New EPO Caricature: Nouveaux Garde-Vélo (New Bicycle Guards)

Posted in Europe, Humour, Patents at 7:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli's bike

Summary: A new cartoon poking fun at Battistelli’s bicycles and the perceived threat these are under

There’s a new cartoon circulating again.

“Feel free to make use of it if you like,” the person who sent it to us wrote. It came with this comment: “VP4 [Topić] apparently hired additional security personnel to protect the prez’s bike (evidence attached).”

“There’s also the possibility that further crackdowns on staff (not only staff representatives) will be justified this way.”This is yet another example of scorn of the message from Željko Topić. The Mercedes symbol in the wheels is not a coincidence (alleged bribery) and the caricature, when zoomed in, shows “Made in Croatia” written across the bike.

People are not taking seriously the alleged incident, probably because they don’t trust a word that comes out of Topić’s mouth and they can foresee how it will be exploited to justify unbelievably expensive bodyguards (six of them!) for a man almost in his 70s and under no obvious threat (except perhaps his own chronic paranoia which goes a long way back). There’s also the possibility that further crackdowns on staff (not only staff representatives) will be justified this way.

Battistelli’s ‘Special Relationship’ With Portugal and the ‘Inventor of the Year’ Charade

Posted in Europe, Marketing, Patents at 10:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: What makes Portugal rather unique when it comes to Mr. Battistelli, who is allegedly desperate for support from smaller countries whose vote is easier to ‘win’

EARLIER today we wrote about rumours that Battistelli would pursue an extension of Topić's appointment and we also wrote about rumours regarding ‘buying’ of votes or how Battistelli was getting small nations on his side.

“It is said that one of the delegations which is strongly pro-Battistelli is Portugal,” a source told us. “By a curious coincidence, the “Inventor of the Year” extravaganza will take place in Lisbon on the 9th of June.” (warning: epo.org link)

“Campinos from the recently rebranded EUIPO in Alicante (formerly the European Trademark Office) is Portuguese and he is reputed to be a close ally of Battistelli.”
Since the EPO is not connected to the EU and the Lisbon Treaty was repeatedly snubbed by the EPO's interests, the choice of Lisbon is interesting to say the least. Not many patent applications come to the EPO from Portugal, so is the location politically-motivated?

“It is rumoured,” we were told, “that the Portuguese President is scheduled to attend the event so this seems to confirm the rumour that Portugal is solidly behind Battistelli.

“It’s not clear what role, if any, António Campinos might have in this. Campinos from the recently rebranded EUIPO in Alicante (formerly the European Trademark Office) is Portuguese and he is reputed to be a close ally of Battistelli.”

“There will be EPO protests on the same day in all EPO sites, so coverage might turn out to be embarrassing again (if “media partners” are allowed to act as journalists rather than EPO stenographers).”We wrote about the connection between Battistelli and Campinos a few months ago.

“By another curious coincidence,” our source added, “Campinos is also on the jury for the “Inventor of the Year” award.” (warning: epo.org link)

It is worth noting that this year, unlike last year, the EPO has got FTI Consulting helping it (US PR firm with massive but undeclared budget), so “media partners” like CNN are listed in the page along with the Financial Times (which often repeats the PR of the EPO), Les Echos (which censored itself for the EPO last year), Handelsblatt, ViEUws (source of puff pieces for corporate agenda in Europe and softball interviews with Battistelli, UPC promotion), and finally euronews. There will be EPO protests on the same day in all EPO sites, so coverage might turn out to be embarrassing again (if “media partners” are allowed to act as journalists rather than EPO stenographers).

Patent Lawyers’ Marketing Dominates and Marginalises Meaningful Analyses of Software Patenting in the US

Posted in America, Marketing, Patents at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On demand
Confer demand generation or artificial demand

Summary: In an effort to create demand for software patents again, patent lawyers produce a huge heap of so-called ‘analyses’ which piggyback just one single decision (the exception, not the norm)

OUR previous article, which criticised IAM for meddling in Asian ‘IP’ policy (despite having no writers at all who are oriental), deals with a broader kind of issue. The media is occupied/dominated by people whose interest (or business model) is not to inform but to promote sponsors' agenda. Here we have IAM’s Ellis on Alice, bemoaning what he calls “[a]n increasingly anti-patentee environment in the United States,” arguing that it “means that patent monetisation-focused businesses [i.e. patent trolls] are finding life tougher today than in years gone by.” Remember that IAM is being paid by patent trolls.

“Consider the fact that the main source of funding to IAM is indeed patent lawyers, or their firms at least (they are also quite likely the subscribers, i.e. those who pay IAM for periodic placements, for overpriced ‘magazines’, and for bias).”Ellis speaks as though he is a patent lawyer infatuated with software patents, or patent maximalism in general (a growing problem at the USPTO). Consider the fact that the main source of funding to IAM is indeed patent lawyers, or their firms at least (they are also quite likely the subscribers, i.e. those who pay IAM for periodic placements, for overpriced ‘magazines’, and for bias).

Alice is universally accepted as a good thing, both by software developers and ordinary customers who buy products. It’s only patent lawyers and few monopolists like IBM who bemoan Alice. Earlier this month we cited dozens of so-called ‘analyses’ from all sorts of patent lawyers. They suddenly woke up and made a lot of noise because of one single case. What patent lawyers call “analysis” is usually marketing, in the same way that ‘studies’ are lobbying (it’s selling something, it’s not a public service).

Watch how patent lawyers still latch onto one single CAFC case in a desperate effort to revive software patents in the US while the USPTO takes advantage of the situation as well (see Michael Best & Friedrich LLP’s ‘article’ also). The most vocal propaganda site of software patents wants to push Congress towards abolishing Alice altogether, as one might expect. It’s clear that SCOTUS won’t be changing its ruling (on Alice or any case like it) any time soon (based on lists of upcoming cases), so the patent lawyers are in panic mode and they bombard the media with articles about TLI Communications (latest examples are in [1, 2]) and Enfish (this new one is from Mark Patrick of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP).

“They’re distorting the record in order to help them sell their ‘services’.”Where are software developers in all this? Patent lawyers are cherry-picking cases for software patents lobbying again (see “Good News for Software Patents?”) and Fox Rothschild LLP is trying to salvage software patent in the US (because they’re still dying) using this fine art of cherry-picking. So did Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP. We are seeing such lobbying/marketing several times per day now, even weeks after the CAFC rulings. It drowns out any meaningless/objective analyses. Consider this ‘analysis’ titled “Federal Circuit Finds Claims Valid Under § 101 For Only The Second Time in Almost Two Years” (2 among so many more, but they only measure the fraction of the glass that’s full).

To use another example of cherry-picking, see this new coverage regarding 35 U.S.C. § 101. It says: “The magistrate judge recommended denying defendant’s motion to dismiss the asserted claims of plaintiff’s patents for categorizing summarized information for lack of patentable subject matter because defendant failed to establish that the claims were directed toward an abstract idea.”

“It’s often called bias by omission.”In summary, we are still finding lots of software patents propaganda from patent law firms that occupy the media. They’re distorting the record in order to help them sell their ‘services’. One may easily be lured into the illusion or fantasy that software patents are alive and well, probably because there’s about 100 times more coverage of cases where courts accept a software patent. It’s often called bias by omission.

A Mix of Patent Aggression and Sanctions/Raids (Using Controversial Patents) Against East Asian Companies

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And IAM ‘magazine’ (working for rich Westerners) is truly loving it

The ‘invention’ of ‘slide to unlock’ is the best rich Westerners have to offer?

Summary: New stories that demonstrate patent protectionism and show how Western industry, which barely makes anything anymore, relies on patents (software and design patents included) and this self-serving patent regime perpetuates itself even in Asia, where almost everything is actually being manufactured (and often/increasingly designed/developed too)

THE patent system in the US is a sordid mess or increasingly in a state of disarray because the benefit to ordinary people is elusive or inexistent. It’s a system that protects the powerful, helping them maintain power. This injustice extends beyond US borders. There is almost an imperialistic (as in “Empire of Corporations”) element to it. Lobbying bodies, the Chamber of Commerce, USTR, ITC etc. are the facilitators.

