António Campinos, Four Weeks on the Job, Still in Defiance/Violation of ILO Rulings, Still Engaging in PR and Face-Saving Distraction Instead

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t like Battistelli Cola? Try the new flavour, Fanta.

António Campinos FTI

Summary: The dream of changes/turnaround at the EPO is slipping away as EPO staff, notably examiners, gradually learn that their new friend “António” isn’t really doing much (if anything) to correct the policies of Battistelli; if anything, it has been somewhat of a PR stunt or a gentler face on harsh policies

A COUPLE OF WEEKS ago we noted that António Campinos continues to disregard (noncompliance with) ILO rulings. This is no laughing matter; as far as we know, he did not actually meet SUEPO and the victims of Battistelli’s union-busting campaign. Yesterday he published this nice-sounding second blog post titled “Listening to the Staff (warning: epo.org link). Listening but doing nothing? Who exactly did he listen to? Some EPO insiders wish to know.

Is he meeting the ‘compliant’ people/non-challenging cases? As some people have publicly pointed out, there’s no effort to meet the right people. Its’ like Battistelli producing faux ‘studies’ by meeting management-friendly people or the yellow union (which was happy enough to also do photo ops with Battistelli, Bergot and others).

Skipping his “coffee” joke, here’s the conclusion:

Above all, it is clear to me that all those I have had the pleasure of meeting directly are passionate about their work and care deeply for the future of this unique organisation. They have a profound collective knowledge of the EPO and a willingness to see it continue to succeed. I am convinced that if we can harness this extensive understanding and couple it to the expectations of our other stakeholders, the future of the EPO will continue to be very bright indeed.

But what have you, António, actually done so far to improve things? “A month and still nothing,” said the headline of this insider’s post from yesterday evening (almost coinciding with António’s post). To quote:

It has been a month since AT-ILO judgements were published. Märpel had the curiosity to check whether Ion Brumme is listed in the EPO phone book and there is still no mention of his name. Märpel also checked whether Patrick Corcoran is listed: he has a room in The Hague, but still no phone number.

So it seems that the judgements are still not implemented.

We’ve been able to corroborate. What exactly has António actually accomplished? We’ve seen him pushing UPC and software patents in Europe, that’s about all. He’s still imitating China — hardly a thing to be envied (one of his last actions in EUIPO was also outsourcing of EUIPO jobs to Asia).

So what’s the reason for optimism? António’s younger (than Battistelli’s) face? He is not tackling the lack of judges’ independence, corruption/finance mischief, union-busting efforts, patent maximalism and so on. Nothing! Not to mention that software patents are not allowed, yet these continue to be promoted.

An article by João Pereira Cabral (Inventa International) has just been published to say:

Computer programs appear on Article 52(2)(c) of the European Patent Convention (EPC), of 1973 as a subject matter excluded from the meaning of invention. However, in 2005, the European Patent Organization (EPO) had already granted over thirty thousand patents related to computer programs and, currently, computer-implemented inventions are the object of approximately 35% of European patent applications.

The justification lies on the rule contained on no. 3 of the mentioned article, that foresees that computer programs, as well as all the matters predicted in the same no. 2, will not be excluded of patentability unless «a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such».

The determination of the limits of patentability regarding computer-implemented inventions in Europe derives, essentially, from the decisions of the Technical Boards of Appeal (TBA) of EPO and the interpretation fixed on them, of the relevant provisions.

Although TBA’s decisions are not binding besides the instance in which they’re issued, they are taken as a guide by the examiners and other TBA.

TBA does not have independence, as we last noted earlier this week. So how can it be expected to end software patents? The above author is Portuguese (from the University of Lisbon), just like António, who is also French (born in France, educated in France). What will it take for António to realise that even his own staff, as per the blog post above, is growing impatient and already realising that António is another Benoît, i.e. another Frenchman with an accent in the name?

In our next post we shall show that EPO staff is still suffering; the EPO’s management is ruthless and uncaring for justice.

Links 26/7/2018: New Ubuntu ISOs, GCC 8.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 10:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • OSCON at 19, Open Source at 20, Linux at 27

    Now that Linux has achieved World Domination, seems it has nothing but friends. Big ones.

    That was my first take-away from O’Reilly’s 19th OSCON in Portland, Oregon. This one celebrated 20 years of Open Source, a category anchored by Linux, now aged 27. The biggest sponsors with the biggest booths—Microsoft, AWS, Oracle, Salesforce, Huawei—are all rare-metal-level members of the Linux Foundation, a collection that also includes pretty much every tech brand you can name, plus plenty you can’t. Hats off to Jim Zemlin and the LF crew for making that happen, and continuing to grow.

    My second take-away was finding these giants at work on collective barn-raising. For example, in his keynote, The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (sponsored by IBM), Chris Ferris, IBM’s CTO for Open Technology, told the story behind Hyperledger, a collaborative effort to foster cross-industry blockchain technologies. Hyperledger was started by Chris and friends at IBM and handed over to the Linux Foundation, where it is headed by Brian Behlendorf, whose long history with open source began with Apache in the mid-1990s.

    In an interview I did with Chris afterwards, he enlarged on examples of collaboration between development projects within Hyperledger, most of which are led by large companies that are more accustomed to competing than to cooperating. A corollary point might be that the best wheels are the ones not re-invented.

  • High Resolution Linux Images You Can Use On Custom T-Shirts, Hoodies, Stickers Or Posters

    If you need some Linux-related images to use on custom t-shirts or hoodies, stickers, or as posters, you may want to check out the linux.pictures website.

    The website includes more than 100 awesome images (many more if you include picture variations) with Linux-related themes which can be used for free for any noncommercial purpose.

  • Desktop

    • What do you do when an application isn’t packaged for your Linux distro?

      Package managers make life so easy that many of us have forgotten what things were like in the olden days when getting a piece of software to work with your system was a real test of patience and endurance.

      But even so, not every piece of software comes readily packaged for your distribution of choice. Maybe you’re lucky and it’s a single file binary (from a trusted, verifiable source only, we hope!). Maybe it’s a .tar.gz file that you simply need to decompress. Perhaps it comes as a Flatpak or Snap file which will work across distributions. Or maybe you’re going to end up compiling from source. May the dependency gods smile upon your efforts!

    • Microsoft reveals Windows 10 connection endpoints to comply with GDPR

      MICROSOFT HAS RESPONDED to criticism about the amount of data Windows 10 exfiltrates by publishing all the various endpoints the operating system connects with.

  • Server

    • Our modern development environment at Mass.gov

      I recently worked with the Mass.gov team to transition its development environment from Vagrant to Docker. We went with “vanilla Docker,” as opposed to one of the fine tools like DDev, Drupal VM, Docker4Drupal, etc. We are thankful to those teams for educating and showing us how to do Docker right. A big benefit of vanilla Docker is that skills learned there are generally applicable to any stack, not just LAMP+Drupal. We are super happy with how this environment turned out. We are especially proud of our MySQL Content Sync image — read on for details!

    • Google Announces Edge TPU, Cloud IoT Edge at Cloud Next 2018

      After unveiling its enterprise Cloud Services Platform on the first day of its Cloud Next conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA, Google used Day 2 of the event to announce two new products that the company says will help customers “develop and deploy intelligent connected devices at scale”.

    • Google unwraps its gateway drug: Edge TPU chips for IoT AI code
    • Empowering businesses and developers to do more with AI

      AI has evolved dramatically in the last two decades. Technologies like image recognition and machine translation are now a part of everyday life for millions. AI has transformed industries all over the world, and created entirely new ones. And in the process, it promises an increase in quality of life and work never before imagined. But there’s still much more we can do—after all, AI is still a nascent field of many opportunities and challenges.

    • New Version of KStars, Google Launches Edge TPU and Cloud IoT Edge, Lower Saxony to Migrate from Linux to Windows, GCC 8.2 Now Available and VMware Announces VMworld 2018

      Google yesterday announced two new products: Edge TPU, a new “ASIC chip designed to run TensorFlow Lite ML models at the edge”, and Cloud IoT Edge, which is “a software stack that extends Google Cloud’s powerful AI capability to gateways and connected devices”. Google states that “By running on-device machine learning models, Cloud IoT Edge with Edge TPU provides significantly faster predictions for critical IoT applications than general-purpose IoT gateways—all while ensuring data privacy and confidentiality.”

    • Is it time to start climbing the ladder to Kubernetes?

      If you aren’t using Kubernetes, it’s probably a good time to familiarize yourself with a technology that is dramatically changing the way applications are being deployed today.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Snappy, Flatpak, and AppImage – For The Record

      Linux Snappy, Flatpak, and AppImage. Which is best and how do they differ? Does it matter? This article I did recently on Datamation is a good place to get started and helps shed some light on the differences between Snappy, Flatpak, and AppImage for Linux.

    • The Use Cases for Blockchain, Real and Hypothetical

      Blockchain has finally gotten over the Wall Street hump. Now that BitCoin and Ethereum are essentially old news, the actual technology behind these commodities is beginning to trickle into real-world enterprise applications. Blockchain, it seems, has many useful use cases out there in the business world, and with the help of the Linux Foundation and IBM, enterprises can now take advantage of the open source Hyperledger implementation of blockchain technology.

    • freeCodeCamp

      Quincy is a teacher who founded freeCodeCamp.org in 2014. He leads the open source project, which millions of people use each month to learn to code and get developer jobs. Quincy didn’t start programming until he was 31. Before that, he was a school director in the US and China.

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel symbol namespacing

      In order to actually do anything, a kernel module must gain access to functions and data structures in the rest of the kernel. Enabling and controlling that access is the job of the symbol-export mechanism. While the enabling certainly happens, the control part is not quite so clear; many developers view the nearly 30,000 symbols in current kernels that are available to all modules as being far too many. The symbol namespaces patch set from Martijn Coenen doesn’t reduce that number, but it does provide a mechanism that might help to impose some order on exported symbols in general.

      Kernel code can make a symbol (a function or a data structure) available to loadable modules with the EXPORT_SYMBOL() and EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() macros; the latter only makes the symbol available to modules that have declared a GPL-compatible license. There is also EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL_FUTURE(), which is meant to mark symbols that will be changed to a GPL-only export at some future time. The usage of this mechanism is also a matter for the future, though; it has not been employed since just after it was introduced in 2006. On the rare occasions when symbols have been changed to GPL-only exports, it has proved easier to just change them without putting advance notice in the code.

    • Tracking pressure-stall information

      All underutilized systems are essentially the same, but each overutilized system tends to be overloaded in its own way. If one’s goal is to maximize the use of the available computing resources, overutilization tends not to be too far away, but when it happens, it can be hard to tell where the problem is. Sometimes, even the fact that there is a problem at all is not immediately apparent. The pressure-stall information patch set from Johannes Weiner may make life easier for system administrators by exposing more information about the real utilization state of the system.

    • Six (or seven) new system calls for filesystem mounting

      Mounting filesystems is a complicated business. The kernel supports a wide variety of filesystem types, and each has its own, often extensive set of options. As a result, the mount() system call is complex, and the list of mount options is a rather long read. But even with all of that complexity, mount() does not do everything that users would like. For example, the options for a mount operation must all fit within a single 4096-byte page — the fact that this is a problem for some users is illustrative in its own right. The problems with mount() have come up at various meetings, including at the 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. A set of patches implementing a new approach is getting closer to being ready, but it features some complexity of its own and there are some remaining concerns about the proposed system-call API.

    • There Are A Ton Of New Features/Improvements Heading Towards Linux 4.19

      While the Linux 4.18 kernel is still likely a week and a half out from being released at least, a ton of new material has been staged already ahead of the Linux 4.19 cycle that has us excited.

    • Benchmarks

      • 20-Way NVIDIA/AMD Vulkan Linux Gaming Performance Comparison

        For those curious about the current performance state for the recent wave of Vulkan-powered Linux games, which so far are primarily Linux game ports from Feral Interactive, aside from Valve’s Dota 2 and Croteam’s games, here are some fresh benchmarks using twenty different graphics cards on the latest drivers.

        The AMD Radeon graphics card testing was using Mesa 18.2-devel via the Oibaf PPA as of 22 July. The Linux 4.17.8 kernel was in use for the latest stable AMDGPU DRM driver support. The Radeon graphics cards tested — based upon what I had available — were the Radeon HD 7950, R7 260X, R9 285, R9 290, RX 560, RX 580, R9 Fury, RX Vega 56, and RX Vega 64. Note that with the GCN 1.0/1.1 graphics cards they were booted with the AMDGPU DRM driver support being enabled in order to attain RADV Vulkan driver compatibility.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Interview with Andre of Vida de Suporte (Helpdesk’s Life)

        Tomaz> How do you feel about representing Brazilian’s technical comics at Akademy?

        Andre> Like a soccer player representing their National Team in Wolrd Cup. But without the fortune, the supermodels and the fancy cars. But, seriouly, I was very surprised by the invitation and right now I feel extremely flattered. It is a rewarding recognition.

        Tomaz> Can people approach you to ask for a cartoon at Akademy?

        Andre> Yes, absolutely! As long as they don’t ask for a cartoon of them naked!

        Tomaz> What do you think of KDE’s drawing programs?

        Andre> Krita is light, relatively easy to use and its features helps artists be more efficient.

        Tomaz> MS Paint or Krita?

        Andre> Krita. Krita has a lot more features. It’s a professional tool.

      • KStars v2.9.7 is Released!

        Just in time before the next total lunar eclipse of 2018, KStars v2.9.7 is out for Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

        This is a feature-rich release while still continuing on making KStars more resilient and reliable.

      • I’m going to Akademy, again

        A little bit less than a month and I will be at Akademy again, KDE’s annual conference. This is the place where you can meet one of the most amazing open source communities. To me it’s kind of my home community. This is where I have learned a lot about open source, where I contributed tons of code and other work, where I met a lot of awesome friends. I have been to most Akademy events, including the first KDE conference “Kastle” in 2003. But I missed the one last year. I’m more than happy to be back this year in Vienna on August 11.


        It’s a special honor to me to present the Akademy Awards this year together with my fellow award winners from last year. It was hard to choose because there are so many people who do great stuff in KDE. But we have identified a set of people who definitely deserve this prize. Join us at the award ceremony to find out who they are.

      • Atelier at The Developers Conference SP 2018

        As you may know, there are two events in every year that I try to attend, one is Campus Party and the resume of that is here, and the second is The Developers Conference.

        And last week the edition of TheDevConf Sao Paulo happened, and I was able to see my friends, connect with new people, and for the first time, I was able to coordinate one of the tracks with my friends Gedeane Kenshima and Fernando Veiga.

      • KDE neon Bionic Update

        The work to rebase KDE neon on Bionic is progressing. Apologies if it feels slow but it’s keeping our infrastructure busy while continuing with the xenial builds alongside. I’ve just managed to get the package version check to turn green which means all the packages are now built.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • How was GUADEC for you?

        Did you come to GUADEC in Alméria? Did you decide to avoid the sweltering heat and stay home? Were you thwarted by visa bureaucracy?

      • GUADEC 2018

        From the 2th of July I have been travelling from Italy all the way to the south Spain by train, to attend GUADEC 2018. During this long trip, I didn’t just sleep, but I kept working on Fractal and some other cool things.


        I was travelling with Tobias, and at some point we randomly met Bastian on the train from Madrid to Almera, so the travel turned into a hackfest on the train.

      • Filter expressions

        During my Google Summer of Code project I implement message search for Dino, a XMPP client focusing on ease of use and security.

  • Distributions

    • Best Security Focused Linux Distros for Ethical Hacking and Pentesting

      A hacker needs a security focused operating system to help discover the weakness in computer systems or network. Among Windows and MAC OS, Linux distributions have the most countless distributions for various purposes. Some are designed for general purposes, such as office suite like what windows and MAC OS do and others are for specific tasks and purposes, such as server, security, and penetration testing.I will not be debating Windows vs MAC vs Linux distributions much more, instead we will focus on what are the best Linux distribution for ethical hacking. For some beginners in the security field this article will help you get started. Because there are so many Linux distributions aimed specifically to do security assessment or penetration testing. The list below is based on combining my objective on this field and the most “popular forensics distribution category” listed on DistroWatch.com. DistroWatch is a page which display various Linux distributions, popularity rankings, news and another general information.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Windows scores a win over Linux as another state decides to switch

        The authority reasons that many of its field workers and telephone support services already use Windows, so standardisation makes sense. An upgrade of some kind would in any case be necessary soon, as the PCs are running OpenSuse versions 12.2 and 13.2, neither of which is supported anymore.

