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Time to Call Out Joff Wild (IAM’s Editor in Chief) for His EPO-Connected UPC Propaganda, Other Agenda-Pushing Initiatives

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also a longtime SUEPO basher

Joff Wild of IAM

Summary: The latest UPC propaganda and where it is coming from (or who for); a kind request for realisation that IAM is not a legitimate source of news/information but mostly propaganda (preaching, not reporting)

THE EPO scandals, based on statements made by EPO spokespeople, have a lot to do with the UPC. As Dr. Glyn Moody put it earlier this year (page 6 of a very long article):

When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules: “the EPO needs to be fit to efficiently handle all tasks as the authority appointed to deliver and administrate Unitary patents once the scheme enters into force, which could already be this year. Its importance is likely to increase both at European and international level, and that needs to be reflected in our capacity to respond to new demands for our services.”

The EPO’s central role in the unitary patent system means that an organisation that is not subject to EU rules or laws will wield a key power: to grant or refuse EU-wide patents on inventions. The EPO will receive 50 percent of the patent renewal fees charged for unitary patents, with the rest being shared out among the other EU countries, just as EPO earnings are today.

As a consequence, the EPO will once more have an incentive to issue as many patents as possible in order to boost its revenue from renewal fees—a problem that besets the current EPO system, as discussed above. The double danger here is that the introduction of the unitary patent, implemented with a more accommodating attitude to approving applications, could bring with it both US-style patent trolls, and US-style patenting.

Patent trolls are almost unknown in the EU because it is currently impossible to obtain an EU-wide patent. Without it, patent trolls would have to apply for patents in multiple jurisdictions before suing their victims in each of them separately, increasing the cost of carrying out this kind of bullying, and multiplying the risk that they would lose somewhere and see their bluff called. The new unitary patent is specifically designed to make it easy to obtain patents across the EU—something that patent trolls will relish.

Some people, especially those who would profit from trolls or whatever (litigation and defense/offense), just don’t seem to ‘get’ it. They just focus on how much money they would get. Aistemos Blogteam earlier today published “Europe, Utopia and the Unified Patent Court”. There is no Utopia here at all. To quote the concluding words:

We do need to know how patent strategists, litigators, portfolio managers and investors think, and their insights can be valuable. But we also need a lot more firm information before we can obtain a clearer view as to whether this carefully-planned and extensively revised scheme for litigating Europe’s patents is better, the same as or worse than the patchwork of national courts that preceded it.

Well, it’s time to abolish or mothball and shelve the UPC rather than pretend it’s inevitable and “prepare” or learn it. Don’t study what’s uncertain. Of what benefit is the UPC anyway and to who? Surely the quality of the pro-UPC propaganda has rapidly deteriorated. Joff Wild, the EPO’s mouthpiece and UPC propagandist (EPO pays for such stuff), is not just a trolls denialist (pretending no such problem exists) but also one who would not mind trolls taking over Europe. Why are people taking him seriously? Earlier today IP Kat wrote: “Joff Wild, the editor of IAM (Intellectual Asset Management), is one of the most astute observers of intellectual property as business assets. IPKat is delighted that Joff has offered to share his thoughts on the current state of patent valuation.”

“Well, it’s time to abolish or mothball and shelve the UPC rather than pretend it’s inevitable and “prepare” or learn it.”He is paid by companies that prop up the system and strive for patent maximalism, so how objective is he really? He literally helps set up events for patent trolls, in which their reputation is being collectivity laundered.

But here’s why we still have ‘beef’ with Wild, putting aside his dangerous betrayal of sources. Shortly after IAM's latest EPO propaganda that in spite of the EPO's decline tries to pretend everything is great (and the EPO later conveniently cited this) we have more bogus claims, or lies, to put it more bluntly. Were SMEs surveyed by IAM? No. There’s the usual selection bias (MIP too is now surveying only the choir, ignoring more than 99% of the population) and empty assertions from Wild about SMEs. “The two most immediate risks,” he says to IP Kat (or Neil Wilkof says based on a discussion with him), “are: the U.S. Supreme Court cases going against patent owners, so reinforcing the anti-patentee narrative in the US and making US patents even less attractive; and the UK voting to leave the EU, so delaying the UPC by two or three years at a minimum, or maybe even killing it off permanently. A lot of people are placing big bets on the UPC. A delay, let alone de facto abandonment, is likely to cause a significant negative market reaction.”

“They must be thinking of predators and opportunists from across the Atlantic, not legitimate European businesses, maybe just lawyers’ firms. “No, no, no. They must be thinking of predators and opportunists from across the Atlantic, not legitimate European businesses, maybe just lawyers’ firms.

It is an established fact that SMEs are against the UPC (they say so themselves) but watch how Wild, writing in his own site today (with “SMEs 4 the UPC” right there in the headline), puts together completely nonsensical prose which acts more like reality-distortion, not facts passage. To quote one part:

SME advance – It’s rare to find anyone running a European SME confident enough to talk in detail about patents, let alone willing to do so. That’s what made the contribution of Rubén Bonet, president and CEO of Barcelona-based Fractus, so welcome in this morning’s “Europe’s chance to lead” plenary session. The company is a designer, manufacturer and licensor of optimised antennas, and was spun out of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in the late 1990s. It holds over 200 patents and applications covering 50 inventions, and is no stranger to the courts in the US and elsewhere. That, of course, makes it an exception. As Bonet acknowledged, most SMEs do not engage with the patent system, regarding it as a waste of time and money. The UPC, though, could change that, he said. The key would be to maintain current quality standards at the EPO and to ensure that the new court regime also functions to the highest standards. With such quality you have predictability and with that you have the ability not only to pan long term, but also to attract investment. There is nothing more disastrous for a tech-based SME, Bonet observed, than to be awarded a patent, to build a business around it and then to have it invalidated a few years further down the line. The delivery of high-quality patents makes that scenario far less likely. In terms of UPC predictability, Bonet said, it will be important to get eh damages regime right and also to ensure the availability of injunctions. With these things in place, plus high-quality grants, he stated, litigation would actually less likely as parties would have a much clearer idea of what the outcome of going to court would be. All of this would make SMEs with European patent portfolios more attractive to VCs and may even make it easier to secure money from the banks against the assets. What’s not to like from an SME perspective? (JW)

“What’s not to like from an SME perspective?”

What a nonsensical rhetorical question. Wild is hijacking their voice or preaching to them. This is lobbying or advocacy, it’s not news.

A later part from Wild (JW) is revealing more intersections with EUIPO, as we foresaw [1, 2]:

From UPC to UIPC – It’s no great secret that the European Patent office was not best pleased when the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), which grants Community trademark and design rights, was rebranded the EU IP Office earlier this year. It looked like a bit of a land grab, given that even though the agency has no patent remit, patents are very much part of the IP family. At the very least, it was argued in Munich, the name change might cause confusion and give an opportunity for unscrupulous operators to fleece unsuspecting punters for a few Euros. With that in mind, it was interesting to hear Margot Fröhlinger – the EPO’s Principal Director of Patent Law and Multilateral Affairs and a 2016 inductee into the IP Hall of Fame – talk about her hopes for the Unified Patent Court during her induction speech. Fröhlinger has spent long years, first at the European Commission and latterly at the EPO, helping to drive the UPC agreement and it was her fervent personal hope, she said, that once it is up and running the court’s remit should eventually be extended to cover trademarks, designs and other forms of EU-wide IP rights – a UIPC, if you like. There is no doubt that such a view would not be terribly popular in OHIM headquarters down the coast from Barcelona in Alicante; but although there would be a number of practical issues to resolve before such a move could take place it does make some sense for a continent that for a long time has seen merit in specialised IP dispute resolution fora. (JW)

We used to be polite towards IAM and give it the benefit of the doubt, but there’s no point being too polite to the EPO and its propagandists as lack of antagonism would let them eat Europe alive, without resistance/opposition.

Every EPO employee should know by now IAM’s role as it relates to the EPO. There should be no confusion/ambiguity here. Whether intentionally or inadvertently, IAM does an enormous damage to Europe (its economy, not the patent law firms perhaps). It must be the ENA way…

Enlarged Board of Appeals Can Decide Whether Battistelli’s Attack on the Boards Will Become Public

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Public scrutiny and media attention would only serve to expose the naked emperor (Sun King)

The Emperor's New Clothes
The Emperor’s New Clothes. Image credit: Владимир Шеляпин

Summary: An update or a short series of updates about a meeting which is expected to take place next week and deal with an illegally suspended (by Battistelli) judge who ‘insulted’ Battistelli by saying the truth

THE management of the EPO is hoping to demolish the boards which assure patent quality and justice. That’s the ENA way (or the highway). The boards can be viewed/perceived as an ‘impediment’ to so-called ‘production’.

Days ago we wrote about claims that on the 14th of June there will be a meeting in which Battistelli's attack on the boards will be discussed and this new comment says more about that:

Well http://www.epo.org/applying/online-services/proceedings/calendar.html? for 14th June does not list the proceedings or indeed any proceedings in 131. Note that proceedings in appeal are public unless particular circumstances dictate otherwise. Could that be the case here?

Well spotted.

And in the same vein the EPO site does not provide access to the previous decisions in cases Art. 23 1/15 and Art. 23 2/15 – despite the fact that the Enlarged Board determined that they be published.

Who cares as long as Wikipedia is available.


But probably not for much longer at the EPO …

There’s some disagreement over whether the public can access the proceedings or not:

the hearings next week in the case of the suspended member of the BoA are public and planned to last 3 days – but I am ready to bet with you that as soon as a critical level of interest in them will be reached, despite the attempts of the Office to hide their occurrence, the President will find a good excuse to block access to the public.

As you said: “unless particular circumstances dictate otherwise.”

Here is what Merpel wrote:

Article 12a of the Rules of Procedure of the Enlarged Boards of Appeal, setting the procedure of proceedings under Art 23(1) EPC states:
(9) Unless and to the extent that the Enlarged Board decides otherwise, the proceedings shall not be public and shall be confidential.
Has the EBA really decided otherwise in this case?

If there are no effective (and affordable) boards at the Organisation, then patent quality is assured to decline. Earlier today we found this brag about a new EPO patent. This promotional piece of text says: “Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS), a leading connected car solution Provider, announced today the granting of a patent, by the European Patent Office (EPO), that covers the fundamental requirements to enable connected car services using smartphones and other mobile devices.”

It’s not a company from Europe but from Canada and we previously saw how software patents had been disguised as devices, only to be squashed by the Boards of Appeal (Rapporteur Corcoran in that case). Getting rid of such people, or defaming them, would open the gates to software patents in Europe, in clear violation of the EPC and the 2005 directive that reinforces it.

Perpetual Attack on EPO Staff, Even After the Staff Leaves the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sun King’s general approach towards staff and his media strategy

Summary: The war on staff’s freedom (even freedom of speech, including after leaving the EPO) escalated to the point of jaw-dropping levels

IT IS no secret that EPO management witch-hunts people, especially those who are associated with (or run) SUEPO. Those people must behave as Battistelli (Sun King) pleases at all times, even after he dismisses them (apparently) because vengeance goes a long way. The Battistelli Kool-Aid must flow uninterrupted. People must stop reading blogs that express criticism or question the EPO. They should instead tune in to EPO (paid) “media partners”. That’s the Battistelli way.

Having realised that she is banned by the EPO anyway, Merpel now continues her work with little hesitation (not much is left to lose). I know the feeling. Among the comments posted in relation to the censorship (please note we have updated this post 3 times already, with new information) we have [1, 2]:

The Bike has been expertised and only normal wear detected on the brakes …I guess it will not make it to the intranet.

You are joking, right? Expertised by whom, anyway?

The “Bike” meme/theme — or the “Bike Affair” as some call it — just won’t go away. It helps distract from meaningful conversation about Battistelli and his goons, as does the event on Thursday (to coincide with a protest). Once again the EPO resorts to 'spamming' people for this silly event. Compare [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] (pretty much identical message, which can get them temporarily shadow-banned by Twitter). This is truly pathetic.

Looking at the latest from Merpel, based on a lot of comments and discussions in comments (which we never get around to covering due to lack of time) she has composed this article about “the EPO’s plans to restrict post-service employment”. To quote the key bits:

Merpel wrote recently about the latest plans of the European Patent Office to reform the Boards of Appeal of the EPO. One aspect present in the earlier proposals of CA/16/15 (see IPKat here, here and here) was that post-service restrictions on employment should apply to former members of the Boards of Appeal, in order to prevent the appearance of conflicts of interest. This aspect has been removed from the main proposal and made the subject of an entire new proposal of its own, to apply not just to Board of Appeal members, but all employees of the EPO.


It must be cause for concern where powers are stated to be used only exceptionally, but granted without restriction. Moreover, the EPO is explicitly moving to a situation where more employees are expected not to stay their whole working lives with the EPO, so the question of what an ex-employee can do will rise in prominence. For example, the proposals for reform of the Boards of Appeal plan to remove security of tenure so that Board members can no longer expect to be automatically re-appointed at the end of each 5 year term.

For the Boards of Appeal, the most significant issue is that Board members cannot improperly use their former status to the advantage of a particular party by representing them in proceedings before the EPO, but this was dealt with more than 2 decades ago in case G/94.

As an organisation, the EPO is struggling (to put it politely) with its staff relations. It is baffling that the Administrative Council might think it to be a good idea to to add to the list of staff grievances by granting the EPO President, who is the “appointing authority” for most staff, an entirely new ability to control the career of staff members even beyond their departure from the Office, without at least being convinced first that the lack of such powers was damaging the Office.

So Merpel returns to her original question – what is the evidence that further restrictions are required now?

“I may be prejudiced, but this sounds like “Silence! I kill you!”,” said this one response. To quote the whole thing:

I am puzzled at how a former member of a Board of Appeal could take a position where he or she would create a conflict with respect to the legitimate interests of the European Patent Office.

Indeed, we have G2/94. But as this relates to partiality, one would say the proposed oral submission of the former Board member could harm the interests of the other party, not so much the interests of the EPO. And, by the way, G2/94 related to partiality of the Board of Appeal, which is, as we all know, not part of the European Patent Office (hmm… ok, they are employed by the Office?).

So, again, what legitimate interests of the EPO could be at stake for any position taken up by a former Board member?

I may be prejudiced, but this sounds like “Silence! I kill you!”.

It’s also said that “the current EPO looks like the old soviet structures in the 80s’,” to quote another comment:

The current EPO direction wants to control 360°, 24/7 the life of each and single one.

An ex-EPO director now happy pensioner told me today : the current EPO looks like the old soviet structures in the 80s’

Sad, very sad

“This is a measure of pure vindictiveness, with no reasonable justification whatsoever,” added another:

There does not need to be “evidence” to support any whim of the President. Who is going to say him nay? However, there are several benefits from his point of view. As already noted, this measure would have a crippling effect on members of the Board of Appeal wishing to pursue any “occupational activity” after leaving the EPO. In a strategy to undermine the BoA this is another effective action.

There is also the benefit of blocking the activities of anyone retired or dismissed who wishes to work for SUEPO, whether paid or not. There are already several people who would potentially be affected by this measure, especially the two SUEPO leaders dismissed in Munich. Displease the President and the risk is that he and his investigators will pursue you to the ends of the earth and for the rest of your working life.

This is a measure of pure vindictiveness, with no reasonable justification whatsoever.

And finally, a shorter remark:

The Will of the President is all the evidence you need, Merpel.

A lot more of this can be found in comments in other threads, which is possibly why the EPO grew angry enough to just block the entire site/blog.

EPO Protest Tomorrow: Help the Media (Not ‘Media Partners’ in EPO Management’s Pocket) See What EPO Staff Really Thinks (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A reminder that later this week there will be a showing of dissent and unrest, not just a paid-for ceremony that serves as mass distraction

THE EPO has a war in it between staff and management. There will be a demonstration on Thursday and to quote a source of ours: “There are two local SUEPO demos on Thursday: In Munich, the demo starts at 12:00 h in front of the ISAR building. In The Hague, buses leave at 11:40 h (sharp) in front of the Main building, the demo starts at about 12:00 h at “Plein 1813″ (not at Carnegieplein).”

The goal is to raise awareness of the rift while Battistelli's media extravaganza goes on in Lisbon. Some MPs are aware of the rift and to quote SUEPO: “Ënnerstëtzt Lëtzebuerg weiderhin den aktuellen, staark ëmstriddenen EPO-President?” (Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party, 3 June 2016). Scroll down to read the parliamentary question in French of Claudia Dall’Agnol, Member of Parliament.”

Luxembourg may be a small country, but it’s not so blindly loyal to Battistelli, nor is it passive. We recently mentioned two articles from Luxembourg [1, 2] and surely politicians from other nations pay close attention. The more of them get personally involved, the better. That’s bureaucracy. The whole situation gets harder to ignore.

SUEPO recently published a list of 8 videos with Dutch politicians in them and we increasingly see more of the same from German politicians. The demonstrations in Munich and The Hague will hopefully stir up some of the same kinds of interventions. “The demonstration in The Hague on 28 January 2016,” wrote SUEPO, “led to an extensive media coverage in The Netherlands, including video reports that have now been grouped in a playlist in Youtube. All the video reports are now provided with translations in English, French and German (you simply need to activate subtitles in your preferred language)”

English subtitles are available for all the videos and here are half of them which we probably never showed here before (except some sections/cuts within them):

NOS Journaal 28/1/2016 20:00

TV West Nieuws 28 January 19:30

‘De heksenjacht heeft nu ook Rijswijk bereikt’

Video in article “Personeel protesteert tegen ‘intimidatie’ bij Europees Octrooibureau” (28/01/2016)

Here is a text circulated about tomorrow’s protest and why it’s worth attending:

Oh Benoît, did the earth move for you too?

On 16 March, the Administrative Council voted unanimously in favour of a resolution, imposing their will on the president. In a 2012 interview (http://www.usinenouvelle.com/article/le-stratege-du-brevet-europeen.N182255) that has by now become notorious, the president said that it would take a “tremblement de terre” for the Administrative Council, or any of its members not to support him. Was the meeting of 16 March the earthquake that we have all been waiting for?

A unique resolution
One thing is for sure: the resolution is unique in the history of the European Patent Organisation. Never before has the Administrative Council felt the need to take the initiative in such a way, or done so with such unanimity. There was not a single vote against the resolution, which told the president who was boss, even if it did so in softer words than some would have liked. In the same 2012 interview, the president said, “Je n’ai jamais été aussi libre. Je n’ai pas de ministère de tutelle, de Parlement, de gouvernement. C’est nous qui fixons les règles, les discutons, les négocions.” Suddenly, however, it is not the president who makes the rules. And now, he has a body to which he must answer. The words he uttered in 2012 were out of place at the time he said them, and they definitely seem totally hollow today. The “great dictator” cannot resist the sabre-rattling and the growling, but the lion of old has turned into a cat with allures.

Whose turn is it to be micro-managed now?
The master of micro-management is finding that he is being micro-managed himself. No longer can he say, “Je n’ai jamais été aussi libre”. Ironically, no EPO president has ever had so little freedom or been under such close supervision. But he has only himself to blame for the arrogance and ruthlessness with which he pushed the bad reforms. How many of us can remember the harnesses that mothers used to put on badly behaving children? They had reins so that the mother could keep a close eye on the child and quickly pull it back to order if it stepped out of line. The Administrative Council has just fitted out our president with a virtual harness and is keeping a tight grip on the reins it has in its hands.

It is becoming rapidly clear that staff, many delegations and large swathes of the press have lost all trust in what the president says. Staff realised a long time ago that what Battistelli says is often a distortion of the truth. Others, with less access to the full information, took him at his word and refused to believe that he was as bad as the staff was claiming. For Council delegations, that changed last December, when they realised that the president not only had failed to implement the clear wishes they had expressed about the DG3 reform, but that he had even misrepresented the results of the external survey on the reform of DG3 the Office had carried out. In the March 2016 Council meeting, some delegations went further, questioning the background to the high productivity statistics, and hinting that they may not be all they seem, or may not have been achieved in a reasonable way. Journalists have also begun to spot cracks in the shiny presidential surface. IPKat is analysing the Office’s statistics and is finding they might not be telling the whole truth (http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/epo-performance-1-application-pendency.html).