A report titled “Huawei sues Samsung over hardware and software patent infringement” came to our attention last week. Here is the earliest coverage of this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]. It shows that not only the US patent system is rife with litigation. As litigation enthusiasts (IAM) put it, “Huawei’s Samsung litigation could end up revealing much about the Chinese company’s licensing activities” (“licensing” is somewhat of a euphemism). This a Chinese giant against a Korean giant, which is rather unusual. Both use Android (Linux) aplenty.

Over in the US, “Patent troll VirnetX demands shutdown of Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage”. We wrote quite a lot about VirnetX over the years. Unlike Huawei, VirnetX makes nothing whatsoever (neither software nor hardware). Apple does not make much either; it relies on companies that it is suing to actually make products and then slap an “Apple” logo on these. Where is the innovation and what ever happened to production? This isn’t going to bother the likes of IAM, who are being paid by patent trolls. “More evidence of a rapidly evolving NPE market,” (trolls market) IAM wrote, “came this week in the shape of two announcements from Spherix. The public IP company (PIPCO) which has a slew of Nortel patents in its arsenal, courtesy of two deals with the former Rockstar business, announced on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with RPX that gives the defensive aggregator’s members a licence to the Spherix portfolio.”

Rockstar is an Android-hostile entity with Microsoft connections (and Sony). RPX was covered here before. What we’re seeing here is a growth of some parasitic kind of ‘market’ which produces nothing and taxes everything. Not exactly what it takes to accomplish ‘innovation’… but this is what the West is left promoting. See what IBM has turned into. It sued Groupon, which had taken over some Asian companies.

Professor Crouch, writing quite recently about injunctions (embargoes that harm customers), said: “In my recent update on Supreme Court patent cases I skipped over a new Samsung v. Apple petition since one Samsung v. Apple case has already been granted a writ of certiorari. Although both cases involve smartphone patents, they are entirely separate procedurally.”

This is a case wherein a US company that’s a branding/marketing company sues a Korean giant. It’s just one among several such high-profile cases.

Putting aside High Court cases, in relation to the Supreme Court we now see a variety of new articles like “Supreme Court Grants Patent-Related Petitions” or “Supreme Court to Weigh in on Damages for Design Patent Infringement” by Charlene Morrow and Sapna Mehta. One such article speaks about “Design Patents At The Supreme Court” (a case involving Samsung and Apple again) and in the mean time we learn that this whole design patents mania spreads to China, based on IAM. Design patents and embargoes are of no use to anyone (assuming a large corporation is not a “someone”) and after a raid and confiscation of so-called ‘hoverboards’ from China [1, 2, 3] the ITC comes into scrutiny/headlines again as there’s a lawsuit over legal bullying. IAM put it like this: “Chic – a personal transportation start-up based in the Chinese city of Hangzhou – has filed a US district court suit for design patent infringement against US rival Razor in an apparent reprisal for a US International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint by the latter company.”

“What we have seen a lot of at IAM as of late is patent boosting/advocacy/promotion in east Asia, using shame tactics, so-called ‘events’ (usually organised by and for Westerners) and other strategic lobbying dressed up as ‘reporting’.”Citing this report from Taiwan, IAM tries to lecture Taiwan about so-called ‘IP’ future. In another article, this one about Japan, IAM is making it seem like all there is to a company is “IP”.

What we have seen a lot of at IAM as of late is patent boosting/advocacy/promotion in east Asia, using shame tactics, so-called ‘events’ (usually organised by and for Westerners) and other strategic lobbying dressed up as ‘reporting’. Well, that's just what IAM exists for. Watch what it does for the EPO, even just days ago (the EPO was quick to cite this in Twitter thereafter). IAM is toxic.

Rumour: Battistelli Wants to Extend the Term of Topić’s EPO Appointment in Spite of Criminal Charges Against Him

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 6:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Maintaining the occupation of the Office in the face of the Administrative Council, which has not been infiltrated to the same degree (some say that it happens there too)

EPO Three Stooges

Summary: The EPO’s ‘ringleader’, Mr. Battistelli, is allegedly trying to keep his confidants (part of the family cabal, like Mr. Minnoye and Željko Topić) together for several more years to come, even defying rules regarding retirement age

THE “EPO rumour mill,” told us a source, is abuzz with information or speculations about what’s about to happen in June when the Administrative Council meets again and has an opportunity to sack Battistelli. Battistelli should be retired by now, not receiving an astronomical salary (the same is true for Mr Minnoye, who had a senior moment on TV when he forgot that law needs to be obeyed).

“The normal EPO Vice-President contract is for 5 years so his appointment will expire in March/April 2017.”
Now that Battistelli is rumoured to be 'buying' votes so as to ensure he does not get sacked (in spite of failing to fulfill any of the requests from the Administrative Council) we have some new informal information, or rather, unverified rumours.

“Latest news from the EPO rumour mill,” our source told us, involves both Battistelli and his right-hand man Željko Topić, who faces serious issues in his home country.

“Topić,” we are told, “was appointed as VP 4 of the EPO in March 2012 and took up his duties in Munich in April 2012. The normal EPO Vice-President contract is for 5 years so his appointment will expire in March/April 2017.

“Battistelli is due to remain as EPO President until June 2018 and it now seems that he wants to keep Topić for another year.

“There are 38 member states in total, and a three-quarters majority would be needed to remove the President.”
“The latest news from the EPO rumour mill is that Battistelli is planning to propose an extension of Topić’s appointment to the Administrative Council during the upcoming meeting on the 29th and 30th of June. According to reliable sources there is a lot of opposition to the proposed extension among many delegations so it will interesting to see if this will lead to another stand-off between Battistelli and the Council.”

Would it not be outrageous if Topić, who faces many criminal charges, received an endorsement from heads of national offices (Administrative Council)? That would serve to discredit, by extension/association, a lot of this whole system (the Organisation), demonstrating that the EPO is unhinged and incapable of self-regulation.

“Battistelli has now lost majority support in the Administrative Council,” our source added, “but according to inside sources there is still a block of around 12 countries which continue support him. There are 38 member states in total, and a three-quarters majority would be needed to remove the President. As long as he still has residual support from 12 countries it could be difficult for the Council to dismiss him.”

Since all countries, both large and small, have an equal voice, sending money their way to secure their support for Battistelli should not be too hard. We explained this last week.

“As long as he still has residual support from 12 countries it could be difficult for the Council to dismiss him.”
“However,” our source concluded, “it’s not easy to make reliable predictions about this because according to EPO voting rules abstentions do not count as votes. So if some delegations decided to abstain, this would reduce the majority required for a decision. The “three-quarters majority” is based on the actual number of votes cast not including abstentions.”

For those wishing to contact their national delegates, here are the contact details. They deserve to have access to information that Battistelli and his goons suppress, either by threats to bloggers and to representatives, outright censorship (of bloggers and representatives’ sites/E-mail), self censorship by mass surveillance (with BlueCoat) and so on.

Links 29/5/2016: NetBSD 7.0.1, Genode OS 16.05

Posted in News Roundup at 5:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Rise of Open Cloud Architecture and Over-the-Top (OTT) Network Services
  • Amazon’s Giving Away the AI Behind Its Product Recommendations

    Amazon has become the latest tech giant that’s giving away some of its most sophisticated technology. Today the company unveiled DSSTNE (pronounced “destiny”), an open source artificial intelligence framework that the company developed to power its product recommendation system. Now any company, researcher, or curious tinkerer can use it for their own AI applications.

  • Genode OS Framework release 16.05

    The current release marks the most profound API revision in the project’s history. The new API is designed to reinforce the best practices for implementing Genode components. It is the result of countless experiments and the practical experiences made while developing over hundred genuine components during the past ten years.

