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06.07.15

Links 7/6/2015: Steam Machines, KDE Applications 15.04.2 in Chakra

Posted in News Roundup at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • LibrePlan manages projects at French research network

    Renater, France’s research and education telecom network, is probably the first public administration outside of Spain to use LibrePlan, an open source project management solution, assumes Jeroen Baten, involved in the tool’s development. The French network connectivity agency started using LibrePlan in early 2014, says Baten.

  • BMJ CTO Sharon Cooper making ‘everything open source’

    In order to build its wide range of products – more than 80 in total – the organisation relies heavily on bespoke development and open source technologies. This offers BMJ greater agility, as well as the cost benefits, said Cooper.

    “Open source has always been really important to us and probably why we have a reasonably big in-house team to manage all of that open source technology and to tie it all together. And I think it will become increasingly important,” she said.

  • Open source offers way into mature markets

    The answer, said Stirman, lies in open source. “The only way to move the needle is with an open-source strategy. First, get massive adoption. Then, figure out how to monetize it.”

    The freemium model has been a good way for companies to build businesses around open-source projects. Offer the community-built software for free, and then offer advanced security, support and tooling as a high-value, commercial edition.

  • HP open source UX project unifies user experience

    Hewlett Packard Enterprise has launched an open source UX that allows IT pros to provide a familiar user experience across different enterprise applications.

  • HP’s new open-source development framework heralds a major shift

    Between the new storage systems and management software announced at its annual customer conference this week, Hewlett-Packard sneaked in a small present for developers that promises to take some of the work out of building complex corporate applications. But what the framework perhaps lacks in disruptive potential it more than makes up for in strategic significance.

  • HP announces Grommet framework, Machine architecture and company split plans
  • How to Make Money from Open Source Platforms, Part 4: The Key to Success

    I’ve been saying for some time now that open source was not about innovation, but rather freedom. It was the freedom to deploy what you want, when you want it that led to the massive global adoption of open source platforms. I get more than a little peeved, then, when I still see references in mainstream media circles about ragtag groups of conscientious hippies who don’t care about money and sing about sharing software. Don’t get me wrong, I *love* singing about sharing free software, but the false implication of this narrative is that there’s no money in free software. This is what Paul Krugman would call a “zombie lie” – an argument that just won’t go away no matter how many times you kill it with facts.

  • BitPay Launches Open Source, Multisig Wallet Copay

    Within a few days after its launch, over 1000 BTC has been stored on Copay already and the open source code on GitHub is being contributed by hundreds of bitcoin developers worldwide, offering improvements in the code and new features that could increase the east of use of the Copay wallet.

  • Capgemini Apollo: An Open Source Microservice and Big Data Platform

    Capgemini are currently working on Apollo, an open source application platform built on top of the Apache Mesos cluster manager, which is designed to power next generation web services, microservices and big data platforms running at scale.

  • New Rockchip Boards Added To Coreboot

    Support for two in-development Rockchip motherboard designs have been added to Coreboot for possible use in Chrome OS devices.

  • HP Discover Day 2: Avatar Partnership, Grommet Open Source Platform

    Day two of HP Discover 2015 kicked off on a fun note, with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Meg Whitman announcing the company has signed a five-year agreement with 20th Century Fox and James Cameron-owned production company Lightstorm Entertainment to integrate HP’s technology into the AVATAR movie franchise.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • How Mozilla’s Firefox OS may enlist Android apps to its cause

        The lack of apps are a common problem for operating systems challenging the two dominant mobile platforms, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Without crucial software like WhatsApp for text messaging, customers steer clear and head for better supported operating systems from the big two.

      • Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal Leaving for IoT Startup

        Mozilla’s PR cordon have not let me speak with Gal in several years, the last time I had the opportunity to speak with him was in January of 2013 as part of a FirefoxOS consumer push.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • MongoDB Outlines 2015 Ambitions for Open Source Document Database

      At the MongoDB World 2015 conference this week, MongoDB outlined forthcoming additions to the open source document database that cover everything from connectors to business intelligence applications that enable MongoDB to respond to SQL read requests to the ability to join data sets.

    • Scaling Open Source MySQL Database Environments

      One of the primary reasons IT organizations adopt NoSQL databases is because their current relational database can’t scale to meet their existing needs. But that makes the cost of migrating a database substantial. Given an option, most IT organizations would rather put off that expense as long as possible—if not forever.

  • Business

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • IceCat 31.7.0 release

      GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.

    • One year of encryption with the Email Self-Defense guide

      Two years ago today, Edward Snowden tipped the first domino in a chain that led to a historic international conversation about the role of surveillance in modern life. One year ago today, we launched Email Self-Defense, an infographic and guide to encrypting your email with free software to protect your privacy and resist bulk surveillance.

    • GNU Social: a decentralized answer to Twitter

      In modern times social networking is a double edged sword. While it enables us to spread the word quickly, it also puts way much information on us in hands of companies like Facebook or Twitter. It also enables law enforcement authorities to crack down on activists.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Galicia invites nominations for open source award

      The government of the autonomous region of Galicia (Spain) is inviting the region’s universities to nominate open source projects for its annual Best Project award. The first prize is EUR 1500 and the second EUR 750.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Replace SourceForge with these Better Alternatives

      SourceForge is a long established web-based service that offers source code repository, downloads mirrors, bug tracker and other features. It acts as a centralized location for software developers to control and manage free and open-source software development.

    • OpenCV 3.0 Released: The Most Functional & Fastest Yet

      Version 3.0 of the Open Computer Vision library is now available. The release announcement reads, “With a great pleasure and great relief OpenCV team finally announces OpenCV 3.0 gold release, the most functional and the fastest OpenCV ever. And yet it’s very stable too – all the thousands of tests that we created during the project + many new tests pass successfully on Windows, Linux and Mac, x64 and ARM.”

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Sweden refines specifications of open standards

      Sweden’s governmental procurement specialists at Statens inköpscentral are fine-tuning the list of ICT standards that public authorities may use as mandatory requirements when procuring software and ICT services. The procurement agency is working with standardisation specialists at the University of Skövde, to check which ICT standards are truly open.

Leftovers

  • Alton Towers crash: Merlin closes three more theme park rides

    Four rollercoasters at three theme parks have been closed, following a crash at Alton Towers in which 16 people were injured, four seriously.

    The Smiler, which crashed, and Saw, a similar ride at Thorpe Park, will both be shut “for the foreseeable future”, owner Merlin Entertainment confirmed.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • U.S. Medicine Has Entered the Post-Antibiotic World

      Fighting drug-resistant bacteria is becoming an urgent national public health priority.

    • Review: ‘Every Last Child,’ a Front-Line View of the Polio Crisis in Pakistan

      The film never fully examines the causes of that resentment (though rationales shift). Early in the campaign, Islamist conservatives were rankled that many health workers were women. But the opposition reached its new, murderous level after Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. In the aftermath, it was reported that the C.I.A. had used a vaccination program (for hepatitis) as a ruse to help locate Bin Laden. Thus, Taliban leaders claimed that all vaccination programs were fronts for Western spying, banning them in their spheres of influence.

  • Security

    • Let’s Encrypt Root and Intermediate Certificates

      Let’s Encrypt will issue certificates to subscribers from its intermediate CAs, allowing us to keep our root CA safely offline. IdenTrust will cross-sign our intermediates. This will allow our end certificates to be accepted by all major browsers while we propagate our own root.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Phishers Going the Long Way Round to Avoid Filtering Systems

      Any human with an email address likely has gotten thousands of spam messages that look like delivery notifications, invoices, or other alleged communications from shipping companies such as UPS or DHL. They typically contain malicious attachments with exploits for a browser or plug-in vulnerability, but a researcher at the University of Cambridge has run across a novel twist on this kind of spam that turns out to be a completely different kind of attack.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Majority Americans say U.S. mission in Afghanistan fails: poll

      A majority of Americans say the U.S. military mission has failed in Afghanistan, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s global war of “targeted killings” by drones has raised deep concern among the U.S. public, a latest poll showed.

      According to a national survey by the Pew Research Center in late May, 56 percent of Americans say the United States has mostly failed in achieving its goals in Afghanistan, while 36 percent say the U.S. mission has mostly succeeded.

    • 149,000 people have died in war in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001, report says

      War has directly resulted in the deaths of 149,000 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2001 and 2014, according to estimates in a new report released by Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute. That figure includes U.S. military members, contractors, and opposition fighters – as well as at least 26,270 civilians in Afghanistan, and 21,500 in Pakistan.

    • Why throw money at defense when everything is falling down around us?

      In 2012, the entrance to John Marshall High School in Los Feliz was closed to protect students from falling debris. The gothic tower above the entrance was crumbling, so a wooden platform was built atop a tunnel of scaffolding to catch falling brick and concrete.

      Three years later, the scaffolding is still there. The district earmarked roughly $1 million for the job long ago, and the principal told me last week that she’s hoping it won’t be much longer now.

    • How a handshake in Helsinki helped end the Cold War

      Eight hundred years ago this summer, King John and a group of feudal barons gathered at Runnymede on the banks of the Thames River. There he agreed to the Magna Carta, which for the first time limited the absolute power of the monarch and established a contract between ruler and ruled. The mother of modern treaties and law, the Magna Carta began a global conversation about the responsibility of the powerful toward people under their control.

      A scant four decades ago, also this summer, another gathering in the Finnish capital of Helsinki produced a second series of accords. While far less well known, the signing of the Helsinki Accords was a critical juncture in the long struggle of the individual against state authority. Building on some of the same ideas that undergirded the Magna Carta, the Helsinki Accords codified a broad set of individual liberties, human rights, and state responsibilities, which remain strikingly relevant today, whether the subject is China’s Internet policy, the Islamic State’s latest outrage, or the American “war on terror.” The language of human rights has become the lingua franca for criticizing misbehavior by states or quasi-governments.

    • US combat drone goes down in southern Iraq

      An Iraqi security source says a US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has crashed in the country’s southern province of Basra as it was supposed to join the US-led air campaign against the so-called ISIL positions in the restive western Iraqi province of Anbar.

    • German Federal Prosecutor investigating US actions on drones base

      The German Federal Prosecutor is reported to have begun investigating a US base in Germany that is used as a ‘hub’ for drone strikes, days after a Yemeni man testified in a Cologne court about the 2012 strike that killed his relatives.

