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09.15.14

Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

Posted in Patents at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman amid EPO protest

Summary: Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO

FOLLOWING part I of our coverage of the deeply corrupt EPO we received an overwhelming amount of mail, some confidentially and some not confidentially. People point out to us that EPO has a lot of ‘dirty laundry’ and in the coming months we’ll be eager to provide proof of that. Some of the staff of the EPO is grossly overpaid (they decide on their own salaries almost) and the management is silencing employees in various ways that we were privately told about. Hence the need for anonymity.

The following is a good translation of a recent Die Welt article. We put it below — verbatim — and thank the person who made it available to us.


Better off – brassed off

The 6800 members of staff at the European Patent Office in Munich on average earn 121,000 Euro a year, but they’re still far from happy. They call their boss “Putin”.

Tourists leaving the Deutsches Museum in Munich on the west side have a view of a building which leaves no doubt about its purpose: This has got to be the headquarters of some powerful institution. The 35-year-old wedge of glass and concrete overtops its surroundings with a stern formality. More flags flutter in front of it than any other building in the city, with a massive sculpture rotating on its own axis. This is the home of the European Patent Office. A few years ago the building was cleared of asbestos. The contaminants were removed, and the staff have been back for two years. But the atmosphere in the organisation is still poisonous.

There is a tradition here that the management of the Patent Office tends to be somewhat at loggerheads with the self-aware and self-confident patent examiners, but this disparity has recently entered a new dimension altogether. The President and the staff have fallen out beyond hope of salvation – but they’re still going to have to live together for years to come. It’s not an edifying spectacle, so shortly before the planned introduction of the European Patent. The Unified Patent means that the Office is set to become even more important after 2016. The EPO, as it’s also known, is already one of the most important patent offices in the world. It is a bulwark that stands as a symbol of the strength of innovation of European companies. So how can such an organisation be tearing itself apart like this? The answer to this question must start with the President of the organisation. Benoît Battistelli hardly misses an opportunity to upset his staff. The 64-year-old has been heading up the Patent Office for four years. He comes from the best Parisian civil service tradition, as an alumnus of the École nationale d’administration (Ena), the nursery for executives, and he was mayor of the Paris suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, from where Louis XIV also came. Battistelli has the aura of gravitas of a leading civil servant of France, and radiates it from every pore.

He never loses his verve. He can dismiss the sagging morale of his subordinates with a friendly smile. “How is anyone supposed to reform a system which well-paid people have become accustomed to all their lives?”, he recently asked a small gathering. In the staff journal “Gazette” he complains about “systematic opposition” directed against him. These are words which no management seminar ever teaches. Which no manager would ever utter if he wanted to gather his team behind him and motivate them. They are the words of a man who has decided that there is no future in trying to win a popularity contest among the employees any longer. A man who has a skin thick enough to weather out even storms like these.

The dispute is weighing down one of the most successful organisations in Europe. An organisation which was already functioning well when other European bodies in Brussels and Strasbourg were still trying to justify their existence. The European Patent Office has its roots in 1973, when more than 20 states decided in Munich to back the introduction of a European patent procedure. The European Patent Organisation was established four years after that, and today the European Patent Convention comprises 38 nations, among them eleven states which do not belong to the EU. The European Patent Office is one of the most powerful patent organisations in the world. When it comes to the number of applications, the EPO ranks fifth among the world’s largest patent offices; and it is highly commended for presenting the highest quality of patents, which means applying particularly tough examination.

The staff are the assets of the organisation. More than 6800 people work here, and two-thirds of them are highly sought-after and highly-specialised patent examiners. Some of them are regarded as leaders in their field. They are able to assess whether inventions really are new and really worthy of protection. They deal with major corporations and their powerful patent attorneys, and they go head to head with them.

And they get extremely well paid for doing so. In a current offer for a position, the authority offered an “attractive salary” of 4200 to 8000 Euro – and bear in mind, that’s net. A look at the social report discloses that last year the Office paid out 821 million Euro in salaries and supplements. Converted to staff members, this gives average earnings of 121,000 Euro. Word has it that some employees are getting more than the heads of state of their home countries. Someone who lands a job with the Patent Office is home and dry. If the life partner isn’t working, there’s money for the housekeeping. Even Germans are granted expatriate supplements if they have worked abroad for two years before taking up the position. The EPO spends 20 million Euro on financing an international school. Added to this are the perks of the job: “Basically, you fly Business Class”, as they say.

These are conditions which colleagues in the German Patent and Trademark Office can only dream of. The German examiners work in a neighbouring listed building, which was originally designed as a hospital. As a result, most of the offices come provided with a washbasin. But that’s about the only convenience in comparison with the mighty European patent authority next door.

The examiners here do exactly the same work as their European colleagues, but they earn a lot less. An examiner at the German Patent and Trademark Office receives between 3200 and 4250 Euro net per month. “If I had the chance, I’d work for the EPO like a shot”, complains one member of staff. Most of them fall down when it comes to knowledge of languages. English, German, and French are mandatory. Fluently.

And as well as that, the pressure of work is rising steadily. President Battistelli has set himself the goal of streamlining the authority to absolute efficiency. “Our aim is to be the best patent office in the world”, says Battistelli. “I don’t know whether we already are the best. But I know for sure that we’re the most expensive.” At the German Patent Office, it costs about 640 Euro for a patent to be issued, while at the European Patent Office it is said to be ten times as much, or so the German Patent and Trademark Office has calculated. More efficiency is needed, because there are financial risks involved. The authority does not receive any allocations, and has to live from what it earns itself. And there are doubts as to whether that will be enough in the long term to meet the growing pension obligations. After 35 years, an employee is looking at a pension in the amount of 70 percent of his old salary. The in-house experts have been ringing alarm bells: By 2023 at the latest, it will be necessary to start tapping the reserves, currently at 5.7 billion Euro. A new study is now being commissioned.

Battistelli has set out a plan for the future which is based on five fundamentals. One of these involves the personnel, who are in any scenario responsible for the really significant part of the costs. And that is bringing him massively in conflict with the powerful trade union Suepo. The Patent Office has been afflicted by strikes on a regular basis for many years. Battistelli harbours serious doubts as to whether the strikes are always based solely on matters of labour rights. The view is that it has often been nothing more than having a long weekend. So Battistelli has curtailed the right to strike. Personnel can only down tools if really compelling grounds pertain. And what those are, is his decision. He has also taken it upon himself to see that the elections for staff representatives are reorganized. He has introduced a system of vote-counting which is alleged to be aimed at suppressing the presence of the union Suepo on the employees’ council, an aim which was thoroughly thwarted at the elections in June. He has also taken up the cudgels against the high absenteeism due to illness. He has been pushing for employees who are off sick to be subject to visits by doctors unannounced, between 10.00 and 12.00 and also between 14.00 and 16.00, just to check up on them.

This doesn’t sound too bad, especially given that German civil servants actually have no right to strike at all. But it has led to unrest at the EPO. The atmosphere has now become so poisonous that anything Battistelli does almost necessarily leads to conflict. Some people like to refer to him as “dictator”. Or the “Sun King”. Or “Putin”.

These are different cultures, and they’re clashing. On one side, there’s Battistelli, who is used to a centralistic leadership culture from France, with the emphasis on obedience and reverence for authority. On the other, there are the self-aware and self-confident examiners, who work in small self-contained teams, and whose technical expertise no-one, repeat no-one, can challenge.

Just how far the mistrust extends rapidly becomes clear when you talk to employees of the Office. No-one says anything over a landline. If the issues are discussed at all, then it’s on the mobile while taking a walk along the River Isar or in a café. No-one puts it past the French President to spy on his own employees.

The oppressed staff act as if they are living under a dictatorship. Now that a ban has been introduced on sending a collective e-mail to more than 50 people, e-mails are simply forwarded. When the European Inventor’s Prize was awarded in Berlin in mid-June, someone actually engaged a lawyer who distributed leaflets in which the management culture at the EPO was denounced radically.

As far as Battistelli is concerned, it is only a minority of the employees who are yelling for rebellion. A small group of perpetual agitators, who want to cling on to their privileges. But that doesn’t quite ring true. Going by the most recent votes, the staff were still pushing for strikes. And when the Office celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Patent Convention in a big way last year, official sources indicate that 600 people staged a demonstration. The question is how Battistelli can react to the dismal mood. “He’s a skilled politician”, says someone who has been following the situation closely. Word is that he can rely on the French government covering his back. And, above all, he can rely on his back being covered by the smaller states, who depend a great deal, in a great many ways, on the European Patent Office being a success. The Administrative Council, on which Germany, like all other states, has only one vote, has this summer already extended Battistelli’s employment contract, actually scheduled to expire in 2015, to the year 2018.

The Federal German government is watching the situation in Munich carefully. “The reforms are necessary and in part overdue” is the word from the Federal Ministry of Justice. Despite this, there are still qualms about the social tranquillity at the Office. It appears that most recently both the President as well as the staff representatives have been called upon “not to break off the channels of discussion, and in future to strive more vigorously to seek mutually acceptable solutions”. So far, the call has not been so well received.


Our sources also have evidence which suggests long-standing connections between Topić, the EPO President Battistelli, and the Chairman of the EPO Administrative Council, Mr. Jesper Kongstad (Danish PTO). We were presented with a letter in which Kongstad is approached with the aim of investigating this. We cannot comment on this or reveal the documents until a few weeks from now as this might interfere with diplomatic efforts to address the matter.

Our sources believe that Battistelli and Kongstad are colluding to prevent any independent investigation into the matter of Topić’s appointment.

In the coming weeks are are going to share more documents and if documentation is required to defend our point, we do have possession of it.

“It is not the policy of the EPO to require or examine source codes […]. Moreover, given the length and complexity of source code listings, which can often stretch to hundreds of pages, it would be quite impossible to examine them.” —European Patent Office brochure

09.14.14

Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

Posted in News Roundup at 6:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Updates for Chromium and Flash in sep 14

        Patch tuesday came and went. We have new Flash from Adobe and as a result, the Google Chrome browser also had a version bump and a new “PepperFlash” Plugin. Time for an update of my own Chromium package (just for Slackware 14.1 and current; the package for 13.37 and 14.0 remains at 37.0.2062.94 but you can of course compile a newer one yourself).

    • Mozilla

      • Debug Chrome, Safari apps from Firefox with new add-on
      • Mozilla Looking to Go Cross Platform for Development

        Developers today more often then not require multiple tools to build for desktop and mobile web applications. It’s a challenge that Mozilla is aiming to solve with a new cross-platform web development add-on. The new Firefox Tools Adaptor will now enable a developer to leverage the developer tools in Firefox for applications that will run on multiple platforms. The new plugin extends the reach of Firefox’s developers tools beyond the Firefox browser for the desktop and Android, to apps that will run on Chrome as well as Safari in IOS.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • CMS

  • Funding

    • After the Fork: Financing Open Source Software

      One of the key moments in the history of free software was the rise of companies based around open source. After the first wave of startups based around offering distros and support for them – Red Hat being perhaps the most famous and successful example – there followed a second wave of companies offering open source versions of key enterprise software, many of them described in the early posts of this blog.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 10.1 In Beta Ahead Of Planned Release Next Month

      Glen Barber announced the FreeBSD 10.1 Beta 1 release on Sunday for all of the popular CPU architectures. FreeBSD 10.1 is a minor but significant update over FreeBSD 10.0 with various package updates, bug fixes, and other modest improvements. Though some items worth noting include LLVM Clang compiler updates and native iSCSI stack improvements.

    • FreeBSD 10.1-BETA1 Now Available

      The first BETA build of the 10.1-RELEASE release cycle is now available on the FTP servers for the amd64, armv6, i386, ia64, powerpc, powerpc64 and sparc64 architectures.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Running GCC 5 On Intel’s Haswell-E i7-5960X

      After comparing GCC 4.9 and LLVM Clang 3.5 as the latest stable compilers on the new Intel Core i7 5960X “Haswell-E” system, here’s benchmarks of the thousand dollar processor with the in-development GCC 5.

  • Licensing

    • Understanding Conservancy Through the GSoC Lens

      Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that serves as a home to Open Source and Free Software projects. Such is easily said, but in this post I’d like to discuss what that means in practice for an Open Source and Free Software project and why such projects need a non-profit home. In short, a non-profit home makes the lives of Free Software developers easier, because they have less work to do outside of their area of focus (i.e., software development and documentation).

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • JetBrains CLion: A New Cross Platform C/C++ IDE

      JetBrains has released news of its new cross-platform C/C++ IDE named CLion (pronounced “sea lion”), with its central proposition to enhancing productivity for every C and C++ developer on Linux, OS X, and Windows. It is available now as an Early Access Program build.

Leftovers

Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

Posted in News Roundup at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Stephen Hawking tries Linux powered Wheelchair made by Intel

    Stephen Hawking, one of the smartest brains on the planet, gave Intel’s Linux powered wheelchair a try and talked about it. The company showcased their ‘Connected Wheelchair’ at the ongoing Intel Developer Conference (IDF).

  • CompuLab’s Intense-PC2 Is A Great Haswell-Based Mini Linux PC

    Compared to most Linux PC vendors targeting consumers that are just selling re-branded white box systems with Linux preloaded, CompuLab continues to have an interesting set of original offerings that are Linux-friendly and built really well. The latest system we’ve had the pleasure of trying out is the Intense-PC2.

  • How to Build a Linux Media Server

    Just about any Linux makes an excellent media server because it’s lightweight and stable, so you can use whatever flavor you’re most comfortable with. Any Ubuntu variant (Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and so on) is exceptionally nice to set up as a media server because they make it easy to get restricted codecs. I have Xubuntu running on a ZaReason MediaBox. This is a simple system for playing movies and music. It is not a DVR (digital video recorder), and it doesn’t need a TV tuner because I don’t have any broadcast TV. No cable, satellite, nor over-the-air even. Don’t want it and don’t miss it. But if that’s something you want you may have it, because Linux wants us to be happy.

  • On normal people using linux, part 3

    Another friend approached me to get rid of Windows, the problem was vulnerabilities and virus. She was an artist for life and paint, so I explained to her that Adobe no more and she didn’t really feel moved by that so I tougth “hm… this can work out”.

  • Desktop

    • Make Downloading Files Effortless

      A download manager is computer software that is dedicated to the task of downloading files, optimizing bandwidth usage, and operating in a more organized way. Some web browsers, such as Firefox, include a download manager as a feature, but their implementation lacks the sophistication of a dedicated download manager (or add-ons for the web browser), without using bandwidth optimally, and without good file management features.

      Users that regularly download files benefit from using a good download manager. The ability to maximize download speeds (with download acceleration), resume and schedule downloads, make safer and more rewarding downloading. Download managers have lost some of their popularity, but the best of them offer real benefits including tight integration with browsers, support for popular sites such as YouTube and much more.

    • Enjoy Five Gorgeous Linux Desktops from the Google+ Community

      Linux is a very customizable ecosystem and this is one of the main features of the open source world, the possibility to do almost anything you want with your OS. Every Friday, the Linux community shows its desktops on Google+, so we picked up a few of the most interesting to share with everyone.

  • Server

    • Understanding the key differences between LXC and Docker

      Linux containers (LXC) has the potential to transform how we run and scale applications. Container technology is not new, mainstream support in the vanilla kernel however is, paving the way for widespread adoption.

    • Linux containers startup Flockport launches first of its kind LXC sharing website

      Mumbai, India based startup Flockport launched a first of its kind Linux container (LXC) sharing website for users, administrators and developers providing popular web applications in portable containers that can be deployed in seconds.

      Flockport is based on LXC. LXC containers are like virtual machines, only lightweight and faster with near bare metal performance. The containers are lightweight and efficient, and easy to clone, backup, snapshot and deploy in seconds.

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel Skylake’s MPX Is Closer To Providing Linux Memory Protection

      Besides Intel publicly working on Skylake “Gen9″ graphics support for Linux, Intel open-source developers are also working on other areas of Skylake hardware enablement for Linux. Work on supporting the Intel Memory Protection Extensions (MPX) that are new to the Skylake micro-architecture are still being revised for the Linux kernel and the many other operating system code-bases that need to be updated to work with this security feature.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Radeon DRM With Linux 3.18 To Support Concurrent Buffer Reads

        Another Radeon DRM driver update pull request has been submitted to drm-next for merging in the Linux 3.18 kernel.

      • Intel ILO Gallium3D Driver Sees New Improvements

        For users of the unofficial Intel Gallium3D driver, ILO, it’s been updated with some minor improvements.

      • Intel Haswell-ULT Graphics Don’t Change Much With Linux 3.17, Mesa 10.4

        The Linux 3.17 kernel that’s currently under development does provide many new features overall but for those using the Intel HD Graphics of Haswell-ULT chips, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of any performance improvements and at least no regressions. Likewise, Mesa 10.4 isn’t doing too much for the Haswell hardware on the matter of frame-rates.

      • Wayland Is Still In Ubuntu 14.10

        Still packages and found within the Ubuntu Utopic (14.10) archive are the various Wayland packages. Right now within Ubuntu Universe is Wayland 1.5, the Weston 1.5 compositor release, and various other Wayland-related packages like for VA-API acceleration, the basic GLMark2 benchmark for Wayland, etc. Granted, most of these packages were just supplied by the upstream Debian base and are of no special interest to Canonical. The Wayland packages for Utopic can be found by this package search.

      • X.Org Server 1.16 Lands Officially In Ubuntu 14.10

        After writing earlier this week about a new AMD Catalyst driver paving the way for X Server 1.16 in Ubuntu 14.10, the updated packages have officially landed within the Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn” archive.

      • Wayland/Weston 1.6 RC2 Released

        The final release candidate of Wayland 1.6 along with the Weston reference compositor is now available for testing with hopes of officially releasing this quarterly update next week.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD RadeonSI Gallium3D Performance For 4K Linux Gaming

        While we routinely carry out Ultra HD (4K) Linux graphics/gaming benchmarks at Phoronix, it’s generally been conducted with the proprietary NVIDIA and AMD graphics drivers since the open-source drivers traditionally have had a challenge on performance even at 1080p. However, thanks to the maturing open-source Radeon driver stack, it’s possible with higher-end AMD graphics processors with the latest open-source Linux driver code to begin running at the 4K UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Akademy Wednesday and Thursday Wrapup

        Akademy continues with hacking and BoF meetings. This wrapup meeting video covers sessions from Wednesday and Thursday including accessibility, release team, user information reporting, KDE applications websites, KDevelop and share-like-connect.

      • Beyond Unicode: Closing a gap in the support for mixed character set text in KDE workspaces
      • KDevelop 4.7.0 Released

        Today, the KDevelop team is proud to announce the final release of KDevelop 4.7.0. It is, again, a huge step forwards compared to the last release in terms of stability, performance and polishedness. This release is special, as it marks the end of the KDE4 era for us. As such, KDevelop 4.7.0 comes with a long-term stability guarantee. We will continue to improve it over the coming years, but will refrain from adding new features. For that, we have the upcoming KDevelop 5, based on KDE frameworks 5 and Qt 5, which our team is currently busy working on. See below for more on that topic.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • I’m looking at you

        I write to you all today on a solemn matter, one which I fear will be forgotten and ignored if nobody starts some discussion on this.

        Earlier this week, some of you may have noticed that for a very short time there was a rather angry post by Philip Van Hoof, he sounded quite frustrated and disturbed and the title of his post basically said to please remove him from the Planet GNOME feeds.

        Unfortunately this blog post was even deleted from his own blog, so there is nothing to refer to here, also it was gone so fast that I have a hunch many Planet GNOME readers did not get a chance to see what was going on.

        What I want to highlight in this post is not this frustrated angry post by Philip, but rather the precursor which seems to have led us to this sad turn of events.

  • Distributions

    • Free Linux Firewall OS IPFire 2.15 Core 82 Has Windows Active-Directory Single Sign-On Web Proxy

      Michael Tremer, a developer for the ipfire.org team, has announced that IPFire 2.13 Core 82, a new stable build of the popular Linux-based firewall distribution, is available, bringing quite a few security fixes.

    • Building Linux Distributions That Aren’t Boring [VIDEO]

      Has Linux become boring? That’s a question that Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller is provocatively asking as he navigates a path forward for Linux.

    • New Releases

      • Black Lab Linux 6 Beta 1 Released

        Today we are pleased to release the Beta 1 release of Black Lab Linux 6. This release has been in planning over the last several months and while we have been slaving away over it we have introduced some unique features.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Running The Oibaf PPA On Ubuntu 14.10

            While Ubuntu 14.10 is finally getting X.Org Server 1.16, it doesn’t yet have Mesa 10.3 but that can be easily addressed via third-party packages.

            Mesa 10.3 will hopefully still make it into Ubuntu 14.10 ahead of its debut next month since Mesa 10.3 brings many new features to the commonly used open-source Intel, Radeon, and Nouveau graphics drivers (along with promising drivers like Freedreno and VC4). If you want to try running the newest open-source user-space graphics driver code on Ubuntu 14.10, it can be easily achieved today using the well known Oibaf PPA.

