short while ago the American national newspapers were running page-one stories telling readers it was time to take seriously Trump’s followers, if not Trump himself. And on 3 August, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman actually typed the following: “It scares me that people are so fed up with elites, so hate and mistrust [Hillary] Clinton and are so worried about the future – jobs, globalization and terrorism” that they might actually vote for Trump.

      Yes, it scared Friedman that the American people didn’t like their masters any longer. As it has no doubt scared many of his rich friends to learn over the past few years that the people formerly known as middle class are angry about losing their standard of living to the same forces that are making those rich people ever more comfortable.

    • Robert De Niro Compares Donald Trump to His ‘Taxi Driver’ Character: He’s ‘Totally Nuts’

      Robert De Niro compared Donald Trump to Travis Bickle, the mentally disturbed character he played in the 1976 movie “Taxi Driver.”

      “What he has been saying is totally crazy, ridiculous, stuff that shouldn’t be even… he is totally nuts,” De Niro said.

      His comments came during a Q&A at the Sarajevo Film Festival on Friday, according to the AP.

      Elaborating on the character which earned the actor an Oscar nomination, De Niro said, “One of the things to me was just the irony at the end, [Bickle] is back driving a cab, celebrated, which is kind of relevant in some way today too.”

      He then drew a comparison to the current presidential candidate for the Republican party: “People like Donald Trump who shouldn’t be where he is so… God help us.” The AP reports that De Niro’s comments were met with applause.

    • Trump: I’m running against media, not Clinton

      Donald Trump said Saturday that his true opponent in the general election is the media.

      “I’m not running against crooked Hillary, I’m running against the crooked media,” Trump said at a rally in Fairfield, Conn. “That’s what I’m running against, I’m not running against crooked Hillary.”

      Trump has repeatedly lashed out at media that he calls “dishonest” over the course of his campaign.

      Earlier Saturday, he bashed the New York Times after a report came out in which sources characterized Trump as “sullen” and struggling to recover in light of lagging poll numbers.

      He renewed those attacks on the Times at the rally Saturday, saying he’s considering revoking their credentials to cover his rallies.

      “I’ll tell you in particular lately we have a newspaper that’s failing badly, its losing a lot of money, its gonna be out of business very soon: the New York Times,” he said.

      Trump blasted the use of anonymous sources in the Times report, saying “I don’t think they have any names.”

      “They never call me,” he added. “It’s going to hell.”

      “Maybe what we’ll do,” Trump continued, “we’ll start taking their press credentials away from them.”

    • Pirates Looking Into “Election Pokéstops”

      The Pirate Party is looking into the idea of setting up “election Pokéstops” to attract more young people to take part in the vote.

      Kjarninn reports that in the most recent election – the municipal elections of 2014 – voter turn-out for those aged 18 to 29 was only at about 50%. To help improve this situation, Birgitta Jónsdóttir and other Pirates are currently looking into an unconventional way to get young people to the polls: namely, by setting up Pokéstops at polling places.

      To this end, Birgitta is hoping that the company Unity Technologies could take part in the project. The company, which amongst other things takes part in designing the Pokémon Go environment in Iceland, is partially owned by Icelander Dav­íð Helga­son.

    • new shadow passwd functions

      Long, long ago, password hashes were kept in the /etc/passwd file. This is obviously bad because it allows users to pry into other users’ hashes, attempting to crack them. The solution was to move the real hashes to another file, called master.passwd on OpenBSD. BSD systems also turn the text passwd files into a database file so that calling getpwnam is fast even with thousands of users on a 10MHz vax.

      On some systems, e.g. Linux, there are two sets of functions. Normal functions like getpwnam that open the regular passwd files, and shadow functions like getspnam that open the files with password hashes. The problem is that struct passwd and struct spwd are not the same, making it difficult to write code that can work with both variants. Everything must be written twice, even though the code will be identical except for a few characters difference.

    • Found: A New Major Opposition Party

      Imagine what a Commons party could achieve with this menu! It could also blacklist Congressional members and Administrations ignoring these demands, despite their swearing to “promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Or cut the Pentagon’s allocation in half and put the remainder into domestic needs.

      Such movements also taught veteran campaigners and newbies to put principles before personalities in everything from fundraising, canvassing, creating media and overpass signs, phonebanking, fliering, street theatre and demonstrations and running those “huuuuge” rallies around the country.

      Meetings usually weren’t held in plush quarters or rented halls, but in homes, warehouses, libraries, schools, pizza parlors, pubs and backyard potlucks. Leadership generally followed Napoleon’s guideline: “Every French soldier carries a [general’s] baton in his knapsack.” So leaders were rotated from the ranks instead of bossy, ambitious wannabe “generals.”

      Occupy’s democratic meeting methods reappeared: timed agenda items, fair input by “stacking,” “twinkling” fingers for approvals, and projects assigned to initiators.

      In his latest major interview, Sanders spoke for the fearful, the despairing, and the angries about what those in other times and other places did to change their countries, and to follow their example unless we want to be ruled by lesser evils preferring we vanish.

    • Stark New Evidence on How Money Shapes America’s Elections

      Outrage over how big money influences American politics has been boiling over this political season, energizing the campaigns of GOP nominee Donald Trump and former Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders alike. Citizens have long suspected that “We the People” increasingly means “We the Rich” at election time.

      Yet surprisingly, two generations of social scientists have insisted that wallets don’t matter that much in American politics. Elections are really about giving the people what they want. Money, they claim, has negligible impact on elections.

      That was a good line for Cold War propaganda, and good for tenure, too. Corporate titans seized upon it to argue that their money should be freer to flow into political campaigns. Not only billionaires, but academics, too, argued that more money in elections meant more democracy.

      Even today, many academics and pundits still insist that money matters less to political outcomes than ordinary citizens think, even as business executives throw down mind-boggling sums to dine with politicians and Super Pacs spring up like mushrooms. The few dissenters from this consensus, like Noam Chomsky, are ignored in the U.S. as “unpersons,” though they are enormously respected abroad.

    • Thousands of Pages of Confidential Think Tank Documents Detail Corporate Ties, New York Times Reports

      Thousands of pages of confidential internal think tank emails and documents published by the New York Times yesterday shine a revealing spotlight on how some of the nation’s most prominent think tanks are used by corporate donors to promote specific policies — while concealing the financial interests involved.

      The emails provide a “smoking gun” of evidence that corporations that donated to non-profit think tanks like The Brookings Institution were promised specific receivables in return.

      For example, Lennar Corp., a home building company and Brookings donor was offered a spot as a Brookings senior fellow for one of its executives. “’He would be a trusted adviser,’ an internal Brookings memo said in 2014 as the think tank sought one $100,000 donation from Lennar,” the Times reported.

      While critics of the institutions may have long suspected that corporate donors receive special treatment from the think tanks they back, think tanks have managed to maintain an air of independence and the respect of many policy makers in Washington D.C.

      The newly revealed emails are striking in part because they reveal how corporate interests have affected left-wing think tanks like Brookings, which are sometimes regarded as less under the corporate thumb than right-wing overtly pro-corporate think thanks like the American Enterprise Institute or The Heartland Institute.

      The documents show the precise ways that corporate donors are able to control the messages coming out of the think tanks they fund behind the scenes, while still preserving a public veneer of independence.

      “The likely conclusions of some think tank reports, documents show, are discussed with donors — or even potential ones — before the research is complete,” the Times reported. “Drafts of the studies have been shared with donors whose opinions have then helped shape final reports. Donors have outlined how the resulting scholarship will be used as part of broader lobbying efforts.”

    • For millennial voters, the Clinton vs. Trump choice ‘feels like a joke’

      Jo Tongue doesn’t have much time for politics, but the Hillary and Trump show is hard to tune out. And even harder to take. To this 31-year-old mother of two, with a third on the way, the presidency should be an honorable office, but instead she feels “bummed that we’re at a place where it all feels like a joke.”

      “Watching Jimmy Fallon, I feel like, ugh, is this how we should start out? We’re already mocking our president?”

      Tongue says she is both “sad” and “defeated” and — in a world filled with shootings, bombings and financial strain — maintains scant hope that a new president will change any of it.

      At a sports bar 1,800 miles away in Goldsboro, N.C., Aaron Stewart is shooting pool with a buddy and thinking the same thing. The pair doesn’t just feel cut off from the current campaign, but from a political system they see as controlled by mysterious networks, greased by money and off-limits to people like them.

      “I’m not really a conspiracy theo rist, but the system is corrupt,” says Stewart, 21, who works at a convenience store. He draws a $1 bill from his wallet, holds it up to the bar’s faint light and declares, “This little piece of paper tells me what I can and cannot do.”

