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Links 1/10/2016: Linux 4.7.6 and 4.4.23, Blender 2.78

Posted in News Roundup at 3:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Linux Unable To Boot Lenovo Yoga 900 & 900; Is Microsoft At Fault?

      The popular device developer Lenovo has verified the claims that Lenovo Yoga 900 and 900s unable to boot Linux OS but only Microsoft Windows 10. The new Lenovo convertible laptop, Lenovo Yoga 900 and 900s, would reject and decline any attempt to install Linux operating system, making users turn their heads to Microsoft as the suspect for this issue.


      This issue about the OS started when an identity of BaronHK posted on Reddit about installing Linux on the latest Lenovo Yoga book in which BaronHK encountered being blocked by a locked solid state drive (SSD) which Linux cannot define itself, and come up to link the issue to Microsoft.

  • Server

    • Why Good Linux Sysadmins Use Markdown

      The Markdown markup language is perfect for writing system administrator documentation: it is lightweight, versatile, and easy to learn, so you spend your time writing instead of fighting with formatting.

      The life of a Linux system administrator is complex and varied, and you know that documenting your work is a big time-saver. A documentation web server shared by you and your colleagues is a wonderful productivity tool. Most of us know simple HTML, and can whack up a web page as easily as writing plain text. But using Markdown is better.

    • How to Effectively and Efficiently Edit Configuration Files in Linux

      Every Linux administrator has to eventually (and manually) edit a configuration file. Whether you are setting up a web server, configuring a service to connect to a database, tweaking a bash script, or troubleshooting a network connection, you cannot avoid a dive deep into the heart of one or more configuration files. To some, the prospect of manually editing configuration files is akin to a nightmare. Wading through what seems like countless lines of options and comments can put you on the fast track for hair and sanity loss.

      Which, of course, isn’t true. In fact, most Linux administrators enjoy a good debugging or configuration challenge. Sifting through the minutiae of how a server or software functions is a great way to pass time. But this process doesn’t have to be an exercise in ineffective inefficiency. In fact, tools are available to you that go a very long way to make the editing of config files much, much easier. I’m going to introduce you to a few such tools, to ease some of the burden of your Linux admin duties. I’ll first discuss the command-line tools that are invaluable to the task of making configuration more efficient.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.7.6

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.7.6 kernel.

      All users of the 4.7 kernel series must upgrade.

    • Linux 4.4.23
    • Linux Kernel 4.7.6 Is Out with MIPS and OCFS2 Improvements, Updated Drivers

      Today, September 30, 2016, renowned Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the release of the sixth maintenance update to the latest stable Linux 4.7 kernel series.

      Linux kernel 4.7.6 comes only five days after the release of the previous maintenance version, Linux kernel 4.7.5, and, according to the appended shortlog and the diff from the last update, it changes a total of 76 files, with 539 insertions and 455 deletions. In summary, it updates multiple drivers, adds improvements to various filesystems and hardware architectures, and improves the networking stack.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.23 LTS Has ARM and MIPS Improvements, Updated Filesystems, More

      Immediately after announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.7.6, Greg Kroah-Hartman proudly informed the community about the general availability of the Linux 4.4.23 LTS kernel.

      The Linux 4.4 kernel is a long-term supported branch, the latest and most advanced one, used in many stable and reliable GNU/Linux operating systems, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Alpine Linux 3.4. Therefore, it is imperative for it to receive regular updates that bring fixes to the most important issues, as well as other general improvements.

    • From NFS to LizardFS

      If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that we started our data servers out using NFS on ext4 mirrored over DRBD, hit some load problems, switched to btrfs, hit load problems again, tried a hacky workaround, ran into problems, dropped DRBD for glusterfs, had a major disaster, switched back to NFS on ext4 mirrored over DRBD, hit more load problems, and finally dropped DRBD for ZFS.

    • IBM’s Ginni Rometty Tells Bankers Not To Rest On Their Digital Laurels
    • BUS1, The Successor To KDBUS, Formally Unveiled — Aiming For Mainline Linux Kernel

      BUS1 has been in development as an in-kernel IPC mechanism building off the failed KDBUS project. An “RFC” will soon be sent out to Linux kernel developers about BUS1 and the subject will be discussed at next month’s Kernel Summit.

      David Herrmann, one of the BUS1 developers, presented at this week’s systemd.conf conference about the new capability-based IPC for Linux. He talked about how BUS1 is superior to KDBUS, how BUS1 is similar to Android’s Binder, Chrome’s Mojo, Solaris’ Doors, and other common IPC implementations.

    • A New Wireless Daemon Is In Development To Potentially Replace wpa_supplicant

      In addition to the BUS1 presentation, also exciting from the systemd.conf 2016 conference is a thorough walkthrough of a new wireless daemon for Linux being developed by Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center.

      Intel has been developing a new wireless daemon for Linux to potentially replace wpa_supplicant. This new daemon isn’t yet public but the code repositories for it will be opened up in the next few weeks. This new daemon has improvements around persistency, WiFi management, reduced abstractions for different operating systems and legacy interfaces, and changes to operation. This daemon is designed to be very lightweight and work well for embedded Linux use-cases especially, including IoT applications.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Libinput X.Org Driver Updated For X.Org Server 1.19

        Peter Hutterer has announced the release of a new version of xf86-input-libinput, the X.Org DDX driver that makes use of libinput for input handling on the X.Org Server.

      • xf86-input-libinput 0.20.0

        Most important fix is the use of input_lock() instead of the old SIGIO stuff to handle the input thread in server 1.19.

      • Mesa 13.0 Planning For Release At End Of October, Might Include RADV Vulkan

        Following the mailing list talk over the past two days about doing the next Mesa release, plans are being discussed for releasing at the end of October and it might have just got a whole lot more exciting.

        Emil Velikov, Collabora developer and Mesa release manager for the past several release series, has commented on that previously discussed mailing list thread. He mentioned he was secretly waiting in hopes of seeing the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver merged for this next release! He said he’d even be willing to see it merged even if it’s “not perfect/feature complete.”

    • Benchmarks

      • FreeBSD 11.0 Comes Up Short In Ubuntu 16.04 vs. macOS Sierra Benchmarks

        Yesterday I published some macOS 10.2 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS benchmarks from a Mac Mini and MacBook Air systems. For those curious if BSDs can outperform macOS Sierra on Apple hardware, I tested the MacBook Air with FreeBSD 11.0 compared to the Linux and macOS results on that Core i5 system. Here are those results.

      • Early Benchmarks Of The Linux 4.9 DRM-Next Radeon/AMDGPU Drivers

        While Linux 4.9 will not officially open for development until next week, the DRM-Next code is ready to roll with all major feature work having been committed by the different open-source Direct Rendering Manager drivers. In this article is some preliminary testing of this DRM-Next code as of 29 September when testing various AMD GPUs with the Radeon and AMDGPU DRM drivers.

        Linux 4.9 does bring compile-time-offered experimental support for the AMD Southern Islands GCN 1.0 hardware on AMDGPU, but that isn’t the focus of this article. A follow-up comparison is being done with GCN 1.0/1.1 experimental support enabled to see the Radeon vs. AMDGPU performance difference on that hardware. For today’s testing was a Radeon R7 370 to look at the Radeon DRM performance and for AMDGPU testing was the Radeon R9 285, R9 Fury, and RX 480. Benchmarks were done from the Linux 4.8 Git and Linux DRM-Next kernels as of 29 September.

      • How Ubuntu 16.10 Beta 2 Performance Compares To Some Other Linux Distros

        The final Ubuntu 16.10 Beta for “Yakkety Yak” was released this week and we found its performance doesn’t differ much from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (with the exception of the newer graphics stack) while here are some results comparing it to other modern Linux distributions.

        Tested for this quick, one-page-article comparison were Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS, Ubuntu 16.10 Beta 2, Clear Linux 10660, Fedora 24, openSUSE Tumbleweed 20160927, and the Arch-based Antergos 16.9-Rolling release.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 3D WIP branches
      • New Qt 3D Functionality Is Being Worked On

        Sean Harmer of KDAB is organizing work around some upcoming “major Qt 3D features” for the open-source toolkit.

        It’s not known if the next round of Qt 3D features will be ready for the Qt 5.9 tool-kit release, but KDAB is looking to have these new branches for feature work with continuous integration coverage.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Calendar App to Feature a New Sidebar, Week View & Attendees in GNOME 3.24

        GNOME developer Georges Stavracas wrote an in-depth blog post the other day to inform the GNOME, Linux, and Open Source communities about the upcoming improvements and new features coming to the GNOME Calendar apps.

        Now that some of us are already enjoying the recently released GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, the GNOME developers are hard at work to improve the GNOME apps and core components by either adding new exciting features and technologies or improving existing ones.

      • Cinnamon 3.2 in Linux Mint 18.1 Supports Vertical Panels, Better Accelerometers

        After informing the community a few days ago about the Mintbox Mini Pro PC and the upcoming improvements and new features shipping with the XApps software projects in Linux Mint 18.1, Clement Lefebvre just published the monthly Linux Mint newsletter.

      • Cross-compiling WebKit2GTK+ for ARM

        Of course, I know for a fact that many people use local recipes to cross-compile WebKit2GTK+ for ARM (or simply build in the target machine, which usually takes a looong time), but those are usually ad-hoc things and hard to reproduce environments locally (or at least hard for me) and, even worse, often bound to downstream projects, so I thought it would be nice to try to have something tested with upstream WebKit2GTK+ and publish it on trac.webkit.org,

      • Should we drop Vala?

        Is it Vala development a waste of time? Is Vala suitable for long term support libraries?

  • Distributions

    • LXLE: A Linux distro to give new life to old hardware

      I’ll bet that somewhere, perhaps at home and most likely at work, you’ve got some old hardware lying around. What to do with it? It still works but what’s it running? Windows XP? Vista? Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic?

      Yep, you’re stuck on some old version of Windows but moving that machine up to a newer version of Windows could be tricky ‘cause one or more of those old graphics cards and printer drivers have probably have fallen out of the update cycle.

      Even if those subsystems are still available, you’ll still have a problem as the newer OSs’ are pretty much guaranteed to suck the life out of old processors with the result that performance and therefore usability will be marginal at best.

      So, what to do? Before you start looking for a deal on a new machine and an e-waste disposal site, consider moving to Linux and, most specifically, consider migrating to LXLE, the LXDE eXtra Luxury Edition (though some people also claim it stands for Lubuntu Extra Life Extension).

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat, Logicalis in digital transformation partnership in Latin America

        PromonLogicalis, a provider of information technology and communication solutions and services in Latin America, and Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced a collaboration that aim to help organizations navigate the digital transformation of their infrastructures to pave the way for cloud and the software-defined technologies, and to advance open source technology awareness in the region.

        Open source is delivering significant advancements in many areas of technology through community-powered innovation, including cloud computing, mobile, big data, and more. And, as companies embrace modern technology as a competitive advantage via digital transformation efforts, many are turning to open source because of the flexibility and agility it can enable.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • PHP version 5.6.27RC1 and 7.0.12RC1
        • An Easy Way To Try Intel & RADV Vulkan Drivers On Fedora 24

          Fedora 25 should have good support for the open-source Vulkan Linux drivers (particularly if it lands the next Mesa release) while Fedora 24 users can now more easily play with the latest Mesa Git RADV and Intel ANV Vulkan drivers via a new repository.

          A Phoronix reader has setup a Fedora Copr repository that is building Intel’s Vulkan driver from Mesa Git plus the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver re-based from its source (David Airlie’s semi-interesting GitHub branch). Fedora COPR, for the uninformed, is the distribution’s equivalent to Ubuntu PPA repositories.

        • Meeting users, lots of users

          Every year, I introduce Fedora to new students at Brno Technical University. There are approx. 500 of them and a sizable amount of them then installs Fedora. We also organize a sort of installfest one week after the presentation where anyone who has had any difficulties with Fedora can come and ask for help. It’s a great opportunity to observe what things new users struggle with the most. Especially when you have such a high number of new users. What are my observations this year?

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 reasons why CIOs should consider open source software

    A recent survey shows 78 percent of companies run part or all of their operations on open source software. Indeed, open source continues to gain market traction as more companies adopt open technology to speed innovation, disrupt industries and improve overall productivity.

    Those who remain hesitant about adopting open source are in danger of being left behind. Because open source architecture lends itself to more frequent updates, and because of the openness, open source provides the freedom to innovate and mature in the way that enterprises need.

  • Kubernetes Arrives in New Flavors

    Kubernetes has taken center stage in recent days, and, as we’ve been noting in recent posts, the open source container cluster manager is heading in new directions. Google has just announced the release of Kubernetes 1.4, which makes the tool much easier to install.

    Meanwhile, Canonical has now launched its own distribution of Kubernetes, with enterprise support, across a range of public clouds and private infrastructure. It’s Kubernetes at the core, but features a number of extra bells and whistles.

  • 2016 Women in Open Source Award Winners

    We hope you enjoy and are inspired by this short video celebrating Preeti Murthy and Jessica McKellar, the winners of this year’s Red Hat Women in Open Source Awards.

  • Tech, talent and tools: The secret to monetizing open-source

    “In California during the gold rush, you didn’t make money digging for gold; you made money selling shovels,” said Mehta. A fitting metaphor for the idea that investing in talent and tools, especially tools, is how to turn a profit. The actual data, databases, algorithms and so on would be open source. Money would come from the tools to use that technology to benefit specific areas, such as automation of healthcare.

    And healthcare is a good place to start. “Big Data is all about making life cheaper, better. … If we forget about how to solve problems for humans, we’ve lost. We want to be known for enriching life,” said Mehta.

  • Changing the way we design for the web

    On the one hand, open source should mean lower cost of entry for people from poorer communities (like me, growing up). But on the other, I feel it is hard to contribute when under- or unemployed. I had a grant to work on the Web Animations API documentation, but I can’t do as much as I’d like with other animation features (motion paths, advanced timing functions) because I need to spend a lot of time working on my own business, getting paid.

    Essentially this leads to an awkward model where the only contributors are employed programmers—and when it comes to open source animation or design APIs, platforms, etc, this lack of user input really starts to show. Or, the only products with thriving open source development teams are those that have financially lucrative futures, turning the open source software (OSS) model into a capitalist one.

  • Asterisk 14 Improves Open-Source VoIP

    Digium, the lead commercial sponsor behind the Asterisk open source PBX project announced the release Asterisk 14 this week, continuing to evolve the decade old effort, making it easier to use and deploy.

  • Yahoo open-sources a deep learning model for classifying pornographic images

    Yahoo today announced its latest open-source release: a model that can figure out if images are specifically pornographic in nature.

    The system uses a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on lots of data (like dirty images) and getting them to make inferences about new data. The model that’s now available on GitHub under a BSD 2-Clause license comes pre-trained, so users only have to fine-tune it if they so choose. The model works with the widely used Caffe open source deep learning framework. The team trained the model using its now open source CaffeOnSpark system.

    The new model could be interesting to look at for developers maintaining applications like Instagram and Pinterest that are keen to minimize smut. Search engine operators like Google and Microsoft might also want to check out what’s under the hood here.

    “To the best of our knowledge, there is no open source model or algorithm for identifying NSFW images,” Yahoo research engineer Jay Mahadeokar and senior director of product management Gerry Pesavento wrote in a blog post.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • CloudReady by neverware

        I thought I would put together a quick “installation” review of a product called CloudReady by neverware. What is CloudReady? CloudReady is basically a project to bring Chromium OS to those who would like to convert traditional laptops into Chromebook-like devices. I stumbled on them several months ago and finally decided to see how hard it was to install Chromium OS and how functional it actually was as a Chromebook-like device. I have a few low end (netbook-like) devices and I have been trying to figure out how I could make them functional for my boys, I thought this might be the solution.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla tells Firefox OS devs to fork off if they want to chase open web apps vision

        The Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox development team has decided enough is enough and will stop supporting Windows XP and Vista in March 2017 and also bin Firefox OS.

        The OS first. In this post Mozillans Ari Jaaksi and David Bryant, respectively the head of connected devices and veep for platform engineering, write that “By the end of 2015 Mozilla leadership had come to the conclusion that our then Firefox OS initiative of shipping phones with commercial partners would not bring Mozilla the returns we sought.”

        That decision means that “as of the end of July 2016 have stopped all commercial development on Firefox OS.”

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Cloudera Delivers Release Built on Apache Spark 2.0, and Advances Kudu

      Cloudera, focused on Apache Hadoop and other open source technologies,has announced its release built on the Apache Spark 2.0 (Beta), with enhancements to the API experience, performance improvements, and enhanced machine learning capabilities.

      The company is also working with the community to continue developing Apache Kudu 1.0, recently released by the Apache Software Foundation, which we covered here. Kudu is an open source columnar storage engine built for the Apache Hadoop ecosystem designed to enable flexible, high-performance analytic pipelines. Taken together, Cloudera’s new tools are giving it more diverse kinds of presence on the Big Data scene.

      Cloudera claims it was the first Hadoop big data analytics vendor to deliver a commercially supported version of Spark, and has participated actively in the open source community to enhance Spark for the enterprise through its One Platform Initiative. “With Spark 2.0, organizations are better able to take advantage of streaming data, develop richer machine learning models, and deploy them in real time, enabling more workloads to go into production,” the company reports.

    • Cloudera Delivers Enterprise-Grade Real-Time Streaming and Machine Learning with Apache Spark 2.0 and Drives Community Innovation with Apache Kudu 1.0
    • Vendors Pile on Big Data News at Strata

      Cloudera, Pentaho and Alation are among vendors making Big Data announcements at this week’s Strata event.

      Vendors big and small are making news at this week’s Strata + Hadoop event as they try to expand their portion of the Big Data market.

      Cloudera highlighted a trio of Apache Software Foundation (ASF) projects to which it contributes. Among them is Spark 2.0, which benefits from a new Dataset API that offers the promise of better usability and performance as well as new machine learning libraries.

    • New alliances focus on open-source, data science empowerment

      How can data science make a true market impact? Partnerships, particularly amongst open source communities. As IBM solidifies its enterprise strategies around data demands, two new partnerships emerge: one with Continuum Analytics, Inc., advancing open-source analytics for the enterprise; and another with Galvanize, initiating a Data Science for Executives program.

      Continuum Analytics, the creator and driving force behind Anaconda — a leading open data science platform powered by Python — has allied with IBM to advance open-source analytics for the enterprise. Data scientists and data engineers in open-source communities can now embrace Python and R to develop analytic and machine learning models in the Spark environment through its integration with IBM’s DataWorks Project.

      The new agreement between IBM and Galvanize, which provides a dynamic learning community for technology, will offer an assessment, analysis and training element for Galvanize’s Data Science for Executives program. This program empowers corporations to better understand, use and maximize the value of their data. The program will support IBM’s DataFirst Method, a methodology that IBM says provides the strategy, expertise and game plan to help ensure enterprise customers’ succeed on their journey to become a data-driven business.

    • Apache Spot: open source big data analytics for cyber
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • TDF Releases Fresh Update to LibreOffice 5.2

      The Document Foundation today announced the availability of LibreOffice 5.2.2, the second update to the “fresh” 5.2 family. “LibreOffice 5.2.2, targeted at technology enthusiasts, early adopters and power users, provides a number of fixes over the major release announced in August.” These fixes include the usual number of import/export/filter fixes as well as a lot of interface adjustments and a few crashes.

      One of the more interesting import bugs fixed had first been reported 4 1/2 years ago. In version 3.5.0 when importing RTF files with several tables the formatting isn’t retained in all cases. The original reporter said this included column widths and placement. Comments updated the report throughout several versions on various systems. The bug sat for another year before being bumped and eight months later a patch was committed. After further input and more adjustments, Miklos Vajna committed patches for several versions including today’s 5.2.2.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD 6.0 Limited Edition CD set (signed by developers)

      Five OpenBSD 6.0 CD-ROM copies were signed by 40 developers during the g2k16 Hackathon in Cambridge, UK.

      Those copies are being auctioned sequentially on ebay.

      All proceeds will be donated to the OpenBSD Foundation to support and further the development of free software based on the OpenBSD operating system.


    • Licensing resource series: Free GNU/Linux distributions & GNU Bucks

      When Richard Stallman set out to create the GNU Project, the goal was to create a fully free operating system. Over 33 years later, it is now possible for users to have a computer that runs only free software. But even if all the software is available, putting it all together yourself, or finding a distribution that comes with only free software, would be quite the task. That is why we provide a list of Free GNU/Linux distributions.

      Each distro on the list is commited to only distributing free software. With many to choose from, you can find a distro that meets your needs while respecting your freedom.

      But with so much software making up an entire operating system, how is it possible to make sure that nothing nasty sneaks into the distro? That’s where you, and GNU Bucks come in.

    • Friday Working together for Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 30th
    • August and September 2016: photos from Pittsburgh and Fresno
    • Libre Learn Lab: a summit on freely licensed resources for education

      Libre Learn Lab is a two-day summit for people who create, use and implement freely licensed resources for K-12 education, bringing together educators, policy experts, software developers, hardware hackers, and activists to share best practices and address the challenges of widespread adoption of these resources in education. The 2nd biennial conference is Saturday, October 8th, and Sunday, October 9th, at the MIT Tang Center.

      The keynote addresses will be delivered by the FSF’s own Richard M. Stallman, former Chief Open Education Advisor Andrew Marcinek and founder of HacKIDemia Stefania Druga. At the event, there will be a special tribute to Dr. Seymour Papert (the father of educational computing) by Dr. Cynthia Solomon.

  • Programming/Development

    • Machine Learning with Python

      I first heard the term “machine learning” a few years ago, and to be honest, I basically ignored it that time. I knew that it was a powerful technique, and I knew that it was in vogue, but I didn’t know what it really was— what problems it was designed to solve, how it solved them and how it related to the other sorts of issues I was working on in my professional (consulting) life and in my graduate-school research.

      But in the past few years, machine learning has become a topic that most will avoid at their professional peril. Despite the scary-sounding name, the ideas behind machine learning aren’t that difficult to understand. Moreover, a great deal of open-source software makes it possible for anyone to use machine learning in their own work or research. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that machine learning already is having a huge impact on the computer industry and on our day-to-day lives.


  • Salesforce tries to block Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition

    Microsoft made a splash earlier this year when it announced the largest acquisition in its history, signing an agreement to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. But now, Salesforce is trying to convince the European Union to block the deal.

    Salesforce Chief Legal Officer Burke Norton will argue to the EU’s competition authority that Microsoft’s control of LinkedIn’s dataset following an acquisition would be anticompetitive. EU competition chief Margarethe Vestager said in January that her agency would be looking directly at whether a company’s use of data is bad for competition, and these complaints seem aimed squarely at those comments.

    “Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition,” Norton said in a statement on Thursday. “By gaining ownership of LinkedIn’s unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage.”

  • The Rise of the Helpful Operational Bots: ChatOps

    While some of the concepts surrounding ChatOps has been around for a long time, it is fair to say that the idea only really began to get traction within technical communities when Jesse Newland gave a talk on ChatOps at Github during PuppetConf 2012. Since 2012 we have seen a growth in interest in the new use of bots within operations.

  • Facebook Video Metrics Crossed The Line From Merely Dubious To Just Plain Wrong

    What happened here is actually pretty subtle, so bear with me. Facebook distinguishes “plays” from “views” — with the former being every single play of the video, including those auto-plays that you scroll straight past and never even look at, and the latter being only people who actually watched the video for three seconds or longer. Of course, there are still a million ways in which this metric is itself broken (I’ve certainly let plenty of videos play for more than three seconds or even all the way through while reading a post above or below them) but the distinction is a good one. All of the more detailed stats are based on either plays or views (mostly views) and are clearly labeled, but the one metric at issue was the “Average Duration of Video Viewed.” This metric could be fairly calculated as either the total amount of time from all plays divided by the total number of plays, or the same thing based only on time and number of views — but instead, it was erroneously being calculated as total play time divided by total number of views. In other words, all the second-or-two autoplays from idle newsfeed scrollers were being totalled up, and that time was being distributed among the smaller number of people who stayed on the video for more than three seconds as part of their average duration, leading to across-the-board inflation of that figure.

  • Journalist Tom Henderson on Cloud Vendor Lock-In

    This video is not technically about free or open source software, but it’s 100 percent about the danger of falling victim to proprietary vendors and their habit of making it hard to leave their sweet embrace once they get their paws on you. The Network World column by Tom Henderson that generated this interview is titled, The Many Dimensions of Cloud Value, and is subtitled, “Put your snorkels on: The marketing for cloud services is getting deep.” So is the marketing for many other proprietary something-as-a-something offerings ranging from operating systems to (obviously) cloud platforms.

  • Science

    • Why Deep Learning Is Suddenly Changing Your Life

      Over the past four years, readers have doubtlessly noticed quantum leaps in the quality of a wide range of everyday technologies.

      Most obviously, the speech-recognition functions on our smartphones work much better than they used to. When we use a voice command to call our spouses, we reach them now. We aren’t connected to Amtrak or an angry ex.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Bayer Makes Deal With GMO Giant Monsanto

      That preemption bill was similar to other anti-local democracy measures peddled by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

      From fracking bans to minimum wage and GMO labeling, ALEC and its politicians have successfully driven preemption efforts with its “model” legislation throughout different parts of the country at the behest of giant corporations.

      An Oregonian who leads a group with ties to Monsanto claimed he authored the bill, but as Lisa Arkin of the Pesticide Action Network North America noted both the Oregon bill and the ALEC bill share the same name and have the same core operative language and effect: “A local government may not enact or enforce a . . . measure, including but not limited to an ordinance, regulation, control area, or quarantine, to inhibit or prevent the production or use of agricultural seed, flower seed . . . or vegetable seed or products of agricultural seed, flower seed . . . or vegetable seed.”

      After the Oregon bill was introduced in 2013, it was taken to ALEC’s 40th anniversary meeting in Chicago, as the “Preemption of Local Agricultural Laws Act,” which is known as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” by its foes.

    • More Than 9 in 10 People Breathe Bad Air, W.H.O. Study Says

      The World Health Organization said Tuesday that 92 percent of people breathe what it classifies as unhealthy air, in another sign that atmospheric pollution is a significant threat to global public health.