        According to the Lower Saxony’s draft budget, €5.9m is set aside for the migration in the coming year, with a further €7m annually over the following years; it’s not yet clear how many years the migration would take.

      • The German state of Lower Saxony plans to migrate 13,000 PCs to current version of Windows

        If the reports are believed to be true, around 13,000 workstations running OpenSuse will be migrated to a current version of Windows. The tax authority in German state Lower Saxony is planning to migrate 13,000 workstations to Windows 10 operating system from Linux.


        The timetable for Lower Saxony’s migration is not available and it’s not yet clear how many months or years the migration would take.

    • Slackware Family

      • July security updates: Chromium and Flash

        I have uploaded new packages for Chromium. The version 67.0.3396.99 was released a month ago but the source remained unavailable for a while and then I “went under” for a while. Now that I finally built and uploaded it, I noticed there’s a new version up today (68.0.3440.75) but I will wait a bit with that one and focus on Plasma5 next.

      • Helping Patrick and Slackware Linux
      • Patrick, next Slackware and moving forward with KDE Plasma5

        I assume that many of you will have been reading the recent Linux Questions thread “Donating to Slackware” and in particular Patrick Volkerding’s reply where he explains that the Slackware Store (an entity independent of Slackware with which he has a business arrangement involving a percentage of sales profit and medical insurance) has not been paying him any money for the last two years and that most likely all the PayPal donations through the Store have gone into the pockets of the Store owners. Read that thread if you have not done so yet.
        Basically Pat is broke. That thread lists a PayPal address which Pat eventually shared and where donations can be sent directly to him, so that he can fix his roof, his airco, his crashing server and his wife’s car. That would be a start.

        That LQ thread is also perused to discuss possible ways forward for Pat (setting up a Patreon account, or a business PayPal account, etc) so that he can support his family and continue working on Slackware. To me it looks like the Store will be a thing of the past unless they change their attitude. Switching from a business model where revenue is generated from optical media sales, to a model where supporters set up a recurring payment in exchange for the prolonged existence of their favorite distro, and possibly get Pat to write up some hands-on stories as a reward, may ultimately benefit Pat, and Slackware, more than the way things are handled at the moment. If you are doubting the financial impact of a recurring payment through Patreon or PayPal, look at it this way: if you donate one euro per month, you will probably not even notice that the money is shifted out. But with 2000 people donating one euro per month, Pat would have a basic income (pre-tax) already. Not a lot, but it’s a start. The 2000 people is a rough estimate of the people who ordered a DVD or CD through the store: the owners told Pat that the earnings of the 14.2 release were 100K (and Pat got 15K out of that, go figure!). Divide that through ~50 euro per DVD, results in 2000 people. Then there’s all these people who donated money through the Store or bought shirts, caps and stickers. I think the amounts of money even a small community (like us Slackware users) can contribute should enable Pat to shed his financial worries. The fact that the Slackware Store basically has been ripping off the hand that feeds them is enraging and inexcusable.
        This is all about a community standing up to provide support for what (or who) bonds us together.

      • Financial woes for Slackware’s Patrick Volkerding

        Patrick Volkerding, who is the founder and benevolent dictator for life of the Slackware Linux distribution, posted a note at LinuxQuestions.org detailing some financial problems. It appears they mostly stem from a deal that he made with the Slackware Store that has gone badly awry.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Deep learning and free software

        Deep-learning applications typically rely on a trained neural net to accomplish their goal (e.g. photo recognition, automatic translation, or playing go). That neural net uses what is essentially a large collection of weighting numbers that have been empirically determined as part of its training (which generally uses a huge set of training data). A free-software application could use those weights, but there are a number of barriers for users who might want to tweak them for various reasons. A discussion on the debian-devel mailing list recently looked at whether these deep-learning applications can ever truly be considered “free” (as in freedom) because of these pre-computed weights—and the difficulties inherent in changing them.

        The conversation was started by Zhou Mo (“Lumin”); he is concerned that, even if deep-learning application projects release the weights under a free license, there are questions about how much freedom that really provides. In particular, he noted that training these networks is done using NVIDIA’s proprietary cuDNN library that only runs on NVIDIA hardware.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Top 6 CCleaner Alternatives For Ubuntu

            Do you like to work on a slow machine? No, right? Therefore, there is a need for a utility that can keep a check on your system.

            One of the popular applications that helps you to make your systems fast is CCleaner. It cleans out the junk from your devices, including invalid or expired registry entries and temporary files. Not only this, it can remove the browser’s history and uninstall the dead programs automatically.

            Unfortunately, there is no CCleaner for Linux machines. Therefore. If you were using CCleaner on Windows and recently switched to Ubuntu Linux, you must be looking for a system cleaner. We are going to list a few applications that give you the similar functionalities as CCleaner for Ubuntu Linux OS.

          • How to Delete the Rubbish Bin Icon from the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 18.10 Desktop

            As you are aware, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) is the first long-term support release of the Ubuntu Linux operating system to ship with the GNOME desktop environment by default. The first Ubuntu release to adopt the GNOME desktop instead of Unity was Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), which reached end of life on July 17, 2018.

            While Ubuntu 17.10 was considered a testbed for Ubuntu’s new GNOME-based look and feel, Canonical did their best to resemble the Unity interface used until now with a dock placed on the left side of the screen and panel on top of it. However, the new dock does not yet support interactive icons like the Rubbish Bin/Trash one.

          • Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Released, Available to Download Now

            Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS is the first of five scheduled point releases that Canonical plans to release for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), and it includes all the latest software and security updates that were published on the official repositories since April 26, 2018, when Ubuntu 18.04 LTS was unveiled.

            Unfortunately, Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS doesn’t bring an updated kernel, nor graphics stacks because there’s no new Ubuntu version to backport them from. Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) is still in development, due for release on October 18, 2018, and it’s currently running the same kernel and graphics stack as Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS Released

            For those that tend to wait for the first point release of a new Ubuntu LTS relase before upgrading, Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” is now available.

          • Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS released

            The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support.

            As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

            Ubuntu Budgie 18.04.1 LTS, Kubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, Ubuntu MATE 18.04.1 LTS, Lubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, Ubuntu Kylin 18.04.1 LTS, and Xubuntu 18.04.1 LTS are also now available.

          • First point release of 18.04 LTS available today

            Today sees the first point release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, conveniently named 18.04.1 LTS. Point releases for an LTS include a roll-up of all bug fixes and security updates which have been pushed out since the original 18.04 LTS ISO was published in April. If you’re already running 18.04 LTS, and you have been updating regularly, then you will already have all of these applied and so essentially you’re already running 18.04.1 LTS. The point release is an opportunity for us to make a new ISO image, and so people downloading and installing from the release of the new images will benefit from having those updates available immediately.

          • Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS Released, Download Links & Details Inside

            Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS combines all the bug fixes, app updates, and security patches that have been issued to the OS since the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release back in April to create a brand new download image.

          • Lubuntu 18.04.1 has been released!

            Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, we are pleased to announce that Lubuntu 18.04.1 LTS has been released!

          • MAAS 2.5.0 alpha 1 released!

            I’m happy to announce that the current MAAS development release (2.5.0 alpha 1) is now officially available in PPA for early testers.

          • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E20 – Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Ubuntu Podcast

            It’s Season 11 Episode 20 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Ryan are connected and speaking to your brain.

          • Bringing Electron applications to millions of Linux users

            Electron is one of the most popular frameworks for creating cross-platform desktop applications right now. Many developers use electron-builder to do the heavy-lifting of package management for their Electron apps.

          • AI, ML, & Ubuntu: Everything you need to know

            AI and ML adoption in the enterprise is exploding from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. Ubuntu is the premier platform for these ambitions — from developer workstations, to racks, to clouds and to the edge with smart connected IoT. One of the joys that come with new developer trends are a plethora of new technologies and terminologies to understand.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ​What is Mycroft: The Wildly Popular Open Source Alternative to Alexa, Siri and Google Home

    Smart Speakers the likes of Amazon’s (AMZN) Alexa and Google (GOOGL) Home Max are part of the AI-powered voice assistant technological revolution currently sweeping across the globe, making the new category already the fastest-growing technology product ever (yes, EVER). Control and innovation of these products currently rests primarily in the hands of the major tech giants, essentially contained to closed, black box models. As they battle vehemently with each other to protect their IP of the hardware and software—and more importantly, the data that they collect from the speakers—the rest of the world is left largely in the dark as to their intentions.

    Reading the trends for a more open approach toward voice user interfaces, and the rising need for consumer privacy, a startup by the name of Mycroft has emerged on the scene as a formidable alternative to its bigger peers. The company has developed the world’s first open source voice AI platform and has attracted developers around the globe and millions of dollars in institutional support.

  • IBM, Google Partner on Knative Open-Source Serverless Cloud Project

    Today’s topics include IBM and Google announcing their new Knative serverless cloud project, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology updating recommendations for mobile application security.

    On July 24 at Google Next ’18 in San Francisco, IBM and Google announced an open-source serverless cloud computing project called Knative, which has the potential to redefine how serverless computing can be used to build cloud architectures and expand the use of the serverless genre beyond mere functions.

    Knative will serve as a bridge for serverless computing to coexist and integrate with containers atop Google Kubernetes in a cloud-native computing system.

  • An Open-Source Solution to Autonomous Vehicle Safety

    Oregon-based FLIR Systems has a clear dog in the fight, being the largest commercial manufacturer specializing in thermal imaging sensors, components, and cameras. But the company is taking a unique approach to the issue by adopting open source.

    In July, the company released a machine learning dataset of over 10,000 thermal images for researchers, engineers, and manufacturers working on self-driving vehicles and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Those images can be leveraged in training the neural network artificial intelligence behind autonomous and connected vehicles.

  • How Open Source Became The Default Business Model For Software

    Since its inception in 1998, open source has become the de-facto standard for software development and proven itself as a viable business model. While making source code freely available for redistribution and modification may seem counterintuitive, the success of companies like Red Hat and Canonical are proof that an open source model can turn a profit.

  • Events

    • Community Leadership Summit Recap and Pictures

      The event was fantastic. We had over 200 great attendees (from all manner of backgrounds, disciplines, and experience), 8 keynotes, 40+ discussion sessions, and a raft of fantastic hallway discussions, social events, and more. Thanks also to Todd Lewis, Aaron Griswold, Van Riper, Catharine Lipton, and others who helped make this a success.

      While CLS is in it’s ninth year, this year felt even more energized than usual. There were some deep, complex discussions getting to the heart of how people collaborate, and these conversations covered a wide range of topics.

    • Hot Technologies on Track at Open Source Summit

      Open Source Summit North America is right around the corner. There will be hundreds of sessions, workshops, and talks, all curated by experts in the Linux and open source communities. It’s not an easy feat to choose the topics and sessions you want to attend at the event because there are so many topics and only so much time.

      In this article, we talk with Laura Abbott, a developer employed by Red Hat, and Bryan Liles, a developer at Heptio, a Kubernetes company, based in Seattle, Washington, about the upcoming event. Abbott is on the program committee for Open Source Summit, and Liles is one of the program chairs, working hard “to build out a schedule that touches on many aspects of Open Source.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla: Copyright Laws Stifle Creativity and Innovation

        Mozilla sees intellectual property [sic] legislation as a threat to the open Internet because it stifles creativity and innovation. The foundation, best known for its development of the Firefox browser, is now asking the NTIA to shield the Internet from bad policies while reforming outdated laws.

  • CMS/Self-Hosted

    • Best Self-Hosted File-Sharing Solutions

      Considering that high-profile data breaches make headlines on a regular basis these days, it’s no wonder that more users than ever want to reclaim the ownership of their data using self-hosted file-sharing solutions.

      If you think that running your own alternative to Dropbox and OneDrive requires more technical expertise than you have, think again. Modern self-hosted file-sharing solutions make it very simple to set up a cloud storage system on your own web server, and their features are difficult it live without once you’ve spent some time with them.

    • Best Self-Hosted IRC Clients

      While IRC (Internet Relay Chat) may not feel as fresh today as it did during its golden era, which spans from the 1990s to early 2000s, this application layer protocol that facilitates communication in the form of text isn’t going away anytime soon.

      Open source developers and enthusiasts have a particularly rosy relationship with IRC, and the Freenode network alone encompasses more than 90,000 users and 40,000 channels.

      If you would like to explore what IRC communities are all about, this list of top 5 best self-hosted IRC clients will help you pick the best IRC client for your home server so that you can connect from anywhere and any device.

    • Best Self-Hosted Learning Management Systems (LMS)

      Prior to the digital era, classes were restricted to lectures whose availability to the general public ranged from okay to abysmal. Fortunately, the times have changed and it’s now easier than ever to access high-quality educational content from the most prestigious universities in the world and independent educators with a passion for sharing knowledge. In fact, the e-learning market worldwide is forecast to surpass $243 billion by 2022, and learning management systems (LMS) are a major driver of this growth.

    • Best Self-Hosted Mapping Software

      There’s no denying that Google Maps has made travel much easier: you simply pick your destination and follow a route picked for you by a sophisticated algorithm that takes into consideration hundreds of different factors, including the current traffic situation.

      But even though Google Maps is free, there’s a price all users have to pay, and that price is your personal data. By default, Google Maps records your every move and sells the recorded data to advertisers, who are hungry to know where you shop, how long you stay there, and how often you return.

    • Best Self-Hosted Photo and Video Galleries

      The photos we take and the videos we record can bring us back in time and remind us of who we were, what we’ve accomplished, and who was there with us. But despite how precious photos and videos are to us, we willingly hand them over to corporations running image and video hosting services, social media networks, and file hosting sites.

    • Best Self-Hosted Wiki Software Products

      It was Sir Francis Bacon who first said that knowledge is power. Today, most of our collective knowledge about the world around us can be found on various wikis, which are websites or databases developed collaboratively by a community of users.

      Wikipedia is by far the most popular wiki in the world, currently featuring over 45 million pages in 301 languages. Nearly 500 visitors visit Wikipedia each month, and most of them have no idea that it’s possible to create a website just like Wikipedia for free and without any previous web development experience.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Scotiabank to share proprietary software development accelerator with open-source community

      Scotiabank today announced it will share bank-developed applications with the open-source software community, marking a significant milestone in the Bank’s digital transformation.

    • Top 5 pitfalls in open source software testing [Ed: Company that sells proprietary stuff badmouths FOSS]

      It is a fact that many organisations believe that by simply choosing the right testing tools and downloading them for free you automatically have a competent test regime in place – we have, unfortunately, experienced this mistake first hand on client visits


      There’s often a misconception around OSS that it is an automatically cost-effective choice because it is ‘free’. Although a well-selected OSS testing tool or platform may well be the best choice, there are strings attached. The most important question is whether your enterprise has the skills in-house to use and operate the tool already, and if not whether investing in training or recruitment is an option. We regularly encounter clients who have either not fully thought through the implications of adopting a particular tool, or who have incurred significant training costs that had not been initially budgeted for. This is especially true of those tools that require very specific technical skills to use and operate, and these skills can carry a significant technical cost to acquire, sometimes being non-transferable – it is important to check the technical requirements first!


      Written by Iain Finlayson, Senior Technical Test Engineer, Edge Testing Solutions

  • BSD

    • What is RAID-Z?

      File systems are older than UNIX itself. And ever since we started digitizing our lives onto tapes, disks and SSDs one threat has been eminent. That is of hardware failure. Data stored on disks is often more expensive than the disks themselves and this data need all the redundancy we can muster.


      RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent (Inexpensive) Disks. This refers to the industry wide practice of storing data not just on one disk but across multiple disks so that even when there’s a disk failure the data can be reconstructed from other disks. The way data is spread across disks is different for different types of redundancies accordingly they are named RAID 0, RAID 1, etc. We are not going to be dealing with them here. We would focus on a RAIDZ which is specific to OpenZFS.

      RAID (and also RAID-Z) is not the same as writing copies of data to a backup disk. When you have two or more disks set up in RAID the data is written to them simultaneously and all the disks are active and online. This is the reason why RAID is different from backups and more importantly why RAID is not a substitute for backups. If your entire server burns out, then all the online disks could go with the server, but backups will save your day. Similarly, if there’s single disk failure and something was not backed up, because you can’t do it everyday, then RAID can help you retrieve that information.

      Backups are periodically taken copies of relevant data and RAID is a real-time redundancy. There are several ways in which data is stored in traditional RAID systems, but we will not go into them here. Here, we would dive deep into RAIDZ which is one of the coolest features of OpenZFS.

