Patent Lawyers Move Closer to Battistelli’s Rubber-stamping Office While the Appeal Boards Pushed Away as Collective Punishment Which Masks Decline in Patent Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Pesky’ quality control cannot coexist with Battistelli and middlemen who are paid to trick examiners


Summary: Urgently sending appeal boards away and urgently granting applicants patents without proper examination will be Battistelli’s sorrow legacy at the European Patent Office

TODAY’S EPO is not the EPO which existed decades ago or even a decade ago (before Battistelli). It is so ruthless an employer that critical thinking is simply disallowed or better kept to oneself (because thoughtcrime is impossible to prove/enforce/incriminate).

One judge who allegedly spoke out (anonymously) was not only ousted but also defamed thereafter (in an effort to rationalise the illegal ousting). Now there is collective punishment for those who defended him or simply insisted on a fair trial, justice, and proper (legally-acquired) evidence, not defamatory-yet-unchallengeable claims. “It is not about taking decisions that make sense,” one person wrote the other day about Battistelli’s methods. “It is about punishing…”

One can soon see the similarities to Turkey.

“I know that the president and his cronies will be furiously spinning the “reforms” as being fully justified.”
Earlier today the EPO wrote about a page titled “Boards of appeal and key decisions 2016″. How much more of the boards of appeal would Battistelli allow to exist/vanish? He already punishes them like never before. The boards of appeal are the one thing Battistelli is killing faster than anything else (even SUEPO); it helps him lower patent quality without this decline being measurably noticed in the short term (while his term as President continues). Low occupational capacity means that year-to-year figures would not be comparable, never mind the imminent rise in costs (self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to demand for appeals).

One person wrote to us earlier this week (in relation to the ‘exile’ of the appeal boards) that: “To add insult to injury, the office space available to the Board members and chairmen will be reduced by 36% when moving to Haar (even although office space in Haar is substantially cheaper than in Munich). To put it into perspective: a Board chairman will get less space than an examiner, even although he or she has the same grade as a principal director!”

Another deliberate attack by Battistelli against appeal judges? Incentive to leave/resign/retire? Against those who threaten to show that quality control under his administration has been severely compromised? Battistelli’s “focus upon punishing the Boards of Appeal has led him to a situation that makes no sense,” one person wrote the other day. Here is the full comment:

I know that it is about punishing. That much is blindingly obvious from the plain facts.

The point that I was making is that BB’s [Battistelli] focus upon punishing the Boards of Appeal has led him to a situation that makes no sense from any other perspective.

For example, the Boards have:
been “reformed” in a manner that (according to the perception of many users and AMBA) actually reduces their independence;
been moved, against the express wishes of the users (who argued that physical location had little to do with (the perception of) independence of the Boards); and
had the fees for their services substantially increased, which was directly against the interests of the users and has no objective justification whatsoever (as, for example: there is certainly no shortfall in the EPO’s funding under the current fee structure; and being “subsidised” by renewal fees certainly has no bearing upon independence if the there is no “outside” interference in the setting of the budget of the Boards).

Thus, by any objective measure, BB has failed to achieve his stated objective and has acted against the express wishes of the users. I know that the president and his cronies will be furiously spinning the “reforms” as being fully justified. However, I now wonder whether sanity can be restored by the emergence of a sufficient groundswell of opinion that, contrary to the EPO management’s line, is based upon a credible interpretation of the facts.

“The move may not influence where Oral Proceedings before the BoA will take place,” one person wrote in response. “Does anyone know if just the offices of the BoA members will been moved, or whether also future invitations to Oral Proceedings will be for the “new” building?”

One response to that said: The intention is for oral proceedings also to take place in the Haar building. It is however apparent that only a limited number of o.p. rooms are foreseen, and that it will be necessary to use the same trick which airlines already use, i.e. “overbooking”. If on a particular day all oral proceedings for which summons were issued actually take place and not enough rooms are available, the participants for one or more of those proceedings would be sent home.”

“Battistelli policy is not simple retribution,” said another person. “The aim is to get rid of the board of appeal” (because of the UPC, in our humble assessment). Here is the full comment:

Battistelli policy is not simple retribution. The aim is to get rid of the board of appeal and it is a war of attrition. Let me list the facts:
-the boards have been understaffed for the past 3 years. Members who retired have simply not been replaced, we miss about 30% people.
-as the recent events discussed here show, boards members can be removed from their post at will. They just still get 50% pay till their 5 years contract runs out.
-the new fees make appeal extremely expensive and therefore unattractive.