  • Old projects and the free-software community

    The Community Leadership Summit (CLS) is an annual event for community managers, developer evangelists, people who work on public-facing forums, and those with a general interest in engagement or community development for free-software projects. The 2016 edition was held in Austin, Texas the weekend before OSCON. Several sessions at CLS 2016 dealt with the differences exhibited between old and new free-software projects where community management is concerned. One of those tackled the problem of how to foster community around an older software project, which poses a distinct set of challenges.

  • Events

    • Reporting on OSCON 2016

      Last week was OSCON 2016, and the first year that the conference was held in Austin, Texas. OSCON has always been an important conference for Conservancy and for me personally. In 2011, it was the first conference I ever keynoted (I was also on a keynote panel in 2008, which was the closest I’d gotten before then), and where I really started talking about my heart condition and medical devices. OSCON was also the conference where we had the first Conservancy booth and debuted Conservancy t-shirts and stickers.

    • Day -1 of PyCon US 2016

      I reached Portland two days back, was happy to see that Remy helped us to find a hotel just opposite to the conference center. As I am typing this, I can see the empty roads, and the main doors of the venue. Yesterday also I woke up by 5AM, the virtue of being in a place 12:30 hours apart from your standard timezone :) After writing the article about Microbit support in Fedora (it is still under review) I moved to the conference venue. It was very easy to find the staff room. As usual Doug,Lvh,Eric were already there, later I met Ewa, and then met Betsy for the first time. While discussing security practices when I asked, Lvh pointed out that getting golang vendored sources in the source code repository and then not updating them later, is more of a software engineering problem than a security problem as he sees.

    • Running a Hackerspace

      I wrote parts of this post after our last monthly assembly at Athens Hackerspace. Most of the hackerspace operators are dealing with this monthly meeting routinely and we often forget what we have achieved during the last 5 years and how many great things this physical space enabled to happen. But this post is not about our hackerspace. It’s an effort to distant myself and try to write about the experience of running a hackerspace.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thunderbird powered by SoftMaker

        Thunderbird, powered by SoftMaker, is a custom version of the popular email client featuring enhancements that come all in the form of extensions.


        SoftMaker, a company best known for its SoftMaker Office suite, announced recently that it plans to include the Thunderbird email client into the 2016 version of the office suite.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The open-source generation gap

      OSI General Manager Patrick Masson was one of the session’s attendees, and he pushed back on that last point. There is too much “open-washing” these days, he said, but it does not come from the OSI. There is still only one Open Source Definition; the dilution of the term comes from others who use “open” to describe organizations, workflows, processes, and other things unrelated to software licensing. “We have open hardware and open data, but also ‘open cola’ and ‘open beer.’ That blurs over an important distinction. Not everything fits.”


      Among the other points raised during the session, attendees noted that it was important that the community distinguish between minting new project contributors and minting new free-software activists, and that it was important for projects to put a check on flamewar-style debates—particularly those that focus on dismissing certain technologies. It is easy for experienced developers to become attached to a language or framework, but there will always be new languages and projects popping up that are the entry points for new coders. Project members deriding language Y because it is not language X may only serve to tell newcomers that they are not welcome.

    • A discussion on combining CDDL and GPL code

      Within the context of an event dedicated to discussing free and open-source software (FOSS) legalities, such as the Free Software Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW), the topic of conflicting licenses was bound to come up. The decision by Canonical to start shipping the ZFS filesystem with its Ubuntu server distribution back in February led to a discussion at LLW about distributing the kernel combined with ZFS. Discussions at LLW are held under the Chatham House Rule, which means that names and affiliations of participants are only available for those who have agreed to be identified. This year’s LLW was held in Barcelona, April 13-15.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

    • Open Access/Content

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Hackaday Prize Entry: An Interface For The Headless Linux System

        Connecting a headless Raspberry Pi to a wireless network can be quite a paradoxical situation. To connect it to the network, you need to open an SSH connection to configure the wireless port. But to do so, you need a network connection in the first place. Of course, you can still get command-line access using a USB-to-UART adapter or the Pi’s ethernet port – if present – but [Arsenijs] worked out a much more convenient solution for his Hackaday Prize entry: The pyLCI Linux Control Interface.

      • RepRap, Open Source and 3DPrinting

        The RepRap project started in 2005 by Adrian Bowyer – “Mister RepRap”, when the patent about this technology expired. 3DPrintings isn’t a new technology, history dates that the first model of stereolithography printing emerged in 1984. The main idea around RepRap projects is to produce 3DPrinters that can auto-replicate most of the parts itself. And in 2006, the RepRap 0.2 successfully printed the first part of itself and in 2008, the first 3d model was printed by an end-user. Currently, the printer more replicated and customized of the 67 printers that are listed on RepRap website, is the Prusa Mendel, the model created by Josef Průša, that was disponibility to the public in 2011 and had a lot of development since.

      • Here is a web interface for switching on your light

        Like I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to try out a more hackable wifi plug. I got a Kankun “smart” plug. Like the other one I have the software is horrible. The good news is that they left SSH enabled on it.

      • LeMaker Guitar review

        Anyone who has worked with the Compute Module will find the LeMaker Guitar immediately familiar. The system-on-chip processor, an Actions S500, sits alongside 1GB of memory, a combined audio and power management unit, and 8GB of NAND flash storage on an over-sized small-outline DIMM (SODIMM) form factor circuit board. This board then connects to a baseboard, supplied with the Guitar, which provides more accessible connectivity than the SODIMM’s 204 electrical contacts.

  • Programming/Development


  • Hardware

    • For this gadgethead, the HTC Vive may force my Oculus Rift to collect dust

      In walking the long path to VR on the PC, I’ve built a new gaming computer from scratch, bought peripherals out the wazoo, and, of course, pre-ordered both an Oculus Rift and an HTC Vive so I wouldn’t have to choose between the two. If we’re including things like the peripherals I use when playing some VR games—like my Warthog HOTAS and Slaw Device pedals—then my grand total is hovering at $4,000 or so in VR-related expenses.

      That’s a hell of a lot of cheddar to drop in pursuit of gaming, but the results make me happy. There isn’t a PC VR-related thing I can’t have. If it exists for Oculus Rift or SteamVR, I can play it. And I’ve been casting that net wide, jumping from VR game to VR game, trying over the past six weeks to eat as much as I can from this new buffet of experiences.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Europe Medicines Group Joins Initiative To Fight Fake Medicines

      Fight the Fakes campaign “represents a great opportunity for a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary collaboration,” said Adrian van den Hoven, Medicines for Europe director general. He also highlighted the fact that fake medicines are “illegal and dangerous.”

    • Shift In Discussions About R&D At This Week’s World Health Assembly

      Public health advocates – and many nations – had high hopes that this year’s World Health Assembly could finally agree on some alternative ways to fund research and development that can lead to affordable medical products by de-linking R&D costs from prices, through the long-awaited discussion of a landmark 2012 report of a WHO expert group on medical R&D. This week, that discussion has spread across the highest profile topics of the week such as antimicrobial resistance and emergencies, but some are concerned that the public health safeguards recommended by the expert group may be being left behind.

    • Reactions To WHA Resolution On R&D Financing Generally Positive

      Today, the annual World Health Assembly is poised to approve a new plan on research and development into medical products that are affordable to all. NGOs, industry and other observers welcomed the outcome.

    • The U.S. Just Got One Step Closer To A Deadly ‘Superbug’ Crisis

      On Thursday, researchers revealed that for the first time, they’ve found a case of U.S. bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics. Researchers at Walter Reed found the germ in a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman diagnosed with an E. coli infection last month. The E. coli carried a specific gene, MCR-1, that rendered it immune to the antibiotic colistin — the drug doctors turn to to kill an infection when nothing else works.

    • These Vegetables Would Have Normally Been Thrown Out. Instead, They’ll Feed Our Hungriest.