Do NOT be fooled by the president backing down for the first time in his presidency, and removing the pension cut from the punishment imposed on one SUEPO leader. This was a unique and isolated act, and if you read the text of the president’s decision, he refuses to accept that he made any mistakes, only granting the milder punishment “ex gratia” (http://techrights.org/2016/03/26/epo-strike-imminent/). Undoing one blatant injustice is not the same as doing justice or making it seen being done. This “gracious” act is merely symbolic, and the language used shows no change in attitude whatever. Real justice would require complete abolition of ALL the new rules and regulations that breach international civil service law and human rights.

SUEPO and the resolution
The resolution passed on 16 March calls on the unions “to work rapidly to an agreement on Union recognition without preconditions.” Pro-Battistelli commentators, notably Intellectual Assets Magazine, have seized on this, arguing that the ball will soon be in the unions’ court to resolve the issue (http://www.iam-media.com/Blog/Detail.aspx?g=0fe01b6c-4516-4a7d-afcc-8ef0b8496405). It is difficult to understand how such commentators reach that conclusion. SUEPO has in fact played a rather minor role in the evolution of staff’s unhappiness with the Office’s management. Even the latest call for strike came from a group of individuals and was not a SUEPO initiative. If SUEPO were to throw open their arms and say, “All is forgiven, Benoît,” what would staff expect them to do? Should they agree to measures that go against the European Convention on Human Rights, such as the strike regulation, social democracy and the health reform? Should they accept that their union leaders, some of whom are now unemployed, go into negotiations with a man who behaved so heinously towards those same union leaders? Should they negotiate with a man whose idea of negotiation is to say, “Take it or leave it, and let me warn you, if you leave it, there will be nasty consequences for you”? We say, NO, they should not discuss with this man, who has disqualified himself from the ranks of people it is reasonable to speak with. There is no trust in Battistelli, and after all that has happened, there can never be trust in Battistelli.

It’s time to go
Today, the president is a lame duck. He may not think so, of course. True to character, he is acting in his old aggressive way. It is as though, metaphorically speaking, he has cut the brake lines on his own bike and is hurtling downhill towards disaster. His latest proposal for a reform of DG 3 has once more been drafted without consulting those affected, is once more at odds with leading opinions across the IP world and is once more totally unacceptable. In parallel, he is “revising” the Investigation Guidelines and the rules for disciplinary procedures at the EPO. No one expects any good to come out of these activities.
His open disrespect for the instructions he has been given will lead to further tensions in the Council. Can the delegations tolerate his presence any longer at the helm of the EPO?
He is in a Catch 22 situation. If he behaves in his old way, he will surely be the subject of severe criticism for ignoring the Council resolution. If he does nothing, then there is no point in him staying on as president. If he surprises us all and spontaneously turns into a Mr Nice Guy over night, it will have no credibility. Whichever way you look at it, a once strong – and very unpleasant – leader is now weak, and still very unpleasant. It is time for him to go.
And it is our duty to remind him and the Council of that:

Come to the demo on Thursday!

Things are getting very busy (and noisy) at the EPO again, so expect more coverage from us.

Update: at around 2 AM, based on the RSS timestamp, SUEPO published the following statement:

Actions continue: next demonstration 9 June

During its March meeting, the Administrative Council (the Supervisory  Body) of the EPO passed a resolution making a number of requests to the Mr Battistelli, President of the EPO. None of the changes that Mr Battistelli will table to the June meeting of the Administrative Council (AC) comply with these requests.

The reforms proposed by Mr Battistelli – if adopted by the Council – will further increase the discretionary powers of the President over EPO staff and their representatives (new investigation regulations, new disciplinary procedures, post-service employment restrictions) and reduce the independence of the Boards of Appeals (reform of DG3). In short, the new proposals are bad for staff and bad for the EPO.

In spite of the many proposals tabled by SUEPO in the (recent) past and of the clear request of the Administrative Council, SUEPO – representing 50% of staff, was not even approached by the President to re-open discussions about a Memorandum of Understanding.

By acting this way, Mr Battistelli shows a blatant disregard not only for staff but also for the representatives of the EPO Member States. 

Last month we explained why Battistelli should be sacked.

EPO’s Old Spokesman (10 Years in Munich) Resigns Again After Only 5 Weeks, EPO is Just Buying the Media Now

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

At what cost?

Operation Mockingbird
Operation Mockingbird

Summary: Oswald Schröder, who left the EPO when things turned truly disastrous, is leaving again and it seems apparent that spending millions of Euros buying the media is all that Team Battistelli has got left before the public realises that it’s just another FIFA

POLITICAL pressure against the EPO is growing again. Politicians speak to one another and it starts to be too much for Battistelli to bear.

We don’t expect Battistelli to be able to ‘buy’ his way into silencing them like he does the Administrative Council and he cannot just blacklist YouTube or the European Parliament’s Web sites Office-wide (this is how Battistelli increasingly deals with dissent, having resorted to the most miserable measurements imaginable, short of hiring mercenaries to murder his perceived enemies). Now that JoinUp at Europe.eu publishes “Portugal to boost digital economy with EUR 1.9 billion” we can’t help thinking of this week’s 'gift' from Battistelli to Portugal. How will that turn out? The whole media strategy of the EPO right now is just “pay lots of money for media companies to say nice things” (i.e. buy the media) and this is very expensive. It’s gross waste and abuse from a leadership that’s about to have a ‘FIFA/Blatter moment’.

“Remember that IAM was chosen to organise UPC propaganda events supported by the EPO and financed by the EPO’s PR firm along with UPC profiteers.”Based on this new article from Luxembourg, the EPO’s spokesperson who left (we last mentioned this last year, he had worked for the EPO in Munich for a decade) is leaving again after just 5 week at the GDL palace. To quote an automated translation of the article about Oswald Schröder: “Just five weeks he was in office: Now, the new spokesman for the Grand Ducal Court, Oswald Schröder, already resigned. [...] Schroeder’s departure is the second to hold the post in the last months. Last fall spokeswoman Isabelle Faber had resigned with immediate effect on their function. Then took a “Comité de pilotage” led by Nadège Lartigue communication of the court to the outside. On May 1, Oswald Schröder was presented as the new spokesman for the court. Schroeder was formerly marketing director of BGL Bank and Spokesman of the European Patent Office in Munich. His deputy is Caroline Verhoeven, who has worked for the European Commission and a short time from the publisher “Maison modern”.”

Maybe Oswald Schröder simply left the EPO because he saw what was coming. We could use a translation of the entire article.

Joff Wild, one of Battistelli’s propaganda troops (IAM), is still promoting the UPC. Remember that IAM was chosen to organise UPC propaganda events supported by the EPO and financed by the EPO's PR firm along with UPC profiteers. Here is the latest from Wild, wrongly assuming people actually want the UPC:

Beating Brexit – So it turns out a few senior IP people have noticed the opinion polls in the UK indicating that the Leave side in the country’s referendum on EU membership is now ahead of the Remain side. The conventional wisdom is that if the UK does vote to quit the EU, then the Unified Patent Court agreement will remain unratified and the new regime will not come into force until, at the earliest, the UK formally departs. But, wait a minute, some people are now saying. The UPC is not an EU Treaty, it is an inter-governmental one. Were the UK to ratify it would not necessarily be going against the spirit of the referendum result and, in any case, it will remain a member state for a fair while even if the result is for Leave on 23rd June. Of course, this depends on how the UK government sees things. The country’s IP minister is, like the Prime Minister David Cameron, a Remainer. The justice minister, Michael Gove, on the other hand, is a prominent Leaver. But if the UK government can be persuaded to sign up despite a vote to depart, then – the thinking seems to be – a way will be found in the period that exists between that vote and departure to ensure that whatever happens the UK remains within the unitary patent system. It’s hard to believe that British industry would not want that – the country’s patent profession certainly does – and it’s not as if patents are high-profile. Essentially, no-one would actually notice. It makes sense, I guess; but whether it would actually be the right thing to do once the will of the people has been expressed is very much open to question. (JW)

The bottom line is this. As people will find out later this week, the EPO’s media strategy is just to pay the media. No wonder Schröder is no longer at the EPO. It’s embarrassing.

Politicians Susann Biedefeld (MdL) and Agnes Jongerius (S and D) the Latest to Express Anger at EPO’s Management Over Its Abuses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Animal Office or Nepotism Office?

Battistelli BoA caricature

Summary: Mr. Battistelli, who has turned the European Patent Office (EPO) into a laughing stock, is burning the entire Organisation (boards included) to the ground having refused to step down or admit any of his mistakes, which politicians are obviously seeing

AS expected and hoped, EPO management is coming under fire from more directions. The message is getting through to politicians too.

“The “Social Study” organised by management,” told us one person, which is “still running this week, is rather another PR gag than anything else. The presidents’s BoA reform is true to style.” Another person produced the above cartoon (among others), which is probably self-explanatory (context here).

We don’t expect many people to believe this-called called ‘Social Study’ and looking at another study, this one without EPO management ‘managing’ it, one person wrote:

“You’re right, the results of the staff survey are truly appalling. The indicators of stress are almost off the scale.”

So lets do something really, really really radical,,,something that will make the world stand up and take this nonsense seriously, once and for all. Lets organise another demonstration and walk to the French and Spanish Emabssy’s in our lunch times (private transport in your CD or BN plated car entirely at your own volition and you lucky ones can always claim that VAT you spend on petrol back at the end of the year – failing that a SUEPO bus will be available )

This should make he Admin Council quake in their boots and think oh oh oh,,,,,,,,,,shouldn’t it?,,,,or should we just sit and wait till the ‘lovely Sun Guvnor’ finally leaves?

Now that Battistelli is allegedly 'buying' votes, buying the media, and buying so-called 'research' or 'studies' along with other means of truly expensive propaganda he is also blocking more and more blogs, but can much longer can he keep this up?

Susann Biedefeld, MdL, speaks out against the EPO in her Web site, in spite of Germany’s or Bavaria’s supposed benefit having the EPO in Munich. Here is her talk about it (switch on translation and choose the desired language):

Agnes Jongerius (S&D) has in the mean time got questions about the “working conditions at the EU institutions” added to the European Parliament’s Web site:

Today (Thursday, 7 April), staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) went on strike in order once again to draw attention to their difficult working conditions. The Court of Justice of the EU had previously called for these conditions to be improved, but nothing was done in response to that pronouncement. Conditions at the EPO have reached a nadir, but the EPO is not alone in this respect. At other EU institutions and agencies too, including the ECB and the Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna, infringements of the Staff Regulations of Officials have occurred in recent years.

1. Does the Commission agree with staff at the EPO that the industrial relations climate at the EPO is unacceptable and needs to be substantially improved?

2. The Commission is an observer on the EPO’s Administrative Council. In that role, is it insisting that industrial relations at the EPO be improved?

3. How does the Commission try to remedy failures of compliance at other EU institutions and agencies which ought to abide by the Staff Regulations of Officials?

Stay tuned as there’s more coming in our next post.

Links 7/6/2016: Manjaro Linux 16.06, Firefox 47.0

Posted in News Roundup at 6:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Muhammad Ali & IBM sought to “shake up the world” with Linux

    The late Muhammad Ali was not only a champion fighter and cultural figure, but also no slouch in the advertising ring.

    Ali sold pizzas, car batteries and even roach spray (“I can whup anything on two legs but even me, the greatest, needs help beating things with six legs…”)

    While many have used Ali’s image or voice in their ads, including Apple (Think Different commercial) and Gatorade, I’m not aware of Ali hawking much in the way of technology. One exception was this 2004 IBM Super Bowl ad during which the company pushes Linux and open source computing, something it had been behind since the late 1990s. The ad features a young boy (depicted as “Linux” in related IBM ads) soaking up vintage video of Ali boasting “I shook up the world!” and then sitting face-to-face with the boxer, who urges the kid to “shake things up” and “shake up the world.”

  • A program should be able to open its own files on Linux

    Many years ago, when koffice was fresh and with few users, I decided to test its presentation tool when making the slides for a talk I was giving for NUUG on Japhar, a free Java virtual machine. I wrote the first draft of the slides, saved the result and went to bed the day before I would give the talk. The next day I took a plane to the location where the meeting should take place, and on the plane I started up koffice again to polish the talk a bit, only to discover that kpresenter refused to load its own data file. I cursed a bit and started making the slides again from memory, to have something to present when I arrived. I tested that the saved files could be loaded, and the day seemed to be rescued. I continued to polish the slides until I suddenly discovered that the saved file could no longer be loaded into kpresenter. In the end I had to rewrite the slides three times, condensing the content until the talk became shorter and shorter. After the talk I was able to pinpoint the problem – kpresenter wrote inline images in a way itself could not understand. Eventually that bug was fixed and kpresenter ended up being a great program to make slides. The point I’m trying to make is that we expect a program to be able to load its own data files, and it is embarrassing to its developers if it can’t.

  • Microsoft

    • A Tail of Different VM Performance

      I watched the virt-top output for about 2 minutes and grabbed those numbers above during a representative 2 sec period. The Windows VM never dropped below 25% use. The other VMs each would bounce up as something required it, then would drop back down to nearly nothing when done.

    • Microsoft thinks it’s fixed Windows Server mess its last fix ‘fixed’

      Microsoft has issued fixes to its last round of Windows Server Management Pack fixes, but is asking you to help it understand if the new fixes fix the messes the last fixes created.

      File this one under “doesn’t exactly inspire confidence”.

      This problem started way back in February 2016 when Microsoft released version 6.0.7303.0 of Windows Server Operating System management pack.

    • Windows 10 Automatic Upgrade Drives A Man Crazy And He Can’t Handle It Anymore

      Remember that irritating Windows 10 upgrade popup that keeps testing your patience while you are busy in some important work? Well, a person has found it too much to handle and expressed his anger in the form of a rant full of swearing.

    • Updategate: Users petition EFF to challenge Microsoft’s Windows 10 practices

      ANGRY USERS have launched a petition requesting that the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) investigate the practices employed in persuading people to upgrade to Windows 10, known to us here as Updategate.

      The petition cites a number of problems that we have dealt with on these hallowed pages, as well as an incident that came to light on Friday in which a rural African involved in stopping the poaching trade had 6GB of data downloaded on a per MB metered connection. connection.

      We’re not judging whether it happened, but we remain resolute that Microsoft does not have the right to force download updates onto computers, and make it confusing to uninstall.

      Microsoft has said that it is “transparent” on the matter and that metered connections can be set to avoid the download, but most people feel that the practice has been rolled out without the clarity that such an important issue warrants.

  • Server

    • Docker 1.11.2 Linux Container Engine Improves CentOS and Ubuntu 16.04 Support

      The Docker developers have announced the availability of Docker 1.11.2, the second maintenance update for the Docker 1.11 stable series of rhe widely used Linux container engine.

      Docker 1.11.2 has been in development for the past one and a half months, during which it received a single Release Candidate (RC) build that included the same changes available now in the final build.

      Among these, we can mention improved networking support by patching an issue that made the “docker inspect”, “docker ps”, and “docker port” commands to report the wrong port, as well as fixing a stale endpoint problem for overlay networks, which occurred due to clumsy reboots.

    • Top Skills for Today’s DevOps Professional

      In the past five years, demand for DevOps professionals has grown exponentially, with companies looking to build out their tech capabilities and bring new software products to market while simultaneously cutting development time and driving efficiencies in the process. Since the beginning of 2016, there have been more than 2,000 daily job postings looking for DevOps professionals on Dice, representing roughly 3 percent of all job postings on the site and up 53 percent year-over-year.

    • RightScale DevOps Trends Survey Shows Docker on the Rise

      RightScale, which delivers some of the most detailed survey results on open source trends, has published the results of its survey report highlighting DevOps trends, as we covered here. A deeper dive into the survey results shows that Docker, Puppet and Chef are shown to be kings of the hill in the tools market, with Docker adoption rising in the enterprise. Docker, Puppet and Chef are shown to be kings of the hill in the tools market, with Docker adoption rising in the enterprise. The company also published its annual State of the Cloud report in February.

    • CoreOS Delivers Torus for Distributed Storage on Container Clusters
  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.7-rc2

      Things are looking fairly normal, and there are fixes all over, with drivers and architecture code leading the charge as usual, but there’s stuff spread out all over the place, including filesystems, networking, mm, library helpers, etc etc.

    • Linux 4.7-rc2 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds has tagged the Linux 4.7-rc2 kernel.

      This is the second weekly test release to the Linux 4.7 kernel, which offers many improvements and new functionality.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Second Linux Kernel 4.7 Release Candidate, Download Now

      Just a few minutes ago, June 5, 2016, Linus Torvalds announced the general availability of the second Release Candidate build of the upcoming Linux 4.7 kernel.

    • LPC 2016 registration is now Open

      Early bird rate is available until our quota of 140 runs out (or we reach 26 August). Please click here to register.

    • Latin-quoting Linus Torvalds plays God by not abusing mortals

      Linus Torvalds has loosed release candidate 2 of version 4.7 of the Linux kernel on the waiting world.

      “Things are looking fairly normal, and there are fixes all over, with drivers and architecture code leading the charge as usual, but there’s stuff spread out all over the place, including filesystems, networking, mm, library helpers, etc etc,” Torvalds wrote .

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Second Linux Kernel 4.7 Release Candidate

      Linus Torvalds makes Linux 4.7-rc2 available for download and public testing

      Linus Torvalds has just announced the general availability of the second Release Candidate build of the forthcoming Linux 4.7 kernel.

    • The Linux 4.7 Kernel Builds Are Finally Playing Nicely Again On All My Systems

      Nearly two weeks ago I warned that You May Want To Think Twice About Trying Linux 4.7 Git Right Now. Fortunately, all is well now and those problems have cleared up.

    • Awesome Atomic Advances

      Also, silly titles. Atomic has taken of for real, right now there’s 17 drivers supporting atomic modesetting merged into the DRM subsystem. And still a pile of them each release pending for review&merging. But it’s not just new drivers, there’s also been a steady stream of small improvements over the past year, I think it’s time for an update.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • OpenGL/OpenCL Performance & Perf-Per-Watt From NVIDIA’s GeForce 9800GTX To GTX 1080

        Now that my initial GeForce GTX 1080 Linux review is out the door, I spent this weekend working on a “fun” comparison out of curiosity to see how the raw OpenGL and OpenCL performance has improved over the generations going back to the once-powerful GeForce 9800GTX plus including the top-end cards of the GeForce 600/700/900 Kepler and Maxwell series too.

        Eight years ago, the GeForce 9800GTX (G92) was a beast with its 65nm GPU and 754 million transistors. The 9800GTX boasted a core clock of 675MHz and 2200MHz for its GDDR3 memory. The 9800GTX was rated for 648 single-precision GFLOPS and had a 140 Watt TDP. Fast forward to today, the GeForce GTX 1080 is fabbed on a 16nm process and has more than 7.2 billion transistors. The base core clock is 1607MHz (and 1733MHz boost) while having GDDR5X for its video memory. The GTX 1080 has a 180 Watt TDP and its single-precision rating is 8228~8873 GFLOPS. Quite impressive seeing how much more advanced Pascal is over hardware from eight years ago and is still being used by some.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.7 GUI Toolkit to Port the NFC API to Android, Add Raspberry Pi 3 Support

        The Qt Company, through Jani Heikkinen, announced the general availability of the Release Candidate (RC) build of the upcoming Qt 5.7 open-source and cross-platform GUI (Graphical User Interface) toolkit.

        Qt 5.7.0 Release Candidate arrives one and a half months after the Beta version, introducing a huge number of new features and improvements to most of the existing modules, among which we can mention support for a port of the Qt NFC API (Application Programming Interface) to Google’s Android mobile operating system.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.22 Control Center App Updated with Symbolic Icons, See It In Action Now

        As part of the upcoming GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, GNOME developer Georges Basile Stavracas Neto published today, June 6, 2016, yet another update to the work coming for the GNOME Control Center app of the GNOME Stack.

        After revealing last month the new look of the GNOME Control Center app for the GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, Georges Basile Stavracas Neto today informs the community about the latest work done so far.

