Software Patents Used by Patent Trolls in the United States Are Squashed in Courts

Posted in America, Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 12:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

State of litigation

Summary: New evidence, based on two stories where large victims of patent trolls fought back (rather than cough out settlement money), show that software patents increasingly get tossed out by judges, even in trolls-friendly courts

WHEN a software patent that’s owned by a troll (the classic scenario) is reported on by the corporate media it’s rather easy to spot based on “LLC” in the title, or sometimes just the word “Texas”. The targets of litigation by these trolls needn’t be just US companies, especially if (or when) the UPC becomes a reality.

A German company (maybe the most famous German company, Mercedes-Benz) has become a victim of some US patent troll called “Vehicle Intelligence”. There is nothing about it in Wikipedia and their (his?) Web site is just a handful of pages with all the hallmarks of a patent troll, where “products” are just “licensing” (i.e. patent tax). Reading this article about the troll, we find that “the inventor, Kevin Roe, is also the patent attorney” (again, classic troll). To quote the opening paragraph from Patently-O: “Vehicle Intelligence and Safety LLC is the owner of United States Patent Number 7,394,392 vehicle safety improvements. In particular, the patent claims systems and methods for testing vehicle operators and then taking control of the vehicle if the operator is deemed impaired. Senior Judge Hart of the Northern District of Illinois ruled on the pleadings (12(c)) that the asserted claims were invalid as being drawn to patent-ineligible subject matter under Section 101 of the Patent Act. On appeal, the Federal Circuit here affirms – holding that “the disputed claims cover only abstract ideas coupled with routine data-gathering steps and conventional computer activity.” An early potential strike against the patent that the inventor, Kevin Roe, is also the patent attorney who prosecuted the case and the litigator who filed the appellate briefs.”

“Are we seeing software patents on the retreat in the home of software patents? And if so, why on Earth is the EPO‘s management ushering in more of them?”Got that? “Section 101 of the Patent Act.” This is a relief as it contributes to the belief or the correct perception that software patents are on the run in the Unites States.

There is another bit of good news, akin to the above. Remember that Patent TrollTracker had worked for Cisco before he got himself and/or his employer sued by a troll for defamation or whatever? Well, Cisco, based on this new report, has just beaten a patent troll that had struck in Texas, which attracted a lot of attention this month [1, 2, 3, 4], 5]. “In 2013,” wrote the trolls expert, “a two-judge majority on the panel found that Cisco should have been allowed to tell the jury they had a “good faith belief” that the patent was invalid. The jury instructions were thus improper, and the appeals judges kicked the case back down to the trial court in the Eastern District of Texas.”

Well, the $64,000,000 verdict has just been overturned.

Are we seeing software patents on the retreat in the home of software patents? And if so, why on Earth is the EPO‘s management ushering in more of them? Beggars belief!

Microsoft’s Latest Patent Aggression Comes Under Fire From the EFF, Former GNU/Linux Company the Patent’s Target

Posted in Corel, Courtroom, EFF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ‘new’ Microsoft…

Satya Ballmer
Satya Ballmer: different face, same strategy/policy

Summary: Microsoft continues its vicious patent war on anything resembling competition (however small), even the competition against which Microsoft previously committed competition abuses/crimes (subject of court cases) in order to attain total monopoly

MICROSOFT, which is connected to many patent trolls (including Intellectual Ventures, the world’s biggest), is still busy suing companies. Microsoft has a long history of patent aggression, including patent litigation against Linux (not just threats thereof). As longtime readers of this site may know, this and only this was the raison d’être of this Web site.

“…since winning a case for infringement of design patents can lead to a damage analysis based on “lost profits,” which can theoretically lead to a patent owner getting all of a defendant’s profits.”
      –Joe Mullin
As we noted the other day, referring to the original from the EFF, Microsoft is now attacking a company that once dominated word processing. Microsoft allegedly engaged in competition crimes against this company, leading to decades of expensive litigation. This company also pioneered some important GNU/Linux efforts until Microsoft shut these down with a mysterious deal (which we wrote about on several occasions around 2007). Well, Microsoft is now trying to drive this company into bankruptcy, using patents.

What’s the name of this company? Corel. We have a whole category about Corel (with 51 articles, as well as leaked court documents). History is important here and it’s imperative that people properly study Corel to truly grasp how severe this situation really is.

Microsoft is now attacking Corel with what the EFF calls “Stupid Patent of the Month”. As noted by one good journalist (Joe Mullin), “it’s serious ammo, since winning a case for infringement of design patents can lead to a damage analysis based on “lost profits,” which can theoretically lead to a patent owner getting all of a defendant’s profits.”

“Remember the company called Novell? Yes, that company that pretty much vanished half a decade ago and whose patent/special deal with Microsoft (SUSE) will expire tomorrow (there are no signs of renewal or continuation).”In other words, expect layoffs, liquidation, bankruptcy, etc. Legal fees aren’t low, either. Remember the company called Novell? Yes, that company that pretty much vanished half a decade ago and whose patent/special deal with Microsoft (SUSE) will expire tomorrow (there are no signs of renewal or continuation). Other than the name being similar, Novell and Corel have a lot in common because both competed against Microsoft until signing some infamous deals with Microsoft, leading to their demise, as well as the demise of their ongoing court cases against Microsoft (for competition abuses/crimes). When Novell imploded Microsoft grabbed its patents. Sweet deal for Microsoft. Novell is virtually gone (devoured by another company) and its patents are in CPTN, which is a ‘conglomerate’ pool of Linux and Android foes such as Oracle and Apple.

“Microsoft is now using patents primarily against Android, which the company is at war against (don’t believe the pretenses and the “loves Linux” baloney).”We quite liked how Glyn Moody framed the situation in his article “If Microsoft Wins Its ‘Stupid Patent Of The Month’ Lawsuit, Expect A Plague Of Trolls To Move Into Design Patents”.

As if Microsoft itself is not somewhat of a massive troll itself (we wrote a lot about this before). Just look what the company has been doing with patents this past decade. “The recent Techdirt article about Microsoft’s design patent on a slider,” Moody wrote, “understandably focused on the absurdity of companies being forced to hand over all of the profits that derive from a product if it is found to have infringed on someone else’s design patent even in just a tiny portion of that product. But there’s another angle worth mentioning here that picks up on something Techdirt has written about several times before: the rise and threat of patent thickets. Back in 2012, it was estimated that 250,000 active patents impacted smartphones. That makes it impossible to build devices without licensing large numbers of patents, and even then, it’s likely that claims of infringement will still be brought.”

Microsoft is now using patents primarily against Android, which the company is at war against (don’t believe the pretenses and the "loves Linux" baloney).

“The EPO’s lawyers who currently deal with my case were also recently seen working from the same side as Microsoft on the patent front, based on Reuters.”Here is another new article about Microsoft’s “Stupid Patent of the Month”. “The design patent,” says Softpedia, “numbered D554,140, basically states that Microsoft is the owner of the slider you can see in the photo attached to the article. This is the very same slider that the company uses in its Office productivity suite to allow users to zoom in or out of documents, but it has also been implemented in a wide variety of Microsoft and non-Microsoft products.”

But when patent examiners are pressured to issue patents in bulk and/or do a rushed job (as in the EPO for example, with Microsoft being on the high-priority list), no wonder such nonsense gets granted, leaving European courts to sort out the mess at a huge expense to the defendants. It is worth noting again that only articles of mine which mentioned Microsoft were even the target of threatening legal letters from the EPO’s lawyers, which gives room for speculation. The EPO’s lawyers who currently deal with my case were also recently seen working from the same side as Microsoft on the patent front, based on Reuters.

EPO Coverage to Increase in 2016, Including UPC Reality Checks

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A system optimised for the world's patents-wielding multinationals and their patent lawyers in Europe

UPC impact

Summary: Statement of our intention to increase focus on the European Patent Office (EPO) and its massive new PR campaign for the Unitary Patent Court (UPC)

More EPO scandals are to come out shortly (we have not run out of material in our stories backlog) and our coverage this coming year will include more about the UPC. Patent lawyers are celebrating the UPComing chaos (we’ve recently learned that many apply for UPC-related positions in the UK, even before there’s any confirmation or approval thereof). Watch UPC boosters and their antagonists in Twitter [1, 2, 3, 4]. Well, one among several of the boosters, Bastian Best, also sneakily promotes software patents in Europe, as he has done for a number of years (he’s a patent lawyer). Bastian Best now explains to fellow patent lawyers how to bypass the rules and trick examiners into granting patents on software.

In any case, this post isn’t an explanatory article about the UPC, just a preview of things to some. Always remember who the UPC is for. The stakeholders are similar to those involved in pushing hard for the TPP. The UPC is essentially a Trojan horse ‘gift’ for Europe.


Links 30/12/2015: Death of Murdock, Microsoft Blocks Linux Game Port

Posted in News Roundup at 11:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Op-Ed: Microsoft makes it more difficult to run Linux

    There are numerous computer operating systems (OS) other than the various versions of Windows and this includes well over 100 distributions of Linux-based systems.

  • Desktop

    • 5 ways Ubuntu Linux is better than Microsoft Windows 10

      Windows 10 is a pretty good desktop operating system. Unfortunately, that OS is very far from perfect. The most glaring issue, of course, is the confusing privacy settings. Plus, let us not forget the arguably shady tactics Microsoft is employing to get users to upgrade to the operating system. While Windows 10 is more focused than its predecessor, there is still a lack of consistency, such as having a Settings Menu and separate Control Panel menu.

      Meanwhile, in the land of Linux, Ubuntu hit 15.10; an evolutionary upgrade, which is a joy to use. While not perfect, the totally free Unity desktop-based Ubuntu gives Windows 10 a run for its money. Does this mean I think Linux will soon rule the desktop? Absolutely not. Windows will still be dominant in number of installs for the foreseeable future. With that said, more does not always mean better. Here are 5 ways Ubuntu bests Windows 10.

    • Major Linux Desktop Problems In 2016

      A widely-cited blog post about the major Linux desktop problems has been updated for 2016.

      Over on the LinuxFonts.Narod.ru is the “major problems of the Linux desktop” and it’s been updated with all of the latest issues, etc, for 2016. The article was updated yesterday by Artem Tashkinov.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • The Most Popular GNOME & KDE Happenings Of 2015

      Continuing on with our other year-end looks, here are lists of the most popular GNOME and KDE desktop happenings of the year.

      First up, here’s a look at the ten most popular GNOME stories on Phoronix for 2015. GNOME made much progress this year on Wayland support, app sandboxing, UEFI firmware updating, and other features.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Frogr 1.0 released

        I’ve just released frogr 1.0. I can’t believe it took me 6 years to move from the 0.x series to the 1.0 release, but here it is finally. For good or bad.

      • From a lawyer who hates litigation

        Before I started working in free and open source software, before I found out I had a heart condition and became passionate about software freedom, I was a corporate lawyer at a law firm. I worked on various financial transactions. There were ups and downs to this kind of work but throughout I was always extremely vocal about how happy I was that I didn’t do any litigation.

  • Distributions

    Free Software/Open Source

    • Applying open-source tracking technology to hunting research in Brazil

      Mark Abrahams explains his innovative use of an open-source animal monitoring platform

    • 5 Open Source Replacements for Accounting Software

      In recent years, cloud computing has transformed the ways that people purchase software, but it hasn’t necessarily made it more affordable.

      If you’re looking for accounting software – and you’re pinching pennies – you may want to explore one of these open source replacements for expensive accounting software.

      Let the downloading begin!

      As always, if you know of additional open source accounting software that you think should be on our list, feel free to add them in the comments section below.

    • Open-Source / Linux Enthusiasts Have A Lot To Be Thankful For This Year

      There are far too many “open-source wins” to list from 2015, and some of the exciting advancements have already been covered in our other year-end articles. This article are just some of the major items that come to mind. You’re more than welcome to share your own exciting open-source/Linux highlights of the year with us and the community by commenting on this article in our forums.

    • The danger ahead: skyscraper code favelas  in earthquake zones

      Do software application development leaders need a new year’s resolution?

      Do team leaders, software engineering managers and senior architectural planners need a new wake up call?


      The story here is that yes, indeed, software is eating the world… but in a proprietary-only technical debt-ridden software world… that software sucks.

    • SaaS/Big Data

      • Google Cloud Platform Offers New Avenues for Leveraging its Power
      • Essential Tools for Development in the Cloud and on the Web

        Web site and application development is becoming in reach for nearly everyone, thanks to easier and better tools. Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are increasingly either employing open source or are built entirely on it. And all of this adds up to an increasing need for web development toolsets focused on the open source community. The good news is that there are many open source tools to help you with your web project, and given the costs of web development environments and the like, they can save you a lot of money. Here are many good examples of tools and tutorials, with a few that we’ve covered before appended at the end, in case you missed them.

    • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

      • Oracle, The Butt Of Jokes

        They did earn their power by making a powerful database but then abused it by charging far more than cost of production plus reasonable profit. Hence PostgreSQL and MySQL and others are thriving. I made the move to mariadb years ago.

    • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

      • Facebook, LinkedIn Reflect on 2015: The Year in Open Source

        Both Facebook and LinkedIn look back on 2015 as a seminal year for open-source technology at their respective companies.
        With 2015 at its end, Facebook took a look back at its year of using, developing and contributing to open-source software.

        In a blog post, Christine Abernathy, developer advocate for the Facebook open source team, said the open source program at Facebook has grown, not only in terms of new projects, but also in the size and strength of its community. Abernathy credits the growth to contributions from more than 3,400 developers who contributed to the company’s projects – the majority of whom were external.

    • BSD

      • BSD Unix-like OS is Resurrected for Embedded IoT Market

        It took two decades, but BSD — the operating system that dominated the Unix world during the 1980s and 1990s before being supplanted by the open source Linux kernel — is now ready for embedded computing. That’s according to the RetroBSD project, which has announced success running BSD on modern embedded hardware.


    • Public Services/Government

      • Open-source advocates see big opportunity for federal software acquisition reform in 2016

        With open-source software, the code would already be in the public domain, and agencies would instead be procuring value-added services to mold those open-source applications to their needs.

        This saves money for agencies because it eliminates the licensing fees that come with traditional software products as well as the nonrecurring engineering costs — the one-off costs to research and develop the software, or “reinvent the wheel” as Gary Shiffman, CEO of Arlington-based Giant Oak Inc., described it to me.