    • FreeNAS vs unRAID

      As worrisome as it is, FreeNAS is still probably the only solution you can consider if you value your data. Monopolies are never good, and FreeBSD/FreeNAS with OpenZFS have quite a monopoly when it comes to reliable storage solution.

      unRAID may develop into a strong competitor in the future but for now, sticking to FreeNAS seems like the wisest option.


    • GCC 8.2 Released

      The GNU Compiler Collection version 8.2 has been released.

      GCC 8.2 is a bug-fix release from the GCC 8 branch containing important fixes for regressions and serious bugs in GCC 8.1 with more than 99 bugs fixed since the previous release.

    • GCC 8.2 Released, GCC 8.3 Coming Around Year’s End

      Jakub Jelinek of Red Hat today announced the relase of GCC 8.2 stable as the first point relase to the stable GCC 8 compiler that debuted earlier this year.

      GCC 8.2 just contains bug/regression fixes over GCC 8.1. Coming in though as perhaps the most notable fix for GCC 8.2 is fixed tuning when using -march=native on Intel Skylake CPUs and newer with this glaring shortcoming having been part of the GCC8 release for several months. If you tune for “-march=native” on GCC 8 with newer Intel CPUs, this fix may be noticeable for performance-sensitive workloads.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • DARPA launches POSH project for open source hardware IP blocks

        DARPA announced the first grants for its $1.5 billion Electronic Resurgence Initiative for accelerating chip development. More than $35 million went to a “Posh Open Source Hardware” project for developing and verifying hardware IP.

        The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the first grants for its Electronic Resurgence Initiative (ERI). The initial round, which will expand to $1.5 billion over five years, covers topics ranging from automating EDA to optimizing chips for SDR to improving NVM performance. Of particular interest is a project called POSH, (posh open source hardware), which intends to create a Linux-based platform and ecosystem for designing and verifying open source IP hardware blocks for next-generation system-on-chips.

      • RISC-V’s Open-Source Architecture Shakes Up Chip Design

        In the past decade, many technologists have adopted the mantra that software is eating the world. However, all of that software has to run on something. And that something is silicon.

        Unfortunately, the chip world has hit a roadblock with the fade-out of Moore’s Law.

        The challenge of building circuits that require years of research and development, combined with rapid advancements in software, is making it more difficult for silicon designers to predict the future. Given the multimillion-dollar stakes associated with new chip architectures, every investment is a big risk.

        Meanwhile, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Samsung have decided to build their own silicon instead of relying on Intel, Qualcomm, or others. Thus, investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a new chip architecture becomes even riskier, with less potential to win a major new customer.

        These shifts have produced a boom of interest in a chip architecture called RISC-V (pronounced “risk-five”), which was created eight years ago at the University of California, Berkeley. RISC-V is the fifth generation of the “reduced instruction set computer” type of architecture. Just like the instruction sets for the ARM, PowerPC, or x86 architectures, RISC-V defines how the computer operates at the most basic software level.

  • Programming/Development

    • The PEP 572 endgame

      Over the last few months, it became clear that the battle over PEP 572 would be consequential; its scale and vehemence was largely unprecedented in the history of Python. The announcement by Guido van Rossum that he was stepping down from his role as benevolent dictator for life (BDFL), due in part to that battle, underscored the importance of it. While the Python project charts its course in the wake of his resignation, it makes sense to catch up on where things stand with this contentious PEP that has now been accepted for Python 3.8.

      We first looked at the discussion around PEP 572 back in March, when the second version of the PEP was posted to the python-ideas mailing list. The idea is to allow variable assignment inline, so that certain constructs can be written more easily. That way, an if or while, for example, could have a variable assignment in the statement and the value of the variable could be used elsewhere in the block (and, perhaps, beyond). The scope of those assignments is one of the areas that has evolved most since the PEP was first introduced.

    • Starting your first Python project

      There’s a gap between learning the syntax of the Python programming language and being able to build a project from scratch. When you finish reading your first tutorial or book about Python, you’re good to go for writing a Fibonacci suite calculator, but that does not help you starting your actual project.


      It’s not a secret that Python has several versions that are supported at the same time. Each minor version of the interpreter gets bugfix support for 18 months and security support for 5 years. For example, Python 3.7, released on 27th June 2018, will be supported until Python 3.8 is released, around October 2019 (15 months later). Around December 2019, the last bugfix release of Python 3.7 will occur, and everyone is expected to switch to Python 3.8.

    • What’s the cost of feature flags?


  • Science

    • The Marxist and the Gamers: Reading, Fortnite, and My Students’ Identities

      It would demean Sam and Karl’s reading passion merely to say that they both ended up at terrific colleges. They had deeper purposes. They used books to build identities.

      Historically, that used to be common. Scholars have described how reading transformed people’s faith lives in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries, started revolutions in the eighteenth, and refashioned individuals’ sense of self in the nineteenth and twentieth. Reading formed the spine of a “civilizing process” that curbed societal violence in early-modern times. Reading created a “public sphere” of ideas that became prerequisite for the American, French, and Latin American revolutions as well as subsequent democratic politics. Reading, everything from scripture to novels, was fundamental in creating the modern Western-World self.

  • Hardware

    • As NXP deal collapses Qualcomm banks $500 million payout from unnamed hold-out (read Huawei)

      Much of the coverage around Qualcomm’s recent quarterly results announcement has not surprisingly focused on the company’s decision to walk away from its proposed takeover of semiconductor rival NXP. The breakdown of the deal, almost two years after it was originally announced, came in light of the failure by Chinese authorities to give the tie-up a green light. As it licked its wounds from what has been a particularly tortuous deal-making process, Qualcomm launched a $30 billion share buy-back to help cushion the blow for stockholders; notably it also revealed that its third quarter numbers reflected a $500 million payment…

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Conceptualizing Minimum Core Beyond Affordable Goods And Services – Trade For Human Rights As A Minimum Core Obligation

      Taking a proactive approach to designing trade and investment policies that align with public health priorities and that do not undermine the right to health is therefore an important human rights obligation of governments. I would argue that this is an important minimum core obligation because it is one that can be implemented with immediate effect, without large investment of resources. But many countries – particularly small developing countries – that have little economic or political clout in trade negotiations are faced with difficult trade-offs between joining trade and investment agreements to benefit from the global economy, and the need to protect policy space for pursuing their public health priorities. It is incumbent on all countries therefore to work collectively to promote systemic change and develop global principles and mechanisms for a more equitable policy framework for financing medical innovation. Many proposals have been made, not least by the series of global commissions that have addressed the contradictions between trade and health over the years. Pursuing these measures that would work towards greater equity in access to medicines – particularly all lifesaving medicines, and not just the inexpensive ones that are on the WHO essential medicines list – is surely a minimum core obligation of states necessary for the fulfillment of the human right to health.

  • Security

    • Enterprise Windows 10 users, Microsoft has some ‘quality’ patches coming your way

      Running Windows 10 in the enterprise? Took the advice of Microsoft when it said the April 2018 Update was ready for the big leagues? You probably want to install last night’s “quality improvements”.

      In what is starting to feel a little more frequent than it should, Microsoft pushed out a raft of fixes for the 1803 incarnation of Windows 10 (aka the April 2018 Update), marking the third such update in July and taking the build number to 17134.191.

    • Some of Intel’s Effort to Repair Spectre in Future CPUs

      Arjan van de Ven agreed it was extremely unlikely that anyone would claim to be skylake unless it was to take advantage of the RSB issue.

      That was it for the discussion, but it’s very cool that Intel is consulting with the kernel people about these sorts of hardware decisions. It’s an indication of good transparency and an attempt to avoid the fallout of making a bad technical decision that would incur further ire from the kernel developers.

    • More mitigations against speculative execution vulnerabilities

      Philip Guenther (guenther@) and Bryan Steele (brynet@) have added more mitigations against speculative execution CPU vulnerabilities on the amd64 platform.

    • The Internet Cannot be Trusted – Beamsplitters, Backdoors, and Broken Promises

      We all know that the Internet is not a fundamentally safe place. With the tremendous gains in information sharing and the conveniences that the Internet brings, come opportunities for exploitation. Fraud, harassment, surveillance, censorship, social and political manipulation, industrial and political espionage, data theft and discrimination have all taken hold in one of the greatest tools ever created by mankind.

      This article is intended to show you those failings in design, and the challenges ahead that engineers around the world have to imagine their way out of. I will focus heavily on network equipment, but this problem extends far beyond that horizon. PCs, mobile devices, industrial systems, the cloud, and databases around the world all face serious issues that beyond the scope of this writing.

    • Google takes on Yubico with its self-made Titan Security Key

      Google’s key, similar to Yubico’s YubiKey, will now be made available to the general unwashed, with Google announcing that it’ll first be made available for Cloud customers before going on sale in the coming months.

      The Titan uses multifactor authentication to protect people against phishing attacks and will be made available in multiple forms, such as a Bluetooth fob or USB stick, acting as an extra layer of security layer when logging into Google accounts.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Old Bluetooth flaw lets hackers steal data passing between devices

      The attack, which was disclosed in a research paper published Wednesday, is serious because it allows people to perform a man-in-the-middle attack on the connection between vulnerable devices. From there, attackers can view any exchanged data, which might include contacts stored on a device, passwords typed on a keyboard, or sensitive information used by medical, point-of-sale, or automotive equipment. Attackers could also forge keystrokes on a Bluetooth keyboard to open up a command window or malicious website in an outright compromise of the connected phone or computer.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Gray Lady Thinks Twice About Assange’s Prosecution

      Well, lordy be. A lawyer for The New York Times has figured out that prosecuting WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange might gore the ox of The Gray Lady herself.

      The Times’s deputy general counsel, David McCraw, told a group of judges on the West Coast on Tuesday that such prosecution would be a gut punch to free speech, according to Maria Dinzeo, writing for the Courthouse News Service.

      Curiously, as of this writing, McCraw’s words have found no mention in the Times itself. In recent years, the newspaper has shown a marked proclivity to avoid printing anything that might risk its front row seat at the government trough.

      Stating the obvious, McCraw noted that the “prosecution of him [Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers … he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”

      That’s because, for one thing, the Times itself published many stories based on classified information revealed by WikiLeaks and other sources. The paper decisively turned against Assange once WikiLeaks published the DNC and Podesta emails.

      More broadly, no journalist in America since John Peter Zenger in Colonial days has been indicted or imprisoned for their work. Unless American prosecutors could prove that Assange personally took part in the theft of classified material or someone’s emails, rather than just receiving and publishing them, prosecuting him merely for his publications would be a first since the British Governor General of New York, William Cosby, imprisoned Zenger in 1734 for ten months for printing articles critical of Cosby. Zenger was acquitted by a jury because what he had printed was proven to be factual—a claim WikiLeaks can also make.

    • Assange asylum may be ending

      As Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno visits the UK, there is growing speculation about a possible deal between the two countries to end years of a diplomatic saga after Julian Assange obtained asylum inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

    • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange may be evicted from embassy providing asylum, reports say

      WikiLeaks founder and former hacker Julian Assange could be evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has lived for six years while claiming diplomatic asylum, according to reports. The embassy cut off Assange’s internet connections, computers and phones several months ago, though he still speaks with his lawyers.

    • After Asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy Ends, What Awaits Julian Assange?

      The first scenario Greenwald identifies is that British authorities could prosecute Assange for “failure to surrender,” or the more significant charge of “contempt of court,” for failure to comply with bail conditions in his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden on rape charges. He could be held in jail, especially for the latter, given his history.

    • Protest in London against Ecuadorian President Moreno’s persecution of Julian Assange

      Organised at short notice, a small group, mainly Latin American migrants and exiles, condemned the new President for his right-wing social policies and threats to withdraw protection from WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange.

      The formally given reason for Moreno’s visit to the UK was to attend the Summit. A growing number of credible reports, however, suggest that Moreno’s real purpose was to discuss secret plans with British government officials to evict Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and then arrest him.

      Assange has spent over six years inside the embassy, seeking asylum from ultimate extradition to the United States, where he could face a Grand Jury on possible charges of espionage that can carry a death sentence. The UK is playing a key role by maintaining breach of bail charges against Assange—relating to a case that no longer exists—as a pretext for taking him into custody if he steps out of the Embassy. A United Nations working group ruled in February 2016 that this amounted to arbitrary detention.

    • Hundreds sign petition to give Julian Assange asylum in New Zealand

      More than 1300 people have signed a petition asking the Government to give WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum in New Zealand.

      Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, fearing he would be extradited to the US if he was forced to answer questions from Swedish authorities investigating rape complaints against him.

      The charges were dropped last year, but Assange remains in the embassy – UK police have said they still plan to arrest him, since he breached his bail by hiding the embassy.

    • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange may be evicted from Ecuador embassy providing asylum, reports say
    • Julian Assange’s Asylum to be Rescinded

      Since Julian Assange is now an Ecuadorian citizen, President Moreno must protest his rights, says Alfred de Zayas, former UN independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order…

    • The Turnbull government must act to repatriate Australian citizen Julian Assange to Australia

      The Socialist Equality Party of Australia held a rally on Sunday, June 17 in Sydney’s Town Hall Square to demand the freedom of Julian Assange. The rally was attended by several hundred people who supported the demand that the Australian government act to secure the right of Assange, an Australian citizen, to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London and return to Australia with guarantees that he not be arrested or extradited to the United States. Below is the speech given to the rally by SEP National Secretary James Cogan.

    • Bringing Julian Assange Home

      Thank you for coming for Julian and thank you to the SEP for organizing this very important rally.

      The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.

      The Australian government and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have an historic opportunity to decide which it will be. They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home.

    • Defend Julian Assange!—Mobilise against threat to WikiLeaks founder!

      An emergency vigil took place outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London yesterday following credible reports that Ecuador’s government, under intense pressure from the United States and UK, is about to renege on the political asylum the former administration granted to WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange in 2012.

    • Assange: Protest outside embassy amid arrest rumours

      Protesters outside the Ecuadorian embassy are increasing their efforts amid reports that Julian Assange’s political asylum may soon be up.

    • What have been Wikileaks’ biggest revelations?

      As Julian Assange​ looks set to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy soon, what have been Wikileaks​’ biggest revelations?

    • Julian Assange Political Asylum New Zealand Petition Extended

      It went on to state that the reason for the petition is due to the fact that Assange “is under effective house arrest in UK. On 5 February 2016, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention since 7 Dec 2010.”

      The petition has obtained over 1,400 signatures in just over two weeks despite issues with the New Zealand government petition website, according to Scoop News Independent.

      The request is being made because supporters of WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief believe that he may be imminently handed over to U.K. authorities by the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Supporters claim that if this occurs his human rights, asylum rights and liberty will be placed in jeopardy.

    • Is Assange in a prison of his own making?

      Richard Creswick writes: Julian Assange’s situation should make us all ashamed at the lack of any defence from our government and opposition — though the government’s position is understandable, given their attacks on the freedoms and privacy of its domestic citizens.

    • Assange could be evicted from Ecuador Embassy

      The U.K. could be close to a deal on evicting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from London’s Ecuadorean Embassy.

    • Ecuador ‘close to evicting Assange’
    • CIA World Tour: Near East (the Middle East and North Africa)

      As part of our ongoing project to document Central Intelligence Agency activities around the planet, we’re compiling a curated list of links to records in the CIA archives, divided by country and presidential administration. Today we’re looking at the Near East (the Middle East and North Africa).

  • Finance

    • PayPal’s Outlook Disappoints Days After Loeb Raved About Company

      PayPal projected third-quarter revenue of $3.62 billion to $3.67 billion, compared with the average analyst estimate of $3.71 billion. The San Jose, California-based company forecasts adjusted earnings per share at 53 cents to 55 cents, about in line with analysts’ estimates of 54 cents.

    • Inside Google’s Shadow Workforce

      Every day, tens of thousands of people stream into Google offices wearing red name badges. They eat in Google’s cafeterias, ride its commuter shuttles and work alongside its celebrated geeks. But they can’t access all of the company’s celebrated perks. They aren’t entitled to stock and can’t enter certain offices. Many don’t have health insurance.

    • Afraid of “Political Repercussions,” HUD Delayed Action on Crumbling Public Housing

      As public housing deteriorated in Illinois’ southernmost city, bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development delayed stepping in because they wanted to avoid “political repercussions” and negative attention, according to a scathing audit released today.

      HUD’s inspector general, the agency’s investigative arm, said HUD officials bickered over whether a series of internal reports dating back to 2010, citing widespread mismanagement and worsening conditions in apartment complexes in Cairo, were sufficient to seize operations of the Alexander County Housing Authority, which owned the buildings. HUD officials also worried whether the agency could afford to run the local authority if it did take it over.

