Techrights Needs Translations as Another EPO Staff Protest Looms

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Support those at the top, for this is part of Battistelli’s decapitation strategy (no guillotines but prevention of organised actions)

SUEPO reps

Summary: The Staff Union of the European Patent Office, SUEPO, is organising another action against the management’s union-busting moves that culminated in sacking, pension reduction, and a terrible atmosphere of fear and terror

WE ARE trying quite hard to provide a complete picture — irrespective of the consequences — of EPO union-busting actions and what these have involved. Transparency is truth and truth is a sworn enemy of Team Battistelli. We are still hoping to get the text of the internal announcement from Battistelli (we need to prepare a rebuttal for it) and we are still in pursuit of English translations (from German) of two articles, one from Heise and another from journalists in Munich. There are various secure ways to contact us, including E-mail over Tor.

“The SUEPO is banned by Battistelli and has to be replaced by a ¨Union¨ according to his model and wishes.”
A lot of people have been posting information in IP Kat, where anonymous comments (not anonymous to Google) can be posted. One person pointed out today that: “From his decision to fire and downgrade SUEPO officials it is clear that for Battistelli individual people does not matter. What is important for him, he believes, is a strong central management. Individuals have to be forced to accept the roles given to them in the office. Examiners are producers, workers for him. These workers experience now that their rights at work are more and more taken away. The SUEPO is banned by Battistelli and has to be replaced by a ¨Union¨ according to his model and wishes.

“Battistelli studied at the ENA is a so called énarque.The énarques were criticised as early as the 1960s for their technocratic and arrogant ways. Such criticism has continued up to present times, with the énarques being accused of monopolizing positions in higher administration [the EPO] and politics without having to show real competence. It has become a recurrent theme for many French politicians to criticise ENA, even when they themselves are alumni of the school.”

We previously wrote a great deal about Battistelli’s ÉNA roots and his connections with powerful people [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Networking with them seems to be his most notable ‘skill’. Responding to someone's claim that pension cuts may be “blatantly illegal”, one person responded as follows:

The EPO certainly has the right to cut pensions, it says so in the service regulations. Actually, when one reads the service regulations, the EPO can even do that more than once, cutting your pension by a third with each round. The EPO can also do that to pensioners and widows. And the President can decides what he wants and fire you even when the disciplinary committee says otherwise, as he did with Ion Brumme. Obviously, the service regulations were not written in that spirit, and were never used this way in 40 years, but Battistelli is sticking to the letter of the law. And ILO will certainly find it this way as well, in practice ILO only checks whether the service regulations were correctly applied.

Further, the service regulations can be changed at will, as the EPO personal recently found out: career cuts, suppression of invalidity insurance, etc… When you enter the EPO, you sign a contract which you have to respect under penalty of being fired and have your pension cuts… and the EPO can change its end of the deal whenever they want. This kind of contract have a legal name, but nobody realized what they were really offered when they entered the EPO. Now they realize but they can’t get out.

Also, this is not only the EPO staff. Patent attorneys would be well advised to check how easily the EPO could damage them. The rumor (unverified, maybe someone knows more?) is that some attorneys were already “gently advised” to stay quiet in their private blogs. Obviously, the attorneys can’t get out either, but they have not realized the full extent of the deal yet.

The EPO was given enormous powers and a wide-ranging immunity, with very little check and balances to compensate them. There is not even a decent control system of the EPO finances and the EPO is producing 300 millions a year in surpluses. Anybody can imagine the consequences. Battistelli put one of his old good friends to audit the EPO finances.

Speaking of EPO finances, look how (and by who) money got wasted at an amazing pace. The management of the EPO is a disaster at so many levels. “The current penalty of 20% of pension,” wrote another person, “clearly leaves room to increase that to 1/3 if the fired person does not go quietly and/or discloses any details. Likewise, those fired without deduction still risk further steps if they, for instance, discuss their cases without permission. Note also the desire to control former staff’s employment (denied by the AC) which, of course, be enforced by attacking any outstanding pension rights. As you say, BB has seen the opportunity for unfettered control and is using it.”

“The management of the EPO is a disaster at so many levels.”The staff at the EPO is showing high levels of unrest by signing petitions in record numbers, protesting in record numbers, and complaining (anonymously of course) to the media. The EPO's PR team has nothing positive to say these days, so its “following orders”/”it came from above” staff still links to self-manufactured (and paid-for) greenwashing PR every 2-3 days (here is the latest example, citing a page last updated 1.5 months ago!).

A SUEPO demonstration is going to proceed as planned. It’s a day and a half away (later this week). “Actions continue at the European Patent Office,” SUEPO’s site stated today, “next demonstration on 20 January 2016 [...] The next demonstration will take place on Wednesday 20 January starting from the ISAR building at 12.30h. The demonstrators will march peacefully to the Bayerische Staatskanzlei.”

Well, maybe half of all EPO staff (or more) is going to attend. It’s very plausible.

“A SUEPO demonstration is going to proceed as planned.”Support for SUEPO comes from a lot of people out there, including Jeremy Phillips, who recently retired.

“Just spotted,” he wrote, “that the @EPOorg has sacked two union officials and downgraded a third” (severely downgraded).

“I’m hugely disappointed with the @EPOorg,” he added, “and the pusillanimous manner in which the Administrative Council oversees it” (this is why people must contact their delegates, which shouldn’t be too hard).

SUEPO has also just published a “Reply from Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback, Bavarian Ministry of Justice” (potentially showing high-level support for SUEPO).

“SUEPO Munich received a reply from the Bavarian Ministry of Justice,” wrote the site’s administrator, “to the letter sent on 7 December 2016, in relation to the demonstration which took place on 10 December 2015. In his reply, he referred to the question posed by German MP Jutta Krellmann dated 8 October, which you could find here.”

Only the question is in English, so again we may need a good translation or two from German into English.

“Deliberation and debate is the way you stir the soul of our democracy.”

Jesse Jackson

French Politician Philip Cordery Calls the EPO Authoritarian, Says the Union-busting Decisions Are Purely Scandalous

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MLK quote

Summary: Political actions against the EPO’s management are rapidly multiplying after the busting of labour unions

THE EPO coverage will accelerate tomorrow, but before we get to the new stories we want to mention Mr. Cordery again. As noted here earlier today, Philip Cordery, who represents overseas workers, is very angry at the fellow Frenchman, Mr. Battistelli, who surrounded himself by other (often similarly underqualified) Frenchmen.

Someone sent us a translation of Cordery’s rant just a couple of hours after our request for a translation. Here it is:

Black day in the European Patent Office (EPO / European Patent Office).

Antisocial management of the EPO, led by its President M. Battistelli, has reached new heights today. Unprecedented sanctions were imposed against three staff representatives: the president of Suepo Munich is dismissed with on the top a 20% reduction of her pension rights; the former president of that organisation (TRANSLATOR NOTE: here the SUEPO union) is also dismissed; the treasurer downgraded by 8 levels, which equates to lose 15 years of work. The reason? Having deigned to publicly represent their colleagues to attempt to defend their rights.

These authoritarian and arbitrary decisions are purely scandalous. The most basic rights of employees, in force in all European countries, are trampled in the EPO without any national or international court being able to act. Immunity does not mean impunity.

For too many years, the social situation of this organisation is worsening. Enough is enough. All Member States must act quickly, like France, which has repeatedly called for a social audit. I again appealed the government in this sense. There is an urgent need to put an end to the arbitrariness and to bring back to live this organisation which is so important for the whole of Europe.

I want to assure all staff, and in particular the representatives, of my full support. We remain vigilant and act with all our means until democracy and justice regain their rights within the Office.

At 7:30 today the same person posted the translation in IP Kat as well. It’s important for all the people who work at the EPO. They all ought to read it. Some politicians are sincerely and passionately fighting for EPO staff right now. Based on information which we can not yet disclose (we will in the near future), there are similar actions against the EPO’s management going on inside the EPO’s complaints mechanism, in British politics, and in European politics. The wheels are moving and to speed things up we urge all readers to contact their delegates without hesitation. It makes a big difference when these delegates receive feedback from people; many of these delegates don’t follow the news. Some things are better left behind the scenes for the time being. Change may be imminent and we’re not pessimistic.

Links 18/1/2016: AsteroidOS With GNU, NetworkManager 1.2

Posted in News Roundup at 5:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 2016 Has Been Off To A Great Start For Open-Source & Linux

    We are only half-way through January yet there’s been so much exciting news already for open-source and Linux enthusiasts as well as when it comes to interesting computer hardware.

    Given the amount of news already in the first two weeks of the year, here’s a look at some of the most popular content on Phoronix already for 2016. Thanks to the Consumer Electronics Show, more Vulkan news, AMDGPU details, the start of the Linux 4.5 kernel cycle, and more, it’s been very busy so far.

  • Get new users…
  • Mycroft: Linux’s Own AI

    The future is artificially intelligent. We are already surrounded by devices that are continuously listening to every word that we speak. There is Siri, Google Now, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. The biggest problem with these AI “virtual assistants” is that users have no real control over them. They use closed source technologies to send every bit of information they collect from users back to their masters.

  • Three “Open Source” Investing Strategies to Start Using Today

    More and more tech companies are building their success by going “open source.”

    By that, I mean they’re using open-source tech platforms like Linux and Hadoop – which are free and open to the public to use – to write code, create cloud storage, and develop Big Data applications. With these platforms, they’re saving money, running their business more efficiently… and raking in the profits.

    I thought of open-source platforms recently – on New Year’s Eve.

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • High Performance computing and parallel computing amateur linux test lab

      I dabble in trying to build high performance applications, and parallel computing stuff. I don’t do a good job at it, but I would like more practice. I tried to conceive of the type of hardware I would like for my continued practice. These are their stories:

      I know from bitcoin mining that some instruction sets are better at somethings, so I’m pretty sure I want two servers, with dual graphics cards. One nvidia, and one ATI (or maybe I’m just an ATI guy but nvidia is kind of sort of blowing them out of the water). I also know I’m probably going to want two Parallella’s.

    • Ocean is an amazing Linux based battery-powered, pocket sized wireless server

      Ocean, a mobile server launched by Redwood-based hardware repair company iCracked, can run all Linux-based operating systems that is built on top of the Linux kernel. It can easily fit into your pocket but is capable of being a full-blown battery powered wireless web server.

  • Kernel Space

    • Coreboot Ported To The Librem 13 Laptop, Without Purism

      The controversial, crowd-funded Librem laptop that aimed to be fully open down to the firmware but ended up shipping with an AMI UEFI firmware for the initial release has now been ported to Coreboot for the Librem 13 model. The Coreboot support wasn’t done by Purism, the company behind the Librem, but rather a Coreboot developer at Google.

    • Features & Changes Merged So Far For The Linux 4.5 Kernel

      We are one week into the two week merge window for the Linux 4.5 kernel. There have been multiple Phoronix articles daily about changes and new features of Linux 4.5. If you’re looking at catching up on your reading this weekend, here is a look at the interesting changes that landed this week.

    • Linux 4.5 DRM Pull Has Initial Kabylake Support, Open-Source Vivante 3D

      David Airlie sent in the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver updates today for targeting the Linux 4.5 kernel merge window.

      As usual, the DRM updates for this next Linux kernel release are quite exciting.

    • Facebook Has Been Baking A New Space Cache System For Btrfs

      Btrfs lead developer Chris Mason explained that this forthcoming free space cache is tree-based and is faster with less overall work for updating as the commit progresses.

    • Karen Sandler: I’m Running for the Linux Foundation Board of Directors

      As we begin a new year, I’m super excited that Conservancy has almost reached our initial target of 750 Supporters (we’re just 4 Supporters away from this goal! If you haven’t signed up, you can push us past this first milestone!). We launched our Supporter program over a year ago and more recently, in November, we asked you all to become Supporters now so that Conservancy can survive. Conservancy is moving toward a funding model primarily from individuals rather than larger corporate sponsors. While we are about to reach our minimal target, we still have a long way to go to our final goal of 2,500 Supporters — which will allow us to continue all of Conservancy’s critical programs, including copyleft enforcement. Many individuals have come forward to donate, and we hope that many more of you do so too! I was really excited about the statement of support published last week by the GNOME Foundation, and in particular their point that enforcement is necessary and benefits GNOME and free software as a whole.

    • Security Updates For Linux 4.5 Brings Improvements For Smack, EVM & TPM

      Linus Torvalds pulled in the security subsystem updates this weekend for the Linux 4.5 kernel.

      Security updates for Linux 4.5 include TPM/TPM2 enhancements for the Trusted Platform Module, Smack now supports file-receive process-based permission checking for sockets, and EVM has support for loading an x509 certificate from the kernel into the EVM trusted kernel keyring. There are also bug-fixes and other minor improvements as part of these security updates for Linux 4.5.

    • Graphics Stack

      • 12 Years After Launch, The GeForce 6 Can Still Run On Modern Linux Distributions

        Originally I was going to include the GeForce 6 series too with still having some GeForce 6600GT graphics cards. However, I ended up leaving those out since the 6600GT couldn’t mode-set to 2560×1600 to match the other GPUs (and not testing at a lower resolution due to the newer GPUs then being very CPU bound). Additionally, with the 6600GTs having just 256MB of GDDR3 video memory, they aren’t good for running modern OpenGL tests. Lastly, these cards from NVIDIA’s “Nalu” days only support OpenGL 2.1 where at least ending with the GeForce 8 series still were able to run OpenGL 3.3 benchmarks.

      • Nvidia Linux Beta Driver Breaks Civilization V and KOTOR2, Causes Crashes

        Nvidia recently launched a new Beta driver, 361.18 , for the Linux platform, and it only brought support for a couple of new GPUs. It turns out that it also had a fix regression that affected KDE, and that’s it’s actually crashing people’s PC with at least a couple of games.