    • Openness/Sharing

      • Glass Half: The latest open movie from the Blender Institute

        At this year’s Blender Conference, the Blender Institute released its latest open movie project, Glass Half. You can watch the full three minutes of this short animation in all its glory right here.

      • Open Hardware

        • Google, HPE, Oracle back RISC-V, an open source ARM alternative

          Tech giants Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Lattice, Microsemi and Oracle are among the first 15 members of a new RISC-V trade group. Next week the group is hosting a workshop for the processor core. One of the current tasks of the group is to draft the open source agreement which will form part of its membership. The RISC-V is developed under an open source license and members will be able to verify and use the RISC-V logo.


          RISC-V processors can currently be used to run Linux and NetBSD.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Telecom law ‘overlooked’ in ICT standards policy

        Using telecom law offers fundamental advantages over competition law to remedy monopolised ICT market sectors and in eGovernment initiatives, says Felix Greve, a German lawyer specialised in IT-law. In November, Greve summarised his July 2015 PhD thesis in a webinar organised for the European Commission’s ‘Open Standards for ICT Procurement’ project.


    • Star Wars and the Death of American Cinema

      ‘Star Wars’ is a simple story, simply told, of good versus evil, light versus darkness, and freedom versus tyranny. In other words it is the story of America’s struggle to preserve democracy and civilization in a world beset by evil and ‘evildoers’.

    • Meet “Sledgehammer Shannon,” the lawyer who is Uber’s worst nightmare

      Four years later, Liss-Riordan is spearheading class-action lawsuits against Uber, Lyft, and nine other apps that provide on-demand services, shaking the pillars of Silicon Valley’s much-hyped sharing economy. In particular, she is challenging how these companies classify their workers. If she can convince judges that these so-called micro-entrepreneurs are in fact employees and not independent contractors, she could do serious damage to a very successful business model—Uber alone was recently valued at $51 billion—which relies on cheap labor and a creative reading of labor laws. She has made some progress in her work for drivers. Just this month, after Uber tried several tactics to shrink the class, she won a key legal victory when a judge in San Francisco found that more than 100,000 drivers can join her class action.

    • I Got Married At the Perfect Age

      Looks more like age 29 in the chart, but I got married at 32, so I’ll take it. Unfortunately, this is for people getting married now. For people who got married back when I got married, the older the better. Today, for some reason, it’s the older the better until age 32, and then the divorce risk curves back up. Why the change? After a bit of statistical argle bargle, Wolfinger admits he can’t really figure it out

    • Dr Joshua Freeman, Dr Hayley Bennet: TPP could trump climate accord

      Trade deal gives polluters power to sue governments who try to implement the Paris agreement

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Anti-vaccine Californians are rich, white, but not necessarily highly educated

        At this point, it’s well documented that affluent, educated white communities are behind the surge in unvaccinated kids—and by extension the increase in vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles and whooping cough (pertussis). But there are few studies that dig into the detailed demographics of those unprotected younglings, leaving health experts at a loss for how to target strategies to combat anti-vaccination myths and fears in the specific groups that need it most.

      • Here’s a Whole Bunch of Interesting Facts and Figures About Births and Babies

        This comes from the CDC’s final report on births for 2014, which is chock full of everything you might want to know about US birth and fertility rates. The increase in triplet births is most likely due to the rising use of fertility therapies, and the drop after 1998 is likely due to improvements in fertility therapies. The reason for the steady increase in twins is less clear, since it seems too large to be accounted for by fertility treatments.

    • Security

    • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

      • Turkey: A Criminal State, a NATO State

        It is now openly discussed even in mainstream media the fact that Turkey has been intimately involved in fomenting and supporting the war on Syria, with its ultimate goal of the overthrow of the Syrian government and its replacement by a compliant proxy aligned with Turkish President Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood. That this is no longer a ‘conspiracy theory’ but a conspiracy fact not only vindicates my analysis over the last four years, but it also brings to the fore the nefarious role of a NATO member in stoking a brutal and bloody war for its own ends.

      • Bad Government Decisions That Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

        And bad governmental decisions are not confined to the Middle East. Violating the implicit (and maybe explicit) promise made to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to get him to approve the reuniting of Germany as the Cold War ended, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama have expanding the hostile NATO alliance right to Russia’s borders. Recently Obama took in the small country Montenegro as a deliberate slap in Russia’s face. Yet, expanding the NATO alliance effectively followed the Versailles model after World War I – keeping your defeated adversary outside the community of European nations – which led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II and went counter to the much more effective Congress of Vienna model, which brought post-Napoleonic France back into Europe, thus ensuring a century of relative peace in Europe. Because the United States and NATO walked all over a defeated Russia after the Cold War, they are now faced with a nationalist Russian leader in Vladimir Putin who is destabilizing Ukraine to keep it out of NATO, which George W. Bush promised would become an alliance member. Not taking any responsibility for this unfortunate chain of events, the United States is using Russia’s behavior to put more NATO forces in Eastern and Southern Europe. Where will the escalation cycle end?

      • Authorities are investigating a firebomb attack on a mosque in Tracy, California

        Authorities are investigating a firebomb attack on a mosque in Tracy, California that took place on Sunday as a hate crime.

      • Israel Firsters

        When I first began commenting on articles here at openDemocracy, I was motivated to answer a writer who contended that the State of Israel had intentionally opened the flood gates on one of its dams in order to flood some villages in Gaza.

        The article was simply one of many examples where Palestinian leadership misfeasance brought tribulations to Palestinians that were blamed on the Israelis. I have come to refer to such observers as “Israel Firsters”.

      • The Jewish Equivalent of ISIS

        The Jewish extremists running amok in Israel have far more in common with the Islamic State than they realize. Both groups need to be confronted and destroyed.

      • Iran Hands Over Stockpile of Enriched Uranium to Russia

        A Russian ship left Iran on Monday carrying almost all of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium, fulfilling a major step in the nuclear deal struck last summer and, for the first time in nearly a decade, apparently leaving Iran with too little fuel to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

      • What Are the Chances for Peace in 2016?

        None of this trillion dollars taken from us is spent to keep us safe, despite what politicians say. In fact, this great rip-off actually makes us less safe and more vulnerable to a terrorist attack thanks to resentment overseas at our interventions and to the blowback it produces.

      • ‘Shadow CIA’ Warns: Daesh Will Opt For Radical Measures to Offset Losses

        Stratfor maintains that despite major anti-Daesh efforts in Iraq and Syria, the group will not be vanquished in 2016.

      • Drones fly over Iraq and Syria without congressional oversight

        With the military, not the CIA, in charge, few know whether casualties include Iraqi and Syrian civilians.

      • With less oversight, activists fear more civilian casualties from drone strikes [Ed: same]
      • How Qatar Is Funding al-Qaeda — and Why That Could Help the US

        Ask Americans to name the terror group they fear most, and they’ll probably says ISIS, even though it was al-Qaeda that killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11/2001. Compared to ISIS, al-Qaeda is seen as the “devil we know,” not the band of barbaric thugs who burn people alive, rape children, and destroy or pilfer historic artifacts for sale on the black market.

        The rivalry between the two terror groups has even prompted the unthinkable—that the U.S. and al-Qaeda would somehow work together to defeat ISIS. Last August General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, urged the Pentagon to consider empowering al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front in Syria to fight ISIS. Petraeus, like others, believe Nusra is “moderate” compared with the tactics of the Taliban or ISIS, and could be an asset. But aligning with the lesser of two evils of terrorism is a policy fraught with pitfalls.

      • I revealed the truth about President Erdogan and Syria. For that, he had me jailed

        Early in 2014, a truck understood to belong to the Turkish intelligence service (MIT) was stopped near the Syrian border. The gendarmerie and the intelligence officials in control of the convoy pulled guns on each other. This was the moment the two blocks vying to rule the state came face to face. The truck was searched. Beneath the camouflage composed of medicines boxes, weapons and ammunition were found. The truck was held for a while, but following the intervention of government officials a safe passage into Syria was granted.

        The government immediately discharged the prosecutor and gendarmerie who stopped the convoy and had them arrested. It was declared that the trucks contained humanitarian aid. This incident, which fuelled allegations that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government was intervening in the Syrian civil war, was rapidly covered up.

      • 92 Killed in Iraq as PM Comes Under Rocket Fire in Ramadi

        Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited a relatively safe zone in the recently recovered city of Ramadi, where he promised to move the fighting against the Islamic State to the northern city of Mosul. However, there are reports that he was evacuated due to rocket fire. Meanwhile, Anbar’s governor, Suhaib al-Rawi, said over a thousand militants were killed during the battle for Ramadi. The true tallies of the fighting may never be publicly known.

      • Economic reform: tackling the root causes of extremism in Tunisia

        As we have seen over recent months, the phenomenon of fighters from different countries joining terrorist groups abroad highlights the need for of a global response to terrorism. Terrorism does not respect geographical borders and cannot be addressed within a single country. Tunisia does not operate within a vacuum, and we cannot counter terrorism, meet the expectations of our youth, and continue our democratic transition without the support of the international community.

      • These Ain’t Masterminds: Would Be Terrorist Crowdsourced Targets On Twitter Using ‘Silent Bomber’ Handle

        I have to say, it can certainly be quite frustrating to watch dispassionately how terrorism is discussed in the United States. After the fervor in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when terrorism was used either as a reason or excuse to enact all kinds of liberty-diffusing policies and to launch an insane surveillance state that we still haven’t recovered from, I had thought we were quietly entering an era of eye-rolling at the way some in government throw around the word “terrorism.” But, because the home of the brave is so easily whipped into a frenzy of fear, an admittedly horrible terrorist attack half a world away and a shooting spree in California that would have been shrugged off as “Hey, that’s just America” except that the perpetrators had scary sounding last names, has once again meant that our political debates and twenty-four hour news programs are focused on the threat of Islamic extremist terrorism and not all of the other zillions of ways that you might die in the next twenty-four hours.

        What all of this fear-mongering has done, which completely escapes my understanding, is create the impression that our enemy is generally devious and technologically intelligent on Bond-villain-esque levels. This is how you create a climate where a legitimate tool such as encryption is under attack as a threat. That’s what makes it so useful to point out when would-be terrorists prove themselves to be bumbling idiots practically begging to be caught.

      • Bumbling would-be UK bomber asked Twitter followers for target suggestions

        Once again, encryption was not used to cover tracks in any way.

      • The GOP Candidates Know Nothing about Syria

        Like many political animals, I was glued to the latest Republican presidential debate.

        For the most part, there were no surprises: Donald Trump railed against Muslims, Chris Christie lamented that the NSA can’t intercept Americans’ phone calls and emails as easily as it used to, Ben Carson remained confused about foreign policy, and Carly Fiorina yelled loudly that nobody was paying any attention to her.

        That’s great entertainment. But one ongoing theme bothered me – a lot.

        It seemed to me that none of the Republicans running for president had even the vaguest understanding of what’s happening in Syria.

        I learned during my nearly 15 years of working on the Middle East at the CIA – and after earning my college degree in Middle Eastern Studies – that nothing in that region is easily accomplished. Almost no issues are black and white. Alliances shift constantly, and sometimes politics makes for strange bedfellows.


        And those “moderate” rebels? Maybe a few are freedom-loving secularists. But many more are hardcore Islamists like the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. They aren’t any more interested in democracy than Assad or the Islamic State itself.

        There is, however, a solution. And it doesn’t involve killing more people, stumbling into other countries’ civil wars, or “carpet bombing” the Middle East, as Ted Cruz proposed. It’s called diplomacy.

    • Transparency Reporting

      • Spy agencies resist push for expanded scrutiny of top employees

        U.S. intelligence agencies recently fought off a move by Congress to require the CIA and other spy services to disclose more details about high-ranking employees who have been promoted or fired, despite pledges to be more open and accountable.

        The disputed measure was designed to increase scrutiny of cases­ in which senior officers ascend to high-level positions despite problems ranging from abusive treatment of subordinates to involvement in botched operations overseas.

      • US Spy Agencies Crush Congressional Demand for More Employee Scrutiny

        Despite pledges of increased transparency, the US intelligence community successfully fought a Congressional measure that would require agencies to give more details about personnel who have been promoted or fired.

      • TPP’s Forgotten Danger: Stronger Trade Secrets Protection, With Criminal Penalties For Infringement

        Since the release of the TPP text back in November, commentators have naturally tended to concentrate on the bigger, more obvious problems — things like the corporate sovereignty chapter, the extension of Big Pharma’s monopolies to scientific data, and copyright provisions — that Techdirt has been exploring for years. But there’s one area that has received relatively little attention, perhaps because for most people it’s an obscure topic that seems rather unimportant. It concerns the issue of trade secrets, which Techdirt wrote about in the context of TPP in October 2014. There, we concentrated on the risk that it would chill investigative reporting and corporate whistleblowing, but a new column in The Globe and Mail by Dan Breznitz, professor of Innovation Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, looks at the economic impact of TPP’s trade secrets measures.

      • For their eyes only… Secrecy row as Whitehall refuses to release Cabinet files in full for first time in 50 years

        The Cabinet Office was accused of suppressing ‘politically sensitive information’ last night after it failed to fully release official files for the first time in 50 years.

        It usually releases hundreds of documents about government decision-making through the National Archives, but this year there are just 14.

        Files on subjects ranging from the SAS shootings in Gibraltar to the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 should have been available to the public but are not.

        MPs pointed out last night that two senior ministers connected to the National Archives were government advisers during the period covered by the missing files.

      • Police Union Thinks Cops Should Receive Less Scrutiny Than Retail Workers

        Police unions are working tirelessly towards destroying any remaining shreds of respectability. Presumably, they once served a purpose roughly aligned with the public good. Now, they serve the singular purpose of ensuring our nation’s law enforcement agencies will always be forced to keep the abusive, incompetent officers on their payroll.

    • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

      • Fracked Gas Won’t Achieve Paris Climate Goals, But Empowering Communities Could

        The United States is undergoing a massive energy transition that isn’t receiving enough attention, and it could render the Paris climate agreement meaningless. We’re swapping one climate-damaging fuel, coal, for another that is actually worse: fracked gas.

        It’s a stark contradiction for U.S. climate policy. The Obama administration used its executive power to push the agreement and its aspirational goal of keeping warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement is a good thing. But for the U.S., a big part of reaching its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) commitment is implementing the Clean Power Plan, the EPA’s framework for states to reduce their carbon emissions. It’s designed to facilitate a wholesale transition from coal to natural gas, much of which is a product of fracking.