      A new report, the W.H.O.’s most comprehensive analysis so far of outdoor air quality worldwide, also said about three million deaths a year — mostly from cardiovascular, pulmonary and other noncommunicable diseases — were linked to outdoor air pollution. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths are in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region, compared with 333,000 in Europe and the Americas, the report said.

      “When you look out through the windows in your house or apartment, you don’t see the tiny little particles that are suspended in the air, so the usual perception is that the air is clean,” Rajasekhar Balasubramanian, an air quality expert at the National University of Singapore who was not involved in the study, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

      “But the W.H.O. report is a clear indication that even in the absence of air pollution episodes, the concentrations of particles suspended in the air do exceed what’s considered to be acceptable from a health viewpoint,” he said.

      In previous studies, the W.H.O. estimated that more than eight in 10 people in urban areas that monitored air pollution were breathing unhealthy air and that about seven million deaths a year were linked to indoor and outdoor pollution.

  • Security

    • Linaro organisation, with ARM, aims for end-end open source IoT code

      With the objective of producing reference software for more secure connected products, ranging from sensors and connected controllers to smart devices and gateways, for the industrial and consumer markets, Linaro has announced LITE: Collaborative Software Engineering for the Internet of Things (IoT).

      Linaro and the LITE members will work to reduce fragmentation in operating systems, middleware and cloud connectivity solutions, and will deliver open source device reference platforms to enable faster time to market, improved security and lower maintenance costs for connected products. Industry interoperability of diverse, connected and secure IoT devices is a critical need to deliver on the promise of the IoT market, the organisation says. “Today, product vendors are faced with a proliferation of choices for IoT device operating systems, security infrastructure, identification, communication, device management and cloud interfaces.”

    • An open source approach to securing The Internet of Things
    • Addressing the IoT Security Problem

      Last week’s DDOS takedown of security guru Brian Krebs’ website made history on several levels. For one, it was the largest such reported attack ever, with unwanted traffic to the site hitting levels of 620 Gbps, more than double the previous record set back in 2013, and signalling that the terabyte threshold will certainly be crossed soon. It also relied primarily on compromised Internet of Things devices.

    • Linaro beams LITE at Internet of Things devices

      Linaro launched a “Linaro IoT and Embedded” (LITE) group, to develop end-to-end open source reference software for IoT devices and applications.

      Linaro, which is owned by ARM and major ARM licensees, and which develops open source software for ARM devices, launched a Linaro IoT and Embedded (LITE) Segment Group at this week’s Linaro Connect event in Las Vegas. The objective of the LITE initiative is to produce “end to end open source reference software for more secure connected products, ranging from sensors and connected controllers to smart devices and gateways, for the industrial and consumer markets,” says Linaro.

    • Don’t Trust Consumer Routers

      Another example of why you shouldn’t trust consumer routers. d-link

      It isn’t just this specific d-link router. We’ve seen the same issues over and over and over with pretty much every non-enterprise vendor.

      Plus we don’t want our devices used by crackers to DDoS Brian Krebs anymore, right?

      We are Linux people. We CAN do this ourselves.

    • D-Link DWR-932 router is chock-full of security holes

      Security researcher Pierre Kim has unearthed a bucketload of vulnerabilities affecting the LTE router/portable wireless hotspot D-Link DWR-932. Among these are backdoor accounts, weak default PINs, and hardcoded passwords.

    • The Cost of Cyberattacks Is Less than You Might Think

      What’s being left out of these costs are the externalities. Yes, the costs to a company of a cyberattack are low to them, but there are often substantial additional costs borne by other people. The way to look at this is not to conclude that cybersecurity isn’t really a problem, but instead that there is a significant market failure that governments need to address.

    • NHS trusts are still using unsupported Windows XP PCs

      AT LEAST 42 National Health Service (NHS) trusts in the UK still run Microsoft’s now-defunct Windows XP operating system.

      Motherboard filed Freedom of Information requests with more than 70 NHS hospital trusts asking how many Windows XP machines they use. 48 replied within the allotted time, and a whopping 42 of them admitted that they still use the operating system that reached end-of-life status in April 2014.

      Some of the culprits include East Sussex Healthcare, which has 413 Windows XP machines, Sheffield’s Children’s hospital with 1,290, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in London with an insane 10,800 Windows XP-powered PCs.

      23 replied to Motherboard’s quizzing about whether they have an extended support agreement in place and, unsurprisingly, the majority said that they do not.

    • Friday’s security advisories
    • ICANN grinds forward on crucial DNS root zone signing key update

      The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is moving — carefully — to upgrade the DNS root zone key by which all domains can be authenticated under the DNS Security Extensions protocol.

      ICANN is the organization responsible for managing the Domain Name System, and DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) authenticates DNS responses, preventing man-in-the-middle attacks in which the attacker hijacks legitimate domain resolution requests and replaces them with fraudulent domain addresses.

      DNSSEC still relies on the original DNS root zone key generated in 2010. That 1024-bit RSA key is scheduled to be replaced with a 2048-bit RSA key next October. Although experts are split over the effectiveness of DNSSEC, the update of the current root zone key signing key (KSK) is long overdue.

    • Cybersecurity isn’t an IT problem, it’s a business problem

      The emergence of the CISO is a relatively recent phenomenon at many companies. Their success often relies upon educating the business from the ground up. In the process, companies become a lot better about how to handle security and certainly learn how not to handle it.

      As a CIO, knowing the pulse of security is critical. I oversee a monthly technology steering committee that all the executives attend. The CISO reports during this meeting on the state of the security program. He also does an excellent job of putting risk metrics out there, color coded by red, yellow, and green. This kind of color grading allows us to focus attention on where we are and what we’re doing about it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Congress May Rewrite Saudi 9/11 Law After Veto Override

      The two top Republicans in Congress said they’re prepared to rewrite legislation allowing victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia — less than 24 hours after Congress took the extraordinary step of overriding President Barack Obama’s veto of the measure to make it law.

      Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the measure could have unintended consequences — including the fact that it could leave U.S. soldiers open to retaliation by foreign governments.

      “I would like to think there’s a way we can fix so that our service members do not have legal problems overseas while still protecting the rights of the 9/11 victims,” Ryan told reporters Thursday, one day after his chamber voted 348-77 to override the veto.

      McConnell also said he was worried about unintended consequences of the measure, saying changes to the law might be needed.

      “It’s worth further discussing,” he told reporters Thursday. “It was certainly not something that was going to be fixed this week.”

    • Arab responses to 9/11 bill point to US interventions abroad

      Others support the bill, but point out that the U.S. is meanwhile backing a Saudi-led intervention in Yemen that has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians there.

      Two Arabic hashtags were trending on Twitter when the bill was passed, one referring directly to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, and the other simply titled: #TheAmericanTerrorism.

      Some Arabic Twitter users shared a photo montage that depicted U.S. military actions in Japan and Vietnam, as well as naked Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison being humiliated by smiling U.S. troops. It read: “Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan can’t wait for JASTA to be implemented so they can, in turn, prosecute the U.S.”

      Another shared a 2005 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoon of a young boy on his father’s lap watching an image of the Hiroshima mushroom cloud and asking: “Which terrorist group did that?”

      One post shared more than 750 times included a clip with Arabic subtitles of stand-up American comedian Eddie Griffin talking about U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying these wars are about “money, money, money.”

      The criticism, of course, is nothing new, says Eurasia Group’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa Ayham Kamel.

      “The Middle East, as a region where the U.S. has been dominant, has always been critical of U.S. policy,” he said.

    • Pakistan threatens to DESTROY India with nuclear bomb as atomic enemies edge to the brink of war

      PAKISTAN’S Defence Minister has threatened to “destroy” India – after India said on Thursday it had carried out “surgical strikes” on suspected militants preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-ruled Kashmir.

      The strikes, which were a response to shots fired across the de facto border through the disputed Himalayan territory, could lead to a military escalation between the two nuclear-armed neighbours – risking a ceasefire agreed in 2003.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘We Believe in What We’re Doing’

      WikiLeaks is now 10 years old. SPIEGEL met with founder Julian Assange, 45, to discuss the whistleblower platform’s achievements and whether recent criticism leveled at the site is justified.

      SPIEGEL: Mr. Assange, 10 years after the founding of WikiLeaks, the whistleblower platform is again being criticized. WikiLeaks is said to have put millions of Turkish voters in danger. What is your response?

      Assange: A few days after the publication of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, an entirely false story was put out that we had published the names, addresses and phone numbers of all female voters in Turkey. It is completely false. And it was and is simple to check. Power factions fight back with lies. That’s not surprising.

      SPIEGEL: Quite a few German journalists have long sympathized with WikiLeaks and also with Edward Snowden. But they aren’t impressed with the publishing of the DNC emails. Are you campaigning on behalf of Donald Trump?

      Assange: Our publication of the DNC leaks has showed that the Democratic National Committee had effectively rigged the primaries in the United States on behalf of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. That led to the resignation of leading members of the DNC, including its president Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

      SPIEGEL: People within the Clinton campaign have suggested that the DNC emails were given to you by the Russian secret service.

      Assange: There have been many attempts to distract from the power of our publications. Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win. As always, most media aligns with the presumptive winner even though their claimed societal virtue is to investigate those in power.

      SPIEGEL: The fact is, WikiLeaks is damaging Clinton and bolstering Trump.

      Assange: We’re not going to start censoring our publications because there is a US election. Our role is to publish. Clinton has been in government so we have much more to publish on Clinton. There is a lot of naivety. The US presidency will continue to represent the major power groups of the United States — big business and the military — regardless of who the talking head is.

      SPIEGEL: If someone submitted internal documents from the Trump campaign or the Republican Party, you would publish that as well?

      Assange: Yes, of course. That’s what we do.

    • CIA Took Three Years To Reject FOIA Request For Criteria For Rejecting FOIA Requests

      Curious about what criteria the CIA have for determining if they “can neither confirm nor deny” something? So did Jason Smathers, who back in 2010 filed one of MuckRock’s earliest requests for exactly that. Six years later, he still doesn’t know.

      Smathers first filed in October 2010 – to the agency’s credit, they only took a mere two months to get back to him.

    • Government Agencies Apparently Not Interested In Following Congressional Directives On Overclassification

      I’m not sure what this says about government transparency. Maybe it doesn’t say anything useful. Maybe it’s just the mixed signals we can expect from agencies only willing to make the most minimal transparency efforts. Or maybe it says something about the momentum of even slowly-moving large objects. A bureaucracy has a large turning radius and asking it to suddenly change its ways means you have to lower your expectations as to how “suddenly” should be defined. Whatever it says, it’s nothing good.

      Overclassification is a government-wide problem. Legislation has been passed to fix it. While the government expects the private sector to get right on it when laws are passed, it obviously cuts itself a lot more slack when faced with internal legislative redirection.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate justice meets racism: Standing Rock was decades in the making

      Attack dogs and waves of arrests by police in riot gear could look like isolated incidents of overreaction to the activism stemming from the Standing Rock reservation. But for the Lakota Sioux who live in these marginalized hillsides, the escalated militarization behind their battle against the Dakota Access pipeline is a situation decades in the making.

      North Dakota is not the whitest state in America, but it’s arguably the most segregated. More than 60 percent of its largest minority population, Native Americans, lives on or near reservations. Native men are incarcerated or unemployed at some of the highest rates in the country. Poverty levels for families of the Standing Rock tribe are five times that of residents living in the capital city, Bismarck. In Cannon Ball, the heart of the tribal community, there are rows of weathered government homes, but no grocery store. Tucked behind a lonely highway, this is where mostly white farmers and ranchers shuttle to and from homesteads once belonging to the Sioux.

    • Most people alive today set to witness dangerous global warming in their lifetime, scientists warn

      The world could hit two degrees Celsius of warming – the point at which many scientists believe climate change will become dangerous – as early as 2050, a group of leading experts has warned.

      In a report called The Truth About Climate Change, they said many people seemed to think of global warming as “abstract, distant and even controversial”.

      But the planet is now heating up “much faster” than anticipated, said Professor Sir Robert Watson, a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one of the authors of the report.

      If their analysis is correct, it means the majority of people alive today will experience what it is like to live on a dangerously overheated planet.

    • 9 wonders of the world set to vanish forever: How many have you ticked off?

      This month, we learned that Spain was facing the prospect of becoming the first European Union member state to have a natural World Heritage Site make Unesco’s “danger list”. The Doñana coastal wetlands in Andalucía – home to the endangered Iberian lynx – is said to be under threat from a mining and dredging plan, as well as 1,000 illegal wells in the area.

      But it’s just one among a number of incredible sites the world over that, according to Unesco, could be lost forever. Here are just a few World Heritage Sites in Unesco’s danger zone that you might need to scrub off the bucket list.

    • To Reduce Haze and Save Indonesia’s Forests, Address the Root Cause of Fires

      Over the past few months we have seen heated debates over the problem of Indonesian forest fires and the associated haze in neighboring countries like Singapore. A new law in Singapore permits the prosecution of companies deemed to be responsible for causing such fires, and speculation about how the El Nino phenomenon might lead to particularly intense fires in the next month have drawn global attention to the issue.

      Three years ago, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made a pledge to dedicate the remainder of his term in office to protect Indonesia’s environment and forests. Over the last three years he has done just that — with the historic moratorium on new logging concessions implemented in 2011, which has since been extended to May 2015. This policy has helped to protect more than 63 million hectares of primary forest and peat land, equivalent to an area larger than the landmass of Malaysia and the Philippines combined, and helped to lower Indonesia’s deforestation rate from 1.2 million hectares per year between 2003 and 2006, to between 450 and 600 thousand hectares per year since 2011. We also see the private sectors in the region stepping up their zero-deforestation commitments, including from the pulp and paper and palm oil industries.

    • Fires driving deforestation in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem

      Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem lost 4,097 hectares of forest cover in the first six months of 2016, according to Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA), an NGO. At the same time, 187 fire hotspots were recorded in the nationally protected area during the period.

      “The hotspots overlay the forest cover loss in Aceh,” HAkA’s Agung Dwinurcahya said at a press conference in Jakarta. “For example, the high number of hotspots in Aceh Timur is the main contributor to deforestation in Aceh Timur.”

      Leuser, home to one of the Southeast Asian country’s last great swaths of intact rainforest, lies in Indonesia’s westernmost Aceh and North Sumatra provinces. It’s the only place in the world where orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers coexist in the wild.

    • Seven Popular Foods That Might Disappear Because of Climate Change

      Throughout history, different types of food have surged and dropped in popularity, and some foods that existed at one point just aren’t around anymore. But we’re not talking about foods that aren’t popular, quite the opposite in fact. Some of our favorite foods and drinks could be considered “endangered” because the places where they are grown are being severely impacted by climate change. If this isn’t proof that we need to do something about climate change, I don’t know what is. To start off, here are a few foods that are part of our everyday lives that might not be around for long.

  • Finance

    • In Wells Fargo Case, News Really Did Happen To An Editor

      Several years after I returned to New York from Oregon, I made a strange discovery. Bank accounts I was certain I had closed were inexplicably racking up service charges. It seemed bizarre, particularly because I had gone in person to a newly opened local branch of my West Coast bank to make sure the accounts were shut down.

      The failure to pay these charges (bills were sent to my old address and never caught up with me) resulted in penalties and a report to a credit agency. After an increasingly frustrating series of exchanges at the local branch, the bank agreed to wipe out the charges but said I would have to deal with the credit agencies on my own.

      It seemed outrageous, and as the editor in chief of an investigative news operation, I thought about asking Paul Kiel, ProPublica’s crack reporter on bank shenanigans, to take a look.

      But then I stopped myself.

      There’s an old saying in the journalism business for this sort of thinking: News is what happens to an editor.

      As with so many newsroom aphorisms, it’s meant to be proclaimed with an eye roll and a tone of deep sarcasm. Reporters view editor-generated stories as the bane of their existence, and not without reason. Random events and pet peeves are not often a great starting point for serious stories.

    • People born in the 1980s are HALF as wealthy in their thirties as people a decade older

      People born in early Eighties were around half as wealthy at age 30 as their counterparts who were born in the Seventies, analysis shows.

      The children of the “Baby Boomer” generation, currently in their early 30s, have an average net household wealth of £27,000 each a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think tank showed.

      By comparison the median wealth of those born in the 1970s had £53,000 on average by the same age. The figure takes into account housing, financial and private pension wealth.

    • Wealth of people in their 30s has ‘halved in a decade’

      People in their early 30s are half as wealthy as those now in their 40s were at the same age, a report finds.

      Today’s 30-something generation has missed out on house price increases and better pensions, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

      Those born in the early 1980s have an average wealth of £27,000 each, against the £53,000 those born in the 1970s had by the same age, said the IFS.

      They will also find it harder to amass wealth in the future, it added.

      The think tank found that people born in the early 1980s were the first post-war group not to have higher incomes in early adulthood than those born in the preceding decade.

    • Children of Thatcher era have half the wealth of the previous generation

      The children of the Thatcher era have reached adulthood with half as much wealth as the previous generation, finds a major study published today.

      The report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies concludes people born in the early 1980s are the first post-war generation to suffer smaller incomes in early adulthood than those born 10 years before.

      A toxic mix of low interest rates and the calamitous crash of 2008 mean it is much harder to accumulate wealth, leaving them with meagre pensions and a lower rate of home ownership.

    • Basic Income — A concrete and financed proposal for Sweden

      I have now translated my proposal for basic income for Sweden, which I presented in Swedish some time ago.

      Although the proposal as such is strictly about Sweden and Swedish conditions, I am hoping that the reasoning and design principles I have applied may be of interest to basic income activists in other Nordic and European countries as well. In many ways, the welfare systems we have today are basically quite similar, and many of the problems we face are the same as well.

    • Portugal threatened with first treaty claim

      A Mexican company has threatened to bring a €42 million investment treaty claim against Portugal over a cancelled deal to privatise part of Lisbon’s public transport system.

      Grupo Autobuses de Oriente (ADO) announced last week that it had served a notice of dispute to the Portuguese government under the Mexico-Portugal bilateral investment treaty after negotiations proved “fruitless”.

      If the dispute reaches arbitration, it would be the first known investment treaty case that Portugal has faced – as well as a rare example of a Latin American multinational invoking a BIT to protect investments in a European state.

      The dispute relates to two “sub-concession agreements” that ADO, through its Spanish subsidiary Avanza, signed with Portugal’s then centre-right government under Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho in June 2015.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Gary Johnson Is Not the Third-Party Candidate You’re Looking For

      With Hillary Clinton failing to provide a genuine voice for the 99% against Donald Trump’s bigoted fake-populism, a left-wing third-party candidate like Jill Stein can act as an important pole of attraction for a section of workers and youth sick and tired of the status quo. But Stein isn’t the only third-party challenger to Trump and Clinton. Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, is running for president under the Libertarian Party. Johnson has been consistently outpolling Stein, and some polls even show Johnson beating Stein among former Bernie Sanders supporters.

      Given his polling results, Johnson may appear to be the best bet for building a viable challenge to the two-party system. And Johnson has a number of progressive positions on certain isolated issues, such as support for the legalization of marijuana and opposition to government surveillance. But, as socialists, we have to be clear that Gary Johnson, and libertarian politics in general, are a dead end for anyone trying to build a voice for the 99%.

    • Hacked Audio Reveals Hillary Clinton Sees Herself Occupying “Center-Left to Center-Right”

      In the hacked recording of a private conversation with campaign donors in February, Hillary Clinton distanced herself from progressive goals like “free college, free healthcare” and described her place on the political spectrum as spanning from the center-left to the center-right.

      Clinton has been inconsistent in the past about espousing political labels. She has at times touted herself as stalwart liberal. For instance, she said last July: “I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values.” But a few months later, she told a group in Ohio: “You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty.”

      The newly disclosed comments came in audio, apparently from hacked emails, that was revealed this week by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative blog run by a Republican communications strategist. Clinton was speaking at a Virginia fundraiser hosted by Beatrice Welters, the former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, and her husband Anthony Welters, the executive chairman of an investment consulting firm founded by former Clinton aid Cheryl Mills.

      Clinton’s opponent at the time, Sen. Bernie Sanders, was pointing to successful programs in Norway and Sweden, which provide universal daycare, family leave, and government sponsored healthcare and college education, as policies that he would seek to adopt.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Palestinians boycott Facebook over ‘censorship’

      Palestinian activists have recently launched a campaign to boycott Facebook after the popular social-media platform blocked several Palestinian accounts and deleted numerous posts – at Israel’s request – for alleged “incitement”.

      Earlier this week, campaigners – using the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine – called on supporters to refrain from posting on Facebook between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (Jerusalem time) on Sept. 25.

      Hussam al-Zayegh, the campaign’s Gaza-based spokesman, told Anadolu Agency that the initiative had been launched in response to what he described as Facebook’s “pro-Israel bias”.

      According to al-Zayegh, the world’s most popular social-networking site is actively working to undermine Palestinian activists and journalists who rely on Facebook to help spread their message.

    • Palestinian Activists Are Angry About Alleged Facebook Censorship

      Palestinian activists are running an online campaign to hold Facebook accountable after the social media giant deleted a number of pro-Palestine posts and suspended several Palestinian journalists’ accounts.

      Quds News Network and other publications launched the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine on Friday, when news emerged that seven Palestinian journalists associated with popular outlets in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories had their accounts shut down for “violating community guidelines.”

      According to the seven journalists, four of whom work for Shehab News Agency and three of whom work for Quds, Facebook provided no further explanation of what standards were violated.

    • Donald Trump and the Return of Seditious Libel

      In 1733, New York printer John Peter Zenger began publishing the eighth newspaper in the American colonies, and the first willing to venture criticism of the government. The New-York Weekly Journal was the second paper in a city of 10,000 or so people, 1700 of them slaves.

      As we are reminded in Richard Kluger’s comprehensive new book, “Indelible Ink,” the first full-length account of Zenger’s travails, by 1735, Zenger (and the likely editor of his paper, James Alexander) had so offended Britain’s royal governor of New York and New Jersey, William Cosby, that Cosby brought suit against Zenger for seditious libel—the crime of criticizing the government. Under the law then in effect in Britain and its colonies, truth was not a defense to this charge. The leading legal treatise of the day explained that “since the greater appearance there is of truth in any malicious invective, so much the more provoking it is.” And: “The malicious prosecution of even truth itself cannot… be suffered to interrupt the tranquility of a well-ordered society.” This was deemed especially the case with true attacks on those in power, as they would have “a direct tendency to breed in the people a dislike of their governors and incline them to faction and sedition.”

    • Thoughtless and dangerous EU approach to free speech online

      There is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to the EU cooperation with Facebook, Twitter, Youtube/Google and Microsoft to censor the Internet – the Joint Referral Platform.

      On the one hand, it has been marketed as a tool to stop »radicalization« that could lead young people to religiously motivated violence, e.g. terrorism or joining the Islamic State in the Middle East.

      On the other hand, in documents and speeches the EU is totally focused on this project to stem »illegal online hate speech«, e.g. when it comes to racism and Islamophobia.

      On that account, what is deemed to be »illegal« adds to the confusion. Incitement to violence is clearly and reasonably within this definition. But when it comes to the broader definition of hate speech, laws vary between EU member states.

    • Chinese Communism’s Anniversary Shines Light On Censorship — In America

      Due to SAPPRFT restrictions, all American movie scripts are vulnerable to “requested” changes or self-censorship based on the Communist Party’s wishes.

    • Popular YouTuber Experiments With WebTorrent to Beat Censorship

      A popular YouTuber is experimenting with torrent-based technology in order to take control of his content and avoid third-party censorship. Bluedrake says that the potential for freedom when using WebTorrent “blows his mind” and has already carried out tests to get the project underway.

    • Banned Book Week brings awareness to censorship, individual choices

      Banned Books Week is from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.

      This year will be the 34th anniversary of Banned Books week. The last week of September) will be when words will attempt to overthrow unnecessary censorship.

      After all, in the words of Laurie Anderson “censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.”

      The heat-wave surrounding censorship of books sent the media in a frenzy in the 1980s, urging society to fight against authority, ensuring that there would be a change in social behavior and moral values.

    • Orwell 2016: Censorship in the age of social media

      If George Orwell is watching from above, he must be impressed. In his novel 1984, what was meant as a cautionary tale against government control and intellectual obscurantism, seems to have come to pass without our full knowledge.

      Where have our media taken us?

      To be brutally honest, I would say down the yellow brick road and around the tree a few times over already. As our world has become more and more dependent on media, we have opened ourselves up to the bite of censorship, control and the ever-evolving deity which is ‘social trend’.

      In other words, our need to be “connected” has pretty much left us dependent on information technology.

    • Singapore court sends teen blogger back to jail for criticising religion
    • Singapore rebel teen jailed for anti-religion posts
    • Singapore Teen Gets 6 Weeks in Jail for ‘Intending to Wound’ God’s Feelings
    • Teen blogger jailed in Singapore for insulting Muslims, Christians
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The “Pardon Snowden” Case Just Got Stronger

      Yesterday, the Department of Justice Inspector General (DoJ IG) issued a long overdue Congressionally-mandated report on FBI compliance with the PATRIOT Act’s Section 215 “business records” provision between 2012 and 2014. It is the first such report issued that covers the initial period of Edward Snowden’s revelations about widespread domestic mass surveillance by the federal government. Since his indictment for leaking the information to the press, Snowden’s lawyers have argued that he should not be prosecuted under the WW I-era Espionage Act because his revelations served the public interest.

    • Intel Community To Institute Actual Whistleblower Award For ‘Speaking Truth To Power’

      The Intelligence Community is looking to reward whistleblowers for “speaking truth to power.” No, seriously. Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News has posted a recent Intel Community announcement [PDF] that looks to fold a whistleblower honor into the community’s existing awards program.

      This is part of the intel community’s cautious foray into the harsh sunlight of transparency — itself a response to a presidential directive that our nation’s spies head outside for a bit and expose themselves a bit.