      • Yes, Mesa Is Working Towards GLVND Support
      • NVIDIA Publishes Nouveau Patches For Secure Boot, Unified Firmware Loading

        NVIDIA has released new patches today for helping the open-source Nouveau driver step towards properly supporting the GeForce GTX 900 “Maxwell” graphics cards as well as better supporting Tegra.

    • Benchmarks

      • Testing DDR3 and DDR4 RAM performance on Linux

        RAM is one of essential computer components. It holds executed program, its data and result. From RAM availability and performance depends how your computer will perform in general.

        With the launch of Intel Skylake CPUs a new generation of RAM was introduced to the mainstream – DDR4. So let us take a look on modern DDR3 and DDR4 performance.

      • Intel NUC Skylake NUC6i3SYK Linux Benchmarks

        These open-source benchmark results complement other recent Intel NUC Skylake Benchmarks On Linux and thanks to the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org they are all easily-reproducible and support side-by-side comparisons.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE PIM changes in openSUSE Tumbleweed

        As you may know, up to now the default PIM suite for Plasma 5 in openSUSE Tumbleweed was the KDE PIM 4.14, based on kdelibs 4.x. While upstream KDE has offered a KF5-based version since Applications 15.08, it has been originally marked as a technology preview, so we (the openSUSE community KDE team) thought it would be more prudent to stick with the 4.14 version (but offer the KF5 based PIM as an option for the daring).

      • Plasma 5.5.3, Applications 15.12.1 and Frameworks 5.18.0 by KDE on FreeBSD

        Thanks to the Chakra announcement, I could copy-and-paste the title of this blog post. Thanks, folks.

        The latest round of software releases by the KDE Community — Frameworks, Plasma, and Applications — can be found the KDE-on-FreeBSD community’s area51 repository. These are unofficial ports, not yet included in the official ports tree.

      • Zanshin 0.3 on FreeBSD

        When Zanshin 0.3 was released, it took just an hour or so to update the FreeBSD port for it. Since then, the real K-F folks Tobias and Rafael have put some polish on the port, made it compatible with FreeBSD 9-STABLE and 11-CURRENT, and pushed it into area51.

      • First Krita 3.0 pre-alpha!

        More than a year in the making… We proudly present the first pre-alpha version of Krita 3.0 you can actually try to run! So what is Krita 3.0 pre-alpha? It’s the Qt5 port, with animation, instant preview, a handful of new features and portable packages for everyone! When we feel everything is nice and stable we’ll release Krita 3.1, and we’ll keep on releasing new versions as and when we finish Kickstarter stretch goals. So keep in mind: Krita 3.0 is experimental.

      • A Week in the Life of a Krita Maintainer
      • Qt5-Ported Krita 3.0 Released In Pre-Alpha Form

        Krita 3.0 is the big release that ports this KDE-aligned, open-source digital painting software to Qt5 rather than Qt4. Krita 3.0 also has support for animations, instant preview, and other new features compared to Krita 2.x.

      • Pre-Alpha of Krita 3.0 Is Now Available for Download, Krita 3.1 Coming Later in 2016

        The awesome development team behind that most popular free digital painting app, Krita, were extremely proud to announce today, January 17, the immediate availability for download and testing of the first Pre-Alpha build of Krita 3.0.

      • AsynQt framework: Making QFuture useful
      • KDE and Google Summer of Code 2015 Wrapup

        The combination of Google’s Summer of Code program and students working on numerous KDE projects during it has served as a long and successful tradition for KDE. KDE, being a big organization with a large community associated with it and hosting many projects of different facets provides a lot of opportunities for students to participate in this program and to contribute to an open-source project that they are interested in.

      • Chakra GNU/Linux Gets KDE Plasma 5.5.3, KDE Apps 15.12.1 and KDE Frameworks 5.18.0

        Once again, Neofytos Kolokotronis of the Chakra Project kindly informs all users of the Chakra GNU/Linux operating system about the latest KDE technologies added in the OS’ official software repositories.

      • KDE Made Much Progress In 2015 Thanks To Student Developers With GSoC

        While Google’s annual Summer of Code has been done for several months now, the KDE project published this weekend their final overview of all the progress that was made this past summer by these promising student developers.

        Among the work that came to KDE over the summer of 2015 thanks to GSoC was porting more software to KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt 5, a checker framework for KDevelop, Kdenlive improvements, handling of OpenStreetMap files within Marble, PDF tags/layers within Okular, a new configuration module for pointing devices, a GnuPGP-plugin for Kopete, and other improvements.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3 Is Soon Turning Five Years Old: How Are You Liking It?

        Come April it will be five years since the release of GNOME 3.0. The GNOME desktop has certainly evolved a lot since going back to GNOME 3.0, but what do you think of it?

        I was wary of GNOME 3 at first, but after several releases, it’s been running great and I’m back to using GNOME on many test systems at Phoronix. In fact, last year when switching from Ubuntu to Fedora on my most critical system, also marked the move back to using GNOME as my main desktop environment. Since GNOME 3.12 or so I’ve been quite happy with the experience and with GNOME 3.16~3.18 it feels really rock solid.

      • GNOME Devs Are Defining a Clear Set of Core Apps for the Desktop Environment

        We always bring our readers the latest news from the GNOME Project, and today we have some interesting story to share with you all, especially GNU/Linux operating system vendors.

  • Distributions

    • Solus Linux to Offer Faster Package Downloads, User Guide Updated

      Josh Strobl from the Solus Project has just published the eighteen installation of the weekly “This Week in Solus” newsletter, informing users about the latest updates and news for the GNU/Linux distribution.

      According to Josh Strobl, Solus Project has received a new server machine powered by an Intel Xeon E3 (8-core) processor and 32GB of RAM, and boasting a 2TB (RAID1) hard disk drive, where the distribution’s software repositories will be hosted. What this means for Solus Linux users is that they will be able to get faster downloads when installing or updating software in the OS.

    • This Week in Solus – Install #18
    • Reviews

      • Back to basics with Kwort 4.3

        I do not think I have ever installed the Kwort distribution before. It’s one of those projects I think about trying when a new release comes out, but something else has always come along to steal away my attention. Last month, during a quiet period, I decided to download the latest release of Kwort, version 4.3, and give it a try.

        According to the project’s website, “Kwort is a modern and fast Linux distribution that combines powerful and useful applications in order to create a simple system for advanced users who find a strong and effective desktop. Kwort is based on CRUX, so it’s robust, clean and easy to extend.”

        The project’s website had the following to say about Kwort 4.3: “As always we remain fast, stable, and simple and now we have grown up a little to include a lot of Linux firmwares available for tons of devices. As usual, everything has been built cleanly and from scratch.”

      • Review: Solus 1.0 “Shannon”

        To wrap up, the fact that I can’t use some key applications, in conjunction with the somewhat crippled nature of certain GNOME utilities nowadays, means that I probably won’t be able to use Solus on a regular basis, though I am sure there are users out there who would not need some of the applications that I find essential and who would work just fine with the standard current GNOME utilities. More broadly, though, given that (I think) Budgie might start making it to other distributions as well, then for a first official release, I think it’s doing decently, but I think there are too many small usability issues that are perhaps individually forgivable but together make it tough for me to use the DE regularly. Although this distribution and its DE aim to be easy to use and built for the desktop (according to the home page, with the latter point written perhaps in opposition to standard GNOME 3 or Unity), I think it may take another major release or two in order for me to seriously consider it again. In the meantime, I think it might be good not for total newbies but for Linux users who have gotten a bit more comfortable with Linux and may be willing to expand their horizons; in any case, I do intend to keep an eye on both Solus and Budgie in the future.

    • New Releases

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • A brief 360° overview of my first board turn

        You’ve certainly noticed that I didn’t run for a second turn, after my first 2 years. This doesn’t mean the election time and the actual campaign are boring :-)

        If you are an openSUSE Member, we really want to have your vote, so go to Board Election Wiki and make your own opinion.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) Stock Target Price Update

        Sell-side analysts on Wall Street covering shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) have handed the stock a one year target price of $89.117. This is the average number according to the 17 brokerage firms weighing in on the name. The most bullish (highest) estimate is $97 while the lowest, most conservative, stands at $75. This and the following data is provided by Zack’s Research.

      • Analyst Coverage Updates – Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)
      • Red Hat Inc Bullish Signal Price T Rowe Associates Inc Is In!

        Red Hat Inc (NYSE:RHT) is a newly disclosed equity position for this institutional investor and the filing was required due to activity on December 31, 2015. This most probably shows Price T Rowe Associates Inc ’s confidence and optimism in the future of the company. As a institutional investor with $689.00 billion AUM and 2216+ professional employees, we have no reason to doubt they didn’t do their homework before buying such a stake.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Meetup Pune – January 2016

          On 15th January 2016, we had our first Fedora meetup at Pune. The venue was earlier decided to be Red Hat office, Pune but due to unavailability of space the meetup was moved to my apartment.

        • What is a Fedora “Year in Review”?

          The past year was a bustling year for Fedora. Fedora 22 and 23 were released, and with their releases, all of the different sub-projects of Fedora have been doing their share of contributing to the overall success of Fedora. However, in a project as large as Fedora, it can be hard to keep track of what everyone is doing! If you’re a developer, you likely know a bit about what’s happening inside the code of Fedora, but you may not know what’s happening with the Fedora Ambassadors. Or maybe you’re involved with Globalization (G11n) and translating and know what’s happening there, but you’re not as familiar with what the Fedora Design team is working on.

        • Fedora: Next generation configuration mgmt

          To that end, I’d like to formally present my idea (and code) for a next generation configuration management prototype. I’m calling my tool mgmt.

          Mgmt has three unique design elements which differentiate it from other tools. I’ll try to cover these three points, and explain why they’re important. The summary:

          Parallel execution, to run all the resources concurrently (where possible)
          Event driven, to monitor and react dynamically only to changes (when needed)
          Distributed topology, so that scale and centralization problems are replaced with a robust distributed system

          The code is available, but you may prefer to read on as I dive deeper into each of these elements first.

        • Add-on Metadata Initiative – Update 2

          After two weeks I’ve got another update on the add-on metadata initiative. The last update was not overly positive, but no one else participated during the Christmas break. After people returned from the holidays, there was a bit of breakthrough.

          First people updated information in the table and we identified add-ons that had been obsoleted and thus it doesn’t make sense to include them in the app catalog.

        • Fedora plans formal upgrade leapfrog scheme

          Red Hat senior quality assurance engineer Adam Williamson has revealed that the Fedora community is trying to deliver what it’s calling “N-1” upgrades whereby it becomes possible upgrade from version X of Fedora to version X+2 without having to first install version X+1.

          Williamson writes that Fedora’s release cadence makes the N-1 scheme a good idea.

          “The Fedora release process is expressly designed such that each release does not go EOL until a short time after the next-but-one release comes out (so Fedora 22 will not go EOL until a month after Fedora 24 comes out),” he writes.

    • Debian Family

      • Reproducible builds: week 38 in Stretch cycle
      • Derivatives

        • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 (Atticus) and 8.0 (Mumble) Receive the Latest Security Updates

          The development team behind the Debian-based Parsix GNU/Linux computer operating system announced this past weekend that new security updates are available in the default software repositories of the Parsix GNU/Linux 8.0 (Mumble) and Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 (Atticus) releases.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch Still Has the Best and Most Complete App Permissions

            App permissions is a feature that’s now present in pretty much all the major mobile operating systems, but Ubuntu has the best implementation available right now.

            The Ubuntu operating system is one of the first to have introduced incremental app permissions, but because it wasn’t made available worldwide like all the others, this particular feature has gone by unnoticed, even if it promised much better user control.

          • RockWork Project Provides Amazing Pebble Support on Ubuntu Touch

            The Ubuntu community is set on providing proper support for the Pebble smartwatch, and it looks like the RockWork project is going really well.

            The support for Pebble started with just a simple notification on the watch about an incoming call, but it turns out that there are a lot Ubuntu users out there that also have a Pebble smartwatch and they want to use them. Some developers are now working to provide much better Pebble support, in the absence of any kind of official support.

          • Goodbye Docker on CentOS. Hello Ubuntu!

            I have been a hardcore CentOS user for many years now. I enjoyed its minimal install to create a light environment, intuitive installation process, and it’s package manager. Docker is the most popular container format today and provides developers and enthusiasts with an easy way to run workloads in containerized environments. I started using Docker in production at home for about a year now for services such as Plex Media Server, Web Server for this blog, ZNC, MineCraft, and MySQL to name a few. A Dockerfile is a set of instructions used to create a Docker image. I invested many hours creating perfect Dockerfiles using CentOS and Fedora to make deployments simple on any operating system. However, a personal revolution was brewing.

          • AT&T Goes Open Source, Adopts Ubuntu For Both Internal And Customer-Facing Systems

            AT&T is moving away from proprietary systems and stepping toward Canonical Ltd.’s open-source operating system Ubuntu.

            Canonical announced the news in a blog post, saying it is joining forces with AT&T to provide its Ubuntu OS and engineering support for the carrier’s cloud, network and enterprise applications.

            The companies disclosed that the partnership is significant in coming up with Ubuntu-based apps across the internal and external systems of AT&T.

          • Ubuntu’s Amazon ‘adware’ feature to be made opt in

            Scopes, the controversial feature in Ubuntu, is being “gracefully retired”, says Canonical.

            The “commercial” search app, which combines product data from Amazon with data from your desktop and phone, is to be turned off by default in 16.04 LTS in April and in Unity 7 and 8.

            The Scopes in question are for Amazon and Skimlinks.

            The change will affect Ubuntu desktops and mobile phones running the GNU Linux distro. This means it’ll be down to individual users of Ubuntu phones and PCS to opt into the service, which marries up their search terms with Amazon product information.