      • ‘Incredible’ Winter Flooding Along Mississippi River Could Be Historic
      • Deadly Missouri Flooding Forces Town Evacuations as Water Continues to Rise

        At least 20 people have been killed by severe flooding in Missouri, where several towns along the Mississippi River have been forced to evacuate due to rising floodwaters that are predicted to break records in the next few days. Such catastrophic, widespread flooding hasn’t been seen in the region in over two decades.

      • Sunderland Fan Zone closed by bad weather
      • The 15 Most Ridiculous Things Conservative Media Said About Climate Change In 2015

        From Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, to the establishment of the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, to a landmark international climate agreement, 2015 has been full of major landmarks in national and global efforts to address global warming. Yet you wouldn’t know it if you inhabited the parallel universe of the conservative media, where media figures went to ridiculous and outrageous lengths to dismiss or deny climate science, attack the pope, scientists, and anyone else concerned with climate change, and defend polluting fossil fuel companies. Here are the 15 most ridiculous things conservative media said about climate change in 2015.

      • No Denying It, Climate Change Is Happening Now

        The leaves came off the last trees — a crabapple, a willow and a hardy Norway maple — during the first week of December this year, surely the latest I can remember seeing leaves on trees since we moved to the Philadelphia area 18 years ago. But it’s not just that.

        A rhododendron bush beside the house has huge blooms ready to burst open, the white petal tips pushing out of their scaly looking egg-sized buds. And our garden is still boasting a surprisingly fast-growing crop of chard, sweet kale and perhaps most surprisingly, tall fava bean plants that, while they didn’t produce any beans this year, saute up to make a beautiful doumiao — one of my favorite Chinese vegetable dishes.

      • Waiting to exhale: The politics of fire in Indonesia

        Why are there more land fires in Indonesia before an election? Why are oil palm plantations burned also? Why does everyone involved see the fires differently?

        And what do elephants have to do with any of it?

        The devastating land and forest fires in Indonesia begin long before someone lights a match: They start with a complex entanglement of politics, economics, power and practice.

      • Commentary: Emissions From Indonesia’s Fires Reach New Highs, but Solutions Are Within Reach

        Indonesia’s forest and land fires have reached a new level of global significance. New analysis published this week by Guido van der Werf, lead scientist with the Global Fire Emissions Database, indicates that since September greenhouse gas emissions from the fires exceeded the average daily emissions from all US economic activity. Extrapolating from van der Werf’s estimates, these emissions are likely to add about 3 percent to total global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities for the year. The emissions from fires so far in 2015 are more than three times higher than expected by Indonesia’s national planning agency.

        The fires in Indonesia are set to clear land for agriculture or as a weapon in conflict over land. Many of the fires are burning on carbon-rich peatlands and as a result spew extremely large amounts of toxic smog into the air and climate-altering gas into the atmosphere.

      • Floods, climate, and neglect: a reflection

        We have been lucky with the flooding where we live, at least so far. Kirkburton is in the east Pennines a few miles out of Huddersfield and the village was on the Environment Agency’s “risk of flooding” warning for twenty-four hours on the weekend of 26-27 December. Fortunately, while the rain may have been very heavy it didn’t persist here as long as it did up on the moors, but some of the Calder Valley towns like Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge were hit appallingly badly.

    • Finance

      • Affluenza: An Outrage in All Its Forms

        Ethan was sentenced to mere parole instead of prison. Ethan Couch, whose family is worth a reported $15 million, became the embodiment of our unfair treatment of the rich. He recently re-entered headlines after a jaunt through Mexico in violation of parole left him in federal custody. He may, in the end, face jail time.

        The public outrage at Ethan’s legal treatment has been understandably intense. Why should someone get off easy simply because they’re rich?

        However, much less public outrage has come from another insidious from of affluenza—the legalized tax evasion by the ultra wealthy. According to a blistering new report from The New York Times, “The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield millions, if not billions, of their income.”

      • For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions

        The hedge fund magnates Daniel S. Loeb, Louis Moore Bacon and Steven A. Cohen have much in common. They have managed billions of dollars in capital, earning vast fortunes. They have invested large sums in art — and millions more in political candidates.

        Moreover, each has exploited an esoteric tax loophole that saved them millions in taxes. The trick? Route the money to Bermuda and back.

      • Apple to pay Italy 318 million euros, sign tax deal – source

        Apple Inc will pay Italy’s tax office 318 million euros ($348 million) to settle a dispute over allegations it failed to pay taxes for six years, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

        The maker of iPhones and iPads will also sign an accord next year on how to manage its tax liabilities from 2015 onward, the source said.

      • German Ministry of Finance’s anti-Europe proposal

        Recently, I wrote a blog – Who is responsible for the Eurozone crisis? The simple answer: It is not Germany! – where I contended that Germany was not to blame for the Eurozone crisis. I also wrote that while Germany was not responsible, single-handedly, for the creation of the dysfunctional monetary union, its politicians were surely complicit in making the crisis deeper and longer than it otherwise could have been given the circumstances.

      • Clinton Senior Adviser Authored Paper Arguing for Paid Leave Proposal She Now Opposes

        But for Hillary Clinton, this tiny increase in payroll taxes is not only a reason to delay, but a reason to oppose the legislation altogether – something O’Leary has apparently discarded her own previous advocacy for.But for Hillary Clinton, this tiny increase in payroll taxes is not only a reason to delay, but a reason to oppose the legislation altogether – something O’Leary has apparently discarded her own previous advocacy for.

      • The Sharing Economy
      • A Crisis Worse than ISIS? Bail-Ins Begin

        At the end of November, an Italian pensioner hanged himself after his entire €100,000 savings were confiscated in a bank “rescue” scheme. He left a suicide note blaming the bank, where he had been a customer for 50 years and had invested in bank-issued bonds. But he might better have blamed the EU and the G20’s Financial Stability Board, which have imposed an “Orderly Resolution” regime that keeps insolvent banks afloat by confiscating the savings of investors and depositors. Some 130,000 shareholders and junior bond holders suffered losses in the “rescue.”

      • What Went Right in 2015

        Sure, income inequality has grown—but so what? The rich don’t get richer at the expense of the poor. Poor people’s income grew 48 percent over the past 35 years. Bernie Sanders says that “the middle class is disappearing!” But that’s mainly because many middle-class people moved into the upper class. Middle class incomes grew 40 percent over the past 30 years.

    • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

      • 5 of the Worst Examples of Biased and Distorted Media Coverage of Education in 2015

        2015 was an important year in education policy, with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the beginning of the 2016 election campaigns, and local fights for teachers and public schools making national headlines. In an important year for students and teachers across the education spectrum, however, some media outlets used their platforms to push falsehoods. Here are five of the worst media failures on public education this year.

      • George Pataki Leaves Presidential Race

        Earle I. Mack, a prominent real estate developer and Republican donor who was supporting Mr. Pataki, said the former governor had faced a difficult national environment for his “middle of the road” brand of politics. Mr. Mack, who spoke with Mr. Pataki ahead of his announcement, said Republicans faced a dire future if they did not tack toward the center, as Mr. Pataki had urged.

      • Trump Spokeswoman Loves Her Bullet Necklace, but Might Wear a ‘Fetus’ Necklace Next Time
      • The Airwaves May Soon Be Awash With Footage of Donald Trump Mugging in the Debates

        My colleague Russ Choma, who was apparently denied entry to a Donald Trump rally in chilly New Hampshire, nonetheless reports that Trump says he will soon begin spending millions of dollars on television ads in early primary states. Maybe so—or maybe it’s just Trump jabbering again.

      • Does Donald Trump Have Any Friends?

        This is an odd quirk in Trump’s personality. He seems to have an ironclad rule against ever attacking someone first. Even Vladimir Putin. Putin says nice things about Trump, so Trump has to say nice things back. Opposing candidates who don’t attack him are “great guys.” But if you attack first, then he has to fire off a nuclear retaliation. There’s an odd kind of chivalry at work here, and I suppose it also provides people with a motivation to leave him alone.

      • Here Is Every Crazy, Insane, Terrible, Genius, Infuriating Thing Donald Trump Did This Year

        It’s hard to overstate Donald Trump’s impact on the 2016 race for the White House. The business tycoon symbolizes the shift from traditional presidential campaigns to the new uncampaign. Trump has had no need to pander for money, and he has been impervious to criticism—no matter how justified. He seems to only be strengthened by political gaffes that would doom other candidates. This year, he has dominated the news cycle repeatedly and ridden high in the polls. Chronicling all his wacky remarks, blunders, outrageous proposals, and, of course, crazy tweets of this past year would be nearly impossible. But we tried.

      • Donald Trump Is About to Open His War Chest

        But the biggest news of the night came when Trump said he would vastly increase his spending on television commercials. To date, Trump appears to have spent only $217,000 on advertising—compared with $41 million spent by Bush and his allied super-PAC. But Trump told the crowd that’s about to change.

      • EXCLUSIVE: The Story Sheldon Adelson Didn’t Want You To Read

        Two weeks ago, conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest paper. On Tuesday, its editor-in-chief of five years, Mike Hengel, resigned.

        If you are a subscriber to the Review-Journal, you would have read a grand total of 79 words on Wednesday about Hengel’s departure. According to the story, which did not have a byline, the decision was “mutual” and “he did not believe he was forced out.”

      • Michael Moore on Why America ‘Needs a Little Time in the Timeout Room,’ and Whether Hillary Will Start a War

        Where do you see signs of hope? Is the Bernie Sanders campaign a sign of hope, even if he doesn’t win?

        Absolutely. A socialist was on the stage for a Democratic debate! There was a poll last month where they asked Democrats how they felt about socialism and capitalism, and 46 percent said they had a positive view of socialism, while 37 percent said they had a positive view of capitalism. Things are changing, and young people are making this change happen. My politics and Bernie’s line up almost exactly the same.

      • Bernie Sanders’ Ambitious Plan to Win the Backing of Donald Trump Supporters

        Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Sunday that he believes he can boost his own standing in the race by swaying supporters of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump to back his campaign.

        Sanders told CBS’s Face the Nation that many of Trump’s supporters have legitimate fears stemming from income inequality that Sanders is best positioned to address.

        “What Trump has done with some success is taken that anger, taken those fears, which are legitimate, and converted them into anger against Mexicans, anger against Muslims,” Sanders said.

      • One person shows up to O’Malley event in Iowa, remains uncommitted

        The uncommitted voter told the candidate that he had the strongest résumé of the three Democrats seeking the nomination, according to Beckman’s report. “I give you a lot of credit for coming out here,” Kenneth told O’Malley. “I’m glad you took the time.”

      • Ukraine’s media: a plea for pluralism

        Under these conditions, so-called ‘explanatory journalism’ has come to play an increasingly important role. This is journalism that tells its audience how a particular incident, phenomenon or statement impacts them personally, and how it relates to their value systems and principles.

        In a pluralistic society, the commitment to a particular belief system is important for building audiences around specific media resources. Conservatives and liberals, supporters of free enterprise and socialists, supporters and opponents of migration, tend to group around the publication which best reflects their personal views.

    • Censorship

      • A deadly landslide exposes the depths of China’s corruption and censorship

        DISASTERS, BOTH natural and man-made, tear a hole in society. When that tear comes in a place such as China, systemic failures often are exposed as well as lives lost and dreams crushed. The landslide that came roaring down on the Chinese city of Shenzhen on Dec. 20 underscores yet again the dangers of unbridled growth, lax safety inspections, corruption, unaccountable government and lack of rule of law.

      • Official in China city hit by deadly landslide kills himself

        A government official in southern China killed himself a week after a landslide from a huge pile of construction waste in his city left scores missing and presumed dead, police said Monday.

      • 2015 was the year ‘censorship’ lost all meaning

        This year, in lieu of the traditional “Best Of” lists, we thought it would be fun to throw our editors into a draft together and have a conversation. This is the year that censorship was either a big deal or lost all meaning. We got an error code for governments blocking web pages, a presidential candidate suggested we “close up” the internet, we spent a lot of time wondering whether college campuses were limiting free speech, and we got into a gigantic debate over whether Reddit’s stricter policies constituted censorship. And of course we heard about whether all the things Gamergate and similar internet bottom-feeders hated last year — Twitter block lists, comment moderation, saying a game was sexist — were still turning the internet into a censorious wasteland. We brought together Adi Robertson and Russell Brandom to discuss whether anyone knows what censorship means now.

      • Fighting abuse to protect freedom of expression

        Today, as part of our continued efforts to combat abuse, we’re updating the Twitter Rules to clarify what we consider to be abusive behaviour and hateful conduct. The updated language emphasizes that Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice. As always, we embrace and encourage diverse opinions and beliefs –but we will continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse.

      • Filmmaker wins lawsuit against censorship in Chinese court

        Director Fan Popo says he won a lawsuit targeting censorship in China, but the victory is only partial because he must continue his fight to screen a film.

      • Gay filmmaker claims partial victory over China censors

        ‘I also saw online comments saying that they don’t support gay rights but they are happy to see somebody sue SAPPRFT’

      • Gay Filmmaker Fan Popo Declares Legal Victory, but Banned Film Still Can’t Be Viewed

        At issue is Fan’s 2012 documentary titled Mama Rainbow, which follows mothers of gay children throughout China. Fan’s 30-minute-long documentary was previously available on many Chinese video streaming platforms, namely Youku, Tudou, and 56.com, receiving a huge amount of hits, comments, and reviews from people from all walks of life, both positive and negative, until it was removed in late 2014.

      • New media law gives Polish government fuller control

        Poland’s parliament on Wednesday adopted a new media law that gives the conservative government more latitude to control state-run television and radio.

        The law on “national media” is the latest in a series of legislative efforts by the newly elected Law and Justice party (PiS) government to take control of a wide array of state institutions, something that’s creating a growing, but so far ineffective, domestic and international pushback.

      • Latin American Journalism and Advocacy Groups Recognized by Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards

        Journalists, media organizations and freedom of expression advocates from El Salvador, Cuba, Argentina, Mexico and Ecuador were included on the long list of candidates for the Index on Censorship’s 2016 Freedom of Expression Awards announced on December 16.

