European Media, Dutch Parliament and Spectacularly Enough Even IP Kat (Yes, It’s Back!) Subject the EPO to Serious Scrutiny

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Belatedly (after a lot of unjust suffering and half a dozen suicides), having taken a closer look at some of the latest terrible policies from Battistelli and his goons, the press along with politicians and bloggers chastise the EPO and call for immediate remedial action

THE EPO is rotting and along with it the reputation and demand for its services. Will the European economy be so thoroughly damaged by it? Unless Battistelli and fellow thugs of his are removed, everyone will suffer, not just patent examiners but also attorneys, applicants, grantees, large European corporations and of course the European public. We need to sort out this mess before it’s too late!

Yesterday we mentioned beer ingredient patents and New Europe now has this new article about it. To quote:

NGOs urge Carlsberg to rethink beer ingredient patents

The European Patent Office in Munich and the Carlsberg company were criticised on November 17 in an open letter by campaigners opposed to the patenting of plants and animals.

No Patents on Seeds, an alliance including Greenpeace, the Catholic charity Misereor, and globally networked small-scale farmers, called on the Danish brewer to voluntarily relinquish three patents it received earlier this year from the European Patent Office.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, documents published by the EPO also list Heineken of the Netherlands as a patent proprietor.

On several occasions last week, including last night, we wrote about growing concerns in Dutch Parliament. Remember that the latest staff representative to be sacked by Battistelli was a Frenchman working at The Hague. According to what’s typically a very pro-EPO (and pro-UPC) blog, there is a “debate in Dutch Parliament about deteriorating social climate at European Patent Office” and here is a fragment from this very long blog post:

MP Sharon Gesthuizen of the socialist SP received support for her request from a majority of the MPs earlier this week. They have asked Secretary of Economic Affairs Martijn van Dam for a government letter on the developments at the EPO, which has one of its main offices in The Hague.

John Kerstens of the social democrat PvdA, who gave a speech last month during a demonstration of 350 EPO workers in The Hague, stated they deserve ‘attention for the reign of terror – this is how I call it – at the EPO.’ Esther Ouwehand of the Animal Party said she is very concerned and wants to know how the EPO can be brought under democratic control, despite the legal immunity the institution has according to the Dutch government.

The dismissal of SUEPO secretary Laurent Prunier, also a member of the EPO’s Central Staff Committee, was the latest development in years of turmoil, protests and conflicts between EPO employees and the authoritarian president Benoit Battistelli, who is accused of creating a climate of fear, putting workers under intolerable pressure and ignoring the organization’s own rules.

In reaction to a critical article on the IAM blog about the dismissal of the union leader, Battistelli explained in a letter that Prunier had been harassing an EPO colleague. In an ensuing letter of Prunier, he denied the allegations and asked for transparency: ‘The easiest solution for the public to assess the truth vs. story-telling is for Mr Battistelli to lift the confidentiality he imposes on me and I will gladly publish all the documents.’

What’s noteworthy here is not just the news from the Parliament but also the fact that pro-EPO blogs are quickly turning against Battistelli. Even IAM is showing more and more signs of dissent. And remember IP Kat? The blog which used to be critical of the EPO until the EPO threatened it with sanctions? Well, Merpel is back and she has very detailed reports about the Boards of Appeal of the EPO. The latest report from her is a multi-part series on the EPO’s “house ban”, issued under Battistelli’s orders (his massive ego is even bigger than the EPC!). To quote some key parts from this good article:

Remember the House Ban? How two years flies past


It is almost two years since Mr Battistelli illegally suspended a member of the BoA, confiscated the computer belonging to the Board member, and imposed a “house ban” to prevent access to the premises of the EPO. As readers of the blog will know, the Administrative Council subsequently tried to regularise the suspension, and suspended the member on full salary until March 31, 2015 (yes, more than 18 months ago, it’s not a typo).

Three attempts have been made, all spectacularly unsuccessful, to petition the Enlarged Board of Appeal to remove the member from office. Along the way, Mr Battistelli forcefully told the AC that it should ignore the rule of law and the Enlarged Board, told the Enlarged Board he would refuse to authorise any witnesses to attend its hearings, and demanded the Enlarged Board to provide an assurance that it would neither hear the case in public nor call any EPO witnesses. All of which was rather presumptuous on his part when he was not even a party to the Enlarged Board proceedings (despite which it was EPO employees presenting the case on behalf of the Administrative Council, not independent lawyers appointed by the AC).


The Enlarged Board has issued three decisions in the House Ban proceedings. In each of these decisions, the Board has ordered the European Patent Office to publish the decision, but the Office has flagrantly ignored those binding orders.

In the third such decision, the Enlarged Board noted that the Office had failed to comply with both of its previous orders, repeated that the earlier decisions should be published and made a formal order to publish the third decision as well. And … nothing happened. The Official Journal continues to be published on schedule with such important matters as the accession of Djibouti to the PCT, but curiously omitting the mandatory publication of these fundamentally important decisions on judicial independence and the relationship between the Boards, the AC and the President.


For the AC’s credibility to be restored at this very late stage, certain actions seem to be required.

1. The Board Member at the centre of the House Ban affair should be reinstated without further delay. The legal path has been followed and its outcome is clear. Suspension for an extended period at the insistence of management is incompatible with the requirement of judicial independence.

2. A clear signal should be given in the minutes of the next AC meeting that the actions of Mr Battistelli vis-a-vis the Enlarged Board are unacceptable, in terms of his instruction to the AC to ignore the Enlarged Board, and the actions which the Enlarged Board interpreted as threats to its operation and independence.

3. It should instruct Mr Battistelli to reinstate the recently dismissed Mr Prunier – after all, that was the standing instruction which he ignored by continuing to pursue and target the union leadership.

4. It should order that the next edition of the EPO Official Journal contains the approved texts for publication of the three “Article 23″ Enlarged Board decisions. If Mr Battistelli can’t find them for the publishers, the ever-helpful Merpel reminds all involved that they can be found here: No. 1, No. 2 and No 3.

“Please don’t forget the reinstatement of Liz Hardon and Ion Brumme and of course Malika Weaver (after degradation),” one person added in relation to action 3 and “under Action 3,” added another person, “please do not forget Aurélien Pétiaud, Michael Lund both unfairly downgraded for having done their job as staff representatives in the Internal Committee and Laurent Prunier having just been fired who dared to take courageous positions in front of Battistelli at several occasions on several highly sensitive files (eg. New Main building worth 250 Mio EUR; suicides at the workplace etc.)”

“The President of the EPO wants to move the Boards of Appeal to Haar,” Merpel noted in a followup (part 2). We believe that Battistelli plans to ultimately deprecate them, under the assumption that UPC can someone be made a reality (he gave false predictions and timeframe estimates time after time). To quote Merpel:

The President of the EPO wants to move the Boards of Appeal to Haar. “Where?” Merpel hears you ask. Precisely. Haar is a municipality on the outskirts of Munich, most famous (not that it is famous at all) for housing the largest mental hospital in Germany. Is this just a sick joke on the part of M Battistelli? Because there is nothing else that could justify this – excuse Merpel – insane idea, which is to the detriment of applicants and patentees, opponents, professional representatives, and the Board of Appeal members themselves.

The official justification for the move is to increase the perception of independence of the Boards of Appeal. But in the consultation of users carried out by the EPO itself, the geographical location of the Boards was overwhelmingly not considered an important factor to their independence. An earlier proposal to move the Boards to another city or country completely (which would have destroyed the Boards as we know them) has thankfully been dropped.

The idea put forward that members of the Boards of Appeal might be influenced in their decisions by the possibility that they might encounter in the canteen an examiner disgruntled because they have been over-ruled is ludicrous in principle, and not borne out by the actual experience of the EPO over the last four decades, even when first instance examiners worked in the same building as the Boards of Appeal. They no longer do. First instance divisions are located in other buildings in Munich, or in The Hague, or in Berlin. The person who does however share the Isar building with the Boards of Appeal is, of course, the President of the EPO, and Merpel gets the impression that he wants those pesky Board members as far away from his domain as possible.

Some new information emerges also in the many (and growing number of) anonymous comments there, but we shall get around to highlighting some of them in the next few days, depending on relevance to the latest developments. Susan Pickin has told me and told the EPO that “We could have them [the boards] in the UK [...] UK could offer to have them here…”

Heck, how about opening a whole branch of the EPO here in the UK and actually ensure that staff enjoys human rights? As a reminder, the EPO has been highly discriminatory against British workers as of late. And later it wonders why the UK won’t ratify the UPC?

Software Patents Are Effectively Dead in the US, But You Wouldn’t Know This If You Relied on Patent Law Firms’ ‘Advice’

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 4:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shutting their ears when they lose the argument


Summary: Although patent lawyers want us to believe that software patents are just fine (citing cases fewer than the fingers of one hand), the reality is rather grim for them and we explain why

SOFTWARE patents are a dying breed of patents (or patent family) in the United States. They might still be enjoying somewhat of a legacy or inertia (until expiry), but there’s not much of a future for them as long as Alice is upheld by SCOTUS (hopefully — and there’s absolutely no guarantee here — Trump’s Conservative Justices won’t reverse/override this decision/precedent).

“Over the past week we saw the predators bemoaning the state of software patents in the US.”FOSS-centric companies don't bother with such patents or simply give up on any prospect of lawsuits (defensive/retaliatory purposes only). This new article asks in its headline, “Is a Blockchain Patent Still Possible?”