      The award may as well be called the “Snowden.” But the wording makes it explicit Snowden himself will never be eligible to receive the honorific fruits of his whistleblowing.

    • How Bulk Interception Works

      Mobile digital devices are ever more ubiquitous, generating new forms of data in quantities that continue to grow exponentially. Moreover, the costs of storing data have decreased drastically, and continue to do so every year. Most importantly, the technical means of combining datasets and analyzing this vast trove of data have advanced so rapidly that what were previously considered meaningless or incoherent types and amounts of data can now produce incredibly revelatory analyses. Metadata is structured in such a way that computers can search through it for patterns faster and more effectively and learn more about us than similar searches through the actual content of our communications.

    • The secret smartphone war over the struggle for control of the user

      There’s a war going on behind closed doors for control of your smartphone. It’s between the phone makers and the operators, but it’s not over privacy or data or cost – it’s over you.

      The battles are raging over who owns the consumer and your phone: is it the buyer or the manufacturer? And is the smartphone a device you purchase, or a service you pay for monthly?

      The boom years for the industry, when a smartphone was a user’s first, are long gone in developed nations with most smartphones now sold to people who already have one. In the US and UK market penetration has hit roughly 85%. This means the growth a phone maker needs each year can only come at the expense of a competitor. And that has changed how the manufacturers see the market.

      Marina Koytcheva, director of forecasting at CCS Insight says: “After years of analysts and commentators talking about mobile phone market peaking within the visible horizon, it has now reached that point.”

      The research firm expects total mobile phone sales to decline by 1.3% this year over last, with smartphones accounting for almost three-quarters of the market and up only 4.1% globally.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Cops Dodge 4th Amendment By Phoning In ‘Anonymous’ Tips; Watch Their Drug Bust Vanish After They’re Exposed

      The two horses called in tips twice, resulting in searches of two residences. Despite costing them a nice drug bust and successful prosecution, both the DA (Shane Scanlon) and the Chief of Police (Carl Graziano) are defending not only the faux tipsters’ actions, but their work as law enforcement officers as well.

    • NYPD sent undercover officers to Black Lives Matter protest, records reveal

      Legal papers filed by the New York police department reveal that the department sent its own undercover officers to protests led by Black Lives Matter after the death of Eric Garner. The NYPD documents also show that it collected multimedia records about the protests.

      The NYPD disclosed its undercover operations in response to a group of New York attorneys requesting records under the state freedom of information law. The department has thus far declined to provide the records requested. But its descriptions in August court filings of the records it is refusing to release provide new details about its monitoring of protests at Grand Central Station:

      The first set contains “multimedia records” relating to the petitioners’ request for “pictures, videos, audio recordings, data, and metadata” collected or received by the NYPD at the Grand Central Station protests, which Black Lives Matter groups are still leading, according to the NYPD response.

      The second “consists entirely of communications between and among NYPD undercover officers and their handlers”, pertaining to the protests. According to a 22 August NYPD Memorandum of Law, these undercover communications “consist primarily of immediate impressions concerning ongoing events”.

    • FBI, DOJ And Their Forensic Scientists State They’ll Continue Using Discredited Junk Science To Put People Behind Bars

      For dozens of years, criminal prosecutions have relied on junk science. Forensic science, properly applied, can actually provide matches that identify suspects. But it’s not properly applied. In the hands of the DOJ, forensic evidence examination is a closed loop. Outside scientists have been granted access to the DOJ’s DNA work, but everything else — from fingerprints to hair samples — has been locked away in the government’s database.

      Still, the DOJ insists its science is solid, something it bases on confirmation bias. The matches determined in its forensic labs are “scientifically certain” because the DOJ’s expert witnesses have said so in court. Not only are outside scientists locked out of examining evidence and forensic processes, but defense lawyers are as well.

      The DOJ has finally decided to dial back its “scientific certainty” a bit by issuing guidance instructing its experts to not make this claim in court. This follows years of bogus matches being presented as sure things by forensic experts in court, leading to an unknown number of false convictions. This step back is a step forward for an agency that is mostly unwilling to admit to any mistakes or wrongdoing.

    • Video released shows officers shooting 6-year-old

      A Louisiana judge released body cam video Wednesday showing officers firing multiple rounds into a car, unknowingly striking and killing a 6-year-old boy.
      The incident, which happened in September 2015, resulted in the indictments of two marshals on second degree murder and second degree attempted murder charges.

      The marshals began pursuing the car after they witnessed an argument between a man and his girlfriend in front of a local bar, a source told CNN. Officers moved to detain the man, identified as Christopher Few, who took off in his car.
      The pursuit ended in gunfire on a dead-end street in Marksville, Louisiana.

    • Massachusetts Detective who Threatened to Murder Teens and Plant Drugs Won’t Be Fired or Charged

      A Springfield, Massachusetts narcotics detective has been placed on leave for 60 days, but not fired, after videos surfaced showing him threatening to murder two teenagers and plant drugs on them — videos which have cast doubt on the detective’s numerous drug cases.

      Detective Gregg A. Bigda was caught on video on February 26 at the Palmer Police Department, where he interrogated two teenagers, who along with a third teen were suspected of stealing an undercover police car outside a pizza shop, when he made the threats, according to a report on MassLive.com.

    • New Jersey Woman Forced into Mental Facility for Video Recording Courthouse

      It was a beautiful day in Freehold, New Jersey, so Jen Coombs decided to do First Amendment audits at the Monmouth County jail and courthouse to see how well officials there would respect her right to record in public.

      The New Jersey woman who runs a Facebook page called Time to Stand – New Jersey ended up forced into a mental facility against her will for four days. Not that it kept her from doing another First Amendment audit on the same courthouse upon her release.

      It all started on September 15, 2016 when Coombs made her way around the public areas of the facility and was approached within minutes by two jail employees who seemed determined to snatch the camera out of her hand before even asking her what she was doing.

      It wasn’t just her camera they were after. Coombs was immediately placed in handcuffs and her car keys were taken. Police then used her keys to find her parked car.

      Officials did not stop at just running her tags to get her information though. They used the keys to open her car and rummage around inside in an apparent search for something, anything, to charge her with.

    • Christian boy, 16, facing DEATH PENALTY for offending Muslims in Facebook post

      The boy has been arrested and charged with blasphemy after a photo of the Kaaba in Mecca, one of the holiest sites in Islam, appeared on his profile.

      A Muslim man told police the image, which was part of an alleged derogatory post against Islam on the boy’s profile, was insulting and sacrilegious.

      The black cube-shape is built around an ancient stone at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

      Locals reportedly claimed the image showed the Kaaba with a pig’s head on top.

    • Is It Still An Anonymous Tip If It’s Me?

      In Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, two police officers found a way to get around one of those annoying loopholes that prevent them from locking up people who are guilty, guilty, GUILTY!!! The loophole is known to the rest of us as “The Fourth Amendment,” which states (among other things) “that no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause.”

      Detective Harold Zech and Lawrence Spathelf didn’t have probable cause to search the homes of Albert McCullough and Dakeem Booker, so they made their own. They phoned in “anonymous” tips to McCullough’s and Booker’s parole officers, who searched their and found some heroin.

    • New Guantánamo intelligence upends old ‘worst of the worst’ assumptions

      The “Dirty 30” probably weren’t all Osama bin Laden bodyguards after all. The “Karachi 6” weren’t a cell of bombers plotting attacks in Pakistan for al-Qaida. An Afghan man captured 14 years ago as a suspected chemical weapons maker was confused for somebody else.

      An ongoing review shows the U.S. intelligence community has been debunking long-held myths about some of the “worst of the worst” at Guantánamo, some of them still held today. The retreat emerges in a series of unclassified prisoner profiles released by the Pentagon in recent years, snapshots of much larger dossiers the public cannot see, prepared for the Periodic Review Board examining the Pentagon’s “forever prisoner” population.

    • DEA’s Army of 18,000 Informants Pocketed $237 Million Over Five Years

      It’s no secret that the Drug Enforcement Administration relies heavily on an army of confidential sources — men and women compelled, coerced, or enticed to share information with law enforcement, sometimes to alleviate their own legal troubles, sometimes for cash.

      Precisely how those relationships play out, however, is often shrouded in secrecy.

      A recently published audit by the Department of Justice has now offered a startling glimpse behind the scenes of those operations, revealing a world in which hundreds of millions of dollars have been doled out to thousands of informants over the last five years. Those informants include package delivery personnel, bus company employees, and Transportation Security Administration agents moonlighting as drug war spies — all operating with abysmal oversight and scant evidence of return on investment.

    • Military-Style Raid Ends Native Prayer Against Dakota Pipeline

      Up to 21 people were arrested during a peaceful prayer service.

      North Dakota police with military-style equipment surrounded Native Americans gathered in prayer against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Wednesday, disrupting their plan to cross sacred and treaty-protected land in protest of a project they fear will destroy their livelihood.

    • U.S. Court Of Appeals Upholds Ruling That New Hampshire’s Silly Ballot Selfie Ban Violated The First Amendment

      You may recall that roughly a year ago, a federal judge struck down a New Hampshire law that made “ballot selfies” illegal. The state had essentially updated its laws revolving around limiting the ability to sell votes or influence the public through depicting who a person voted for to include criminalizing anyone that took a picture of their completed ballot and shared it on social media. The state had said that allowing that sort of thing encouraged voter corruption, with the idea that ballot selfies would be used as a form of proof that a bought vote had been completed, or might otherwise be used to influence other members of the public as to how to vote. It was a strange theory, given how unlikely it would be for a corrupted voter to post evidence of his or her corruption on Facebook, not to mention that stating that a person essentially couldn’t engage in a form of political speech via a picture was flatly unconstitutional. The federal judge agreed.

    • Border Patrol Agent Caught Watching Porn On The Job Blames The Internet Filter For Not Stopping Him

      We talk about porn filters occasionally here at Techdirt. Usually those discussions revolve around how useless and easily circumvented those filters are, even as the more clueless in government insist that we need more of this non-filtering filtering. This is not one of those stories. Instead, it is the story of one of the most tone-deaf individuals with a penchant for excuse-making I’ve ever come across.

      We start with Gizmodo, a website that used to be owned by Gawker Media until a rich guy decided to show America exactly what a rich guy with a lot of money could do and had Gawker shut down, presumably then diving into a pile of gold coins and rubbing hundred dollar bills on his nipples. Gizmodo recently filed an FOIA request to get at documents involving the misuse of computer equipment with the Department of Homeland Security. The site was hoping to see if there were any cases of overreach and abuse of technology by the department. Instead, it uncovered four cases of people watching porn, including one really special case involving a border patrol agent that simply would not stop looking at porn while on the job.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ridiculously Stupid: 4 State Attorneys General File Totally Bogus Lawsuit Against Internet Transition

      Okay, this is really dumb. What is it about state attorneys general making totally bullshit claims? It seems to happen with fairly consistent frequency. The latest is that four state AGs (from Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Nevada) have filed a lawsuit to stop the IANA transition. If you don’t recall, we’ve written about this a bunch. A bunch of people are up in arms over something they don’t seem to understand. The IANA transition is a good thing. It’s not the US government handing over the internet to Russia and China as you may have heard. It’s the Commerce Department severing an almost entirely symbolic link between it and a very specific internet governance capability concerning top level domains. And it’s important to complete the transition because other countries (including Russia and China) keep pointing to this symbolic link as a reason for why they should have more say in internet governance. Getting rid of the link keeps the internet functioning as it has for decades — and takes away a weapon from Russia and China. More importantly, going back on the transition now actually gives even more ammo to Russia and China, allowing them to point to unilateral actions by the US gov’t to block a process that everyone had agreed upon earlier.

      Anyway, to the actual lawsuit. It’s dumb. It’s really dumb. If you live in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma or Nevada, you should be embarrassed for your Attorneys General. Elect better ones next time, please. First of all, they have no standing whatsoever to file this lawsuit. The IANA/top level domain system is not those states. They have no claim here other than “HEY LOOK! POLITICAL FOOTBALL THAT WE CAN GRANDSTAND OVER!” That does not give them standing. The best they can come up with for claiming standing is… uh… “hey, we have some websites.” No, really.

    • Judge Says No Way To Attorneys General Looking To Block IANA Transition

      Well, this isn’t much of a surprise, but following the ridiculous last minute attempt to block the IANA transition by four state attorneys general (who have absolutely no standing or argument), a judge has flatly denied their request for an injunction meaning that the transition is a go for midnight tonight, barring any really last minute unforeseen methods to block it (or a desperate leapfrog to an appeals court).

      Having spent part of the morning responding to clueless conspiracy theorists on my earlier post, I’m sure you’re going to hear the standard ridiculous lizard people warnings about how this is enabling “the UN” or “leftists” and “globalists” to “takeover” the internet and how it will allow China to build the “Great Firewall” into the core functioning of the internet. None of that is even remotely true. What happens tonight at midnight is… nothing, basically. ICANN, which has managed the IANA function through its multistakeholder process for almost two decades… will continue to do so. Nothing changes. The only “change” is that the US Commerce Dept. no longer has to issue a contract to ICANN for the IANA functions. And that’s it.

    • Net Neutrality: BEREC on the Right Path, Let’s Keep the Pressure on

      Net Neutrality is one of central challenge in the application of fundamental rights in the digital space. Too often it has been only considered as a technical or commercial issue, but it has serious impact on the real exercise of right to freedom of speech, right to information and on how the society build and think of itself; but also has important impacts on industrial and commercial issues. La Quadrature du Net has followed this issue since its start in the European debate circa 2009 by trying to defend a definition and wording in EU law of a strict Net Neutrality, protecting users and guaranteeing opportunities of development in a sane digital environment. As the BEREC guidelines for the Telecom Regulation adopted in October 2015 have been published, it is time to come back on the few years of campaign and to present the next fights and challenges for fundamental rights.

      La Quadrature du Net has defended, since 2009 and the first announces of EU works on Net Neutrality, an approach based on the defence of fundamental rights: to secure Net Neutrality, it is to defend the access of all to the Internet network, it is to allow to receive and send information with the same condition for all, it is to guarantee technical condition to a free and fair exercise of freedom of speech and information.

      It was not self-evident: as soon as the subject was within the speeches of Telecom operators and big digital companies, everything was made to consider Net Neutrality only from the perspective of financing Internet traffic and not as a major issue for the balance of the network that determines the quality of access and circulation of the information and services for the users as a whole.

    • A Massive Cable Industry Disinformation Effort Just Crushed The FCC’s Plan For Cable Box Competition

      Back in February the FCC proposed a new plan to bring competition to the cable box. Under the plan, cable providers would need to provide their programming to third party hardware vendors without the need for a CableCARD. The goal? Bring some competition to bear on a stagnant, captive market, resulting in cheaper, more open, and higher quality cable boxes. But because the plan would demolish $21 billion in rental fees while eroding sector control, the cable industry launched one of the most unprecedented lobbying and disinformation efforts I’ve ever seen in 16 years of covering the sector.

      Politicians loyal to the cable industry wrote letters lambasting the FCC for “jeopardizing the incredible evolution of video distribution services,” falsely comparing the idea to Popcorn Time. A flood of editorials magically began appearing in newspapers country wide claiming the FCC’s plan would boost piracy, hurt consumer privacy, and even “steal the future.” The cable sector even trotted out Jesse Jackson, who claimed in a horribly misleading op-ed that increased cable box competition was akin to the “snarling dogs, water hoses and church bombings” of America’s racist history. Seriously.

  • DRM

    • Racing Game Developers Sacrifice Playability On The Altar Of Anti-Piracy, Deliver Laggy Mess To Paying Customers

      So much for the advantages of PC gaming. Build a rig to your specifications and company reps tell you to use bog-standard settings to keep from being tripped up by anti-piracy and anti-hacking asset checks. If gamers wanted a one-size-fits-all gaming experience, they’d have settled for the console version. And there’s no guarantee that will work. The problem has been linked to on-the-fly decryption of game assets, which isn’t going to be solved in all cases by using default video settings.

      There’s a fix on the way but it’s tough to see how the developers are going to get around built-in asset checks that run through Windows EFS. There’s no easy “switch” to turn that off. While I understand developers are concerned about software piracy and cheaters/hackers ruining the online experience of honest players, there’s simply nothing to be gained by irritating those who’ve spent perfectly functional money on deliberately-broken software.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Time To Talk Digital Issues At WTO With Focus On Developing Countries, Forum Hears

      Now is the time for those who want to bring new voices to the digital trade and general trade debate involving the World Trade Organization, says an adviser to a leading security think tank in Switzerland.

      “If the objective is for trade policy to effectively bring in non-traditional voices this is a perfect time for that to take place,” Nick Ashton-Hart, a consultant and associate fellow for the Geneva Centre for Security Policy said at the WTO’s 27-29 September Public Forum yesterday.

    • Uber hires former Google licensing executive in what could be a familiar pre-IPO play

      In a major move in the licensing community, former Google patent executive Kurt Brasch has moved to Uber as senior manager, patents. He joins an IP team led by fellow former Google employee Michael Meehan who jumped ship in February of this year.

      Brasch left Google earlier in the summer as the search giant let go of most of the legacy licensing team that it had picked up through its 2012 acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

      At Google he played a role in the Patent Purchase Promotion and its recent industry-wide successor IP3; helped launch the Patent Starter Program designed to encourage start-ups to join the License on Transfer Network; and led the team behind the 2014 cross licence with Cisco. That series of successes last year led this blog to name him as one of the IP personalities of 2015.

    • Gurry Speaks On Allegations For First Time As WIPO Members Discuss Actions

      Heading into next week’s annual UN World Intellectual Property Organization General Assemblies, WIPO member states are considering a report from the United Nations investigations office regarding allegations of wrongdoing made involving WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. And for first time since the allegations arose, Gurry has offered his defence. Spoiler alert: he neither confirmed nor denied it but raised questions about the legality of sharing the report with member states.

    • Trademarks

      • Supremes to rule on feds’ trademark censorship

        The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the case alleging improper government censorship of a trademark for a band named The Slants, a precedent that also likely will impact significantly the current fight over the Washington NFL team’s name, the Redskins.

        According to the Rutherford Institute, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the band’s name, the censorship “openly discriminates against speech on the basis of content and viewpoint, violating the most fundamental constitutional guarantees to freedom of expression under the First Amendment.”

        The Asian-American dance rock band sued after the federal government, through its U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, censored them.

      • Can you trademark an offensive name or not? US Supreme Court to decide

        The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would decide, once and for all, whether federal intellectual property regulators can refuse to issue trademarks with disparaging or inappropriate names.

        At the center of the issue is a section of trademark law that actually forbids the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from approving a trademark if it “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”


Dutch Court Rules Against SUEPO (in a Reversal), But EPO Management Would Have Ignored the Ruling Even If SUEPO Won (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Correction: Based on the translation we have received, this is not final yet. See the translation added to the bottom.

Does the 'slayer' Willy Minnoye accept this ruling (because it’s in his favour)?

Willy Minnoye caricature

Summary: SUEPO loses a case against EPO management, but the EPO’s overzealous management was going to ignore the ruling anyway

THE EPO‘s management is so extremely arrogant that it perceives itself as above the law, immune from courts (even at The Hague which is famous for some of its courts), and totally unaccountable. If Eponia was a real nation, it would probably be something like North Korea, where reporting is frowned upon and unhappiness (in public) is barely an option. Dissent is a heinous crime and the Internet is blocked from inside the country ‘for protection’ (like the EPO blocking Techrights).

“Dissent is a heinous crime and the Internet is blocked from inside the country ‘for protection’ (like the EPO blocking Techrights).”Willy Minnoye, speaking on behalf of the EPO’s top-level management, said he would ignore the ruling from the highest Dutch court if it ruled in favour of SUEPO, the Staff Union of the EPO. To say so publicly on Dutch television is to basically insult the citizens of the Netherlands, a host country of the EPO (Minnoye is not Dutch by the way).

“Severe defeat for SUEPO, Union and Labour rights, Human rights in The Netherlands” was reported to us this afternoon after “SUEPO [had] lost the case in cassation!” [sic]

Here is the report about it (in Dutch). Stay tuned as we shall update this article with a manual translation very shortly.

Update: Petra Kramer has produced for us a translation of the aforementioned article and as far as we are aware, it’s the first English translation of the news (with our highlights added):

AG: Dutch judge unauthorized in dispute between European Patent Office and unions

The European Patent Office (EPO) was right to claim immunity from jurisdiction in a dispute. That means that the international organization can not be brought before the Dutch courts in disputes about the official activities of the organization. The Dutch court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate in a dispute between the Rijswijk-based European Patent Office, a unit of EPO, and the trade union association of the European Patent Office and the umbrella union for employees of EPO. Advocate General Vlas wrote today in his opinion, an advice to the Supreme Court.

A conflict arose between the EPO and the union union of EPO (VEOB) and the umbrella union for employees of EPO (SUEPO). The reason for this conflict are, among others new lines crossed in the service rules of the European Patent Office. VEOB and SUEPO find that the rules restrict the right to strike too much and that EPO should recognize them as social partners in collective negotiating. This case concerns the question whether the granting EPO immunity constitutes an impermissible restriction on the right of access to justice within the meaning of the European Convention on Human Rights.

A preliminary injunction judge dismissed EPO’s claim on immunity but rejected the claims of VEOB and SUEPO – the withdrawal of the strike rules and recognition as social partners. According to the court VEOB and SUEPO can address their demands to the central organization. On appeal the court also ruled that EPO can not rely on immunity. The court upheld the claims of the unions. Against this judgment the EPO brought an appeal in cassation. The State supports the position of EPO as intervener. According to the Minister of Justice, the State need to abide by agreements on immunity of international organizations.

Advocate General Vlas states that the right of access to justice in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights is not absolute. According to Vlas, VEOB and SUEPO’s rights must be sufficiently guaranteed by the EPO in existing internal dispute procedure with an appeal of individual employees and employee representatives at the Labour Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. The core of the right of access to justice guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights is therefore not affected, says Vlas.

A conclusion is an independent, non-binding, legal opinion to the Supreme Court. The Advocate General is a member of the Public Prosecutor at the Supreme Court. The prosecutor at the Supreme Court is an autonomous, independent part of the judicial system. It does not belong to the Public Prosecutor.

It is expected that the Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on 20th January 2017.

New Paper Provides Evidence of Sinking Patent Quality at the EPO, Refuting the Liar in Chief Battistelli

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So much for patent quality claims

US patent 6368227 B1
Being better than the USPTO is not the same as having acceptable patent quality (US 6368227 B1)

Summary: In spite of Battistelli’s claims (lies) about patent quality under his watch, reality suggests that so-called ‘production’ is simply rushed issuance of invalid patents (one step away from rubberstamping, in order to meet unreasonable, imposed-from-the-top targets)

PATENT QUALITY at the EPO has sunk pretty low, as insiders tell us and staff representatives say as well (they have this new paper about it [PDF] — a paper which somebody leaked to us). It seems to be the consensus inside the EPO that patent quality is far from what it used to be; it’s only EPO management that keeps lying about it and the above was published internally because “the President is advertising our quality all over the world.” Yes, the liar in chief is now making a career out of lying about everything. He calls himself “President” but acts like the world’s worst boss, whose words are less than worthless. Some believe that he was intended to morph the EPO into the French model, which would basically render all the examiners redundant. The worst case scenario is, the guy is a ‘liquidator’ of the EPO. He’s put in charge to destroy it.

“The analysis is particularly relevant now that the President is advertising our quality all over the world.”
      –Internal document
A few days ago we saw this article in German about patent scope at the EPO. “European Patent Office discussed the objection of doctors in the world against the patent for the hepatitis C drug Solvaldi / decision on 5 October expected,” says the automated translation. Also recall those letters regarding patents against cancer patients. If someone can prepare a translation of this article, that would be appreciated. Mathieu Klos from Juve has also just published an article in German for which we could use a translation. It’s Battistelli talking points in ‘interview’ form and the summary is automatically being translated as: “The European Patent Office has reformed its Boards of Appeal in July. Until the beginning of 2017, the reform must be implemented. For a new Board President must be found. Critics complain that the reform does not bring enough independence for the EPO-court. JUVE interview EPO President Battistelli Beno it take a position and explains why the renewal fees for the EU patent reduce not necessarily when the UK, the EU and thus the new European patent system should leave.”

We could use an English translation, so if someone can provide an outline or a complete translation, that would be great. Automated translations just aren’t so reliable and there is room for misunderstanding that might impact our credibility.

Without the Boards of Appeal we can expect patent quality to decline even further without that decline being publicly acknowledged. This may be one plausible explanation for Battistelli’s attack on these boards. An EPO mouthpiece has this new article which speaks about one particular aspect of European patents. It says: “The grounds of opposition are set out in Article 100 EPC. To paraphrase, these include that the subject-matter of the European patent is not patentable under Articles 52 to 57 (novelty, inventive step, industrial application, specific exclusions and non-inventions), that the patent is insufficiently disclosed and that the subject-matter of the patent extends beyond the content of the application as filed. The only substantive pre-grant criteria for patentability which is not also a ground for opposition is that of Article 84 EPC (that the claims shall be clear, concise and be supported by the description).”

“Remember that the lower the quality of EPO patents, the more damage will be done to the European economy, including by foreign entities like patent trolls.”Under Battistelli, as we have shown here before, oppositions are being suppressed (made more expensive, time being prohibitive, and so on), so obviously the quality of patents will decline, without this decline even being detectable.