    • Letter from Britain—Lost in a Brexit Maze: a Baffled Political Class Dreads the Prospect of Jeremy Corbyn

      Donald Trump’s recent trip to Britain – happening against the backdrop of the sweltering heat of an unusually protracted summer heatwave – took place at a time when Britain’s political system is closer to breakdown than at any time in my memory.

      The immediate crisis centres on a Brexit plan which British Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled to her top ministers at a closed meeting at Chequers (the British Prime Minister’s official country residence) earlier this month.

      It is fair to say this plan ( two years in the making and details still to be worked out), which proposes a relationship between Britain and the EU similar to those agreed by Ukraine and Moldova, satisfies no-one.

      The hardline Brexiteers, who account for a significant minority of the elected members of Parliament (MPs) of May’s Conservative Party and an overwhelming majority of the Conservative Party’s membership and supporters in the country, are unhappy because they are not getting the clear break from the EU which they expected and which they believed they had been promised after Leave won the 2016 referendum.

      Opponents of Brexit, made up of the overwhelming majority of opposition Labour Party MPs and its membership, as well as a small number of Conservative MPs, the bulk of the civil service, the business community and the labour unions basically don’t want Brexit to happen and want Britain to remain in the EU. They are unhappy because despite the continued connection to the EU Britain would still be leaving the EU.

    • 11 Ways the Wealthy and Corporations Will Game the New Tax Law

      At the end of 2017, congressional Republicans drafted a new tax bill and rushed it to President Donald Trump for signature in just seven weeks. No congressional Democrats were permitted in the drafting sessions, and no hearings were held after the draft legislation was released.1 As a result, no other members of Congress and no members of the public whom the bill’s sweeping provisions would affect had adequate opportunity to review the proposed changes and identify potential problems—much less offer suggestions for how to improve the bill. To the surprise of no one in Washington, the final law that emerged from this secret and partisan process overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy and large corporations. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and the Tax Policy Center—both nonpartisan organizations—have confirmed this fact.2

      Provisions of the new tax law, informally known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), that directly benefit the wealthy and corporations include: lowering the top individual income tax rate to 37 percent; weakening the individual alternative minimum tax, which originally was designed to ensure that the wealthy pay a minimum amount of tax; gutting the estate tax; allowing a giveaway to wealthy pass-through business owners; and slashing the statutory corporate tax rate.


      In their rush to deliver huge tax cuts to wealthy individuals and businesses and big corporations, the proponents of the TCJA passed a sweeping bill with an unprecedented number of mistakes, ambiguities, and loopholes—opening the door to increased gaming of the nation’s tax system. Wealthy individuals and profitable corporations, with the help of their well-paid tax advisers, will be in the best position to take advantage of the gaming opportunities. The associated revenue loss will further threaten funding for infrastructure improvements, education, Medicare, and other federal initiatives that ensure broad participation in the U.S. economy over the long run, as well as economic stability. Left unchecked, tax gaming will both undermine trust in the tax system and exacerbate inequality in America.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Senate Intel plans to haul in execs from Facebook, Twitter and Google for testimony

      The hearing is a follow-up to the panel’s hearing in November, in which lawmakers grilled lawyers from each firm for how their platform was manipulated by Russian trolls seeking to influence the election.

    • Whistleblower provides emails that show Stormy Daniels’ arrest was pre-planned

      In an exclusive investigation, the Advocate has obtained emails from a whistleblower from inside the Columbus Police Department that outline the arrest of Stormy Daniels earlier this month may have been pre-planned days before she ever arrived in town.

    • The obsessive use of English in Italian politics and media

      “Question time”, “spending review”, “moral suasion” are among the countless English locutions used by Italian politicians and journalists alike. It makes them sound important; and Italian sound inadequate.

      “Tassa piatta,” the editor-in-chief of Lettera43 Paolo Madron said on national radio this month, “sounds a bit ugly.” He prefers saying “flat tax”. A useful translation was dismissed by someone who could help make it relevant – because it’s not nice.

      Madron is not the only one with such views. The constant and wholly arbitrary undermining – by professionals – of viable new Italian words has spawned a national fear of sounding provincial. It seems as if the media casually drop English terms into their Italian to look cool – to make their analyses appear at the forefront – which is really the most provincial thing you can do.

      What’s the point in using so much English when speaking to an Italian audience about Italian matters? If only pronunciations were more precise, at least you could learn how to say ‘th’ properly; or make ‘uncle’ and ‘ankle’ sound different. (Mind you, even the New Statesman made an epochal mistake not long ago with “Who sunk Brexit?” on the 15 June cover.)

    • People Are Loving How Savagely This BBC Presenter Questioned Sean Spicer

      “You have corrupted discourse for the entire world by going along with these lies.”

    • These Are the Worst of Times for American Journalism

      We got a harsh reminder of this reality Monday, when Tronc, the ridiculous excuse for a media company that owns a number of the nation’s larger metropolitan dailies, laid off half of the editorial staff of the once-magnificent and still exceptionally necessary New York Daily News.

      The cuts, coming after previous rounds of cuts, and cuts, and cuts, are turning a newspaper that had one of the more accurate slogans in American media—”The Eyes, the Ears, the Honest Voice of New York”—into a visionless, tone-deaf, whispering version of its former self.

    • Tronc to Daily News: Drop Dead

      It’s not as if newspaper closures and layoffs are anything new. What is it about the layoffs at the New York Daily News that have aroused more talk of the death of print or an end of an era than other media bloodlettings?

      The recent news wasn’t a total surprise; staff had been bracing for layoffs since Tronc, which publishes the Chicago Tribune, bought the paper last year for $1, in addition to assuming its liabilities. On July 23, it was announced Tronc was laying off half of the editorial workforce, including its two top editors. The enormity of this carnage isn’t just industry news. For New York City, it feels like an offense to the entire city, and a testament to how much the city has changed.

      The very word “tabloid” implies something trashy—celebrity reporting, sensational headlines, paparazzi and fluff. It’s not really fair, especially since this description carries an anti-working-class sentiment, but also because the Daily News over the past several years had realigned itself to be the pinnacle of local reporting. The New York Times focuses on big-picture analysis of metro politics, but the local coverage tends toward culture matters, and the bulk of its focus is as a national paper, not a local one. The New York Post sometimes lets a nuanced feature slip past an editor, but the Page Six stories and right-wing venom outweigh real reporting.

      In that void, the Daily News, which during the 1975 financial crisis delivered one of history’s greatest headlines, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” built a non-pretentious but also non-condescending voice that’s easily readable on a subway commute, that had as its focus the issues facing working New Yorkers. While the Times may treat eastern Queens like a remote village in the Amazon, the Daily News is as much Greenwich Village as it is Parsons Boulevard.

    • Russian Government Decides To Stamp Out ‘Fake News’ At Home, Presumably Leaving Export Operations Unaffected

      It appears the government wishes to monopolize the creation of fake news, cutting out amateur bloggers, podcasters, and Facebook users who can’t reliably sway foreign elections. Now it can expand its control of worldwide media past its stake in Sputnik and RT to every medium-to-large social media platform providing service to Russian users.
      Much like every other law enacted to govern online speech, the actual perpetrators will be ignored in favor of directly targeting social media platforms. Possible fines of $800,000 await any platform hosting more than 100,000 users for not removing alleged “fake news” within 24 hours of being notified.
      This should result in plenty of over-moderation, much like what followed in the wake of Germany’s ridiculous speech laws. Those coupled 24-hour takedown demands with hefty fines, resulting in the immediate targeting of satirical posts and comments made by politicians who support government censorship. Unfortunately, the generated irony isn’t going to be enough to offset the losses suffered by users who will see their posts vanish into the ether to keep social media platforms one step ahead of the g-men.

    • GOP and Corporate Dems Gain When Democrats Run Against Putin

      Progressives should figure it out. Amplifying the anti-Russia din helps to drown out the left’s core messages for economic fairness, equal rights, environmental protection, diplomacy and so much more. Echoing the racket of blaming Russia for the USA’s severe shortages of democracy plays into the hands of Republicans and corporate Democrats eager to block progressive momentum.

      When riding on the “Russiagate” bandwagon, progressives unwittingly aid political forces that are eager to sideline progressive messages. And with the midterm elections now scarcely 100 days away, the torrents of hyperbolic and hypocritical claims about Russia keep diverting attention from why it’s so important to defeat Republicans.

      As a practical matter, devoting massive amounts of time and resources to focusing on Russia has reduced capacities to effectively challenge the domestic forces that are assaulting democratic possibilities at home — with such tactics as state voter ID laws, purging of voter rolls, and numerous barriers to suppress turnout by people of color.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • No, Twitter Will Not Ban President Trump. Here’s Why

      So, does threatening nuclear annihilation upon an entire country get you the boot from the social network? Twitter’s policy states that threats of violence can get you kicked off. For instance, if somebody were to tweet a threat to kill his neighbor with a sawed-off shotgun, they could easily be kicked off for violating Twitter’s policies.

    • The free speech panic: how the right concocted a crisis

      Snowflake students have become the target of a new rightwing crusade. But exaggerated claims of censorship reveal a deeper anxiety at the core of modern conservatism.

    • Beijing deals with vaccine scandal through censorship

      Protests continue over the vaccine scandal that hit the pharmaceutical company Changsheng Biotech. Even China’s President Xi Jinping waded into the affair, calling it “appalling”. Yet, mainstream and social media have been censored.

      According to a project run by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong, which monitors censorship on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, the Chinese word for “vaccine” was one of the most restricted on Sunday and Monday.

      One post that was removed by the censors said: “People from the drug and vaccine regulator should resign immediately, this is shameful!”

      Another that disappeared said: “When everyone in the country is rushing to get milk powder and vaccines elsewhere … more people will understand why Hong Kong and Macau are rejecting the [mainland] system.”

      Fu King-wa, an assistant professor who heads Weiboscope, which monitors microblogs with more than a thousand followers, said also that censorship was higher now than in 2016.

    • Has Keith Ellison Repented of His Call for Censorship?

      It’s good to see that Rep. Keith Ellison’s shocking letter to Amazon, calling for blatant censorship, has been removed from his website. But has he publicly renounced his letter, both in spirit and in substance? If not, then Ellison’s missive represents just one more example of the radical left’s attempt to suppress and silence opposing views.

      On July 17, Fortune.com reported, “Prime Day is here, but Amazon is facing backlash for selling merchandise promoted by known hate groups. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Tuesday, voicing concerns about the company’s income from such items.”

    • Death markets arrive on Augur as communities debate morality and censorship

      Augur has endured controversy as the emergence of ‘assassination’ markets has left the blockchain community to debate the role of morality and censorship resistance on the platform, and whether such markets should exist as open betting rings.


      As their name might imply, assassination markets gamble on predictions that certain public figures may be murdered within a set duration of time. A common candidate, for example, is US President Donald Trump – with several polls offering predictions as to whether the incumbent US leader might see out his term of office in 2018.

    • Top Democrat demands Amazon ban conservative books…then pulls the letter
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Just Learned the True Cost of Fixing Its Problems

      In announcing results for the second quarter, Facebook said that not only will it cost much more to harden the platform than Wall Street was expecting, it also expects revenue growth to slow through at least the end of 2019. Translation: Facebook will be a much less profitable company for the next several years.

    • Facebook’s China venture fails as record of approval for innovation hub vanishes

      On Wednesday a government database showed Facebook had been approved to set up an office in the eastern province of Zhejiang. Facebook said it was interested in opening “an innovation hub” in Zhejiang, similar to others it has started elsewhere. Then on Thursday, the filing had disappeared and terms related to the operation were censored on Chinese social media.

    • Facebook’s forecast for the future looks suddenly bleak

      On Tuesday, for the first time in three years, Facebook failed to meet Wall Street’s expectations for revenue and user growth. The company’s user base of 185 million users in the United States and Canada remained flat over the last quarter, and added just 22 million users worldwide — the lowest number of additions since at least 2011. The stock declined more than 20 percent.

    • Facebook stock dives nearly 20% on warning of slow revenue growth

      As part of its second quarter of 2018 earnings announcement on Wednesday, the company trumpeted a huge jump in both year-over-year revenue (42 percent) and profit (31 percent).

      But there’s also been a notable slowdown in user growth. (Anyone recently delete their Facebook accounts?)

    • Holy Shit! Facebook Loses $150 Billion In Just 2 Hours And Make History
    • How Facebook’s $124 Billion Rout Could Rewrite History Books

      Shares tumbled as much as 20 percent in New York on Thursday as sales and user growth disappointed investors. This translates to a $124 billion decline in market capitalization, which is the largest ever loss of value in one day for a U.S. traded company.

    • Journalist Records from the “Last Five Years”
    • India wants WhatsApp encryption broken to trace ‘fake news’

      The Indian Government has indicated to Facebook that it will have to introduce “traceability and accountability”, in order to ensure that provocative messages sent on WhatsApp can be traced to their source, or face legal action.

    • WhatsApp Rightly Refuses Indian Government’s Silly Demand To Break Encryption

      A few weeks back we wrote about the awful situation in India where mob violence has been leading to people being lynched. Often this is coming as misinformation is being spread online. Rather than deal with the root causes of this violence, people have been pointing fingers at WhatsApp, the messaging software (owned by Facebook) that has been the main source of the disinformation. As we pointed out in our original post, it seemed silly to blame the messaging app. We pointed to a compelling argument that the Indian government should be the one taking most of the blame here.


      This truly is incredible, if not entirely surprising. The Indian government has failed to put in place adequate institutions for a functioning society, and when things break down into mob violence, rather than seeking the (admittedly difficult) job of fixing those institutions and setting up for adequate governance, they just point their fingers at messaging app. What an utter failure.

    • New Report Says The Feds’ Focus On Device Encryption Is Holding Local Law Enforcement Back

      The broad requests that do make it through post additional issues that are rarely discussed. While FISA court orders authorizing surveillance (including domestic surveillance) stress minimization of non-target info, demands for data from service providers aren’t subject to these restrictions. Data/communication dumps can expose a lot of info about non-targets and there’s almost zero recourse for non-targets whose privacy has been violated. “Incidental” collection isn’t just something the NSA does. It’s the inevitable byproduct of overbroad requests and few, if any, rules governing the collection and use of this info.

      The report details a large number of deficiencies in the process which has made law enforcement’s job far more difficult than it needs to be. Tech advances don’t solely benefit crafty criminals. They also aid law enforcement, but there’s been no cohesive effort made by the federal government to ensure local agencies can make the most of the tools available. Until this is nailed down, worrying about defeating or bypassing encryption is a waste of time.

      That the FBI’s director has decided that’s how he’s going to use his time and energy, suggests the agency — the most frequent contact for local agencies seeking tech help — isn’t going to prioritize sharing knowledge over seeking legislative mandates. The FBI is hurting itself and others by limiting their ability to do everything they can right now in hopes of getting a law enforcement-sized hole drilled in encryption at some point in the next few decades.

    • This Uber Driver Got Suspended for Livestreaming Riders Without Permission
    • St. Louis Uber driver has put video of hundreds of passengers online. Most have no idea.

      Gargac has given about 700 rides in the area since March through Uber, plus more with Lyft. Nearly all have been streamed to his channel on Twitch, a live video website popular with video gamers where Gargac goes by the username “JustSmurf.”

    • GCHQ data sweeps declared unlawful by surveillance watchdog

      Powers given to GCHQ by the UK Government to collect massive amounts of personal customer information from telecoms companies has been declared unlawful by the the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).

    • GCHQ unlawfully given access to our data

      According to a ruling yesterday (July 24) by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) granting such unfettered discretion to GCHQ was an unlawful delegation of power from the Foreign Secretary.

      However, it added there was no evidence GCHQ had misused the system.

      Privacy International, which brought the legal challenge, criticised the sharing of personal data in what it called the “cavalier manner”.

      Millie Graham Wood, the solicitor acting for Privacy International, said: “The history of the case is living proof of the dangers of closed hearings.

    • These Popular Browser Extensions Are Leaking Your Full Web History On Purpose

      Browser extensions and phone apps used by a combined 11 million people are recording users’ complete browsing history, a clear violation of privacy.

    • Snoopware installed by 11 million+ iOS, Android, Chrome, and Firefox users

      The snooping wares affect both Android and iOS users, as well as those who installed Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox extensions, according to a blog post published Tuesday by AdGuard, a developer of ad blockers and privacy tools. AdGuard cofounder Andrey Meshkov said in the post that the extensions and apps make a list of every exact address of every page visited and combine it with a unique identifier he believes is generated when the extension or app is first installed.

