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04.02.15

Governments Adopt Free Software and Standards, So Microsoft Distorts the Press for Propaganda and Lies About Microsoft’s Proprietary ‘Products’

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s lobbying apparatus is trying to hook entire nations into PRISM (i.e. NSA espionage) with proprietary Microsoft formats and proprietary software, especially now that nations have policies in place and Free software available which renders Microsoft obsolete

DESPITE Microsoft’s gross behaviour and sheer influence in the Indian government, the Government of India recently managed to pass new laws in relation to software, making Free software a necessity (to what degree depends on the article one trusts the most, as there have been at least a dozen of them in English). This makes perfect sense for a software powerhouse like India. It would benefit local industries. India can be self-sufficient in the software sense.

Meanwhile, here in the UK the government managed to pass pro-ODF policies, despite lobbying by Microsoft, its proxies, and its British partners. We covered this last year and we played a role in giving feedback to the government, at the expense of many hours and as much as one day’s work. We now have what can be cautiously labelled Free software-friendly procurement policy even in the UK, which has historically been one of the most Microsoft-friendly countries in the world.

“We now have what can be cautiously labelled Free software-friendly procurement policy even in the UK, which has historically been one of the most Microsoft-friendly countries in the world.”Microsoft is of course not accepting defeat. It is now pretending to be “Open Source”, starting with lies about the status of .NET, accompanied by concealment patent issues (as with OOXML) and openwashing of Visual Studio — an integral part of .NET — even though it’s a mischievous distortion of facts. Microsoft pretends to be “Open Source” because it wants a loophole into government contracts even where governments strictly require Free software and open standards. A new article by Liu Qihao & Ciaran O’Riordan highlights the reality behind so-called ‘Open Source’ .NET. The instruction states:

Microsoft is publishing the source code to certain parts of .NET. The terms of distribution (the licence) is the combination of the MIT licence and a separate patent promise. Given that Microsoft has a history of aggressively using software patents against free software, we decided to take a look at the legal details.

The conclusion is as follows:

If you only intend to use the software as published by Microsoft, then everything looks fine. The patent promise (if it’s even necessary) will apply. If you intend to modify the code, then the protections of the patent promise may be necessary or useful and you should take care. And if you’re looking for a project to contribute to, then it would be worth giving your preference to projects which don’t contain conditions which create or suggest patent risks if the code is used in other free software projects (outside of the set of .NET Runtime projects).

So it’s basically false marketing, as one should expect from Microsoft. The Economist has just released a horrible Microsoft puff piece (more like an advertisement in article form), misleadingly titled “Opening Windows”. Opening, really? As in “Open Source”? The article, written in Redmond, says: “At an event in San Francisco last October Mr Nadella showed a slide that read: “Microsoft loves Linux”. In contrast, Mr Ballmer once called the open-source operating system a “cancer”.”

Paul Krill, a Microsoft-friendly writer (for many years now), has meanwhile published “Windows goes open source?” (not April’s Fool). Paul Krill consciously (or not) helps Microsoft openwash Windows, pretending there are such legitimate claims as policies in governments change to require “Open Source”.

What we have here is a misinformation campaign. You love Open Source? Then you will love Microsoft. That’s the (almost) daily message from your Microsoft-affiliated and at times Microsoft-bribed friends (acting as ‘reporters’).

Here in the UK our government is apparently so dumb that even when it adopts ODF as the editable documents standard and asks for Free/Open Source software it remains stuck with the prospect of blobs from Microsoft. Regarding an article that seeks to associate Microsoft with ODF, iophk told us: “In practice it is unlikely that it will actually comply with the standard.”

This relates to statements like this one from Linda Humphries, titled “Making document formats open, it makes them better” (the same applies to software, not just data).

Francis Maude has just met (i.e. lobbying) with a Microsoft liar, Michel Van der Bel (see her mentioned in this older post). Microsoft pretends that it can deliver ODF support and that therefore the government’s requirement (ODF) and preference (Free software) should be compatible with Windows and Office. To quote the article: “Stanchak said Cabinet Officer minister Francis Maude met with Microsoft’s UK country manager, Michel Van der Bel, to discuss the company’s work on open standards to enable universal document access across government departments.

“Maude said the use of ODF will deliver significant savings to the public sector.

“”This will give people more choice about the software they use. This supports our digital by default agenda, which is helping save citizens, businesses and taxpayers £1.2bn over this Parliament as part of our long-term economic plan,” he said.

“The update comes despite Microsoft arguing last year that its own Open XML file format is more widely adopted than ODF and therefore should be on the government’s approved format list.”

So Microsoft attacked ODF and now it wants to be part of ODF. Is that how it works? The UK government should shun Microsoft. As this other new article reminds us: “In 2014, Microsoft went against the government’s request to support ODF, claiming its own XML format was more heavily adopted. The UK government refutes the claim, stating that ODF allows users to not be boxed into one ecosystem.”

Microsoft now pretends otherwise. More lies from Microsoft UK, an opportunist with NSA connections. The British government’s decision on office suites (if they’re needed at all) shouldn’t be about picking a ‘cloud’; it would be a privacy farce. If the government was ever to adopt Microsoft ‘cloud’ (i.e. NSA PRISM with that glorified ‘cloud’ buzzword which appeases non-technical people), would it be sued by any British citizens for supporting espionage by foreign spies? A lot of personal data is being encoded and stored in such documents. In the past, for NSA to acquire data/files from Office it needed to use Microsoft’s Windows back doors. With Office 360 [sic.] it’s becoming trivial. Microsoft is in PRISM.

The British government needs to adopt Free software such as LibreOffice and stop wasting time being lobbied by the company that attacked open standards and Open Source software like no other company in the history of computing.