      • Arc Icon Theme Released Based on Moka, Here’s How to Install on Your Linux OS

        The creator of the Arc GTK Theme that most of the GNU/Linux distributions are adopting these days as the default desktop theme, the famous Horst3180, released an icon set to accompany its very popular GTK theme.

        The icon theme is called Arc Icon Theme, or simply Arc, just like the GTK theme, and it was pushed a few hours ago to the developer’s GitHub account for user to get an early taste. Why early taste? Well, because the icon set is far from being complete and many icons are still missing, and it doesn’t provide application icons at this time.

      • Bug Fix #2

        Last blog of pre-GSoC coding. This is the story which dates back to the application period.

        The month view of the calendar is a pretty important aspect of the calendar. The keyboard arrow keys allowed a user to switch between days in a specific month. But on reaching the end of the month, a user couldn’t go any further.

      • An update on the Control Center
      • GNOME Logs search popover

        It’s been almost two weeks since my last post. In this post, I will be mentioning all the progress done in these two weeks. First of all, the searching part is now moved from the front end part to the actual back end of GNOME Logs which is the sd-journal API. So, now when the user types text into the search bar, the results are actually fetched from the journal itself. Progress on the project can be checked out on my Github repository. I would like to thank my mentor David King a.k.a amigadave for reviewing my commits and guiding me in the right direction.

      • Week 2 in usability testing continues

        Personas are an important part of any design process. Whether you are trying to figure out the user interface or deciding what new functionality to add, personas can help you connect to the users.

        Personas allow you to talk about changes to the interface based on how those changes benefit users. Rather than saying “I want to add X feature because that would be cool” you can say “I want to add X feature because that helps users like the ‘Mark’ and ‘Sophia’ personas.”

        As part of the Outreachy project, we are working with the GNOME Design team (Allan and Jakub). It’s really great to have this connection with GNOME. They also share comments with us about GNOME design, which was very helpful in week 2 when we learned about who uses GNOME.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Tiny Core Linux 7.1: Big Where It Counts

        Tiny Core is quite an achievement in developing a small Linux distribution that offers a lot of functionality with very low resource requirements. Just the fact that Tiny Core runs and provides a desktop environment with 20MB of memory is impressive. If a person has need for a small yet powerful operating system, Tiny Core is an obvious choice.

        At the same time, this distribution, being so minimal, leaves us to fend for ourselves a bit. If we want additional software, password protected accounts, extra services or even to have our data survive a reboot, then we need to roll up our sleeves and configure the operating system. There is a strong do-it-yourself element to Tiny Core. In a way, its small size and hands-on approach reminds me of building with Lego blocks. It’s fun and educational if you are into crafting your own operating system, but it does mean a lot more work up front to get what you want.

        For people who like efficient systems and who are interested in exploring Tiny Core, I recommend exploring the project’s wiki, and for the more adventurous, reading Into The Core which talks about the inner workings of Tiny Core and how to build one’s own extensions to the operating system.

    • New Releases

      • SystemRescueCD 4.7.3 Released with GParted 0.26.0 for Read-only LUKS Support

        SystemRescueCd developer François Dupoux announced the release and immediate availability for download of SystemRescueCd 4.7.3, the third maintenance version in the 4.7 series of the distribution.

      • Easy-to-use Linux Distro “Endless OS” Now Available For Free To Everyone

        Endless Computers has released its Endless OS Linux for free to everyone. This Linux-based distribution features a modified GNOME desktop and comes in two variants. While Lite version looks like a Linux PC running GNOME desktop, Full version is for the people with limited internet access and comes with 100s of pre-installed apps.

      • Linux Top 3: Alpine Linux 3.4, deepin 15.2 and Linux Lite 3.0

        Alpine Linux has gained in notoriety and popularity in recent months as the new defacto standard Linux distribution on which Docker containers are now building images. The 3.4.0 update is mostly a milestone of new packages, with a few additional capabilities

      • BakAndImgCD 18.0 Disk Imaging and Backup Live CD Now Available for Download

        Softpedia was informed by 4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki about the release and immediate availability for download of the BakAndImgCD 18.0 Live CD distrolette.

        Based on the 4MLinux Backup Scripts 18.0, as well as the 4MLinux Core 18.0 distribution, which is currently in the Beta stages of development under the 4MLinux 18.0 umbrella, BakAndImgCD 18.0 is here as an alternative to popular disk cloning and system backup Live CDs.

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro Linux 16.06 released

        The Xfce edition remains our flagship offering and has received the attention it deserves. Few can claim to offer such a polished, integrated and leading-edge Xfce experience. We ship Xfce 4.12 with this release of Manjaro. We mainly focused on polishing the user experience on the desktop and window manager, and on updating some components to take advantage of newly available technologies such as switching to a new Vertex-Maia theme, we already using known as Maia for our KDE edition.

      • Download Manjaro Linux 16.06 ‘Daniella’ now — a solid Windows 10 alternative

        Windows 10 is a great operating system from a usability standpoint. Unfortunately, between the privacy issues and Microsoft’s unethical upgrade tactics, more and more folks are turned off to it. Luckily, thanks to Linux, users don’t have to tolerate the company’s shady behavior.

      • Manjaro Linux 16.06 Released, Powered By Linux 4.4 & Latest Arch

        Manjaro Linux 16.06 “Daniella” was released today as the latest stable version of this popular Linux distribution derived from Arch Linux.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Weeks 2016/22
      • openSUSE.Asia 2016 announced from Indonesia

        We are happy to announce the third openSUSE.Asia Summit. The openSUSE.Asia Summit 2016 will take place at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on October 1st and 2nd, 2016.

        The summit is a great way for both openSUSE contributors, and, users to meet each other and have fun. The openSUSE community will get together, share their experiences, and, learn free and open source technologies.

      • Open Build Service version 2.7 released

        We are happy to announce the availability of the Open Build Service Version 2.7! Three large features around the topic of integrating external resources made it into this release. We worked on automatic tracking of moving repositories of development versions like Fedora Rawhide, distribution updates or rolling Linux releases like Arch. A change to the OBS git integration to enable developers to work on continuous builds. And last but not least an experimental KIWI import that can be used to easily migrate your images from SUSE studio.

      • ​SUSE Enterprise Storage 3 released for serious storage work

        When Red Hat bought Ceph’s parent company Inktank, people were worried Red Hat would keep Ceph’s object store and file system to itself. Then, Red Hat announced it would let others help decide on Ceph’s future. Now, SUSE, a rival Linux power, is taking Red Hat up on this with its Ceph-supporting release of SUSE Enterprise Storage 3.

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Getting Linux Kernel 4.6.1, LibreOffice 5.2, and GCC 6 Soon

        On June 6, 2016, openSUSE Project’s Dominique Leuenberger wrote on the openSUSE Tumbleweed’s mailing list a quick review of the major software updates that landed in the week that just passed for the rolling release distribution.

        Those of you who are currently using the openSUSE Tumbleweed OS on your personal computers, are aware of the fact that there were a total of four snapshots released last week, which brought many exciting new GNU/Linux technologies, such as the Linux 4.6 kernel, the KDE Applications 16.04.1 software suite for the KDE Plasma 5.6 desktop environment, and the Perl 5.24.0 packages.

      • openSUSE’s Open Build Service 2.7 Adds Better Integration of External Resources

        openSUSE Project, through Henne Vogelsang, announced on June 6, 2016, the general availability of the version 2.7 of the project’s Open Build Service (OBS) software distribution solution.

      • Open Build Service 2.7 released
    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • DebEX Live OS Is Based on Debian GNU/Linux 8.4, Ships with Linux Kernel 4.6.1

        GNU/Linux and Android-x86 developer Arne Exton informed us about the availability of a new build of his Debian-based DebEX Live Linux distribution, version 160604.

        According to Mr. Exton, DebEX KDE Live DVD 160604 has been rebased on the software repositories of the Debian GNU/Linux 8.4 “Jessie” operating system, which means that it includes most of the security patches and software updates, through the newest Debian Jessie release if now 8.5.

      • Multiple Chromium 51 Web Browser Security Updates Land in Debian GNU/Linux Repos

        The Debian Project announced earlier that an update is available for the Chromium web browser, promising to patch various security vulnerabilities discovered upstream.

        According to Debian Security Advisory DSA-3594-1, the Chromium web browser was updated to version 51.0.2704.79 for Debian Stable, Debian Testing, and Debian Unstable, patching cross-origin bypass issues discovered in both the Blink and WebKit engines, as well as in the bindings to extensions.

        Moreover, it would appear that there was an information leak discovered by Rob Wu in the Chromium web browser since version 51.0.2704.63 that has been fixed as well, along with two use-after-free issues in the autofill feature and extensions, also discovered by Rob Wu.

      • Debian ‘Wheezy’ receives final point upgrade

        Debian 7 ‘Wheezy’ and Debian 8 ‘Jessie’ just received point updates, 7.11 and 8.5 respectively. These releases bring updates for security problems and come with a “few adjustments for serious problems.” The 7.11 release of Wheezy marks the last point release the version will receive as it gets adopted by the volunteer Long Term Support (LTS) team.

      • Request for Adoption: Buildd.Net project

        I’ve been running Buildd.Net for quite a long time. Buildd.Net is a project that focusses on the autobuilders, not the packages. It started back then when the m68k port had a small website running on kullervo, a m68k buildd. Kullervo was too loaded to deal with the increased load of that website, so together with Stephen Marenka we moved the page from kullervo to my server under the domain m68k.bluespice.org. Over time I got many requests if that page could do the same for other archs as well, so I started to hack the code to be able to deal with different archs: Buildd.Net was born.

      • Debian 8.5 and Manjaro 16.06 arrive

        The current Debian ‘stable’ version, Debian GNU/Linux 8.5.0, was announced on Saturday along with the final update for the ‘old-stable’ version, Debian GNU/Linux 7.11. Both of these are roll-up releases which contain the latest patches and security updates.

        If you have an installed Debian GNU/Linux system you do not need to re-install from these new images, all you need to do is make sure that you have the latest updates (via synaptic or apt-get).

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” to Get a Fresh New Look, Here’s How You Can Help

        Debian developer Niels Thykier published the other day a call for artwork proposals for the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system, which is coming in the following months.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” is the next major update of the acclaimed, award-winning, and widely used Linux kernel-based operating system on which numerous GNU/Linux distributions are based, including, but not limited to the popular Ubuntu.

        The upcoming Debian release is currently being developed under the Debian Testing umbrella, which users can install and use as their daily driver. And from the looks of it, the Debian devs are looking for people to contribute new artwork to the OS.

      • Call for Stretch artwork proposals
      • My Free Activities in May 2015

        Trying to catch up with my blog posts about My Free Activities. This blog post will tell you about my free activities from January to May 2016.

      • The new “best” multimedia player in Debian?

        When I set out a few weeks ago to figure out which multimedia player in Debian claimed to support most file formats / MIME types, I was a bit surprised how varied the sets of MIME types the various players claimed support for. The range was from 55 to 130 MIME types. I suspect most media formats are supported by all players, but this is not really reflected in the MimeTypes values in their desktop files. There are probably also some bogus MIME types listed, but it is hard to identify which one this is.

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based Q4OS 1.4.11 Distro Gets Better Nvidia Support, Raspberry Pi Updates

          The developers behind the Q4OS Linux kernel-based operating system, an open-source distro built on top of the Debian GNU/Linux OS, have informed Softpedia today, June 6, 2016, about the availability of Q4OS 1.4.11.

          Q4OS 1.4.11 is the eleventh update to the current stable series (Orion) of the Debian-based distribution, bringing more enhancements and fixing the nasty issues reported by users since the previous maintenance build, version 1.4.10, announced two weeks ago, on May 22, 2016.

        • Tails 2.4, Edward Snowden’s Favorite Anonymous Live CD, Brings Tor Browser 6.0

          The Tails Project released Tails 2.4, a major version of the anonymous Live CD based on Debian GNU/Linux, which was used by ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden to stay hidden online and protect his privacy.

          When compared with the previous release, we can notice that Tails 2.4 includes some big changes, among which we can mention the upgrade to Debian GNU/Linux 8.4 “Jessie” and the inclusion of the recently released Tor Browser 6.0 anonymous browser, which is based on the open-source Mozilla Firefox 45.2 web browser.

        • TeX Live 2016 released

          After long months of testing and waiting for the DVD production, we have released TeX Live 2016 today!

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Wireless Display Support Is Coming to Nexus 5 and OnePlus One Ubuntu Phones

            UBports developer Marius Gripsgård has announced earlier this morning, June 6, 2016, that he is currently working on bringing Canonical’s new Aethercast (Wireless Display) for the Nexus 5 and OnePlus One Ubuntu Phone devices.

          • BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet Review: In-Depth

            Back in February, BQ and Ubuntu announced that they’d joined forces to create the Aquaris M10 Tablet, the first 10.1-inch device to run Ubuntu OS. With the ability to quickly transform from a handheld touch tablet to a full-on desktop computer, the M10 has something different to offer users; and let’s be clear on this, the M10 is a tablet for developers and fellow geeks, not the average consumer. If you want something to watch movies, play games and browse the web on, you’ll be much better serviced elsewhere.

            So, how is the first Ubuntu tablet experience? Here’s our Aquaris M10 review.

          • Ubuntu-Based ChaletOS 16.04.1 Out Now for Those Who Want to Migrate from Windows

            Dejan Petrovic, the creator of the Ubuntu-based ChaletOS computer operating system, is currently uploading the new ISO images for the soon-to-be-officially-announced ChaletOS 16.04.1.

            We took the liberty of informing our readers that ChaletOS 16.04.1 is now available for download, despite the fact that Dejan Petrovic didn’t have the time to write any release notes for the minor update, nor publish the new Live ISO images on the distribution’s website for users to download it.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source


  • Health/Nutrition

    • carafem Abortion Clinic Fights Censorship with Crowdfunding Campaign to Advertise Abortion and Birth Control in Atlanta
    • Abortion “Spa” Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Fund New Abortion Center in Atlanta
    • The U.S. Is Failing in Infant Mortality, Starting at One Month Old

      Many more babies die in the United States than you might think. In 2014, more than 23,000 infants died in their first year of life, or about six for every 1,000 born. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 other industrialized nations do better than the United States at keeping babies alive.

      This fact is hard for some to comprehend. Some try to argue that the disparity isn’t real. They assert that the United States counts very premature births as infants because we have better technology and work harder to save young lives. Therefore, our increased rate of infant death isn’t due to deficiencies, but differences in classification. These differences are not as common, nor as great, as many people think. Even when you exclude very premature births from analyses, the United States ranks pretty poorly.

    • Cable News Conversation Is Far Removed From Reality of Abortion

      A majority of Americans support women’s right to abortion, a fact that’s been true for about two decades now. Support for that right actually increased after attacks on Planned Parenthood last year. And development experts have for decades, maybe centuries, identified women’s right to control family size and birth timing as critical to communities’ economic and social development. That’s just by way of indicating how far removed from the reality of abortion is the US media conversation about it—at least as represented by cable news.

    • Fire destroys ambulances outside East Surrey Hospital

      Three ambulances have been destroyed in a fire outside a hospital in Surrey.

      The blaze started in a parked ambulance outside the east entrance of East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, before spreading to the two other vehicles.

      Huge plumes of black smoke could be seen rising into the air at the height of the fire.

      Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said there were no patients involved and everyone was safe.

      The hospital is closed to emergencies, and patients are being diverted through the South East Coast Ambulance Service.

    • One big NHS Trust proposed for Manchester – but what will be the impact on patient care?

      All hospital services in the city of Manchester should be run by a new single city-wide Trust, an influential report has proposed. The review, penned by former trust chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael and commissioned by the chair of Manchester city council, recommends that the creation of a new NHS Trust to take over the running of services currently provided at Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of South Manchester FT and North Manchester General Hospital.

    • Paving Way for Glyphosate Recall, EU Punts on Relicensing Weed Killer
    • European Commission Intervenes in Glyphosate Decision – Global Justice Now Response
    • E.U. Countries Delay Approval of Toxic Chemical in RoundUp

      Today in Brussels representatives from the European Union (E.U.) failed to pass a temporary reauthorization of glyphosate – a toxic chemical in the common pesticide RoundUp determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a “probable carcinogen”. The committee was asked to grant re-authorization for between one and two years, to allow for completion of a safety assessment currently in progress at the European Chemicals Agency, but rejected the proposal. If the European Commission does not re-authorize the chemical’s use by June 30th, it will be considered illegal to use throughout the E.U. and all products containing glyphosate would be pulled from the market after a six-month grace period. Several countries including the Netherlands and France have already acted to restrict public access to glyphosate within their own borders on the basis that it poses a severe risk to human and environmental health.

  • Security

    • NTP Patches Flaws That Enable DDoS
    • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter And Pinterest Accounts Hacked

      In a surprising incident, Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter and Pinterest accounts were compromised this Sunday. A Saudi Arabia-based hacking group managed to hack his account using credentials found in the recent LinkedIn breach. Interestingly, the hackers tweeted that his LinkedIn password was “dadada”.

    • What Is A “Wi-Fi Whisperer”? How Does It Steal Your Data In The Creepiest Way?
    • Quieting Scary Web Browser SSL Alerts

      The entire Internet depends on OpenSSL to secure sensitive transactions, but until the Linux Foundation launched the Core Infrastructure Initiative to support crucial infrastructure projects, it was supported by a small underfunded team with only one paid developer. This is not good for an essential bit of infrastructure, and OpenSSL was hit by some high-profile bugs, such as Heartbleed. Now that OpenSSL has stable support, there should be fewer such incidents — and not a moment too soon, because we have no alternatives.

    • GnuTLS 3.4.13

      Added GnuTLS-SA-2016-1 security advisory.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Password app developer overlooks security hole to preserve ads

      Think it’s bad when companies take their time fixing security vulnerabilities? Imagine what happens when they avoid fixing those holes in the name of a little cash. KeePass 2 developer Dominik Reichl has declined to patch a flaw in the password manager’s update check as the “indirect costs” of the upgrade (which would encrypt web traffic) are too high — namely, it’d lose ad revenue. Yes, the implication is that profit is more important than protecting users.

      The impact is potentially quite severe, too. An attacker could hijack the update process and deliver malware that would compromise your PC.

    • Protecting your PC from ransomware gets harder with EMET-evading exploit

      Drive-by attacks that install the once-feared TeslaCrypt crypto ransomware are now able to bypass EMET, a Microsoft-provided tool designed to block entire classes of Windows-based exploits.

      The EMET-evading attacks are included in Angler, a toolkit for sale online that provides ready-to-use exploits that can be stitched into compromised websites. Short for Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, EMET has come to be regarded as one of the most effective ways of hardening Windows-based computers from attacks that exploit security vulnerabilities in both the operating system or installed applications. According to a blog post published Monday by researchers from security firm FireEye, the new Angler attacks are significant because they’re the first exploits found in the wild that successfully pierce the mitigations.

      “The level of sophistication in exploit kits has increased significantly throughout the years,” FireEye researchers wrote. “Where obfuscation and new zero days were once the only additions in the development cycle, evasive code has now been observed being embedded into the framework and shellcode.”

    • Is there a future view that isn’t a security dystopia?

      I recently finished reading the book Ghost Fleet, it’s not a bad read if you’re into what cyberwar could look like. It’s not great though, I won’t suggest it as the book of the summer. The biggest thing I keep thinking about is I’ve yet to really see any sort of book that takes place in the future, with a focus on technology, that isn’t a dystopian warning. Ghost Fleet is no different.

    • Some work on a VyOS image with Let’s Encrypt certs
  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘A Fig Leaf For The Occupation’: Israeli Human Rights Group Ends Cooperation With Israeli Military

      “[T]he way in which the military law enforcement system functions precludes it … from achieving justice for the victims,” noted a report from B’Tselem, the human rights group which has ceased cooperating with Israeli military investigations into crimes committed by Israeli soldiers.

    • Washington Is Using Russia’s Reliance on Diplomacy To Revive ISIS And To Involve Russia In Long-Term War In Syria

      Make no mistake. Putin’s strategic intervention in Syria last September was a bold, vital step. He deserves credit and praise for taking it.

      Things changed dramatically on the ground. Reinvigorated government forces retook large swaths of earlier lost territory, freeing them from the scourge of US-sponsored terrorism.