Even if such a patent was granted, in the area/domain of financial software patents there’s probably the worst success rate (in the courts). Some estimate the success rate to be 10% or lower. “But regardless of whether a viable bitcoin patent exists,” says the article, “both Nakamoto’s 2008 article describing the bitcoin system and the bitcoin network in operation since 2009 qualify as “prior art” against any new attempt to patent a blockchain system.”

In simple terms, prior art in the Internet and especially post-World Wide Web era (1990s onwards) makes it hard to defend software patents, even if they have been granted in error by the USPTO.

“Imagine the reaction if accountants openly advertised methods for dodging/evading tax. Imagine if they did so on their own Web sites…”Over the past week we saw the predators bemoaning the state of software patents in the US. Haynes and Boone LLP bemoaned the scarcity of “Patent-Eligible Software Claims” (post-Alice) and later noted that such patents can barely withstand courts’ scrutiny. Just watch Haynes and Boone LLP moaning and sobbing because the US hardly tolerates software patents these days. They’re partly in denial over it and they latch onto few exceptional cases to make it seem as though things might be improving (cherry-picking tactics that piggyback particular Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit cases).

Other such dishonest firms are openly trying to work out new ways by which to patent software, even when software patents are semi-officially not acceptable. Who are these people kidding? Courts of the highest level repeatedly say “no” to software patents, but Watchtroll tries to tell people how to fool the courts and get software patents anyway. How very typical from him.

“Where are the real journalists and why are news feeds dominated by pure marketing, composed by those who try to attract business by misleading claims (bias by omission)?”Imagine the reaction if accountants openly advertised methods for dodging/evading tax. Imagine if they did so on their own Web sites…

Another law firm was pushing the software patents agenda a few days ago. Rather than be frank with clients and acknowledge that Alice made such patents not worth pursuing they just add question marks (twice in the headline alone) and then name-drop the aforementioned cherry-picked CAFC cases.

Here we have another example of a patent law firm spreading this spin about software patents, again by cherry-picking CAFC decisions to suit their agenda.

Where are the real journalists and why are news feeds dominated by pure marketing, composed by those who try to attract business by misleading claims (bias by omission)? What ever happened to investigative reporting and well-funded newspapers? It’s all PR now.

Taking old decisions that somehow suit their narrative, patent law firms tried to tell us software patents were fine also (another example here). They suggested ways of ‘tricking’ CAFC. Here is another new example of that, courtesy of Husch Blackwell LLP.

“They only keep track of (or a record of) the “wins” and none of the defeats, in order to construct a false, misleading picture, then present that to clients under the guise of “advice” or even “news”.”When will we see an equal (or greater) number of articles that were not actually written by those who try to sell something? Imagine what war journalism would look like if 90% of it was composed directly by companies that sell arms…

Based on what we have been able to gather, all the latest cases yielded nothing but bad news for software patents. “US Pat 9,083,997,” said one attorney the other say, was “Killed by Twitter @ Dist. Ct w/Alice/101″ and Versata’s software patents came under scrutiny from Ford, as the following good news site put it:

Ford Motor Co. returned to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on Friday to challenge three Versata software patents involved in a trade secrets and infringement case, just over a month after the board declined the auto maker’s request that the PTAB institute America Invents Act reviews.

In separate petitions, Ford argued various claims in the Versata Development Group Inc. patents are invalid because they are obvious. The patents cover automotive configuration manager software that Versata has accused Ford of stealing.

As we noted in our previous post, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board is the most prolific eliminator of software patents. As for Versata, we wrote dozens of articles about it in past years. We predict that its patents are now on the chopping block, but don’t expect patent law firms to pay attention to any of this. They only keep track of (or a record of) the “wins” and none of the defeats, in order to construct a false, misleading picture, then present that to clients under the guise of “advice” or even “news”.

Signs of Positive Progress: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board is Really Hurting Patent Parasites

Posted in America, Patents at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Patent trolls and the meta-industry which creates nothing but lawsuits is growingly afraid of boards that ascertain patent quality at the USPTO

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is probably AIA’s best outcome. It helps eliminate software patents by the thousands, i.e. a lot more rapidly than courts do, and it erodes confidence in software patents — enough to discourage some new patent applications and even more so patent lawsuits (these have become too risky for the plaintiff).

As one might expect, the patent ‘industry’ (mostly patent law firms) is up in arms and some resorted to insulting PTAB. Others complained to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), but it didn’t get them anywhere. CAFC has done nothing to stop or even slow down PTAB.

“CAFC has done nothing to stop or even slow down PTAB.”Here we have one of the more strident patent maximalists’ sites moaning to CAFC about PTAB, for PTAB is throwing away bad patents without giving assignees the benefit of the doubt. To quote the author: “The Federal Circuit remanded a final written decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB” or “Board”) because the Board invalidated certain claims in a patent without providing adequate notice or opportunity to the patentee to respond to an assertion about a prior art reference. Interestingly, in the In re NuVasive, Inc. opinion decided on November 9, 2016, the Federal Circuit reviewed the outcome of two IPR proceedings related to the same patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,187,334, directed to implants for spinal fusion surgery.”

Another one of those sites (albeit a lot more polite and usually professional/academic) wrote about PTAB and also about “non-reviewable decisions”, i.e. decisions without proper oversight:

Arbitrator as Arbitrary: Non-reviewable decisions (whether by the USPTO or by an arbitrator) are generally troubling because they create the potential for arbitrary awards that depart from both the law and facts.

The case was originally denied hearing by the Texas Supreme Court. On rehearing request, the Court has showed some interest by requesting further briefing from Jenner & Block and two amicus filings have supported the petition. Because it is a Federal Law (the FAA) that has prevented judicial review thus far, the case will be appealable directly to the U.S. Supreme Court once Texas gives its final word.

The US granted literally hundreds of thousands of software patents in just over a decade. In order to clean up this mess, which is basically a big chunk of invalid patents (clogging up the system), something like PTAB is not only useful but also necessary if not imperative. The reaction to PTAB from patent maximalists has been rather revealing. They just want more and more patents on just about everything someone does or thinks. It’s them who are the radicals or extremists, not reformers who remind them — as we habitually do — that the patent system was originally created to give incentive for publication and disseminate knowledge (or increase overall innovation), not to feed a newly-created collective of parasites who assume that more than 10 million patents should be filed and most patent applications be accepted by the examiners (and later by nontechnical judges).

The US is still floating in a swamp of bad patents and a popular phrase in the US right now is, “drain the swamp!”

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue to Lobby for Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 3:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”…”

Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008

Summary: In order to maintain the order of “Linux patent tax” Microsoft and its proxies (patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures) keep pursuing patent policy that is friendly towards software patenting

A FEW days ago we became aware of the Microsoft-friendly IAM with its latest/upcoming event (as usual, with patent maximalists as sponsors). It is an IAM event, so basically IAM agenda, including software patents promotion. They are hoping to shape patent policy (see “Programme”) and as Benjamin Henrion put it, it is “Microsoft and others writing swpat [software patents] law: “Key topics for legislators to consider: a solution for 101 uncertainty”…”

“As a reminder, earlier this year software patents from Intellectual Ventures were aimed at Linux devices (in the courtroom) and recently a failed case of Intellectual Ventures led to the potential death of all software patents in the US.”Longtime readers of ours probably don’t need to be convinced that Microsoft is still an enemy of GNU/Linux, at the very least by virtue of promoting software patents (there’s a lot more than that). Sites like Phoronix may have fallen in line with the “LOVES LINUX” nonsense (a PR campaign), but judging by the company’s actions — not mere words — it is still a vicious opponent that cannot be trusted.

The largest patent troll of Microsoft (which attacks Linux with software patents) still fights for software patents. Yes, Intellectual Ventures is just one among many Microsoft-connected trolls that prey on Linux. Here is one new report about it: “Earlier this week, Intellectual Ventures (IV) petitioned the full Federal Circuit to review the panel opinion inIntellectual Ventures v. Symantec, which invalidated two of its patents under section 101. Both patents—the ’050 and the ’610—are directed to filtering email or file content. (IV does not challenge the invalidation of a third patent, which was directed to receiving, screening, and distributing email.) The petition echoes concerns raised by clients, courts, and the patent bar about the growing uncertainty about what is—and what is not—patent eligible, especially in the area of software patents. Identifying two emerging fault lines in the court’s evolving section 101 jurisprudence, IV urges the full court to bring much needed doctrinal clarity and methodological consistency to the patent eligibility analysis.”

This was also covered in another report (partly behind paywall) which says “Intellectual Ventures asked the full Federal Circuit on Tuesday to review a panel decision that invalidated two of its patents on detecting spam and viruses for claiming only abstract ideas, saying the ruling “directly conflicts” with other decisions on patent-eligibility.”

“It would be nice if we did not have to mention Microsoft at all, but it just keeps interfering with (and trying to undermine) Free software, so it’s impossible to ignore this company.”As a reminder, earlier this year software patents from Intellectual Ventures were aimed at Linux devices (in the courtroom) and recently a failed case of Intellectual Ventures led to the potential death of all software patents in the US. It’s clear that Intellectual Ventures intends to keep fighting that decision. It wants to keep extorting all sorts of companies, extracting patent payments (settlements from them). Intellectual Ventures is closely connected not just to Microsoft but to Bill Gates personally.

