EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Links 14/4/2016: Muktware Returns, Google Chrome 50 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Why every developer is an open source developer these days

    Fast forward a few years, and it’s clear this trend toward open, collaborative development will come to permeate software development completely. As indicated by VisionMobile data, we’re already seeing developer demographics skew younger and less experienced, with this new generation of developers growing up on GitHub and speaking open source as their first language.

    This is a far cry from the past two decades, when open source was a religious battle at times, and enterprises were far more likely to use open source than contribute to it. As the O’Reilly survey data indicates, however, we’ve moved on. This willingness to reuse and contribute should lead to levels of developer productivity that we’ve never before seen.

  • 9 open source robotics projects

    Open source isn’t just changing the way we interact with the world, it’s changing the way the world interacts back with us. Case in point: open source robotics.

    Robots are playing an increasing role in our world, and while we perhaps haven’t reached the utopian future with robotic housekeepers imagined for us in the Jetsons, robotics are making advances in fields that fifty years ago would have been completely unimaginable.

  • Software in the Public Interest contributing members: Check your activity status!

    That’s a longer title than I’d like, but I want to try and catch the attention of anyone who might have missed more directed notifications about this. If you’re not an SPI contributing member there’s probably nothing to see here…

    Although I decided not to stand for re-election at the Software in the Public Interest (SPI) board elections last July, I haven’t stopped my involvement with the organisation. In particular I’ve spent some time working on an overhaul of the members website and rolling it out. One of the things this has enabled is implementation of 2009-11-04.jmd.1: Contributing membership expiry, by tracking activity in elections and providing an easy way for a member to indicate they consider themselves active even if they haven’t voted.

  • Events/Community

    • As PGConf US Approaches, Hear from Leaders in the PostgreSQL Community

      PGConf US, the largest official gathering of the PostgreSQL open source community is less than a week away. It will be held this year at the New York Marriott, Brooklyn Bridge, from April 18 – 20 (http://www.pgconf.us).

    • Working Late May Be Destroying Your Organization: Colin McNamara

      Many of us who work in the IT field are aware of the grim reality of working late at night. People often end up working long hours as they take on additional work and projects. But, is that good for you? Is it good for your organization? Is it good for your teams and clients? By doing so, are you helping your company or hurting it?


      If you are continuously writing code, you will burn out. To avoid that, McNamara uses a strategy that comes from the Marine Corps: It’s a 72-hour stand. McNamara said that after 72 hours of coding, it’s time for rest, “Do not open your laptops. Go spend time with your family, as we don’t want you being divorced.”

      McNamara’s teams noticed significant improvements when adopting his advice, “Four days later, our guys had started to think outside the box again.” Don’t you want your teams to be thinking outside the box?

    • X.Org 2016 Elections Commence: Will They Merge With The SPI?
    • X.org Election Time — Vote Now

      It’s more important than usual to actually get your vote in — we’re asking the membership to vote on changes the the X.org bylaws that are necessary for X.org to become a SPI affiliate project, instead of continuing on as a separate organization. While I’m in favor of this transition as I think it will provide much needed legal and financial help, the real reason we need everyone to vote is that we need ⅔ of the membership to cast ballots for the vote to be valid. Last time, we didn’t reach that value, so even though we had a majority voting in favor of the change, it didn’t take effect. If you aren’t in favor of this change, I’d still encourage you to vote as I’d like to get a valid result, no matter the outcome.

    • PCI Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Given that PCI was introduced more than two decades ago and that PCI Express was introduced more than ten years ago, one might think that the Linux plumbing already did everything possible to support PCI.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • RDO Delivers OpenStack Mitaka for CentOS Linux

      This week, the RDO community announced the general availability of its freely-available, community-supported distribution of OpenStack, the popular open source project for building private, public, and hybrid clouds.

    • Google’s Cloud Gets an OpenStack Backup Driver

      The thirteenth version of the OpenStack cloud platform, Mitaka, has just arrived, and right on its heels, Google announced in a blog post that the Mitaka release includes a native option to back up OpenStack Cinder storage volumes to its public cloud.

      Cinder is used in many OpenStack deployments to house virtual machine data and other data at rest. OpenStack includes a native backup driver that permits Cinder to be backed up to various storage platforms. Now, Google cloud users can choose the native backup option for Cinder as a seamless choice.

  • Google

  • CMS

    • What to expect in Drupal 8

      Max Bronsema is the chief architect and director of web communication technologies for Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham, Washington. Previously, he was the lead Drupal architect at the university, leading a small student team developing innovative Drupal solutions for the public-facing sites at WWU.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • FSF Blogs: Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: April 15th
    • gnuplot – command your graphs

      It’s 1990, or thereabouts. Linux is not even a twinkle in Torvalds’ eye and GNU is a six-year old showing real promise. An astrophysics PhD student a few years my senior is sitting at a Sun workstation enthusing about a new plotting program he’s found. It strikes me as being simple yet powerful and also a bit odd. I spend some time learning it, grow to like it and go on to use it to create all the plots in my PhD thesis. But during the late 1990s spreadsheets and other software tools became more powerful and ubiquitous and I fell into using them. However, a quarter of a century later, when writing an article for this very magazine, I stumble across gnuplot again and find, to my amazement, that it’s still being developed and it’s just as odd and useful as it ever was. So, let’s take a look at the curious beast that is gnuplot.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Spain publishes file archive tool as open source

      Spain’s Ministry of Finance and Public Administrations has published as open source Archive. This web-based solution creates archives of electronic files that are stored in compliance with the country’s eGovernment and interoperability regulations.

    • EC unveils Drupal module for explanatory maps

      The European Commission is working on an open source module for the Drupal content management system that will make it easy for website editors and site contributors to create explanatory EU maps. Using the NextEuropaMap module does not require users to know Javascript, and map-creation is presented in the system’s content interface.

    • Is the government’s embrace of open source going off track? [Ed: Microsoft-connected ‘news’ site (1105 Media) is attacking FOSS adoption in US government]

      The policy both reaffirms and broadens a goal laid out in the Obama administration’s Second Open Government National Action Plan for improved access to custom software code developed for the federal government. The plan emphasized use of (and contributing back to) open source software to fuel innovation, lower costs and benefit the public. It also furthers a long-standing ‘default to open’ objective going back to the early days of the administration.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • How this open source platform is weaving stories of communities in their own languages

      Stories are at the very core of YourStory. It is through stories that the world passes the lore. It was about time for stories to help languages make a grand comeback whilst inspiring the leaders of tomorrow’s world.

    • “ZeMarmot” at Libre Graphics Meeting 2016 and London Gallery West

      We will showcase a small video on the workflow of ZeMarmot Open Movie in the “Libre Graphics Culture and Practice” exhibition hosted at London Gallery West, art gallery of the University of Westminster.

    • How open source can accelerate the circular economy shift

      The shift to a circular economy presents a wicked, multidimensional problem: how can we redesign our operating system so that it works in the long term, and reflects the current context in terms of resources, energy and economic pressures?

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Home Furnishings Go Open Source with FABrics Easy to Make Chairs

        When something is open source, that means that all of the resources that the creators used are available for anyone else to use, either for their own projects or to customize and improve upon the work that was already done. While the concept of something being open source has traditionally been applied to software, it really didn’t take long for the term to to be co-opted for all types of new technologies and ideas. Today there are open sourced plans for hardware, open sourced scientific research, open sourced encyclopedias and even open sourced music. And now there is open sourced home furnishings, designed to be made by anyone, anywhere with easy to access technology and materials.

      • Open Source Robotics With WireBeings

        Everyone needs a cute robotic buddy, right? [Matthew Hallberg] created WireBeings, an open source 3D printed robotic platform. Looking like a cross between Wall-E and Danbo, WireBeings is designed around the Arduino platform. We do mean the entire platform. You can fit anything from an Arduino micro to a Mega2560 stacked with 3 shields in its oversized head. There’s plenty of room for breadboards and custom circuits.

  • Programming/Development

    • Kite’s Coding Asssitant Spots Errors, Finds Better Open Source

      Kite’s self-titled product acts as a sidebar that sits next to a your code editor and enables you to search for open source code that they can incorporate into your programs. It attempts to provide relevant documentation and code examples as you type and tries to spot any errors you might have made while staying out of the way, unlike Microsoft’s infamous digital assistant “Clippy.”

    • C And C++ Programming Languages — Biggest Differences And Comparison

      C vs C++ — which one is better? What is a procedural programming language and what is a modular programming language? Which one should be used for better and faster output? Well, we answer all the aspects of using C vs C++ against each other in this article.

    • Node.js Foundation Survey Shows Strong Enterprise Developer Adoption

      A new Node.js Foundation survey shows full stack demand for Node.js, along with developers using it with containers and for IoT development.

      The Node.js Foundation, a consortium of organizations fostering the development of the Node.js platform, today announced the results of its first Node.js User Survey Report.

      Node.js is an event-driven server-side JavaScript development environment based on Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. Mikeal Rogers, community manager for the Node.js Foundation, said there are more than 3.5 million Node.js users. And with an annual growth rate of 100 percent, Node.js is emerging as a universal platform used for Web applications, the Internet of things (IoT) and the enterprise, he said.

    • What “Sad Affleck” and an open source debacle teach us about success

      And the “left-pad” fiasco was about an “npm module”. Npm is a package manager for Javascript, which is a way for developers to list web “dependencies” to include in their application. These might be files they’ve written, but often they’re open source contributions from someone else.

      Well, left-pad’s developer, Azer Koçulu, was upset by a trademark dispute with another company, so he decided to pull all the modules he had made from npm. Not a big deal if no one besides you uses those modules. But left-pad is depended on by many apps and developers. And when it disappeared, it crippled apps all over the web.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open Standards, Move Over

      Back in 2003, over 800 blog posts ago, I decided to launch something I called the Standards Blog. Not surprisingly, it focused mostly on the development, implementation and importance of open standards. But I also wrote about other areas of open collaboration, such as open data, open research, and of course, open source software. Over time, there were more and more stories about open source worth writing, as well as pieces on the sometimes tricky intersection of open standards and open source.


  • Apple did not invent emoji

    But, Internet, I’ve noticed a worrying trend. Both popular media and a lot of tech circles tend to assume that “emoji” de facto means Apple’s particular font.

  • Twitter has outsized influence, but it doesn’t drive much traffic for most news orgs, a new report says

    Twitter generates 1.5 percent of traffic for typical news organizations, according to a new report from the social analytics company Parse.ly that examined data from 200 of its client websites over two weeks in January. (You’ll need to give Parse.ly your email address to access the full report.) Parse.ly’s network includes publishers like Upworthy, Slate, The Daily Beast, and Business Insider.

  • Does Twitter Matter for News Sites?
  • Health/Nutrition

    • These images show how quickly Jeremy Hunt has bankrupted healthcare in England

      “Breathtaking. It took just two years for Jeremy Hunt to completely wreck our NHS,” writes Dr Eoin Clarke on Twitter.

    • Ambulance privatisation descends into ‘total shambles’

      Hundreds of patients including people with cancer and kidney failure have missed important appointments for treatment because ambulances did not arrive to take them to hospital, after privatisation of NHS non-urgent transport services in Sussex this month.

      Some elderly patients have had to wait more than five hours for ambulances and been stuck at hospital for long periods after their appointments because the transport service, now run by the private firm Coperforma, has proved so unreliable.

      Patients, relatives, NHS bodies and local MPs have severely criticised the service’s performance, and a trade union representing ambulance crews said it was an “absolute shambles”. The NHS organisations that awarded the four-year, £63.5m contract have now launched an investigation.

      A host of problems have arisen since Coperforma replaced the NHS’s South East Coast ambulance service (Secamb) as the provider of non-emergency patient transport services on 1 April.

    • We CAN save our NHS from TTIP without Brexit – but let’s not declare premature victory

      Gail Cartmail of Unite the Union says their legal advice shows the EU still threatens our National Health Service – but that Cameron could fix that without the need for Brexit.

    • Disturbing New Evidence About What Common Pesticides Can Do to Brains

      For defense against the fungal pathogens that attack crops—think the blight that bedeviled Irish potato fields in the 19th century—farmers turn to fungicides. They’re widely sprayed on fruit, vegetable, and nut crops, and in the past decade, they’ve become quite common in the corn and soybean fields (see here and here for more). But as the use of fungicides has ramped up in recent years, some scientists are starting to wonder: What are these chemicals doing to the ecosystems they touch, and to us?

    • Meet Monsanto’s Evil Twin, an Industry That Does Major Damage and Gets Shockingly Little Attention

      According to the USDA, the average U.S. nitrogen fertilizer use per year from 1998 to 2007 was 24 billion 661 million pounds. To produce that nitrogen, the manufacturers released at least 6.7 pounds of GHG for every pound produced. That’s 165 billion, 228 million pounds of GHGs spewed into the atmosphere every year, just for the manufacture of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Most of those emissions are nitrous oxide, the most damaging emissions of U.S. agriculture.

    • Feeling Hungry? Have a Deep-Fried Butter Ball.

      To know for sure, we need two things. First, researchers with an open mind. Second, reliable nutritional studies. Unfortunately, since forcing mental patients to be saturated-fat guinea pigs is no longer on the table, it’s as hard as ever to conduct reliable studies. Still, keep in mind that the weakness of nutritional studies works both ways: all the evidence that saturated fats are bad and vegetable oil is good is pretty thin too. Go ahead and smear some butter on that toast.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Linux Foundation: The internet is crumbling

      The open source infrastructure of the internet is crumbling because of poor maintenance, the Linux Foundation warned today.

      Likening open source to the “roads and bridges of the internet”, Linux Foundation CTO Nicko van Someren said that underpaid developers are struggling to patch dangerous bugs and keep the open aspects of the web up to date.

    • Open source runs the world and needs better security, claims Linux Foundation CTO

      Security is the biggest plague of open source software, and more people are needed to work together squashing bugs and plugging holes in the code on which much of the internet relies.