    • US Survey Reveals Public Support for Nuclear Strikes and a Disconnect From Their Bloody Reality

      In the wake of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima last week, renewed debates over the use of atomic weapons against Japan in August 1945 have highlighted a disturbing trend: a rise in public support for US attacks on civilians across the globe. Never having withstood a prolonged bombing campaign on their soil, many people in the United States are quick to support and justify the use of bombs — including nuclear ones — on others.

    • Baghdad advances on Fallujah but “slows down” for fear of Civilian Casualties

      Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi said Thursday that his troops were in position to move into the city of Fallujah from the south, after advances made during the past two days, but that he would “slow down” the assault for fear of civilians trapped in the city. The Iraqi military and its Shiite militia auxiliaries have met with fierce resistance by Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) fighters holding the city, which fell to them in January 2014.

    • Peter Kuznick

      In light of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima on May 27, Peter and Mickey spend the hour with historian Peter Kuznick, who has written extensively about President Truman’s decision to drop the bomb.

    • When Does a Random Taxi Driver Become a Lawful Combatant?

      A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post questioning the Obama Administration’s logic in killing the leader of the Afghan Taliban in a drone strike in Pakistan. It turns out that the Defense Department also employed some very suspect reasoning surrounding the drone strike.


      It seems that a suitable reference on which to rely for DoD’s thinking on combatants is to go back to William Haynes’ memo dated December 12, 2002 and titled “Lawful Combatants”. This memo comes from Haynes as General Counsel to DoD and is addressed to a Roundtable assembled by the Council on Foreign Relations. It appears that this exercise was geared toward providing legal cover for the Bush Administration’s “new” reading of international law and especially its attempts to shield prisoners from the Geneva Conventions.

    • MH-17 Probe Relies on Ukraine for Evidence

      The oft-delayed probe into the 2014 shoot-down of MH-17 over eastern Ukraine has been tainted by its dependence on Ukraine’s intelligence service for much of its evidence, as a new interim report makes clear, reports Robert Parry.

    • Muhammad Ali’s Real Legacy: True Patriotism

      Although it is customary to say nice things about a person who has died, Muhammad Ali has been rightly commended for not only his superb boxing career but also his principled opposition to the then-popular Vietnam War. Unlike later chairborne hawks, such as Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney, Ali did not try to evade the draft or get numerous college deferments to avoid service. He declared that because of his religion, he would not fight against people who had done nothing to him and bluntly said, “just take me to jail.”

      Therefore, it is difficult to argue that Ali avoided the war for selfish reasons, because the costs of noncompliance with the draft were substantial. If the Supreme Court had not nullified his conviction 8-0, he would have served five years in prison. Although he ultimately avoided losing his liberty, he had to give up his heavy weight boxing title and experienced financial hardship as a result.

      At the time, Ali’s was not a popular stand, but he turned out to be right about many things, just as the then unpopular civil rights heroes Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were. The war – in a faraway, insignificant country – turned out to be a non-strategic quagmire in the competition with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Of course, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) privately predicted that at the time, but escalated the conflict anyway, so as not to be seen as a wimp politically with an eye toward winning the 1968 election. The war killed 58,000 Americans, a few million Vietnamese, and drained equipment and resources from the U.S. military, which it hollowed out for more important missions.

    • My Name, Not Yours

      In 1967, Ali famously connected the civil rights struggle to the injustices of the war in Vietnam: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end… I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.” May he rest in peace and power.

    • Israeli Soldiers Executed Two Palestinians in Hebron, Not One, Witnesses Say

      The on-camera execution of a wounded Palestinian suspect by an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March — which led to an indictment of the soldier for manslaughter and exposed a rift between Israel’s military leaders and many civilians — was preceded by another extrajudicial killing not captured on video by witnesses, an Israeli rights group reported on Monday.

    • Evidence Counters UK Claims That No British-Made Cluster Munitions in Yemen

      Amnesty International has published detailed information rebutting claims by the British government that no UK-manufactured cluster munitions were used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition during the Yemen conflict which began in March 2015.

      The organization recently found evidence indicating that a British-manufactured “BL-755” cluster bomb was used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in an attack in al-Khadhra village in Yemen’s Hajjah governorate, approximately six miles from the Saudi Arabia border.

    • Obama’s “Successful” Counterterrorism Approach in Yemen Has Quadrupled Membership in AQAP

      On September 10, 2014, President Obama gave a speech advocating for the same kind of approach to counterterrorism against ISIL his Administration had been using with Yemen (and Somalia).

    • Europe Sleepwalks toward World War III

      The West’s scary new catch phrase for anything the diabolical Russians do is “hybrid war,” accusing Moscow of spreading propaganda and funding NGOs, pretty much what the West has been doing for decades, as Gilbert Doctorow explains.

    • The Difference Between How the U.S. Treats Brazil and Venezuela in One Video

      A State Department spokesperson repeatedly refused to comment on the momentous political crisis in Brazil during his daily press briefing on Friday — in almost ludicrous contrast to his long and loquacious criticisms of neighboring Venezuela.

      When questioned on the stark contrast, increasingly exasperated department spokesperson Mark Toner replied, “I just – again, I don’t have anything to comment on the ongoing political dimensions of the crisis there. I don’t.”

    • In News You Didn’t Hear About Today: Russia Is Still Bombing Syria’s Largest City

      In news you probably haven’t heard about today, Syria’s largest city — Aleppo — was hit by around 50 airstrikes from Russian and Syrian aircraft.

      “A civil defense worker said at least 32 people were killed in the rebel-held parts of the city during the air strikes, with 18 bodies pulled from flattened buildings in the Qatrji neighborhood, the worst hit,” Reuters reported Sunday.

      The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a human rights monitoring group, told Reuters that “dozens of barrel bombs – oil drums or cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel- were dropped by helicopter on densely populated districts.”

    • “Just Take Me to Jail”: Remembering Muhammad Ali’s Refusal to Fight in Vietnam

      Thousands are expected to gather in Louisville Friday for the funeral of Muhammad Ali, one of the world’s most iconic figures of the 20th century. He was considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, but he will also be remembered for his activism against racism and war. In 1966, Ali announced his refusal to fight in Vietnam. After his conscientious objector status request was denied in April 1967, he refused induction. Ali’s title was taken away from him, and he was sentenced to a five-year prison term. He appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1971 his conviction was finally reversed.

    • Enormous, ‘Seriously Destabilizing’ NATO War Games Begin in Poland

      Drawing Russian rebuke, NATO members and partners on Monday launched what is being called the largest war game in decades—a 10-day exercise involving 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries, none more committed than the United States.

      The exercise, dubbed “Anakonda-16,” is taking place in Poland ahead of next month’s NATO summit in Warsaw that will likely approve more troops to be stationed in eastern Europe. The United States is providing around 14,000 troops for the exercise, more than any other participating nation.

    • 4 killed, church, shop burnt in Niger State’s “blasphemy” riot

      Four persons have so far lost their lives while at least one house, a church and a shop have been burnt in a riot sparked by alleged posting of a blasphemous statement about Prophet Muhammad on the social media in Pandogari town, Niger State last Sunday, according to Nigerian military authorities.

      In a statement released on Tuesday morning, the military announced imposition of curfew on the town to curb the raging violence in which it said has also led to looting of 25 shops.

    • Hadi touts Islam as answer to all mankind’s problems

      Foreign ideologies have failed to solve mankind’s problems, but Islam can lead the way forward, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said at the opening of his party’s 62nd annual general meeting here today.

      He said Malaysians continue to put their faith in the democratic ideology inherited from the colonial British rulers, claiming there to be evidence pointing to its failure.

    • Police officer’s wife slain in possible ‘militant revenge’ in Bangladesh

      The wife of a prominent anti-terror police officer was stabbed and shot to death Sunday in an apparently targeted killing in the coastal Bangladeshi city of Chittagong, a local police commissioner said.

      Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, wife of decorated police superintendent Babul Akter, was attacked by three assailants at a busy intersection about 90 meters from her home at about 7 a.m. local time, Chittagong Police Commissioner Iqbal Bahar said.

    • Christian murdered in latest Bangladesh attack

      A Christian was knifed to death after Sunday prayers near a church in northwest Bangladesh in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

      Police said unidentified attackers murdered the 65-year-old in the village of Bonpara, home to one of the oldest Christian communities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. “Sunil Gomes was hacked to death at his grocery store just near a church at Bonpara village,” said Shafiqul Islam, deputy police chief of Natore district.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Did Clinton’s Emails Expose CIA Agents?

      Even as Hillary Clinton closes in on the Democratic nomination, facts continue to emerge indicating that her sloppy email practices may have endangered secrets, including the identities of covert operatives, writes Peter Van Buren.

    • Hillary Clinton Emailed Names of U.S. Intelligence Officials, Unclassified

      You can look at the source documents yourself. This is not opinion, conjecture, or rumor. Hillary Clinton transmitted the names of American intelligence officials via her unclassified email.

      From a series of Clinton emails, numerous names were redacted in the State Department releases with the classification code “B3 CIA PERS/ORG,” a highly specialized classification that means the information, if released, would violate the Central Intelligence Act of 1949 by exposing the names of CIA officials.

    • FBI Won’t Tell Me How Much It Paid To Break Into Syed Farook’s iPhone, Saying It Might Jeopardize Its Investigation

      As you probably recall, several months ago, after going to court to try to force Apple to write some software to allow the FBI to hack into Syed Farook’s work iPhone, the DOJ and FBI abruptly called off the case, claiming that it had been able to get an exploit that let it into the phone. A few weeks later, FBI Director James Comey suggested that the government paid over $1.2 million to get that exploit from some “hackers.” Some later news reports indicated that the FBI quietly tried to talk down those numbers, and suggested that perhaps Comey was just bad at math (rather than name a number, he said that the FBI had paid “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months….”).

      Either way, I sent a FOIA request into the FBI that day asking for either the invoice or any other documentation showing how much the FBI had paid to get into Farook’s work iPhone. The FBI has now rejected my FOIA request, arguing that since this is an “ongoing investigation,” responding to such a request might somehow “interfere” with the case.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Steve Horn: Clinton’s Fracking Flip Flop
    • The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare

      Australia’s natural wonder is in mortal danger. Bleaching caused by climate change has killed almost a quarter of its coral this year and many scientists believe it could be too late for the rest. Using exclusive photographs and new data, a Guardian special report investigates how the reef has been devastated – and what can be done to save it

    • Heat wave sparks brush fires in California

      Firefighters are battling a series of brush fires throughout Southern California this weekend.

      The brush fire that broke out in Temecula has doubled in size to 70 acres, according to Cal Fire Riverside county. The fire is 20% contained. Earlier in the day, the brush fire had was burning 30 acres south of the Temecula Parkway and forced the southbound I-15 freeway to close. Two southbound lanes reopened an hour later. No homes were immediately threatened in the area.

      Another brush fire recently broke out in Jurupa Valley, a city roughly 50 miles north of Temecula.

    • Decades Ago, Robert Kennedy Explained Something That Trump Still Doesn’t Know About The Economy

      Of that, EPA regulations delivered the majority of benefits ($132.5 to $652 billion) but only about half the costs ($31 to $37.5 billion).

      Of course, lots of those benefits were things like reduced health care costs because the air got cleaner — and those benefits don’t show up in our primary measure of economic growth, GDP. Indeed, reducing sickness and death actually lowers GDP.

    • Why There Could Be More Blasts Like 2015 ExxonMobil Torrance Oil Refinery Explosion, Putting Millions At Risk

      On the morning of February 18, 2015, the ExxonMobil oil refinery in Torrance, California exploded, causing chemical ash to rain on the surrounding community for hours. Eight workers had to be decontaminated and four were sent to hospitals with minor injuries.

      California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) ordered ExxonMobil to shut down the unit until it could demonstrate safe operation.

      In August, Cal/OSHA issued 19 citations for workplace safety and health violations at the Torrance refinery. The company was fined $566,600 in penalties in connection with the blast.

    • Could Arctic Ice Disappear For First Time in More Than 100,000 Years?

      The Arctic could become virtually ice-free by 2017 for the first time in 100,000 years, a leading scientist has told the Independent.

      Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, cited new statistics from the National Snow and Ice Data Center which showed that as of June, Arctic sea ice had slimmed down to about 11 million square kilometers—lower than the last 30 years’ average of 12.7 million square kilometers—and it continues to melt.

      At that rate, Wadhams said, “Arctic ice may well disappear, that is, have an area of less than one million square kilometers for September of this year.”

      “Even if the ice doesn’t completely disappear, it is very likely that this will be a record low year. I’m convinced it will be less than 3.4 million square kilometers [the current record low],” he continued. “I think there’s a reasonable chance it could get down to a million this year and if it doesn’t do it this year, it will do it next year.”

    • Should lawyers be ethically obligated to protect the environment?

      As states and corporations increasingly head to court over climate change, a lawyer lays out an ethical roadmap to give the environment a louder legal voice

    • Oil Train Disaster Plans: A Burning Need for the Truth about Oil Train Fires

      In the year since five fiery oil train disasters in the US and Canada brought national attention to the threat from trains hauling explosive crude oil, the rail industry has embarked on a high profile public relations exercise to reassure the public that deadly disasters can be averted by emergency responders. In fact, the reality of oil train accidents — and the unanimous opinion of fire officials and federal rail safety experts — proves that there is no fighting an oil train derailment and fire. The scene of a crude oil derailment and fire is an uncontrollable fire. All firefighters can do is evacuate the area and wait for the fire to burn itself out.

    • Company Apologizes for Oil Train Disaster It Acknowledges Was Inevitable

      “We’re playing Russian roulette. I think the industry is perfectly willing to put a gun to our heads and risk our lives for the sake of making money. It is abundantly clear this enterprise is unsafe, unsustainable and they don’t know how to manage it.”

    • Socially constructed silence? Protecting policymakers from the unthinkable.

      The scientific community is profoundly uncomfortable with the storm of political controversy that climate research is attracting. What’s going on?

    • ‘Free Trade’ Will Kill Climate Movement, Hundreds of Groups Warn Congress

      Warning against dangers to “workers, communities, and our environment,” more than 450 environmental advocacy groups called on Congress to reject the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    • PwC says major miners wasted the resources boom

      The world’s largest miners have squandered the benefits of the long resources boom, writing off the equivalent of 32 per cent of the capital expenditure spent since 2010, according to accounting firm PwC.

      An analysis of the world’s 40 largest mining companies by market capitalisation revealed a collective $US199 billion of impairments were booked between 2010 and 2015, representing a staggering 31.9 per cent of the $US623 billion in capital expenditure deployed over the period.

      PwC said the findings highlighted a “lack of capital discipline”.

      While PwC’s weighted commodity price index declined 25 per cent year-on-year in 2015, the combined market capitalisation of the top 40 miners plummeted 37 per cent to $US494 billion, just a third of the collective value five years ago.

    • Washington, D.C., Announces Divestment of $6.4 Billion Pension Fund From Oil, Gas, and Coal Companies
    • Another Giant Pension Fund Divested From Oil, Coal, And Gas Companies

      D.C.’s $6.4 billion city government pension fund has divested from fossil fuels.

      In September, the District of Columbia pledged to curb its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Consistent with that aim, D.C’s Retirement Board has scrubbed its $6.4 billion pension fund of investments in the 200 largest publicly traded coal, oil and gas companies.

    • In ‘Bold’ Act of Leadership, Nation’s Capital Divests $6.4 Billion Fund from All Fossil Fuels

      The largest pension fund in Washington, D.C. has divested its $6.4 billion from 200 of “the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies.”

      “In doing so, Washington, D.C. has taken a critical step toward addressing climate change, joining the more than 500 cities, philanthropic organizations, faith groups, universities, and other organizations that have divested funds worth a collective $3.4 trillion,” wrote grassroots advocacy group DC Divest, which celebrated the hard-won victory that came after three years of campaigning.

    • Can An International Standard Help End Food Waste?

      Food waste is a huge international problem that costs the global economy billions of dollars each year and creates tons of methane gas, which helps fuel climate change. Nearly one-third of all food produced is wasted each year. If the emissions associated with all that wasted, rotting food were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, behind the United States and China.

    • Europe’s floods come as no surprise

      At least 18 people have lost their lives in central Europe as severe floods engulf the continent from France to Ukraine. In Paris the River Seine reached 6.1 metres (20 feet) above normal, and tens of thousands of people have fled their homes.

      If the downpours and swollen rivers came as a surprise, they shouldn’t have done. Not only are there historical precedents for disastrous floods. There have been graphic recent warnings too, spelling out the growing likelihood that the warming climate will make bouts of flooding and other extreme weather more frequent.

      Last March a study reported in the journal Nature said climate change was already driving an increase in extremes of rainfall and snowfall across most of the globe, even in arid regions. The study said the trend would continue as the world warmed.

  • Finance

    • Hillary Clinton gives a speech about inequality in an Armani jacket worth ‘$12,000′

      Hilary Clinton has come under fire for giving a speech about inequality in a Giorgio Armani jacket reportedly worth $12,495.

      It has emerged the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee wore the tweed jacket during her victory speech in April in which she explored topics of income inequality, job creation and retirement schemes.

      Clinton, who is known for her pantsuit collection, has hired a team of image experts which includes Michelle Obama’s former assistant Kristina Schake and opted for higher end European fashion labels in recent months.

      “She’s had to have spent in the six figures on this wardrobe overhaul,” Los Angeles-based political image consultant Patsy Cisneros told The New York Post yesterday.

    • GE Considers Scrapping the Annual Raise

      General Electric Co. is the laboratory of American management. So when the manufacturing giant says it’s rethinking a bedrock tradition of corporate life — the annual raise — you can bet that C-suites everywhere will be watching closely.

      GE executives are reviewing whether annual updates to compensation are the best response to the achievements and needs of employees. The company may also scrap the longstanding and much-imitated system of rating staff on a five-point scale. Decisions on both issues may come within the next several months, spokeswoman Valerie Van den Keybus said by phone.

    • Oracle Whistleblower Suit Raises Questions Over Cloud Accounting

      A whistleblower lawsuit filed against Oracle over its accounting practices underscores the pressures established computer companies face to show that they are growing in the fast-moving business known as the cloud.

      The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by former Oracle senior finance manager Svetlana Blackburn, also revives longstanding questions about proper accounting when software and computer services are bought on a subscription basis rather than as a single package, analysts said.

    • C.F.P.B. Releases Payday Lending Rule, Calls for Credit Union-Style Services to Fill Void
    • South Africa’s EFF: Julius Malema and the Struggle to Continue the Revolution

      Indeed, neo-colonial South Africa has been good to South Africa whites. Whites, who comprise 10% of South Africa’s population, control 80% of one of the wealthiest real estate on the planet. Undeniably, land is the basis of all present and intergenerational wealth, not jobs. South Africa contains a cornucopia of mineral riches. It is the world’s largest producer of gold, diamonds, vanadium, chrome, manganese, platinum and vermiculite. No one voluntarily relinquishes this kind of wealth and the struggle for control of these magnificent resources is yet to be waged. The murders of valiant freedom fighters and the election of Mandela provided a temporary reprieve for white settlers and monopoly capitalism but a new generation of Black activists have determined that the fight for power, land and the future of Black folks in South Africa can no longer be held in abeyance.

    • John Oliver Bought Nearly $15 Million in Medical Debt to Prove a Point in an Incredible Way (Video)

      The “Last Week Tonight” host discovered just how easy it is to get into the debt collection business and then go after payment, something that often results in the persecution of innocent people. Oliver then made television history Sunday night. Watch to the very end of the hilariously informative clip to see Oliver outdoing Oprah Winfrey with an unforgettable act.

    • Closing in on EU Financial Tax Victory

      The international campaign for taxes on financial speculation is on the brink of a major European milestone that could further boost momentum in the United States.

    • ‘The current Brexit debate is essentially an argument between the Tory party and itself’
    • Is the US Behind the Brazilian Coup?

      There can no longer be a defense of the removal of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office. The political maneuvering by the opposition PSDB has been uncloaked and revealed for what it clearly was all along: a quiet coup dressed in the disguise of democracy.