      • Twitter Closes Out 2015 By Tackling Harassment In Its Terms Of Service
    • Privacy

      • War on drugs meets terrorism

        Last month I had the pleasure of attending the biennial Drug Policy Alliance shindig in Washington on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc). We also held our annual LEAP board meeting ahead of the DPA, and it was great to have the chance to catch up again with my fellow directors.

      • Reforms Abound for Cross-Border Data Requests

        Currently, all countries must meet the U.S. legal standard of probable cause before obtaining communications from U.S.-based companies. The proposal seems to lower this standard by mandating requests be “relevant and material” to the crime under investigation. While it’s our understanding that the proposed language is meant to approximate the U.S. probable cause standard without using the words “probable cause,” the elasticity of “relevance” (as seen in U.S. debates over the scope of Section 215) is a red flag.

      • Report: Obama spied on Netanyahu after NSA reforms

        President Barack Obama’s administration continued to spy after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, even after he announced two years ago he would curtail the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping program on friendly heads of state, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

      • China expert Adam Segal: U.S. companies should worry about Beijing’s new anti-terrorism law

        American tech companies are worried that China’s new anti-terrorism law will force them to open up their encryption for the country’s notoriously repressive government.

        As the United States debates whether police should have guaranteed access to encrypted products like your iPhone or Android device, Beijing’s new technology policies—part of a broader law that passed on Sunday to combat terrorism in the country—are sure to spark renewed hand-wringing in Silicon Valley over whether and how U.S. firms should even operate in China.

      • EFF Joins ACLU in Amicus Brief Supporting Warrant Requirement for Cell-Site Simulators

        EFF, ACLU, and ACLU of Maryland filed an amicus brief today in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in the first case in the country (that we know of) where a judge has thrown out evidence obtained as a result of using a cell-site simulator without a warrant.

        In the case, Baltimore Police used a Hailstorm—a cell-site simulator from the same company that makes Stingrays—to locate Kerron Andrews, the defendant. The police not only failed to get a warrant to use the device, they also failed to disclose it to the judge in their application for a pen register order. And it appears they even failed to tell the State’s attorney prosecuting Mr. Andrews’ case.

        Luckily Mr. Andrews’ intrepid defense attorney suspected the police might have used a Stingray and sent a discovery request asking specifically if they had. The prosecution stalled for months on answering that request, but, on the eve of trial, one of the investigators responsible for Baltimore PD’s stingrays finally testified in court not only that he’d used the device to find Mr. Andrews, but that he’d specifically not disclosed it in any report filed about Andrews’ arrest. The judge concluded the police had intentionally withheld information from Mr. Andrews—a clear violation of his constitutional rights.

      • Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated

        The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the NSA under President Obama targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aides for surveillance. In the process, the agency ended up eavesdropping on “the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups” about how to sabotage the Iran Deal. All sorts of people who spent many years cheering for and defending the NSA and its programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them and their American and Israeli friends rather than just ordinary people.

      • One Of Congress’s Biggest Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Suddenly Aghast That NSA May Have Spied On Him

        Remember how Dianne Feinstein — a huge supporter of the intelligence community — absolutely freaked out about surveillance when it happened to her staffers (when the CIA snooped on their network)? It would almost be funny how the defenders of surveillance react when they’re being surveilled… if it weren’t so tragic.

      • House Intelligence chair seeks answers on NSA spying report

        The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday his committee will look into a report the U.S. spied on the Israeli prime minister and in the process swept up communications with Congress.

      • Poisoned apple: the curse of social media in the Gulf

        The increased social media use in the Gulf might signify some progress for its citizens, but the extent to which it empowers them is greatly outweighed by state surveillance through the same vehicle.

      • NSA Never Stopped Intercepting Foreign Leaders’ Communications, Swept Up Congress Members In Its Collection

        Technically, spying on Congress is off-limits. In reality, the NSA can grab anything involving conversations with foreign citizens, provided it feels the content of the communications contains “significant foreign intelligence.” Even so, the NSA is required to inform oversight committees when it has released unminimized, Congress-related communications to the executive branch. In this case, that information was never turned over to the oversight committees, and the executive branch deferred entirely to the NSA’s judgment on the withholding of this information.

      • Paul “appalled” by NSA surveillance, Pataki on campaign exit
      • Rubio: Reports of NSA spying on Congress ‘worse than some people might think’
      • Rand Paul Appalled By NSA’s Possible Data Collection on Congress
      • Rand Paul: ‘Appalled’ By NSA Spying on Members of Congress
      • Rand Paul ‘Appalled’ The NSA Spied On Members Of Congress
      • NSA eavesdropping on Israeli PM Netanyahu is nothing new

        The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that President Obama did not include Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in his list of world leaders that the US does not spy on, and that he ordered the continued monitoring of the discussions between Netanyahu and his senior aides.

      • US ‘spied on Binyamin Netanyahu during Iran nuclear deal talks’
      • The New WSJ Report on the NSA Has Some WTF For Everyone

        This latest Wall Street Journal bombshell about the National Security Agency’s having spied on the back-channel shenanigans between putative ally Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of Congress regarding the state of the Iran nuclear talks has a little WTF somethin’-somethin’ for everyone. If you happen to be a staunch American Likudnik, you can ask WTF the NSA is doing spying on our plucky ally. If, like me, you don’t trust the NSA’s assurances as far as you can throw the billions of dollars we spend snooping around the world, you can ask WTF the NSA is doing spying on members of Congress. (Answer to outraged conservatives in this camp: exactly what all you people want it to do to Muslims.) If you have made a career out of being a public nut, you can go indiscriminately crazy. And if, like me, you’ve always wondered WTF members of Congress were doing helping a putative ally derail a major foreign-policy initiative of the United States, thanks to the NSA, you’ve now got a pretty good idea.

      • No comment: Sen. Harry Reid declines to blame NSA spying allegations on Koch brothers
      • Is the Freedom Act More Effective Than the Patriot Act?

        As members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), we have witnessed firsthand how oversight, coupled with transparency, can drive efforts to improve flawed surveillance programs.

        Section 215 of the Patriot Act, under which the National Security Agency (NSA) collected and searched the telephone metadata of millions of innocent Americans, serves as a prime example.

      • The Cold War-Era Rules Designed to Protect U.S. Lawmakers’ Communications

        When Americans, including U.S. lawmakers and government officials, were referenced in foreign communications swept up by the NSA, their identities were required to be obscured through a process called “minimization.” The question of how the NSA handles lawmakers was raised in a Wall Street Journal piece about U.S. spying on Israel’s top leadership.

    • Civil Rights

      • What Everyone Should Know About The Police Killing Of Tamir Rice (2002-2014)

        Today, prosecutor Tim McGinty announced that he would not seek criminal charges against the officers involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. The decision came after a grand jury, which has been hearing evidence for three months, declined to issue an indictment. Rice’s family and others sharply criticized McGinty’s conduct throughout the grand jury process, arguing that he was manipulating the proceedings to the benefit of the officers.

      • Top Wins for Civil Liberties in 2015

        We made great progress on key fronts in 2015. We fought to protect our privacy, demanded justice for torture victims, and stood up against pregnancy discrimination. We also won the right for same-sex couples to legally wed, fought for families seeking asylum—and much more. The strides we’ve made in the past year are all due to your support. Thanks to you, the ACLU’s impact throughout the country—in courts, legislatures, and the media—resonates across issues and generates new momentum for change.

      • The Illusion of Freedom

        The seizure of political and economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security? Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and Drug Administration? The Department of Labor? The Federal Reserve? The mass media? Our systems of entertainment? Our prisons and schools? Who determines our trade and environmental policies? Who imposes austerity on the public while enabling the looting of the U.S. Treasury and the tax boycott by Wall Street? Who criminalizes dissent?

      • Argentina lurches rightwards but progressive policy gains will endure

        The ascendency of the pro-business conservative Mauricio Macri to Argentina’s Presidency on 10th December 2015 spells the end of 12 years of centre-Left Peronist governments.

      • The Ku Klux Klan: America’s Long History of Tolerating White Terrorist Organizations

        One centuries’ old example of US government double standards when it comes to terrorism, is the infamous Klu Klux Klan. The Klan has terrorized and killed far more Americans than Islamic terrorists ever have; and despite being America’s oldest terrorist organization, the US government does not officially consider the KKK a terrorist organization, classifying it merely as a “hate group”.

      • Cleveland officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice will not face criminal charges

        Grand jury declines to indict white officer Timothy Loehmann and partner over shooting of 12-year-old, citing lack of evidence of criminal misconduct

      • Cleveland’s Terrible Stain

        Tamir Rice of Cleveland would be alive today had he been a white 12-year-old playing with a toy gun in just about any middle-class neighborhood in the country on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014.

        But Tamir, who was shot to death by a white police officer that day, had the misfortune of being black in a poor area of Cleveland, where the police have historically behaved as an occupying force that shoots first and asks questions later. To grow up black and male in such a place is to live a highly circumscribed life, hemmed in by forces that deny your humanity and conspire to kill you.

        Those forces hovered over the proceedings on Monday when a grand jury declined to indict Officer Timothy Loehmann in the killing and Timothy McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, explained why he had asked the grand jurors to not bring charges. Mr. McGinty described the events leading up to Tamir’s death as tragic series of errors and “miscommunications” that began when a 911 caller said a male who was “probably a juvenile” was waving a “probably fake” gun at people in a park.

      • Pressure Mounts After Chicago Police Admit To Killing Innocent 55-Year-Old Woman By Accident

        After police officers shot and killed two Chicago residents — one admittedly accidentally — early Saturday morning, their friends and families are asking why officers “shoot first and ask questions later.”

      • CIA Torture Program Originated in MKUltra Department

        As Soft Panorama notes, Seligman’s theory of Learned Helplessness was initially used to design a training program to help captured military personnel resist the effects of torture (3). LH went on to be used in the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay to assist the interrogation of convicts.

        According to an article by Shadow Proof about the CIA’s torture program originating in the same department as MKUltra, Seligman is believed to have met with Mitchell on three occasions, which, as Shadow Proof claims “strongly suggests” that the CIA torture program was initiated by the OTS and constituted “at least in part” of an experimental program (4).

      • The whipping girl: Screaming in agony, a woman collapses as she and a man are caned under Sharia law in Indonesia merely for being ‘seen in close proximity’ to each other without being married
      • Federal Judge Says Cops Can Hold Your Family at Gunpoint if You Drink Tea or Grow Tomatoes–Here’s Why

        A Kansas couple lost their lawsuit after a federal judge essentially ruled that drinking tea and gardening were probable cause for a drug search warrant — but they forced a change in state law that could prevent similar raids.

      • Why Sarah Silverman Is Scary: It’s the Cultural Power of Celebrities That Drives Conservatives Insane

        Conservatives love decrying liberals for “political correctness” and “oversensitivity,” a particularly poignant form of hypocrisy since liberals could never reach the levels of whininess and hyper-sensitivity to perceived insults that the right wing coughs up daily. Doubly so when it comes to anything that a celebrity says.

        Freaking out on celebrities allows conservatives to double down on their sense of victimhood — not only do they get to feign offense, they also get to wallow in how supposedly unfair it is that the giant liberal media conspiracy is oppressing them by allowing celebrities to say progressive things in public.

      • The Unspoken Problem With the Tamir Rice Killing

        This is absolutely right, of course. The war by police on Black Americans is a continuation of the war on former black slaves in the post bellum South, when unfortunate young black men, Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit,” were strung up with utter impunity by whites in hoods and sheets. None of us who saw it can ever forget the face of Emmett Till in his coffin.

      • The Politics of the “Comfort Women” Deal

        The comfort women are in their 90s now but it is not their increasing frailty that led to the “agreement’’ between Seoul and Tokyo. The timing concerned an event held in Beijing on Sept 3. China’s “Victory over Fascism’’ military parade which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII had one telling moment that made strategists in Washington sit up and take notice. The attendance of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, the only major US ally to turn up, prodded Washington to lean on Japan and Seoul to get an agreement. The pivot, a mild word for what is a major US military redeployment, depends on the pillar of Japan and South Korea cooperating. The plight of the former sex slaves, which Japan euphemistically calls the ianfu, or comfort women, is the main thorn in the side of relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

      • Bill Cosby To Face Criminal Charges For Sexual Assault

        Prosecutors announced Wednesday morning that Bill Cosby will face criminal charges for a sexual assault he allegedly committed in 2004 against a former Temple University employee. He is expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

      • 2015 in reproductive rights: Arkansas sets off year of abortion restrictions
      • U.S. Passed 47 New Anti-Abortion Laws in 2015

        In 2015, U.S. states introduced upwards of 350 anti-abortion bills and passed 47 of them, according to a report from the Center for Reproductive Rights.* This is down somewhat from 2013, but an increase over the number of measures passed in 2014.

      • Why Black Lives Matter Is the Movement of the Year

        Although more than two years have passed since three black women—Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi—founded Black Lives Matter (BLM) in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the murder of Trayvon Martin, the U.S. justice system’s continued failures clearly illustrate why the movement is still as important and necessary as ever.

        Earlier this month, a Baltimore judge declared a mistrial in the case of William Porter, the first of six officers to be indicted in the death of Freddie Gray.

        Then, just five days later, on Dec. 21, a Texas grand jury decided not to indict anyone in the mysterious police-custody death of Sandra Bland.

      • 2015: The Year Police Killings in America Were Counted

        The Black Lives Matter movement that swept the country in 2015 has—among other accomplishments—forced global media outlets to afford victims of police killings the most basic acknowledgement: a public record of their names and deaths.

        Such a grim tally was maintained this year by both the Guardian and the Washington Post, following the consistent failure of the U.S. government to keep adequate records.

        According to the Guardian, 1,126 people were killed by police so far in 2015, averaging more than three a day, with 27 percent of those slain facing mental health issues.

      • LeBron Shouldn’t Boycott Basketball. But He Should Learn Something About Tamir Rice.

        His comments came after a group of activists online started a #NoJusticeNoLeBron campaign, asking the NBA superstar and Cleveland native to sit out of Cleveland Cavaliers games until the Department of Justice “imprisons the murderers” of Rice.

      • America’s Incarcerated Population, Largest in World, Grew Even More Last Year

        The federal government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics has released new numbers detailing how America’s incarcerated population — already the world’s largest — grew even bigger in 2014.

