12.18.15

EPI Silently Removes Criticism of the European Patent Office/Organisation, Techrights Preserves It

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPI’s deleted page

EPI deleted page

Summary: The European Patent Institute (EPI) mysteriously takes down its Web page which politely suggested that the EPO should soften its heavy-handed moves against boards and staff/unions

WE ALREADY know that Benoît Battistelli’s EPO has escalated its war on information to threats or retaliation against publishers, potentially impacting some of the world's largest.

“What does this say about the EPI?”As recently as one day ago the EPI presented criticism of the EPO (shown above, except the older enclosed PDF and the latest PDF). Well, the EPI has just removed its criticism of the EPO from its site (we also tested the CMS to ensure that this was definitely a deletion and not some technical error). What does this say about the EPI? Did the EPO get in touch? Perhaps some members? Why the sudden self-censorship?

We first became aware of this because of the following comment that said: “There is a very strange new trend of webpages suddenly disappearing. I just turned up the following in a Google Search… And then I went and clicked on the link: http://patentepi.com/de/epi/news/24 And what did I get [...] An Error Occurred… The server returned a “404 Not Found”… Something is broken. Please let us know what you were doing when this error occurred. We will fix it as soon as possible. Sorry for any inconvenience caused. ”

“Sadly for EPI, self-censorship or attempts to censor another party often have the opposite (and undesirable to the censor) effect.”A later comment pointed to Google cache and another comment said: “Here you are. Google does not forget…”

Sadly for EPI, self-censorship or attempts to censor another party often have the opposite (and undesirable to the censor) effect. We wouldn’t be shocked if, now that people publicly embarrass the EPI and restore the deleted page by making mirrors/copies, the EPI itself will put it back online and pretend it was all just an accident (this is a common face-saving routine).

EPO Irrelevancy, Two Decades to be Granted an EPO Patent, Outrage Over Patents on Plants in EPO

Posted in Europe, Marketing, Patents at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Besieged from many directions, the EPO can’t just ignore bad news, only attempt to bury these by manufacturing ‘good’ (somewhat faked) messages to be embedded in news sites

EPO PR

Summary: A roundup of this week’s news (with focus on late week in particular), serving to show what the EPO’s management is really up against when it comes to shifting public opinion

Benoît Battistelli’s EPO has paid truly outrageous amounts of money to seed the press with positive publicity. It’s more or less clear why Battistelli wants and needs that. The EPO has become a byword for gross institutional abuse not just in Europe but internationally. Battistelli paid nearly a million dollars for an international firm (based in Washington) to whitewash the EPO in a period of one year. That’s almost $100,000 a month in out-of-the-ordinary (additional) PR budget. Good use of budget? What next, private limousines for Battistelli? There are rumours that he wants these too, having gotten tired of just private bodyguards.

Battistelli’s focus (as of late) on PR has been rather gross or crude. The greenwashing aside (it’s now a fortnight old), there is the “compliance” spin right now. Here is a new puff piece derived from this EPO spin, as covered here the other day. What is this, “media presence” again?

“The EPO has become a byword for gross institutional abuse not just in Europe but internationally.”Let’s look at some real news, not regurgitation of official press releases (seeded in epo.org and probably sent en masse to thousands of lazy journalists all across Europe). After the press release about the Unitary Patent (which the EPO openly lobbies for) we even found this article whose headline can be translated into “Unitary patent system in the EU on the spot” (according to EPO). Is this the desired outcome of the PR campaign? Either way, it only tells part of the story and is an effort at self-fulfilling prophecies.

Days ago in PTAB Watch we spotted this article which said: “With respect to the European patent, despite the acknowledgement by the PTAB that laws and rules are different in Europe, and a previous PTAB decision (Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. v. Emerachem Holdings, LLC, Case IPR2014-01557, slip op. at 15 (PTAB Mar. 16, 2015) (Paper 13)) that held that whatever happened in the European Patent Office (“EPO”) is essentially irrelevant, the Board determined that the European prosecution history evidence was probative of whether a cited reference is analogous art to the patent under review, and admitted the evidence for this limited purpose. The Board also determined that the post-dated publications submitted in District Court litigation that discussed terms and features recited in the claims were relevant to show how the Patent Owner had been interpreting its claims during proceedings to enforce the patent.”

“The thing about the EPO is, it’s going nowhere fast and heading into irrelevancy.”The significance of this in light the recent events and the context (see full article for details) is that there’s not much respect for the EPO’s judgment. As the article put it, “whatever happened in the European Patent Office (“EPO”) is essentially irrelevant” (irrelevancy or irrelevance imply there is no perceived superiority over the decisions or judgments in the US).

The thing about the EPO is, it’s going nowhere fast and heading into irrelevancy. Battistelli has accelerated this by orders of magnitude because the dysfunction increased in many areas (or aspects) and new areas of dispute emerged; it used to be mostly about patent scope. Not many people would bother pursuing patents at the EPO unless it maintains a high enough quality to justify the high cost. The EPO charges a lot of money (application and renewal fees from applicants) for several examiners to examine together/simultaneously, but the Office still rushes the process (speed over accuracy). No wonder EPO patents such as those granted to Apple are later -- once scrutinised by a court -- get invalidated. It serves to show that Battiselli’s approach shames the Office and harms its reputation.

“19 years to be granted a patent!”Eversheds International, an international legal practice, mentioned the EPO a couple of times yesterday [1, 2], reminding us of Baxter's notorious patent application at the EPO.

Eversheds wrote: “The patent was only granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) on 27 November 2013, despite having been filed on 9 July 1994, with a priority date of 19 July 1993. The extraordinarily long examination stage (19 years), meant that the period of effective patent protection was less than 1 year. Had a SPC been granted, its duration would have been approximately 3.5 years, a highly desirable extension to the term of patent protection.”

Got that?

“In Twitter too we were told by lawyers about patents which took two decades to process, so the above is not an isolated incident.”19 years to be granted a patent! Some people complain about applications taking ten years. In Twitter too we were told by lawyers about patents which took two decades to process, so the above is not an isolated incident. People right here in the UK experience the same thing when they apply at the EPO.

More interesting in the media right now is actually the response of (real) journalists to this statement from the Parliament. The EPO is under attack from the European Parliament because it compromised patent scope/quality for the sake of short-term profit.

One new article says: “A ban on the patenting of products obtained by conventional breeding techniques, such as crossing, is essential to sustain innovation, food security and small businesses, says a non-legislative resolution voted by the European Parliament on 17 December.”

“This is a good example of patent scope gone awry for the sake of profit and protectionism for large corporations such as Monsanto.”EPO is being shamed in this article, which is one among many (some non-English sites have covered this too). EUbusiness wrote about it and noted that “No Patents on Seeds! is an international coalition of civil society organisations. It recently published a report containing an overview of patents granted by the EPO and a legal analysis. The report further highlights the need for more political action.

“The call made by the international coalition No Patents on Seeds! to stop these patents has the support of several hundred organisations all over Europe. The coalition No Patents on Seeds! is supported by Arche Noah (Austria), Bionext (Netherlands), The Berne Declaration (Switzerland), GeneWatch (UK), Greenpeace, Misereor (Germany), Development Fund (Norway), NOAH (Denmark), No Patents on Life (Germany), ProSpecieRara (Switzerland), Red de Semillas (Spain), Rete Semi Rurali (Italy), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France) and Swissaid (Switzerland). They are all calling for a revision of European Patent Law to exclude breeding material, breeding processes, plants and animals, their characteristics, their genetic components, the harvest and food derived thereof from patentability.”

“The latter involves Gillette, so we cannot help recalling the intervention of Željko Topić regarding razor blades in Croatia.”This is a good example of patent scope gone awry for the sake of profit and protectionism for large corporations such as Monsanto. Some companies are now spreading press releases about EPO patents on drugs and there are articles about US patents as they’re being used for protectionism and monopoly (to protect a notorious business model). The latter involves Gillette, so we cannot help recalling the intervention of Željko Topić regarding razor blades in Croatia.

Benoît Battistelli: “An Earthquake Would be Needed for the Administrative Council… Not to Support My Major Proposals.”