      The recent release of a recording of a phone call has done for Brazil what Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Victoria Nuland’s phone call to American ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt did for Ukraine: it has provided incontrovertible proof that the removal of the elected President was a coup.

      The published transcript of the call between Romero Jucá, who was a senator at the time of the call and is currently the planning minister in the new Michael Temer government, and former oil executive, Sergio Machado, lays bare “a national pact” to remove Dilma and install Temer as President. Jucá reveals that, not only opposition politicians, but also the military and the Supreme Court are conspirators in the coup. Regarding the military’s role, Jucá says, “I am talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it.” And, as for the Supreme Court, Glenn Greenwald reports that Jucá admits that he “spoke with and secured the involvement of numerous justices on Brazil’s Supreme Court.” Jucá further boasted that “there are only a small number” of Supreme Court justices that he had not spoken to.

    • Wall Street Behind Brazil Coup d’Etat

      The US does not want to deal or negotiate with a sovereign reformist nationalist government. What it wants is a compliant US proxy state.

    • A Monthly Income Just for Being Human, and Other Sensible Ideas

      Unconditional basic income, a policy option that seems radical by American standards, is gaining new traction across Europe, Canada, and even a few places in the United States. Also known as “universal basic income,” the policy mandates a guaranteed stipend to every resident of a community, with no strings attached. It is promoted as a way to address rising inequality, protect against economic uncertainty, and replace increasingly austere and inadequate means-tested benefit programs. A basic income is gaining credence among economists and policymakers as a necessity in a global economy that’s failing millions of people.

    • The Theory of Business Enterprises Part 6: Government as an Arm of Business

      The international policies of the US government are organized around the needs of businessmen, according to Thorstein Veblen, in the same way the legal system was organized to protect their interests and not those of the common people.

    • A European network of rebel cities?

      In this perspective, the interaction with transnational movements and various initiatives “for democracy in Europe” (DiEM25, among others) is necessarily required. An example come from the recent meeting of Local Authorities against TTIP, held on April 21 and 22 in Barcelona, and that concluded with a strong claim to the European Commission signed by hundreds of mayors.

    • Public Health Must Not Resuscitate the Trans-Pacific Partnership

      Two recent high-profile statements attempt to drum up support for the unpopular Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) based on faulty analyses of provisions that greatly concern public health: tobacco control, and access to medicines.

    • The Trans-Pacific Partnership: a missed opportunity for civil society?

      The TPP requires the 12 member states to uphold basic International Labour Organization (ILO) standards. But there is a simple problem: no one knows what to do about non-compliance. Recent reports from The Atlantic Monthly and the House Ways and Means Committee cast doubt on the ability of the United States to hold some of the TPP partner countries to their labor rights commitments.

    • TPP mired as Congress returns

      TPP MIRED AS CONGRESS RETURNS: It could be a long, sleepy summer for the Trans-Pacific Partnership one year after Congress nearly ripped itself apart to give President Barack Obama “fast track” authority to finish the landmark Asia-Pacific deal. The administration is trying to sell Congress and the American public on the economic and geostrategic benefits of TPP. But both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are keeping their distance, while Donald Trump is promising to walk away from the 12-nation pact.

    • Obama Administration Bars Release of Clinton’s TPP Emails Until Post-Election

      While Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has publicly reversed her position on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), it remains unknown how much she helped advance, or even craft, the international trade deal while serving as U.S. Secretary of State—and the Obama administration appears interested in keeping it that way.

      On Monday, International Business Times (IBT) senior editor David Sirota reported that the State Department is refusing to release correspondence between Clinton’s State Department office and the United States Trade Representative related to the TPP until after the 2016 presidential election.

    • Panama Papers Show How Rich United States Clients Hid Millions Abroad

      Over the years, William R. Ponsoldt had earned tens of millions of dollars building a string of successful companies. He had renovated apartment buildings in the New York City area. Bred Arabian horses. Run a yacht club in the Bahamas, a rock quarry in Michigan, an auto-parts company in Canada, even a multibillion-dollar hedge fund.

      Now, as he neared retirement, Mr. Ponsoldt, of Jensen Beach, Fla., had a special request for Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm well placed in the world of offshore finance: How could he confidentially shift his money into overseas bank accounts and use them to buy real estate and move funds to his children?

      “He is the manager of one of the richest hedge funds in the world,” a lawyer at Mossack Fonseca wrote when the firm was introduced to Mr. Ponsoldt in 2004. “Primary objective is to maintain the utmost confidentiality and ideally to open bank accounts without disclosing his name as a private person.”

    • How the Panama Papers Firm Helped US Clients Escape Tax Rules

      The law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, Mossack Fonseca, helped many of its American clients evade U.S. tax and transparency laws, according to an investigation by the New York Times published Monday.

      Documents including “confidential emails, copies of passports, ledgers of bank transactions and even the various code names used to refer to clients” show that Mossack Fonseca went beyond simply creating shell companies for some of the 2,400 Americans implicated in the leak, the Times reports—instead, the firm “offered a how-to guide of sorts on skirting or evading United States tax and financial disclosure laws.”

    • I Told Paul Ryan What It’s Like to Live in Poverty. Here’s What Happened Next.

      In your first speech as Speaker you called for combining many safety net programs into a single block grant. But I know you realize that poverty would be twice as high without the safety net, with nearly 30 percent of Americans living below the poverty line. What would our nation look like with 30 percent poverty? We can thank the safety net for the fact that we don’t know the answer to that question.

    • Hedge fund sues Peru for $ 1.6 billion over agrarian bonds

      Gramercy Funds Management has filed a $1.6 billion claim against Peru for its refusal to redeem land bonds from the 1970s agrarian reform.

      The Connecticut-based hedge fund has requested arbitration before a special tribunal created in the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement which took effect in 2009.

      “For several years, Gramercy has attempted to engage in negotiations with the Peruvian government to find a solution for the land bond debt,” the hedge fund said in a statement according to the Wall Street Journal. “The government has consistently declined to enter into serious discussions on this matter, leading Gramercy to file the arbitration.”

    • Media Cite Architect of Last Recession as Expert on Preventing Another One

      FAIR has written before about “Trumpwashing”: the use of Trump’s extremism as a way of propping up establishment Democrats’ own history of extreme neoliberal economic policy and military adventurism. Just as Trump’s hypothetical wars are used to distract from the actual wars Hillary Clinton has pushed for, Trump’s theoretical recession is used to gloss over how much damage the Bill Clinton administration’s economic policies of deregulating Wall Street did.

      The rub in Summers’ warnings—and the subsequent coverage of them—is how ideological they are. Summers insists that two of the biggest dangers posed by Trump are his pulling out of “free trade” agreements and “scaling back NATO.” There’s much dispute over what caused the 2008 recession, but one thing is clear: Anti–“free trade” policies and scaling back NATO didn’t play a role. While it’s certainly possible Trump’s wackier economic policies (like defaulting on debts, for example) could bring the cataclysm Summers warns about, the smuggling in of pro-TPP and pro-NATO expansion language belies a disinterested motive.

      The use of the Trump spectacle, as FAIR has noted before, as a proxy war against either unrelated or tangentially related ideas, causes or countries is one of its more pernicious features. This tactic is made even more cynical when it’s done by one of the architects of the 2008 recession, nominally in an effort to warn us about a future one.

    • Universal Basic Income: Why it is Not Crazy and Not Going Away

      The Dutch city of Utrecht is developing a pilot project for a universal basic income that will launch in January 2017. The Finnish government is designing a trial to see whether giving low-income people a guaranteed basic income destroys their motivation to do any work at all, as critics allege. The idea is not going away because most “real” jobs are on the way out.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Harry Reid Is Quietly Laying The Groundwork For Elizabeth Warren To Be Vice President

      There are several good reasons why presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton might want to choose Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as her running mate. Warren is a forceful critic of Republican candidate Donald Trump. As the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren helps insulate Clinton from charges that she is too close to Wall Street. And Warren is popular with many liberal Democrats that Clinton may want to build bridges towards in the wake of a bruising primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    • Media Executives See Huge Payday Fueled By Donald Trump’s Campaign

      Early on, media executives in charge of much of America’s broadcasting industry were worried that Donald Trump, who eschewed traditional political advertising, might dampen prospects for a high-spending campaign season.

      That fear is gone.

      The Intercept reviewed the past six months of investor earnings calls and presentations of major media companies. In the first few months of this year, some executives expressed concern that Trump might continue to rely on his extraordinary free media exposure and spend less money than traditional Republican candidates. But over the last two months, the concern has dissipated and transformed into excitement that this year is on track to be the most expensive election in history.

      In reviewing the transcripts, we observed no discussions during any of the calls about the media’s role in creating the Trump phenomenon, or the media’s duty to present voters with the information necessary to make informed decisions.

    • Four Americans Who Should Be Crying Out For Socialism

      Beaten-down Americans are ignored by our neoliberal system of economics and government. A social democracy would help to restrain runaway capitalism by focusing on the needs of all citizens rather than just the money-makers. But unless our next president is Bernie Sanders, struggling Americans will continue to be ignored, as they have been since the Reagan years.

    • Democratic Elites Once Again Demonstrate Their Contempt for Organized Labor

      Last week, the Washington Post reported a striking piece of news: One of the five individuals Bernie Sanders nominated to play a role in writing the Democratic Party’s platform was vetoed by the Democratic National Committee.

      Striking, but far from surprising — particularly when, as the Post observes, we learn that the individual the DNC rejected was RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director of National Nurses United, “the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history.”

      The NNU was the first major union to endorse Bernie Sanders and, according to DeMoro, Sanders picked her “to advocate for Medicare for All.”

    • Hillary’s Foreign Policy Speech: Queen Galadriel Before Her Magic Mirror

      Hillary Clinton’s fiery performance last Thursday night, intended to assert her credentials as a former secretary of state (with all the positive “experience” that’s supposed to entail), framed by no fewer than seventeen U.S. flags, was a strident reassertion of U.S. “exceptionalism” without apologies or even reflections on the recent past and her bloody role in it.

    • Libertarian Johnson predicts a boost after Sanders drops out

      Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson believes his campaign will get a boost whenever Bernie Sanders ends his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

      Johnson, who many believe could be the strongest third-party candidate in decades, told The Hill in an exclusive interview on Monday that Libertarians are poised for a breakout year driven by dissatisfaction with the major-party nominees.

      Johnson believes that once Sanders drops out, he’ll benefit from having one less insurgent candidate in the field as voters look for an alternative to the Republican and Democratic candidates.

    • Ron Paul: U.S. does not have democracy

      The United States is not a democratic country, former presidential candidate and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Monday while discussing the “very poor choices” and “no real contrast” for voters to choose from between the likes of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

      “This country, we do not really have democracy. I mean, even if we were really, really super happy with the Libertarian candidate, you think they’d get into the debates? No, the debates are run by the Republicans and Democrats,” Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked about the viability of the Gary Johnson-Bill Weld Libertarian ticket.

    • Will Hillary Clinton Get Favored Treatment?

      Hillary Clinton’s private emails jeopardized the safety of undercover CIA officers, suggesting criminal charges, but the Obama administration might make an exception for the Democratic frontrunner, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • If Hillary Clinton Gets a Pass on Espionage From President Obama, So Should Whistleblowers

      Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee for president, appears to have committed a very serious violation of some of the country’s most important laws governing the use and misuse of classified information: She revealed the names of undercover CIA officers by using her unclassified and unprotected personal email server. That may be a violation both of the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Intelligence Identities Act of 1982 (IIPA). That Clinton used an unclassified system for classified information is not conjecture. That’s the same email server that Romanian hacker Guccifer said was so easy to hack that it was “like an open orchid on the internet.”

      That Clinton had such highly classified information on an unclassified system is a fact. The question now is: What is the Obama administration going to do about it? And the answer is, probably, nothing.

    • Party Crashing and Political Revolution: With the DNC Just Weeks Away, What’s Next for Our Movement?

      As the California Democratic Primary rapidly approaches, I’m reminded of a small but important event that took place earlier this spring in San Francisco. Gutsy activists protested in April outside a campaign fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, co-hosted by movie megastar and area resident, George Clooney. The party was full of glitz, privilege, glamour, and of course money. Lots of it. The minimum price for entry to the hotel location was $33,400, with a seat inside the house party going for $353,400.

      A group of 200 protesters, uninvited and unwelcome at an event unaffordable to them, used the media spotlight outside to call out Hillary Clinton’s corporate record and corporate backing. George Clooney even felt compelled to respond to reporters, acknowledging the “obscene” amounts of money influencing the U.S. political system.

      Of course, lots of Clinton fundraisers like this one have happened all over the country, both before and since, while even larger sums of money are amassed quietly with corporate Super PACs. But what was different about this “Golden City” event was the success of activists in breaking through the media blackout with a vivid snapshot into the world inhabited by the Democratic Party establishment, and the fundamental class character of the party itself.

    • Bernie Sanders’ Revolution Won’t End at the Polls

      While no one can predict the future, victories in California, New Mexico and the Big Sky states on June 7, combined with a strong showing in New Jersey, would leave Sanders (or at least his movement) in a position analogous to Ronald Reagan’s in 1976: a close runner-up, poised to lead the country in a new direction. It certainly won’t be easy; unlike Reagan, Sanders would face unified opposition from the establishment. Still, victories in these final contests would cement the impression not only that Sanders’ program represents the future of progressive politics, but also that he won the battle of ideas in this election cycle.

    • Donald Trump Is the Mosquito, Not the Zika Virus

      Graduates of 2016, don’t be fooled by this glorious day. As you leave campus for the last time, many of you already deeply in debt and with a lifetime of payments to look forward to, you head into a world that’s anything but sunny. In fact, through those gates that have done little enough to protect you is the sort of fog bank that results in traffic pile-ups on any highway.

      And if you imagine that I’m here to sweep that fog away and tell you what truly lies behind it, think again. My only consolation is that, if I can’t adequately explain our American world to you or your path through it, I doubt any other speaker could either.

      Of course, it’s not exactly a fog-lifter to say that, like it or not, you’re about to graduate onto Planet Donald — and I don’t mean, for all but a few of you, a future round of golf at Mar-a-Lago. Our increasingly unnerved and disturbed world is his circus right now (whether he wins the coming election or not), just as in the Philippines, it’s the circus of new president Rodrigo Duterte; in Hungary, of right-wing populist Viktor Orbán; in Austria, of Norbert Hofer, the extremist anti-immigrant presidential candidate who just lost a squeaker by .6% of the vote; in Israel, of new defense minister Avigdor Lieberman; in Russia, of the autocratic Vladimir Putin; in France, of Marine le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Front party, who has sometimes led in polls for the next presidential election; and so on. And if you don’t think that’s a less than pretty political picture of our changing planet, then don’t wait for the rest of this speech, just hustle out those gates. You’ve got a treat ahead of you.

    • Sanders Speaks against Racism, Injustice

      As Hillary Clinton seeks to finally extinguish Bernie Sanders’s campaign, the Vermont senator continues to speak out against the Establishment’s neglect of social justice and against the racism coming from Donald Trump, reports Marjorie Cohn.

    • What Happens Next? People’s Summit to Fortify Sanders’ Political Revolution

      No matter what happens in the remaining seven Democratic presidential primaries, progressives—many of them Bernie Sanders supporters—will gather in Chicago later this month to discuss how to build and fortify the political revolution that’s been sparked during the 2016 campaign season.

    • Diamond Dogs: Clinton Family Jewels

      Lurking in the background of this secret deal was a Canadian financial tycoon named Frank Guistra, who owned 60,000 shares of stock in Diamond Fields. Over the years, Clinton and Guistra would become close friends, with Clinton travelling the world in Giustra’s private jet, negotiating mining deals from Kazakhstan to Moscow. As detailed in Peter Schweitzer’s very informative Clinton Cash, Giustra returned the love, donating more than $30 million to the Clinton Foundation.

      Hillary made out as well. On the night of the first Clinton inaugural ball, the new first lady proudly flashed a 3.5 carat diamond ring, a present from the old Diamond Fields team, mined from the Crater of Diamonds. As for old John Huddleston, the man once hailed as the Diamond King of Arkansas? He died indigent and was buried in a pauper’s grave two miles from his glittering crater.

      The moral of this tale: though others may well go under, you can count on the Clintons to always profit from their plunder.

    • Birtherism and Bigotry: These Are the Vile Impulses Driving Voters to Trump; Stop Thinking It’s Anything Else

      I suspect those people would be grateful for any help they can get to go into the future. But according to Nate Silver at 538 they aren’t Trump voters. His voters are white but they are not members of the working class, at least not if you define class as relating to how much money someone has. Silver wrote a piece called “The Mythology Of Trump’s ‘Working Class’ Support” about a month ago in which he examined all the exit poll data and discovered that Trump voters are actually better off than most Americans.

    • Who’s the Fascist?

      Donald Trump is the ill spoken, boorish, graceless version of every American president in modern history. He differs from them only in his unconcealed appeals to white nationalism. But Democrats aren’t much better. They pretend to work on behalf of human, civil and economic rights but those claims are lies. They are meant to hide their partnerships with corporate America, very wealthy individuals and the worldwide imperialist project.

    • Ahead of California, Sanders Warns Media Against Preemptive Coronation of Clinton

      Addressing concerns that the media may preemptively announce his rival Hillary Clinton as the “presumptive Democratic Party nominee” even before she has won the requisite numbers of pledge delegates, Bernie Sanders over the weekend indicated that such reporting would be both wrong and irresponsible and held to his commitment to take his campaign all the way to the national convention when so-called superdelegates will finally—and for the first time, in fact—be able to cast their vote for who they believe will make the best nominee.

      Six states are holding Democratic primaries this Tuesday, including California, New Mexico, New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

      Amid some speculation, bolstered by overt comments by people like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, that cable outlets or other news agencies would call the election in favor of Clinton before all the results of next Tuesday’s results are in, Sander reiterated his argument that even though he has a steep hill to climb, the race is much closer than often reported.

    • It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

      This morning I heard from an old friend here in California who said “I’m for Bernie, but he doesn’t really have a chance anymore. So isn’t my vote for him in the California primary just prolonging the agony, and indirectly helping Trump?”

      I told him:

      1. True, the electoral numbers are daunting, and Bernie faces an uphill task, but a win Tuesday will help enormously. One out of 8 Americans lives in California.

      2. Regardless of the electoral math, Bernie’s candidacy has never been mainly about Bernie. It’s been about a movement to reclaim our democracy and economy from the moneyed interests. And a win for Bernie in the California primary (and in other Tuesday primaries in Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota South Dakota, and New Mexico) will send an even clearer signal to Washington, the Democratic Party, and the establishment as a whole, that a large and growing share of Americans is determined to wrest back control.

      3. The goals Bernie has enunciated in his campaign are essential to our future: getting big money out of politics and reversing widening inequality; moving toward a single-payer healthcare system and free tuition at public universities (both financed by higher taxes on the richest Americans and on Wall Street); a $15 minimum wage; decriminalization of marijuana and an end to mass incarceration; a new voting rights act; immigration reform; and a carbon tax. All will require continued mobilization at all levels of government. A win Tuesday will help continue and build on that mobilization.

    • McConnell: Ignore Trump’s Racism Because ‘The Party Of Lincoln Wants To Win The White House’

      Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) thrice refused to label Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s statement that a federal judge cannot decide a case impartially because the judge is Mexican American a “racist statement.”

    • Alabama Redux

      In early April this space was devoted to a discussion of the assorted political adversities that were being inflicted on those seeking to govern the state of Alabama, going from the Governor of the state, to the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and finally to the Alabama Speaker of the House. It has, however, been more than two months since those events were described and it is time for an update, if for no other reason than to reassure my readers that Donald Trump is not the only clown in town. The following events occurred within days of each other during the merry month of May.

    • Matt Damon Talks Banks, Brexit, Climate Change and Inequality at MIT Commencement (Video)

      “There’s more at stake today than in any story ever told,” said the actor who starred in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting,” set at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as he took the stage at the school’s graduation ceremony Friday. He even mentioned a certain Massachusetts senator, saying, “I don’t know if justice is coming for you in this life or the next. But if justice does come for you in this life … her name is Elizabeth Warren.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s ‘Major Foreign Policy Address’ Was Anything But

      In the last days before the California primary, where Democratic primary polls showed her neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton delivered a campaign speech in San Diego. Though her campaign billed it as a “major foreign policy address,” it looked more like a last-ditch attempt to position herself as the Democratic nominee ahead of a potentially embarrassing loss or close finish with Sanders in the nation’s most populous state.