Links 2/4/2015: Linux Lite 2.4, Ubuntu Phone Jailbreak

Posted in News Roundup at 11:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Google Goes Crazy for Chromebooks

      Google on Tuesday announced two new budget-busting Chromebook computers, a tablet/notebook convertible with a full swivel screen, and a Chrome computer-on-a-stick.

      The Haier Chromebook 11 (pictured above) and the Hisense Chromebook both are available for preorder for US$149.

    • Choosing Software to Work Remotely from Your Linux Dev Station

      In the previous article, I gave an overview of how I’ve managed to go mobile. In this installment, I’m going to talk about the software I’m using on my different devices. Then in the third and final installment, I’ll explain how I set up my Linux servers, what software I’m using, and how I set up the security. Before getting started, however, I want to address one important point: While downtime and family time are necessary (as some of you wisely pointed out in the comments!) one great use for this is if you have to do a lot of business traveling, and if you’re on call. So continuing our story…

    • A Linux user tries out Windows 10

      Long answer: Are you kidding me? I couldn’t repartition that drive fast enough and re-install Linux.

  • Server

    • ​Canonical to integrate Chef DevOps into Ubuntu

      You may think of Ubuntu as a desktop Linux, and it is, but it’s also the most popular Linux on Amazon EC2 cloud and very popular on most other cloud platforms. So it only makes good sense that Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company, has partnered with Chef, one of the most popular DevOps companies.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Docker

      Solomon Hykes, CTO and chief architect of Docker, joins Randal and Gareth this week to talk about Docker’s 2nd birthday and the vast ecosystem it has developed during the time. Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications.

  • Kernel Space

    • Slow April Fools’ Day for Linux

      This certainly hasn’t been a record year for Linux and Open Source April Fools’ jokes. In days of yore distributions would come up with crazy spins or psychedelic themes. Sites would deploy eye-straining colors and heads of projects would announce defections. Every now and again a prank would be so convincing that folks would believe it. However, we did find a few community members getting into the spirit.

    • Virtual GEM Is Coming For Linux 4.1

      There’s already been a fair amount of code building up for the DRM graphics subsystem for the Linux 4.1 kernel and a new feature was just committed to Git last night.

      Virtual GEM (vGEM) is coming! VGEM can increase Mesa’s software rasterizer performance and this fake GEM memory management support was devised by a Google engineer, Zach Reizner.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • There is no KEndorsements

        The next idea is about monitioring the usage behavior of the user. For this I must say that in a Wayland world KWin would have enough information to do that, but we don’t look at the information at all. We do not care what an application is: we don’t know that a given window is “Krita”, we don’t know that it should be used with a drawing tablet, we don’t analyze any input and just pass it through to the application. KWin is completely ignorant on what the application does with input events passed to them and as ignorant to what a window content looks like. To us a window is just a texture we render to the screen. We don’t know that there is a “drawing area” or a “video” element, it’s just one texture. Similarly we do not know (and care) about input events. All we do is determine which window should get the event and pass it to it. We are quite aware that by passing all input events through KWin we could do evil things. The good thing is that our software is open source and you can see what we do (relevant code file is called input.cpp, events come in from the files under the libinput/ directory).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Another release, another release video

        Huge credits goes to the GNOME Design Team for awesome assets, Anitek for the awesome music, engagement team for the awesome feedback and translation team for the awesome subtitles. Also thanks to everyone who helped me by fixing visual bugs early so I could record the new improvements. GNOME 3.18 will be amazing.

      • JdLL 2015

        Last week-end, in the Salle des Rancy in Lyon, GNOME folks (Fred Peters, Mathieu Bridon and myself) set up our booth at the top of the stairs, the space graciously offered by Ubuntu-FR and Fedora being a tad bit small. The JdLL were starting.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Simplicity Linux 15.4 Beta Is Now Based on LXPup, Includes the Latest Tor Browser

        The Simplicity Linux development team, through David Purse, had the pleasure of announcing the immediate availability for download and testing of the Beta version of the upcoming Simplicity Linux 15.4 computer operating system. Simplicity Linux aims to be a small, fast, and versatile Linux distro based on Puppy Linux.

      • Antivirus Live CD 12.0 Has Been Released, Promises to Protect Computers Against Viruses

        Zbigniew Konojacki, the creator of the 4MLinux series of distributions, has announced recently the immediate availability for download of Antivirus Live CD 12.0, an open source distribution that provides users with a live Linux computing environment built around the popular ClamAV (Clam AntiVirus) virus scanner.

      • Emmabuntus 3 Linux Distribution Is Now Based on Xubuntu 14.04.2 LTS

        Patrick Emmabuntus had the pleasure of informing Softpedia about a new maintenance release of his Emmabuntüs 3 Linux distribution, which is now based on the upstream Xubuntu LTS operating system.

      • Black Lab Enterprise Desktop 6.5 RC1 RELEASED

        Today we are releasing Black Lab Enterprise Desktop 6.5 RC1. This is the first Release Candidate of what will become the final product of Black Lab Enterprise Desktop 6.5. We are now in feature freeze meaning there will be no more changes to the application lineup and we will be working on polish. We have introduced quite a few new features. Enterprise Filesystem support, Built in virtualization utilities, and webapp integration.

    • Linux Lite

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Is Moving To Systemd’s Journal, GNOME 3.16, Plasma 5

        The openSUSE Tumbleweed rolling-release distribution has already been using systemd for some time, but they’ve kept to using syslog for system messaging logging. However, that’s going to change as Tumbleweed integrates systemd’s journal.

      • Gnome 3.16, systemd-journal coming in next Tumbleweed snapshot

        It’s official, Gnome will be in the next Tumbleweed snapshot and the development experience is highly anticipated. A clean installation works, but the guys are working on one last test before its released. We’re not promising an early Easter gift, but Tumbleweed users won’t have to wait long for Gnome’s latest upgrade.