      That’s according to Nicko van Someren, chief technology officer at the Linux Foundation, who explained that huge swathes of the internet and companies with online business models rely on open source code, software and infrastructure.

    • Security is the biggest bug of open source, says Linux Foundation CTO

      CYBER SECURITY is the plague of open source software, and more people are needed to work together squashing bugs and plugging holes in the code on which much of the internet relies.

      That’s according to Nicko van Someren, chief technology officer at the Linux Foundation, who explained that huge swathes of the internet and companies with online business models rely on open source code, software and infrastructure.

      “Open source projects are the roads and bridges of the internet. Pretty much everything we do on the internet relies on open source,” he said in a keynote speech at Cloud Expo in London.

    • Linux Computers Targeted by New Backdoor and DDoS Trojan

      After being bombarded with new malware towards the end of last year, the Linux ecosystem is rocked again by the discovery of a new trojan family, identified by security researchers as Linux.BackDoor.Xudp.

      The only detail that matters is that this new threat does not leverage automated scripts, vulnerabilities, or brute-force attacks to infect users and still relies on good ol’ user stupidity in order to survive.

    • Let’s Encrypt free security certificate program leaves beta

      Let’s Encrypt has announced that the free secure certificate program is leaving beta in its push to encrypt 100 percent of the web.

    • What happened with Badlock?

      Here’s the thing though. It wasn’t nearly as good as the hype claimed. It probably couldn’t ever be as good as the hype claimed. This is like waiting for a new Star Wars movie. You have memories from being a child and watching the first few. They were like magic back then. Nothing that ever comes out again will be as good. Your brain has created ideas and memories that are too amazing to even describe. Nothing can ever beat the reality you built in your mind.

    • Microsoft rated 6 of 13 security updates as critical, Badlock bug fix rated important

      For April 2016 Patch Tuesday, Microsoft released 13 security bulletins, with six being rated as critical for remote code execution flaws and the patch for Badlock being among those rated only as important.

    • Apple Bug Exposed Chat History With a Single Click

      IN THE MIDDLE of intense public debate over whether Apple should be forced to help the government decrypt iPhones for criminal investigations, the company quietly closed a six-month-old security vulnerability in its Messages app. Newly published details reveal just how severe that vulnerability was, allowing the exfiltration of chat history, including photos and videos, if the user could be tricked into clicking a single malicious link.

      The bug, which affected Apple’s laptop and desktop computers from September through March, highlights just how hard it is for companies like Apple to effectively secure sensitive data — even before those companies begin fielding requests from the government for special access. Tech companies like Apple are nearly unanimous in their agreement that creating “backdoors” through which the government may access protected data undermines even the most basic security measures, including those designed to protect against vulnerabilities like the Messages bug.

    • New Threat Can Auto-Brick Apple Devices

      If you use an Apple iPhone, iPad or other iDevice, now would be an excellent time to ensure that the machine is running the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system — version 9.3.1. Failing to do so could expose your devices to automated threats capable of rendering them unresponsive and perhaps forever useless.

    • Execs: We’re not responsible for cybersecurity

      More than 90 percent of corporate executives said they cannot read a cybersecurity report and are not prepared to handle a major attack, according to a new survey.

      More distressing is that 40 percent of executives said they don’t feel responsible for the repercussions of hackings, said Dave Damato, chief security officer at Tanium, which commissioned the survey with the Nasdaq.

      “I think the most shocking statistic was really the fact that the individuals at the top of an organization — executives like CEOs and CIOs, and even board members — didn’t feel personally responsible for cybersecurity or protecting the customer data,” Damato told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.

    • Brits suffer more than 2,000 ransomware attacks each day

      The security firm said that the enemy is now more organised than ever before, and that most groups have the same kind of resources, skills and support as nation-state hacker groups.

      “Advanced criminal attack groups now echo the skills of nation-state attackers. They have extensive resources and a highly skilled technical staff that operate with such efficiency that they maintain normal business hours and even take the weekends and holidays off,” said Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response.

      “We are even seeing low-level criminal attackers create call centre operations to increase the impact of their scams.”

      These sophisticated hackers are often the first to embrace zero-day vulnerabilities, which increased by 125 percent in 2015 to 54.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • I am on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones

      I am in the strange position of knowing that I am on the ‘Kill List’. I know this because I have been told, and I know because I have been targeted for death over and over again. Four times missiles have been fired at me. I am extraordinarily fortunate to be alive.

      I don’t want to end up a “Bugsplat” – the ugly word that is used for what remains of a human being after being blown up by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone. More importantly, I don’t want my family to become victims, or even to live with the droning engines overhead, knowing that at any moment they could be vaporized.

      I am in England this week because I decided that if Westerners wanted to kill me without bothering to come to speak with me first, perhaps I should come to speak to them instead. I’ll tell my story so that you can judge for yourselves whether I am the kind of person you want to be murdered.

    • Drive to Release 9/11 Docs Gains Strength After 60 Minutes Report

      Things have been moving fast since a momentous 60 Minutes report on the drive to declassify 28 pages on foreign government financing of 9/11. Here’s your personal briefing on all the latest developments.

    • Two Years After the Nigerian Girls Were Taken

      Late last month, amid a spate of suicide bombings planned by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and across the border in the far north of Cameroon, something strange happened. A vigilante force in a Cameroonian town called Limani stopped a twelve-year-old girl and a thirty-five-year-old woman who were carrying explosives, and subsequently handed them over to authorities. While they were being questioned in custody, the girl said she had been sent by Boko Haram to detonate herself, which wasn’t in itself unusual—one of every five suicide bombings that the group has staged or inspired over the past two years has been executed by children, usually young girls. But the girl also said that she had ended up with the Islamist group after it kidnapped her and more than two hundred schoolgirls in the Nigerian town of Chibok, in a mass abduction that began on the evening of April 14, 2014, two years ago this Thursday.

    • John Kerry, and the Legacy of Hiroshima

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and fellow envoys from the G7 visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park on the margins of their summit meeting this week.

      Kerry was the highest ranking American government official to visit the Peace Park, the memorial dedicated to the victims of the world’s first nuclear attack on August 6, 1945.

    • When Will the ‘28 Pages’ From 9/11 Commission Report Be Declassified?

      The 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is this September, and we still don’t know the whole story.

      On Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes,” Steve Kroft looked into a gaping hole that remains in the narrative—the “28 pages.” They are the final chapter from the report of the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11, and the redacted pages are believed to offer insights into what role Saudi Arabia played in the 9/11 attacks on America.

      Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and the country has been considered the chief source of funding for al-Qaida for many years. Since the 9/11 report was made public on Dec. 11, 2002, Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time, has worked to reveal all Saudi links to terrorists, but no link has been proved.

      Kroft spoke with Graham and others who want the Obama administration to declassify the 28 pages, and the former senator said he remains “deeply disturbed by the amount of material that has been censored from this report.”

    • Victims Of A Gang War Rooted In Los Angeles Now Fleeing To The U.S. In Mass

      Threats to police officers and their families have become increasingly common as the death toll from the gang war in El Salvador rises to the same level of violence as its bloody civil war.

    • President Killary

      Hillary Clinton is proving to be the “teflon candidate.” In her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, she has escaped damage from major scandals, any one of which would destroy a politician. Hillary has accepted massive bribes in the form of speaking fees from financial organizations and corporations. She is under investigation for misuse of classified data, an offense for which a number of whistleblowers are in prison. Hillary has survived the bombing of Libya, her creation of a failed Libyan state that is today a major source of terrorist jihadists, and the Benghazi controversy. She has survived charges that as Secretary of State she arranged favors for foreign interests in exchange for donations to the Clintons’ foundation. And, of course, there is a long list of previous scandals: Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate. Diana Johnstone’s book, Queen of Chaos, describes Hillary Clinton as “the top salesperson for the ruling oligarchy.”

    • Hillary’s “I’m Not a Crook” Moment

      As the Battle of New York looms, an underground shadow war flirts with High Noon. After nearly one year, the FBI has finally investigated the treasure trove contained in Hillary Clinton’s subterranean private email server. The FBI has refused to release any records. Remember, this is a criminal investigation.

      Former State Department IT official Bryan Pagliano – who essentially set up Clinton’s personal server – was granted immunity in exchange for cooperating with the FBI’s investigation. A whodunit applies on whether Pagliano was told this server might be the conduit of secret State Department communications as well as top secret National Security issues.

    • The Enemy Within: Terrorist Enablers on the Potomac

      Hillary Clinton and CIA director David Petraeus had a brilliant idea: they would fund, arm, and train a proxy army in Syria, overthrow the regime of strongman Bashar al-Assad, and jump on the rapidly moving train of the “Arab Spring” to extend US influence in the region. What could go wrong?


      The “Free Syrian Army” created by Washington is, today, fighting alongside al-Qaeda and its Salafist allies, filling the vacuum left behind by the “Islamic State”/ISIS as it contracts under fire from Russian war planes and the Syrian army.

    • Noam Chomsky on How the U.S. and British Invasion of Iraq Caused the Syrian Refugee Crisis (Video)

      In a discussion with acTVism, the renowned linguist and political commentator offers context to the seemingly endless turmoil in the Middle East.

    • As Ukraine Collapses, Europeans Tire of US Interventions

      I have no doubt that the previous government was corrupt. Corruption is the stock-in-trade of governments. But according to Transparency International, corruption in the Ukrainian government is about the same after the US-backed coup as it was before. So the intervention failed to improve anything, and now the US-installed government is falling apart. Is a Ukraine in chaos to be considered a Washington success story?

    • Would a Clinton Win Mean More Wars?

      If Clinton becomes President, she will be surrounded by a neocon-dominated American foreign policy establishment that will press her to resume its “regime change” strategies in the Middle East and escalate its new and dangerous Cold War against Russia.

    • Hillary Clinton Claims Honduran Government ‘Followed The Law’ In Ousting Its President in 2009

      Leaked State Department cables revealed that the U.S. ambassador in Honduras pleaded with Clinton to call what happened in Honduras a military coup, as did members of Congress. But she refused, and worked instead to broker a deal that elected a new government that was much friendlier to multinational corporations and the U.S. military.

    • The End of the American Empire

      Americans like to forget we ever had an empire or to claim that, if we did, we never really wanted one. But the momentum of Manifest Destiny made us an imperial power. It carried us well beyond the shores of the continent we seized from its original aboriginal and Mexican owners. The Monroe Doctrine proclaimed an American sphere of influence in the Western Hemisphere. But the American empire was never limited to that sphere.


      In 1893, the United States engineered regime change in Hawaii. In 1898, we annexed the islands outright. In that same year, we helped Cuba win its independence from Spain, while confiscating the Spanish Empire’s remaining holdings in Asia and the Americas: Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Beginning in 1897, the U.S. Navy contested Samoa with Germany. In 1899, we took Samoa’s eastern islands for ourselves, establishing a naval base at Pago Pago.


      From 1899 to 1902, Americans killed an estimated 200,000 or more Filipinos who tried to gain independence for their country from ours. In 1903, we forced Cuba to cede a base at Guantánamo to us and detached Panamá from Colombia. In later years, we occupied Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, parts of Mexico, and Haiti.

    • Behind Ukraine’s Leadership Shake-up

      In this sense, the Dutch referendum was surely the trigger for the removal of Yatsenyuk to show Europe and the world that Ukrainian leaders were trying to consolidate their power in order to proceed with deep reforms. But Kiev’s political leadership is not where the real power in the country lies.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Wall Street Journal Cons Its Readers Yet Again

      George Bush! Who knew he was such a climate change advocate?


      I continually wonder why Wall Street Journal readers enjoy paying good money to get lied to so routinely. There’s almost literally nothing true about that passage above. And yet, apparently this is what the Journal’s audience craves. Why?

    • Summer-Like Temperatures Smash Ice Melt Records For Greenland

      Blistering temperatures and rainfall over Greenland have jump-started the summer melt season weeks early. On Monday, a stunning 12 percent of Greenland’s massive ice sheet was melting — “smashing by a month the previous records of more than 10 percent of the ice sheet melting,” according to the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

      DMI scientists were “at first incredulous.” One DMI climate scientist said, “We had to check that our models were still working properly.” But in fact, temperatures over parts of Greenland this month have been measured as high as 17.8°C — a scorching 64°F.

      “Even weather stations quite high up on the ice sheet observed very high temperatures on Monday,” explained Robert Fausto of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). At one “site at 1840 meters [1.1 miles] above sea level, we observed a maximum temperature of 3.1°C [37.6°F]. This would be a warm day in July, never mind April.”

    • Who gets to decide how the media talks about climate change?

      Sometimes, it’s simple. Sometimes, a newspaper editor gives their coal-baron buddy a column from which to repeatedly deny the climate science whose conclusions threaten his wealth. Or they imply the dubious claims of a report from a dodgy anti-science ‘think-tank’ are ‘peer-reviewed’. Or they launch a smear campaign against climate scientists, trying to ‘prove’ that normal statistical techniques amount to ‘doctoring data’.

    • 5 Ways Bernie Might Be the Best Choice for the Environment

      Sanders burnishes his green scorecard with a key endorsement from one of the most pro-environment senators.

    • Oil Industry’s Suppression of Climate Science Began in 1940s, Documents Reveal

      A trove of newly uncovered documents shows that fossil fuel companies were explicitly warned of the risks of climate change decades earlier than previously suspected.

      And while it’s no secret—anymore—that the companies knew about those dangers long ago, the documents, published Wednesday by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), reveal even more about the broader industry effort to suppress climate science and foment public doubt about global warming.

      Industry executives met in Los Angeles in 1946 to discuss growing public concern about air pollution. That meeting led to the formation of a panel—suitably named the Smoke and Fumes Committee—to conduct research into air pollution issues.

      But the research was not meant to be a public service; rather, it was used by the committee to “promote public skepticism of environmental science and environmental regulations the industry considered hasty, costly, and potentially unnecessary,” CIEL writes.