    • 11 Million Android, iOS, Chrome, And Firefox Users Infected By Spyware: Delete These Apps Now
    • Beijing’s Big Brother Tech Needs African Faces

      The deal between CloudWalk and the Zimbabwean government will not cover just CCTV cameras. According to a report in the Chinese state newspaper Science and Technology Daily, smart financial systems, airport, railway, and bus station security, and a national facial database will all be part of the project. The deal—along with dozens of other cooperation agreements between Harare and Chinese technology and biotech firms—was signed in April. Like every other foreign deal done by a Chinese firm of late, it has been wrapped into China’s increasingly all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • HISTORY, July 26: President Truman signs legislation creating CIA
    • I know nothing of CIA letter, says Najib
    • Najib won’t confirm or deny letter by Malaysian intelligence unit asking for CIA support
    • Najib evasive on his knowledge of CIA letter
    • Defense lawyers say CIA Director Haspel tainted the 9/11 trial
    • Why we distrust CIA, FBI
    • Co-founder of nudist anti-Putin group found dead in her Paris apartment
    • Chicago Hiked the Cost of Vehicle City Sticker Violations to Boost Revenue. But It’s Driven More Low-Income, Black Motorists Into Debt.

      During negotiations for Chicago’s 2012 budget, newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel and then-City Clerk Susana Mendoza agreed to hike the price of what was already one of the priciest tickets vehicle owners can get in the city. Citations for not having a required vehicle sticker rose from $120 to $200.

      The increase, approved unanimously by the City Council, was pitched by Mendoza as an alternative to raising the price of stickers as well as generating much-needed revenue from “scofflaws.”

      A ticket hike, Mendoza told aldermen, could generate $16 million a year for the city.

      That did not happen. The increase has brought in a just few million dollars more a year, while it’s unclear if it led to greater compliance. Sticker sales have been largely stagnant.

    • After Repeatedly Failing To Document Stops/Frisks, NYPD Ordered To Record All Encounters

      The NYPD’s stop and frisk program was declared unconstitutional in 2013. As deployed by the NYPD, the program involved high numbers of suspicionless stops disproportionately targeting the city’s minorities. Judge Shira Scheindlin heavily modified the program to steer it back in the direction of the Constitution, resulting in claims of a criminal apocalypse that completely failed to materialize.

      One of the modifications was the deployment of body cameras. These were supposed to record stops, preserving a record of these incidents. Officers were also given additional paperwork to fill out for each stop/frisk to provide evidence of the perceived suspicion supporting the stop.

      Neither of these mandates worked out particularly well. The number of stops was already decreasing rapidly before Judge Scheindlin issued her order. The stops that were still being made, however, weren’t by the (new) book. A court monitor report suggested plenty of unconstitutional stops were still being made by officers without filling out the mandated form.

    • A Judge Has Ordered the NYPD to Record Every Interaction

      Judge Analisa Torres of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has ordered the New York Police Department (NYPD) to create a “pilot program” to record all police interactions. The NYPD says this is “neither practical nor feasible.”

      Torres’ decision stems from lawsuits over the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy. In 2013, Torres was assigned to Floyd v. City of New York, a case that challenged the practice on the grounds that it was being used in a racially discriminatory fashion. A few months prior to the case, another federal judged ruled the practice unconstitutional.

    • California Should Provide Public Access to Police Body Cam Footage

      These days, more police officers are using body-worn cameras, or BWCs. That’s why it’s more important than ever we have clear guidelines around the public’s right to access those police recordings. To that end, EFF is supporting [PDF] A.B. 748, a bill currently pending in the California legislature that would mandate public access to police recordings of so-called “critical incidents.”

      In 2015, following high-profile police shootings of civilians, a survey found that 95 percent of large police departments were planning to use them in the future. Body-worn cameras can serve a valuable function in increasing police accountability. Without proper policies, though, they can also be use to surveil people who interact with police, or those who may not be aware that filming is taking place. BWCs can’t function as a proper police accountability tool unless the public has a clear right of access to police video and audio recordings.

    • Appeals Court Blocks DEA’s Attempt To Bury Lawsuit Settlement Terms

      The government wants secrecy just because and the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court isn’t having it. The government entity requesting extra secrecy with zero justification is the DEA. And it’s likely requesting it so other doctors it’s abused won’t come asking for similar settlements.

      The specifics of the case trace back almost two decades. Two doctors — both working for the Henderson County Community Hospital in Tennessee — surrendered their prescription licenses to the DEA while working through their own chemical addictions. One doctor, Tom McDonald, surrendered his all the way back in 1999. The other doctor suing the DEA, John Woods, surrendered his to the DEA in 2012. Both were reinstated a few years later — McDonald’s in 2002 and Woods in 2014. Since that point, they’ve worked without incident at HCCH. (And prior to that, as well.)

      Things changed in 2016 when the DEA showed up and ordered them to stop working until they’d obtained a waiver from the agency. This sudden enforcement effort was prompted by the addition of this clause to US code in 2014. In McDonald’s case, there was 12 years of uninterrupted good behavior before the rule changed. It was Woods’ more recent reinstatement that may have triggered this burst of regulatory activity. Whatever the case, it meant the two doctors were out of work until the DEA decided their years of service without abusing prescription pads meant something.

    • Canada is using ancestry DNA websites to help it deport people

      In another example of the extraordinary lengths Canadian immigration officials go to deport failed refugee claimants, the Canada Border Services Agency has been collecting DNA from migrants and using ancestry websites to find and contact their distant relatives and establish their nationality.

      “I think it is a matter of public interest that border service agencies like the CBSA are able to obtain access to DNA results from sites like Familytreedna.com and Ancestry.com,” said Subodh Bharati, a lawyer who is representing a man who says he’s Liberian, but who the government is now trying to prove is actually Nigerian. “There are clear privacy concerns. How is the CBSA able to access this information and what measures are being put in place to ensure this information remains confidential?”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump tweets anger at FCC after Pai blocks Sinclair/Tribune merger

      Trump: FCC should help Sinclair because it’s a “much needed Conservative voice.”

      The FCC last week voted unanimously against approving the Sinclair/Tribune deal. Sinclair needed to divest some stations in order to stay under federal ownership limits, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the company’s proposal to divest certain stations “would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law.”

    • Trump Throws His FCC Under The Bus For Pointing Out Sinclair Lied During Its Merger Sales Pitch

      So back in 2015 you might recall that Republicans threw a tremendous hissy fit when the then Obama administration surprisingly threw its full support behind Title II classification of ISPs and real net neutrality. It was surprising in large part because Obama’s first FCC boss pick, Julius Genachowski, was comically wishy washy, often refusing to take hard positions on much of anything. It was also surprising because Genachowski’s replacement, Tom Wheeler, appeared to be the type of person to change their mind after being presented with hard evidence, a notably unfashionable trait in DC these days.

      The histrionic claim at the time, you might recall, was that Obama had broken some long-established law by expressing a preference for a direction of FCC policy. This despite the fact that there is no law preventing the White House from doing so, and history is filled with examples of both sides of the aisle doing just that (from George W. Bush urging former FCC Chairman Michael Powell to eliminate media ownership rules, to when Bill Clinton urged former Chairman Reed Hundt to ban hard liquor advertising on TV).

  • DRM

    • Denuvo Martyrs Voksi Using Bulgarian Police In What Will Surely Be The End Of Denuvo’s Troubles

      In our ongoing coverage of Denuvo, the DRM once thought unbeatable that since has been very much beaten in record timelines, one internet handle wove a common weave through most of those stories: Voksi. Voksi, a singular human being, had done much of the work that had brought Denuvo to its knees. In fact, we recently wrote a post about how illuminating it should be when corporate DRM makers with the kind of financial backing of Denuvo could be brought down essentially by one guy with a grudge. The lesson there was if that was the state of things, it was a clear sign that Denuvo’s entire business was on shaky, unsustainable grounds.

      Denuvo appears to have taken the opposite lesson instead, believing apparently that this one grudge-haver was something of a single point of failure in the anti-Denuvo realm. To that end, Denuvo has recently, and quite gleefully, announced that it worked with Bulgarian police forces to arrest Voksi and sieze his equipment.

    • Renowned Hacker Arrested For Cracking Denuvo Anti-Piracy Tech

      Denuvo’s notorious anti-piracy tech used to be seen as uncrackable. It held up against hackers’ best efforts for years, contorting itself into obtuse new shapes every time anybody broke through. In 2016, a Bulgarian hacker calling himself Voksi came along with a breakthrough that revitalized the whole Denuvo cracking scene. He’s been a pillar of it ever since. Now he’s in deep trouble.

      In a post today on CrackWatch, a subreddit dedicated to removing DRM and other copy protection software from games, Voksi explained the sudden outage of the website of his hacker group, REVOLT. Yesterday, he got arrested, and the police raided his house.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • USA: Raytheon Co. v. Indigo Systems Corp., United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, No. 16-1945, 12 July 2018

      Substantial evidence supported a jury’s finding that Raytheon Company failed to show that infrared imaging equipment manufacturers Indigo Systems and FLIR Systems Incorporated (collectively, “Indigo”) misappropriated trade secrets relating to sequential vacuum baking procedure and in situ solder sealing package assemblies, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled, because a reasonable jury could have found that Indigo employees independently developed the trade secrets rather than misappropriated them by improper means in violation of the the California Uniform Trade Secret Act. T

    • Intel enjoys a patent rebirth – exclusive analysis reveals assets surge in both number and quality

      Intel’s patenting activity has enjoyed a resurgence in recent times, as the US tech giant has been pumping out significantly more and – better quality – patents over the last 10 years, an exclusive IAM-commissioned analysis has found. Although already a dominant player in the patent world, the company has strengthened its position further with a flurry of filings in its main playing field of semiconductors, as well as in other key sectors such as the Internet of Things and cybersecurity.

    • Why women of color are less likely to get patents
    • UK Government Gives Brexit Assurances To Holders Of EU IP Rights

      The UK Government has given assurances to holders of EU intellectual property rights that after Brexit those rights will remain protected in the UK.

      Speaking during a debate in the House of Commons last week, Robin Walker MP, Undersecretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU, announced that existing EU trade marks and registered community designs will be cloned onto the UK register “automatically and for free”. This will create over 1.7 million comparable UK rights. Existing unregistered community designs will also continue to enjoy protection in the UK after Brexit.

    • Trustees of Boston University v. Everlight: (Non)enablement of permutation #6

      I like the opinion because the court’s analysis fits neatly with my conceptual explanation of how enablement analyses are actually performed: it’s a two-step process, with the first step being the articulation of the relevant target and the second asking whether the patentee managed to hit that target. Here, the court defined the target as consisting of one of six possible permutations under the claim construction the patent owner had sought. Unfortunately, the evidence did not support the conclusion that a person having ordinary skill in the art could make that permutation without undue experimentation.

      In the Federal Circuit’s words, Patent No. 5,686,738 “relates to the preparation of monocrystalline GaN films via molecular beam epitaxy.” Slip Op. at 4. These films are used in creating blue light LEDs. The plaintiff, Trustees of Boston University (BU), sued defendants for infringing the ‘738 patent. Following a jury trial, BU obtained a verdict of infringement and no invalidity. The district judge subsequently denied defendants’ renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, in which defendants had argued that the asserted claim was not enabled. Defendants appealed.

    • Trademarks

      • The US Army Gets Armistice With NHL Team Over ‘Golden Knights’ Trademark

        NHL fans will likely still have fresh in their minds the surprising rookie season of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team that took the league by storm and lost in the Stanley Cup finals. Readers here may remember the team more for the fairly odd trademark dispute it was in with the — checks notes — United States Army, which for some reason opposed the team’s trademark application due to the Army’s college and paratrooping teams that go by the same name.

        At the time, we pointed out that the opposition seemed worrisome for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it seems plainly ridiculous for the Army to suggest that anyone was going to be confused between its college teams, its paratrooping team, and an NHL franchise. Was anyone really worried about the public thinking that the United States military had suddenly gotten into the professional hockey business? But we added to that the gross nature of a branch of the United States military, with a long and storied and proud tradition, dabbling in trademark bullying for apparently no legitimate reason.

      • Frankly, you shouldn’t mess with a LNDR

        The key question in the dispute was how would the average consumer perceive the signs LNDR and LDNR in context. The average consumer was identified as a purchaser of clothing, in particular ladies’ sportswear, who is a member of the general public and exercises a moderate degree of care and attention.

      • International report – Nike Jumpman logo: not yet a slam dunk

        On 27 February 2018 Nike won the copyright contest over its iconic Jumpman logo when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion of non-infringement in a 2-1 decision. However, on 13 July 2018 photographer Jacobus Rentmeester managed to keep the game against Nike alive by convincing a three-judge panel of the court to stay the mandate confirming its decision.

      • Argentina’s IMPI sets out trade mark opposition procedure
    • Copyrights

      • Flipping the Switch on a Revitalized CC Network

        I’m excited to share an update on the implementation of the CC Global Network Strategy, and to move forward on an important next step that will, for the first time, put the Network in the hands of the Network: the first meeting of Chapter representatives to the Global Network Council.

        We started this process together in 2015, at the Global Summit hosted by CC Korea, in Seoul, South Korea. Many leaders in our community wanted to revitalize our network and help it grow, and it was soon after I had joined CC with a mandate from the Board of Directors to put community back at the center of our work.

        The previous affiliate structure was top-down, where each affiliate was selected by CC HQ, and only those with a memorandum of understanding with HQ were permitted to join. The affiliates had only the rights granted by MOU, and their workplans were approved by HQ. While much good work was done, there was a desire from the community to do more, and work more collaboratively. Together, we initiated a community-driven process to evaluate, evolve, and invigorate the network.

        A small group of community leaders — both new and longstanding contributors from around the world — formed a strategy committee, chaired by myself and Alek Tarkowski from CC Poland. We designed a global consultation and collaborative design process to create a new network. We commissioned independent research, and a committee of affiliates and community members explored new models and ways of engagement and governance. They reviewed hundreds of comments, and drafted a new strategy, a new charter, and a new code of conduct.

      • CLASSICS Is the Future of Assaults Against the Public Domain

        January 1, 2019 will be the first time in twenty years that works in the United States will once again join the public domain through copyright expiration. A growing public domain means more access to works and the ability of other artists to build on what came before. And as we get closer and closer to finally growing the public domain, big content holders are going to push harder and harder to lock it all down again. CLASSICS is the first step in that direction.

        CLASSICS is a very bad bill that has been bundled with the largely-good Music Modernization Act (MMA). That bundle was passed in the House of Representatives and is currently sitting in the Senate. The original text of MMA created a new way to compensate songwriters and publishers for music played on digital services. CLASSICS, on the other hand, took advantage of a messy and confusing situation—not unusual in copyright—in order to let labels find new ways to make money off of music that should be in the public domain.

        The situation is this: sound recordings didn’t used to be protected by federal copyright law. As a result, states came up with their own laws, creating a patchwork. Congress did eventually get around to bringing sound recordings under federal copyright law, but only for recordings made in 1972 and later. Older recordings remained under the old crazy quilt of state law. This meant they did not enter the public domain when they should have. State laws continue to govern the pre-1972 sound recordings until 2067. Music from World War I is locked under copyright until nearly the 150th anniversary of the war. After so much time, even finding the rightsholders to ask for permission to copy a recording is a daunting task.

      • International report – Twitter retweet function causes moral rights infringement

        On 25 April 2018 the Japanese IP High Court released a decision which has made Twitter users feel uneasy.

        A photographer who owned the copyright in a photo demanded that Twitter, Inc and Twitter Japan disclose the information of the user who had posted it on Twitter without the photographer’s permission, as well as the information of those who had retweeted it.

        The court ruled that the tweet constituted copyright infringement and ordered Twitter, Inc to disclose to the photographer the user information (ie, email address) of the user who originally tweeted the image. However, the court denied copyright infringement on the part of the users who retweeted the infringing tweet. This decision was in accordance with the lower-court ruling, but the IP High Court judges disagreed, finding that a retweet represents moral rights infringement and ordered the disclosure of user information.

      • Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com

        Whether the “registration of [a] copyright claim has been made” within the meaning of 17 U.S.C. § 411(a) when the copyright holder delivers the required application, deposit, and fee to the Copyright Office, as the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 5th and 9th Circuits have held, or only once the Copyright Office acts on that application, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 10th and, in the decision below, the 11th Circuits have held. CVSG: 05/16/2018.

Links 26/7/2018: Update of DTrace on Linux and Reasons for Migrating to Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • More Transparency Needed For Open Source Running on IBM i

    Open source may be the future of IBM i. It certainly seems that way at the moment. But if open source is going to soar to new heights on the platform, it will need better integration with the existing processes in place to monitor and manage the platform.