      At the Panetta Institute for Public Policy in California, the summer interns are up on the issues. But Dominic Cicerone has a similar sense of foreboding. For him, the big issue is his own safety — he was afraid to go to the July 4 fireworks at Fisherman’s Wharf because the Islamic State had released a video claiming San Francisco as a target — and neither candidate is easing his concerns.

    • The Real Reason They Attack Jill Stein

      The attacks on Jill Stein’s blossoming supporter base from establishment Democrats have continued as frantically and aggressively as ever, despite Hillary Clinton enjoying a comfortable and enduring lead in the polls over Donald Trump. Numbers have stabilized, and it looks like Hillary will win without the support of the Bernie-or-Bust crowd.

      So why continue the vitriol? It hasn’t lessened. In fact, it’s ramped up, and our social media news feeds are teeming with false accusations of Stein being anti-vaccination, anti-science, anti-Bernie Sanders, and now, surprise surprise, an anti-American Putin sympathizer.

      Yes, the old red under the bed tactic. Clinton ally John Aravosis has continued the Democrats’ bizarre resurrection of the time-honored McCarthyist tradition of red-baiting their critics and political opponents, joining the Democrats’ diversionary tactic of pointing indignantly at Russia and its ties to Trump for the DNC hacks in the hopes that it will make everyone forget about the content of the leak itself. Over the weekend, Aravosis wrote an attack editorial, casting suspicion on Stein for attending a convention for alternative media outlet RT last winter, which Aravosis laughably tries to spin as evidence that the anti-war Green party candidate is a traitor in league with “the Kremlin’s propaganda agency.”

    • The U.S.: a four- or five-party country jammed into a two-party system

      Years ago, when Boris Yeltsin came to town, I had a chance to ask him one question. Through a translator, I asked this: “You call yourself a Communist, but you disagree with the Communist Party’s ideology on most subjects. What makes you a Communist?” He replied: “Party card.”

      By the time Yeltsin became president, opposition parties were still banned. But being a Communist didn’t require you to believe anything in particular. Yet the system still required you to be a card-carrying Communist to run for office. I don’t favor a one-party system.

      Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. Never really was. Never really claimed to be.

      Donald Trump is not a Republican. Not in any meaningful sense.

      But in America, since the Dem-Repub duopoly took over our system in 1856, if you want to be president, you have to be the nominee of one of the two major parties.

    • The Perfect G.O.P. Nominee

      All these woebegone Republicans whining that they can’t rally behind their flawed candidate is crazy. The G.O.P. angst, the gnashing and wailing and searching for last-minute substitutes and exit strategies, is getting old.

      They already have a 1-percenter who will be totally fine in the Oval Office, someone they can trust to help Wall Street, boost the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cuddle with hedge funds, secure the trade deals beloved by corporate America, seek guidance from Henry Kissinger and hawk it up — unleashing hell on Syria and heaven knows where else.

      The Republicans have their candidate: It’s Hillary.

      They can’t go with Donald Trump. He’s too volatile and unhinged.

      The erstwhile Goldwater Girl and Goldman Sachs busker can be counted on to do the normal political things, not the abnormal haywire things. Trump’s propounding could drag us into war, plunge us into a recession and shatter Washington into a thousand tiny bits.

    • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange: Attacks Against Jill Stein Are “Going to Go Through the Roof”

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke via video stream to the Green Party convention in Houston, Texas, about the corporate control of information during the 2016 election. He also predicted that attacks against Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein would surge ahead of November’s election.

    • Jill Stein Smeared As Anti-Vaccine Crank As Sanders Supporters Consider Alternative To Clinton

      As Hillary Clinton officially became the Democratic Party’s nominee, interest in Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein grew exponentially. Several establishment journalists, including those known for their open contempt for dissent, turned their attention to Stein to marginalize her campaign before it picked up more than a small amount of support from disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters.

      One false and slanderous claim against Stein has picked up a huge amount of traction in the press: the idea that Stein is an “anti-vaxxer,” opposes vaccines, or has pandered to individuals who believe vaccines cause autism.

      The Washington Post is primarily responsible for this smear. It had two of its reporters, Sarah Parnass and Alice Li, interview Stein. David Weigel, another Post journalist, wrote about the interview, and a Post editor gave it the following headline, “Jill Stein on vaccines: People have ‘real questions,’” which was extremely misleading.

      At the moment, over a dozen media outlets have picked up the interview and chastised Stein for supposedly having anti-science views. Some of the pieces on Stein’s interview are mean-spirited, written by journalists who would have found something to make her look like a crank even if the Post had not spoken with her about vaccines.

    • Stein hits Clinton on emails: Voters “owed an explanation”

      Green Party candidate Jill Stein attacked Hillary Clinton on Monday for her use of a private email server as Secretary of State, amid reports that notes from Clinton’s interview with the FBI during its probe of the matter would be turned over soon to Congress.
      Declining to say whether she thought Clinton should have faced criminal charges from the FBI after its probe, Stein said that the issue “raises real questions about her competency.”

      “I think there should have been a full investigation. I think the American people are owed an explanation for what happened, and why top secret information was put at risk, why the identity of secret agents were potentially put at risk,” Stein told CNN’s Carol Costello.

    • Why Latinos Support Donald Trump

      No amount of semantic somersaulting can whitewash the racist overtones of Donald Trump’s campaign.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How to Make YouTube Stop Watching What You Watch

      A. When you are logged in to your Google Account, YouTube keeps a running list of everything you watch on the site for a few reasons. For one, YouTube uses your viewing history to suggest other videos it thinks you may like, similar to the way Netflix makes recommendations for its members.

      [...]

      Next, click the Pause Watch History button. If you would also like to wipe out the collected list of clips, click the Clear All Watch History button next to it. If you do not want to clear all videos from the list — but want to remove some of them — click the “X” on the right side of the screen next to a listed clip.

    • New law targets people who leak classified information

      People who leak Government information will be targeted with a new offence that carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

      Prime Minister John Key has announced legislation that will also let the Government Communications Security Bureau spy on New Zealanders’ private information.

      The bill comes in the same week that information leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden resulted in media reports about the GCSB’s monitoring of a Fiji democracy activist.

      The Government denied the new power to target whistle blowers was related to the Snowden leaks.

      Its introduction is a response to a broad-sweeping intelligence review by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy, released in March with 107 recommendations.

    • Report: Target of NSA’s online surveillance identified

      Tony Fullman was targeted from July through August 2012…

    • NSA is everywhere: New Zealand peace activist victim of ‘illegal’ PRISM snooping program

      A new report by The Intercept and Television New Zealand reveal the National Security Agency (NSA) worked with New Zealand’s government to illegally spy on one of its citizens in a failed terrorism investigation.

      A group of “democracy and freedom” activists were thought to be plotting the overthrow of Fiji’s military regime in 2012, according to the Kiwi snoops at the Security Intelligence Service (SIS).

      With help from the NSA via the Five Eyes alliance, which Edward Snowden called a “supra-national intelligence organization that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries,” they staged a covert operation to catch the alleged terrorist group.

      Snowden’s leaked documents show the NSA intercepted Facebook communications and emails between associates of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement campaign, using the PRISM surveillance system, before passing the information onto New Zealand on the other side of the globe. More than 190 pages of documents between May and August 2012 reveal the scale of the NSA’s spying.

    • After NZ spooks misidentified pro-democracy activist, NSA spied on him for them

      Tony Fullman is one of the only people that we know to have been targeted by Prism, the NSA’s signature mass-surveillance tool: he’s a Fijian-born expatriate with New Zealand citizenship, and had his passport seized and his name added to terrorism watchlists after the NSA helped their New Zealand counterparts spy on him, intercepting his bank statements, Facebook posts, Gmail messages, recorded phone conversations, and more.

      Fullman is one of the organisers of “thumbs up for democracy,” a peaceful online campaign that questions the legitimacy of Frank Bainimarama, an authoritarian military dictator who seized control of Fiji in a coup. An internal NZ investigation revealed that the New Zealand government mistook a group of NZ-based Fijian pro-democracy activists for terrorists and illegally spied on 88 of them between 2003 and 2012, including Fullman.

      Fullman was naturalised into NZ citizenship after moving there when he was 21, and worked for 20 years as a civil servant in the tax department, while volunteering at a soup-kitchen and completing two Master’s degrees (one in public management, the other in IT). He moved back to Fiji in 2009 to run the country’s water authority.