          • Windows 9 lifts features from Ubuntu and Windows Phone

            In the version of Windows 9 demoed in the leaked video, the Metro style Start screen has been replaced with a traditional Windows desktop, complete with the taskbar at the bottom with frequently used app shortcuts. One new element that wasn’t in prior leaked screenshots is the search icon. It appears on the taskbar, next to the Start button. On the right side of the search icon is, at long last, the Virtual Desktop icon. Virtual desktops, a feature that allows users to create, save, and easily switch between multiple desktop configurations, has been available in competing operating systems, like Ubuntu, for some time. With it, a user could have a desktop with several image and video editing applications open and running, and then switch to a different desktop used for browsing the web, or one with a running game, waiting to resume progress. It’s a useful way to manage system resources, as well as screen real estate.

          • Windows 9 to Integrate Multi-tasking Desktops Feature
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Jeff Hoogland Leaves Bodhi

              Jeff Hoogland, the lead developer of Bodhi Linux, said in a blog post on Friday that “for a variety of reasons,” he is stepping down from the leadership of his “labor of love.”

            • Fate of Bodhi Linux in Balance as Founder Quits

              Our top story tonight is the resignation of Jeff Hoogland from his popular Linux project. Michael Larabel is reporting that X.Org Server 1.17 will probably have built-in KMS modesetting driver. Matthew Miller speaks to ServerWatch.com about Linux development. The Linux Rain reviews The Journey Down: Chapter Two. Unixmen reported today that Munich is giving out Ubuntu CDs to its citizens to increase Open Source awareness. And finally today, Leif Lodahl says Open Office and LibreOffice should join (or rejoin) forces to combat proprietary office alternatives.

            • When And Why A GNU/Linux Distro Dies

              Today, Bodhi Linux is on Death’s doorstep. The leader is quitting, leaving behind a git repository. Bodhi is a nice idea, a light desktop distro that is well documented and using APT packaging. It certainly delivers what many folks need. Why is it dying?

            • Stepping Down from Bodhi Linux Lead
  • Devices/Embedded

    • AXIOM Beta Open-Source Camera Moves Closer To Reality

      The AXIOM Beta camera is designed to support two different image sensor modules (including the Cmosis CMV12000 that can allow up to frame rates up to 300 FPS), uses a Xilinx Zynq 7010/7020-based dual-core ARM SoC, supports various lens mounts, boasts three HDMI outputs with 4K support, and features a variety of built-in devices including a 3D accelerometer, 3D magnetometer, and 3D gyroscope. The camera, of course, runs Linux and fully open-source software. The camera’s hardware is also designed to be modular and upgrade friendly over time.

    • Cortex-A5 SBC offers mainline Linux support

      Emtrion’s new SBC uses Atmel’s Cortex-A5-based ATSAMA5D36 SoC and offers HDMI, 2x Ethernet, a battery charger, -40 to 85°C operation, and draws less than 300mA.

    • BattBorg: power your Raspberry Pi with almost any kind of battery

      “The BattBorg is a power converter for your Raspberry Pi which allows you to power the Raspberry Pi off batteries,” explains PiBorg’s Tim Freeburn. “It will work with most batteries/battery packs that are between 7-36V so it’s great for 12V car batteries, 8xAA battery packs, and so on. We’re including an AA battery holder in two of the kits as rechargeable AA’s are inexpensive, and readily available at most shops, and Ebay.”

    • BMW Show off how you remote control the BMW i3 electric car with your Tizen Gear 2 / S Smartwatch

      The car is not simply something that you sit in to get from A to B. Now it is technically an extension of you and integrates with your wrist. Previously we have shown you OnStar remote controlling a Chevrolet car, well now at IFA 2014 it was BMW’s turn to show off their BMW i3 electric car, and also show what Samsung Gear 2 and Gear S users could do with their Tizen based Smartwatches.

    • Robotic Arm Control from the BeagleBone Black

      In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to control a robotic arm from the BeagleBone Black. Then we’ll give your project the ability to manipulate real world objects and perform repetitive tasks for you.

      A robotic arm uses many servo motors to turn arm sections, wrists and move a gripper (fingers). The more servos used, the more moving joints the arm will have leading to greater flexibility. More servos also brings greater cost and control complexity.

      The base model of the Lynxmotion AL5D robot arm uses five servos; one for rotation, a shoulder joint, an elbow, a wrist and a gripper for holding things (sort of like the thumb coming together with all fingers).

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps

          To help bridge the gap between its two mobile platforms, Google has released a beta version of a technology that allows Chrome OS users to run Android apps on their desktops.

          Google OS boss Sundar Pichai first previewed the tech in March, during one of the less buzzed-about segments of his I/O conference keynote.

        • Android apps start coming to Google Chrome OS

          During the I/O summit in June Sundar Pichai of Google said that soon Android apps would come to Chrome OS – bringing the two operating system closer and also bridge the app-gap.

        • Chrome to get Android applications

          Its being reported that the Chrome OS is set to get Android applications in the coming months.

          This news probably has many people excited, firstly the non-tech folk who have a Chrome OS device and have looked in envy to the Play Store, whilst being on “show” for all Chrome OS users, doesn’t offer (at present) any compatibility. It will also have the tech “experts” excited, who don’t actually own or use a Chromebook and see this as another string to the bow of Google’s offering over the evil empires of Microsoft and Apple.

        • Dev boards run KitKat on quad-core Snapdragon 805

          Intrinsyc debuted an SODIMM-style COM with up to 3GB RAM and 64GB flash, running Android 4.4 on a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 805, and a Nano-ITX baseboard.

        • Google’s About-To-Launch Android One Smartphones Could Further Its Dominance In Emerging Markets

          Google will reveal the first of its series of low-cost phones under the much-awaited Android One, an initiative through which it provides a key set of references for hardware to help device manufacturers make low-cost phones. The phones will be unveiled by Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps in New Delhi on Sept 15.

        • Robot OS to support Linux and Android on Snapdragon

          The OSRF plans to add ARM support to the Robot Operating System (ROS), starting with the Snapdragon 600 running Linux in Q4, followed by Android in 2015.

        • The iPhone 6 Is Actually A Lot Like A 2012 Android Phone

          Calm down, Apple fans. Your beloved iPhone 6 may not be all its cracked up to be. In fact, it’s a lot like an Android phone … from 2012.

        • Apple Watch Follows in Android’s Footsteps

          Apple once led the way in mobile devices, leaving those scurvy pirates of the Android world to imitate, innovate, and fill in the niches that Apple neglected. Unlike the iPhone and iPad, however, the Apple Watch announced this week appears to be following more than leading.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Cassandra gets a clean up and speed up in release 2.1

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) announced on September 11 at the Cassandra Summit, the release of Apache Cassandra v2.1, the open-source, Big Data distributed database.

  • 7 Crazy-Named, Crazy Good Open Source Enterprise IT Tools

    Enterprise IT is a very serious matter, but you might not know it judging by the software tools that are often integral to enterprise application development and IT operations.

    The list of odd names in today’s data centers and enterprise IT shops also highlights the ongoing trend of polyglot programming. Today’s applications and services are based on a wider variety of application components — languages, frameworks, databases, Web and application servers — and run on a wider array of infrastructure that includes bare metal servers, traditional data centers, virtual environments, and public, private or hybrid clouds.

  • Open Source is driving disruption in technology: Interview with Nithya Ruff of SanDisk

    Nithya A. Ruff is the director of SanDisk Open Source Strategy Office. The company recently joined The Linux Foundation and we met up with her at LinuxCon to understand SanDisk’s plans for Linux and Open Source.

  • Be an entrepreneur with OpenSource, a talk for the II Forum of women and IT

    This Friday 12 and Saturday 13, September (you know), will be held the II Forum of Woman and Open Technologies ( II Foro de Mujeres y Tecnologías Libres), organized by the ActivistasXSL, which will be held at the INCES at Caracas. I have been part of this group for several years, when I had the amazing opportunity of meet wonderful women that, like me, are part of this technological world.

  • Events

    • Are You Going Conferencing?

      This year, we at FOSS Force are expanding our coverage of Linux, FOSS and OSS conferences. This got us wondering, in a self serving sort of way, how many of you regularly attend conferences?

      At this point, it’s looking as if we’ll have boots on the ground at three conferences, all scheduled for late October. In fact, we’re already hard at work coordinating our efforts to cover these events.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromecast can play movies saved on your Google Drive

        Chromebook has become a true alternative of Windows and Mac PCs for an average user. Google continues to add more and more features to their Chromecast device. Now Chrome OS users can stream movies to Chromecast which are stored on their Google Drive.

      • Top Offline Games for Google Chrome

        Google Chromebook users sometimes have a hard time convincing Windows, Mac and Linux users why their laptop is a worthy purchase. This is because many people think that Chrome OS can’t do much of the stuff the usual desktop OS can do. After all, it’s just a browser in a laptop, right?

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Thunderbird 13.1.1 Lands in Ubuntu

        Canonical has shared some details about a number of Thunderbird vulnerabilities identified in its Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS operating systems, and the devs have pushed a new version into the repositories.

      • Mozilla Delivers Adapter for Cross-Browser Testing in Firefox

        If you work with web content very much, you’re probably familiar with doing debugging and content editing directly from within a browser. You may also be familiar with debugging and testing web apps across browsers.

        For some time now, Mozilla has been focused on delivering tools for doing development tasks directly within Firefox. For example, users have been experimenting with WebIDE, a development environment for HTML5 apps built into Firefox. Now, Mozilla is offering an adapter that lets it connect the Firefox developer tools with Chrome and iOS to help developers test their web apps directly within Firefox.

      • Firefox Add-on Enables Web Development Across Browsers and Devices

        Developing across multiple browsers and devices is the main issue developers have when building applications. Wouldn’t it be great to debug your app across desktop, Android and iOS with one tool? We believe the Web is powerful enough to offer a Mobile Web development solution that meets these needs!

        Enter an experimental Firefox add-on called the Firefox Tools Adaptor that connects the Firefox Developer Tools to other major browser engines. This add-on is taking the awesome tools we’ve built to debug Firefox OS and Firefox on Android to the other major mobile browsers starting with Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS. So far these tools include our Inspector, Debugger and Console.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • There is no reason at all to use MySQL: Michael Widenius

      MySQL was once the most popular open source database (it still is), but it’s popularity and deployment is declining under the ownership of Oracle. The founder of MySQL Michael Widenius “Monty” was not happy when Oracle announced to acquire MySQL through Sun Microsystem. He created MariaDB, an open source, drop-in replacement of MySQL, which is gaining popularity lately.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • ‘Open and Libre Office projects should reunite’

      The software developers working on Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice – two closely related suites of open source office productivity tools – should overcome their schism and unite to compete with the ubiquitous proprietary alternative, urges Daniel Brunner, head of the IT department of Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court. Merging the two projects will convince more public administrations to use the open source office suite, he believes.

    • Apache Open Office and LibreOffice should join forces

      Before I continue I would like to emphasize that I’m part of the game and therefore you should consider this as one of many voices in the choir and not some kind of “I know the truth” statement. I’m member of The Document Foundation and not a neutral opinion. I would also emphasize that I’m speaking on behalf of my self and not as member of any organization.

    • LibreOffice cash-for-code strategy tests open source ethic

      The Document Foundation’s tender for the development of an Android implementation of LibreOffice begs serious questions, namely: Can an influx of cash into open source code creation succeed, and how do pay-for-code plays from nonprofit foundations affect the ethics and work ethic of today’s open source community?

  • CMS

    • Step-by-step: create an online quiz on Moodle

      Teaching is called the noblest profession of all. When you teach somebody you give that person knowledge that they are going to use over a lifetime. As with any other profession, teaching also is slowly embracing technology in terms of remote education, MOOCs, online tutorials, and more. Typical of open source methods, it is helping a field innovate, helping teachers educate students faster and better.

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • ThinkPenguin wireless router now FSF-certified to respect your freedom

      Friday, September 12, 2014 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to the ThinkPenguin Wireless N-Broadband Router (TPE-NWIFIROUTER). The RYF certification mark means that the product meets the FSF’s standards in regard to users’ freedom, control over the product, and privacy. This is the first router to receive RYF certification from the FSF.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Twitter and Other Tech Companies to Adopt Bug Bounty Programs

      Twitter recently announced that it will give security researchers who find security flaws in its tools cold, hard cash, not just a pat on the back. The company is partnered with the existing bug bounty program HackerOne, which offers a minimum of $140 for each bug and has no maximum payout for bugs disclosed responsibly. Meanwhile, Gizmodo has called for Apple to launch a bug bounty program.

Leftovers

09.11.14

Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

Posted in News Roundup at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Dell buys into the open-source network

    Dell doesn’t wants to be just your data center server provider. In partnership with Cumulus Networks, they want to be your open-source network services provider as well.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Piston OpenStack Takes on AWS with Low-Cost Private Clouds

      OpenStack orchestration vendor Piston is shooting to make do-it-yourself private-cloud computing easier with the release this week of a new version of its Piston OpenStack platform, which it says offers all the benefits of the AWS public cloud without the costs or security vulnerabilities.

  • Databases

    • FoundationDB Adds Open Source SQL Storage Tool

      FoundationDB, the company so far known mainly for its NoSQL data storage platform, expanded into the SQL world this week with the release of SQL Layer, a free and open source database engine that runs on top of the FoundationDB NoSQL platform.

  • Education

    • Gibbon sees demand for open education grow

      Version 8 also saw a range of other new features, including a simple WordPress-style installer, which reduces the technical demands of getting Gibbon up and running. It is hoped that this new feature will enable more schools and companies to trial Gibbon as a solution to their information management and online learning needs. In addition, Linguist sees the introduction of improved visuals, system update alerts, personalised Markbook targets, better mass mailing, quicker staff finding, support for cutting edge code, improved Markbook interface and close to one hundred other tweaks, fixes and enhancements.

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Creating Test Gear With Software-Defined Radios

      Two years ago, I wrote about using an inexpensive RTL2832-based DVB/DAB USB dongle as a spectrum analyzer and receiver. (See “Software-Defined Radios Help Explore RF Spectrum,” July 11, 2012). It is still part of my travel toolkit, but when I can, I make room for an Ettus Research USRP B200. As with the RTL2832 dongles, software is available to use it as a receiver or spectrum analyzer. Unlike the cheap dongles, it includes a transmitter that allows it to be used as a simple antenna or filter analyzer with the addition of a directional coupler.

  • Project Releases

    • New Release: Elektra 0.8.8

      Great news! I am very happy to announce that we have reached a new milestone for Elektra and released a new version, 0.8.8! This release comes right on the tail of the 0.8.7 release and it might just be our biggest release yet! We already have a great article covering all the changes from the previous release on our News documentation on GitHub. I just wanted to focus on a few of those changes on this blog, especially the ones that pertain to my Google Summer of Code Project.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open source: Blendhub offers ‘fingerprint’ library for nutrient blends

      Spanish supplier Blendhub is taking the rare step of offering customers access to its new library of near infra-red (NIR) spectroscopy analyses from more than 300 raw materials.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open source education materials need to replace textbooks

        There are few things more frustrating or dread-inspiring than staring at a brand new $100 textbook only to know that in a few months it will not only be useless, but almost worthless.

        With a never-ending demand for textbooks and no clear alternative established, textbook publishers have turned into modern day robber barons. As prices for textbooks and other school materials rise, students are left helpless only to accept the glutinous punishment doled out on them at the start of every new semester.

      • A global shift to open source at the university

        Historically, universities were not inclusive places. While you can find free traditional university education (Norway’s much-lauded education system comes to mind, as well as some other European countries), the vast majority of the world simply didn’t have access to higher education before the emergence of online technologies. This made higher education largely an exercise in class and gender role reinforcement. In more recent decades, universities have been aggressively monetizing, which theoretically eliminates class and gender as exclusionary factors but more realistically simply acts to reinforce the exclusivity and inaccessibility of further study.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • Why GitHub is not your resume

      We talk to a lot of great engineers and developers at Metacloud. Many seek us out as an amazing place to work, some we find and reach out to. There’s a growing trend to let your GitHub profile be the source of truth for your talents and experience, and I wanted to touch on why that’s a bad idea.

Leftovers

  • Michael Moore talks 25th anniversary of ‘Roger & Me’

    The latest episode of the Free Press-produced “The Documentary Podcast” chats with filmmaker and rabble-rouser Michael Moore, whose “Roger & Me” is being celebrated this week at the Toronto International Film Festival.

  • Michael Moore Slams Obama, Says He Will Only Be Remembered As First Black President (WATCH)

    Controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore slammed President Barack Obama during a discussion at The Hollywood Reporter’s video lounge at the Toronto Film Festival Wednesday, expressing a “huge disappointment” with the legislative accomplishments of the politician.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Russia challenges post-Cold War order

      Diverging views on global matters between the West and Russia in a new poll don’t signal the advent of a new Cold War, German Marshall Fund president Karen Donfried tells DW. But there is still cause for concern.

    • The Mainstream Media Calls War Criminal Henry Kissinger “the Most Celebrated Foreign-Policy Strategist of our Time”
    • And Now, a Word From Henry Kissinger…

      Kissinger is most closely associated with the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. Of the latter, he famously delivered this order: “A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.” Credible estimates of the number of people killed as a result of this order range as high as 800,000.

    • To NYT, ‘Full Range of Views’ on War Is Pretty Narrow

      So what does a “full range of views” look like to the New York Times? Powerful people who worked for Republicans and Democrats.

    • Our New War Will Be Different Because…

      It is not that hard to come up with examples of US attacks that were not designed to strike at leaders. The use of “signature strikes”–attacks launched based on movements or behaviors the United States thought looked like the sort of thing a militant might do–was well-documented in Pakistan until widespread criticism reportedly forced US officials to curtail that policy (AP, 7/25/13).

      Whether or not they meant to refer to current US drone attacks exclusively, it is misleading for the Times to talk about US war policies this way.

    • Rand Paul Says Obama’s ISIS Plan Definitely Unconstitutional

      Republican Sen. Rand Paul expressed support for President Obama’s latest round of military action against terrorist state ISIS while insisting that the operation is nevertheless technically unconstitutional.

    • They’re students, not recruits

      Keep the military’s base of operations out our education system

    • Protesters Rally Against Militarized Drones in Des Moines

      The 132nd Fighter Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard is coming under an attack, of sorts, today with a rally from protesters opposed to the use of militarized drones. The mission of the fighter wing had always been manned aircraft, but those F-16 jets were a victim of budget cuts and the mission of the airmen was shifted to include a piloting-and-control center for weaponized drones.

      Ed Flaherty, director Iowa Chapter 161 with Veterans for Peace, says that could turn the “Field of Dreams” into the “Killing Fields.”

    • Analysis: President who wanted end wars tries to justify a new one

      Nearly six years into a presidency devoted to ending U.S. wars in the Muslim world, President Barack Obama faced the nation Wednesday night to explain why he has decided to engage in a new one.

    • Victorians, you are about to get slugged

      If we are going to condemn, and rightly so, actions we do not condone, then we need to do it with conviction and not selectively. Who used napalm and depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, killing many women and children? Is that not barbaric? Who uses drones, which kill the innocent along with the guilty? We all know that the posturing on the world stage calling for war, albeit without ”feet on the ground”, will not resolve the problems.

    • ‘Good Kill’ Director Andrew Niccol Slams CIA’s Drone Policy, Explains Ethan Hawke Casting

      Ethan Hawke stars in the film as Major Thomas Egan, a fighter pilot turned drone pilot who “begins to question the U.S. policy on the use of drones after being ordered to hit civilians.”

    • US bombing defended

      The United States’ controversial bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War killed fewer civilians than American drone attacks under President Barack Obama have done, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said on the weekend, a claim labelled as “disingenuous”, foolish and plain wrong by historians and experts.

      In a National Public Radio (NPR) interview aired Saturday, Kissinger also said decisions taken by the US during the war, including the massive aerial bombing of Cambodia and Laos, were correct and would be taken by anyone faced with the same circumstances today.

      Estimates for the number of civilian casualties of the US bombardment of Cambodia targeting North Vietnamese communists and later the Khmer Rouge – which saw some 2.75 million tonnes of ordnance dropped between 1965 and 1973 – vary greatly, however most scholars agree that they are at least in the tens of thousands.

    • Beheaded or bombed, which is worse?

      I stand dumbfounded at our nation even considering putting US citizens back into Iraq — when we were lied to with grotesque fabrications of reality to persuade us to make war on them in the first place. Now, our leaders are “making the case” for making war on Syria while the distortions of reality continue.

    • US Drone Campaign In Somalia Creates More Enemies

      Ahmed Abdi Godane, one of the State Department’s most wanted men was killed by US drone strikes outside Mogadishu last week. Godane, who was also known as Abu Zubeyr was the leader of al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group based in Somalia. He had a $7 million bounty placed on his head by the US government after he pledged formal allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2012. Eleven other men were also killed in the traveling convoy which was attacked by up to 10 Hellfire missiles.

    • Somalia: Amisom failures show that Godane’s death is no quick fix

      The death by drone of Al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was “a delightful victory” for Somalia’s struggling transitional government, and a major boost for a new anti-Al Shabaab military offensive. But as African Union troops push further in south-central Somalia, Human Rights Watch has reported horrific sexual abuse and exploitation at the Amisom base in Mogadishu. So much for the moral high ground.