IAM’s apologists of trolls had the cheekiness to say the other day that “as you know, a lot of infringement goes uncontested because of the cost of litigating in the US.”

That’s nonsense. “A lot of patent bullying goes unchallenged (‘protection money’ paid) because of the cost of litigation everywhere,” I told them and “seen it personally,” added the former lawyer of Samba, Carlo Piana. As Benjamin Henrion (FFII) put it, “politicians don’t care about small companies.”

“I thought big companies were the targets of litigation,” said Jamie Love (Knowledge Ecology International, or KEI for short), probably joking about this myth.

The matter of fact is, Microsoft and its patent trolls continue to lobby pretty hard for software patents, yet the Linux Foundation somehow found it appropriate to join Microsoft and help Microsoft spread its lies (e.g. that .NET is open even though it’s not and SQL Server comes to GNU/Linux even though technically it will run on top of a Windows kernel, which in turn sits on GNU/Linux).

I had a lot more to say about the Linux Foundation joining Microsoft (yes, it certainly feels like the suitable way to put it), but I wrote it succinctly in Diaspora* and other such sites as I wish to focus all energy and time on the patent systems, not on Microsoft specifically. It would be nice if we did not have to mention Microsoft at all, but it just keeps interfering with (and trying to undermine) Free software, so it’s impossible to ignore this company.

USPTO Director Michelle K. Lee Reportedly on Her Way Out, US Patent Reform Put on Hold

Posted in America, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 2:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelle Lee (below on the left) wanted patent reform, but Donald Trump will quite likely crush it

USPTO panel

Summary: Another signal that whatever progress was made at the USPTO (tightening patent scope among other improvements) could soon be crushed by a Republican administration

THE US patent, copyright, trademark etc. system is likely to change under the new President. He has some rather notorious experience trying to tilt the trade marks system to his own advantage, being a reckless billionaire who was born very rich and privileged. Protectionism (perpetuating might, power, and money) comes naturally for Trump.

An opportunity to advise the USPTO is reportedly being given, but megacorporations and their lobbyists (and/or lawyers) will surely dominate the proposals and ensure that virtually nothing changes for the better.

“Protectionism (perpetuating might, power, and money) comes naturally for Trump.”As expected, the new President will herald an era for billionaires (like Donald Trump) and their copyright/trademark/patent monopolies. IAM thinks that patent reform will be put on hold. Here is why: “In her keynote speech USPTO Director Michelle Lee predicted that once patent reform did come back on the agenda it would be more targeted than previous, more comprehensive proposals.”

According to this article from IP Watch: “Now in her final weeks in office, United States Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee today looked back over the Obama administration’s work on patents and made predictions for the next administration due to take over in January. She hailed the outgoing administration’s successes and said to expect a continued focus on a strong IP system, legislative changes on hot button issues but not right away, and continued engagement around the world.”

Here is what Wall Street’s media said: “President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Patent and Trademark Office will likely be very different from Director Michelle K. Lee, who was Google’s top patent attorney before heading the PTO.”

“Under Kappos’ leadership the USPTO granted terrible patents and led to a mess that only in recent years (post Alice, Mayo and AIA) started to improve a bit.”Whoever is picked next, it hopefully won’t be yet another corporate lobbyist turncoat like David Kappos. Under Kappos’ leadership the USPTO granted terrible patents and led to a mess that only the recent years (post Alice, Mayo and AIA) started to improve a bit.

Found via Patently-O prior to all the above was this publication from the USPTO itself (directy).

MIP is meanwhile chatting with the commissioner for trademarks at USPTO. It doesn’t seem like she too will be removed from her position.

Links 19/11/2016: KDE Applications 16.12 Beta, Zorin OS 12

Posted in News Roundup at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Ubuntu Mate, Windows 10 and macOS Sierra: A marriage of 3 OSs

      I gave myself a little gift recently and revisited Ubuntu Mate by virtue of a transplanted hard disk.

      In my case, Mate was a gift that was giving and giving until it wasn’t.

      When the eMachines T6528 went belly up due to leaky logic board capacitors, I parted this tank of a tower out, half-heartedly vowing to get back to this low-footprint Linux distribution as soon as I could.

      Fast forward several months and with some precious free time on my hands, I was finally able to make good on the promise.

  • Server

    • Cloud Native: Service-driven Operations that Save Money, Increase IT Flexibility

      I obsess about operations. I think it started when I was a department IT manager at a financial services institute. It was appallingly difficult to get changes deployed into production and the cost of change was spectacularly high. It felt like there had to be a better way, and most every decision I have made professionally since 2008 has led me to work on technology that makes that guy or gal’s life easier.

    • Planning Microservices: Know the Tradeoffs With Monolithic Design

      By now, you no doubt understand the advantages of using a microservices architecture, especially in greenfield applications and in new organizations that need to achieve efficiencies wherever they can. But what about your legacy code and applications? Do you totally rewrite the monolith or do you chip away at it with new functionalities, added as microservices, over time?

    • Docker Containers and Synnex Distribution? Oh My

      In a quiet corner at the Synnex Varnex conference, Rob Moyer is pulling back the curtain — just a bit — on the Synnex CloudSolv strategy for channel partners. The conversation with ChannelE2E includes some familiar themes. But there are also some surprises — including a serious bet on container technology and Docker.

      Synnex CloudSolv is a management and deployment platform that helps channel partners to activate cloud solutions for their end-customers. Moyer, VP of software and cloud services at Synnex, isn’t pursuing a toe-to-toe cloud marketplace battle against Ingram Micro, Tech Data and other distributors. Instead of vetting hundreds of software and SaaS solutions for online distribution, Moyer discreetly but purposely made a few strategic bets — including Docker, Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite (particularly for education) and Red Hats.

    • 5 Common Myths about Containers

      Containers are faster. Containers work only on Linux. Containers are insecure. These are all examples of myths about Docker and other container platforms that continue to persist.

      Some of these misconceptions reflect popular misunderstandings of containers. Others are based on information that was once accurate, but is no longer true. Either way, these myths are important to clear up if you want to deploy containers effectively.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Ships Beta of KDE Applications 16.12

        Today KDE released the beta of the new versions of KDE Applications. With dependency and feature freezes in place, the KDE team’s focus is now on fixing bugs and further polishing.

        Check the community release notes for information on new tarballs, tarballs that are now KF5 based and known issues. A more complete announcement will be available for the final release

        The KDE Applications 16.12 releases need a thorough testing in order to maintain and improve the quality and user experience. Actual users are critical to maintaining high KDE quality, because developers simply cannot test every possible configuration. We’re counting on you to help find bugs early so they can be squashed before the final release. Please consider joining the team by installing the beta and reporting any bugs.

      • KDE Applications 16.12 Enters Beta Testing, Final Release Arrives on December 15

        Today, November 18, 2016, KDE announced the availability for public testing of the Beta build of the upcoming KDE Applications 16.12 software suite for KDE Plasma 5 desktop environments.

        As reported last week, the KDE Applications 16.08 series reached end of life with the third and last maintenance update, versioned 16.08.3, which means that work begun on the next major branch, KDE Applications 16.12, which you can now take for a test drive using today’s Beta release.

      • KDE Applications 16.12 Now In Beta

        KDE Applications 16.12 is now in beta while this collection of KDE software is under a dependency and feature freeze ahead of next month’s official release.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Zorin OS 12 Core and Ultimate Are Here: Our Biggest Release Ever

        We’re proud to announce the availability of the Zorin OS 12 Core and Ultimate–the biggest release in the history of Zorin OS. With this new version, we’ve introduced an entirely new desktop experience that will make your computer more useful, more powerful and more enjoyable to use.

      • Zorin OS 12 Officially Released, the Biggest Release Ever of the Linux Distro

        The guys behind the Ubuntu-based Zorin OS Linux operating system were proud to announce the general availability of the final release of Zorin OS 12, which comes in both Core and Ultimate flavors.

        Zorin OS 12 is the result of many months of hard work, and it looks like it’s the project’s biggest release ever. The GNU/Linux distribution is now based on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, it’s powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel, and ships with the Zorin Desktop 2.0 desktop environment.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Week 2016/46

        Now this is a week I call fully rolling. There was a full 7 snapshots since the last review – which is about the maximum we can do in a week with one snapshot per day (or we have to change the versioning to not be only ‘date’ based). So, this review is about the snapshots {20161110..20161116}.

      • When Trying Out Tumbleweed, It’s Easy To See Why OpenSUSE Leap Disabled Nouveau

        I’ve been running some fresh benchmarks of the recently released openSUSE Leap 42.2 compared to the rolling-release openSUSE Tumbleweed and friends. Those benchmarks will be posted shortly, but after using the Nouveau experience on Tumbleweed I found the need to comment.

      • OpenSUSE 42.2 Merges Best Features of Enterprise, Community Models

        In the world of Linux distributions, users are often faced with the option of choosing an enterprise-grade distribution or a community distribution. With the openSUSE Leap approach, SUSE is attempting to merge the best of both the enterprise and community models into a new type of Linux distribution. In the pure community-first model the upstream open-source code is packaged in a distribution, which can then be further hardened to eventually produce an enterprise-grade Linux product. The open-source openSUSE Leap 42.2 Linux distribution became generally available on Nov. 16 and takes a different approach. Code from the SUSE Linux Enterprise Service Pack 2 release, which debuted on Nov. 8, is now in the freely available openSUSE Leap 42.2 update. As part of its enterprise community stability focus, openSUSE Leap benefits from the Linux 4.4 Long Term Support Kernel (LTS). SUSE expects to support openSUSE Leap releases for 36 months. The new release also includes the latest in open-source application packages with LibreOffice and Firefox as well as developer and graphics tools. This slide show eWEEK takes a look at some of the features in the new openSUSE 42.2 Linux operating system release.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Permabit pulls on Red Hat, opens arms for a Linux cuddle

        The Mad Hatter of Linux is getting Alice in Wonderland style physical space virtualisation with thin provisioning, compression and deduplication courtesy of Permabit.