Posted in Europe, Meeting, Patents at 2:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team Battistelli (high-level EPO management) is trying to shoot — metaphorically like a sniper — Elizabeth Hardon, a staff representative (apparently a “major proposal”)

Aim

Summary: Sessions of the Administrative Council dissected; Reports from the Office serve to show how grim things have become for all staff unions, not just SUEPO

FOR anyone still in doubt about Benoît Battistelli’s megalomania, we humbly suggest the first, second and third part of this ongoing series (together with the teaser) as preparatory reading. The EPO has become somewhat of a laughing stock because the President of the EPO not only stomps on the law but also brags about it. That’s the hallmark of sadistic tyrants — those who view themselves as kings of the universe (which nobody is allowed to disagree with, no matter how high up). Famous examples include Stalin, who made a habit of ‘vanishing’ his perceived opposition.

“Il faudrait un tremblement de terre pour que le conseil d’administration, où chacun des 35 États membres a une voix, n’accorde pas son soutien aux propositions majeures.”
      –Benoît Battistelli
Today’s situation report, which is circulating among EPO staff, reveals how atrocious things have become inside the EPO. It begins with a quote from the infamous Usine Nouvelle interview from 2012 where Battistelli bragged how free of any constraints he is. Or in other words, how totally unaccountable he is. To quote the original (in French): «Il faudrait un tremblement de terre pour que le conseil d’administration, où chacun des 35 États membres a une voix, n’accorde pas son soutien aux propositions majeures.»

That’s from Battistelli’s own mouth. Translation from French-speaking people (whom we have been in touch with) would be: “An earthquake would be needed for the Administrative Council, where each of the 35 member states has one vote, not to support my major proposals.”

Amazing, isn’t it? Until you consider what Battistelli’s character is like…

Based on some comments that we are seeing in IP Kat right now, Team Battistelli is fast-tracking the union-busting ahead of Christmas, even a week ahead of Christmas Eve.

One recent comment says: “Battistelli was told by the council to renew social dialogue and stop harassing the representatives of the personal and he was, apparently, told privately by the French and Dutch delegations to stop the ongoing disciplinary procedures but he is still in post. What will he do next?

“There are 3 members of the staff union who are attacked in Munich. I think that all 3 hearings have been rushed through this week, so that the president can publish his 3 decisions before the end of the year. From what has been published from the procedure, it is obvious that this is a mock trial. There are simply too many procedural violations for the procedure to be believable.

“Battistelli was told by the council to renew social dialogue and stop harassing the representatives of the personal and he was, apparently, told privately by the French and Dutch delegations to stop the ongoing disciplinary procedures but he is still in post.”
      –Anonymous
“Will the president do what he was told by the council, stop the disciplinary procedures and reintegrate the 3 representatives? Or will he show the council that they are powerless to stop him and fire all 3 nevertheless?

“He can stop the disciplinary procedures, the service regulations allow him to do so. The disciplinary committees can find all 3 guilty, the president is still allowed to ignore their findings and reintegrate the 3 representatives. This is what he was explicitly instructed to do so any other decision will be contrary to the instructions of the council.”

Battistelli has been trying to halt communications so that they can do mock trials in secret. As another commenter put it: “What a pity that Merkel has failed to report on a fifth “remarkable” letter:

“Battistelli has been trying to halt communications so that they can do mock trials in secret.”“Namely, the “warning letter” sent by the President of the EPO to the Chair of the Presidium (VP3) telling him to be careful about contacts between the Presidium and the AC which had not received prior authorisation from the President of the EPO.

“Now that’s a letter that would make interesting reading.”

Remember how politely the Presidium of the Boards put it. It has since then been cited by at least 3 formal complaint letters [1, 2, 3].

Based on the latest comments in IP Kat, some people are still not sure what happened in the meetings/sessions which started and ended this week. We have some yet-unverified claims (pertaining to boards and unions), but based on the following report, this is what actually happened and it’s similar to what commenters in IP Kat had predicted:

I- Earthquake?

Fact is that during this Session, the AC has unambiguously criticised and NOT “given its support” to no less than 3 “major proposals”:

1. …the opening speech gave the opportunity to delegations to express their disagreement with the analysis of the President on the situation in the Office

2. the Tax-adjustment was purely and simply rejected

3. the paper on Orientations for the structural reform of the EPO Boards of Appeal was purely removed overnight from the agenda (see point II)

4. even the review of the service regulation did not make it on the agenda and an overnight reworked revised version was only accepted after controversial discussions

It may not solve our urgent problems directly but the above seems to indicate that if not an earthquake, major tremors have emanated from the AC epicentre.

After 3 AC sessions during which delegations expressed subtle warnings though means of abstentions and critical remark, their message is now less diplomatic and this president has been stopped for the first time ever.

One can hope that clear instructions have also been issued by the AC regarding how to deal with the staff, the staff representation and the suspended colleagues, as some of the statements in plenum seem to indicate, but nothing is less than sure. And one can hope that the powerful will not vent their frustration on those the powerless staff they administer (see point IV below).

II- DG3 reforms: “Gimme that toy before you break it entirely…”

As mentioned above, after the Confidential session, the reform was removed from the agenda and replaced by an exchange of view in plenum. It essentially suggests that the B28 is put in charge of this dossier and comes, after another consultation, with a reviewed proposal.

Surprisingly, it is the Swiss delegation by the voice of Mr. Grossenbacher, that seems to have taken the lead* in reformulating the reform proposal. As a side note, it is remarkable, since the present administration is the very product of this powerful man sitting a AC president for years and who has initially suggested the whole HR reforms and what many call and “autocratic” management style rolled out by the present administration: a “Brutus-situation” the other way around?

In essence, the proposal seemingly should be refocused on the following elements (to paraphrase the Swiss delegate):

1. “The seat issue is less important. It appears to us irrelevant. The Boards of Appeal can stay where they are, in the Isar building. This costs nothing and does not harm the independence.“

2. They suggest “to exclude The Cooling-Off Period”, preventing employment after EPO life.

3. For the appointment and reappointment of DG3 members, the right of appointment must be transferred to the President of the Board of Appeal.

4. The Rules of Procedure should not be proposed by the Office President.

5. The budget should be prepared to be then submitted to the Council as in CA/16/15

6. The Board of Appeal Committee should be established by the Council alone. The Committee serves to foster dialogue. The decisions should be taken by the Council. Six members should have the Committee, three by the Council and three from the Boards of Appeal. No observer, but the President of the Boards of Appeal and others can be invited.

7. The wage system should be committed to performance however, the modalities of which should be worked on later however, handling should remain solely with the President of the Boards of Appeal.

8. The timeframe: new proposal by March 2016.

It is too early to comment on the new direction but so much seems clear: it seems to have changed towards insuring truly more independence. However, in the light on the complexity of the issue we can simply wish them good luck with this challenging timetable.

III- Suspense and suspension: ad vitam eternam is removed but…

The original reform proposal regulating the suspension of staff (Art.95, planned by Mr. Battistelli to be without limitation in time) was replaced overnight. The revised version tabled lead to somewhat confused or confusing discussions in plenum as the new wording was discovered by many during the session. The final document can be found now on MICADO.

In essence, the delegations recognised the problem with having a 4 months time-limit for employees nominated by the AC, which seems incompatible with the rhythm of 3 to 4 planned plenary sessions per year but seem to have understood that the removal of any maximum time limit is abusive. It is thus suggested to keep the 4 months for all staff and as a compromise change it to up to 24 months for appointees of the AC. In how far, such a legal uncertainty for a judge is seen as adequate by the delegations seems well above my pay-grade…

On the retroactivity on running cases – which leads this reform to be dubbed by some outside observers as a special rule exclusively targeting the suspended DG3 judge – the debate was heated: some delegations considered the legality of such a proposal “questionable” and in fine, it led to DE and NL to vote against the proposal. All considered, the proposal found a large majority with 32 in favour, 2 against (DE, NL) and 4 abstentions (GR, SK, SE, FR).

IV- Lost in suspension: “and the winner is…”

Wednesday and Thursday the Member States representatives made certainly a remarkable step towards taking concrete actions. Today is Friday and “real-life” goes on with its train of bad news… The dust has not settled yet and the Disciplinary Committees are taking the next steps on very practical cases, touching the lives of colleagues who should be focusing on Christmas and their families or friends instead.