        The bureau’s researchers report that the number of individuals incarcerated grew by 1,900 people over the course of last year — “reversing a 5-year decline since 2008.”

      • Racial prejudice is driving opposition to paying college athletes. Here’s the evidence.

        With the money made from college sports increasing every year, the way colleges treat their athletes has become controversial.

        That’s because college sports is a tremendously lucrative business for everyone but the athletes. The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) will receive $7.3 billion from ESPN for the right to broadcast the seven games of the College Football Playoffs (CFP) between 2014 and 2026, and $11 billion from CBS and Turner Sports to broadcast “March Madness” over the next 14 years.

      • Chicago’s Solution to Killings by Police? More Tasers! Which Also Result in Death.

        So Chicago’s police are a disaster and has been since forever, honestly. Even before the latest outrages—the brutal police killing of Laquan McDonald (and the city’s attempt to suppress video footage of it) and the accidental killing of a 55-year-old grandmother by police responding to a call over the holidays—the city had been paying out millions of dollars in settlements over claims of misconduct by police.

        Some are calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation. He is declining and has been promising reform. Today we are going to be seeing what his idea of reform looks like.

      • After the French 9/11, Le Patriot Act

        The visible signs of change here at the merciful close of France’s annus horribilis are subtle to the American eye. Travelers arriving by air from other European countries no longer encounter an automatic “hurry along” at the passport booth. More tricolors than usual are draped across apartment buildings. The rifle-gripping soldiers walking slowly through the shopping promenades look decidedly alert and grim.

      • VIDEO: White Police Officer Who Fatally Shot 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice Will Not Face Criminal Charges

        More than a year after the shooting in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty declared, “The death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy. It was horrible, unfortunate and regrettable. But it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime.”

      • Virginia Man Shot 23 Times by W.Va. Cops, Family Challenging Judge’s Summary Dismissal of Lawsuit

        In March 2013, Wayne Jones was stopped by a police officer in Martinsburg, West Virginia for walking in the street. He reportedly told the cop he had a knife and then tried to flee. Five police officers caught up with Jones, shooting him at least 22 times after yelling at him to “drop the fucking knife.” That October, a grand jury predictably declined to indict anyone in relation to the shooting.

      • The Paranoid Style of American Policing

        When I was around 10 years old, my father confronted a young man who was said to be “crazy.” The young man was always too quick to want to fight. A foul in a game of 21 was an insult to his honor. A cross word was cause for a duel, and you never knew what that cross word might be. One day, the young man got into it with one of my older brother’s friends. The young man pulled a metal stake out of the ground (there was some work being done nearby) and began swinging it wildly in a threatening manner. My father, my mother, or my older brother—I don’t recall which—told the other boy to go inside of our house. My dad then came outside. I don’t really remember what my father said to the young man. Perhaps he said something like “Go home,” or maybe something like, “Son, it’s over.” I don’t really recall. But what I do recall is that my dad did not shoot and kill the young man.

      • Update: TSA Will Give 120 Days Before “Implementing REAL ID Enforcement at Airports”

        Come January 10, at least nine states and several territories will be in defiance of a decade-old law mandating various security features on the driver’s licenses they issue. That raises the specter of people traveling on domestic flights being turned away from airport gates for having non-compliant IDs.

      • Rahm Emanuel Announcing Plans for ‘Major Overhaul’ of Chicago PD This Afternoon

        Rahm Emanuel’s resignation could be an acknowledgement of the depths of the problem, but on its own it’s not a solution nor even a step toward one. There are blueprints for reform, and they don’t require a blue ribbon panel stocked with politicians and police. This summer activists from Black Lives Matter launched Campaign Zero—a list of reforms to police practices and policies that work toward eliminating excessive police violence and increasing accountability that have been adopted in some jurisdictions and could be adopted in others. And earlier this month, they launched Check the Police, a program to collect and analyze police contracts around the country in an effort to direct attention to how they perpetuate police violence.

      • Penn. Court Says State Can’t Block Folks from Some Jobs Forever Entirely Due to Criminal Record

        A modest but important win for occupational liberty in Pennsylvania. Today its Commonwealth Court judges (that’s a step below the state’s Supreme Court) ruled unanimously that a state law that forbids people with any criminal past from getting jobs in nursing homes and long-term care facilities is unconstitutional.

    • Internet/Net Neutrality

      • Save The Internet (part 3). Tell TRAI that we need net neutrality, once again (Dec 2015)
      • Zuckerberg’s Free Web Woes Extend Beyond India

        Mark Zuckerberg didn’t see this coming.

        When Facebook Inc.’s co-founder proposed bringing free Web services to India, his stated aim was to help connect millions of impoverished people to unlimited opportunity. Instead, critics have accused him of making a poorly disguised land grab in India’s burgeoning Internet sector. The growing backlash could threaten the very premise of Internet.org, his ambitious, two-year-old effort to connect the planet.

        Indian authorities are circumspect because the Facebook initiative provides access to only a limited set of websites — undermining the equal-access precepts of net neutrality. The telecommunications regulator is calling for initial comments by Jan 7, extending the deadline from today, on whether wireless carriers can charge differently for data usage across websites, applications and platforms. Losing this fight could imperil Facebook’s Free Basics, which allows customers to access the social network and select services such as Messenger and Microsoft’s Bing without a data plan.

      • ‘Free Basics’ will take away more than our right to the internet

        As the TRAI decides the fate of Free Basics, Mark Zuckerberg is in India with ₹100 crore, in pocket change, for advertising. Facebook’s Free Basics is a repackaged internet.org, or in other words, a system where Facebook decides what parts of the internet are important to users.

      • Broadband Rates Are Too Damn High

        Low-income communities are being stranded as everyone else catches a ride on the information superhighway.

      • Accused of Gatekeeping India’s Internet, Facebook CEO Lashes Out

        Nikhil Pahwa, an organizer with Save the Internet-India, raised the question earlier this week in the Times of India: “Why has Facebook chosen the current model for Free Basics, which gives users a selection of around a hundred sites (including a personal blog and a real estate company homepage), while rejecting the option of giving the poor free access to the open, plural and diverse web?”

    • DRM

      • If We’re Not Careful, Self-Driving Cars Will Be The Cornerstone Of The DRM’d, Surveillance Dystopias Of Tomorrow

        We’ve talked a lot about the ethical and programming problems currently facing those designing self driving cars. Some are less complicated, such as how to program cars to bend the rules slightly and be more more human like. Others get more complex, including whether or not cars should be programmed to kill the occupant — if it means saving a school bus full of children (aka the trolley problem). And once automated cars are commonplace, can law enforcement have access to the car’s code to automatically pull a driver over? There’s an ocean of questions we’re not really ready to answer.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • Pharma Exec for Maker of $150,000 Cancer Drug Tells Investors Its Pricing Is “Very Responsible”

        A top official at pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson dismissed questions on a recent earnings call about the drug price reform debate in Washington, saying that the company is “responsible” in its pricing.

        As part of the question and answer period during the company’s third quarter earnings call in October, one questioner asked Johnson & Johnson Chief Financial Officer Dominic Caruso where he sees the drug pricing reform debate in Washington going and if the company was planning a pledge, similar to one made by many firms in the 1990s, to not raise drug prices beyond the cost of inflation.

        “Despite significant media attention on drug pricing, there really isn’t a consensus on policy solutions that would lower prices without negatively lowering innovation,” he said.

      • Besides Which, Don’t You *Want* The Blades To Wear Out?

        No, I am not calling Gillette a troll, Paul. But they’re acting awfully trollish by going after the competition like this. As if we all can’t see what’s going on here, right?

        C’mon, Gillette. You’re better than that.

      • Qualcomm Signs New Patent Licensing Deals In China

        Qualcomm announced today that it has inked new patent licensing deals in China with smartphone manufacturers Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment and Haier Group. The San Diego-based chipmaker has made a series of similar agreements over the past two months as it recovers from an antitrust investigation by the Chinese government.

        Since the beginning of November, Qualcomm has also announced deals with QiKu, a joint venture between Qihoo 360 and Coolpad, Xiaomi, Huawei, TCL Communication Technology Holdings, and ZTE.

      • Copyrights

        • China box office to beat out U.S. by 2017

          China’s box office is expected to surpass the U.S. in 2017 to become the largest market in the world, while more Chinese movie enterprises will turn to global investments to learn and practice international industry methods, a report released by H. Brothers Research and the Institute for Cultural Industries at Beijing University on Monday predicted.

        • CBS Sues Over Star Trek Fan Film Because It Sounds Like It’s Going To Be Pretty Good

          When it comes to passionate fan-bases, it’s kind of hard to match Star Trek fans. This is a group of fans that fuel much of the cosplaying and fan-creating that goes on to this day. CBS, owners of the Star Trek copyrights, has had something of a complicated relationship with these fans, flip-flopping between allowing this community to foster a wider appreciation of the franchise while occasionally clamping down on them. In the past, it has seemed clear that CBS’ chief criteria for deciding when to go legal on fan-made works boils down to two factors: is there money involved and just how professional is the fan-creation going to be?

In Memory of Ian Murdock, Our Daily Links to Increase Coverage of Police Brutality

Posted in Debian at 4:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Debian logo

Ian Murdock

Summary: Techrights mourns the loss of Ian Murdock and will devote the coming years to more coverage of abuse by police

NEWS has come out that Ian Murdock is dead. Assuming the most likely explanation for this, abuse by the police had a lot to do with it. Among the latest articles about it we have:

  • Debian Founder in Trouble, Ubuntu’s Wrong Turn

    A big story getting a little attention today was the shocking news of Debian founder Ian Murdock’s desperation at the hands of law enforcement. Much of the story is unknown, but Murdock was on the verge of suicide Monday evening. In other news, Brian Fagioli reported that the System76 Oryx Pro is the gaming machine of your dreams and Matt Hartley thinks he knows where Ubuntu went wrong.

  • In Memoriam: Ian Murdock

    It is with great sadness that we inform you that Ian Murdock passed away on Monday night. This is a tragic loss for his family, for the Docker community, and the broader open source world; we all mourn his passing. To Ian’s children, family and loved ones, we offer our full support and deepest sympathies.

  • Debian founder and Docker employee Ian Murdock has died at 42

    Docker today announced that Ian Murdock, a member of the startup’s technical staff and a former Sun and Salesforce employee known for founding the Debian Linux operating system, has passed away. He was 42.

    A cause of death was not provided in the blog post announcing the news. Docker declined to comment. The San Francisco Police Department did not immediately have information on Murdock’s cause of death.

    Murdock’s Twitter account posted several tweets (PDF) on Monday that suggested he had been involved in an incident involving police, and one tweet said that he would commit suicide that night. Some people speculated that his account had been hacked. It has since been deleted.

  • Ian Murdock has died
  • R.I.P Ian Murdock, Founder of Debian Linux, Dead at 42

    The cause of death is unclear at present, but Murdock tweeted the same day that he would commit suicide that night. His Twitter account had since been deleted.

  • Debian Founder Ian Murdock Passes Away

    On Monday via Twitter he was threatening suicide over alleged police abuse in California. His Twitter account has since been removed. Other information about his suicide or alleged police detention and abuse has yet to be made public.

  • Debian mourns the passing of Ian Murdock

    With a heavy heart Debian mourns the passing of Ian Murdock, stalwart proponent of Free Open Source Software, Father, Son, and the ‘ian’ in Debian.

    Ian started the Debian project in August of 1993, releasing the first versions of Debian later that same year. Debian would go on to become the world’s Universal Operating System, running on everything from embedded devices to the space station.

  • Debian founder Ian Murdock dead: Tributes pour in from colleagues

    Debian GNU/Linux founder Ian Murdock has died.

    Murdock, who lived in San Francisco, founded the open-source distro in 1993, and just recently started working for Docker in the city.

    “It is with great sadness that we inform you that Ian Murdock passed away on Monday night,” Docker CEO Ben Golub blogged a few moments ago on Wednesday.

Murdock did not stay alive “to fight against the police” (see below); but those of us who are alive can do so for him.

Ian Murdock's Twitter feed


Links 29/12/2015: SparkyLinux 4.2, Ian Murdock’s Rants

Posted in News Roundup at 7:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 projects to fork in 2016

    2015 was a year of many new open source projects hitting the scene with a splash. From enterprise solutions to home brewed open source concoctions, many of the projects released as open source software this year have made a huge impact on the world of computing in a very short amount of time. While flash stardom isn’t always the best predictor of longevity, we think these 10 projects just might have come onto the scene with enough momentum to continue their success in the new year.

  • 32C3: A Free and Open Source Verilog-to-Bitstream Flow for iCE40 FPGAs

    The toolchain, or “flow” as the FPGA kids like to call it, consists of three parts: Project IceStorm, a low-level tool that can build the bitstreams that flip individual bits inside the FPGA, Arachne-pnr, a place-and-route tool that turns a symbolic netlist into the physical stuff that IceStorm needs, and Yosys which synthesizes Verilog code into the netlists needed by Arachne. [Clifford] developed both IceStorm and Yosys, so he knows what he’s talking about.

  • Codes of Conduct

    What is the role of programmers in software development? The question is never far away in free and open source software (FOSS). Last month, however, the issues surrounding the question were emphasized by Robert C. Martin’s attempt to write a programmer’s oath that states best practices and the resulting discussion.

  • Enterprise startups: Open source may be your only hope

    No, not because second-tier developers wrote it. You probably have great developers. Instead, the real problem is that your developers are stuck building new code on top of old code. Over and over and over again.

    Ironically, this is a sign of success. But, it also creates problems.

    As professor Zeynep Tufekci describes it, “We are building skyscraper favelas in code—in earthquake zones.” While she’s referring to the security vulnerabilities inherent in such code development, the problem is actually broader.

  • Open Source Software’s Role in Breach Prevention and Detection

    Security professionals are increasingly acknowledging an uncomfortable truth: No network is secure from a sufficiently skilled and determined attacker. So while every effort should be made to prevent intruders getting on to the corporate network, it’s important that you can quickly spot an intrusion and minimize the damage that can result.

    Anton Chuvakin, a security expert at Gartner, points out that if hackers are made to work hard to find what they are after, intrusion prevention and detection systems have a far greater chance of spotting them before they can do too much damage.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Mesosphere Releases Datacenter Operating System Version 1.4

      Version 1.4 of the Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) is now generally available, featuring user interface updates, support for Marathon 0.13.0 and Chronos, and the Mesos 0.25.0 kernel.