    • War, Imperialism and the People’s Struggle in the Middle East

      Reports of the number of Yemenis killed in the fighting range from 2,000-4,000 with many more injured and displaced. Yemeni-Americans who have been attempting to leave the country since late March have been abandoned by Washington.

    • A dangerous modesty

      America has learnt the hard way that it cannot fix the problems of the Middle East.

    • Here’s What Young Muslims Around the World Really Think of Obama and America

      Six years ago, President Barack Obama gave a historic speech to the Muslim world from Cairo. He called for “a new beginning” and apologized for the injustice and misunderstanding that have stained relations in the past. Though Obama faced skepticism from many corners, the speech was generally well-received, and many Muslims, from the Middle East to Indonesia, hoped that his election would mark a clear departure from the mistrust that characterized the years of the Bush administration.

    • Special Forces officer under investigation by Army called to testify at whistleblower hearing

      A Green Beret officer who raised questions on Capitol Hill about U.S. hostage policy and was placed under criminal investigation by the Army has been called to testify in a Senate hearing examining reprisals that government whistleblowers can face, congressional officials said.

    • Army stops paying war hero amid whistleblower probe
    • Army whistleblower asked to testify on Bergdahl
    • U.S. Army stops paying Green Beret war hero amid whistleblower probe
    • Circle Of Deceit: Hani Mujahid’s Path To Al Jazeera

      Hani Mujahid chose to tell his story to Al Jazeera because he felt trapped: When the al-Qaeda operative-turned Yemeni government informant tried to brief the CIA on his allegations that Yemen had been playing a double game in the fight against al-Qaeda, he found himself detained and badly beaten by Yemeni security personnel.

      No longer able to trust any of the stakeholders, he turned to the media to tell his story. If his allegations prove true, they will be deeply embarrassing to the US.

    • US envoy in talks with Yemen rebels on peace conference

      The United States confirmed that an American envoy has held talks in Oman with Iran-backed Yemeni rebels to convince them to attend a Geneva peace conference in mid-June.

      The news of the talks came with a conference on Yemen having been scrapped just days before it was due to be held on May 28, dealing a blow to UN efforts to broker peace in a country where at least 2,000 people have been killed since March.

    • U.S. has a long history of treating veterans poorly

      May 25 was Memorial Day, when Americans are supposed to remember military veterans, particularly those who made sacrifices — lives, lives, sanity — fighting our wars.

      As usual, rhetoric was abundant. People hung flags. Some placed flowers on military graves. There were parades, including one in which a reporter got hit by a drone. President Barack Obama added an oddly pacifist twist to his annual speech, noting that it was “the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war.”

      Excuse me while I puke.

      Talk is nice, but veterans need action. Disgusting but true: when it comes to actual help — spending enough money to make sure they can live with dignity — talk is all the U.S. has to offer.

    • The numbers game

      These figures suggest that Daesh-bigots are being killed at the rate of around 50 a day though each mission is responsible for only 2.4 deaths. This latter figure can be explained by the reality that mission planners have been more likely to detect and attack supply vehicles than concentrations of terrorist fighters. There have also been intelligence-led precision bombings on gatherings of the Daesh leadership.

    • Papillon at Abu Ghraib,Bagram & Gitmo

      When one reads Papillon or views the film, one should be ever mindful that what our government is doing to others in our name is actually worse than what the French did to their criminals… and these were actual criminals, tried and convicted in courts of law, unlike the majority of those we kept and still keep in our foreign prisons. Most of them have had no ‘ day in court ‘ with proper legal representation. How sad this empire has become!

    • US Conventional Prompt Strike Potential Implications For The Asia Pacific – Analysis

      The U.S. military continues to explore long-range conventional prompt strike capabilities to strike “time-sensitive” targets across the globe on very short notice. Known as Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS), the programme has not yet translated into operational weapon systems because of technological and political challenges. Yet, it makes sense to start thinking about the possible introduction of conventional prompt strike systems, including intermediate range, into the Asia Pacific theatre.

    • “Combat Proven”: The Booming Business of War in Israel

      The Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center was bustling with military personnel. Tall, broad-shouldered soldiers donning masks and sunglasses had their guns at the ready, and a mini-drone built at Ariel University, an Israeli school located in the occupied West Bank, went up in the air, flying high as the press snapped photos.

      This was not war, but one of the many demos held at the ISDEF expo, an annual June event that attracts thousands of security officials and professionals interested in weapons. Arms fairs in Israel showcase the latest products the profitable Israeli weapons industry manufactures — and the demos are the perfect place to show those products off.

    • Israel’s Clandestine Alliance with Gulf Arab States is Going Public

      In 2009, a U.S. State Department diplomatic cable gave one of the first glimpses of a burgeoning alliance between Israel and the Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The cable quoted Israeli Foreign Ministry official Yacov Hadas saying, “the Gulf Arabs believe in Israel’s role because of their perception of Israel’s close relationship with the United States,” adding that GCC states “believe Israel can work magic.”

      Israel and the Gulf states also shared an interest in countering what they saw as rising Iranian influence in the Middle East. So while the two sides sparred in public — Israel’s “Cast Lead” military operation had just claimed more than 1,400 lives in the Gaza Strip and was condemned by Saudi Arabia, in a letter to the United Nations, as “fierce aggression” — they enjoyed “good personal relations” behind closed doors, Hadas said, according to one cable. Hadas reportedly added that the Gulf Arabs were still “not ready to do publicly what they say in private.”

    • Former CIA Officer: FBI Surveillance Aircraft Program Unconstitutional

      A former US Central Intelligence Agency officer Larry Johnson claims that a FBI program that deploys small aircraft to carry out video and cellphone surveillance violates the constitutional rights of US citizens.

    • Members of Congress Look to Probe FBI’s Use of Spy Planes

      Members of Congress are demanding that the FBI turn over more information about its use of airplanes to conduct surveillance of Americans.

      The FBI is using at least 50 planes to conduct surveillance operations over U.S. cities and rural areas, the Associated Press reported earlier this week. The planes, registered under fake company names, are equipped with high-tech cameras and, in some circumstances, technology that can track thousands of cell phones below.

    • FBI operating fleet of surveillance aircraft flying over US cities
    • CIA ‘Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ It Has Files Related To John Lennon’s First Wife

      Freedom of Information Act requests to the FBI and CIA for the records of Cynthia Lennon, who died in April after a short battle with cancer, yielded exactly two pages of results, yet still somehow spoke volumes.

      The FBI, which hosted voluminous files on John, replied that it had nothing on Cynthia, and refused to confirm (or deny) if she was on any sort of watch list before she died.

    • Here’s how much of your life the United States has been at war

      Using somewhat subjective definitions of “at war” — Korea counts but Kosovo doesn’t in our analysis, for example — we endeavored to figure out how much of each person’s life has been spent with America at war. We used whole years for both the age and the war, so the brief Gulf War is given a full year, and World War II includes 1941. These are estimates.

    • First on CNN: Pentagon may have received shipment of live anthrax
    • Jihadists in the service of imperialism

      Western governments no longer hide the fact that they’re using jihadists…

    • London Shows Solidarity with Venezuela Against US Intervention

      The rally was attended by several key figures in Britain, including Jeremy Corbyn, a parliamentarian running to lead the U.K’s Labour Party

    • Podcast: ‘Sudden Justice’ author Chris Woods on CIA accountability and the politics of US drone wars

      Transferring control of the US drone programme away from the CIA could paradoxically result in less accountability, author and investigative journalist Chris Woods told this week’s Drone News.

    • SEAL Team 6, the CIA and the secret history of U.S. kill missions in Afghanistan
    • The Secret History of SEAL Team 6: Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines
    • CIA ties to Forest Service smokejumpers documented in new account

      It recounts more than a decade of CIA efforts to support Tibetan resistance movements against the People’s Republic of China during the 1950s and 1960s.

    • “The Hegemony Games”: the United States of America (USA) vs. The People’s Republic of China (PRC)

      This relationship between Washington and Beijing has existed somewhat uneasily since the early 1970s after the PRC broke with the Soviet Union mainly over intense ideological differences within the communist movement. In effect the Communist Party of China (CPC) joined with capitalist America in an informal tacit alliance against Russia. This was a geopolitical triumph for the U.S. but not for China. In the last couple of years Beijing and Moscow have developed a close relationship, largely as a repost to Washington’s expressions of hostility toward both countries.

      China was considered a revolutionary communist country from the 1949 revolution until the deaths of party leader Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1976. The left wing of the CPC was then crushed, and the leadership in 1977 went to “paramount leader” Deng Xiaoping, a long time revolutionary and high government official in many posts who had earlier been purged twice “for taking the capitalist road.”

      Deng set about in 1980 to develop a dynamic capitalist economy under the slogan of “using capitalism to build socialism.” By 1990, after the U.S. and others imposed sanctions against China for the Tiananmen Square confrontation with students seeking certain democratic changes, Deng issued the following instruction to the CPC: “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.”

      The Chinese economy after 35 years is one of the wonders of the capitalist world, particularly since it is still maintained by the CPC, as are all other aspects of Chinese society. The PRC’s political system is officially described as being “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” though the socialist aspect has been abridged.

    • CIA list no secret anymore

      Last week, the National Smokejumpers Association released a list of former jumpers who served in the dangerous activities of the CIA in what were once secret U.S. government operations.

    • Iraq War Propaganda Redux: U.S. Claims Syrian Government Supporting ISIS

      In any event, whether or not you believe the West created ISIS, the U.S. is now trying to blame the single most unlikely entity imaginable for ISIS … the Syrian government.

    • The DOJ is worried the CIA’s top watchdog position will be vacant forever

      The Justice Department is worried that the office of the CIA’s top watchdog could be left vacant for a year, or possibly longer.

      The previous inspector general for the CIA resigned in late January after it was revealed that the spy agency hacked into computers used by Senate staffers right under his nose. The position is still empty. “Far too often, the process for selection and appointment of IG candidates takes too long,” complained Michael E. Horowitz, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, in a statement today to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

      “As of today, there are eight IG positions that remain vacant,” he said, urging senators to confirm presidential appointees faster. “As of the end of this month, all of these IG positions, with the exception of the CIA IG position, will have been vacant for over 1 year.”

    • Problematic case against ex-CIA chief, drones, moved to FATA?

      The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued a notice to the federation and summoned all records of the transfer of an investigation against former CIA chief, and drones, was moved to FATA.