    • Report reveals identity of NSA and PRISM surveillance target

      It’s been over three years since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released a trove of documents detailing the extent to which the American government was able to spy on its citizens. A big part of those revelations was PRISM, a system that allowed the government to expediently request and collect data from a variety of huge internet companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and more. Today, a new report from The Intercept contains details on the first person to be identified as a target of PRISM.

      Tony Fullman of New Zealand was targeted in 2012 by the NSA in cooperation with the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The NSA was able to intercept his Facebook chats and Gmail messages and passed them along to the GCSB, which itself did not have the authority to monitor Fullman’s communications. Fullman was apparently targeted because New Zealand believed that he was planning an act of terrorism, but it turns out that intelligence was incorrect. That didn’t stop the New Zealand government from raiding his home and revoking his passport, however.

    • This Was the First Confirmed Prism Surveillance Target

      A new report based on the leaks of former U.S. National Security Agency worker Edward Snowden has for the first time named a target of the NSA’s controversial Prism program—a civil servant and pro-democracy activist named Tony Fullman.

    • What it looks like when the NSA hacks into your Gmail and Facebook

      For the first time, a target of the National Security Agency’s controversial Prism program has been identified.

      Tony Fullman, a New Zealand citizen who was born in Fiji, had the contents of his Facebook and various Gmail accounts intercepted by the NSA, The Intercept reports, based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    • ViaSat’s encryptors NSA-certified [Ed: ViaSat really wants us to know it’s in bed with the NSA; assume “golden key”?]
    • Special investigation: Inside one of the SIS’s biggest anti-terrorism operations

      One of the Security Intelligence Service’s biggest ever anti-terrorism operations – conducted between July and August 2012 – targeted a group of pro-democracy campaigners who it mistakenly thought were planning to overthrow the military government in Fiji.

      A New Zealand man had his communications monitored, probably illegally, his home raided and his passport cancelled by the SIS. But there were no guns or bombs. He was not part of a plot.

      The man, Tony Fullman, was a long-time public servant and peaceful pro-democracy campaigner who, like the New Zealand and Australian governments at that time, was opposed to the Bainimarama military government.

    • BRITISH PM CAMERON HOAXED BY DRUNK PRANK CALLER AS GCHQ BOSS
    • Did The FBI Get Confused And Arrest One Of Its Own Informants For Helping Create One Of Its Own Plots?

      For a few years now, we’ve been writing about how the FBI has been arresting a ton of people for “terrorism” who were really guilty of little more than being gullible and naive and pushed by FBI undercover agents and informants into taking part in a plot that wouldn’t exist but for the FBI itself. These so-called own plots seem to be a huge part of what the FBI does these days. Somewhat ridiculously, courts have (mostly) allowed these, claiming that if, eventually, the accused person expressed some support for terrorism or terrorist groups, it shouldn’t be considered entrapment. But, over and over again, you see cases where it’s clearly the FBI doing not just the majority of the plotting, but also pushing and pushing targets to “join” the plot, even when they show sustained resistance. The more details you read about these cases, the more ridiculous they get.

      However, in just the latest example of this — the arrest of Erick Hendricks for supposedly trying to recruit people to carry out attacks for ISIS — there’s been something of an odd twist. Hendricks claims he has no idea why he was arrested because he’s been an FBI informant for years, helping the FBI find other gullible souls to entrap in these “own plots.” As Marcy Wheeler notes, it’s possible the FBI lost track of one of its own informants and ended up having him “caught” in one of the plots where he thought he was helping the FBI find possible terrorists. Wouldn’t that be something.

    • In Bungled Spying Operation, NSA Targeted Pro-Democracy Campaigner

      As part of the spy mission, the NSA used its powerful global surveillance apparatus to intercept the emails and Facebook chats of people associated with a Fijian “thumbs up for democracy” campaign. The agency then passed the messages to its New Zealand counterpart, Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB.

    • Snowden Docs Show NSA, New Zealand Spied On Pro-Democracy Activists [Ed: Snowden’s remark]

      The “act of terrorism” claims were odd, considering Fullman’s activism was aligned with the New Zealand government’s own views: opposition to neighboring Fiji’s authoritarian ruler, Frank Bainimarama. Utilizing PRISM, the NSA intercepted Fullman’s Gmail and Facebook messages, along with gathering everything it could from his public postings — including this data on his apparently terrorism-related personal vehicle.

    • NSA Hacked? ‘Shadow Brokers’ Crew Claims Compromise Of Surveillance Op
    • Hackers claim to be selling NSA cyberweapons in online auction
    • Hacking group purportedly hacked NSA-linked Equation Group, auctioning cyber weapons
    • Hackers Say They Hacked NSA-Linked Group, Want 1 Million Bitcoins to Share More
    • Hackers Claim to Auction Data Stolen From NSA-Linked Spies
    • Hackers claim to auction NSA source code
    • Group claims to have hacked the NSA, wants $500 million to release files
    • NSA offshoot ‘The Equation Group’ has been hacked
    • So, Uh, Did The NSA Get Hacked?
    • The Tools The NSA Uses To Snoop Are Allegedly Being Auctioned Off By Hackers

      We’ve known for a while, thanks to the Snowden leaks and the ensuing investigations, that the NSA has both broad authority to breach and investigate the communications of innocent Americans and the tools to get into your private business with ease. It’s been an ugly chapter in American history, and it’s about to get a lot uglier with the news that the NSA has been hacked, and all its spying tools might soon be online for anybody to use.

    • ‘Shadow Brokers’ claim to have hacked an NSA-linked elite computer security unit

      Cybersecurity experts are searching for answers after an unidentified group claimed on Monday to have hacked into “Equation Group” — an elite cyber-attack group associated with the NSA.

      The “Shadow Brokers” claimed in a post on blogging service Tumblr to have hacked Equation Group, and say they are holding an “auction” to sell off the “cyber weapons” they were able to steal. Shadow Brokers have also provided a sample of files, free to access, to “prove” their legitimacy.

    • Should cloud vendors cooperate with the government?

      35 percent believe cloud app vendors should be forced to provide government access to encrypted data while 55 percent are opposed. 64 percent of US-based infosec professionals are opposed to government cooperation, compared to only 42 percent of EMEA respondents.

      “Forcing cloud app vendors to comply with government or law enforcement access requests to data has provided a real mixed bag of responses, with everything to no way, to help yourself, and even to I don’t care. This really makes no sense because surely with so much debate about the challenges facing law enforcement, to the privacy considerations that have dominated the press we would have expected at least some common consensus. This of course creates a challenge for app vendors, because it will not be possible to create models to suit all opinions. It therefore demands some form of open debate on the best approach to take in terms of addressing this most challenging issue,” Raj Samani, CTO EMEA at Intel Security, told Help Net Security.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Muslims Are Celebrating Murderer Of The Glasgow ‘Apostate’ Shopkeeper

      Muslims around the world are celebrating a British man, who murdered an innocent shopkeeper who they considered an “apostate”, as an Islamist hero.

    • Russia Provides Two Be-200 Aircraft on Portuguese Fire-Fighting Mission

      Russia Provides Two Be-200 Aircraft on Portuguese Fire-Fighting Mission

      Portugal has asked Russia for help in extinguishing forest fires, head of the press service of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, Alexei Vagutovich, told Sputnik, and Russia is happy to help out.

    • In Zambia’s contentious election, the EU finds a new challenge

      Supporters of the United Party for National Development opposition party attend election rally in Lusaka, Zambia, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016 amid concerns about political violence. Moses Mwape / Press Association. All rights reserved.Zambians went to the polls on August 11 in presidential and parliamentary elections in what is expected to be a tight race between President Edgar Lungu’s governing PF party and the opposition UPND led by Hakainde Hichilema. The EU on the ground, along with other international observers, can exert a positive influence in what has been a tense and sometimes violent campaign. In its new Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy the EU commits to supporting democracies where they emerge, for “their success […] would reverberate across their respective regions” – Zambia presents an opportunity for the EU to show it still has serious clout as a foreign policy actor.

    • Your Parents Aren’t Your Parents, an Announcer Tells an Olympian

      Many eyes were watching, then, as NBC learned a lesson, maybe. Biles has been open about her family; she and her sister were adopted at a young age by her maternal grandfather and his wife. “I call them Mom and Dad. Everything’s just been so normal,” she’s been quoted. But NBC announcer Al Trautwig seemed to feel he knew better, referring repeatedly to Biles’ “grandparents.” When someone on Twitter noted that was incorrect, Trautwig responded, “they may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.”