    • Shut Down the Democratic National Convention

      On July 25, opening day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Cheri Honkala, leader of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, who was denied a permit to march by city authorities, will rally with thousands of protesters outside City Hall. Defying the police, they will march up Broad Street to the convention.

      We will recapture our democracy in the streets of cities such as Philadelphia, not in convention halls such as the aptly named Wells Fargo Center, where the Democratic Party elites intend to celebrate the results of the rigged primary elections and the continuity of corporate power.

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, other activists and I will march with Honkala. It is not as if we have a choice. No one invited us into the center or to the lavish corporate-sponsored receptions. No one anointed us to be Clinton superdelegates—a privilege that went to corporate lobbyists, rich people and party hacks. No one in the Democratic establishment gives a damn what we think.

      The convention is not our party. It is their party. It costs a lot of money to attend. Donate $ 100,000 and you become an “empire” donor, with perks such as “VIP credentials for all convention proceedings,” along with tickets to lavish corporate and Party receptions, photo ops with politicians at the convention podium, four rooms at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel and a suite at a Yankees game, where a “special guest” will be present. Short of $100,000? You can become a “gold” donor for $50,000, a “silver” donor for $25,000 or a “bronze” donor for $10,000.

    • Former Texas Regulator Said He Was Muzzled For Investigating Trump University

      A former Texas official said a fraud investigation into Trump University was silenced in 2010, under “highly unusual” circumstances. Former Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection John Owens told CBS he had a strong case against Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s company for scamming students at his unaccredited real estate school. Shortly after the company folded in 2010, Owens’ says he was ordered to drop the case.

    • Alex Jones: Trump University Judge Is “The Equivalent Of A Hispanic Grand Dragon”
    • Profiles in Cowardice — GOP Leaders and Donald Trump

      Donald Trump has entered a new phase of autocratic weirdness. His attack on Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding in the lawsuit against Trump University, was a trifecta. It combined outright racism with an assault on the independent judiciary and a clear warning that Trump would use the presidency to settle personal business scores.

      His rants at reporters display contempt for the role of a free press. He would govern like a spiteful tyrant, with all the awesome powers of a president of the United States — settling scores, punishing enemies, making impetuous, ignorant decisions.

    • Trump Has No Use For Dog Whistles

      Donald Trump doesn’t subscribe to the Atwater School of Subtle Racism.

      Trump last week declared the Latino judge presiding over the Trump University case unfit strictly because of his ethnic heritage.

    • Why the AP called it for Clinton

      And though Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign dismissed the news on Monday evening — and Hillary Clinton herself said at a campaign rally in California that she wanted to let voters have their say on Tuesday — the AP now says it will be calling Clinton the “presumptive nominee” until the convention in July.

    • #StillSanders: Fans Reject AP Project of Clinton as Nominee

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) supporters took to social media on Monday to protest the Associated Press declaring, one day before the highly-anticipated California primary, that Hillary Clinton had become the Democratic Party’s nominee.

    • Voters Outraged as Media Accused of Falsely, Preemptively Crowning Clinton

      The Bernie Sanders campaign and progressives across the nation expressed mixtures of frustration and contempt Monday night after major news outlets—following declarations by the Associated Press and NBC News—ignored the explicit instructions about how primary delegates should be tallied and declared that Hillary Clinton has won the nomination of the Democratic Party.

    • Major media to millions of voters on eve of California vote: Democracy be damned!

      The bias of the major media never ceases to amaze me.

      Apparently someone in the media (AP, and now the Huffington Post among others) was in a hurry to declare Hillary Clinton the winner of the primary before she actually wins. Before millions of people in California and five other states vote. Before the convention, weeks before it, in fact. The hell with specific rules stating not to include superdelegates in the count. It doesn’t matter! The convention? It doesn’t matter! The votes of millions of people on June 7? They don’t matter either!

      Democracy? Screw it,

      in America, Democracy doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter!

      The media has declared, today in America, that the Democratic process does not matter!


    • AP Declares Hillary Clinton Democratic Presidential Nominee

      However, superdelegates (or unpledged delegates) can change their minds and switch their loyalties until the Democratic National Convention, so it’s not completely accurate to call Clinton the presumptive nominee. That point wasn’t lost on the Sanders campaign, which quickly put out a press release saying the Associated Press had jumped the gun…

    • Clinton Reportedly Clinches Democratic Nomination, but Nobody’s Pleased

      We’ve just crossed a historic Rubicon in the most anticlimactic way possible. On Monday night, the Associated Press announced that, due to some new superdelegate commitments, Hillary Clinton has clinched the Democratic nomination. This news pleased no one. Bernie Sanders supporters saw the announcement, on the eve of an important primary day, as evidence that the system is rigged on Clinton’s behalf. The Clinton team worried that the announcement would suppress turnout Tuesday and step on a victory that should have been made manifest at the polls.

    • US ‘Democracy’ in Action? Before California, Clinton ‘Wins’ Democratic Nomination: AP

      Not including superdelegates, Sanders is just 291 delegates behind Clinton and campaigners for his “political revolution” have been going all out in California, which will allocate 475 delegates.

    • Is the GOP Losing Its Religion?

      Of course this is an inadequate way of posing the question. God is always present for believers, even if the political workings of the divine can be hard to discern. And religious people continue to occupy points all along the spectrum. Just ask Hillary Clinton about her Methodism.

      But especially among Republicans, religious issues have taken a back seat in the party’s discourse and religious leaders are playing a diminished role in the 2016 campaign.

    • Sanders’ Campaign Alleges Fraud in Puerto Rico Presidential Primary

      With just hours before the start of the presidential primaries in Puerto Rico, members of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ team accused the leadership of the local Democratic Party of fraud, saying they hindered the certification process of their voting center officials.

      The Hispanic vote director for the campaign of the Vermont senator, Betsy Franceschini, denounced a series of irregularities her work team faced Friday while thousands of inmates at the island’s correctional facilities were voting.

    • Puerto Rico Primary: Is Election Fraud Happening?

      The presidential primary in Puerto Rico is today, but concerns about election fraud have been growing for days already. Bernie Sanders campaign officials and supporters are worried that a series of problems, ranging from drastically reduced polling stations to poll workers who can’t get certified, might be signs of voter suppression or election fraud. Some of these problems wouldn’t just hurt Sanders supporters, but could reduce everyone’s access to voting during the primary. What exactly is happening? And is it some form of fraud or voter suppression, or just a series of poor management decisions?

    • Did the Democratic Party Commit Election Fraud in Puerto Rico?

      Polling locations for the Democratic primary in Puerto Rico were reduced from 1,510 to 432 days before the contest that Clinton won.

    • Clinton Foundation Opaque “Fundraising Arm of Campaign”

      In an interview on CNN this weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “You asked me about the Clinton Foundation. Do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of state and a foundation run by her husband collects many millions of dollars from foreign governments, governments which are dictatorships? You don’t have a lot of civil liberties, democratic rights in Saudi Arabia. You don’t have a lot of respect there for divergent, opposition points of view, for gay rights, for women’s rights. Yeah — do I have a problem with that? Yeah, I do.”

    • Endgame: Setting the Table for Tuesday’s Primary Showdown

      The weirdest presidential election year in the history of modern US politics came down to one of the weirdest five-day news runs I’ve ever seen. Secretary Hillary Clinton gave a rousing speech on Thursday in stalwart defense of empire while cutting Donald Trump off at the knees. Trump, in response, spent the next several days spraying copious amounts of folly into the air as if he were the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.

    • A More Relevant and Radical Democratic Platform? Sanders Brings Veteran Activists to the Table

      Usually the chair of the Democratic National Committee appoints the group after consulting with the party’s presidential nominee, and Barack Obama had sweeping say in 2008. However, this year, the party allowed candidates to make appointments in proportion to their share of the popular vote in the primaries. Hillary Clinton made six picks, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz selected the remaining four. The Washington Post interpreted the change in the selection process as an attempt to unite an increasingly divided party.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Happyweb – a new Internet.

      The word “troll” no longer means just “troll” any more, as it seems that when some people come across another whose opinion they can’t counter, they will simply label them “troll” so as not to highlight the short-comings of their own position.

    • Israel-First McCarthyism: Cuomo’s vow to spy on, punish BDS Activists in long Tradition

      After New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order directing the state to monitor and sanction activists in the Boycott, Sanctions and Divest Movement (BDS) against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, critics complained that the order is McCarthyism. They objected that social and economic boycotts have been used in instances such as South Africa’s racial segregation or Apartheid. Interference in such a social and political movement in protest of injustice, they aver, is contrary to the first amendment. (Cuomo’s executive order will certainly be struck down by the courts). The order is creepy, since it suggests that Cuomo will have New York state bureaucrats combing through citizens’ Facebook and Twitter accounts to see if they support BDS, and then find ways of punishing them (no contracts from the state, no state jobs, no internships).

    • Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order on BDS

      Shame on Governor Cuomo for using an anti-democratic executive order to push through a McCarthyite attack on a movement for justice. Boycotts have long been a tactic of social justice movements to bring about urgently needed change for a more just and equal society, and the movement for Palestinian rights should not be singled out.

    • The Fight Against BDS Just Took A Frightening Turn In New York

      Through an executive order, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is going after a peaceful boycott movement fighting Israeli occupation — and many critics are worried his effort will seriously threaten free speech.

    • Andrew Cuomo and Other Democrats Launch Severe Attack on Free Speech to Protect Israel

      One of the greatest free speech threats in the west is the growing, multi-nation campaign literally to outlaw advocacy of boycotting Israel. People get arrested in Paris – the site of the 2015 “free speech” (for Muslim critics) rally – for wearing pro-boycott t-shirts. Pro-boycott students on U.S. campuses – where the 1980s boycott of apartheid South Africa flourished – are routinely sanctioned for violating anti-discrimination policies. Canadian officials have threatened to criminally prosecute boycott advocates. British government bodies have legally barred certain types of boycott advocacy. Israel itself has outright criminalized advocacy of such boycotts. Notably, all of this has been undertaken with barely a peep from those who styled themselves free speech crusaders when it came time to defend anti-Muslim cartoons.

    • Gov. Cuomo Decrees Boycott & Blacklist to Silence Global BDS Movement for Palestinian Rights

      New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stirred the immediate ire of human rights campaigners around the world on Sunday by signing an executive order calling for the creation of a “blacklist” that would track groups and individuals who support Palestinian rights through the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement known as BDS.

    • Court Dumps Hastily-Granted Restraining Order, Says MuckRock Can Publish Smart Meter Documents

      It took a little less than a week, but the EFF, with the invaluable assistance of Venkat Balasubramani of FOCAL PLLC, have persuaded a Washington state judge to strike down the temporary restraining order against MuckRock he hastily granted back on May 27th.

      Landis+Gyr, a multinational corporation owned by Toshiba, recently secured a contract to upgrade Seattle’s “dumb” meters to smart meters. Privacy activist Phil Mocek requested information on the city’s smart meter plan through MuckRock and was handed two Landis+Gyr documents in unredacted form by the city.

      These documents worth suing over spent a month uploaded to MuckRock before Landis+Gyr took notice. Once it had secured the city contract, L+G then demanded — via a request for a temporary restraining order — that MuckRock take the documents down, turn over info on site users who may have seen/downloaded them, and somehow help L+G shove its smart meter genie back into the bottle.

    • Amos Yee, the Singaporean YouTuber facing offensive remarks charges, gains global attention due to social media campaign

      Yee claimed they were using his videos on religion because they “don’t want to take me down for mocking politicians because foreigners wouldn’t like it”.

      During the video Rubin questioned the laws around freedom of speech in relation to America or in Europe.

      “There is a constitution in Singapore which allows freedom of speech, it’s article 14 but in that constitution itself in clause two it says ‘we have freedom of speech but there are restrictions to freedom of speech, even if it breaks the public harmony or is provocative or whatever’ and that completely fucking defeats the purpose of freedom of speech,” he explained.

    • Pro-Trump Reddit Community Claims Admins Are Censoring Discussion Of Censorship

      Moderators of the popular Donald Trump supporting Reddit community known as /r/The_Donald are reporting that Reddit admins have requested that they delete any threads relating to censorship in the site’s main politics community, /r/Politics.

    • Portland Accused of Censorship, More Lead Woes, and the Pig-Humans are Here!
    • Free-speech group slams Portland schools’ ban on books that question climate change [Ed: lack of merit, not censorship]

      The decision to drop textbooks that question the severity of climate change from schools in Portland, Oregon, has drawn heavy criticism from the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), which is warning that it will “undermine public education”.

    • RIAA Demands Takedown Of ThePirateBay.org, But EasyDNS Refuses Over Lack Of Due Process

      You may have heard recently that after switching many domains, a few weeks back ThePirateBay returned to its original thepiratebay.org domain. It’s basically an ongoing game of wac-a-mole, where the entertainment industry freaks out and scares registrars into taking back whatever domain and TPB just moves on. It’s unclear what good this does for anyone, but it keeps happening. And with the return to .org, it appears the entertainment industry has basically lots its mind. First, it had one of its lobbying front groups, the Copyright Alliance write a hellishly misleading post attacking Public Interest Registry (PIR), the organization that currently runs the .org top level domain.

    • 6 Aug: What’s the taboo? at Wilderness

      Watch our panelists struggle to evade the censor, cast your own vote on where to draw the line, and expect plenty of no-go subjects to come out from the shadows.

      Featuring Guardian and Index on Censorship cartoonist Martin Rowson, Citizen Khan comedian Adil Ray, theatre-maker Nadia Latif, director of Homegrown, and journalist Ian Dunt of politics.co.uk and Erotic Review.

    • DEBATE: SABC won’t revisit ‘self-censorship’ decision: Motsoeneng

      The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has come under fire for its decision to ban television images of violent protests.

      Maggs on Media hosted a debate with the SABC’s Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Glenda Daniels, senior lecturer at Wits University’s media studies and media lawyer and partner at Webber Wentzel, Dario Milo.

      Motsoeneng, maintained that the public broadcaster’s decision was not self-censorship.

    • How Should Conservatives Respond to the Disturbing Trend of Campus Censorship?

      On February 29th through March 1st at UC Davis, we faced our most aggressive, persistent, and unreasonable protest yet.

      As many of you know, our preferred way of doing outreach is to set up a simple poll table that asks questions like, “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” and provide options for people to sign Yes, No, or It Depends. While we do keep track of the results of these polls to pay attention to trends, they aren’t scientific and we don’t ask the question in order to track people’s answers. We just want to dialogue with people and give our volunteers an opportunity to use what they learned at our training seminar.

    • Feminist’s spanking website wins censorship fight in the U.K.
    • Feminist Porn Director Gets Big Spanking Win for Fetish Sites
    • Spanking Website Wins Battle Against British Web Censors
    • Feminist Pornographer Pandora Blake Wins Right To Reinstate Sadomasochism Website
    • Feminist pornographer wins right to reinstate sadomasochism website
    • Feminist porn director Pandora Blake wins right to reinstate fetish website in landmark ruling
    • Just In: ‘Udta Punjab’ Makers May Take The Censor Board To Court Over Reported Cuts
    • JUST IN! Censor to decide Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt’s Udta Punjab fate today
    • Here’s how Twitterati reacted to ‘Udta Punjab’ censorship issue
    • Just Like North Korea, Says Anurag Kashyap On Udta Punjab Censorship
    • Here’s how Twitterati reacted to ‘Udta Punjab’ censorship issue
    • In poll-bound Punjab, censors stoke row over film name
    • Another Bad Ruling In California Threatens To Massively Undermine Section 230 By Exempting Publicity Rights

      What a week. Just a few days after we wrote about a dangerous ruling in a federal appeals court in California concerning a way to get around Section 230 of the CDA, now we have another problematic CDA 230 ruling from California in the form of a ruling from San Mateo Superior Court judge, Donald Ayoob, that has the potential to do a lot of damage to Section 230 as well as anti-SLAPP efforts in California. Paul Levy has a very detailed post about the case, but we’ll try and do a summary here.

      The case involves Jason Cross, a “country rap” musician who performs under the name Mikel Knight, who has apparently made a name for himself through a highly aggressive “street team” operation that basically travels around in vans pushing people to buy Knight’s CDs — and there are plenty of accusations of sketchy behavior around how those street teams operate, and how Cross treats the people who work for him. Apparently, Cross was not happy with a Facebook group entitled “Families Against Mike Knight and the MDRST” (MDRST standing for Maverick Dirt Road Street Team, which is what Cross calls the street team). He then used a court in Tennessee to try to get Facebook to identify who was behind the group, and then demanded that the page be taken down. That effort is still ongoing, but has been temporarily postponed, while he then filed a separate lawsuit in California against Facebook and whoever is behind that group, a variety of things, including breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, negligent interference with prospective economic relations, unfair business practices and various publicity rights violations. Oddly, as Levy points out in his post, despite listing John Does as defendants, the complaint doesn’t describe anything anyone did other than Facebook. However, as part of the discovery process, Cross did (of course!) ask Facebook to identify the people behind the group criticizing him.

    • Axl Rose Sends DMCA Notices to Google Targeting ‘Fat’ Photo

      Many of us have unflattering photographs that we would rather forget but most exist in family archives that are easily hidden away. However, if you’re a multi-millionaire rock star potentially trying to erase an unfortunate moment, there are always DMCA takedown notices to fall back upon.

    • The Other Tech Figure Who’s Trying to Kill Gawker

      Gawker Media LLC isn’t just contending with a legal challenge from a wealthy wrestler backed by an extremely wealthy venture capitalist. There’s also the matter of the man who says he invented e-mail—a claim a Gawker website attacked under the following headline: “Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story of the Man Who Pretended to Invent E-mail.”

      Shiva Ayyadurai, the longtime tech entrepreneur who says he invented e-mail, filed a defamation suit against Gawker on May 11. His lawyer, Charles Harder, also represents Hulk Hogan in a lawsuit that resulted in a $140 million verdict against Gawker. Peter Thiel, a co-founder of Paypal and current Facebook Inc. board member, is bankrolling the Hogan suit, which was prompted by the publication of a sex tape. Thiel’s involvement was kept secret until recently.

    • Buzzfeed Discovers Internet Censorship From Other Countries

      Buzzfeed is at it again today. First it decided to pick sides in a presidential election, and now it has noticed that other countries, often Muslim, don’t have the same sensibilities as Americans. And this is a big problem for social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

      Buzzfeed’s Katie Notopoulos noted, “The proliferation of internet-connected mobile phones, in theory, is bringing the world together — with people continents apart talking and sharing, fueled by the sweet nectar of social apps. But in some cases, those connections turn into collisions. Within just the last three weeks, three big American social media platforms — Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter — have all butted up against the laws and cultural norms of local populations outside the United States.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • A Coalition Says to Congress: End 702 or Enact Reforms

      Congress has no business approving government programs that neither it nor the public understands. Yet policymakers have repeatedly authorized surveillance activities without doing their homework. Over the eight years since enacting reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Congress has failed to gain a functional understanding of NSA Internet surveillance, and has never even considered its impacts on democracy.

      Until Congress legislates meaningful limits to curtail widespread, longstanding, and continuing violations of constitutional rights, the digital rights movement stands united in calling for FISA Section 702 to expire next year as scheduled. Authorizing an extension of the law before securing answers to several critical questions, and enacting real limits to prevent documented and predictable abuses, would be a gross abdication of Congressional responsibility.

    • On anniversary of Snowden leaks, group lobbies against mass surveillance

      Several groups have banded together to call for an end to warrantless mass surveillance.

      Fight for the Future and a coalition of groups are using the third anniversary of Edward Snowden’s revelations of the extent of the NSA’s surveillance practices to drum up support for the end of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The program, the group said on its website, “has allowed for mass surveillance programs…that have been used by the U.S. government to warrantlessly collect and search the internet communications of people all over the world.”

    • Why is Facebook trying to force you to use its Messenger app?

      Facebook is forcing users of its mobile site to install its separate Messenger app if they want use chat, just as it has already done for users of its Android and iOS app.