    • CIA and Chevron against President of Ecuador

      The President of Ecuador Rafael Correa praised the book The CIA Against Latin America – Special Case – Ecuador. Over 30,000 copies are in circulation. Written by Jaime Galarza Zavala and Francisco Herrera Aráuz the book tells a story about the dirty tricks the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was engaged in during the 1960s in Ecuador. The authors offer interviews with Phillip Agee recorded at different times. Agee was a retired CIA operative who turned against the Agency.

    • Declassified document says Posada Carriles likely planned 1976 bombing of Cuban plane

      A 1976 document declassified Wednesday by the State Department shows concerns about the CIA’s links with extremist groups within the Cuban exile community and points to Luis Posada Carriles as the most likely planner of the bombing attack against a Cubana Airlines plane that year.

      The memorandum was sent to then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger by two high ranking State Department officials who evaluated the accusations made by Fidel Castro on the alleged U.S. involvement in the downing of a Cubana plane traveling out of Barbados on Oct. 6, 1976, in which 73 people were killed.

      “We have now pursued in detail with CIA (1) what we know about responsibility for the sabotage of the Cubana airliner and (2) how any actions by CIA, FBI, or Defense attache´s might relate to the individuals or groups alleged to have responsibility,” states the report.

      The memorandum concludes that the CIA had previous ties to three of the people “supposedly” involved in the downing of a Cuban airliner, “but any role that these people may have had with the demolition took place without the knowledge of the CIA.”

    • The real terrorist

      On May 29, as part of its stated intentions to improve relations with Cuba, the United States formally removed the island nation from its list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” even as it maintained its decades-old illegal blockade.

      For most people around the world, the fact that Cuba was on a list that should not even exist represents a high in imperialist arrogance and hypocrisy, coming as it does, from the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world. Over 3,000 Cubans have been killed in U.S.-sponsored terror attacks since 1959, while the perpetrator of a terrorist bombing that brought down a Cuban airliner walks around freely in the United States.

    • US was state sponsor of terror against Cuba

      On May 29, the United States removed Cuba from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism” as one more step toward normalization of relations between the two countries. But, historically, it is the United States that has sponsored terrorism against Cuba.

      The U.S. designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terror dates back to the early 1980s due to Cuban support of guerrilla movements in Central America. The label was ironic, since the United States engaged in a program of extralegal paramilitary operations as part of failed attempts at Cuban regime change all through the early 1960s. These efforts included the Bay of Pigs invasion, scores of assassination attempts against Cuban leaders and years of covert operations.

    • The Truth Teller

      While at the time I vehemently opposed his conclusions that Iraq was free of WMD, some of his arguments resonated.

    • Oops … US Air Force nearly bombed “Friendly” Iraqi Forces instead of ISIS Terrorists, General

      A top US military commander has revealed that the US-led airstrikes nearly targeted Iraqi forces instead of terrorists of the ISIL group.

      Lt. Gen. John Hesterman, the US commander of the air campaign in Iraq, said on Friday that aircraft nearly launched airstrikes 100 times on friendly Iraqi forces because they were indistinguishable from ISIL from the air, Stars and Stripes reported.

    • US drone attack kills 9 terrorists in Pakistan

      The exact identities were not known but initial reports suggested that all those killed were Afghan Taliban rebels.

    • Guantánamo detainees also can’t eat with Red Cross

      Guantánamo prison management has expanded its rule forbidding dining with detainees to include Red Cross meetings and other legal visits, a continuing change in policy that began with a ban on defense lawyers breaking bread with their clients.

    • Hamid Karzai strongly condemns deadly US drone strike in Khost

      The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly condemned a deadly US drone strike in southeastern Khost province of Afghanistan.

    • Hamid Karzai Strongly Condemns Deadly US Drone Strike in Afganistan

      The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly condemned a deadly US drone strike in southeastern Khost province of Afghanistan.

    • Intelligence Agencies Need to Knock Off the Fearmongering

      The U.S. intelligence community needs to take steps to maximize effectiveness and knock off the fearmongering — whether that means eliminating redundant roles or positions, firing and replacing incompetents, re-establishing operational boundaries, or reaffirming priorities that aren’t vulnerable to the media cycle and assorted whims.

      All the hyperventilation does little more than lend credence to Snowden’s claims of misplaced priorities and resources in the intelligence community. Americans deserve to have the quietly confident security services that they’ve paid for, without the endless opportunistic public posturing.

    • US portrays foes stronger than they are because it needs an enemy – political analyst

      If you listened to some of the politicians in the United States, you would think that the country is encircled by enemies. Grave threats emerge regularly, posing danger to everything the US has ever stood for. Islamic State is portrayed as the immediate peril for Washington – and yet, before it, Al-Qaeda was painted the same. However, the United States remain the safest country in the world – and yet, it’s not too eager to cut back on its gigantic military budget. Are the dangers that Washington sees even real, or is the threat coming from White House cabinets? We pose these questions to a professor of political science: Christopher Fettweis is on Sophie&Co today.

    • ‘Killer robots’ mean crimes without accountability

      Such fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots,” are under development in several countries. But the robots’ use of force would undermine the fundamental legal and moral principle that people should be held responsible for their wrongdoing. Countries and nongovernmental groups around the world have been working for two years now to figure out how to deal with these weapons before they are in production. In April, representatives from 90 countries met at the United Nations in Geneva for their second round of talks on what to do about “lethal autonomous weapons systems.”

    • Local TV Ads Urge Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Drone Pilots to “Refuse of Fly”

      Fifteen-second television commercials condemning United States drone attacks will begin airing in Niagara Falls and Western New York on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, TWNS, and on YES Network during Yankees games during the month of June.

      The commercials show images from video screens of drone operations; an explosion; and civilians searching through rubble after a drone attack; and states: “Thousands, including women and children, have been murdered by US Drones.”

    • US Drones Attack Afghanistan Funeral, Killing 34 Mourners

      On Friday, US drones attacked a funeral in Afghanistan’s Khost Province, tearing through a crowd of mourners and leaving at least 34 of them dead. The funeral was reportedly for a Taliban fighter, and the Afghan government insisted that by extension, all the mourners must’ve been Taliban too.

    • U.S. drone attack kills at least 34 at Afghan Taliban funeral
    • Afghanistan: US drone strike on funeral kills 34

      At least 34 Taliban insurgents have been killed in Afghanistan’s southeastern Khost province in a U.S. drone attacked a funeral ceremony held for a slain Taliban commander Friday, Afghan authorities said.

    • US drone attack on funeral kills 34 in east Afghanistan
    • US drone operators kill for fun: Analyst
    • Report: Drone Strikes Kill Dozens in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen in May

      American drone strikes killed roughly 50 people in Afghanistan, Pakistan in Yemen in May, according to a Tuesday report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ).

    • Monthly drone report, May 2015: US strikes kill at least 48 in three countries
    • Air Force reacts as Hollywood, Broadway portray drone pilots

      The Air Force has gone on the offensive in an attempt to dispel what it calls myths about the community of remotely piloted aircraft pilots as Hollywood and Broadway both have produced works highlighting the lives of drone pilots.

      With the release of the Ethan Hawke movie “Good Kill” and the recent Anne Hathaway play “Grounded,” the Air Force has sent RPA pilots and commanders into the public to try to tell the real story of the airmen who operate the aircraft.

    • Drone strikes equal collateral massacre

      What does drone warfare say about the direction our country is headed in? I believe it’s a broader symptom of how quickly we resort to violence. Someone is a threat? Shoot ’em. Someone looks like they might be a threat? Shoot them, too. It’s no different than how the police in our country deal with black men — use extreme force. Maybe it’s time we wake up, slap ourselves upside the soul, and ask how we can ever hope to achieve a durable peace by sitting at computers and “unintentionally” killing people thousands of miles away with Hellfire missiles.

      We might be destroying our enemies, but the fallout from the “collateral massacre” will impact us for years to come.

    • Drone policy will come back to bite U.S.

      The entire “kingpin strategy” first used during the “drug wars” to kill high value individuals, has backfired. After cartel leaders were eliminated, more ruthless groups took over, competition flourished and drug prices declined. Taking out kingpins actually increased supply. In fact, America’s addiction to illicit drugs increased due to this failed strategy.

    • Near certainty of targeted drone attacks sows death for an apology

      Scenes in which Muslim civilians are deliberately killed in a cold-blooded and ruthless manner, being regarded as “collateral damage,” and in which the order to fire is given directly given by the CIA are particularly striking. CIA administrators collecting intelligence about the location of terrorists in the region are linked up to the military base in Las Vegas from Langley and watch the images sent back by the UAVs in real time. When the image of the target appears, the officers are able to give the order to fire disregarding warnings that ‘women, children or elderly people’ are also present in the terrorists’ location.

    • Dead Syrian Children And Drones On The Wing

      Recently the Pentagon admitted to killing two Syrian children in a drone attack last fall when they bombed a group of al Qaeda fighters in the suburbs of the Syrian city of Aleppo. At the time they claimed this group was a critical target because they were high level operatives associated with Al Qaeda who were planning attacks on the United States mainland.. No one that I know had ever heard of this group, but their name, Khorasan, is the name of a province in Iran, which is an odd choice for an Al Qaeda affiliate. So they bombed this small group of 50 or less foreigners, holed up in a suburb of Aleppo, Syria, in a civilian neighborhood in the middle of a war zone, plotting to kill Americans in America. It is a stretch to to wrap the mind around this rather incredible story.

    • Interfaith Letter Expressing Grave Concerns on Drone Warfare Sent to President Obama and Congress

      Twenty-nine faith leaders from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh traditions have sent an Interfaith Letter on Drone Warfare to President Barak Obama and the U.S. Congress.

      The signers say it is morally unacceptable that thousands of innocent people have been killed by US lethal drone strikes. The letter also raises concerns that targeted killings by drones lack transparency and accountability. Finally the letter argues that drone strikes do not make Americans safer, but rather aid recruitment by extremist groups.

    • Faith leaders oppose drone attacks

      Roy Medley, general secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA, and Carole Collins, director of finance and operations for the Alliance of Baptists, were among signers of the letter coordinated by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare, a group of 150 faith leaders formed at a recent conference on drone warfare at Princeton Theological Seminary.

      Thousands of deaths, both intended and unintended, have resulted from the military use of lethal drones technology, the faith leaders maintained. One, the recent death of Warren Weinstein, a U.S. citizen killed accidently in a counterterrorism operation targeting an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan, they said, illustrated the risk of drone warfare.