Why does this matter? Two main reasons:

  1. Businesses are willing to pay the EPO a lot of money in order to properly check if their patent, once scrutinised in a court, will be upheld, in which case all the pricey legal proceedings will bear fruit and monetary compensation for patent infringement will be granted
  2. Small businesses are afraid of being falsely accused of patent infringement (i.e. attacked by a patent that should never have been granted in the first place) as to them it can be a matter of life or death (bankruptcy)

The latter case is more relevant to us because it alludes to the plea of the vulnerable and the powerless, whereas in many cases (1) above is applicable to large companies that stockpile or hoard patents by the thousands. Legal fees are very high (too expensive for most, who would rather settle quickly) and even if the accused is found not guilty (e.g. of patent violation, as the patent is ruled invalid) the financial cost is enormous and can never be redeemed from the accuser/plaintiff (except in rare cases like NewEgg’s). Here is a new article from Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP. The headline is “EPO: Unjustified Threats Bill; What is it?” (the EPO did it to me, misusing defamation law) and here is what it says:

Provisions exist in the United Kingdom to prevent unjustified threats of legal action relating to infringement of patents, designs and trademarks. The provisions were originally conceived with the intention of stopping the holder of an IP right from damaging a person’s business by threatening their customers or distributors with an infringement action of the IP right. The current provisions, however, are inconsistent across different forms of intellectual property and are worded such that an innocuous communication from an IP rights holder may be interpreted as an actionable threat. This results in an increased risk of litigation proceedings between the parties. This is contrary to the overriding principle enshrined in the UK’s Civil Procedure Rules, which encourage pre-action correspondence and negotiation in order to ensure that disputes are dealt with at proportionate cost.

The UK’s government issued a draft Bill setting out proposals to address some of these issues. The Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Bill 2016 would update legislation relating to unjustified threats to provide greater consistency and clarity.

For example, the Bill proposes positive definitions for “permitted communications” to provide a safe harbor to allow rights holders to communicate with potential infringers, without running the risk of a threats action. In this way, parties should find it easier to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules by exchanging information prior to the start of any litigation.

Remember that the lower the quality of EPO patents, the more damage will be done to the European economy, including by foreign entities like patent trolls. See what is going on in the US, where the USPTO blessed almost every application. Lots of litigation and now a lot of invalidations (at a very high cost to the accused).

Battistelli Locks EPO Staff Union Out of Social Conference So That He Can Lie About the Union and the Social Climate

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 8:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The liar has quit pretending to even be capable of handling the truth

Battistelli liar
Source (original): Rospatent

Summary: The attacks on staff of the EPO carry on, with brainwash sessions meticulously scheduled to ensure that Administrative Council delegates are just their master’s voice, or the voice of the person whom they are in principle supposed to oversee

LATE on a Friday (one week ago) the next stage/phase of new EPO propaganda began, with the release of 3 documents commissioned to help Battistelli lie to the Administrative Council and the entire world. A fortnight from now another stage/phase will begin, namely a so-called 'conference', probably decorated or accompanied by shallow media coverage (planted puff pieces*). EPO management does a good job demonstrating that it’s not only a chronic liar but also a manipulator of the media, at huge expense to the EPO (other than growing reputational cost).

SUEPO sent the following letter to Battistelli earlier this week, with a copy sent to the Delegations of the Administrative Council:

27 September 2016
su16116cl – 4.6

“Social Conference” of 11 October 2016

Dear Mr Battistelli,

We refer to the letter addressed to you on 20.09.2016 from SUEPO The Hague on the subject of the Social Conference, which remains unanswered.

SUEPO, who represents about half of the EPO workforce, has not been invited.

Over the past two and half years you have consistently threatened and/or heavily sanctioned the majority of the elected officials of a Union you called in public a “mafia like organisation”. In the circumstances, we will obviously not attend voluntarily. (If you want to oblige any of us to attend as “members of Staff Committees”, we would only participate under duress)

We truly regret seeing that, rather than fostering social dialogue by respecting the terms of the March resolution of the Administrative Council (CA/26/16), you have chosen to continue persecuting SUEPO and its elected officials, most recently in The Hague, cf. minutes of the Board 28 meeting of 8 September.

We also regret that you do not seem to take seriously the requirements of a bona-fide social conference. If its aim is to launch a program to restore social peace, it is inconsistent for you to refuse to discuss the results of the Technologia survey, or to consider our counterproposal for a framework agreement between the EPO and SUEPO.

Yesterday morning we published leaked Board 28 documents. As we noted at the end, these demonstrate that the Board (i.e. Kongstad et al) are ever more complicit in Battistelli’s abuses. Team Battistelli, we should remind readers, is said to be buying votes or buying (one might say “bribing”) the delegates. As one new comment puts it, the “AC representatives [delegates are] being showered with “gifts” by the very body that they are supposed to oversee” (source).

Here is the comment in full:

AC representatives being showered with “gifts” by the very body that they are supposed to oversee? If this is true, and if there is concrete proof of the same, would that not mean that the representatives concerned would need to declare a conflict of interest and step aside?

Oh, I forgot. There is no one to call them to account. And there would be no one to replace the representatives if they did step aside. Hardly a model of good governance, though. One might even go as far as to say that it is a model of governance that could easily be corrupted if undesirable types managed to secure powerful positions within the Organisation. God forbid that this ever happens!

As the Administrative Council and the Board (overlapping entities) have become ever more complicit in Battistelli’s abuses and the likely destruction of the EPO (for their short-term personal gain), we are planning to expose some unpleasant truths about the Administrative Council next week.
* Managing IP, an EPO mouthpiece nowadays, was planning to help Battistelli lie about the social climate at the end of this month, using a placement in the form of an ‘interview’ with Battistelli (part 2), but this has not happened and they failed to get a response from AMBA, which is understandably scared. Yesterday they began speaking and spreading the falsehoods about the EPO's crushing of the boards (under the guise of “independence”). Haar is somewhat of a suburb quite some distance away, so saying that “Boards will remain in Munich” is a lie. To quote further: “In addition to predictable concerns among users of the EPO as regards preservation of quality and independence of appeal decisions, the EPO’s ambitions with regard to cost coverage are seen as problematic by many due to the future increase of the appeal fee. A four- or five-fold increase of the appeal fee may well prove prohibitive to appeals, even in respect of clearly flawed first-instance decisions, or may put a heavy economic burden on parties to proceedings in respect of cases which are subject to multiple appeals in respect of the same patent or patent application.” We should remind readers that payments and working conditions are eroding, motivating what’s left of staff at the Boards to simply leave, giving the impression that these Boards are dying naturally on their own.

Unprecedented Levels of UPC Lobbying by Big Business Europe (Multinationals) and Their Patent Law Firms

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Business Europe on UPC
Original: Business Europe on UPC [PDF] (we wrote about Business Europe, which is a front group, several times before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5])

Summary: A quick look at some of the latest deception which is intended to bamboozle European politicians and have them play along with the unitary [sic] patent for private interests of the super-rich

THE EPO and Team UPC, along with their largest clients, try to take over Europe and rewrite the law.

Kingsley Egbuonu from MIP (close to the EPO) continues his Unitary Patent and UPC “progress [sic] report”, this time noting that “EU Ministers reiterate support for the system; legal opinion on UK’s participation; The Netherlands ratifies UPC Agreement; legislative process for ratification underway in Italy; new Italian course added to list of UPC representation qualifications for European Patent Attorneys; official timetable for launch of UPC may be revised; Unitary Patent system ready and UPC preparations to continue” (all sounds incredibly optimistic).

“The UK isn’t going to ratify the UPC, which puts the whole shebang in existential danger (across the whole of Europe).”Judging by this “progress [sic] report,” one might be led to believe that the UPC is inevitable and only a matter of time; but it’s far, far from it. “We understand,” Egbuonu notes below, that the “UK IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe did not make any statement on the UK’s position, considering the UK government is still deliberating over Brexit strategy, rather she commended the preparatory work done so far.”

The UK isn’t going to ratify the UPC, which puts the whole shebang in existential danger (across the whole of Europe). Everyone seems to know it except Team UPC, which invested so much in this change (de facto theft of democracy) that all resources are now being thrown at lobbying. Take Bristows and its self-nuking statements for instance. Bristows is still lobbying to have its talking points interjected into ‘news’ papers which the EPO paid for PR. Here they are saying: “Milan challenges London for patent court – Our Alan Johnson comments on the @FT https://www.ft.com/content/9199ea86-80c8-11e6-8e50-8ec15fb462f4 … pic.twitter.com/DyqpSJfFBA” (FT was paid by the EPO for this kind of bias).

It seems as though the UPC will be officially dead next month, but Team UPC is working super-hard at the moment. It includes ‘hijacking’ the media for their own selfish purposes. Bristows is being amplified (almost the entire piece is Bristows) by WIPR and an article composed by Bristows staff keeps getting referenced as ‘proof’ that “European business urge continued UK involvement in UPC on eve of Competitiveness Council meeting” (utterly misleading headline).

“Usual suspects sent letters to lobby for UPC, wait until we send our letters too.”
      –Benjamin Henrion
What Bristows means by “European business” is just “Business Europe”, which is a misnomer. Here we have Bristows lobbying for itself and meddling. To quote: “Views on UPC expressed ahead of today’s Competitiveness Council meeting.”

Competitiveness in Europe would require demolishing the UPC, but international monopolies and oligopolies want the opposite of competitiveness; they just want protectionism to cement their market position and marginalise competition (e.g. by means of patent lawsuits or threat thereof).

Looking at some of the latest junk from Bristows (relying on front groups and generalising based on them), one can see dissent in various other new comments about the UPC; these comments are not sharing the sentiments of Bristows’ propaganda (about 5 more such comments yesterday). One of them said that selective “letters from Business Europe and consorts are a wonderful pro domo plea. But they all stem from Big Industry.” Writing about “Business Europe” (Big Business Europe and Multinationals with Branches in Europe), here is the complete comment:

That all firms having been heavily involved in the preparations of the UPC want it to come alive is understandable, be it only because of the time and efforts invested in it. That their might not be a return on investment is bitter for all of those them. But c’est la vie.

The letters from Business Europe and consorts are a wonderful pro domo plea. But they all stem from Big Industry. Did you expect that Air Liquide would be against the UPC?

On the other hand, we were always told that the UPC is primarily there for the benefit of the SMEs.

I do not see any federation of SMEs, but the French CGPME having participated in such a plea. The CGPME being one among the plenty members of the UJUB, even if it had a restrictive opinion, it would be overthrown by all the other members.

I get the feeling that lots of people have lost track of the political reality. How can a sensible person advocate immediate ratification by the UK of the UPC Agreement when the terms of the Brexit are not even known? There might be ways for UK to continue its participation, but this means accepting EU law. I dare think what the EuCJ will have to say if UK participates to the UPC after Brexit and does not fully accept EU law supremacy. But then why the Brexit?

Why on earth push for something which nobody knows how it will end up? That UK participation would be good is certain, but as somebody in charge in the UK said Brexit means Brexit.

It is clear that if the UPC does not enter into force because of the lacking ratification of the UK, it will be delayed for a while. And then the can of worms will be opened again. But that is a reality which is tangible and which should be accepted.

Whether we like it or not, it is time to look at reality and not hope for something which has been lost.

The “Big Business Europe UPC letter,” Benjamin Henrion remarked, is “not supported by CEOE, the Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain” (Spain is generally against the UPC, to its credit, but language has a lot to do with this opposition). “Usual suspects,” he added, “sent letters to lobby for UPC, wait until we send our letters too.” He told me that he was unable to find any video stream/access to the proceedings (the perception of transparency) and later added: “Is there any video recordings of EU Ministers Council meeting of today?”

We have seen nothing of that sort yet. Team UPC has no sense of shame and no respect for democracy at all. Sometimes it feels like politicians are on the same bandwagon.

Here is a timely new comment about UPC (found this afternoon):

That’s the problem with the UPC, it is not counter-balanced by an elected parliament, such as the European Parliament.

It is an undemocratic monster.

If the UK is out, the bare minimum would be to reintroduce art6 and art8.

It’s not just an “undemocratic monster” but an antidemocratic monster. It must be scuttled.


Links 29/9/2016: Russia Moving to FOSS, New Nmap and PostgreSQL Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 8:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Microsoft is no longer Russia’s first choice of technology provider

    Moscow plans to open the replacement cycle by swapping Exchange and Outlook for email systems developed by New Cloud Technologies and distributed by by state-run carrier Rostelecom PJSC, Bloomberg reports. The software will be eventually deployed to as many as 600,000 computers.

    The city is also considering dropping Windows and Office, but state officials are still looking into alternatives, says Moscow’s head of information technology Artem Yermolaev.

    Putin has been pushing for technological independence after American corporations were forced to sever ties with major Russian institutions following the annexation of Crimea back in 2014.

    To actively encourage the adoption of local solutions, Putin’s internet czar German Klimenko has plans to raise taxes on Western tech companies operating within Russia.

  • Moscow Drops Microsoft on Putin’s Call for Self-Sufficiency

    Moscow city will replace Microsoft Corp. programs with domestic software on thousands of computers in answer to President Vladimir Putin’s call for Russia’s authorities to reduce dependence on foreign technology amid tensions with the U.S. and Europe.

    The city will initially replace Microsoft’s Exchange Server and Outlook on 6,000 computers with an e-mail system installed by state-run carrier Rostelecom PJSC, Artem Yermolaev, head of information technology for Moscow, told reporters Tuesday. Moscow may expand deployment of the new software, developed by Russia’s New Cloud Technologies, to as many as 600,000 computers and servers, and may also consider replacing Windows and Office, Yermolaev said.

  • Why Microsoft is getting the cold shoulder from Moscow

    Since the German city of Munich decided to ditch Microsoft Windows and Office, a growing number of European agencies have followed suit – from France’s national police force to the Italian military.

    The latest authority to turn its back on Microsoft is reportedly Moscow City Hall, which is transferring employee email from Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook to the Russian-built MyOffice Mail.

    About 6,000 Moscow state employees will be switched over, including teachers, doctors and civil servants. If the move is a success, the city will consider shifting 600,000 PCs and servers away from Microsoft, and may also replace Windows and Office, according to Bloomberg.

  • Moscow will replace Microsoft’s products with local offerings

    Microsoft might lose a whole city of customers in Russia. According to Bloomberg, Moscow will begin replacing Redmond’s products with homegrown software as a result of Vladimir Putin’s urging to stop depending on foreign tech. Artem Yermolaev, the city’s head of information technology, told reporters that Moscow will begin by dropping Microsoft’s Exchange Service and by replacing Outlook on 6,000 computers with state-run carrier Rostelecom PJSC’s email system. Authorities are looking to deploy the email software to as many as 600,000 computers in the future. They might even replace Windows and the Office suite entirely, though there seems to be no solid plan for that at the moment.

  • Desktop

    • Alphabet’s Plans to Create Android PCs Should Make Microsoft a Little Nervous

      Four years after Microsoft (MSFT) first tried to give the world unified PC/mobile operating systems via the dual fiascoes known as Windows 8 and Windows RT, Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google appears set to take its own stab at the concept. And there are reasons to think the company will see a measure of success.

      Citing “two independent and reliable sources,” Android Police reports Google plans to launch a notebook in the third quarter of 2017 that will likely be the first new device to showcase Andromeda, a version of Android that will integrate many features associated with Google’s Chrome OS PC operating system.

      The notebook will reportedly be called the Pixel 3, and carry a $788 price. Its feature set reportedly include a 12.3-inch display, an Intel (INTC) processor, a glass trackpad, a tablet mode and stylus support.

    • 4 of the Best Linux Distros for Windows Users

      For the past year Microsoft has offered free upgrades to their latest operating system, Windows 10. This was mainly due to the fact that Windows 8 and 8.1 were poorly received, especially when compared to Windows 7. Unfortunately the free upgrade period has passed, so if you want to give Windows 10 a try, you’ll have to dig into your wallet to do it. If your faith in the tech giant has waned over the years, you’re not alone. The latest versions of Windows have all been heavily criticized, proving that they have been a far cry from the world dominance of Windows XP.

      If you’re one of the many people turned off by the latest iterations of Windows, the jump to Linux might look very appealing. Unfortunately, a new OS often comes with a steep learning curve. Windows, with the exception of the fumble that was 8, has more or less looked and behaved the same for years. Having to re-learn everything can be a daunting task, one that could pressure you into staying with Windows forever.

      However, you do have options. There are many different distributions of Linux out there, with some aiming to replicate the look and feel of Windows. The goal of this is to make transitioning relatively painless. With Linux boasting improved hardware support, long term stability and a wider range of software applications, there is no better time to try it out!

    • Microsoft Applications and Services chief Qi Lu leaves the company [Ed: Microsoft exodus)

      Lu has been heading up the Applications and Services Group — the unit that has encompassed the Office applications team and the Bing search team.

      In an email to employees on September 29, CEO Satya Nadella announced Lu was leaving so as to recover from “health conditions caused by a prior injury.” (A couple of other reports, including the Wall Street Journal’s, say Lu’s injury was related to a biking accident.)

      Lu will continue to act as a “personal advisor” to Nadella and Microsoft Founder Bill Gates after his recovery, but he won’t be returning in his former role, Nadella said in his mail.

  • Server

    • Linux servers deliver greater performance and efficiency ‘than available on any x86-based server’
    • What are configuration management tools?

      For most people, computers don’t stay the same. Software is added, removed, and updated. Configurations are changed. Think about the changes you’ve made to your computer since the first time you booted it up. Now imagine making those changes to 10, 100, or 1,000 more computers. Configuration management tools are what make implemententing and enforcing these changes possible.

    • 5 new OpenStack tutorials and guides
    • Ericsson: The Journey to a DevOps Future in SDN

      There are big transformations going on in the world today that are driving rapid changes to the business of networks, said Santiago Rodriguez, VP of Engineering and head of the product development unit SDN & Policy Control at Ericsson, in his keynote Tuesday at OpenDaylight Summit.

      “Society is transforming, the way we do business is transforming, and accordingly the way we build our networks is transforming,” Rodriguez said.

      The three pillars of this network transformation include: 5G, virtualization and open source.

    • OpenDaylight sets product quality label, metrics for SDN solutions

      Initial OpenDaylight-based products expected to receive the “Powered by OpenDaylight” mark are offerings from Brocade, Ericsson, HPE, Inocybe and Serro.

    • Telstra Sees Quadrupled Data Capacity by 2020

      The latter service led Telstra to re-think its fiber deployment strategy, choosing to use pre-provisioned fiber connections to data centers in advance of customer demand, because the company knew that demand was coming, Blackall said. The strategy worked well with Telstra’s acquisition of Pacnet, which had already deployed SDN capabilities to connect its 27 points of presence around Asia.

    • The Tiny Internet Project, Part I

      As LJ readers well know, Linux drives many of the technologies we use every day, from smart TVs to Web servers. Linux is everywhere—except most homes and classrooms.

      That’s a problem if we want to help breed the next generation of engineers and computer scientists. In fact, if teenagers (or any other group of curious individuals) want to learn about Linux, they often must rely on a geeky friend or parent willing to show them the way.

      This three-part series seeks to change that by offering a way for anyone to learn about Linux by building what is essentially a tiny, self-contained Internet. Using old equipment and free software, you’ll build a private network (with your own domain name), build Web sites, set up an e-mail server, install and use a database, and set up a Linux distro mirror.

      Read more

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Ubuntu 16.10 Doesn’t Change Much With Performance, Clear Linux Still Leads In Most Tests

        Given yesterday’s Ubuntu 16.10 final beta release ahead of the official “Yakkety Yak” debut in two weeks, I decided to run some benchmarks of Ubuntu 16.10 compared to Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS on the same system plus also throwing in the Intel Clear Linux distribution given it tends to be one of the most performant.

        For those that haven’t yet tried out Ubuntu 16.10 nor followed its development, GCC 6.2 is now the default compiler in place of GCC 5.4 from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Mesa 12.0.3 provides the stock graphics drivers and Linux 4.8 is the stock kernel.

      • DDR4 Memory Speed Tests With The Core i7 6800K On Ubuntu Linux

        A few days ago I posted my first Core i7 6800K benchmarks under Ubuntu Linux compared to various other CPUs. Out of requests from some premium members, here are some straight-forward memory clocking tests of the i7-6800K on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with the Linux 4.8 kernel. Tests were done from dual-channel DDR4 up through quad-channel DDR4 at DDR4-3000MHz.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Calendar Pencils In Great New Features

        GNOME Calendar is one of the few decent desktop calendaring apps available on Linux — and it’s going to get better.

      • The future of GNOME Calendar

        Today, the Calendar Team had the first meeting in history. Isaque, Lapo, Renata, Vamsi and I attended it, and the meeting was extremely productive! In fact, we were able to sketch out the general direction that GNOME Calendar will head towards.

  • Distributions

    • Endless OS 3: Linux for the Net Less

      In the West, we take the Internet for granted. Oh, we may grumble about a slow connection, but that’s a first-world problem. For many, however, the Internet is a “maybe” thing. For those users, Endless’s Endless OS 3, may be just what they need.

    • New Releases

      • Qubes OS 3.2 has been released!

        I’m happy to announce that today we’re releasing Qubes OS 3.2!

        This is an incremental improvement over the 3.1 version that we released earlier this year. A lot of work went into making this release more polished, more stable and easier to use than our previous releases.

        One major feature that we’ve improved upon in this release is our integrated management infrastructure, which was introduced in Qubes 3.1. Whereas before it was only possible to manage whole VMs, it is now possible to manage the insides of VMs as well.

      • Security-Oriented Qubes OS 3.2 Improves the Integrated Management Infrastructure

        Today, September 29, 2016, Joanna Rutkowska announced the general availability of the second point release of the Qubes OS 3 stable series of the security-oriented and open-source Linux-based computer operating system.

        Qubes OS 3.2 is a maintenance release, which means that it mostly adds general fixes and improvements to various of the distribution’s core components and functionalities, including the integrated management infrastructure that was introduced as part of the previous update, Qubes 3.1, allowing users to also manage the “insides” of a virtual machine.

      • Alpine Linux 3.4.4 Is Out, Ships with Linux Kernel 4.4.22 LTS, OpenSSL Patches

        Today, September 28, 2016, Alpine Linux creator and lead developer Natanael Cop has the pleasure of announcing the release of the fourth maintenance update to the latest stable Alpine Linux 3.4 server-oriented operating system series.

        Alpine Linux 3.4.4 is out as the most advanced version, powered by the recently released, long-term supported Linux 4.4.22 kernel and bringing up-to-date components to make your Alpine Linux-based server(s) more stable and reliable than ever. Most of the core components have been updated, but the most important one is OpenSSL 1.0.2j, which received the latest security fixes, just like in the rest of the GNU/Linux distros.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Software Company Red Hat banks on India to hit $ 5 billion turnover in 5 years

        Red Hat, the open-source software company, said its India business was growing at more than double the rate of the overall company and would be an important contributor to its target of reaching $5 billion in the next five years.

        Red Hat has over $2 billion in annual revenue currently and grew over 21% in constant currency last year. Open-source software is freely available, so Red Hat’s business model depends on customers paying for the support and service it offers and not on license fees, making the company’s offerings typically cheaper than proprietary software. “India is one of our fastest growing markets. Red Hat does really when there is net new infrastructure to be set up. And the rapid pace of development that India is seeing sets really well with our offerings,” James Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, told ET.

      • Red Hat claims headway in Asia, bets big on container and hybrid cloud

        While the smallest in terms of revenue contribution, Asia is Red Hat’s fastest growing region and is likely to continue its upwards trajectory as emerging markets roll out new infrastructure.

        Developing nations in the region were embarking on many net new infrastructure projects, rather than replacement for existing technology, and open source would be involved in a large share of such projects. The decisions on which technology to deploy would rarely be between proprietary or open source, but rather on which open source vendor to go with or to do so internally, said Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Node.js 6.x LTS coming to EPEL 7

          Node.js® is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. It uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient. Its package ecosystem, npm, is the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world. You can read more about Node.js at the project website.

        • Switched to HTTPS

          Perhaps you already noticed it, I have switched all the sites for a secured browsing using HTTPS.

          So, new addresses are:

          https://blog.remirepo.net/ for this Blog (with an automatic and permanent redirection)
          https://forum.remirepo.net/ for the Forum (with an automatic and permanent redirection)
          https://rpms.remirepo.net/ for the Repository, but classical address stay available.

        • Fedora Hubs: Getting started

          Fedora Hubs provides a consistent contributor experience across all Fedora teams and will serve as an “intranet” page for the Fedora Project. There are many different projects in Fedora with different processes and workflows. Hubs will serve as a single place for contributors to learn about and contribute to them in a standardized format. Hubs will also be a social network for Fedora contributors. It is designed as one place to go to keep up with everything and everybody across the project in ways that aren’t currently possible.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu’s Shuttleworth Explains Why Not All Containers are the Same

            Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux, was an early backer of OpenStack as well as containers. This week, Shuttleworth’s company Canonical announced new commercial support for Kubernetes, which is a widely deployed container orchestration and management engine.

            In an interview with Datamation Shuttleworth emphasized that it’s important to understand the different use cases for containers and what the different types of container systems are all about.

          • Ubuntu Linux 16.10 ‘Yakkety Yak’ Beta 2 open source OS now available for download
          • Canonical Jumps On The Container Management Bandwagon With A Commercial Kubernetes Offering
          • ​Ubuntu’s new take on Kubernetes
          • When two tribes go to war: Docker Swarm on the left, easier-to-install Kubernetes on the right
          • Canonical Launches Commercial Support for Kubernetes
          • Canonical Releases Snapcraft 2.18 Tool for Creating Snaps in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

            Canonical, through Sergio Schvezov, announced the release of yet another maintenance update to the Snapcraft open-source utility that helps application developers package their apps as Snaps.

          • Ubuntu Budgie Remix 16.10 Beta 2 Officially Released with Budgie Desktop 10.2.7

            Softpedia was informed today, September 29, 2016, by David Mohammed from the budgie-remix project about the availability of the second and last Beta release of the upcoming Ubuntu Budgie Remix 16.10 operating system.

            Coming hot on the heels of yesterday’s Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) Final Beta release, Ubuntu Budgie Remix 16.10 Beta 2 is based on most of the GNU/Linux and Open Source technologies used in Ubuntu 16.10, such as systemd 231 and Linux kernel 4.8, but it’s built around the latest version of the beautiful Budgie desktop environment created by the Solus Project.

          • Budgie-Remix Makes Progress With Ubuntu 16.10 Base, Beta 2 Released

            Budgie-Remix, the unofficial Ubuntu spin making use of the Budgie Desktop, has released its 16.10 Beta 2 milestone following this week’s Yakkety Yak Beta 2 release.