The bad news is that the Disciplinary committees seem to work as if nothing happened. In the first concrete case of Ms. Elizabeth Hardon the recommendation has fallen and is unambiguous. We can unfortunately expect her dismissal at short notice. Under these conditions, little hope remains for the other two colleagues who are still expecting terrific news.

The next week will tell us if the president has been given clear instructions or only polite indications during the Administrative Council.

But honestly, hope is slim that these colleagues are given a chance to a fair trial given the procedure so far.

V- Personal comments: it can’t go on like this, this is not a life!

[...] the staff representation office-wide has been decimated and many of its actors are getting at a point where they are either sick, suspended, resigned or Els(e)… This cannot go on.

Statistically spoken, as can be seen from the paper “Social Democracy: Staff Representation dismantling is on track!” we used to have ca. 200 staff members working on behalf of Staff representation in the past with an average of ca. 40 men years. It represented in 2012 a total of 8900 days, e.g. a yearly 1,2 day per staff member. Now the December Dashboard shows EXCATLY 3281 days, e.g. less than 0,46 day per staff member. Such statistics mean preciously little when you live it but they can be a pale indication to an outsider.

The EPO makes no secret of the fact that it not interested in the Staff opinion and even less its staff representation but everybody knows that already.

That fact per se is dangerous enough for any institution. Evolution has shown that an organism without feedback loops is bound to fail.

My opinion is to let people work under these conditions is grossly negligent.

And, as in the above mentioned cases, attacking them at the same me is purely and simply criminal. (if not legally than at least morally)

In short, it seems likely that the EPO will officially fire a staff representative for allegedly speaking to a blogger (not me), allegedly speaking to a judge, and something about "sniper" (just a cheap personal attack on the accused). This serves as a warning shot or — pardon the pun — sniping of a staff representative to scare all others. If this doesn’t constitute union-busting, what is?

“Battistelli was trouble for the EPO all along.”Battistelli must be furious that his power over the delegates is rapidly eroding, so he looks for a scapegoat and tries to demonstrate his alleged superpower in order to restore his old reign of terror. History teaches that moves such as these are short-lived and doomed to fail. But who are the sacrificial lambs to be martyred?

Battistelli was trouble for the EPO all along. It’s him and his new high-level recruits that need to go, not the decades-long representatives of staff, whose endorsement/popularity among staff was very much evident in recent public protests.

Battistelli’s Furious Love Affair With French Power: Part III

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ÉNASummary: A deeper look at Benoît Battistelli’s ÉNA connections, rise to power at the EPO, and the “two Alpha males in the room [who] don’t always listen,” according to Alison Brimelow (the previous President) before she stepped down

THE first and second part of this series (together with the teaser) highlighted the concentration of power around current (not just former) EPO President, Mr. Battistelli. We went back in time to his INPI days and also some of his professional connections, education (ÉNA), etc. We are hoping to show readers what makes Battistelli so confident and unafraid of public scrutiny. This series will culminate in the fourth part (next week), so today we hope to just share some input we have received during the week, in response to the first couple of parts.

One E-mail referred to EPO-ÉNA overlap. It told me, “thank you for the excellent investigation work. Here a document that may be of interest.”

It’s about Pierre Mendès France and ÉNA-based promotions (janvier 1976/mai 1978). Looking at the English article in Wikipedia, he was somewhat of an anti-imperialism person and this Wikipedia article speaks about École nationale d’administration role in promotion of all sorts of people. Among the notable alumni or connections which we had listed to us were the following individuals (which would probably mean something mostly to our French readers):