      “Despite the prevailing notion that drones are precise, the recent tragedy involving the death of a U.S. citizen demonstrates this is not the case,” the letter said. “Indeed, such tragedies seem to happen frequently.”

      Reports of a secret “kill list” containing potential drone strike targets created and maintained by the Obama administration, the religious leaders said, “are alarming to us, and counter to our notions of human dignity, participatory processes and rule of law.”

      The faith leaders voiced concern about secrecy and lack of accountability surrounding targeted drone strikes and disputed the assumption that drones save American lives.

    • Protestors to Falls air base: stop deadly drone attacks

      A small group of protestors lined up outside the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on Wednesday. They were speaking out against the use of drones by the U.S. military, flown overseas and used in attacks while operated from domestic sites including the local air base.

      The protestors, nearly ten in all, included a Vietnam Veteran and a clergyman. The veteran was Russell Brown, who served in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. He said President Obama and Congress won’t stop military actions overseas, so it’s time to reach out to those in control of the drones.

    • The Turf War Launched by America’s First Drone Strike Is Still Raging

      The CIA’s then-secret weapon missed the Taliban’s leader, starting a 14-years-and-counting fight over who controls the U.S. drone program.

    • Man Whose Son Was Killed In Afghanistan Surprises Pro-War Senator

      During a foreign policy talk at John’s Hopkins University Friday, the father of a man killed in Afghanistan railed against Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) for his pro-war posturing.

    • Lindsey Graham is the bluntest candidate for president

      In recent months, he’s suggested that U.S. elections are controlled behind the scenes by a cabal of a few dozen wealthy donors. He’s implied that the president has the authority to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil using drones without judicial process, and that the military should invade Syria.

    • The age of human rights imperialism

      The timing was surprising because there have hardly been incidents of human rights abuse in Rwanda for a while. Instead the hearing took place against the backdrop of widespread demonstrations in the US against police brutality meted out against African American males.

      Why would the US congress be bothered by human rights in Rwanda, a country 15,000 miles away, when many of its own citizens are being killed by a run-amok police while others are being sent to jail in droves? In the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s, the government of Rwanda used to be highhanded. It relied on the systematic use of force to consolidate power to a significant degree.

    • Kenya fight against Shebab shifts to its own backyard

      “The Somalia theatre is no longer of interest to the Shebab,” a Western security source told AFP.

    • This is the bloodiest conflict no one is talking about

      I came to know Okot years ago when I looked after him and dozens of other kids at a home for orphans in South Sudan. He was hardened by the time we met, thin as one of the papyrus reeds that grows along the Nile River, and smarter than just about anyone else, child or adult, whom I encountered during my first months in one of the poorest places on earth.

    • Roger That: Scientists find link between bomb blasts, aging of soldiers’ brains

      U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs scientists have discovered signs of early aging in the brains of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans exposed to roadside bomb explosions, even among those who felt nothing from the blast, according to a story in USA Today.

    • John Cusack says Obama is worse than Bush. But he’s just a guy with a boombox.

      You can add actor John Cusack to the list of liberals unimpressed by President Obama’s time in office.

      In an interview with the Daily Beast published Thursday, Cusack said Obama is “as bad or worse than Bush” when it comes to “drones, the American Empire, the NSA, civil liberties, attacks on journalism and whistleblowers.”

    • Is Obama Really Worse Than Bush?

      Yet the extensive spying program and invasive military excursions are following the same strategies and policy narratives that have prevailed in the United States for decades. The point is not which president is better or worse than the other, but rather that these same “Big Brother”, imperialist and Wall Street-kissing policies remain the driving status quo in American presidential politics. Obama and Bush are merely figureheads governing a system that caters to corporations, terrified enough by terrorism to strip the American public of their privacy and secure its world power status through unnecessary and exploitative foreign invasions. Obama ran a campaign of change and “hope”, but change cannot happen with one leader, rather when the problems inherent in our system are eradicated, when those underlying systemic forces are reversed, then change within the American political system can finally have freedom to flourish.

    • John Cusack Talks ‘Love & Mercy,’ Drugs & How Obama’s Policies Are ‘Very Similar to Bush’

      “Well, Obama has certainly extended and hardened the cement on a lot of Bush’s post-9/11 Terror Inc. policies, so he’s very similar to Bush in every way that way,” Cusack said. “His domestic policy is a bit different, but when you talk about drones, the American Empire, the NSA, civil liberties, attacks on journalism and whistleblowers, he’s as bad or worse than Bush. He hasn’t started as many wars, but he’s extended the ones we had, and I don’t even think Dick Cheney or Richard Nixon would say the president has the right to unilaterally decide whom he can kill around the world. On Tuesdays, the president can just decide whom he wants to kill, and you know, since 9/11 there are magic words like ‘terror,’ and if you use magic words, you can justify any power grab you want.”

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Wikileaks publishes TiSA: A secret trade pact between US, Europe and others for big biz pals

      Fresh from offering $100,000 to anyone that leaks the still-secret parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Wikileaks has published large chunks of the related Trade In Services Agreement (TiSA).

    • ‘They don’t work for the CIA’: Union opposes Disney rule mandating ‘character confidentiality’

      A union representing Walt Disney World performers is challenging a policy forbidding them from revealing online or in print media what characters they portray. The company has long discouraged its entertainers from advertising which princesses or animated animals they play in the theme parks.

    • The Deck Is Stacked Against the Public’s Right to Know

      This week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform devoted two hearings to understand the state of the government’s compliance to the Freedom of Information Act. As originally intended, the act first passed in 1966 was designed to allow U.S. citizens to request government documents in order to understand what their government was doing. Think of any major Washington scandal and most likely you’ll see FOIA as the tool that uncovered that story. It was how Judicial Watch continues to gather information about the 2012 Benghazi attack and the IRS’s decision to target conservative nonprofits. The act, as wielded by journalist Jason “FIOA terrorist” Leopold, pried loose information about the inner workings of Guantanamo Bay and the CIA’s justification for using drones to kill U.S. citizens.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • ‘It’s Not Just Keystone’: Midwest Gears Up for Massive Tar Sands Fight

      A large protest in Minnesota this weekend is designed to show that the resistance to tar sands goes well beyond Keystone XL, as numerous environmental and social justice groups come together with Indigenous communities across the region to make their unified demands clear to all: “keep toxic tar sands out of America’s Heartland, fight for clean water, clean energy, and a safe climate.”

    • A Fossil Fuel Free World is Possible: How to Power a Warming Earth Without Oil, Coal and Nuclear

      Is a 100% renewable energy future possible? According to Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, the answer is yes. Jacobson has developed plans for all 50 states to transform their power infrastructure to rely on wind, water and solar power. This comes as California lawmakers have approved a dozen ambitious environmental and energy bills creating new standards for energy efficiency. Dubbed the California climate leadership package, the 12 bills set high benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum use. We speak with Jacobson and Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford University Associate Professor and a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

    • Gelderland uses ‘neck breaker’ to kill geese at EUR 13.50 a bird

      Gelderland provincial council has given a EUR 22,000 contract to a small pest control company to kill 1,600 geese using a controversial method of breaking the birds’ necks. Despite the cost of EUR 13.75 per bird, no one has seen if or how the method works and the province does not plan to check up on the work or animal welfare issues, the AD reports. The contract has been awarded to a company named V&T, based in Leerdam but details about how the neck breaker will work are sketchy.

  • Finance

    • Distorted facts, blatant lies: business group’s big push to get ISDS through

      Green MEPs Bart Staes and Molly Scott Cato today openly denounced the lobbying tactics of Mr Beyrer, Director-General of leading business advocate group BUSINESSEUROPE, over the contentious Investor-state Dispute System (ISDS) in TTIP. Both got hold of a lobby email sent by Beyrer to Mr Pittella, chairman of the S&D group as well as other S&D-members. The S&D are in expected to reintroduce anti-ISDS language into the final TTIP resolution, having lost the crucial language opposing ISDS in a compromise with the centre-right group the EPP, last week.

    • EU wants to complete talks on TTIP under Obama

      The talks about the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) should be completed under U.S. President Barack Obama’s term of office, which ends in January 2017, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said at a press conference after a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka in Prague.

    • Daughter says Blatter victim of conspiracy to oust him

      The three British banks were among more than a dozen named in a 164-page indictment by the FBI but there is no allegation of any wrongdoing from the institutions.

      They are, however, understood to be reviewing the transactions as a precaution to make sure they complied with anti-money laundering and “know your customer” rules.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • At CBS, CIA + GOP = ‘All Segments of American Life’

      Hendin did mention two categories of guests that Schieffer showcased who were outside the world of Beltway politics, “sports figures and celebrities,” and mentioned three of these: Bill Cosby, Morgan Fairchild and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. So much for “all segments of American life.” Apparently there are some parts of the nation CBS doesn’t want to face.

    • How Reagan’s Propaganda Succeeded

      The U.S. political/media system is awash in propaganda drowning any rational debate about crucial foreign policy issues. But how did that happen? A key turning point was the Reagan administration’s pushback against public skepticism over Vietnam and CIA scandals of the 1970s, Robert Parry wrote in 2010.

  • Censorship

    • Chinese Censorship of Western Books Is Now Normal. Where’s the Outrage?

      I spent months investigating how Chinese publishers slice out material — and how Western writers respond with a shrug.

    • Facebook Admits ‘Baby Yoga’ Video Is Disturbing, But Resists Censorship

      A video supposedly depicting “baby yoga” started circulating around Facebook recently, causing an internet uproar and calls for the social media site to be more responsible for user content. The company eventually relented, taking down (some) posts, but the debate over social media censorship is still raging.

    • ‘Baby yoga’ video on Facebook sparks internet censorship debate

      A disturbing video of a screaming baby being roughly dunked in a bucket of water is at the centre of a row over internet censorship.

      The two-minute film appeared on Facebook and showed a woman in a kitchen, believed to be in Indonesia, repeatedly plunging a crying young baby into a vat of water while holding the child upside down and spinning it around.

      Facebook refused to take it down and the video spread around the world, with some people claiming it was an example of “baby yoga” – and child protection activists arguing it was straightforward abuse.