      After, one imagines, a call from PR, Trautwig declared he regretted that he “wasn’t more clear in my wording,” though he didn’t explain what it was he was trying to “word” or why. (USA Today wrote that he had apologized “for suggesting that Simone Biles’ parents through adoption are not really her parents.” If saying “they are NOT her parents” is “suggesting” they are not her parents, then sure.)

      Olympics coverage involves a lot of storytelling; commentators create narratives for athletes, and no doubt some feel it’s “humanizing” when, faced with one of the best athletes in the world, they focus on what one called her “broken home.” Of course, what they’re really revealing is just the narrowness of their vision.

    • Recent court decisions fuel renewed push for restoring the Voting Rights Act

      In an op-ed for Time magazine, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said these decisions “have been a triumphant win for voting rights advocates, but they are not the long-term answer.”

      “As we face the first presidential election without a fully functioning VRA,” he wrote, “it is more critical than ever to restore the full powers and protections of the law.”

      Greenblatt observed that “the backdrop of the latest set of rulings paints a bleaker picture — one of legislatures around the country passing laws that discriminate against voters of color.”

    • One Quote Predicts Today’s Police Brutality Nearly 50 Years Ago

      The violence of last week conjures up the history and memory of the violence and racial tension of 1968, and a quote from a famous author and cultural critic makes the comparison seem all too apt.

    • Online crime: UK cops to use law firms to tackle fraud in civil courts

      A pilot scheme run by the City of London police will use law firms working for profit to tackle online crime and fraud cases.

      Cops will pass details of cases to companies involved with the scheme. They will be tasked with attempting to seize the assets of suspects—and, if successful, receive a share.

      The advantages for the police are twofold: more cases can be tackled, since some will be handled by the law firms, and suspects will be pursued in civil courts, whereas police have to go through the criminal court system in order to use provisions from the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

    • DEA Accessing Millions Of Travelers’ Records To Find Cash To Seize

      The monster is insatiable. The DEA loves taking cash from travelers so much it has hired TSA screeners as informants, asking them to look for cash when scanning luggage. It routinely stops and questions rail passengers in hopes of stumbling across money it can take from them.

      But it goes further than just hassling random travelers and paying government employees to be government informants. As the USA Today’s article points out, the DEA is datamining traveler info to streamline its forfeiture efforts.

    • Documents Confirm CIA Censorship of Guantánamo Trials

      In January 2013, during the military trial of five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks, a defense lawyer was discussing a motion relating to the CIA’s black-site program, when a mysterious entity cut the audio feed to the gallery. A red light began to glow and spin. Someone had triggered the courtroom’s censorship system.

      The system was believed to be under the control of the judge, Col. James Pohl. In this case, it wasn’t.

    • Election Meddling: Bad if Done to USA, Bad to Complain About if Done by USA

      When US media—to say nothing of the leading contender to be the next president of the US—allege that foreign elements are steering our politics, that’s rational, serious discourse. When others do it, it’s laughable, unhinged blabbering.

      [...]

      If the Washington Post had to argue that US meddling was the good kind of meddling, because it’s a necessary balance to Putin’s autocratic rule, this nuance would get in the way of the Post’s simplistic “paranoid strongman vs. good, clean US democracy” dichotomy, so the reader is left with the ahistoric and childish impression that the US doesn’t interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries.

      [...]

      To omit the endless string of examples of US interfering in other countries in an editorial about fears of US interfering in other countries is at best negligent and at worst deliberately obtuse. It’s hard to describe foreign leaders as being paranoid about US meddling and coups if you acknowledge that the US has been involved in meddling and coups for more than a century.

    • Humanitarian Nightmare for Colombia’s Wayuu Fails to Awaken Corporate Media

      Colombia’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to ensure that the Wayuu, the largest indigenous community in the country, have access to basics of survival, including drinkable water. Last year, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights called attention to the crisis, noting the documented deaths of more than 4,700 Wayuu children in just the last eight years—although the Wayuu themselves say the number is closer to 14,000 children who have died from preventable disease, thirst and malnutrition. It’s a humanitarian nightmare, but as human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik noted in a piece for Huffington Post, corporate media appear unmoved.

      The Wayuu are suffering not just from climate change–driven drought, but from the loss of access to the Rancheria River, drained by a dam built in 2011 for the coal mining company Cerrejon. Cerrejon Mine, at first a joint venture between Colombia and Exxon, opened in 1983 and has been displacing indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities ever since. Kovalik reports that Cerrejon now uses 17 million liters of water a day, while residents of the region have an average of 0.7 liters a day to live on.

    • When USA Gymnastics Turned a Blind Eye to Sexual Abuse

      With the summer Olympics in full swing, three reporters at the Indianapolis Star newspaper have been investigating painful secrets kept by some of the nation’s young gymnasts-in-training.

      For this ProPublica Podcast, I talked with Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia and Tim Evans about their incredible report on sexual misconduct by coaches affiliated with USA Gymnastics, the nonprofit responsible for developing the United States’ gymnastics team for the Olympics and training thousands more children and young adults.What the reporters discovered was that the organization had policies on reporting sexual abuse that were likely to discourage people from speaking up.

    • The Right-Wing Legacy of Justice Lewis Powell, and What It Means for the Supreme Court Today

      The memo, titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System,” was breathtaking in its scope and ambition, and far more right-wing than anything Scalia ever wrote. It was, as writer Steven Higgs noted in a 2012 article published by CounterPunch, “A Call to Arms for Class War: From the Top Down.”

      Back in 1971, when the memo was prepared, Powell was a well-connected partner in the Richmond-based law firm of Hutton, Williams, Gay, Powell and Gibson and sat on the boards of 11 major corporations, including the tobacco giant Philip Morris. He also had served as chairman of the Richmond School Board from 1952 to ’61 and as president of the American Bar Association from 1964 to ’65. In 1969, he declined a nomination to the Supreme Court offered by President Nixon, preferring to remain in legal practice, through which he reportedly had amassed a personal fortune.

    • Man Claiming that He is the Brother of Man Shot by Officers Speaks to CBS 58 During the Violence

      CBS 58′s Evan Kruegel spoke exclusively to a man claiming to be the brother of the man shot and killed by police yesterday.

      He was with a crowd of people at the O’Reilly Auto Parts as it burned last night.

      “There is riot going on because once again the police have failed to protect us like they said they would. They failed to be here like they say like they sworn in to do. Us as a community, we are not going to protect ourselves. But, we don’t have anyone to protect us than this is what you get. So you got riots. We got people right here going crazy. We are losing loved ones everyday to the people that are sworn in to protect us,” said the man.

    • “This is the Madness They Spark”: Uprising in Milwaukee After Police Kill 23-Year-Old Black Man

      Protests are continuing in Milwaukee two days after police shot dead a 23-year-old African-American man named Sylville Smith. On Sunday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker activated the National Guard after local residents set fire to police cars and several local businesses, including a gas station, on Saturday night. Seventeen people were arrested. Four police officers were reportedly injured. Milwaukee police say Smith was shot while trying to flee from an officer who had stopped his car. Police Chief Edward Flynn said he had viewed video from the officer’s body camera, and it showed Smith had turned toward him with a gun in his hand after the traffic stop. Many local residents said the tension between their community and the police has been rising for years. Milwaukee is considered to be one of the most segregated cities in the country. We speak with Muhibb Dyer, community activist, poet and co-founder of the organization Flood the Hood with Dreams.

    • Milwaukee Sheriff Provokes Outrage, Blames ‘Urban Pathology,’ ‘War on Police’ for Police Brutality

      Days of demonstrations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin following Saturday’s fatal police shooting have shined a national spotlight on the city’s segregation and police practices—and the city’s infamous right-wing sheriff provoked further outrage Sunday when he blamed the community of the shooting victim for the police violence that ended his life.

      Clarke decried “urban pathologies” and a “war on police”—popular right-wing catchphrases—in impoverished, largely black communities for the demonstrations and the shooting that provoked them.

      “The urban pathologies have to be addressed to shrink the growth of an underclass,” he said, referring to the community which has suffered through the deaths of many of its members at the hands of police.

    • Black Americans and Police State Fascism

      Korryn Gaines was shot to death by police in her own home near Baltimore, Maryland. Her five year-old son was also shot and injured. Ms. Gaines came into contact with police initially because of a traffic violation and a dispute with her boyfriend. Every day thousands of people are given tickets or make accusations against one another but rarely do they have an expectation of ending up dead as a result.

      Arrest warrants are the first line of defense for the police, who are the 21st century embodiment of the slave patrol. If black people are lucky they may have to pay a fine or suffer some inconvenience, if unlucky they are killed.