      On another day, in another life, these vegetables would have all been taken to a very different place. The eggplants — some a little too small, some a little too bruised — would have been carted to a landfill and left to rot. The cauliflower pocked with tiny dark splotches — a sign of oxidation — would have been mistaken as moldy and passed over by customers at the supermarket until they, too, joined the eggplants in the landfill. The carrots — some the size of wine bottles — might not have even made it to the supermarket, turned away because they would not have blended into the store’s uniform display. They too, probably, would have ended up in a landfill.

    • Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell

      The two multinationals that teamed up during the Vietnam War to poison millions of people with its Agent Orange herbicide—St. Louis, Mo.-based Monsanto and Germany’s Bayer AG—are looking to become one.

      Bayer has announced a bid to buy Monsanto in a deal that would expand Bayer’s GMO and pesticide holdings and add drugs to Monsanto’s global portfolio. Monsanto has rejected the latest bid, but the two are still in talks.

    • Seven Myths About GMOs Debunked
  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • NATO in Montenegro: Securing the Rear Before Barbarossa II?

      The strategic importance of Montenegro is inversely proportional to its size. With it, NATO will have full control of the Adriatic Sea, finish the encirclement of Serbia, and be emboldened to pursue a more aggressive stance towards Russia.

    • A helmet for a F-35 pilot costs $400,000, more than a high end Ferrari.

      Like Steven Starr, Stephen Cohen, myself, and a small number of others, the Saker understands the reckless irresponsibility of convincing Russia that the United States intends to attack her.

      It is extraordinary to see the confidence that many Americans place in their military’s ability. After 15 years the US has been unable to defeat a few lightly armed Taliban, and after 13 years the situation in Iraq remains out of control. This is not very reassuring for the prospect of taking on Russia, much less the strategic alliance between Russia and China. The US could not even defeat China, a Third World country at the time, in Korea 60 years ago.


      A helmet for a F-35 pilot costs $400,000, more than a high end Ferrari.

    • Putin: Romania ‘in crosshairs’ after opening NATO missile defense base

      During a visit to Greece intended to repair ties with the EU, Vladimir Putin said that Russia has “no choice” but to target Romania, which has recently opened a NATO missile defense base, and Poland, which plans to do so within two years.

      “If yesterday people simply did not know what it means to be in the crosshairs in those areas of Romania, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security. And it will be the same with Poland,” Putin said during a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Friday.

    • Sweden Dumps Neutrality, Signs Major Agreement with NATO

      The Agreement makes Sweden a possible host country for aggressive NATO exercises during peacetime. In addition, the Swedish government may allow NATO to invade the country if a crisis or a conflict should occur. Inevitably, Sweden will become directly involved in NATO’s armament proliferation and their aggressive provocations against Russia. Large-scale fleet exercises in the Baltic Sea will further increase the danger of confrontation and war.

    • Tony Blair will not be accused of breaking laws in Iraq War inquiry

      Tony Blair will not be accused of breaking any laws in the Iraq War inquiry report, the Telegraph can disclose.

      Sources close to the inquiry said the report – which will be published in six weeks’ time – was not set up to take a view on the legality of the acts of individuals or events. That includes whether the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was legal.

    • US military uses 8-inch floppy disks to coordinate nuclear force operations

      The U.S. Defense Department is still using — after several decades — 8-inch floppy disks in a computer system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces, a jaw-dropping new report reveals.


      The report shows that creaky IT systems are being used to handle important functions related to the nation’s taxpayers, federal prisoners and military veterans, as well as to the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

    • New Nukes for a New Cold War

      Mythology about the rightness of dropping two atomic bombs on Japan is relevant to today’s “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the revving up of a new Cold War with Russia, says ex-Pentagon military analyst Chuck Spinney.

    • The World Reaps What the Saudis Sow

      With a population of only 1.8 million people, Kosovo has sent more of its young people per capita than any other country to fight and die in Iraq and Syria. Since 2012, some 314 Kosovars have joined the Islamic State, including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children. Even Belgium, widely seen as a hotbed of extremism after the attacks on Paris and Brussels, lags behind it in the recruitment rankings. …

      The United States and NATO invested heavily in helping Kosovo gain independence from Serbia in 2008 and establish democracy. That Saudi Arabia should be using Kosovo as a breeding ground for extremists, or allowing it to be used as a breeding ground by any Saudi entity or citizen, is a cruel reminder of the contradictory and even duplicitous behavior of America’s partners in the Persian Gulf and helps to explain why its relationships with those countries have become increasingly troubled.

      Kosovo, rescued from Serbian oppression after months of NATO bombing in 1999, has been known as a tolerant society. For centuries, the Muslim majority has followed the liberal Hanafi version of Islam, which is accepting of others. Since the war, that tradition has been threatened by Saudi-trained imams, their costs paid by Saudi-sponsored charities, preaching the primacy of Shariah law and fostering violent jihad and takfirism, which authorizes the killing of Muslims viewed as heretics.

      Most Kosovars have resisted such proselytizing, and officials in Kosovo say that support for the United States and the West remains strong. Yet experts point to a number of reasons the country has been fertile ground for recruitment to radical ideology: a large population of young people living in rural poverty with little hope of jobs; corruption and an attendant lack of faith in government; and, according to a 2015 report by the Kosovar Center for Security Studies, an education system that does not encourage critical thinking.

    • Donald Trump used 9/11 funds program to net $150G payday

      Donald Trump made a pretty penny off a program to help small businesses hurt by 9/11, one of many times where The Donald took advantage of government programs to save or make money off the taxpayer.

      The self-proclaimed billionaire, who has so far refused to release his tax returns, was one of many wealthy individuals and businesses who used a loophole in a program intended to help smaller companies in lower Manhattan recover after the Sept. 11 tragedy.

      Trump got $150,000 for his swanky property at 40 Wall Street because the Empire State Development Corporation, run by the state, didn’t enforce federal guidelines on what defines a small business. Instead, the state used much looser rules that let The Donald and others including Morgan Stanley and Bank of China take money that was earmarked by Congress to help small business owners in the neighborhood recover after the tragic attacks, a 2006 Daily News expose found.

    • Rep. Jerrold Nadler Denounces Donald Trump for Taking 9/11 Small-Business Aid
    • Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars

      I am staggered by the amount of firepower the US used, and the incredible death and destruction it caused on an innocent people.

    • ISIS and Israel on the Golan Heights

      There is a strange relationship between Israel and a small sect of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) based next to the Golan Heights. The very presence of a group like ISIS so close to Israel brings up many questions.

      Firstly why has ISIS not attacked Israel – a country they have sworn to destroy – from said base? Similarly why has the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) not attacked this small and weak group of extremists on their border? The answers to such questions show the truth behind the rhetoric all actors use in this conflict.

      The Yarmouk valley is wedged between Jordan, Syria and the Israeli occupied territories of the Golan Heights. The valley consists of a few small towns, the majority of which are now controlled by the ISIS affiliated Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk or the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (YMB). This group was established by Mohammad al-Baridi, known by his nickname ‘The Uncle’ in 2012 in southwest Syria. The group started off relatively moderate, with a close alliance to the Free Syrian Army. But the moderation quickly dissipated during the course of the Syrian civil war.


      There seems to be very different treatment for rebel groups on the south of the Golan Heights border than for those in the north. But why would Israel, which authorised multiple bombings on Syrian militant groups, take such a relaxed view towards ISIS on their doorstep?

      Israel is focused not on ISIS and Sunni groups, but on the Shia groups in Syria. Israel’s airstrikes have hit Assad’s Shia backed regime and Hezbollah, not ISIS or al-Nusra. Correspondence between the then-Sectary of State Hillary Clinton and political advisor Jacob Sullivan about Israel’s aims in the region tried to rationalise why Israel ignores ISIS.

    • The Debate Over Whether Families Of 9/11 Victims Should Be Able To Sue Saudi Arabia

      The House’s Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Tuesday where legislators from each party took cracks at Saudi Arabia.

      The country has come under heavy criticism of late after the Senate unanimously approved legislation that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue over Saudi Arabia’s alleged connections to Al Qaeda.