    • 11 Afghan Civilians Killed in NATO Bombing Raid

      At least 11 civilians died and 13 others were injured in a raid by NATO warplanes in eastern Kunar province, an Afghan official confirmed to Efe on Wednesday.

      The strike took place Tuesday as the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force was targeting Taliban strongholds in cooperation with Afghan units, government spokesman Abdullah Gani said.

    • The Department of Defense ‘respectfully declined’ to participate in new drone movie

      The folks behind “Good Kill,” a new movie about the U.S. military’s drone operations in the Middle East, hope the film becomes a cinematic flash point (think “Zero Dark Thirty”). And that’s probably why the Department of Defense RSVP’d no when invited to participate.

    • Abbas Threatens to Break Deal with Hamas

      Tensions between the two rival Palestinian factions of Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Islamist Hamas movement were stepped up this weekend after Abbas said he will break off his partnership with Hamas if they don’t make some changes. Speaking on a visit to Egypt, where indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinains are expected to resume in the next few weeks. Abbas said that Hamas must accept a Palestinian state must have “one government, one law and one weapon”, meaning that Hamas must subordinate its military forces to those of Fatah. The two groups inaugurated a unity government in July, but it has yet to function. Over the weekend, Hamas officials claimed that Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank were arresting its men for no reason, and Hamas today called on its operatives in the West Bank not to cooperate with Palestinian Authority security investigations. Support for Hamas has increased dramatically since the end of the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is also demanding a “new unity government” meaning it wants to renegotiate the terms of it’s agreement with Fatah.

    • A Nation Addicted To War & Other Big Takeaways From Obama’s ISIS Address
    • Pentagon Funds New Data-Mining Tools to Track and Kill Activists

      One flagship project established at Arizona State University (ASU) since 2009 examines “radical” and “counter-radical” movements in Southeast Asia, West Africa and Western Europe. This month, I obtained exclusive access to some of the online research tools being used by the Pentagon-funded project, disclosing a list of 36 mostly Muslim organizations in the UK targeted for assessment as to their relationship to radicalism.

    • DOJ memo reveals legal rationale for drone assassination of American citizen
    • The death by drone memos (Part II)
    • A Justice Department Memo Provides the CIA’s Legal Justification to Kill a US Citizen

      So begins a 22-page, heavily redacted, previously top-secret document titled “Legality of a Lethal Operation by the Central Intelligence Agency Against a US Citizen,” which provides the first detailed look at the legal rationale behind lethal operations conducted by the agency. The white paper [pdf below] was turned over to VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department.

    • The politics of Islam cannot be bombed away

      Before the warmongers have a cow, keep in mind that Obama’s idea of managing a terrorism problem involves killing people, without warning, even in countries where we are not at war. Just this week he authorized an airstrike in Somalia in an attempt to kill the leader of al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda offshoot. Obama’s fondness for drones as instruments of surveillance and assassination is such that any terrorist leader is foolhardy if he ventures to take out the garbage.

    • Shabaab’s new leader ‘devout, ruthless’

      The new leader of Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels is thought to be a devout and ruthless hardliner who was one of the most trusted lieutenants of the group’s late chief, according to experts and analysts.

    • Al-Shabaab confirms leader’s death, names successor
    • Somalia’s Al Shabab rebels appoint new leader, vow revenge

      Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab militants have announced the appointment of a successor to their former leader who was killed in a US air strike.

      The Islamist group named Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, as its new head.

      Abu Ubaidah is thought to be a devout and ruthless hardliner who was one of the most trusted lieutenants of the group’s late chief Ahmed Abdi Godane, according to experts and analysts.

    • Eugene Robinson: Our challenge with Islam
    • Eugene Robinson: Challenge with Islam not as easy at it may seem
    • US air attacks on ISIS are ineffective, illogical, immoral
    • Dan Simpson: The U.S. keeps risking retribution

      We cannot forever attack people in other countries with impunity

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Fracking Away the Climate Crisis

      It’s not that fracking or oil drilling aren’t controversial; the Times’ Nelson Schwartz notes that the “environmental consequences of the American energy boom…are being fiercely debated nationwide.” But Ohio isn’t like other parts of the country where opposition to fracking is intense, “because residents are so desperate for the kind of economic growth that fracking can bring, whatever the risks.”

    • VIDEO: Fox’s Defense Overruled, BP To Blame For Gulf Oil Spill

      When BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, Fox News pundits rushed to the corporation’s defense with excuses ranging from pitiful to conspiratorial. But now the ruling is out, exposing the falsities of Fox’s defense: BP was to blame for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • NRO Misinforms On Money In Politics And Proposed Citizens United Amendment

      On September 8, the Senate voted to debate the proposed constitutional amendment, which would re-establish campaign finance laws that the conservative justices of the Supreme Court struck down in Citizens United in 2010. That decision overturned part of the McCain-Feingold Act — much-needed bipartisan campaign finance reforms instituted to prevent corruption of the political process and level the playing field between small donors and the wealthy — and effectively eliminated limits for independent corporate spending in federal elections. Specifically, Citizens United radically rewrote First Amendment precedent and expanded the legal concept of “corporate personhood,” with the court ultimately deciding that the political spending by corporations was constitutionally equivalent to the free speech of actual human voters. The conservative justices chipped away at campaign finance limits even further this year in McCutcheon v. FEC, which abolished direct contribution limits that worked to control the corrupting influence of multimillion-dollar donations.

    • New NPR Boss: ‘We’re Going to Be Talking About Brands That Matter a Little Bit More’

      Anyone who listens to NPR has heard plenty of corporate sponsorship announcements, and some listeners have raised substantive questions about whether those financial ties compromise NPR’s journalism (Extra!, 3/14). According to the new boss, nothing’s going to change–you’re just going to hear more about “brands that matter” because you’ll be “interested” in them. That is, as long as you’re part of the “not just affluent” audience that the supposedly noncommercial network is so proud of–for the “larger commitments” from sponsors they can command.

  • Censorship

    • Google Changes Its Mind And Bans ‘Disconnect Mobile’ AGAIN

      Looks like Disconnect won a battle but lost the war to sell its app in Google’s Android app store.

      One day after lifting a ban on Disconnect Mobile and allowing the app back into the Play store, Google reinstated the ban and booted the app out again, CEO Casey Oppenheim told Business Insider.

  • Privacy

    • Assistant Professor of Mathematics Djordje Milićević Receives NSA Grant

      Assistant Professor of Mathematics Djordje Milićević has received a Young Investigator Grant from the National Security Agency’s Mathematical Sciences Program. This award is available to promising investigators within ten years after receiving the Ph.D.

    • Hezbollah fighter killed by Israeli spy device

      Hezbollah is constantly searching for such spy devices planted by the Israelis in strategic places in southern Lebanon and many have been found, sometimes with the help of the Lebanese Army, in places such as Barouk, Sanine, Sarifa Valley, Houla Valley and Zararieh Valley.

    • No Place to Hide

      Greenwald was a constitutional and civil right lawyer, who became a blogger in 2005 alarmed at “the radical and extremist theories of power the US government had adopted in the wake of 9/11” and shocked at revelations about “warrantless eavesdropping” by the US National Security Agency on electronic communications of Americans. He then became a columnist for the Guardian and bestselling author. It was this background that prompted Snowden to choose Greenwald as his first contact person for revealing NSA wrong doing.

    • Why Web Giants Are Struggling To Stop Snoops Spying On Thousands Of Websites

      Not long after Edward Snowden revealed just how the world’s spy agencies were trying to crack encryption protecting citizens’ private messages zipping around the internet, various organisations sought to enforce better standards across the web. Many programs were already in place, they just needed fresh impetus, which the NSA files duly provided.

    • Tech Industry Tries Again on Surveillance Reform
    • Tech groups press Congress to pass USA Freedom Act
    • Guaranteed safety, Snowden to testify in Switzerland against the NSA
    • The Beginners Guide to using TOR
    • Tech coalition urges support for Senate bill banning bulk collection of phone, Internet data
    • Tech associations renew push for USA Freedom Act
    • Xbox One Getting Wireless Home Security Surveillance Device
    • The NSA Gives Birth To Start-Ups

      Former NSA chief Keith Alexander has been sweating it out in the spotlight this summer for converting his spy cred into a lucrative security consulting business shortly after stepping down from the National Security Agency. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf calls Alexander’s new IronNet Cybersecurity firm an “unethical get-rich quick plan” because it will charge hundreds of thousands of dollars a month for “ new” technologies the firm is patenting. “What could make [Alexander] so valuable, save the highly classified secrets in his head?” wrote Friedersdorf. But Alexander is far from the first to realize that the NSA’s area of expertise is in high demand in the commercial sector these days as more and more of our information is being digitized and concerns about security and privacy mount. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden may have immersed the agency in controversy but it hasn’t stopped it from becoming a fertile breeding ground for privacy and security entrepreneurs who are leaving the agency and quickly raking in millions from venture capitalists. Synack, Virtru, Area 1 Security and Morta Security are a few of the start-ups in recent years whose twenty- and thirty-something founders got their engineering training at the NSA.

    • Senators Tasked With NSA Oversight Urge Appeals Court To End Call Records Collection
    • Senators and Other Experts to Appeals Court: NSA’s Phone Records Program Is a Massive Invasion of Privacy
    • Letter: Quit passing around my email, Demos

      It wasn’t that long ago that Democrats nationwide were angry over NSA privacy violations. But Democrats are violating citizens’ privacy, too.

    • Concerns over civil liberties, security flip

      Fifty percent of people believe the government’s anti-terrorism policies have not gone far enough to protect the United States, according to a new poll, a 15-point shift since last year.

    • Senator: We’re not any safer today than we were pre-9/11

      On the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11, American Senators and intelligence officials met today in public and private hearings to discuss cybersecurity and real world terrorist threats posed the United States domestically and abroad.

    • From The Editor

      In this week’s issue, though, Yasha Levine explains why we don’t need the government to make us paranoid. It’s got nothing, Levine argues, on the for-profit surveillance being run by tech companies like Google. Oh, and if you thought technologies like Tor were keeping your data safe and anonymous, think again.

    • Watch List

      Little wonder then that Google, and the rest of Surveillance Valley, is terrified that the conversation about surveillance could soon broaden to include not only government espionage, but for-profit spying as well.

    • Germans drift away from US, finds transatlantic poll
    • ​Germans want more independence from US

      The majority of German citizens, for the first time in history, insist on less dependence on the United States in terms of their national security and diplomacy, according to a major survey released by the German Marshall Fund think-tank.

      The study published on Wednesday shows that most Germans want their country to take a more independent position from the United States, especially on issues as vital as national security and sovereign diplomacy.

      A majority of 57 percent of German respondents opted for a more independent approach, according to the Transatlantic Trends survey, which is up from only 40 percent back in 2013. What is even more interesting is that just 19 percent of Germans say they want to have a closer relationship with the United States – compared to 34 percent of Americans who wanted their country to get cosier with Germany.

    • Someone’s always watching, especially in a campaign

      At a recent Republican rally in Dawsonville, Tisdale was shooting video of speeches by statewide candidates. She taped Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens making this comment about Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn: “I thought I was gonna absolutely puke, listening to her.”

      A few minutes after Tisdale recorded that humorous remark, she was suddenly told to stop taping by a Dawson County sheriff’s deputy. When she continued to shoot video, the deputy grabbed her, dragged her away from the meeting area, and had her arrested on charges of obstructing an officer.

    • Op-Ed: How the U.S. government used 9/11 to attack freedom

      Just six weeks after 9/11, with virtually no debate and a bipartisan demand for more executive power, the Patriot Act was passed in October 2001. The country wanted revenge, safety, and action to prevent another act of terrorism. While their media propped up everything the Bush administration did, the freedoms Americans cherished slowly become a distant memory.

    • Former NSA chief’s plan to patent anti-hacker technology raises questions of ethics

      A 5-month-old company in Washington has developed what it calls ground-breaking technology to thwart cyberattacks before they’ve been identified — a significant advancement over current systems, which react to known threats.

      Yet, the effort itself is under a more conventional attack. The founder of the company, Keith Alexander, had led the National Security Agency until March, and his plan to patent the technology is drawing criticism from people who say he’s profiting from work he did for the government.

    • Ex-NSA Chief’s Anti-Hacker Patent Sparks Ethics Questions
    • SEPT. 11 ANNIVERSARY: 13 years later, are we safe?

      A near majority of Americans feel less safe today than they did 13 years ago on 9/11.

    • How to secure the Internet of Things

      The potential lifestyle and business benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) are huge. How great would it be in this future IoT world where information flows freely around us, that a business could pull data on any process, any time, anywhere in real time?

    • The BND and relations with Germany

      The problems with Germany are growing. During German President Joachim Gauck’s visit, we saw the tip of the iceberg. The image of Turkey in Germany was seriously undermined during the Gezi protests. The reactions were so out of control that an adviser argued that the protests had been provoked by Germany to prevent the construction of a third airport in İstanbul. He was given an annual award for paranoia in Germany.

    • Lindsey Graham: Liberty Lovers Are “Crazy”

      To keep up with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham‘s logic, you’ve got to be able to run around in circles … really, really fast .

      Seriously … one week Graham wants to bomb one group, the next week he wants to bomb another. And it’s always in response to some totally ridiculous fearmongering.

    • Restoring cloud confidence

      The iCloud naked photos leak, the AWS casualty Code Spaces, and the NSA PRISM Surveillance Programme… all have caused a crisis of confidence in the cloud. These highly publicised incidents have caused us to question the security of the model as a whole. But are these fears justified?

    • 9/11 Vs. Snowden: My Students’ Surprising Debate About Privacy And Government

      “I don’t know why I would need that,” said one student. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

      When I hear something like that from a journalism student, I try very hard to slow down my reactions. If I jump into the discussion too soon, it has a chilling effect and nothing is learned except my own view of this subject.

    • Michael Stipe Blasts Bush Administration and the Media in Essay About 9/11

      “Are we that afraid of others? Of ourselves? Of the possibility of genuine change?”

  • Civil Rights

    • Ferguson Shooting Protest Continues And Rage Against The Machine Guitarist Tom Morello Debuts A New Song To Show His Support Against Inequality

      The Ferguson shooting protest continues to hunt the American government and the whole nation. Although the unrest has died down a bit, its psychological effects to lives of ordinary citizens have dented people’s trust to the police forces. The very first public meeting since the shooting in the Missouri city has been held and it was filled with anger, mostly from the camp of the 18-year old victim, Michael Brown.

    • We’re Giving Police Body Cameras—but Who’s Controlling Their Footage?

      America is rushing to outfit cops with cameras, but even experts aren’t sure of the laws regulating the storage of the videos they capture—or determining who exactly has access.

    • A Nation of Laws?

      If you watched this drama closely, you surely noticed how narrowly we conceptualize corruption in America. A government official is guilty of corruption only if he or she was given a gift, favor or cash in direct exchange for an official action that favored the business in question. In effect, general influence peddling and election purchasing, which we see more commonly, are legitimate.

    • ‘Evidence’ Surfaces on How FBI Broke Law in Obtaining Silk Road Server Location
    • Are the FBI and “weev” both hackers?

      If what “weev” did could be considered hacking, the FBI just might be a hacker, too, a former federal prosecutor says.

      The trial attorney for Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, Orin Kerr, says the actions the FBI took to find the servers of the online drug haven Silk Road could fall under the same hacking statute in which his high-profile client was charged.

    • Law Enforcement Related Deaths in the US: “Justifiable Homicides” and the Impacts on Families

      According to newspaper accounts over 1,500 people die annually in the US in law enforcement related deaths. These are all deaths in the presence of law enforcement personnel both on the street and in local jails. Infamous cases such as Andy Lopez, Oscar Grant, and Michael Brown are only the tip of the iceberg. Many hundreds more are killed annually and these deaths by police are almost always ruled justifiable, even when victims are unarmed or shot in the back running away. We interviewed 14 families who lost loved ones in law enforcement related deaths in the SF Bay Area from 2000-2010. All the families believe their loved one should not have been killed and most felt that the police over-reacted and murdered their family member. All families reported abuse by police after the deaths. Most also reported that the corporate media was biased in favor of the police and failed to accurately report the real circumstances of the death.

    • Transparently bad: U.S. whistleblowers feel blowback

      Federal employees who expose government waste, fraud and abuse are having a tough time in the “most transparent administration in history.”

      Robert MacLean, a former air marshal, told a House subcommittee Tuesday that managers at the Transportation Security Administration “thumb their nose” at whistleblower protection laws.

      MacLean, who complained that air marshals were improperly grounded by the TSA, is taking his termination to the U.S. Supreme Court after losing a series of lopsided proceedings at the agency. He said the TSA branded him “an organizational terrorist.”

    • A Whistleblower’s Story

      I have been called the whistleblower who “conquered Countrywide” by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times. I have also been referred to as “Wall-Street’s Greatest Enemy: The Man Who Knows Too Much” in a revelatory article by David Dayen in Salon. However, I do not feel like a conqueror at all. I feel like a victim who has been repeatedly re-victimized by a system that allows legal loopholes, misrepresentations, and fraud on a trial and appellate court.

    • US bans Europol from releasing its own documents to European officials

      The United States has instructed Europol, the European Union’s police agency, to withhold its own annual internal data-protection review from EU lawmakers because the report was written without the US Treasury Department’s permission.

    • Op-ed: Reflections on the ramifications of 9/11

      In violation of the Army’s Code of Ethics, “enhanced interrogation” (torture) has been carried out; and a majority of the U.S. public has been convinced that these methods are both essential and acceptable. However, General Stanley Mcchrystal, who headed operations in Iraq, opposes the use of torture because, he has contended, “it corrodes the torturer more than the tortured.”

    • Paradox of an American predicament

      In 2006, George Bush Jr was caught at a G8 dinner in St Petersburg on an open mic, laying out his plan to halt the strife in Lebanon: “See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s*** and it’s over,” he told Tony Blair. It was high time, Bush thought, for the then United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, to get on the phone with the Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad, and “make something happen”.

    • Is Guantánamo Navy base part of the USA? Well, that depends…

      U.S. troops blare The Star Spangled Banner across this 45-square-mile base each morning at 8 o’clock sharp. Fireworks crackle overhead on the Fourth of July.

      Marines control the fenceline opposite Cuba’s minefield and American sailors check visitors’ passports or Pentagon ID cards as they arrive by plane.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Spotify: Aussie Music Piracy Down 20% The Year After Our Launch

        New research from Spotify shows that music piracy via BitTorrent dropped 20% in Australia during the first year the streaming platform was operational. The drop was mostly driven by casual file-sharers, and the number of hard-core pirates remains stable.

09.10.14

Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

Posted in News Roundup at 2:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 6 questions to accelerate open source in non-tech companies

    Though Linux and now many other technology companies have amply demonstrated how communities of volunteers and users can add significant value to development and support efforts, the decision to embrace a comparable strategy by non-tech companies involves a bigger leap—and bold new leadership willing to wade into some unfamiliar territory. Whereas a “hacker culture” inclines tech oriented users to join with others to solve common problems, and leaders to embrace that approach for their companies, it’s not nearly so automatic for, say, executives who deal with making cement, selling coffee, or marketing the trading of stocks and bonds. In fact for many non-technical leaders today, “embracing the crowd” (or a community of volunteers, or networks of customers, etc.) is still a big unknown, often seeming to be fraught with unmanageable costs and risks.

  • Is open source really ‘open’ to women?

    On a personal note, I am committed to the challenge of getting more girls on side, both at credativ and through backing members of the Open Source Consortium. I entered this arena with a Cultural Studies degree, which gave me a good grounding in philosophising, but only limited commercial insight. Contrary to any initial fears I might have had about being ostracised as a woman without any specialised technical knowledge in a male dominated environment, I’ve found it to be accepting and rewarding. From a fairly nonchalant initial association – attending Open Source Consortium meetings; helping organise annual Software Freedom Day events; interacting with Linux User Groups and online forums – I’ve become passionate about challenging the widely-held misconceptions about this world.

  • Here’s what Girl Develop It’s open source fellows built this summer

    “I didn’t think there was a place for me at Code for Philly,” she said late last month to the crowd at the showcase for Girl Develop It’s Summer of Open Source Fellowship. “I thought it was going to be a lot of intense tech guys working in Rails.”

  • The Disaggregation Of Networking, The Open Source Upstarts And Legacy Vendors’ Business

    Cisco has a point here. With the aggregated model of networking, customers have “one throat to choke”. One vendor delivers both hardware and software and thus there is no doubt who is to blame when something goes wrong. But it’s hard to argue this point as a continuing factor as enterprise IT rapidly moves towards a distributed, disaggregated and composible paradigm across the board. Enterprise IT is becoming, by definition, a more distributed operation.

  • The Defunct Bitcoin SourceForge Project Was Hacked

    The original SourceForge project site for Bitcoin has been compromised along with an original email address of Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious founder(s) of the project.