            Budgie-Remix is re-based to the latest Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety package changes. In addition, a number of the Budgie-0Remix packages have been working their way into Debian proper and thus are available to Ubuntu 16.10 users via the official channels. Now available this way is the budgie-desktop package, Moka icon theme, Faba icon theme, and the Arc theme. The Ubuntu repository has also pulled in the Budgie artwork and wallpaper packages too.

          • Yakkety Yak Final Beta Released
          • Canonical Launches Commercial Support for Kubernetes

            Canonical, the lead commercial vendor behind the open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system, is getting into the Kubernetes market. Canonical now offers a freely available implementation of Kubernetes as well as commercial-support options.

            “I have no doubt that Kubernetes will be one of the major container co-ordination systems,” Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, told ServerWatch.

          • [How To] Build an Ubuntu Controlled Sous-Vide Cooker

            I’ll be honest with you from the off: I had zero idea what sous-vide cooking was before I started writing this post. Wikipedia dutifully informs me that’s Sous-Vide is a style of cooking that involves a vacuum, bags, and steam.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio 16.10 to Offer an Up-to-Date Multimedia Oriented Linux Distro

              We reported earlier today, September 28, 2016, on the availability of the Final Beta (Beta 2) development milestone of the upcoming Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system and its official derivatives.

              We’ve already talked here about what’s new in the Beta 2 of Ubuntu MATE 16.10, Lubuntu 16.10, and Kubuntu 16.10, and now we would like to tell you a little bit about Ubuntu Studio 16.10, which promises to offer users an up-to-date multimedia oriented Linux-based operating system.

              That’s right, it looks like today’s Ubuntu Studio 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) Beta 2 snapshot comes with all the latest software releases and a bunch of new apps that you might need for audio, video, or graphics processing jobs. But first, we need to tell you that Ubuntu Studio 16.10 is powered by a low-latency Linux 4.8 kernel.

            • Ubuntu GNOME 16.10 Beta 2 Released with Many Apps from the GNOME 3.22 Stack

              As part of yesterday’s Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) Final Beta launch, some of the opt-in flavors received their Beta 2 release, including Ubuntu GNOME 16.10, about which we would like to tell you all about in this article.

            • Linux Mint’s XApps to Get Screen Blanking, Sublime-like Search Bar Lands for Xed

              We already know that work on Linux Mint 18.1, the next major release of the popular Ubuntu-based operating system loved by many users, already begun, and Clement Lefebvre shares with us today some of the improvements coming to XApps.

            • Mintbox Mini Pro

              MintBox Mini Pro

              The new model is called “Mintbox Mini Pro”, it’s just as small as the original Mintbox Mini but with much better specifications.

            • Mintbox Mini Pro Linux Mini PC Launches For $395

              This week a new version of the popular Mintbox Mini Linux PC has been launched for $395 in the form of the Mintbox Mini Pro which is now equipped with 120 GB of SSD mSATA together with 64-bit AMD A10-Micro6700T system-on-a-chip with Radeon R6 graphics and features 8GB of DDR3L.

              The latest Mintbox Mini Pro is shipped preloaded with the awesome Linux Mint 18 operating system and includes a microSD card slot a serial port, and a micro SIM card reader.
              The new Mintbox Mini Pro is the same size as the original and measures 4.3 x 3.3 x 0.9 inches in size and weighs in at around 255g. The Linux mini PC incorporates a fanless design and features an all-metal case made of aluminium and zinc.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Expandable, outdoor IoT gateway runs Android on i.MX6

      VIA’s “Artigo A830” IoT gateway runs Android on an i.MX6 DualLite SoC and offers HDMI, GbE, microSD, numerous serial and USB ports, plus -20 to 60° operation.

      As the name suggests, the VIA Technologies Artigo A830 Streetwise IoT Platform is designed for outdoor Internet of Things gateway applications. These are said to include smart lockers, vending machines, information kiosks, and signage devices that run “intensive multimedia shopping, entertainment, and navigation applications.” The outdoors focus is supported with an extended -20 to 60°C operating range, as well as surge and ESD protection for surviving challenges such as a nearby lightning strike.

    • Raspberry Pi Announces PIXEL Desktop Environment

      Today the Raspberry Pi Foundation formally announced the Raspberry Pi PIXEL, their own desktop that will be used in future Raspbian spins.

      PIXEL is short for Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight desktop. PIXEL is derived from the LXDE desktop environment but with both appearance and fundamental changes, including some new applications.

    • Raspberry Pi Foundation Unveils New LXDE-Based Desktop for Raspbian Called PIXEL

      Today, September 28, 2016, Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Simon Long proudly unveiled a new desktop environment for the Debian-based Raspbian GNU/Linux operating system for Raspberry Pi devices.

      Until today, Raspbian shiped with the well-known and lightweight LXDE desktop environment, which looks pretty much the same as on any other Linux-based distribution out there that is built around LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment). But Simon Long, a UX engineer working for Raspberry Pi Foundation was hired to make it better, transform it into something that’s more appealing to users.

    • MintBox Mini updated with faster AMD SoC and 8GB RAM

      CompuLab’s Linux Mint flavored MintBox Mini Pro mini-PC updates the Mini with an AMD A10 Micro-6700T, plus BT 4.0, mini-PCIe, and twice the RAM and storage.

      The CompuLab built, $395 MintBox Mini Pro, which ships with the Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon distribution, updates the $295 MintBox Mini with a lot more performance and features in the same compact 108 x 83 x 24mm footprint. That’s considerably smaller than earlier collaborations between CompuLab and the Linux Mint project, such as the circa-2013 MintBox 2.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • ​Google beats back Oracle again in Java Android case

          To recap, Oracle claimed the 37 Java application programming interface (API) packages Google used to develop Android are covered by copyright. Of course, that’s not really the issue. True, the the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals foolishly ruled that APIs could be copyrighted. But the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in May 2016 that Google’s use of the Java APIs were not subject to copyright licensing fees. Instead, Android’s use of the APIs was covered by “fair use.”

        • Google’s Open Source Fuchsia OS: The Mystery Linux Distro

          Few things are more tantalizing than a good mystery, and Google is making waves for an open source-centric mystery that may end up having profound implications. It all started in August when an extensive and unusual code repository for a new operating system called Fuchsia was discovered online, and now the growing source code set is on GitHub.

          Thus far, Google officials have been mostly mum on the aim of this operating system, although they have made a few things clear in chat forums. Two developers listed on Fuchsia’s GitHub page — Christopher Anderson and Brian Swetland — are known for their work with embedded systems. The Verge, among other sites, has made a few logical deductions about the possible embedded systems focus for Fuchsia: “Looking into Fuchsia’s code points gives us a few clues. For example, the OS is built on Magenta, a “medium-sized microkernel” that is itself based on a project called LittleKernel, which is designed to be used in embedded systems,” the site reports.

          The GitHub postings that confirm that Fuchsia is based on Magenta are particularly notable because Magenta has had applications in the embedded systems space. Here are some direct quotes: “Magenta is a new kernel that powers the Fuchsia OS. Magenta is composed of a microkernel as well as a small set of userspace services, drivers, and libraries necessary for the system to boot, talk to hardware, load userspace processes and run them, etc. Fuchsia builds a much larger OS on top of this foundation.”

        • As Blackberry pulls out of handset business it has some big patent strategy calls to make
        • Luna Launcher turns your Android phone into a kid-friendly device

          On the fence about whether your child is old enough for their own smartphone? A new app called Luna Launcher can help you warm to the idea, by offering a simple way to limit access to select apps and actions, including who they can call or text – a list you can restrict to family members, for example. Of course, because of the way it needs to interact with your phone’s operating system in order to restrict access, Luna Launcher is only available on Android.

        • Google delays launch of Android Wear 2.0 to next year

          Google’s next-generation smartwatch platform, Android Wear 2.0, will not be seeing the light of day this year. The company announced today that it is delaying the launch of the update, which was originally scheduled for this fall, to sometime in early 2017.

          Instead of launching the final version this fall, Google is extending the developer preview program for Android Wear 2.0, and today it’s releasing the third preview of the platform for developers. The company says that it is using the extra time to fine tune the software via feedback from developers, and it will have another preview build released before the end of the year. Today’s version adds a number of new features, most notable of which is the Play Store for smartwatches.

        • Moto Z series and G4 Plus getting Android 7.0 Nougat update in Q4
        • Android Wear watches aren’t connecting to the iPhone 7
        • Many Android Wear watches aren’t working with the iPhone 7
        • Google Maps gains new voice commands on Android
        • OnePlus 3 Android 7.0 Nougat update is in the works
        • Huawei will introduce its next flagship on November 3
        • This is Google Cloud and G Suite
        • Exchange email down for Android and iOS users

          Microsoft Exchange mobile users on Android and iOS users have been unable to access emails on their phones due to a planned shift away from its Exchange Active Sync (EAS) protocol.

          The issue first appeared yesterday and is still affecting users.

          One customer got in touch to say: “Exchange Mobile device access seems to be up the Swanny for iOS and Android users.” They quipped: “Fortunately neither of the Windows Mobile users are affected.”

        • Latest Fitbit Blaze firmware update finally makes the tracker worth buying

          The Fitbit Blaze is a deceptive little fitness tracker. It may look like a smartwatch on the surface, but dive a little deeper and you’ll find it’s actually missing most of the smartwatch-y features we’ve come to expect from fitness tracker/smartwatch hybrids. When we reviewed the Blaze a few months ago, the lack of third-party notification support and poor selection of watch faces were some of our biggest gripes with this tracker. Thankfully Fitbit has finally heard our cries and released a new update that fixes these issues.

        • Android Wear watches aren’t connecting to the iPhone 7

          One of Android Wear’s biggest strengths is it that the platform is designed to be cross compatible with Android and iOS. However, a number of consumers are reporting that they can’t connected a range of Android Wear smartwatches up to the new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.

        • Multiple Android Wear smartwatches are not pairing with the iPhone 7
        • Google Allo rockets past 5 million downloads
        • BlackBerry to stop developing its own hardware, will rely on manufacturing partners instead
        • How to copy music to your Android phone
        • Spaces v1.7 adds capability to save posted images [APK Download]
        • Firefox Aurora arrives on the Play Store in “unreleased” state
        • Mercedes and Kia add new Android Auto models

          Buying a new car comes with myriad of considerations. Is it fuel efficient? Is it safe? Will it play nicely with my phone? People sometimes neglect the last one, but you’re going to be carrying the phone literally every time you get in the car, so why not make sure? Mercedes and Kia seem to get that. They’ve added support for Android Auto to a ton of new cars today.

        • Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small Android is still good, but not much better

          Sony’s Xperia X Compact is basically the newest version of the Z5 Compact that hit the US earlier this year. But just because it’s a newer version of the (comparatively) tiny handset doesn’t mean it’s an upgrade in every way. Sony is pushing the camera sensors in the X Compact and the flagship-level XZ, as well as new features like five-axis image stabilization and HDR photo mode. Sony knows cameras, so we know the shooter in the X Compact will at least be competent. However, it has to be good enough to encourage photography buffs to shell out $499 for this unlocked handset while delivering solid performance across the board as well.

        • How I Use Android: Android Central Editor Emeritus Phil Nickinson

          In the meantime, I was able to convince Phil to step out of his metaphorical kitchen for a few minutes to chat about how he uses Android in his day-to-day life. This is a man who has seen and used practically every Android device over the past several years, after all — and a fair number of apps and customization tools, to boot.

          So what devices does someone with so much knowledge carry around in his own trousers, and how does he make the most of what they have to offer?

          Enough with the suspense already. In his own words, this is how Phil Nickinson uses Android.

        • Best Android Phones Under 5.7 Inches

          There’s no question that Samsung hit a home run with its Galaxy S7 line. We already think the smaller GS7 is the best phone under 5.2 inches, and the larger, curved-screen Galaxy S7 edge is our pick for the best phone under 5.7 inches. Why? It takes everything we love about the smaller phone and makes it bigger — but not too much.

Free Software/Open Source

  • But is it safe? Uncork a bottle of vintage open-source FUD

    Most of the open source questioners come from larger organisations. Banks very rarely pop up here, and governments have long been hip to using open source. Both have ancient, proprietary systems in place here and there that are finally crumbling to dust and need replacing fast. Their concerns are more oft around risk management and picking the right projects.

    It’s usually organisations whose business is dealing with actual three dimensional objects that ask about open source. Manufacturing, industrials, oil and gas, mining, and others who have typically looked at IT as, at best, a helper for their business rather than a core product enabler.

    These industries are witnessing the lighting fast injection of software into their products – that whole “Internet of Things” jag we keep hearing about. Companies here are being forced to look at both using open source in their products and shipping open source as part of their business.

    The technical and pricing requirements for IoT scale software is a perfect fit for open source, especially that pricing bit. On the other end – peddling open source themselves – companies that are looking to build and sell software-driven “platforms” are finding that partners and developers are not so keen to join closed source ecosystems.

    These two pulls create some weird clunking in the heads of management at these companies who aren’t used to working with a sandles and rainbow frame of mind. They have a scepticism born of their inexperience with open source. Let’s address some of their trepidation.

  • Real business innovation begins with open practices

    To business leaders, “open source” often sounds too altruistic—and altruism is in short supply on the average balance sheet. But using and contributing to open source makes hard-nosed business sense, particularly as a way of increasing innovation.

    Today’s firms all face increased competition and dynamic markets. Yesterday’s big bang can easily become today’s cautionary tale. Strategically, the only viable response to this disruption is constantly striving to serve customers better through sustained and continuous innovation. But delivering innovation is hard; the key is to embrace open and collaborative innovation across organizational walls—open innovation.

    Open source communities’ values and practices generate open innovation, and working in open source is a practical, pragmatic way of delivering innovation. To avoid the all-too-real risk of buzzword bingo we can consider two definitions of “innovation”:

    creating value (that serves customer needs) to sell for a profit; or
    reducing what a firm pays for services.

  • Minijail: Running Untrusted Programs Safely by Jorge Lucangeli Obes, Google
  • Minijail: Google’s Tool To Safely Run Untrusted Programs

    Google’s Minijail sandboxing tool could be used by developers and sysadmins to run untrusted programs safely for debugging and security checks, according to Google Software Engineer Jorge Lucangeli Obes, who spoke last month at the Linux Security Summit. Obes is the platform security lead for Brillo, Google’s Android-based operating system for Internet-connected devices.

    Minijail was designed for sandboxing on Chrome OS and Android, to handle “anything that the Linux kernels grew.” Obes shared that Google teams use it on the server side, for build farms, for fuzzing, and pretty much everywhere.

    Since “essentially one bug separates you and any random attacker,” Google wanted to create a reliable means to swiftly identify problems with privileges and exploits in app development and easily enable developers to “do the right thing.”

    The tool is designed to assist admins who struggle with deciding what permissions their software actually needs, and developers who are vexed with trying to second guess which environment the software is going to run in. In both cases, sandboxing and privilege dropping tends to be a hit or miss affair.

    Even when developers use the privilege dropping mechanisms provided by the Linux kernel, sometimes things go awry due to numerous pitfalls along that path. One common example Obes cited was trying to ride a switch user function that will drop-root and then forgetting to check the result of the situation relief, or setuid function, afterwards.

  • Intel and Cloudera Give Apache an Open Source Data/Security Tool

    For the past year, we’ve taken note of the many Big Data projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent months. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support.

    Recently, the foundation announced that Apache Kudu has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP). Kudu is an open source columnar storage engine built for the Apache Hadoop ecosystem designed to enable flexible, high-performance analytic pipelines. And, Apache Twill has graduated as well. Twill is an abstraction over Apache Hadoop YARN that reduces the complexity of developing distributed Hadoop applications, allowing developers to focus more on their application logic. In another Apache-related Big Data move, Cloudera and Intel have announced that they’ve contributed a new open-source project to the Apache Software Foundation targeted at using Big Data analytics and machine learning for cybersecurity.

  • Twitter Open Sources Stream Processing Engine Heron

    Twitter announced the open sourcing of Heron, a stream-processing engine that is a successor to Apache Storm. Heron is backwards compatible with Apache Storm, which eases its adoption amongst developers. Heron has replaced Apache Storm as the stream data processing engine inside Twitter due to its scalability, debug-ability, ability to work in a shared cluster infrastructure and better performance. A comprehensive list of features is listed in the documentation.

  • Events

    • PyCon 2016

      I come from a place where everyone worships competitive coding and thus cpp, so the experience of attending my first pycon was much awaited for me.

      This year’s PyCon India happened in Delhi and i along with a couple of my friends reached on 23rd September, the first day. We were a bit late but it was all right because, we didn’t miss anything.

    • What do you have to say? Share it at LibrePlanet 2017
    • LibrePlanet returns March 25-26, 2017, call for proposals for annual free software conference now open

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software enthusiasts. The conference brings together software developers, policy experts, activists and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments and face challenges to software freedom. Newcomers are always welcome, and LibrePlanet 2017 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

      This year, the theme of LibrePlanet is “The Roots of Freedom.” This encompasses the historical “roots” of the free software movement — the Four Freedoms, the GNU General Public License and copyleft, and a focus on strong security and privacy protections — and the concept of roots as a strong foundation from which the movement grows.

      “LibrePlanet is an impactful, exciting free software conference. Attendance has grown each year, yet the community-minded atmosphere has grown even stronger,” said John Sullivan, executive director of the FSF.

    • The Linux Foundation Announces Session Lineup for MesosCon Asia

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the schedule for MesosCon Asia, taking place November 18-19 in Hangzhou, China.

    • Tencent: Transforming Networks with SDN

      “SDN can really transform the way we do networks,” said Tom Bie, VP of Technology & Operation of Data Center, Networking and Server, Tencent, during his Wednesday keynote address at the Open Daylight Summit. The China telecom giant should know about the issues of massive scale networks: they have more than 200 million users for QQ instant messaging, 300 million users of their payment service, and more than 800 million users of their VChat service. Bie noted that Tencent also operates one of the largest gaming networks in the world, along with video services, audio services, online literature services, news portals, and a range other digital content services.

    • The Second Wave of Platforms, an Interview with Cloud Foundry’s Sam Ramji

      In today’s world of platforms, services are increasingly connected. In the past, PaaS offerings were pretty much isolated. It’s that new connected infrastructure that is driving the growth of Cloud Foundry, the open source, service-oriented platform technology.

      Sam Ramji is CEO of Cloud Foundry, which is holding its European event in Frankfurt this week. At the conference, we spoke with Ramji to discuss, among other topics:

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • This Week In Servo 79

        In the last week, we landed 96 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

        Promise support has arrived in Servo, thanks to hard work by jdm, dati91, and mmatyas! This does not fully implement microtasks, but unblocks the uses of Promises in many places (e.g., the WebBluetooth test suite).

        Emilio rewrote the bindings generation code for rust-bindgen, dramatically improving the flow of the code and output generated when producing Rust bindings for C and C++ code.

        The TPAC WebBluetooth standards meeting talked a bit about the great progress by the team at the University of Szeged in the context of Servo.

      • Servo Web Engine Now Supports Promises, Continues Churning Along

        It’s been nearly two months since last writing about Mozilla’s Servo web layout engine (in early August, back when WebRender2 landed) but development has kept up and they continue enabling more features for this next-generation alternative to Gecko.

        The latest is that Servo now supports JavaScript promises. If you are unfamiliar with the promise support, see this guide.

        The latest Servo code has improvements around its Rust binding generator for C and C++ code plus other changes.

      • Announcing Rust 1.12

        The Rust team is happy to announce the latest version of Rust, 1.12. Rust is a systems programming language with the slogan “fast, reliable, productive: pick three.”

        As always, you can install Rust 1.12 from the appropriate page on our website, and check out the detailed release notes for 1.12 on GitHub. 1361 patches were landed in this release.

      • Rust 1.12 Programming Language Released

        Rust 1.12 has been released as the newest version of this popular programming language with a focus on “fast, reliable, productive: pick three.”

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • Riak TS for time series analysis at scale

      Until recently, doing time series analysis at scale was expensive and almost exclusively the domain of large enterprises. What made time series a hard and expensive problem to tackle? Until the advent of the NoSQL database, scaling up to meet increasing velocity and volumes of data generally meant scaling hardware vertically by adding CPUs, memory, or additional hard drives. When combined with database licensing models that charged per processor core, the cost of scaling was simply out of reach for most.

      Fortunately, the open source community is democratising large scale data analysis rapidly, and I am lucky enough to work at a company making contributions in this space. In my talk at All Things Open this year, I’ll introduce Riak TS, a key-value database optimized to store and retrieve time series data for massive data sets, and demonstrate how to use it in conjunction with three other open source tools—Python, Pandas, and Jupyter—to build a completely open source time series analysis platform. And it doesn’t take all that long.

    • PostgreSQL 9.6 released

      PostgreSQL 9.6, the latest version of the world’s leading open source database, was released today by the PostgreSQL Global Development Group. This release will allow users to both scale up and scale out high performance database workloads. New features include parallel query, synchronous replication improvements, phrase search, and improvements to performance and usability, as well as many more features.

    • PostgreSQL 9.6 Officially Released With Parallel Query Support
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Office Suite Celebrates 6 Years of Activity with LibreOffice 5.2.2

      Today, September 29, 2016, Italo Vignoli from The Document Foundation informs Softpedia via an email announcement about the general availability of the first point release of the LibreOffice 5.2 open-source and cross-platform office suite.

      On September 28, the LibreOffice project celebrated its 6th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than to push a new update of the popular open source and cross-platform office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide. Therefore, we would like to inform our readers about the general availability of LibreOffice 5.2.2, which comes just three weeks after the release of LibreOffice 5.2.1.

      “Just one day after the project 6th anniversary, The Document Foundation (TDF) announces the availability of LibreOffice 5.2.2, the second minor release of the LibreOffice 5.2 family,” says Italo Vignoli. “LibreOffice 5.2.2, targeted at technology enthusiasts, early adopters and power users, provides a number of fixes over the major release announced in August.”

    • LibreOffice at 6, New Souped up Mint Mini

      September 28 was the official birthday for LibreOffice and Italo Vignoli looked back at some of the milestones for the project. Elsewhere, the Ubuntu family got new betas and Clement Lefebvre announced a new Mintbox Mini. Jack M. Germain reviewed Panther OS and Ryan Lynch recommended four distributions for Windows users.

      Happy Birthday LibreOffice! It was officially six years ago September 28 that The Document Foundation and LibreOffice were announced. The project consisted of former OpenOffice.org developers and volunteered who feared the worst after its sale to Oracle. Since that time, LibreOffice has grown and matured into an award winning Open Source office suite. Group photos taken at the LibreOffice conference at Brno were also shared including one of the attendees who were there on day one, as Bjoern Michaelsen explained. Although they were the seed, the project has grown to hundreds of contributors from all over the world. Italio Vignoli said the project attracted new developers every month for 72 straight months. He also said tomorrow begins the LibreOffice 5.3 developmental cycle, which is planned for release in January 2017.

    • Merging Communities
    • Happy 6th Birthday, LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 5.2.2 Now Available to Download
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE Needs To Be Respun Due To Security Issues

      The delayed FreeBSD 11.0 release just suffered another last-minute set-back. While “FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE images” were distributed to FTP mirrors and the official announcement expected today, these images need to be re-spun to contain some security fixes and thus pushing back the official release.

      Glen Barber noted today on the mailing list, “Although the FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE has not yet been officially announced, many have found images on the Project FTP mirrors. However, please be aware the final 11.0-RELEASE will be rebuilt and republished on the Project mirrors as a result of a few last-minute security fixes we feel are imperative to include in the final release.”

    • FreeBSD 11.0 Operating System Lands October 5 Due to Last-Minute Security Issues

      A few minutes ago, Glen Barber informed the FreeBSD community that they should not hurry and install the ISO images of the FreeBSD 11.0 operating system made available a few days ago on the official FTP mirrors.

      These images aren’t safe to use and contain various security vulnerabilities that need to be fixed before the FreeBSD Project will officially unveil the final release of the FreeBSD 11.0 operating system in the coming days. According to the release schedule, FreeBSD 11.0 should hit the streets later today, September 29, 2016.

      However, until then the FreeBSD development team is hard at work patching those nasty security issues and rebuilding the final ISO images, which will be made available on the respective FTP mirrors later today as FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE-p1. If you’re already running FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE, you will soon be provided with instructions to safely update your system

    • OpenBSD Founder Calling For LLVM To Face A Cataclysm Over Its Re-Licensing

      For over one year there’s been talk of LLVM pursuing a mass relicensing from its University of Illinois/NCSA Open Source License, which is similar to the three-clause BSD license, to the Apache 2.0 license with explicit mention of GPLv2 compatibility. As mentioned in that aforelinked article, this re-licensing is moving ahead.


    • Free Software Directory meeting recap for September 23rd, 2016
    • Don’t be a stranger to GIMP, be GIMP…

      I can try and do more coding, more code reviewing, revive designing discussions… that’s cool, yet never enough. GIMP needs more people, developers, designers, community people, writers for the website or the documentation, tutorial makers… everyone is welcome in my grand scheme!

      Many of my actions lately have been towards gathering more people, so when I heard about the GNOME newcomers initiative during GUADEC, I thought that could be a good fit. Thus a few days ago, I had GIMP added in the list of newcomer-friendly GNOME projects, with me as the newcomers mentor. I’ll catch this occasion to remind you all the ways you can contribute to GIMP, and not necessarily as a developer.

  • Public Services/Government

    • EC approves Slovenia courts data exchange solution

      First CEF AS4-compliant b2b solution developed as open source by a public administration

      The European Commission has tested and approved Laurentius, an eDelivery court documents and case exchange solution compliant with the AS4 profile of the OASIS ebMS standard. In September, Laurentius passed all tests by the EC’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for its so-called “e-SENS AS4 conformant solutions”.

  • Programming/Development

    • SDL 2.0.5 Is Readying For Release: Relative Mouse Mode For Wayland/Mir, Audio Capture

      SDL 2.0 point releases have ranged from being a few months apart to as much as two years apart. Fortunately, SDL 2.0.5 is now being put together for release just nine months after SDL 2.0.4.