    • A 2016 to do list for the OpenStack board

      One look around the airport waiting lounge or family living room will tell you everything you need to know about where the cloud is headed. Christmas carols drift on by thanks to Pandora, gifts come without having to stand in line at the mall, and those holiday snaps of the family will be stored on someone else’s server.

      In the next 12 months, software running on clouds will rule our world more than ever—but unfortunately not many of those clouds are powered by OpenStack.

      While we rightly raise a glass to celebrate the substantial gains OpenStack has achieved in 2015, it’s time to recognize the vast potential to gain new ground in 2016. So, let’s put those New Year’s resolutions to good use by rallying application developers to the cause. To win them over, we must make OpenStack a more inviting and immediately valuable solution to serve their needs.

    • How Docker and containers improved software development at eZ

      Docker sparked the trend in software containers less than two years ago. And since its modest presentation at PyCon in 2013, the startup has vaulted to a value of nearly one billion dollars, drawn 2,500 attendees to DockerCon, and its namesake technology has become a marketable skill to have, entering Hacker News’ top 20 most frequently requested job skills.

    • Apache Turns to Big Data Projects — Big Time

      Kylin. Meanwhile, the foundation has also just announced that Apache Kylin, an open source big data project born at eBay, has graduated to Top-Level status. Kylin is an open source Distributed Analytics Engine designed to provide an SQL interface and multi-dimensional analysis (OLAP) on Apache Hadoop, supporting extremely large datasets. It is widely used at eBay and at a few other organizations.

      “Apache Kylin’s incubation journey has demonstrated the value of Open Source governance at ASF and the power of building an open-source community and ecosystem around the project,” said Luke Han, Vice President of Apache Kylin. “Our community is engaging the world’s biggest local developer community in alignment with the Apache Way.”

    • 10 cool tools from the Docker community

      Looking back at 2015, there have been many projects created by the Docker community that have advanced the developer experience. Although choosing among all the great contributions is hard, here are 10 “cool tools” that you should be using if you are looking for ways to expand your knowledge and use of Docker.

    • Linux Containers – Benefits and Market Trends

      In April, Docker announced a $95 million series D round of funding. This is one of many events over the past year that has demonstrated how the industry has shifted towards the use of Linux containers (LXC) to deploy online services. Even giant cloud services companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Redhat, IBM and VMware, are pushing towards containerization. With the market leaning in the direction of containers, let’s take a deeper look at what they are, their history and current developments.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Getting LibreOffice to Do the Write Thing

      We install Linux on every one of our Reglue computers. Included in that installation is the entire suite of LibreOffice. Unfortunately, a number of Reglue Kids began complaining about homework assignments being rejected. Most times they were scolded and told to re-submit the assignment in the proper format…you know, that well known proprietary one. Sometimes students were given a lower grade for not following the submission instructions.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Rebases Its Intel Kernel Graphics Driver Against Linux 4.0

      DragonFlyBSD’s Francois Tigeot has done some more great work in allowing their open-source Intel graphics driver to be more featureful and comparable to the Linux i915 kernel DRM driver for which it is based.

      While DragonFly’s i915 DRM driver started out as woefully outdated compared to the upstream Linux kernel code, the work done by Tigeot and others is quite close to re-basing against the latest mainline code. With patches published recently, the DragonFlyBSD driver would now be comparable to what’s in the Linux 4.0 kernel.

    • FuguIta-5.8
  • Public Services/Government

    • 18F site facilitates open-source bargain hunting

      To facilitate this, the team launched a new website — Micropurchase.18F.gov — as place to post new projects for registered users to peruse and bid on.

      “Our goal is to enable parts of our own agency and the rest of the federal government to use this platform to ask the developer community to create open source code for their project,” 18F said in an email to companies that expressed interest in the original micro-purchase pilot. “We anticipate posting auctions for micro-purchase tasks throughout 2016.”

    • Estonia updates X-Road server

      The X-road update is financed in part by the European Regional Development Fund. Estonia’s secure document exchange system is developed as open source.

  • Licensing

    • Shining a spotlight on free software: the FSF’s Licensing & Compliance Lab’s interview series

      In August of 2012, the Licensing & Compliance Lab kicked off a series of interviews with developers of free software. With 2015 in the rear-view mirror, we take a moment to look back on the series and highlight these great projects once again.

      In August of 2012, the Licensing & Compliance Lab kicked off a series of interviews with developers of free software. These interviews were a chance to highlight cool free software projects, especially those using copyleft licenses, and learn more about why they are dedicated to free software. What started as a single interview has grown into a regular feature of the Licensing & Compliance Lab blog. With 2015 in the rear-view mirror, we take a moment to look back on the series and highlight these great projects once again.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Google, HP, Oracle Join RISC-V

      RISC-V is on the march as an open source alternative to ARM and Mips. Fifteen sponsors, including a handful of high tech giants, are queuing up to be the first members of its new trade group which will host next week its third workshop for the processor core.

      RISC V is the latest evolution of the original RISC core developed more than 25 years ago by Berkeley’s David Patterson and Stanford’s John Hennessey. In August 2014, Patterson and colleagues launched an open source effort around the core as an enabler for a new class of processors and SoCs with small teams and volumes that can’t afford licensed cores or get the attention of their vendors.

    • An Open Source Reference Architecture For Real-Time Stock Prediction

      While this post does not cover the details of stock analysis, it does propose a way to solve the hard problem of real-time data analysis at scale, using open source tools in a highly scalable and extensible reference architecture. The architecture below is focused on financial trading, but it also applies to real-time use cases across virtually every industry. More information on the architecture covered in this article is also available online via The Linux Foundation, Slideshare, YouTube, and Pivotal Open Source Hub, where the components in this architecture can be downloaded.


  • Science

    • Origins of the Irish down to mass migration, ancient DNA confirms

      Scientists from Dublin and Belfast have looked deep into Ireland’s early history to discover a still-familiar pattern of migration: of stone age settlers with origins in the Fertile Crescent, and bronze age economic migrants who began a journey somewhere in eastern Europe.

      The evidence has lain for more than 5,000 years in the bones of a woman farmer unearthed from a tomb in Ballynahatty, near Belfast, and in the remains of three men who lived between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago and were buried on Rathlin Island in County Antrim.

      Scientists at Trinity College Dublin used a technique called whole-genome analysis to “read” not the unique characteristics of each individual, but a wider a history of ancestral migration and settlement in the DNA from all four bodies.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • IDF admits spraying herbicides inside the Gaza Strip

      “The aerial spraying of herbicides and germination inhibitors was conducted in the area along the border fence last week in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations,” an IDF Spokesperson told +972 on Sunday.

      Palestinian Agricultural Ministry officials told Ma’an news that farmers said Israeli planes had been spraying their agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence for several days straight. Spinach, pea, parsley and bean crops were reportedly destroyed around the al-Qarrara area in eastern Khan Younis and the Wadi al-Salqa area in central Gaza, according to the report.

      The military spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up question about the destruction of agricultural crops.

    • USDA Whistleblower Accuses Agency of Censorship of Pesticide Research

      Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, an expert on the risk assessment of pesticides and genetically modified crops, worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research for more than a decade. But when his findings on the ill effects of systemic pesticides and RNAi (a biological process in which RNA molecules inhibit gene expression) on pollinators began to gain traction and visibility, the harassment and punishments did as well.

    • USDA whistleblower launches new bee research effort

      Scientist Jonathan Lundgren believes the USDA retaliated against him because of his research on neonicotinoid insecticides and potential effects on bees and butterflies.

      Neonicotinoids are among the most widely used pesticides. Some research shows they harm bees and butterflies, but the chemical industry disputes much of the research.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Tuesday
    • Towards (reasonably) trustworthy x86 laptops

      Can we build trustworthy client systems on x86 hardware? What are the main challenges? What can we do about them, realistically? Is there anything we can?

    • Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably Has Your Encryption Key [Ed: yes, flawed by design]

      One of the excellent features of new Windows devices is that disk encryption is built-in and turned on by default, protecting your data in case your device is lost or stolen. But what is less well-known is that, if you are like most users and login to Windows 10 using your Microsoft account, your computer automatically uploaded a copy of your recovery key – which can be used to unlock your encrypted disk – to Microsoft’s servers, probably without your knowledge and without an option to opt-out.

      During the “crypto wars” of the nineties, the National Security Agency developed an encryption backdoor technology – endorsed and promoted by the Clinton administration – called the Clipper chip, which they hoped telecom companies would use to sell backdoored crypto phones. Essentially, every phone with a Clipper chip would come with an encryption key, but the government would also get a copy of that key – this is known as key escrow – with the promise to only use it in response to a valid warrant. But due to public outcry and the availability of encryption tools like PGP, which the government didn’t control, the Clipper chip program ceased to be relevant by 1996. (Today, most phone calls still aren’t encrypted. You can use the free, open source, backdoorless Signal app to make encrypted calls.)

    • Chaos Computer Club: Europe’s biggest hackers’ congress underway in Hamburg

      Some 12,000 hackers are challenging the power of Google, Facebook and Youtube to filter information and shape users’ view of the world. One of them demonstrated how to hack into VW’s cheating software.

    • Password-less database ‘open-sources’ 191m US voter records on the web

      Austin-based Chris Vickery – who earlier this month found records on 3.3 million Hello Kitty users splashed online – says the wide-open system contains the full names, dates of birth, home addresses, and phone numbers of voters, as well as their likely political affiliation and which elections they have voted in since 2000.

    • The next wave of cybercrime will come through your smart TV

      Smart TVs are opening a new window of attack for cybercriminals, as their security defenses often lag far behind those of smartphones and desktop computers.

      Smart TVs are opening a new window of attack for cybercriminals, as the security defenses of the devices often lag far behind those of smartphones and desktop computers.

      Running mobile operating systems such as Android, smart TVs present a soft target due to how to manufacturers are emphasizing convenience for users over security, a trade-off that could have severe consequences.

    • Nemesis Bootkit Malware the new stealthy Payment Card.

      After I read many articles I got this infos about Nemesis Bootkit Malware:
      – suspected to originate from Russia;
      – infect PCs by loading before Windows starts
      – has ability to modify the legitimate volume boot record;
      – seam to be like another Windows rootkit named Alureon;
      – intercepts several system interrupts to pass boot process;
      – can steal payment data from anyone’s not just targeting financial institutions and retailers;
      – this malware hides between partitions and is also almost impossible to remove;

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Syria anti-Islamic State documentary maker ‘assassinated’ in Turkey

      A Syrian opposition film-maker was gunned down in broad daylight in the Turkish city of Gazientep on Sunday, apparently by Isil supporters.

      Friends said that Naji Jerf, 38, was shot twice in the head after being approached by an unknown car outside of a local restaurant.

    • Why Britishers left India in 1947? explains NSA Ajit Doval

      ncumbent National Security Advisor, had once said that the spark which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose created within the Indian Army forced Britishers to quit India in 1947.

      In a video posted on Youtube, Doval has given a detailed explanation of the main reason as to why the mighty British Empire which, won the Second World War in 1945, decided to quit India in a hurry.

      On August 22, 1945, Tokyo Radio announced the ‘death’ of Netaji in an air crash in Formosa (now Taiwan) on August 18, 1945, en route to Japan.

      But the crash theory has been rejected by scores of Netaji’s followers and admirers and several claims of the revolutionary leader resurfacing continue to intrigue and divide Indians over the years.

    • Endless War, Undeclared and Undebated

      The Obama administration is waging war all over the world – without congressional authorization

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Saudi Arabia unveils record deficit as it succumbs to oil price rout

      A brutal sell-off in oil prices has forced Saudi Arabia’s government to post the largest budget deficit in its history, as the state’s revenues have crumbled.

      The country’s deficit rose to 367bn riyals (£66bn), after government spending rose 13pc above officials’ plans in the wake of declining oil prices and a war with Yemen. A Saudi official said that the deficit was “considered an acceptable figure” under the circumstances.

      Stock markets reacted positively to the government’s spending plans, as investors had feared far worse news was to come, anticipating an overshoot well in excess of 13pc. The total deficit stood at 16pc of the economy’s size, while analysts had expected a gap of 20pc. The Tadawul All Share Index made a daily gain of 0.7pc.

    • Here Are 58 Million Reasons to Care About California’s Drought

      The past four years of punishing drought have badly hurt California’s forests. Rain was scarce, the days were too hot, and this year’s wildfire season was the worst anyone has seen in years, burning up nearly 10 million acres across the West. For the first time, a team of researchers has measured the severity of the blow the drought dealt the trees, uncovering potential future destruction in the process. The resulting paper, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a rich visual testament to just how much California needs its trees and how close the state is to losing 58 million of them.

    • Fukushima Today

      Throughout the world, the name Fukushima has become synonymous with nuclear disaster and running for the hills. Yet, Fukushima may be one of the least understood disasters in modern times, as nobody knows how to fix neither the problem nor the true dimension of the damage. Thus, Fukushima is in uncharted territory, a total nuclear meltdown that dances to its own rhythm. Similar to an overly concerned parent, TEPCO merely monitors but makes big mistakes along the way.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Michael Moore just exploded the right’s biggest lie

      Michael Moore’s new film, “Where to Invade Next,” is sure to generate Oscar buzz. It is already on the short list of 15 documentaries from which the final five nominations will be announced on Jan. 14. But rather than wonder whether Moore will score a second Oscar (his first was for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002), the question to ask is whether this film can spark a political revolution just in time for the 2016 election.

      “Where to Invade Next” has a wide release set for Feb. 12, which is also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and the week of the New Hampshire primary. Coincidence? Definitely not.

    • Trump: Muslims Knew About San Bernardino Shooters But Didn’t Report Them
  • Censorship

    • How China Tries To Censor The Whole World
    • Time to take a re-look at Censor Board’s role: Arun Jaitley

      Having witnessed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) getting embroiled in one controversy after the other through the past few months, the government is now considering taking a re-look at the body so as to make it “controversy free”.

    • Amid Censorship Flap, Steinmetz To Discontinue 81-Year-Old School Newspaper

      “School newspapers provide students with a powerful voice and a positive learning experience, and we are committed to providing journalism opportunities to our students,” CPS spokesman Michael Passman said. “Steinmetz High School will continue to offer journalism courses for the foreseeable future, and the Steinmetz Star will remain in operation as an online publication that will continue to serve as a valuable learning opportunity for students.”