    • US Spec Ops Troops on Front Line in Syria with Leftist Kurdish Insignia: AFP

      Agence France Presse got the scoop on Thursday, with their reporters in Fatisa just 19 miles from Daesh territory in northern al-Raqqa Province, Syria saying they saw some 20 US special operations troops embedded with leftist Kurdish YPG units and wearing YPG insignia. (The latter move is to prevent friendly fire incidents, signaling to the Kurds that despite their foreign appearance, they are white hats).

    • Pivoting to War

      Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies was commissioned by the Pentagon to analyze U.S. military strategy and force posture in the Asia-Pacific region and produced its report in January 2016. It was not surprising that a major recommendation was that “the United States should sustain and expand U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.” Always tell your paymasters what they want to hear, especially when it was made clear by President Obama that his “pivot to Asia” is aimed at military dominance.

    • Obama in Hiroshima: time to say ‘sorry’, and Ban the Bomb!

      President Obama should overcome political constraints in Hiroshima this week to say ‘sorry’ for the nuclear bombs, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. Even more important, he must change his stance on nuclear weapons – abandoning the US’s $1 trillion WMD modernization program and lifting the threat of world-destroying nuclear conflict.

    • Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go

      It’s interesting to see a US commander crossing the border to cheer on participants in a civil war. That’s also what the American military has been doing in Iraq, where forces have been encouraging Shia militias fighting on the outskirts of Fallujah, and even providing air support to the forces of the perilously weak government in Baghdad.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling

      A schizophrenic aspect of the entire Assange affair from the Swedish perspective is the inability of the legal establishment to let go. Despite the contrarian wishes of his alleged victims; despite dissent within the Swedish legal establishment that Assange be hauled over the coals; despite the evidence, the higher authorities insist that he can be detained on suspicion of rape by prosecutors.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Anti-Parks Leaders In Utah Called Out For Hypocrisy

      The quixotic efforts of Utah politicians to seize and sell national forests and other public lands poses a dire risk to tourism and visitor spending in the state, according to a new public awareness campaign that launched this week.

    • Fact-Checking Donald Trump’s Low-Octane Energy Policy

      Time was, picturing what Donald Trump’s presidential energy policies might look like required parsing his fact-defying tweets, forehead slap-worthy comments and threats to seize Middle Eastern oil by force. Now that the presumptive Republican nominee has unveiled his “America First” energy policy, there’s less guesswork to do.

    • California Back in Big Oil’s Crosshairs as Feds Quietly OK Offshore Fracking

      Two federal agencies on Friday quietly finalized two reports, set for release next week, that found offshore fracking in California poses no “significant” risk to the environment—paving the way for oil and gas companies to resume the controversial extraction method in the Santa Barbara Channel and imperiling the region’s wildlife in the process, opponents said.

      The announcement Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (OEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement puts an end to a court-ordered ban on offshore fracking in federal waters off the coast of California. The moratorium was put into place in January as part of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which challenged the Obama administration’s ‘rubber-stamping’ of offshore drilling activity without an environmental review.

    • The Funny Business of Farm Credit

      In May of 1998 we held a conference dedicated to two Government-sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In my statement to that assembly, I noted that both corporations had been enjoying good times, but cautioned that one of the unintended consequences of fat profits over a long period is the tendency of both government and private corporations to start believing in the fantasy of ever-rising profits. GSEs often escape the accountability that Congress or regulatory agencies should impose.

      Recent hearings in the U.S. House and Senate have provided some much needed oversight on another GSE―the Farm Credit System (FCS).

      The Farm Credit System was the first GSE to be established by the United States in 1916. Unlike Fannie and Freddie, the Farm Credit System can make direct loans to farmers, ranchers and others involved in agriculture. However, as The Wall Street Journal reported back in 1985: “the Farm Credit System would lend money to anyone. Herbert Ashton, an Indiana fruit farmer, recalls being wined and dined at a local country club by bankers from his local [farm credit] system bank who extolled the virtues of inflation and offered to lend him $1 million on the spot. ‘I turned it down,’ he recalls. ‘But they sounded like a soap testimonial. They were giving money to whoever passed their way, and they didn’t ask too many questions.’”

    • 1,000,000,000 Birds – Just Gone

      The just released State of North America’s Birds report is grim reading. Based on a comprehensive evaluation of species population size and trends, ranges and threat severity the assessment reaches a stark conclusion.

    • Bill Gates And Exxon Now Share The Same Climate Policy. They’re Wrong.

      Memo to Gates: It just might be time to rethink your position when the biggest corporate climate villain on planet Earth embraces your climate policy. And it might be time to rethink your message when the head of the company that has funded disinformation about climate science and solutions longer than any other says he has “had this conversation” with you and you are in total agreement.

    • Long Island as a Nuclear Park

      Meanwhile, PSEG is pushing ahead with its plan to install taller and wider utility poles throughout Long Island with their bottoms coated with pentachlorophenol or penta—a cancer-causing substance banned by nations around the world.

    • Exxon’s CEO Just Won: His Shareholders Rejected Climate Change Proposals

      After a long battle to even get on the agenda for ExxonMobil’s 2016 Annual Meeting, the company’s shareholders on Wednesday voted against four initiatives to address climate change, even while the company is facing an investigation for its climate denial activities.

      Investors were hoping to force Exxon to add a climate expert to its board, to enact a policy to avoid 2°C warming, to increase capital distributions (with the understanding that continued investment in assets likely to be stranded is not a good long-term strategy), and to report on the impact climate change policies worldwide to the company’s bottom line.

    • “When you buy coal, you have a moral right to ask where it came from”

      A new report highlights a stark truth: the UK’s dependence on international coal not only devastates the environment, but disenfranchises local communities.

    • The Environmental Implications Of A Trump Presidency

      He will also have to decide what he would actually do with U.S. energy and climate policy. He’s already offered some rhetoric about saving coal jobs, denying climate science, and bashing renewable energy. But on Thursday he is expected to reveal his agenda in keynote speech at an oil expo in Bismarck, North Dakota.

  • Finance

    • The Right Marches on Brazil

      Brazil’s interim government is orchestrating a stunning transfer of power to the country’s elites.

    • Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!

      More is never enough. By now we really don’t need yet another statement of inequality, but here goes anyway: The average ratio of chief executive pay to employee pay has reached 335-to-1 in the United States.

      And some of the highest paid CEOs were at the companies that stash the most money in overseas tax havens. Among the giant corporations that comprise the Standard & Poor’s 500, the 25 at the companies with the most unrepatriated profits hauled in 79 percent more than other S&P 500 chief executive officers, reports the AFL-CIO union federation’s Paywatch 2016 report. Just 10 corporations — Apple, Pfizer, Microsoft, General Electric, IBM, Merck, Cisco Systems, Johnson & Johnson, Exxon Mobil, and Hewlett-Packard successor HP Inc. — are believed to be holding about $948 billion in accounts outside the reach of tax authorities.

    • Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece

      Once EU’s and US’ common aim of imposing austerity and anti-popular economic restructuring on Greece has been concluded, then the two partners-um-competitors jostled the one against the other for the terms and the consequences of the necessary debt relief for Greece. Debt relief is necessary because the troika’s Economic Adjustment Program for Greece is unfeasible and Greek debt is unviable. A few days ago, IMF in its recent preliminary debt sustainability assessment had accepted this.

    • More Young Adults Live With Parents Than Not—for the First Time in 130 Years

      Live with your parents, again? Chances are you’re not lazy, nor a loser, nor any other stigma that might be hovering in your subconscious due to cultural stereotyping—you’re just a normal millennial responding to the economic realities of the age. For the first time in 130 years, more Americans between ages 18-34 are living with their parents than in any other living situation. That is according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center published May 24. The study is based on national census data from 2014.

    • Chris Hedges on the Legacy of Rosa Luxemburg (Video)

      “Liberalism, which Luxemburg called by its more appropriate name—opportunism—is an integral component of capitalism,” he said. “When the citizens grow restive, it will soften and decry capitalism’s excesses. But capitalism, Luxemburg argued, is an enemy that can never be appeased.”