M. Ronny ABRAHAM

M. Jérôme ADAM

M. Jack ALZON

M. François ARCANGELI

M. Jacques ARRIGHI-DE-CASANOVA

M. Jean-François AUBY

M. Marc-Antoine AUTHEMAN

M. Jean-Marie AUVINET-Jean-Marie

M. Dominique BABIN-Dominique

M. Bertrand BACHE-Bertrand

M. Jacques BACHELIN-Jacques

M. Claude BALLADE-Claude

M. Jean-François BALTHAZAR-Jean-Francois

M. Eric BARRAULT-Eric

M. François BARRY-MARTIN-DELONGCHAMPS-Francois

Mme Christine BARTHET

M. Benoît BATTISTELLI-Benoit

M. Edouard BERLET-Edouard

M. Georges BERTHU-Georges

Mme Geneviève BERTRAND-Genevieve

M. Pierre-Etienne BISCH-Pierre-Etienne

M. Henri-Charles BLANC-Henri-Charles

M. Xavier BLANDIN-Xavier

M. Pierre BLAYAU-Pierre

M. Jean-François BOITTIN-Jean-Francois

M. Claude BONNET-Claude

M. Alain BOROWSKI-Alain

M. Alain BOURDELAT-Alain

M. Antoine BOUSQUET-Antoine

M. Hervé BREHIER-Herve

M. François BURDEYRON-Francois

M. Daniel CADOUX-Daniel

M. Philippe CALAVIA-Philippe

M. Daniel CANEPA-Daniel

M. Paul-Marie CHAVANNE-Paul-Marie

M. Bernard COCHEME-Bernard

M. Etienne COFFIN-Etienne

M. Charles COPPOLANI-Charles

M. Jean-Paul CORDEAU-Jean-Paul

M. Jean-François CORDET-Jean-Francois

M. Jean-Paul COSTE-Jean-Paul

M. François COUSIN-Francois

M. Henry CUNY-Henry

Mme Yvonne CUVIER-Yvonne

M. Henri-Jérôme DEGRELLE

M. Yann DELABRIERE-Yann

M. Dominique DELAUNAY-Dominique

M. Denis DELBOURG-Denis

Mme Marie-Christine DEMORTIER-Marie-Christine

M. Philippe DESLANDES-Philippe

M. François DESPORTES-Francois

M. Christian DIDIER-Christian

M. Robert DOMENGET-Robert

M. Francis DOUBLET-Francis

M. Alain DOYELLE-Alain

M. Michel DUCLOS-Michel

M. Jean-Michel DUMOND-Jean-Michel

M. Jean-Yves DUPUIS-Jean-Yves

M. Patrice DURAND-Patrice

M. Pierre DUVERNEY-GUICHARD

M. Jean-Marc ESPALIOUX-Jean-Marc

M. Bela FARAGO-Bela

M. Pascal FATON-Pascal

M. Gilbert FAUBERT

M. Claude FAURE-Claude

M. Guillaume FERRY-Guillaume-de

M. René FORCEVILLE-Rene

M. Patrice FORGET-Patrice

M. Christian FORMAGNE-Christian

M. José FRECHES-Jose

Mme Anne-Marie FROMENT-MEURICE-Anne-Marie

Mme Michèle GALLOT-Michele

M. Antoine GEORGES-PICOT-Antoine

M. Jacques GERARD-Jacques

M. Michel GIES-Michel

M. Eric GIUILY-Eric

M. Jean-Noël GIULIANI-Jean-Noel

M. Christian GOURNAY-Christian-de

M. Philippe GREGOIRE-Philippe

M. Serge GROSS-Serge

Mme Annick GUERBER-LE-GALL-Annick

Mme Isabelle HAUSSER-DUCLOS-Isabelle

M. Jean-Pierre HEMMERY-Jean-Pierre

M. Paul HERMELIN-Paul

Mme Véronique HESPEL-Veronique

M. François JACLOT-Francois

M. Bruno JOUBERT-Bruno,3080>)

M. Jean-François KRAFT-Jean-Francois

M. Louis KREISS-Louis

M. Antoine LABBE-Antoine

M. Bruno LASSERRE-Bruno

M. Michel LAVENSEAU-Michel

Mme Bettina LAVILLE-Bettina

M. Jean-Pierre LE COURT

M. Alain LEFOULON-Alain

M. Hervé LEHERISSEL-Herve

M. Bernard LEMAIRE-Bernard

M. François LE-PULOCH-Francois

M. Bertrand LEROY-Bertrand

M. Pierre LETOCART-Pierre

Mme Marianne LEVY-ROSENWALD-Marianne

M. Denis LOUDENOT-Denis

M. Yves MAGNE-Yves

M. Etienne MARIE-Etienne

M. Jean-Michel MARLAUD-Jean-Michel

M. Yves MARMION-Yves

M. Arsène MATTY-Arsene

M. Gérard MESTRALLET-Gerard

Mme Bénédicte MONROE-Benedicte

M. Gérard MOULIN-Gerard

Mme Monique MOUSSEAU-Monique

M. Henri ODART-DE-RILLY-DOYSONVILLE-Henri

M. Patrick OLIVIER-Patrick

M. Marc OLLIVIER-Marc

Mme Dominique PAGANT-Dominique

M. Bernard PAYS-Bernard

M. Michel PELISSIER-Michel

M. Jacques PERREAULT-Jacques

M. René PICON-DUPRE-Rene

M. Michel PINAULDT-Michel

M. Marc PINGUET-Marc

M. Bertrand POPLU-Bertrand

Mme Bérengère QUINCY-Berengere

M. Bruno RAIFAUD-Bruno

M. Gérard RAMEIX-Gerard

M. Philippe REY-Philippe

M. Claude REYNOIRD-Claude

M. Jean de RIBES-Jean-de

M. François RIEGERT-Francois

M. Yvon ROE-DALBERT-Yvon

M. Patrick ROUSSEL-Patrick

M. François ROUSSELY-Francois

M. Jacques ROUVIERE-Jacques

M. Alexis RUSET-Alexis

M. Gilles SANSON-Gilles

M. Thierry SCHWARZ-Thierry

Mme Marie-Paule SERRE-Marie-Paule

M. Hervé SOULIE-Herve

M. Pierre SOUTOU-Pierre

M. Jean-François STOLL-Jean-Francois

Mme Muriel SZILBER de SZILBEREKY-Muriel

Mme Annie TARGA-Annie

M. Yves TERRASSE-Yves

M. Jean-Marc TEULIERES-Jean-Marc

M. Bertrand THONNARD DU TEMPLE (Bernard ?)

M. Hervé THOUROUDE-Herve

M. Henri TOUTEE-Henri

M. Michel TOUVEREY-Michel

M. Jean-Maurice VERBOIS-Jean-Maurice

M. Jean-Louis VERGNOLLE-Jean-Louis

M. François VEVERKA-Francois

M. Philippe de VILLIERS-Philippe

M. Claude WARNET-Claude

M. Philippe ZELLER-Philippe

French readers have been writing to us about École nationale d’administration (always in relation to Battistelli). They have done so for well over a year now. Very well-educated individuals are wary and concerned about the role that École nationale d’administration plays in French and international politics. Sources for the above names include, e.g. [1, 2]. In case any of our French-speaking readers can add some context about the relation (if any) of the above individuals to the European Parliament, EPO and/or Battistelli, we would very much appreciate it, in preparation for this series’ finale.

“I wanted to send you some background snippets about Battistelli,” one reader told us, “in particular public blog entries circa 2010 deploring the horse trading that surrounded his election, as well as his immediate predecessors’.

“Still need to get this in shape,” the reader added, “it’s not a lot, but it would complete the picture. There was also Alison Brimelow’s in-house announcement that she wouldn’t seek reelection in 2010. The text mentioned “two alpha males” in the AC/Board28 which made her life difficult. There should be very little doubt about the identity of one of them…”

Consider how Battistelli treats delegates who aren't 100% in agreement with him.

“The other target of Mrs. Brimelow’s comment could be either Roland Grossenbacher [Switzerland], or Jesper Kongstad [Denmark], but I’m not 100% sure.”

We would like to add, referring back to the second part of this series, that there are indirect connections between a former President (Alain Pompidou) and Battistelli. The main connection is in French high society and implicates Christine Lagarde.

A reader remarked on our previous article by saying: “Regarding your characterisation of the École nationale d’administration as something of a “school for spoiled rich brats”, a sort of Gallic “Bullingdon club”: I think this appraisal is quite a bit off the mark, and requires qualification.

“The ÉNA’s purpose is to be an elite school for producing elite public administrators. As the title of a French TV film suggests, it is an “école du pouvoir” – a place where you learn to wield power.

“It was a fictionalised story on the ascent of a few twentysomethings of Battistelli’s generation in the late 1970s, whose profiles resembled those of the likes of François Hollande, Ségolène Royal or Dominique de Villepin.

“Incidentally, the British script-writer Kosminsky once made a film on Tony Blair’s rise to power, and Haitian director Peck films about the infamous Tontons Macoutes or the murder of Patrice Lumumba.

“It is somewhat comparable to a business school like Harvard or Wharton, or certain Oxbridge schools as a ticket to a career in Whitehall.

“To get in the ÉNA, you must get through a grueling set of examinations, and once you’re in you’re quite literally in a rat race for the best exit ranking, decided on hidden and arbitrary criteria, but which could let you choose the plummest jobs available in the civil service.

“This kind of place does attract people who viscerally like power and/or money. Did I write “striver”? Sorry… It is also accused of breeding conformism.

“Is this Battistelli’s vision for the EPO?

“Several books, have been written on this institution, and their tone is usually very critical. I particularly like the title of a recent one by an ÉNA graduate: “Promotion Ubu Roi“, which incidentally echoes one of Battistelli’s many in-house nicknames “Ubustelli”.

“Having money to begin with doesn’t help per se, but to an offspring of teachers or ÉNA alumni does. This is essentially an example of what sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called “reproduction sociale”.

“The formal teaching curriculum of the two-year program is widely judged to be utterly worthless. What you really learn in the various paid internships are people, networking, behavioural codes and the human pecking order. And possibly a certain ruthlessness…

“To get in you can sit one of two entrance examinations, one for people who are already in the civil service, and another one who are external candidates that come either straight out of university or have professional experience. There are apparently special rules which dispense the candidate of some requirements if he is already a graduate of some other French elite school.

“Battistelli first attended “Sciences Po”, which translates to “Institute for Political Studies”. It is regarded as the standard path to get into ÉNA.

“I see it as a kind of university-level prep school. Even though the education there is generally good in its own right, a science/technical school it is definitively not.”

Putting ÉNA aside for the moment, it’s worth getting deeper into the days of Battistelli’s appointment.

“Alison Brimelow’s in-house blog announcement,” told us one source, can possibly be retrieved “from early May 2009.” If someone can send it to us the original, that would be valuable. In it, we’re told, “there was no greeting or introduction, that’s the way it went” (below).

Well, I broke the news to a rather surprised Board 28 on Wednesday before the start of the formal agenda…the chair asked ‘why are you telling us today?’ which in turn surprised me, and I said ‘Because there is a Board 28 meeting…’ The concept of parallel universes came to mind, not for the first time in my experience of the EPO.

First, thank you for the many kind and understanding reactions to the news. But I also hear that the brevity of my announcement has upset/puzzled some of you. Well, first I like brevity. Second, whatever I might have added, the speculation and embroidering would have carried on, so I thought I might as well leave room for it. Any major decision like this rests on a collection of ‘pro x’ and ‘anti x’ issues and turning that into a simple ‘because ‘ is in my view pointless, and misleading.

The Board 28 was pretty difficult, because we have two Alpha males in the room and they don’t always listen. There is also a feeling that for now at least short term taken precedence over the strategic. But other members are more helpful and supportive. The fact is that Member States have strongly divergent views on funding, but some deny that this is the case. That offers the office some room for manoeuvre.

In the evening I went to the ballet, because I foresaw that I might benefit from some diversion at the end of such a day. It was ‘Le Corsaire’, and absolutely wonderful. The Staatsballett is fortunate in having some very strong dancers, especially the men, and the ballet showed all their talent and energy. Having a lively sense of humour however, I couldn’t avoid being reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean. Somebody told me today, ‘the good thing about ballet is that you can’t hear the words’…perhaps a lesson here for life in the European Patent Organisation? Concentrate on what happens, not what is said.

Talking of hearing words, Thursday ended with the well attended Europatag at the Isar Building, and my speech was about working together in difficult times. Indeed.

Enjoy the weekend.