    • Kremlin’s Censorship Of Shenderovich Interview Backfiring – OpEd

      But the Shenderovich case may provide the Putin regime with an object lesson because it is obvious that the Kremlin took this action because of Shenderovich’s criticism of Putin himself (openrussia.org/post/view/11565/) and because it is obvious that taking down the interview in one place won’t block the spread of the text.

    • China publisher pulls ‘racy’ Tagore poems translation

      A Chinese publisher has pulled a translation of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’s poems after it sparked controversy for racy content.

      The translation of works from one of India’s most famous poets was by Chinese novelist Feng Tang.

      His publisher said on Monday that it was removing the work from sale following the “huge debate” in China’s literary and translation circles.

      Mr Feng has defended his translation, saying a previous version lacked style.

      Tagore, known as the Bard of Bengal and seen as a literary god in India, was the first non-European to win the Nobel prize for literature.

    • Five reasons why we must NOT censor ISIS propaganda

      First of all, censoring ISIS in this way is simply not feasible. We can very well demand that mainstream newspapers and TV news stations limit their coverage of these issues, but that would leave the entire field of discussion to the unregulated areas of the internet, the “blogosphere” and social media. ISIS would still dominate in these areas, except now we will have removed from the discourse those outlets that would be most capable to hold the ISIS narrative to scrutiny.

    • Orwellian model won’t keep the internet free

      Last week brought a positively Orwellian moment to the debate about Internet freedom.

      Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke at a state-organised internet conference in Wuzhen, in Zhejiang province, where he was once party secretary. Xi declared, “As in the real world, freedom and order are both necessary in cyberspace.” He said, “Freedom is what order is meant for, and order is the guarantee of freedom.”

      These slogans are more than just propaganda from the leader of a country with the world’s largest internet censorship operation. Behind them lurks a dangerous ambition.

    • China Invokes UN Decree for Its Right to Censor the Internet

      China’s President Xi Jinping invoked “cyber sovereignty” to describe his country’s right to create its national cyber policy while giving the opening speech at the second World Internet Conference, held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang, on December 16.

      “We should respect the right of individual countries to independently choose their own path of cyber development, model of cyber regulation, and participate in international cyberspace governance on an equal footing,” said President Xi. “No country should pursue cyber hegemony, interfere in other countries’ internal affairs or engage in, connive at or support cyber activities that undermine other countries’ national security.”

    • Not allowing free speech on-campus is dangerous – universities need to defend their right to be offensive

      2015 has been an eventful year for freedom of speech. In January, #JeSuisCharlie was a global trend championing freedom of expression, lack of censorship, and the right to offend. Yet, as the year draws to a close, it seems the Facebook generation is becoming more and more suppressed.

      Once upon a time, universities were bastions of free speech, where world leaders would debate with fresh-faced 18-year-olds who were determined to save the planet. Once, just about anything could be discussed in the name of free speech. But, this year, there have been countless examples of speakers being banned, societies being stopped, and student media being censored, all in the name of “protecting students.”

    • Syria, France Deadliest Countries for Journalists

      The Committee to Protect Journalists says 2015 was one of the deadliest years on record for members of the press worldwide, with 69 journalists killed on-assignment. According to the CPJ, 2015 was the sixth year out of the last ten (and eighth since 1992) in which more than 60 journalists were killed in the line of duty—a figure that includes those targeted for their profession as well as those killed in combat, crossfire or while covering other assignments deemed dangerous.

    • Reading Everything Aaron Swartz Wrote

      It was cowardly, disrespectful, and it isolated Aaron again in death. He was The Boy, a tragic waste, not a murdered comrade or a martyr. Saying he was misguided served as an excuse for not being at his side.

    • Does The US Really Want A North Korean Internet?

      With all of the news about the holidays, one story you might have missed yesterday is that China passed with little fanfare its new antiterrorism law that bears substantial resemblance to proposals currently under review in the US and UK that would require backdoors or other weakened measures to allow encrypted communications to be secretly monitored by governments.

      The Chinese law requires that “telecommunications and Internet service providers should provide technical interfaces and technical support and assistance in terms of decryption and other techniques to the public and national security agencies in the lawful conduct of terrorism prevention and investigation.” It is remarkably similar to the wording of a UK proposal that would require companies to offer the government “permanent interception capabilities … [including] the ability to remove any encryption” and similar to calls by US intelligence officials for the ability to decrypt civilian communication.

      On the surface such proposals seem highly desirable: the ability to monitor and disrupt terrorist and criminal communications in order to protect life and ensure national security. The problem, as I pointed out last week, is that there is no universal definition of “terrorism” or “national security threats.” In fact, one of the focal points of the Chinese online censorship apparatus is the removal of material relating to protests and mass organization, which the government views as a threat to the stability and well-being of the nation.


      North Korea is one of the few countries to take this model of a safe and secure internet to its logical conclusion, creating its own walled-off private version of the internet where only a small number of approved websites are accessible. The government even created its own operating system called Red Star OS, designed for total government surveillance. Yesterday two German researchers offered the latest in-depth look at the functioning of this operating system custom built for the world of a surveillance state.

    • Those Demanding Free Speech Limits to Fight ISIS Pose a Greater Threat to U.S. Than ISIS

      In 2006 – years before ISIS replaced Al Qaeda as the New and Unprecedentedly Evil Villain – Newt Gingrich gave a speech in New Hampshire in which, as he put it afterward, he “called for a serious debate about the First Amendment and how terrorists are abusing our rights–using them as they once used passenger jets–to threaten and kill Americans.”

    • Chinese president Xi Jinping blogged for the first time—and 48,000 people commented

      China’s biggest microblogging site, Weibo, is not unfamiliar to foreign head of states. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, UK prime minister David Cameron, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro—all have opened accounts on the site and have interacted with readers in Chinese. But China’s own leaders are more reluctant to engage with online audiences.

      Chinese president Xi Jinping’s limited number of social media contributions include a selfie with Cameron and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero during Xi’s state visit to the UK in October, while Chinese premier Li Keqiang indulged Modi in a joint selfie, said to be Li’s first, at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven in May. Neither of these were posted by the Chinese leaders on Weibo. Instead, they surfaced on Twitter—a social media platform blocked by China’s elaborate censorship machine.

      But finally, on Dec. 25, during his visit to the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army Daily—a mouthpiece newspaper of the Communist Party and the army—Xi crafted his first post on Weibo. It’s the first Weibo message from any of China’s senior officials, as far as we can tell. Xi wrote the message personally, according to state media.

    • Thai media decide junta chief no laughing matter

      Every New Year Thailand’s top political journalists traditionally come up with satirical nicknames for the government and senior ministers. But this year they will forego the pleasure, having decided the junta is no laughing matter.

      The occasion is usually a rare moment of light relief for reporters covering the febrile world of Thai politics, in a country which has witnessed a string of military coups, violent street protests and toppled governments – and where defamation is a criminal offence.

    • Was 2015 a Bad Year for Campus Free Speech? Let’s Ask the Experts

      Are easily-offended students and their allies within the university bureaucracy ushering in a new era of censorship on American college campuses? Even President Obama is worried that excessive political correctness is stifling legitimate debate at universities.

    • The militarization of the press in Syria

      Ahmed Abu al-Hamza, “Software” as he was known by his friends, stood behind the camera on November 6 as a gunman explained how rebel forces took Tel Sukayk, a strategic hilltop north of Hama, from government forces. Suddenly the camera’s sound recorder picked up the faint thud of a mortar shell firing in the distance. A few seconds of confusion then turned to horror as the shell exploded right in front of the camera, killing Abu al-Hamza and the rebel fighter and injuring several others.

    • Dr. Timaree: How to be mindful, ethical when it comes to porn

      Censorship, though, is not an effective way of fixing a social problem.

    • Why Latin America Needs PEN

      The Mexican way of death is unique, issuing from a symbiosis of indigenous beliefs and practices with Catholic rituals. To celebrate the return of the souls of the dead every November, Mexicans set up altars laden with the departed’s favorite food and drink and sugar skulls emblazoned with that person’s name, while images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and saints flank a photo of the deceased. Marigolds festoon the altars and the graves where relatives gather to share a meal and news of the past year with the visiting spirits.


      Journalists are not only pursued by organized crime in all its forms, but also by local, state and federal governments, police forces, the military, and even by people whose job it is to impart justice. Not only must the federal government guarantee the safety of journalists, it must also resolve pending cases and punish the criminals, even if they work in government. Otherwise, as time passes most of the cases become enveloped in a tangle of conflicting lines of investigation where the real one is lost or the victim is morphed into the guilty party. A journalist friend recently told me about how when dealing with a notorious political crime, officials often present a new line of inquiry every once in a while which leads the investigation further away from reality, until it reaches a point where nobody knows anything for sure, a kind of legal shell game with the truth.

    • Pirate Bay’s Suspended Domain Names Spell Trouble for File-Sharing Sites

      Earlier in December, file-sharing site the Pirate Bay went down due to a problem regarding the registration of the thepiratebay.org domain — a seemingly innocuous hitch. But then, a week later, thepiratebay.com and several other of the site’s domain properties, including piratebrowser.com, piratebrowser.net, and piratebrowser.org — which link to the Pirate Bay’s TOR-based anti-censorship tool — also went down, suspended for similar violations of ICANN registration policy. And though thepiratebay.org was quickly restored after a transfer from EuroDNS to a new registrar, the other domains remain suspended.

    • YouTube dumps Holocaust memory

      “Why do I see beheadings and bestiality on YouTube, but the story of an aged Holocaust survivor must be removed? Is there an agenda going on? If so, what is it?” she asked. “This ministry is being targeted for some unexplainable reason. Is it because we tap in Michele Bachmann regularly? I do not hear of other ministries undergoing this kind of an exam and retribution.”

    • George Washington University apologizes for censorship of Palestinian flag

      Earlier this month, six weeks after receiving a “Warning Letter” for hanging a Palestinian flag out his dormitory window, George Washington University (GWU) student Ramie Abounaja obtained a formal apology from university president Steven Knapp for the attack on his free speech rights. The apology came after an implied threat of legal action against the university.

    • Silencing Students: The 8 Most Loathsome Campus Censors of 2015

      Every year brings new examples of ruthless college administrators trampling the free expression rights of students and faculty, and 2015 was no different. Here are eight of the most notable campus censors I wrote about this year.

    • Students of color frustrated with campus climate

      Multicultural student groups are calling for more inclusion at AU after a rash of anonymous social media posts and posters targeting minorities have appeared on and around campus.

      Yik Yak is a smartphone application that allows smartphone users to make posts anonymously and view posts made by those within close proximity to them. Racist posts on the platform prompted University forums last year and inspired an Undergraduate Senate discussion about race, the Eagle previously reported. In recent months, users have continued to write discriminatory comments in the the app around campus.

    • Chinese filmmaker claims victory in online film censorship lawsuit

      Beijing-based filmmaker Fan Popo, whose gay rights documentary was removed from Chinese video streaming websites, has claimed victory in a lawsuit over government censorship despite the courts ruling that regulators were not to blame.

      In its verdict released last week, Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court found censors had not ordered his documentary “Mama Rainbow” to be taken down from prominent streaming websites Youku, Tudou and 56.com.

    • Artists oppose Erdogan’s censorship

      Turkey welcomes private investors in the field of art and culture, but many artists feel oppressed by their government. Beyond censorship and commercial speculation, an alternative art scene offers some hope.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • DOJ’s Equitable Sharing Program Takes $1.2 Billion Hit, Much To Dismay Of Asset Forfeiture-Abusing Law Enforcement Agencies

      Good news (of sorts) on the asset forfeiture front: the same budget bill that delivered us into the hands of CISA also helped “rob” the nation’s highwaymen of $1.2 billion in equitable sharing funds.

    • Federal judge: Drinking tea, shopping at a gardening store is probable cause for a SWAT raid on your home

      In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. When Robert Harte answered, SWAT agents flooded the home. He was told to lie on the floor. When Addie Harte came out to see what was going on, she saw her husband on his stomach as SWAT cop stood over him with a gun. The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. Though they claimed to be looking for evidence of a major marijuana growing operation, they later stated that they knew within about 20 minutes that they wouldn’t find any such operation. So they switched to search for evidence of “personal use.” They found no evidence of any criminal activity.

    • Italian president reduces sentences in CIA kidnapping case

      Italy’s president has shaved two years off the sentence of a former CIA base chief convicted in absentia in the 2003 extraordinary rendition abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect.

      With the decree, announced Wednesday night by the presidential palace, President Sergio Mattarella reduced to seven from nine years Robert Seldon Lady’s sentence. Mattarella also wiped out the three-year sentence handed down by a Milan court to another US defendant convicted in absentia, Betnie Medero.

    • Former CIA chief’s rendition sentence reduced in Italy
    • Italian president offers pardons in CIA rendition convictions

      Italy has partially pardoned the former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady who was convicted for his role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian Muslim cleric under the U.S. “extraordinary rendition” programme.

      Another U.S. citizen found guilty in the case, Betnie Medero, was also granted a pardon by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, his office said in a statement.

    • From the Shadows of the Cold War: the Rise of the CIA

      The longest running director of the CIA (1952-1961), Dulles helped coordinate extremely bloody coups throughout the world. Not surprisingly, he comes off as a nasty piece of work. He and his brother John Foster Dulles both worked with the prestigious Wall Street firm Sullivan and Cromwell, which made a fortune representing cartels that were part of the Nazi war machine (John Foster Dulles went on to become Eisenhower’s Secretary of State). The Dulles brothers were quite cozy with Nazi higher ups in the ’30s and remained staunch apologists for Hitler well into the the ’40s.

    • Sudanese security enjoys “good relations” with the CIA: NISS chief

      The director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Mohamed Atta said his agency maintains “good ties” with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

    • Trump praises Putin after being told he kills political opponents

      “I’m saying when you say a man has killed reporters, I’d like you to prove it”, Trump argued. But, in all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. In response, Trump said he appreciated “when people call you brilliant” and that “it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russian Federation”.

      McCain’s comments come after Putin complimented Trump last week, and Trump responded it was an “honor” to receive the compliment. “Not a bad thing”, Trump said. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports Russian journalists experience intimidation and censorship.

