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02.03.14

Privacy/NSA Watch: Corporate Spying, Snowden Smears, German Anger, and More Lawsuits

Posted in Law at 4:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This weekend’s (and Monday’s) news about the NSA and other privacy violators

Aggression Watch: Torture and Assassination of ‘Suspects’

Posted in Law at 4:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News about aggressive approaches to domination

Torture Report

  • DOJ: Feinstein’s Committee Controls CIA Torture Report; Has Final Say Over Public Release

    The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve the 6,000-page report, which the panel’s Democratic chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said, “uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program,” on December 13, 2012. The panel provided copies of the document to the White House, Department of State, CIA and Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for their review and comment.

  • Release the Senate torture report

    Last night, John Rizzo told an audience at Fordham Law School that he supports the public release of a Senate report on CIA interrogation and detention after 9/11. Rizzo, acting CIA general counsel 2001-2002 and 2004-2009, and one of the Bush Administration legal officials who approved many of the torture techniques used in interrogations of terror suspects, said adamantly, “I would like to see it released.”

  • Senate Intelligence Committee Clashes With CIA Over Interrogations Report

    The 6,300-page Senate report on CIA “enhanced interrogations” remains officially classified, but that hasn’t stopped CIA officials from repeatedly and loudly condemning the report publicly, insisting it is filled with unspecified errors.

Outsourcing Torture

  • CIA front exposed by UK Ambassador, interview with Craig Murray

    At the beginning of the US war on terror, and even to this day, the US literally kidnapped “suspects” and took them to countries where the could torture and even kill suspects. This practice of kidnapping and usually flying suspects around the world and then torturing or killing them in countries with poor human rights records or brutal regimes happened so much that the practice soon became known to all and the name for it “extraordinary rendition” became a household word.

  • Poland And Lithuania Haunted By Their Involvement In Hosting CIA Torture Prisons – OpEd

    In the long search for accountability for the torturers of the Bush administration, which has largely been shut down by President Obama, lawyers and human rights activists have either had to try shaming the US through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or have had to focus on other countries, particularly those that hosted secret CIA torture prisons, or had explicit involvement in extraordinary rendition.

  • How The CIA Made Dupes Of Polish Intelligence

    The Washington Post story was both scary and a bit comical: Polish intelligence received $15 million from the CIA to operate secret prisons — or “black sites” — and the money was supposedly delivered in two cardboard boxes. Hmmm.

  • CIA prison in Poland? No comment, says White House

    A top security adviser to President Obama has said that the allegations of a CIA prison in Poland are a “matter for the Polish government and Polish justice”. – See more at: http://www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/160420,CIA-prison-in-Poland-No-comment-says-White-House#sthash.BFlKwUXd.dpuf

Brennan

Assassination

  • January 2014 Update: US covert actions in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia
  • Drones or UAVs? The search for a more positive name

    At the moment only the US, the UK and Israel are using armed drones – but many others are building them – because they bring new capabilities.

    Take, as an example, this story I heard on a trip to Pakistan last year.

    An Arab militant used to sleep in the same room as his wife and children in one of Pakistan’s tribal areas.

  • First month without a US drone strike in Pakistan for over two years

    There were no reported drone strikes in Pakistan in January. This is the first calendar month without a drone strike in more than two years.

  • Over 300 US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 – leaked official data

    Top-secret documentation collected by Pakistani field officers gives detailed information on 330 US drone strikes that have occurred in Pakistan since 2006. The CIA-run program is estimated to have killed 2,371 people.

    From solitary individuals riding on horseback to mountain hideouts crammed with people, the CIA drone program has had no shortage of targets in the Islamic Republic, according to newly released information obtained by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).

  • Total Drone Deaths in Pakistan Top 2,000

    More than 2,200 people have been killed by U.S. drones operating in Pakistan since 2006, according to a report obtained by the U.K.-based group The Bureau for Investigative Journalism.

  • Manipulating the Data on CIA Drone Strikes against Civilians: Leaked Pakistani Document contradicts US Accounts

    A secret Pakistani government document contradicts several of the US’s rare public statements on the CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan.

    The document outlines over 300 drone strikes dating between 2006 and September 2013. It is compiled by local officials using a network of on-the-ground agents and informants reporting to the FATA Secretariat, the tribal administration.