      With the Mercurial repository, Sam Lantinga bumped the version in preparation for the SDL 2.0.5 release. The SDL 2.0.5 release hasn’t officially happened yet, but it should be here soon.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open standards default at Slovenia supreme court

      The use of open ICT standards is an IT requirement at Slovenia’s Supreme Court, responsible for the IT support of the entire court system in the country. The Supreme Court’s IT department has a strong preference for the development of modular, reusable software solutions. This strategy provides agility and flexibility, says Bojan Muršec, director of IT.

      The focus on open standards frees up the IT department to concentrate on the business, Muršec says. The IT department takes the modular approach serious: the first reusable module ever developed by the court – a court documents dispatch and delivery system – is re-used by all IT systems across the courts. “Making everything reusable prevents creation of silos in the organisation”, the IT director says.

      A positive side effect of the IT strategy is that the court uses mostly open source software solutions. This in turn helps to keep IT costs down, says the IT director, who estimates that the court saves EUR 400 to 500 thousand per year on licence fees: “The cost of proprietary licences always goes up.”

    • Why there is no CSS4 – explaining CSS Levels

      We had CSS1, and CSS2. We even had CSS2.1 and we then moved onto CSS3 – or did we? This post is a quick explanation of how CSS is versioned today.

      CSS versions 1 and 2 were monolithic specifications. All of CSS was included in one massive document. Selectors, positioning, colour – it was all in there.

      The problem with monolithic specifications is that in order to finish the spec, every component part also has to be finished. As CSS has grown in complexity, and new features are added, it doesn’t make sense to draw a line at which all work is stopped on all parts of CSS in order to declare that CSS version finished. Therefore, after CSS2.1 all the things that had been part of the 2.1 specification were broken down into modules. As the new CSS modules included all that had gone before plus any new features, they all came into being at Level 3. Hence CSS3, and people like me who understood CSS as a single specification referred to the group of Level 3 modules as “CSS3”.


  • Science

    • 6 Ways Driverless Cars Are Going To Kill Lots Of People

      You’ve probably read a few articles about driverless cars over the past couple of years. The technology is coming along quickly, with fleets of test cars already on the roads in some states. It seems like soon we’ll achieve the American dream of stuffing our faces and texting all we want while still managing to avoid public transportation.

      But the reality is quite different. We’re diving into this technology a little too quickly and ignoring all the warning signs about how we are going to screw up on the way to Driverless Car Utopia.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Reporter who quit on air to fight for cannabis legalization could face prison

      Charlo Greene did not plan to curse on live television, but on 22 September 2014, the words came pouring out.

      Then a reporter for KTVA, a station in Alaska, Greene ended her segment on marijuana by revealing that she was a proponent of legalization – and was the owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, the subject of her news report.

      “Fuck it, I quit,” she said, before abruptly walking off camera. The 26-year-old’s stunt shocked her colleagues and made her a viral sensation overnight.

    • Marijuana Arrests Are At a 20-Year Low

      Marijuana-related arrests are the lowest they’ve been in 20 years, but someone’s still getting busted for weed a little more than once every minute.

      According to new statistics released by the FBI on Monday, there were 574,641 arrests in 2015 for marijuana possession, which is the lowest it’s been since 1996. Between 2011 and 2014, possession arrests hovered above 600,000. And since possession arrests peaked at 800,000 in 2007, that’s a 25 percent decrease.

      As pot gets increasingly normalized, with 10 states considering medical or adult use marijuana legalization in this year’s election, law enforcement may be less likely to see it as a threat. The divide between federal and state laws is also becoming an increasingly absurd policy to enforce. Even Hillary Clinton mentioned in Monday’s debate that the prevalent prison sentences for nonviolent crimes, like marijuana possession, are unnecessary.

      The drop in weed possession arrests likely results from from adult use policies in places like Colorado, where all marijuana-related arrests have plummeted in recent years, Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Motherboard. “The recent decline in arrests in New York City, as well as in other major metropolitan areas that have imposed decriminalization ordinances in recent years, is also likely playing a role in this nationwide decline.”

    • House passes waterways bill with Flint aid

      The House easily passed a major waterways bill on Wednesday that included a bipartisan compromise to address the drinking-water crisis in Flint, Mich.

      A late-night deal on Flint aid helped resolve Democratic opposition to a stop-gap spending bill that lacked emergency funding for the city, paving the way for Senate passage of a continuing resolution earlier in the day and ending the threat of a government shutdown.

      In a 399-25 vote, House lawmakers approved the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes dozens of water-related infrastructure projects around the country.

      Lawmakers adopted numerous amendments during floor debate, including one from Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) that would authorize up to $170 million for Flint.

      “We decided we don’t want to create brinksmanship. That doesn’t do anybody any good,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

    • Farming mega-mergers threaten food security, say campaigners

      When an Indian farmer plants his cotton crop, there’s at least a 75% chance the seeds have been been bought from a company owned by Monsanto. If a Latin American farmer sprays insecticide on her genetically engineered soya beans, the chemical is more than likely to have been provided by German chemical and drugs company Bayer or by US firm Dupont.

      And when African farmers add chemicals to their maize fields or plant it’s odds-on that they have come from Swiss company Syngenta.

      Until recently, six or seven global agri-food businesses competed with each other for a share of the world market for seeds and chemicals. But if EU and US regulators allow a series of mega-mergers to take place, within months just three companies will be left in control of nearly 60% of the world’s seeds, nearly 70% of the chemicals and pesticides needed to grow food and nearly all of the world’s GM crop genetic traits.

    • Should Kratom Be Banned? Here’s What the Experts Say

      While lots of people reading this are patiently waiting for marijuana legalization to finally reach their state — most likely passing the time by smoking marijuana — lots of others are about to see Prohibition show up at their door for the first time. They are the “kratom” users. That’s a plant-based painkiller which some people describe as “herbal heroin.” It was, up until now, completely legal. I first used it back in 2009 — not because I was in pain, but because I wanted to get high without failing a drug test (like many painkillers, you can also take it for fun). Then, a couple of years ago, I introduced kratom to someone who does live with chronic pain — Cracked contributor Marina Reimann.

  • Security

    • security things in Linux v4.5
    • Time to Kill Security Questions—or Answer Them With Lies

      The notion of using robust, random passwords has become all but mainstream—by now anyone with an inkling of security sense knows that “password1” and “1234567” aren’t doing them any favors. But even as password security improves, there’s something even more problematic that underlies them: security questions.

      Last week Yahoo revealed that it had been massively hacked, with at least 500 million of its users’ data compromised by state sponsored intruders. And included in the company’s list of breached data weren’t just the usual hashed passwords and email addresses, but the security questions and answers that victims had chosen as a backup means of resetting their passwords—supposedly secret information like your favorite place to vacation or the street you grew up on. Yahoo’s data debacle highlights how those innocuous-seeming questions remain a weak link in our online authentication systems. Ask the security community about security questions, and they’ll tell you that they should be abolished—and that until they are, you should never answer them honestly.

      From their dangerous guessability to the difficulty of changing them after a major breach like Yahoo’s, security questions have proven to be deeply inadequate as contingency mechanisms for passwords. They’re meant to be a reliable last-ditch recovery feature: Even if you forget a complicated password, the thinking goes, you won’t forget your mother’s maiden name or the city you were born in. But by relying on factual data that was never meant to be kept secret in the first place—web and social media searches can often reveal where someone grew up or what the make of their first car was—the approach puts accounts at risk. And since your first pet’s name never changes, your answers to security questions can be instantly compromised across many digital services if they are revealed through digital snooping or a data breach.

    • LibreSSL and the latest OpenSSL security advisory

      Just a quick note that LibreSSL is not impacted by either of the issues mentioned in the latest OpenSSL security advisory – both of the issues exist in code that was added to OpenSSL in the last release, which is not present in LibreSSL.

    • Record-breaking DDoS reportedly delivered by >145k hacked cameras

      Last week, security news site KrebsOnSecurity went dark for more than 24 hours following what was believed to be a record 620 gigabit-per-second denial of service attack brought on by an ensemble of routers, security cameras, or other so-called Internet of Things devices. Now, there’s word of a similar attack on a French Web host that peaked at a staggering 1.1 terabits per second, more than 60 percent bigger.

      The attacks were first reported on September 19 by Octave Klaba, the founder and CTO of OVH. The first one reached 1.1 Tbps while a follow-on was 901 Gbps. Then, last Friday, he reported more attacks that were in the same almost incomprehensible range. He said the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks were delivered through a collection of hacked Internet-connected cameras and digital video recorders. With each one having the ability to bombard targets with 1 Mbps to 30 Mbps, he estimated the botnet had a capacity of 1.5 Tbps.

      On Monday, Klaba reported that more than 6,800 new cameras had joined the botnet and said further that over the previous 48 hours the hosting service was subjected to dozens of attacks, some ranging from 100 Gbps to 800 Gbps. On Wednesday, he said more than 15,000 new devices had participated in attacks over the past 48 hours.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • How 1.5 Million Connected Cameras Were Hijacked to Make an Unprecedented Botnet

      Last week, hackers forced a well-known security journalist to take down his site after hitting him for more than two days with an unprecedented flood of traffic.

      That cyberattack was powered by something the internet had never seen before: an army made of more than one million hacked Internet of Things devices.

      The hackers, whose identity is still unknown at this point, used not one, but two networks—commonly referred to as “botnets” in hacking lingo—made of around 980,000 and 500,000 hacked devices, mostly internet-connected cameras, according to Level 3 Communications, one of the world’s largest internet backbone providers. The attackers used all those cameras and other unsecured online devices to connect to the journalists’ website, pummeling the site with requests in an attempt to make it collapse.

    • NHS Hospitals Are Running Thousands of Computers on Unsupported Windows XP

      Hospitals across England are running thousands of out-of-date Windows XP machines, potentially putting patient data and other sensitive information at risk.

      Motherboard has found that at least 42 National Health Service (NHS) trusts in England are still using the Windows XP operating system, with many of them confirming that they no longer receive security updates for the software. Legal experts say that the NHS hospitals may be in breach of data protection regulations.

      “If hospitals are knowingly using insecure XP machines and devices to hold and otherwise process patient data they may well be in serious contravention of their obligations,” Jon Baines, Chair of the National Association of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officers (NADPO), wrote in an email.

      In April 2014, Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP, meaning that the company would no longer release security patches for the aging operating system. Any vulnerabilities discovered after that date would therefore be left for hackers to exploit. Governments and businesses could pay Microsoft for a custom extended support deal; the Crown Commercial Service, which is sponsored by the Cabinet Office, spent £5.5 million ($9 million) to continue receiving updates for the public sector, including for the NHS. That agreement ended in April 2015 and was not renewed.

    • Linux.Mirai Trojan causing mayhem with DDoS attacks

      A Trojan named Linux.Mirai has been found to be carrying out DDoS attacks.

      The malicious program first appeared in May 2016, detected by Doctor Web after being added to its virus database under the name Linux.DDoS.87. The Trojan can work with with the SPARC, ARM, MIPS, SH-4, M68K architectures and Intel x86 computers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Does Free College Threaten Our All-Volunteer Military?

      Does free college threaten our all-volunteer military? That is what writer Benjamin Luxenberg, on military blog War on the Rocks says. But the real question goes deeper than Luxenberg’s practical query, striking deep into who we are as a nation.

      Unlike nearly every other developed country, which offer free or low cost higher education (Korea’s flagship Seoul National University runs about $12,000 a year, around the same as Oxford), in America you need money to go to college. You need the bucks for tuition and books, and for most students, you need the bucks to not work full-time for a couple of years. Typical of America’s top end schools, Harvard charges $63,000 for tuition, room, board and fees. That’s more than a quarter of a million dollars for a degree. Even a state school wants $40,000 a year.

    • White House Is Profoundly Wrong About the Most Embarrassing Thing Senate Has Done

      The White House reacted harshly to the Senate’s overwhelming vote on Wednesday to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would enable the family members of 9/11 victims to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in U.S. Courts.

      Press Secretary Josh Earnest called it “the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983.”

      As it happens, the White House’s principled opposition to the bill was based on its worry that it would open the door to lawsuits from foreigners accusing the U.S. government of crimes, possibly including the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, torture, deaths of innocent people with drones, and global mass surveillance.

      That makes Earnest’s comment the single most hyperbolic thing he’s said since — well — ever.

    • ‘Peace With Justice Is Still a Long Way Away’ – CounterSpin interview with Mario Murillo on Colombian accords

      The peace deal signed between the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC, the largest and oldest insurgency in Latin America, is historic. More than 50 years of fighting have killed more than 220,000 Colombians, overwhelmingly poor civilians. These years have seen executions, disappearances, detentions, torture. The violence has forced some 7 million people from their homes, the largest number of internally displaced people in the world.

    • Forget Blairite Propaganda. Sierra Leone was not Blair’s “Good War”.

      This was my speech to the World Beyond War conference at American University, Washington DC on 24 September.

    • Is Your Nation The Exceptional One?

      Nations such as this just don’t have what it takes to be Exceptional. They may have a few nice traditions that mark them out from other nations, and may even be very nice people. But Exceptional? Get out of here!

    • Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate?

      Everyone should read Engdahl’s article. He reports that part of the attack on Rousseff stemmed from Brazil’s economic problems deliberately created by US credit rating agencies as part of Washington’s attack to down grade Brazilian debt, which set off an attack on the Brazilian currency, the cruziero.

      Brazil’s financial openness made Brazil an easy target to attack. One might hope that Vladimir Putin would take note of the cost of “economic openness.” Putin is a careful and thoughtful leader of Russia, but he is not an economist. He has confidence in neoliberal Elvira Nabiulina, Washington’s choice to head the Russian central bank. Nabiulina is unfamiliar with Modern Monetary Theory, and her commitment to “economic openness” leaves the Russian economy as exposed as Brazil’s to Washington destabilization. Nabiuina believes that the assault on the ruble is due to impersonal “global market forces,” not to Washington’s financial clout.

    • British Parliament Confirms Libya War Was Based On Lies … Turned Nation Into a “Shit Show” … Spread Terrorism

      The UK Parliament just confirmed what the alternative media has been saying for years.

      Specifically, a new report from the bipartisan House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee – based on interviews with all of the key British decision-makers, review of documents, and on-the-ground investigations in Africa – found that the Libyan war was based on lies, that it destroyed the country, and that it spread terrorism far and wide.

    • Trump Promises No First Nuclear Strike, Sort of; New Bill Would Make it Illegal

      Donald Trump tried to ease fears about his finger being on the nuclear button during Monday night’s presidential debate, declaring that “I would certainly not do first strike.” He added: “Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.”

      But moments later, the Republican presidential nominee seemed to backpedal, claiming that he “can’t take anything off the table.”

      Two members of Congress don’t want Trump to have the option.

      Responding to the majority of Americans who say they would not trust Trump with the nuclear arsenal, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass, and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., introduced legislation Tuesday that would bar the president from conducting a nuclear strike unless Congress had issued a formal declaration of war.

    • Clinton’s Faulty New Scheme to ‘Fight’ ISIS

      Even as Hillary Clinton pushes a new scheme for defeating ISIS, the reality is that contradictory U.S. policies in the Mideast that she helped formulate are fueling the growth of jihadi extremism, writes Daniel Lazare.

    • Congress overrides Obama’s veto of 9/11 bill

      Families of those killed in the terror attacks on 9/11 are now legally allowed to sue Saudi Arabia, after Congress voted Wednesday to override President Barack Obama’s veto of the legislation, the first override of his presidency.

      The votes by the House and Senate were overwhelming. Members of both parties broke into applause on the House floor after the vote.

      The Senate approved the override on a 97-1 vote, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid the lone Senator voting to sustain the president’s veto. Hours later, the vote in the House was 348-77, with one Democratic member voting “present.”

      White House spokesman Josh Earnest said aboard Air Force One before the House had voted that the Senate’s override is the “single most embarrassing thing the Senate has done since 1983,” referring to the last time the Senate overrode a veto by such a large margin.

    • Barack Obama brands Congress decision on Saudi 9/11 lawsuits bill ‘a mistake’

      Barack Obama says Congress is making a “mistake” and setting “a dangerous precedent” by passing a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for damages.

      Both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority to override the President’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).

      The votes on Wednesday afternoon were the first time in the whole of Mr Obama’s presidency that he has been overruled by Congress.

      And speaking on CNN in the wake of the decision, Mr Obama warned that it left the US exposed to lawsuits from people around the world who have been affected by American foreign policy.

    • 9/11 bill veto override angers Saudi Arabia, Gulf nations: We “will stand by Saudi Arabia in every way possible”

      Saudi Arabia’s lobbying and warnings to Congress were not enough to blunt the passing of legislation allowing families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the kingdom for the attacks.

      The oil-rich country, which has a long but often troubled relationship with Washington, maintains an arsenal of diplomatic and commercial tools it could respond with.

      They include curtailing official contacts, pulling billions of dollars from the U.S. economy, and persuading its close allies in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council it dominates to scale back counterterrorism cooperation, investments and U.S. access to important regional air bases.

    • Sudanese government ‘killing hundreds of civilians with chemical weapons attacks’ in Darfur – Amnesty

      The Sudanese government has been accused of launching chemical weapon attacks on its own civilians, killing hundreds of people including scores of children, in what would be a dramatic escalation of the Darfur conflict.

      Amnesty International says it has compiled the first credible body of evidence to suggest the forces of President Omar al-Bashir bombed swathes of the crisis-hit Jebel Marra region with chemical agents.

      The charity has released before-and-after satellite images, photographs of horrific burn wounds on children and evidence from more than 200 interviews, and called for a United Nations investigation.

      Chemical weapons attacks on the African continent in the post-war era have been extremely rare, and even the accusation that it has carried them out could represent a major setback for Sudan’s improving relations with the international community.

      But it also serves to highlight the ongoing armed conflict in Darfur that, since the peak of the violence and international attention in 2003, has continued to rage more or less unnoticed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Palm oil company with links to Tory donors accused of failing to prevent ‘thousands of acres’ of rainforest being destroyed

      A palm oil company with links to Tory party donors and friends of David Cameron has been accused of failing to prevent massive fires devastating the rainforest.

      The firm, called Astra Agro Lestari, is a subsidiary of multi-billion dollar conglomerate Jardine Matheson, which owns major retail outlets, a string of luxury hotels and construction firms – as well as selling second-hand cars – mostly in Asia.

      Jardines is largely controlled by the well-connected Keswick family, descendants of its founders as an opium trader in 19th century China.

      David Cameron’s father Ian was a friend of the Keswicks and worked as a stockbroker to the family. In the 1980s, the future Prime Minister briefly worked at the company’s office in Hong Kong.

    • Trump’s Campaign Is Trying to Cover Up His Lies About Climate Change

      In a delicious turn of events at this week’s presidential debate, Donald Trump received his comeuppance over a four-year-old tweet in which he denounced climate change.

      On stage, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, referenced the tweet from 2012, and remarked that “Donald Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” His reply? An easily fact-checked lie. “I did not. I do not say that,” he scrambled to say, like a child who’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

    • Finnish firm creates roofing with integrated solar cells

      A Finnish sheet metal manufacturer has teamed up with MiaSolé, an American company that manufactures thin-film photovoltaic products. The film is integrated into the roofing material at Virte’s Turku factory.

      CEO Jaakko Virtanen is excited about integrated solar electricity systems.

      “I’ve dreamed of building materials that would themselves generate electricity, from roofs, windows and wall. Now that’s becoming a reality,” he tells Yle.

    • Earth is locked into 5 degrees Celsius of global warming? Not so fast.

      On Tuesday, a new climate study sent media outlets into a frenzy. News articles declared that Earth was “locked into” 5 Celsius degrees of warming – an exceptionally dire forecast, since most climate scientists warn that a boost of just 2 degrees C. would be catastrophic.

      But fortunately for coral reefs and coastal communities, scientists now say that prediction was wrong.

      It was Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who led the charge. Dr. Schmidt was perhaps the most vocal of a group of prominent dissenters, all of whom insist that the actual committed warming estimate hovers around 0.5-1 degrees C. That number, while still significant in terms of global effects, is a far cry from the initial findings. So what caused the discrepancy: bad science or bad science journalism?

  • Finance

    • Passengers in Uber’s self-driving cars waived right to sue for injury or death

      Anyone requesting an Uber ride in a 12-sq mile area in the center of Pittsburgh might now be randomly allocated a self-driving Ford Fusion rather than a human-operated vehicle.

      But passengers riding in Uber’s computer-controlled cars today might be surprised at just how experimental the technology is. According to documents obtained by the Guardian under public records laws, until as recently as June anyone not employed by Uber riding in one of its autonomous vehicles (AVs) had to sign a legal document waiving the company of any liability for their injury or death.

      One senior Pittsburgh police officer signed a waiver on 23 June: “I acknowledge that some or all of the AVs in which I ride are in a development phase, are experimental in nature, and that riding in an AV may involve the potential for death, serious injury, and/or property loss.”

      The document was required by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC), a research hub that in early 2015 hired dozens of robotics experts from nearby Carnegie Mellon University. Since then the ATC has been working furiously to catch up with the likes of Google and Tesla in self-driving technology – a task Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has described as “basically existential for us”.

    • The Questions That Should Be Being Asked About Trump’s Tax Returns

      A lot has been said about Trump’s refusal to make his tax returns public. But despite the volume of commentary, it’s not clear the right questions even are being asked.

      Trump claims he can’t release his returns because he’s under audit. At some level, that’s a legitimate concern. It would hardly be fair if thousands of tax professionals who oppose Trump politically helped the IRS by publishing their own analyses of the returns. Ultimately, however, it’s a phony excuse.

      But rather than challenge the logic behind Trump’s refusal to release returns, a series of questions should be asked:

      First, what tax years are under audit? Does it go back beyond 2012? If not, can the 2011 return be released? After all, the statute of limitations on the audit of that year has passed, so there’s no exposure to Trump by releasing that return. If not 2011, how about 2010?

      Second, why haven’t the audit notices been released? An audit notice is a short, generic letter from the IRS stating that a taxpayer’s return has been selected for examination. There’s nothing so sensitive in such a generic notice that it could not be made public. At this point, Trump has not even offered up this most basic evidence that he is really even under audit. Why hasn’t proof been demanded?

    • Brexit – who has the power to change UK law?

      Another way of seeing the inconsistency of the Government argument is this. If the Crown has the power to leave the EU without Act of Parliament, then it has always had it. The Referendum Act contains no provision that alters the constitutional position – it provided for a referendum on EU membership, defining the question to be asked, but without specifying what was to be done with the result. For that reason it is often referred to as “advisory”. Therefore, if the Government has the power to take the UK out of the EU today, then it equally had the power one year ago. But I do not think anyone would have seriously argued before the Referendum that the Government could take the UK out of the EU under prerogative power without any Parliamentary approval.

    • Britain’s backdoor to EU influence

      The U.K. has launched a behind-the-scenes diplomatic effort to influence EU affairs during the Brexit process by offering to lend officials to two small countries that will hold the bloc’s presidency next year.

      Britain gave up its six-month slot in the rotating presidency calendar, which had been scheduled for the second half of 2017, after other countries felt it would be inappropriate to have the U.K. setting the political agenda for a union it had voted to leave. But soon after the June referendum, London began hedging its bets by trying to position officials in Malta and Estonia, which will take their turns in the presidency next year.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump’s Roger Rabbit Moment

      As usual, what may have been most important is what went unsaid. The phrase “income inequality” came up only once, and that was from moderator Lester Holt. There was little mention of education or health care; some talk of energy policy but almost nothing on global warming other than Clinton’s reference to Trump claim that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese (last night he denied ever saying it, but he has).

      And absolutely no mention of the ruinous influence of money in politics, which in retrospect made it a bit jarring that when Bill and Chelsea Clinton entered the debate auditorium they sat next to Vernon Jordan, a close family friend and adviser, certainly, but also senior counsel at Akin Gump, the biggest and most profitable lobbyist in Washington, prime peddlers of influence and privilege on Capitol Hill.

    • NYT Makes Bill Clinton’s Sex Life the Lead Story–Without Mentioning Trump’s

      Now we know how candidates can get a piece of information featured in the lead story of the New York Times: They just need to declare that they aren’t going to talk about it during a national debate.

      Thus Donald Trump’s cryptic last-minute debate comment—”I was going to say something…extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, ‘I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice’”—was unfolded into a piece in the top right corner of the Times‘ front-page (9/27/16), arguably the most valuable journalistic real estate in the United States, about Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs.

    • Lester Holt Asks Zero Questions About Poverty, Abortion, Climate Change

      Presidential debates do as much to illustrate corporate media priorities as they do to showcase the candidates. They provide a snapshot into what the media, in this case represented by NBC’s Lester Holt, prioritizes as issues worthy of discussion.

      A week before the debate, Comcast-owned NBC announced the topics, and one could already tell we weren’t going to be in for a substantive evening: “Achieving prosperity,” “America’s direction” and “securing America.” This generic approach lead to a generic debate that focused mostly on horserace disputes and vague, open-ended questions about taxes and jobs.

      Holt didn’t ask any questions about the following topics: poverty, abortion, climate change, immigration, healthcare, student debt, privacy, LGBTQ rights or drug policy. (NBC reported before the debate that abortion and immigration were two of the policy issues that voters were most interested in, as indicated by Google searches, along with the economy and police shootings.)

      What was discussed: jobs, Trump’s tax returns, who did or didn’t support the Iraq War, raising taxes on the rich, race (framed mostly in a way that pandered to Trump’s theme of a country in disarray), Russian cyberattacks, ISIS, Obama’s birth certificate, Clinton’s physical appearance and whether the candidates would accept the election results.

    • Blow-by-Blow Analysis of the Decisive Moment of the Debate – through the eyes of a former debate coach

      I wasn’t planning to do a second blog about ‘the debate’ but two days after it, as we start to await the first polling to show its impact, I feel the need to write one more blog. I do believe this debate decided the election. I think many will come back to look at that Monday night as the time when Trump folded, and some will also see the brilliance of how Hillary skewered Trump and trapped him to make that debate far worse for Trump than it might have been. So, with the very rare opportunity for me to write a debate review on this blog, why not do something more serious about the blow-by-blow. How did it go? Lets get into the weeds. How did Hillary demolish Trump. I am using the full recording of the debate via Real Clear Politics which had the ABC network feed.