    That’s the opinion of JK Grafe, the CEO of Quad Nova Group, a Jacksonville, Florida-based IBM i consultancy that has offices up the Eastern Seaboard. By Grafe’s own admission, open source is a great thing for the platform. But the difficulty in seeing what’s actually going on with open source workloads is a problem.

    “I can open up a PASE environment to a couple of Java programmers, and they become invisible,” Grafe tells IT Jungle. “If you have a system operator who does his WRKACTJOBs, he doesn’t see these people. He doesn’t know what they’re doing. They’re invisible to him.”

  • Be ‘open-source’ communities

    “Open-source,” in the context of software development, is a specific approach to creating computer software. The idea is that making code openly available for developers will create better code, and making it freely available to end users will increase adoption, result in ongoing evaluation, more use cases and a continuous cycle of improvement, development and new releases.

    Drupal is the open-source software I use for our web development. It has allowed me to build sites that I never could have built on my own — both because of my lack of coding skills and also our lack of funds to purchase expensive, proprietary software.

    In 2011, I went to my first DrupalCon — Drupal Conference — and experienced firsthand this open-source community. There were 3,000 participants connected by computer code. I’ve now been to several — they are held around the world — and it’s a near-religious experience.

  • HOPE XII: A FOSS Operating System for e-Readers

    Free and open source software (FOSS) was a recurring theme during many of the talks during the HOPE XII conference, which should probably come as no surprise. Hackers aren’t big fans of being monitored by faceless corporate overlords or being told what they can and cannot do on the hardware they purchased. Replacing proprietary software with FOSS alternatives is a way to put control back into the hands of the user, so naturally many of the talks pushed the idea.

    In most cases that took the form of advising you to move your Windows or Mac OS computer over to a more open operating system such as GNU/Linux. Sound advice if you’re looking for software freedom, but it’s a bit quaint to limit such thinking to the desktop in 2018. We increasingly depend on mobile computing devices, and more often than not those are locked down hard with not only a closed proprietary operating system but also a “Walled Garden” style content delivery system. What’s the point of running all FOSS software at home on your desktop if you’re carrying a proprietary mobile device around?

  • The 10 Top Open-Source Tools Of 2018 (So Far)
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Brings Option To Mute Autoplaying Audio And Video On Websites

        We all have come across obnoxious video or audio that starts auto-playing on full volume out of nowhere. No thanks to top web browsers, who were so late in launching a fix for the most annoying feature of using the Internet.

      • Immersive Technology Conference at Houston

        At the end of last year, I was invited to speak at the Immersive Technology Conference, which took place at the University Of Houston. It was a two-day event with my talk being the first one. That always is something I simultaneously hate and still crave for. Because even if it’s stressful, that is the only timeslot which allows me to actually listen to and enjoy other talks after me. Otherwise, I keep fretting over my own and can’t concentrate on anything else.


        This also was the first conference as a Mozilla TechSpeaker where I started trying to show live demos of WebXR applications running from my mobile. As you will see the experience isn’t really flawless and often crashes. But it worked, I am still working out to iron out the kinks. But now the process goes much smoother as I experienced at OSCON.

      • This Week in Rust 244

        This Week in Rust is openly developed on GitHub. If you find any errors in this week’s issue, please submit a PR.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • DTrace on Linux: an Update

      DTrace offers easy-but-powerful dynamic tracing of system behavior, and it is so lightweight and safe that it can routinely be used on production systems. DTrace was originally developed for the Oracle Solaris operating system.

    • Oracle Updates DTrace For Linux With ARM64 Support, Feature Updates

      At the beginning of the year Oracle reaffirmed their commitment for DTrace on Linux. For those still interested in using this dynamic tracing framework on Linux, Oracle has been rolling out a number of feature updates.

      Oracle has made a number of recent updates to the DTrace framework on Linux. Recent DTrace for Linux improvements include support for 64-bit ARM (ARM64 / AArch64), support for additional providers, bringing feature alignment with other DTrace implementations, compile-time array bounds checking, support for newer versions of the Linux kernel, PID provider support for user-space tracing, and various bug fixes.

    • LibreOffice 6.1 RC2 Released For Testing This Next Open-Source Office Suite Update

      LibreOffice 6.1 is planned for release by the middle of August but for that next version to happen without a hitch, the LibreOffice team could use a hand with the testing of their latest release candidates.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Silicon Industry Veteran Joins SiFive Executive Team

        SiFive, the leading provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP, today announced Brad Holtzinger as Vice President of Worldwide Sales, where he will work with the existing global portfolio of SiFive customers and onboard new clients seeking to take advantage of the company’s market-leading Core IP. Holtzinger brings more than 30 years of embedded industry experience in sales, marketing and engineering.


  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Erasing Flint’s Water Crisis: Or How to Lie With Statistics

      Mark Twain famously wrote that “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This insight is relevant to examining the apologetics of modern-day academics in the rising neoliberal assault on the public. This subservience to power is evident in efforts to rationalize governmental attacks on the most basic of human needs: access to clean water. In seeking to numb the public to basic facts and reality, the New York Times has published an op-ed analysis piece by Hernán Gómez and Kim Dietrich: “The Children of Flint Were Not Poisoned” (7/22/2018).

    • AbbVie Hepatitis C Treatment Patents Challenged In India For Evergreening

      The Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) and the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) filed an opposition with the Indian Patent Office in New Delhi on 21 July to prevent the granting of a patent to AbbVie on pibrentasvir, which forms part of Mavyret, their drug used to treat hepatitis C, according to a press release.

      I-MAK and DNP+ argue in the press release that pibrentasvir is based on obvious and existing science, and does not represent an innovation, but rather an attempt to establish a monopoly that will limit access to hepatitis C treatment.

      “If unmerited patents make pibrentasvir unavailable and unaffordable, millions of people around the world will go without treatments they need against hepatitis C,” said Tahir Amin, co-founder and co-executive director at I-MAK, as quoted in the press release.

  • Security

    • This Former Hacker Now Helps The New York Times Stay Safe Online

      Those attacks can include trolling, threats and harassment, as well as persistent and innovative phishing emails that can look as if they come from other colleagues within the newsroom or even friends outside of work. And once a hacker [sic] gets a journalist’s user names and passwords, “there’s nothing that you can do to get that data back,” she said.

    • Google ‘kills’ phishing stone dead with 2FA FIDO security keys

      Google gave its employees Yubikeys and told them they’d have to use them to access their company accounts, so there.

      They have, and did, and the results were amazing.

      No one – yes – that’s zero people, or nought per cent, succumbed to a phishing attack once the security key policy was introduced.

    • More mitigations against speculative execution vulnerabilities

      Philip Guenther (guenther@) and Bryan Steele (brynet@) have added more mitigations against speculative execution CPU vulnerabilities on the amd64 platform.

    • 32-Bit Linux Prepares For Performance Hit Due To KPTI For Meltdown Mitigation

      Since January there has been KPTI in the x86_64 Linux kernel as Kernel-based Page Table Isolation for mitigating the Meltdown CPU vulnerability. On the back-burner since then has been KPTI support for the Linux x86 32-bit kernel to protect those using older 32-bit-only processors. With the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel, KPTI is landing for Linux x86 32-bit. Here are sone benchmarks showing the performance penalty when upgrading to this new kernel on an Ubuntu i686 laptop.

    • How do private keys work in PKI and cryptography?

      In a previous article, I gave an overview of cryptography and discussed the core concepts of confidentiality (keeping data secret), integrity (protecting data from tampering), and authentication (knowing the identity of the data’s source). Since authentication relates so closely to all the messiness of identity in the real world, a complex technological ecosystem has evolved around establishing that someone is who they claim to be. In this article, I’ll describe in broad strokes how these systems work.

    • Google Online Security Blog: A secure web is here to stay
    • Here’s Why Chrome Is Now Showing Millions of Websites As “Not Secure”
    • Chrome 68 for Android Gets Spectre Site Isolation Feature
    • Hacking Unattended Laptop In Under 5 minutes: Researcher Shows How

      We all are aware of the cyberhacking and phishing that takes place in the digital world. And safeguarding us from petty hacks is always a few clicks away. But what about real-world hacking like literally physically hacking into the hardware. Ever thought about that?

      A security firm Eclypsium posted a video on Youtube shocking laptop users of the dangers of evil maid attacks.

    • Watch a Hacker Install a Firmware Backdoor on a Laptop in Less Than 5 Minutes
    • The Key to Trust

      As the principal inventor behind both the Security Key and U2F protocol, we are true supporters of open standards. To realize our mission of making secure login ubiquitous, we designed the original Security Key, and provided the majority of the open source code and test tools for FIDO U2F and the latest version of the standard, FIDO2, which offers a passwordless experience.

    • Google takes on Yubico and builds its own hardware security keys

      Google today announced it is launching its own hardware security keys for two-factor authentication. These so-called Titan Security Keys will go up against similar keys from companies like Yubico, which Google has long championed as the de facto standard for hardware-based two-factor authentication for Gmail and other services.

    • Google Launches ‘Titan Security Key’ To Boost Your Online Security

      Google has launched the public version of the security key used to protect its 85,000 employees from phishing and other cyber attacks during internal testing. Named Titan, it falls under the category of physical security keys that are known to provide better protection than other forms of 2-step verification including OTPs.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Linux Kernel Gets Patch For New SpectreRSB Vulnerability

      Earlier this week SpectreRSB was revealed by University of California researchers as a new Spectre V2 like attack affecting modern processors. A Linux kernel patch is in the works for starting to mitigate SpectreRSB.

      The RSB in this context is with regards to the Return Stack Buffer that is targeted in this latest speculative execution issue. The researchers found with this vulnerability they could exploit private data supposed to be protected by Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX) and that the return stack buffer attacks could be cross-process or inter-VM.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Silence of the Whores

      So how can this fit in to the official government account? Presumably the claim is that Russian agents secretly visited the Skripal house, sprayed novichok on the door handle from this perfume bottle, and then, at an unknown location, disassembled the nozzle from the bottle (Mr Rowley said he had to insert it), then repackaged and re-cellophaned the bottle prior to simply leaving it to be discovered somewhere – presumably somewhere indoors as it still looked new – by Mr Rowley four months later. However it had not been found by anyone else in the interim four months of police, military and security service search.

      Frankly, the case for this being the bottle allegedly used to coat the Skripals’ door handle looks wildly improbable. But then the entire government story already looked wildly improbable anyway – to the extent that I literally do not know a single person, even among my more right wing family and friends, who believes it. The reaction of the media, who had shamelessly been promoting the entirely evidence free “the Russians did it” narrative, to Mr Rowley’s extremely awkward piece of news has been to shove it as far as possible down the news agenda and make no real effort to reconcile it.

    • Maine Voices: U.S. complicit in deaths of innocents during unauthorized war in Yemen

      However, the United States is also militarily active in Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and most notably, Yemen. Since 2015, it has been involved in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia that is fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

      The geopolitical circumstances of this war and the U.S. involvement are complicated and the Houthi rebels are guilty of many things, but the horrific crimes of our own coalition are clear:

      According to the United Nations, roughly 10,000 civilians have been killed by the Saudi-led coalition since 2015. Additionally, the coalition has cut off Yemen’s food supply and stifled humanitarian aid. What the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have created in Yemen is a crisis of terrifyingly devastating proportions.


      In a U.S.-backed strike in October of 2016, bombs fell on a funeral procession and killed 140 civilians. In an appalling display of indifference, the U.S. did not change anything about its participation in the coalition. Then in President Trump’s first counter-terrorism operation as president in January of 2017, 10 children under the age of 13 were killed by U.S. forces.

    • Who’s Attacking Syria? U.S., Turkey and Israel Have Shot Down Assad’s Warplanes

      Israeli anti-air defenses have shot down a Syrian warplane that allegedly flew over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights Tuesday, making it only the latest instance in which international opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have downed manned aircraft fighting on his behalf.

      Amid reports of sirens going off across the Golan Heights—which Israel seized from Syria in 1967 without international recognition—the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced they had launched MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missiles at a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet that flew about a mile into the occupied region. The Syrian warplane appeared to be serving a government campaign to defeat an Islamic State militant group (ISIS) affiliate operating near the Israel-administered demilitarized zone that has separated the two countries since a 1974 truce.

    • Double whammy: Female IDF officer downed Syrian jet and drone
    • US soldier killed in Afghanistan was part of CIA operation
    • US Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Was Part of Secret CIA Program

      On July 12, Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz died of wounds sustained in small arms fire during a military operation in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province. Former soldiers familiar with the situation say this operation was actually part of a secret CIA program.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange asylum may be ending

      As Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno visits the UK, there is growing speculation about a possible deal between the two countries to end years of a diplomatic saga after Julian Assange obtained asylum inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

    • Declassified letters show CIA’s indignation over ex-employee Peace Corps ban

      In a series of letters and memos from late 1983 unearthed in the Central Intelligence Agency’s archives by Emma Best, CIA Director William J. Casey expressed dismay over the Peace Corps’ lifetime ban on former Agency employees, claiming that it could set a precedent that would lead to the unfair stigmatization of those “tainted” by the CIA’s activities.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • London’s black-cab drivers consider suing Uber for £1bn
    • Why has Brexit come to warnings about food and medicine shortages?

      For some time, one common contention of those supporting Brexit is that the UK should prepare for a “no deal” Brexit.

      This preparation would, it is asserted, put pressure on the EU in the exit negotiations because the UK could then threaten to walk away rather than accept a bad deal.

      These contentions are all very well while they are glib, pat phrases.

      But problems arise when such sound-bites need to be translated into substance.

      And it now appears that those problems are arising.

      In particular, pro-Brexit government ministers are now – seriously – setting out how food and medicines need to be stockpiled in case the UK leaves the EU without a deal next March.

      So, after two years of negotiation with the EU, and after two years of withdrawal legislation clogging up parliament, the most tangible effects of Brexit which pro-Brexit politicians can offer are…

    • Jeff Bezos’ Paper Tells You Not to Worry About Those Billionaires

      Wow, what a novel idea, as though right-wingers have not been pushing this line since the dawn of time: “Don’t worry that your standard of living is awful, the important thing is that your kids will be able to get rich.” (It doesn’t help his story that his poster child for the rich being good is Lloyd Blankfein, who made his fortune shuffling financial assets at Goldman Sachs, and benefited from a massive government bailout.)

      But let’s be generous, and try to take Lowenstein’s story seriously. He goes on: “Rising inequality, although a fact, is also very hard to find a culprit for. Not that economists haven’t tried.”

      Really? There are plenty of really good explanations for rising inequality, many of which are in my (free) book Rigged. I suppose in the Age of Trump, it is appropriate that the Post has a business columnist determined to flaunt his ignorance.

    • Why the IRS’ Recent Dark Money Decision May Be Less Dire Than It Seems

      Starting next year, the Internal Revenue Service will no longer collect the names of major donors to thousands of nonprofit organizations, from the National Rifle Association to the American Civil Liberties Union to the AARP. Democratic members of Congress and critics of money in politics blasted the move, announced last week by the Treasury Department, the IRS’ parent agency. The Democrats claim the new policy will expand the flow of so-called dark money — contributions from undisclosed donors used to fund election activities — in American politics. For their part, Republicans and conservative groups praised the decision as a much-needed step to avoid chilling the First Amendment rights of private citizens.

      The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United unleashed these groups, typically organized as 501(c)(4) nonprofits, to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign ads. Their role in American politics has grown increasingly central. In theory, the new IRS policy could have a significant impact on the tax agency’s ability to detect improper contributions — and thereby curb illegal campaign spending.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald the Destroyer

      The mainstream media is concerned with the politics, policies, and propaganda of President Donald Trump, but underplays the central question of his presidency: Is Donald Trump psychologically fit to be president of the United States and commander-in-chief? Over the past twelve months, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists have produced two books (“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” and “Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump”) to warn that our dangerously disordered president is a threat to domestic and international security. According to an article in Newsweek in March 2018, most Americans agree that Donald Trump is unfit to be president.

      The mental health experts who have produced these books have had to ignore the ethical principle of the American Psychiatric Association known as the “Goldwater Rule,” which prohibited psychiatrists from diagnosing a public figure they had not personally interviewed. The erratic behavior of Donald Trump as a candidate in 2015-2016 and as president in 2017-2018 has led to a challenging ethical principle known as the “duty to warn” because of the danger he has created. In every area of American policy, Trump’s actions and statements have created the highest level of domestic and international anxiety since the end of World War II.