“Alpha males,” as Brimelow called them, will be the subject of our next post (outside this series).

Links 18/12/2015: Linux in Blockchain and Red Hat’s Good Results

Posted in News Roundup at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Embrace Open Source Software, For the Good of Nerdmanity

    Software analysts at Deutsche Bank AG -5.56% recently sent around a list of 2016 predictions, and one caught my eye: “Open source keeps eating the world.” Open source is more-or-less free software that developers share with each other for the good of nerdmanity.

  • Top 5 open source frameworks every application developer should know

    Given the insane variety of superb open source frameworks available, I picked our top 5 open source frameworks of 2015 not from a single ranked order, but from all levels of the stack. (For front-ends, I focused on the web and, still more narrowly, true client-side frameworks—simply because browsers and mobile devices are growing increasingly capable, and because SPAs [single page applications] and the like avoid sending data over the wire unnecessarily.)

  • 3 open source genealogy tools for mapping your family tree

    Genealogy, the study of family histories, is a popular pastime for millions of people worldwide. Individuals seeking to learn more about their pedigree or simply discover more about their family’s past have built vibrant communities of like-minded (and possibly related) individuals to help each other play historical detective and track down the missing links in their chain of ancestry.

    Fortunately, to assist in this historical sleuthing and help to organize all of the important names, dates, and documents which paint the picture of their kinship, amateur and professional genealogists alike have access to a slew of software tools. Providing a number of different features, and running on a variety of platforms, family tree researchers can choose between many options to meet their needs, and many of these choices are open source and usable on a Linux operating system.

  • Yahoo open-sources Anthelion web crawler for parsing structured data on HTML pages

    Yahoo today announced that it has released the source code for its Anthelion web crawler designed for parsing structured data from HTML pages under an open source license.

    Web crawling is at the very core of Yahoo, even though it has many other applications, including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Messenger, Flickr, and Tumblr. For Yahoo to share code in an area as competitive as web search is significant.

  • Yahoo open-sources Data Sketches algorithms for blazing fast counting and sorting

    Yahoo is announcing today that it has open-sourced algorithms for doing very quick and efficient computations on streams of data. The Java-based Data Sketches algorithms are now available for download on GitHub under an Apache License.

  • Internet access and privacy with FreedomBox

    Recently, I learned about FreedomBox, a personal server that allows you to use the Internet privately or in locations that have bad or no Internet connection. I was visiting Swecha, a non-profit in the Indian city of Hyderabad that is working to bring about social change with the use of free and open source software, as part of the Free Software Movement of India. The FreedomBox is a revolution in itself and a big part of their initiative.

    According to the open source operating system Debian wiki page, FreedomBox is a free software stack that is able to host applications like file sharing, shared calendaring, instant messaging, secure voice conference calling, blogs, and wikis. And, it can be installed on one of the supported hardware devices, installed on a standard Debian machine, or deployed on a virtual machine. FreedomBox has the ability to store data and provides secure instant messaging and voice conference calling that works on low bandwidth.

  • Publisher’s picks: 29 open source books for 2015
  • Why working openly works (even when it’s hard)

    When I talk about working openly, I mean that doing things “the open source way” is more than using an open source license (although clearly you must have one of those, too). Working openly means being public about your process, from start to finish, including all the messy bits in between.

  • BetConstruct’s Spring to be open source

    Spring offers a single gaming management environment that supports multiple products, with a range of management functions covering player management, accounts, payment systems, back-office users, permissions, currencies, languages, main reports and business performance.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromium 47 available for testing

        Chromium users of both architectures (32 e 64 bit), release 47.0.2526.80 is available for testing now. There are no major updates, you will probably notice the bookmark folders now are black instead of yellow. This can make them unreadable if you are using a dark theme. Developers are aware of that, if you want to follow the discussion just look at this ticket.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Users Can Now Watch Netflix HTML5 Video on Windows

        Netflix announced today that their HTML5 video player now supports Firefox on Windows Vista and later using Adobe’s new Primetime CDM (Content Decryption Module). This means Netflix fans can watch their favorite shows on Firefox without installing NPAPI plugins.

      • Compiling to WebAssembly: It’s Happening!

        WebAssembly is a new binary format for compilation to the web. It is in the process of being designed and implemented as we speak, in collaboration among the major browser vendors. Things are moving quickly! In this post we’ll show some of our recent progress with a deep dive into the toolchain side of WebAssembly.

      • Work Continues On WebAssembly For Low-Level, In-Browser Computing

        Work continues on the WebAssembly project that’s the joint effort by Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Apple to allow C/C++ (and potentially other languages) to target a virtual ISA that would be executed within the web-browser.

        WebAssembly is a virtual ISA designed around allowing portable code, compatibility across different browsers, a small download footprint, and other traits for effective client-side browser scripting. Much of WebAssembly’s development continues to happen on its LLVM back-end.

      • Mozilla rolls out Firefox version 43 for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android
  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack N and O Looking for a Name

      OpenStack release names are tied by context to the location of the design summit preceding the release. The next design summit is set to be held in Austin, Texas.

    • ​Firewalling the OpenStack cloud

      Securing the cloud is not easy. Now, Mirantis, the pure-play OpenStack business, and Palo Alto Networks, an important network security company, have joined forces to add firewalls via virtual network function (VNF) to Mirantis OpenStack. The partners claim this combination will protect “applications from cyber threats while taking advantage of the agility, cost savings, and innovation of the OpenStack cloud ecosystem.”

    • £5,400 worth of PostgreSQL training to be won

      The UK Met Office approved PostgreSQL as its preferred RDBMS, following an evaluation of alternatives. The decision was influenced by 2ndQuadrant training. Data Services Portfolio Technical Lead James Tomkins commented: “With the training we had from 2ndQuadrant we could feel the weight of expertise that came with Gianni [Dr Gianni Ciolli, tutor] and it was obvious he really knew his subject inside-out. It was an enormous confidence-building exercise and has been consistent with all of our interactions with 2ndQuadrant.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • An open source tool for every classroom need

      Students would often come to school with an assortment of file formats from software that was bundled with computers they or their parents had purchased in local stores. Supporting differing file formats was difficult, and by distributing OpenOffice (and later, LibreOffice) to students and teaching them how to save files in a format that they could share with their teachers was a boon.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Plotting Out the BSD Year

      What’s good to know is that BSD will be well-represented at both of these events. At SCALE 14x — which is the first-of-the-year FOSS event worldwide from Jan. 21-24, 2016, in Pasadena, Calif. — the FreeBSD Foundation (along with FreeBSD in its own booth, of course) will be there, as well as pfSense. What’s more, there’s a BSD certification exam being offered, as it has been for the last several years at SCALE. More on this in a later post.

    • LLVM Begins Looking At PKU Memory Protection Keys Support

      This week mainline LLVM received support for the PKU feature flag as prep work towards supporting the new RDPKRU and WRPKRU instructions for Intel’s forthcoming memory protection keys capabilities.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Guix starts fundraising campaign with support from the FSF
    • FSF announces fundraising support for GNU Guix, a new approach to GNU/Linux

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced that we would begin accepting donations as part of our support for GNU Guix, a dependable and customizable package manager, along with GuixSD, GNU’s advanced free GNU/Linux distribution. Donations will primarily go to increasing the project’s build farm capacity so it can manage the growing number of packages and users.

    • VCS friendly, patchable, document line wrapping

      If you do enough work in any sort of free software environment, you get used to doing lots of writing of documentation or all sorts of other things in some plaintext system which exports to some non-plaintext system. One way or another you have to decide: are you going to wrap your lines with newlines? And of course the answer should be “yes” because lines that trail all the way off the edge of your terminal is a sin against the plaintext gods, who are deceptively mighty, and whose wrath is to be feared (and blessings to be embraced). So okay, of course one line per paragraph is off the table. So what do you do?

    • TheSetup ChangeLog

      Of course, my setup has changed since 2012. Although the vast majority is still the same, there is a growing list of modifications and additions. To address this, I’ve been keeping a changelog on my wiki where I detail every major change and addition I’ve made to the setup that I described in the original interview.