  • A visual history of open source

    The open source movement has brought good things to the lives of countless people around the world. But have you ever wondered how it all got started? Check out this infographic that walks you through the birth of open source in the 1950s to today’s thriving open source world.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Citrix Cloud Leadership Changes May Be a Reaction to OpenStack’s Momentum

      To be clear, the open source CloudStack platform that Apache now oversees is a different branch from the commercial one that Citrix oversees. The open source version from Apache is moving forward, but it’s unclear what Citrix may be making of the momentum that OpenStack has.

    • Free courses for getting started in the open source cloud

      The cloud is a big place. There’s no one technology, no one source of information, and no one topic that can cover everything. But to me, that’s what is exciting about it. It’s a place where having a multidisciplinary background is not only helpful, it’s essential.

    • OpenStack Educational Resources Are Spreading Out
    • HAMR time for Google’s MapReduce, says not-so-startup

      Like the idea of chewing on terabytes data using Google’s MapReduce but think it’s too slow, too hardware-hungry and too complicated?

      A fledgling big-data analytics venture reckons it’s got the answer – a Hadoop programming framework built using Java it claims is 20 times faster than using ordinary Hadoop and that it claims uses less data-centre hardware. It’s easier to program, too, they claim.

  • Databases

    • NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine

      The NHS has ripped the Oracle backbone from a national patient database system and inserted NoSQL running on an open-source stack.

      Spine2 has gone live following successful redevelopment including redeployment on new, x86 hardware. The project to replace Spine1 had been running for three years with Spine2 now undergoing a 45-day monitoring period.

    • FoundationDB SQL Layer: Storing SQL Data in a NoSQL Database

      FoundationDB has announced the general availability of SQL Layer, and ANSI SQL engine that runs on top of their key-value store. The result is a relational database backed up by a scalable, fault-tolerant, shared-nothing, distributed NoSQL store with support for multi-key ACID transactions.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Five free office suites for Linux

      Office suites are important productivity tools that many of us depend on day in and day out. Fortunately, we have a range of office options to choose from in Linux. Some are open source and some are not, but all are useful in their own right. Linux Links has a useful roundup of five free office suites.

  • CMS

    • 3 Drupal education distros reviewed

      Drupal is a powerful and flexible open source content management system that powers a large number of sites on the Internet. Drupal’s flexibility means that sites built with Drupal can vary widely in form and function. In most cases, this flexibility is a benefit, but it can sometimes also be overwhelming. Growing a Drupal powered website from Drupal Core to a finished, customized site, by selecting from a wide variety of modules and themes, can be a complicated and time consuming process.

  • Healthcare

    • Why open source is positive for healthcare

      As a clinical consultant representing a proprietary software supplier in healthcare, you may be surprised to hear that I believe the attention that open source software is receiving is positive.

      This is not because open source can solve all of the current IT challenges within the healthcare service, but because it has the potential to drive a new level of innovation throughout the industry.

    • PwC-led team to offer ‘open source’ EHR to DoD

      PwC has joined forces with Medsphere, DSS, Inc. and General Dynamics Information Technology to vie for the coveted U.S. Department of Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization (DHMSM) electronic health record contract, and plans to merge “open source” software with commercial applications in its proposal, PwC has announced.

    • PwC to Proposes Open Source EHR for DoD EHR Modernization Project
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Health patchset 2.6.3 released
    • Deb Nicholson receives O’Reilly Open Source Award

      Those of you who follow MediaGoblin closely likely know of Deb Nicholson, our community manager. This post is a bit late, but nonetheless, I wanted to share something exciting that happened…

    • FSF Issues Their Rebuttal To Apple’s New iPhone, Watch & Apple Pay

      John Sullivan, the Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation, has commented on Apple’s much anticipated launch of the iPhone 6, Apple Pay, and the brand new product line: the Apple Watch.

    • GCC 5 Will Have Full Support For Intel’s Cilk Plus

      While GCC has had Cilk Plus multi-threading support since last year that made it into GCC 4.9, with the upcoming GCC 5 release will be full support for Intel’s Cilk Plus specification.

      GCC’s C and C++ front-ends will have full Cilk Plus support for task and data parallelism. Cilk Plus is similar in concept to OpenMP with being a C/C++ programming language extension that adds multi-threaded parallel computing support. Cilk Plus provides the cilk_for, cilk_spawn, and cilk_sync programming keywords for simple yet effective parallel programming.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Out in the Open: A Free Platform for Building Gear on the Internet of Things

      New devices like the Nest thermostat, the Dropcam camera, and various wearables do a pretty good job of talking to the internet, letting you easily monitor and use them through online dashboards. But such tools would be so much more useful if they also traded information on their own. It’s nice if you car tires let you know when they’re low via a web dashboard. But it’s even nicer if they can tell an air compressor exactly how much air they need and whose bank account to bill for it.

    • Open Data

      • Open data in education starts to show real traction

        At the Open Education Working Group we are interested in all aspects of open education, from Open Education Resources (OERs) and new learning and teaching practices, to open source tools and open licenses.

  • Programming

    • Apache Hadoop Transitions to Git

      The Apache Infrastructure team has gotten Git migrations down pat. Just ask the Apache Hadoop project, which moved from Subversion to Git in less than 10 days.

Leftovers

  • Apple stock (AAPL) struggles after iPhone 6, Watch release (+video)
  • Enter The iFlop, What Will Be Seen as First Apple Failure After Steve Jobs – But the first edition Apple Watch will of course sell massively to iSheep

    Today we finally had the launch of new iProducts, the two new iPhone models and the Apple Watch (aka iWatch). This blog talks about the more relevant Apple move. Not the significant upgrade to its popular iPhone line (I will discuss those in a later blog posting). This is about the other new iThing, the Apple Watch. What will eventually be known rather as the iFlop.

  • iPhone Payment Security

    Basically, there are two kinds of credit card transactions: card-present, and card-not-present. The former is cheaper because there’s less risk of fraud. The article says that Apple has negotiated the card-present rate for its iPhone payment system, even though the card is not present. Presumably, this is because of some other security features that reduce the risk of fraud.

  • Will Android users switch to the iPhone 6?
  • Free Software Foundation statement on the new iPhone, Apple Pay, and Apple Watch

    The Free Software Foundation encourages users to avoid all Apple products, in the interest of their own freedom and the freedom of those around them.

  • Security

  • Finance

    • Standard Life Far Right Board

      Keith Skeoch, Executive Director of Standard Life, is on the Board of Reform Scotland, the neo-conservative lobby group which wants to abolish the minimum wage, privatize the NHS and pensions, and still further restrict trade unions.

    • Royal babies, Mojang to be bought & when the best is not the always “the best”

      The UK as a rule is very quick to jump on a “welfare state” bandwagon when the public feels someone is getting an easy ride. Thankfully I’ve never needed welfare/benefits at any point in my life, but I fully support the facility to be there for those in need. The press make a very good job of demonizing those on benefits and whilst there are a minority of cases where there has been abuse/fraud of the system, the vast majority of people don’t get the “easy life” that is promoted in the press and certainly are not in that position by choice. Talking of the easy life though, there’s one family who every tax payer in the UK already pay a lot of money for. There’s one family who not only get the best in life – an almost private health care service from the NHS, get driven around, have their own security and will never want for anything in their lives. Who? The Royal Family of course.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Fact Checking Is Dead: Mainstream Media Goes Nuts Repeating Debunked Claims By The Fake ‘Inventor Of Email’

      I had honestly hoped that yesterday’s story about the Huffington Post finally retracting its series of totally bogus articles (mostly written by Shiva Ayyadurai or his colleagues and friends, but a few by its actual “journalists”), pretending to argue that V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai had “invented email,” would be the end of this story. Ayyadurai has built up quite a reputation around this false claim, even though it’s been debunked over and over and over again.

  • Privacy

    • Targeted TV ads sell different people different stuff

      NEXT time you settle in for a night of television, pay attention to the adverts. Do they seem a little more personal than usual? If so, you are not alone – TV networks are increasingly using techniques borrowed from online advertising to show different ads to different people in the hope of better targeting customers.

      It used to be that everyone watching a channel saw the same ad at the same time, with perhaps some variation depending on your location. Now your neighbour with children could see a toy ad, while you get one for luxury cars. This week it was revealed that some US networks have started targeting people based on their voting record as political parties attempt to scoop up swing voters.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Tech Companies Unite for Net Neutrality Activism Today

      A consortium of technology companies, many of which depend on speedy and dependable access to their websites, are launching a very public protest today against controversial proposed changes to net neutrality regulations. The Internet Association and companies ranging from Reddit to Mozilla to Automattic will use rotating “still loading” icons on protest banners to conjure up images of the slow Internet speeds they envision if the FCC does away with existing net neutrality regulations. Clicking on the banners will take users to information about net neutrality.

    • Twitter, Netflix and Reddit hold net neutrality protest

      Twitter, Netflix and Reddit will take part in an “internet slowdown” protest in favour of net neutrality on Wednesday.

      They are among dozens of firms worried that proposed new regulations will mean extra charges for fast internet access.

    • Internet slowdown campaign begins in less than 24 hours

      The Internet Slowdown is a SOPA-like protest to raise awareness about net neutrality in the US. The movement’s aim is for you to ring up your lawmakers to to support net neutrality in future bills that they vote on regarding net neutrality.

    • The Web May Look Slow Today…

      To illustrate the point of the “fast lane/slow lane” approach proposed by the Federal Communications Commission, some of the biggest tech players today are leading a symbolic “Internet Slowdown” on their websites in what could be the largest virtual political protest since the 2012 blackouts in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

    • Companies that sell network equipment to ISPs don’t want net neutrality

      IBM, Cisco, Intel, and Sandvine ask US not to regulate broadband as a utility.

    • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality (HBO)
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • U.S. Internet Provider Refuses to Expose Alleged Pirates

        Rightscorp, a prominent piracy monitoring firm that works with Warner Bros. and other copyright holders, wants Grande Communications to reveal the identities alleged pirates linked to 30,000 IP-addresses/timestamp combinations. Unlike other providers the Texas ISP refused to give in easily, instead deciding to fight the request in court.

09.09.14

Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

Posted in News Roundup at 4:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What do you hate about Linux?

    Wow…just…wow. I was going to write a rebuttal to what the article had to say about Linux, but then I realized that sometimes you just have to stand back in awe…in complete awe!…at that kind of a train wreck of an article.

  • 5 Reasons Why I Hate GNU/Linux – Do You Hate (Love) Linux?

    I was recently being Interviewed by a company based in Mumbai (India). The person interviewing, asked me several questions and technologies, I have worked with. As per their requirements, I have worked with nearly half of the technologies they were looking for. A few of last conversation as mentioned below.

  • The personality of a Linux-loving teen

    A few years ago a middle school student walked up to me and offered to help me refurbish computers with Linux to deliver to students who don’t have a computer to use at home. (I’ve been doing that kind of digital divide work for a while.) When I saw how much he already knew, I asked him, “Did one of your parents or relatives introduce you to Linux?” He replied, “No, I taught myself a lot of open source things from the web. It’s something I’m interested in.”

  • Achieving a technological state of independence is harder than you think

    Jon ‘maddog’ Hall, President of Project Cauã and Executive Director of Linux International has called for countries to maintain technological independence by taking ownership of network construction and maintenance.

  • Desktop

    • Kinivo releases a pair of inexpensive Linux-friendly USB wireless adapters

      Nowadays, if you buy a laptop, it will have a built-in wireless card (desktops; not always). For the most part, these integrated cards work well — on Windows. You see, most manufacturers build their machines with only Windows in mind. If you only use Microsoft’s operating system, you should be golden. However, for nerds that like Linux (including myself), nonexistent or problematic wireless drivers can be an absolute nightmare.

  • Server

    • Why Did Docker Catch on Quickly and Why is it so Interesting?

      One reason Docker is interesting is that all four answers are each individually useful, but can be used in combination. This causes cross-pollination of ideas and patterns. For example, someone might start using Docker because they like the speed and portability, but find that they end up adopting the configuration and Docker hub patterns as well.

    • How Amazon Web Services Uses Linux and Open Source

      Amazon Web Services first launched in 2006 with one instance and one operating system: Amazon Linux. The cloud computing giant has since expanded to offer customers the option of running on more than 30 instance types and more than 10 operating systems, but Linux, Xen and other open source projects remain the core technologies behind AWS.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • The Linux desktop-a-week review: ratpoison

      Normally, I would feel a little bad giving such a scathing review of a piece of software that someone, clearly, poured a great deal of time and dedication into, especially when that software is completely free and Open Source. But not for ratpoison. If it is possible for a small piece of software to be one man’s nemesis…I have found mine.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Akademy Award Winners 2014

        The talks weekend at Akademy finished with the traditional announcing of the Akademy Awards, our recognition of the stars of KDE. The winners are selected by those who received the award the previous year.

      • Qt 5.4 Alpha Available

        Qt 5.4 release process is ongoing and we now have the Qt 5.4 Alpha release available. As always, the Alpha is in source code only. Binary installers will be available in a few weeks with the Beta release. Features of Qt 5.4 are now frozen and in the next months the focus is in finalising and polishing functionality. To give an overview what is coming with Qt 5.4, I’ll summarise the highlights of the Qt 5.4 Alpha release.

      • Qt 5.4 Alpha Shows Off Graphics Improvements, New Qt WebEngine

        The Qt 5.4 Alpha is out today as the first development milestone in the Qt 5.4 series. Qt 5.4 Alpha features full support for Qt for WinRT, graphics improcements, Android style for Qt Quick Controls, Qt Bluetooth now supports BlueZ 5, the new Qt WebEngine is integrated and based off Chromium 37, and there’s also a new Qt WebChannel module. Other new Qt 5.4 features are covered in this earlier article.

      • Akademy 2014 Day 2 Talks
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Drawing Web content with OpenGL (ES 3.0) instanced rendering

        There is one important conclusion coming out from these experiments: The fact that a rasterizer is normally stateless makes it very inefficient to modify a single element in a scene.

      • GNOME APPS IN THREE DIMENSIONAL SPACE

        The release of GNOME 3.14 is getting closer and closer and I’m trying my best to have the a video ready for release. The manuscript is still open for revision but is at its final stages. Voice-over should finish around next week or so. And in the meantime I am testing a new workflow in Blender.

  • Distributions

    • It’s time to split Linux distros in two

      For decades, Microsoft has released completely separate operating systems for desktops and servers. They certainly share plenty of code, but you cannot turn a Windows 7 system into a Windows Server 2008 RC2 system simply installing a few packages and uninstalling others. The desktop and the server are completely different, and they are treated as such across the board.

    • Void Linux Drops Systemd & Switches To LibreSSL

      Back in June of 2013 we covered Void Linux as a new rolling-release Linux distribution built from scratch but since then we haven’t come across much Void Linux news until a few days ago when a Phoronix reader wrote in about the latest progress with this interesting Linux distribution.

    • New Releases

      • Manjaro 0.8.10 Gets Update Pack, Users Now Have the Beautiful and Light Budgie Desktop

        sManjaro 0.8.10 was released on June 9, so it’s not really an old operating system. In fact, for most people, this is quite a recent version, but the developers always make sure that they have the latest and most interesting applications installed.

      • OpenELEC 4.2 Beta 6 Is a Bleeding Edge Distro That Runs on Almost Anything

        OpenELEC, an embedded operating system built specifically to run XBMC, the open source entertainment media hub, has been upgraded to version 4.2 Beta 6.

        The OpenELEC developers are not staying idly by and now they’ve released a new version of their system, although it looks like they are no longer closely following the XBMC launches. Until now, the two seemed to be linked, at least in terms of releases, but XBMC already has a stable version out and OpenELEC is not following.

        On the other hand, XBMC is actually just a media hub and OpenELEC is an operating system, which is much more complex. It needs a lot more adjusting and there are numerous packages that need to be upgraded, fixed, and added.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo Linux 20140826 Iron Penguin Edition — open source fans, download now!

        There are so many Linux distributions to choose from. Depending on your perspective, this can be a good or bad thing. You see, for many, using Linux is about choice — you get to choose the distro, packages and environment. There is truth to this; however, many others, including myself, often wonder if the community’s efforts are too fragmented. In other words, when talent is spread thin, progress may be slowed.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Former Red Hat executive Brian Stevens lands at Google
      • In the OpenStack Race, Red Hat’s Advantage Remains Support

        Red Hat is on track to be the big winner in the OpenStack cloud computing race, at least it is according to a report from Steve Ashley of Baird Equity Research. Its abiity to cater to datacenters and its long experience dealing with the open source community are primary reasons why, according to Ashley. Ashley sees the data center market as waiting on OpenStack to mature, after which deployments will pick up in a big way.

      • How Red Hat and the open-source community are fortifying Docker

        As Docker has exploded in popularity, so too has the open-source community around it. Now, as more and more large enterprise software companies jump on the Docker bandwagon, the community is tackling some of the larger issues behind the emerging technology, namely container security.

      • Xen & Docker: Made for Each Other

        Containers and hypervisors are often seen as competing technologies – enemies even. But in reality the two technologies are complementary and increasingly used together by developers and admins. This recent Linux.com article talked about this supposed battle, noting however that developers are using Docker in traditional VMs to bolster security. Containers allow users to develop and deploy a variety of applications with incredible efficiency, while virtualization eliminates any constraints and/or exposure to outside attacks.

      • Analyst: Why Red Hat will win OpenStack

        While broad adoption is still two or three years off, Raleigh-based Red Hat is poised to be the big winner in OpenStack.

        That’s according to a new report issued today by Steve Ashley of Baird Equity Research, detailing why the cloud computing software platform is a big deal for the open source software company – even though it’s not winning the bulk of early projects.

      • Fedora

        • Where do we stand at 45 days before FUDCon Managua 2014

          Last week we had a meeting with the Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales to check logistics. We confirmed most of what was agreed at the first time.

        • Flock 2014 survey results and responses

          OpenELEC, an embedded operating system built specifically to run XBMC, the open source entertainment media hub, has been upgraded to version 4.2 Beta 6.

          The OpenELEC developers are not staying idly by and now they’ve released a new version of their system, although it looks like they are no longer closely following the XBMC launches. Until now, the two seemed to be linked, at least in terms of releases, but XBMC already has a stable version out and OpenELEC is not following.

    • Debian Family

      • FSF and Debian join forces to help free software users find the hardware they need

        The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Debian project today announced cooperation to expand and enhance h-node [1], a database to help users learn and share information about computers that work with free software operating systems.

      • FSF and Debian join forces to help free software users find the hardware they need

        The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Debian Project today announced cooperation to expand and enhance h-node, a database to help users learn and share information about computers that work with free software operating systems.

      • Debian & The FSF Launch A Linux Hardware Database

        The Free Software Foundation and Debian have hooked up to help free software users in the search for finding Linux compatible hardware… In a different approach from the other Linux compatibility lists and hardware databases, they are only promoting hardware that doesn’t require any proprietary software or firmware.

      • Understanding The Complicated Debian

        Phoronix reader Claudio Ferreira wrote in to share a very large infographic he’s made about Debian. The infographic is the result of his lecture on the Debian project and it tries to address the public difficulty in fully understanding all of the work. Covered in the “Understanding Debian” infographic is everything from its various repositories to looking at the developer count to getting involved and the yearly Debian conferences and releases.

      • Infographic of Debian
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How the Terminal makes Ubuntu Touch worth using

            Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. Even something that seems completely inconsequential can take a project from “meh” to “awesome” with astonishing speed.

            Take Ubuntu Touch, for example.

            There is much about that system that I love. It’s mostly Open Source (with very few exceptions) and allows me to have a Debian-based Linux distro right in the palm of my hands. Being able to “sudo apt-get install” on the go is just so incredibly handy. Damn near brings a tear to my eye.

          • Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) to Get Much Better 3G Mobile Modem Support

            One of the problems with Ubuntu that seems to be mentioned quite a lot is the proper lack of support for mobile modems. This might not look like a big problem, but the mobile modems are being used on a much larger scale than 2 or 3 years ago and the rate of adoption for this kind of devices is not slowing down.

          • Ubuntu Devs Close procmail Vulnerability in All Supported Ubuntu OSes

            Canonical has released details in a security notice about a procmail vulnerability in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS operating systems that has been found and fixed.

          • Operating System U: A new Linux based OS with a firm focus on you the user and functionality over UI overhauls, hits KickStarter

            There’s isn’t probably a piece of software that is as hated as Windows 8′s Metro UI. Some seasoned Windows enthusiasts like it, but most of the normal day-to-day user had a hard time getting used to it. Operating System U is being readied with the regular user in mind, and is based on Manjaro Linux. A quick overview of the project.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • 10 things you need to know about Linux Mint 17

              Linux Mint 17 continues in a line of Linux desktop-focused releases, and in testing we found it’s become more mature than prior versions. There’s something here to please everyone. Civilians won’t hurt themselves deploying Cinnamon over Linux Mint 17. Developers will enjoy any of the versions, and the hard core will find lots to love with the LMDE versions.

            • For a sweet desktop, try Mint with Cinnamon
            • Linux Mint to Receive Folder Emblems and a Better Nemo Toolbar

              Linux Mint developers are making a real effort to improve the look of their operating system and they are integrating all sorts of new features that will make their distribution more interesting and much more attractive to new users as well.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Raspberry Pi-powered in-car computer project shifts up a gear

      After watching classic TV shows such as Knight Rider and Street Hawk in his youth, IT professional and Raspberry Pi enthusiast Derek Knaggs was inspired to create a low-cost in-car computer using a Raspberry Pi.