        Building on its June 2016 Linux availability announcement, Permabit and Red Hat have a go-to-market partnership based on the former’s Albireo deduplication and HIOPS compression technology being added as a kernel module to Red Hat Linux. Up until now dedupe and compression have largely been storage array features, and then appearing in software-only storage running on servers and direct-attached disks, SSDs or JBODs.

      • Red Hat CEO on Microsoft, Google, and Cutting Edge Software

        Even among technology companies, Red Hat has to stand out as one of the geekiest firms in the business.

        The enterprise company offers services and support around the Linux open-source operating system, which non-techies can think of as a free equivalent of Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s MacOS. Developers and IT operators, however, regard Linux as more than just a free service: It’s the underpinning of some of the most popular apps and software used today.

        For instance, if you’ve ordered a car ride from Uber or bought digital storage from Amazon, it’s likely Linux OS was in a corporate data center somewhere along the line, making sure the appropriate software was chugging along.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Introducing Fedora Hubs

          The goal of the Fedora Hubs project is to provide a consistent contributor experience across all Fedora teams. Hubs serve as an “intranet” for the Fedora Project. The many different projects in Fedora each have different processes and workflows. Hubs will be a single place where contributors can learn about and contribute to these projects in a consistent way.

          Hubs is also a social tool for Fedora contributors. It’s designed to help you keep up with everything and everybody across a big open source project in ways that aren’t currently possible. Hubs solves obstacles so new contributors can get in touch with experienced ones.

          Do you want to learn more about the history behind Hubs? Fedora Design team lead Máirín Duffy wrote a few blog posts on the progress of Hubs.

        • Fedora Loves Python at SeaGL 2016

          The Seattle GNU/Linux conference, SeaGL, intentionally attracts a variety of attendees, students from Seattle Central College, local Linux enthusiasts, curious neighbors, and programmers from big software companies, indies and start-ups. About 500 people attended the exhibits and talks on the two days. The exhibit area was closed for the keynotes so I saw Corey Quinn tell us the Art of Personal Failure and Allison Randal presented Free as in Freedom. Bill Wright received the Cascadia Community Builder Award for his efforts building LinuxFest NorthWest.

        • Flock Stories 2016, Episode 4: Matthew Miller

          Today’s guest is Matthew Miller (mattdm)! He’s a long-time Fedora user and contributor, as well as the founder of Boston University Linux. However, perhaps most important of all, he is the current Fedora Project Leader! In this interview, we ask Matthew questions like…

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.0 Anonymous Live OS to Be Based on Debian 9 “Stretch”, Require 64-bit PC

          A few days after the announcement of Tails 2.7, the development team behind the popular amnesic incognito live system based on Debian GNU/Linux unveiled a few technical details about the next major release.

          Yes, we’re talking about Tails 3.0, which is now in development and appears to be the next major update of the anonymous live OS that ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden used to protect his identity online. Tails is a Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution built around the popular Tor anonymity network and Tor Browser anonymous browser.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • This Ubuntu Linux laptop packs a 4K display and Nvidia’s beastly GeForce GTX 1070

            System76’s Ubuntu-based Oryx Pro is a Linux laptop loaded with features also found in some of the fastest Windows laptops.

            The Oryx Pro can be the ultimate Linux gaming laptop. It can be configured with a 15.6-inch 4K screen and Nvidia’s latest Pascal GeForce GTX 1070 GPU.

            The laptop with those features starts at $1,987, and goes higher as more storage and memory are added. The ultimate 4K Oryx Pro configuration with 9TB of SSD storage prices out at $7,012. It comes preloaded with Ubuntu 16.04 or 16.10.

          • Ubuntu Core 16 Enables Snappy IoT

            Ubuntu Core 16 is now available. It is a tiny, transactional implementation of Ubuntu Linux that targets embedded applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT). It uses a new packaging system with modules called snaps that include metadata about their connectivity and interface requirements (Fig. 1).

            A snap can have one or more interfaces that are either a plug or a slot providing connections between snaps. A snap exists as a read-only, immutable, compressed squashFS blob, while an instance also includes a private, writeable directory. Communication with the operating system services uses the interface mechanism. Snaps can be given access to other directories.

          • Ubuntu Core [Comic]

            Nowadays, Linux processes are forever in conflict. Is there somewhere out there for them to live together in harmony… perhaps by separating them via full resource isolation?

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source Solves and Supports Today’s Business Needs

    Open source is free software that developers make available to benefit the community. The original developer of the software benefits from making their code freely available because doing so increases the number of end users with the ability to enhance the software. These enhancements can make the software more valuable for all. Some examples of open source software include Android, Wikipedia, Mozilla Firefox, WordPress and Drupal.

  • Calendar sharing in the XXIth century

    But the point is this one: It is 2016 and shared calendars that should be simple and straightforward are both complex and obscure. People should not think twice about what to use: they should be able to share their calendars seamlessly, post it online, move from one provider to another with very little hassle. Instead of this most are locked in and when they want to move to another provider the notion that they should learn about the various calendar sharing protocols is simply outlandish.

  • Can Node.js Scale? Ask the Team at Alibaba

    Alibaba is arguably the world’s biggest online commerce company. It serves millions of users and hosts millions of merchants and businesses. As of August 2016, Alibaba had 434 million users with 427 million active mobile monthly users. During this year’s Singles Day, which happened on November 11 and is one of the (if not the) biggest online sales events, Alibaba registered $1 billion in sales in its first five minutes.

  • Five Tenets of Thriving with Open Source without Risking Your Business

    Vendors, university researchers, students, and developers find that open source is a very effective tool for validating a solution to a particular problem. However, these solutions are often born within the context of a specific company’s use case or a specific research problem. Therefore, these projects are similar to code built in the context of a professional services engagement and often don’t have the polish and finish of an enterprise product. Some may not even have solved basic enterprise requirements like availability, resilience, security, and so on.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • A New Tool for LibreOffice

      Tony Get, my colleague, showed me an interesting tool available in Android: it’s an app to turn your Android device into a remote control to work with your LibreOffice Impress presentations. It is called Impress Remote and it is very easy to use.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding


  • Public Services/Government

    • GDS Appoints Anna Shipman As Open Source Lead

      The Government Digital Service (GDS) has appointed its first open source lead, with the goal of driving the use of open source platforms and frameworks throughout Whitehall and beyond.

      Anna Shipman, who has been at GDS for several years will step into the role, having worked extensively with open source as the development lead for GDS’s open source infrastructure provisioning project vCloud Tools.

      Shipman also has experience working with open source projects outside of GDS with her work on government-as-a-platform, the GDS objective to create a range of open and reusable digital components that can be used to create digital services without the need for costly, bespoke systems.

    • Director’s Forum: A Blog from USPTO’s Leadership

      Improving the way the government delivers information technology (IT) solutions to its customers isn’t just a goal, it’s our mission. We at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office know that by publishing our open source code, the public can help us come up with new and better IT solutions. In advance of the new Federal Source Code Policy and in support of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative, we have been publishing content on Github for over a year, and it now includes source code for a mobile application for trademarks.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Choosing Your Open-Source Licenses

      Open-source development covers a lot of bases. There’s everything from documentation to development that is freely available on the web. It’s rather magical to know that you’ve got access to the code that drives some of the industry’s most widely used platforms like OpenStack, Kubernetes, Docker, and much more.

      As a purveyor of some open-source goodness myself, I’ve started to become more aware of the nuances of each of the various open-source licenses. There is much more to these licenses than many of us may realize. It is a legal contract, so it is important to be aware of the differences in each license.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Data Pipeline goes open, changing business models, and more open source news

      The world of open source software is a busy place. Sometimes keeping up with all of the news, announcements, and cool things to be discovered can be difficult. Here’s a look at some of what we’re reading today.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • AMD announced a new release of Radeon Open Compute Platform

        AMD announced a new release of Radeon Open Compute Platform (ROCm) featuring software support of new Radeon GPU hardware, new math libraries, and a rich foundation of modern programming languages, designed to speed development of high-performance, energy-efficient heterogeneous computing systems. AMD also announced planned support of OpenCL™ and for a wide range of CPUs in upcoming releases of ROCm, including support for AMD’s upcoming “Zen”-based CPUs, Cavium ThunderX CPUs, and IBM Power 8 CPUs. The advances further cement ROCm’s position as the most versatile open source platform for GPU computing.

      • AMD Goes Open Source in Newest ROCm Platform Update

        Processor maker is going all in for developing and sharing GPU-related hardware and software for high-end computing use cases.
        In days gone by, one rarely heard of IT companies getting involved in the open sourcing of hardware blueprints. It was always about software. This is happening more frequently all the time and making a significant impact in many enterprises. It’s yet another seismic change that has hit the larger-picture IT world.