      Hedges also said: “Luxemburg’s murder illustrated the ultimate loyalties of liberal elites in a capitalist society: When threatened from the left, when the face of socialism showed itself in the streets, they would—and will—make alliances with the most retrograde elements of the society, including fascists, to crush the aspirations of the working class.”

    • Minimum Wage Workers Can’t Afford Rent Anywhere In The Country

      People who make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour can’t find an affordable place to live anywhere in the country, according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

      But perhaps even more surprising is that even if the minimum wage were raised to $15 an hour — the level low-wage workers have been demanding in a constant flow of strikes and protests and the highest level supported by Democratic lawmakers — they would still be out of luck.

    • FFII comments on TTIP human rights assessment

      Citizens in Europe and elsewhere are harassed by software patent trolls, and experience issues regarding sequential innovation, remixing, and access to knowledge and culture. The FFII has argued that the EU should bring its IP law into line with human rights obligations. [4] TTIP may undermine this through exportation of EU law.

    • Yanis Varoufakis warns that anti-immigrant rhetoric is being used to distract from austerity

      The anti-immigration tactics being used by the Leave campaign in the EU referendum amount to a “divide and rule trick”, Yanis Varoufakis has said.

      The former Greek finance minister – who faced down EU institutions in his previous job negotiating with the Troika – said the British establishment was trying to use fear of immigrants to distract from the effects of austerity.

      “Lest we forget: turning the native poor against migrant labour is a variant of the old divide and rule trick that the British establishment honed ages ago to dominate the empire,” he said.

    • Students With Nowhere to Stay: Homelessness on College Campuses

      When the College Cost Reduction and Access Act took effect in 2009, neither lawmakers nor school administrators had any idea how many college students would check the box on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — the document that determines eligibility for Pell grants, subsidized loans and work-study awards that help students pay for college or vocational training — to indicate that they were homeless.

      At last tabulation, the number was 58,000, a small percentage of the 20.2 million students presently enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate study. Nonetheless, school counselors and advocates believe the number is starkly inaccurate and represents a mere fraction of university students who actually lack a permanent home.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Feel the Hate

      It hasn’t just been about insults, put-downs, and smears. There’s also the Clinton-captive Democratic Party’s systematic and authoritarian distortion and, yes, rigging of the primary nomination process at the local, state, and national levels. There are abundant reasons to believe that Hillary has benefitted from electoral and administrative shenanigans across the (seemingly endless) primary season. The fixing process was evident in Las Vegas recently, when the Nevada Democratic Party chair “shut down debate behind a screen of uniformed police” after the party excluded 58 Sanders delegates with sudden “rules changes” clearly made to block Sanders’ rightful claim to have won Nevada. No wonder a Sanders delegate grabbed a chair and thought about tossing it.

    • Trump Backs out of Debate Against Sanders After Tech Company Offers to Pay for It

      Donald Trump reneged on his intention to debate Senator Bernie Sanders on Friday in a brief statement on his website.

    • The Surge Of Trump-Fueled Anti-Semitism Is Hitting Jewish Reporters Who Cover Him

      Granted, the newly minted Republican nominee for president has long insisted that his is not himself anti-Semitic, and regularly points out that his daughter is a Jewish convert. Yet Trump has done little to quell a rising tide of anti-Semitism among his supporters since launching his campaign last year: Trump initially refused to disavow anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, a Trump surrogate implied at a rally that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders should convert from Judaism and “meet Jesus,” prominent anti-Semites went on radio shows to encourage their supporters to “get out and vote” for Trump, and a man was filmed leaving a Trump rally shouting in Cleveland shouting “Go to fucking Auschwitz.”

    • News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016

      But which social media sites have the largest portion of users getting news there? How many get news on multiple social media sites? And to what degree are these news consumers seeking online news out versus happening upon it while doing other things?

    • Bernie Calls Trump a Coward: ‘Hey, Donald, Come On Up, Let’s Have a Debate About the Future of America’

      Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is making the west coast late-night rounds ahead of California’s primary, stopping by “Real Time with Bill Maher” last night for a one-on-one interview.

      Maher mentioned the great missed opportunity that was Sanders’ rumored debate with GOP nominee Donald Trump, who backed out on Friday.

      After making guttural noises, Sanders said he “would have loved” to debate Trump.

    • What’s Really Best for Israel?

      Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went before AIPAC this year and pandered to those who blindly support Israel’s hard-line policies, but Bernie Sanders’s more evenhanded approach is better for Israel, says Rabbi Michael Lerner.


      As if not to be undone by the Times, Jane Eisner, editor of the center/right Jewish Forward magazine, issued a statement that insisted that Sanders unveil a full plan for how to achieve peace in Israel and Palestine. Clinton’s plan has been to give 100 percent unconditional support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    • Progressive Challenger to Wasserman Schultz Nabs Major Endorsement

      Tim Canova, the progressive challenger running to unseat embattled Democratic National Party (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on Friday was endorsed by the grassroots advocacy group Democracy for America (DFA), which called Canova a “political revolutionary.”

      In a statement on Friday, DFA chairman Jim Dean criticized Wasserman Schultz for allying with “wealthy interests” that fuel inequality and said that “if Democrats are going to be the party that confronts the wealthy and powerful who dominate our political process and enable growing income inequality, we need political revolutionaries like Tim Canova in the U.S. Congress.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s Memoir Deletions, in Detail

      Clinton praises Latin America for its high rate of economic growth, which she revealingly claims has produced “more than 50 million new middle-class consumers eager to buy U.S. goods and services.” She also admits that the region’s inequality is “still among the worst in the world” with much of its population “locked in persistent poverty” — even while the TPP that she has advocated strongly for threatens to exacerbate the region’s underdevelopment, just as NAFTA caused the Mexican economy to stagnate.

      Last October, however, she publicly reversed her stance on the TPP under pressure from fellow Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Likewise, the entire two-page section on the conference in El Salvador where she expresses her support for the TPP is missing from the paperback.

    • Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump

      Heidegger cuts Jaspers off abruptly. “Education is irrelevant,” the moral philosopher of Nazism shouts. “Just look at his wonderful hands!”

      Moral: the smaller the hands, the more fanatic the compensation.

    • 35 protesters arrested outside Trump rally in San Diego

      San Diego police arrested 35 protesters Friday outside a Donald Trump rally after a peaceful demonstration devolved into chaos, according to police.

      Three hours into the calm protests, which drew up to 1,000 people, a number of demonstrators tried to breach an off-limits area, resulting in arrests, the police department said on Twitter.

    • Donald Trump rally sparks clashes in San Diego

      Supporters and opponents of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have clashed in the city of San Diego in California.

      Police declared a gathering outside the city’s convention centre unlawful and made 35 arrests, as stones and water bottles were thrown.

      Mr Trump was in the city near the Mexican border to hold a rally ahead of the 7 June California primary.

    • By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates

      The practice of the American political establishment has for decades been to marginalize dissenting views as a means of silencing them. The dominant Parties have long contended that eligible voters who don’t vote don’t care, and therefore don’t matter. However, a more plausible explanation for their abstention (in addition to institutional impediments to voting) is that the great majority of voters want neither of the dominant Parties in power. In other words, the American system of political and economic representation neither includes nor represents true democratic participation. The growth of registered Independent voters (graph below) at the expense of the dominant Parties adds credence to this view. So does that fact that other alleged democracies have much higher voter participation rates than the U.S.

    • No Cake for Nazis: Meet the Young Libertarian Gunning for the Millennial Vote

      This could be a big year for a Libertarian candidate. Trump and Clinton are deeply unpopular, and a recent poll found that nearly half of all voters would consider supporting a third-party candidate if Trump and Clinton are the nominees. The Libertarians already credit Trump for a surge in new party memberships and are eager to pull in disappointed Sanders fans.