From talks in the corridors of the Isar building, I would say that most board members recognise the writing on the wall. It is just that they have nowhere to go, they will be prevented to work for 2 years. A large amount of members will simply retire this or next year. What else is there to do? The planned removal to Haar will probably take place with a much smaller DG3.

Furthermore, as the event listed here shows, the Council agrees.

Whatever is happening in Munich right now, it’s not good. Battistelli and his ilk are opportunistically unifying officials around mass shootings today (classic political trick) and this new article shows patent law firms trying to reside in the EPO’s back yard — so to speak — for quicker access if not fast lanes (there are other strategic moves being reported today). “The move aims to strengthen the firm’s European presence and provide a “convenient” meeting place for its clients who appear before the European Patent Office (EPO), which is based in Munich,” says the article. They can even have lunch in some lobby together with examiners, or choose office space in the same building as the judges. And at the same time the boards of appeals are being repelled and pushing out of Munich? Sure, that makes a lot of sense!

Software Patents a Dying Breed, But Patent Lawyers in Denial Over it and Notorious Judge Rodney Gilstrap Ignores Alice (Supreme Court)

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The trolls’ best friend, Mr. Gilstrap

Rodney Gilstrap

Summary: A look at what law and practice are saying about software patents, contrasted or contradicted by the patent industry and trolls-friendly courts (which make business out of or together with patent aggressors)

TECHRIGHTS spent a lot of time writing about Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo. Microsoft took everything it wanted from Yahoo and left a dead company to rot, as usual (that’s Microsoft’s modus operandi as one can see in Corel, Novell, Nokia et cetera).

Now that Yahoo is sold (and journalists don’t bother mentioning how Microsoft killed Yahoo) the think tank which is IAM says: “While that deal will involve the bulk of Yahoo!’s traditional business, it does not involve the Excalibur patent portfolio, a stockpile of around 2,700 assets that the company has spun out into a separate vehicle to be sold separately.”

“Microsoft took everything it wanted from Yahoo and left a dead company to rot, as usual (that’s Microsoft’s modus operandi as one can see in Corel, Novell, Nokia et cetera).”We always sensed the danger that Yahoo would give its software patents to some hostile entity or a Microsoft-made entity like CPTN. Yahoo has a lot of software patents, but they’re quite worthless after Alice and some are nearing their expiry. The good news is, one single decision at the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) had supreme impact and this lowers the risk to software developers everywhere in the world (if they trade within the US or export to the US).

A lot of patent lawyers/attorneys keep pondering/assessing tricks for portraying software patents as non-abstract (even though they always are), in light of Alice whose impact was incredibly profound.

As expected all along, Bascom is exploited by software patents proponents including Watchtroll’s site (patent attorney John M. Rogitz in this case). He says that the case of “DDR begins with Mayo step 1 analysis without definitively declaring whether the claims are or are not abstract. Instead, the opinion observes what the claims are not: they are not a mathematical algorithm or a fundamental economic or longstanding commercial practice, but instead address a business challenge (retaining website visitors), a challenge particular to the Internet. Instead of declaring this not to be “abstract”, however, Judge Chen simply points out that identifying the precise nature of the abstract idea is not as straightforward as in Alice given the various varying formulations of the underlying abstract idea presented by the infringer and by the dissent.”

Unless Judge Chen actually wrote a computer program, it is likely that understanding of abstractness of algorithms would be deficient. Watch the very latest pro-software patents lobbying/promotion from Shelston IP [1, 2]. They’re preying on ignorance and looking for exceptional court decisions not only to preserve software patents in the US/Australia but also bring them elsewhere (like Australia’s neighbours and in particular a defiant New Zealand).

“Unless Judge Chen actually wrote a computer program, it is likely that understanding of abstractness of algorithms would be deficient.”Speaking of judges, Rodney Gilstrap is a villain, not a judge (recall his track record in East Texas [1, 2, 3, 4]). He deals with an enormous number of troll cases where software patents are treated favourably and practicing businesses are forced to pay parasitic trolls. As it turns out, he also publishes documents in Microsoft Word format (maybe a clerical error). He is publishing in formats that only Microsoft customers can properly access, much like the EPO (see today’s tweet which mostly matters to people who are using Microsoft Windows, not anything else).

“Section 101 is a powerful tool for patent defendants, if they can get heard,” Joe Mullin says in his summary and here is the beginning of the article “East Texas judge backs off restrictive “abstract” patent motion rules”:

US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas hears more patent cases than any other federal judge. Last year, he installed a set of controversial rules for those cases, leading to rare public criticism. Changes to Gilstrap’s order (Word file), dated last week, suggest some of those rules have been withdrawn.