        This is relevant now because companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Brocade, Cisco Systems and a number of others through the Open Compute Project are now dedicated to designing and open sourcing items such as new-gen servers, racks, routers, switches, specialized teleco equipment and storage appliances, in addition to offering previously proprietary expertise to others in how to build new-gen IT hardware.

      • RusEFI open-source engine-control hardware now working in the real world

        RusEFI isn’t anywhere near a works-right-out-of-the-box system, even now. It’s hardware for the expert user who is comfortable doing everything from soldering to writing code, and it’s all absolutely open-source, on both the hardware and software sides. The advantage of this? According to RusEFI developer Andrey Belomutskiy, “You are free to criticize/change software and hardware without being yelled/threatened/banned, in the spirit of open source.”


  • Science

    • What Electronics Can Do to Your Infant’s Brain

      Have you ever watched a baby stare at a TV? The TV is huge, flashing and mesmerizing, and you’ll notice that while watching, infants do not turn their heads – they just sit and stare straight ahead. Because infants become so transfixed on the screen, they stop doing anything and everything else and ultimately, they miss out on human interaction and the opportunity to explore their new and exciting world.

      The same is true of certain electronic toys. The graphics and sounds are mesmerizing and hold a child’s attention for longer than a traditional toy. Studies have shown that during the time kids are watching a screen or playing on an electronic toy, they are not interacting and learning as much as they could with other types of toys. Electronics also change how we interact with our children – sometimes the toy becomes the babysitter, and parents do not have to interact.

    • We Should Think of American Education as a National Security Issue

      The election of Donald Trump to the White House left great segments of the US population elated, and others feeling deflated and terrified. It still isn’t clear what he will do after he’s inaugurated, although certain policies and approaches are beginning to take shape. But as observers take stock of how a novice politician who’s never held elected office snagged the highest one in the land, something has become abundantly clear—America is divided, and one of the starkest divisions is around education.

      People voted along lines that reflect levels of education. While Hillary Clinton led college graduates by nine points (52/43 percent), Trump led non-college graduates by eight (52/44 percent). According to Pew Research, this is the widest gap in support between college-educated and non-college educated voters recorded in exit polls since 1980.

      To hold Trump, or any president, accountable to the people they represent, the US needs an informed electorate. According to some experts, this is literally an issue of national security. More uniformly educated populations are better equipped to resolve chronic policy problems, bolster economic growth, and keep pace with rapidly shifting geopolitical dynamics, which contributes to stability at home.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Michigan Officials Seek to Block Court-Ordered Bottled Water Delivery in Flint

      State officials in Michigan asked a federal court in Detroit on Thursday to block a court order requiring bottled water deliveries to homes in Flint, Michigan, where residents are still waiting for clean tap water two years after municipal water supplies were contaminated with dangerous levels of lead.

      The state’s motion requests the court to temporarily block the water delivery order while officials appeal the requirement. The order was issued by a federal judge last week and requires city and state officials to deliver bottled water to Flint residents unless they have a functioning faucet filter or refuse the delivery service.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Serious Linux Vulnerability Found By Just Holding Down The Enter Key For 70 Seconds

      Security researchers have found a rather frightening vulnerability in Linux that could ultimately allow an attacker to copy, modify, or destroy the contents of a hard drive, along with with configure the network to exfiltrate data. That in and of itself is cause for concern, but the real harrowing part about this is how easy it is to activate—an attacker need only boot up the system and hold down the enter key for 70 seconds.

    • Open Source Software: Secure Except When It Isn’t

      There is still a flaw in the open source security model which the Core Infrastructure Initiative only partly addressed. Remember the thousands and thousands of eyes looking for vulnerabilities in the code? While that may be true in a generalized sense, there are some small but important projects that are flying under the radar and don’t seem to be getting the necessary attention.

    • Adobe Fined $1M in Multistate Suit Over 2013 Breach; No Jail for Spamhaus Attacker

      Adobe will pay just $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by 15 state attorneys general over its huge 2013 data breach that exposed payment records on approximately 38 million people. In other news, the 39-year-old Dutchman responsible for coordinating an epic, weeks-long distributed denial-of-service attack against anti-spam provider Spamhaus in 2013 will avoid any jail time for his crimes thanks to a court ruling in Amsterdam this week.

      On Oct. 3, 2013, KrebsOnSecurity broke the story that Adobe had just suffered a breach in which hackers siphoned usernames, passwords and payment card data on 38 million customers. The intruders also made off with digital truckloads of source code for some of Adobe’s most valuable software properties — including Adobe Acrobat and Reader, Photoshop and ColdFusion.

    • Half of companies have been hit with ransomware in the past year

      MORE TERRIFYING SECURITY RESEARCH has discovered that almost half of a collection of firms surveyed admitted that they have been the victim of a ransomware attack.

      Endpoint security outfit SentinelOne said that the ransomware attacks do not just go after monies these days, but have darker aims and can be used to threaten and terrorise people.

      “[Our] results point to a significant shift for ransomware. It’s no longer just a tool for cyber crime, but a tool for cyber terrorism and espionage,” said Tony Rowan, chief security consultant at SentinelOne, in the firm’s Ransomware Research Data Summary (PDF).

    • Security Of FLOSS

      I’ve worked with IT since the 1960s. I’ve seen systems that fell down just idling. I’ve seen systems that were insecure by design. Their creators just didn’t seem to care. I’ve seen systems that were made to get you. Their creators wanted to own your soul. I’ve also used FLOSS.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Attribution of Russia in DNC hack has curtailed Kremlin’s hacking, Clapper says

      In what might be viewed as a slight disagreement in assessment, or at the very least, semantics, Clapper told the committee Thursday that there was not strong evidence of a connection between WikiLeaks, which provided a frequent drip of leaked emails from top Democratic officials aimed at damaging the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, and the Russian hacking campaign against Democratic party entities and individuals, for which many believe provided WikiLeaks the stolen contents for their leaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • New peatland coalition targets cutting climate change, saving thousands of lives

      A new global initiative, launched today at the climate meeting in Marrakech, aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save thousands of lives by protecting peatlands – the world’s largest terrestrial organic soil carbon stock.

      The Global Peatlands Initiative will mobilize governments, international organizations and academia in a targeted effort to protect peatlands, which contain almost 100 times more carbon than tropical forests.

      Greenhouse gas emissions from drained and burning peatlands account for up to 5 per cent of anthropogenic carbon emissions. These emissions are rising due to increasing peat degradation and loss from agriculture and fires, and driving the world closer to a dangerous tipping point.

      Rising temperatures can cause a chain reaction in which thawing permafrost switches boreal and Arctic peatlands from carbon sinks to sources, emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gas. Peat carbon stocks are equivalent to at least 60 per cent of all atmospheric carbon, meaning they hold the potential to send climate change spiraling out of control.

    • New UN initiative aims to save lives and cut climate change by protecting peatlands

      A new global initiative was launched today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 22) under way in Marrakech, aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save thousands of live by protecting peatlands – the largest terrestrial organic soil carbon stock.

      According to the UN environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Peatlands Initiative seeks mobilize governments, international organizations and academia in an effort to protect peatlands, which contain almost 100 times more carbon than tropical forests.

      If global temperatures continue to rise, this could lead to thawing permafrost, switching boreal and Arctic peatlands from carbon sinks to sources, resulting in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and potentially causing climate change to spiral out of control.

      Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment stressed that despite the Paris Agreement, global temperatures will rise over 3 degrees Celsius this century. “This will cause misery and chaos for millions of vulnerable people, so we cannot afford to let any opportunity to reduce emissions slip by,” he added.

    • 69 Million People Exposed to ‘Killer Haze’ During Wildfire in Indonesia

      Latest study from Scientific Reports reveals that massive wildfires in Indonesia and Borneo had produced unhealthy air pollution, exposing 69 million people and causing thousands of cases of premature deaths.

      The wildfire greatly affected the forests and peatland of Equatorial Asia during the autumn of 2015. Experts have found that a quarter of people living in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia were severely exposed to the killer haze between September and October 2015.

      In an article by Eureka Alert, the lead author of the study, Dr. Paola Crippa, from Newcastle University, UK, said: “Our study estimated that between 6,150 and 17,270 premature deaths occurred due to breathing in the polluted air over that short two month period. To put this into perspective, we estimate that around 1 in 6,000 people exposed to the polluted haze from these fires died as a result. The uncertainty in these estimates is mostly due to the lack of medical studies on exposure from extreme air pollution in the area.”

    • Why It Matters That Trump’s Attorney General Pick Is a Climate Change Skeptic

      Jeff Sessions, the ultra-conservative Republican senator from Alabama, has been a controversial political figure for decades. His early career as a US attorney was threatened by allegations of racist remarks in the 1980s, but he remained popular in his home state and managed to carve out a congressional career for himself as a staunch opponent of, among many other things, consensus climate science.

      But Sessions is about to get a whole lot more influential to the lives of all Americans: President-elect Donald Trump has picked him to be the next attorney general of the United States.

      In what’s become a daily routine during the Trump transitionary period, the president-elect’s pick of Sessions has been met with exasperated outcries. Civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union are preparing for a long period of conflict under the Trump Administration, and Sessions is sure to be a part of it.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why Anti-Trump Protests Matter

      Since election night, U.S. cities and towns have rung with protest. Hundreds of thousands of people, from New York City to Los Angeles, from Columbia, South Carolina to Salt Lake City, Utah took to the streets en masse to protest the election of a man who promised, among other things, to force Muslims to register and to repeal a health care bill that helps some 20 million people get health insurance, and who has been accused of sexual assault by at least 13 women. Hand-scrawled signs declared “Not My President,” “No To Bigotry,” “Trump Puts My Life In Danger,” and “Protests Are Patriotic.”