    • Is the New Political Correctness Already Dying?
    • Alan Yentob Calls Ofcom Censorship Plans ‘Bonkers’ And Defends The BBC To Boris Johnson

      Plans to empower Ofcom to vet and censor broadcasts for extremist content have been labelled “bonkers” by one of the BBC’s most senior and recognised personalities.

      Alan Yentob, the BBC’s creative director, said the proposal implied broadcasters were “reckless” and went against the tradition of freedom of speech.

    • ACLU threatens lawsuit; Alhambra Unified officials deny censorship over article

      The ACLU has threatened legal action against the Alhambra Unified School District on the heels of student journalists’ concerns that an administrator allegedly censored student journalists’ publication of an article on the dismissal of a popular high school teacher.

    • China tries to censor a disaster

      THE TRAGIC sinking of a cruise ship on the Yangtze River on Monday night produced a reflexive reaction from China’s communist authorities: censorship. Within hours of the disaster, which left more than 440 people dead or missing, authorities were scrubbing the Internet of questions or comments about the Eastern Star and its passengers. News media were ordered not to send journalists to the scene, to recall those already there and to rely on the official state news and television agencies for their information. Instead of providing detailed accounts, those outlets focused their coverage on Premier Li Keqiang, who was portrayed as resolutely leading rescue efforts.

    • Death Toll Up To 65 In China Boat Disaster; Government Orders Censorship

      As expected, the death toll from the capsizing of a cruise ship on China’s Yangtze River began rising dramatically late Wednesday, as Reuters reported that the number of bodies recovered had jumped to 65.

      More than 370 people remain missing from the ship. Rescuers have cut holes in the upturned hull of the ship and are continuing to hunt for survivors in potential air pockets, Reuters reported.

    • The Arab world has a media censorship problem, but so does the West

      As Arab citizens, we have always been surrounded by seemingly uncrossable borders and boundaries. Unless of course you have wasta—that is when you know someone that knows someone (that knows someone) who can help.

    • China cracks down further on VPNs as censorship intensifies

      China’s government is cracking down further on the use of virtual private networks to circumnavigate its Great Firewall, as part of the ongoing game of whack-a-mole between censors and an increasingly tech-savvy population.

      Charlie Smith, co-founder of the censorship in China monitoring site GreatFire.org, said there has been a significant increase in the usage of VPN services over the last year.

    • Imgur’s Sarah Schaaf Responds After NSFW Censorship Rules Are Enforced: What She Said On Twitter

      It would be an understatement to say that Imgur users — also known as “Imgurians”– freaked out when the image-based social network started to enforce censorship guidelines this week. Community manager Sarah Schaaf even received death threats over the rules, but it doesn’t mean she has given up on the Internet.

    • Vladimir Putin’s censorship agenda targets online giants

      The Russian communications oversight authority has put Facebook, Twitter and Google on notice. In May the agency, known by its acronym Roskomnadzor, sent a letter to the companies reminding them that they need to comply with the country’s Internet laws.

    • Boise State University Stops Making Pro-Life groups Post Warning Signs for Their Events

      The university also prohibited the group from distributing fliers outside one of the school’s eight “speech zones,” which together are limited to less than one percent of the entire campus.

    • How to combat hate

      As for Holocaust denial, for all its absurdity and offensiveness, criminal penalties are the wrong way to combat it, as The Economist has always argued. “In civilised countries, the truth is best policed by scholars, not criminal prosecutors,” we wrote when the British writer David Irving was convicted by an Austrian court.

    • Orthodox Academics Minimize Haredi Censorship And Marginalization Of Women
    • Saffron Censorship: Sikh24 Blocked In India As Media Outage Continues

      Indian authorities have blocked Sikh24 social media pages, including Sikh24’s Facebook page on Thursday. Users report that some internet service providers do allow the sites, while most in the north-western states, such as Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir have blocked Sikh24 completely. While still spottily enforced, the blocking has seemed to become stricter following the shooting death of a Sikh who was protesting peacefully.

    • Banned in India: My Censorship Battle

      On March 5, 2015, the Indian Censors declared that the film Unfreedom couldn’t be certified for public viewing in India. In the following satiric piece by the film’s director, Raj Amit Kumar, based on actual statements made by the Indian Censors about his film, he is questioning not just their decision about his film, but the validity of their authority to censor any film.

  • Privacy

    • Lifting the lid on modern day spies

      One thing rarely understood about espionage, as it has come to be in the 21st century, has been the shift out of the field and into the office. There aren’t may British Government employees roaming the world with false identities and licences to kill. Rather, increasingly, the desk-jockeys have been hiring people such as “Steak Knife”, Britain’s top spy inside the IRA. Our government agents are now “spymasters” who recruit or “handle” spies; they are career professionals employed by agencies such as the CIA and Britain’s SIS (also known by its one-time codename, MI6) or Military Intelligence.

    • US government responds to latest hack: give us more power over data collection

      Congressional leaders are warning the latest major government data hack proves the Senate should hand the US government greater cybersecurity powers – even as the stalled legislation to do so would place even more consumer data into the hands of the same government that could not secure its existing information.

      An estimated 4 million federal employees had their personal data compromised after what was reported by authorities on Thursday to be a previously unknown software intrusion, known as a “zero day” attack, accessed networks operated by the Office of Personnel Management, the federal human resources department that houses high-level security clearances and government employee records.

    • Latest Snowden leak: NSA can snoop internet to catch ‘hackers’ – no warrants needed

      The latest documents to be released from the Snowden archive show that the NSA was secretly authorized to carry out warrantless surveillance on US internet traffic in the name of cybersecurity.

      Two memos released by ProPublica in cooperation with The New York Times show that in May 2012, the US Justice Department authorized the NSA to monitor domestic internet traffic as part of investigations into foreign hacking attacks. That authority was later extended to allow monitoring of IP addresses and “cybersignatures.”

    • Private emails, trade secrets vulnerable to expanded NSA Internet spying

      The US government has the power to gather a vast amount of information from American citizens, including those from private emails, after the National Security Agency (NSA) expanded its Internet surveillance efforts in 2012, without public notice or consultations.

    • NSA’s use of ‘back-door searches’ against hackers is reformers’ next target

      Surveillance reformers, fresh off a week of tenuous victories, have vowed to ensure there are further overhauls to the National Security Agency’s vast dragnets after a new report detailed another stretch of legal authority by the US government to stop malicious hackers.

    • Edward Snowden: NSA secretly had spying powers expanded under Obama administration

      New documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden claim the US National Security Agency had its power to spy on US internet connections secretly expanded under the Obama administration.

    • New Snowden Documents Reveal Secret Memos Expanding Spying

      The Obama administration has stepped up the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program on U.S. soil to search for signs of hacking.

    • The NSA is still conducting mass surveillance of the US internet to find cyberattacks
    • New Snowden documents reveal secret memos expanding spying

      Without public notice or debate, the Obama administration has expanded the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents.

      In mid-2012, Justice Department lawyers wrote two secret memos permitting the spy agency to begin hunting on Internet cables, without a warrant and on American soil, for data linked to computer intrusions originating abroad—including traffic that flows to suspicious Internet addresses or contains malware, the documents show.

    • Hunting for Hackers, N.S.A. Secretly Expands Internet Spying at U.S. Border
    • NSA surveillance: how librarians have been on the front line to protect privacy

      ‘Librarians were the original search engine’ and long before Edward Snowden, thousands campaigned against the government violating privacy rights

    • Snowden: balance of power has shifted as people defy government surveillance

      A “profound difference” has occurred over the past two years, following the leaking of NSA documents that led to revelations about US surveillance on phone and internet communications, whistleblower Edward Snowden has said.

    • New Snowden leak: NSA uses warrantless Web surveillance to hunt hackers

      According to a joint investigation between the New York Times and Pro Publica, the Justice Department authorized the NSA to hunt for hackers without a warrant, even when those hackers were present on American soil. Initially, the DOJ authorized the NSA to gather only addresses and “cybersignatures” that corresponded to computer intrusions, so that it could tie the efforts to specific foreign governments. The NSA, however, sought permission to push this envelope. These new slides also note, incidentally, that Dropbox was targeted for addition to the PRISM program.

    • Don’t expect major changes to NSA surveillance from Congress

      After the U.S. Congress approved what critics have called modest limits on the National Security Agency’s collection of domestic telephone records, many lawmakers may be reluctant to further change the government’s surveillance programs.

    • NSA reform: USA Freedom Act passes first surveillance reform in decade – as it happened
    • NSA can’t legally surveil Americans’ every phone call, for now. Thanks, Edward Snowden.

      Today is a big day for privacy in the United States: each of us can now call our mom, our best friend, or a pizza delivery service without the NSA automatically keeping a record of who we called, when, and how long the conversation lasts.

    • Edward Snowden: Becoming an ‘international fugitive’ was worth it, claims NSA whistleblower

      Becoming an “international fugitive” was worth it because of the benefits it brought to the public, according to US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      The former National Security Agency (NSA) worker said progress had been made since he released thousands of documents about global surveillance records two years ago.

    • How The NSA’s ‘Cybersecurity’ Surveillance Should Completely Change The Debate On Cybersecurity Bills

      For quite some time now, we’ve been warning about the government’s questionable attempts to pass “cybersecurity” bills that focus on “information sharing” with names like CISA and CISPA. Defenders of these bills insist that they’re “just voluntary” and are necessary because it would enable private companies to share threat information with the US government, so that the US government could help stop attacks. Of course, we’ve been asking for years (1) why, if this is so useful, companies can’t already share this information and (2) what attacks these bills would have actually stopped? No one ever seems to have any answers.

    • With the Passage of NSA Reforms, Telecoms Say the Buck Has Been Passed to Them

      The two-year fight to overhaul the National Security Agency ended this week with President Barack Obama’s signing of the USA Freedom Act. But it will take months of tough negotiations with telecom companies for the White House to actually implement the required reforms, and privacy groups are still smarting over what they consider watered-down changes to how the NSA does business.

    • New conservative legal challenge to NSA phone data program

      Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the tea party-linked Freedom Works Foundation filed a legal motion Friday with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking to stop the government from restarting the program run formerly by the National Security Agency. The previous program expired June 1, along with certain authorities under the Patriot Act.

    • NSA phone data program beset by new legal challenge

      Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the tea party-linked Freedom Works Foundation filed a legal motion Friday with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking to stop the government from restarting the program run formerly by the National Security Agency. The previous program expired Monday, along with certain authorities under the Patriot Act.