    • 10 Things to Know About DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s Super Progressive Challenger
    • “Significant Security Risks”: State Department Says Clinton Broke Rules Using Private Email Server

      An internal government watchdog has concluded Hillary Clinton broke government rules by using a private email server without approval while she was secretary of state. That was the key finding of a long-awaited report by the State Department inspector general. The report concluded that Clinton would not have been allowed to use a private server in her home had she asked department officials in charge of information security, because it posed “significant security risks.” This contradicts claims by Clinton that use of a home server was allowed and that no permission was needed. The report also criticized Clinton for not properly preserving emails she wrote and received on her personal account. According to the report, Clinton and eight of her deputies, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin, declined to be interviewed for the inspector general’s investigation. Clinton’s use of a private email server for State Department business is also the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. We speak to journalist Michael Tracey.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Australia references stripped from UN climate change report over tourism concerns

      All references to Australia have been removed from a UN report on climate change after the Environment Department expressed concerns it could cause confusion and negatively affect tourism.

      The report, jointly published by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), the Union of Concerned Scientists and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), initially contained a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef and sections on Kakadu and Tasmanian forests.

    • I’m launching a campaign to end geoblocking in the EU. Are you in?

      The EU continues taking baby steps towards a Digital Single Market, when what we need is a leap: An “anti-geoblocking” regulation that does not cover online video, like the one presented by the European Commission today, misses the mark. The Commission’s sector inquiry and the public consultation on the topic have proven just how widespread digital borders are in Europe today, and that Europeans overwhelmingly support broad action.

    • This YouTube Star Got Sued, Raised $130,000, and Wants to Change the Site Forever

      When Ethan Klein found out he was being sued by a fellow YouTube creator over a video he had produced for his channel, he never thought his personal legal battle would spark a backlash that raised tens of thousands of dollars and could change the way users of the video site fight lawsuits.

      But three days after the lawsuit was made public by Klein on May 24, YouTube creators and their fans have collected more than $130,000 to help the embattled video star and his wife (and co-star) Hila fight back against a copyright claim by another YouTube user, Matt Hosseinzadeh. And with all that money, Klein, the 30-year-old founder of h3h3productions, now has his sights set on bigger things: protecting other YouTube creators who need a legal defense but lack his own stature.

      As Klein tells it, the entire affair began when Hosseinzadeh sued him, alleging that a Klein video mocking Hosseinzadeh improperly used Hosseinzadeh’s content. In a video revealing the lawsuit, Klein vigorously defended himself, saying the footage he used was covered under fair use law.

    • Got a Beef With the Media? Pay Someone Else to Sue Them

      The revelation that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s sex tape lawsuit against Gawker sent shockwaves through the media industry. Commentators had barely recovered from the $140 million in damages awarded to Hogan. Now they were grappling with a bigger question: Is this kind of financial arrangement even legal? Could it happen to them?

    • Udta Punjab censorship: politics, not expletives, behind the move
    • Mark Zuckerberg’s Dilemma With Conservatives

      According to one of the former Facebook curators located by Gizmodo, the site that broke the story, the alleged political bias on the social network’s Trending Topics site amounted to a preference among the curators for outlets “like the New York Times, the BBC, and CNN” instead of those “like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, and Newsmax.” Given the respective reputations of those media outlets, in the real world, that would look like simple prudence. But, presumably because a story headlined “Anonymous Source Alleged Intelligent News Judgment in ‘Trending’ Choices” would not have resulted in a fraction of number of page views, Gizmodo bannered its “scoop.”

    • SABC’s non-coverage of violent protests compared to apartheid censorship

      There’s been wide-ranging criticism of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) decision to stop showing visuals of property being destroyed by protesters, with some comparing it to media censorship during apartheid.

      Today, the national broadcaster announced it will no longer be showing visuals of protesters destroying public property as this incites violence.

      The SABC insists this is not self-censorship but rather a duty to ensure that such footage doesn’t encourage others to follow suit.

    • S Africa broadcaster SABC condemned for ‘censorship’

      Freedom of expression groups and opposition parties have condemned the South African state broadcaster’s (SABC) decision to stop showing violent anti-government protests, claiming the move disregarded the right to dissent in the country.

    • ANC calls for debate around role of media covering violent protests
    • Sanef calls on SABC to review new policy on violent protests
    • SANEF slams SABC plan on violent protests
    • Sanef, R2K raise concern over SABC ‘censorship’
    • SABC clarifies stance on coverage of violent protests
    • SABC censorship decision questionable: Sanef
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Is this the end of decentralisation?

      In a response to this critique, Moxie wrote about how he feels that innovation can not happen as quickly and easily as needs be with federated and decentralised structures. To prove his point, he argued that the premise that the internet could not have gotten to where it is without interoperable and federated protocols is false.

    • An Entire West Virginia Town That Was Formerly a Spy Base Is for Sale

      If you have $1 million just sitting around and dream of living out the premise to M. Night Shymalan’s psychological thriller The Village, have we got a deal for you.

      An entire town, which was once part of the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance operation, includes 80 single-family homes, a fire station, a swimming pool and a bowling alley in picturesque rural West Virginia, is up for auction with bids starting at $1 million.

    • Untangling the Web: the NSA’s supremely weird, florid guide to the Internet

      Now, at 650 pages, there’s far too much to go into in depth here, but fortunately, as you can see from the table of contents…

      you don’t have to go very far before this takes a hard turn into “Dungeons and Dragons campaign/Classics major’s undergraduate thesis” territory. The preface employs a comical number of metaphors to describe what the internet is and isn’t – sometimes two a paragraph.

    • Read This Spectacularly Zany Guide to the Internet

      A version of this post titled “NSA’s ode to the Internet” originally appeared in the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter.

    • Anonabox Tunneler & Anonabox Pro: Helping You Stay Anonymous Online

      Given our open-source/Linux reader base and many of our readers being very privacy-minded, Anonabox sent over their Tunneler and Pro products for us to try out. The Anonabox Tunneler is a WiFi VPN router and the Anonabox Pro is a WiFi Tor and VPN router.

    • A Controversial Surveillance Firm Was Granted a Powerful Encryption Certificate

      A controversial surveillance company whose products have been detected in Iran and Sudan was recently issued a powerful encryption certificate by a US cybersecurity company. The certificate, and the authority that comes with it, could allow Blue Coat Systems to more easily snoop on encrypted traffic. But Symantec, the company that provided it, downplayed concern from the security community.

      Blue Coat, which sells web-monitoring software, was granted the power in September last year, but it was only widely noticed this week.

      The company’s devices are used by both government and commercial customers for keeping tabs on networks or conducting surveillance. In Syria, the technology has been used to censor web sites and monitor the communications of dissidents, activists and journalists, The Washington Post reports.

    • Beware public mobile charging points – your phone can be hacked in minutes

      Your smartphone can be easily hacked easily if you plug it in to charge via USB at a public place like an airport, cafe or on public transport.

      Researchers at security firm Kaspersky Labs found that they could install a third-party application, like a virus, onto the phone via its USB cable connection to a computer. It took them under three minutes.

    • Don’t have a Facebook account? Its advertising cookies are still following you

      Facebook will begin tracking people without Facebook accounts across the web as the social media giant expands its advertising empire.

      The company’s advertising network plans to install pieces of code known as “cookies” on internet user’s browsers, even if they do not have Facebook accounts, it has announced.

      Cookies monitor the websites that internet browsers visit and are used to target adverts at users. For example, after looking for furniture online you may see an IKEA advert on another page.

    • Tor – from its creators mouth 11 years ago

      A little more than 11 years ago, one of the creators of Tor, and the current President of the Tor project, Roger Dingledine, gave a talk for the members of the Norwegian Unix User group (NUUG). A video of the talk was recorded, and today, thanks to the great help from David Noble, I finally was able to publish the video of the talk on Frikanalen, the Norwegian open channel TV station where NUUG currently publishes its talks. You can watch the live stream using a web browser with WebM support, or check out the recording on the video on demand page for the talk “Tor: Anonymous communication for the US Department of Defence…and you.”.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers

      Less than three months before Lenca leader Berta Cáceres was brutally assassinated, the social arm of Desarollos Energeticos SA (DESA)–the Honduran company leading the Agua Zarca dam project Cáceres was campaigning against–signed a contract with USAID implementing partner Fintrac, a Washington DC based development contracting firm.