    • Anna Soubry: ‘What’s happened to our country? We’ve lost the plot’

      The Tory MP was one of David Cameron’s modernisers, and campaigned to remain in the EU. Now she is angry at everyone – at Labour, her own party, the Daily Mail, even herself – but feels she must vote for article 50 regardless

    • Donald Trump Agrees to Pay $25 Million in Trump University Settlement

      Donald J. Trump has reversed course and agreed to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits stemming from his defunct for-profit education venture, Trump University, finally putting to rest fraud allegations by former students, which have dogged him for years and hampered his presidential campaign.

      The settlement was announced by the New York attorney general on Friday, just 10 days before one of the cases, a federal class-action lawsuit in San Diego, was set to be heard by a jury. The deal, if approved, averts a potentially embarrassing and highly unusual predicament: a president-elect on trial, and possibly even taking the stand in his own defense, while scrambling to build his incoming administration.

      It was a remarkable concession from a real estate mogul who derides legal settlements and has mocked fellow businessmen who agree to them.

      But the allegations in the case were highly unpleasant for Mr. Trump: Students paid up to $35,000 in tuition for programs that, according to the testimony of former Trump University employees, used high-pressure sales tactics and employed unqualified instructors.

      The agreement wraps together the outstanding Trump University litigation, including two federal class-action cases in San Diego, and a separate lawsuit by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. The complaints alleged that students were cheated out of thousands of dollars in tuition through deceptive claims about what they would learn and high-pressure sales tactics.

    • Who Will Advise Trump on Science?

      In 1976, President Gerald Ford appointed physicist H. Guyford Stever as the first Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Having previously advised the military during World War II, and directed the National Science Foundation for four years, Stever became the first of a long line of advisors who counseled the White House on matters of science and technology—everything from disease outbreaks to climate change to nanotechnology.


      But amid that certainty, there is also lots of room for variability. (Buckle up; here be acronyms.) Holdren currently wears many different hats. He’s also the president’s Science Advisor or, to quote the formal title, the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. He co-chairs (with Obama) the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)—a group of leading scientists and engineers who offer policy recommendations on everything from the reliability of forensic science to preparing for a biological weapons attack. And he sits on the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a group that coordinates research and development efforts across all federal agencies; it is chaired by the president and includes the vice-president and several cabinet secretaries.

      So Holdren’s a busy guy. But of these jobs, only the OSTP directorship is a non-negotiable Senate-confirmed post. The rest are essentially optional, and depend on the president’s attitudes to science and willingness to continue the legacy of past offices. Trump might not convene the PCAST or the NSTC; both are established by Executive Order. He could appoint an OSTP Director and never seek advice from them.

    • The End Of Trump’s Reign Could Be Way Sooner Than You Think

      So that election sure was pretty crazy, huh? There are lots and lots and lots of really pissed-off people right now, and since we’ve said quite a bit on the subject, I won’t add more to that here. What I will tell you is that you absolutely have a real-world, tangible way to fight. And I’m not talking about having to wait four years for the next presidential election.

    • Michael Moore’s to do list for a revolution: an intervention for liberals

      We have a new leader in America. Known for his distinct regional accent and often seen wearing a baseball cap at rallies, he starred in a show on NBC, and holds strong opinions about guns and the NRA. He may not be the leader you saw coming, but you’re going to see a lot more of him: Michael Moore. The documentary filmmaker shuns the activist label he is often given. In a recent LA Times interview Moore asserted, “I’m not an activist, I’m a citizen. It’s redundant to say I’m an activist. We all should be active.” Moore has been very active, and has made films that take on some of America’s most complex and controversial topics — globalization, gun violence, 9/11, our healthcare system, the economy, war, and most recently, Donald Trump, someone he did see coming. Unlike the Democrats.

      Moore tried to warn the left in July, when he wrote a piece titled simply “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win. In it, he did not mince words: “Go ahead and say the words, ’cause you’ll be saying them for the next four years: ‘PRESIDENT TRUMP.’ Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.” With his midwestern directness and efficiency, Moore then proceeded to list how and why Donald Trump was going to win.

      A week after Trump’s election, Democrats and progressives are still raw with shock and grief. The agony is acute. The mood of over half the country? Political satirist Barry Crimmins nailed it in a tweet, saying “We’re now kids trapped in the back of our blowhard, road-raging, shitty-driver, dad’s car for a 4-yr trip and he’s issued a “No Talking” edict.”

    • Donald Trump daughter Ivanka pictured in meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

      Donald Trump’s daughter has been pictured attending a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, heightening concerns the President-elect’s family will wield unprecedented influence over his political duties.

      Ivanka Trump, who features in handout photos of the impromptu gathering, plays a significant role in managing Mr Trump’s businesses, along with his other adult children.

      Unlike other presidents, Mr Trump’s children are part of his transition team, which has been beset by problems since its inception.

    • In Their Coastal Citadels, Democrats Argue Over What Went Wrong

      Republican America is now so vast that a traveler could drive 3,600 miles across the continent, from Key West, Fla., to the Canadian border crossing at Porthill, Idaho, without ever leaving a state under total GOP control.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Dunja Mijatović: Online threats of killing, rape and violence everyday reality for too many female journalists

      No job comes without sacrifices, but how many downgrading comments, criticism or even threats can one person take before it becomes too much?

      Just consider the experiences of a female journalist that I know:

      She had her phone number shared on dating websites, her email and other accounts were hacked, she received death threats on Skype, the website publishing her articles was hacked and a sex video was posted with the implication that she had participated in an orgy. Anonymous articles with lies about her and her family were also posted online.

      Imagine being forced to shut down your accounts on social media platforms because of such massive attacks with detailed images of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

      At one point, you would probably be inclined to ask yourself if it is really worth it. Is this a career I want to continue to pursue?

      In the past few years, more and more female journalists and bloggers have been forced to question their profession. Male journalists are also subject to hate speech and online abuse, but research findings suggest that female journalists face a disproportionate amount of gender-based threats and harassment on the internet. They are experiencing what Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, has described as a “double attack”: they are being targeted for being both a journalist and a woman.

      How do these attacks affect female journalists’ lives, their work and society in general? Journalists are used to being in the frontline of conflict and they often deal with difficult and even dangerous situations. But what if you cannot shield yourself from these threats? What if the frontline became your own doorstep, your office or your computer screen?

    • European Union Orders British Press NOT to Report when Terrorists are Muslims

      So, according to the ECRI and scholars of Teesside University, when Muslim jihadists murder people and the press reports that killers are Muslims, the press, and not Islamists, is encouraging “Islamophobic incidents” in Britain. According to ECRI Chair Christian Ahlund, “It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians.”

    • More dialogue needed on censorship: Singapore International Film Festival chief

      Yuni Hadi has been promoting independent Singapore films for many years. She has helmed the film programme at The Substation Centre for the Arts, creating milestone projects such as the annual Fly-by-Night Video Challenge and the Singapore Short Film Festival. She also helms Objectifs Films, a Singapore-based international film distributor. She is also the co-producer of award-winning Singapore film Ilo Ilo which saw its box-office takings in Singapore surge, after it attained international accolades.

      Today, she is executive director of the Singapore International Film Festival which takes place from No 23 to Dec 4.

      She went “On the Record” with 938LIVE’s Bharati Jagdish about censorship and growing the local film industry. They started by talking about the perceived bias against local content.

    • Junk Scientist Greets Skepticism With Legal Threats, Sues Blogger For Criticizing Him And His Work

      There’s nothing those operating on the fringes of science hate more than people questioning their means, methods, and conclusions. To question is to be sued, unfortunately. Ken White has again fired up the Popehat signal in hopes of securing a skeptical blogger some legal assistance in fighting off a clearly bogus defamation suit by a junk scientist offended by the blogger’s dismantling of his junk science.

    • Bhutan journalist hit by defamation suit for sharing Facebook post

      It is known as the land of gross national happiness, a country that puts contentment before the trappings of wealth and power. But discontent is growing in Bhutan after one of the country’s best-known journalists was hit with a defamation suit for sharing a story on Facebook.

      In a case that will test the boundaries of freedom of speech in the tiny Himalayan kingdom, independent journalist Namgay Zam, a former presenter on the state-run broadcaster Bhutan Broadcasting Service, faces imprisonment or a fine equivalent to 10 years’ salary if she is found guilty of defaming a prominent businessman.

    • Rap star handed five YEARS in jail after Sharia court says his songs are blasphemous

      A Sharia court convicted the 29-year-old singer after he was banned from performing due to the nature of his music.

      Amir Tataloo’s fans reacted furiously to the news that he had been apprehended while walking down a street in the capital Tehran in August.

      He has been held in custody until his trial this week and will now be forced to endure physical punishment after defying the Ministry of Culture.

      According to reports Mr Tatoloo refused to leave the country he was born in and defied orders to stop performing.

    • The Failure of Facebook Democracy

      In December of 2007, the legal theorist Cass R. Sunstein wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the filtering effects that frequently attend the spread of information on the Web. “As a result of the Internet, we live increasingly in an era of enclaves and niches—much of it voluntary, much of it produced by those who think they know, and often do know, what we’re likely to like,” Sunstein noted. In the piece, “The Polarization of Extremes,” Sunstein argued that the trend promised ill effects for the direction—or, more precisely, the misdirection—of public opinion. “If people are sorted into enclaves and niches, what will happen to their views?” he wondered. “What are the eventual effects on democracy?”