    • NSA quietly expanded Internet snooping powers, leaked documents show

      A new joint report from the New York Times and ProPublica that cites classified documents reveals that the Obama administration secretly granted the National Security Agency additional authorities to spy on the international Internet communications of Americans in order to seek out hacking attacks from abroad. The expanded powers, which aimed to help the agency seek out and squelch foreign-born cyber intrusions, had not been previously disclosed to the public.

    • This Shadow Government Agency Is Scarier Than the NSA

      If you have a telephone number that has ever been called by an inmate in a federal prison, registered a change of address with the Postal Service, rented a car from Avis, used a corporate or Sears credit card, applied for nonprofit status with the IRS, or obtained non-driver’s legal identification from a private company, they have you on file.

    • Nosier than the NSA? Shadowy bureau may have your credit card info
    • Shadow branch of US Justice Department more secretive and powerful than NSA

      This agency is called the National Security Analysis Center (NSAC). This is a shadow branch of the US Justice Department. The agency employs more than 400 people, of whom 300 are analysts and has the annual budget of more than $150 million.

    • Locals react to reformed NSA surveillance bill
    • Local Reaction to NSA Surveillance Reform
    • US Officials to Ask Secret Court to Bring Back NSA Spying
    • EFF and ACLU Ask Appeals Court to Rule that Use of NSA’s Warrantless Surveillance in a Criminal Case Is Unconstitutional

      With the passage of the USA Freedom Act, we’ve gained important reforms of the intelligence community, but there’s still a lot to do, including reining in the NSA’s warrantless mass surveillance of Americans’ Internet communications under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). That’s why EFF yesterday filed an amicus brief along with the ACLU and the ACLU of Oregon in United States v. Mohamud, a criminal case currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit involving Section 702 surveillance.

    • Report: NSA Expanded Internet Spying

      Two secret Justice Department memos, written in mid-2012, deemed as legal the search of Internet communications, without warrants and on American soil, for data linked to computer intrusions emanating from abroad, including traffic that flows to suspicious Internet addresses or contains malware, the publications reported on June 4, citing the Snowden documents leaked two years ago.

    • Four million federal employee records hacked. Is the NSA actually capable of preventing cyber-attacks?

      So what did the NSA or any of our other intelligence agencies do to stop any of those attacks?

      It doesn’t look like they actually did anything.

      I suppose one could hypothesize that the NSA did detect some of these attacks but decided not to do anything because it would confirm to the world that the NSA was poking their noses in places that they shouldn’t have been. But the entire world already know the NSA breaks U.S. and international laws on a daily basis so it’s not like it would surprise anyone.

    • Satire: N.S.A. Compensates for Loss of Surveillance Powers by Logging on to Facebook
    • US lawmaker: Next, we stop the NSA from weakening encryption

      Encryption should stay strong, says one privacy-minded member of Congress.

    • NSA spying powers aren’t dead yet, as the Obama administration seeks to revive bulk collection

      Not more than 72-hours after the NSA’s controversial bulk phone records collection program was brought to an end on Sunday night, the Obama administration has confirmed it will seek to temporarily reinstate the operation through a provision found in the USA Freedom Act.

      By exploiting a six-month transitional grace period afforded to the NSA in the freshly-passed Act, the administration says it will petition a secret surveillance court to revive the program while its data and repositories are prepped to transfer from the servers in Fort Meade to the hands of US telecoms.

    • Encryption mobile app ‘can’t be broken by the NSA’

      A smartphone app going live this month claims to be the ‘dark Internet tunnel’ that thwarts snooping on calls and texts.

    • New privacy app takes a page from NSA technology
    • USMobile launches Scrambl3 mobile app that creates ‘Dark Internet Tunnel’
    • Snowden: UK has ‘exploited tragedy’ to justify spying on civilians
    • Martin O’Malley Calls For More Restrictions on NSA Surveillance

      Former Gov. Martin O’Malley said that recent reforms to the Patriot Act did not go far enough in curtailing the National Security Agency, arguing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court should include a public advocate.

    • Edward Snowden looks back, two years after NSA leaks started

      It’s been about two years since we first discussed the NSA plan for “bulk metadata” monitoring of phone calls. At the heart of that information and so many revelations since, is Edward Snowden, the man who leaked documents to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras about exactly what was being done in the name of national security. Still living in Russia to avoid prosecution for that act, he’s published an op-ed in The New York Times, titled “The World Says No to Surveillance.”

    • Merkel says government didn’t lie about possible US ‘no-spy’ pact
    • Judge probes destruction of evidence in NSA leak prosecution

      A federal judge is investigating allegations that the government may have improperly destroyed documents during the high-profile media leak investigation of National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake.

    • Federal judge probes destruction of evidence in prosecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake

      A federal judge is investigating charges that the United States government may have illegally destroyed possible evidence during the high-profile media leak investigation of National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake.

      McClatchy reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher launched her inquiry after Drake’s lawyers in April accused the Pentagon inspector general’s office of destroying documents during Drake’s criminal prosecution. The case against Drake ended almost four years ago.

    • Feds Under Investigation for Destroying Evidence in NSA Whistleblower Case

      The United States government is under investigation following allegations that the Pentagon inspector general’s office destroyed documents during the investigation of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake.

      Lawyers for Drake, including Jesselyn Radack, made the accusation in April. They allege that the government improperly destroyed documents relating to Drake’s work with a group of whistleblowers from 2002-2003, who legally cooperated with congressional and inspector general inquiries relating to NSA programs.

    • Former Pentagon IG Official Probed for Destroying Documents

      Halbrooks did not respond to messages, and the Pentagon IG’s office declined to comment. The Justice Department also gave no comment on the current judicial probe.

      [...]

      Tom Devine, legal director for the Government Accountability Project, told Government Executive that “Drake and the other NSA surveillance whistleblowers followed all the rules and worked within the system, to a letter. But the Pentagon inspector general responded by violating their rights, referring them for criminal investigations and beginning nightmares that devastated Mr. Drake’s and others’ lives.”

    • Daniel Ellsberg credits Edward Snowden with catalysing US surveillance reform

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should be thanked for sparking the debate that forced Congress to change US surveillance law, Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, said Monday.

    • NSA spying: Today in America our government keeps us neither free nor safe
    • Neither Freedom nor Safety: Politicians are Lying to You on NSA Spying

      In their continuous efforts to create the impression that the government is doing something to keep Americans safe, politicians in Washington have misled and lied to the public. They have violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. They have created a false sense of security. And they have dispatched and re-dispatched 60,000 federal agents to intercept the telephone calls, text messages and emails of all Americans all the time.

      [...]

      The NSA is a military entity that utilizes the services of military computer experts and agents, employs civilians, and hires companies that provide thousands of outside contractors. After nearly 14 years of spying on us — all authorized by a secret court whose judges cannot keep records of what they have ordered or discuss openly what they know — the NSA now has computers and computer personnel physically located in the main switching offices of all telecom and Internet service providers in the United States. It has 24/7 access to the content of everyone’s telephone calls, emails and text messages.

    • How the NSA Tramples Freedom and Undermines Public Safety
    • Obama Administration to Ask Secret Court to Revive NSA Surveillance

      The Guardian on Wednesday reported that the Obama administration “intends to use part of a law banning the bulk collection of US phone records to temporarily restart the bulk collection of US phone records.”

    • Back from the dead: US officials to ask secret court to revive NSA surveillance

      Obama administration sees unconventional legal circumstance as means to temporarily reinstate bulk collection using same law that banned practice

    • Under New Rules, NSA To Again Access Americans’ Phone Records

      The National Security Agency can once again access your phone records. That power lapsed for almost two days. It is back under new rules. Data about calls can only be stored by phone companies, and the government will need a court order to get it. It’s a system laid out in a congressional bill that the House passed weeks ago. The Senate approved it yesterday after days of delay. Here’s NPR’s Ailsa Chang.

    • Analysis: New NSA bill barely touches agency’s vast powers

      The surveillance law enacted this week stands as the most significant curb on the government’s investigative authorities since the 1970s. But it’s practically inconsequential in the universe of the National Security Agency’s vast digital spying operations, a technical overhaul of a marginal counterterrorism program that some NSA officials wanted to jettison anyway.

    • Judge probes claim of evidence destruction in NSA leak prosecution

      A federal judge is investigating allegations that the government may have improperly destroyed documents during the high-profile media leak investigation of National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake.

    • Pentagon may have destroyed evidence in NSA whistleblower case, now under investigation

      A federal judge is investigating allegations that the US government may have destroyed documents during the investigation of National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake, who leaked information about the agency’s surveillance programs.

    • Encrypted email: ‘Indicator for NSA to collect that information’

      It’s established fact at this point in time that the NSA has conspired with a number of the largest providers of social networking to extract information for use in on-going investigations. The real question is we don’t know the extent to which that is happening. What we do know, however, is that buried in this US Freedom Act are several clauses – one of which will pay private companies to collect information about its users, and a second that provides liability protection even if sharing that information is found by a court to have been illegal. So one of the reasons why a lot of companies are right now pushing for the passage of the US Freedom Act is that they get money and they get liability protection if what they are doing actually breaks the law.

    • Don’t expect NSA reform to matter as long as there’s still a war on drugs

      Before the war on terror was born, there was the war on drugs — and despite the recent erosion in punitive drug laws across the US, the federal war on drugs is still expanding. USA Today reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted 11,681 electronic intercepts in 2014, up from 3,394 just a decade earlier. This sharp increase has been made possible, USA Today reports, because the DEA has circumvented federal judges in favor of state courts that may have less rigorous requirements for obtaining warrants.

    • Needles, Haystacks, and NSA Snooping

      “Section 215 helps us find a needle in the haystack,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last month, referring to the PATRIOT Act provision that the National Security Agency (NSA) says allows it to scoop up everyone’s telephone records. If Congress imposes limits aimed at preventing such mass snooping, the Kentucky Republican warned, “there might not be a haystack at all.”

      For those who wonder how McConnell lost his battle to renew Section 215 without changes, a plausible answer is that he and his allies picked the wrong metaphor. What they meant to say (I think) was that the NSA needs all the help it can get in the challenging task of identifying terrorists before they attack. What the public heard was a defense of indiscriminate and invasive yet ineffective data collection.