      The DESA representative who was present for the public signing of the USAID agreement was none other than Sergio Rodríguez, the company’s Social Investment Manager, who is now accused of Cáceres’ assassination along with another former DESA employee and individuals with military ties. The arrests also included Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, a retired military officer and the former head of DESA’s security detail. The trial against the accused murderers began on Monday.

    • Mold-Infested Prisons Sicken Guards and Prisoners

      During much of her three years awaiting trial in New York’s Rikers Island jail, Candie Hailey was locked in a solitary confinement cell ventilated by a mold-covered air duct. The purpose of the vent was, of course, to pump fresh air into her 6-by-10-foot concrete room, but the mold infestation instead added to an array of hazards and discomforts that made her life unbearable at Rikers, where she made multiple attempts at suicide. “There was big, dark, gray, blackish mildew around the air vent and that’s where the air was coming from,” Hailey told me. “It’s what I was inhaling — it smelled like death.”

    • Defendants In Freddie Gray Case Sue Marilyn Mosby For Defamation

      Two officers charged in the case surrounding Freddie Gray’s death for failing to get the 25-year-old medical help are now suing Baltimore’s top attorney for her decision to prosecute them.

      Court documents filed by Sgts. Alicia White and William Porter claim that State Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged them “not for the purpose of prosecuting crimes that had allegedly been committed by White and Porter, but rather for purposes of quelling the riots in Baltimore.”

      Both officers blame Mosby and the state for damaging their reputations. They’re seeking at least $75,000 for defamation and invasion of privacy, arguing that “they continue to suffer mental pain and anguish, and humiliation.”

    • A War of All Against All

      If the Left is serious about changing society it has to appeal to the mainstream. To everyone’s shock, Occupy did that. But once people like the whites in Albuquerque started saying more than “We are the 99%,” many Leftists were outraged. This is naïve. How often do activists denounce American society as racist, sexist, heterosexist, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, or transphobic? Is it so hard to believe then that many who joined Occupy reflected those biases in their language, ideas, and even deeds? Rather than analyze how systemic oppression is reproduced at the molecular level and how to dismantle it, Taking Sides sows distrust, creates divisions, and encourages self-righteousness.

    • Pakistani men can beat wives ‘lightly’, say Islamic council

      A Pakistani Islamic council has sparked outrage after suggesting husbands may “lightly beat” their wives as a form of discipline in their draft of a women’s protection bill.

      In the draft bill, released on Thursday, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) said it was permissible to beat a woman lightly should he need to punish her.

    • Apparently Taiwan’s President Practices ‘Emotional’ Politics Because She’s Single

      Taiwanese President Tsai Ing Wen practices “emotional” and “extreme” politics because she is a single woman, according to a member of China’s political body that handles relations with the self-ruled island of Taiwan. The criticism comes at a time when tensions have been stoked between Beijing and Taipei officials after Tsai indicated that she supports formal Taiwan independence, which challenges Beijing’s “one-China” stance.

    • Why Women Don’t Play Best-Of-Five Matches At Grand Slams

      The French Open, the second Grand Slam of the tennis year, is underway at Roland Garros, which means that, like clockwork, it’s time to question whether women’s tennis players deserve equal pay — something they’ve had at all four major tournaments since 2007 and at the U.S. Open since 1973.

      That argument has been particularly heated in recent months, sparked by (now former) Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore saying women’s tennis players “ride the coattails of the men,” which No. 1 Novak Djokovic followed up by referring to the female athletes’ “hormones.” Earlier this month, Madrid tournament owner Ion Tiriac fueled the flames when he openly ogled women’s tennis players for having “long legs” but complained that he had to pay them so much money.

      These comments inspired a recent Associated Press column: “Women need five-sets tennis to win equality battle.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Beware zero ratings, the new threat to Net neutrality

      Music and video streaming services take a lot of bandwidth, and now that most people have cellular plans that charge by the amount of data they use, streaming becomes a lot less attractive. Even at home, a sizable percentage of U.S. broadband customers have data caps that work against streaming media displacing standard TV and radio.

      Thus, the carriers and Internet service providers have come up with a new notion called zero rating, best known in the form of T-Mobile’s BingeOn and Music Freedom programs.

    • House Republicans Again Target Net Neutrality With Budget Attack

      Many Republican leaders in Congress loathe US rules protecting net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible—and they’re expressing their feelings by targeting the Federal Communications Commission, the agency charged with upholding those rules.

      That much became clear this week when the GOP released its fiscal 2017 financial services appropriations bill, which slashes funding for the FCC by $69 million, and severely hobbles the agency’s ability to enforce its net neutrality rules, crack down on abusive “zero-rating” practices, and move ahead with reforms designed to open up the video set-top box market.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Drug Pricing, Generics Figure Into WHO Strategies On HIV, Hepatitis

      As the 69th World Health Assembly draws to a close, member states are in the process of approving a series of draft global health sector strategies for HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections. And the issues involve some questions of intellectual property rights.

    • WHO Drafting Group Agrees Resolution On Health R&D

      A closed-door drafting group this evening arrived seemingly easily at agreement on a resolution on broadening work on new ways to fund research and development into medical products, according to participants. The agreement includes the creation of a new expert committee on health R&D, and calls for a WHO proposal on a pooled fund, they said.

    • WHO Reforms Health Emergency Response But Who Will Pay The Bill?

      But while states were largely favourable to the new forms, money once against appears to be the shoal on which the ship is in danger of foundering.


      The United States and United Kingdom – WHO’s two largest overall funders – endorsed the increased budget request. So did Germany, who’s delegate admonished the committee, “Let us not fool ourselves. We knew that this would not be cost-neutral.” Australia announced it is contributing $4.3 million ($6 million AUD) and Japan will donate $50 million over 5 years.

    • Resolution On WHO Work With Non-State Actors Down To Wire

      With the end of the annual World Health Assembly looming tomorrow, member states are working away behind closed doors to finalise a resolution on how the World Health Organization shall work with outside actors going forward.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • BSA Pays Disgruntled Employees to Rat on ‘Pirating’ Bosses

        The Business Software Alliance, a trade group representing Adobe, Apple and Microsoft, is known to offer cash payments to people who help them find companies that run unlicensed software. Today we speak with an attorney who has represented more than 250 defendants in these cases, which are regularly triggered by disgruntled employees.

      • Help save Freedom of Panorama – Tag photos with #SaveFoP

        Our right to take photos of public art and buildings and share them on social media and photo sharing websites is under serious threat.

        This right is called the Freedom of Panorama and the European Commission is discussing proposals that could remove it. This could put a huge burden on people sharing or using pictures they’ve taken that contain sculptures, buildings, and skylines.

        Holiday photos, photos by professional street photographers, and images that sites like Wikipedia use to illustrate articles could all be badly affected.

        If the artist or architect is alive or died in the last 70 years, you might have to ask for their permission before sharing your photos on social media or photo sharing websites. This would be a huge and unnecessary burden.

        The Commission wants to harmonise the rules governing the sharing of theses pictures across the European Union. One of the big questions is about whether there should be Freedom of Panorama for commercial as well as non-commercial purposes. This might not seem controversial but individuals sharing pictures on Facebook, Flickr or Instagram would count as commercial sharing because the sites are commercial entities.

        UK law currently allows the sharing of these pictures without asking permission – the so-called Freedom of Panorama. But lots of European countries don’t allow it. Because photos you share can be accessed from those countries, your photos could be blocked or removed in those countries. You could even be threatened with court action by the rightsholder of the public art or building.

        Instead of placing restrictions on public photography, the EU should remove the current mess of laws and replace it with a simple Europe-wide rule allowing people to share images of public art, buildings and skylines for all purposes.

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