Section 101 of the US patent laws is what the Supreme Court has deemed bans overly abstract patents. Since the high court decided Alice v. CLS Bank in 2014, Section 101 has become more important, since courts have been reading it as banning many software patents that recite basic processes.

Last year, the patent rules for Gilstrap’s court held that defendants seeking to file a motion under Section 101 “may do so only upon a grant of leave from the Court after a showing of good cause, which shall be presented through the letter briefing process.”

Gilstrap is out of control. More people need to speak about it. CAFC too had such a judge, but he was ejected for misconduct.

Patent trolls are going after small companies if they don’t wish the claims to be challenged or for trials to be concluded. It’s a rogue system, so in addition to ending sofwtare patents it would be useful to prevent venue shifting to Rodney Gilstrap with his bogus Texan ‘court’ (whose district openly advertises itself as being friendly towards trolls). What a mess of a system! This needs to be tackled immediately.

“There`s no present. There`s only the immediate future and the recent past.”

George Carlin

CAFC Meddling in PTAB Affairs; Unified Patents Fights a Good Fight by Invalidating Software Patents

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A look at how the AIA’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board is invalidating software patents post-Alice, with or without involvement of patent courts

PATENT QUALITY at the USPTO seems to be improving as more courts rule against patents, PTAB challenges the USPTO’s examiners, and even examiners are growingly worried because of those first two group (courts and PTAB), so they are cautious in granting patents, thus rejecting more of them, especially when these are abstract.

Michael Loney, writing for MIP from New York, says that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), originator of software patents, has just “ruled that the burden of proof does not shift to the patent owner on institution of an inter partes review (IPR) trial, in In re Magnum Tools International. It reversed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)’s determination that the challenged claims were invalid for obviousness.”

“This means that, regardless of CAFC’s notorious past, it has become somewhat of a solution to the software patents epidemic.”One may be tempted to say that this is just typical of CAFC, but actually, judging by the numbers, CAFC very often rules against software patents these days. Hugo Roy from the Free Software Foundation Europe has just “updated https://hroy.eu/posts/patentFacts/ … listing some interesting facts about #patents. (Check the invalidation rate in the US! 91%)”

The 91% figure refers to CAFC and here is the relevant part from the updated page: “In the US, patents challenged on the basis of the US Supreme Court Alice v. CLS Bank decision are invalidated by Federal Circuit courts in 91.9% of cases (66.5% for all courts).”

This means that, regardless of CAFC’s notorious past, it has become somewhat of a solution to the software patents epidemic. It has no choice after Alice at a superior level (SCOTUS). In another article, one which Michael Loney found and shared, an inter partes review (the way PTAB slays software patents) is mentioned as follows: “On July 25, 2016, Unified Patents Inc. filed a petition for inter partes review of all claims 1-15 of U.S. Patent 6,415,207. In IPR2016-01465, Unified challenged a patent directed to automated tracking, one that Shipping and Transit has asserted against more than 90 small businesses.”

It’s no coincidence that small businesses are targeted; small businesses cannot afford or don’t have the incentive to take this to court. Imagine what UPC would do to European SMEs if it ever became a reality. This would help patent trolls at the expense of small businesses (in particular the smallest ones).

Early Certainty That Benoît Battistelli is Dangerously Clueless and a Major Risk to the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No scientists wanted or needed in Team Battistelli

MoU signed by Bergot

Summary: The chaos which Team Battistelli is assured to deliver if it doesn’t treat scientists like scientists, instead viewing them as a production line with rubber-stamping duties

THE EPO never ceases to amaze. What the USPTO stopped being (or is trying hard to put an end to) the EPO is now trying to become. Quality of patents is treated as a ‘nuisance’ because backlog, which means pendency, isn’t tolerated by people in suits who never earned a scientific degree and cannot grasp the complexity of peer review, literature surveys, etc.

Judging by today’s tweet which links to this tripe from Benoît Battistelli (warning: the EPO may be able to track click-through sources), patent quality is being increasingly disregarded/discarded. In relation to ECfS, which we mentioned here before (e.g. [1, 2, 3]), Battistelli says the “EPO has addressed this issue effectively through the implementation of “Early Certainty from Search” (ECfS),” having also stated (correctly) that the “EPO has built its reputation upon quality.” For those who don’t know how ECfS works, see our prior posts. Battistelli destroys that great reputation of the EPO not just by mocking justice, labour rights, human rights, the European courts etc. but also by ending the very essence of the patent office. “Since July 2014,” he says (that’s when we started reporting on many EPO scandals), we are supposed to think his office “aims to provide a high quality search report with a preliminary opinion on patentability within six months of filing.”