    • Solution Providers: New NSA Controls Fall Short Of Restoring Trust In Cloud Services

      While Congress took steps Tuesday to curtail unbridled government surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), solution providers said the efforts fall short of restoring damaged client trust in cloud services.

      The U.S. Senate voted 67-32 on Tuesday to pass a bill proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives, known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, that would reinstate surveillance but provided for more controls, such as requiring a warrant for records stored at phone companies such as Verizon or Comcast. The bill is a replacement to the controversial Patriot Act, which expired Monday.

    • An Interview with PH1K3 the #NSA Email #Hacker

      “Alleged” NSA email hacker, that is, although he seems plenty eager to discuss it publicly. On May 15, we brought you the exclusive story of a hack of the NSA’s backup email server, a server maintained, ironically, not by the NSA but by Qwest, an IT services company against which the NSA had previously battled (spoiler: the NSA won). Back then, a softer, gentler age mere months before 9/11, the NSA wanted permission to access your data, and it asked Qwest for that permission. Qwest refused. The NSA pressed the issue, soon armed with the newly-minted Patriot Act. Qwest’s federal contracts began to dry up as it continued to resist the fond embraces of the NSA. Four years later its CEO was sentenced to prison for insider trading, which he considers to be no coincidence.

    • US ‘freezes intelligence cooperation with German troops in Iraq’

      Despite the diplomatic fallout over NSA spying, it has emerged in recent months that Germany’s own BND intelligence service spied on European targets – at the NSA’s request.

    • Bergen: NSA fishing expedition nets a minnow

      The reality is that the NSA’s surveillance has proven far less effective than traditional investigative methods. More than half of the 294 cases that New America examined were initiated by such techniques as reliance on tips from members of a suspect’s community or family, tips from suspicious members of the public, the use of informants, routine law enforcement, intelligence from sources other than the NSA, or followup after a militant made a public statement regarding their extremist beliefs or actions.

    • NSA metadata collection targets innocent people

      US lawmakers are battling over how far its spy agencies can go to collect Americans’ phone records and other data after controversial parts of the Patriot Act expired at midnight on Sunday.

      [...]

      Opponents of the law seem to have run out of options and the new law is expected to pass sometime this week, though the debate will probably continue as the US heads into a presidential election.

    • Snowden: NSA spies on Cameron; could have ‘backdoor’ into GCHQ

      Whistleblower Edward Snowden has criticized the UK for playing an active role in the worldwide surveillance network set up by the US National Security Agency (NSA), saying the rights and needs of British citizens are being sacrificed.

    • Critic: NSA on a “very ugly path”

      After 30-plus years as an official in the National Security Agency (NSA), William Binney has been speaking out about what he sees as the “very ugly path” his former employer, along with the FBI and CIA, are currently following.

      At a lunch presentation on April 29 in midtown New York, Binney didn’t hold back detailing the extent of the surveillance as well as the workarounds the agencies use to gather data and apply it in prosecutions. And the practices will only get bigger, Binney said, owing to the money flowing into the departments based on lies being told to Congress and an uninformed public.

    • Bernie Sanders Reluctantly Admits He Agrees With Rand Paul On NSA Surveillance

      Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) may be on opposite sides of the aisle, but they do see eye to eye on the issue of government surveillance.

    • Katie Couric to Bernie Sanders: Aren’t You and Rand Paul in ‘Lockstep’ on NSA?
    • Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul agree: The NSA goes too far

      Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul may not have much in common. But there is one thing the Vermont socialist and Kentucky libertarian agree on: the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.

      In an interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo News on Monday, Sanders said “in many respects” he agrees with Paul when it comes to opposing the government’s collection of people’s phone records.

    • Florida Schools Tracking Kids on Social Media NSA-Style

      One thing Orange schools are doing right is being honest about using this program. Orange County might not be the first school system to use this surveillance device, but the software company is unwilling to disclose who else is using it. Certainly, it’s at least better to tell students and their parents up front that social media messages posted at school will be monitored rather than doing it without their knowledge.

    • Former NSA Director: Freedom Act Vote is Approval for Bulk Data Collection

      Former NSA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that the US Congress cast a vote of approval for the National Security Agency’s ability to collect US citizen’s metadata.

    • Former NSA Director: NSA Lost Only Access to US Phone Records on Monday

      Former NSA Director Michael Hayden claims that the NSA bulk data collection authority, which expired on Monday, was the sole mechanism the agency had for accessing US citizens’ phone data.

    • Argentine President met with NSA whistleblower while in Moscow

      Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez held talks with U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden during a visit to Russia in April. The two hour-long meeting took place after intelligence documents provided by Snowden, revealed Britain spied on Argentine military and political leaders from 2006 to 2011.

    • Lawyer: Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez took meeting with Snowden
    • Bruce Plante Cartoon: NSA under control
    • US Telecom Giants Cooperate Eagerly With NSA in Surveillance – Watchdog

      Electronic Frontier Foundation Executive Director Cindy Cohn said that the major American telecommunications companies will continue to cooperate eagerly with the US government and carry out its wishes just as during the past 14 years.

    • Does The NSA Spy On Messaging Apps?

      The surveillance methods under review in Congress only involve phone records. National security expert Richard Clarke, who recently served on President Obama’s task force that recommended changes on NSA surveillance programs, told Here & Now host Jeremy Hobson that messages sent over apps like WhatsApp, iMessage and Facetime cannot be deciphered by the government.

    • UK police outdoes USA’s NSA accessing people’s personal information every two minutes

      As many as 93 percent of such police requests are approved. The number of data requests peaked in 2014 with 250,000 requests in total.

    • FBI’s Flights Monitor Citizens’ Cellphones, Even as NSA Program Debated in Congress

      The Associated Press reports today that the FBI has been operating a small air force all its own on the domestic front, registered under at least 13 fake companies – and hidden from the public.

    • Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance
    • Berners-Lee Urges Britons To Fight The Snooper’s Charter, But For One UK Tech Company It’s Too Late

      That comes from Aral Balkan, a well-known developer in the UK, who put the Snooper’s Charter as one of four key reasons why he and his team at ind.ie will be seeking another country that still values freedom and privacy. Sadly, it seems more likely that others will be decide to follow their example than that the UK government will heed Berners-Lee’s warning and change direction here.

    • CIA-backed Portland startup Tyfone raises $6.6M for decentralized security platform [Ed: "Cloud" is not security, it is surveillance]

      The 11-year-old company develops a combination of software and hardware security solutions that help clients in industries like finance, healthcare, and government manage data and digital assets in the cloud more securely.

    • Former CIA Officer: Freedom Act ‘Nothing to Do With Freedom’
    • CIA Chief: Cooperation with Israel Still Very Strong

      Speaking on CBS News, Brennan stressed that there is a “very, very strong relationship between United States and Israel on the intelligence, security and military fronts.”

    • Edward Snowden Hits Out at Russia’s Privacy Laws

      He also attacks Canada, France and Australia for expanding their surveillance powers

    • Spy Game In Afghanistan – Analysis

      Cooperation between the intelligence agencies of two countries is nothing new. Even during the Cold War, the CIA and KGB maintained communications. But the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the spy agencies of Afghanistan and Pakistan – for long at loggerheads – is a first.

  • Civil Rights

The High Cost of Low Patent Bar at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli

Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s patent office eroded the standards by which patents are assessed (in order to increase EPO income and artificially elevate measurable yardsticks like patent numbers) while society is paying the price; The European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) complains about lack of separation of powers

THE EPO‘s abusive behaviour is causing great trouble to all, except perhaps patent lawyers (although they too increasingly complain because of loss of legitimacy). With lousy patents on software being granted (against the most fundamental rules), companies in the UK continue to come under attack, even eleven times in a row, as in this new case [1, 2, 3, 4] where Rovi sues Virgin. “All of the eleven patents asserted by Rovi have now either been found invalid,” says Telecom Paper, “and/or revoked by either the English Court or by the European Patent Office (EPO) which was responsible for granting them.” According to Simon Rockman from The Register: “The specific claim was for Electronic Programme Guide software using information downloaded from the internet.” So this was a software patents, again (this is the eleventh time!).

“EPO management has been exercising too much power and we are perpetually seeing the impact of it.”Why were these granted in the first place? The EPO compromises quality in order to increase revenue and the public is paying the cost/toll.

EPO management has been exercising too much power and we are perpetually seeing the impact of it. Even patent practitioners are concerned. As SUEPO put it (citing IP Kat‘s comment regarding this letter to Battistelli, “The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) is the representative organisation of more than 1 million European lawyers through its member bars and law societies from 32 full member countries, and 13 further associate and observer countries.”

The original, from EPLAW (increasingly a critic of the EPO), is a complaint about the lack of independence of the Boards of Appeal (which relates to patent scope. The author diplomatically says “EPLAW is pleased to see that the Administrative Committee (AC) and the EPO are actively engaged in furthering the independence of the BoA.”

Why did the Boards of Appeal lose independence in the first place? Battistelli has been intimidating them and removing some of their powers, not just BoA staff whom he perceived as not loyal enough (to him and his cronies).

Patent ‘Reform’ Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT) Act Hijacked by Mega-corporations

Posted in America, Patents at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Comprehensive review of reports about the PATENT Act

Capitol place

Summary: Mega-corporations from the US have turned patent reform attempts into a self-serving pseudo-reform effort, whose outcome bears little or virtually no impact on the vast majority of people

THE Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT) Act, which we wrote about before, is about protecting mega-corporations, not “American Talent and Entrepreneurship”. It protects them from smaller companies, especially from patent trolls. There was a lot of coverage about it last week [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28], some coming from lawyers’ sites [1, 2, 3, 4]. Proponents of software patents, such as Gene Quinn and Steve Brachmann, would say that “Vocal minority cannot keep PATENT Act from passing Senate Judiciary” among other things, but the matter of fact is, this so-called ‘reform’ achieves almost nothing of real use. It’s a bit like the so-called ‘Freedom’ ACT, which got diluted to the point of uselessness. Even some of its original backers have withdrawn support for what it ended up like. An article titled “Could Patent Trolls Be Harder to Defeat Than the NSA?” said: “Silicon Valley lobbyists were feeling pretty good on Tuesday. Several gathered at Bobby Van’s, a downtown D.C. bar, to celebrate their successful campaign to curb the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance practices, after a two-year effort.