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: December 18th
  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Node.js Version Chaos Management

      I’m just starting out in the world of development, and many of the projects I’m interested in exploring are written in Node.js. If you’re an old hand at such things, you already know that which version of Node you use on a particular application is vitally important. (This is actually one of the reasons Docker is so amazingly amazing when it comes to deploying Node apps, but I digress.)

  • Standards/Consortia

    • NIFO refines interoperability data collection

      The National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) community is making available on the Joinup platform an updated series of European countries factsheets and analytical models. The updates track interoperability initiatives in 2015, and refine scoring. They also describe more precisely the implementation and monitoring of the National Interoperability Frameworks (NIFs).

Leftovers

  • Don’t blame Marissa Mayer: Nobody was going to save Yahoo [Ed: remember what happened]

    If I asked you to name the most-popular websites in the world, you might mention Google, Facebook and Amazon. In another part of the world, candidates might include Tencent, China’s social networking phenomenon; and Baidu, its incumbent search engine.

  • One hedge fund’s plan to fix Yahoo: Fire 9,000 – and Marissa Mayer too [Ed: sounds familiar]

    An activist shareholder is calling for Yahoo to radically change its strategy, fire CEO Marissa Mayer and even revert to its old logo.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • World’s Small Farmers Fighting Back as WTO Pushes Corporate Agenda

      The World Trade Organization (WTO) kicked off its 10th ministerial conference in Kenya on Tuesday to develop a new free trade agreement, as grassroots activists rallied worldwide against measures they say would undermine the rights of small-scale farmers in developing countries.

    • Flint Kids Have So Much Lead in Their Blood That the Mayor Declared a State of Emergency. Thanks GOP.

      Children in Flint, Michigan, have such high levels of lead in their blood that Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency on Monday, calling the situation a “manmade disaster.” The origins of the escalating situation in Flint go back to 2011, when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency financial manager to balance Flint’s budget—largely by cutting costs on basic public services. Here’s what you need to know:

    • Media Take Diet Advice From Coke-Funded Academics

      Readers of USA Today, the LA Times and Atlantic Monthly might expect that prominent university professors quoted as independent experts on obesity would relay objective information based on the best science. They would be wrong.

      Over the past few months, through excellent investigative work, journalists Anahad O’Connor and Candice Choi unmasked a scheme that should look familiar to anyone following health and environmental news: corporations paying front groups and scientists to spin the media and public in order to protect their products.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • John McAfee: We have created a cyberwar doomsday machine that Isis can turn against us

      That we stand today on the brink of some form of war does not seem to be debatable. America has enemies – people that would do us harm and even destroy our way of life. Who these enemies are is more fertile ground for debate. The world is simply too complicated, and the American public too uninformed by our government, to say with certainty who our real enemies are and who they are ultimately working for.

      What we can do in an effort to be prepared is to look at all of the possible sources of attack – all of the other nations and groups that have interests in conflict with our own. When we do this a startling pattern emerges. Every significant threat against the Unites States has demonstrated some measure of tech savvy.

    • Trump doesn’t want ISIS “using our Internet”

      A week after saying the US should disrupt the Islamic terrorist group ISIS’ online recruiting by “closing that Internet up in some way,” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was given a chance to clarify what he meant at last night’s GOP debate.

    • Why Donald Trump Can’t Actually Close ‘Parts of the Internet’

      During Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, frontrunner Donald Trump doubled down on his call for “closing off parts of the Internet” in order to stymie terrorist groups’ online recruitment efforts. “I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody,” Trump said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS. “I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Indonesia forest clearing fires questioned under Paris climate agreement

      The Paris climate agreement could see big changes in Indonesia, where a developing economy depends on practices like open-cut coal mining and using fires to clear forests for farming.

      Changing those industries could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions but many Indonesians have more pressing concerns.

    • Indonesia: Fires Cause Massive Pollution

      Indonesia is currently undergoing one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century. Fires rage across the length of Indonesia as a result of companies looking to profit from the land. The smoke has reduced visibility to 30 meters in some cities while there are reports of children who have choked to death. There have been over 10,000 cases of respiratory infection and counting.

    • Fracking under national parks backed by MPs

      MPs have voted to allow fracking for shale gas 1,200m below national parks and other protected sites.

      The new regulations – which permit drilling from outside the protected areas – were approved by 298 to 261.

      Opposition parties and campaigners criticised the lack of a Commons debate – and accused ministers of a U-turn as they previously pledged an outright ban on fracking in national parks.

    • College Football Brought to You by Koch Industries

      Through Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch, are funding a dozen college football games during the 2015-2016 season. This funding will allow them to have an increased presence at twelve major games this year. Koch-branded video equipment as well as Koch-themed giveaways will be regular occurrences at these college football games. However, as Nick Surgey writes, the Koch brothers’ history of buying influence and manipulating course content on college campuses provides an important context for understanding their newfound interest in college football.

    • Botanist says squatters in Kalimantan could be smoke culprits

      The Malaysian botanist had then just been made the director at the newly established Centre for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia.

      At the time, the entire south of Kalimantan was blanketed in smoke and the airports had to be closed.

      The fires were low, producing more smoke than heat, so the roads were still usable.

      He found squatter homes all along the road, each about 100m apart. Every house was occupied.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Report Claims That Big Political Funder Sheldon Adelson Is The ‘Anonymous’ Owner Of Las Vegas Newspaper

      Earlier this week, we wrote about the truly bizarre situation in which the Las Vegas Review Journal — the largest newspaper in Nevada — had been purchased for $140 million… and no one knew who the owner was. For fairly obvious reasons, this started to make a lot of people uncomfortable — including the reporters for the NVRJ. Suspicion quickly focused on big time political funders, with some noting that Nevada is an early primary state, and may play a key role in the presidential election. The Koch brothers, who are big time funders of candidates flat out denied it, leading to more intense scrutiny on the other key guess: Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a key funder of Mitt Romney in the last election.

    • Koch Self-Interest in Criminal Justice Reform, Exposed

      Charles and David Koch have received positive press for backing a bipartisan effort to reform American criminal justice laws, which have helped make the U.S. the world’s biggest jailer and whose burdens have fallen disproportionately on people of color.

      But, as the Kochs ride the wave of momentum toward criminal justice reform, it is becoming increasingly clear that part of their agenda would actually make it harder to prosecute corporate violations of environmental and financial laws that protect the public from corporate wrongdoing. The changes would make it harder to hold executives and their employees responsible for violating U.S. laws and would protect their financial interests, at the public’s expense.

      Over at least the past five years, the Kochs and Koch-backed groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been pushing to increase the “intent” standard for criminal violations, particularly for so-called “white collar” crime and executive suite criminals.

    • Glenn Beck: If GOP Nominates Donald Trump, It Will Bring “An End To The Republican Party”

      He didn’t even know what are the missile silos and the strategic air command with missiles on the planes and our nuclear submarines. He didn’t even know what that meant. He couldn’t answer that question. It was bizarre. He is also a giant progressive. So I can’t vote for progressive. I can’t vote for Hillary, and I can’t vote for him.

    • Carly Fiorina is a liar: And everyone should finally just say it — loudly

      Carly Fiorina is unique among all the candidates in the Republican presidential field for her visceral, aggressive hatred for anything resembling truth. Other candidates lie, of course, but they at least go to the trouble of dressing up their lies with weasel words and other forms of qualifying language that allow them to squirm their way out of fact checks. Fiorina doesn’t care about any of that. She makes firm, declarative statements that are unquestionably inaccurate, and when confronted with inarguable facts that prove her wrong, she insists against all evidence that she is correct and bristles at the very notion that anyone might challenger her. She does not care. She does not pretend to care. As far as Fiorina’s concerned, the fact that she said it is what makes it true.

  • Censorship

    • West Papua: Mining in an occupation forgotten by the world

      Now more than ever, say activists, media access to West Papua is crucial in order to bring global attention to a planned smelter, and to give the world a true understanding of the human rights situation in the region – and Freeport’s role in it. Nithin Coca reports.