    • It’s time to get rid of the Facebook “news feed,” because it’s not news

      In the wake of the US election, critics have blamed Facebook for bringing about—at least in part—Trump’s surprise win. A BuzzFeed report showed that Facebook users interacted far more with “fake news” stories about both candidates than they did with mainstream news outlets before the election. This wouldn’t seem like such a big deal if it weren’t for a Pew Research Center survey showing that 44% of Americans rely on Facebook to get all their news.

      But proving whether fake news influenced the election more than the usual political propaganda is impossible. What’s certain is that fake news on Facebook is a symptom of a larger problem: the company is trying to play contradictory roles as both trustworthy news publisher and fun social media platform for personal sharing. The problem is that it cannot be both—at least not without making some changes.

    • James Woods Quits Twitter Over ‘Censorship’ of Alt-Right After Suing User Who Called Him a Coke Addict
    • Actor James Woods quits Twitter, citing censorship
    • ‘Buh-bye’: Twitter zaps ‘dramatic b*tch’ James Woods for quitting site over ‘censorship’ of racists
    • I QUIT! James Woods to leave Twitter over alt-right ban and censorship
    • Conservative Actor James Woods Quits Twitter Over Censorship Concerns
    • He’s done! Fed-up James Woods bids Twitter a not-so-fond farewell over political censorship
    • How attacking the alt-right only adds to the flames

      What blissful days these must be for the alt-right.

      Their preferred candidate for president is transitioning into the White House.

      Their champion, Steve Bannon, formerly CEO of the most mainstream media platform for alt-right voices on the internet, Breitbart.com, has secured a place in the West Wing at elbow’s length from the new president.

      And the conventional media seem to be stumbling around trying to decide whether to explain the alt-right, ignore it, censor it or refuse to even speak its name.

      Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, fears the very term “alt-right” is a sinister “branding move” to give cover to racists. Instead, he suggests journalists should use phrases such as “the alt-right, a white nationalist, anti-Semitic movement.”

    • 60 percent of Russians think Internet censorship is necessary, poll finds

      Sixty percent of Russians believe that Internet censorship — in particular, the banning of certain websites and material — is necessary, according to a new poll.

      Just 25 percent opposed the idea; the rest of the respondents didn’t know or declined to answer.

      The poll was conducted by the Levada Center, an independent polling firm, which asked Russians questions about trust in media and censorship between Oct. 21 to 24. On the subject of political censorship, 32 percent of Russians said that denying access to certain websites would infringe upon the rights and freedoms of activists, while 44 percent said it did not and 24 percent could not answer.

    • Russia starts blocking LinkedIn network
    • U.S. says concerned over Russia blocking access to LinkedIn
    • LinkedIn Blocked In Russia; Government Says It Threatens Russian Online Censorship Drive
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Argentina Orders Telecoms To Create A Permanent Database Of All Mobile Phone Users

      Even one is a problem, for reasons that Edward Snowden and Andrew “bunnie” Huang pointed out earlier this year: a mobile phone is “the perfect tracking device.” The new register may indeed help tackle the theft of mobile phones in Argentina. But it will also create a powerful and dangerous new resource that the authorities will surely be unable to resist dipping into for other purposes.

    • Look Inside the Windowless New York Skyscraper Linked to the NSA

      Since publishing a story about an apparent National Security Agency surveillance site in New York, The Intercept has obtained several previously unseen photographs from within the building, offering a rare glimpse behind its thick concrete and granite walls.

      On Wednesday, we reported that top-secret documents indicate there is an NSA spy hub inside the massive, windowless skyscraper at 33 Thomas Street, used by AT&T to route communications across the world. The 550-foot tower contains equipment that covertly monitors phone calls, faxes, and internet data, according to the documents. But with the exception of employees who have worked at the building, few people have ever been allowed inside the iconic brutalist structure, which was built to withstand a nuclear attack amid the Cold War.

      Stanley Greenberg, a 60-year-old artist based in Brooklyn, shared a series of photographs he took in September 1992 while visiting 33 Thomas Street. Back then, before the 9/11 attacks, security was not as tight. At the time, Greenberg was carrying out research for a book, Invisible New York, and AT&T granted him access. The photographs never made it into the book, but Greenberg revisited his photo archive this week and sent the pictures to The Intercept after reading the revelations about the building’s apparent role as an NSA site, code-named TITANPOINTE.


      One of Greenberg’s photos (featured at the top of this article) clearly shows some of AT&T’s “4ESS switch” equipment that is used to send phone calls across networks. The NSA’s documents describe the TITANPOINTE facility as containing a “RIMROCK access,” which is what the agency calls the 4ESS switches that it taps into. By 2004, at least one of these was an “international gateway” used to route foreign calls to and from the U.S., a former AT&T engineer has said.

      Another photograph taken by Greenberg (below) shows a room full of large batteries, which were likely used as a back-up energy source for the building in the event of a power failure. Original planning documents for 33 Thomas Street state that it would have enough emergency power to last two weeks, enabling it to become a “self-contained city” in the event of a catastrophe.


      Klein later moved to California, where he continued his work for AT&T. In 2006, he alleged in a sworn court declaration that the company had maintained a secure room in one of its San Francisco offices, which he stated had been equipped with NSA technology to spy on phone and internet traffic. Klein told The Intercept that he didn’t know of any NSA presence at 33 Thomas Street, but it did not surprise him to discover its apparent role as the TITANPOINTE surveillance site.

      “I always assumed and gathered information back then that there were numerous other offices like the one in San Francisco,” he said. “I was only aware of the ones on the West Coast, from talking to people. But logically I assumed there had to be some in places like New York or Chicago, the major telecom centers.”

    • ‘National Bird’ Confronts Perils Of Becoming Drone Whistleblower

      President Barack Obama’s administration institutionalized a drone program that involves a targeted assassination policy for individuals put on kill lists. It not only devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in countries, like Afghanistan, but it traumatizes the military officers, who are part of the system which makes strikes possible. But for them, there is little to no support for the depression, suicidal ideations, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) they develop as a result of the horrible things they are asked to do.

      As the documentary, “National Bird,” shows, the officers struggle with the morality of their actions, but they face a presidential administration, which has criminalized more whistleblowers than all other previous presidential administrations combined. Officers who speak out about the drone program face the prospect of harsh prosecution under the Espionage Act, as if talking about what they saw as officers is treasonous. That weighs heavy on veterans of the drone program and makes them terrified to be labeled whistleblowers because they know how the government could destroy their lives if they become known to the public as whistleblowers.

    • Law updating GCHQ’s power passes final hurdle in Parliament

      A new law giving GCHQ increased powers is set to become law.

      The Investigatory Powers Bill has been passed by peers in the House of Lords and there only remains some discussion of possible amendments in both houses of Parliament before Royal Assent by the Queen makes it law.

      Privacy campaigners have criticised the bill as ‘Snooper’s Charter II’ after the 2012 Draft Communications Bill which was blocked by Liberal Democrats in the coalition government.

    • Trump’s CIA Director Pick Thinks Using Encryption ‘May Itself Be A Red Flag’

      Donald Trump announced on Friday that he’s chosen Congressman Mike Pompeo to run the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the premiere spy agency of the United States.

      Pompeo, a Republican lawmaker from Kansas and a former Army officer, has little-to-no experience in the world of intelligence (other than being part of the House Intelligence Committee), but he’s distinguished himself for being a strong supporter of mass surveillance and for thinking that using encryption, by itself, might be a sign that you’re a terrorist.

      “Forcing terrorists into encrypted channels, however, impedes their operational effectiveness by constraining the amount of data they can send and complicating transmission protocols, a phenomenon known in military parlance as virtual attrition,” Pompeo wrote in an op-ed published in January by The Wall Street Journal. “Moreover, the use of strong encryption in personal communications may itself be a red flag.”

    • TfL to track Tube users in stations by their MAC addresses

      Transport for London is to start a four week trial of reading Wi-Fi connection request data from London Underground passengers’ mobile phones.

      The trial, which will last four weeks from 21 November, “will help give TfL a more accurate understanding of how people move through stations, interchange between services and how crowding develops,” according to the transport authority.

      The idea is to develop a more accurate picture of how passengers make interchanges on the Tube network.

      Data available to TfL at present only records where people enter the London Underground and where they leave it, meaning figuring out their movements in between those points is a matter of educated guesswork.

    • Local Muslims express concerns about Flynn being tabbed as NSA director

      The selection of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for National Security Adviser has local Muslim leaders concerned about what it could mean for their community members.

      There’s already been some talk of a Muslim registry under a Trump administration, but the appointment of Flynn is adding to the concerns of Muslims in south-central Wisconsin.

      Flynn has been outspoken in his opposition to radical Islam, but that is not the part that bothers local Muslim leaders.

      He’s also taken aim at the religion as a whole, tweeting in February – “Fear of Islam is RATIONAL.”

    • NSA pick Flynn a critic of Muslim militancy, culture

      Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general and intelligence officer who is Donald Trump’s pick to serve as his national security adviser, is a harsh critic of Muslim extremism and the religion itself, calling “radical Islam” an existential threat to the United States.