    • Linux-ready modules support range of Xilinx FPGAs
    • Phones

      • Tizen SDK Updated for the Gear S

        By now, you’ve probably seen the news about the Tizen-based Gear S smartwatch that was unveiled at IFA. Aside from having a massive curved screen (for a watch, at least), it also has GSM connectivity, meaning it can truly function as a standalone device.

        If you’re an app developer and that didn’t get you excited, you should probably get someone to check your pulse (or I suppose you can have the Gear do it for you). We’ve talked in the tech industry about convergence devices for years, and this is exactly the sort of device we mean. And yes, various things have been getting cellular connectivity for years, but aside from phones, it’s really only a recent trend that companies are legitimately working to build third party app ecosystems around these devices.

      • Tizen Samsung Gear S to launch with some impressive Apps

        The Smartwatch market is certainly going to be a lucrative space for the companies that can be first to release their products, go through the lessons learnt cycle, and also be able to build a viable application ecosystem on top of it, which shouldn’t be confused with standard smartphone apps, as not all apps translate well to your wrist, and therefore you don’t need as many. No one is going to want to edit a picture on their wrist on the move, even if they can !!!

      • Ballnux

        • Diesel Black Gold brings you a new Samsung Gear S fashion device

          The Tizen Samsung Gear S is a thing of beauty and has already been adorned with Swarovski crystals, but fashion doesn’t stop there. Samsung has teamed up with Diesel Black Gold on a bracelet that will be shown off at the Spring ’15 show later on today. The Diesel Black Gold’s interpretation is said to be decidedly more downtown with an up-to-date feel. The inspiration was by the creative director Andreas Melbostad and the material of choice was Leather.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • SECURE EMAIL PROVIDER TUTANOTA GOES OPEN SOURCE

    A number of “NSA proof” e-mail services are currently in later stages of development or private beta, but there’s one that seems to be ahead of the game: Germany-based Tutanota. The end-to-end encrypted e-mail provider announced Tuesday that they had released their source code on GitHub, claiming to be the first operational, secure e-mail application to go open source.

  • Why open source and collaboration are the future of security

    In this podcast recorded at Black Hat USA 2014, Greg Martin, CTO at ThreatStream, talks about why open source and collaboration are the key drivers of information security innovation. He raises an important question – what will happen if we don’t start actively sharing information?

  • Free and Open Source Cloud Tools Proliferate

    It has been a good week for open source cloud tools. Predictive analytics leader RapidMiner announced the introductory release of RapidMiner Cloud to make analytics more convenient as it allows users to store, manage, and deploy analytics in the cloud, with the ease of a single button. Then cloud API integration and aggregation service, Cloud Elements announced the launch of Filebrowser.io, a free, open source, cloud file browser.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OwnCloud: Fiddly but secure host-from-home sync ‘n’ share

      Phones in our pockets, tablets down our sofas, and laptops in our bags. Never have we had so many devices in our possession. It makes sense to start syncing and sharing folders and data between them – not just for the sake of convenience, but for our sanity.

      Many companies are offering to bridge the connection gap – from Apple, Google and Dropbox to dozens of smaller companies. The common theme between them all is that they host your data.

      With so many options, which one should you choose?

      Most offer roughly the same features: typically a device-side client that automatically syncs your files to the server, some means of sharing those files and integration with third-party apps. The latter is less important than it used to be now most mobile operating systems have a means to pass files between applications.

  • Education

    • Students power this open source high school

      Side alleys can certainly look dark and intimidating at first. As we prepared for our open source high school 1:1 student laptop program and a supporting student peer help desk, my team and I knew we were off the main road, without GPS. Student tech support teams are somewhat uncommon in United States high schools. On top of that, Linux and open source software rarely makes an appearance in classroom desktops, let alone on 1700 laptops that would travel with our students in school and to their homes. What wasn’t surprising is that when students are unchained from scripted curriculum and given the freedom to learn based on personal interests and passions, our kids rise to the occasion in unique and powerful ways.

  • Business

    • A newbie’s understanding of enterprise open source

      Coming from a pure belief and understanding in proprietary solutions to the open source industry, I was asking the question: why pay for something that I can get for free? I’m sure I am not the only one asking the question, says Mercia Oosthuizen, product manager at Linux Warehouse.

      After some reading, exploring and ample questioning, I came to a conclusion…

      I am going to start my explanation and understanding of enterprise open source with a personal experience. It’s non-technology-related, but that made sense to my non-technical mind.

    • Semi-Open Source

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Compiler wars: LLVM and GCC compete on speed, security

      LLVM has also recently inspired a project named Vellvm, where the design of the program and its output are both formally verified. The compiler’s input and production can then be independently proven as consistent to defend against introduced bugs. The CompCert compiler already does this, but only for C; a formally verified version of LLVM could in theory do this for any language.

    • Glibc 2.20 Has Performance Improvements, File Description Locks

      Glibc 2.20 has various s390/s390x changes, support for file description locks, various performance improvements (particularly for ARMv7 and AArch64), the removal of the AM33 port, and numerous bug and security fixes.

    • The GNU C Library version 2.20 is now available
    • Interview with GNU remotecontrol

      GNU remotecontrol is a web application serving as a management tool for reading from and writing to multiple IP enabled heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) thermostats, and other building automation devices. While various IP thermostat manufacturers have offered web portals exclusively for their users to remotely access and adjust the settings of individual thermostats, they do not provide a unified management tool for multiple thermostats. The goal of GNU remotecontrol is to provide this management tool for individuals and companies alike.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Deconstructing the open cloud, the OpenStack Trove roadmap, and more
    • Architecture student’s open source experience makes her more open minded
    • Open Access/Content

      • Open-Source Texts Take Root At Md. Colleges

        An experiment with open-source online textbooks at several Maryland universities last semester yielded promising results, and officials are preparing to expand the program this fall.

        The University System of Maryland designed the Maryland Open-Source Textbook (MOST) Initiative to evaluate the feasibility of using online materials instead of printed books to ease the cost of purchasing multiple textbooks each year.

    • Open Hardware

      • Students build smart devices and scientific instruments with Arduino

        Arduino is an open source microcontroller for prototyping electronic devices. It can be connected to a wide array of inexpensive sensors to collect data. These data can be saved to an SD card, passed back to a PC, or uploaded to the cloud for further processing. An Arduino can actuate motors, creating scientific instruments that move as well as sense. As Massimo Banzi, co-inventor of Arduino, showed in his TED talk, middle and high school students can capably create scientific instruments with Arduino. He gives examples of students who have created earthquake sensors, pH meters, and a wide variety of robots.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • ‘Pastafarian’ allowed to wear spaghetti strainer on her head in driving licence photo because it is classed as ‘religious headgear’

    A female driver in Oklahoma was allowed to pose for her driver’s license wearing a spaghetti strainer on her head because it falls under the state’s rules for religious headwear.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Mobile devices: A remote control to the Insecurity of Things

      A toilet that can track your digestive health. Home-care digital companions. Robotic furniture that helps you up and down. According to myriad predictions, the future is looking, well, futuristic for the elderly. Another estimate examines the potential of smart grids for distributing electricity, smart cities that optimize everything from utility usage to parking and traffic flow, and smart refrigerators that tell you what to buy at the grocery store and smart washers and dryers that tell customer service agents when they need repairs.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Ex-CIA chief says targeted killings key to stopping Islamic State

      A former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is convinced that targeted killings, already employed by U.S. military forces in parts of the Middle East, are key to any U.S. strategy for confronting Islamic State militants.

    • You Can’t Stop ISIS Simply by Killing Its Leader

      The New Republic’s Graeme Wood recently made a boldly obvious declaration: the U.S. should try really, really hard to hunt down and kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State, lest his power grows into something unstoppable. Bravo to Mr. Wood for that clear statement of purpose, but does he really believe the United States isn’t already trying to do this?

    • NSA helped track Kurds for massacre in Turkey

      We now know that a massacre of 40 Kurdish workers on December 28, 2011 was accomplished with aid from the US. Tracking courtesy of NSA was revealed by Edward Snowden, and published by Der Spiegel on Sunday. PM Erdogen understands how to declare his political opponents as “terrorist’ and have them vanquished by the US.

    • Former CIA Representative: Militia in Ukraine Not Pro-Russian, but Anti-Coup

      Independence supporters in the self-proclaimed Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics are not pro-Russian separatists, but anti-coup protesters, Former CIA representative David Speedie told RIA Novosti on Monday.

      “I don’t think those folks that speak Russian, have Russian roots in east Ukraine want to separate themselves from Ukraine, I don’t think Russia wants them. They are not pro-Russia separatists, they are anti-coup, and that’s what we should call them,” Director at the US Global Engagement Program, Carnegie Council for Ethics, David Speedie said.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • What Federal Ruling Against BP Means for Oil Drilling’s Future

      More than four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew, killing 11 workers and causing the devastating Gulf oil spill—the worst in U.S. history—a federal judge has placed the blame squarely on BP.

      On Thursday, a judge for the U.S. District Court of Eastern Louisiana issued a ruling that BP exhibited “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct” in the lead-up to the April 2010 explosion and spill.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Inside Europe’s censorship machinery

      Three months ago, I tried hacking Google’s implementation of Europe’s “right to be forgotten.” For those of you who haven’t followed recent developments in censorship, the right to be forgotten is a European requirement that “irrelevant or outdated” information be excluded from searches about individuals. The doctrine extends even to true information that remains on the internet. And it is enforced by the search engines themselves, operating under a threat of heavy liability. That makes the rules particularly hard to determine, since they’re buried in private companies’ decisionmaking processes. So to find out how this censorship regime works in practice, I sent several takedown requests to Google’s British search engine, google.co.uk. (Europe has not yet demanded compliance from US search engines, like Google.com, but there are persistent signs that it wants to.)

  • Privacy

    • Silicon Valley’s Washington problem
    • your data

      A few thoughts reflecting on Sen. Wyden’s not quite proposal. As noted on HN there’s some question of exactly what your data is. Is it information you created (or otherwise control) or is it information about you? Is it an email you composed by typing on a keyboard or is it a log entry created by an autonomous system of whose existence you are unaware? The thornier issues of what the government can or cannot do are best deferred until this basic question is answered.

      A complete your data test would likely involve several factors, much like the fair use test does, and be decided on a case by case basis. For starters, though, we can begin by asking one question. To what extent can you describe the data? The owner of some data is likely to be the party that can describe the data (and importantly, its format) most accurately and completely. This is the tried and true Lost and Found test. “Hey, I lost my iPod.” “Can you describe it?” If the hotel concierge has a green iPod, but I tell them I lost a black iPod, it’s probably not mine.

    • Snowden will be safe in Switzerland if he testifies against NSA surveillance

      According to Swiss media, a document titled “What rules are to be followed if Edward Snowden is brought to Switzerland and then the United States makes an extradition request” exists and that in it the Swiss Attorney General stated that Snowden could be guaranteed safety if he arrives in the country to testify.

    • Tech Industry Tries Again on Surveillance Reform

      With Congress back to work in Washington this week, the technology industry is pushing senators to pass legislation that would rein in National Security Agency surveillance and make its work more transparent.

      Groups that represent Apple Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other major tech companies on Monday urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to support an updated version of the USA Freedom Act to reform the NSA. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., released the modified bill during the last week of July, before lawmakers headed home for a five-week recess.

    • Tech industry groups ask Senate to ‘swiftly pass’ NSA curbs

      The coalition of tech industry groups say the NSA’s surveillance practices have led to an erosion of trust that was affecting their business abroad

    • Tech industry wants NSA muzzled

      The tech industry has penned a stiffly worded letter to leaders in the US Senate, to ask them to pass the USA Freedom Act which will bring to an end the collection of bulk domestic phone data by the National Security Agency. The letter is signed by the anti-software piracy group BSA, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Information Technology Industry Council, Reform Government Surveillance and the Software and Information Industry Association. It was sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Republican Leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell.

    • US tech industry steps up push on surveillance reforms
    • Google a target of Europe’s criticism of US tech dominance

      Anger over mass data collection by the US government has only amplified the concerns. Jeremie Zimmerman, a co-founder of the French Internet activist group La Quadrature du Net, said that when people told him now that they worked for Google, he says, “How do you like working for the NSA,” referring to the National Security Agency.

    • Privacy group takes Five Eyes spy pact case to Europe’s top court

      British spy agency GCHQ has rejected freedom of information requests from Privacy International regarding documents that describe the Anglophone pact, so now the activists are taking the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.

    • ‘Five Eyes’ surveillance pact should be published, Strasbourg court told

      The secret “Five Eyes” treaty that authorises intelligence sharing between the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand should be published, according to an appeal lodged on Tuesday at the European court of human rights.

    • US intelligence agencies could spy on behalf of corporations: Edward Snowden leak
    • US espionage helps American corporations

      A secret 2009 report issued by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s office has indicated that U.S. spying on economic activity is done to benefit American corporations.

    • NSA Reform Will Likely Have to Wait Until After the Election
    • Bill to Curtail NSA Surveillance Likely on Hold Until After the Election
    • Congress won’t touch NSA reform until after midterms, may wait until 2015 – report
    • Report: Congress won’t shut down NSA database this year

      Despite widespread support, a bill that would put limits on widespread surveillance is unlikely to get a vote before the elections—or even after them.

      According to National Journal, the USA Freedom Act, which would essentially stop the government’s bulk collection of telephone call data, is flailing. The bill is struggling despite the fact that it won a stunning new supporter last week: Director of Intelligence James Clapper, one of the top defenders of the surveillance programs.

    • NSA Reform Will Likely Wait Until After the Election
    • NSA reform bill is on hold. Should it include retroactive immunity for Snowden?
    • States Enable Federal Collection of Biometric Data: We Can Stop It

      Fifteen states are giving drivers’ license images and data to the federal government, according to a new document released by The Intercept, providing another indication of how intertwined states governments have become with the federal surveillance state.

      According to a PrivacySOS blog post, “Documents posted by The Intercept show that 22 percent of contributions to the [Directorate of Terrorist Identities] biometric database come from domestic law enforcement agencies in the United States: 13 percent from DHS, and 9 percent from the FBI.”

    • GOP Senate challenger calls for spy court reform

      Virginia’s Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie wants to change the secretive spy court that approves operations at the National Security Agency.

    • A Case for Edward Snowden’s Immunity
    • Clouding the issue

      The raid and dissemination of personal images of actress Jennifer Lawrence from her iCloud account, among others, is appalling. To say people should not upload their most personal pictures to cloud storage (or anywhere else) in case it gets hacked could be said to be victim-blaming.

    • Snowden Could Testify in Switzerland
    • Fake cellphone towers may intercept phone calls and text messages

      Seventeen “fake” cellphone towers dotted across the U.S. were discovered just in the last few weeks, including two in Florida, and more are being found, according to Popular Science.

    • NSA scandal tarnishes UK cloud industry

      One in 10 UK businesses has switched cloud provider since the NSA scandal last summer, according to new research, which claims the revelations have prompted almost half of organisations to change the way they use cloud.

      The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) questioned 250 senior business and IT decision makers as part of its research, which found security is the number-one reason holding companies back from moving certain applications to the cloud.

      Data privacy and data sovereignty were the second and third-most-important issues on the minds of those surveyed, but the CIF claimed not all their worries were necessary.

    • Bush-Era Dragnet Memos Show ‘Virtually Unlimited’ Presidential Power

      The Justice Department on Friday released two legal memos written during the Bush administration justifying the National Security Agency surveillance program that spied on American citizens’ phone calls and emails shortly after the terrorist attacks in 2001, the Washington Post reports.

    • Edward Snowden Could Ditch Russia For Another Country
    • Snowden Could Testify Against NSA in Switzerland
    • Switzerland will host Edward Snowden, if he testifies against the NSA
    • Switzerland ‘could grant Edward Snowden asylum if he testifies against NSA’
    • Switzerland ‘unlikely to extradite Snowden’, if he appears for NSA testimony

      In the document, titled “What rules are to be followed if Edward Snowden is brought to Switzerland and then the United States makes an extradition request,” Switzerland’s Attorney General stated that Snowden could be guaranteed safety if he arrives in the country to testify, Sonntags Zeitung reported.

    • Snowden shouldn’t be extradited to US if he testifies about NSA spying, says Swiss gov
    • Norway MP Michael Tetzschner: ‘If Edward Snowden Wins Nobel Peace Prize, We Must Arrest Him’

      A Norwegian politician has said that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden must be arrested if he goes to Norway in the event that he wins the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

      Snowden has been nominated for the Peace Prize as support grows for him to win the award following his release of documents which exposed the controversial US government survelliance program.

      Michael Tatzschner, MP of the Right Wing Party, told Norway’s second biggest publication Dagbladet that winning the prize would not mean that he would be exempt from arrest.

    • US espionage helps American corporations
    • US planned industrial espionage against China, Russia: report

      Though the United States claims that it does not engage in economic and industrial espionage to benefit American corporations, a secret document issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that Washington had plans to steal information from corporations in China, Russia, India and Iran, says the Intercept, a news platform established to report on the documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    • Five Eyes spy pact: Transparency challenge lodged at European rights court

      The cross-border ‘Five Eyes’ agreement that authorizes the sharing of intelligence between Britain, America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand should be made transparent, according to an appeal launched at the European Court of Human Rights.

      The secret Five Eyes spy pact allegedly outlines UK security services’ collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) and other foreign intelligence agencies. In an effort to shed light on the agreement, Privacy International (PI) issued a legal challenge against the British government in the Strasbourg-based court. The application was filed by UK law firm Leigh Day & Co Solicitors.

    • MP urges ‘nationalization’ of Google over security fears

      A ruling party lawmaker has said he will press for Google to register a subsidiary in Russia and comply with all Russian laws after uncovering the software giant’s alleged cooperation with foreign security services.

    • Committee to Protect Journalists Launches US Anti-Surveillance Campaign

      The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on the White House to support journalists’ right to gather and report the news in the digital age through a campaign published on their official website on Tuesday.

      “If journalists cannot communicate in confidence with sources, they cannot do their jobs,” the campaign said.

    • Is The U.S Government And NSA Engaging In Economic Espionage?

      One would normally associate espionage activities with Jason Bourne. However the U.S are trying hard to blur the lines between fantasy and reality. The U.S Government have repeatedly tried to distance itself from the media, public and conspiracy theorists that they engage in economic and industrial espionage. They have distanced themselves in an effort to distinguish its own spying from China’s infiltrations of Google, Nortel, and other corporate targets.

    • Freshly released GISWatch reports address surveillance

      The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (Hivos) last Thursday released the annual Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report covering the state of digital surveillance around the globe. The 2014 collection uses the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance (“the Principles”) to frame the surveillance conversation, with a number of thematic reports reports along with reports on 59 countries.

      Thematic topics include the relevance of communications surveillance to cybersecurity and how liability for intermediaries, including search engines and social media, enables government surveillance. The compilation of reports aims to show the pervasiveness of digital surveillance and provide recommendations for addressing human rights violations.

    • The Government-Academia Complex and Big Data Religion

      This was the summer of our discontent with big data. First came the news of the Facebook experiment manipulating the emotions of almost 700,000 of its users in the name of big data “science.” Then the Guardian told us about similar studies paid for by DARPA, the advanced research arm of the Department of Defense (DoD), in which researchers communicated with “unwitting participants in order to track and study how they responded.” And new NSA-related revelations continued to pop up throughout the summer, including a Washington Post investigation revealing that ordinary Internet users far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the NSA from U.S. digital networks and Snowden telling Wired about MonsterMind, an NSA cyberwarfare program accessing virtually all private communications coming in from overseas to people in the U.S.

    • After US Cyber Revelations, China Looks Inwards – Analysis

      China polices its internet through a variety of means. It blocks western websites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and now even Google. It keeps a sharp watch and censors what appears on its Internet. The “great firewall” of China employs a variety of tactics to censor the Internet and block access to foreign content. The technique is not to block individual websites, but to scan URLs and web page content and blacklist keywords that are deemed inconvenient.

    • The camera never blinks

      Thanks to the NSA wiretapping of the Bush and Obama administrations, some version of Big Brother is indeed monitoring Americans just about any time they talk on the phone or send an email.

    • ‘Trusted Third Parties’ Add One More Link In The Supply Chain Between Your Data And Government Requests

      Just how many entities have their hands on your data when the NSA makes requests? Well, it’s not just the service providers and any number of analysts at the NSA. There’s a whole industry subset of third parties that actually handle requests, implement wiretaps, direct searches for communications/data and deliver this information to the intelligence agency.

  • Civil Rights

    • Bank clients of Middle Eastern descent want answers on closed accounts

      From Washington state to Florida, surprising letters from banks have turned up in the mailboxes of at least a dozen people.

      The message in each case: Your bank account is being closed. What frustrates the recipients is not only that they are all of Middle Eastern descent — leading them to suspect discrimination — but that the banks refused to provide the reason for kicking them out.