    • Justice and accountability for war related sexual violence in Sri Lanka

      As the testimonies of survivors of sexual violence in Sri Lanka’s long war enter the public domain and the government designs transitional justice mechanisms, is an end to impunity in sight?

    • The Dark Secret of Israel’s Stolen Babies

      According to campaigners, as many as 8,000 babies were seized from their families in the state’s first years and either sold or handed over to childless Jewish couples in Israel and abroad. To many, it sounds suspiciously like child trafficking.

      A few of the children have been reunited with their biological families, but the vast majority are simply unaware they were ever taken. Strict Israeli privacy laws mean it is near-impossible for them to see official files that might reveal their clandestine adoption.

      Did Israeli hospitals and welfare organisations act on their own or connive with state bodies? It is unclear. But it is hard to imagine such mass abductions could have occurred without officials at the very least turning a blind eye.

      Testimonies indicate that lawmakers, health ministry staff, and senior judges knew of these practices at the time. And the decision to place all documents relating to the children under lock untl 2071 hints at a cover-up.

      [...]

      Ben Gurion needed not only to destroy Palestinian society, but to ensure that “Arabness” did not creep into his new Jewish state through the back door.

      The large numbers of Arab Jews who arrived in the first decade were needed in his demographic war against the Palestinians and as a labour force, but they posed a danger too. Ben Gurion feared that, whatever their religion, they might “corrupt” his Jewish state culturally by importing what he called the “spirit of the Levant”.

    • Eliminate Profit from Punishment

      In July 2010, Marissa Alexander, a young Black woman from Florida, faced the fight of her life only nine days after giving birth to her youngest daughter. Her estranged husband, Rico Gray, attacked, strangled, and threatened to kill Marissa in her own home. To get rid of Rico, Marissa fired a warning shot into the ceiling. The single shot injured no one. And yet she was subsequently charged with several criminal charges and incarcerated for a victimless crime.

      Marissa’s story is just one example of how prisons, profit, policing, and poverty are intimately connected. Prisons have long been warehouses for the poor and individuals who are unable to defend themselves in a vicious legal system. Undue profiling by law enforcement has long been the gateway into the incarceration system. And increasingly rich people and the multi-billion dollar security industry make money off of mass incarceration.

      Marissa Alexander fought a long battle in the Florida courts to appeal her conviction on the basis of her right of self-defense. She eventually was successful and in 2015 she was released from jail and put on probation. But in the meantime, she paid a high cost. Throughout her entire ordeal, she not only missed irreplaceable time with her children. She also had to pay $105 every week for the use of an ankle monitor while she was under house arrest and an additional $500 every other week for a bond cost.

    • Doncaster girl raped at gunpoint in Pakistan so cousin could get British visa

      But for Tabassan Khan, it marked the beginning of a very different life. British-born Tabassan, given a new name to protect her identity, was told she was going on a summer holiday.

      Instead, she was forced at gunpoint to marry a cousin six years her senior in Pakistan. She was held captive and abused over the next three years.

      Now, having found a way back to safety, she wants to share her story and shine a light on the plight of thousands of young British victims.

      Her life had already been difficult. Her father had murdered her mother when she was 12, leaving her and three brothers in the care of an aunt in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

      The now 26-year-old said: “I thought I was going to Pakistan on holiday. I was excited. Then two months passed and it was time to start the school year. I asked my uncle when I should go back and he just kept saying, ‘Stay a bit longer’ for weeks. After four months, he came up to my room with a gun and told me I had to marry my cousin.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The FCC Can’t Save Community Broadband — But We Can

      Last year, while most of us were focused on the FCC’s Open Internet Order to protect net neutrality, the FCC quietly did one more thing: it voted to override certain state regulations that inhibit the development and expansion of community broadband projects. The net neutrality rules have since been upheld, but last week a federal appeals court rejected FCC’s separate effort to preempt state law.

      The FCC’s goals were laudable. Municipalities and local communities have been experimenting with ways to foster alternatives to big broadband providers like Comcast and Time/Warner. Done right, community fiber experiments have the potential to create options that empower Internet subscribers and make Internet access more affordable. For example, Chattanooga, Tennessee, is home to one of the nation’s least expensive, most robust municipally-owned broadband networks. The city decided to build a high-speed network initially to meet the needs of the city’s electric company. Then, the local government learned that the cable companies would not be upgrading their Internet service fast enough to meet the city’s needs. So the electric utility also became an ISP, and the residents of Chattanooga now have access to a gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second Internet connection. That’s far ahead of the average US connection speed, which typically clocks in at 9.8 megabits per second.

  • DRM

    • Why Apple Removing The Audio Jack From The iPhone Would Be A Very, Very, Very, Bad Move

      It’s been rumored for months now that the next iPhone will be removing the standard analog headphone jack — the same jack that’s existed on portable audio devices for ages. It would immediately make a whole bunch of headphone and microphone products obsolete overnight for those who use iPhones. And while some have compared it to when Apple surprised everyone nearly two decades ago in removing the floppy drive from the iMac, this is quite different. The floppy drive really was pushing the end of its necessary existence, and with the internet and (not too long after) the rise of USB, the internal floppy drive seemed less and less important. But that’s not the case with the standard audio jack.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • More examples of how licensing kills progress: the stories of Gopher and GIF

      At Private Internet Access, we’re dependent on – and celebrating – the existence of free and open strong cryptography. Time and again, people proclaiming the virtues of monopolies and exclusive rights – copyrights, patents – are trying to push their model of closedness and permissioned gates onto the Internet. And time and again, the Internet rejects the notion wholesale.

      Without free and open cryptography, we would not have strong privacy today – and without strong privacy, we no longer have Freedom of Speech at all, in the wider social context. Numerous commissions have looked at the possibility of outlawing private encryption altogether today, like private encryption was banned in France before the first crypto wars, with the usual scapegoat of “because terrorism”. However, they all concluded that because of the mere existence of free and open cryptography, which fall under free speech laws since the first crypto wars, terrorists will always have access to strong cryptography – unlike with gun regulation, there are no per-item sales you can regulate.

Clawing Back the Staff Benefits at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 4:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Clawback under Battistelli assures reduction in quality of staff (reduction in patent quality aside)

A clawback

Summary: Staff of the EPO is leaving (or retiring) in droves as abusive management continues to be the norm and staff benefits are being taken away or gradually revoked

CRACKDOWNS at the EPO carry on, even when staff is (mostly) on holiday. Don’t be misled by the silence. Things are not rosy at all. Some representatives appear to have gotten exhausted, whereas others are too afraid or away on holiday. Some are on permanent leave or effectively suspended. In the coming weeks we shall reveal some more information, potentially about individual stories as well. It’s not pretty and it serves to show what kind of management runs the European Patent Office these days. Rather than value staff, this management does a fine job driving staff away. Cherishing and respecting people (“assets” or “human resources” as management typically refers to them) is the key to an institution’s long-term success. Highly educated people have plenty of employment options, so they don’t tolerate abuse from their superiors. They have other career possibilities (private and public sectors) and they tend to be principled, not judgmental or overly opinionated. They also know their rights and actively defend these.

“Rather than value staff, this management does a fine job driving staff away.”Earlier this year we mentioned the attack on the pension of Els Hardon — probably an illegal move which Battistelli later had to withdraw/revoke. What kind of justice is that? Hardon was dismissed from the Office for her duties as a staff representative and she wasn’t alone. It is very sad that Battistelli’s war on the staff union left much-appreciated staff having to support their representatives with Broodfonds (literally bread funds). Some of them have entire families to support! What happened to human decency?

The crackdown is far from over as EPO management, notably Bergot (the wife of Battistelli’s former INPI colleague), still threatens staff representatives, even while they’re on holiday. Mr. Topić, for instance, blocked the publication of essential reading material in The Hague, without even notifying the Local Staff Committee The Hague. This was censored using threats of disciplinary measures. So the atmosphere of fear clearly prevails at the EPO and people are rightly afraid of communicating with one another. That’s a recipe for disaster that would certainly drive away the high-profile examiners. They would have no problem seeking and finding alternative employment, e.g. in fine universities or in the industry.

“Cherishing and respecting people (“assets” or “human resources” as management typically refers to them) is the key to an institution’s long-term success.”EPO management, moreover, is trying to punish strikers (perfectly lawful activity) even more severely. The management is getting pretty vicious right now, raising the ‘fine’ by 50% by essentially withdrawing a twentieth (instead of a thirtieth) of one’s salary. They are just taking away more and more of people’s money, so no wonder people flee or formally retire early. Watch what they’re doing to people’s investments, pension changes aside. Based on this document [PDF], workers’ interests are trampled and stomped on. Quoting from the summary in the PDF: “lowering the probability of reaching the long-term objective for the investment returns, but instead supported initially unfounded and expensive reforms.”