      “I think I’ll win the Hispanic vote”, Trump told reporters after touring the bridge.

    • Russia can only use the United States as an excuse for so long

      Sergei Guriev, Russia’s most prominent free market economist, left Moscow in 2013 for Paris, in fear of his liberty. He had publicly supported dissidents, criticized the administration’s policies, was an active and committed liberal, in politics as in economics. He produced, earlier this year, a 21st century equivalent of Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince”: a blueprint of how the modern autocrat rules, and remains.

      Unlike the Florentine, though, Guriev isn’t recommending a course of action, he’s describing it; and he doesn’t believe it will be good for the state, but ruinous. If, in this and other writings and interviews, he’s right about the nature of Russia’s governance, his country is in for a bad crash. And when Russia in its present condition crashes, the world will shake.

    • Why Russia Can Only Go Backward

      The Public Opinion Foundation conducted a survey this month asking Russians two questions: “What was the main event of the year in Russia?” and “What was the main global event of the year?”

      Noteworthy is that fully 40 percent of the respondents had trouble answering either question. And the most brutal political murder in modern Russia — the assassination of my father — did not even figure in the responses. State-controlled television hardly mentions it, with the exception of the first few days after the killing, when commentators spoke of him in contemptuous tones.

    • How Fox News’ Primetime Lineup Demonized Black Lives Matter In 2015

      In 2015, Fox News’ three primetime hosts engaged in a smear campaign against the Black Lives Matter movement, fearmongering about the alleged threat they pose to law and order and hyping racist canards aimed at discrediting the movement’s calls for justice.

      The Black Lives Matter movement — which emerged after the 2013 shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin — became a regular news fixture in 2015 following the high-profile deaths of several unarmed black civilians at the hands of police officers. The movement brought national attention to the issues of police brutality and racial disparities in criminal justice. One group associated with the movement introduced a set of concrete policy solutions, and the movement as a whole became a politically relevant force amid the 2016 presidential race.

    • WaPo Tallies Police Killings–but Holds Back Some of the Numbers That Count

      “The kind of incidents that have ignited protests…represent less than 4 percent of fatal police shootings”: That sure sounds like an attempt to play down the number, doesn’t it? Particularly since the write-up never presents the raw number for fatal police shootings of unarmed African-Americans in 2015—which is 37—or the more comprehensive number of all unarmed civilians shot and killed: 90. Those numbers can be found on a graphic that accompanied the story in the paper’s print edition, and in an interactive feature online–but are nowhere to be found in the Post‘s own article on its project. (“Just 9 percent of shootings involved an unarmed victim,” a sidebar accompanying the graphic began—that word “just” indicating that we should read that as “not so many.”)

      And the Post‘s “meanwhile,” juxtaposed against “incidents that have ignited protests,” implies that the categories that follow would not inspire protest: those killed “wielding weapons,” who were “suicidal or mentally troubled,” or who “ran when officers told them to halt.”

    • Egypt’s censorship authority raid Merit Publishing house in Cairo

      Egypt’s censorship authority raided and searched on Tuesday afternoon Merit Publishing house in downtown Cairo without providing any reason, owner Mohamed Hashem wrote on his Facebook page.

      Staff member Mohamed Zein, 23, was arrested during the raid then released a few hours later.

    • Egypt Raids 2 Major Independent Cultural Institutions In 2 Days

      Egyptian authorities have raided two pillars of the independent arts and culture scene in Cairo over the past 48 hours.

    • TSA Says It Will Stop Accepting Driver’s Licenses From Nine States

      The last time we took notice of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), it was to inform you that the unpopular, expensive, and ineffectual outfit had decided it could force travelers on domestic airline flights to go through full-body scanners. Previously, TSA had allowed folks to submit instead to a full-body pat-down.

    • Who Needs A No-Fly List When You Can Just Ground 91 Million Citizens?

      For the residents of Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Minnesota and Washington (along with American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands), this means their ID cards are perfectly legal within those states, but only as long as they stay in those states. (And, apparently, never need to enter a government building — like, say, to acquire a new, compliant ID card).

    • Human Research Loopholes: Alive and Well

      In one of the darkest chapters in medical ethics, the United States government ran an experiment from the 1930s to the 1970s in which it withheld treatment and medical information from rural African-American men suffering from syphilis. The public uproar generated by the Tuskegee Syphilis Study eventually resulted in regulations restricting government-supported research testing on humans. These regulations are called the “Common Rule,” and they are right now up for their first full update.

      The Common Rule, also known as the “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects,” is supposed to affirmatively protect us from the abuses of the future. However, the proposed regulation is lousy with loopholes, including ones that could exempt tracking online behavior and experiments related to intelligence activities.

    • Hospital Refuses Pregnancy-Related Care Again Because of Religious Directives

      Today we filed a lawsuit challenging Dignity Health’s use of religious directives to deny basic reproductive health care to its patients. Filed on behalf of patient Rebecca Chamorro and Physicians for Reproductive Health, the suit argues that withholding pregnancy-related care for reasons other than medical considerations is illegal in California.

    • Sadistic Cops Make K-9 Maul Unarmed Suicidal Teen – Caught Planning and Celebrating It in Texts

      Months after the Herald-Tribune exposed the North Port Police Department for routinely commanding their K-9 dogs to attack people without provocation, the department has done nothing to address the problem. In fact, it defends its officers even in the most egregious cases, including the mutilation of unarmed juveniles.

    • Extended Interview: Remembering Haskell Wexler, 93, Legendary Cinematographer & Activist

      In Part 2 of our look at the life and work of Haskell Wexler, we air clips from “Rebel Citizen,” a new documentary about his life, and speak to the film’s director, Pamela Yates. Wexler is perhaps best known for his 1969 film, “Medium Cool,” which captures the upheaval surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He won two Academy Awards for cinematography in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Bound for Glory,” about folk singer Woody Guthrie. His documentaries tackled political issues including the Southern Freedom Riders of the 1960s, the U.S. government’s destabilization of Nicaragua, U.S. atrocities in Vietnam, and torture under the U.S.-backed junta in Brazil.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Stupid Patent Of The Month: Microsoft’s Design Patent On A Slider

      For the first time ever, this month’s Stupid Patent of the Month is being awarded to a design patent. Microsoft recently sued Corel for, among other things, infringing its patent on a slider, D554,140, claiming that Corel Home Office has infringed Microsoft’s design.

    • Trademarks

      • Canada Too Has An Issue With Abitrary Applications Of Morality In Trademark Applications

        In our recent discussion about the delightfully vulgar filing by the Washington Redskins in an effort to point out the arbitrary application of morality by the government to trademark law, the point in the filing was driven home by just how many similarly vulgar and offensive terms the USPTO has been happy to sanctify with a valid trademark. Perhaps some of you out there thought that this was a uniquely American problem, something resulting from our overabundance of political correctness. It’s not. A case in Canada over the trademark application for “Lucky Bastard Vodka” shows this quite well. It also shows the inherent problem in trying to have a government institution apply morality to business in this way.

      • Saskatoon distillery fights feds over ‘scandalous’ trademark

        A Saskatoon company’s attempt to trademark its flagship vodka has turned into a four-year battle with the federal government over the definition of “bastard.”

        In 2011, LB Distillers applied to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) to register “Lucky Bastard vodka” as a trademark. About eight months later, the agency responsible for trademarks, patents and copyright replied.

        “The examiner came back and said it was immoral, scandalous and obscene, and that the general population of Canada would agree that it was an immoral name,” LB Distillers co-owner Cary Bowman said.

    • Copyrights

      • The DMCA Has Delivered Us Into The Hands Of The Proprietary Internet Of Disconnected Things

        The phrase “Internet of Things” suggests connection. The problem is there’s nothing financially motivating about interconnectedness. Manufacturers of connected devices would prefer homogeneity, which leads to actions like Philips’ which recently pushed a firmware update that locked competitors’ bulbs out of its Hue “smart” lighting fixtures. Sure, it rolled back the update and (mostly) allowed owners to use bulbs they had already purchased, but it was also suggested in the same quasi-apology that the company would rather limit the options available to its purchasers in the future, funneling them through its “friends of Hue” program.

      • Book Publisher Has No Idea How Google Works But Pretty Sure It Could End Piracy If It Tried

        Here’s the stupidest thing on piracy you’re going to read today. Or this month. Maybe even this whole holiday season. Rudy Shur, of Square One Publishers, has a problem with piracy, which he thinks is actually a problem with Google.

      • 50 Cent Files Stupid, Hypocritical Lawsuit Over Another Rapper’s ‘Theft’ Of His Song In A Mixtape

        I can see why 50 Cent and his lawyers might feel this lawsuit is a good idea: 50 Cent is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings. On top of that, the rapper owes $7 million to the plaintiff in a sex tape lawsuit — one that also involves rival rap star, Rick Ross. (The woman in the sex tape is the mother of one of Ross’ children. 50 Cent can be heard taunting Ross in the recording.) 50 Cent is also engaged in a $75 million lawsuit against his former legal team, so there’s bills to be paid there as well.

        50 Cent’s lawsuit takes aim at the rap industry’s standard operating procedure: mixtapes. Rick Ross rapped over 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” in his latest mixtape, much as thousands of rappers have rapped over the beats of others on mixtapes since the early days of the genre. It’s an accepted — if quasi-illegal — practice. Everyone raps over everyone else’s beats on mixtapes, almost all of which are given away as promotional tools.


EPO a “European Institution Which Does Not Fall Under EU Law”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Petition regarding EPO

Summary: Highlighting a soon-to-end petition which bemoans the bizarre state of affairs at today’s EPO and its controversial impact on Europe

THE previous post focused on today’s talk which led us to the following petition [PDF], sent to us by several people almost simultaneously. We wish to bring it to the attention of EPO examiners and generally, as so many people are affected by the EPO, any EU citizen who is eager to take action to defend Europe’s interests and the interests of science and technology, not conglomerates like Microsoft. Watch what kinds of patents Microsoft is getting and using aggressively, based on this latest rant from the EFF (just published). To quote the EFF:

For the first time ever, this month’s Stupid Patent of the Month is being awarded to a design patent. Microsoft recently sued Corel for, among other things, infringing its patent on a slider, D554,140, claiming that Corel Home Office has infringed Microsoft’s design.

Microsoft’s patent claims against Corel are unsurprising in light of how much money is potentially at stake. If Corel is found to infringe even one of Microsoft’s design patents through even the smallest part of Corel Home Office, current Federal Circuit law entitles Microsoft to all of Corel’s profits for the entire product. Not the profits that can be attributed to the design. Not the value that the design adds to a product. All of the profit from Corel Home Office.

We previously wrote about the EPO’s special relationship with Microsoft, whereupon the EPO sent several threatening letters to me (all of them about Microsoft and the EPO). What are they so desperate to hide? They never withdrew these threats.

Today’s Chaos Computer Club (CCC) Talk: EU Software and Business Method Patents: Call for Action

Posted in Europe, Patents, Videos at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Today’s talk about software patents in Europe and a petition calling for action to stop these (again)

AS EPO examiners probably know by now, despite software patents (“as such,” as per Brimelow) not being legal in Europe, the EPO does occasionally entertain patent applications that pertain to software, even if it euphemistically names them CII to nymshift and add smoke to the debate. This can devastate famous European companies.

A CCC talk which was mentioned here over the weekend is now available for viewing online. It was presented earlier today and we were hoping to find a static file (Ogg/WebM preferable) as soon as possible in order to share information about software patents in Europe. EPO workers might wish to watch this in order to better understand how the management dodges the rules. The above video is from YouTube (the speaker has just sent it to us) and the MP4 version is already mirrored in the FFII’s Web site (1.1GB file in a heavily-patented multimedia format, ironically enough).

“A CCC talk which was mentioned here over the weekend is now available for viewing online.”“Henrion and colleagues are on at 32C3 now,” a reader wrote to us earlier, so some people were evidently streaming it live. This reader of ours tracked down the petition mentioned at the end of the talk. “It seems risky,” the reader said, as more people now realise that the EPO is out of control and UPC needs to be shunned. “According to the petitioner,” says the European Parliament’s Web site, “the European Patent Office is an international European institution which does not fall under EU law. He proposes that the EU contacts the EPO in order to conclude an interinstitutional agreement which would enable Members of the European Parliament to address parliamentary questions to the EPO and improve the parliamentary supervision of the EPO. The petitioner also asks the European Commission to harmonise national substantive patent law so that patent law becomes part of the acquis communautaire and the major differences which currently exist between the national patent law systems are removed. The EPO cannot deal with these differences, but has become the de facto harmoniser of patent law owing to its position as the provider of patents. According to the petitioner, the current situation is lacking a legislator and the development of patent law is concentrated in the hands of the executive and the judiciary. This is contrary to the separation of powers. The lack of balance between the powers means that it is difficult to respond to the fact that patent law affects areas other than that of EU policy, such as industrial policy, European standardisation and research policy. Moreover, the petitioner believes that the lack of harmonisation of substantive patent law weakens the negotiating position of the EU in matters relating to patent law with respect to third parties (WIPO, SPLT, TRIPS+, etc.).”

Incidentally, earlier today we found more articles about India rejecting software patents (for now…)

An article by RNA, who call themselves “Intellectual Property Attorneys” (it’s not hard to guess whose side they’re on), was published earlier today, around the same time of an article with the title “The Murky Waters Of Software Patents”.

“The one side isn’t “patent supporters” but mostly large corporations.”“India has announced a hold on plans to clarify the software patent process within the country,” wrote the reporter of the latter article, “a move that has both critics and supporters up in arms. In one camp, patent supporters argue that the investment in a new piece of software has to be protected both financially and by reputation against cheap imitators, while critics of software patents claim that software patents do nothing but lead to expensive litigation to fight infringement claims.”

The one side isn’t “patent supporters” but mostly large corporations. They’re not even Indian. They support not patents but software patents in India, which makes no sense for this economy that thrives in software and isn’t wealthy enough to withstand legal actions from aboard (mostly north America, obviously). That’s the kind of thing which UPC passage would enable, attracting all sorts of patent trolls and bring them to Europe with their software patents (that’s what trolls typically use for extortion purposes, where small companies are attractive targets that cannot afford legal battles and may quickly settle instead).

Learn from the mistakes of patent scope at the USPTO (whose official site is reportedly still not fully working today, based on IP Kat‘s comments, even 4 days after the outage).

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