      In strident speeches and public comments, including a fiery address at the Republican National Convention, Flynn has aggressively argued that Islamic State militants pose a threat on a global scale and demanded a far more aggressive U.S. military campaign against the group.

    • No Snoopers’ Charter – Donate
    • Top US intelligence official: I submitted my resignation
    • Clapper, US intel chief, resigns
    • Intelligence Director James Clapper Resigns
    • Next for the DNI
    • Intelligence chief to leave as Trump arrives
    • World Briefs: US spy chief resigns, to leave in January
    • Trump weighs dismantling top spy agency: report
    • Donald Trump Is Plotting to Eliminate a Cabinet-Level Position: Report
    • Adm. Michael Rogers Leading Candidate to Be Trump’s Director of National Intelligence
    • Donald Trump Hopes to Abolish Intelligence Chief Position, Reverse CIA Reforms

      Donald Trump’s national security team is discussing plans to dismantle the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the organization that was created in response to the 9/11 attacks, according to an adviser to the president-elect and a former senior intelligence official. The news comes as the current director of national intelligence, James Clapper, announced his resignation Thursday.

      The Trump national security team has been meeting in recent days, planning the removal of the cabinet-level position and assessing how to fold parts of the organization into the 16 federal intelligence agencies it oversees, according to both people with knowledge of the plans. If the restructuring is accomplished, it would undo legislation passed by Congress in 2004, dismantle the biggest American intelligence bureaucracy created since the end of World War II, and roll back a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

    • Police Just Found Phone & USB Stick Belonging To Paris Suicide Bomber, After Misplacing It For Almost Two Years

      Remember how, right after the Paris bombings, people started blaming encryption for the attacks, despite the fact it was later revealed that most of the planning was done in the open and communication occurred via unencrypted SMS messages? As we noted, it seemed pretty clear that the bombings were an intelligence and law enforcement failure rather than an encryption problem.

      Now, just to add more evidence to that conclusion in the most ridiculous way possible, apparently Brussels police just found a mobile phone and USB stick that had belonged to one of the suicide bombers in the Paris attacks, Brahim Abdeslam. The police had seized the phone and USB stick during a drug raid back in February of 2015… and promptly misplaced them entirely. They were found under a stack of papers. Really.

    • Mystery death of former spy worker found drowned in bath with his front door unlocked

      A former GCHQ employee once suspended from work because of an “incident” was found drowned in his bath with his flat’s front door unlocked, an inquest heard.

      Tomas Bleszynski, 28, had never expressed any suicidal thoughts to those closest to him and was actively seeking a new job at the time of his death.

    • SPY BATH DEATH RIDDLE Mystery surrounds case of GCHQ worker, 28, left face down in bath for up to three weeks
    • Mystery surrounds the death of a former spy worker, 28, who was found drowned in the bath with his front door unlocked

      A former GCHQ worker who was looking for a new job was found drowned in his bath with the front door of his flat unlocked by his parents.

      Tomas Bleszynski, 28, had never expressed suicidal ideas and seemed ‘completely normal’ when he last saw his parents a couple of months ago, an inquest heard.

      They found him laying face-down in his bath when they went to his Cheltenham flat – near the spy base – on April 17 because they had been unable to contact him.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • U.S. allowed Italian kidnap prosecution to shield higher-ups, ex-CIA officer says

      A former CIA officer has broken the U.S. silence around the 2003 abduction of a radical Islamist cleric in Italy, charging that the agency inflated the threat the preacher posed and that the United States then allowed Italy to prosecute her and other Americans to shield President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials from responsibility for approving the operation.

    • New CIA Director Mike Pompeo on torture, Muslims, terror, Iran, NSA spying

      Pompeo on Guantanamo Bay:

      “GTMO has been a goldmine of intelligence about radical Islamic terrorism. I have traveled to GTMO and have seen the honorable and professional behavior of the American men and women in uniform, who serve at the detention facility,” Pompeo said in a statement on Nov. 18. “The detainees at GTMO are treated exceptionally well – so well that some have even declined to be resettled, instead choosing to stay at GTMO. It is delusional to think that any plan the president puts before Congress to relocate radical Islamic terrorists to the U.S, and potentially Fort Leavenworth Kansas, will make our country safer. The reality is that this proposal will ultimately put Kansans and Americans in danger.”

    • Stopping Turnkey Tyranny: What The Obama Administration Can Do About The NSA On The Way Out

      Last week, I was a little unfair to our friends over at Fight for the Future in noting that it was too late for President Obama to “dismantle the NSA” as was suggested in a Time article written by FftF’s awesome campaign director Evan Greer. I was focusing on why the President should have limited the NSA much more seriously earlier on (like way earlier…), but some interpreted it to mean that I was suggesting that FftF had only just jumped on the bandwagon to stop mass surveillance. That’s clearly not true — as it’s been one of the leading voices in the fight to get the President to scale back mass surveillance since the group took on that issue many years ago.

    • Barack Obama will not pardon Edward Snowden unless he goes to court – while Trump’s CIA pick wants him executed

      There is very little chance President Barack Obama will pardon Edward Snowden before his final term is up – leaving his fate to an unforgiving Trump administration and an incoming CIA director who had called for his execution.

      Mr Snowden has lived in Russia since he leaked documents revealing a secret surveillance programme helmed by the National Security Agency in cooperation with major telecommunications companies. The Department of Justice charged Mr Snowden with two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917.

    • Obama suggests Snowden pardon unlikely
    • Obama: Pardon for Snowden Couldn’t Be Contemplated Until US Court Appearance
    • Snowden Fields Questions at Pen Int’l Session Dedicated to Imprisoned Writers
    • Amal Clooney told the UN they did nothing to help Isis sex slaves. Now she’s asking women to help instead

      After appearing before the United Nations for the first time and telling delegates she was “ashamed” to stand before them while they did nothing to prevent the rape and abuse of Yazidi women, Amal Clooney stood before a conference of women and urged them to join the fight for women’s rights in countries where they are most under threat.

      The renowned human rights lawyer gave the keynote speech at the Texas Conference for Women on Tuesday, where more than 100 leading women from different sectors also delivered talks.

      In September, Clooney condemned world leaders for their inaction over the persecution of the Yazidi community, a religious minority in northern Iraq who have been targeted by Isis. In her speech on Tuesday, Clooney spoke more about the plight of Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who was trafficked by Isis as a sex slave and now advocates on behalf of Yazidi women.

    • Trump’s Choice For Attorney General Is A Fan Of “Civil Asset Forfeiture”

      Civil asset forfeiture is victimization by government — removing any possibility of a defense. It’s taking without any sort of proof of wrongdoing by the person whose money has been hoovered up by the government; it’s the antithesis of our legal standard, “Innocent until proven guilty.”

      It turns citizens who have been convicted of nothing into victims of greedy law enforcement workers and officials, who typically get to keep the proceeds or part of the proceeds from stopping somebody on the road who’s carrying some cash and declaring it the result of ill-gotten gains…sometimes simply because people who are in the drug trade use a road and sometimes without as much as a bullshit excuse like that.

    • Jeff Sessions’ Nomination as Attorney General Alarms Civil Libertarians

      President-elect Donald Trump has nominated US Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be his administration’s attorney general, a move that civil liberties advocates are decrying as a likely catastrophe for privacy and immigration.

      While many of Trump’s forthcoming nominations will amount to little more than inside-the-Beltway gossip, Sessions stands out. He’s an advocate for surveillance and an enemy of encryption; an opponent of criminal justice reform; and a hardliner on immigration. First elected to the US Senate in 1996, he has long stood to the right even among his conservative Republican colleagues as a champion of security above all. As Attorney General, Sessions would have the power to radically recast the Obama administration’s definition of civil liberties online and off.

      The Senate Judiciary Committee must still approve Sessions’ nomination. But civil rights groups are already sounding the alarm over the possibility that he could become the most powerful law enforcement officer in the land. Sessions’ track record also suggest he’s also going to find himself at sharp odds with the tech industry’s liberal and libertarian-leaning leadership.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Facebook’s detailed open-source maps show the gaps in global internet connectivity

      The open-source maps were created in collaboration with the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network and World Bank statistics to create datasets that incorporate population demographics, infrastructure development and existing internet penetration to identify the connectivity gaps and how to fix them. Making them open source means NGOs, innovators or companies can access them. They plan to release more maps over the coming months.

    • Say good-bye to net neutrality

      In the wake of a Donald Trump’s upset victory, telecom industry players are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of eviscerating Barack Obama’s fledgling net neutrality rules.

      It was one of the crowning achievements of Obama’s administration when the FCC passed rules that barred broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing web traffic, or providing paid “fast lanes” for select content. The rules enshrined the principal that all data traveling through ISPs’ pipes had to be treated equally.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Tech Companies Urge Trump To Protect DMCA Safe Harbors

        Donald Trump isn’t in the White House yet is but already under pressure from people hoping to benefit from his influence. Among them Google, Facebook, and Twitter, which have written to the president-elect hoping that he’ll uphold the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA to prevent service providers from being held liable for user-uploaded content.

      • Librarians, Archivists, Call On WIPO Members To Create Safe Harbour Against Copyright Liability

        The age of digitisation has opened new doors to distribution of information including for libraries and archives. However, librarians and archivists are often confronted with risk of liability for copyright infringement, nationally and in cross-border activities. This week, they asked the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee to provide them not only with some exceptions to copyright, but with protection against liability.

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