“Therefore,” it also says, “the Office representative’s reasoning appears to be so ill-founded and misaligned with the interests of the main stake-holders that one might conclude that it serves instead to realise another hidden (or at least undisclosed) agenda.”

There is also a part about Bergot: “Further statements made by Ms. Bergot left Staff representatives with the impression that the Office may also try to influence the investment return assumptions made by the three independent actuaries of the AAG. If successful, this might lead to pushing for a reduction in the assumed rate of return on investment in the actuarial study, which could consequently trigger a recommendation by the actuaries either to increase the contributions which the Office could follow and/or lower the benefits.”

“A lot of people are leaving.”“Unfortunately,” they conclude, “whatever the outcome, it is the staff (and only the staff) who will have to pay the bill.”

Well, they might not stick around to even pay the bill. A lot of people are leaving. Consider the aforementioned changes to pensions, which came under criticism in a report commissioned by SUEPO. These pension changes were recently assessed in a legal opinion (mentioned [PDF] here before [PDF]) and it’s just one among all sorts of ‘reforms’ that breach the fundamental rules and treat staff like dispensable machine operators. The EPO apparently suffers from a lack of money, as it is operating at a massive loss, which makes one wonder if the pensions will be reduced or become some kind of a Ponzi scheme one day. Later this summer we are going to give more examples of where money gets wasted by the millions (for little and sometimes no benefit/gain). Battistelli is terrible on fiscal terms and even some delegates openly speak about it nowadays (a subject to be explored in depth another day). Some say there is even financial fraud.

“What will their retirement mean in terms of pensions?”The brain drain at the EPO is measurable and it is not a matter of ‘gut feeling’ or intuition. One report we saw gives us a rough idea of who left (or is leaving) other than top management. The report says that numbers are made apparent from the EPO’s own reports. To quote: “The social report shows that the Office could not maintain staffing levels at their overall target despite a vigorous recruitment campaign. 2015 saw a net decrease of 77 staff members; in particular the BoA saw a reduction of 15. Furthermore, there were no new recruits from a number of countries including Sl, CZ, CH, NO, and GB. While up to 2014 typically around 100 staff members would retire, in 2015 this number had nearly doubled. The average retirement age has also decreased from around 63 years to about 61 years.”

What will their retirement mean in terms of pensions? Well, to be frank, I’m no accountant and my knowledge regarding accounting is scarce, but the subject was recently explored in IP Kat comments. For record and future reference, here is what one person wrote about the pensions:

The benefits are not over-generous. I can explain the situation about pensions. I’ll try to do that in non-accounting terms. I’ll use round numbers out of my head to make calculations simpler.

The offices self insures the pensions. It simply pays the pensions out of the budget and write the pensions off the salaries as “contributions”. So if we have, say, 1000 examiners with a salary of 10000€/month and 200 pensioners with a pension of 5000€/month, every examiner needs to contribute 1000€/month for the system to be in balance. They can pay that out of their 10000€ salary.
If suddenly, the office lowers the average pay to 5000€, each examiner still needs to pay 1000€ a month, but out of a lower salary. It looks as if the pension contribution is doubled for them.
If suddenly, the office improves efficiency massively and only needs half the examiners (but they keep their pay), we have the same effect: each examiner needs to contribute 2000€ (out of a 10000€ salary).
If we both halve the salary and the number of examiners, contributions quadruple.

Is the office planing to lower both the number of examiners and their salaries? I don’t know. But it does not appear to be planning to lower the fees on patent or the number of granted patents. So the budget would stays the same and the capacity to pay the pensions out of the budget would also stay the same. The office would just need to keep the contributions of salaries at the same level for the examiners and meet the old obligations out of its budget. They would still save massively on salaries by having less active examiners and paying them less in that hypothesis.

But, if the office says “pensions must be a fixed percentage of the salaries” (10% in the above example) and then lowers the total salary mass, there is a problem. It is an artificial problem, but would be called “increase percentage of liabilities” in accountant speak.

Then we have the so called “pension reserve fund”. This was never designed to be a pension fund, but designed to smooth things in case of changes. It was created because in the first years of its existence, the Office had no pensioners (where would they have come from). So the contributions were put aside in that RESERVE fund. This reserve fund is invested in state bonds, its regulation prevent using investments which would be to volatile. The so called “losses” are simply “smaller gains”, because the interest rates are now very low. 10 years ago, we expected a return of maybe 5%, now we don’t have that.

This reserve fund is massive. I think I have read that it could pay the pensions completely for the next 20 years or so. So it can hardly be described as bankrupt.

Then there is that vision floating around that the office would have a “pension fund”. Like some massive amount of money from which only the interests would be enough to pay pensions forever. That is completely wrong: the pension reserve fund was originally designed to pay the benefits out of the fund itself, when necessary.

RFPSS is then mentioned as follows:

Would the “RESERVE” fund you mentioned happen to be the “RFPSS” fund mentioned in the EPO’s financial statement? If so, I note that the assets of that fund were EUR6,600 million at the end of 2015 (with only EUR1,300 million being in bonds). Is that enough to pay pensions completely for the next 20 years or so? If so, what on earth does the EPO’s financial statement mean when it refers to a “Defined benefit liability” of EUR15,800 million? Could that be a projected total spend on pensions over the lifetime of all current and former employees?

Apologies for all of the questions. Like I said, I am no accountant, and so this is all a bit of a mystery to me.

More on the same subject:

Indeed, as stated above, the sum shown is the pension Reserve fund to cover the eventuality that the EPO is unable (or unwilling?) to pay pensions. Indeed originally, the final burden was to be shared between the member states as a sort of guarantor grouping. As is their won’t, the AC simply decided they didn’t agree anymore and passed the honour to the EPO – I’m not sure the legality of that was ever clarified as it didn’t fall within their right to simply dump the agreement of a international treaty.

With regard to the mysterious 4 billion euros appearing from nowhere, that relates to the future liabilities which are referred back to the current date by applying the notionally agreed interest rate. In good times, the rate is high, in bad times, less so. In layman’ terms,if I need to pay 1000 euros in 12 months time and I can get 10% interest, then I need to have 909 euros or so today. If I can only get 1%, then I need 990.1 today. Of course, the sums and time spans are far greater so that compound interest applies. 2 years at 10% would mean I need about 827 today but 1% means 981 etc.
In practice the rate has been falling quickly from 2011 to 2014 and in 2014 the rate was about 1.65% if my memory serves (you can find it in that link). In 2015 the rate rose and thus the liability of 19 billion in 2015 fell back to 15 billion. The rate changes regularly but is applied long term so that the biggest change to liabilities comes from small interest rate changes! In fact the fund has outperformed the rate (and its target) for 30 years.

Yes, the Reserve fund is the “RFPSS”.

I am not an accountant either, but as far as I understood from suepo documents of the time, the “Defined benefit liability” of EUR15,800 million indeed means that the office closes down today, has no incoming revenue whatsoever (no renewal fees on already granted patents) and still has to pay all liabilities. If memory serves, this liability first appeared under Brimelow who insisted that the office use the IFRS accounting system. The choice of that accounting system was criticised at the time. It makes more sense for, say, a car factory which has to put money aside for the goods it orders (e.g. steel, car parts) in case it goes bankrupt.

If my memory is correct, the idea that the reserve fund could pay pensions for 20 years comes from simply dividing the assets by the pensions that the office pays each year at present, possibly correcting by the expected number of pensioners in future years (I am not sure).

All this is to show that there is a large amount of interpretation in the financial statement. Depending on the chosen accounting rules, one can make the office look very rich or very poor. What is clear, however, is that in the past years the office generated several hundred millions euros profit per year (while paying salaries and pensions and constructing new buildings regularly). This money was partially paid to the reserve fund in “extra payments” (in addition to what is paid each year according to the pension scheme). There have been several documents from suepo analysing the situation, but I am not sure whether they are on the public section of the suepo website.

Last but not least, I insist that the regulation for pensions are not any different than in most companies: accrue benefits each year till one is 65 and then get a percentage of your salary. Early pensioners get a discount corresponding to the projected additional pension years, etc… The pensions are also taxable. There are no “lavish benefits” as one sometimes reads.

“The EPO changed the pension system from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution”,” explains the comment below.

I would not know the precise meaning of the expressions used in the Financial Statements. What I do know is that the discount rate is a key factor.