      The Facebook app for Android and iOS began encouraging people to install Facebook Messenger in August 2014. Some users switched to using the Facebook mobile site on their phone browser instead, which still had Facebook’s built-in chat – but now that mobile site work-around has been marked for death, too. Facebook is prompting users to install its Messenger app, while warning it will be their only option soon. The change should also affect web wrappers such as Metal, which is currently blocking the warning message.

    • Three Years After Snowden, Bipartisan Coalition Demands Congress End Warrantless Spying

      “The Snowden leaks caused a sea change in the policy landscape related to surveillance,” writes watchdog, from the recent passage of the USA Freedom Act to the coming showdown in Congress over Section 702.

    • Secret documents reveal MI5 and GCHQ’s close relationship

      Privacy International questions whether the government is bending surveillance rules too far

      Previously secret documents revealed by Privacy International have exposed what it claims to be a worrying relationship between MI5 and GCHQ, suggesting the two organisations could be putting UK residents’ privacy at risk.

      The document, penned by Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Swinton Thomas in 2004, reveals plans to develop ‘the database’, a collection of data about citizens of the country that could be used to investigate into people thought to be involved in illegal activities.

      It was sent to lawyers of MI5 and GCHQ, asking their opinion on whether it could be used in security operations.

      “The documents revealed today demonstrate the Government’s troubling history of bending the rules to expand its surveillance powers while minimising safeguards,” Caroline Wilson Palow, general counsel at Privacy International, said.

      “The particular correspondence that we reveal today, between lawyers for MI5 and GCHQ and the former Interception of Communications Commissioner, is also an illuminating example of how oversight can go wrong when it lacks sufficient transparency and resources.”

    • Letters prove GCHQ bends laws to spy at will. So what’s the point of privacy safeguards?
    • How MI5 and GCHQ spies bent surveillance rules to snoop on UK civilian targets
    • UK spies circumvented surveillance laws with no ‘meaningful’ oversight
    • Official correspondence reveals lack of scrutiny of MI5′s data collection
    • MI5 was bulk collecting public’s data, with little or no oversight
    • SCOTUS rejects Google’s appeal; Snowden tried to tell NSA about concerns; Zuckerberg’s Twitter hijacked
    • Trump, Clinton, and the end of the Snowden era

      Two years before Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president, he took to Fox & Friends to discuss Edward Snowden’s then-recent revelation of the unconstitutional mass surveillance of innocent Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA).

    • Three Years Later: How Snowden Helped the U.S. Intelligence Community

      Three years ago today, The Guardian published the first story based on the huge archive of documents that that Edward Snowden stole from the National Security Agency while working as an NSA contractor. Then-Attorney General Holder’s Justice Department quickly charged Snowden with felonies for theft of government property and mishandling classified information. Last week, however, Holder praised Snowden. “I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made,” Holder said.

    • Snowden Attempted To Address Privacy Concerns Multiple Times Before Going Public

      Three years after news first broke of the government’s mass telephone data collection program based on NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, there’s proof that going public might have been his only option.

      According to a Vice News investigation published Saturday, NSA officials ignored Snowden’s multiple attempts to report his concerns about the NSA’s surveillance programs.

    • NSA Emails Provide Little Insight Into Snowden’s Pre-Leak Concerns, But Speak Volumes About Agency’s Internal Controls

      Jason Leopold has secured another comprehensive set of Snowden-related documents from the NSA, dealing with the agency’s search for evidence backing up his claim that he tried to take his complaints to intelligence community officials before heading to Hong Kong with a drive full of secret documents.

      The long, detailed post — written with the help of Marcy Wheeler and Ky Henderson — covers the 800+ pages of internal emails released to Vice in response to a FOIA request. The headline suggests there’s a smoking gun, but a few thousand words later, the conclusion seems to be, “There’s possibly a smoking gun… and the NSA, due to malice or just incompetence, is going to be of no help in locating it.”

      What is undoubtedly true is that there was more to Snowden’s concerns than the single email released to shore up the NSA’s side of the story. There is evidence Snowden contacted other officials about his concerns, but the agency decided to present the single email as though that were the extent of Snowden’s complaints.

    • Edward Snowden Claims United States Is Performing Mass Surveillance in Japan

      The infamous former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is speaking out again, now claiming that the United States is carrying out mass surveillance and data storage operations in Japan.

      The claims came this weekend during a video conference in Tokyo, where Snowden spoke to a collected group of journalists and lawyers from his home in Moscow, Russia. Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia in 2013 after his whistleblowing efforts on American data collection programs yielding an international controversy.

    • NSA dumps docs about its Snowden response, reveals that Snowden repeatedly raised alarms about spying

      Since the earliest days of the Snowden revelations, apologists for the NSA’s criminal spying program have said that Snowden should have gone “through channels” to report his concerns, rather than giving evidence to journalists and going public.

      Snowden has vigorously disputed this narrative, insisting that he repeatedly contacted his superiors about the spying he was being asked to abet. The NSA denied that they had any record of this, and Snowden supplied specifics.

    • Documents reveal feds’ effort to discredit Snowden, reveal CIA ties

      Newly declassified NSA documents provide official confirmation that Edward Snowden was a CIA asset, and show the extent to which the government went to discredit him after he told lawmakers in Europe that he tried to blow the whistle on a secret federal program that snooped on private citizens.

      The documents, obtained by Vice News, do not conclusively confirm claims by Snowden, then a private contractor working for the NSA, that he tried to alert supervisors of what he believed to be illegal spying before going public. They do show that following a flurry of claims by Snowden in early 2014 that his supposed concerns the agency was violating the constitutional rights of citizens were ignored, Obama administration officials sought to discredit him with his own words.

    • Appeals Court: As Long As The Government Has ‘Good Faith,’ It Can Root Around In Your Digital Files As Much As It Wants

      A case dealing with a warrant issued in 2003, a subsequent warrant issued in 2006, and a whole lot of judicial work in between finally concludes — with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals coming down on the side of the government’s apparent “right” to seize everything, hold it for an indefinite period of time, and pore through unrelated documents in hopes of finding evidence of additional criminal activity.

      The government, in the form of the US Army, first went after Stavros Ganias for billing improprieties and theft of copper wire. Over the next three years, this morphed into an IRS investigation for tax fraud, using the same hard drives the Army seized three years before the IRS showed any interest. The IRS obtained its own warrant and began looking for evidence related to its suspicions.

    • Libertarian Gary Johnson: I’d eliminate NSA, IRS if elected

      Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson says he would abolish the National Security Agency (NSA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other federal agencies if elected.

      In an interview with The Hill on Monday, Johnson said he would sign an executive order as president eliminating the NSA, which sparked controversy with its domestic surveillance programs.

      Johnson promised to turn “the NSA satellites away from you and I as citizens of the United States.”

    • Libertarian Gary Johnson Wants To Abolish The NSA

      Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson says he wants to abolish the National Security Agency.

      Johnson, a former Republican who was governor of New Mexico, says he wants to turn “the NSA satellites away from you and I as citizens of the United States.”

    • Carrie Cordero’s Counterintelligence Complaints

      Without noting the parts of the article that show that, nine months into the Snowden leaks and multiple hearings on the subject, Keith Alexander still didn’t know how contractors might raise complaints, and that the NSA editing of its Q&A on Snowden show real questions about the publicity and viability of reporting even to the IG, especially for legal violations, Cordero complains that he did not do so. Then she asserts that had Snowden gone to NSA’s IG (ignoring the record of what happened to Thomas Drake when he did the same), the programs would not have changed.

      And yet, having taken a different approach, some of them have changed. Some of the programs — notably Section 215, but also tech companies’ relationship with the government, when exposed to democratic and non-FISA court review, and FISA court process itself — did get changed. I think all but the tech company changes have largely been cosmetic, Cordero has tended to think reforms would go too far. But the record shows that Snowden’s leaks, along with whatever else damage critics want to claim they caused, also led to a democratic decision to shift the US approach on surveillance somewhat. Cordero accuses Snowden of doing what he did because of ego — again, that’s her prerogative; I’m not going to persuade people who’ve already decided to think differently of Snowden — but she also argues that had Snowden followed the already problematic methods to officially report concerns, he would have had less effect raising concerns than he had in fact. Some of what he exposed may have been legally (when argued in secret) sustainable before Snowden, but they turned out not to be democratically sustainable.

    • Holder’s Dangerous Ignorance About Snowden [Ed: article prepared with help/review by CIA and uses completely bizarre and ludicrous claims about Snowden]
    • 3 Years Later, the Snowden Leaks Have Changed How the World Sees NSA Surveillance

      Three years ago today, the world got powerful confirmation that the NSA was spying on the digital lives of hundreds of millions of innocent people. It started with a secret order written by the FISA court authorizing the mass surveillance of Verizon Business telephone records—an order that members of Congress quickly confirmed was similar to orders that had been issued every 3 months for years. Over the next year, we saw a steady drumbeat of damning evidence, creating a detailed, horrifying picture of an intelligence agency unrestrained by Congress and shielded from public oversight by a broken classification system.

    • Documents Show Snowden Tried To Raise Concerns About Spying With NSA

      Several documents have been obtained by Vice News through the Freedom of Information Act which reveal that whistleblower Edward Snowden tried to take up his concerns against the government’s spying programs with the National Security Agency before ultimately deciding to hand over top-secret documents to journalists. These documents contradict earlier claims by federal agencies that Snowden never went through the proper channels to have his concerns addressed.

      The NSA maintains that Edward Snowden never came to them with concerns about the constitutionality of some of their electronic spying programs. It only released an email from Snowden to the public which had a question about legal authority but as the NSA put it, the email “did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse.”

    • Snowden did more to raise NSA concerns than officials claimed

      For the longest time, US officials denied that Edward Snowden made serious attempts to raise concerns about NSA surveillance activities before he took off with classified data. There was only evidence of one not-so-worrisome email, they said. However, it’s now clear that this isn’t the whole story. Documents obtained by Vice News (and published by the NSA) show that Snowden likely did more to raise concerns with the NSA than officials claimed. While there’s no smoking gun, two out of three previously unmentioned Snowden interactions with the Oversight and Compliance Office involved disputes over an open-book test on foreign intelligence gathering. The findings suggest that Snowden might have disagreed with the test’s interpretation of the law, which would be in sync with the previously released email.

    • How To Listen (And Delete) Every Word You’ve Ever Said To Google

      This could be one of the creepiest things you would have come across in recent times. You’ll be surprised to know that Google gives you the option to listen (and delete) everything you have ever said to Google while using its voice search feature.

    • Let’s Stop Google from Gobbling Up Our Schools

      Google’s educational packages include things like the google calendar, Google docs, Google classroom, gmail, and most recently it has added the Chromebook. Chromebooks are low-cost and easy-to-use notebooks that come with support and built-in access to Google Apps. They are offered to schools participating in Google for Education for $149. Google reports that it sold more than 1 million Chromebooks in just the second quarter of 2014. In November of 2014, the New York City School Department of Education adopted Chromebook as part of its approved and supported tools in its 1800 schools.


      Finally, as was alluded to above, it is critical to note that Google’s aim is to expand its market share. By getting Google products in the hands of users before they can read, Google is building a giant base of people who will likely be life-long users of its products. By spoon feeding young people on easy-to-use applications, they will become addicted to Google. They may not even become aware that there are alternatives, since all of their classmates, friends, and teachers use Google. And since they grew up on Google, they will likely find other applications daunting. Educators themselves lack awareness of the non-corporate software and internet service options that are available, since their institutions are usually captured by the likes of Google and Microsoft. Few colleges and universities in the United States, for instance, support Linux operating systems. The process of corporate capture is not unlike the efforts of junk food companies to use promotional school contracts to gain captive audiences for their products.

    • Signal and Mobile XMPP Update

      The main downside (which Signal faces as well) is that you have to contend with the complexities of sending SMS messages on top of the work needed to write a well-functioning XMPP client. As I mentioned in my Signal blog, there are no shortage of MMS bugs against Signal. Nobody wants that head-ache.

      Additinally, we would still lose one Signal feature: with Signal, when a user joins, everyone automatically sends them encrypted messages. With this proposed app, each user would have to manually add the XMPP address and have no way of knowing when one of their friends gets an XMPP address.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Karl Rove Made A Joke About Slavery To A Bunch Of Hedge Fund Managers. It Didn’t Go Well.

      Politics has gotten very ugly. Arguments that used to be limited to fringe groups and the dark corners of the internet are now embraced by presidential candidates.

      So what are things like behind closed doors? Even worse.

      A column in the Financial Times published Tuesday gave us a peek. Mary Childs, a financial correspondent for FT, reported on what she observed at a private hedge fund conference in May.

    • BDS and the Eternal Holocaust

      While innocently attempting to access an article on the Haaretz website the other day, I was accosted by a sequence of intrusive advertisements inviting me to “Fight BDS”—the popular boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement that aims to force an end to Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights.

    • The women who are taking on Wal-Mart

      Pico Rivera is a dusty working-class Latino suburb of Los Angeles. After the school district, Wal-Mart is the city’s largest employer and the source of 10 percent of its tax revenue. More than 500 families in the town depend on income from the store.

      The town is also the epicenter of activism by Wal-Mart workers in the United States.

    • NYT’s Edsall Stands Up for ‘Grievances of White America’

      Times op-ed writer Thomas Edsall (6/1/16) sets out to examine the role resentment plays in fueling the movement behind Donald Trump—but does so in such an uncritical way that he seems to adopt Trump voters’ resentments as his own.

      These voters, he says, “are evidently enraged by the imposition of norms of political correctness that they see as enforced by ‘Stalinist orthodoxy,’” and “perceive the network of state, local and federal anti-discrimination laws and directives as censorious and coercive.” Trump, according to Edsall, “has capitalized on the visceral belief of many white voters that government-enforced diversity and other related regulations are designed ‘to bring Americans to submission.‘”

    • Muhammad Ali Speaks to the Activist Soul

      Today we are experiencing a global activist wave, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1960s. Here in this country, the Black Lives Matter movement has become a powerful force for change. Sen. Bernie Sanders has energized millions of Americans across demographic lines, especially millennials of all races and backgrounds. Labor efforts like the drive for a $15 minimum wage, and movements for the rights of LGBT people and other oppressed communities, are gaining force and winning victories.

    • Sufi Boxer Muhammad Ali’s last fight was against Extremism & Politicians’ Islamophobia

      Boxer Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, on 17 January 1942, is dead at 74.

      Ali was on the US team for the Rome Olympics in 1960, and became the Olympic light-heavyweight champion. He and the team were lionized when he came back. But then in Kentucky he was refused a table at a restaurant.

      In 1964 he defeated Sonny Liston. He became famous for his footwork in the ring, for his boasts and his taunting of his opponents, naming the round in which he would defeat them.

    • 6 conspiracy theories that actually turned out to be true

      The Snowden revelations were not the first time it was revealed that powerful organisations carried out large scale, disturbing operations in secret, however.

      Here are just a few examples of things that, even when we hear them now, sound incredibly far-fetched – but they were sadly all too real.

    • Trump Suggests Muslim Judges Can’t Be Trusted Either

      Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spent most of the last week under fire for claiming that Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge overseeing a case alleging that a Trump company was an elaborate scam, cannot fairly decide this case because Curiel is “of Mexican heritage.” The judge is an American citizen born in Indiana to immigrants from Mexico.

      Appearing on Face the Nation Sunday morning, Trump added another category of individuals who may not be trustworthy on the bench — Muslims. In response to a question from host John Dickerson about whether an Islamic judge wouldn’t be able to treat Trump fairly, the Republican presidential candidate replied “it’s possible, yes.”

    • FBI, Prosecutors Given Copies Of Defense Documents By Duplication Service Defense Was Instructed To Use

      The government has responded with a filing [PDF] claiming it has done nothing wrong. It acknowledges the FBI and the US Attorney’s office received copies of the files from the duplication service, but claims it never asked the company to perform this “service.” That’s at odds with other information gleaned by the defense, as well as an admission by a federal prosecutor.

    • Lawyer Who Filed Crime Report against SSCI Staffer, Robert Eatinger, Complains about Lack of Trust

      Robert Eatinger, whose name was redacted 1,600 times in the Senate Torture report, and who went on to file a crime report against Senate staffers for using materials provided to them by CIA, is complaining about lack of trust in this summary of Edward Snowden’s role in surveillance debates.

    • In 1977, the CIA’s top lawyer said Espionage Act shouldn’t be applied to press leaks

      Yesterday, the State Department declassified and released Organization and Management of Foreign Policy: 1977-80, volume 28, a Carter-era document that includes startling statements by CIA General Counsel Anthony Lapham on the role of the WWI-era Espionage Act in prosecuting leaks of classified material to the press.

    • Intelligence Reform in the Jimmy Carter Era

      A 1977 memorandum from CIA General Counsel Anthony Lapham stated that when it comes to prosecuting leaks of classified information to the press, “It is extremely doubtful that the provisions [of the Espionage Act] were intended to have application in such situations, and as a matter of historical fact, leaving aside the unsuccessful Ellsberg prosecution and possibly one or two other cases, they never have been so applied.”

    • 40 Years Ago, The CIA’s Top Lawyer Said Bringing Espionage Charges Against Leakers Was Useless

      Our current Justice Department is more than happy to prosecute, pushed along by a president who shows little sympathy for those who expose this country’s abuses, errors, and shortcomings. The government has bagged one significant trophy — Chelsea Manning — along with a handful of other whistleblowers, and shows zero interest in holding back should Ed Snowden ever return to the US.

      But with all the prosecutions, the stripping of protections for whistleblowers, the campaigns to eradicate “insider threats,” the US government still can’t stop the leaks. It has punished whistleblower after whistleblower, but Snowden continues to frustrate it, and he’s been joined by other leakers yet to be identified.

      Part of the problem, as Lapham saw it four decades ago, is the government’s desire to treat every leak as threatening to national security — a desire that has only grown in size and intensity over the past 15 years.

    • Horror House on the Prairie: Hard Labor and Harsh Treatment for Group of Disabled Men in Iowa

      Over the years, their hands began to curl. Their fingers formed into hooks from decades spent using them to rip the innards from turkeys in a remote processing plant in rural Iowa. They feared their overseers: disobedience could spell the denial of basic privileges, like access to the radio or television; worse, they might be forced to endure hours spent standing in a corner, staring at a wall, alone and scared. One of the men fled, only to be discovered months later, his remains decaying in the newly thawed Iowa snow.

      These are some of the stories of the 32 intellectually disabled men in “The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland,” a new book by New York Times reporter Dan Barry. Barry began writing about the experience of the men for the Times in 2014. Referred to as the “boys” by their abusive employers, the men were ostensibly brought to Iowa to be cared for by professionals and schooled in a basic trade. Their reality became something far different. They were held against their will in a decrepit schoolhouse and forced to work in bleak, arduous conditions at a turkey processing plant for a paltry $65 dollars a month. It took 35 years before state authorities rescued the men in 2009. Barry joined our podcast to describe how he was alerted to the story and how he achieved a few of his breakthroughs.

    • The EU referendum matters for Global Justice Now. Here’s why.

      We spend our time fighting against EU policies. But now, we’re campaigning to stay in.

    • Ghosted away: UK’s secret removal flights examined

      Lately one Australian family’s immigration case and prospect of forced removal from the UK made front-page news across Scottish national newspapers, was discussed in the House of Commons, picked up by The Guardian, The Independent, the Daily Mail, and BBC News — resulting in a job offer that might help keep the family here, and a crowdfunder page that has raised more than £4000.

      In the same week, around 100 people were torn from their long-standing communities in the UK and forcibly removed to a country from which they fled, or hadn’t lived in for up to 20 years. Of these people, their family, their friends, their distress, the fate that awaits them, there is no public awareness, nor any media reporting. With the exception of Shine A Light at openDemocracy, no journalists or media outlets picked up the multiple press releases widely issued by The Unity Centre in the lead up to the flight.

      In the early hours of Wednesday 25 May — at 1am — a delayed private charter plane left Stansted airport, bound for Nigeria and Ghana. The UK government does not publicly reveal the location of departure (even to detainees who are set to be on the plane). The flight itself does not appear on airport flight schedules or online as a planned flight. However, we can reveal that the contracted airline is Titan Airways.