    • Debian Family

      • Surviving systemd: Lucas Nussbaum satisfied with init system outcome

        It would not be an exaggeration to say that no leader of the Debian GNU/Linux Project has had to cope with more troubling times than Lucas Nussbaum.

        The extent of debate and acrimony that broke out within the project last year over the decision to adopt systemd as the default init system for the next release, Jessie, would have taxed the patience of even the most suave diplomat.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Vendors queuing to launch Ubuntu smartphones – Shuttleworth

            There is a “queue of vendors” looking to launch Ubuntu-powered devices, following the launch of the first commercial smartphone by vendor BQ last month, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, told Mobile World Live.

          • See What’s New in Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet

            The stable edition of Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) is just around the corner, so this is a good time to take a look at the features that are going to be implemented in the new release and see what important packages have been updated.

          • Ubuntu Phone Jailbreak Now Available, Third-Party App Store Created

            Believe it or not, Ubuntu Phones can be jailbroken too, sort of. In a recent blog post, Ubuntu Touch OS developer Michael Zanetti explains how he managed to create a third-part App Store for the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system that will allow some open doors for power users and developers who want to explore the platform beyond what’s offered to the normal user.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • ODROID C1 review

      The ODROID C1 is a true alternative to the Raspberry Pi 2. It costs the same but brings Gigabit Ethernet, the option of using a high-speed eMMC storage module, and support for Android!

      The Single Board Computer (SBC) movement is still going strong and with the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 2, it doesn’t seem as if it will lose any of its current momentum. The key selling point of the Raspberry Pi has always been its price. While there are lots of other companies that make these nimble little boards, there aren’t that many who seem to be able to match the Pi’s price point. Of course, some of the boards are only slightly more expensive than the Pi and do offer more functionality. For example, the MIPS Creator CI20 costs just $65 and includes built-in Wi-Fi and 8GB of on-board storage, two things missing from the Pi.

    • Android IVI system serves up to 56 bus passengers

      The Via BLISS (Bus Line In-Seat System) Platform provides an in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) VOD network of the type typically found only on airlines, says Via Technologies. The Android-based system has been deployed by long-distance bus operators in Taiwan and Turkey, and is now open for general availability.

    • Lumenera Announces the Release of Their ‘Lumenera Linux SDK 2.0’

      Lumenera, a leading manufacturer and developer of high performance digital cameras and custom imaging solutions, is pleased to announce the launch of Lumenera Linux SDK 2.0— their new software development kit that supports the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Studying polar data with the help of Apache Tika

    For the past 10 years, I have straddled the divide between Earth science and informatics. My PhD focused on remote sensing and snow hydrology, but I entered the world of data science and software development when faced by challenges in processing and distributing the immense amounts of data produced by my research. Fortunately, I was lucky. I had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of computer scientists at NASA/JPL who helped guide me into the world of open source software and the Apache way.

  • Coherent UNIX clone goes Open Source

    We missed this earlier this year, but Coherent has been released as open source. Coherent is a UNIX clone originally developed for the PDP-11, but later ported to a number of other platforms, including the IBM PC. It was developed by the Mark Williams Company, and despite an official investigation by AT&T, no signs of copied code were ever found.

  • Open-source ethos moves from code to wider world

    As powerful as that sounds, the company already has something that could be even more potent: a huge sharing of its once-proprietary information, the kind of thing that would bring a traditional Silicon Valley patent lawyer to tears.

  • Goddard releases open source core flight software suite to public

    The Innovative Technology Partnerships Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, announced the release of its core Flight System (cFS) Application Suite to the public. The cFS application suite is composed of 12 individual Command and Data Handling (C and DH) flight software applications that together create a reusable library of common C and DH functions.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Continues To Gain Mindshare

      According to Google Trends, LibreOffice is holding a substantial mindshare while openoffice.org is in decline

    • LibreOffice – the Cloud edition

      While I do not believe that office suites will disappear, I do believe that the need to be completely integrated into cloud-like environments, whether centralized or distributed, is key to insure potential and an actual future for any desktop software. Because of these trends, the news are of strategic importance to LibreOffice and to software freedom and digital rights in general. At a time when the Internet and cloud services become more and more centralized, the competition diminishes and so do users’rights. “LibreOffice Online” is really good news, and it should make you happy. More specifically, what was announced leads to two distinct outcomes:

  • CMS

    • Higher ed finds increasing value in open source CMS options

      “The university has since launched somewhere between 350 and 400 websites, all built on Drupal 7,” writes Schaffhauser “While the CMS is centrally managed to keep the system updated, it grants individual colleges, programs and departments the flexibility to put up their own images, update text as they want, add and move site objects (themes, content types and Drupal “modules”) and “essentially have a custom look with a managed system,” [director of university Web services, Mark] Albert explained to Campus Technology.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Source ‘CloudRouter’ Aims to Simplify Cloud Migration

      Several small networking and software companies are teaming up to introduce CloudRouter, an open source router to simplify cloud migration.

    • Open source CloudRouter goes into beta with OpenDayLight’s backing

      An open source project is getting under way that could, if it lives up to its design goals, ease the enterprise transition between on-premise networking solutions to cloud networking services.

    • Unicorns are real in open source
    • 5 reasons we said YES to the first Open Source//Open Society

      For two days in April, Wellington will be home to some of the biggest influencers in open source development and open society thinking. Building on the success of open source software in powering the growth of the internet Open Source // Open Society will explore developments in open government, open innovation, open education, open data, and open business.

    • What is Open Source? Digital tech heavyweights head to Wellington

      Wellington will host a collaboration this month between open source developers, democracy activists, government officials and digital tech heavyweights at the Open Source // Open Society (OS//OS) conference.