            Canonical is also killing six plug-ins that integrated desktop-based apps with online shopping results.

          • ​Where would we be without Ubuntu

            For many in the Linux community, the topic of Ubuntu brings up ire and, in some cases, nothing short of rage. Why? On the surface it’s easy to point to the likes of Unity and Mir as the primary reasons for the criticism and hatred. If you look deeper, however, I think it’s much more complicated.

          • Ubuntu Linux beats IBM and Microsoft Azure to lucrative AT&T contract

            AT&T, which has been around in its current form since 2005, has selected Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system, “to be part of an effort to drive innovation in the network and cloud”, beating rivals such as Microsoft Azure and IBM to the punch.

          • AT&T chooses Ubuntu Linux over Microsoft Windows

            Even though Linux may not be performing well in the desktop market, it however owns the two most important markets without any doubt, which are servers and smartphones. On one hand, where PC sales are going down, on the other, sales of Android phones are on the rise which it capturing a major share of the market. While everyone is spending less time on Windows computers, there are more than happy to be glued to their phones, which are likely powered by the Linux kernel.

          • Ubuntu Gets A New Clock Design For Their Suru Visual Language

            Ubuntu developers have been working on sending out some updated phone/convergence apps that take advantage of their new Suru visual language.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Contributing to Open Source Projects and Code

    Traditionally, IT ran off the shelf commercial software, while datacenters ran proprietary Unix hardware and x86 based Windows servers. But recently, the end user computing environment has been disrupted by the advent of smartphones and tablets, with Linux becoming increasingly a dominant force in the data center. Not to mention that there have been predictions from IDC analysts in August 2015 noting that there is already a shift to open source systems like Couchbase and Couchbase Mobile in the server and mobile market.

    Contributing to Open Source code is not as daunting as it seems. First off, the Open Source community is large and diverse with people working together on common problems. Stack Overflow is an example of how collective minds are able to solve related issues faster and share in everyday findings. The benefits are that you are able to get direct feedback from a vast community of experts with different skill levels while building out a support system of champions.

  • 4 questions to ask before open sourcing a project

    Who, outside the company, is excited to get their hands on this software? Nothing succeeds in open source without community involvement. If there is no interest from the outside, the odds are slim that you will be able to grow a meaningful community around what you have written. Once the employees who are currently being paid to maintain the project have moved on, someone will need to own the project or it will become just one more piece of abandonware.

  • 5 Key Aspects For a Successful Open-Source Project

    I love open-source: for me it is great way to develop any product, to acquire new skills, to have fun and to make something useful for the community. I am not an open-source rock-star (at least not yet :D) but I have created and contributed to tens of projects (take a look at my GitHub profile). Some of them got a bit of attention like WorldEngine, JavaParser or EffectiveJava. I am also an avid open-source user: almost daily I have to choose some open-source program or library to use or to contribute to. So I evaluate open-source projects regularly. I am also lucky enough to be in touch with many open-source developers, some of which I have interviewed for this blog.

  • Take care when reaping rewards of open source [Ed: this firm’s founder is attacking FOSS; never ever heard of them before. Who’s hiring (i.e. paying) them? “Quocirca, a research and analysis firm, released a comprehensive report sponsored by Microsoft,” said this page]
  • ETSI works to align NFV information models across SDOs and open source groups

    The workshop, which was hosted by CableLabs in Colorado, brought together the leading standards development organisations (SDOs) and Open Source communities in what it describes as an ‘NFV Village’. This was the first time the key SDOs and open source bodies have met together to accelerate alignment of their activities in relation to NFV. Participants read like a Who’s Who of NFV, and included 3GPP, ATIS, Broadband Forum, DMTF, ETSI NFV, IETF, ITU, MEF, OASIS/TOSCA, Open Cloud Connect, ONF, OpenDaylight, OPNFV and TM Forum. Furthermore, ETSI says the door is still open to organisations that did not participate in last week’s workshop.

  • A Higher Calling For Open-Source Software

    Open-source software–or at least the concept that drives it, a world where coding expertise and technology are furthered for the good of the public instead of corporate profit–is gaining traction in a big way. Some top names in tech have even announced their support for open-source, and whole crowdfunding campaigns have been dedicated to creating products and launching startups whose titles are available to everyone.

  • Events

    • The Penguicon Lucas Tech Track

      So if you’re in Detroit on the weekend of 29 April-1 May, come by and see me bloviate about:

      PAM: You’re Doing It Wrong
      the ZFS File System
      Networking for Systems Administrators
      Encrypted Backups with Tarsnap
      BSD Operating Systems in 2016
      Senior Sysadmin Panel

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • MongoDB/NoSQL Injection – Security

      A quick search on Shodan (the IoT search engine), will result in a ton of insecure Redis and MongoDB installations on the web. With IoT a lot of default device ports and settings are out there and a lot of connections to check. Be sure to pentest your server and devices before you put them on the public internet.

    • A Primer on Open-Source NoSQL Databases

      The idea of this article is to understand NoSQL databases, its properties, various types, data model, and how they differ from standard RDBMS.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • Doc like an Egyptian: Managing project documentation with Sphinx

      At the 14th annual Southern California Linux Expo (a.k.a., SCaLE 14x), Dru Lavigne will discuss common “gotchas” associated with creating and maintaining documentation, and she’ll talk about available open source tools. She’ll also provide an overview of Sphinx, an open source documentation generation system originally created for the new Python documentation.

      In this interview, she explains how Sphinx is different from other open source solutions, and what kinds of projects should consider migrating their docs.


    • A letter from Gabon to the GNU Health community

      Mr. Armand Mpassy-Nzoumbato has written this letter to the GNU Health community, that I proudly want share with all of you. It shows the importance of Free Software in real-life scenarios, delivering our motto : Freedom and Equity in Healthcare.

  • Licensing

    • All You Need to Make a Good Open Source License Decision

      The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizer of the GNU Project, and you can find the FSF’s guidelines on choosing an open source license in this post. The guidelines cover how to choose an overall license for a project, and also cover making decisions on licensing modified versions of an existing project.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Belgium overhauls it data portal

        Data.gov.be, Belgium’s federal open data portal, was relaunched last week. The new site merges two separate data portals managed by Fedict, Belgium’s federal IT service agency, and the country’s Agency for Administrative Simplification. The portal itself does not maintain data sets, but aggregates and updates links to several thousand datasets maintained by Belgium’s public agencies.

    • Open Access/Content

      • 10 Facts About Wikipedia That You Didn’t Know

        Wikipedia stats include more than 38 million articles in 289 different languages. Out of which, around 8 million articles are in English. English, German, and French have the most number of the articles.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open source, solar-powered RepRap 3D printer brings 3D printing to developing communities

        The open source 3D printing revolution is ongoing with full power, and has already made affordable making possible in the far corners of the world. Well, not quite the far corners, as even the most modest home-made 3D printer requires a stable power grid to work. But even that could be changing, as a team of researchers from the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab has just successfully tested and shared a very intriguing innovative machine: an open source, solar-powered RepRap 3D printer.

  • Programming

    • The Portable C Compiler (PCC) Continues To Be Developed In 2016

      When it comes to open-source C/C++ compilers, most of the coverage these days is about new features and functionality for GCC and LLVM Clang. However, the Portable C Compiler with its history originally dating back to the 1970s continues to be in-development.

      It’s been a while since last having anything to report on with the Portable C Compiler so I decided to do some Sunday night digging. Then again, PCC releases are far from frequent with PCC 1.0 coming in 2011 and PCC 1.1 having come at the end of 2014, after development on this compiler was restarted — and largely rewritten — beginning in 2007. PCC has been popular with the BSD distributions due to its BSD license and faster compile times than GCC, but in recent years much of the BSD developer interest appears to have shifted to Clang.

    • Perl SIG: Updating perl-Spreadsheet-ParseExcel on EPEL 5


  • Was Steve Jobs From Microsoft? Rahul Gandhi Thinks So And Gets Trolled Online

    At a recent public event, Rahul Gandhi, the Vice President of Indian National Congress was recorded associating Steve Jobs with Microsoft. Well, it could have just been a slip of the tongue, but then when has any explanation stopped internet users from trolling Mr. Gandhi.

  • Science

    • Is the ‘impact agenda’ stifling methodological innovation?

      Changes to the ways universities are financed and evaluated are impacting academic research practices and inhibiting innovative research into forced labour.

    • 3 Troubling Ways the Charter School Boom Is Like the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

      Once kids have enrolled, though, overly punitive policies create a hostile environment for those seen as difficult. In Chicago, Noble Network of Charter Schools demanded students follow a strict discipline policy or face fines. (That school phased out the imposition after years of public pressure.) Green also points to another instance: At Success Academy, the prominent charter school network in New York City led by Eva Moskowitz, one Brooklyn principal created a “Got to Go” list of difficult students. (The New York Times reported last week that the principal took a leave of absence.) Success Academy has long faced accusations that it has filtered out underperforming and difficult students.

    • Book Review: Sasha Sokolov’s ‘A School for Fools’

      In a school for fools, fighting conformity requires confronting the Soviet system—and our inner demons.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • From the shelf to the bin: food waste and the culture of rush

      Shortly after signing my contract as a store assistant for a well known low-cost German supermarket company, I came across a nasty reality that seemed not to bother the rest of my colleagues: every day, at a sleepy four o’clock in the morning, a random employee has to do the “waste inventory.”

      This consists of scanning all the products that can’t be sold anymore, one by one, and then throwing them out into a blue container. The resulting mountain of food is impressive—around seventy bakery items, a hundred pieces of fruit, and fifteen trays of meat. Over two hundred food items start the morning at the bottom of the garbage container, every single day.

      But that’s not the most surprising thing. The real scandal is that very few of these items need to be thrown away at all.

    • We Need a Mass Movement Demanding Real Social Security and Medicare for All

      The rising fortunes of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist US senator from Vermont, in the Democratic presidential primaries, provides a unique opportunity for organizing a new radical movement around key political goals including a national health care program for all Americans, not just the elderly and disabled, and a national retirement program that people can actually live on.

    • President Obama, Please Come to Flint

      I am writing this to you from the place where I was born — Flint, Michigan. Please consider this personal appeal from me and the 102,000 citizens of the city of Flint who have been poisoned — not by a mistake, not by a natural disaster, but by a governor and his administration who, to “cut costs,” took over the city of Flint from its duly elected leaders, unhooked the city from its fresh water supply of Lake Huron, and then made the people drink the toxic water from the Flint River. This was nearly two years ago.

      This week it was revealed that at least 10 people in Flint have now been killed by these premeditated actions of the Governor of Michigan. This governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the democratic election of this mostly African-American city — where 41% of the people live below the “official” poverty line — and replaced the elected Mayor and city council with a crony who was instructed to take all his orders from the governor’s office.

    • Anger and Scrutiny Grow Over Poisoned Water in Michigan City

      Jason White, vice president for medical affairs at a local hospital, McLaren Flint, said the water supply became so poor in 2014 “that we got reports from our sterile processing people, those who clean the surgical instruments, that they were seeing corrosion,” prompting the hospital to replace its water filters.

    • Budget Cuts and Negligence Poisoned the Drinking Water in Flint, Mich.

      Calls for the resignation of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are intensifying in the face of evidence that he allowed 100,000 residents of the city of Flint to continue cooking, drinking and bathing in water known to be contaminated with lead.

      Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is among those demanding that Snyder leave office.

      “There are no excuses,” Sanders said in a statement released Saturday. “The governor long ago knew about the lead in Flint’s water. He did nothing. As a result, hundreds of children were poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed to potential brain damage from lead. Gov. Snyder should resign.”

      “[F]amilies will suffer from lead poisoning for the rest of their lives,” Sanders continued. “Children in Flint will be plagued with brain damage and other health problems.”

    • Anger and Scrutiny Grow Over Poisoned Water in Michigan City

      Michigan’s attorney general opened an investigation Friday into lead contamination in Flint’s drinking water, and the governor asked President Obama to declare a disaster as National Guard troops fanned out across this anxious city to help distribute bottled water, water filters and testing kits.

      The actions drew new scrutiny to an environmental crisis that poisoned the water supply for a year and a half before it was addressed. The contamination has left a city of 100,000 people unable to use tap water for drinking, cooking or bathing, and has caused mounting political woes for the governor, Rick Snyder.


      In recent days, even as Mr. Snyder has declared a state of emergency, requested federal action and summoned the National Guard, he has continued to face intense criticism that the state has been slow to react, despite admitting that it bungled the problem.

    • Citizens Of Flint Fight Back

      Three residents of Flint, Michigan have filed a class action lawsuit against the state, Gov. Rick Snyder (R), and the city of Flint for negligence in the town’s deadly water crisis.

      This the the first legal action taken by residents of Flint — a town that’s recently discovered its tap water has been contaminated for years with dangerously elevated amounts of lead that could “irreversibly” damage child brain development in particular. And based on email records, Snyder’s administration may have known about the lead levels months ago and failed to act.

    • Sanders: Michigan Governor Must Resign over Flint Lead-Poisoning Crisis

      Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday called on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to resign for his administration’s failure to deal with a lead-poisoning crisis that has sickened thousands of children in Flint, Michigan.

      “There are no excuses. The governor long ago knew about the lead in Flint’s water. He did nothing. As a result, hundreds of children were poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed to potential brain damage from lead. Gov. Snyder should resign,” Sanders said.

    • Campbell’s Decision to Label GMOs Destroys Monsanto’s Main Argument Against Labeling

      Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have long defended their die-hard positions against mandatory GMO labeling laws, often by feigning concern about the financial impact labeling laws would have on consumers. Labeling will be costly for manufacturers, who will pass those costs on to consumers, they argue (despite studies suggesting otherwise). As if concern for consumers’ wallets had anything to do with Big Food’s determination to deceive.