    • Police intelligence targets cash

      Reports on drivers, training by firm fueled law enforcement aggressiveness

    • Government Agencies Can Come After Your Paycheck If You Don’t Pay Your FOIA Fees

      The struggle to force the government to behave in a transparent fashion often runs through the FOIA process. When the government responds, it often takes out meaningful information by abusing FOIA exemptions. When the government doesn’t respond, the “free” request becomes a rather expensive trip through the nation’s courts.

    • Silk Road Discovery Not Result Of NSA Spying, Feds Say
    • FBI Lied About How it Obtained Silk Road Server Location Says Security Expert

      A security expert claims the FBI is lying about how it located the Icelandic server hosting the Silk Road underground drugs bazaar.

    • FBI reveals how it discovered the geographic location of Silk Road web servers
    • The FBI revealed how it found the Silk Road servers. Was the search legal?

      The downfall of the multibillion-dollar online drug market known as Silk Road was due to a simple programming error that allowed the FBI to glean the whereabouts of its servers. That’s according to a document filed last week by the FBI in the case against Ross Ulbricht, the suspected creator of the multibillion-dollar online drug market. Ulbricht was arrested in October in a San Francisco public library, accused of being the man behind the online nom de guerre Dread Pirate Roberts, Silk Road’s founder and operator.

    • EU-Azerbaijan: Reaffirm Commitment To Promote Democracy And Human Rights

      European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with the representatives of the Civil Society in Azerbaijan on Monday in Baku to stress the importance the EU attaches to the Civil Society as a partner for the authorities in the country, as a partner for the EU as well as in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

    • Police Muscle Up at “Urban Shield” Convention in Oakland

      Most of America first learned about the militarization of U.S. police forces when officers showed up at Ferguson, Missouri, civil rights rallies in body armor, carrying assault rifles and shields, accompanied by armored vehicles with heavy weapons.

      Although the Pentagon has doled out $4.3 billion worth of military weapons and gear to local cops over the past 15 years or so, it hadn’t quite registered with folks that the peace officers serving their communities were becoming increasingly inclined to treat them as enemies on a battlefield.

    • CIA Employed “Medieval” Torture that Brought Prisoners “to the Point of Death”

      The CIA engaged in brutal torture that brought prisoners to the brink of death, according to a report published over the weekend in the British newspaper, the Telegraph. The methods used far exceed what has been previously acknowledged by the CIA and the Bush and Obama administrations.

    • Feinstein: CIA torture report will be delayed as Democrats decide redactions

      The public release of a long-awaited US Senate report detailing the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques could be held up for weeks as the Senate Intelligence Committee and Obama administration negotiate what material can be included in the document, the committee’s chairwoman said on Monday.

      The committee had hoped to release its 600-page summary of the report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of tactics many label as “torture” before Congress left for its August recess, a target that was pushed to September as discussions continued.

    • Petition calls on Obama stop intimidation of journalists and whistleblowers

      The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the New York-based press freedom body, has launched a petition today calling on President Obama’s administration to respect journalists’ right to gather and report news.

      The petition, “Right to report in the digital age”, makes three key demands of the US government:

      It should prohibit the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organisations; it must limit prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers; and it must halt the harassment of journalists at the US border.

    • THE CALL: JOURNALISM UNDER FIRE

      The digital age has provided an abundance of new channels for journalists to access and distribute information. Yet the revelation that some journalists have been under surveillance has placed a heavy burden on the freedom of the press. This along with the distressing fact that 34 journalists, four in the last month including ISIS hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff, have been killed this year alone, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has exposed a current plight of the press.

    • Napolitano: It feels like 1984

      Public officials — who are supposed to be our public servants — routinely behave as if they are our masters. They reject the confines of the Constitution, they don’t believe that our rights are inalienable, and they fail to see the dangerous path down which they are leading us.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP Update XXXVII

      In my last TTIP column, I discussed the CETA negotiations with Canada, which started before those of TTIP, but have continued in parallel with them. That’s because what happens with CETA has a massive effect on TTIP, in part because it acts as a template for the TTIP, but also because Canada’s economy is tightly integrated with that of the US in many ways, and so CETA is already a kind of shadow agreement with the US. Once again, the area where that probably matters the most is for the investor-state dispute settlement chapter included in CETA.

    • Copyrights

      • Police Ordered to Return Clones of Dotcom’s Seized Data

        The New Zealand Court of Appeal has ruled that local police must return clones of the devices that were seized from Kim Dotcom during the 2012 raid. The Court argues that Dotcom and his colleagues should be able to have access to the information in preparation for the extradition hearings.

      • BBC: ISPs Should Assume Heavy VPN Users are Pirates

        In a submission to the Australian Government on the issue of online piracy, the BBC indicates that ISPs should be obliged to monitor their customers’ activities. Service providers should become suspicious that customers could be pirating if they use VPN-style services and consume a lot of bandwidth, the BBC says.

      • Denmark’s icon… that we can’t show you

        The Little Mermaid is perhaps the most photographed attraction in the entire country, but Danish media outlets are extremely hesitant to publish a photo of the sculpture.

      • Gottfrid Svartholm Trial Starts & Ends Week in Controversy

        The hacking trial of Gottfrid Svartholm has ended its first week, but not without controversy. Today TF catches up with Kristina Svartholm on the past few days’ developments and we also reveal criticism of Danish police after information provided by a man “with a grudge” against Gottfrid was used in court.

09.08.14

Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

Posted in News Roundup at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux workshop in Udupi

    The student chapter of Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) of SMV Institute of Technology and Management conducted a two-day workshop on Linux operating system for final year Electronics and Communications students at Bantakal in Udupi district on August 22 and 23.

    Edwin, a former professor of Electronics Engineering at Spring Garden College, Philadelphia, U.S., was the resource person.

    Prof. Edwin said that Linux, which was a free operating system and free from viruses, had been adapted by more computer hardware platforms than any other operating system.

  • Munich Library Now Offers Free Ubuntu 12.04 CDs for People with Windows Systems

    The city of Munich is now providing free Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) CDs for the citizen of the city, in an effort to increase the adoption of open source software.

  • CBI demands high-end gadgets

    Use of LINUX technology at its forensic lab is also the top priority of the agency.

  • Server

    • Cloud Host Linode Adds Professional Services Support Option

      The move follows Linode’s announcement earlier this summer that it would slash cloud-hosting prices and introduce high-end hardware to its storage and computing infrastructure, which transformed the company from a cloud host focused on providing Linux-based infrastructure that would appeal to a technically savvy crowd committed to open source hardware, to one that now offers broader hosting options and is seeking to stand out from the crowd through high-end infrastructure and sophisticated support solutions.

  • Kernel Space

    • The release of 3.16 Linux Kernel – the kernel column

      As we were going to press, Linus Torvalds announced the 3.16 Linux kernel, saying “So nothing particularly exciting happened this week [since the final 3.16 Release Candidate 7 from a week prior], and 3.16 is out there.” In his announcement email, Linus noted that the timing of 3.16 was, perhaps, a little unfortunate for the impact upon the merge widow for 3.17. The “merge window” is the period of time early in a (roughly) two month kernel development cycle during which disruptive kernel changes are allowed to take place. Typically, the merge window is capped at a couple of weeks, and it immediately follows a final release (from the previous kernel development cycle). Therefore, the merge for 3.17 is open just as Linus (and others) are preparing to head to Chicago for the 2014 Kernel Summit (and LinuxCon conference). Linus says, “So we’ll see how the next merge window goes, but I’m not going to worry about it overmuch. If I end up not having time to do all the merges, I might delay things into the week of the Kernel Summit, but I’ll hope to get most of the big merging done this upcoming week before any travel takes place.”

    • 9-Way File-System Comparison With A SSD On The Linux 3.17 Kernel

      Each file-system was tested with its stock mount options on the Linux 3.17 Git kernel. No kernel modifications were made to this system under test. The new AMD FX-8370 system was used for the Linux benchmarking system in this article. All of our disk / file-system tests are facilitated by the Phoronix Test Suite.

    • Colourful ! systemd vs sysVinit Linux Cheatsheet

      There are a lot of new systemd commands available on rhel / centos 7.0 version that would replace sysvinit commands.

    • Linux 3.17-rc4 Is A Pretty Calm Release
    • Linus 3.17-rc4

      For a short while there, this week was really nice and calm, but that
      was mostly because the “linux-foundation.org” entry fell off the DNS
      universe, and my mailbox got very quiet for a few hours. The rest of
      the week looked pretty normal.

      “Pretty normal” isn’t bad, though, and I’m not complaining. There is
      nothing particularly big or scary going on – we had a quick scare
      about a stupid compat layer bug, but it seems to have been just a
      false positive and resulted in some added commentary rather than any
      real code changes.

      The diffstat is pretty reasonable, and it’s fairly spread out. We have
      the usual arch and driver updates, but there’s actually more changes
      under fs/ than under either of those. That’s largely due to just a
      late f2fs update, which I decided I couldn’t be bothered to get too
      upset about, most of it being pretty clear-cut fixes, with just a few
      cleanups mixed in.

      And really, if the f2fs changes look biggish, it’s mostly because the
      rest is pretty small.

      Let’s hope it all stays calm. I do note that neither Greg nor Davem
      ended up sending me anything for rc4, which is probably the _real_
      reason why it’s pretty calm and small.

      Linus

    • Intel’s UXA Acceleration Now Supports DisplayPort MST

      David Airlie on Sunday added support for DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport (DP MST) to Intel’s X.Org driver for the UXA-accelerated code-paths.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa’s Top Contributors This Summer

        With a fresh run of GitStats over the Mesa mainline Git code-base as of this morning, the Mesa source tree is up to 1,439,880 lines of code spread across 4,298 files. There’s been 65,193 commits to Mesa, which averages out to 14 commits per active day. A total of 648 contributors have been detected within the Mesa code-base.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE PIM Newcomers

        With Akademy in full swing, we thought we’d treat you all on a conversation with a handful of newcomers to the KDE PIM team. The conversation took place both online over the last months and offline at Akademy yesterday. Let’s start with introductions, in order of their replies.

      • The Luminosity Of Free Software, Episode 20

        The time has arrived for the new series of Luminosity to start! The next episode will be this Thursday, September 11th at 18:00 UTC. As in the past, it will be recorded live on Google+ Hangouts and carried on my Youtube channel both live and for viewing later. You can also join the discussion live on #luminosity on irc.freenode.net.

      • KDE Arrives in Brno for Akademy

        Yesterday KDE contributors from around the world arrived in Brno for Akademy, our annual meeting. Over the next week, we will share ideas, discover common problems and their solutions, and rekindle offline friendships for another year. We have traveled from around the world to work on free software in the spirit of community and cooperation. This year we can celebrate the success of the last 12 months when we released major new versions of our platform—KDE Frameworks—and our desktop—Plasma 5. This work has been well received by the press and our community of users, but we know there is much more to do to keep KDE Software relevant for the years to come in a world where desktops are only one way of using computer software. We’ll be discussing and planning how to make the best desktop software for Linux and how to expand to new platforms.

      • Akademy 2014 Day 1

        Today, Akademy 2014 kicked off hard. As always, there is a lot of excitement. The first Akademy day is always overwhelming. Meeting old friends, making new ones, learning new things and sharing what you know. To keep things a simpler, we started this year with a single track in the morning, with two tracks in the afternoon. With all attendees in one room listening to 10 minute fast track presentations, there are plenty of topics to talk about during the breaks.

      • Akademy Day 0 Photo Blog
      • Akademy Day 1 Photo Blog
      • Blip.tv screencasts moved

        Blip.tv has decided to narrow its focus, and isn’t interested in hosting my screencasts any more.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A Life Worth Living

        So here enters your protagonist. I’ve left a good job simply for the satisfaction in doing what I think is important.

        Let’s be honest. I’m terrified. This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. I guess that is what is so attractive to me, adrenaline junkie and all. Will I make it a year? Will I finish what I’m setting out to? Will I let everyone down? Will people hate me because they don’t agree with what I think is important? All of these questions, playing like tapes in the back of my consciousness.

        The GNOME community has always felt like home to me. Some people leave their jobs and do the start-up thing. That’s fun and all, but I’d rather just write software for my friends. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than contributing to this group of people. And like Luis said so many years ago, GNOME is about people.

      • SYSTEMD IN GNOME 3.14 AND BEYOND

        Before the start of the GNOME 3.14 cycle, Ryan Lorty announced his intention to make most GNOME modules depend on a logind-like API. The API would just implement the bits that are actually used. According to Ryan, most GNOME modules only use a selection of the logind functionality. He wanted to document exactly what we depend on and provide a minimal API. Then we could write a minimal stub implementation for e.g. FreeBSD as we’d know exactly what parts of the API we actually need. The stub would still be minimal; allow GNOME to run, but that’s it.

      • GNOME 3.14 Still Depends On ConsoleKit, More Systemd Still Planned

        Some plans for the GNOME 3.14 cycle didn’t materialize but they’re still being developed for future GNOME updates.

        For the GNOME 3.14 development cycle was a plan to make most GNOME modules depend on a systemd logind-like API that would only implement the API bits actually used by the respective pieces of GNOME software. The goal was to make this minimal API a shim between the GNOME code and logind for allowing other non-Linux platforms to write an alternative implementation against the API. The purpose of this would be for the BSDs also using GNOME to only have to write a portable implementation of the logind-derived API calls actually being used by GNOME rather than a full, drop-in replacement.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Git Bounty Wants To Help Open-Source Programmers Get Paid For Bug Fixes

    If you’re using open-source software, you’ve probably come across a bug that you want to fix but don’t have the expertise to do it yourself — and the original author isn’t all that interested in fixing it. With Git Bounty, which was dreamed up by a team of French Canadians (and one Frenchman) from Montreal at our Disrupt SF hackathon this weekend, you can incentivize open-source programmers to fix those bugs for you. Git Bounty lets you pick a bug you need fixed, set a reward and then publicize it.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Works To Sunset SHA-1 In Chrome

        Google will begin warning users when accessing HTTPS sites whose certificate chains are using SHA-1, due to this cryptographic hash algorithm being weak.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice For Android Should Be Ready For Usage Starting With February 2015

      For now, there are only a few Office suite available for the Android platform (WPS Office, Office Suite Pro, Google Docs and AndrOpen), but only AndrOpen has support for odt and ods files, and it has an ugly interface, making the software unusable.

      The LibreOffice developers have released a new daily build version, allowing the users to test the app.

    • Free Office Suites that Cut The Mustard

      Microsoft Office still dominates market share of office suites. Businesses have often rejected free Office alternatives. However, whether this will continue is uncertain. With the cost of a price plan for Microsoft Office, the average home user or small business will welcome a free alternative. Fortunately, there are some truly excellent free alternatives available for Linux (and other operating systems). Not all of the office suites featured here are released under an open source license, but they are all free to download and use without charge.

  • CMS

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD Made Progress On Their Systemd-Compatible Replacement

      This summer a student developer began work on DBus daemons that accept systemd calls and emulated their behavior with their own native calls, in order to make drop-in replacements for BSD platforms where systemd is not supported and the upstream systemd developers have no plans of supporting.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Bring the FSF to your campus!

      Software freedom and learning go hand in hand. Textbooks should be DRM-free, readily shareable, and easy to check out from the library for as long as you need them. You should be able to use whatever free operating system you choose, not forced into a contract with Microsoft (as is the case at schools like Virginia Tech). Everyone studying computer science at the college level should be able to see and learn from the code that makes their software tick. Learning is a cooperative endeavor; the tools you use to learn should promote cooperation, not proprietize human knowledge.

    • Direvent 5.0 available for download
    • GCL 2.6.11 has been released

      Greetings! The GCL team is happy to announce the release of version 2.6.11, the latest achievement in the ‘stable’ (as opposed to ‘development’) series.

    • Direvent Does Its First Release As A GNU Project

      GNU Direvent is formerly known as dircond and is a system-independent daemon that tracks file system directory changes with new additions, deletions, or modifications of files. When a file system event is detected in a pre-configured directory, the respective user-specified external program associated with that directory is signaled. This GNU Direvent daemon works on Linux along with a variety of BSD systems.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open-source texts take root at Md. colleges

        An experiment with open-source online textbooks at several Maryland universities last semester yielded promising results, and officials are preparing to expand the program this fall.

        The University System of Maryland designed the Maryland Open-Source Textbook (MOST) Initiative to evaluate the feasibility of using online materials instead of printed books to ease the cost of purchasing multiple textbooks each year.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Sharing work is easier with an Open Document Format

      Many individuals have been using ODF for years, but the open format is also being adopted by organisations, including companies and governments.

      We often wish to share electronic documents with friends, colleagues, business or government, and the software application we use to prepare these documents will save them in a particular format.

      Any application that later loads the document will also need to be able to understand this format. If an organisation can control the format, and convince people to use it, then they can use this as a very powerful tool to create a monopoly in the market.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Why the Computer Experience is Often Poor

      The final issue is software creep. By this I mean the continual replacement of older
      software with newer software. It seems unavoidable but it’s usually unnecessary.
      How often does one need to update their word processor? I’m using abiword on
      Linux and it seems adequate for my purposes. KDE versions after 3.5.10 do not intererest
      me. In fact I’ve switched to the lighter IceWM and I’m quite happy with it.

    • Iran arrests suspected nuclear plant saboteur

      In 2010, the so-called Stuxnet virus temporarily disrupted the operation of thousands of centrifuges, key components in nuclear fuel production, at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Iran says it and other computer virus attacks are part of a concerted effort by Israel, the U.S. and their allies to undermine its nuclear program through covert operations.

      The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran is covertly seeking the ability to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies such allegations, insisting its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.

  • Security

    • Doubts cast over FBI ‘leaky CAPTCHA’ Silk Road rapture

      Rather than a conspiracy involving NSA wiretaps, the FBI claims the downfall of Silk Road begun with a leaky CAPTCHA.

      Responding to a request for information from former kingpin Ross Ulbricht’s defence lawyers, the Feds says the CAPTCHA left a trail from the TOR-protected Silk Road servers to the public Internet. That revealed the location of the drug marketplace, which would otherwise have remained hidden behind TOR, according to an FBI affidavit.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The Atlantic Alliance’s “Holy War” against the Islamic State (ISIS): NATO’s Role in the Recruitment of Islamic Terrorists

      “They are Our Terrorists“. Without the terrorists, the “Global War on Terrorism” would fall flat.

    • Syria rebels, once hopeful of U.S. weapons, lament lack of firepower

      As the Syrian government warplane flew overhead, Malik Abu Iskandaroon ran to a storage room and grabbed a Russian-made surface-to-air missile.

      Moments later, on the roof of the three-story villa, which serves as air force headquarters for the Harakat Hazm rebel group, he squinted at the threat in the sky.

    • Tense relations between U.S. and anti-Assad Syrian rebels

      North of Aleppo, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army is battling the Islamic State terror group over a vital supply route.

      In Washington, the Obama administration is groping for a strategy to deal with a force that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says is “beyond anything we have ever seen.”

    • CIA Drone Strikes and the Public-Authority Justification

      CIA Drone Strikes Don’t Qualify as TMA: As an initial matter, I think one part of his argument depends on a mistaken assumption regarding the meaning of TMA, and that drone strikes do indeed constitute covert action within the meaning of Title 50. The TMA exception to covert action has a complicated and often-misunderstood history, which I recount in detail in this paper (pp.592-601 especially). The concept was the subject of extensive negotiations between the White House and Congress, ultimately resulting in the following agreement. An activity that otherwise would qualify as covert action would instead count as TMA, thus avoiding the requirement of a written presidential finding and reporting to SSCI and HPSCI, if the following conditions were met.

    • Predator Drone Reportedly Spotted Over ISIS Hotbed in Syria; Airstrikes Hit ISIS Targets

      A predator drone was reportedly seen by both sides of the Syrian conflict hovering over Raqqa, Sryria, close to where U.S. special operations forces tried to rescue ISIS hostages last July.

    • Isis will not be beaten by a kneejerk reaction from the west

      Military responses as a quick fix won’t defeat the terrorists. Their ideology and influence need to be undermined

    • McGill researchers allegedly committed ethical breach in psychology study

      Researchers from the psychology departments at McGill and Carleton University allegedly breached research ethics in a study conducted in 2012 and funded by the Canadian military, according to findings released on August 28 by campus group Demilitarize McGill. The researchers, which included McGill psychology professor Donald M. Taylor and then-PhD student Michael King, failed to inform the research subjects of the funder and intended counterinsurgency applications of the research.

    • Did Israel Execute Jihadists in Gaza?

      While official investigations are stalled, The Daily Beast reveals important new details about the apparent summary execution of Palestinian combatants.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • When the push polling has to stop

      YouGov stood to have its reputation shattered if it continued to put out polls showing ten point leads for No, when Yes is very obviously headed for a majority.

    • Steve Hayes Doesn’t Remember When He Beat The Drums Of War With Syria

      Fox’s Juan Williams pointed out the increased calls for war during the September 7 edition of Fox’s Media Buzz, suggesting that media seem to consistently favor war over peace, perhaps for a ratings boost that international conflicts could bring television news. Williams noted that today’s calls seem to parallel media’s eagerness for military intervention in Syria back in 2013, over human rights abuses from the Bashar al-Assad regime.