  • Ed Kinane Tells Judge Why He Protests Drone Killing

    We will not resist or evade arrest and if prosecuted, we will use the judicial process to continue our anti-drone campaign. Where possible we will put the Pentagon’s and CIA’s use of hunter/killer drones itself on trial.

  • Drone Protesters on Trial Across U.S.
  • Bader: Drone strikes cause more problems than they solve

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, more commonly known as drones, have been in use for years but have recently become a topic of controversy because of their increased use by the Obama administration. The U.S. military uses drones to do surveillance in hostile areas and to conduct missile strikes on military targets. Drones are praised for being precise in their strikes, which arguably reduces civilian casualties. Additionally, since no one is in the drones, they keep soldiers out of the line of fire.

USPTO Still a Sham; Microsoft, Apple and IBM Still Part of the Problem and Google/Linux a Common Victim

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 10:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Where innovation comes to get burned

Summary: How software conglomerates continue to hammer on Free software and GNU/Linux, adding even hypocritical attempts an antitrust action

The USPTO is still the same sham is has been over the past decade or two. It is designed to serve large corporations and it is even run by some of them. Like the espionage specialist NSA, it is about protectionism for few large companies (oligarchs) at the expense of people in the nation it purports to be serving. This isn’t only unjust; it’s corrupt.

There is no lack of shocking patent news. There’s depressing news out there, including Slashdot‘s coverage of Apple’s creepy patents. A former Microsoft booster from CNET said that a “freshly published Apple patent application envisions the delivery of targeted ads based on your mood, behavior, and other seemingly intangible characteristics.”

Apple then uses its patents to attack Linux with embargoes and Google is trying to catch up (Lenovo gets part of Motorola) by doing rational things, not extortion using software patents but instead reacting with Motorola and OIN-pooled patents (connections with IBM). The thing about IBM is, despite pretending to be pro-FOSS, it continues to promote software patents [1], making the USPTO even worse than before [2] and leaving civil rights groups to clean up the mess [3]. OIN has Oracle as a member and despite that Oracle is suing Google/Android/Linux. Then there are Microsoft-armed proxies/trolls like Vringo and 'Beneficial' 'Innovations' (both suing Google over its core business), which FOSS Force mentioned the other day as follows: “When Beneficial Innovations began taking legal action against websites using Google’s Doubleclick ad technology, the search company took the troll to court for suing their customers. It seems that in 2010 Google had settled with Beneficial and that settlement specifically covered their customers. According to Ars Technica, Google made it easy for the court to find in their favor.”

Microsoft must be really worried about Google because Marissa Mayer threatens to dump Microsoft from search after Microsoft hijacked Yahoo. “Thus the noise about the CEO choices,” wrote iophk. “It buries the real news.” And then there’s this in the news: “A Microsoft-backed lobby group is urging Brussels’ competition chief Joaquin Almunia to open up Google’s latest revised offer of a conciliatory package of tweaks to its search biz to the ad giant’s rivals.

“Earlier this week, it was reported that the European Commission was closing in on a settlement deal with Google that would apparently allow the company to dodge admittance of any wrongdoing and a fine that could be as high as 10 per cent of its annual global turnover.

“Almunia’s office has declined to comment on the claim that it had received a fresh package of concessions from Google to try to end a three-year long antitrust investigation into the multinational’s search business practices in Europe.”

Acually, it was Google that originally complained about Vista diverting users away from Google. Funny how some Microsoft lobbyists and proxies from the most criminal company now attempt to make Google look like the antitrust violator, while adding some patent attacks to Google, both directly and indirectly (through trolls and partners). Microsoft and its proxies also started antitrust complaints against Android, alleging anti-competitive behaviour in operating systems (yes, Microsoft accuses others of that).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft And IBM: If Patent Office Can Do A Quick Review Of Our Crappy Patents, You’ll All Die In A Car Crash

    Last fall, we wrote about how the BSA, the Business Software Alliance, famous for being basically a Microsoft-front organization whose main job is to publish absolutely, hilariously misleading “piracy” numbers each year, had been taking on the issue of the so called “covered business method (CBM) patent” program that was being pushed in patent reform. The covered business method patent program is pretty straightforward. It allows certain types of patents — currently financial patents — to undergo a faster review, allowing the USPTO to dump bad patents faster. Senator Chuck Schumer, who had put the original CBM tool into the last round of patent reform, is now championing expanding it to cover software patents as well. While very heavy lobbying from Microsoft (and some from IBM) convinced the House to drop the plan from its patent reform bill, there’s still a battle in the Senate, and Schumer doesn’t show any interest in giving it up.