  • Security

    • Talking on Searchable Encryption at 32C3 in Hamburg, Germany

      This year again, I attended the Chaos Communication Congress. It’s a fabulous event. It has become much more popular than a couple of years ago. In fact, it’s so popular, that the tickets (probably ~12000, certainly over 9000) have been sold out a week or so after the sales opened. It’s gotten huge.

    • Things I learned from OpenSSH about reading very sensitive files

      You may have heard that OpenSSH had an exploitable issue with some bad client code (which is actually two CVEs, CVE-2016-0777 and CVE-2016-0778). The issue was reported by Qualys Security, who released a fascinating and very detailed writeup on the issues. While the direct problem is basically the same as in Heartbleed, namely trusting an attacker-supplied length parameter and then sending back whatever happened to be sitting in memory, Qualys Security identified several issues that allowed private keys to leak through this issue despite OpenSSH’s attempts to handle them securely. The specific issues are also fascinating in how they show just how hard it is to securely read sensitive files.

    • How To Patch and Protect OpenSSH Client Vulnerability CVE-2016-0777 and CVE-2016-0778 [ 14/Jan/2016 ]

      The OpenSSH project released an ssh client bug info that can leak private keys to malicious servers. A man-in-the-middle kind of attack identified and fixed in OpenSSH are dubbed CVE-2016-0777 and CVE-2016-0778. How do I fix OpenSSH’s client vulnerability on a Linux or Unix-like operating system?

    • WhatsApp virus affects iOS and Android – and maybe more

      WhatsApp’s popular messaging app has been targeted yet again by cybercriminals – the latest attack affects both iOS and Android users.

      As part of a random phishing campaign, cybercriminals send fake emails represented as official WhatsApp content to spread malware when the ‘message’ is clicked on.

      The emails are being sent from a rogue email address, disguised with an umbrella branding “WhatsApp,” but if users look at the actual FROM email address, they will see it is not from the company.

    • OpenSSH, security, and everyone else

      For the moment we will continue to operate just like we have been. Things aren’t great, but they’re not terrible. Part of our problem is things aren’t broken enough yet, we’re managing to squeak by in most situations.

      The next step will be developing some sort of tribal knowledge model. It will develop in a mostly organic way. Long term security will be a teachable and repeatable thing, but we can’t just jump to that point, we have to grow into it.

    • What Is A Web App Attack, How Does It Work — 5 Stages Of A Web App Attack

      A Web App Attack is one of the biggest threats faced by websites and online businesses. In this article, we are going to tell you about 5 stages of a Web App Attack — Reconnaissance, Scanning, Gaining Access, Maintaining Access, and Covering Tracks — and how this attack works.

    • Google Fixes Cryptographic Key Security Issue in Go Programming Language

      Google has published version 1.5.3 of the Go programming language to address a security issue (CVE-2015-8618) in the math/big package that leaked one of the RSA keys used in TLS-encrypted communications.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Did ISIS Mess With the Wrong Country By Attacking Istanbul?

      But the fact of the matter is that unlike the weak-kneed Saudi regime, Turkey has the military capacity – it commands the second largest NATO army after the United States — and the local knowledge to successfully take out ISIS. The issue to date has mainly been a lack of political will and real-politik concerns. On paper, Erdogan is a US ally in the fight against ISIS. In practice, he’s been playing a sly game of using ISIS to contain the Kurds and eliminate Syrian President Assad, his mortal enemies. That may end now.

    • On the Firing Line: Bullies in Stetsons

      Scanning the Sunday New York Times during the summer of 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush read how an Idaho rancher had threatened to slit the throat of Forest Service ranger Don Oman, who had decided to reduce the number of cattle grazing on several allotments in the Twin Falls District of the Sawtooth National Forest. Bush ordered a Justice Department investigation. A White House aide called Oman and said the president wanted the ranger to know he wouldn’t tolerate harassment of federal workers.

    • On A Triumphant Day For American Diplomacy, Republicans Criticize Obama

      While many were undoubtedly praying for the return of those detained, the executive branch put in months of difficult work that helped secure their release through hard diplomacy. Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim confirms that the negotiations took place alongside those focused on the nuclear deal, and for a time it seemed as though the prisoner swap may not happen at all.

      For all the tough talk against the “Evil Empire” in the 80’s by the Reagan administration, it made a deal to return home journalist Nicholas Daniloff, who had been detained by the U.S.S.R. which was very similar to the deal the Obama administration made with Saturday’s swap.

    • Western Powers Protect Arms Markets Ignoring Civilian Killings

      The West continues its strong political and military support to one of its longstanding allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia –- despite withering criticism of the kingdom’s battlefield excesses in the ongoing war in neighboring Yemen.

      A Saudi-led coalition has been accused of using banned cluster bombs, bombing civilian targets and destroying hospitals – either by accident or by design—using weapons provided primarily by the US, UK and France.

      The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said last week the armed conflict in Yemen continues to take a terrible toll on civilians, with at least 81 civilians reportedly killed and 109 injured in December.

    • Reheating the Cold War

      The Cold War never really ended. In its imagined perfect world system, the US seeks to triumph not just over the residues of Communist rule but any manifestation of state resistance to the Empire. The difference between the earlier Cold War phase (1945-91) and now is that Russia no longer has a Warsaw Pact and Comecon as counterweights to NATO and the US/OECD world economic system. Vice President Biden in his usual well-thought-out declarations said bluntly that the US will oppose any effort on Russia’s part to recreate its own sphere of influence.

    • The US Tiger and the North Korean Mouse

      According to US intelligence services, North Korea is suspected of having perhaps two nuclear weapons and an annual military budget of $7.5 billion in 2014. The US’s roughly $600 billion Pentagon allotment includes 4,000 nuclear warheads on alert. Any one of the (eight) Trident subs that the US Navy keeps in the Pacific is capable of burning down the entire Korean landmass.

      Even if North Korea had a rocket that could aim straight, what could it expect to gain by attacking South Korea or Japan? This central question is never asked, much less answered, by the screamers on FOX, the Senators from Lockheed-Martin, or the Representatives from Northrop-Grumman.

    • Ike Had a Dream, and it Unfortunately Came True

      Today marks the 55th anniversary of a world-historical speech by the last war hero to occupy the White House: President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower. His last speech while in office holds crucial implications for the U.S. today, as well as the history we celebrate tomorrow, on Martin Luther King Day.

      Ike served in World War II as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe before becoming President. He helped encourage an industrial mobilization that enabled the U.S. to liberate Europe and defend democracy from the global threat of fascism, but he expressed concerns about its future consequences.

    • When Peace Breaks Out With Iran…

      This has been the most dramatic week in US/Iranian relations since 1979.

    • Implementation Day Fallout: Neocons Have Nuclear Meltdown Over Prisoner Exchange

      Remarkably, though, there were a couple of usually reliable voices in the anti-Iran rhetoric who did not come through. AP’s George Jahn seemed fresh out of “diplomatic sources” to smear Iran, as he co-authored a piece of straight up reporting on Implementation Day. Similarly, fear-monger Joby Warrick briefly returned from his Washington Post exile to environmental reporting this morning to write about the deal, but gave as much of his analysis to a likelihood of reformers forging ahead in Iran as hardliners bringing more peril. As with Jahn, David Sanger also wound up only writing straight reporting of Implementation Day without finding much smear material to leak against Iran.

    • Iran nuclear deal: ‘New chapter’ for Tehran as sanctions end

      Iran “has opened a new chapter” in its ties with the world, President Hassan Rouhani said, hours after international nuclear sanctions were lifted.

      The move came after the international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, said Iran had complied with a deal designed to prevent it developing nuclear weapons.

    • So What Really Happened With Those U.S. Boats Captured by Iran?

      When news first broke of the detention of two U.S. ships in Iranian territorial waters, the U.S. media uncritically repeated the U.S. government’s explanation for what happened — one boat experienced “mechanical failure” and “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters. On CBS News, Joe Biden said, “One of the boats had engine failure, drifted into Iranian waters.”


      And, according to The Intercept, the U.S. government itself now says this story was false. There was no engine failure, and the boats were never “in distress.” Once the sailors were released, the AP reported, “In Washington, a defense official said the Navy has ruled out engine or propulsion failure as the reason the boats entered Iranian waters.”

      Instead, said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at a press conference, the sailors “made a navigational error that mistakenly took them into Iranian territorial waters.” He added that they “obviously had misnavigated” when, in the words of the New York Times, “they came within a few miles of Farsi Island, where Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has a naval base.”

    • Iran Frees Americans as Sanctions Are Lifted, Frustrating Warmongers Around the World

      Within hours of the release, devastating international sanctions on Iran were lifted after international inspectors verified its compliance with the terms of last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers.

      Taken together, the prisoner swap, Iran’s compliance with its nuclear-deal commitments, and the sanction relief mark what may be a historic thaw in relations between the U.S. and Iran. This, however, should not be exaggerated, as the U.S. continues many belligerent policies directed at Iran, especially in the realm of proxy warfare (see below).


      Saudi Arabia, which also opposed the deal, has, with American support, been waging a long sectarian proxy war against Shia Iran and what the extremist Sunni Saudis perceive as an “axis” of Iran-allied Shia powers. This war has included Saudi support for jihadis fighting in the U.S.-sponsored insurgency to overthrow the Iran-allied regime in Syria, and a U.S.-supported Saudi air war and starvation blockade of the desperately poor country of Yemen.

    • ‘Diplomacy Works’: Peace Groups Hail Iran Deal; Clinton Talks Like a Hawk

      Meanwhile, Democrat Hillary Clinton struck a hawkish tone Sunday saying that if she were elected president in November, her approach to Iran would be “to distrust and verify.” Clinton added: “Iran is still violating UN Security Council resolutions with its ballistic missile program, which should be met with new sanctions designations and firm resolve.” “We’re going to watch Iran like the proverbial hawk,” Clinton said on Meet the Press.

      Peace groups, however, are applauding President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for forging the agreement with Iran which successfully shrunk Iran’s nuclear program and led to the Iranian government releasing five US citizens.

    • The CIA Coup That Remade the Middle East

      Not so or not quite so, and this detail happens to be an important point. From its Cold War origins, the CIA had such purposes every bit as much as ”intelligence gathering.” Indeed, one of the chief reasons for intelligence to be gathered can be summarized in a phrase returned to the lexicon by Hillary Clinton in regard to Syria: the “regime change opportunity.” Leaping into the “Grand Game,” as the strategies of competing empires came be known in the nineteenth century, the CIA took over the older US role treating the Caribbean as the “American Lake” and all of Latin America as “protected” from other world powers and likewise from the citizens themselves, who now and then showed signs of dumping the supporters of US corporate interests. Close in time to the Iranian action, as the comic notes at its close, comes Guatemala, where a CIA plot overthrew another elected president, this time inaugurating a military campaign against indigenous peoples resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians. But by 1953 the CIA had repeatedly dropped nationals into the Eastern Bloc, seeking to promote uprisings, with the same logic that it defended Greek royalists, erstwhile collaborators with the Axis, against the Communist-inclined successors to the Wartime partisans. For the same reasons, it had aided the scorched earth counterinsurgency in the Philippines against rebel uprisings by erstwhile anti-Japanese partisans, and purchased loyal European labor leaders for American use. Communism was the enemy, “neutralism” not much better, and direct or indirect control of the entire planet the constant purpose of US policies. Both former president Herbert Hoover and “Mister Republican” Robert Taft vainly warned Truman against creating a global, military empire and the security state that went with it. Harry left office the most unpopular president of the twentieth century, and for good reasons.


      Operation Ajax rushes toward a conclusion with a stark revelation. The Shah, installed by the British and Americans against the will of ordinary Iranians, was considered in Washington to be proof of a great foreign policy. “History, however, has delivered another verdict.” Well said. Kinzer argues in the Afterword that a different US policy might have produced a starkly different Middle East. Yes, indeed, but judging from other experiences, not very likely. A side glance at Latin America, where the US has promoted formal democracy only when it seem to benefit investors and allies, and where the “Good Neighbor Policy,” mixing good with less-than-good, was transitory, we come to more grim conclusions. Empires act as they always did. And rarely act wisely or benevolently.

    • Netanyahu at War, Stuck in the Dominant Paradigm

      The documentary ends with violence “returning to Israel and Palestinian territories” as if it had ever magically disappeared. No one asked why is there violence? Who is violent? We end with the sense that this is a personal struggle between two equally guilty men. Unfortunately, Netanyahu may be right; the world may not give Israel another chance if it continues to move rightward, promoting a profoundly racist, expansionist, militaristic agenda with no sympathy or understanding of the oppression of Palestinians who only serve as a cause célèbre for repressive Arab regimes. Unfortunately the real tragedy may be that not only did Netanyahu go too far, but Obama never went far enough.

    • Why the GOP’s Fence Fantasy Is a Farce

      A long time ago, in a not-so-faraway land, a civilization existed that was governed through a fairly rational political system. Even conservative candidates for high office had to have a good idea or two — and be quasi-qualified.

      That land was the USA. It still exists as a place, but these days, Republican candidates don’t even have to be qualified — much less sane — to run for the highest office in the land. All they need is the backing of one or more billionaires, a hot fear-button issue to exploit and a talent for pandering without shame to the most fanatical clique of know-nothings in their party. Also, they must be able to wall themselves off from reality, erecting a wall of political goop around their heads so thick that even facts and obvious truth cannot get through to them.

    • Desert Storm at 25: a Grim Anniversary

      January 16th, 2016, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, an unsettling milestone in the yet unfinished history of the United States bombing Iraq. We ought to ask, what lies in the wake of this now failed policy?