      Trump needed to remain Presidential throughout the first debate, he’d then get something near a tie. Hillary had to clearly win the debate, a tie was not good enough, she was expected to be the superior debater and had to now deliver.

    • Stein trolls Johnson on world leaders gaffe, also fails to name world leaders

      May, Stédile, and Corbyn, however, aren’t technically world leaders, as none holds a top position in their country’s government. May is a member of the Canadian House of Commons. Stédile is an economist and member of Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers Movement, which he helped found. Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party in Britain.

      Johnson, sitting with Libertarian vice presidential nominee Bill Weld, was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to “name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to.” Johnson couldn’t name any.

    • Sunday Paper Q&A: Jill Stein

      You may not realize it, but there are actually two women running for president this year. In addition to Hillary Clinton, the first female major-party candidate, voters also have the choice to elect Jill Stein, who represents the Green Party.

      Stein is a practicing physician and an environmental health advocate. While her low polling numbers prevented her from participating in the first debate, Stein remains committed to her campaign. She exclusively sat down with us for this week’s Sunday Paper Q&A to explain why she’s motivated to stay in the race.

    • Endorsement: Libertarian Gary Johnson for president

      Today this newspaper does something it has never done in its 143-year history: endorse someone other than the Republican candidate in a presidential contest.

      Since its founding in 1873, The Detroit News has backed a Republican every time it has made a presidential endorsement (three times we have sat on the sidelines — twice during the Franklin Roosevelt elections and in the 2004 Bush/Kerry contest).

      We abandon that long and estimable tradition this year for one reason: Donald J. Trump.

      The 2016 nominee offered by the Republican Party rubs hard against the editorial board’s values as conservatives and Americans. Donald Trump is unprincipled, unstable and quite possibly dangerous. He can not be president.

    • Gary Johnson tries to get past ‘brain freeze’ with Detroit newspaper’s endorsement

      But Johnson’s self-described “Aleppo moment” on Wednesday night’s MSNBC town hall proved irresistible for critics and rivals. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate who has fallen even further back in polls than Johnson, took the opportunity on Thursday to name the foreign leaders she admired — if anyone was curious. (No one she mentioned is currently serving as the head of government in any country.)

    • Politico Tries to Play Gotcha with Jill Stein’s Comments on Gary Johnson’s ‘World Leader’ Gotcha

      Last night on MSNBC, Chris Matthews asked Gary Johnson to name three foreign leaders that he admired. Rather than rejecting the question for its implicitly pro-government bias and as a silly thing to ask someone running for president, Johnson tried to answer by listing former Mexican president Vicente Fox and blanked on the name, saying it was another “Aleppo moment.” (Maybe soon they’ll be calling them Gary Johnson moments)

      Within minutes, social media was ablaze with users who probably couldn’t name a world leader (except maybe for Justin Trudeau, who’s become something of a favorite of social media progressives) claiming that Johnson couldn’t name a foreign leader at all, when the question was about leaders you respected.


      Responding to my comment based on Twitter, Stein suggested that Politico was “just trying to play gotcha to distract from their favored candidate’s awful foreign policy record.” It’s hard to disagree with that assessment.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Singapore jails teen blogger Amos Yee for anti-religion posts
    • Amos Yee gets 6 weeks’ jail for wounding religious feeling
    • Amos Yee gets 6 weeks’ jail for wounding religious feelings
    • Amos Yee pleads guilty to 3 charges
    • Jordan Imposes Media Blackout on Christian Writer’s Assassination as Protests Erupt

      Jordanian authorities imposed a blackout on the country’s press and social media Monday, preventing any coverage of the murder of the Christian writer shot dead outside an Amman court as protesters called for the government’s resignation.

      The censorship order by the Jordanian judiciary came after the murder of Nahed Hatter as he arrived at the city’s Palace of Justice on Sunday, accused of sharing a satirical cartoon on Facebook and of breaching the country’s blasphemy laws.

    • Montreal Muslim school president was ‘devastated’ by feminist’s criticisms, slander trial hears

      Quebec’s long-running debate over secularism and the place of religious minorities moved into the courtroom Monday as a slander trial opened against an outspoken critic of Islamic fundamentalism.

      A crowd of supporters, including two who arrived from France, filled the room to hear the case against Djemila Benhabib, who is being sued by a private Muslim school after she likened its teaching to the instruction received in terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

      Benhabib, who was born in Ukraine but spent much of her childhood in Algeria, was invited on to a Montreal radio show in 2012 after writing a blog post about the Muslim School of Montreal.

      Benhabib told 98.5 FM host Benoît Dutrizac that she was shocked by what she found on the school’s website.

      Koranic verses being taught to children were “extremely violent” and “misogynistic,” she told Dutrizac in a recording played in the court. She said the school offers students “an indoctrination worthy of a military camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan.” The school, she said, “is creating fundamentalist activists who in a few years will be demanding accommodations and all sorts of bizarre things … We are an extremely long way from citizenship, from the values that belong to our society.”

    • Migrants Are Racist to Blonde Women, Swedish Ethics Professor Says

      Professor of Ethics Ann Heberlein has argued that blonde people in Sweden are subjected to racist abuse and violence from “people with a non-European appearance”.

      Ms. Heberlein, who appears regularly on Swedish Radio’s “Thoughts for the Day” and “Philosophical Room”, says blonde and Swedish victims of this racism choose to stay silent because “anti-racist” left wingers say that as a “privileged” group, ethnic Swedes have no right to complain.

      The professor at Lund University describes the racist abuse hurled at white women in Sweden, with phrases like “Svenne (meaning ethnic Swede) whore” and “bloody racist whore” shouted at them by people with migrant backgrounds.

    • Singapore jails teenager for hurting God’s feelings

      Amos Yee, a 17-year-old blogger in Singapore, is to spend six weeks in jail for “wounding religious feelings.” It is his second such jail term: he spent a month in jail last year for criticizing Christianity.

    • Donald Trump Happily Repeating Lie About Google Autocomplete Suppressing Negative Hillary News

      While politics isn’t generally a topic we dive into around here, technology policy and issues certainly are. And, since presidential election cycles infect every conceivable topic like a wine stain spreading across your favorite couch, we’ve talked about the two mainstream candidates quite a bit recently. And I get the complaints from all sides against both candidates, but it’s become somewhat breathtaking to watch Donald Trump build a campaign in large part on nonsensical and easily debunked conspiracy theories, such as how the planned internet governance transition will cede control of the web to China and Russia, or that our current sitting President might be a secret communist Muslim clay-person, but maybe not.

      And, of course, there is the constant claim of victim-hood at the hands of that damned liberal establishment, which now apparently includes Google. Some background for you is in order. Over the summer, a really dumb video went viral after claiming to show that Google was manipulating autocomplete searches to keep any bad press out of the results for searches about Hillary Clinton. Compared with Bing, for instance, Google’s autocomplete failed to finish off a search for “Hillary Clinton cr” with “Hillary Clinton crimes”, instead completing as “Hillary Clinton Crimea.” While your drunk uncle lost his goddamned mind over a conspiracy surely proven, Google chimed in to note that it specifically designed its autocomplete feature to keep disparaging results from anyone’s name, not just Hill-Dog’s. This was easily shown by putting in “Donald Trump cr”, which likewise autocompleted as “Donald Trump Crimea.”

      And that really should have been the end of that. But, because Donald Trump’s campaign isn’t one to pass on a good chem-trails story, its candidate tried to deflect a general panning of his debate performance by repeating this already disproved accusation.

    • Censorship is Killing the Spirit of Social Media

      Take Twitter, for example. The online social networking service is often criticized for not protecting its users and allowing pretty much anything on its platform. Because it does allow anything on its platform and that’s part of why people love it so much.

      Twitter is also kind of like a filing cabinet that records and preserves our digital history for us. You can go to Twitter, search a hashtag and find photos, articles and all the opinions you could ever want to hear on a particular moment from (recent) history. That’s pretty cool, when you think about it. But what’s not cool is finding tweets that you never saw, tweets that seemingly disappeared even though the 140-characters were typed.

      Twitter has been caught removing tweets, hiding tweets and deleting trending hashtags. Such accusations have opened the doors to how such a prominent platform—which sources the news for over half the population-gets away with censorship before our very eyes.

      It was just a few months ago that Twitter was accused of censoring tweets under ‘#DNCLeak’ during the WikiLeaks e-mail debacle. In this particular scenario, conservative Twitter users accused the platform of removing the hashtag from the trending bar, despite it displaying an estimated 250,000 tweets about the leaked employee e-mails from the Democratic National Committee.

      On the other side of the political spectrum, of course, is the whole Milo Yiannopoulos situation, which involves permanent censorship in the form of banning. Another accusation comes from Trump supporters, which say the social platform concealed his tweets asking for campaign donations.

      But is this censorship? Or is it just the work of a flawed algorithm?

    • HRC concerned about censorship of publications

      The Human Rights Commission(HRC) has released a statement regarding Freedom of Expression in relation to Cayman’s Prohibited Publications Order.

      The statement has been released during World Banned Books Week which is held each year, the last week in September and is recognised by the American Libraries Association. During the week, attention is focused on freedom of expression in relation to reading and the issue of censorship. In the Cayman Islands censorship of reading materials is found in the Prohibited Publications Order (under the Penal Code) which first came into effect in the Cayman Islands in 1977.

    • Censorship: Facebook Deleted 100,000 ‘Hate Posts, Insults’ in Just One Month

      Facebook revealed that within the last month it deleted 100,000 posts by German users for containing “hate”, but Justice Minister Heiko Maas has blasted the figure as too low.

      At a conference in Berlin, Maas said that to be accountable, social networks must publish the number of posts contested by users. The Justice Minister’s remarks implied that complainants on social media are valid judges of what constitutes criminal speech, something usually only determined by a court.

    • Wallace students read banned books aloud to draw attention to censorship
    • Distributed Censorship or Extortion? The IoT vs Brian Krebs
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • UK Government Says Smart Meters Can Definitely Be Trusted Because GCHQ Designed Their Security

      The idea behind smart meters — that detailed information about how you consume electricity will allow you to use power more efficiently and thus cut your bills and your home’s carbon emissions — is a good one in theory. And yet smart meters are still not used very widely, even in countries like the UK, where the government has a strategy to install millions of them by 2020. Actually, the likely savings by users are small, but smart meters also promise to allow the electricity industry to lower salary costs by carrying out meter readings remotely, which is one reason why it is so keen on the idea. Another is because smart meters make it is easy to cut off someone’s supply if they don’t pay their bills.

      The slow uptake of smart meters seems in part to be due to public concerns about security. People are worried that their smart meter will spy on them, sending back information to electricity companies that might be intercepted and used for targeted burglary when they are away. Similarly, there are fears that if the smart meter control system were compromised, domestic electricity supplies might be at risk on a large scale.

      One of UK Parliament’s most important committees, the one monitoring science and technology, has just published a report into the UK smart meter roll-out, offering recommendations for ways to speed it up.


      has reported, one of the worst features of the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill that is currently wending it way through Parliament is that it creates a legal framework to allow GCHQ and the other intelligence agencies to hack into any kind of equipment in order to carry out surveillance. Of course, that’s really rather easy when you were the one who designed its security systems.

    • FBI’s Controversial Surveillance Program Declined After Snowden

      The FBI’s use of a controversial program that collected Americans’ phone records decreased significantly after Edward Snowden exposed it to the world in 2013, a new report has found.

      The program allows the FBI to get access to phone records—but not the content of phone calls—with permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Between 2012 and 2014, that court approved 561 so-called “business records orders,” but that number dropped from a nine-year high of 212 in 2012 to 170 in 2014, a nearly 20 percent decrease, according to a review by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

      The number fell again in 2015 to 142 orders. Snowden’s revelations helped fuel a change in U.S. law that ended the government’s practice of collecting and storing the phone records. Now, the government must request the information from phone companies.

    • Canadian Bank Prohibits Giving Passwords to Police

      While waiting for ten minutes on “hold” to make an appointment with my local branch of Scotiabank, I had time read through the new “Digital Services Agreement. Most of the eighteen pages were unremarkable, but a couple of things stood out.

      When you click “Accept”, you are agreeing to not give your password to police if they ask!

    • WhatsApp refuses to delete user data in India after court ruling

      Changes to WhatsApp’s data sharing rules are causing more controversy this week. The company refuses to comply with a court order from India’s Delhi High Court, which requested that the company delete any and all data collected by users who opted out of the company’s new privacy policy before September 25th.

      Since WhatsApp announced that it would be sharing some user data, including phone numbers, with Facebook, the app has come in for some serious critisism for undermining consumer privacy in India. These changes were made under the guise of cutting down on spam and improving services, but a good portion of users remain unconvinced.

    • EU clamps down on sale of surveillance tech to despotic regimes

      The European Commission has set out new measures to stop European companies exporting surveillance gear to despotic regimes. The proposal would also partially relax the rules on exporting cryptography tools.

      The proposal to overhaul the EU’s export controls on dual-use products—powerful technologies such as crypto software or rocket engines that can be used for good or evil—was presented on Wednesday (PDF) and includes a new human rights dimension.

      “It’s not a revolution. It’s an evolution of our current structure,” a commission source told Ars. “The foundation that is already there, is fairly solid, but this new proposal is more efficient, and will reduce the cost of the control, both for authorities at national level and also for the industries that have to apply for licenses.”

      “This new human security dimension comes from a conviction that our export controls should also enable us to prevent the misuse of items that are used to violate human rights. The types of technologies we are talking about, surveillance, etc., do not fit clearly within the current military regulation,” the source continued.

    • Apple Logs Your iMessage Contacts — and May Share Them With Police

      Apple promises that your iMessage conversations are safe and out of reach from anyone other than you and your friends. But according to a document obtained by The Intercept, your blue-bubbled texts do leave behind a log of which phone numbers you are poised to contact and shares this (and other potentially sensitive metadata) with law enforcement when compelled by court order.

      Every time you type a number into your iPhone for a text conversation, the Messages app contacts Apple servers to determine whether to route a given message over the ubiquitous SMS system, represented in the app by those déclassé green text bubbles, or over Apple’s proprietary and more secure messaging network, represented by pleasant blue bubbles, according to the document. Apple records each query in which your phone calls home to see who’s in the iMessage system and who’s not.

      This log also includes the date and time when you entered a number, along with your IP address — which could, contrary to a 2013 Apple claim that “we do not store data related to customers’ location,” identify a customer’s location. Apple is compelled to turn over such information via court orders for systems known as “pen registers” or “trap and trace devices,” orders that are not particularly onerous to obtain, requiring only that government lawyers represent they are “likely” to obtain information whose “use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Apple confirmed to The Intercept that it only retains these logs for a period of 30 days, though court orders of this kind can typically be extended in additional 30-day periods, meaning a series of monthlong log snapshots from Apple could be strung together by police to create a longer list of whose numbers someone has been entering.

      The Intercept received the document about Apple’s Messages logs as part of a larger cache originating from within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Electronic Surveillance Support Team, a state police agency that facilitates police data collection using controversial tools like the Stingray, along with conventional techniques like pen registers. The document, titled “iMessage FAQ for Law Enforcement,” is designated for “Law Enforcement Sources” and “For Official Use Only,” though it’s unclear who wrote it or for what specific audience — metadata embedded in the PDF cites an author only named “mrrodriguez.” (The term “iMessages” refers to an old name for the Messages app still commonly used to refer to it.)

    • Terrorism Directive: European Parliament to Cowardly Surrender to Outrageous Security Call

      For a few months, the European Parliament has been discussing a directive aimed at updating the European legislation on combating terrorism. After a vote in the LIBE Committee, MEPs agreed to send the text directly to a trialogue discussion; this reduces opportunities for a democratic debate on an issue that bears strong consequences for fundamental rights.
      Today, Wednesday 28 September, the third trialogue between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union is to take place. Faced with the deadlock organised by European institutions, La Quadrature du Net emphasises the dangers of this text.

    • Allo: Snowden Says New Google App Could Become Tool For Police Surveillance

      Google recently released a new messaging application called Allo that it calls “revolutionary,” but whistleblower Edward Snowden warns that the app could be used for government surveillance.

      Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Professor Bryan Ford, leader of the Decentralized/Distributed Systems lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, about the app and its potential impact on personal privacy.

    • Why Edward Snowden (NSA Whistleblower) Just Warned People Not to Use Google’s New Chatting App

      According to Edward Snowden, if you want to avoid giving law enforcement the green light to check out all your communications, don’t use it.

      “What is #Allo? A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request,” the whistleblower tweeted.

      Tech giant Google has been working hard to infiltrate the virtual chatting world, launching Spaces, Duo, and most recently, Allo, all in the past couple of months.

      On its site, Allo is described as “a smart messaging app that helps you say more and do more. Express yourself better with stickers, doodles, and HUGE emojis & text. Allo also brings you the Google Assistant, preview edition.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • For Latinos, the Problem Isn’t Trump—It’s Trumpismo

      Anyone watching this year’s elections knows that Latinos are going to play a critical role. The Age of LatinX is upon us. Without a doubt, LatinXs will play a determinate role in these important elections. As the presidential candidate for the Green Party, I take seriously the urgently critical role of the Latino vote in the 2016 elections. That’s why our campaign continues the work of raising LatinX and other issues.

      In an election where some are depressed because they see no path other than one that winds between two obsolete but deadly choices, this is a race to the bottom between the “lesser evil” and the “greater evil,” Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Such a choice starkly reflects the problems Latinos and we all face, ones that reach far and beyond Donald Trump. Trump’s candidacy is a virulent symptom of a far more sinister problem infecting our entire political system, something every community, including Latinos, experiences in very particular ways, regardless of their political affiliation.

      Growing numbers of Latinos are among the millions who helped push the question—“How do I vote for Jill Stein?”—as a top Google search term for our campaign after Monday’s debate. LatinXs have heard our message and are acting on their desire for change. I am confident and see every day on the campaign trail that even more are preparing to join us in this election. Our presidential platform is packed with the policies and positions—student debt forgiveness, free college education, fair trade, not free trade, labor rights, racial justice and police reform, a Green New Deal, and others—that we all know are necessary, and that Latinos especially have good reason to be concerned with.

    • The Military Logic of Punishing Chelsea Manning’s Suicide Attempt

      Last week, imprisoned whistle-blower Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 14 days in solitary confinement as punishment for her suicide attempt in early July at the prison barracks at Fort Leavenworth. The Fort Leavenworth disciplinary panel could not explicitly punish Manning for attempted suicide. Completed suicide is not a disciplinary violation and, to be guilty of attempting a crime, it’s necessary for the act which is attempted to be one. They disciplined her instead under a charge known as “conduct which threatens,” stating that Manning’s attempt to die interfered with “orderly running, safety, good order and discipline, or security” of the facility. (She is also being disciplined for possessing an unauthorized book). The whistle-blower stated that she was driven to suicide over the prison’s then-failure to appropriately treat her gender dysphoria. Why Manning injuring herself is deemed a threat to the facility’s functioning says much about the nature of that place’s function, says much about the true function of prisons.

      Before 1823 in England, according to early common law, if a person committed suicide, they would be posthumously punished. The body would be buried at the crossroads of a highway, impaled by a stake, often with a stone laid over the face (to prevent resurrection as a ghost or vampire). The deceased’s property would be forfeited to the king. Suicide was criminal because sovereignty over life and death did not then reside with the individual but with God, and with his chosen earthly emissary, the king. And since suicide was deemed an ungodly, criminal act, so too was an attempt—at times punishable by hanging. There’s no contradiction here: To execute a person who has herself tried to die is still punishment, not wish fulfillment. It’s the punishment of removing every last shred individual sovereignty; it’s the state’s reminder of where sovereignty really resides. Current state punishment of attempted suicide, in its rare cases like Manning’s, serves the same purpose.

    • Does The FTC Get To Ignore Section 230 Of The CDA?

      The case involves weight loss products, including colon cleanses, vended by LeanSpa. To generate more sales, LeanSpa hired LeadClick to act as an affiliate marketing manager. LeadClick coordinated promotion of LeanSpa’s products with LeadClick’s network of affiliates. Some affiliates promoted the products using fake news sites, with articles styled to look like legitimate news articles and consumer comments/testimonials that were fake. Apparently, all of this added up to big business. LeanSpa paid LeadClick $35-$45 each time a consumer signed up for LeanSpa’s “free” trial (which was a negative billing option). LeadClick shared 80-90% of these sign-up fees with affiliates and kept the remainder for itself. In total, LeadClick billed LeanSpa $22M, of which LeanSpa paid only $12M. Still, LeanSpa turned into LeadClick’s top customer, constituting 85% of its eAdvertising division’s sales.

    • An Ongoing Lack Of Technical Prowess Is Resulting In Bad Laws, Bad Prosecutions, And Bad Judicial Decisions

      Everyone in government is talking cyber-this and cyber-that, even though a majority of those talking don’t have the technical background to back up their assertions. This leads to dangerous lawmaking. The CFAA, easily one of the most abused computer-related laws, came into being thanks to some skittish legislators who’d seen one too many 80′s hacker films. (“WarGames,” to be specific.)

      Faulty analogies have led to other erroneous legislative conclusions — like the comparison of email to snail mail — which has led to the government treating any unopened email as “abandoned” and accessible without a warrant.

      But the problem goes further than the legislative branch. The executive branch hasn’t been much better in its grasp of technical issues, and the current slate of presidential candidates guarantees this won’t change for at least another four years.

      The judicial branch has its own issues. On both sides of the bench, there’s very little technical knowledge. As more and more prosecutions become reliant on secretive, little-understood technical tools like cell tower spoofers, government-deployed malware, and electronic device searches, unaddressed problems will only multiply as tech deployment ramps up and infusions of fresh blood into the judicial system fail to keep pace.

    • Court Dumps Cops’ Complaint They Were Unfairly Treated After Shooting Two Unarmed Suspects 47 Times

      In 2012, Cleveland police officers engaged in perhaps the most one-sided “shootout” ever with two suspects at the tail end of an (unauthorized) police chase. By the time it was over, officers had fired 139 bullets into a vehicle they had trapped in a school parking lot. Twenty-three of those hit the driver. Twenty-four hit the passenger. Both vehicle occupants were killed.

      One officer — Michael Brelo — apparently thought he was starring in his own action film. He unloaded 49 rounds in just over 20 seconds while standing on the hood of the stopped vehicle. All told, more than 75 Cleveland PD vehicles joined the chase/shooting. At the end of a yearlong investigation, 63 officers were suspended for their participation. Six officers were charged.

      The genesis of the horrific debacle was nothing more than a car backfiring. One cop mistook this for a gunshot and all hell broke loose. No weapons were recovered from the vehicle.

      One of the stranger offshoots of the infamous shootings was a lawsuit filed by several Cleveland police officers who took part in the chase. In their view, they were punished more harshly than African American officers who also participated in the unauthorized pursuit.

    • Help Me Choose a Nominee for the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award

      The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards were established in 1979 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to protect the First Amendment rights of Americans. They are looking for nominees for this year’s awards, and I’d like to send them a name.

    • Agent who interrogated Abu Zubaydah: ‘Where we went wrong as a nation’

      “His case represents the A to Z of where we went wrong as a nation,” said former FBI agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated some of the most prized captives of the war on terror, and considered Abu Zubaydah “a high-ranking terrorist” at his capture. “In a way, it was the original sin that led to the institutionalization of the so-called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.”

    • Police Brutality Is a Campaign Issue, So Departments Ignore It on Social Media

      There’s zero doubt that police forces across the nation are caught between the crosshairs of politics and systemic racism; their losses and crimes either championed or hurriedly swept beneath the rug on the campaign trail.

      Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump addressed race relations in the United States as a symptom of a larger criminal justice problem. Trump went as far as to call America’s legacy of police brutality a matter of “law and order,” mirroring the strategic oversimplification of racism that has contributed to the killings of 285 black and Hispanic people by police officers in 2016 alone.

      But despite desperate efforts by citizens to document the unlawful abuse of minorities by officers, police departments still wield considerable control over their images and public messages. Thanks to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, police are attempting to humanize themselves online, whether or not they’re physically repairing their relationships with America’s communities.

    • Russian journalist arrested for ‘illegal’ voting after exposing fraud in Duma elections

      An award-winning journalist who exposed voting fraud during Russia’s parliamentary elections has himself been arrested for alleged fraud.

      Denis Korotkov, a correspondent for the independent news website Fontanka, was scheduled to appear in court in St Petersburg on Wednesday on charges of “illegally obtaining a ballot”.

      But campaigners say Mr Korotkov was working undercover to expose vote rigging in the Duma elections, which have provoked international concern, and is now being harassed for his work.

      Mr Korotkov documented how he posed as a voter on 18 September and was given a sticker by polling station officials, who then arranged for him to be transported around St Petersburg with others to cast multiple ballots for specified candidates.

    • Denmark reverses course on refugee ‘child brides’

      Specifically, the agency concluded that the separate living quarters would violate the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to one’s “private and family life”.

      Josephine Fock, an MP for The Alternative who raised the issue with DIS, cheered the reversal.

      “It is completely outrageous. We are talking about people who have fled to Denmark who are being split from each other. Some of them have children together and investigating individual [asylum] cases takes an unbelievably long time,” Fock told Metroxpress.

      In January, the Integration Ministry obtained an overview of the Danish asylum system that revealed that there are currently 27 minors who have spouses or partners. According to an earlier report in Metroxpress, there are two married 14-year-old girls at Danish asylum centres. One is married to a 28-year-old man, while the other is pregnant and has a 24-year-old husband.

    • [Older] Woman who mocked burka goes into hiding after online trolls offer bounty for her murder

      In a controversial article, Lejla Colak said forcing women to wear the Islamic headscarf was like forcing them to strap a sex toy to their heads.

      Twisted online trolls have launched a sick hate campaign against the Bosnian reporter, offering a cash prize if anyone kills or rapes her.