    • Raising West Papua’s Flag on 1 December

      It is over half a century since the West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised with pomp and ceremony on 1 December 1961 in the capital Hollandia (now Jayapura). The flag and accompanying national anthem had been chosen by Papuans in a democratic process and accepted by the colonial Dutch as part of their programme for granting independence. The flag was then flown alongside the Dutch flag on official buildings. A halcyon time? No, Indonesia ramped up its claim to the territory with military incursions and an attempted torpedo boat assault.

    • Facebook, Google, Twitter agree to delete hate speech in 24 hours: Germany

      Germany said on Tuesday that Facebook, Google and Twitter have agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours, a new step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis.

      The government has been trying to get social platforms to crack down on the rise in anti-foreigner comments in German on the web as the country struggles to cope with an influx of more than 1 million refugees this year.

      The new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.

    • Germany makes Facebook, Google, and Twitter remove hate speech within 24 hours

      The German government has struck a deal with Facebook, Google, and Twitter will supposedly make it easier to report and remove hate speech from the Internet. The big Web companies will now have 24 hours to remove instances of hate speech after they have been first reported.

      “When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net,” said German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. “And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.”

      The agreement also changes how the complaints are processed. By the new workflow, they will be assessed by “specialist teams” at the companies, which will look at them from the standpoint of German law “and no longer just the terms of use of each network,” Maas said.

    • Disney Grapples With Light-Side/Dark-Side, Retracts Toy DMCA, Resubmits It, Is Probably Our Father, Aaaah!

      It’s a struggle that Disney ought to know quite well, having taken over the Star Wars franchise. The struggle between good and evil; the light side of the force… and the dark side. And it looks like we’re all getting a front row seat to the internal strife of Disney via the ongoing silliness surrounding the image of a Star Wars toy accidentally released to the public by a retailer.

    • Trump Calls For Partial Shutdown Of The Internet, Doesn’t Understand What He’s Saying

      I have to admit that I find Donald Trump’s presidential campaign fascinating. Or, rather, I find its survival to this point fascinating. What amazes me about it is that the Trump campaign exhibited a strong commitment to not actually putting forward any detailed policy prescriptions, except for a few general policy ideas that mostly conflict with the party whose nomination he’s seeking. And those policy ideas he does express have generally been either despicable, impossible to implement, or both. Deporting six million Latin Americans? Yeah, that just isn’t going to happen. Putting a hold, however temporary, on legal immigration by using a religious test to keep Muslims out of the country? That violates the very founding document an American President would be tasked with upholding. Also, it’s disgusting.

  • Privacy

    • S.754 Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015
    • As Predicted, Congress Turned CISA Into A Clear Surveillance Bill… And Put It Into The ‘Must Pass’ Gov’t Funding Bill

      Yesterday we warned that Congress was quietly looking to do two horrible things: (1) strip all pretense from the “cybersecurity” information sharing bills and turn them into full-on surveillance bills and (2) then shove it into the “must pass” omnibus bill which is supposed to be about funding the government and nothing more. And… it looks like our warning was almost entirely accurate, as the bill has been released and within its over 2000 pages, it includes CISA and has been stripped of many of the key privacy protections (if you want to find it, it’s buried on page 1728), while expanding how the information can be shared and used. In part, due to concerns raised yesterday, a few of the absolutely worst ideas didn’t make it into the final bill, but it’s still bad (and clearly worse than what had previously been voted on, which was already bad!).

    • Teenagers simply can’t imagine a world without social media – that’s why we need to ban it

      This week, the European Union put forward proposals recommending a legal ban on under 16s joining social networking sites without parental permission. Naturally, this was reported in some quarters as another excuse to whip up anti-European sentiment. However, as the government’s mental health tsar for schools, my initial reaction to the news was positive.

      Of course, I paused to ponder how on earth such a law would be enforced. After all, we live in a world where the average 10 year old has far more technological expertise than their parents (as a recent experiment in which a teenager was handed the “Fort Knox of laptops”, with every conceivable parental block in place and proceeded to access online pornography within 30 seconds proved). Putting aside the practical considerations, however, I believe the general sentiment of the proposal to be sound.

    • Montana Newspaper Decides To Just Delete Old Comments After People Get Upset About Plans To Reveal Their Names

      A few weeks ago, we wrote about a plan by the Montana Standard newspaper to change its commenting policy, publishing the “real names” of any commenters. While we generally think that’s a silly policy for a variety of reasons, the real problem was that it was retroactively applying it to all old comments, despite clearly telling earlier commenters that their names would not be revealed (and potentially violate the newspaper’s own privacy policy). In its defense, the newspaper insisted that (1) anyone who wanted otherwise could contact the paper and have their comments deleted and (2) that while it might have liked to have only applied the policy to new comments after January 1, its content management system wouldn’t allow that. Of course, while that seems like something that, perhaps, should be fixed by the newspaper, I can understand that it might not have the resources to do so.

    • Big Brother is born. And we find out 15 years too late to stop him

      PRESTON, which collects about four million intercepted phone calls a year, has also recently been used to plant malware on iPhones, according to disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The phones were then targetted for MI5 “implants” (malware), authorised by a ministerial warrant.

    • Microsoft extends China link with government version of Windows 10 [Ed: dumb move into a trap]

      MICROSOFT’S JAMMY SOD DEPARTMENT has managed to pull off something of a coup with the announcement that it is to form a joint venture to bring Windows 10 to the Chinese public sector.

    • Congressman Who Supports Undermining Encryption Says We Need CISA (Which Undermines Privacy) To ‘Protect Privacy’

      Nearly everything Schiff says here is complete hogwash. This bill is far from “the most protective of privacy of any cyber bill” that has advanced. Other versions clearly had more privacy protections (mainly the one advanced by the House Judiciary Committee). And, this latest one clearly strips out privacy provisions and makes it that much more difficult to protect our privacy.

      And the fearmongering about “these innumerable hacks” and how “our privacy is being violated every day” is totally meaningless, because CISA does nothing to stop these hacks. We’ve asked many times before how would CISA have stopped a single hack and no one ever answers. We’ve looked hard and cannot find a single online security expert who thinks that CISA would be useful in preventing online hacks and attacks. Because it wouldn’t. There is nothing in there geared towards stopping attacks.

      You know what would help in protecting our privacy and limiting the damage from hacks? Stronger encryption. I wonder what Rep. Adam Schiff thinks about that?

    • Why The New CISA Is So Bad For Privacy

      We warned earlier this week that Congress was going to make the cybersecurity bill CISA much worse on privacy, and then shove it into the “must pass” omnibus spending bill, and that’s exactly what happened. The 2000+ page bill was only released early yesterday morning and the vote on it is tomorrow, meaning people have been scrambling to figure out what exactly is actually in there. The intelligence community has been using that confusion to push the bill, highlighting a couple of the predictions that didn’t make it into the bill to argue that people against CISA are overstating the problems of the bill. That’s pretty low, even for the intelligence community.

    • Is your browser safe against tracking? Use Panopticlick to find out

      Worried about privacy, about the websites you visit tracking you, whether you accept their cookies or not?

      Panopticlick to the rescue!

      Panopticlick is a tool released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that makes it easy to tell if your browser settings are putting up enough resistance against online tracking.

    • Stingrays: A Secret Catalogue of Government Gear for Spying on Your Cellphone

      THE INTERCEPT HAS OBTAINED a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies. The document, thick with previously undisclosed information, also offers rare insight into the spying capabilities of federal law enforcement and local police inside the United States.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Punishment Should Fit the Crime: Matthew Keys and the CFAA

      One of the basic tenets of a civilized society is that the punishment should be proportionate with the crime. What essentially amounts to vandalism should not result in even the remote possibility of a 25-year jail sentence. But that very possibility is on the table in the government’s case against journalist Matthew Keys, whose sentencing hearing is about one month off. The case is an illustration of prosecutorial discretion run amok—and once again shows why reform of the federal anti-hacking statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), is long overdue.

    • Facebook Messenger Lets You Book an Uber [Ed: Two malicious companies join forces]

      Taking another page from its counterparts in Asia, Facebook will add a feature for booking a ride through its messaging application. Users of Facebook Messenger in the U.S. will be able to summon an Uber car with a few taps starting on Wednesday.