  2. Ill-Conceived, Even If Competently Administered: Software Patents, Litigation, and Innovation—A Comment on Graham and Vishnubhakat

    The number of patents has increased dramatically in the past three decades, as has the number of patent-related lawsuits, particularly in the field of software. Industry and academic experts have expressed concern that many of the patents being issued are of low quality. Writing in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Stuart Graham and Saurabh Vishnubhakat have defended the United States Patent and Trademark Office, arguing that the PTO has acted responsibly in issuing patents that are legally valid and that it is handling problems constructively. We accept some of Graham and Vishnubhakat’s defense of the PTO, but argue that the most important issue is not whether the law is being competently administered but whether patent law, particularly as applied to software, is creating patents that are overly broad and ambiguous. We maintain that it is, and that the results are less innovation and more costly and unproductive litigation.

  3. Podcasting “patent troll” fighting EFF wants donors’ names

    Personal Audio LLC is a patent-holding company that became famous (or infamous, depending on one’s point of view) by claiming that it owns things like playlists and podcasts (or “episodic content,” in the words of one Personal Audio patent). Its wild claims led the Electronic Frontier Foundation to raise more than $76,000 from donors to fight the patent.

Amid Financial Misconduct Microsoft Fights Against Basic Tech Rights, Obviously in an Attempt to Squeeze Out More Money

Posted in Fraud at 9:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft in trouble with the Bermuda Supreme Court over dodgy Microsoft subsidiaries or affiliates (shells)

Lake

Summary: The first sale doctrine is under threat because Microsoft is suing, showing every company out there that Windows is just rented whereas GNU/Linux is shared to be owned; Microsoft’s financial misconduct is meanwhile showing why Microsoft is running amok

Microsoft, which is reporting (but spinning) losses, must be critically desperate for cash. Government subsidies (via the NSA with its black budget for instance) seem to be drying up, especially now that major clients like the UK government say they will turn to Free software (see coverage from Red Hat [1] and the Linux Foundation’s Andy Updegrove [2].

Also, we are reminded that not only Bill Gates is a systematic tax evader who pretends to give while hoarding lots of additional money [3] (Gates hoarded an additional ten billion dollars or so last year alone). Microsoft, which is still controlled by Gates (its biggest shareholder), is continuing its tradition of crime. Based on this news from Bermuda and from Ireland, “Three Bermuda Microsoft subsidiaries or affiliates are being investigated by another country for their various tax dealings on the island.

“According to filings at Bermuda Supreme Court, Flat Island Company, RI Holdings, and Round Island One are all the subject of a tax inquiry.”

To quote the Irish press: “A foreign government has requested Bermuda to investigate three of Microsoft’s subsidiaries in the Caribbean nation that are in effect Irish offshore shell companies linked to the software giant’s companies in Ireland, and are used for corporate tax avoidance and maybe evasion.

“The OffshoreAlert newsletter services picked up this information from a handwritten record that had been inadvertently made public by the Bermuda Supreme Court two weeks ago. The information was published this week in the United States by The Huffington Post.

“The government of Bermuda was responding to a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) request (the foreign government wasn’t identified), which is part of an international monitoring system, established by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which Bermuda assented to in 2005.”

In addition, asks iophk: “What about that bribery scandal from last year? That too seems to have been brushed under the rug.” We covered it before (Ballmer fled around that time) and it suggests that Microsoft is bribing governments in a high number of nations, basically getting government contracts using crime and corruption. We wrote about it in relation to deals with the British government, too.

As we noted some days ago, Microsoft spends more than it makes, so aggressive tactics like patent extortion and shakedown against hardware companies only make sense. It is becoming clearer that companies should refurbish with GNU/Linux, never Windows, as Microsoft is getting more aggressive. According to this report, “Microsoft sues Urbandale company over alleged counterfeit software,” but it’s not really counterfeiting.