      But the problems are not merely “over there.” The United States is undergoing its own period of national soul searching that has centered on a common language of fear and violence. The buzzwords of terrorism, refugees, gun rights, and Black Lives Matter all fundamentally coalesce around concerns of acceptable forms of violence, social exclusion, and bodily containment within our country’s democratic project. Anyone who has seen the Republican debates will attest that much of the current political discourse lacks compassion, which is fundamental for a healthy democracy. Fear of refugees and immigrants, and searing concern that the federal government will prevent us from bearing arms fill the chambers of internal security with defense and bans alone rather than empathy. It is not that militarization and screening have no place in these uncertain times, but the risk is that this strategy becomes singular without much-needed emotional and political complements.

    • 25 Years Later: Photos From the First Time We Invaded Iraq

      Twenty-five years ago, former President George H.W. Bush took to the airwaves to announce the launch of what is now known as Operation Desert Storm, a US-led military operation to drive Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait. “Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait,” Bush said on the evening of January 16, 1991. “These attacks continue as I speak.” For five weeks, coalition forces bombarded Iraqi positions from the air and sea. When a ground invasion followed in February, it took only 100 hours to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

      Operation Desert Storm marked a shift in how Americans experience combat when the US military deploys in far-flung countries. For the first time, the beginning of a conflict played out on live TV, and viewers could “watch the war” from the comfort of home as it unfolded.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Police department charging TV news network $36,000 for body cam footage

      For its part, the police department said it is simply charging for the costs to review the footage and make whatever redactions are necessary to comply with legal and privacy concerns. The NYPD said it would take a police officer 190 hours to review the footage, at $120 per hour, plus an additional 114 hours to “copy the footage in a manner that will redact the exempt portions.” That brings to 304 hours the amount of time to comply with the network’s request, the NYPD said.

      The police department did not say how it came to the $120-hourly rate, other than noting that “the cost of compensating a police officer is $120 per hour.”

      In its lawsuit, NY1 said the NYPD “denied NY1′s request for unedited footage without specifying what material it plans to redact, how much material will be excluded from disclosure, or how the redaction will be performed. Instead, Respondents suggested that they may provide NY1 with edited footage, but only on the condition that NY1 remit $36,000.00, the alleged cost to the NYPD of performing its unidentified redactions.”

    • Assange ‘is free to go’ if Sweden does not charge him

      Ecuador said on Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can leave his hideout in its London embassy and go into exile in the South American country if Swedish prosecutors do not charge him after questioning him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Number of England’s marine conservation zones nearly doubles

      Seahorses, stalked jellyfish, dolphins and seagrass meadows are among the marine wildlife gaining better protection with the announcement of 23 new marine conservation zones (MCZ) by the government on Sunday.

      However, a leading expert criticised the MCZs as useless “paper parks” that offer no real protection from the dredging and trawling that has devastated large areas of England’s seas for decades.

      The 23 new zones stretch from the coast of Northumberland down to Land’s End and include Europe’s longest chalk reef off Cromer in Norfolk. But, with the 27 MCZs designated in 2013, the total of 50 is far below the 127 sites proposed by an earlier £8m government consultation. The 50 MCZs, along with other types of protected areas, now cover 20% of all English waters, almost 8,000 sq miles (20,700 sq km).

    • Obama Ends New Coal Leases On Public Lands
    • ‘Nail in the Coffin’: Obama to Halt New Coal Mining Leases on Public Lands

      The White House on Friday will announce a halt to new coal mining leases on federal lands until the administration conducts a comprehensive review on coal companies’ royalty fees—a move that is expected to give new momentum to the environmental campaigns calling for a post-fossil fuel era.

    • Obama to “Halt” New Coal Leases

      Yesterday came the news that some $400 billion worth of oil and gas projects had been delayed since the oil price crash. The amount of deferred capital spending has almost doubled since last summer, according to a report by respected consultants Wood Mackenzie.

    • David Bowie Is a Hero to Activists Fighting the Dolphin Slaughter in Japan

      The rock star made sure his anthem ‘Heroes’ was licensed to the documentary ‘The Cove’ for a pittance so it could help stop the killing of dolphins and whales.

    • The EU Common Fisheries Policy has helped, not harmed, UK fisheries

      The EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), more commonly referred to as the EU’s “disastrous fishing policy”, the EU’s “most discredited and unpopular policy” or simply “the worst EU policy”, is without a doubt one of most maligned pieces of EU legislation. With a referendum on the UK’s EU membership on the horizon, it is important to take a step back and consider whether the CFP has helped or hurt UK fisheries.

    • California Fish Species Plummet To Record Lows
    • No Jail Time for Delta 5 in Historic Case That ‘Welcomes Jurors to Climate Movement’

      Activists who blockaded oil train in September 2014 will not face financial restitution claims or jail time

    • Climate and laws fan Brazil’s forest fires

      Almost a quarter of a million forest fires were detected in Brazil last year – and the main cause of a huge increase is being attributed to climate change that brought about a year-long drought in much of the country.

      Satellite data revealed a 27.5% increase in forest fires in 2015 compared with the previous year. The total number was 235,629, almost as high as the record of 249,291 in 2010.

    • Smog or smoke? Zhejiang factory fire burns for three hours before residents notice

      A furniture factory in China’s Zhejiang province became the latest victim to the heavy smog that has blanketed Beijing and several provinces and municipalities in northern and eastern China in the last few days.

      The fire that engulfed the 1,000 sq m factory around midnight on Monday went unnoticed for three hours. It was hard for residents to tell the smoke from the smog, reported Xinhua state agency on Monday.

      When the residents finally reported the fire three hours later, it was already out of control.

  • Finance

    • Revealed: the hidden web of big-business money backing Europe and America’s pro-TTIP “think tanks”

      The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an EU-US “trade agreement” that will allow corporations to sue governments in secret tribunals to force them to repeal their safety, environmental and labor laws.

      TTIP’s most influential backers are supposedly neutral think tanks that publish papers, research and reports supporting the idea of TTIP as beneficial to Europeans and Americans.

      Bas van Beek, Jilles Mast and Sophia Beunder from the Dutch “Platform of Authentic Journalism” has published a detailed research report on the hidden funding behind these think tanks, and the way that they are used to launder policy recommendations from governments and corporations to give them the legitimacy an “objective” endorsement.

    • A Bitcoin Believer’s Crisis of Faith

      Mike Hearn, a British computer programmer, holed up in his two-bedroom apartment in Zurich over several days and nights last week, writing a cri de coeur.

      Two years ago, Mr. Hearn quit a cushy programming job at Google’s Swiss headquarters to devote himself full time to what was his great passion: the virtual currency Bitcoin. He was one of a handful of developers around the world dedicated to maintaining the basic software that governs both the creation of new Bitcoins and the network on which the financial transactions take place.

    • The Dangers of a Blockchain Monoculture

      Before bitcoin, the state-of-the-art in decentralized reconciliation over the Internet generally involved SCPing around GPG encrypted batch settlement files and processing them with zSeries mainframes. This is slow moving, not easily auditable, and clearly leaves a lot of room for improvement.

      Bitcoin was a great demonstration of what is possible. But as the entire bitcoin ecosystem approaches a gross payment volume size nearing that of single top 10 US retailer (and about 1/10,000th the transaction volume of VISA), the “publish all transactions to everybody” approach bitcoin uses is starting to show its limits.

    • Why America’s Next President Will Not Be a Socialist

      Sanders has often stated that he is a “democratic socialist” and, last November, he defined that term for the American people. Shortly afterwards, Forbes Magazine published an article that stated, “What he’s talking about, whatever the heck it is, isn’t socialism of any type or form.” And, for once, Forbes was right. Sanders is not a socialist in any shape or form. At least not according to the content of his public statements and campaign platform. But if Sanders is not a socialist, then what is he? He is a social democrat; which is radically different from being a democratic socialist.

    • Philanthropy: Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

      Private philanthropic mega-foundations are tax exempt which means 40 percent of their wealth has been siphoned off. The top seventy foundations have assets in excess of seven hundred billion dollars and in one recent year the tax subsidies amounted to a loss of $53.7 billion dollars to the U.S. treasury (Bob Reich, Boston Review, 2013). For example, as recounted in Mark Dowie’s book American Foundations, billionaire financier George Soros was conducting an executive session of his foundation when a spirited exchange occurred about grant-making priorities. Soros allegedly declared “This is my money. We will do it my way.” At that, a junior staffer pointed out that half the money didn’t belong to Soros because if not placed in the foundation “it would be in the Treasury.” The staffer’s employment was short-lived (Reich)

      Just to be clear, some Big Philanthropists have done some good work. However, as Peter Buffet (Warren Buffet’s son) has argued, philanthropy is largely about letting billionaires feel better about themselves, a form of “conscience laundering” that simultaneously functions to “keep the existing system of inequality in place…” by shaping the culture.

    • Ultra-Rich ‘Philanthrocapitalist’ Class Undermining Global Democracy: Report

      The risks of “philanthrocapitalism” are manifold, the researchers argue, including: “fragmentation and weakening of global governance”; “unstable financing”; and “lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms.”

      “What is the impact of framing the problems and defining development solutions by applying the business logic of profit-making institutions to philanthropic activities, for instance by results-based management or the focus on technological quick-win solutions in the sectors of health and agriculture?” the report poses.

      A close look at the forces at work within the groups controlling the cash flow reveals numerous causes for concern.

      “Through their multiple channels of influence, the Rockefeller and Gates foundations have been very successful in promoting their market-based and bio-medical approaches towards global health challenges in the research and health policy community—and beyond,” the authors state.

      Moreover, the report continues, “there is a revolving door between the Gates Foundation and pharmaceutical corporations. Many of the Foundation’s staff had held positions at pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, GSK, Novartis, Bayer HealthCare Services and Sanofi Pasteur.”

    • Donald Trump is a Mediocre Businessman

      I know I’ve beaten this dead horse before, but I continue to be a little surprised that no one has seriously attacked Donald Trump on his business acumen. After all, it’s his big calling card: he knows how to negotiate great deals and he’s made a ton of money from them.

      But this doesn’t seem to be true.


      But as a businessman, he’s so-so. He lets his decisions be guided by his gut, and his gut isn’t really very good. That’s where Trump Plaza, Trump Air, Trump football, Trump City, the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Steaks, and Trump University come from. That’s not much of a recommendation for the presidency.

    • The Chart That Explains Everything

      What the chart shows is that the vast increase in the monetary base didn’t impact lending or trigger the credit expansion the Fed had predicted. In other words, the Fed’s madcap pump-priming experiment (aka– QE) failed to stimulate growth or put the economy back on the path to recovery. For all practical purposes, the policy was a flop.

    • Big Crony CEO Pay Grab–Effects Beyond Greed!

      As the New Year gets underway, the highest-paid CEOs of many large corporations have already paid themselves more than the average worker will earn in the entire year! By the end of the first week of January, the highest-paid CEOs had already made as much as their average workers will earn over 8 years.

      An analysis by Equilar, a consulting firm specializing in executive pay, found that on average, the 200 highest-paid CEOs make approximately $22.6 million a year, or almost $10,800 an hour, a 9.1% increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau reports the average household earns approximately $53,000 a year.

    • Davos and Its Threat to Democracy

      This elite-led model of governance is proliferating globally like a virulent rash. The World Water Forum, the Marine Stewardship Council and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) are just three of thousands of multi-stakeholder groups .They are becoming the default option for global governance, and there is nothing in international law to stop this. What WEF is trying to do is to turn these models into a multi-stakeholder governance system. As Harris Gleckman points out, “What is ingenious and disturbing is that the WEF multi-stakeholder governance proposal does not require approval or disapproval by any intergovernmental body. Absent any intergovernmental action the informal transition to multi-stakeholder governance as a partial replacement of multilateralism can just happen.”

    • Just 62 people now own the same wealth as half the world’s population, research finds

      Wealth inequality has grown to the stage where 62 of the world’s richest people own as much as the poorest half of humanity combined, according to a new report.

      The research, conducted by the charity Oxfam, found that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population – 3.6 billion people – has fallen by 41 per cent, or a trillion US dollars, since 2010.

      While this group has become poorer, the wealth of the richest 62 people on the planet has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76 trillion.

    • Patent term extensions in TPP likely to increase health-care costs for Canadians

      Problems? Oh, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a few! Read about them all in the new series The Trouble with the TPP.

      The Trouble with the TPP series now shifts to patent law reforms and the likely costs to the health-care system. The TPP patent provision changes are very significant since they lock Canada into extending the term of patent protection, which will ultimately increase health-care costs.

      Moreover, global organizations such Doctors Without Borders has warned that the agreement will raise the price of medicines for millions of people, particularly in the developing world.

      The Conservative government tried to downplay the impact of patent law changes in the TPP, arguing that the agreement is consistent with current law or is “in line with outcomes secured in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA).” The reference to CETA, which comes from the government’s TPP IP summary, represents a neat of sleight of hand.

    • Charleston Workers March For Higher Wages Outside The Democratic Debate

      “Making $15 an hour would help me save money for my kids’ college education,” she told ThinkProgress. “It would allow me to stand on my own two feet and not depend on public assistance.”

    • TTIP’s regulatory cooperation has already begun attacking democracy

      The origins of EU-US proposals for “regulatory cooperation” show a process dominated by big business right from the start. The ongoing TTIP talks are seeking to enshrine and fortify a dangerous precedent, argue Kenneth Haar and Max Bank.

    • The 21st Century: An Era Of Fraud — Paul Craig Roberts

      In America today there are no free financial markets. All the markets are rigged by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury. The regulatory agencies, controlled by those the agencies are supposed to regulate, turn a blind eye, and even if they did not, they are helpless to enforce any law, because private interests are more powerful than the law.

    • The Rise of Sanders Claus

      Well that didn’t take long. From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy the Presidency in 5 years. Or so it might go. Bernie Sanders is the Occupy Wall Street candidate for President. In the approximate.