  • Finance

    • Why ‘Modern’ Work Culture Makes People So Miserable

      Dan Lyons’ account of his time at the software company HubSpot describes a workplace in which employees are disposable, “treated as if they are widgets to be used up and discarded.” And HubSpot is scarcely unique: The description of Amazon’s work environment is just one of many similar cases. An increasing number of companies offer snacks, foosball, and futuristic jargon to keep employees’ minds off their long hours and omnipresent economic insecurity.

    • Verizon CEO Attack on Bernie Sanders Receives Gushing Praise — From Fellow Execs

      AS 40,000 VERIZON workers went on strike Wednesday to protest cuts to health care and pensions, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rallied with some of them in New York City, blasting the company’s practices.

      “This is just another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans,” Sanders told the workers, who decided to strike after failing to reach a contract. “Today you are standing up not just for justice for Verizon workers, you’re standing up for millions of Americans who don’t have a union.”

      Meanwhile, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam published a lengthy essay on LinkedIn titled “Feeling the Bern of Reality — the Facts About Verizon and the ‘Moral Economy,’” in which he called Sanders’s views “contemptible.”

    • Sanders Responds to Disgruntled CEOs: ‘I Welcome Their Contempt’

      Bernie Sanders’ response to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam’s charge that the Democratic presidential candidate has “contemptible” views? Bring it.

      Sanders on Wednesday joined striking Verizon workers on a picket line in New York City. He applauded them, saying, “Today you are standing up—not just for justice for Verizon workers—you are standing up for millions of Americans.”

      The Manhattan march was one of many the roughly 40,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBW) unions staged on the East Coast to protest what they described as the communication behemoth’s “devastating” cuts.

      “They want to take away the health benefits that you have earned,” Sanders said. “They want to outsource to decent paying jobs. They want to give their CEO $20 million a year in compensation,” he told the workers.

    • Who Are The Non-Celebrities In The Panama Papers?

      In the first stories about the Panama Papers, we got the names of a bunch of politicians, a few criminals, sports and other celebrities and one or two names of rich people. But in focusing solely on this kind of person, we miss the major point about tax havens. They are used by hundreds of thousands of people, including many who are not billionaires and who are not famous or otherwise newsworthy. They are commonly used by doctors, lawyers, accountants, small business owners and those who inherited money from such people.

      Here’s a chart from the New York Times showing the mix of people making up the top 1% in income in the US; the chart is from 2012 and uses 2007 data. The cut-off for this level is the Census Bureau figure of $380K, while other studies put it higher. The Fed Survey of Consumer Finances, a better survey, has it at $690K in 2007. The cut-off for the top 1% in wealth was estimated at nearly $8.4 million in 2007. Those numbers went down after the Great Crash, but recovered smartly. By 2013, the cut-off for the top 1% in wealth was back to nearly $8 million, and climbing.

    • 2,500 Years of Class Hatred

      Boots Riley’s recent article, posted in The Guardian, systematically dispels the myth of black-on-black crime advocated by Bill Clinton. Rather than pointing the image of failure at black people in the US, Riley insists, the mirror should be redirected to class war and the failure of liberal democracy. The condition of black people will advance with economic prosperity, not punitive drug laws.

      The attempts to demean black people in the US, while specific to modern racism, has its roots in old fashioned class hatred interwoven within the fabric of western civilization.

    • Elizabeth Warren Takes on Tax Preparation Industry With New Legislation to Make Filing Easier
    • Elizabeth Warren Wants To Take Down TurboTax

      Elizabeth Warren wants to make tax filing season simpler and cheaper for most Americans.

      On Wednesday, the Democratic senator introduced a bill with seven cosponsors, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, seeking to make significant reforms to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Under the bill, Americans with simple tax obligations would have the option not to complete a tax return at all, but to instead receive a pre-prepared return from the IRS with their liability or refund already calculated for them. The IRS already gets most employer and bank information on taxpayers’ obligations — such as W2s and interest earned — so all it would have to do is calculate what they would owe for them.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • US Chamber Of Commerce Actually Just US Chamber Of Our Highest-Paying Members

      The US Chamber of Commerce is an organization that’s always carried a completely undeserved air of legitimacy. For one, its name makes it sound as though it’s actually an extension of the federal government, rather than what it is: a lobbying group representing a variety of trade interests.

      It also gains unearned legitimacy by its name being a reflection of thousands of local chambers of commerce, which are far more representative of its members than the national version. The US Chamber of Commerce continues to push for legislation and regulation that isn’t aligned with the views of its membership as a whole, but rather just its most generous contributors.

    • Majority of Americans Believe Sanders Is the Only Compassionate and Likable Candidate

      The poll, conducted March 31-April 4, found that 48 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Sanders, while 39 percent view him unfavorably. Compare that with delegate leaders Trump and Clinton, whose unfavorable ratings blow Sanders out of the water. Fifty-five percent of Americans say they have unfavorable views of Clinton, while 40 percent say they have a favorable take.

    • I.F. Stone – an inspiration for us all

      His starting point was that reporters should not assume governments and corporations are telling the truth, but verify all their claims as much as possible. I wonder how many Norwegian reporters can be said to follow the principles of I. F. Stone. They are definitely in short supply. If you, like me half a year ago, have never heard of him, check him out.

    • The New Propaganda War

      Despite Western media dominance, the U.S. government wants to stop the world from hearing the “other side” on foreign disputes by “countering” or discrediting those voices, explains Jonathan Marshall.

    • An ‘Unqualified’ Success at Media Manipulation

      Political strategists know well that attacks can backfire, especially for candidates with high negatives such as Hillary Clinton. Accordingly, the Clinton campaign attacked Sanders through a common political maneuver: They used surrogates.


      Though as FAIR (4/7/16) pointed out, the banking issue was a red herring. (“When asked how he would break up the big banks, Sanders said he would leave that up to the banks,” economist Dean Baker wrote. “That’s exactly the right answer.”) But by Wednesday, MSNBC’s Morning Joe (4/6/16) had already picked up the Clinton campaign’s talking points. Host Joe Scarborough repeatedly tried to get Clinton herself to weigh in on whether Sanders was “unqualified” to be president. Instead of answering yes or no, she reiterated the campaign’s carefully massaged strategy: “I think he hadn’t done his homework, and he’d been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood, and that does raise a lot of questions.”


      The next move revealed the sophisticated media-handling of Clinton campaign strategists. Clinton operatives Christina Reynolds and Brian Fallon went on the offensive with, as Salon (4/8/16) put it, “sanctimonious incredulity,” saying, “This is a ridiculous and irresponsible attack for someone to make.” They complained that Clinton herself had never said such a thing, yet Sanders opened his comments with “quote, unquote.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Banning Cameron: the pointlessness of campus censorship

      I know that many students disagree with Cameron’s political views. He’s too left-wing for my liking. But unlike SU politicos I don’t consider differences of opinion as a justification for censorship. Many of my fellow students today seem to lack the capacity to engage with ideas contrary to their own, to the extent that dissenting views make them feel ‘unsafe’ or ‘threatened’. These people need to get a grip on reality and realise that the world will not bow down to their fragile egos.

    • Prevent: this is state censorship, not ‘safeguarding’

      The Prevent Duty – which put the existing Prevent Strategy measures on a legal footing – is, ostensibly, about protecting and caring for students. It spells out the safeguards universities are required to have in place before allowing speakers on campus. When prime minister David Cameron announced the new measures in September, he said it was every public institution’s responsibility to deny all extremist ideas ‘the oxygen they need to flourish’. But, rhetoric aside, it was clear that this was aimed squarely at Islamist hate preachers.

    • New Hampshire Complaint Censorship Chills Viral Video on YouTube, Uses False Privacy Claim

      Complaint censorship is a rising tide on YouTube, threatening to scrub the internet clean of video recorded in public, which people want to take back years later.

      A New Hampshire citizen journalist recorded a public conversation on a sidewalk and posted it to YouTube (see below) where it went viral, getting over 1,000,000 views, but now someone is using complaint censorship to claim a privacy right, on a public sidewalk.

      Complaint censorship uses illegitimate claims to bog down news and public interest videos on YouTube.

    • Scholar: Why U.S. college censorship reminds me of authoritarian regimes

      The one place where freedom of expression and the open mind should prevail is on college campuses, right? Isn’t that what liberal education is supposed to be about — the free and open inquiry into history, science and the arts in order to understand how humanity has understood itself for millennia?

      But if that is so, why has the university become its opposite: an astonishingly illiberal institution where speech codes, “safe spaces,” and other controls of freedom of expression are intended to close down debate? Why is it increasingly a “space” where prominent people like former Harvard University President Larry Summers are forbidden to speak, where professors who buck the party line are suspended from teaching, and where some schools even try to control how people address one another in public (“Ze” and “hir” instead of Mr., Miss or him or her)?

    • Comedian Could Face 3 Years In German (Not Turkish!) Jail For Mocking Notoriously Thin-Skinned Turkish President

      Exactly as Böhmermann doubtless intended, this has caused a huge political stink. The broadcaster ZDF took down the video, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told Turkey’s prime minister that the poem was a “deliberately offensive text” that she personally disapproved of. Most significantly, the Turkish government has filed a formal request for Böhmermann’s prosecution. So what? you might ask. Germany isn’t Turkey, and so surely there’s no way that somebody would be prosecuted just for a few rude lyrics about a foreign leader.

    • Texas Prison System Unveils New Inmate Censorship Policy

      The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is getting in the digital censorship game with a new policy that would punish an offender for having a social media presence, even when someone on the outside is posting updates on their behalf.

    • Texas Bans Social Media Accounts For Inmates

      Texas is banning inmates from having any kind of social media accounts. The ban includes accounts run in their name by friends or family members.
      Included in the latest version of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s offender handbook updated April 1, the new rule prohibits all inmates from “maintaining active social media accounts for the purposes of soliciting, updating, or engaging others.”

    • Israel’s state archivist opens up about censorship, digitization

      Israel’s state archivist confirms that nearly half a million pages have been sent to the IDF Censor, which has redacted historical documents that already saw the light of day, and talks about why he didn’t foresee the storm that erupted over his decision to end access to paper documents.

    • The murky history of moderation, and how it’s shaping the future of free speech

      Julie Mora-Blanco remembers the day, in the summer of 2006, when the reality of her new job sunk in. A recent grad of California State University, Chico, Mora-Blanco had majored in art, minored in women’s studies, and spent much of her free time making sculptures from found objects and blown-glass. Struggling to make rent and working a post-production job at Current TV, she’d jumped at the chance to work at an internet startup called YouTube. Maybe, she figured, she could pull in enough money to pursue her lifelong dream: to become a hair stylist.

    • UC Davis spent thousands to scrub pepper-spray references from Internet

      UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students and to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, newly released documents show.

      The payments were made as the university was trying to boost its image online and were among several contracts issued following the pepper-spray incident.

      Some payments were made in hopes of improving the results computer users obtained when searching for information about the university or Katehi, results that one consultant labeled “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor.”

      Others sought to improve the school’s use of social media and to devise a new plan for the UC Davis strategic communications office, which has seen its budget rise substantially since Katehi took the chancellor’s post in 2009. Figures released by UC Davis show the strategic communications budget increased from $2.93 million in 2009 to $5.47 million in 2015.

      “We have worked to ensure that the reputation of the university, which the chancellor leads, is fairly portrayed,” said UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis. “We wanted to promote and advance the important teaching, research and public service done by our students, faculty and staff, which is the core mission of our university.”

      Money to pay the consultants came from the communications department budget, Topousis said.

    • British Culture Ministers Ponder Anal Sex

      The U.K. Department for Culture, Media & Sport is concerned about the prevalence of anal sex in online pornography. In a report on age-verification rules for British porn websites, the department frets that anal sex is not sufficiently pleasurable for women and wonders whether porn may be pressuring the poor dears into it.

    • Charlie Hebdo, Terrorism, and the Culture of ‘You Can’t Say That’

      So yes, a mask has slipped. The Charliephobes’ mask. Their claim to be against “punching down,” to care about ordinary, vulnerable people, has been exposed as utter bunkum. In truth, they’re all about protecting a global religion, an ideology, from ridicule, and in the process they’re doing more damage to freedom and social solidarity in Europe than they could ever understand.

    • Former girlfriend of controversial blogger to enter defence for insulting Muslims
    • Malaysian ‘sex blogger’ acquitted of charge under censorship act
    • Former sex blogger Vivian Lee to give evidence
    • ABC’s China website gives in to censorship
    • How the ABC sold out news values to get access to China
    • ABC celebrates first anniversary of China portal
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Secure Cars, but Not Phones? Government Doublespeak on Cybersecurity

      PRIVACY ADVOCATES SAY government officials are talking out of two sides of their mouths when it comes to cybersecurity. The latest case in point: Assistant Attorney General John Carlin calling for super-secure, hack-proof cars at an automotive conference on Tuesday, even as FBI Director James Comey continues to pressure phone manufacturers and technology companies to roll back their security to allow for law enforcement access.

      “There are things you can do to mitigate the risk, protect yourselves and your companies, and ultimately, the cybersecurity of the United States,” Carlin said at the SAE 2016 World Congress conference in Detroit. “First, design with security in mind.”

      But driving a car in 2016 is not totally different from using a cellphone — and protecting either of them against hacking raises the same issues. These days, dozens of networked electronic control units manage things like braking and accelerating by communicating with each other, and more and more cars are connected to the internet, or accessible via Bluetooth. Securing the conversation between your brake pedal and your brakes is a lot like securing your banking app or your intimate phone conversation.

    • GCHQ stopped a Harry Potter leak, but what do the books say about government surveillance?

      A significant portion of the Harry Potter series is devoted to critiquing the invasions of a surveillance state.

    • Cyber-security pro? Forget GCHQ, BT wants to hire 900 of you

      Former state monopoly BT is on the hunt for 900 security bods to help it meet the “surge” in customer demand for those skills, following a number of high-profile security and data breaches.