  • Censorship

    • Turkey should prioritize freedom of speech: EU official

      Turkey should prioritize the right to freedom of speech to achieve improvement in its bid to join the European Union, according to Neelie Kroes, the vice president of the EU Commission.

      “We should take into account for membership to the European family, it is absolutely a must that freedom of speech and media are guaranteed,” she said after the three-day Internet Governance Forum (IGF) last week, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

    • INTERNET ISSUES DISCUSSED IN INTERNET UNGOVERNANCE FORUM

      The ‘Internet Ungovernance Forum’ seeking to provide a sphere for journalists and internet experts for a discussion over internet issues across the world as well as Turkey was held between Sept. 3 and Sept 4 at the main Campus of İstanbul Bilgi University.

  • Privacy

    • Fake Cellphone Towers–Sales Scam Or Real Hack?

      Whoever is running the program (detected during a CryptoPhone 500 customer’s drive between Florida and the Carolinas) remains unknown but—for once—has nothing to do with the NSA, whose digital arsenal has no need of off-the-shelf tech such as the VME Dominator. Personally, I (mostly) concur with author William Gibson’s Twittered take: “That fake cell tower story looks pretty dodgy, really.” Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean…you know.

    • Chick Wit: Don’t want your nude selfies hacked? Don’t take any!

      Everyone is buzzing with the news that there are hundreds of leaked celebrity nude selfies being posted on the Internet.

    • Meet the spooky tech companies getting rich by making NSA surveillance possible

      Wildly profitable companies like Neustar, Subsentio, and Yaana do the feds’ dirty work for them, slurping huge amounts of unconstitutionally requisitioned data out of telcos’ and ISPs’ data-centers in response to secret, sealed FISA warrants — some of them publicly traded, too, making them a perfect addition to the Gulag Wealth Fund.

    • The Gulag Wealth Fund and Toll Booths in Outer Space

      Although some ISPs have wanted to fight tooth and nail, they have not had the money to hire a top-secret cleared attorney to argue their case. Instead, they have invoked their interpretation of the First Amendment — the right to free speech — to disclose that they have received a FISA warrant, despite the secrecy and gagging clauses that come with them.

      Others, like Cbeyond, “haven’t examined simply saying ‘no’ and challenging them,” said the person with direct knowledge of the warrants served on the ISP.

    • Legal memos released on Bush-era reasons for warrantless wiretapping

      The Justice Department released two decade-old memos Friday night, offering the fullest public airing to date of the Bush administration’s legal justification for the warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phone calls and emails – a program that began in secret after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

    • 2004 memos released on warrantless wiretaps

      The Justice Department released two decade-old memos Friday night, offering the fullest public airing to date of the Bush administration’s legal justification for the warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails – a program that began in secret after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
      Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20140907_2004_memos_released_on_warrantless_wiretaps.html#Ts3GzSa4CcgmpVXV.99

    • Just-Released Bush Memos Show the White House Barely Able to Justify Spying on Us
    • Obama Administration Still Keeping Much Secret About Bush’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program
    • Bush-era memos justify NSA wiretaps
    • Redactions in U.S. Memo Leave Doubts on Data Surveillance Program
    • Meet Zelda, the unlikely ‘Dear Abby’ of NSA
    • Feds say NSA “bogeyman” did not find Silk Road’s servers

      The FBI easily found the main server of the now-defunct Silk Road online drug-selling site, and didn’t need the National Security’s help, federal prosecutors said in a Friday court filing.

    • Spying on friends: strange bedfellows

      Even the smallest bit of information that is seemingly unrelated to the business at hand could one day give us a competitive advantage against our competitors. This is true for business as well as the affairs of government. Experts in the field define information gathering as nothing but a mind game: collect every possible piece of information about everything concerning your national interest. The range of information gathering covers every aspect of the concerned “target” and the target can be any individual or organization, including private citizens, heads of state, a niche technology company or a foreign government. When engaging in information gathering activities, there is only one unbreakable rule which explains the spying game: Use your wits and do not get caught, no matter what. This rule especially applies among friends.

    • Fake cell towers allow the NSA and police to keep track of you

      The Internet is abuzz with reports of mysterious devices sprinkled across America, many of them on military bases, that connect to your phone by mimicking cell phone towers and sucking up your data. There is little public information about these devices, but they are the new favorite toy of government agencies of all stripes; everyone from the National Security Agency to local police forces are using them.

    • Leaked documents shed light on US, British spying in Turkey

      America’s National Security Agency (NSA) and the British intelligence and security agency GCHQ both spied on Turkey, while helping Ankara fight Kurdish separatists, according to the secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden – the former US government contractor behind the biggest security leak in United States

    • NSA Reform Will Likely Have to Wait Until After the Election

      Legislation to reform the government’s surveillance programs looks destined for a lame-duck session of Congress—and might not get touched at all until next year.

    • Nude leaks expose need for caution

      The discussion should not revolve around preventative measures, rather, we must focus on the creepiness factor — the questions that arise regarding privacy and security. For better or for worse, the cloud is omnipresent and hoards more photos and videos than we’d like to believe. Unbeknownst to many, most cellphones store user data on cloud by default, and deleting a photo from a phone doesn’t necessarily delete it from a cloud. Especially in light of last year’s NSA scandal, the lack of public education about the cloud’s capabilities is concerning. We wonder: Who is watching? What are they looking at? Feeling the constant gaze of this anonymous eye may also have societal implications, creating an uncomfortable hyperawareness surrounding every decision made.

    • No pity for nude selfies [Letter]

      Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and the “dozens of other beautiful celebrities” who posted nude photos of themselves in digital airspace should read “No Place to Hide” by Glenn Greenwald. The book outlines how little privacy there is online and explains in detail what Edward Snowden revealed about the NSA.

    • HOW YOUR INNOCENT SMARTPHONE PASSES ON ALMOST YOUR ENTIRE LIFE TO THE SECRET SERVICE
  • Civil Rights

    • IRS says five more staffers lost emails

      The agency has told lawmakers that it found around 24,000 of Lerner’s missing emails through a similar process. Lerner, who once headed an IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups, became the first agency official to acknowledge the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups in May 2013. She has since been held in contempt of Congress and has been referred to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

    • Exclusive: Dr. Cornel West Talks Protest, War Crimes, NDAA & Snowden [Video]

      In a wide-ranging conversation, West professed support for Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, prophesying that the NSA whistleblower will one day be vindicated and slamming the government for prosecuting the very people, like Manning, who reveal what he said are war crimes and then fail to hold the perpetrators accountable; expressed concern over the ever-growing national security state; decried drone strikes as war crimes; and conveyed his concern about the disintegration of Americans’ civil liberties under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which some have argued gives the president carte blanche to detain US citizens, sans a trial or judicial review.

    • The European Court Confirms : The CIA’s ‘Black Sites’ Operated in Poland

      The secret is officially out: CIA’s black sites operated in Poland. Earlier this summer, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a ruling confirming the existence of such prisons on Polish territory. While international human rights organizations have praised the ruling, some Polish officials and journalists are calling it unfair towards Poland. Others say the formal revelation might be an opportunity for Poland to resolve some of its current governance issues.

    • Kill the Messenger: A Crack Thriller

      Dedicated to the upcoming Gary Webb biopic, dir. by Michael Cuesta and starring Jeremy Renner. KILL THE MESSENGER comes by way of Webb’s own first-person report in his book, DARK ALLIANCE.

      Evocative of policiers such as the 1982 film starring Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemon, MISSING, and the iconic ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, KILL THE MESSENGER announces its aim right from the gate, which is perhaps its only misstep. Kill the messenger tells us too much, too soon, since we are all familiar with the Greek-tradition from which that phrase hails. Famously scripted by Shakespeare in Henry IV (1598) and later in Antony and Cleopatra (1607). Prior to that, a similar sentiment was heard in Sophocles’ Antigone: “No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.”Messengers with bad tidings from the war front breach the invisible code of conduct, where commanding officers were expected to accept and return emissaries or diplomatic envoys sent by the enemy unharmed. UnKumbaya warrior leaders, of course, never got the memo. Ancient messenger job definitions often failed to add that the job description had unexpected short-range expiry dates.

      [...]

      Most Americans wondered why all of a sudden a crack epidemic burst all over the news; now we know. It was engineered and massaged by lawless Big Feet who needed lots of do-re-mi to fund their pet contras. In the event, millions of young men and women died. Millions of minority kids spent their youths out-smoking their educations and incomes and career aspirations.

    • CIA emails expose access journalist at work

      I have mentioned before that more than 90 per cent of reporters are in some sense “access journalists” – that is, they rely on the active help of the key figures on their “beat”. Usually the people they regularly need to access are in power: crime correspondents need help from the police, much less so than criminals; diplomatic correspondents need the help of diplomats more than they need the help of drone strike victims, and so on.

    • Support Robert MacLean, Patriot Whistleblower

      Jim Murtagh, the President of the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW), called today for increased vigilance against terrorist attacks on the thirteenth anniversary of the worst disaster in U.S. history. “The 9-11 warnings of federal air marshal Robert J. MacLean have come true. The reduction of air marshals on commercial airliners has led to increased risks to the American public from ISIS and Al Qaeda today,” Murtagh said.

    • U.S. security team from secret CIA annex: We were told to stand down in Benghazi

      In an interview ahead of the release of a new book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” security contractors Kris Paronto, Mark Geist, and John Tiegen spoke publicly about the attack with Fox News. Four diplomats were killed that night, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens.

    • US commandos claim CIA station chief delayed Benghazi rescue [everything to distract from the real scandal]
    • Switzerland ‘won’t extradite Snowden’ in return for NSA testimony

      Switzerland has reportedly decided it will not extradite National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to the US if he comes to testify against the NSA’s spying activities, Swiss media said.

    • Snowden to receive Swiss asylum if testifies against NSA

      US whistleblower Edward Snowden will not be deported to the United States if he travels to Switzerland to testify against his country’s National Security Agency (NSA), the SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported Monday.

    • No eternal allies or enemies, just interests

      The first step towards transparency in international relations came from Julian Assange, when he published leaked military and diplomatic secret documents from the United States on his WikiLeaks website in 2010. But the more significant step in this direction came when Edward Snowden, a contractor for the US’s National Security Agency (NSA), handed over intelligence documents to the Guardian newspaper for publication in June 2013.

    • Swiss will grant asylum if Snowden testifies on U.S. espionage

      Swiss media reports indicate Switzerland would grant asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden if he agrees to testify about foreign espionage activities within Switzerland.

    • Dianne Feinstein denounced treachery, torture and spying on Congress

      Sen. Dianne Feinstein is one of the most stalwart supporters in Congress of the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance activity. She’s also leading an epic constitutional showdown with the CIA over torture.

      Those closest to the California Democrat don’t see a disconnect. The longtime defense hawk takes her job of overseeing the intelligence community seriously and says the CIA shouldn’t get away with hiding its darkest secrets behind a national security shield.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Reasons why you should be using Gandi
    • Big tech companies plan “Internet Slowdown” to fight for net neutrality

      Next week, some of the biggest tech companies will lead a symbolic “Internet Slowdown” to protest the Federal Communications Commission’s network neutrality proposal.

      “Several top websites—including Etsy, Kickstarter, Foursquare, WordPress, Vimeo, reddit, Mozilla, Imgur, Meetup, Cheezburger, Namecheap, Bittorrent, Gandi.net, StartPage, BoingBoing, and Dwolla—announced that they will be joining more than 35 advocacy organizations and hundreds of thousands of activists in a day of action that will give a glimpse into what the Internet might look like if the FCC’s proposed rules go into effect,” a blog post today from the advocacy group “Fight for the Future” said.

  • DRM

    • Google, Browsers & DRM

      A recent brouhaha concerning Google comes from an item that made the rounds in the last week or so regarding older browsers and Google search. It seems that some users of older browsers have been receiving an outdated version of Google’s homepage when attempting to make a search. Evidently, Google searches made using these browsers returned results just fine, using Google’s current results page, but users needed to return to the search engine’s homepage to conduct another search. The browsers affected are primarily older versions of Opera and Safari.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • It Appears Mickey Mouse May Have Picked An Intellectual Property Fight With The Wrong Mau5

      I actually don’t think that Disney’s trademark opposition to Deadmau5′s attempt to trademark his mouse-shaped helmet thing is that crazy. Disney hasn’t gone after Deadmau5/Joel Zimmerman all these years for using it. They’re just saying “hey, maybe he shouldn’t have a registered trademark on that.” And they may have a point. Yes, the designs are different, and no, there isn’t likely to be much confusion between Deadmau5 and Mickey, but why is Deadmau5 seeking to get a registered trademark on this in the first place?

    • Trademarks

      • Disappointing That Twitter Threatened Twitpic, But Story Doesn’t Add Up

        A few days ago, Twitpic, which was the original third party service for hosting images for your tweets, announced that it was shutting down “unexpectedly” because Twitter was threatening to pull its API access if the company didn’t drop its trademark application for Twitpic — an application that had been pending since 2009. Considering that Twitpic was one of the earliest of many third party services built on top of Twitter that helped make Twitter so valuable in the early days, it’s certainly disappointing to see it go. It’s also something of a legacy reminder that Twitter has been slowly, but surely, destroying all such third party services that helped make it so popular. That’s disappointing, if not all that surprising. Platforms all too frequently end up swallowing those who rely too strongly upon them — and, these days, to be honest, there’s little reason to use Twitpic instead of Twitter’s own image hosting (or some other options as well).

    • Copyrights

Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Željko Topić
Image from jutarnji.hr

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption

Who is Željko Topić? A lot of our readers probably never heard of him. The Western media has paid almost no attention to this bully, who in his own country had become the subject of much hate. His page at WIPO (patents maximalist) says “Appart [sic] of [sic] his expirience [sic] in the State Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Topić was Managing Partner in Korper, Haramija & Topic Ltd.”

Putting the poor English aside, how did this man become a top executive at the EPO? A lot of people have wondered that, including his colleagues. Wikipedia says:

Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President has been controversial. Following the announcement of his appointment in March 2012, a number of critical news reports appeared in the Croatian media. These reports referred to a series of alleged irregularities which were said to have occurred during his period of office as Director-General of the State Intellectual Property Office and which it was claimed had not been properly investigated by the competent state authorities.[14][15][16][17] In response, the State Intellectual Property Office issued a press release on 30 April 2012 attributing the media reports to what it called “unprofessional journalism” and dismissing the allegations raised against Topić as “arbitrary”, “unfounded” and based on “malicious accusations”.[18]

A complaint which Topić filed in reaction to an article written by the journalist Slavica Lukić for “Jutarnji list” was, however, rejected by the Ethics Council of the Croatian Journalist’s Association (Croatian: Hrvatsko Novinarsko Društvo or HND) in September 2012. The Ethics Council found that Lukić had verified the relevant information with the appropriate official institutions and that the disputed article was not written with the intention of defaming anyone but rather in defence of the public interest.[19][20]

In December 2013, a Croatian NGO Juris Protecta raised questions about Topić’s EPO appointment and submitted a petition to the European Parliament calling for an independent investigation into the matter.[21][22]

This controversial appointment goes a couple of years back and in order to understand it we needed to read dozens of pages of articles, mostly automated translations. This case has been reported on extensively in the Croatian media over the last few years, but there has been complete silence in the Western European media and no coverage at all in English-speaking media such as Australia’s and north America’s. Surprisingly, despite covering the subject of patents in Europe for nearly a decade, we never wrote about Topić. There seems to be reluctance to look into the scandals, perhaps knowing how litigiously aggressive Topić has historically been.

The corporate media should have the guts to at least mention what happened with Topić. There’s not mere speculation but well-documented (by courts) evidence — one that only local press seems to have taken an interest in. Hence it was virtually impossible to become aware of this and openly discuss this where it matters. As Topić now works in an institution which affects the European Union and the world at large, a broader debate is needed. Topić is in a position of high power and as we have shown in recent years, the EPO is full of abuses. It’s a face, it is a swindle. This latest about Topić may be just one of the lesser-known ones.

Our sources say the only coverage (so far) outside of Croatia that they are aware of has been put out by IP Watch, a site critical of patents on software and other such matters, with focus on Europe. Earlier this year the site stated:

While it’s unclear whether either of these efforts will succeed, Topić’s suitability for office “is a fairly contentious issue” inside the EPO, the source said. Given the various accusations, and apparently uncontested press reports, the general feeling among EPO staff is that there are unanswered questions about Topić’s appointment,” the source said. Employees are also dissatisfied about what they see as an inadequate official response to the situation and believe “some kind of genuinely independent investigation would be required to clear the air,” he said.

The EPO Administrative Council (AC) “has maintained complete silence” and taken no official position on the situation, which is strange given that it’s responsible for the appointment and the organ of the EPO that exercises disciplinary authority over the president and vice-presidents, the source, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution, said. The absence of a position was confirmed by EPO.

[...]

Topić should not have been reappointed due to his previous track record which, “if it had been properly taken into consideration, would have resulted in him being deemed unfit for public office,” Stilin said. The irregularities under his management at SIPO have not been properly investigated and the government wasn’t properly informed about them, she said. In addition, the procedure leading to his reappointment “was tainted by a whole series of flaws and irregularities, some of these involving actions which were prima facie [evidence]” of a type of person, she said.

Stilin applied for Topić’s position but was unsuccessful. Once reappointed, Topić dismissed Stilin and abolished her department, an action that was “a completely arbitrary and unjustified measure involving an egregious abuse of authority,” Stilin said. She filed a series of complaints in the Croatian courts, all of which were dismissed, after which she sought relief from the ECtHR. That case, filed in 2011, remains unresolved.

“What amazes us about this media silence,” said our sources, “is that many German journalists have been well-informed about the affair for at least a year now but due to some kind of peculiar “self-censorship” or an inability to carry out proper cross-border investigative journalism they have not managed to publish a single line about it.”

An introduction to the EPO “Topić Affair” was sent to us anonymous by a source familiar with Topić’s track record at home (Croatia) and abroad. It is written clearly enough to be quoted verbatim below:

Background

The first Director General (DG) of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) was Mr. Nikola Kopčić: http://www.forinpro.hr/index.php/our-team

He held this position from 1992 to 2002. From 1998 onwards, at the same time as he was SIPO DG, Kopčić was also a representative of his own private company (ForInPro) before the SIPO. This amounted to an undeclared conflict of interest which was in breach of official regulations. In December 2001, the Ministry of Science recommended Kopčić’s dismissal after having investigated the situation which had been brought to its attention. The decision to dismiss Kopčić as SIPO DG was taken by the Croatian Government on 10 January 2002. Kopčić was also expelled from the AIPPI (International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property) on the grounds that he had brought the Association into disrepute.

Following Kopčic’s dismissal as DG, the SIPO was under the direction of Mr. Hrvoje Junaševic from 2002 to 2004.

One of the persons instrumental in bringing about Kopčic’s dismissal was Ms. Vesna Stilin who was a career civil servant and one of the founding members of the Croatian SIPO. As an apparent act of revenge against Stilin who had also raised allegations about certain abuses of authority, Kopčic engineered her dismissal from the SIPO in 1999. However, she was reinstated at the SIPO in 2004 as an Assistant Director responsible for Copyright and Related Rights.

Appointment of Željko Topić as SIPO DG in 2004 In 2004, Željko Topić was appointed as the new SIPO DG for an initial four-year term. He had previously worked at the SIPO from about 1992 onwards but moved to the private sector in 2003 where, according to his CV, he worked in the field of “IP Management” as a Director of a company called Korper, Haramija & Topić Ltd. During his first term as SIPO DG, Topić clashed with Stilin over a number of issues including the implementation of the “Public Lending Right” (PLR) for writers in Croatia. Stilin claims that Topić blocked her efforts to implement the PLR. Stilin also raised concerns about issues falling within her remit relating to musical copyright royalties. According to press reports, she came into conflict with Topić after the Tax Office had sent an inquiry to the SIPO expressing doubts about the legality of business affairs between the SIPO and Emporion, a company involved in the collection and distribution of musical royalties which was owned by the entrepreneur Mark Vojković, a close associate of the Croatian President Ivo Josipović.

In 2008, Topić proposed Stilin’s dismissal from the SIPO inter alia on the grounds that the SIPO’s Copyright and Related Rights Department had been abolished and that, consequently, her position no longer existed. Although her dismissal was ultimately a decision of the Croatian Government, it was instigated and proposed by Topić. Stilin claims that the abolition of the SIPO’s Copyright and Related Rights Department which was invoked as a pretext for her dismissal was a completely arbitrary and unlawful act and that it was also in violation of formal undertakings which the Croatian authorities had given to the EU in the context of the CARDS Programme according to which the staffing of the Copyright and Related Rights Department was to be increased.