      Regardless, candidates need to be more than popular and novel and potent and real, they need to be able to marshal funds and have campaign competence, and both Trump and Sanders seem real about that too.

      Especially indirectly, the Occupy Wall Street movement has contributed great rhetorical and social influence and credibility to Bernie Sanders’ campaign, which has become part of a reciprocating cycle to social change.

      Is the Sanders’ campaign currently draining precious resources and efforts from other social change efforts, and if so does the drain go beyond anything an ongoing or successful Sanders’ candidacy can offset? Or is the charge flowing in the other direction?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Bill Maher Explains How Trump Is Making It Easier for a Bernie Sanders Win

      When Putin was praising Trump and Joe Scarborough said to him, “You know, Putin murders journalists,” Trump’s response was, “Yeah, we kill people, too.” That’s the kind of thing Noam Chomsky says, you know? So look, Trump would be a disaster as president, don’t get me wrong, but I think he could actually be turned around on some issues.

    • Glenn Beck: I Predicted Donald Trump’s Rise As “A Great Showman … Who Will Say Nothing”
    • Bernie Sanders’ Run Is No Fairy Tale

      If you thought the political landscape couldn’t be more unsettled, think again. In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders is surging. Hillary Clinton now faces not a coronation, not a cakewalk, but a contest—one she could lose.

      Has there ever been a worse election to be an establishment candidate? Certainly not in my lifetime. When a pitchfork-populist billionaire is leading one party’s race and a self-described socialist is rapidly gaining ground in the other, I think it’s safe to say we’re somewhere we haven’t been before.

    • We Haven’t Scratched the Surface of What Bernie Is Capable Of

      Meanwhile, Sanders punches up at the elites that, frankly, have more power in our politics than he does, or than you do, or than any politician does. He tells his audiences that he can’t do it alone, that the money power has grown too great for any one person to combat. He needs them more than they need him. He is not Napoleon, he is a democratic politician. And that makes all the difference and that’s why the “populist anger” narrative is a shuck. Anyone who says they could vote for either Bernie Sanders or He, Trump has been living for the last nine months with their head in a laundry bag.

    • Battle Between Trump And Cruz Goes Nuclear

      The bromance between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is officially over. The two leading candidates for the Republican nomination had previously pledged not to attack each other. Now, all bets are off.

    • British Parliament Will Formally Debate Banning Donald Trump

      On Monday, the British parliament will formally debate a proposal to ban Donald Trump. The debate comes after more than 500,000 Brits signed a petition in support of banning Trump from the UK.

    • Rupert Murdoch: Donald Trump Has “The Winning Strategy”
    • AUDIO: Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Defies the Two-Party System

      Stein, a physician, also talks about her departure from the Democratic Party, the hollowness of Hillary Clinton, her hopes for Bernie Sanders and how the political process functions to suppress independent voices.

    • Sanders surges in debate that gets at core of Democratic divide

      Bernie Sanders dominated Sunday night’s Democratic debate here, overpowering Hillary Clinton in a format she typically controls. With polls showing Clinton on the ropes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders’ strong performance may have further imperiled Clinton’s once-inevitable path to her party’s presidential nomination.

      Touting his surging poll numbers in the two key early states, Sanders was prepared and in command throughout the two-hour debate sponsored by NBC News and YouTube. In previous appearances, Clinton has easily dominated the stage. But turning in his strongest debate performance yet, Sanders drove the conversation – brushing aside her attacks as he doggedly returned to his core message of political revolution.

    • Robert Reich: Six Responses to Bernie Skeptics

      America’s most successful and beloved government programs are social insurance – Social Security and Medicare. A highway is a shared social expenditure, as is the military and public parks and schools. The problem is we now have excessive socialism for the rich (bailouts of Wall Street, subsidies for Big Ag and Big Pharma, monopolization by cable companies and giant health insurers, giant tax-deductible CEO pay packages) – all of which Bernie wants to end or prevent.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • UK Intelligence Agency GCHQ Will Pay Student Hackers [Ed: here comes the PR!]
    • GCHQ to host summer schools for UK students
    • Places on offer at summer school
    • GCHQ summer schools to pay teenage hackers £250 a week
    • Senator Franken Concerned Over Google’s Treatment of Student Privacy

      After we filed our complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about Google’s unauthorized collection of personal information from school children using Chromebooks and the company’s educational apps, we heard from hundreds of parents around the country concerned about K-12 student privacy. This week, an important voice in Washington joined their growing chorus.

      On Wednesday, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking for information about the privacy practices of Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Several of his questions reflect concern over the issues we raised with the FTC. Sen. Franken is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

    • Groups Sue Over North Carolina’s Ag Gag Law, Saying It Violates The Constitution

      Last year, North Carolina made it nearly impossible for citizens to legally gather evidence on and report instances of wrongdoing — animals being mistreated by farm workers, for instance, or pollution being dumped into a stream. Now, a group of organizations is suing over the law, saying it tramples on North Carolinians’ constitutional rights.

      In the lawsuit, filed this week against North Carolina’s attorney general, the groups allege that North Carolina’s House Bill 405 “attacks the core values embodied by the federal and state constitutional protections of speech and the press” and “should be declared unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.” The law in question allows business owners to sue people who take photos, video, or any other data from their property without their consent. That in and of itself presents constitutional questions, but it’s the law’s breadth that’s so concerning, said lead council for the case David Muraskin.

    • EU court rules Facebook’s Friend Finder illegal for ‘harassing’ non-members

      SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook has seen its Friend Finder feature ruled illegal in Germany after a court said that it “harassed” non-members of the website.

      The German High Court’s ruling confirms the rulings of two lower courts, according to Reuters. The court said that the promotional feature constituted “advertising harassment”, noting that Facebook also didn’t do enough to inform people how it was using their contacts’ data.

      “After six years of proceedings, the German Supreme Court confirms on all points that Facebook may not use personal information without consent for promotional purposes,” said chairman of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations Klaus Müller in a statement.

    • The Color of Surveillance

      The FBI has a lead. A prominent religious leader and community advocate is in contact with a suspected sleeper agent of foreign radicals. The attorney general is briefed and personally approves wiretaps of his home and offices. The man was born in the United States, the son of a popular cleric. Even though he’s an American citizen, he’s placed on a watchlist to be summarily detained in the event of a national emergency. Of all similar suspects, the head of FBI domestic intelligence thinks he’s “the most dangerous,” at least “from the standpoint of … national security.”

    • What’s missing in the new NSA report?

      Some experts argue that though it clarifies answers to some of the questions, it still leaves more open for debate.

      “It leaves more questions than it resolves,” Julian Sanchez told FCW. Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and an expert on surveillance and privacy issues, analyzed the report for the Just Security blog.

      Sanchez noted that the bigger question is on what exactly is going on in the black box — the NSA’s architecture which describes how the agency can query telephonic metadata.

    • NSA maintains phone surveillance regime meets privacy standards

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) has released a transparency report claiming that its updated phone surveillance regime meets the civil liberty and privacy standards of the recently enacted USA Freedom Act.

      The Freedom Act, signed into law by president Barack Obama in June, replaced the much-criticised US Patriot Act and has since forced the NSA to rethink how it conducts surveillance.

    • Why Would Most Americans Give Up Privacy for Freebies and Security?

      Digital privacy is an issue that affects anyone who interacts with modern technology on a regular basis — that is, at the least, everyone reading this. While the concept of privacy in this age of electronic communication may appear to be a hopeless and impossibly complex matter, this is not the reality.

    • Man denies dangerous driving on A40 outside GCHQ, Cheltenham, and assaulting another motorist

      Alleged ‘road rage’ driver Danny Copeland, 36, told a judge he was so sure of his innocence that he planned to defend himself and not employ a lawyer.

      But, he said, his wife had prevailed on him to change his mind and he now did want to be legally represented at his trial.

    • Police in Colombia Accused of Spying on Journalist Investigating Prostitution Ring

      COLOMBIA’S NATIONAL POLICE IS facing allegations that it wiretapped a high-profile journalist investigating the force’s involvement in a prostitution ring.

      While the attorney general’s office and Colombia’s president have separately ordered investigations into the allegations, critics say the probes are being hindered by death threats and conflicts of interests. This is the third major wiretapping scandal in Colombia in less than a decade.

      The latest scandal broke when prominent radio host and former news anchor Vicky Dávila announced that she, her family, and her reporting team had been trailed and wiretapped by the national police.

  • Civil Rights

    • Finally, Police Misconduct Against an Unarmed Black Man Gets Bipartisan Attention

      “I normally incline to give the police the benefit of the doubt,” says Ian Tuttle over at National Review. And that’s true. In fact, it’s fair to say that pretty much everyone at National Review supports the police under almost all circumstances. Nobody at NR ever manages to mount much concern over charges of racism—except to ridicule and disparage them as products of liberal victimology, of course—and they have especially little patience for charges of racism in police conduct.

    • Chuck Norris vs. Communism

      “Chuck Norris vs. Communism” translates this mixture of buoyant community spirit with an ever-present fear of surveillance, but it is the humour and warmth that stops the film from being dull. We see teenage boys emulating Rocky’s training regime on grim Soviet-style housing estates. We get to know the translator, Irina, who replaces all swear words with her own prim versions, so the audiences are unwittingly innocent when confronted with Hollywood norms of sex and violence.

    • Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed

      Billy is a troubled 14-year-old boy. He stands at the door of the classroom, shouting.
 Moments later, a burly officer storms into the room. He shouts in the boy’s face and then grabs him, pushing him on to a table, twisting his arms behind his back, and calling for others to help.

      As a second officer arrives, Billy cries in pain: “Aaarrgh, I can’t breathe… Aaarrgh, what are you doing?”

      The senior officer has his fingers on the boy’s throat.

      This was only one of several scenes of child cruelty revealed in footage recorded by an undercover reporter for last night’s BBC Panorama documentary on the G4S-run Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent.

      In other scenes a boy is goaded and attacked by an officer because of the football team he supports. Another boy, who has self-harmed, is subjected to unlawful violent restraint on the anniversary of his mother’s death.

    • Crime (?) and Punishment-A Comparative Study

      When we see how uncivilized the behavior of some of our closest allies in the world can be, it is good to reflect how fortunate we are to live where we live, the words of most of the Republican candidates for the presidency notwithstanding. It all came to mind when reading the descriptions of how Saudi Arabia, one of our closest allies in the Middle East, celebrated the advent of 2016 by conducting the mass execution of 47 people, including the popular Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimir al-Nimr. It was a good way for the Saudis to welcome in 2016 since 2015 had proved to be a banner year for the executioners in Saudi Arabia. In that year Saudi Arabia executed 158 people forcing the Saudi government to begin running ads seeking 8 additional executioners. The ads said applicants needed no special qualifications. For a country with a population of only 28.3 million the execution of 158 people was quite an achievement. (To put this in some context, the United States with a population of 320 million people only executed 27 people in 2015.)

    • Air Force Forced to Yank Ad for Martin Luther King Jr. Day “Fun Shoot” Target Practice

      King, of course, was shot dead by an assassin in Memphis in 1968.

      The flyer, which prominently featured King’s likeness, advertised a noon gathering on January 18 — a national holiday in observance of the late civil rights icon — for the Robins Air Force Base Trap and Skeet Club. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, an official at the military base’s Outdoor Recreation office said the flyer was created by a marketing team. The 78th Force Support Squadron at Robins scheduled the trap, reported the Air Force Times. For $20, the poster promised, attendees would get “two rounds and lunch.”

    • We’re Witnessing the Decline and Fall of White America as We Know It

      All bodies are created equal, but in the U.S. some bodies have historically been more equal than others.

    • Cambodian trials offer important lessons

      For years afterward, the US government and its allies, fighting Cold War battles in the wake of the Communist victory in neighbouring Vietnam, cynically backed the ousted Khmer Rouge at the United Nations.

    • Congressman: Obama ‘The Most Racially-Divisive President’ Since Slavery

      A congressman from Alabama who once joked about shooting undocumented immigrants criticized President Obama on Thursday as “the most racially-divisive president” of the United States since the Civil War.

      “There probably has not been a more racially-divisive, economic-divisive, president in the White House since we had presidents who supported slavery,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said during a radio interview on the Dale Jackson Show.

    • Police Unions Take Credit for Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight Doing ‘Poorly’ at Box Office

      The president of the New York Police Benevolent Association (PBA), Patrick Lynch, took credit for the Hateful Eight making “only” $43 million at the box office so far since its release on Christmas. The New York PBA was the first of several police unions around the country to call for a boycott of the Quentin Tarantino movie after the director appeared in an October police reform rally.

      I’m a human being with a conscience,” Tarantino said at that rally. “And if you believe there’s murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I’m here to say I’m on the side of the murdered.”

    • Top U.N. Rights Officer: Gang Rape And Mass Graves Point To Mounting Ethnic Conflict In Burundi

      Citing reports of mass graves and gang rapes, the top human rights’ officer for the United Nations warned that Burundi is teetering on the brink of renewed ethnic conflict.

      “All the alarm signals, including the increasing ethnic dimension of the crisis, are flashing red,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday.

      The central African nation has seen a wave of violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza said in April that he would run for a third term. Although opponents decried the move as illegal, he was re-elected in July in elections that were largely believed to have been unfair. Deadly crackdowns by government forces and retaliatory attacks by opposition groups have periodically shaken the country since then.

    • Woman Faces A Year In Jail For Tagging Former Sister-in-law On Facebook

      A New York woman, Maria Gonzalez, faces a year in prison for violating a restraining order by tagging her former sister-in-law on Facebook and calling her ‘stupid’. The woman has been charged with criminal contempt and a year in jail.