    • The Christian right’s sexual illiberalism sowed the seeds for Trump

      Pro-Trump supporter Jim MacDonald holds a sign that says “Thank God for Trump” at a protest. Image: Julius Motal/SIPA USA/PA ImagesOne of the remarkable things about Donald Trump is the extent to which he has attracted comparisons with the past. This is despite the general feeling that his political career, its embrace of brashness and almost obsessive use of social media, has something distinctly modern, if not unprecedented, about it. Now a year and a half into his first term, the POTUS has invited analogies with Athenian demagoguery, Roman despotism, and Germany in the 1930s. But in drawing such simplistic historical parallels, the liberal commentariat are underestimating the president’s Christian electoral base as a relic rather than a resurgent force that must be reckoned with.

      Trump’s 2016 electoral victory benefited in large part from the enormously high support of white evangelicals — a fact that is all the more astonishing given Trump’s seemingly unreligious persona. Yet the ongoing influence of a Republican-leaning “religious Right” is also often treated as if it properly belonged to a premodern, bygone political era. This may be a natural response for liberals who, in the style of Rawls, have come to equate American democratic modernity with the separation of politics and religious doctrine. And, of course, we should be appalled by the resurgence of an exclusionary discourse that among other things is deeply hostile to LGBTQ+ and women’s rights. However, it is at best facile to relegate the influence of the religious right to the status of an oddity in a political modernity now built on the division of church and state. Significantly, it underplays the novelty — that is to say, the modernity — of that same religious right.

    • Let the best worldview win: using reason to maintain dignity and fend off the Religious Right

      What the arguments of the book in fact proclaim are two counter-intuitive realities: first, the promise of a Republican future, in particular a Religious Right future. Haidt paints Republicans as what could also be termed Honor-based. I wrote in a recent book that the Dignity-based competitor would ultimately win. The present book gives the argument that the Honor-based faction will actually win. Dignity-based folks must now rephrase core values (human justice, governmental accountability, the normative influence of money, and a moderate Supreme Court) and in addition adopt some Honor-based criteria (disproportionately low taxation of the wealthy). Ultimately, it all devolves either to social justice or to whatever titillates the Republican palate. This to me is the 30,000 foot view.

      Second, the bulk of the first two-thirds of the book is an argument that our judgements are engendered and recalled intuitively; reason has far less to do with the assessing of judgements than we might ordinarily suppose. So to approach the conservatives one must go for the intuitionist approach which focuses on presenting yourself as a friendly inquirer. Make friends, (then apologize for past liberal intransigence?). “If you want to change people’s minds, you’ve got to talk to their elephants.” Do not suppose that reasoning with them will work (Haidt maintains a knee-jerk reaction against rationalists), and certainly not argumentation. I am sure Haidt didn’t mean it this way, but one could be forgiven for wondering if liberals shouldn’t just apologize for being liberals. I am sure Haidt didn’t mean it this way, but one could be forgiven for wondering if liberals shouldn’t just apologize for being liberals.

      His chief evidence that the Republicans have a built-in advantage comes from a six-tiered accounting of “foundational” ideas: “Until Democrats understand…the difference between a six-foundation morality and a three-foundation morality, they will not understand what makes people vote Republican.” Here are the six: Care/Harm; Fairness/Cheating; Loyalty/Betrayal; Authority/Subversion; Sanctity/Degradation, and Liberty/Oppression. Haidt has evaluated conservative and liberal trends and maintains that liberals pay attention to but three of these foundational categories, whereas the conservatives encompass the whole range.

    • The Republican Congress Isn’t Even Pretending to Do Its Job

      It’s much easier to let judges and appointees do the unpopular work of stripping workers of their rights, outlawing abortion, and running the administrative state into the ground.

    • Clinton Democrats Embrace Losing Strategy To Combat ‘Sanders-Style Socialism’ In Midterms

      Democratic Party elites are increasingly concerned the midterm elections will be a “base election” and make their centrist politics even more irrelevant, as insurgent candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez garner widespread support.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Senators Wyden & Rubio Ask Google And Amazon To Bring Back Domain Fronting

      Earlier this year we wrote about the bad decisions by both Google and Amazon to end domain fronting. Domain fronting was a (somewhat accidental) way in which services could effectively hide certain traffic to make it quite difficult for, say, authoritarian regimes in Iran or China to block the traffic. For that reason, domain fronting was an important tool in keeping services like Signal’s encrypted communications platform working for activists and dissidents in such places.

      Amazon and Google claimed that they never intended to allow domain fronting, and that while it helped those services work in such places it might also lead to much broader blocks by those countries trying to get at the fronted communications. Now, in an interesting move, Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio have sent both companies a letter asking them to reconsider.

    • Censorship, Geopolitical Time Bombs, and China’s Islamophobia Problem

      China has a serious and worsening Islamophobia problem. While relations between China’s Muslim minorities and its Han majority have been fraught since 2009’s deadly inter-ethnic riots in the far western city of Urumqi, recent years have seen the normalization of online hate speech directed at Muslims. The rise of Islamophobia inside China is a product both of government action, and of the government’s failure to act. Commentary on the recent death of a prominent Muslim leader in the western province of Qinghai highlights the extent to which the situation has deteriorated, and suggests the ways in which China’s warped online discourse could blunt its efforts to build influence and win friends in countries across the Muslim world.

    • Haruki Murakami’s new novel declared ‘indecent’ by Hong Kong censors

      The latest novel from Haruki Murakami, Japan’s most celebrated literary export, has fallen foul of censors in Hong Kong, where it was ruled to be indecent by a tribunal and removed from display at a book fair.

      Hong Kong’s Obscene Articles Tribunal announced last week that the Chinese-language edition of Murakami’s Kishidancho Goroshi, or Killing Commendatore, had been temporarily classified as “Class II – indecent materials”, according to the South China Morning Post. This means that it can only be sold in bookshops with its cover wrapped with a notice warning about its contents, with access restricted to those over the age of 18. The ruling has also seen the novel pulled from booths at the Hong Kong book fair, where a spokesperson said the novel had been removed proactively after last week’s ruling.

      Due to be published in the UK this autumn, Killing Commendatore is “an epic tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art – as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby – and a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers”, according to its British publisher Harvill Secker. It went on sale in Japan last year with midnight openings and queues of eager fans.

    • Pro-life charity accuses council of ‘censorship’ after being kicked out of London show

      A pro-life charity [anti-abortionists group] is has condemned a London council over their “authoritarian and discriminatory” decision to remove their stall from a country show at the weekend.

      Life says it has documentary evidence that Lambeth Borough Council had granted it permission to attend the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park, and accepted payment for their stall.

    • The Slippery Slope of Social Media Censorship

      When it comes to identifying fake news, it is less science than alchemy; a task residing somewhere between asking “What is art?” and “What is beauty?” In other words, fake news is largely, as the aphorism goes, in the eye of the beholder.

      Though used excessively by Democrats and Republicans alike, the term itself is nothing more than a worthless catchall for content we might find objectionable for any number of reasons. Does the content seem biased and unfair against “our guy?” Fake news. Is the content from a news source we don’t like? Fake news. Did Jim Acosta file the story? Oh, definitely fake news.

    • Chinese state pushes back against widespread outrage over vaccine crisis

      The Chinese government is turning to censorship and appeals for calm, amid mounting public anger following revelations earlier this week that one of the country’s largest vaccine makers had violated safety standards.
      Furor about the faulty vaccines, an estimated 250,000 of which may have been administrated to children, has continued to dominate Chinese social media, further eroding public trust in essential services.

    • Fear and Censorship in China Following Latest Vaccine Scandal
    • Member App, Based on BCH’s Blockchain, Allows For Censorship Resistant Messages
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Here’s The List Of Websites Windows 10 Connects To After Clean Installation

      Nowadays, it has hard for companies to hide from the privacy protection radar, at least, in theory. Surely, Microsoft is one of them. Criticism in the past has forced Redmond to open up on the tracking and data collection it performs through Windows and other products.

      In 2017, Microsoft disclosed what data it collects from Windows 10 PCs. And with the release of the April 2018 Update, it introduced the Diagnostic Data Viewer app in Windows 10. Still, there are is a lot of stuff to be known.

    • Judge slams FBI for improper cellphone search, stingray use

      A federal judge in San Francisco recently excoriated the government over its improper methods in searching one suspect’s cell phone and in the use of a stingray to find an alleged co-conspirator.

      Prosecutors say the two men, Donnell Artis and Chanta Hopkins, were engaged in credit card fraud and also illegally possessed firearms, among other pending charges that also involve four other people.

    • Federal Judge Blasts FBI, Agent For Breaking The Law When Seeking Stingray Warrants

      While it’s good the FBI is seeking warrants for Stingray deployments, there’s some bad news. This story from Cyrus Farviar from Ars Technica shows FBI warrant procedures are incredibly flawed — so severely flawed they break state law when they’re put to use.


      As was noted earlier, state/county judges can issue certain warrants to federal and local law enforcement. But only local law enforcement is allowed to execute search warrants issued by local judges. If a federal agent wants to engage in a search or an arrest, they need to get their warrants approved by federal judges. The DEA’s inability to follow California law has cost it a few cases over the years. The FBI is going to have the same problem if it doesn’t train its agents correctly.

      Even if it was a lapse in training, Judge Chhabria isn’t interested in forgiving Agent Carlson for his agency’s failings. This results in one of the harsher bench-slaps handed out to a federal agent.

    • FBI Boss Chris Wray: We Put A Man On The Moon So Why Not Encryption Backdoors?

      Despite the FBI finally admitting it had greatly exaggerated the number of encrypted devices it can’t get into, FBI Director Chris Wray keeps pushing the “going dark” theory to whoever will listen. This time it was NBC’s Lester Holt. In an interview during the Aspen Security Forum, Wray again hinted he was moving towards an anti-encryption legislative mandate if some sort of (impossible) “compromise” couldn’t be reached with tech companies.


      First off, bringing the space program into this is ridiculous. All it does is demonstrate the government has access to some of the best minds, but Wray expects the private sector to provide, maintain, and bear the expense of a law enforcement-friendly encryption “solution.” (And if it fails to deliver, Wray’s more than willing to ask the government to force the private sector to play ball.)

      Second, putting a man on the moon was the side effect of a Cold War cock-measuring contest with the USSR. While the nation has derived many benefits over the years from the space program, the “man on the moon” mission was a way of expressing superiority and implying that our weaponry was similarly advanced. The US government showed the world how powerful it was. I don’t think that’s the analogy you want to make when discussing personal device encryption.

      And third, the whole “putting a man on the moon” analogy was solidly mocked on John Oliver’s program two years ago when he quoted cryptography expert Matt Blaze accurately saying, “When I hear ‘if we can put a man on the moon, we can do this’ I’m hearing an analogy almost saying “if we can put a man on the moon, surely we can put a man on the sun.’” Not every issue is the equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

      While the others listed are private sector achievements, they’re simply not good comparisons. Encryption methods continue to advance in complexity and ease-of-use. This is innovation, even if it’s innovation Chris Wray doesn’t like. Each of the innovations listed solved problems and created markets. In this case the problem is device security. Encryption solves it. Who wants secure devices? Everyone who buys one.

    • Connecticut’s Plan to Install Electronic Tolling Could Be a Privacy Nightmare

      If electronic tolling is eventually introduced, the state must protect drivers’ privacy rights.

      Last week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy issued an executive order requiring the state Department of Transportation to conduct a $10 million study of introducing electronic tolling to Connecticut roads. Today, the state bond commission voted to approve spending that $10 million.

      Missing from that executive order? Any mention of people’s privacy rights.

      Imagine making your daily commute with the government tracking where and how fast you are going every time you drive through a toll. In this world, the state, federal government, and for-profit corporations can see that information and use it to pinpoint your location and travel habits. Thousands of detailed scans about your travel habits are kept in a state database, without rules for how the government secures or shares them.

      If this toll study ignores privacy rights, this could be the reality in Connecticut.

      Connecticut tolls would likely rely on electronic gantries, not the tollbooths of yesteryear. To collect fees, these gantries scan a transponder attached to someone’s windshield and automatically deduct money from a prepaid account tied to the vehicle’s license plate. If someone doesn’t have a transponder or prepaid account, a camera captures an image of their license plate, and the state mails the vehicle’s owner a bill.

    • Viewpoint: Big Brother is watching you

      On the other side of the fence, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled that the system that gave GCHQ access to personal data from telecoms companies had been illegal between 2001 and 2012. The rules, which were introduced in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, gave the UK’s foreign secretary the power to direct GCHQ to obtain data from telecoms companies with barely any oversight. In this case, the IPT said it has found no evidence that the system was ever misused by GCHQ.

    • Authorities scramble to change licensing of My Health Record data

      Australia’s Digital Health Agency, the body that manages the My Health Record system, is making a bid to change the licensing of data to mobile phone apps, with an option to cancel any agreement if the app firms damage the reputation of the system.

    • My Health Record agency adds ‘reputation’, ‘public interest’ cancellation options to app contracts

      There are also much tighter clauses on how the companies report data breaches and collect information and consent from app users.

      “Especially in the case of our sensitive health information, the Government must ensure that health apps use the highest standards of consent,” Dr Kemp said.

      “This agreement does not do that.”

    • Was It Ethical for Dropbox to Share Customer Data with Scientists?

      For the past two years, researchers at Northwestern University have been analyzing the habits of tens of thousands of scientists—using Dropbox. Looking at data about academics’ folder-sharing habits, they found the most successful scientists share some collaboration behaviors in common. And on Friday, they published their results in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

      The study quickly attracted the notice of academics—but not for the reason Dropbox and the researchers had hoped. One sentence in particular caught readers’ attention: “Dropbox gave us access to project-folder-related data, which we aggregated and anonymized, for all the scientists using its platform over the period from May 2015 to May 2017—a group that represented 1,000 universities.” Written by Northwestern University Institute on Complex Systems professors Adam Pah and Brian Uzzi and Dropbox Manager of Enterprise Insights Rebecca Hinds, that wording suggested Dropbox had handed over personally identifiable information on hundreds of thousands of customers.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Documentary From ProPublica and Frontline Chronicles a Year of Reporting on Violent White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis

      In “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville,” Frontline and ProPublica investigate the white supremacists and neo-Nazis involved in the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. Our joint reporting has already shed new and troubling light on the events of Aug. 11 and 12, 2017 — revealing that one participant in the violence, Vasillios Pistolis, was an active-duty Marine, and that another, Michael Miselis, worked for a major defense contractor and held a U.S. government security clearance. Now, correspondent A.C. Thompson goes even deeper, showing how some of those behind the racist violence nearly one year ago went unpunished and continued to operate around the country. This is the first in a series of two “Documenting Hate” films from Frontline and ProPublica, with the second coming later this fall.

    • TSA might let you keep everything in carry-on bags—in five years or so

      The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is starting to use CT scanners to look for explosives and other banned objects in carry-on bags. The advance in technology might—eventually—let travelers go through airport security without removing electronics, liquids, or anything else from their bags.

    • The “Petroyuan” Might Save Nigeria And Avert Another Migrant Crisis

      China has expressed a readiness to increase its investments in Nigeria’s oil industry… designed to strengthen the future prospects for the so-called “petroyuan” by tying Africa’s largest oil producer to the petrodollar’s worst enemy.

    • The Government’s Rush to Deport Reunited Families

      The Trump administration sinks to new low and tries to rob the families it traumatized of time to make life-altering choices.

      The family separation crisis took a turn yesterday, when the Trump administration revealed in a federal court filing its intention to deport families immediately upon reunifying them. The ACLU had sought a court order blocking the deportation of any parent with a final order of removal until one week after notification that they have been reunited with their children.

      This waiting period is crucial to ensure that parents have an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to fight their own removal case, leave their child, who may have their own asylum claim, behind in the United States, or to make some other decision. In short, families will be making life-altering decisions after months of traumatic separation — and the fact that the government is trying to shortchange them a matter of days to do so is galling.

      Yesterday in court, we argued that given reports of a chaotic reunification process, not to mention the trauma caused by prolonged involuntary separation, families absolutely require a waiting period of seven days after notification of reunion, so that they can meet with attorneys and be fully apprised of their rights before any deportations occur. A Justice Department attorney pushed back, saying “The government takes issue with the assertion that there is a mess on the ground. We have many reasons to be proud of this effort.”

    • John Kiriakou: The Case for Stripping Former Officials of their Security Clearances

      Libertarian senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said on Monday that in a personal meeting with President Donald Trump, he urged the president to revoke the security clearances of a half dozen former Obama-era intelligence officials, including former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I couldn’t agree more with Paul’s position, not specifically regarding these three people, but for any former intelligence official. No former intelligence official should keep a security clearance, especially if he or she transitions to the media or to a corporate board.