    • Burr & Feinstein Officially Release Anti-Encryption Bill, As Wyden Promises To Filibuster It

      Last week, we wrote about a “discussion draft” of Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein’s new anti-encryption bill that would effectively require any company doing anything with encryption to make sure that encryption was flat out broken, putting everyone at risk. Feinstein and Burr’s offices refused to comment on the criticism of the draft, insisting that they were still working on the bill. Well, late Wednesday Burr officially released a copy of the bill and it’s basically the same insane bill we saw last week. As far as I can tell, the only real change is further defining what is meant by a “court order.” It used to just say any court order, but now says only court orders for specific issues, but it’s a pretty broad list: crimes involving serious bodily harm, foreign intelligence, espionage, terrorism, sexual exploitation of a minor, a “serious violent felony,” or a serious drug crime. So, I guess we should feel relieved that it won’t be used for cases where someone’s caught trespassing or something? It’s still a ridiculous bill (and it still doesn’t explain what the penalties are).

    • Victory: California Smartphone Anti-Encryption Bill Dies in Committee

      The California Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection has scuttled A.B. 1681, the anti-smartphone encryption bill that EFF has been fighting for the last few months. The bill was unable to get a second in committee, so it died without a formal vote.

      A.B. 1681 was introduced in January of this year, and originally required that every smartphone sold in California have the technical ability to be decrypted and unlocked at the time of sale by the manufacturer or operating system provider. The bill was then amended to penalize companies that couldn’t decrypt the contents of a smartphone pursuant to a state court order.

      The bill, both before and after it was amended, posed a serious threat to smartphone security. It would have forced companies to dedicate resources to finding ways to defeat their own encryption or insert backdoors to facilitate decryption. As a result, the bill would have essentially prohibited companies from offering full disk encryption for their phones.

    • Sixth Circuit Disregards Privacy in New Cell Site Location Information Decision

      This week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held, in United States v. Carpenter, that we lack any privacy interest in the location information generated by our cell phones. The opinion shows a complete disregard for the sensitive and revealing nature of cell site location information (CSLI) and a misguided response to the differences between the analog technologies addressed in old cases and the data-rich technologies of today.

      In 2011, the FBI was investigating a string of robberies in and around Detroit. Relying solely on a court order, the FBI got several months of round-the-clock CSLI data on the two defendants in an attempt to link them to the crimes. CSLI are phone company records of cell phone towers your phone connects to at a given time and date. After the case was appealed to the federal appellate court, we joined the ACLU, the Brennan Center, CDT, and NACDL in arguing that acquiring this sensitive long-term, historical location information without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment.

    • Obama Should Reject Anti-Encryption Legislation and Protect Digital Security

      Dozens of nonprofit organizations, companies, and academics sent a joint letter today urging President Obama to take a strong stance against backdoors and oppose legislation that would undermine security.

      The coalition effort—which included EFF, Access Now, Fight for the Future, and others— was organized after The Hill published a draft of anti-security legislation written by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The draft bill would create a new obligation on device manufacturers, software developers, ISPs, online services and others to decrypt encrypted data or offer “such technical assistance as is necessary” if ordered to do so by any court in the country.

    • FBI’s Latest Story about the Hack of Farook’s Phone

      There’s one more thing that is getting lost in this debate. Comey and others keep talking about the use of this for an intelligence function, as if to justify keeping this exploit secret. I know that’s the convenient part of using a terrorism case to raise the stakes of back dooring phones. But this is ultimately a law enforcement issue, not an intelligence one, no matter how much FBI wants to pretend we’re going to find out something going forward. And as such it should be subject to greater standards of disclosure than a pure use of an exploit for intelligence purposes would.

    • Here are 79 California Surveillance Tech Policies. But Where Are the Other 90?

      That’s why last weekend more than 30 citizen watchdogs joined EFF’s team to hold California law enforcement and public safety agencies accountable. Together, we combed through nearly 170 California government websites to identify privacy and usage policies for surveillance technology that must now be posted online under state law.

      On January 1, 2016 two new laws went into effect in California: S.B. 34 requires agencies that use automated license plate recognition (ALPR) or access ALPR data to publish privacy and usage policies, while S.B. 741 requires public policies for cell-site simulators, a type of cellphone tracking technology often referred to as “Stingrays” and “Dirtboxes.” These policies must be posted “conspicuously” on their websites.

    • Is Canada Using Stingrays to Spy on Its Own Citizens?

      It’s no secret that OpenMedia is worried about the use of Stingrays.

      Just weeks ago, we launched a new campaign to Stop Stingray Surveillance, and almost 30,000 people have already spoken up against invasive cell phone spying.

      The campaign builds on our detailed policy intervention we filed last month with the B.C. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, as a part of its investigation into the Vancouver Police Department’s failure to respond to access to information requests on the potential use of Stingrays.

      Well, now we’re taking the fight national.

    • EFF Supports Rep. Goodlatte’s Manager’s Amendment to The Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699)

      The House is finally moving forward with updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), one of the main laws protecting the privacy of online communications. This year, The Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699), which updates ECPA to ensure all of our private online messages are protected by a warrant, garnered 315 cosponsors, almost three-quarters of the entire House. This impressive number of cosponsors makes a powerful statement. And it’s why Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, scheduled a committee meeting on Wednesday to advance the bill.

      Today, Rep. Goodlatte announced that he will be moving his own amendment to The Email Privacy Act through the House Judiciary Committee. While we would prefer the committee pass a clean version of the Email Privacy Act, we support Rep. Goodlatte’s amendment.

    • Former Reuters Journalist Matthew Keys Sentenced to Two Years for Hacking

      On Wednesday, the former Reuters journalist Matthew Keys was sentenced to two years in prison for computer hacking.

      Keys, who once worked for Tribune Company-owned Sacramento television station Fox 40, left that job in 2010 and went on to copy and paste login credentials for the Tribune Company’s content management system (CMS) into a chatroom where members of the hacking collective Anonymous planned out their operations. (Keys still denies all allegations.)

      An unknown person under the username “sharpie” then went on to log into the CMS and deface a Los Angeles Times article. The article’s headline and dek (the subtitle beneath the headline) remained defaced for about forty minutes before an editor noticed and changed it back.

    • FBI paid professional hackers to gain access to San Bernardino iPhone – report

      The FBI reportedly bought a previously unknown security bug from a group of professional hackers to gain entry to the San Bernardino iPhone 5C, according to the Washington Post.

      The report suggests hackers supplied at least one so-called zero-day flaw in the iPhone 5C’s security that allowed the FBI to circumvent the lockscreen and automatic wipe feature that kicks in after 10 wrong passcode entries.

      The hack meant the FBI dropped its attempt to force Apple to create software to unlock the iPhone 5C, which the company said would put all iPhones at risk.

      The FBI has already clarified that the hack bought for a one-time-fee cannot break into newer iPhones, including the iPhone 5S or later, but the hack could affect any iPhone 5C or older, including the iPhone 5 and 4S.

    • House panel approves bill to protect older email from government snooping

      A key House panel voted Wednesday to pass an email privacy bill that would stop the government from being able to read Americans’ old emails without a warrant.

      The House Judiciary Committee voted 28-0 to approve the Email Privacy Act, a bipartisan bill that would replace a 1986 law that allows government investigators to peruse emails at will if the communications are at least six months old. The bill would require federal officials to obtain a warrant before they can read or view emails, texts, photos or instant messages — regardless of when the data was sent.

    • Silverpush Stops Using Sneaky, Inaudible TV Audio Tracking Beacons After FTC Warning

      ISPs and cable companies already track and sell your online behavior, your location data, and effectively everything you do on the Internet (to the second). Now broadcasters and app developers are cooking up a new technology that uses so-called “smart audio beacons” emitted during television programs to help track user viewing habits. These tones, inaudible to the human ear, are picked up by applications which use your smartphone or tablet microphone to listen and record them. That data can then be used to build a profile that potentially matches your existing online data with your viewing habits.

    • Maybe The NSA Has Already Broken Every Security System, Not By Hacking Computers, But By Hacking The Entire Industry

      The novel solution is for the NSA to exploit “raw capitalism,” and to “throw money at the problem” by playing the role of a friendly local venture capitalist that wants to turn the idea into a company. At the same time, the NSA finds a relevant patent held by one of its “friends” in the industry, and then asks those friends to send around their patent lawyers to the new startup it is funding, to get it shut down in a perfectly non-suspicious way.

    • Did NSA underestimate the insider threat?

      In this edition of the Irari Report, Ira Winkler and Araceli Treu Gomes continue their interview of Chris Inglis, former Deputy Director of NSA. In this segment, they focus on how an organization that is so aware of the insider threat can be compromised by a person like Edward Snowden.

      Inglis highlights how trust is critical to function, but verification must be implemented. This relies upon a stringent screening process, as you have to extend to trust to the people you hire. While Snowden was one traitor among 250,000, the damage one person can cause is clear, and it must be accepted as an eventuality.

    • NSA, Parsons Facilitate 2016 Cyber Defense Exercise; Mary Ann Hopkins Comments [Ed: NSA puff piece]
    • ‘I bet it’s those snobs at GCHQ who want it done’: Residents question need for PE Way resurfacing

      Princess Elizabeth Way – one of the main routes to GCHQ and Gloucester through Cheltenham is to be resurfaced later this month – and motorists have been warned of delays.

    • Inspector General Says FBI Not Doing Enough To Prevent Abuse Of Cell Phone Forensic Equipment By Law Enforcement Officers

      The FBI’s Inspector General has released a report on the New Jersey FBI branch’s Computer Forensics Laboratory. For the most part, the report is positive and shows this branch tends to handle its forensics work competently. The problem comes when it opens up its tools up to local law enforcement.

    • A paper shield does not protect privacy: Privacy International’s analysis of the “Privacy Shield” safeguards on surveillance

      On 29 February 2016, the European Commission and the US government released the details of the proposed EU-U.S. “Privacy Shield”. The “Privacy Shield” replaces the now defunct so-called “Safe Harbor”.

      The Privacy Shield is in fact a significant number of documents from various parts of the U.S. administration, which merely outline the existing, weak U.S. safeguards applicable to personal data of EU citizens. These documents are meant to serve as the basis for an “adequacy” decision by the European Commission that the U.S. has a data protection regime that is essentially equivalent to that applicable in the EU. In making that decision, the European Commission must also review issues related to government surveillance and consumer data protection.

      Last month Privacy International joined other European and American NGOs in expressing concerns that the “Privacy Shield” will put users at risk, undermine trust in the digital economy, and perpetuate the human rights violations that are already occurring as a result of surveillance programs and other activities.

      We have now analysed in detail the government surveillance aspects of the proposed personal data transfers arrangements, and have found the shield isn’t operational.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Airport sniffer dogs find ‘cheese and sausages’ but no Class A drugs

      The use of sniffer dogs at Manchester Airport has been criticised after dogs there failed to discover any Class A drugs in a seven-month period.

      But one dog, trained to detect illegal animal products, often found “small amounts of cheese or sausages” carried by holidaymakers, a report said.

      The review, by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, assessed border checks at the airport.

    • Helen Clark

      I very much hope that Helen Clark becomes the new UN Secretary-General.


      For these reasons Clark is not the preferred candidate of the US or UK governments for the Secretary General position. But her independence does mean she is ultimately acceptable to Russia and China, whose agreement is essential as the appointment is confirmed by the Security Council. The Russians in particular feel they made a mistake in agreeing to the disappointing Ban Ki-Moon last time.

    • Bernie Backstage: Here’s How a President Sanders Would Rally the Grass Roots (Video)

      Footage of a private meeting with local leaders before Bernie Sanders’ rally at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Tuesday provides insight into how he might work with grass-roots activists to pursue a national populist agenda.

      Sanders spoke directly with Dutchess County Democratic legislators Francena Amparo and Joel Tyner, labor leaders and activists about issues of immigration, economic fairness and climate change. Cheers from the crowd nearby erupted intermittently.

      “I just want to thank you for your strong opposition to … fossil fuel infrastructure,” one woman said. “We are fighting the first crude oil pipeline project in New York State in over 100 years, and we need you.”

    • Illinois Police Department Gives up on Body Cameras Because They’re Tired of People Asking for Videos

      The police chief said he was happy with the cameras but dismayed with what he felt were excessive requests for footage from suspects and their lawyers.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Sprint Customer Listening Tour Goes Sour, Company Has To Pull Ad Calling T-Mobile A ‘Ghetto’

      Poor Sprint. Ever since T-Mobile became the darling of the wireless industry simply for treating consumers well (ingenious!), Sprint hasn’t quite known what to do with itself. After T-Mobile leap-frogged Sprint to become the nation’s third-largest carrier last year, Sprint has been trying desperately to convince customers that hey, it’s really cool too. But Sprint has found it hard to shake the image that it’s little more than a decidedly unhip copycat with a less competent network. A lot of Sprint’s PR struggles have been thanks to the fact that it hasn’t been easy keeping up with T-Mobile’s foul-mouthed, hipster-esque CEO, John Legere.

    • Verizon won’t fix copper lines when customers refuse switch to fiber

      Verizon has reportedly switched 1.1 million customers from copper to fiber lines over the past few years under a program it calls “Fiber Is the Only Fix.” But some phone customers have refused the switch to fiber because they prefer to keep their copper lines—even though Verizon apparently is refusing to fix problems in the copper infrastructure.

      The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that it obtained internal company documents that describe the effort to switch problematic copper lines to fiber. Verizon customers with copper-based landline phones who call for repairs twice in 18 months “will be told that their ‘only fix’ is to replace decades-old copper line with high-speed fiber as Verizon won’t fix the copper,” the report said.

    • Obama Is Threatening to Veto the GOP’s Latest Assault on Net Neutrality

      President Obama has long been a vocal supporter of net neutrality, the idea that all content on the internet should be equally accessible—and now he’s backing up his principles with policy.