    • Professor suspended after saying Christians, Muslims have same God

      Wheaton College has suspended a political science professor who said her fellow Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

      The prominent Christian college’s decision, which sparked protest on campus on Wednesday, came days after Larycia Hawkins, a tenured professor, received attention in Christian media outlets after announcing she would wear a traditional headscarf known as a hijab through the Christian Advent season. Wearing the hijab is part of her personal effort to show solidarity with Muslims, who have faced backlash in the aftermath of recent mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. and Paris.

    • Family of teenage Saudi protester sentenced to death appeal for his life

      The family of a teenage protester who faces beheading in Saudi Arabia have come forward in public for the first time to plead for his life.

      The father of Abdullah al-Zaher, 19, called on the world to help before it is too late and his son is executed in the kingdom along with a reported 51 other people.

      “Please help me save my son from the imminent threat of death. He doesn’t deserve to die just because he participated in a protest rally,” Hassan al-Zaher told the Guardian.

    • The Controversial “Rule” Police Rely on to Shoot and Kill Supsects

      Last month, the attorney representing the Chicago police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald offered an explanation for his client’s actions: “There is this 21-foot rule,” the attorney, Dan Herbert, told CBS News. “It talks about how an individual is a significant threat to a police officer when they’re in that 21-foot boundary.”

      Chicago police officials said the black teen held a four-inch folding knife on the night of the shooting last October, and that he waved it aggressively at Jason Van Dyke and other officers, ignoring orders to drop the weapon. But the video, released in late November on court orders, showed McDonald was wielding a knife but was shot with 16 bullets as he was facing away from the officers and then fell to the ground.

    • How Old Should Kids Be Before They’re Allowed to Play in the Front Yard on Their Own?

      I don’t know how this has changed over time, but these figures sure seem strange. I played on my own in front of my house when I was five,1 but today’s parents think you need to be 10—and a substantial fraction think you need to be over 12 to play in front of the house unsupervised.

    • Our Proud and Fascist Heritage

      Yesterday’s revelation that Prince Charles sees Cabinet Office memoranda denied to most ministers did not spark as much public outrage as might be expected. Part of that is because of the view that, by and large, Charles is a fairly decent old stick with some surprisingly progressive opinions.

      The problem is, of course, that with a monarchy you have no choice what you get. The defence deployed yesterday across all media was that this is a longstanding practice, in place for many decades. What they did not tell you is that it was instituted at the insistence of the Prince of Wales who was the future Edward VIII, and at the very least sympathetic to fascism. Strange how the media omitted that bit, don’t you think?

    • Is the SNP Campaigning for Independence?

      Let me put it this way. It is definitely a possibility that the coming real domination of both MPs and MSPs will never happen again. If the SNP do not even try to use that dominance to deliver Independence, then what is the point of the SNP?

      Oh sorry, I forgot. They manage the institutions better, and are an effective opposition at Westminster. That apparently is the point. But not what I joined for.

    • Wash. Post Editorial Board Slams GOP’s Embrace Of “Bigotry, Hatred and Magical Thinking”

      The Washington Post editorial board criticized the Republican Party for pushing “fear-mongering and raw xenophobia” into the mainstream during the GOP presidential debates.

    • Laura Ingraham Applauds Her Show For Helping To Block Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    • ‘It’s Just One in a Long Series of Attacks on Planned Parenthood’

      Janine Jackson: It’s a crime story, a culture war story, a debate about what gets called terrorism and about presidential candidates’ ability to rise or sink to an occasion. But for all the worthy stories being aired, the killing of three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic by a man angry about “baby parts” hasn’t quite become a story about women and our right to decide whether to have a child.

      With Colorado only the latest in a long, long history of attacks, how do we move the conversation off the dime of whether reproductive justice advocates have a right to be upset toward what must be done to secure an atmosphere in which women can actually exercise their full human and legal rights? Jodi Jacobson is editor-in-chief at RH Reality Check. She joins us now by phone from Maryland. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Jodi Jacobson.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Tech Companies Urge Lawmakers To Stop Trying To Kill Net Neutrality With Sneaky Budget Bill Riders

      Since the FCC passed net neutrality rules last February, ISP allies in Congress have been working tirelessly to either gut the rules, or shame and defund the FCC so it can’t enforce them. This has included an endless number of House “fact-finding” hearings that usually involve using discredited ISP data to claim the rules are demolishing the Internet. Of course the opposite appears to be true; network investment (at least in competitive areas) continues undaunted, and the rules have actually helped stop a lot of the anti-competitive shenanigans that were occurring on the streaming video front.

    • EU’s Own Survey On Internet Regulations Broken; Please Urge Them Not To Break The Internet Too

      Last week, we wrote about an important survey put online by the EU Commission, asking for feedback on its plans to regulate certain key aspects of the internet. We noted that the survey itself was cumbersome and confusing, and because of that, via the Copia Institute, we set up our own guide to filling out the survey called Don’t Wreck The Net. We were a little mocking of the survey, as it does seem a bit silly that the people in charge of potentially putting all sorts of regulations on the internet… have a poorly designed and confusing survey (including the fact that depending on how you answer certain questions, the survey will appear quite different for you than it might for others). However, to some extent, we get it: government bureaucracies have some limitations on what technologies they can make use of.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Looking back over this GreeKat’s shoulder… Part IV: “JE SUIS… un opportuniste” – the public order as a trade mark barrier

        Twice within 2015, INPI, the French TM Office, was forced to tackle controversial trade mark registration cases. Both cases were linked to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. In January, INPI rejected some 50 trade mark applications for “Je suis Charlie” that were filed within a few days after the attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices. The attempt to capitalize on the tragic events was shocking for many. Moreover, leaving aside moral aspects [can they be left aside?!], how would one enforce such a trade mark registration? This could have been a one-off attempt (despite those 50 applications…), but, only last month, just after Paris suffered from another terrorist attack, “Je suis Paris” and “Pray for Paris” marks were also filed with INPI.

    • Copyrights

      • Rightscorp wins landmark ruling, Cox hit with $25M verdict in copyright case

        The verdict comes at the close of a two-week trial, which took place after US District Judge Liam O’Grady issued an opinion (PDF) slamming Cox’s behavior, saying that the ISP isn’t protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act “safe harbor” because the company did not “reasonably implement” a policy to terminate repeat infringers.

        Today’s verdict is a huge victory for BMG and its copyright enforcer, Rightscorp. The Rightscorp business model is based on sending massive numbers of copyright notices via email and asking for $20 or $30 per song “settlements” from users believed to have pirated songs. While Rightscorp wasn’t a named plaintiff in the suit, BMG’s case was based on evidence produced by Rightscorp, which says it found the IP addresses of the worst Cox infringers.

      • Popcorn Time Fork Goes Dark After MPAA Hounds Developers

        The MPAA has not yet given up its fight against Popcorn Time. The movie industry group is reportedly going after a group of developers who launched a “Community Edition” of the popular application. While the new fork has yet to throw in the towel, they’ve taken down their website and GitHub repository for the time being.

      • UK police busts karaoke “gang” for sharing songs that aren’t commercially available

        The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) claims to have “dismantled a gang suspected of uploading and distributing tens of thousands of karaoke tracks online.” However, it turns out that this “gang” is actually three blokes, aged 60, 53, and 50: one man from Barnstaple, Devon and two men living in Bury, Lancashire.

        PIPCU’s press release says: “hundreds of albums have had their copyright uploaded by the men, leading to thousands and thousands of tracks being accessed illegally and depriving legitimate music companies of a significant amount of money.” That sounds dramatic, but once again the reality is rather different.

      • KickassTorrents “DIY” Karaoke ‘Gang’ Busted By UK Police

        Three men from the UK have been raided by City of London Police after uploading thousands of karaoke tracks online. Although described by police as a criminal “gang”, the men in their 50s and 60s claim they only created their own karaoke tracks when alternatives weren’t commercially available.

      • Pirating Subscribers Could Cost Cox Over $200 Million

        Internet provider Cox Communications is facing more than $200 million in potential damages, if a jury holds it responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers. According to music publisher BMG there is no doubt that Cox is responsible. After a week of trial hearings the company has asked the court to confirm this, arguing that the ISP failed to rebut its allegations.

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