    • Lawsuit Over Wisconsin Ban on Selling Homemade Cookies

      Sell a cookie, go to jail.

      As preposterous as it may sound, in Wisconsin you can go to jail and face hefty fines for selling homemade baked goods.

      Wisconsin is one of only two states to ban entrepreneurs from selling cookies, muffins and breads simply because they are made in a home kitchen.

    • We Have Always Been Good Haters: Our Donald Trump Problem Goes All the Way Back to the Founding Fathers

      As historians, we’ll go so far as to suggest that the culture-warring drums that daily beat are but reverberations of the 18th-century Enlightenment and 19th-century struggles to define America’s moral position in the world. That’s how not far we’ve come in 2016. We are not independent of our cultural inheritance. Americans were always idealists. And always good haters.

      Historians are taught to see the present through a long lens. To take one hot-button issue of the here and now–perceptions of immigrants from Mexico and the Islamic world–a student of the past knows that the visceral language used to tar new arrivals as pollutants and regard them en masse as objects of suspicion is as old as our country. In colonial Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin had no patience for Germans who refused to abandon their native language. The Irish, across generations, were despised as simple-minded, argumentative drunks and rabble-rousers. Swarthy southern Europeans and Jews were “filthy”; Chinese were “loathsome” and legislatively prohibited from entering the country.

    • A Dream and a Plan — the Full Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

      Martin Luther King, Jr. day, 2016. This year, as in the past, we’ll hear excerpts from his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream,” and references to his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize — but probably nothing about his 1967 plan to make the dream come true.

      Yet his plan is now imperative, more relevant than when he was alive. Americans must act to resolve extreme poverty, income inequality, global warming, racial and gender injustices, and other matters. Yet what are we hearing from the presidential candidates? Mainly the standard litany of conventional policies.

      King’s plan: “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

    • [Thailand] Ban on relatives standing for House, Senate

      The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) has included a provision to prohibit potential MP and Senate candidates whose parents and spouses have political positions from competing for seats.

      The charter writers agreed to add the ban as a provisional clause while they were deliberating the chapter concerning parliament, CDC spokesman Chartchai Na Chiangmai told a news conference at a hotel in Phetchaburi.

    • Controversial article to remain in new charter

      AN ARTICLE prohibiting the overthrow of the country’s constitutional monarchy and the grabbing of power through unconstitutional means, which almost got the Pheu Thai Party dissolved in 2013, will remain in the new constitution despite talk about it being the source of conflict.

    • We Just Heard the Dumbest Comment About Immigration of the Campaign

      Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum offered a spirited defense of mass deportations at Thursday’s Republican undercard debate in South Carolina. Only he didn’t call it deportation. Instead, he explained, immigration officials would “export America” back to Latin America.

    • Oregon Militia’s Behavior Increasingly Brazen as Public Property Destroyed

      Holm also said the fish and wildlife service had received reports that the occupiers were accessing federal records at the refuge, raising concerns about a possibly dangerous data breach. He said the government was now contracting with a data protection and credit monitoring service to safeguard refuge employees whose personal data may have been compromised.

    • Education, Junior High, Police, and Fixing Our Killing Problem

      Many are hoping in this new year that the killing of unarmed African Americans by police officers will stop, but the situation does not seem to be improving. For those of us in the Chicago area, for example, it seems to be getting worse, and so we must ask what can be done?

      There is a path forward. People are taught to be racist; they are not born that way. The same goes for people who are violent. Humans are naturally more cooperative than violent, despite the myth of our violent ancestors. Racism does not have to exist, and neither does endemic violence. The killing of black people could be stopped with specific additions to education and training. Police officers can be taught about the concept of “race” which is an invented social construct, not a biological reality. Police officers can also be taught conflict resolution strategies that allow them to “keep the peace” rather than add to the disruption of it. These changes could produce incredibly positive results if we simply decide to do what is necessary.

    • David Cameron: More Muslim women should ‘learn English’ to help tackle extremism

      The Prime Minister is expected to call on more Muslim mothers to learn English and help to prevent their sons from turning to extremism

    • Muslim women’s segregation in UK communities must end – Cameron

      A £20m fund to teach Muslim women in the UK to speak English will tackle segregation and help them resist the lure of extremism, David Cameron says.

      While there was no “causal connection” between poor English and extremism, language lessons would make communities “more resilient”, Mr Cameron said.

      But some Muslims have accused him of wrongly “conflating” the two issues.

      The PM also suggested failing to learn English could affect people on spousal visas who wanted to settle in the UK.

    • Norway imam: Muslim kids should shun birthday parties

      Imam Abdikadir Mahamed Yussuf in Kristiansand thinks that Muslims shouldn’t wish people happy birthday, attend birthday parties or say ‘Merry Christmas’.

    • For English cop, Detroit’s streets are a culture shock

      As a police officer in England, Michael Matthews doesn’t carry a gun — but while on a recent ride-along with Detroit cops, he says there were times he wished he was packing.

      Detroit’s rampant violence, “Third World poverty,” and the availability of firearms aren’t as prevalent in his homeland, said Matthews, a 41-year-old Scotland Yard cop who’s in Detroit researching a book he’s writing about the city’s police department.

      “In the U.K., officers don’t go to calls thinking they could be shot at any second,” the 21-year police veteran said. “The average cop in London deals with fights, domestic calls, and burglaries. In a year, they might never get called to a homicide scene.

    • The lack of access to justice is a national disgrace

      It’s a remarkable statement for the lord chief justice to make. But unfortunately it’s right. In Britain, in the 21st century, a growing number of people can’t afford to defend themselves and make sure their rights are respected. The facts are startling. In 2009-10, more than 470,000 people received advice or assistance for social welfare issues. By 2013-14, the year after the government’s reforms to legal aid came into force, that number had fallen to less than 53,000 – a drop of nearly 90%.

    • Ten Years After Last Execution, California’s Death Row Continues to Grow

      TEN YEARS AGO TODAY, on January 17, 2006, California executed Clarence Ray Allen, the oldest person ever put to death in the state. It was just after midnight — the day after Allen’s 76 birthday — and the execution was couched in controversy. Allen was legally blind, diabetic, and relied on a wheelchair. He had suffered a heart attack the previous fall. Later, when he asked that they just let him die if he were to have another heart attack before his execution date, prison officials said they could do no such thing.

      Yet when the press told the story of Allen’s death, the prevailing descriptions were of a man in fine health — not nearly as weak as described by the attorneys who had tried to save his life. “In final moments, killer didn’t seem so frail,” read the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle, which noted Allen’s “robust ability”: how he stood up on his own from his wheelchair before being helped to the gurney by four prison guards; how he “vigorously craned his head” toward his supporters in the viewing chamber. California Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, who witnessed the execution, called it “incredibly humane,” remarking, “For 76 years old, he looked to be in remarkably good shape.” When it was revealed that officials at San Quentin had to inject Allen with a second deadly dose of potassium chloride — raising potential questions about the efficacy of the state’s execution protocol — the Associated Press presented this as proof that the “barrel-chested prisoner’s heart was strong to the end.”

    • The Mirage of Justice

      If you are poor, you will almost never go to trial—instead you will be forced to accept a plea deal offered by government prosecutors. If you are poor, the word of the police, who are not averse to fabricating or tampering with evidence, manipulating witnesses and planting guns or drugs, will be accepted in a courtroom as if it was the word of God. If you are poor, and especially if you are of color, almost anyone who can verify your innocence will have a police record of some kind and thereby will be invalidated as a witness. If you are poor, you will be railroaded in assembly-line production from a town or city where there are no jobs through the police stations, county jails and courts directly into prison. And if you are poor, because you don’t have money for adequate legal defense, you will serve sentences that are decades longer than those for equivalent crimes anywhere else in the industrialized world.

      If you are a poor person of color in America you understand this with a visceral fear. You have no chance. Being poor has become a crime. And this makes mass incarceration the most pressing civil rights issue of our era.

    • Barrett Brown Named a Finalist for National Magazine Award

      This is a little crazy. And delightful. Here’s what has happened: in 2011, I wrote a story about Barrett Brown that won a National Magazine Award. (An NMA, for those not in the biz, is like a Pulitzer of magazine journalism. (Even though they recently began awarding Pulitzers for magazines, the NMAs are still the country’s highest magazine award.)) Then I spoke at Barrett’s sentencing hearing, and he still got sent to prison for 63 months. But prison, in some ways, has been good to Barrett. He started collecting stories and writing about his Kafkaesque life behind bars in a column for D Magazine called “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail.” It was a pretty dang good column. So good that last summer Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept stole it away from us. No hard feelings. We were happy that Barrett’s work had found a larger audience. Well, yesterday, Barrett’s column was named as a finalist in the NMA’s Columns and Commentary category. Some fun trivia about this development:

    • King for a Day – the Rest of the Year, Not So Much

      Since 1986, Americans have observed the third Monday of January as a federal holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Schools and communities put on marches and commemorative events. Some workers (sadly not including most of the working poor of all races to whose advancement King dedicated his life) get the day off.

      It’s an election year, so we can expect bombardment by politicians’ pledges of allegiance to this or that subset of Dr. King’s values.

      Republicans will piously assure us that they hew to King’s dream of “a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Then they’ll get back to finding new ways to keep African-Americans from voting.

    • Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations Overlook His Critiques of Capitalism and Militarism

      America’s celebrations of Martin Luther King, Jr. typically focus on his civil rights activism: the nonviolent actions that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

      The last few years of King’s life, by contrast, are generally overlooked. When he was assassinated in 1968, King was in the midst of waging a radical campaign against economic inequality and poverty, while protesting vigorously against the Vietnam War.

    • I Wonder What Dr. King Would Say

      That our nation can be both vengeful and impersonal at the same time horrifies. I wonder what Dr. King would say.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • World Bank opposes Facebook’s Free Basics

      Mark Zuckerberg’s Free Basics, the free but restrictive internet service that has run into trouble with Indian authorities, has picked up yet another opponent, the World Bank.

      Its World Development Report released Wednesday called Free Basics, which is a part of Facebook’s internet.org initiative, the “antithesis of net neutrality and a distortion of markets”.

      The bank is not opposing Free Basics specifically, or its Indian rollout. It believes any attempt to throttle the net anywhere in the world, by any service, is a threat to fundamental human rights.

    • FAQ HTTP 2

      There’s an add-on for Firefox that will show you when you’re using an HTTP/2 or a SPDY connection (it’s the tiny green symbol in the location field).

    • Here’s Why US Government Will Be Losing Control Over The Internet This Year

      In the upcoming days, US government, which played a major role in deciding the fate of the internet, might be losing its grip of control. Now ICANN, the body which controls the internet, will comprise of 16 members with an equal stake on their names. While it may not change the way things work, it would help reassure users, businesses and governments about its integrity, according to ICANN chief Fadi Chehade.

  • DRM

    • Fighting DRM in the W3C

      The W3C added DRM to the web’s standards in 2013. This doesn’t reverse that terrible decision, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    • Happy 30th birthday, IETF: The engineers who made the ‘net happen

      Special report Thirty years ago today, 16 January 1986, the Internet Engineering Task Force – IETF – was born at a meeting in San Diego.

      It was humble beginnings and the organization that is more responsible than any other for turning a research project into a viable global communications network boasted an initial attendance of just 21 people. Reflecting the internet’s beginnings, everyone in the room was tied in some way to the US government.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • An Update on the Yosemite Park Trademark Dispute

        I wrote a post yesterday about a New York company that claims it owns the trademark to various locations at Yosemite National Park. Based on the story I read, this seemed obviously outrageous, and that was the tone I took.

    • Copyrights

      • The Anatomy of Copyright Lawsuits – Number Of People Sued Drops By 84% Since 2010

        A report published by Mathew Sag claims that the number of people sued for illegal file sharing in the US has decreased by 84% since the year 2010. The report includes statistics from the year 1994 till 2015, featuring numerical data for trademark, patent and copyright lawsuits filed in the 20-year time span in various US District Courts. Most of the cases filed are John Doe lawsuits which are considered as a monetization strategy implemented by the Plaintiffs.

European Patent Office (EPO) is Not “the Real World” But a Parallel Universe Without Any Regard for the Rule of Law

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: An example of Internet trolls and a reminder that they oughtn’t be fed because it proves to be a waste of effort and a distraction from the important topics (like Topić)

AS an international institution the EPO should, in principle, obey international law. Instead what they have there is nepotism and Putinism (autocracy). Don’t be mistaken. I am personally strongly in favour of the European Union (EU), but the EPO is not part of it. The EPO predates the EU by several decades and unlike the EU or EP (or even the EC), the EPO does not even pretend to be democratic. It doesn’t even obey the EPC. One day we’ll research, further explore, and finally report on the roots of the EPO (one source tells us that the EPO took over a commercial company).

“What happened on Friday was elimination of the heads of unions, who had already been suspended for a couple of months (severely limiting their ability to operate).”Worth noting, in light of what happens in IP Kat right about now, is that people need to focus on the abuses of the management and the innocence of staff representatives whom this management has just fired. Do not feed the trolls (see Wikipedia’s definition). Yes, trolls do exist and they are floating the management’s talking points, whether deliberately or not (and whether financially compensated for it or not). There was no “investigation” of staff representatives; it’s a euphemism for union busting. What happened on Friday was elimination of the heads of unions, who had already been suspended for a couple of months (severely limiting their ability to operate). ILO is far too slow to help the fired representatives and the ‘appeal’ system is internal at the EPO (i.e. sham trial guaranteed). Contact national delegates for possible reprieve (some of them do listen and even respond).

For better or for worse (considering Google’s spotty record on anonymity at Blogspot), IP Kat became a de facto go-to forum for anonymous people to express their grievances regarding the EPO. Yesterday we saw some troll trying to discredit Techrights. “Just sayin`” (that’s the pseudonym) wrote:

Boohoo, cry me a river! Two employees have been fired.
Do you know how many get fired daily in the real world?
And judging from the letters published by Techrights, this was even justified after them harrassing colleagues.
Get real people, also staffreps can make mistakes. And they also get to pay the price.