      In a “Statement of Administration Policy” released Tuesday, Obama signaled that he intends to veto Republican-backed legislation that open internet advocates say could eviscerate federal net neutrality protections.

      Earlier this year, a GOP-controlled House subcommittee approved the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act,” (H.R. 2666) which net neutrality supporters say could severely undercut the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to police the nation’s largest cable and phone companies.

    • Net Neutrality Rules in Danger

      The FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order was the culmination of years of net neutrality advocacy and a big step toward a free and open Internet. This week, a vote in Congress could undo a lot of that work.

      H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, might sound good in theory, but in practice, it could seriously undermine the FCC’s ability to protect the open Internet.

  • DRM

    • The 5 Biggest Things Facebook Announced This Week

      As Facebook has expanded its video ambitions, YouTube creators have cried foul about “freebooting,” or the practice of stealing a YouTube video and posting it on Facebook without permission. Facebook finally seems prepared to take the issue seriously now that media companies and celebrities are embracing Facebook Live, the company’s new broadcasting tool. Facebook is rolling out a new rights management system that will let creators upload reference videos so that duplicates are automatically flagged and, hopefully, removed much faster.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Ideologies Fly In Discussion Of WIPO Pharma Report Calling For Less Ideology

      A study commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization to analyse which essential medicines on the 2013 World Health Organization Essential Medicines List were under patent found that over 90 percent of medicines on the list were off patent, and advocated more transparency in patent information. The study’s release set off an outcry among public health advocates who viewed the report as biased toward pharmaceutical companies.

    • WIPO Scrutinised For Development Dimension, Involvement In UN Panel On Medicines

      Brazil said the statement made by a WIPO representative during a presentation briefing in February caused great concern because it apparently questioned the High Panel’s mandate (IPW, Public Health, 1 February 2016).

    • Mr Justice Arnold finds American Science’s mobile X-ray scanner patent valid

      AS&E argued that Rapiscan infringed the patent. During trial Rapiscan admitted it had committed the acts, but that the patent was invalid. Rapiscan argued that the patent was obvious on the basis of a paper by Roderick Swift entitled “Mobile X-ray Backscatter Imaging System for Inspection of Vehicles” published on 19-20 November 1996 in the Proceedings of the SPIE conference (“Swift”). The Swift article introduces AS&E’s MobileSearch system, which at that time was a prototype, and provides background for AS&E’s earlier CargoSearch system (a system for inspecting vehicles crossing the border from Mexico to the US). CargoSearch was a mixed transmission and backscatter system. The vehicle or target was then towed slowly through the scanning area at a fixed speed. MobileSearch was a combined backscatter and transmission system (Swift explains that the prototype was designed only to include backscatter but could be upgraded to provide transmission imaging). Swift describes the objective of the prototype of being a fully mobile, self contained large-scale system. The occupants of scanned vehicles are required to exit before a scan is started. This very much removes the “covert” element needed to tackle security threats.

    • If you need to prove use as part of your opposition, this is for you

      The following post from former Guest Kat Valentina Torelli explores the question of having to prove use as part of an opposition proceeding and the differences of opinion between the courts in ruing on this challenging question.

    • Trademarks

      • How to protect your brand when your endorser goes rogue

        Sports sponsorship is big business, and can bring benefits to both the brand owner and the endorser. Nisha Kumar discusses how you can minimise the damage when things go wrong

      • REPORT: Trademark law: 2015 year in review

        This article summarises some of the more noteworthy Canadian trademark law decisions and developments from 2015.

      • How Two Breweries Did What Politicians Can’t: Amicably Resolve Dispute Over Convention-Themed Beers

        It’s political season here in America, which means that it’s time for everyone to disagree as violently as possible and to such a degree that all conversation is at an impasse. You know, basically just like every other time in America, except now we televise this stuff because the brains of our citizenry might still have a little meat left on the bone that can be melted away through “debates.” But two companies are bucking that trend in a way readers here might not expect: two breweries are dealing amicably with having come up with politically-themed beer brews named very similarly to one another.

        Thirsty Dog Brewing in Ohio had recently announced its latest beer, Unconventional Ale, named after the RNC convention set to take place in Cleveland. The convention is of course gaining even more attention than usual this presidential cycle, mostly because reports on the machinations of the party suggest it might be exactly the best kind of shit show to watch from the outside. That notoriety explains why Platform Beer Co. too had announced it was releasing a new brew, entitled UnconventionAle. So the names are similar to the point of being nearly identical. I’m sure you’re already bracing for the nasty threats and legal filings. But no, these two breweries have managed to do what our politicians won’t: talk to each other.

    • Copyrights

      • Court of Appeals Vacates Injunction Against Mississippi Attorney General in Case Against Google

        Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction issued by a federal district court judge last year. The injunction would have prevented Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood from enforcing his massively large and demanding administrative subpoena against Google. The injunction would also have prohibited the Attorney General from bringing civil or criminal charges against the company for making third-party content accessible to Internet users.

      • Piracy Fails to Prevent Another Box Office Record

        Piracy is not killing the movie business. According to the MPAA’s Theatrical Market Statistics report the industry has just turned in a record year, with $38.3b taken at the box office. Meanwhile, MPAA chief Chris Dodd is set to meet Napster founder Sean Parker, whose Screening Room threatens to upset box office revenues……

      • Facebook Launches Its Own Version Of ContentID, Which Will Soon Be Abused To Take Down Content

        Last year, after a bunch of YouTube video creators started slamming Facebook for allowing people to re-upload their videos to Facebook (they called it “freebooting”), Facebook insisted that it, too, was building a ContentID-like system to automate the process of taking down videos based on infringement claims. Last fall, the company announced that it would be using the same system basically everyone other than Google uses: Audible Magic as the backend system of that tool. And now Facebook has officially announced its product, called “Rights Manager.”

      • Led Zeppelin ‘Stairway To Heaven’ Copyright Case Will Go To A Jury… Meaning Band Will Almost Certainly Lose

        This isn’t surprising, even if it is a bit disappointing. Led Zeppelin has long been accused of copying others songs, and there are actually a bunch of videos on YouTube detailing examples.

      • Walking Dead Producer Claims Real Cable Set Top Box Competition Will Result In Piracy Armageddon

        As we’ve been discussing, the FCC has started working more seriously on opening the cable set top box to real competition. As it stands, 99% of consumers currently pay about $231 annually in rental fees for aging hardware that’s often worth about half that much. The FCC’s goal is ultimately to let consumers access cable content using the hardware of their choice, creating a healthy new competitive market, and by proxy better hardware at lower prices. But monthly set top box rental fees represent $20 billion in annual revenue to cable providers, which is why they’ve been having a hissy fit about the FCC’s plan.


New Software Patents From Google, Microsoft and Apple, Plus New Lobbying From David Kappos (Paid by Microsoft and Apple)

Posted in America, Apple, Google, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 8:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Kappos demonstrates that laws are up for sale in the US, even patent laws

David Kappos
Source: David Kappos 2013 interview

Kappos PAI
Kappos-led group, funded by large corporations but conveniently not named Partnership of Megacorporations

Summary: Software patents are not going away just yet because companies such as Microsoft, Apple and IBM (which Kappos came from) use their money for lobbying, essentially buying legislation

THE other day we wrote about patents on driving, the context being (in part) Google’s initiative, which made the news this past week, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. Google is trying to patent driving [1, 2], which brings up all sorts of legitimate questions about patent scope and prior art (humans already drive cars and have driven cars for many years). These are undoubtedly software patents. They affect my area of research, which is computer vision/machine vision (purely software/mathematics), not signal processing (hardware slant to it).

“If Kappos has any dignity left, he will go hide under a rock and not reinforce the perception that the patent system he worked for is deeply corrupt.”According to other news (“Microsoft patents end-to-end encryption”), the NSA surveillance pioneer wants a monopoly on encryption [1, 2, 3, 4], in relation to an operating system that’s the antithesis of encryption (mass surveillance in real time).

Meanwhile we also learn that Finjan, a Microsoft-connected patent aggressor, carries on suing Symantec. As a software patents proponent put it: “Finjan Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: FNJN), the parent of wholly-owned subsidiary Finjan, Inc., announced several weeks ago that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) issued the final rulings on attempts by Symantec Corporation’s (NASDAQ: SYMC) to invalidate 8 different Finjan’s patents through inter partes review (“IPR”).”

So, in this particular case, PTAB did not eliminate software patents, for a change. Cause for celebration among patent lawyers, but what does it mean to everybody else? Apple patent aggression with software patents is still, according to this news, a ‘thing’ as “this latest patent is more software orientated.” A lot of the patents Apple has been using to attack Linux (or Android) have been software patents or design patents, which are inherently similar to (or a type of) software patents.

Now that software patents are generally under attack and face an existential threat in the US (SCOTUS already killed many of them with Alice and it might soon do the same to design patents because of Apple’s aggression) the former USPTO Director, David Kappos, rears his ugly head again. He now works as a lobbyist for IBM, Microsoft, Apple etc. and disgraces the USPTO as he currently receives money to change laws in favour of these clients (that’s a form of “revolving doors” corruption, turning/converting his influence/connections into money). As this lawyers’ site has just put it: “The former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Monday called for the abolition of Section 101 of the Patent Act, which sets limits on patent-eligible subject matter, saying decisions like Alice on the issue are a “real mess” and threaten patent protection for key U.S. industries.” What he means by “real mess” is that it creates uncertainty for clients of his, such as IBM, Microsoft, and Apple. This is a continuation of something that we noted here before. If Kappos has any dignity left, he will go hide under a rock and not reinforce the perception that the patent system he worked for is deeply corrupt.

Patent Fights Over Reform Focus (Marginalising Small Actors), Courts (Judges) Versus Patent Offices (Large Businesses)

Posted in America, Europe, Law, Patents at 7:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO boards

Summary: Two powerplays (or ‘Turf Wars’), one involving the scope/scale of patent aggressors being tackled and another involving justice versus greed (or so-called ‘production’)

THE latest bill (among several) which claims to be tackling the patent chaos in the United States was covered by the EFF the other day. To quote: “The Trade Protection Not Troll Protection Act is the newest of several patent reform bills introduced in Congress this session. Introduced by Reps. Tony Cardenaz (D-CA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX), H.R. 4829 addresses patent litigation’s lesser known forum, the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), a federal agency that investigates unfair trade practices.”

They are still dodging reform revolving around patent scope, neglecting to see (maybe not deliberately) that many patent trolls rely on software patents. As many as three quarters of them attack legitimate companies using software patents, which means that eliminating software patents would almost eliminate the trolls (among other patent aggressors). Companies such as Microsoft and IBM want politicians distracted by and thus obsessed with “trolls”, hence leaving the large patent aggressors (hardly any different from trolls) untouched.

“As many as three quarters of them attack legitimate companies using software patents, which means that eliminating software patents would almost eliminate the trolls (among other patent aggressors).”Alice has changed a lot since the SCOTUS ruling on the case. Software patents should nowadays be assumed invalid until/unless proven otherwise by something not as corruptible as a for-profit system (patent laywers or patent offices) but a pro-justice system (courts and TTAB or PTAB [1, 2]). We were reminded of that in light of this new post euphemistically titled “Presumption Against Improper Inventorship”. “Here,” says Patently-O, “the Federal Circuit reviewed the evidence presented and agreed that it was ambiguous at best. As such it was insufficient to overcome the ‘heavy burden.’”

What we have here is justice (courts) versus a production line (the greed-motivated USPTO). Another Patently-O post was titled “Battles between the PTO and Courts” (regarding the USPTO, as it relates to trademarks as well). To quote: “Back in the district court, Alabama then asked for and received a new order from the district court judge — this time expressly ordering the USPTO to vacate its prior determination. The court wrote: “In June 2015, the TTAB essentially (and inexplicably) treated the court’s Order as a request, and issued a decision refusing to comply with this court’s Order.”

What’s noteworthy here is the divergence or the difference between a court’s position and the position of those who profit from just accepting everything (rejections discourage further applications or high application frequency). In the case of the EPO, for instance, Battistelli hates judges so much that he illegally banned one of them from going to work (an act legalised by the clueless Battistelli only after the act) and now threatens to eliminate the boards. They stand in the way of his “production” propaganda [1, 2, 3] because they keep highlighting errors and intimidate potential applicants (by simply doing their job, which is assuring patent quality).

Listening to Patent Lawyers Who Never Wrote Any Code to Decide on Software Patents

Posted in America, Australia, Deception, Europe, Law, Patents at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shelston IPSummary: The media continues to be dominated by patent lawyers rather than software developers who speak about (and promote in the case of lawyers) software patents

PATENT lawyers who lack any practical experience with software don't seem to grasp the fundamentals of computer science. The same goes for patent judges. So why is it them who are perpetually trying to come up with policy on software patents, e.g. in India? See what IAM has just done. This week we still find patent lawyers giving “Hope” for software patents in Australia (Jack Redfern and Matthew Ward from Shelston IP Pty Ltd). These articles are composed and published by patent lawyers, unlike software developers — those who are actually affected by such patents. Who’s calling the shots here? Australian developers were already asked about this a few years ago and they overwhelmingly voted against software patents (it’s the same as in other countries).

“These articles are composed and published by patent lawyers, unlike software developers — those who are actually affected by such patents.”Last night we also found new patent propaganda from Marks & Clerk (they're some of the worst) and from Steve Lundberg (Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner, P.A.), whom we mentioned here some days ago because of his latest intervention. He is a patent propagandist (for many years now) and he leans on IBM now for his lobbying (he has a site dedicated to software patents advocacy).

“When will the USPTO be held accountable for it and when will software developers rise up to confront patent lawyers over their lobbying for software patents?”What’s wrong with patent lawyers lobbying on software patents is that they, unlike software developers, are leeches that only ever tax software. Lundberg uses (or misuses) words like “giveaway” despite the fact that he never gave anything and he is not even a software developer at all. If he actually asked developers, he would know that he works against their interests.