      The controversy specifically over Brennan’s clearance has been bubbling along for more than a year. He has been one of Trump’s most vocal and harshest critics. Last week he went so far as to accuse Trump of having committed “treason” during his meeting in Helsinki, Finland with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Brennan said in a tweet, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican patriots: Where are you???” The outburst was in response to Trump’s unwillingness to accept the Intelligence Community position that Putin and the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

      Other intelligence professionals weighed in negatively on Trump’s Helsinki performance, including Republicans like former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former CIA director Mike Hayden.

    • ‘The Haitian Government Has Lavished Privileges Upon Themselves’

      “Mt. Juliet Mission Group Stalled in Haiti.” “Missionary From Hubbardston Weathers Protests in Haiti.” “Riots Delay Lowell Missionaries’ Return From Haiti.” “Raleigh Church Group Returning From Haiti After Civil Unrest.”

      Judging by headlines, one might assess that the significant thing about public protests in Haiti is that they have interrupted the travel of US missionary groups. Reading further, you may learn that the immediate spark for the unrest was a proposed hike in fuel prices, a 38 percent increase in the price of gas, 47 percent for diesel and 51 percent for the kerosene many people use to heat and cook.

      But in general (the Miami Herald‘s Jacqueline Charles was a notable exception), big US media outlets just don’t seem all that interested in what’s happening in Haiti. And so stories focused on Americans who “tried to help, but got caught up in violence,” take center stage, reinforcing a media storyline that has tended to present Haiti as a place of almost inherent chaos and a bottomless pit for international aid.

      It’s a sad, static vision that doesn’t encourage much thinking about positive ways forward for Haiti and Haitians. Joining us now to help shed a different light on things is Jocelyn McCalla, the longtime director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights; he’s now advocacy coordinator for the group Haitian-Americans United for Progress. He joins us now by phone from Brooklyn. Welcome to CounterSpin, Jocelyn McCalla.

    • Facebook Promises to Bar Advertisers From Targeting Ads by Race or Ethnicity. Again.

      Facebook announced Tuesday that it would make “legally binding” changes to its advertising platform, removing some features that allowed discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and credit ads.

      The social networking company’s pledges came in response to an investigation by the state of Washington prompted by a November 2016 ProPublica article. The article disclosed that the company’s software made it possible for marketers to tailor who saw Facebook ads by race, gender, nationality and other characteristics protected by the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

      The housing act bars publication of any advertisement “with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

    • Police watchdog omits 3 contentious deaths from record-breaking count of deaths in custody

      Three young black men who died during or after police restraint are not included in the latest official count of “deaths in or following police custody”, Shine A Light has learned.

      The three are Rashan Charles, Shane Bryant and Edson Da Costa.

      A report published today by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (formerly known as the Independent Police Complaints Commission) records 23 police custody deaths in England and Wales in the year to 31 March 2018. That’s a 14-year high.

      But at least three young black men who are known to have died during or after police restraint are not listed by the IOPC among the headline 23 “deaths in or following police custody”.

      Edson Da Costa, 25, died in Newham, East London, on 21 June 2017, following restraint by police six days earlier.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New York State Threatens To Revoke Charter’s Cable Franchise For Bullshitting

      New York State and the nation’s second biggest cable provider (Charter Spectrum) aren’t getting along particularly well. Early last year, Charter Spectrum was sued by New York State for selling broadband speeds the company knew it couldn’t deliver. According to the original complaint (pdf), Charter routinely misled consumers, refused to seriously upgrade its networks, and manipulated a system the FCC used to determine whether the company was delivering advertised broadband speeds to the company’s subscribers (it wasn’t).

      Charter has tried to use the FCC’s net neutrality repeal to claim that states can’t hold it accountable for terrible service, but that hasn’t been going particularly well.

      Meanwhile, Charter is also facing heat from the state after the State Public Service Commission found that Charter routinely mislead regulators about its efforts to meet conditions affixed to its $89 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. As part of that deal, Charter was supposed to expand service to “145,000 unserved and underserved residential housing units and/or businesses within four years.” But the company was fined $2 million after regulators found it repeatedly tried to pretend it had expanded services to areas that weren’t actually upgraded.

    • 5.4 Million Americans Will Cut The Cord In 2018, New Report Warns

      Cg42, a boutique consulting firm, has published its latest “2018 Cord Cutter & Cord Never Study,” which builds on several reports by providing an in-depth analysis of both US consumers who opted out of subscription-based Paid-TV service in the last several years (i.e., Cord Cutters) as well as US consumers who have never subscribed to paid-TV service (i.e., Cord Nevers).

    • Sen. Ron Wyden on breaking up Facebook, net neutrality, and the law that built the [I]nternet

      On July 18th, The Verge sat down with Wyden on Capitol Hill to discuss the tech industry’s troubled state. For a technophile, his office is notably analog: a mountain of paper on his desk obscures an Economist and a copy of James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, and on display are books by his father, the journalist Peter H. Wyden. Recent news made our conversation topical: just hours before, the European Union had levied a massive, $5.1 billion fine against Google for alleged anti-competitive practices. During our meeting, Wyden suggested that it was time for Congress to take a harder look at Big Tech and even hinted that legislation on the data privacy front was forthcoming.

    • Ajit Pai gets message from his hometown ISP: Don’t hurt us small ISPs

      Pai heard from his hometown ISP again yesterday when Wave and 181 other fixed wireless broadband providers wrote a letter opposing an FCC plan that could limit the small ISPs’ access to wireless spectrum.

    • Massachusetts Just The Latest State To Embrace Net Neutrality

      In the wake of the FCC’s historically unpopular decision to gut net neutrality, more than half of the states in the nation are now exploring their own, state-level net neutrality rules. In some instances (Montana) states are signing executive orders that ban state agencies from doing business with ISPs that behave anti-competitively. Elsewhere (Oregon and Washington) states are passing new laws that largely mirror the FCC’s discarded 2015 rules, and in some instances (California) are a bit tougher than the FCC on things like usage caps or “zero rating.”

      This week, Massachusetts began finalizing approval of S2610, which initially proposed doing many of the things other such bills do (banning ISP blocking, throttling, or crippling of competitor services and websites).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Lessons from India’s first ever SEP judgment

      More clarity in calculating damages in standard essential patent disputes could have made judgment a more powerful precedent, according to India practitioners

    • CJEU rules on basic patent meaning in SPC dispute

      The meaning of “protected by a basic patent” has been clarified in Teva v Gilead, in a return to familiar ground

    • EUIPO must re-examine KitKat shape, rules CJEU

      Nestlé did not produce sufficient evidence to show that Kit Kat’s three-dimensional shape had acquired distinctive character, the CJEU rules, in a case that makes it clear the test for acquired distinctiveness is different from the test for non-use

    • NBER Summer Institute 2018: Innovation

      Last week I was a discussant at the Innovation section of the 2018 NBER Summer Institute (full schedule here), which I highly recommend to scholars interested in the economics of innovation. The quality of the papers and the discussion was pretty uniformly high. There were a few examples of the insularity of economics, such as remarks about topics that “no one has studied” that have been studied by legal scholars, but I think this just illustrates the benefits of having scholars familiar with different literatures at disciplinary conferences.

      Here are links and brief summaries of the innovation-related papers. (There was also a great panel discussion on gender and academic credit, which I might post about separately at some point.)

    • Copyrights

      • Taste of cheese can’t be copyright protected: CJEU AG

        A top EU court adviser has recommended that the taste of cheese not be protected by copyright and that protection should only be applied to work that is seen or heard

      • The AG Opinion in Levola Hengelo: more questions than answers?

        According to the AG, there are two additional considerations that rule out copyright protection in a taste.

        The first is the idea/expression dichotomy, which excludes protection for a recipe as such, this being an idea that has not yet been expressed in some form, eg in writing.

        The second consideration is that original expressions should be identifiable with sufficient precision and objectivity. And here the AG brought trade mark law into the picture. By relying on the decision in Sieckmann concerning the (now seemingly defunct) graphic representation requirement and which – as a matter of fact – has made it virtually impossible to register less conventional signs like smells and, indeed, taste, he concluded that the same requirements envisaged for graphic representation of a sign in trade mark law – ie the representation be clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable and objective – apply in copyright. Hence, if a certain subject-matter cannot be identified with sufficient precision and objectivity, it is not protectable.

        The taste of a food product is a qualitative element and, as things currently stand, there are no techniques to identify it precisely and objectively. It follows that it is not possible to identify precisely and objectively the scope of the protection (if any) afforded to it.

      • No, The Public Standing Up For An Open Internet Is Not A Criminal Google Conspiracy

        Over the past decade, we’ve talked about music industry lawyer Chris Castle and his bizarre interpretation of reality a few times. He insists that anyone supporting the legal sharing of content via Creative Commons is “self-serving shilling for the self-absorbed on the short con,” which I’m sure must have sounded clever in his mind. A key target for Castle and his friends is that Google is the representation of all that is evil in the music industry. It’s a convenient foil. Castle and his friends see Google lurking behind anything that’s not like the old days, similar to the way that adults freaked out that pinball machines were destroying the minds of the youths in earlier generations.

        Castle’s latest claim, however, is positively crazy. Not only is he upset about the EU Parliament has agreed to reopen Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive for discussion, he’s decided that the only reason they did so must be due to a criminal conspiracy by Google, for which he is demanding an investigation.

      • BREAKING: AG Wathelet advises CJEU to rule that the taste of a cheese CANNOT be protected by copyright

        Finally: the time has (almost) come to know the answer to one of the most pressing IP questions: is there, or not, copyright in the taste of a spreadable Dutch cheese known as Heks’nkaas?

        This morning Advocate General (AG) Wathelet issued his Opinion [not yet available on the Curia website], in which he advised the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to rule that no copyright protection could vest in the taste of a cheese.

        Despite its seemingly cheesy subject-matter, this case is potentially a very important one, as I discussed more at length here and here.

      • 6 Best Pirate Bay Alternatives To Use When TPB Is Down: Working In 2018

        What do the fans do when The Pirate Bay is down, maybe, due to some error or federal actions? They have to accept the hard truth and look for some alternatives of The Pirate Bay or ripoffs like thepiratebay3.org.

        Commonly known as TPB, the popular torrent site has been around for almost 15 years currently running on thepiratebay.org domain. Over the period of this time, it went away and came back multiple times and changed domains as well. Its operators even thought about setting up TPB servers on a satellite where law enforcement can’t reach.

      • South Africa’s Proposed Fair Use Right In Copyright Bill Is Surprisingly Good — At The Moment

        Too often Techdirt writes about changes in copyright law that are only for the benefit of the big publishing and recording companies, and offer little to individual creators or the public. So it makes a pleasant change to be able to report that South Africa’s efforts to update its creaking copyright laws seem, for the moment, to be bucking that trend. Specifically, those drafting the text seem to have listened to the calls for intelligent fair use rights fit for the digital world. As a post on infojustice.org explains, a key aspect of copyright reform is enshrining exceptions that give permission to Internet users to do all the usual online stuff — things like sharing photos on social media, or making and distributing memes.

      • MPAA: Doing Nothing About Online Lawlessness Chills Free Speech

        Doing nothing about online lawlessness chills free speech, the MPAA has told the NTIB. To improve the situation, online platforms should take more responsibility for illegal content and domain names should be off limits to pirate sites. On top, some Kodi addon makers and repositories should be targeted by criminal enforcement action.

Microsoft Patent Trolls and IBM Against 35 U.S.C. § 101 and for Software Patents, Blackmail

Posted in America, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 12:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They hardly even manage to keep it a secret any longer

Telling secrets

Summary: With the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 gaining traction and with Section 101 limiting the scope of patents in the United States we now see increased lobbying and trolling by companies on the decline — companies whose last remaining ‘asset’ is a large pile of software patents

THE enforcement of software patents has become very hard in the US. Many no longer bother with it, so litigation numbers dropped sharply. This is a positive development; unless or except for those who make a living from litigation (patent trolls, lawyers and so on).

“Copyrights do a good enough job protecting one’s code from misuse.”Our latest post on trade secrets certainly was a celebration of the shift away from patents, at least for software. Copyrights do a good enough job protecting one’s code from misuse. Here is some mainstream media coverage about this trend:

Trade secrets claims are an increasingly common avenue companies are using to safeguard their intellectual property rights.

Trade secrets litigation has grown as the digital age has made sharing information quick and easy. In addition, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, passed in 2016, raised trade secrets from simply a state law claim to a federal one.

“Intellectual property holders are increasingly aware they have this tool in their arsenal,” Michael W. De Vries, with Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Los Angeles, told Bloomberg Law. De Vries has substantial experience representing clients in complex intellectual property disputes including patent litigation and litigation involving misappropriation of trade secrets.

We’ve already seen this law being used/leveraged in the context of software. One famous case concerns Sergey Aleynikov.

“Call these “AI” or “cloud” or “blockchain” or whatever, but these are still software patents and even holders of such patents know they’d be rendered invalid by courts (if brought into the context of litigation).”In the wake of Section 101 with Alice (SCOTUS) embodied in it we’re seeing a fall in success rates of software patent litigation. Call these “AI” or “cloud” or “blockchain” or whatever, but these are still software patents and even holders of such patents know they’d be rendered invalid by courts (if brought into the context of litigation). Here comes Stephen O’Neal (yesterday in a blockchain-oriented/cryptocurrency-centric site) ‘blockchain-washing’ a bunch of software patents. To quote:

Last week, news of at least three major players applying for blockchain-related patents emerged: Bank of America sought to legally protect its blockchain-based system allowing the external validation of data, Barclays filed two patent applications relating to the transfer of digital currency and blockchain data storage, while MasterCard’s application mentioned a form of a public blockchain-based method for linking assets between blockchain and fiat accounts.

As blockchain technology continues to be one of the most discussed things in 2018 and a subject for mass adoption, the number of crypto-related patents is steadily growing — and with patent trolls joining the game, a legal war over blockchain might occur in the future.

There are indeed “patent trolls joining the game,” but they too must know that those are software patents and therefore Alice is a threat to them. If they target (engage in extortion against) small companies, they will likely be able to avoid a legal battle. Other than that, they can hope and pray that Alice will just miraculously vanish. IBM lobbyists together with IPO have been working towards that for years; they have created a whole “task force” for this purpose, accompanying IBM’s massive war of patent aggression. IBM’s latest case of patent blackmail has been going public (due to a lawsuit). They do this to probably hundreds of firms behind closed doors and Bloomberg did a report about it last week, as did many other press outlets. Last week we saw IBM’s patent chief (Manny Schecter) associating with and contributing to Watchtroll again. Citing Watchtroll about Mayo/Section 101, he said: “The Court in Alice did not state what “something more” might be? Of course they didn’t. The Court declined to define “abstract” so how can one know what is significantly more than something as yet unidentified?”

“Algorithms are abstract,” I told him. Software patents “are therefore over [and IBM] needs to learn to deal with it and stop blackmailing the whole world.”

“It’s worth noting that both IBM and Microsoft not only attempt to leverage software patents for extortion; they also attempt to change the law to facilitate this massive (multi-billion) extortion racket.”As we noted here in the recent and distant past, Microsoft now pretends that it “loves Linux”, so Microsoft has ‘outsourced’ patent litigation against GNU/Linux to various patent trolls.

We’ve just noticed that there’s this Section 101 (35 U.S.C. § 101) case between Interval Licensing LLC and AOL (maybe the same “Interval” as Interval Research Corporation, the creation of Microsoft’s co-founder; according to Wikipedia they overlap). It’s a Federal Circuit (CAFC) case which Patent Docs covered earlier this week:

Interval Licensing brought an action against AOL and several other defendants in the Western District of Washington, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652. In a previous ruling, all asserted claims of this patent were invalidated as being indefinite. At issue in this decision are claims 15-18, which were subsequently ruled invalid for failing to recite patent-eligibile subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.


Applying step one of Alice, the Court quickly concluded that the claimed invention was directed to “providing information to a person without interfering with the person’s primary activity.” This, in and of itself, is an abstract idea according to the Court due to it being analogous to news tickers on television programs, for example. The Court also frowned upon the claim’s “broad, result-oriented” structure that “demands the production of a desired result (non-interfering display of two information sets) without any limitation on how to produce that result.”

So Alice stopped this Microsoft-connected troll, which previously also attacked Android. It’s worth noting that both IBM and Microsoft not only attempt to leverage software patents for extortion; they also attempt to change the law to facilitate this massive (multi-billion) extortion racket.

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