To my best knowledge, every fund promising a certain return, not just the EPO fund, projects how much money will be needed in the future, usually split by calendar year. The fund normally has already some cash, and every fund manager would like to know whether this cash is sufficient to cover the future obligations. To check this, these future obligations are converted in the currently needed amount of money, to cover them fully or as is frequently the case, to 80%.

This conversion considers how much interest you will get on the cash in the fund. This interest is called “discount rate”, implying that you need less than say 100 euro today if you want to have 100 Euro in 20 years. With the current EU politics, the interest you can get is pummeling down, lowering the discount rate. This, in turn, requires you to have more money today. If the European Central Bank changed their strategy next week, this would impact the finances and funding ratios of all funds relying on discount rates.

The catch of the story is that small variations in the discount rate will have a massive impact. A simple 0.2% more or less of the discount rate, over a projection of say 25 years, will make you bankrupt or filthy rich.

The EPO changed the pension system from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution”. The “old guys” get a percentage of the salary as pension, and the EPO carries the risk if the fund “underperforms”. The “new guys” get what the fund delivers, they carry the risk.

Giving lots of crappy patents to applicants is a recipe not to financial success, as the following comment notes:

I now realise that this has all been discussed before.

http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-finances-of-european-patent-office.html

With the benefit of hindsight, the predictions at the end of the 3rd (anonymous) comment on that thread now look to have been startlingly accurate. Perhaps the BB phenomenon really is all about balancing the books after all.

Whilst it may be that income from renewal fees represents a missing part of the puzzle, there is one thing I don’t understand. Where is the financial benefit to the EPO in rushing applications through to grant (which appears to be the current mantra)? Does this imply that the EPO gets more (on average) from its share of national renewal fees than it does from a full share of its own internal renewal fees? If not, then is the push for earlier grant all about BB keeping the Member States sweet by giving them an ever increasing share of renewal fees?

Perhaps we will never know. With the full knowledge and approval of the AC, one of BB’s first actions as president was to disband the only body (the Audit Committee) that could have provided transparency / independent oversight in connection with the EPO’s finances. So I guess that those affected (current and former EPO employees, patent applicants and the public) will just have to trust that the EPO’s finances are being handled with the utmost propriety by BB and his cronies… what could possibly go wrong?

Another person added:

My original comment related to the problem created (in many countries) where defined benefit (eg final salary) pension schemes were offered without the companies concerned ensuring that they had adequate funds in hand to cover the anticipated liabilities (eg taking into account increases in average life expectancy). Current examples of where things have gone badly wrong with pension funds are BHS and British Steel.

A similar issue applies to state pensions. In that instance, there is no “pension fund” as such, just a country’s GDP. For those countries offering (relatively) generous pensions and (generally) free healthcare, an ageing population will command an ever increasing proportion of public spending.

Please note that I am not placing any blame at the door of the (soon to be) pensioners concerned. I am merely making the observation that bad judgements made by companies, countries and organisations (ie failing to set aside sufficient resources to cope with the retirement of the “baby boomers”) has led us to the situation where the current workforce is lumbered with the problem of making up the shortfall.

I remember people in the 1980s warning us all about the coming “demographic crisis” in Europe. Well, now that the crisis is upon us, I can honestly say that it is almost impossible to identify any national government that has ever done anything significant in the intervening 30 years to defuse the problem.

At least the EPO has the reserve fund… though, curiously, it appears that it has no intention to use that fund to pay pensions. I would have thought that the whole point to having a reserve fund is to ensure that the pension “tail” does not wag the “dog” that is the everything else that the EPO does. However, I have my suspicions that the tail is indeed beginning to “wag the dog”…

“Anonymous” wrote: “I thought that an actuarial study last year showed that the EPO would only need to resort to the reserve fund briefly at some point in the future and that the amount required would be met by the annual return on the fund rather than depleting its capital. I’ll try to find it – I think Suepo got a copy and published it. Cannot imagine BB would let any good news be released – keep the stick and hide the carrot…”

“As to the future of the EPO,” the following commenter said, “the new career system is a net loss for the majority of the employees,” which is probably true. Here is the full comment:

I don’t think ageing of the population is significant for the EPO. Actually, we will have a younger “population”, because we only hire younger staff. On the other hand, the effect I explained about reduced salaries is probably significant.

It is also interesting that you cite British Steel. The steel industry used to employ lots of people but with modern production techniques a lot less people were needed: productivity per person increased considerably (and we could make a parallel with patent examination here, especially if examination is “streamlined”). What also happened is that the industry was privatized and a select small party of people made huge financial gains by keeping the usable parts and refusing to bear the liabilities, including pensions.

As to the future of the EPO all I can say is that:
-the new career system is a net loss for the majority of the employees and huge gains for the select few
-if someone tells me on disputable short term interest rate projections that a fund is bankrupt when this fund has increased regularly in the past 30 years and covers at least a decade of liabilities, I consider that a political message and not a financial analysis.

For those who are into accounting and care to explain this to us, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below. The consensus appears to be that things are getting worse — not better — for EPO pensioners and verified figures show that the number of retirements have doubled in just one year. This doesn’t bode well for Battistelli. He’s ruining the Office he was entrusted to manage. Why was he not fired in June?

08.14.16

The Patent Microcosm is Panicking and Spinning Alice/§ 101 Because US Software Patents Are Still Dying

Posted in America, Patents at 1:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A growing sense of panic among those who profit from software patents bureaucracy

Panic

Summary: A look at recent developments in the software patents scene in the United States, with increased focus on (or fear of) the Patent Trial and Appeal Board

THE USPTO has been coming under greater scrutiny for patent scope as of late. Even branches of the government [1, 2] have chastised the Office for abandoning patent quality in favour of greater profits — the same error which many patent offices are tempted to make for short-term gains. David Kappos was a terrible Director at the Office and now he is a corporate lobbyist for software patents in the US because Alice, which came to the Supreme Court after he had departed, effectively ended a lot of software patenting. This post is an outline of several of the latest developments in this area, gathered over the past week as part of our ongoing 10-year (almost decade-long) research.

We start this outline with several pointers to articles from Patently-O, a site which in spite of the long summer vacation has been very active this past week. Watch Professor Dennis Crouch ranting about PTAB, the large (and growing) group of people who trash software patents. He wrote: “Decisions by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board are rarely overturned on appeal. I expect that result is largely due to the fact that the Patent Office has staffed the Board with highly trained and skilled patent law experts. The other important factor though, is the standard of review. Factual findings made by the Board are reviewed for “substantial evidence” — meaning that the findings need not be “correct” but rather rather merely supported by “more than a mere scintilla of evidence.” Thus, patentees are hard-pressed to get a reversal based upon erroneous factual conclusions.”

Considering the utterly bad quality of patents granted by the USPTO in recent years, it oughtn’t take much for the PTAB to correctly and justifiably invalidate these. PTAB is just cleaning up the mess left behind by Kappos et al. It’s well overdue. In reference to Cuozzo [1, 2, 3] and PTAB Patently-O says:

Following Cuozzo, I largely wrote-off GEA Process (“GPNA”) v. Steuben as having any chance for certiorari. However, the petitioner’s newly filed reply brief offers an opportunity for revival.

In its decision on an IPR appeal, the Federal Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review claims that the PTAB exceeded the PTO’s statutory authority by “terminating and vacating five instituted and near-final IPR proceedings, without determining patentability vel non as Congress had intended.”

In another (probably last) article in this series about PTAB and IPRs, Patently-O said that “[i]n a timely motion, Aqua moved to amend three of the claims to include the limitations found in the non-instituted claims. (In particular, the patentee asked to substitute claims 1, 8, and 20 with claims 22-24 respectively. The PTAB agreed that these new claims satisfied the formal requirements of Section 316(d), but refused to enter the amendment – finding that the patentee’s motion had failed to show that the substitute claims were distinguishable over the prior art.”

Good. So the PTAB staff has a backbone and unlike the examiners of the USPTO, there’s no overt bias in favour of granting (even if in doubt). Strictness would serve the USPTO in the long run as it can help enforce/reintroduce the perception of patent quality, suggesting that it is being improved and things are being tightened or cleaned up retroactively as well.

According to this new article titled “Has Rochester lost its patents edge?” — an article which was published a couple of days ago — “patents granted to Rochester-area inventors fell by 21 percent last year, from 1,537 to 1,217.”

It sounds like patent quality is improving then. The number of patents is a very poor indicator of innovation. Now, see the part where patent lawyers interject their bias:

“The law in this area swings back and forth,” said Justin Petruzzelli, a patent lawyer and partner with the Rochester firm Rossi, Kimms and McDowell. He points to a 2014 case, Alice Corporation v. CLS Banking, where the Supreme Court laid out the criteria for computer-related inventions to be considered patent eligible.