Courts have just (once again) shot down software patents which the examiners employed by USPTO granted erroneously. Nobody won here except patent lawyers, as usual. Both sides lost (financial casualties can be laid off staff) and the equivalent of weapons traders, patent lawyers, got a lot of money throughout an entire year of litigation. When will the USPTO be held accountable for it and when will software developers rise up to confront patent lawyers over their lobbying for software patents? Watch what lobbyist David Kappos is doing right now in the United States. It’s despicable. Remember who pays him for this.

“If software developers fail to exercise their freedom of speech and right to contact elected politicians, software patents in Europe will continue to be a growing problem.”It’s not a problem only in the US but increasingly in Europe (where Marks & Clerk, for example, comes from, just like IAM). One reader from Finland told us today. “One of the state’s ministers was on the radio yesterday going on about patents and “innovation”. I’m not able to find a transcript in any language. If you have other contacts in Finland, they might be able to provide some more information. From the press releases, I gather that they are going to say that they are promoting small businesses and that it will have something to do with patents, but I worry that the intent is to spread software patents. But again, I have no transcript.”

It is likely that such ministers are themselves lawyers and are lobbied by patent lawyers and their largest clients (large companies like Nokia or Microsoft). If software developers fail to exercise their freedom of speech and right to contact elected politicians, software patents in Europe will continue to be a growing problem.

All Software Equivalent to Mental Steps, Reducible to Pencil-and-Paper Work

Posted in America, Patents at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or why the Benson case shows misunderstanding of how computers work

Finite-state machine
Reference: Finite-state machine

Summary: Remarks on the technical details or nature of software patents and why they are — contrary to some dull-witted claims — always reducible to analysis done by a human (mental process of logic and/or arithmetic)

THE notion (or rationale) of software patents is based on the misguided idea that rather than let people acquire a monopoly on a particular implementation using a particular computer language we should give people a monopoly on some vague series of instructions (very broad, not even pseudo-code), irrespective of implementation details, and that this way developers would have a greater incentive to write more code and better code. In practice, however, people who write computer programs already have a sort of monopoly on their own implementation because when they write code it is automatically copyrighted and unless the underlying code is hidden away in binary form, it is not so incredibly hard to enforce these monopoly rights. When it comes to patents, the monopoly’s scope is so broad (and the covered idea is so vague) that virtually any computer program, even if developed independently (neither mimicking anything nor relying on patent surveys), is infringing. For instance, a computer program with something resembling an hourglass can be deemed infringing, no matter the visualisation of the time indicator, e.g. progress bar (or equivalent). Developers thus need to start worrying about any such mechanism which is indicative of progress/latency.

“A human undertaking the task of sorting book on a shelf alphabetically by title knows that she is dealing with books, that the sequence of words on the binding are titles, and that words are composed of letters, and so forth.”
      –Robert Sachs
Speaking of software patents, Robert Sachs of Bilski Blog has just released the next (third) part of his long paper about software patents being metaphors (abstract) and he notes: “Another key difference between how computers perform their operations and how humans do is that humans, but not computers, understand what they are doing, and the meaning of their operations. A human undertaking the task of sorting book on a shelf alphabetically by title knows that she is dealing with books, that the sequence of words on the binding are titles, and that words are composed of letters, and so forth. She performs these operations directly on the words. This knowledge of the domain impacts how the operations themselves are performed. A computer can sort the same titles, but only once each title is represented as a string of numbers—the computer does not “know” that the numbers represent a book title any more than the human’s finger “knows” she is moving a book, and cannot use this knowledge to change the manner of sorting.”

Sorting algorithms are classic logical operations that are typically taught in the first year of computer science courses. Should they too be patentable? Where does it end? They don’t even do anything that wasn’t already done before (by humans, by hand). The fourth part of the series, published earlier today, cites the Benson case and states: “The court offers two further insightful observations. First, “Pencil-and-paper analysis can mislead courts into ignoring a key fact: although a computer performs the same math as a human, a human cannot always achieve the same results as a computer.””

“These are all reducible to a Turing machine and every pertinent operation can be carried out by a human rather than a processor, no matter the complexity (e.g. number of bits in the ‘pipe’).”The paragraph goes on with quotes like that, but it does not change the fact that any computation carried out by a computer can also be done on paper (it’s just a question of how long it takes for the human operator to do so). These are all reducible to a Turing machine and every pertinent operation can be carried out by a human rather than a processor, no matter the complexity (e.g. number of bits in the ‘pipe’).

There is still one more part (the finale) to come from Mr. Sachs. It’s part of a long paper on the subject of software patents (not a paper from software patents lobbyists like David Kappos, now funded by Microsoft and others to shame and pressure the system).

Church of EPO: How Team Battistelli Engineered the Dismissal of People Not Sufficiently Loyal to Them – Part III

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vilifying the messengers

Newsmax on Snowden
How Republican media sometimes covers Snowden revelations

Summary: A look at personal attacks, character assassination and discreditisation of people whose words challenge tactics of oppression, domination, and mass deception

In part one and part two of this series (there is more to come) we looked at methods by which Mr. Battistelli essentially engineered his EPO autocracy, having eliminated oversight several years ago and recently launched union-busting operations. It didn’t emanate/come out from vacuum and it wasn’t the fault of the EPC. There were just some loopholes/flaws in it and Battistelli was quick to exploit them over the years, in spite of warning from the unions (they spoke and published interviews with those affected). Nowadays, unlike decades ago, the EPO is known to many as an autocracy and a source of great shame to Europe (the EPO used to be a source of pride and pillar of innovation). Board 28, which is meeting secretly/privately today, recognises this and a staff survey shows that it's taking its toll on workers, leading to brain drain [1, 2, 3, 4] and massive strikes (thousands of workers legally absent and lawfully making statements against the Office’s lawlessness).

Earlier this year we showed how Battistelli brought things down to an all-time low by comparing truth-tellers to Nazis and criminals. We made a local copy of the video/audio to serve as proof that cannot be squashed with copyright claims.

Incidentally, a few days ago someone sent us the following text regarding Battistelli’s potentially libelous claims about people whom he is crushing (because they say the truth about him and his goons):

Lies, damn Lies!

On 1 March Mr Battistelli appeared in front of the French National Assembly to answer questions concerning the social unrest in the EPO. Mr Battistelli presented the audience with half-truths and several complete and utter lies. The full hearing was broadcasted and a full transcript was provided so that this time Mr Battistelli cannot claim that he was misquoted or misunderstood. The kind of misinformation we have witnessed in this hearing is nothing new for the staff representation. This has become the trademark of Mr Battistelli and of his team. Bending long established rules of law, inventing new ones that suit them or ignoring all the rules altogether while asking everyone else to follow the rules has become the normal way of functioning of this administration.

This Organisation should not be led someone who cannot distinguish between truth and untruth, someone who sees conspiracies everywhere (even by the Board 28, someone who has shown that he is not here to serve the European public pub only himself.

Mr Battistelli is so out of touch with reality, that is not fit to lead a team of boy scouts, let alone an international organisation.

Well, Board 28 (B28) is meeting today, so it might also appreciate this bit of humour:

Another conspiracy.

The claims of the Board 28 in their request to Mr Battistelli are very similar to the claims raised by staff in their spontaneous petition for strike. This seemed surprising. We investigated the matter and came to the same conclusion as Mr. Battistelli: there must be a plot. The spontaneous petition from the staff is not so spontaneous after all. The petition was in fact started by the Board 28. The reason is obvious. After being ignored for years, even the B28 now wants a strike.

If B28 wishes to prevent further strikes, then maybe it’s a good idea to start with an analysis and explanation (to Battistelli at least, despite his lack of comprehension of reality) of why Battistelli is still in power and why he has managed to surround himself only with people blindly loyal to him. As long as this nepotist reign persists, it is guaranteed that the Office will continue to lose some of its best patent examiners. It is already losing some of the bravest ones — those whose adherence to truth has cost them their jobs. B28 ought to work hard to restore their jobs and re-integrate them into the workforce.

We invite readers to send us any information they may have (or will have) about the dialogue at today’s B28 meeting.

Links 13/4/2016: Wine 1.8.2, Enlightenment DR 0.21 Alpha

Posted in News Roundup at 4:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • What You Need to Know About Upcoming Passport Changes

    Why the sudden uptick? In 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was put into effect, mandating that American citizens entering the U.S. by air from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean carry a passport, triggering a backlog in renewals for millions of applicants – a scenario that could easily occur again. Flash forward to today, and many travelers are also concerned about whether they’ll need to show an alternate form of acceptable identification for domestic flights to comply with the REAL ID Act, which will be put into effect on Jan. 22, 2018, and will impose more stringent ID requirements. And besides the chance to dodge a delayed – or cumbersome – process later on, there’s also the matter of entry requirements imposed by international countries. With a number of places requiring a minimum of six months left on your passport, there’s never been a better time to be passport-ready for smooth, stress-free travel.

  • Science

  • Security

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Leaving Beta, New Sponsors

      Let’s Encrypt is leaving beta today. We’re also excited to announce that founding sponsors Cisco and Akamai have renewed their Platinum sponsorships with 3-year commitments, Gemalto is joining as our newest Gold sponsor, and HP Enterprise, Fastly, Duda and ReliableSite.net are our newest Silver sponsors.

    • Mozilla-supported Let’s Encrypt goes out of Beta

      In 2014, Mozilla teamed up with Akamai, Cisco, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Identrust, and the University of Michigan to found Let’s Encrypt in order to move the Web towards universal encryption. Today, Let’s Encrypt is leaving beta. We here at Mozilla are very proud of Let’s Encrypt reaching this stage of maturity

      Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated and open Web certificate authority that helps make it easy for any Web site to turn on encryption. Let’s Encrypt uses an open protocol called ACME which is being standardized in the IETF. There are already over 40 independent implementations of ACME. Several web hosting services such as Dreamhost and Automattic, who runs WordPress.com, also use ACME to integrate with Let’s Encrypt and provide security that is on by default.

    • Experts crack nasty ransomware that took crypto-extortion to new heights

      A nasty piece of ransomware that took crypto-extortion to new heights contains a fatal weakness that allows victims to decrypt their data without paying the hefty ransom.

      When it came to light two weeks ago, Petya was notable because it targeted a victim’s entire startup drive by rendering its master boot record inoperable. It accomplished this by encrypting the master boot file and displaying a ransom note. As a result, without the decryption password, the infected computer wouldn’t boot up, and all files on the startup disk were inaccessible. A master boot record is a special type of boot sector at the very beginning of partitioned hard drive, while a master boot file is a file on NTFS volumes that contains the name, size and location of all other files.

    • Open source code is rarely patched when vulnerabilities are found [Ed: propaganda from Microsoft proxies makes it through to other sites]

      Open source code is a convenient and cost-effective way for developers to build apps. However, as CIO noted in a recent article, once that code makes its way into an app, it’s rarely ever updated to fix vulnerabilities that are found later. CIO offered up some tips on how to keep open source products secure.

    • Let’s Encrypt Internet Security Initiative Exits Beta
    • Let’s Encrypt is Leaving Beta, Has New Sponsors

      Lets Encrypt is leaving beta today. Were also excited to announce that founding sponsors Cisco and Akamai have renewed their Platinum sponsorships with 3-year commitments, Gemalto is joining as our newest Gold sponsor, and HP Enterprise, Fastly, Duda and ReliableSite.net are our newest Silver sponsors.

    • Federal News Radio: Robert Silvers Named DHS Cyber Policy Assistant Secretary
    • DHS warns on cyber risks of open source
    • Meet The Cryptoworm, The Future of Ransomware
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Candidates, Here’s Your Iraq/Syria/Libya Mess to Fix

      Candidates, one of you will be the fifth consecutive American president to make war inside Iraq. What will you face on day one of your administration?

      You learned with us recently of the death of a Marine in Iraq, which exposed that the United States set up a fire base in that country, which exposed that the Pentagon used a twist of words to misrepresent the number of personnel in Iraq by as many as 2,000. It appears a second fire base exists, set up on the grounds of one of America’s largest installations from the last Iraq war. Special forces range across the landscape. The Pentagon is planning for even more troops. There can be no more wordplay — America now has boots on the ground in Iraq.

    • Death Squads Are Back in Honduras, Activists Tell Congress

      THREE WEEKS AGO, Honduran activist Gaspar Sanchez spoke at a briefing on Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to support an impartial investigation into the murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres.

      Cáceres had mobilized native communities to speak out against the Agua Zarca Dam, a hydroelectric project backed by European and Chinese corporations, before being killed by two unknown gunmen last month.

      Last week, back in Honduras at a protest outside the Honduran Public Ministry in Tegulcigalpa, Sanchez unfurled a banner demanding justice for Cáceres’s murder.

    • The 28 Pages

      On Sunday, President Obama said this about about Hillary’s email scandal: “There’s classified & then there’s classified.”

      Perhaps that’s what has led him to decide, after 15 years, the 28 pages on the Saudis’ role in 9/11 can finally be released (or at least reviewed for declassification; given the way the 60 Minutes script ignored evidence about Bandar bin Sultan, I suspect they’ll still protect him).

    • Trial of Saddam Hussein was victor’s justice’ – Ex-tribunal judge to RT

      The former chief judge that presided over Saddam Hussein’s trial told RT in an exclusive interview how the tribunal, which was dependent on the US, lacking in legitimacy, and overshadowed by the killing of lawyers, sentenced the Iraqi strongman to death.

    • ‘Yats’ Is No Longer the Guy

      The New York Times did mention the call but misled its readers regarding its timing, making it appear as if the call followed rather than preceded the coup. That way the call sounded like two American officials routinely appraising Ukraine’s future leaders, not plotting to oust one government and install another.