    • FBI Whistleblowers Have No Legal Protection For Making Reports Of Wrongdoing

      A Senate Judiciary Committee report concludes Federal Bureau of Investigation employees, including those in the intelligence community, “enjoy no legal protection for making reports of wrongdoing to supervisors or others in their chain of command.” It supports the passage of legislation to institute and expand whistleblower protections for FBI employees.

      In 2014, the Justice Department refused to adopt key reforms that would benefit FBI whistleblowers. The department rejected “judicial review, the incorporation of administrative law judges, time limits for decisions on cases, hearings upon request, and a requirement that federal government employees be produced to provide testimony if it would be relevant to the resolution of a case.”

      The proposed Federal Bureau of Investigation Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016 seeks to correct a system the Justice Department will not change, by offering FBI employees opportunities for judicial review outside the Justice Department. It expands the list of individuals an FBI employee may make “protected disclosures” to when blowing the whistle.

    • Muhammad Ali: a Torchbearer of Resistance

      Ali paid a terrible price for his apostasy, subjected to withering columns by sportswriters, commentators, politicians, and even black leaders of the day. People lined up to attack both him and his beliefs, and ticket sales for his fights plummeted. And this was before his stance on the war in Vietnam, when after being reclassified he told a reporter that “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”

    • Kenneth Roth’s Strange Review of Noam Chomsky’s New Book

      However, in his review of Chomsky’s book Roth failed to apply the principle of universality to U.S. national security policy, HRW’s third priority program, including U.S. policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict. This was one problematic aspect of Roth’s review, in addition to his apparent lack of familiarity with the UN Charter and the Nuremberg Principles. These problem areas were exacerbated by Roth’s petty criticisms of Chomsky’s book (see below), and his apparent ignorance of Chomsky’s lifelong work that is grounded to a very significant extent in the principle of universality and the rules of the UN Charter that Roth, in turn, did some damage to in his review for the New York Review.

    • How an Arabic Translator Got Caught in a Net Designed for Terror and Gang Leaders

      In 1993, Yousry received a job offer to work as an Arabic translator for the defense team of Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh.” Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian militant group Gamaa Islamiya, had been arrested earlier that year on accusations of plotting terrorist attacks against public landmarks in New York City.

    • The Moral Courage of Muhammad Ali

      “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong — no Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”

      With those pointed words, Muhammad Ali explained his opposition to the US war in Vietnam and justified his refusal to submit himself to the draft. He declared himself a conscientious objector. After declining three times to step forward for induction into the US Armed Forces in April of 1967 in Houston, Texas, the reigning world heavyweight boxing champion was arrested, stripped of his title and state boxing licenses, and thrown into a three-year legal battle ending with his exoneration (on technical grounds) by the US Supreme Court.

    • Police Officer Who Shot Naked Black Man Pleads Not Guilty

      A white former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed, naked, mentally ill black veteran just outside Atlanta pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges against him.

      Robert Olsen shot Anthony Hill on March 9, 2015, while responding to a call about a naked man behaving erratically outside a suburban Atlanta apartment complex. He was indicted in January on numerous charges, including felony murder and has since resigned from the force.

      Olsen appeared in DeKalb County Superior Court on Monday and waived formal arraignment. His attorney Don Samuel told the judge his client pleads not guilty.

      Samuel and Olsen left the courtroom immediately after entering the not guilty plea and declined to make any further comment.

    • #BlackLivesMatter makes some people angry. Isn’t that good?

      Black Lives Matter (BLM) began in 2014 as a hashtag after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case and evolved into a social movement. Since its inception, it has grown to 28 chapters in over 17 states in the USA, and one international chapter in Toronto. There’s no denying that the movement wants to disrupt the status quo, and that makes some people angry. They have shut airports and stopped Black Friday sales with their protests against police brutality.

    • Assault Of Muslim Man In NYC Comes Amid Rising Islamophobia Nationwide

      A Muslim man was assaulted and beaten after leaving his mosque in Queens, New York last Wednesday in an incident advocates are urging police to investigate as a possible hate crime.

      Mohammed Rasheed Khan, 59, left prayers at the Center for Islamic Studies in Jamaica, Queens, around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. According to CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, he got on his bike to make the short trip home, and before he’d even traveled half a block, he was assaulted by three men who repeatedly punched him in the head and face. He’s now suffering from at least five broken bones in his face, including his nose and eye socket, along with a concussion and fractured ribs. He’s due to have surgery today.

    • In 1971, Muhammad Ali Helped Undermine the FBI’s Illegal Spying on Americans

      It was March 8, 1971, the night of Ali’s first fight with Joe Frazier, and the noise from that epic battle provided cover for the break-in of an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. The burglary, by eight activists who stole every file in the office, revealed the illegal spying operations that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had organized against a broad swathe of Americans, including Martin Luther King, Jr. The revelations led to congressional investigations and major reforms of all intelligence agencies.

    • Man indicted for disabling red light cameras faces 7 years in prison

      Stephen Ruth, who remains free on bail, was arrested in April shortly after he told a CBS affiliate that he was the culprit and that he dismantled the cameras “in order to save lives.” He said the county shortened the yellow light duration from 5 seconds to 3 seconds in a bid to make more money.

      He’s accused of 17 felonies and faces a maximum seven-year prison sentence if convicted on all the charges. He pleaded not guilty Friday in a local court and wants to go to trial for snipping the wires on as many as 16 red light cameras on intersections on Route 25 between Coram and Centereach.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

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      The good news for Comcast? The latest edition of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) indicates that the nation’s largest cable company actually has a slightly better customer satisfaction rating than last year. The bad news? Comcast remains among the worst-rated companies of any industry in America thanks to limited competition. According to the firm’s full ratings for cable providers, Comcast saw an eight point rise in customer satisfaction, thanks in part to crazy ideas like actually showing up on time for appointments and a website that actually works.

    • Press release- BEREC seeks views on guidelines to implement new net neutrality rules

      The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has today published for public consultation draft guidelines on the implementation by regulators of new net neutrality rules and is seeking the views of stakeholders over the next six weeks, with the consultation closing on 18 July.

    • EU net neutrality draft guidelines split the crowd—public told to wade in

      Europe’s telecoms watchdog has set out its first ideas on how to implement regulation for so-called net neutrality, even though that term isn’t once used by the body overseeing implementation of the law.

      The guidelines from the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) do not create any new rules, but will clarify how the legislation—adopted by the European Parliament last October—will be enforced. However before setting those guidelines in stone on August 31, BEREC is holding a public consultation that will run until mid-July.

      Ofcom’s international policy manager Ben Wallis, who also co-chairs BEREC’s network neutrality expert working group, said that the end of August was a “very hard deadline which we have no intention of missing.”

    • TiVo’s new owner isn’t that interested in making set-top boxes

      Rovi, the company that’s buying TiVo, isn’t very interested in staying in the hardware business.

      The combined company will be looking to partner with set-top box makers instead of continuing to sell set-top boxes directly to consumers, Rovi Chief Financial Officer Peter Halt said at an investors conference last week. (See transcript and this Light Reading article.)

      Halt noted that TiVo’s direct relationship with consumers has “been a source of great innovation for them and stuff like that.” But he then said that “being in the hardware business isn’t something that necessarily excites us.” It sounds like TV watchers could still get boxes powered by TiVo software and services, but the hardware would be made by another company.

  • DRM

    • W3C, EME and EFF: Frequently Asked Questions

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      These laws have been used by companies and rightsholders to threaten security and privacy researchers who came forward to report defects in their products. These laws may also create legal risks for entities who independently implement EME-compatible systems.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

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      • Circuit split over Madonna copyright case tipped to go to Supreme Court

        A Ninth Circuit ruling that a 0.23 second sample in Madonna’s Vogue did not infringe copyright creates a split with the Sixth Circuit’s Bridgeport ruling that could be sent to the Supreme Court

      • “Obscurity is a greater threat than piracy”

        The IPKat was delighted to receive the following guest post from Katfriend Ben Williams. Complete with Star Wars quotes, Ben looks at recent discussions in DRM and the impact of piracy. Have we really moved on in the last 15 years?

      • Ninth Circuit Finds De Minimis Sampling of Sound Recordings Non-Infringing

        Is the Ninth Circuit ripe for intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has decided that the de minimis doctrine applies to the infringement of sound recordings. The Ninth Circuit has rejected the 2005 Bridgeport Music Inc. v. Dimension Films decision that essentially any sampling of a sound recording results in infringement.

Streisand Effect Award Won by EPO: It Has Just Blocked IP Kat Blog (Updatedx7)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A leaky faucet

Summary: The European Patent Office has just blocked access to a leading IP blog, where professionals cover things of legal and technical nature about the EPO and far beyond (with over 10,000 articles in the archive)

THE EPO has just shot itself in the foot (again!), only a few days before the hugely expensive publicity stunt which includes bribed media. The Kool-Aid must flow uninterrupted.

What happens when one accesses the IP Kat blog this morning from within the EPO?

Your request was denied because of its content categorization: “Malicious Sources/Malnets”

“Not too long after the EPO banned Techrights it also sent threatening legal letters (repeatedly).”Yes, that’s right. That leading IP blog is a “Malnet”. Blogspot is “Malicious Sources”. Boys and girls, please let Google know about this “Malnet” inside its network. IP Kat must be severely published!

Humour aside, this is a badge of honour for IP Kat and it demonstrates what kind of foolish people run the EPO. Do they not foresee the backlash? Have they still no grasp of what the Streisand Effect is?

“Would EPO management be boorish enough to attempt this? Or to try to unmask commenters, as some people did before (taking Google to court)?”As far as we can tell, IP Kat is only the second to be blocked in this way. Techrights was first, so we must have done something right and so does Merpel.

Not too long after the EPO banned Techrights it also sent threatening legal letters (repeatedly). Let’s hope that IP Kat and Merpel aren’t next in the pipeline. Would EPO management be boorish enough to attempt this? Or to try to unmask commenters, as some people did before (taking Google to court)?

Update: There are now further confirmations of this, e.g. from IP Kat comments. This comment from half an hour ago states:

Since this morning, access to the IPKat is blocked from within the European Patent Office.

Users get the following message:

“Your request was denied because of its content categorization: “Malicious Sources/Malnets”.

I am sorry Merpel, I doubt you can continue to publicize your blog as “Recommended by the European Patent Office as reading material for candidates for the European Qualifying Examinations 2013″ …

The EPO’s management is so intolerant of criticism that it even turns its back on partners and forces all staff to turn their backs too. Florian Müller says: “The EPO leadership urgently needs professional help… blocking the IP Kat blog is just insane.”

The EPO has all the elements in it right now of an organisation in a state of irreversible collapse trying to pay/buy its way out, just like FIFA did last year. Paying the media and buying bogus ‘studies’ isn’t the way out. It’s the engineering of yet more scandals. This is cyclical.

Update #2: A lot of comments about this are starting to surface at the target of censorship.

After blocking IP Kat it’s clear that neither tone is the issue (Techrights is more strongly-worded and less droll than Merpel) nor malware is the issue. To quote one new comment, EPO now “makes it an offense to post on a public forum or to “damage the reputation of the Office”.” Here is the full comment:

Recent developments at the EPO are surrealistic. We have a project called “early certainty” to hire 800 examiners to tackle our backlog till 2020. We have CA56/16, which basically lets the President decide on your partner work, on any elected post one may seek, any other activity aside your work, etc… and makes it an offense to post on a public forum or to “damage the reputation of the Office”. Also: the “investigation unit” is strengthened and there is a new difference betweenn dismissals for disciplinary reasons and for incompetence I do not understand. And ipkat is censored from our Intranet as “malicious source” this morning.

What next?

As another person put it:

Desperate needs lead to desperate deeds.

And then:

I think if you read the early certainty site you’ll find that you’re not allowed to discuss it with “third parties”.

EPO has incompetent censors; they didn’t even block IP Kat correctly, as the following comment reveals:

@HelloKitty: “And ipkat is censored from our Intranet as “malicious source” this morning.”

No, it isn’t, at least not fully.
.de is, yes, even from The Hague. But I can access .nl and .co.uk from Rijswijk main.

Therefore I cannot believe the “reason” being “malware/malnet”… The .nl and .co.uk sites are identical to the .de site, besides the url used.

Here is more on that:


Had I known before that Ipkat was a malicious source I would have never dared even having a look at it.

Luckily we have our wise president for protecting us. Than you so much!

To be on the safe side I will also destroy my laptop and smartphones at home to prevent any further malicious attack from malnets.

Adieu, naughy Merpel. Adieu Techrights. Adieu FossPatents. Ah, no. Mr Mueller is now accessible again from the EPO: he must then be a nice guy after all. I will read only his posts, but he does not publish since last May. Is it maybe time for a new post on the EPO from a nice guy?

“Maybe the EPO just isn’t blocking my blog at the moment because I haven’t blogged about their stuff in a while,” FossPatents told me in response to the above.

One person wasn’t sure if malware could be the issue, asking politely:

Any official announcement of the ban? Could it be that the ipkat site does have some form of embedded malware which the epo security is picking up? I don’t know – I’m just asking (hoping?).

Sarcastic response:

Yes, it could be, and it’s probably the same malware that also affected Techrights – it’s called “Criticising the EPO management” …

Here is a more serious response:

Weirdly enough, I cannot access ipkitten.blogspot.de for the reason mentioned above (malicious/Malnet).
ipkitten.blogspot.nl works find.
.co.uk too.
If one knows how Google (and thus blogspot) work, it become obvious that there is no malware automagically detected by the firewall software, but the reason is very fabricated. Well, it works for Munich. DG0 cannot access this site anymore. Nor the AC-members coming to Munich.

This is why this kind of censorship is very serious an issue:

Interestingly, in the recent survey conducted by SUEPO, IP blogs are considered as a relevant source of information for 45% of the respondents – far higher than the 9% for Top management and 17% for Internal communications …


See page 19.

But I’m sure it has nothing to do with the banning of the site within the EPO …

We will update this post as more information becomes available. The press should probably cover this.

Update #3: Kieren McCarthy has just publish an article about this (it has 7 comments at the time of writing, mostly with tips on bypassing the censors). To quote McCarthy’s article:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has reacted to criticism of its latest proposals – by blocking access to a blog that raised concerns.

The thin-skinned organization has placed a block on the popular IP Kat blog, seemingly in response to critical comments about proposed reform to its independent Boards of Appeal.

In a posting last week, IP Kat described as “completely outrageous” plans to make the boards in large part self-financing, and explained why it would further undermine their independence while giving yet more power to wildly unpopular EPO president Benoit Battistelli.

As of this morning, EPO staff who try to access the site from work have been met with the message: “Your request was denied because of its content categorization: ‘Malicious Sources/Malnets’.”

Usually “malicious source” would be used to refer to a website containing malware, but in this case, the EPO management appears to view anything critical of its plans as inherently malicious.


The EPO has history with censoring critical websites: last year it both blocked and sent threatening legal letters to blog Techrights after it posted embarrassing internet documents that showed the organization was giving preferential treatment to Microsoft in its patent reviews.

Some people use Google Cache to bypass these filters, but the comments on this article suggest Google Translate. Either way, people can use mobile phones and home networks to access the same sites anyway, without any fear of being ‘caught’ by BlueCoat (potentially flagged by Battistelli’s goons), whose contract with the EPO is secret but confirmed.

Update #4: Somebody now suggests that the ban has been undone, but we cannot tell for sure and either way — irrespective of the final outcome — this is scaring staff and scaring authors at IP Kat, as the ban still has some holes in it (they might be plugged pretty soon or the whole ban revoked). One person wrote this:

The Will of the President reigns supreme.
He has blocked the IPKat from his fiefdom.
Do you think he is scared by such a bunch of pussies ?

Another bemoaned the loss of “freedom of expression at the EPO.”

As of today, it is no longer possible to access the Ipkat blog from within the EPO. So much for freedom of expression at the EPO.

Then the holes in the ban were pointed out as follows:

@Ketzeneke and others:
No, ipkitten is not fully banned.
Only the ipkitten.blogspot.de is banned.
All other country codes still work. .nl; .co.uk; .mx did still work this afternoon.
The difficulty is avoiding the automagic forwarding to “your” country code…

IPkitten could adjust their template to prevent this behaviour info on how to.
Otherwise you would ned to change your browser settings (preferred language).

As user you can add /ncr to the adress to prevent redirecting.

ipkitten.blogspot.ie/ncr should therefore show you the irish site, no mattr from where you’re accesing ipkitten.

One person suggests that the EPO’s management may have changed its mind:

Late afternoon IPKat was accessible from inside the EPO again…

Depends on which TLD… or maybe the backlash convinced EPO management to retreat and undo the ban?

“Pointless,” said this one new comment from The Register about the ban, “unless the Streisand Effect is actually what they want. All the employees have smartphones, so they can just access the site through their carrier, using the three fingers they are not using to send a message to their employers, of course.”

In relation to the subject of this post, which was sort of lost in the discussion about censorship, one person wrote:

Mr. Freyberg,
It may also be worth remembering that the EPO has supported (and still does support) examiners to sit the EQE. Indeed for some posts internally it is at least advantageous for a candidate to have passed it. Now, the President wishes to have the right to block that possible transfer from the EPO to the other side. Joined-up thinking? Or what?
While focussing on those post-EPO activities, readers may also wish to consider the effect these rules will have on internal discipline. Who will dare to not follow the party line with the knowledge that BB has an ace up his sleeve to punish dissent? A principled stand now will carry extra risk. Better to resign quietly and not rock the boat rather than stand up and be counted. Who needs a gagging order?

Another response on topic said:

Nearly 25 years ago there was a drought of applications and a program was instituted at the EPO for sending out examiners to assist industry and attorneys. Some still talk glowingly about their experience.

The times, they are a-changin’…

The EPO truly loses sight of what the patent system should be about. It also breaks laws in the process.

Update #5: As it turns out, over at The Register (not too shockingly as it’s British), people exploit this whole situation to call for Brexit, but as one person pointed out in the comments: “EPO appears to be nothing to do with the EU.” Moreover, it’s not as though the British authorities — especially the Monarchy — respect free speech any more than the EU does. In terms of privacy we’re a lot worse here. Brexit can stop the UPC, but how much will it do to change things at the EPO? Not much.

Here is a comment from someone who appears to be from the EPO:

Pathetic, but not really surprising. I’m actually amazed that we’ve been able to access IPKAT from work for as long as we have…

It just shows how petty those in charge are, and it demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance as to how such stupid and pathetic measures are seen, by both the staff and the outside world; not that BB and his stooges care though.

A sad, sad day for those of us who work for the EPO.

As for claims that the ban might have been undone (lifted), here is a response to it:

“Late afternoon IPKat was accessible from inside the EPO again… ”

Well at least for members of the Investigative Unit who are carefully monitoring every posting.

Is The Register still accessible within the EPO ?


Not all TLDs are blocked, so that may help explain why some people cannot ‘reproduce’ the error message, so to speak.

Update #6: Streisand Effect took its toll. “In the meantime,” SUEPO says, “access to the IPKAT has been restored within the EPO.” Hopefully Merpel et al won’t self-censor after this incident.

Update #7: Kieren McCarthy of The Register has just published an article about the reversal and also mentioned the protest, which will take place tomorrow:

The organization’s problems are far from over, however. Staff intends to hold another demonstration against their management’s action this week. This time, the demonstration is in response to revised documents covering staff rights and obligations.

The revised documents, seen by The Register, provide – yet again – greater powers to EPO president Benoit Battistelli and fewer rights to everyone else. Permanent employees would effectively be gagged from making any public criticism of the organization or Battistelli (“shall abstain from any act and, in particular, any public expression of opinion which may reflect on the dignity of his office”).

We can’t help wondering if the person or group responsible for generating all this negative publicity by banning IP Kat (apparently for less than a day) will face consequences for inability to grasp concepts such as free speech, truth-telling, and the Streisand Effect. What a failure. Like we said at the very start, the EPO “shot itself in the foot (again!),” but it continues to block Techrights so McCarthy’s headline, “EPO ends news censorship,” is not entirely accurate. There’s still McCarthyism at the EPO.

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