As Ryan explained in our IRC channels: “Microsoft has sued a computer store that was selling refurbished laptops that came with a Windows Vista license, which had been re-imaged with the same version of Windows Vista that they came with. Microsoft claims that exercising your rights under the First Sale Doctrine is “counterfeiting software”. In other words, everyone that is selling their old computer and keeps Windows on it for the next owner is doing the same thing that this company did. Microsoft says you have no right to do that, which flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent. (It’s the same as selling a used book or a used CD, which is totally legal.) I’m not suggesting that it’s good to give someone else a copy of Windows. It’s better to give them software that respects their freedom, such as GNU/Linux. Nobody has ever been sued for “counterfeiting” GNU/Linux, because software counterfeiting is impossible, and everyone has the guaranteed right to share it under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Microsoft, in light of such developments and serious investigations of fraud and bribery, is not a company, it’s a crime syndicate with connections in government — connections so strong (even with those above the law, such as the NSA) that it’s allowed to get away with almost everything as long as it facilitates those who are above the law and also work for the state (Microsoft even does this in Russia, helping to crack down on activists and spy on Skype users).

It is time to stop treating Microsoft like just another company. It clearly is not. Microsoft’s is every tyrant’s best friend. There is more discussion about Microsoft’s attack on technology rights in the thread “Microsoft sues a company for exercising their rights under the first sale doctrine.”

The FSF is again promoting its campaign against Vista 8. Below is the link that says more about it [4]. In terms of sales, Vista 8 is a major failure (some say worse than Vista with its DRM ‘innovations’) and the FSF’s letters to many companies can be clever advocacy, so let’s hope it will prove to be effective. If only the FSF used the crime angle more frequently against Microsoft…

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Data centers go green with open hardware, the UK examines open options, and more
  2. UK Cabinet Office Signals Move Towards Open Source Office Suites

    It was ten years ago that the CIO of Massachusetts rattled the desktop world by announcing that the Executive Agencies of the Commonwealth would henceforth license only office suite software that complied with the OpenDocument Format. The shock waves that followed were attributable to the fact that while the open source OpenOffice office suite was built around that standard, the dominant product – Microsoft’s venerable Office suite did not.

  3. The 20 Richest Americans Are Greedy Takers — Not Inspirational ‘Makers’

    The top individuals on the 2013 Forbes 400 list are generally believed to be makers of great companies or concepts. They are the role models of Paul Ryan, who laments, “We’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America.” They are defended by Cato Institute CEO John A. Allison IV, who once protested: “Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive.”

    But many of the richest Americans are takers. The top twenty, with a total net worth of almost two-thirds of a trillion dollars, have all taken from the public or from employees, or through taxes or untaxed inheritances.

  4. Help the FSF bury Windows 8

    Windows 8 is officially a flop. Despite attempts to force people to use the operating system by shipping restricted boot on new Windows 8 tablets and phones (not to mention a record smashing advertising budget), sales have been sluggish. What we have here is our best opportunity yet to help people give up Windows in favor of an operating system that respects our freedoms to choose, share, change, and view the code we use to conduct our digital lives.

Microsoft: Why Stop Committing Crimes When You Can Change the Public Image/Persona?

Posted in Microsoft at 8:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Faces

Summary: Microsoft is pretending to be ‘open’ and reformed, but these attempts are shallow and futile

IF your business model requires committing crimes but those crimes are bad for business, then maybe what you need is a ‘public relations’ strategy. When you are bribing governments and engaging in financial fraud or even AstroTurfing (bribing bloggers, journalists, and vloggers) it is clear that people are rightly going to hate you. When your LOBBYING is disguised as “openness” it is clear that your credentials are going down the drain. Microsoft pretends to open a ‘transparency centre’ in EU, based on this article which Glyn Moody calls ‘”fauxpen” waste of time without community to check code’. It is all about perception changing, but it is not going to work.

“Now I think Microsoft board is actively leaking CEO names, then running sentiment analysis on global response.”
      –Paul Miller
Following the escape of Steve Ballmer amid bribery scandals there is clearly an attempt to whitewash Microsoft, with shallow reports about gossip from AOL [1] and other Microsoft-serving publications (it should be noted that AOL has been a very shameless Microsoft propaganda outlet in recent months, basically just parroting Microsoft’s talking points about the NSA), not to mention Microsoft boosters from Seattle and former/semi-staff from Seattle.

At Slashdot, Microsoft Nick (the longtime booster of Microsoft) is already grooming and whitewashing Microsoft’s potential new ringleader. “The owner remains Bill Gates so the flunky hardly matters,” Will Hill opines.

We once speculated that Microsoft would using female or ethnic minority to reshape perceptions about the criminal company. Paul Miller writes: “Now I think Microsoft board is actively leaking CEO names, then running sentiment analysis on global response.”

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft Will Likely Name Satya Nadella As Its Next CEO: Reports

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