    • “EU or bust?” is the wrong question for Ukraine

      On 6 April in the Netherlands, just over 30% of potential voters took part in a referendum on the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. This was one of numerous Free Trade Area Agreements established between the EU and countries all around the world, from Mexico to Mozambique. Less than two years ago, president Petro Poroshenko signed this agreement, and since that time has been partially implemented. It was ratified by all the EU-member states and, for the most part, garnered no political response from the public, with the exception of the Netherlands. Here, a liberal-right political initiative, GeenPeil, launched a collection of signatures calling for a referendum on ratification of the Agreement.

    • How an Iran War Was Averted

      A decade ago, the Bush administration was eager to bomb Iran but U.S. intelligence analysts challenged the casus belli by finding that Iran was not building a nuclear bomb, recalls ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • Military Keynsianism, American Exceptionalism, and Trump

      This sphere of influence Empire, on top of being horrible for the rest of the world, is also sucking the US dry internally.

    • Bernie Sanders Did Confuse Numbers of Dead and Wounded in Gaza War, but Israel’s Mass Killing of Civilians Is a Fact

      In an opinion piece for the News on Friday, Yair Lapid, who was a member of the governing coalition’s security cabinet at the time of the Gaza offensive, then accused Sanders of helping Hamas by bolstering the Islamist militant group’s “narrative that it is the real victim.” Lapid also asserted, without offering any evidence for the claim, that “the Israeli government found most of those killed in the operation were terrorists.”

    • Has the movement to prevent gun violence hit a tipping point?

      Ladd Everitt, of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, agrees that support for gun control has reached unprecedented levels. “People are finally demanding a change,” he said, citing multiple new initiatives like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Americans for Responsible Solutions as evidence of this burgeoning engagement. Many of these groups focus on local anti-violence measures — such as the “Groceries Not Guns” campaign calling for a ban on open carry in Kroger supermarkets. “Moms head to the grocery store on a weekly, sometimes daily basis — often with kids in tow,” reads the campaign mission statement. “We don’t expect to face armed strangers when we shop with our families.”

    • DOJ Places David Barron’s Anwar Awlaki Memos on the “Not Selected for Publication”

      Particularly given the timing, I’m wondering whether any change in DOJ’s views about these memos would affect American citizens overseas, such as Liban Haji Mohamed, a Somali American who was put on the Most Wanted List last year, then detained (never to publicly have shown up in an American court) on March 2, 2015. Unlike Anwar al-Awlaki, Mohamed (who is the brother of Gulet Mohamed, who has had a whole different set of problems with the government) has actually been indicted.

    • Anti-Islam Activists To Hold Armed Rally In Atlanta, Shred Copy Of The Quran

      A group of armed, right-wing activists are planning a non-permitted anti-Islam rally in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend, where organizers say they will shred a Quran alongside pictures of president Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other politicians.

    • Inside Erik Prince’s Treacherous Drive to Build a Private Air Force

      One of the mechanics soon recognized Echo Papa from news photos — he was Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater. Several of the Airborne staff whispered among themselves, astonished that they had been working for America’s best-known mercenary. The secrecy and strange modification requests of the past four months began to make sense. In addition to surveillance and laser-targeting equipment, Airborne had outfitted the plane with bulletproof cockpit windows, an armored engine block, anti-explosive mesh for the fuel tank, and specialized wiring that could control rockets and bombs. The company also installed pods for mounting two high-powered 23 mm machine guns. By this point, the engineers and mechanics were concerned that they had broken several Austrian laws but were advised that everything would be fine as long as they all kept the secret.


      The story of how Prince secretly plotted to transform the two aircraft for his arsenal of mercenary services is based on interviews with nearly a dozen people who have worked with Prince over the years, including current and former business partners, as well as internal documents, memos, and emails. Over a two-year period, Prince exploited front companies and cutouts, hidden corporate ownership, a meeting with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s weapons supplier, and at least one civil war in an effort to manufacture and ultimately sell his customized armed counterinsurgency aircraft. If he succeeded, Prince would possess two prototypes that would lay the foundation for a low-cost, high-powered air force capable of generating healthy profits while fulfilling his dream of privatized warfare.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Is the U.S Intelligence Chief Serious About Fixing Overclassification? Time Will Tell

      EFF has long been critical of overbroad government secrecy, which has been used to cover up everything from illegal activities to questionable legal justifications for mass surveillance.

      Given that government officials default to withholding important details from the public regarding national security, we were pleasantly surprised to read a memo that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sent to intelligence agencies last month.

      Clapper’s memo directs the heads of several intelligence agencies, including the NSA and CIA, to substantially overhaul the government’s formal classification system as part of a process known as the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Clinton Foundation Called On to Cut Ties with Fossil Fuels Sector

      Citing big-dollar donations from three fossil fuel giants—Chevron, Conoco Philips, and Exxon—a leading climate justice group is calling on the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to stop investing in or accepting money from the industry that’s driving the global climate crisis.

    • ‘Why Is It That the Safety of Those Coal Miners’ Lives Does Not Matter Enough?’

      Janine Jackson: Twenty-nine men died April 5, 2010, in an explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. The mine was run by Massey Energy, and Massey Energy was run by Don Blankenship. A looming figure in the region whose tight control over his workplace was notorious, Blankenship racked up profits and political capital along with safety violations, while saying cartoon-villainous things like, “I don’t care what people think; at the end of the day, Don Blankenship is going to die with more money than he needs.”

    • Fracking Is Now Banned In This Maryland County

      Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., voted Tuesday to ban fracking, the controversial oil and gas extraction method that has helped spur a natural gas boom across the country.

      “We really are with this vote taking a lead in his state and in the nation,” Councilmember Mary Lehman said at the hearing. “I could not be more proud of this county.”

    • Greenland sees record-smashing early ice sheet melt

      Scientists ‘incredulous’ at abnormally high numbers for April, with melting across nearly 12% of ice sheet

  • Finance

    • Shoe Company New Balance Says US Gov’t Basically Offered It A Bribe To Support TPP

      We’ve mostly focused on the impact of the TPP and trade deals on the internet (and also on national sovereignty), because that’s the kind of stuff that interests us most around here. We’ve spent a lot less time looking at the more traditional free trade arguments, in part because that’s not nearly as controversial, and in part because — despite claims to the contrary — there really aren’t that many tariff-related barriers that make a big difference any more. It’s generally good to reduce such tariffs, and in response you see the typical response from firms based on whether or not they benefit from those reduced tariffs. The “benefits” of free trade tend to be focused on the companies looking to expand into those markets where tariffs are being lowered or abandoned — and not so much for companies competing against products from those same countries. Frankly, I find arguments that the companies who freak out about trade deals because it will mean more competition against them a bit tiresome, because I tend to believe competition is a good thing for innovation. We’ve mostly focused on the impact of the TPP and trade deals on the internet (and also on national sovereignty), because that’s the kind of stuff that interests us most around here. We’ve spent a lot less time looking at the more traditional free trade arguments, in part because that’s not nearly as controversial, and in part because — despite claims to the contrary — there really aren’t that many tariff-related barriers that make a big difference any more. It’s generally good to reduce such tariffs, and in response you see the typical response from firms based on whether or not they benefit from those reduced tariffs. The “benefits” of free trade tend to be focused on the companies looking to expand into those markets where tariffs are being lowered or abandoned — and not so much for companies competing against products from those same countries. Frankly, I find arguments that the companies who freak out about trade deals because it will mean more competition against them a bit tiresome, because I tend to believe competition is a good thing for innovation.

    • Trans-Atlantic & Trans-Pacific “Partnerships” Complete Corporate World Takeover

      As I have emphasized since these “partnerships” were first announced, their purpose is to give corporations immunity from the laws in the countries in which they do business. The principle mechanism of this immunity is the granting of the right to corporations to sue governments and agencies of governments that have laws or regulations that impinge on corporate profits. For example, France’s prohibitions of GMO foods are, under the “partnerships,” “restraints on trade that impinge on corporate profits.

    • Goldman Sachs: Just 5 Billion dollar Fine Compared to 13 Billion Dollar Taxpayer Bailout

      The ultimate irony is that the 5 billion dollar fine is dwarfed by the 13 billion dollar taxpayer bailout they received after the banks’ immoral antics caused massive economic collapse. So the net result of their appalling behaviour has been that they collect not only the profit from those bets the system would collapse, but an eight billion dollar net payment from ordinary taxpayers thrown in. Which eight billion dollars has been just a contribution to the bonuses and partner remuneration which have continued to bulge in their over-stuffed pockets since 2008, uninterrupted by the crash, thanks to the generosity of poor taxpayers struggling to balance their personal budgets.

    • New Balance accuses Pentagon of reneging on sneaker deal

      New Balance is renewing its opposition to the far-reaching Pacific Rim trade deal, saying the Obama administration reneged on a promise to give the sneaker maker a fair shot at military business if it stopped bad-mouthing the agreement.

      After several years of resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact aimed at making it easier to conduct trade among the United States and 11 other countries, the Boston company had gone quiet last year. New Balance officials say one big reason is that they were told the Department of Defense would give them serious consideration for a contract to outfit recruits with athletic shoes.

      But no order has been placed, and New Balance officials say the Pentagon is intentionally delaying any purchase.

    • Bernie does have a plan to break up the big banks. That’s why the establishment is so rattled

      The recent kerfluffle about Bernie Sanders purportedly not knowing how to bust up the big banks says far more about the threat Sanders poses to the Democratic establishment and its Wall Street wing than it does about the candidate himself.

      Of course Sanders knows how to bust up the big banks. He’s already introduced legislation to do just that. And even without new legislation a president has the power under the Dodd-Frank reform act to initiate such a breakup.

      But Sanders threatens the Democratic establishment and Wall Street, not least because he’s intent on doing exactly what he says he’ll do: breaking up the biggest banks.

    • EU’s TTIP position: regulations to be made for and by big business

      The free trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the US will affect how laws are made in the European Union, to the benefit of corporations and at the expense of our health, our environment, and our rights. Despite growing concerns among the European public, the new EU proposal on regulatory cooperation in TTIP does nothing, not even little, to address the upcoming democratic threats.

    • Think Medicine is Expensive Now? Public Health Groups Warn of TPP’s Gifts to Big Pharma

      Doctors Without Borders and more than fifty other organizations sent a letter calling on lawmakers to reject the pending trade pact

    • The Pay Gap Is Costing Women $500 Billion Per Year

      In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, a law meant to close the wage gap between working men and women. But more than 50 years later, women on average earn just 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. And according to a new report by the National Partnership for Women and Families that was released before National Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, the persistent wage gap means women lose a combined $500 billion every year.

    • Trump’s clash with Las Vegas union highlights his unpredictability

      Ever since the vote, Donald Trump’s managers have fought unionization every step of the way. They filed 15 objections with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging intimidation and forgery by union officials. After the claims were either withdrawn by Trump or dismissed by the labor board, the unions were officially certified as bargaining agents last month.

      But the Trump Organization still refused to negotiate, and last week, at the last possible moment, the hotel filed for a review of the case with the labor board in Washington, further putting off contract talks.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • “This system is so rigged”: Outrage as undemocratic superdelegate system gives Clinton unfair edge over Sanders

      “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists,” the DNC chair calmly explained, in a moment of shockingly blunt honesty.

    • Clintons May Not Win the Prize. “Bernie Sanders Could become the Next President”

      Sanders has brought on the unthinkable—instead of seeing her as locking up the Democratic Party nomination on Super Thursday in March, Clinton’s camp had begun to project April—following the April 19 New York primary, which she had hoped to win in double digits.

      Now, that strategy has become doubtful in the backwash from the collapse of the Clintons’ “go nuclear” attack last week. The attack failed with Sanders labeling her “unqualified”; Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver saying Hillary had made a “deal with the devil” vis-à-vis her megabuck donors; Black-Lives-Matter co-creator Alicia Garza telling the Clintons, “My back is tired of being the path to the White House”; and the amazing coincidence of Sanders’ Vatican invitation.

    • Cable News Devotes 30 Seconds to Mass Arrests Protesting Political Corruption

      THE DEMOCRACY SPRING, a protest movement calling on Congress to “end the corruption of big money in our politics” and “ensure free and fair elections,” converged on Capitol Hill on Monday, staging a nonviolent sit-in that resulted in over 400 arrests — a massive number by Washington sit-in standards.

    • The Whittingdale file: a plea for better journalism

      It’s a mystery as to why the national newspapers chose not to expose a juicy story about the UK culture secretary. But claiming that his policies were ‘influenced’ by the ‘suppression’ of the story is pure conjecture.

    • Restrictive Rules Leave New York Voters Shut Out of Pivotal Primary

      Registration deadlines in New York passed months ago—but many voters, particularly those who support Bernie Sanders, say they didn’t know

    • Sanders Annoys Democratic Establishment

      The Democratic establishment is growing impatient with Bernie Sanders who continues to delay the party’s long-planned coronation of Hillary Clinton, a vexation expressed by Paul Krugman and criticized by Rick Sterling.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Game Studio’s Plan To Deal With Critic Of Games: Sue Him To Hell

      There are lots of dumb ways for companies to combat online critics. You can simply claim copyright over the criticism as a way to try to silence it, although that tends to end poorly for the silencer thanks to public backlash. You can go to the court to ask for an injunction against the critic as a way to try to silence it, although that tends to end poorly for the silencer thanks to the Streisand Effect. Or you can ask the courts to test whether the criticism amounts to defamation, although, again, The Streisand Effect, the public backlash, and the fact that those types of suits are rarely successful.

    • Germany Could Charge Comic for Insulting Turkey’s President

      Americans wondering what life might be like in the near future — after a President Donald Trump acts on his promise to “open up our libels laws,” so that politicians with easily bruised egos can sue reporters or commentators for hurting their feelings — should pay attention to what is happening this week in Germany.

    • Tax Prep Company Tries To Sue Unhappy Customer Into Silence; Hit With Damages In Anti-SLAPP Order

      An anti-SLAPP win has just been handed down in Nevada, one of the few states with a strong anti-SLAPP law. At the center of the failed defamation lawsuit is (you guessed it) a negative review of a business posted at Yelp.