“But two days later, it was an entirely different story as Senate lawmakers debated a patent bill that’s supposed to curtail patent trolls — companies expressly designed to sue other companies for use of patents they own, a practice some liken to extortion. It wasn’t the bill it once was, tech lobbyists lamented, as Senate leaders approved language that was meant to placate Silicon Valley; the pharmaceutical and biotech industries; and universities that don’t want their patent portfolios devalued.”

“The bill, as initially presented, garnered a good deal of support from traditional reform supporters [...] amendments or revisions to the bill, nearly all of which could diminish (or even extinguish) the enthusiasm of current supporters and endanger the bill’s chances to move forward.”
      –The Hill
In both cases, laws are being passed to benefit large corporations. They totally hijack reform attempts, too. If not directly, they do it through lobbyists and proxies like trade groups (see “Trade group CEO warns patent trolls may chase tech companies out of U.S.”). Based on this statement from Grassley, he seems not to mind this distortion of his effort and political media is largely supportive of this distortion, calling it a “light at the end of the tunnel” (in headline plus body!).

“After nearly three years of patent reform discussions,” wrote The Hill, “there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to mark up their Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT) Act, which at present is a package of patent litigation reform measures aimed at making the business of frivolous litigation less attractive to those who like to game the system for financial gain. The bill, as initially presented, garnered a good deal of support from traditional reform supporters, including small businesses, hotels, banks, retailers and the tech industry. Even universities, who dislike the House’s Innovation Act, have expressed tepid support for the PATENT Act.

“But what if that light is not the other side of the tunnel, but an oncoming train?

“Last-minute negotiations have unlocked a Pandora’s box of possible amendments or revisions to the bill, nearly all of which could diminish (or even extinguish) the enthusiasm of current supporters and endanger the bill’s chances to move forward. And almost all of them are focused on changing procedures established just a few years ago in the last round of patent reform.”

Whether this passes or not, there’s not much of a solution in it. In a sense, it may prove to be only a waste of effort. These people don’t speak about patent scope but about the scale of the plaintiff and who pays litigation costs.

Don’t waste much time watching this PATRIOT Act debate; it’s not part of the solution, except perhaps to issues of mega-corporations. Eventually, they always get what they want, just like in so-called ‘free’ ‘trade’ agreements. Revealing their collusion is means for garnering public opposition and backlash.

Debunking the Idea of ‘Secure’ Windows (or Proprietary Software, by Extension)

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The continuous and broad peer-review enabled by publicly available source code supports software reliability and security efforts through the identification and elimination of defects that might otherwise go unrecognized by a more limited core development team.”

CIO David Wennergren, Department of Defense (October 2009)

Summary: Microsoft has a new charade, centered around lobbying hubs such as Brussels, to give non-technical people the false impression of Windows ‘security’

GIVEN the special relationship between Microsoft and the NSA (proven by NSA leaks), one might expect no sane government (or even company) to do business with Microsoft ever again. But after some show trials (e.g. in Ireland), public lobbying, and the many lies spread through corporate media (puff pieces) some actually do view Microsoft as antagonising the NSA — a nice and convenient myth if you can get yourself to believe it.

Dr. Glyn Moody wrote a response to Microsoft’s publicity stunt which tries to sell the impression that Windows and other Microsoft software do not have back doors, despite admissions to the contrary. Microsoft is pretending that Windows is secure using the 'Transparency Centre' farce. Here is some of Moody’s response to it:

The issue of back doors and the possibility that software companies have been cooperating with the NSA to undermine the security of their products has become particularly sensitive in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the surveillance activities of the NSA and GCHQ. One of the earliest leaked documents concerned the Prism programme, which apparently showed that the NSA had direct access to the systems of all the top US software and Internet companies.

On a presentation slide indicating the dates when Prism began for each “provider,” Microsoft is listed as the very first, starting in 2007. In response, Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft, denied that the NSA had “direct and unfettered access to our customer’s data.” He insisted: “Microsoft only pulls and then provides the specific data mandated by the relevant legal demand.”

Soon after the Prism story appeared, a report from Bloomberg claimed that Microsoft “provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix.” In an article published this week by The Intercept discussing criticisms of Microsoft’s BitLocker disk encryption program, the company was asked to respond to Bloomberg’s allegations from 2013. A Microsoft spokesperson said that sharing bugs was simply part of the GSP, and that “its intention is to be transparent, not to aid spy agencies in making malicious software.”

According to the original Bloomberg article, however, that’s exactly what the NSA used them for: specifically, they “allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments.” Asked about “instances in which Microsoft built methods to bypass its security and about backdoors generally”, the spokesperson also told The Intercept that Microsoft “doesn’t consider complying with legitimate legal requests backdoors.”

The opening of the Transparency Centre in Brussels is evidence that Microsoft is worried that some in Europe still have their doubts about whether its software can be trusted. Microsoft’s Thomlinson described the move as “the latest step … to enhance the transparency of our software code and continue building trust with governments around the world.” He also said that there needs to be “a high level of openness and cooperation between public and private sectors.”

Microsoft’s back doors in its software do not need to be built into the binaries. Microsoft can add them when it’s time to update, it can use security holes (which it tells the NSA about before they are fixed), and it uses bogus encryption — as it does — to completely beat the purpose of secure messaging or massage-passing. Moreover, nobody supervises the build process of Windows, except the NSA. There is no telling what is being compiled and how. There is no telling what happens before binaries are installed on computers (en route), where hard drives and various other hardware have back doors (as revealed by NSA leaks) that ‘hook’ onto Windows like a hand inside a glove. Proprietary software cannot be trusted, not in this ‘transparency’ sense. It might, however, be just enough to fool some non-technical people.

Süddeutsche Zeitung Article About the EPO’s Investigation Unit and Control Risks Group

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Control Risks

Summary: ‘Storm in the Glasshouse’, an article from one week ago in the German media (covering Control Risks being given taxpayers’ money to protect mischievous management)

AN ARTICLE from Süddeutsche Zeitung was mentioned the other day because it covered the EPO‘s reliance on spies to intimidate staff and journalists (Control Risks involvement is confirmed by the EPO). We now have the collection of translations [PDF] from SUEPO’s Web site and here is the article in English:

31 May 2015, 19:06

Storm in the Glasshouse

The European Patent Office won’t settle down. New internal memos, directed against staff representatives, are causing a stir. The in-house investigation department is said to be understaffed, and word has it that crisis-management specialists are to be brought in from London to look into accusations of bullying.

By Katja Riedel

The law gazette Juve isn’t given to using excitable language, so if Juve compares the crisis at the European Patent Office (EPO) with storm front Niklas over Munich, then it’s obviously taking the situation seriously. There has indeed been a storm brewing for many months in the glass building on the bank of the Isar, and it looks as if a very brief break in the weather has already come to an end.

“Social dialogue” is what they called the round of peace talks ordered by the chief executive body, when the President of the Office, Benoît Battistelli, and representatives of the union Suepo, up to now not officially recognized, were supposed to start talking to each other. This dialogue, which was supposed to end not only with conflicts resolved but also with the union being formally recognized, now appears to have gone on the rocks again, after just the second meeting, held last Thursday. That, at least, is how the staff representatives see things. Smoke screening, a marketing ploy for the President – word has it that nothing else came of the talks, and nothing else is to be expected. On the other hand, the Office, at least according to its spokesman Rainer Osterwalder, is hoping that the path to discussions will not be closed again, having hardly been open. People had been hoping for a great deal from the talks.

The Administrative Council, on which representatives of the 38 Member States sit, had called for this dialogue, because the conflict between personnel and management has been damaging the function and image of the EPO for a long time. The Office is facing great changes, but for more than a year the staff representatives have been protesting loudly about Battistelli’s plans for reform. The reforms are supposed to enhance the efficiency of patent examinations, and that has in fact been achieved. The productivity of the patent examiners is said to have risen by 16 percent in the first three months of the year. The Member States are benefitting from this. Germany has apparently received 140 million Euros from the profits achieved by the EPO, according to the staff union. Protecting intellectual property is an attractive prospect for the individual states – and the more patents that are issued, the more lucrative it gets.

Anonymous accusations, defamations and threats piling up

For the staff, the reforms are bringing about a lot of changes, such as a new, performance-based career system; this involves checks and balances for the employees, and they are protesting about them. Anyone not turning up for work because of illness, for example, gets deductions from their salary. The staff are afraid that the pressure on the patent examiners may well lead to more patents, but that quality is going to suffer. This concern has recently been voiced not only by the people at the Office; patent attorneys are getting worried too.

The fact that the mood at the EPO has deteriorated so much can also be attributed to the internal activities of what is known as the Investigation Unit, a body which looks into accusations against members of staff, for example due to bullying. Any staff member can make these accusations against colleagues and superiors, which results in the taking of statements from witnesses, and only at the end do the accused get a chance to be heard. Over the past few months this unit has had a lot to do, with the anonymous accusations, defamations, and threats piling up.

One particular scandal has sprung up over a ban on entering the premises which Battistelli has imposed on a judge who is actually an independent operative. Battistelli suspected him of being the originator of these kinds of letters, and kicked him out – for reasons of securing evidence, according to the President. The judge can in fact only be suspended by the Administrative Council, as the highest executive body, and they only approved the action after it had been carried out. This was followed by a storm of indignation, but Battistelli has stuck to his guns. Now a new internal investigation is under way, which again is causing a stir, and promises to be anything but promising with regard to the peace discussions which were agreed on. This investigation is directed specifically against staff representatives. Which of them have been named is not yet known. Witnesses are already being heard in pursuit of accusations of bullying, and those accused have still not been approached. The unit is bringing in help for the new investigation. Because the in-house team is said to be understaffed, an outside company has been asked to assist, says EPO spokesman Osterwalder. The people concerned are said to be the London-based Control Risks Group, who carry out investigations on an international level, and who, in their own words, “help organizations with political and security risks in complex and hostile environments”. Real crisis specialists, in other words. It was not the President, but the department itself which chose this company, as EPO spokesman Osterwalder is keen to emphasise. Battistelli himself is apparently not informed of the contents of such investigations, and any staff member can make a report and set an investigation in motion. It is only when the facts have been determined that the President decides on disciplinary measures.

But that’s small solace for the union representatives who may have been accused, and who are still supposed to be negotiating with him about social peace.

Icy climate in the European Patent Office: Behind the bright façade, the path to discussions between staff and management is proving to be very rocky indeed.

There is a lot more coming about the Control Risks Group affair. We have more to show in days to come, so stay tuned.

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