    • Conference to discuss open source and open society in Wellington

      Wellington, New Zealand, will be on the world stage on the 16th and 17th of April when it plays host to a collaboration between open source developers, democracy activists, government officials and digital tech heavyweights at the Open Source // Open Society (OS//OS) conference.

    • Wellington hosts NZ Open Source Conference

      Wellington will be on the world stage on the 16th and 17th of April when it plays host to a collaboration between open source developers, democracy activists, government officials and digital tech heavyweights at the Open Source // Open Society (OS//OS) conference.

    • Open for thinking, open for participation, open for collaboration
    • The Blender Institute’s sixth open film project

      The Blender Institute’s sixth film project, codenamed Gooseberry, is in deep into the most open production from the Blender Institute yet. If you’ve been following the project so far, then you already have a sense of what Blender means by an “open production”—lots of sharing.

    • Open Hardware

      • 3D Printing an Open Source Spectrometer

        As an undergraduate and graduate student, Ben Hickman, under the advisorship of Dr. Jack Summers, began developing an affordable chemistry instrument called a potentiostat. This sparked his interest in electronics and programming. After a number of people expressed interest in the potentiostat, including high school science teachers and ordinary citizens interested in monitoring their local water quality, it was evident that there was a demand for affordable chemistry instrumentation. One of the most useful instruments, yet financially out of reach for most, was a UV/Vis spectrometer.

      • Unchained with Open Source: Michigan Tech 3D Printing Course Teaches Students to Build 3D Printers

        Hats off to Michigan Tech, and Dr. Joshua Pearce, for creating such a unique course that comes full circle in teaching their undergraduate engineering students about the world of 3D printing in a new and comprehensive way. Thrusting engineering students not only into the world of 3D design and 3D printing, they immediately enter the open-source world of the growing ‘maker community’ as well.

      • Open source electromagnetic trackers

        Traneus Rex (a.k.a. Peter) will be presenting a Fantastical Theatre talk titled Open-source electromagnetic trackers and the unusual requirements for the embedded system.

      • 5 DIY hardware platforms for physiological computing

        Physiological computing focuses on the use of biosignals for the development of interactive software and hardware systems capable of sensing, processing, reacting, and interfacing the digital and analog worlds.

        However, biosignals have specific requirements for which typical physical computing platforms are not particularly tuned. Until recently, many projects ended up hindered by high costs and limited access to suitable hardware materials. That scenario is different today, thanks to DIY hardware platforms.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ‘EC should replace PDF by HTML5 for its online forms‘

      The European Commission should stop using PDF for online application forms, say five European groups campaigning for open standards and free and open source software. The EC should instead switch to modern web tools such as HMTL5 and XForms. The EC’s PDF forms often include elements that are only implemented in proprietary software from a particular vendor, the groups say.

Leftovers

  • Report: EU preparing to bring antitrust case against Google

    The member of the European Commission in charge of competition, Margrethe Vestager, is preparing to file a formal antitrust action against Google in the next few weeks accusing it of abusing a dominant market position, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sources said that the European Commission has been contacting companies that had filed complaints against Google, asking them for permission to publish information submitted confidentially, which is seen as a preliminary move before announcing the antitrust action. A spokesperson for Commissioner Vestager told Ars, “The Google investigation is ongoing. We have no further comments and we do not comment on speculations.” Google had not responded to a request for comment at press time.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Why Iran Distrusts the US in Nuke Talks

      The mainstream U.S. media portrays the Iran nuclear talks as “our good guys” imposing some sanity on “their bad guys.” But the real history of the West’s dealings on Iran’s nuclear program shows bad faith by the U.S. government, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern describes.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Pemex oil platform fire kills four in Gulf of Mexico, 302 evacuated

      At least four people died after a fire broke out on a Pemex oil processing platform in the Gulf of Mexico early on Wednesday, leading to the evacuation of 302 workers, the Mexican state-run oil company said.

      The fire, which burned throughout the day, erupted overnight on the Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Bay of Campeche. Forty-five people were treated for injuries and 16 of them were hospitalized, two with serious injuries, Pemex said.

    • Fukushima’s Solution to Potential Melt Down? Frozen Ice Walls

      On December 14th, 2014, RT News published an alarming article explaining that Japan’s destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant must decontaminate and then dump into the Pacific Ocean its stored radioactive water from the 2011 tsunami and meltdown disaster. According to the RT piece, the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations is calling on the Japanese government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) to ensure that the release of toxic water is safely below the required radiation levels. However local Japanese fishermen have expressed concerns over issues with radiation and water waste management at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

    • Fukushima No. 1′s never-ending battle with radioactive water

      The disaster that struck four years ago may have abated for most of the Tohoku region, but the nightmare continues at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which suffered three reactor core meltdowns and is plagued daily by increasing amounts of radioactive water.

    • Greenland’s Meltwater: Europe’s Next Little Ice Age?

      In February 2015, the Guardian published an article which stated that atmospheric warming is capable of reaching thousands of meters below Greenland’s ice sheet, potentially increasing the glacier’s rate of flow and creating pools of “meltwater” trapped below the ice. As a result, Greenland’s meltpools are contributing to rising sea levels. Cornell University Geologist Michael Willis and Ohio State University Glaciologist Ian Howat authored the report, on which the Guardian story is based, and Penn State University Earth Scientist Patrick Applegate confirmed it.

  • Finance

    • Hong Kong murders: Trial of Rurik Jutting adjourned

      The trial of a British banker accused of murdering two women found in his Hong Kong flat has been adjourned.

      Prosecution lawyers asked for the extra time to obtain further documents for their case against 29-year-old former Bank of America employee Rurik Jutting.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Scots say no to SNP super database

      Civil liberties groups fear the scheme – which last month narrowly survived a Holyrood vote – would be only a small step away from an ID card system.

  • Civil Rights

    • Lee Kuan Yew leaves a legacy of authoritarian pragmatism

      For some, Lee Kuan Yew’s death marks the passing of a ruthless tyrant. For others, it is the tireless leader’s final reward.

    • Singapore’s autocracy-for-prosperity compact under strain

      To give his government a free hand to fashion a new society, Lee systematically crushed dissent, muzzled the press and imprisoned political opponents. A social compact of authoritarian government in exchange for a guarantee of prosperity has endured for two generations.

    • Behind Singapore’s growth story lies a human rights tragedy

      By lauding the success of these developmental states, we are in effect saying the end justifies the means

    • The Curse of Lee Kuan Yew

      The leader eulogized by Obama as a ‘giant of history’ is being used to re-legitimize tyranny.

    • Benevolent autocracy: India is drawing the wrong lesson from Lee Kuan Yew

      One of the favourite arguments offered by middle class Indian men (especially when all other arguments fail) is that “India needs a benevolent autocrat,” if the economy has to grow at a fast pace. The word “autocrat” is often used interchangeably with the world “dictator”.

    • Obama authorises penalties for foreign cyber attackers

      President Barack Obama has today signed an executive order extending the U.S. administration’s power to respond to malicious cyberattacks and espionage campaigns. The order enforces financial sanctions on foreign hackers who action attacks against American businesses, institutions and citizens.

    • Snowden Lawyer Discusses Whistleblowing in Panel

      At a panel Tuesday afternoon in Boylston Hall, Jesselyn A. Radack and Walt L. Tamosaitis shared their experiences as whistleblowers and pointed to exposing institutional misconduct as an important method for confronting injustice.

    • The Blood Sacrifice of Sergeant Bergdahl

      Last week charges of Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy were recommended against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Tragically, Sergeant Bergdahl was once again crucified, without evidence or trial, throughout mainstream, alternative and social media. That same day Sergeant Bergdahl was offered as a sacrifice to primarily Republican politicians, bloggers, pundits, chicken hawks and jingoists, while Democrats mostly kept silent as Sergeant Bergdahl was paraded electronically and digitally in the latest Triumph of the Global War on Terror, President Ashraf Ghani was applauded, in person, by the American Congress. Such coincidences, whether they are arranged or accidental, often appear in literary or cinematic tales, but they do, occasionally, manifest themselves in real life, often appearing to juxtapose the virtues and vices of a society for the sake and advancement of political narratives.

    • The Native American Genocide and the Teaching of US History

      One of the things that happened in the United States, Riding In points out, “was to take Indian children away from their parents, away from their tribes, away from their religious people, away from their nurturing environment of their communities and place them in these distant boarding schools where the Indian would be beat out of them if necessary. That policy falls within the definition of genocide, the plan to bring about the physical destruction of a … people. This was aimed at the children.”

    • Venezuelan Coup Plotter Gustavo Cisneros Donated $1M to Clinton Foundation

      A recent report has emerged revealing that Venezuelan billionaire and media tycoon, Gustavo Cisneros, donated up to US$ 1 million dollars to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation between 2009-2013, while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

      A recent review of the foundation’s disclosures, carried out by the Wall Street Journal, brings to light a number of donators that were previously unknown to the public.

      The figures include Argentinian and Ukrainian businesspeople, as well as Prince Turki al-Faisal of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, who collectively donated up to US$68 million to the organisation over the course of four years. The majority of large donations came from residents in the Ukraine (US$10 million), England (US$8.4 million) and Saudi Arabia (US$7.3 million), according to the report.

    • Noam Chomsky on Institutional Stupidity

      Stupidity comes in many forms. Generally it is easier to spot when other people are being stupid and harder to notice when we ourselves are being stupid, in the sense of relying on unexamined assumptions, entrenched mental habits or poor reasoning. Yet we’re all guilty of these sometimes. Trying not to fool ourselves in these ways is central to philosophy.

      So how can Chomsky help us with this? One of the world’s best-known intellectuals, he first gained fame for his work as a linguist, and in particular for his theory that we have an in-born or ‘innate’ grammar that underlies all of the world’s natural languages. He has gone on to do important original work on many other topics, including machine translation, logic, philosophy, and the nature of the media. A tireless social commentator, he also does a great deal of highly controversial political activism.

    • George Soros Would Invest $1bn in Ukraine With Western Backing
    • The Ukraine crisis is not what it seems

      In the West, the prevailing interpretation of the Ukraine crisis is that Russia — specifically President Putin — started it and controls most of the military forces fighting the Ukrainian army, often described in the media as “Russian separatists”. Martin Wolf of The Financial Times (11 February 2015) claims Russia started it because its leaders fear having a stable, prosperous and West-leaning democracy on their doorstep; they saw this as a distinct possibility after their ally, President Yanukovich, was ousted in a coup in February 2014. By one means or other, Russia’s leaders will keep destabilizing Ukraine to prevent such a democracy until stopped by western force or sanctions.

    • Google Street View flasher censored then arrested after showing breasts to camera car

      A woman who gained brief fame by flashing her breasts at a Google Street View car has been charged by police, who say that her actions “were the same as someone flashing their genitals”.

    • New Silk Road docs show how site got looted by cop who hijacked dealers’ accounts

      On January 26, 2013, Dread Pirate Roberts received a series of urgent messages from one of his top lieutenants, Inigo. His online drug marketplace, Silk Road, was being robbed blind.

      “I hope you get online soon,” Inigo wrote. “We are under attack over 100k stolen, shits hitting the fan you need to pull the plug on withdrawals.”

      But there was no “kill switch” for withdrawals, and Inigo couldn’t stop the bleeding. He and DPR would later lament lacking this critical security feature. One by one, the drug dealers who relied on Silk Road to make money were having their accounts broken into, their passwords changed, and their bitcoins looted.

      “Over 300k stolen,” Inigo wrote later. He was up late, frantic, trying to contain the theft. He kept sending messages to DPR, but the boss wasn’t online.

    • SEC finds that KBR confidentiality agreements ‘stifled’ whistleblowers

      In what is being called a landmark ruling for whistleblowers, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Wednesday that one of the nation’s largest government contractors used confidentiality agreements that had the potential to intimidate and “muzzle” workers from reporting allegations of fraud.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Movie Licensing Group Demands $350K From Schools

        Fears that teachers and pupils might breach Spain’s new copyright law if strict guidelines aren’t adhered to have led to some schools being presented with an enormous bill. The worldwide Motion Picture Licensing Corporation is now offering a blanket license to one region in return for a payment of $350,000 a year.

When Battistelli’s Defender Ivo Opstelten Turned Out to be Also Defending (Paying) Narcotics Traffickers

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 3:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ivo Opstelten

Summary: Battistelli faces yet another embarrassment as the man who defended his assaults on EPO staff, Ivo Opstelten, turns out to be little more than a thug in a suit

WHY does Battistelli tend to find himself surrounded by thugs and corrupt officials? Željko Topić, EPO Vice-President and Battistelli's right-hand man, faces many criminal charges. And that’s just one of several men. Perhaps it takes thugs to defend a thug, but the reasons could go deeper than this when exploring the networks and power of influence, especially in Europe. Battistelli is strongly connected to ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration) and there seems to be a link between Topić and Ivan Šimonović, both of whom are strongly linked to Ivo Sanader, who is in prison.

The Dutch Justice Minister, Ivo Opstelten (not to be mixed with Ivo Sanader), who intervened to prevent execution of the judgment in favour of EPO staff, fits a pattern.

“Newsflash from the Netherlands,” told us a reader nearly a month ago, “Dutch ministers Opstelten and Teeven quit over payment to drug-trafficker” (quitting under such circumstances can help evade legal action).

Links to some news reports (British and Dutch media):

To quote the BBC, “Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten and his state secretary, Fred Teeven, have resigned after misleading parliament over a 2001 compensation payment to a convicted drug trafficker.”

So here, once again, Battistelli is basically defended by a bunch of opportunistic corrupt/crooked people in positions of power.

English, French and German Translations of Dutch Article About EPO Abuses

Posted in Site News at 3:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

de Volkskrant front page

Summary: An article from “de Volkskrant” with translations, regarding Benoît Battistelli and the now-disgraced Opstelten who defended Battistelli’s assault on staff

FIVE weeks ago the Dutch media covered the situation at the EPO. One piece came from de Volkskrant, with “a circulation of approximately 250,000 nationwide.” We now have English, French and German translations [PDF]. Since this is an English-speaking site, here is the English version:

Benoît Battistelli, Director of the EPOrg, does not recognise trade unions. He has had email communication between trade unions and members blocked. © EPA

Opstelten: court ruling does not apply to European institution

According to the court, an organisation in Rijswijk breaches the rule of law. No, says the Minister, it has immunity.

By: Willem Feenstra 26 February 2015, 06:26

Ivo Opstelten, Security and Justice Minister. © ANP

Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten has binned the ruling of the Court of Appeal in The Hague. The ruling states that the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg) violates the fundamental principles of an open and democratic state under the rule of law. However, according to Opstelten, the European organisation enjoys immunity.

For years there has been a conflict at the EPOrg between management and a large portion of the employees. Director Benoît Battistelli is allegedly conducting a reign of terror and is averse to objection. He does not recognise trade unions and refuses to enter into discussion with them.

Measures

In order to counter organised opposition, the management of the organisation has blocked email communication between the unions and their members.

The task of the European Patent Organisation is to grant patent applicants a patent in a large number of European countries by means of a single application. The establishment in Rijswijk is, with 2,700 employees, the largest after Munich. In order to counter organised opposition, the management of the organisation has blocked email communication between the unions and their members. The right to strike has been restricted and employees expressing disagreement are threatened with disciplinary measures and dismissal. The trade unions are
also not welcome at the negotiation table.

Those measures are contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), so ruled the Court of Appeal in The Hague last week. ‘After all, this case concerns the rights of trade unions to take collective action and conduct collective negotiations, i.e. rights which belong to the fundamental principles of an open and democratic state under the rule of law.’

The Court ordered the Patent Office to reverse the disputed measures. In an internal statement, Battistelli has already indicated that he is not to going to adhere to this. According to him, the Patent Office, as an international organisation, is autonomous in the area of personnel policy. The internal rules were to form its own legal system in which a national court may not intervene.

Immunity

This means that these buildings may not be entered and enforcement action cannot be taken by Dutch authorities, or at any rate not without the consent of the President of the EPOrg.

Ivo Opstelten, Minister of Security and Justice

The Court of Appeal acknowledges that the Patent Office is an international organisation which can claim immunity but ‘this autonomy does not in any case stretch so far that the EPOrg could breach generally recognised fundamental rights in Europe without parties, such as the trade unions, being able to seek an effective remedy against such’.

Opstelten sees this differently. According to him, offices of the Patent Organisation in all contracting States enjoy immunity. This means that these buildings may not be entered and enforcement action cannot be taken by Dutch authorities, or at any rate not without the consent of the President of the EPOrg. He has ordered the court bailiff not to execute the enforcement orders in the judgement.

Immunity above human rights

Opstelten relies on an Act from the seventies. This must be applied dynamically, but he takes a very conservative view.

Cedric Ryngaert, Professor of International Law in Utrecht.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the conventions to which the Netherlands is subject in respect of the EPOrg are clear: no enforcement measures can be taken against the Patent Organisation in the Netherlands. ‘With the order, the cabinet therefore opts not to take sides in the underlying dispute,’ according to a spokesperson. ‘This has been done to observe the obligations of the Netherlands under the conventions. We make no public statements on the underlying dispute. This does not affect the fact that we, and other Member States, continue to monitor the situation.’

According to experts, Opstelten’s position is at odds with the rule of law and he chooses immunity over human rights. ‘Legally he might have the law on his side, but in view of the constitutional system this appears very odd,’ according to constitutional law expert and Senator Hans Engels. ‘It is exceptional that these kinds of powers lie with a minister. And I
don’t mean this in a positive sense.’

Cedric Ryngaert, Professor of International Law in Utrecht, considers the order by Opstelten exceptional. ‘Basically he erodes the power of the Court. International organisations are going to increasingly put themselves above the law, which is already a problem now. Opstelten relies on an Act from the seventies, which must be applied dynamically. Instead he takes a very conservative view.’

About a week after the publication of this report Opstelten was found to be corrupt and he stepped down. Supporting criminals seems to be his ‘thing’; it’s not about justice.

Željko Topić: “SUEPO [Staff Union] Has No Standing in This Office. SUEPO Has No Role to Play in This Office.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SIPO article

Summary: EPO staff responds to the weak charm offensive from “Mr Battistelli’s boys”, stating that much work — including protests — remains to be done

LAST WEEK we started writing about the Dutch scandal that led Benoît Battistelli to concessions, in an effort to appease his critics who got his very job under serious threat. Florian Müller said that Battistelli would allow SUEPO to merely exist (based on just a statement) and also published some thoughts about the EPO Administrative Council meeting that we had mentioned for quite a while. Flier [PDF] and comments [PDF] from staff were also uploaded and we present these below.

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

23.03.2015
su15028mp – 0.2.1/0.3.2/0.2.2

ACTIONS CONTINUE
DEMONSTRATION: WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH
ISAR BUILDING AT 12.30h

The EPO in the news
Last Saturday (21 March) the two most respected Dutch newspapers, NRC and Volkskrant, both ran highly critical two-page articles about the EPO. The NRC commented in a second article on the refusal of the EPO to admit the Dutch labour inspection after a suicide on the premises in The Hague. As usual, Mr Battistelli denied all the charges, insisted on the EPO’s immunity and blamed SUEPO. The articles can be found here:

NRC, “Ik ben geen zonnekoning”

http://www.nrc.nl/handelsblad/van/2015/maart/21/ik-ben-geen-zonnekoning-1477227

(printable version)1, (Google translation)

NRC, “De arbeidsinspectie komt er bij het Europees Octrooibureau niet in”,
http://www.nrc.nl/handelsblad/van/2015/maart/21/ruzie-de-arbeidsinspectie-komt-er-bij-heteuropee-1477187 (printable version)2, (Google translation)

De Volkskrant, “Baas van Europese octrooiorganisatie voert schrikbewind”
http://www.volkskrant.nl/economie/baas-van-europese-octrooiorganisatie-voertschrikbewind~a3918719/ (printable version)3, (Google translation)

SUEPO will provide official translations as soon as possible.

IP blogs have also become rather critical of Mr Battistelli’s attitude and behaviour, see e.g.:

http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2015/03/20/behavior-benoit-battistelli-is-bad-for-the-epos-reputation/

http://www.fosspatents.com/2015/03/epo-human-rights-issues-and-eu-patent.html

Finally, an English translation of judgment pronounced in a court case in Croatia earlier this
year has become available: http://techrights.org/2015/03/18/full-judgment-against-topic/

In this case Mr Topic (VP4) complained about defamation. The judge could not see any defamation in the – very serious – accusations against Mr Topic. These findings are highly embarrassing not only for Mr Topic but also for Mr Battistelli who has long denounced what he called a “defamation campaign against VP4”4. Mr Battistelli imposed (and the Council rubberstamped) a house ban on a Member of the Boards of Appeal suspected of involvement in the alleged “defamation campaign”5. Such charges now seem difficult to maintain.

___________
1 http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15136cp.pdf
2 http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15138cp.pdf
3 http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15139cp.pdf
4 see e.g. Mr Battistelli’s note to all staff of 26.02.2013:
5 link to Communiqué No. 64


And the politicians?
The leading politicians responsible for patent matters in the Member States remain mostly silent. But it is clear that Mr Battistelli’s open disdain for the Dutch judiciary and the Dutch
labour inspection has raised eye-brows in The Netherlands. We also hear that Mr Battistelli’s plan to move DG3 to Berlin did not go down well with the German government. It seems that the French government is starting to become seriously worried about possible damage to the reputation of France. And we doubt that the UK minister of Innovation (“the Baroness”) failed to notice the criticism about her apparent inactivity in the current crisis:

http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/03/peace-for-our-time-or-another-wasted.html

http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/02/epo-suepo-and-question-of-governance.html

Next reforms
The Administrative Council of the EPO will meet on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 March in Munich. On the agenda are a reform of DG3 (CA/16/15) and the next “health reform” (CA/14/15a). The proposed reform of DG3 is purportedly intended to improve the “perception of independence of the Boards of Appeal.” In reality the reform amounts to a hostile take-over of DG3 by the Administrative Council.

The “health reform” pretends to improve the reintegration of staff on long-term sick-leave or invalidity. In practice it will seriously weaken the position of sick staff vis à vis the Office by excluding the treating physician from the medical committee. The Office furthermore plans to unilaterally abolish the – thus far compulsory – invalidity insurance that staff may have been paying for 10, 20 or even 30 years. This amounts to a breach of contract.

Apart from being financially disadvantageous, the new regulations would oblige sick staff to remain at their place of employment during at least 10 years of full incapacity before the Office will consider recognizing their invalidity. During this time they will need to request permission from their employer for every absence. According to SUEPO this is an impermissible infringement of their privacy.

What are our claims?
Staff at the EPO calls on the Administrative Council:
- to reject the proposed health reform that foresees measures that have no equivalent in any of the EPO member states and violates fundamental rights, and
- to order the President of the EPO to enter into negotiation with the staff representation in order to come to an agreed solution.

SUEPO intends to organise a demonstration every month for as long as it takes to bring the EPO back on track.

SUEPO Munich

“I’m open. But we also have troublesome unions. A mix of French unions with German efficiency: a dangerous cocktail.”

Benoît Battistelli, NRC, “Ik ben geen zonnekoning”, 21 March 2015

Here are the comments:

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

27.03.2015
su15029mp – 0.2.1/0.3.1/0.3.2

ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL
25 / 26 MARCH 2015 – A REPORT
&
NEXT ACTIONS

The Administrative Council: deaf & dumb?

Leading IP blogs have become rather critical of Mr Battistelli’s attitude and behaviour, as well as of the EPO Administrative Council’s passivity in this respect, see e.g.:

http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2015/03/20/behavior-benoit-battistelli-is-bad-for-the-epos-reputation/

http://www.fosspatents.com/2015/03/epo-human-rights-issues-and-eu-patent.html

http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/03/a-kat-may-look-at-administrative.html

SUEPO1, EPO staff in general2 and the Members of the Boards of Appeal3 have also called upon the delegations not to rush through the fundamental reforms on the agenda, namely an outline of a reform of the Boards of Appeal (CA/16/15) and the second health reform (CA/14/15), without thorough reflection and proper consultation of the internal and external stake-holders. To no avail.

DG3 matters
Despite all the comments and objections (see above), the delegations unanimously approved the framework for the proposed reform of the Boards of Appeal. Another controversial decision concerned the suspension of a DG3 accused of “anonymous defamation of VP4” which was prolonged. And again there were no new appointments to DG3, meaning that DG3 will be forced to cope with an increasing workload through increased “efficiency” rather than increased capacity.

The health reform
The health reform also passed, albeit with 10 abstentions. The delegations discussed a 8 (!) hours in closed session (i.e. with the usual observers and without their “social partner”), probably mostly about the social dialog and the social reforms. The open discussion of the health reform was planned to take a mere 10 minutes. It seems for the Office difficult to signal more clearly to your “social partner” that you are not interested in his opinion. On the other hand: the open session finally took 50 minutes rather than 10. And the 8 hours in closed session are a clear sign that discussions are now taking place. That can almost be qualified as “progress”. The three major delegations (DE, FR, and UK) were amongst those who abstained. They were joined by CZ, IE, IT, MT, SE, SI and SK. This voting pattern shows that

_______
1 http://munich.suepo.org/archive/su15023ml.pdf
2 http://munich.suepo.org/archive/su15024mp.pdf
3 http://amba-epo.org/page/get/ca1615 and http://www.epostaff.org/archive/ex15146cp.pdf


traditional alliances in the Council have shifted. A majority of mostly small countries with a weak or negligible patent system are now outvoting countries with a much bigger population and a greater interest in a functional patent system. This does not bode well for the stability of the EPO and for its functioning as administrator for the Unitary Patent.

What next?
The Council’s approval of the reform of DG3 was not a final decision. The topic will be back on the agenda in June. We can only hope that by then the responsible politicians will have finally woken up and realised what is really going on: a hostile take-over of DG3 by the Administrative Council involving the creation of 8 new “jobs for the boys” – presumably Mr Battistelli’s boys.

For the health reform SUEPO will provide staff with the requests for management review that are now the necessary first step before filing an internal appeal. We will renew our contact with the Bayerische Laendesärztekammer in order to get answers to some pertinent questions about the extent to which medical doctors in Germany may fulfil the tasks the EPO intends to assign to them. Finally, SUEPO will provide legal support for its members who are denied invalidity or otherwise disadvantaged by the latest reform.

Union matters
Amazingly, after having once again brushed aside the concerns of staff and their representation and pushed through yet another ill-conceived reform, Mr Battistelli and Mr Kongstad now jointly announce4 “new initiatives to restore social peace” starting with an invitation to the trade unions (note the plural) to a kick-off meeting on 22 April 2015. Given the previous positions5 of Mr Kongstad, he and Mr Battistelli seem an unlikely pair to negotiate social peace. Whereas SUEPO wishes to echo Mr Battistelli’s statements that “our door is always open”, we also make it clear that we are not interested in merely improving “the perception of a social dialogue”.

Next actions
Should the discussions with Mr Battistelli and Mr Kongstad lead to unexpected progress (e.g. the withdrawal of the above health reform) then SUEPO would be more than delighted to postpone further actions. Until this happens, however, SUEPO intends to organise a demonstration every month for as long as it takes to bring the EPO back on track.

Details of the next demonstration will be published after the Easter holidays.

SUEPO Munich
“I am not talking about SUEPO at all: SUEPO has no standing in this Office. SUEPO has no role to play in this Office.”

Željko Topić (VP4), 19 March 2015, in a meeting with the Munich Staff Committee

_______
4 http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2015/20150326.html
5 http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2014/12/battistelli-and-kongstad-respond-to-epo.html

“Details of the next demonstration will be published after the Easter holidays,” says the above, so surely Battistelli knows that it’s far from over. It shouldn’t be over until there is justice, which should include not just recognition of the staff’s rights but also removal of corrupt EPO officials.

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