    • Censorship at Edinburgh University ‘out of control’, says student

      A student at the University of Edinburgh has claimed that on-campus censorship at the institution is “out of control.”

      Writing for online magazine spiked, first-year Charlie Peters’ comments have come amid the ongoing debate that the stifling of free speech at universities – particularly among students’ union – is becoming “an epidemic.”

      The student described how, upon starting at the Russell Group institution last September, he realised he was “foolish” to have thought university was meant to encourage unfettered debate.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • CIA’s Venture Capital Arm Is Funding Skin Care Products That Collect DNA [Ed: essential reading]

      Though the public-facing side of the company touts a range of skin care products, Skincential Sciences developed a patented technology that removes a thin outer layer of the skin, revealing unique biomarkers that can be used for a variety of diagnostic tests, including DNA collection.

    • The Obama Administration Almost Doubled Down on Yoo’s Illegality

      I’m not sure I’m convinced. After all, the Administration claims it is not examining the contents of all international letters, but rather only looking at those where selected identifiers show up in data packets. Yeah, I know it’s a bullshit argument, but they pretend that’s not searching the contents, really. Moreover we have substantial reason to believe they were doing (some) of this anyway.

      But there is a curious relationship between a claim Yoo made in his letter and the Obama Administration’s views on FISA.

    • MP calls for limit on UK surveillance powers as EU test case opens

      The British government is “treating the entire nation as suspects” by ignoring safeguards on retaining and accessing personal communications data, according to the Conservative MP David Davis.

      Speaking before the opening of a test case at the European court of justice (ECJ), the former home affairs spokesman called for improved protections to prevent state abuses through bulk interception of private emails and online exchanges.

    • NSA expert recites the basics of malware[Ed: stenography for NSA]

      You’ve probably heard your mattress gets heavier and heavier each year from the feces of dust mites that eat the dead skin you leave behind. Still, you go to bed every night. What choice have you got?

    • Princess Elizabeth Way from GCHQ to Kingsditch to be resurfaced, motorists warned of delays [Ed: cost of espionage]
    • NE students hear about NSA job prospects [Ed: reputation laundering/recruitment]
    • NSA appoints first transparency officer [Ed: reputation laundering]

      The National Security Agency has appointed its first transparency officer — three years after leaks made by former contractor Edward Snowden exposed the agency’s surveillance programs and led to calls for increased public disclosures.

    • Why Doesn’t The Anti-Encryption Bill List Any Penalties?

      We’ve already written a bit about the technologically ignorant bill from Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein that basically outlaws any encryption system that doesn’t include backdoors for law enforcement. However, there are still some points in the bill that have left some folks scratching their heads. In particular, the lack of any penalty at all has some commenters wondering what the bill actually does. The bill both says that it doesn’t “require or prohibit any specific design or operating system,” but at the same time does require that anyone offering or supporting any kind of encryption be able to pass along unencrypted versions of the communication to law enforcement when presented with a legitimate court order or warrant (so not just a warrant…). As Orin Kerr noted, the bill mandates assistance, rather than using the more typical requirement of “reasonable” assistance.

    • Obama Administration’s Expansion Of Domestic Spying Powers Dwarfs The ‘Good Old Days’ Of Bush And John Yoo

      I guess the real accomplishment of “The Most Transparent Administration” is how much it exposed Americans to domestic surveillance. I suppose that’s its own form of “transparency.”

      Just Security’s Patrick Toomey notes that this administration has embraced legal theories wilder and more expansive than those presented by John Yoo on behalf of the Bush administration. Yoo, despite his willingness to treat the collection of communications like a DUI checkpoint for terrorism, had his limits. This administration, however, has seen those limits and lowered them.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Prosecutor Disciplined For Using Fake Facebook Profile To Meddle In Murder Case

      An assistant county prosecutor assigned to a murder case decided he could crack the case by pretending to be the jilted lover of one of the suspects. The attorney, Aaron Brockler, made several questionable moves on his way to being fired and having his license to practice law suspended by the Supreme Court of Ohio. (h/t Courthouse News)

    • Two Smooth Faces of Evil

      It is put to me frequently that people like McDonald, who were merely implementing a policy of torture, are not evil.

    • CIA Officers Didn’t Carry Out Waterboarding

      A lot of people are pointing to John Brennan’s assurances that CIA won’t ever torture again as if it means anything (usually ignoring Brennan’s motivation from institutional preservation, not efficacy or morality or legality).

    • Death by Gentrification in SF Part 2 with Rebecca Solnit & Adriana Camarena

      We are on the road in San Francisco, as we continue our conversation about the 2014 police killing of Alex Nieto and a slew of other police killings—Mario Woods, Amilcar Pérez-López and now Luis Gongora. Three of four of these killings happened in San Francisco’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, the Mission District and Bernal Heights. We speak about the link between these police killings and gentrification in San Francisco, with author Rebecca Solnit and community organizer Adriana Camarena.

    • Here’s Why Capitol Cops Arrested a Bunch of Senior Citizens Today

      The day after more than 400 people were arrested on Capitol Hill, US Capitol Police on Tuesday arrested 85 mostly elderly activists who were blocking the south entrance of the Capitol. They were all participating in “Democracy Spring,” a weeklong series of rallies and marches on the Capitol aimed at bringing attention to the control of money over politics in Congress and what organizers say are unfair voting laws.

    • Bombings in Turkey – a blip on your newsfeed?

      One particular post that garnered a great deal of attention and support was written by a British expat living in Turkey. He described the outrage he felt at the seemingly total apathy expressed by the international community. In his post, he eloquently outlined the hypocrisy of those who “were” Charlie Hebdo, and who changed their profile pictures to the French flag when Paris was hit with simultaneous, horrific attacks earlier this year, yet were nowhere to be seen when we needed support. He perfectly exemplified the outrage, frustration, and humiliation experienced here in reaction to this internet version of a callous shrug. And in his statement, he supposed that perhaps the reason for the lack of western empathy in particular was because the west sees Turkey as being part of the Middle East, a categorisation he is quick to dismiss. We are not the Middle East, we are Europe, and therefore it is an outrage that we are being treated as though violence is normal or permissible here.

    • The Origins of Totalitarianism: Conclusion

      The point of this series was to examine the conditions which led to the rise of Fascism in the 1930s to see if there are useful insights that might guide our understanding of conditions in the US today. In introduction to this series, I suggested several points of convergence, and over the last three months I have tried to flesh out those ideas.


      Neoliberalism is also an excuse for hating immigrants and Muslims, who are coming here to take the jobs of deserving people, so it actually works to deflect the anger of the first group of scapegoats, at least for those who take the bait.


      As I reread the posts in this series, I realized how angry I am about the way politics operates here. I am repulsed by the elites who act as if there were no alternative. I am nauseated by liberal wonks whose views of what is possible are claustrophobic. They are the descendants of the liberals who told me and my generation that nothing could be done about the murderous war in Viet Nam. I cannot stomach the conservative elites. They are the scum who think their mission on earth is to undo the New Deal; the direct spawn of the John Birchers and the McCarthyites and the rest of the fear-mongers. They are the wreckers.

      Polanyi says that when a social structure imposes too much stress on too many people it has to change. We don’t know how many disaffected people there are In the US, but it is clear that there is an enormous number, in both parties and among the unaffiliated, and that change will come. The US has always prided itself on its openness to change. We believe that everything will work out for the best, because we are the exceptional people, the City on the Hill. We assume that change will be for the best. Arendt points out the sickening reality: some changes are deadly.

    • After 11 Suicide Attempts In Just One Day, Canadian Community Declares State of Emergency

      Since September, the small community of 2,000 has seen 101 attempted suicides. That’s around 5 percent of the population.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • As ISPs Push Harder On Usage Caps, House Pushes Bill Preventing The FCC From Doing Anything About It

      In recent weeks, we’ve noted how ISPs are now moving beyond broadband usage caps and overage fees, and have begun charging users a $30-$35 premium if they want to avoid usage caps entirely. While the industry often dresses this up as everything from “improved flexibility and choice” to something necessary for the sake of fairness, it is, quite simply, an aggressive rate hike on uncompetitive markets. Users are being socked with dramatic new limits and fees — simply because most have no real competitors to flee to.

  • DRM

    • Save Comcast!

      The W3C’s Encrypted Media Extensions system is specifically designed to prevent anyone from making use of copyrighted works without permission, even if those uses are allowed by law. With EME, companies get to decide which software can access the videos they send out, and what features that software is allowed to have.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WIPO Member States Seek Details Of UN Investigation On Alleged Misconduct

      A longstanding inquiry about alleged misconduct at the top of the World Intellectual Property Organization may be moving toward resolution one way or the other.

    • Trademarks

      • Brewer Threatens Restaurant For Using The Word ‘Hofbrau’

        Hofbrau Steak House and American Grille has been serving up German food in Northern Michigan for over six decades. Staatliches Hofbrauhaus has been brewing beer and operating eateries since the late eighteen-hundreds. Yet it was only recently that the brewer sent letters to Hofbrau demanding it change its name, claiming that it had a trademark on “hofbrau.”

      • EU design cases looking up

        2015 was a year of definite improvement over 2014 for design decisions from the Court of Justice and the General Court in Luxembourg. David Stone explains, however, that progress still needs to be made to provide certainty for designers and practitioners

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Says YouTube is Running a DMCA Protection Racket

        In the latest broadside in the content takedown debate, RIAA chief Cary Sherman has suggested that Google-owned YouTube is short-changing the labels by operating a DMCA-protected protection racket. Unsurprisingly Google sees things quite differently, noting that the tools already exist to take down unauthorized content on a permanent basis.

      • Lucasfilm Threatens And Threatens Non-Profit Over Lightsaber Battle Event

        While we’ve certainly seen a fair share of ridiculous intellectual property protectionism stemming from the Star Wars Franchise, including overreaches like trying to silence people from photographing legally purchased toys and keeping breweries from making beer-themed puns, one area where Lucasfilm was generally pretty good on was fan participation, at least before the acquisition of the Star Wars rights by Disney. This included fan-fiction and films, gatherings, and role-playing events. That’s what makes it so strange to see Lucasfilm decide to bully a non-profit group for daring to put together a “lightsaber battle” event.


European Patent Lawyers Who Conveniently Promote Software Patents in Spite of the Rules and the EPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Marks & Clerk

Summary: A look at the actors in Europe who are pushing for more patents in more domains (patent maximalism or overpatenting) because it serves their bottom line at the expense of everybody else

SOFTWARE patents, as we pointed out in our previous post, are a dying breed in the US, even if the USPTO continues to grant them (only to see them invalidated in the courts or at PTAB [1, 2]). What good is a patent if it’s unenforceable in a court of law? It’s just a waste of time, money, and effort. Why even bother with software patent applications? Incidentally, the Jerusalem Post now notes that people question China’s patent system (it too is a waste of time/money, unless one asks the author who is from a “Strategic Patent Department”, i.e. non-producing parasite) because just like the USPTO, it has virtually no quality control. The same goes for invalid/ated (by the European courts) software patents in the EPO. Who would still promote software patents in Europe? Surely the non-producing parasites that are based in Europe. Marks & Clerk, as we noted here before, is one of the boosters of the UPC alongside other greedy opportunists who don't care about innovation, only about lawsuits (money to them, irrespective of the outcome). Unsurprisingly, they also promote software patents, which the UPC helps bolster. Last night we noticed/found new promotion of software patents in British media (despite software patents being patent-ineligible here). Who wrote it? “Graham McGlashan is a chartered and European patent attorney at Marks & Clerk” (well, that explains it, doesn’t it?). Imagine the British media giving the microphone/platform (exclusive columns without response/balance) to a British drone engines company regarding reconnaissance and political assassinations abroad. It makes no sense, or does it? It really says a lot about the media.

“Imagine the British media giving the microphone/platform (exclusive columns without response/balance) to a British drone engines company regarding reconnaissance and political assassinations abroad.”Marks & Clerk seems to be unaware of the effective ban on software patents in Europe and appeals to loopholes. It says: “Patents can provide useful protection for technical concepts. Many computer implemented inventions have been patented in the US, UK and Europe. Confusion arises because the criteria for patentability of computer implemented inventions vary between jurisdictions.

“The European Patent Office (EPO) has a test in which claimed subject matter that is novel and inventive is potentially patentable if it has a technical character. A computer program itself can potentially be patented at the EPO if it is capable of bringing about, when running on a computer, a further technical effect going beyond the “normal” physical interactions between the program and the computer on which it is run.”

That’s the “as such” loophole created by a Brit, Alison Brimelow. What’s perhaps most ludicrous about this piece from Marks & Clerk is the headline. It says: “When you write great software, don’t forget patenting” (patenting software? In Europe?!)

“Marks & Clerk doesn’t care about what’s true and what’s good for the EU (or the UK); it just cares about winning cases and doing whatever helps its own bottom line.”Well, remember that one’s “great software” can then get one sued by other companies with software patents. It’s the M.A.D. mentality, which purports that lots of countries having nuclear weapons somehow makes us all safer.

What we find disturbing about Marks & Clerk is that it keeps funding UPC propaganda events and various events that promote software patents. It’s basically an echo chamber of patent profiteers. As one tweet put it this week in relation to TTIP: “The European Business Summit : where Businessmen (paying 600€ entrance fee) meet policymakers to shape your future” (staging a coup over politics and law while denying opponents of the coup any access). It’s more or less the same with UPC events (which are often even a lot more expensive to attend). If we continue to allow the likes of Bristows and Marks & Clerk decide on European law, we’ll all suffer in the long run. Marks & Clerk doesn’t care about what’s true and what’s good for the EU (or the UK); it just cares about winning cases and doing whatever helps its own bottom line. This is bad advice regarding software patents, but it’s good advice for Marks & Clerk’s own accounting. It’s just a British company with a Microsoft-powered Web site (which is rare nowadays) and what it does negatively affects software developers in Britain and abroad.

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »

Further Recent Posts

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts