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11.06.15

The EPO’s Investigative Unit Exposed: Part IV

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look at the background and the professional track record of the Principal Director in charge of the EPO’s Investigative Unit

IN PREVIOUS parts of this series [1, 2, 3] we looked into the roots of the shady Investigative Unit, which people inside this misguided organisation call the 'gestapo'. The Investigative Unit has earned its notoriety because of its actions, not because of some personal grudges or made up scandals (the EPO’s management likes to pretend that it’s all made up or boils down to just one single person).

John MartinToday we wish to introduce John Martin, the current Principal Director (PD) 0.6, to our readers. Neither his successor nor him is as young as the rest of the Investigative Unit’s — ahem — “agents”.

The photo of John Martin is already publicly available in Flickr and we hope that it will help politicians or staff recognise his role inside the organisation. These people are definitely not friends. To them, job “demand” is people who are either misbehaving or falsely accused of misbehaving.

A source familiar with these matters has told us that “Mr. Martin was appointed as the Principal Director of Internal Audit and Oversight (PDIAO or PD 0.6) following the retirement of Florian Andres. Previously he held the position of Director of Internal Auditing and Investigations 0.6.1 which made him the hierarchical superior of the Investigative Unit.”

Before joining the EPO, Mr. Martin worked at Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. The photo on the right (excepting people to the left of him) is from his time at Eurocontrol.

“As Director of Internal Auditing and Investigations 0.6.1, Mr. Martin was responsible for approving the controversial covert surveillance measures involving the use of keyloggers and other questionable techniques as reported by various blogs such as Techrights, IP Kat and FOSS Patents/Florian Müller (who helpfully enough published a leaked document related to this).”As far as our source is aware, “during his time at Eurocontrol Mr. Martin was the head of the Audit Unit. In this capacity, he gave a presentation at the 3rd Controlling Conference of International Public Organisations hosted by the European Court of Auditors on 8 and 9 June in Luxembourg. The conference brought together finance, resource and control managers from international and national public organisations.”

Quite ironically, for reasons we are about to explain, the subject of Mr. Martin’s presentation (still available online) on that occasion was “Audit Committees/Audit Boards/External Audit” and he explained the purpose of an Audit Committee in the following terms: “The purpose of an Audit Committee – as an independent advisory expert body – is primarily to assist the governing body, and the executive head of the [U.N.] entity and other multilateral institution as appropriate, in fulfilling their oversight and governance responsibilities, including the effectiveness of internal controls, risk management and governance processes. The audit committee must add value and must strengthen accountability and governance functions; not duplicate them.”

Given his extensive knowledge about the key role of Audit Committees in ensuring proper corporate governance, it seems rather ironic that Mr. Martin’s next career move was to join an organisation which had just decided to abolish its own recently-instituted Audit Committee as reported a year ago in Techrights.

“After his promotion to Principal Director PD 0.6, Internal Audit and Oversight‎, Mr. Martin’s main claim to fame (or should that be infamy?) at the EPO seems to have been the hiring of the London-based military-connected Control Risks Group to spy on EPO staff as reported inter alia in several of our past articles and in IP Kat.”As Director of Internal Auditing and Investigations 0.6.1, Mr. Martin was responsible for approving the controversial covert surveillance measures involving the use of keyloggers and other questionable techniques as reported by various blogs such as Techrights, IP Kat and FOSS Patents/Florian Müller (who helpfully enough published a leaked document related to this). Even the mainstream media covered this for quite some weeks (if not months) to come. It’s not even over yet because we believe there’s an ongoing investigation into it (no reports of cessation thereof exist, so German authorities still need to report about their findings).

After his promotion to Principal Director PD 0.6, Internal Audit and Oversight‎, Mr. Martin’s main claim to fame (or should that be infamy?) at the EPO seems to have been the hiring of the London-based military-connected Control Risks Group to spy on EPO staff as reported inter alia in several of our past articles and in IP Kat.

Having introduced our readers to the founder and the current head of the ‘gestapo’ (as the staff calls it), we invite readers to securely provide us with any more information they may have about it. Transparency is very important to Battistelli (warning: EPO can track the IP addresses of people who click this link), so let’s help him.

Summary of the Red Hat-Microsoft Patent Agreement of 2015

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 2:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Analysis does require a closer look (because Red Hat doesn’t tell the full story)

Red Hat with glasses

Summary: A detailed record of what Red Hat has just done with Microsoft, as explained by Techrights and as (poorly) explained by unsuspecting corporate media

TECHRIGHTS has, over the past couple of days, prepared a comprehensive media survey (60+ article) about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal and their successful spin/cover-up (regarding patents). This was previously covered here in the following posts:

  1. Media Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft Deal Includes Microsoft Talking Points and Moles, No Discussion About Patent Aspects
  2. Red Hat’s Deal With Microsoft Resurrects Fears of Software Patents Against GNU/Linux and Introduces ‘Triple-Dipping’ of Fees
  3. More Information Emerges About the Microsoft-Red Hat Patent Agreement
  4. Red Hat Sells Out With a Microsoft Patent Deal

There are many links in there, along with some more links in the comments.

Red Hat’s latest deal with Microsoft definitely included a patent agreement, so this goes further than the 2009 virtualisation deal which was covered here in the following articles:

  1. Summary of the Red Hat-Microsoft Story
  2. Novell the Biggest Loser in New Red Hat-Microsoft Virtual Agreement
  3. Red Hat-Microsoft Agreement Not Malicious, But Was It Smart?
  4. Red Hat-Microsoft: Take III

Below is a complete list of what we were able to find in the media [2-64] yet haven’t cited (not until now anyway). None of it mentioned the patent aspects (unless it’s just hidden away in some distant sentence or paragraph), not because such aspects don’t exist but because Red Hat did a fine job hiding it (way to go, “Open Organisation”), or at least downplaying it. The criticism from Sam Varghese and yours truly got mentioned in [1] earlier today.

“The media framed this the same way it was told by Red Hat and Microsoft.”Journalism is supposed to involve independent analysis or an audit of events, not repetition of official narratives from companies that have so much to gain financially (that’s what the deal was all about, even at the expense of patent security in the Free software world). The media framed this the same way it was told by Red Hat and Microsoft. Almost nobody went further or delved any deeper. Red Hat’s culture of secrecy can also be seen when it comes to the company's patent settlements and special relationship with the NSA (they cooperate on code and the NSA is a huge client of Red Hat). We about this back in 2013 [1, 2, 3, 4], then saw the story resurfacing this year (because it turned out that illegal and unconstitutional mass surveillance is done using RHEL).

It is going to be interesting to see what happens to SUSE at the end of this year because its coupons/patent deal expires on January 1st (the press release said that “both vendors are also resolving intellectual property concerns”).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Underneath the Red Hat Microsoft Deal, Bodhi is Five

    However, Dr. Roy Schestowitz isn’t celebrating. In fact, he said the deal could very well put many distributions out of business (so to speak) and Red Hat users at risk. He said the deal involves patent agreements and data collection. It’s all about money according to Schestowitz who said, “At Red Hat money now matters more than freedom and ethics.” For Microsoft it’s about double and triple taxing users in addition to collecting and selling their data. Red Hat isn’t interested in defending GNU/Linux against patent trolls and instead pays out to settle cases and now signs a patent deal according to Schestowitz and his quoted and linked sources. Microsoft has and is continuing to pursue lawsuits against Open Source entities. Nasdaq.com said on the subject Microsoft is known for “aggressively seeking royalties from its software patents” then quoted Red Hat’s Paul Cormier saying, “We both know we have very different positions on software patents. We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.”We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.” So, at least one other site covered the patent situation, even if not in depth. Red Hat stock closed at $82.75 after the announcement Wednesday and finshed up today, Thursday, at 81.57.

    Sam Varghese today asked, “With two companies — Microsoft and Red Hat — from opposite ends of the software spectrum linking arms in a deal overnight, the big question that remains is: what happens to the SUSE-Microsoft deal?” He suggests SUSE might not get the same level of assistance it once did now. But then again, he also speculated that the deal is “unlikely to earn any criticism from the open source community” as it SUSE did. I guess he hasn’t read Schestowitz lately.

  2. Microsoft and Red Hat Reach Linux Deal
  3. Microsoft, Red Hat Finally Make It Official
  4. Microsoft brings Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Azure
  5. Red Hat and Microsoft become partners in the cloud
  6. Red Hat Enterprise Linux lands on Microsoft Azure cloud – no, we’re not pulling your leg
  7. Microsoft partners with Red Hat for hybrid cloud solutions
  8. Microsoft (MSFT), Red Hat (RHT) Enter Azure-Related Partnership
  9. Red Hat OS on Microsoft Azure: Now It’s Easy
  10. Microsoft Joins Hands With Red Hat To Bring Enterprise Linux To Azure Cloud Platform
  11. Microsoft, Red Hat Partner For Linux On Azure
  12. Microsoft and Red Hat announce cloud partnership, show .NET a few love
  13. Shocker: Microsoft and Red Hat Team-up
  14. Red Hat-Microsoft partnership means a ‘co-location’ of engineers
  15. Nadella delivers another shocker as Microsoft embraces Red Hat in cloud alliance
  16. Microsoft and Red Hat join forces to help ease enterprises into hybrid cloud
  17. Red Hat Enterprise Linux to become officially supported on Azure (at last)
  18. Microsoft improves enterprise cloud by making Azure available on Red Hat Linux
  19. Major Red Hat & Microsoft Partnership Around Cloud and .NET on Linux
  20. Major Red Hat & Microsoft Partnership Around Cloud and .NET on Linux
  21. Microsoft partners with Red Hat on hybrid cloud computing
  22. Microsoft and Red Hat announce partnership
  23. Microsoft, Red Hat Strike Broad Cloud Alliance
  24. Microsoft signs cloud deal with Red Hat
  25. Microsoft Plays Nice With Open Source Rival Red Hat
  26. Microsoft and Red Hat Make Cloud Pact
  27. Microsoft, Red Hat in deal to boost hybrid cloud computing
  28. Microsoft, Red Hat Collaborate To Put Linux on Azure
  29. Microsoft Corporation, Red Hat Bury The Hatchet, Offer New Enterprise Cloud Standard
  30. Red Hat, Microsoft Partner on Open Source Solutions for Azure Cloud
  31. Microsoft and Red Hat form cloud partnership
  32. Microsoft joins with Red Hat to make hybrid cloud adoption easier
  33. Microsoft to offer Red Hat Linux on Azure cloud
  34. Finally, Red Hat and Microsoft join hands to bring Linux on Azure
  35. Microsoft teams up with Red Hat for enterprise cloud solutions
  36. What’s behind the odd couple Microsoft-Red Hat partnership
  37. Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be Available on Microsoft Azure Cloud Service
  38. Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) Struck Up A Major New Alliance For Cloud Computing- CDW Corporation (NASDAQ:CDW), MaxLinear, Inc. (NYSE:MXL)
  39. Microsoft and Red Hat join hands for Linux on Azure
  40. Analyst: Red Hat, Microsoft deal could lead to Amazon partnership
  41. Microsoft Corporation Partners With Red Hat Inc For Its Cloud Service
  42. Microsoft Partners with Red Hat; MariaDB Released on Azure
  43. Why Did Microsoft Corporation Paint Its Cloud Red?
  44. Red Hat Teams With Microsoft To Create Improved Cloud Experience
  45. Microsoft and Red Hat Take Over Cloud Market
  46. Red Hat and Microsoft strike historic Linux-Azure union
  47. Microsoft and Red Hat partner up for enterprise hybrid cloud
  48. Microsoft and Red Hat announce enterprise cloud partnership
  49. Microsoft And Red Hat To Bring .NET To Linux
  50. Red Hat, Microsoft Deal Keeps Customers, Stock Aloft
  51. Microsoft announces partnership with Red Hat
  52. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Joined Forces with Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) To Improve Cloud Computing Service- Cognizant Technology Solutions (NASDAQ:CTSH), Qlik Technologies (NASDAQ:QLIK)
  53. Armistice Signed: Red Hat, Microsoft Change the Landscape
  54. Microsoft and Red Hat Partner on Massive Hybrid Cloud Deal
  55. Microsoft and Red Hat to deliver new standard for enterprise cloud experiences
  56. Microsoft just buried the hatchet with another huge and bitter rival, Red Hat
  57. Red Hat Linux Enterprise is Reference Platform for .NET Core on Linux
  58. Microsoft partners with Red Hat to deliver native cloud solutions
  59. Microsoft Azure Adds Red Hat Support
  60. Microsoft Partners with Red Hat On Enterprise Linux for Azure
  61. Microsoft, Red Hat ink Azure/Linux cloud deal (updated)
  62. Microsoft to make Red Hat Linux available on Azure
  63. At Last! Microsoft and Red Hat Sign Cloud Pact
  64. Bromance Between Microsoft And Linux Will Take Place In The Cloud

Links 6/11/2015: CAINE 7, Tiny Core 6.4.1

Posted in News Roundup at 1:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Why improving kernel security is important

      This reactive approach is fine for a world where it’s possible to push out software updates without having to perform extensive testing first, a world where the only people hunting for interesting kernel vulnerabilities are nice people. This isn’t that world, and this approach isn’t fine.

      Just as features like SELinux allow us to reduce the harm that can occur if a new userspace vulnerability is found, we can add features to the kernel that make it more difficult (or impossible) for attackers to turn a kernel bug into an exploitable vulnerability. The number of people using Linux systems is increasing every day, and many of these users depend on the security of these systems in critical ways. It’s vital that we do what we can to avoid their trust being misplaced.

    • Toshiba Laptops To See Some Improvements With Linux 4.4

      Intel’s Darren Hart has sent in the x86 platform driver updates for the Linux 4.4 kernel merge window.

    • Kernel Self Protection Project

      Between the companies that recognize the critical nature of this work, and with Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative happy to start funding specific work in this area, I think we can really make a dent.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Tablet Protocol & Weston Support Is Back To Being Baked

        Peter Hutterer is back to working on tablet protocol and support for Wayland/Weston. In this context, it’s for drawing tablets like the popular Wacom hardware.

        There’s been some work done before on a tablet protocol while published today was a largely redone version of this protocol. The protocol is largely new, Peter noted, “Too many changes from the last version (a year ago or so), so I won’t detail them, best to look at it with fresh eyes.”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • MATE 1.12 Brings GTK3 & Systemd Improvements, But No Wayland Yet
    • MATE 1.12 Has Arrived, Here’s What’s New

      The MATE desktop environment has been updated to version 1.12, and the new iteration brings quite a few improvements, the most notable being the support for GTK 3.18.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Screen management in Wayland

        One of the bigger things that is in the works in Plasma’s Wayland support is screen management. In most cases, that is reasonably easy, there’s one screen and it has a certain resolution and refresh rate set. For mobile devices, this is almost always good enough. Only once we starting thinking about convergence and using the same codebase on different devices, we need to be able to configure the screens used for rendering. Especially on desktops and laptops, where we often find multi-monitor setups or connected projectors is where the user should be able to decide a bunch of things, relative position of the screens, resolution (“mode”) for each, etc.. Another thing that we haven’t touched yet is scaling of the rendering per display, which becomes increasingly important with a wider range of displays connected, just imagine a 4K laptop running north of 300 pixels per inch (PPI) connected to a projector which throws 1024*768 pixels on a wall sized 4x3m.

      • A Minuet for KDE

        A Minuet is a musical form (occasionally with an accompanying social dance for two people) originated in the 17th-century France, initially introduced to opera but later also to suites such some of those from Johann Sebastian Bach. Although composing a minuet for KDE wouldn’t be bad at all :), my musical skills don’t make me feel like doing so by no means and, therefore, this post is gonna be about – you know – software and KDE! But software for music :)

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.18.2 stable tarballs due

        Hello all,

        Tarballs are due on 2015-11-09 before 23:59 UTC for the GNOME 3.18.2
        stable release, which will be delivered on Wednesday. Modules which
        were proposed for inclusion should try to follow the unstable schedule
        so everyone can test them. Please make sure that your tarballs will
        be uploaded before Monday 23:59 UTC: tarballs uploaded later than that
        will probably be too late to get in 3.18.2. If you are not able to
        make a tarball before this deadline or if you think you’ll be late,
        please send a mail to the release team and we’ll find someone to roll
        the tarball for you!

  • Distributions

    • CAINE 7 released: Screenshots

      CAINE (Computer Aided INvestigative Environment) is a Linux distribution specifically designed for digital forensics. It is based on Ubuntu.

      The latest edition is CAINE 7, code-named DeepSpace. It is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and, therefore, UEFI and Secure Boot ready.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • SUSE Looks To Mainline The AMD HSA Support In GCC

        Martin Jambor at SUSE is looking to begin mainlining the HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) support within the GCC compiler.

      • Uptime Funk: Using SUSE’s kGraft Live Kernel Patching For Linux

        Last year SUSE announced KGraft as a new form of live Linux kernel patching to reduce downtime by avoiding reboots when applying kernel security updates, etc. The initial combined infrastructure work of kGraft and Red Hat’s Kpatch was merged in Linux 4.0. Here’s how SUSE is showing off their live kernel patching method.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Five Years of Bodhi Linux

              I can hardly believe that this month marks the fifth year I have been working on Bodhi Linux stuff. What started as a project to save me from having to compile EFL + E updates on six different Ubuntu computers every month has become so much more than that. I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to Bodhi Linux over the years. Without your code, forums posts, documentation, monetary donations, translations, and many other things I am sure I am forgetting – we would not still be here today. The power of the open source community continually impresses me and I am honored to be a part of it – giving back in whatever way I can.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why your manager loves technical debt (and what to do about it)

    Do you think that open source projects are less prone to accumulating technical debt? Or do they suffer from the same problems?

    That’s a tricky question. Any project is capable of becoming burdened with technical debt. The difference is that it’s rare for an open source project to accumulate much debt once set into the wild. It’s only when you have a population of captive developers that are tasked with adding features to a code base with no choice in their participation that you can achieve the truly abysmal levels of code quality that is out there. When a project is open source, developers simply move on when it becomes too much to deal with and the project dies.

  • Pursuing an Internet of Things strategy for the right reasons
  • Alchemy for the 21st century: Open source according to Cloudsoft CEO

    LinuxCon 2015 brings together some of the brightest minds in technology today. What makes Linux attractive to such talent? Duncan Johnston-Watt, founder and CEO of Cloudsoft Corp., feels that Linux is playing a key role in the community’s ability to collaborate.

    Johnston-Watt stopped by theCUBE, from SiliconANGLE Media, to speak with host Jeff Frick about the role Cloudsoft is playing within the community.

  • Databases

    • A look at how MongoDB plans to make open source profitable

      Open source products in the enterprise are becoming increasingly common. Five or six years ago they were seen as a nice idea in theory, but unrealistic in a world that requires strict SLAs and support to make things work. But times have changed and thanks to the likes of Facebook, Google and eBay publicly praising the benefits of adopting open source technologies at scale, everybody wants a piece of them.

  • Education

    • Education is key to Basque free software policy

      Raising awareness and training users bolster the free software policy of the Basque Country (Spain). The government of the autonomous region continues to expand its use of free software, according to SALE, the Basque Country’s free software resource centre.

      The SALE resource centre is advising Basque government organisations such as IVAP, the Institute of Public Administration and SPRI, the Business Development Agency. It is also helping to other organizations providing free software courses to citizens and companies, and is involved in training the users of publicly accessible Internet access points across the Basque Country – all running free software.

      Over 2,300 PCs in the network of 270 public Internet access points, KZgunea, are running KZnux, based on the Ubuntu Linux distribution. KZgunea is providing training for free software to the about 100 KZgunea staff members. These centre’s are used by some 400,000 citizens per year.

  • FUD/Openwashing

  • BSD

    • less less and more less

      Nicholas Marriott (nicm@) has replaced the aging version of less(1) in the OpenBSD base system with a more modern fork from illumos founder Garrett D’Amore.

  • Licensing

    • TPP will ban rules that require source-code disclosure

      As we pick through the secret, 2,000-page treaty, we’re learning an awful lot of awfulness, but this one is particularly terrible.

      As software becomes more tightly integrated into cars and buildings and medical devices (and everything else), many governments have enacted procurement policies requiring contractors to disclose and/or publish the sourcecode of the products they supply to public bodies. For example, if Volkswagen were to supply a fleet of diesels to the National Parks Service, the government might tell them that they have to turn over their source-code so that it can be audited for “defeat devices,” or Chrysler might have to disclose source on their jeeps before they’re sold to the Army, which could result in them being made secure against over-the-Internet attacks on steering and brakes.

      [...]

      The article in question could well have been written by a Microsoft lobbyist.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • Department of Education seeks comments on open licensing requirements

        One of the more effective ways to advance an agenda is to attach requirements to grant funding. The U.S. Department of Education has an interest in broadening the impact of its grants, so it announced a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) on October 29. The proposed rule would require intellectual property created with Department of Education grant funding to be openly licensed to the public. This includes both software and instructional materials.

        Under current regulations, creators of grant-funded work retain unlimited copyright and rights to royalty income. The Department of Education is granted a royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable right to publish, use, and reproduce the work. This means that the public can request copies from the Department, however practice has shown that this rarely happens.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers

      I’m commiserating with a friend who recently left the technology industry to return to entertainment. “I’m not a programmer,” he begins, explaining some of the frustrations of his former workplace, before correcting himself, “—oh, engineer, in tech-bro speak. Though to me, engineers are people who build bridges and follow pretty rigid processes for a reason.”

      His indictment touches a nerve. In the Silicon Valley technology scene, it’s common to use the bare term “engineer” to describe technical workers. Somehow, everybody who isn’t in sales, marketing, or design became an engineer. “We’re hiring engineers,” read startup websites, which could mean anything from Javascript programmers to roboticists.

    • ATLAS: the UK’s supercomputer

      Atlas, in Manchester, was one of the first supercomputers; it was said that when Atlas went down, the UK’s computing capacity was reduced by half. Today supercomputers are massively parallel and run at many, many times the speed of Atlas. (The fastest in the world is currently Tianhe-2, in Guangzhou, China, running at 33 petaflops, or over a thousand million times faster than Atlas.) But some of the basics of modern computers still owe something to the decisions made by the Atlas team when they were trying to build their ‘microsecond engine’.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Welsh MP’s bid to free up low-cost drugs for cancer, Parkinson’s and MS

      A Welsh MP will try to change the law today to allow doctors to prescribe life-saving and low-cost drugs that are currently unavailable but which could help a range of conditions such as breast cancer and MS.

      The treatments known as ‘off-patent’ would be inexpensive to the NHS because their original patent has expired and which could be used to treat new conditions. But new treatments require new licenses that drugs companies are unwilling to apply for.

    • The War on Drugs isn’t working, says Christian Aid

      The war on drugs is simply not working, according to a new report by Christian Aid.

      Where old approaches to drugs treat the issue like a “malignant tumour”, apart from the whole body, the reality today is that this tumour “has become an almost necessary part of the whole body, rendering conventional treatments ineffective. Removal could cause certain organs to fail,” according to Eric Gutierrez, a senior advisor at Christian Aid.

      The reality in many countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Mali and Tajikstan, is that the drugs trade is not a sub-sector of the economy that can be identified and retracted without huge implications for other parts of the economy and society.

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The water wars are coming: Civilization will never survive climate calamity

      At the end of November, delegations from nearly 200 countries will convene in Paris for what is billed as the most important climate meeting ever held. Officially known as the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the 1992 treaty that designated that phenomenon a threat to planetary health and human survival), the Paris summit will be focused on the adoption of measures that would limit global warming to less than catastrophic levels. If it fails, world temperatures in the coming decades are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit), the maximum amount most scientists believe the Earth can endure without experiencing irreversible climate shocks, including soaring temperatures and a substantial rise in global sea levels.

      A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees another result as well, though one far less discussed. It will, in the long run, bring on not just climate shocks, but also worldwide instability, insurrection, and warfare. In this sense, COP-21 should be considered not just a climate summit but a peace conference — perhaps the most significant peace convocation in history.

    • Significant Layoffs At National Geographic Magazine

      In the opening days of the month when National Geographic magazine is scheduled to be turned over to 21st Century Fox, the magazine’s employees were told to stand by their phones to wait for calls – one by one – to come to Human Resources to learn the fate of their jobs.

      A memo sent to all staff on Monday from CEO Gary Knell told the magazine’s employees to return to Washington to Geographic’s headquarters if possible to wait for an eMail on Tuesday which would give them more information about their employment status.

    • Rupert Murdoch Takes Over National Geographic, Then Lays Off Award-Winning Staff

      The memo went out, and November 3rd 2015 came to the National Geographic office. This was the day in which Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox took over National Geographic. The management of National Geographic sent out an email telling its staff, all of its staff, all to report to their headquarters, and wait by their phones. This pulled back every person who was in the field, every photographer, every reporter, even those on vacation had to show up on this fateful day.

      As these phones rang, one by one National Geographic let go the award-winning staff, and the venerable institution was no more.

      The name now belongs to Rupert Murdoch, and he has plans for it. The CEO of National Geographic Society, Greg Knell, tried to claim back in September that there “there won’t be an [editorial] turn in a direction that is different form the National Geographic heritage.” Murdoch’s move today only served to prove Knell’s words hollow, with hundreds of talented people now served their pink slips. And with the recognition that Murdoch’s other enterprises do not reflect the standards held by National Geographic, and with Murdoch’s history of changing the editorial direction of purchased properties, today’s move indicates that we can expect a similar shift for National Geographic.

    • Ahead of Fox close, National Geographic starts cutting staff

      Ahead of its acquisition by 21st Century Fox, National Geographic is beginning to eliminate staff through a mix of voluntary buyouts and layoffs, POLITICO has learned.

      About 180 employees, or nine percent of the total workforce, were subject to “involuntary separation” (i.e. layoffs) and an unspecified number of additional employees have been offered “voluntary separation agreements,” a spokesperson for the company confirmed.

      The Fox acquisition, announced in September, is expected to close on Nov. 16.

      Gary Knell, the president and CEO of National Geographic Society, sent an email to employees yesterday instructing them to be available today for individual consultations with human resources.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • As Jobs Flee WI, Legislators Lock-Down Their Own With Unlimited Dark Money

      This week, two major Wisconsin employers sent shockwaves through the state when they announced plant closures and layoffs that could affect thousands of jobs.

      The Republicans who control the Wisconsin state senate called an “extraordinary session” for Friday–not to address the loss of family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin, but to allow out-of-state billionaires to secretly pour even more money into state elections.

      Rep. Terese Berceau, a Democrat, calls the bills nothing short of “an effort to create a permanent one-party state,” helping give job security to Republicans for years to come.

      [...]

      The press managed to connect political donations to WEDC grants because those donations were disclosed. Yet one of the bills being voted on this week would make it harder to connect those dots. Under the bill, a CEO seeking a WEDC grant could make a contribution to a politician’s dark money political operation with no requirement that it be publicly reported. The politician will know where their support comes from, but the public and press will not, making it impossible to determine whether those supporters later receive special treatment or taxpayer-funded loans or grants.

  • Censorship

    • Kremlin slams Charlie Hebdo cartoons on Egypt crash as ‘sacrilege’

      The Kremlin on Friday angrily condemned France’s Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine for publishing political cartoons on the Egypt plane crash in which 224 people died, most of them Russian tourists.

      “In our country we can sum this up in a single word: sacrilege,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

  • Privacy

    • MI5 ‘secretly collected phone data’ for decade

      The programme has been running for 10 years under a law described as “vague” by the government’s terror watchdog.

      It emerged as Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled a draft bill governing spying on communications by the authorities.

    • ProtonMail recovers from DDoS punch after being extorted

      The last few days have not been easy for ProtonMail, the Geneva-based encrypted email service that launched last year.

      The last few days have not been easy for ProtonMail, the Geneva-based encrypted email service that launched last year.

      Earlier this week, the service was extorted by one group of attackers, then taken offline in a large distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by a second group that it suspects may be state sponsored.

      ProtonMail offers a full, end-to-end encrypted email service. It raised more than US$500,000 last year after a blockbuster crowdfunding campaign that sought just $100,000.

    • After TalkTalk, should government re-think storing citizens’ internet records?

      On Wednesday 4 November, the government published a draft of its Investigatory Powers Bill.

      Amongst the many controversial measures announced in the bill were plans to require web and phone companies to store records of websites visited by every citizen for 12 months for access by police, security services and other public bodies.

      The publication of the bill comes just weeks after the TalkTalk hack, which was simply the latest in a long line of high profile losses of personal information.

    • Five hours with Edward Snowden

      Suddenly he opens the door. DN’s Lena Sundström and Lotta Härdelin had a unique meeting with the whistleblower who has fans all over the world but risks lifetime imprisonment in the home country he once tried to save.

  • Civil Rights

    • Quentin Tarantino: The police would rather start fights with celebrities than examine why the public has lost trust in them

      Quentin Tarantino appeared on “All In With Chris Hayes” Wednesday night to defend himself against allegations that he’s “anti-police.”

      Police unions across the country have called for a boycott of the director’s work after he spoke at an anti-police brutality rally in New York last week. “What am I doing here?” he asked. “I’m doing here [sic] because I am a human being with a conscience, and when I see murder, I cannot stand by, and I have to call the murdered the murdered, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”

      After being criticized by the presidents of the police unions in Philadelphia and New York City, Tarantino told The Los Angeles Times that he “never said” all cops are murderers. “I never said that. I never even implied that.”

      “What they’re doing is pretty obvious,” he added. “Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out.”

    • NYPD Wants $42,000 To Turn Over Documents Related To Discharges Of Officers’ Firearms

      The NYPD is jerking around FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requesters again. Usually, the NYPD just pretends it’s the CIA (somewhat justified, considering its hiring of former government spooks) and claims everything is so very SECRET it couldn’t possibly be edged out between the multiple exemptions it cites in its refusals.

    • Fox Host Says Violence Against Police Officers Increasing, But Data Show The Exact Opposite

      Fox News co-host Eric Bolling dubiously claimed violence against police officers has been increasing, and attributed the supposed increase to the Black Lives Matter movement and criticism of police.

      On the November 5 edition of Fox News’ The Five, the show’s hosts discussed recent comments from film director Quentin Tarantino regarding police officers and Drug Enforcement Administration head Chuck Rosenberg speculating that the “Ferguson effect” — the idea that increased scrutiny and criticism of police brutality is leading to increased violence, especially against police officers against police officers — was real and recent criticism of the police was leading to more violence.

    • ‘Reliance on Police Cannot Be Consistent With What We Want to Happen in Public Schools’

      Condemnation came quickly when video surfaced on social media of a South Carolina police officer assaulting a female high school student in class in the process of arresting her for, according to reports, either not participating or refusing to put away a cell phone. But while demands to fire school resource officer Ben Fields, who had a history of racialized brutality, were answered, we still haven’t had a deep-going conversation as to why he was in the room in the first place.

      The incident at Spring Valley High School is sadly reflective, too, of ways that black women and girls in particular encounter state violence on a daily basis. That’s the problem explored in the report Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, produced by the African American Policy Forum, on whose board I serve.

    • Watch A Congressman Demolish Fox Business Host’s Defense Of Donald Trump’s Racist Comments About Mexican Immigrants
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TPPA: Last chance for Labor to gain some cred

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement may have been signed by the 12 countries involved but that doesn’t mean it is a done deal.

      The parliaments of all 12 countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam — still have to ratify the deal in its entirety; there is no question of picking and choosing.

      And that means there is still a role for the Labor Party to play. The big question is whether Labor wants to protect the interests of the people or not.

    • Release of the Full TPP Text After Five Years of Secrecy Confirms Threats to Users’ Rights

      Trade offices involved in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have finally released all 30 chapters of the trade deal today, a month after announcing the conclusion of the deal in Atlanta. Some of the more dangerous threats to the public’s rights to free expression, access to knowledge, and privacy online are contained in the copyright provisions in the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter, which we analyzed based on the final version leaked by Wikileaks two weeks ago and which are unchanged in the final release. Now that the entire agreement is published, we can see how other chapters of the agreement contain further harmful rules that undermine our rights online and over our digital devices and content.

    • White House may have to renegotiate Pacific trade pact: senator

      A key U.S. senator said on Friday the Obama administration may have to renegotiate parts of a Pacific trade pact, heralding a tough battle to win support in Congress.

      The administration notified lawmakers on Thursday it plans to sign the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, starting a countdown to a congressional vote that could come in the middle of next year’s election campaign.

    • Reviewing the TPP: Trudeau’s best-case scenario

      In the final days of the federal election, with the Liberals leapfrogging over the NDP on an ostensibly progressive platform, one question dogged Trudeau to the end: what was his position on the recently completed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP)? We still don’t quite know the answer, though we may soon enough.

    • Trademarks

      • University Of Kentucky Battles Kentucky Mist Moonshine Maker Over Hats And T-Shirts

        We’ve already established that the University of Kentucky is sort of insane when it comes to overly restrictive trademark practices. We’ve also established that many other educational institutions are equally asshat-ish when it comes to trademark issues, in particular, for some reason, on any matter that in any way has to do with alcohol brands. The beer and liquor industries are dealing with their own trademark issues resulting from the explosion in craft brewing, but this is the story of how the University of Kentucky has managed to convince itself and, apparently, the USPTO that it has sole ownership of the very name of the state in which it is located for use on apparel.

    • Copyrights

      • Stretching to its Limits: Can You Protect Yoga Poses through Copyright?

        Felines can often demonstrate great feats of stretchiness and overall flexibility, which can only be attributed to hard work at all-important cat yoga sessions. Whether you partake in yoga or any similar types of new age forms of exercise (in popularity, less so in origin), you cannot have been unaware of their growing popularity, especially among us Millennials. The classes aim to train the body and mind, each style of yoga doing so through different means and various poses. With this variety of styles, could one protect yoga poses through copyright?

      • YTS / YIFY Signs Unprecedented Settlement With MPAA

        For several years YTS/YIFY has been one of Hollywood’s biggest arch-rivals but both sides came to an unprecedented agreement in recent weeks. Instead of going to trial over the alleged widespread piracy facilitated by the site, the MPAA signed a deal with its operator, ending a multi-million dollar lawsuit before it really got started.

      • U.S. Asks Judge to Rule Kim Dotcom’s Evidence Inadmissible

        As Kim Dotcom’s extradition hearing defense continues, the U.S. government has just asked the presiding judge to rule all of the Megaupload founder’s evidence inadmissible. However, Dotcom informs TorrentFreak that the effort failed. “The Judge has said he wants a fair extradition,” he said.

      • U.S. Judge Explores Return of Megaupload Data

        There’s a chance that after four years Megaupload users may be reunited with their lost files. U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady has asked several stakeholders to chime in on the possible return of the Megaupload servers, which also holds crucial evidence for Kim Dotcom’s defense.

IP Kat Bemoans Crushing of the EPO’s Boards by an Increasingly Paranoid EPO Management

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I have no problem with G14. How can I oppose something that as far as I am concerned, does not exist?”

Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatterstelli

Summary: The EPO’s higher management is gradually ‘disappearing’ one of the last remaining points of supervision and outside scrutiny

The EPO is killing the boards. We already know why this is happening. It’s so easy to guess, having seen how the EPO’s management systematically destroyed anything that can possibly question the President’s authority and disrupt the tyranny. The numbers are rather telling, putting aside the absence of very high-profile/key people like Wim Van der Eijk. Merpel called it “the EPO Board of Appeal manpower shortage” because the cull is on and the boards are being shrunk, irrespective of the possible exile to a different German city (which will itself help get rid of much of the staff). “If Merpel’s arithmetic is right,” she wrote (referring to herself as a third person, “and assuming that no appointments are being made between now and the end of the year, this all means that there are seven legal, 14 technical and six chairs missing [not counting the one currently suspended member].” They’re probably not even hiring anyone; that’s one way to make an entity silently dissolve.

Yes, Blatterstelli — as Florian Müller called him (hence the picture above) — is surely quite determined to destroy the boards (illegal suspensions are in the books too), perhaps replacing them with something else (see Merpel’s analysis for details).

“They’re probably not even hiring anyone; that’s one way to make an entity silently dissolve.”Müller himself is still covering Apple v. Samsung, having recently shown that Apple evoked Alice to thwart software patents. The latest on this is that Apple still resorts to trying to shoot down software patents. As Müller recalls, “Apple brought a motion for summary judgment of invalidity against two Ericsson patents, based on the exclusion of abstract subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and its interpretation by the Supreme Court in the famous Alice case, in the declaratory judgment case in the Northern District of California. Ericsson’s opposition brief argues that there is so much technology involved in the operation of a wireless network, it’s just impossible to hold such patents to cover abstract subject matter, lest an extreme interpretation of Alice spell doom for patent law as a whole.”

Half a decade ago I wrote a detailed letter to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, pleading for them to stop the issuing of software patents by the EPO. That’s just the law. Back then they were like the last resort, even though other regulatory/auditory bodies existed (Blatterstelli squashed these years later). If Blatterstelli manages to crush the boards too, then he’ll have free (from supervision) reign that’s virtually impossible to undermine and software patents might become a norm in Europe.

Where are the European politicians? This is the hallmark of a coup, a junta, and of complete lawlessness. The EPO has turned into the Wild West. This simply cannot last. European politicians seem to be more concerned about football (FIFA) than the decades-old patent system.

IP Dealmakers Forum Brags About Having the World’s Largest Patent Troll as Keynote Speaker

Posted in Patents at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IP Dealmakers Forum logoSummary: IP Dealmakers Forum, which describes itself as a groundbreaking event designed to connect investors with intellectual property information and opportunities, is lionising patent trolls

EARLIER this year we highlighted widespread complaints about Nathan Myhrvold, one of Bill Gates’ closest friends from Microsoft and now head of the world’s largest patent troll (Intellectual Ventures), being announced a prospective keynote speaker for UCLA's commencement ceremony.

Looking at IP Dealmakers Forum’s latest announcement (see official site) was very reminiscent of this. While the patent opportunists rejoice, rational people are somewhat shocked. When your keynote comes from the world’s largest patent troll, what does it say about your forum? To quote this press release, “Intellectual Ventures Founder and Chief Technology Officer Edward Jung to Keynote” (they can’t really have a technology officer because they have no products, there is no technology).

“Surely there is a problem with patent trolls in the US, but a lot of this stems from the introduction and expansion of software patents.”Speaking of patent trolls, we are seeing software patents being used by them again. An entity called Virtual Gaming Technologies, LLC has just filed three separate patent infringement complaints. As Forbes put it, “lawsuits against DraftKings and FanDuel keep piling up, with over 25 federal actions filed against each since the start of October. Now a new type of complaint has been submitted against the daily fantasy sports operators based on a claim of patent infringement, and Fox Sports has been added to the mix.”

Surely there is a problem with patent trolls in the US, but a lot of this stems from the introduction and expansion of software patents. We are now getting the same nuisance in Europe. The EPO is at least partly to blame for this. The EPO’s management doesn’t even seem to mind.

So-Called ‘Trade’ Treaties Like TPP and TTIP Threaten to Legalise Software Patents in Europe and Even Effectively Ban Software Freedom/Copyleft

Posted in GPL, Law, Patents at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trading the world for money and power

World trade

Summary: Revelations about the world’s largest secret collusions teach us about what rich and powerful people have in store for software patents, Free/libre software, and digital sharing economies

TECHRIGHTS does not and has not written much about so-called ‘trade’ agreements such as TPP and TTIP (there are several more, usually affecting other countries/continents). It’s not because the subject is not important but because we must focus on a narrower spectrum of topics, including the European UPC. News about ‘trade’ agreements usually just ends up in our daily links, under “Leftovers”, so it’s not being ignored.

We’re living in an age when if those in power commit crimes against millions of people (not just wars of conquest abroad but also domestic wars on the local population with its diminishing rights), they just simply rewrite the law to legalise these crimes after the act (e.g. CISA and Investigatory Powers Bill) and if there is something that bothers them (e.g. law-abiding citizens who are activists) or threatens their monopolies (anonymity-wielding protesters, software freedom etc.), they will simply try to demonise or altogether ban those things. It means we must always stay very vigilant and fight back, at the very least by informing peers.

It is becoming increasingly hard to overlook or ignore the impact of these aforementioned ‘trade’ agreements because the EPO‘s President meddles in them, as we showed less than a couple of days ago.

Benjamin Henrion, a longtime activist against software patents (especially in Europe), has noticed some rather disturbing things in the relevant TPP chapters, which Jamie Love has looked at and explained.

“This looks like it was composed by lobbyists of Free software foes, e.g. Microsoft.”“TPP chapter on software presumes software is patentable in the first place,” Henrion noted, pointing to this curious article titled “TPP has provision banning requirements to transfer or or access to source code of software”. In section 4 it says: “his Article shall not be construed to affect requirements that relate to patent applications or granted patents, including any orders made by a judicial authority in relation to patent disputes, subject to safeguards against unauthorised disclosure under the law or practice of a Party.”

This looks like it was composed by lobbyists of Free software foes, e.g. Microsoft.

“The TPP chaoter on software is basically trumping licences like the GPL with contract law,” Henrion later added. “Am I right?”

“Software patents boundaries will be challenged through ISDS courts and TPP,” Henrion added and Glyn Moody, who has become quite an expert in this area having covered it for years, responded with “same will be true under #TTIP: will be effectively impossible to remove *any* area from patentability – eg #swpats [software patents].”

The article in question is this one, which says: “Instead of combatting the ability to bring cases such as Eli Lilly’s, the TPP’s investment chapter invites them. Any time a national court – including in the U.S. – invalidates a wrongfully granted patent or other intellectual property right, the affected company could appeal that revocation to foreign arbitrators. The new language would also make clear that private companies are empowered by the treaty to challenge limitations and exceptions like the U.S. fair use doctrine, or individual applications of it. Adoption of this set of rules in the largest regional trade agreement of its kind would upset the international intellectual property legal system and should be subject to the most rigorous and open debate in every country where it is being considered.”

There is also this about TRIPS: “The investment chapter provisions on prohibited performance requirements includes a number of exemptions for intellectual property rights, compulsory licenses to patents under Article 31 of the TRIPS or for copyright, or remedies to anti-competitive practice, that protect U.S. state practice in those areas.”

It is imperative that people everywhere become familiar with these to-be-signed treaties before they are signed (if ever). It’s like ACTA from the back door and even if corporate media doesn’t write so much about it, this doesn’t make it any less important or urgent a matter. It’s often that case that the corporate media covers up (if it covers at all) and misleads the public about these treaties. At the end of the day we know who wants to see these treaties passed and at whose expense these can become a reality. It’s class warfare.

“There’s been class warfare for the last 20 years, and my class has won.”

Warren Buffett

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