These matters are the subject of a number of pending criminal and civil lawsuits in Croatia. According to press reports, the real reason behind Stilin’s dismissal was because she had tried to warn the supervisory state institutions about irregularities occurring at the SIPO as well as the questionable relationship between the SIPO administration and Emporion. [1] Controversial re-appointment in 2008 Towards the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, the SIPO was subject to a number of supervisory inspections by Government Ministries which uncovered various irregularities. In particular, an investigation by the Ministry of Adminstration which took place in response to a petition by a group of SIPO employees resulted in findings that certain contested actions by Topić entailed breaches of Labour Law regulations. There was also a budgetary inspection by the Ministry of Finance which resulted in findings that there had been various irregularities in accounting practices at the SIPO. These developments gave rise to expectations that Topić’s mandate as SIPO DG would not be renewed. However, contrary to these expectations, his mandate was renewed for a further four-year term in 2008 by the Government of Ivo Sanader.

According to Stilin, Topić’s re-appointment was supported by the then Minister of Science, Dragan Primorac as a payback for the provision of an Audi 6 Quattro which had been placed at Primorac’s disposal at the expense of the SIPO. It is alleged that this arrangement between Topić and Primorac was unlawful and represented a misappropriation of public funds. In return for the alleged “favour”, Primorac is alleged to have recommended the renewal of Topić’s mandate to the Government. However, according to the applicable statute, at the time of the re-appointment Primorac was no longer competent to make such a recommendation. This is because in March 2008 the SIPO had been transferred from the remit of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports to the remit of the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship. It remained under the remit of the Ministry of Economy until December 2011 when it was transferred back to the remit of the Ministry of Science.

Topić’s re-appointment in 2008 was the subject of a challenge by Stilin in a lawsuit filed with the Administrative Court and which was finally rejected by the Croatian Constitutional Court. Following exhaustion of domestic remedies, the matter is currently the subject of an application pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strassbourg.

The “ZAMP Affair” and appointment as EPO Vice-President The “ZAMP Affair” is a major contemporary political controversy in Croatia. The name “ZAMP” comes from the royalty collection management entity associated with the Croatian Composers Society (Croatian acroynm: HDS-ZAMP). The controversy concerns the management of royalty payments to musicians and encompasses various allegations of unlawful administrative acts, corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest involving a clique associated with the Croatian President, Ivo Josipović, who was formerly the Secretary-General of the Croatian Composers Society. [2] Topić is perhaps a secondary figure in the “ZAMP affair” but as the former DG of the state institution which had the statutory responsibility for supervising the management of copyright and royalty payments, i.e. the SIPO, it is probable that his role as a “facilitator” was nevertheless a significant one. It has been claimed in the Croatian press and in an article published by the Deutsche Welle (in Croatian) that he enjoys the “protection” of Josipović. [3]

On 1 February 2012, the Croatian press reported that despite the controversy surrounding his management of the SIPO and ongoing official investigations into alleged irregularities, Topić had been re-appointed for a third term as SIPO DG on the recommendation of the then Minister of Science, Željko Jovanović. [4] Shortly afterwards in April 2012, it was reported that he had requested to be relieved of as his duties as SIPO DG in order to take up a more prestigious position as Vice-President of the European Patent Office in Munich. [5] Some of the articles published around this time referred to the fact that at the time of his appointment a number of criminal and civil lawsuits were pending against him in Croatia. [6]

“Dual Mandate” in April 2012

Topić took up office as EPO Vice-President on 16 April 2012. However, according to Croatian government records published in the official gazette “Narodne Novine”, his tenure as SIPO DG lasted until 30 April 2014. Thus for a period of around two weeks in April 2012, it seems that he effectively enjoyed a “dual mandate” as EPO Vice-President and SIPO DG.

In an article published by dnevno.hr in April 2013, it was claimed that one of his last actions as SIPO DG was to order the publication of a highly polemical four-page “Press Release” which he allegedly authored himself on the official website of the SIPO. [7] This “Press Release” concluded by expressing “grave concern that an extremely unprofessional media manipulation based on malicious accusations from a small number of people obviously driven by questionable motives can cause the reputation of a state institution and its Director to be called into question in such an outrageous manner, despite the notable results achieved by the Office and its professional reputation in the relevant national and international professional circles, which is incontrovertibly confirmed by the official reports of the European Commission, the international awards presented to Mr Topić and his appointment to a high executive function at the European Patent Office based inter alia upon the results achieved during his many years as the head of the Office.

We particularly regret that the competent institutions have also succumbed to this unprecedented pressure and have subordinated their actions to individual interests rather than objective reasoning based on relevant facts.” [8]

Despite the criticism of “unprofessional media manipulation” in the “Press Release”, the dnevno.hr article pointed out that a complaint against an article written by Slavica Lukić for “Jutarni list” which Topić submitted to the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) was dismissed by the competent “Ethics Council” of the HND in September 2012. In its conclusions the “Ethics Council” stated the following: “The Council finds that the colleague Lukić verified the relevant information with the appropriate official institutions [i.e. the Ministries of Science and Finance], so in that sense she was not under the obligation claimed by Mr. Topić [i.e. to obtain approval from him or from the SIPO]. The tone and style of the article are serious and balanced; there are no insults or muck-raking sensationalism (lit. “yellow elements”). This confirms that the article was not written with the intention of defaming anyone, but rather in defence of the public interest.” [9]

Dragan Primorac and the “Touareg affair”

One of the controversies relating to Topić’s period of office as SIPO DG, relates to alleged misappropriation of public funds to acquire expensive luxury vehicles for the use of a select group of SIPO employees and the then Minister of Science, Dragan Primorac, who exercised supervisory competence over the SIPO until March 2008. This matter was originally reported in the Croatian press in 2009 but has resurfaced recently due to a publication by the Croatian Public Sector Employees Union (SDLSN) claiming that no proper investigation into this alleged misappropriation of public funds ever took place. [10] The matter has acquired fresh relevance in Croatia in the light of pending criminal proceedings against the former Minister of Science, Dragan Primorac, in a similar case involving allegations of corruption and misuse of public funds at the National Standards Institute, another state institution which came under Primorac’s ministerial remit. In this case it is alleged that the former Director of the National Standards Institute, Dragutin Funda, provided a luxury Touareg SUV to Primorac at the expense of the Institute. The socalled “Touareg Affair” is currently the subject of court proceedings in Croatia and a hearing was held recently in May 2014. Primorac has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him whereas his co-accused, Funda, has pleaded guilty. [11] Other developments – Petition to the European Parliament In 2013, a number of letters voicing concern about Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President and calling for an independent investigation into the matter were submitted to the EPO’s Administrative Council by the Croatian NGO “Juris Protecta” which describes itself as an “Association for the Promotion of the Rule of Law in Croatia”. As the Administrative Council did not respond to these interventions, Juris Protecta filed a Petition with the European Parliament. The Petition has been registered with the number 2848/2013 and is expected to be examined for admissibility by the Petitions Committee during its next session, probably in September or October 2014. [12]

LINKS TO ORIGINAL CROATIAN PRESS ARTICLES

[1] Articles relating to Vesna Stilin and her dismissal from the SIPO:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/obratila-se-linicu-zvizdacica-iz-zavoda-zaintelektualnovlasnistvo-trazi-reviziju-slucaja-emporion/605689.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/vesna-stilin-ravnatelj-dziva-topic-me-oklevetao-iprevario/

609228.aspx

[2] Articles relating to the “ZAMP Affair” and Emporion:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/oglusili-se-na-zahtjev-eu-ne-moze-vam-samo-jednaosoba-u-hrvatskoj-biti-nadzor-za-zamp–/609083.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/sukob-interesa-josipoviceva-zena-za-sve-pise-zakoneradi-u-zampuemporionu-i-svira/605429.aspx

[3] Claims that Topić enjoys the “protection” of Croatian President Ivo Josipović:

http://www.tjedno.hr/index.php/categoryblog/1471-zampili-milijardu-kuna

http://www.dw.de/hrvatski -patent -za-autorska-prava/a-16035391

[4] Controversial renewal of Topić’s mandate as SIPO DG for a third term in 2012:

http://www.jutarnji.hr/zeljko-topic–sebi-i-kolegama-isplatio-milijun-kuna-honorara–a-vladamu-dala-jos-jedan-mandat-/1003663/

[5] Croatian press commentary on Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/index-doznaje–jovanovic-istrazuje-dziv-gdje-je-milijunkuna-tko-se-vozio-u-preskupim-automobilima/611883.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/nagradio-ga-pantovcak-umjesto-progona-ravnateljzavoda-koji-nadzire-zamp-promoviran/608936.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/unatoc-nadjenim-nepravilnostima-ministar-jovanovicpustio-ravnatelja-dziva-da-ode-u-mnchen-/612175.aspx

[6] Articles with references to lawsuits against Topić at the time of his EPO appointment:

http://www.tjedno.hr/index.php/categoryblog/998-protiv-topia-se-vodi-estpostupaka

http://www.jutarnji.hr/kazneni-progon-nije-ga-zaustavio–sanaderov-kadar-zeljko-topic–smijenjen-na-vlastiti-zahtjev–dobio-jos-bolji-posao/1024680/

[7] Article mentioning Topić’s last “Press Release” as SIPO DG on 30 April 2012:

http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/85582-bivsi-ravnatelj-dziv-a-zeljko-topic-zakinuojehrvatske-knjizevnike-za-milijune-kuna.html

[8] The original Croatian version of the “Press Release” dated 30 April 2012 can be found
here: http://www.dziv.hr/files/File/novosti/Priopcenje_za_javnost_30042012.pdf

[9] Dismissal of a complaint submitted by Topić to the Croatian Journalists’ Association
against Slavica Lukic in 2012:

http://www.hnd.hr/hr/Zakljucci7sjednice2012/show/66192/

[10] Articles relating to the controversy surrounding acquisition of luxury vehicles by the
SIPO originally appeared in 2009:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/strah-od-bmwa-direktor-drzavnog-zavoda-sakrioskupocjeni-mercedes/428050.aspx

http://www.nacional.hr/clanak/55956/umjesto-u-garazu-ravnatelj-svoj-luksuzni-mercedesparkira-u-arhivu

More recent articles on this subject were published in April 2014:

http://www.tjedno.hr/index.php/categoryblog/4837-uz-touareg-sporan-je-i-a6-kojim-sesluzio-bivsi-ministar

http://www.sdlsn.hr/index.php/?article=9121&category=1

http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/118172-foto-sindikalci-odabrali-zaljubljeni-pargodine-

zeljko-topic-i-njegov-a-mercedes.html

[11] A report dated 16 May 2014 relating to the recent court hearing in the “Touareg Affair” can be found here:
www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/slucaj-touareg-dragan-primorac-se-ne-osjecakrivim/747836.aspx

[12] The Petition to the European Parliament is mentioned in the following article by
Intellectual Property Watch:

http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/05/15/epo-internal-strife-spills-over-into-europeanparliament-human-rights-court/

Here are press/news clippings [PDF] about the above items and what follows is the aforementioned petition to the European Parliament:

PETITION REF. NO.: JP-2013-0001-EPO

For the urgent attention of:
The President of the European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
B-1047 BRUSSELS

PETITION
TO THE
EUROPEAN
PARLIAMENT

Submitted in accordance with
Article 44 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
and
Article 227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The present Petition concerns a matter which the Petitioner considers to be indicative of a serious deficiency in the governance of the European Patent Organisation.

Notwithstanding the fact that the EPO is not an organ of the EU and, as such, lies outside of the formal jurisdiction of the European Parliament, it is submitted that the European Parliament has both a legitimate interest and an obligation to ensure that proper standards of governance prevail at the EPO in consequence of the duties entrusted to the EPO by the EU under the unitary patent scheme.

The European Parliament is therefore requested to investigate the matter detailed herein and to exert its influence on the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation to take appropriate corrective action with regard to the same.


I. BACKGROUND

1. The European Patent Organisation is an international organisation established under the terms of the European Patent Convention (EPC) of 1973.
The text of the EPC is accessible online at the following URL: http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2013/e/ma1.html

2. According to Article 4 EPC, the organs of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) are
(a) the European Patent Office; and
(b) the Administrative Council.

3. The Administrative Council is the governing body of the European Patent Organisation and it is composed of delegates from the contracting states, i.e. the signatory states of the EPC. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 11 EPC, the Administrative Council is the appointing authority for senior employees of the EPO, in particular the President and the Vice-Presidents of the European Patent Office.

4. Whereas the EPO is not an organ of the EU, the EU has a legitimate interest in the proper governance of said Organisation. This interest derives inter alia from the following considerations:

(i) Article 17 (2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (hereinafter CFR-EU) states that “Intellectual property shall be protected”. The EU thus has an acknowledged statutory responsibility for protecting the intellectual property rights of its citizens.

(ii) In 2012, EU Member States and the European Parliament agreed on the so-called “unitary patent package” – a legislative initiative consisting of two Regulations and an international Agreement laying the foundation for the creation of unitary patent protection in the EU. In the context of this unitary patent scheme, the EPO has been entrusted with the task of granting unitary patents. It is also foreseen that the EPO will be in charge of centrally administering the unitary patent, levying the annual renewal fees and distributing them to the participating EU member states.

5. It is evident that the protection of intellectual property prescribed under Article 17 (2) CFR-EU can only be guaranteed in an effective manner if the institutions responsible for administering intellectual property rights are subject to proper governance.

6. Notwithstanding the fact that the EPO is not an organ of the EU and, as such, lies outside of the formal remit of the European Parliament, it is submitted that the European Parliament has both a legitimate interest and an obligation to ensure that proper standards of governance prevail at the EPO in consequence of the duties entrusted to the EPO by the EU under the unitary patent scheme.

7. The submissions which follow concern the appointment of a senior official of the European Patent Office. The Petitioner is of the view that this is a matter which raises questions about the standards of governance at the European Patent Organisation and on that basis respectfully submits that this is a matter of public interest which merits investigation by the European Parliament, in particular having regard to the observations set forth under items 4 to 6 above.

8. The Petitioner has already made two submissions to the Administrative Council of the EPO concerning the matters raised in the present Petition: a first submission in advance of the Council’s October 2013 meeting and a second submission in advance of its December 2013 meeting (Annex I). No response to these submissions has been received from the Administrative Council so far.

II. DETAILS

9. The present Petition concerns the appointment of a senior official of the EPO, namely the appointment of Mr. Željko Topić as the Vice-President of Directorate-General 4 of the European Patent Office.

10. Mr. Topić’s candidature for the aforementioned position was supported by the current President of the European Patent Office, Mr. Benoît Battistelli, and his appointment was approved by the Administrative Council of the EPO in March 2012 as announced on the official Internet site of the EPO: http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2012/20120328.html

11. Mr. Topić was formerly the Director-General of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). He was initially appointed to that position in 2004 and was re-appointed for a second term in 2008. Shortly after being re-appointed for a third term in 2012, he resigned voluntarily from his position at the SIPO following his appointment as a Vice-President of the European Patent Office where he took up his duties in April 2012.

12. Mr. Topić’s appointment to the EPO was the subject of much critical press coverage in his home country of Croatia. For example, an article by the journalist Ms. Slavica Lukić was
published in Jutarni List on 28 April 2012: http://www.jutarnji.hr/kazneni-progon-nije-ga-zaustavio–sanaderov-kadar-zeljkotopic–smijenjen-na-vlastiti-zahtjev–dobio-jos-bolji-posao/1024680/

Mr. Topić filed a complaint about this article with the Croatian Journalists’ Association (Hrvatsko Novinarsko Društvo). However, Mr. Topić’s complaint was dismissed by the Association’s tribunal. An English language translation of the disputed article and the findings of the tribunal are provided as an annex to the present Petition (Annex II).

13. According to the information at the disposal of the Petitioner, apart from various civil proceedings, there were at least two criminal law cases pending against Mr. Topić prior to his appointment as Vice-President of the European Patent Office. One of these cases concerned the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Ms. Vesna Stilin, a former Assistant Director-General of the Croatian SIPO, and the other one concerned matters which the Croatian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport as the government department with supervisory authority over the SIPO had failed to investigate properly despite its statutory obligation to do so. Evidence to support the foregoing assertions is provided in Annex III to the present Petition (Annex III-A1 and III-A2).

14. Concerning the first of the criminal law cases referred to above, it is noted that Ms. Stilin’s dismissal from the post of Assistant Director-General of the SIPO in 2008 was based on statements by Mr. Topić which Ms. Stilin considers to have been untrue and which prompted her to initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. Topić for defamation. In appeal proceedings held before the competent court of appeal in Croatia in December 2012, a judgment was delivered in Ms. Stilin’s favour to remit the case back to the court of first instance where it is still pending (Annex III-B).

15. Ms. Stilin additionally filed criminal charges against Mr. Topić with the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office (Annex III-C). This case which includes a charge relating to bribery is likewise still pending before the courts in Croatia. A key accusation here is that Mr. Topić effectively “purchased” his re-appointment as Director General of the SIPO by bribing the former Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Mr. Dragan Primorac, who was responsible for proposing Mr. Topić’s re-appointment for a second term to the Croatian government in 2008 (Annex III-D). There is further extensive documentation about this matter, including a complaint which Ms. Stilin filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. A copy of this documentation can be provided on request.

16. In response to the legal actions which Ms. Stilin had initiated against him, Mr. Topić belatedly filed a private action for defamation against her at the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb on 22 April 2013. Mr. Topić’s action was dismissed by the court which delivered its judgment in Ms. Stilin’s favour in September 2013 (Annex III-E).

17. Further documentation is available which shows that during his period of office as Director General of the Croatian SIPO Mr. Topić ignored the recommendation made by independent EU experts in field of Copyright and Related Rights in the context of the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) Programme for South-Eastern Europe (Official Reference No. 96-022 and 60343) where the EU provided Croatia with about € 2 million to assist the development of the SIPO, in particular with the aim of strengthening its Copyright and Related Rights Department. At that time the number of legal staff in the Copyright and Related Rights Department was insufficient as there were only two persons at the SIPO, including Ms. Stilin, responsible for dealing with these matters. However, instead of increasing the number of legal staff in accordance with the recommendation of experts appointed by the EU to which he had formally assented in a commitment given to the EU on behalf of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Topić proceeded to effectively abolish the Copyright and Related Rights Department, by reducing the personnel dealing with these matters to a single person. Mr. Topić’s actions in this regard were carried out without any coherent explanation and in a manner which appears to have amounted to an egregious violation of his official obligations. A copy of the relevant documentation relating to this matter can be provided on request.

18. The Petitioner respectfully submits that it would be in the public interest for the Administrative Council of the EPO to initiate an impartial and objective investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Topić’s appointment as a Vice-President of the European Patent Office and, to the extent appropriate, to exercise its disciplinary authority in the matter.

19. The Petitioner has already made representations to the Administrative Council of the EPO in this regard (Annex I). However, the Council has so far given no indication that it intends to carry out an independent investigation into the matter. The lack of any substantive response on the part of the Council leads the Petitioner to fear that it may be unwilling to take appropriate action on its own initiative to face up to its public duty in this regard.

III. RELIEF SOUGHT

In view of the foregoing, the European Parliament (hereinafter “the Parliament”) is hereby petitioned to take the following action in respect of the matter detailed above:

1. The Parliament is requested to conduct its own independent investigation into the matter.

2. Insofar as this investigation may lead it to conclude that the matter warrants further action on its part, the Parliament is requested to exert its influence on the Administrative Council of the EPO to take appropriate corrective action.

3. More specifically, the Parliament is requested to adopt a resolution calling on the Administrative Council of the EPO to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Topić’s appointment as a Vice-President of the European Patent Office and, to the extent appropriate, to exercise its disciplinary authority with regard to the same.

The Petitioner hereby wishes to assure the Parliament of its full co-operation with any investigation which it may see fit to conduct in response to the present Petition. The Parliament is further advised that Ms. Stilin, former Assistant Director-General of the Croatian SIPO, has informed the Petitioner of her willingness to co-operate with any independent investigation to be carried out under the Parliament’s authority into the matters detailed above. In particular, Ms. Stilin has indicated that she is prepared to provide copies of any relevant documentation at her disposal which might assist the Parliament in it endeavours in this regard.

In the meantime, the Petitioner respectfully remains at the Parliament’s disposal should it have any further queries or require any further assistance in order to assess the merits of the present Petition.

Request for confidential treatment pursuant to Rule 201(11) of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

In view of the fact that legal proceedings are pending in Croatia involving parties mentioned in connection with the present Petition, the Petitioner considers that it would be advisable to treat the contents of the Petition with an appropriate degree of confidentiality in order not to prejudice the interests of any of the parties to the aforementioned legal proceedings.

Accordingly, a request for confidential treatment is made pursuant to Rule 201(11) of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament.

The Petitioner notes in this regard that it has no objection to it being entered into the public record that the present Petition has been lodged with the Parliament. However, the Parliament is respectfully requested to consult with the Petitioner to obtain its approval in the case that it is intended to make any further details of the Petition public.

ANNEXES

I. Copies of submissions made by the Petitioner (Juris Protecta e.V.) to the Administrative Council of the EPO.

II. English language translation of an article by the journalist Ms. Slavica Lukić published in Jutarni List on 28 April 2012 accompanied by an English language translation of the findings of the tribunal of the Croatian Journalists’ Association dismissing a complaint filed by Mr. Topić against Ms. Lukić.

III. Copies of documents pertaining to alleged irregularities in the administration of the Croatian SIPO and related matters.

In the next part we are going to relate this to more abuses and swindles at the European Patent Office.

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