“Some of the drop we’ve seen is from uncertainty created by the Alice decision,” Perruzzelli said, “and perhaps an overreaction on applying for patents related to software and business methods.”

It is not an “overreaction”, Mr. Petruzzelli, but you would rather mislead people so that you get more business, right? This is just propaganda/marketing interjected into a so-called ‘article’. People have got common sense and they know that being granted software patents is nowadays very hard. That’s why Petruzzelli is a little nervous. That’s why he wants articles like these.

The statement from Petruzzelli is overshadowed by facts and we see similar statements from others who are in the patent microcosm. Mind a patent attorney who says “Patent for Recording and Indexing Images Survives Alice: http://assets.law360news.com/0825000/825427/show_temp%20(53).pdf” (this is the case between Iron Gate and Lowe’s Companies in a District Court, which is a relatively low and Alice-hostile level; Alice is mentioned a lot in this 31-page decision). Also mind the most vocal pro-software patents site out there. It says:

Electric Power Group LLC v. Alstom S.A., 2015-1778 is a precedential case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that holds that claims directed to collecting and presenting information from a power grid, though “lengthy and numerous,” “do not go beyond requiring the collection, analysis, and display of available information in a particular field.” Rather, the claims state “those functions in general terms, without limiting them to technical means for performing the functions that are arguably an advance over conventional computer and network technology. The claims, defining a desirable information-based result and not limited to inventive means of achieving the result, fail under §101.”

§ 101 is scary to these people. The likes of Petruzzelli know that if the public knew about it, there would not be much more business left for their firms. Here is another new article on this topic [via]. It’s titled “Section 101 Blocks Caller ID Patent” and it says that “Judge Seeborg’s decision offers some examples of considerations that will support a successful § 101 challenge—not least of which is a patentee’s allegations making a patent sound less inventive rather than more.”

So here again we have a reminder of the strength of § 101 and why software patents quickly lose their luster even in the United States.

“Thankfully, PTAB is working at an accelerated pace to undo the damage, much to the fear of the patent microcosm which dubbed PTAB “death squads” (as if patent quality assessment is the moral equivalent of mortal execution).”In Patently-O, another new article (this one by Jason Rantanen for a change) speaks about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which brought software patents to the US in the first place. Patently-O also refers to Halo [1, 2, 3] and reminds us that one possible takeaway from Halo v Pulse (not a CAFC case but a SCOTUS case) is that we should never read patents as more damages would be incurred as a result of that (article by Dennis Crouch). “On remand,” he notes, “the district court will be hard-pressed to find that the infringement was not willful – based upon the apparently unchallenged verdict. Still, it will be within the district court’s discretion to decide whether the willfulness warrants enhanced damages under Section 284. If enhanced damages are warranted, the district court must then determine how much to award (with an upper limit of treble damages).”

If one embraced a policy of not reading any patents, then proving lower liabilities and compellingly demonstrating this (by citing the policy) would be simple. Here is MIP’s new article about Halo v Pulse. “The Federal Circuit directs district court to decide whether “an enhancement of the damages award is warranted” in Halo v Pulse,” the summary says. Had they not bothered with reading any patents at all, they would be better off for sure.

Another last Patently-O article speaks of indefinteness and notes that “the Federal Circuit has affirmed that Icon’s asserted patent claims are invalid because they “fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” Although indefiniteness is a question of law subject to de novo review, the starting point of that review is almost always the district court opinion – thus the court here looked for errors in the district court decision. That is especially true here where the district court decision was based in part on underlying factual conclusions that receive deference under Teva.”

Putting it in simpler terms, scope of a particular patent (how much it covers, breadth of coverage) plays an important role, not just patent scope in its own right. It sure looks like poor quality control at the USPTO left a horrible legacy where many patents are simply unfit for purpose (too broad or too abstract, even not novel). Thankfully, PTAB is working at an accelerated pace to undo the damage, much to the fear of the patent microcosm which dubbed PTAB “death squads” (as if patent quality assessment is the moral equivalent of mortal execution).

21,000 Posts in Techrights in Less Than a Decade

Posted in Site News at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cake for birthday

Summary: This post is the 21,000th post and the next one will make it more than twenty-one thousand posts in total. We are turning 10 in November.

WIKI pages and other pages/documents aside, in terms of the blog we have just crossed a milestone with 21,000 blog posts, months ahead of the tenth anniversary of the site. Keep us strong by linking to us and recommending us.

Patent Microcosm Shuts Out the Poor: Unified Patent Court (UPC) Promotion by Practising Law Institute (PLI) Only for the Wealthy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If you are not part of the UPC ‘conspiracy’ (a small self-serving group which lobbies officials), then you are not invited

Bank people

Summary: The people who are profiting from patent feuds, disputes, lawsuits etc. are still trying to muscle their will into European law and they keep the general public out of it by locking down (or pricing out of reach) their meetings where they influence/lobby decision-making officials

THE EPO is an incredibly abusive institution where the rich corporations get precedence (or preferential treatment). Seeing what kind of regime now runs the EPO (Battistelli and his mostly French buddies), this should not be surprising, especially if one examines their political connections (the equivalent of the Donald Trump party in the US).

The UPC conspirators (basically a bunch of patent law firms that are still pushing for patent trolls and software patents) now charge a “registration fee for this [UPC] webcast [which] is $299.” To put it bluntly, you have to be pretty rich to just watch some silly webcast in which they strive to shape perception and steer policy. That’s just another example of the “behind closed doors” policy that we wrote about earlier this month. It’s truly appalling and it resembles TTIP or TPP.

There are other new examples of discrimination against the poor or against the general public. Several hours ago in India, which strictly disallows software patenting, the following article was published. It speaks of a company that wants to use instruments against cancer; these would only be available for the rich, which raises the same old ethical dilemmas (covered here in relation to the EPO before). To quote parts of the article:

“In the medical industry , you need to get multiple regulatory approvals. Approval from the US and EU authorities is important before you can ship products,” says Mavely, who has funding from IDG Ventures and Accel Partners. His kits cost Rs 2,500 to Rs5,000, a fifth of what his US competitors charge. Mavely , who has filed for five patents, is ready to ship across the world.

[...]

“Solid clinical data, publications and early adopters who can vouch for your technology are key before you commercialize. This always takes longer than we anticipate,” says Nandakumar Subburaman, founder and CEO of Perfint, which makes robotic devices to deliver cancer drugs directly to organs like the lungs or liver. Since 2005, the company , which holds four US patents, has shipped 100 units, and has been running on $33million in venture funding.

As we have seen at the EPO, some of these things, even if granted a patent and made “Finalist” by the EPO for EIA, turn out to be fraudulent. But the bottom line is, patent systems and their effect on (or from) the public isn’t quite what it often seems on the surface. Scepticism is needed here as this is science, not religion or dogma (like UPC).

The United States Has a Growing Patent Trolls Epidemic as Very High Proportion of Lawsuits Filed by Them

Posted in America, Patents at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How long before all lawsuits are filed by purely litigation firms?

White pie chart

Summary: A look at the high proportion of patent lawsuits that are filed by entities that make nothing at all and thus serve no role whatsoever in innovation

TROLLS in the United States are a real problem because the USPTO sparingly grants software patents, unlike the EPO (for now).

Matt Levy, an opposer of patent trolls (for a front group, CCIA), has published in his own blog an article which was mentioned here before and refers to this trolls-friendly letter. Meanwhile, another front against trolls says: “Of the 27 patent lawsuits filed today, 22 were filed by patent trolls — 81%. It’s time for Congress to take action to #fixpatents!”

“If software patents were officially made and openly declared verboten in the US, a lot of patent trolls would vanish almost overnight as they depend nearly 100% on software patenting.”We recently saw reliable statistics which suggest that nearly 90% of technology patent lawyers are filed by patent trolls, or NPEs. One such firm (more like PAE or patent pool), RPX, made the news last week [1, 2] and turned out to be involved in patent shakedowns. To quote: “Under the terms of the agreement, RPX will receive the right to sublicense a limited number of companies to Kudelski Group patents. Kudelski will receive an upfront payment, mutual patent risk clearance, and a future transfer of patents from RPX.”

It is worth noting that much of the above is about software patents, i.e. dubious patents that may no longer be valid (because of Alice). If software patents were officially made and openly declared verboten in the US, a lot of patent trolls would vanish almost overnight as they depend nearly 100% on software patenting.

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