No, I`m not a management troll, just being realistic.

Yes, “not a management troll”. Well, apparently a troll nonetheless. The above is designed to provoke (“Boohoo, cry me a river!”) and it’s a pattern that’s familiar to us. It’s a troll who distracts and one who derails the discussion, leading to a debate about an entirely different topic, discouraging fruitful participation and turning off readers/audience. We wrote many articles about such trolls over the years (usually in relation to Free/Open Source software).

The letters and rebuttals which we published here show the opposite of what’s claimed by the troll. Notice the troll’s statement, “I`m not a management troll, just being realistic.” If you’re not a troll, you don’t need to state that. As MinceR put it in the #techrights IRC channel last night, “he merely stated that he’s a troll, but not from the management” (recall the FTI Consulting contract).

This isn’t the first time we see such provocation inside IP Kat. We previously covered it in “Suppression of Voices Critical of the European Patent Office (EPO)“. Readers always swallow the bait and a lot of efforts is spent cleaning up the trolls’ vomit. Some people correctly identified this as a troll, but nonetheless, the troll received some rather detailed replies, such as this:

I believe only one was fired for alleged harassment. The other was fired for what were deemed by the EPO to be unfair Ts&Cs in the union legal support contract.

Just being “realistic”? Hmm… I had another word in mind…

You should probably try to get your facts straight before you shoot off your mouth.

Just sayin’ ;-)

Another wrote:

Sure, people get fired.

Yet, the first reason is…. lacking secrecy on your own case? Sure, that publication reflects badly on the EPO, so it does contravene the ServRegs, but does it reflect badly because of the stuff being published, or because of the content? And who is responsible for the conten?

The alleged harrasment? The Disciplinary Committee pointed out that only one of seven witnesses that were “interviewed” (with extremely suggestive questions) was able to confirm the case….

I have sincere issues with how the case was handled.
Also, implementing a harsher punishment than proposed by the DC?

Furthermore: further reforms were put on the tables of the consultative organs, where the staff representation was lacking representatives. I’ll bet that BB will use the votes, which were now 10 pro and 9 no as a proof that the reforms are wanted by the majority of staff, as those will be the first ones where he did not have to break the tie as chairperson in the obligatory consulting…

Anyway, think what you want, you’re able to make your own opinion, and it is your right to point out that most employees are worse off. But those do have access to court decissions in a reasonable time, we do not. Thus we have no means against an unjustified firing.

Some people put a lot of effort into it, responding to the troll with facts:

As extremely sad as this is, the firing of the two and the severe sanctions against the third (she has no hope of ever reaching her former salary again) elected staff representatives and elected union leaders are, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more who have been investigated, harassed, intimidated, or quietly forced into retirement. And just imagine the shivers this imparts to the remaining staff: most of them patent judges in search, examination, opposition, and appeals.

On the broader scale, the system of checks and balances, if it ever deserved the name as it has been designed in the EPC (dear authors, I’m sorry having to write this) and the Staff Regulations, has been made an utter mockery by Mr. Battistelli. Administrative Council is being mishandled; anybody who dares to disagree sees her cooperation budget annihilated, not to mention the time allotted to her country in the various committees drop precipitously.

Mr. Battistelli’s “social democracy” has made it much more difficult for staff to voice opinion or raise grievances. A million miles from striving to design a better system, Mr. Battistelli apparently takes particular pleasure at creating conflicts of interest and opportunities for harassment and intimidation. The former General Advisory Committee, a forum for management and staff representatives to discuss proposed changes at the Office that are of importance to staff, has been re-designed into the General Consultative Committee and to the point of irrelevance that Mr. Battistelli has no inhibitions about publishing the list of its members for 2016 with more members from the (top) management than those appointed by the staff representation, then reducing the staff side further by firing the next day.

In addition, the very staff representatives that have now been fired had already been reporting directly to PD HR. Even the rules for election of staff representation – a very important function, separate from the unions, in the social contract in Germany and, formerly, the EPO – have been designed by the administration. These are just a few examples; there are lots more in all important areas of the Office. The internal appeals process has been made much more intimidating to the appellant than it ever was. The system of occupational health and data protection have been all but killed. Small wonder that this has lead to several colleagues taking their lives recently.

Having fired the most courageous staff reps, Mr. Battistelli has reached new heights. No individual in the Office and hardly anybody in the Administrative Council dares to contradict him. It appears that it is only a matter of time before all staff will be afraid to demonstrate.

What’s on the plus side? Production has gone up, possibly at the expense of quality, and most staff still have a job that many of them can hardly afford to leave, having abandoned their careers as engineers and scientists years ago. It’s less secure than before, much less pleasurable, in some aspects becoming shameful.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can afford to voice my opinion openly and that’s why I post my thoughts here anonymously.

This one comment correctly states that “one reason for dismissal was to reveal that they were being investigated, I guess that is also normal? And (allegedly)assisting someone who hasn’t been disciplined for allegedly doing something was a second reason.” Here is the comment in full:

Thanks for that. Since the accused are not allowed to reveal that they are accused, let alone what they are accused of, your insight is useful. Since one reason for dismissal was to reveal that they were being investigated, I guess that is also normal? And (allegedly)assisting someone who hasn’t been disciplined for allegedly doing something was a second reason. Again normal? And the complainant being the one who led the investigation and led the prosecution? Normal again?

I appreciate that sometimes bad things happen, but is that reason to accept it? And when that comes from a body operating in the legal world and with seeming total legal immunity, is that not questionable? I see your point, but I have to politely disagree.

Here is a Dutch irony being pointed out:

The decision came back to my mind after the dismissal of the two SUEPO officials.

Well, I guess we all should thank the Dutch government for having decided not to enforce the decision of an independent court for the latest actions of Mr. Battistelli – after all, the message from the Dutch minister was quite clear: you’re free to do whatever you want, Mr. Battistelli!.
One year later, the consequences are here for all to see – and what an irony that the most prominent victim of Battistelli is a Dutch citizen! (Elisabeth Hardon)

Ah, and many thanks to the Administrative Council of the EPO too, who did not think that having the Office being accused of infringing human rights was so important after all. What happened in the last days, honourable members of the AC of the EPO, are the results of your greed, lack of morals and cowardice.

Here is a response to what we’re interpreting as an opportunistic attack on Techrights, as if we have proven the management right and just:

” And judging from the letters published by Techrights, this was even justified after them harrassing colleagues….

No, I`m not a management troll, just being realistic.”

Thank you for constructively indicating that you are NOT a troll. The reader might have doubts after reading your submission . I suggest you re-reading the corresponding documents on Techright, of course only because you are not a troll!

“Barbi” wrote:

Contrary to the allegations, in the real world not many at all union leaders get fired! It is rather exceptional!

So I fail to see the alledged realism of the annonymous comment of 12.52.00 who assuers of not being a managent troll and of being realistic.

Best thing to do in such cases is not feed the trolls, even when they explicitly say they’re not trolls (didn’t Nixon say he was not a crook?). “Just sayin`” has not even replied since (classic drive-by trolling), which leads one to seeing just what a single short comment (that’s deliberately disruptive and insulting) is able to achieve. If this whole article in its own right feeds the troll, then hopefully the take-home message is that future trolls needn’t and shouldn’t be fed. Next up we have some important new revelations about Topić. This is the kind of topic that people should discuss anonymously in all sorts of forums. There is potential there for imprisonment.

Battistelli’s Legitimacy Under Political Fire After He Fired Staff Representatives, Claims He’s Neither Suitable Nor Eligible to be EPO President

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Philip Cordery (below) joins the battle after Friday's complaint from Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’

Philip Cordery

Summary: Benoît Battistelli comes under very intense pressure from French representatives of French residents overseas; questions arise, citing ILOAT Judgment 1061, regarding the very existence of Battistelli inside the EPO (let alone eligibility to hold his position)

THE PILE of EPO ‘dirty laundry’ is growing again, as readers who are upset at the EPO send us even more (extending an already long backlog). One thing we wish to get out of the way — so to speak — before proceeding to new Topić revelations, is the attack on staff representatives. Things are far from over and we still strongly encourage every European reader to contact national delegates.

“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty,” Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying this morning. Cordery, a French politician who previously complained about the Battistelli regime (we wrote about Cordery on more than one occasion), is lashing out again (he’s in the fourth constituency for French residents overseas):

Philip Cordery French MP representing French expats living in the Benelux wrote on Facebook
16 January at 01:31 · Brussels, Belgium ·

Journée noire à l’Office européen des brevets (OEB / European Patent Office)

La gestion antisociale de l’OEB, conduite par son président M. Batistelli, a atteint aujourd’hui des nouveaux sommets. Des sanctions sans précédent ont été prononcées à l’encontre de trois représentants du personnel : la présidente de Suepo Munich licenciée avec en prime une réduction de 20% de ses droits à la retraite ; l’ancien président de cette même organisation, licencié ; son trésorier rétrogradé de 8 échelons, ce qui équivaut à perdre 15 ans de travail. Motif ? Avoir daigné publiquement représenter leurs collègues pour tenter de défendre leurs droits.

Ces décisions autoritaires et arbitraires sont purement scandaleuses. Les droits les plus élémentaires des salariés, en vigueur dans tous les pays d’Europe, sont bafoués au sein de l’OEB sans qu’aucune juridiction nationale ou internationale ne puisse agir. Immunité n’est pas synonyme d’impunité.

Depuis de trop nombreuses années, la situation sociale de cette organisation se dégrade. Trop c’est trop. L’ensemble des États membres doit agir et vite, à l’instar de la France qui a à plusieurs reprises demandé un audit social. J’ai de nouveau saisi le gouvernement en ce sens. Il faut d’urgence mettre un terme à l’arbitraire et refaire vivre cette organisation si importante pour l’Europe toute entière.

Je veux assurer tout le personnel, et notamment ses représentants, de mon soutien plein et entier. Nous restons vigilants et agirons avec tous nos moyens jusqu’à ce que la démocratie et la justice retrouvent leurs droits au sein de l’Office.

An English translation of the above would be appreciated. We are still waiting for anyone who can supply a translation of the Heise article and a copy of the internal communication from Battistelli about Friday’s firings.

How much more can Battistelli withstand? He reportedly threatened to resign already. Battistelli’s “political connections in France,” says this new comment, is a “breach of the standards required of an international civil servant”.

We wrote about Battistelli's political connections last night and here is the comment which reflects further:

A number of commentators here have referred to BB’s political connections in France and the fact that he holds elected office as a municipal councillor in France (St. Germain-en-Laye) on a party ticket for the UMP (in the meantime rebranded as “Les Republicains”).

However, nobody seems to have noticed that such involvement in national party politics is in breach of the standards required of an international civil servant according to ILOAT Judgment 1061:

“… an international civil servant, though entitled to hold his own political views, must stand aloof from demonstrations of adherence to a political party. Integrity, loyalty to the international civil service, independence and impartiality are the standards required of an international civil servant and they require him to keep clear of involvement in national party politics.”


Apparently these standards don’t apply to BB …

Yes, Battistelli seems to have different rules applying to him (if any exist and are actually honoured). Here come the FIFA comparisons again. ‘Maxdrei’ (pseudonym of what looks like a patent professional based on previous comments) is quoted as saying: “It was because Mr Blatter managed the flow of dividends to individual members in such a way that most of them thought Blatter a hero. I wager that most EPC Member States see BB as a hero, for much the same reason.”

The reply to that went as follows: “Money makes the world go round and, yet, Mr. Battistelli’s approach is more comprehensive than that. For example, when a member of a country’s Administrative Council delegation has dared to say something that wasn’t in the script, time allotted to that country’s delegation in meetings of the various committees can get drastically cut. Most EPC member states probably don’t see BB as a hero. Unfortunately, they simply don’t think they have an alternative to agreeing to what he wants from them.”

Earlier on another person (maybe someone who is British by the looks of it) wrote: “Mr Alty and Mr Denehey [the British delegates], the time has come to decide whether you are a Churchill or a surrender monkey from Vichy France. Grow a pair and make a stand.”

Mr Alty and Mr Denehey are not even responding. They’re stonewalling. Remember how the British government intervened last year when EPO staff planned a protest against these people.

As one person put it: “The host countries have a special responsibility as they get the benefits of hosting. Do you know how good is for the Munich economy to host the EPO? The minimum you an expect from the host country is vigilance. The Germans are keeping their eyes shut. They do not reserve respect any longer.”

Alluding to Sarkozy-ism and Battistelli, one person wrote: The first request from the french embassy was never answered by the EPO higher level. The second request received a stinging refusal “à la Battistelli”. Rumours has it that Hollande appreciated the act to its fair value.”

Regarding an earlier suggestion of a boycott (of German products) one person said/responded: “A boycott of German goods would be somewhat discriminatory when all states appear complicit.”

In a sense, all nations are complicit in the silence sense, but only Germany can really send Federal investigators (e.g. over privacy abuses). One person brought up an alternative which relates to the Unitary Patent (UP). The person wrote: “It is a good point, but I suggest another measure that will hit where it hurts: Stop using the EPO patent system. And as a corollary the UP system if any.”

One sure thing is, the UPC (or UP for short) would further empower the EPO and mostly serve German lawyers (this is a widely-known fact). Why reward them after this kind of atrocious regime of Battistelli? It makes no sense. The management of the EPO is clearly broken beyond repair (too much cross-pollination). It needs to be rebooted. Questions about the legitimacy of this whole management (not just Battistelli) ought to be surfaced and circulated a lot more for real actions to be taken.

“The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.”

Henry Mencken

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