      One social media user, reportedly a member of the Bosnian army, wrote: “Are there any volunteers to rape lovely Lejla? I will personally pay for it.”

    • When ‘Yelling Commands’ Is the Wrong Police Response

      The story out of El Cajon, Calif., a San Diego suburb, had an eerie familiarity: The police respond to a person exhibiting some kind of disturbing behavior, but the subject — perhaps lost in his own, altered world — does not comply with the usual commands, does not heed the standard warnings, acts in a way that seems to invite danger, and ends up dead.

      An officer in El Cajon fatally shot a man identified as Alfred Olango on Tuesday, after Mr. Olango’s sister called 911 for help because he was acting erratically. The police released a still frame from a bystander’s video showing Mr. Olango, 30, mirroring the shooting stance of the officer facing him — feet apart, hands clasped and pointed at the officer. But one man had a gun and the other, it turned out, did not.

      “I called for help; I didn’t call you guys to kill him,” the sister wailed on a Facebook video recorded by a bystander.

      Far too little is known about what happened in El Cajon to judge the officer’s conduct, law enforcement experts and advocates for mentally ill people say. But the police use of force — sometimes lethal — against those with diminished mental capacity is distressingly common. The experts and advocates say that while training and practices have improved in the last generation, officers in many agencies still receive little or no education in how to recognize and deal with people who may not behave rationally.

      Like other police uses of force, confrontations involving people with diminished mental capacity have increasingly been caught on video and turned into national news. In July, officers in Sacramento shot and killed a man who was walking and running in the street, gesticulating wildly, and who refused to obey orders to drop the knife he was holding or to lie down.

    • Stand in solidarity with imprisoned writers in Saudi Arabia

      English PEN is continuing to hold monthly vigils in support of imprisoned writers Raif Badawi, Waleed Abulkhair and Ashraf Fayadh. Please join us to show them they have not been forgotten.

      English PEN has been holding regular vigils outside the Saudi Embassy in London in support of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair since January 2015 when Badawi was first flogged for his peaceful activism. While Badawi has not been flogged since, he is continuing to serve a ten-year prison sentence, while Abulkhair is serving 15 years in prison for his human rights activism.

      PEN is also continuing to call for the immediate release of Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh. Originally sentenced to death, Fayadh is now serving 8 years in prison and, like Badawi, continues to have the threat of hundreds of lashes looming over him.

      Please join us on Friday 30 September from 9 – 10am for a peaceful vigil at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London. Activists are asked to meet at the Curzon Street entrance to the Embassy. (note: the postal address of the Embassy is 30-32 Charles Street, Mayfair, London).

    • Teen boy in Saudi Arabia arrested for “unethical behaviour” after flirty chat with YouTube teen girl star

      Abu Sin (his name means “toothless”) and Christina Crockett jokingly declared their love for one another in a silly YouNow stream that has since been uploaded to YouTube. They struggled through language barriers and acted like goofy young people.

      Evidently, being a cute kid is a crime in Saudi Arabia, where the 19 year old internet goofball lives.

      A Saudi attorney told Okaz newspaper the videos violate the country’s interpretation of Sharia law and internet regulations. Abu Sin could face up to three years in prison.

    • Man hit by tram after mass brawl breaks out between migrants in Vienna

      At least 20 people were involved in the fight, believed to have been between a group of Chechen and Turkish migrants, in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Tuesday evening.

      Austrian media reported that the trouble started when a Chechen man approached a group of 15 Turkish men socialising in an internet cafe and told them to be quiet.

      A brawl ensued, spilling out of the cafe and into the streets of the city’s Favoriten district.

      There was reports that one man was armed with a knife.

      Vienna is also home to a large population of Chechen migrants.

    • Interview: John Kiriakou On Supporting Jeffrey Sterling So He Doesn’t Die In Prison

      Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who served a prison sentence at a federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, joined Shadowproof managing editor Kevin Gosztola to talk about the case of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, which they have both followed closely.

      Kiriakou’s reporting describes how officials at the Englewood federal prison, where Sterling is confined, failed to give him proper medical treatment for heart attack symptoms. Gosztola recently exchanged letters with Sterling and published a report on how the Bureau of Prisons is failing him.

      During the interview, Kiriakou shares his experiences with prison medical care and how all too often those who need care are denied proper treatment. He talks about how the Bureau of Prisons thinks prisoners like Sterling are malingering, which means they are lying about and faking serious health problems. He also describes why it is so important for a person in this situation to have outside support.

      Sterling has demanded the prison give him access to an outside doctor so that he can have his severe heart problems addressed.

    • Inside the Chicago Police Department’s secret budget

      When the clerk called Willie Mae Swansey’s case in a crowded courtroom last February, the 72-year-old approached the judge slowly, supporting herself with a four-pronged cane. It had been a busy afternoon in the Daley Center’s civil forfeiture courtroom, with more than a dozen quick hearings and a pair of trials preceding her own. The crush of defense lawyers and hopeful claimants had thinned by the time Swansey stepped up to the bench. She steadied herself beside a prosecutor and stood with a stately straightening of her back.

      Swansey was here to reclaim her car. The Chicago Police Department had seized the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser two years prior, arresting the driver, Swansey’s son, and charging him with manufacturing or delivering 15 to 100 grams of heroin. The car had been impounded ever since. Swansey herself was never charged with a crime, and it was her name, not her son’s, on the title. All the same, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office had agreed with CPD that the vehicle, which the office valued at $1,400, was worth keeping for good.


      “I’m a poor black woman,” Swansey says. “I don’t have no money for an attorney.” Instead, she continued to represent herself.

      At her next appearance in May, she informed the court that her son’s criminal case was over. He had pleaded guilty, and having been under house arrest for 745 days, he was credited with time served and put on probation, according to county records.

      So on June 30, Swansey’s trial date finally arrived, two years and four months after CPD took her car. She had brought her son with her to court to testify that he had taken her keys without her knowledge. But the judge she saw that day, Paul Karkula, didn’t want to hear from him, she says.

      Instead, Swansey recalls, “The judge said, ‘I can’t give you back your car, because it would be right back on the road with drugs.’ ” (Karkula declined to comment for this story.)

      The decision struck Swansey as racist and deeply unfair. Swansey says she watched as four other cases that day were called and resolved, including one involving a wheelchair-bound white woman with a case very similar to hers. This woman got her car back, Swansey says. She did not.

    • How I Taught A Jury About Trolls, Memes And 4Chan — And Helped Get A Troll Out Of Jail

      A few weeks ago, CNN had a story on how a jury failed to convict Peter Wexler, an unemployed IT worker, who had been arrested and spent nearly a year in jail (without bail) for writing some mean stuff on his blog. He was literally arrested for five blog posts (which came with 20 criminal charges, as they had multiple charges on each post) and was facing up to 15 years in jail for those posts. Ken “Popehat” White blogged briefly about it, noting that it was a huge First Amendment win in a case where the defense team included one of his partners, Caleb Mason (along with lawyer Marri Derby, who was appointed by the court to represent Wexler through the Criminal Justice Act). It’s also a case that involved… me. I was an expert witness in the case, brought in to explain to the jury the nature of internet discourse, including how trolls quite frequently say outrageous things to get attention, and how it’s (for better or worse) not that uncommon to see people post angry rants on the internet, or to talk about how certain people should die, or to photoshop famous people into weird scenarios.

      I’ve avoided writing about the case up until now, mostly because of my involvement. And since Wexler was found not guilty on some charges, while the other charges resulted in a hung jury (the jury foreperson said that they voted 8 to 4 to acquit on those other charges), there’s a chance there may be a second trial. So recognize that it’s a case that I may still have future involvement in — and where I’m choosing my words carefully (the prosecutors in the case tried to take some of my posts on Techdirt out of context to attack my credibility, and it’s possible that could happen again — though I will admit to some confusion over being asked, twice, on the stand if I consider myself “an advocate for internet freedom,” as if that were a bad thing).

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Postpones Vote on Set-Top Box Reform in a Blow to Chairman Wheeler

      The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday postponed a vote on its highly-anticipated proposal to increase competition in the video “set-top box” market after the chairman of the agency failed to secure the necessary votes to approve the plan.

      The delay amounts to a humbling setback for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who had made reforming the $20 billion set-top box market a centerpiece of his pro-consumer agenda. With 40 days to go before a presidential election that will determine the makeup of the FCC going forward, the fate of the reform measure is now in doubt.

      As recently as Thursday morning, the vote was still scheduled, but Wheeler was ultimately unable to come to an agreement with his fellow Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who had previously raised concerns about his plan, and who represents the key swing vote at the five-member agency.

      “Commissioner Rosenworcel came to Chairman Wheeler’s office with a bunch of edits on the order, and those edits were unacceptable to his office,” according to a person familiar with the matter. “And that led to an impasse. As of 8 a.m. this morning the vote was on, and then by 9 a.m. the vote was pulled.”

    • FTC won’t give up fight against AT&T unlimited data throttling
    • The FCC Wants To Know Why Journalists Had To Pay $200 For WiFi At Presidential Debate
  • DRM/Broadcast

    • Don’t Hide DRM in a Security Update

      Over 10,000 of you have joined EFF in calling on HP to make amends for its self-destructing printers in the past few days. Looks like we got the company’s attention: today, HP posted a response on its blog. Apparently recognizing that its customers are more likely to see an update that limits interoperability as a bug than as a feature, HP says that it will issue an optional firmware update rolling back the changes that it had made. We’re very glad to see HP making this step.

      But a number of questions remain.

      First, we’d like to know what HP’s plans are for informing users about the optional firmware update. Right now, the vast majority of people who use the affected printers likely do not know why their printers lost functionality, nor do they know that it’s possible to restore it. All of those customers should be able to use their printers free of artificial restrictions, not just the relatively few who have been closely following this story.

    • 46 California Cities Join Rush To Impose ‘Netflix Tax’

      Last year, Chicago proudly declared that the city would be expanding its 9% amusement tax (traditionally covering book stores, music stores, ball games and other brick and mortar entertainment) to online streaming services and cloud computing. While Chicago was hungrily pursuing the $12 million in additional revenue the expanded tax would provide, it ultimately faced a lawsuit questioning the legality of Chicago’s move. The ongoing lawsuit by the Liberty Justice Center claims Chicago violated city rules by not holding a full vote on the changes, and is violating the Internet Freedom Tax Act.

      Legal or not, Chicago’s push to impose a Netflix tax has opened the floodgates.

    • What Cord Cutting? Cable Sector Hiked TV Prices 40% In Last Five Years

      We’ve noted time and time again that the cable and broadcast industry could compete with cord cutting by lowering prices, it just chooses not to. Even with last quarter seeing the biggest quarterly defection by paying subscribers ever recorded, time and time again you’ll see sector sycophants proclaim that cord cutting either doesn’t exist, or has been violently over-hyped and isn’t worth taking seriously. In fact, most sector executives still believe that the shift away from traditional cable will magically end once Millennials start procreating (protip: it won’t).

      As such, they’ve continued to raise cable TV rates at an absurd rate in the belief that they can keep milking the legacy cable TV cash cow in perpetuity. And while broadcasters certainly take the lion’s share of the blame for raising the cost of programming, you’d be hard pressed to find a cable TV provider that isn’t making things worse by also saddling consumers with misleading fees for nothing and soaring cable box, modem, and other hardware rental costs.

      The end result is users paying 40% more for cable TV than they did just five years ago. In fact the average cable bill is now $103.10 per month, an increase of 4% in the past year. And while the cable sector is quick to proclaim that this just reflects the “increased value” of cable TV, the reality is that most cable ops are trimming back overall channels to try and offset the bloated, soaring cost of sports programming.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UN Panel Report On Access To Medicines Seen As Holding Potential For Change

      Speakers at a side event to the United Nations General Assembly last week commended a new report on access to medicines prepared by a high-level panel hand-chosen by the UN secretary general as containing fresh ideas and the potential to bring change to a longstanding problem.

      The breakfast dialogue, entitled, The Role of Health Technology: Innovation & Access in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, was organised on 23 September by the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, whose report was released last week (IPW, United Nations, 14 September 2016).

    • WIPO staff council legal rep demands immediate removal of Gurry after distribution of misconduct report [Ed: about time?]

      The legal counsel to the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Staff Council has called for the immediate removal of Francis Gurry as the UN agency’s director general and the lifting of his diplomatic immunity so that he might face possible criminal investigation or civil proceedings over the findings of a report into alleged misconduct that was delivered to the Chair of the WIPO General Assemblies in February.

      The demand is contained in a letter sent to “All Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva” yesterday. IAM has obtained a copy of the letter and has verified that it is authentic.

      The letter was sent following the distribution earlier this week of a heavily redacted version of the findings of an investigation, carried out by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), into a series of allegations originally levelled at Gurry by the former deputy director general of the organisation James Pooley back in April 2014. Although the OIOS submitted its findings in February it is only now that WIPO member states have been able to see a copy of the report – albeit one in which large chunks have been blacked out.

    • Signs Of Changing Trends In FTAs’ IP Chapters, Speakers Say At WTO

      On intellectual property, the EU has published factsheets and position papers on what they would like to see in the agreement, she said. One of the focuses of those documents is raising awareness on the benefits of IP, and “we regret that the focus is not also on the human right to access information,” she said.

    • Trademarks

      • Lee v. Tam: Supreme Court Takes on the Slants

        In the case, Simon Tam is seeking to register a mark on his band name “The Slants.” The USPTO refused after finding that the mark is disparaging toward individuals of Asian ancestry.

      • US Supreme Court to hear Slants case

        The US Supreme Court has granted cert in Lee v Tam, the case involving Asian-American band The Slants and the issue of offensive trade marks.

        The issue presented is: “Whether the disparagement provision of the Lanham Act, 15 USC 1052(a), which provides that no trademark shall be refused registration on account of its nature unless, inter alia, it ‘[c]onsists of . . . matter which may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute’ is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

    • Copyrights

      • YouTube Hires Music Executive as a Liaison to the Industry

        For the last year, the music industry has been waging a bitter war against YouTube, accusing the popular video site of paying too little in royalties. The conflict has often seemed tribal, with record companies and stars on one side, and Silicon Valley on the other.

        Now, YouTube has brought over a major player from the music side.

        Lyor Cohen, who got his start in the early days of hip-hop and went on to top executive positions at Def Jam and the Warner Music Group — earning a reputation as the most tenacious force in any deal — has joined YouTube as the service’s global head of music, YouTube announced on Wednesday.

        It is the latest effort by a tech company to fortify itself by hiring a music insider. Two years ago, Apple bought Beats, which was founded by Dr. Dre and the producer Jimmy Iovine; in June, Spotify hired Troy Carter, the former manager of Lady Gaga.

        In a statement, Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, suggested that Mr. Cohen’s role was, to some degree, to be a bridge to the music world.

      • Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Appeal Concludes, Will He Get a “Fair Go”?

        After more than four weeks the extradition appeal hearings of Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues have concluded. In his closing arguments, Dotcom’s lawyer urged the court to carefully weigh the facts and give his client a “fair go,” which he says the District Court failed to do. However, even if the High Court sides with the defense, the case is still far from over.

      • Dotcom Petitions Appeals Court For Rehearing Over Seized Millions

        Last month, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected efforts by Kim Dotcom to regain control over millions of dollars in assets seized by the US Government. Yesterday, Dotcom’s legal team petitioned the Court for a rehearing and rehearing en banc on the issues of forfeiture of assets and fugitive disentitlement.

Team UPC is Interjecting Itself Into the Media Ahead of Tomorrow’s Lobbying Push Against the European Council and Against European Interests

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 10:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also see: European Digital SME Alliance: Unified Patent Court (UPC) “Unconstitutional”, Harms SMEs, Brings Software Patents to Europe, “Should be Based on EU Law and Not on an International Agreement.”

European Digital SME Alliance

Summary: A quick look at the growing bulk of UPC lobbying (by the legal firms which stand to benefit from it) ahead of tomorrow’s European Council meeting which is expected to discuss a unitary patent system

THE EPO has been paying various media companies, including British giants that continue to produce UPC propaganda ahead of the big day tomorrow (embedding talking points from Team UPC). This is beyond a disgrace and should be a very major scandal, but somehow the EPO managed to paralyse the media, including so-called ‘IP’ ‘media’ (trying to play nice with the EPO by simply being silent when catastrophic mistakes are being made). FTI Consulting much?

Reluctantly, as we prefer to make allies rather than foes, earlier today we published a rant about IP Kat, which had become somewhat of a Bristows platform for Bristows' shameless lobbying for the UPC. This afternoon, much to our regret, WIPR did something similar. An article titled “European Council to discuss unitary patent system” got published and it’s little more than a copy-paste job of Bristows talking points. Here is a fragment:

As the UPC is listed as “any other business” for this week’s meeting, there is not likely to be any substantive discussion, according to law firm Bristows.


Alan Johnson, partner at Bristows, told WIPR: “Everyone has to accept that the result of the UK referendum will delay the commencement of the UPC—and not just by a few months. It is unrealistic politically to expect the UK to ratify as if the vote had never happened, but also without some real certainty that the UK can continue to participate post-Brexit.

“The main question for me is whether the other states involved will be patient and try to work with the UK to find a solution which would allow continued UK participation. It’s not enough, no matter how well-meaning, just to offer words of reassurance that a solution will be worked out in the future if we sign up now.”

He added: “It’s better to get on immediately with the work required to put a modified system together. This is not starting again, but a question of working out a new legal arrangement which the Court of Justice of the European Union will find lawful. If the UK knows exactly what it needs to sign up to, and has the certainty that it will be lawful, it can then take a decision.”

Johnson continued: “I really hope the other states will wait for the UK and work toward this, but if they won’t, that is their choice and there is probably not much the UK can do to stop them. And it should be remembered that if the other states do go down this route, they still have work to do to reach a replacement agreement excluding the UK, including resolving the political question of where the London branch of the central division should go.

“Plus they would have to go through a new round of ratifications, and I can’t see that being a particularly quick process either.”

Hey, who needs the media anymore? Just paste a link to Bristows’ own Web site and be done with it. WIPR should know (and probably does know) that Bristows isn’t a mere observer when it comes to the UPC; it is still interjecting itself into the media for agenda and it’s not alone. Bird & Bird do this as well and this afternoon we found another example. Some patent firms are still fantasising about the UPC that will probably never become a reality (ever!). Well, even from IAM comes a response to this tweet, saying “Well, it’s not likely to be London anymore!”

So clearly, as before, IAM does not believe the UK will ratify anything related to this. Why does Bristows keep fighting? Because it bet the farm on it. It even rebranded accordingly, with its silly Bristows UPC blog (as if it’s trying to ‘own’ the UPC).

In responses to the previous Bristows lobbying, which got published yesterday, commenters are nowhere as optimistic as the Bristows lobby. Virtually all the comments are pessimistic. Here they are in full (so far). Here is the first comment:

Finally, people seem to be addressing the elephant in the room that so far seems to have been almost completely ignored by all interested parties including the EPO, CIPA, and big business: regardless of the pros and cons the current political reality in the UK is that the government will not sign the UK up to any system that requires the acceptance of the supremacy of EU law over UK law. The sooner this is accepted the better. Then people can start working on the practical reality of the situation, no matter how much they dislike that reality.

And then:

I don’t know whether you’ve noticed: nobody seems to know what the political realities are.

So far, the fat lady has not sung – and the thin lady is simply saying Brexit means Brexit and telling the three Brexiteers to keep schtum.

The question of who can trigger Article 50 is a live issue before the UK courts.

Uncertainty reigns and chaos beckons.

Fine, but here it is not supremacy of EU law. It is supremacy of an international agreement over national law, which is quite widely accepted.

Any international agreement, be it on free trade or on the privileges of diplomats, usually has supremacy over national law.

You may well be right on the current political reality, but it is besides the point.

“I think that the UPCA will never enter into force,” one person added, “unless of course the UK decides to remain.” Well, it seems very unlikely at this point and there’s not much time left to decide, either.

Legally speaking, it is absolutely impossible for a non-EU UK to stay in the UPCA (see e.g. art. 1), unless the agreement is amended with an unanimous vote (art. 87.3).

Since the UPCA has been already signed by 26 EU States and ratified by 11 States, I think that the UPCA will never enter into force, unless of course the UK decides to remain.

This is why we’re likely to see nothing emanating from this:

This is from Counsel’s opinion on the UK joining the UPC:

“The Unitary Patent Court is required to “apply Union law in its entirety and … respect its primacy” (Article 20). Union law must therefore be applied in preference to the other sources of law mentioned in Article 24.”

Article 24 specifies national law as an other source of law. That is, the UPCA explicitly requires acceptance of the supremacy of EU law over UK law. The current government may not be pressing full-steam ahead with Brexit at the moment but they certainly aren’t going to ratify any agreement, international or otherwise, that requires this.

And finally (for now):

It is not just any international agreement. It is signing up to an agreement, the rules of which are outwith your control. If the UK does leave the EU, eventually, it will effectively be an observer who recognises and implements the EU laws. That would place it in the position of EPC validation states such as Morocco but still having to participate as a court. That isn’t run of the mill.

In the next 24 hours we should expect a lot more lobbying, timed strategically for tomorrow’s meeting. Bristows has already expressed intent to publish some more of their tripe today (at IP Kat). Don’t let them steal democracy for their own selfish motivations (profit through increased litigation that would be ruinous to SMEs).

IP Kat is Lobbying Heavily for the UPC, Courtesy of Team UPC

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not news; mostly agenda in disguise, courtesy of Battistelli’s “useful idiots” and collaborators

Bristows LLP and EPO

Summary: When does an IP (or patent) blog become little more than an aggregation of interest groups and self-serving patent law firms, whose agenda overlaps that of Team Battistelli?

THE EPO no longer comes under scrutiny from IP Kat, as we noted late last night. But to make matters worse, when it comes to UPC matters in particular, IP Kat became somewhat of an advocacy platform. They hopefully, at the very least, realise this and can acknowledge this.

“…when it comes to UPC matters in particular, IP Kat became somewhat of an advocacy platform.”It is no secret that the UPC would harm SMEs; their representative groups even say so explicitly. But they’re looked down upon by patronising self-serving elements which claim to speak about what’s good for them, if not falsely speak on ‘their behalf’. This is outrageous.

Part of the problem is Team UPC, which includes Bristows that’s a major lobbyist for the UPC, even saying something to that effect (very blatant disregard for democracy). Annsley Merelle Ward from Bristows has been exploiting IP Kat for a weekly (if not more frequent) UPC lobby. Yesterday was no exception. Her headline is a lie, the ‘article’ is just more lobbying with selective evidence, and this was promoted in Twitter yesterday.

“The countdown has seemingly begun again,” she wrote, “but the stakes seem to be even higher. The IPKat will be back tomorrow to report on the Competitiveness Council’s session tomorrow and future debates on this topic.”

“Has IP Kat become UPC Kat? Or Bristows Kat?”So now it’s a daily lobbying spiel? Has IP Kat become UPC Kat? Or Bristows Kat? When a writer is using the blog for her employer (she’s not the only writer there from Team UPC) we can’t help but feel that we’re seeing very low journalistic standards and basically alignment with at least a certain element at IP Kat with Team Battistelli.

Bristows lobbying for the UPC is not limited to IP Kat. We are seeing more of the latest Milan talking points in Bristows’ own blog. It is evident that this firm continues to stomp over British and European democracy with this abomination known as UPC, noting in Twitter that “UPC EPLC Rules amended to include additional Italian qualification, by @Liz_Cohen_” (they’re pushing in this direction, essentially meddling in politics). In another new post they are quoting other members of Team UPC, i.e. the echo chamber, arguing that “DAV says UK could still participate in the UPC system after Brexit and ‘a quick decision of the UK is needed’” (again, they’re trying to rush British officials into an unacceptable trap, using panic and trauma).

We have come to expect this dirty playbook from Bristows, but why has IP Kat been dragged down like this? Why does IP Kat keep pushing for the UPC under the guise of news while no longer criticising the EPO? Here is a recent example where they say “To be, or not to be?”

“They just keep renaming and repurposing the same garbage, dodging the negative publicity (from the press and politicians, not to mention public interest/advocacy groups such as FFII).”Well, it’s clear that the UPC cannot happen in the UK after the Brexit vote. Why even make it seem like a probability? “Post #Brexit everyone is lining up their bargaining chips,” one member of the patent microcosm wrote the other day. “the UPC is just one of those.” (reporting from a CIPA event)

The UPC is little more than a conspiracy of patent law firms trying to steal democracy and then pocket European companies’ money. The EPO helps them for obvious reasons and the public is never being consulted at all. This is the kind of behaviour which motivated Brits to vote for Brexit in the first place. I have personally written about the UPC (in previous incarnations) for nearly a decade; I’m not unfamiliar with it. They just keep renaming and repurposing the same garbage, dodging the negative publicity (from the press and politicians, not to mention public interest/advocacy groups such as FFII).

“To say [the UPC can] “take years to build” is optimistic,” I told Bastian Best last night, as “my bet is, it’ll never happen, just be rebranded, repackaged” (remember EU Patent, Community Patent and other names).

“The UPC is little more than a conspiracy of patent law firms trying to steal democracy and then pocket European companies’ money.”WIPR‘s David Brooke, in the mean time, writes about “Opportunities after Brexit,” having just published this article. Team UPC must recognise that Brexit was the winning side (I was against it by the way) and that UPC won’t happen; neither in the UK nor in the rest of Europe (Spain for sure). We’re disappointed to see what IP Kat has turned into quite recently. When you know you’re misleading people and people call you out on it, why carry on? It’s an exercise in futility when one writes for one’s greed and self interest; or whenever speaking ‘on behalf’ of the public, hoping that nobody will pay attention or reject/refuse the obvious deception. When the only criticism of the UPC can be found in IP Kat comments rather than in IP Kat articles you know someone is suppressing one side of the argument (the side which represents the interests of more than 99% of the European public).

Team UPC are very, very sneaky. They pretend things will happen even before they happen (and they never happen). Remember those UK job advertisements for the UPC? How did that work out for applicants?

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