“These incompetent managers have no grip on reality, they have no scientific background (watch who was put in charge of hiring scientists in Human Resources and how she lies to staff), and they are basically self-serving amateurs who are treating professors and judges like kids in need of discipline so as to compensate for their own insecurities.”Working based on self-imposed or top-down deadlines alone (we leaked some E-mails about it last year) is not wise. It encourages sloppy work. Having peer-reviewed papers for international journals since my twenties, I know how unreasonable this demand can be when thousands of patent applications come through the door and one needs to cooperate with other examiners (or reviewers). For good (high-impact) international journals it can take up to half a decade for a single paper to get accepted. Battistelli clearly does not understand any of this. Unlike previous EPO Presidents, he’s no scientist, he’s just a politician with ENA ‘education’. He habitually fabricates ‘studies’ (which he pays for!), just like anti-scientific lobbies and think tanks.

Unless Battistelli gets fired (or resigns), he will leave nothing of the EPO (devalue existing patents and erroneously grant future ones). This promises to damage the whole of Europe as a result. But does he care? He would be retired (if not dead) by then. He wants a hero’s welcome in his lobbying festival (one is being organised at the EPO's expense for next year and is mentioned every day by the EPO in Twitter). He won’t be around to see something hitting the fan, will he? It’s like Republican politicians who leave a mess behind themselves (like a nation in tatters, e.g. Iraq), in order for another party and another Presidential term to have to cope with.

Longtime (senior) staff of the EPO is not dangerous. It’s Battistelli and his ilk who are dangerous because they threaten to put the entire Office (and Organisation) out of business. Senior examiners who already retired and/or left care because they have their pensions and old comrades at stake. They don’t like what they see in Team Battistelli. These incompetent managers have no grip on reality, they have no scientific background (watch who was put in charge of hiring scientists in Human Resources and how she lies to staff), and they are basically self-serving amateurs who are treating professors and judges like kids in need of discipline so as to compensate for their own insecurities.

OIN Makes Claims About “Open Source Innovation”, But It Produces Nothing and Protects Virtually Nobody

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OIN, Patents at 4:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A better initiative would strive and work towards ending software patents, not faith-based ‘protection’

“Where knowledge ends, religion begins.”

Benjamin Disraeli

Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN) reports growth, but in practical terms it does little or nothing to help developers of Free/Open Source software

THE function of OIN seems benign if not benevolent on the surface; the problem is, it helps distract from better efforts that would more effectively defend Free/Open Source software (FOSS). Another not-so-useful initiative was Peer-to-Patent, but it seems to be gone by now.

OIN is growing (see the OIN ‘Community’) and MRV has just joined OIN (see the press release [1, 2], mostly or completely overlooked by reporters). This is a sign of growth, but it is growth which won't help FOSS all that much because it was never truly designed with FOSS in mind. The “Open Source Innovation” mentioned in the title of the press release wrongly assumes this will be beneficial to FOSS, but unless every company in the world joined and vowed not to sue any of the other members (like Oracle suing Google), what would it achieve? And what about lawsuits by proxy? Even if Microsoft was ever to join, its patent trolls (two of which we wrote about last night) would still be capable of suing Linux developers/companies.

Speaking of which, even Android players are a patent menace at times (e.g. Sony). A new and relatively long article by Professor Jason Rantanen speaks about Ericsson’s patent troll, Unwired Planet, and its case against Apple. “This post will focus on the issue of fault in the context of Unwired Planet,” he wrote upfront, “although its observations about fault are relevant to issues of culpability in the context of enhanced damages determinations.”

Even if Ericsson was ever to join OIN, this would not prevent it from suing Android OEMs, directly or via proxies like Unwired Planet (which even operates in Europe now).

Links 27/7/2016: New CrossOver, Blackmagic for GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 4:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Science

    • Mystery ancient human ancestor found in Australasian family tree

      Who’s your daddy? An unknown hominin species that bred with early human ancestors when they migrated from Africa to Australasia has been identified through genome mapping of living humans.

      The genome analysis also questions previous findings that modern humans populated Asia in two waves from their origin in Africa, finding instead a common origin for all populations in the Asia-Pacific region, dating back to a single out-of-Africa migration event.

      Modern humans first left Africa about 60,000 years ago, with some heading west towards Europe, and others flowing east into the Asia-Pacific region.

    • Stop the privatization of health data

      In many ways, the migration of clinical scientists into technology corporations that are focused on gathering, analysing and storing information is long overdue. Because of the costs and difficulties of obtaining data about health and disease, scientists conducting clinical or population studies have rarely been able to track sufficient numbers of patients closely enough to make anything other than coarse predictions. Given such limitations, who wouldn’t want access to Internet-scale, multidimensional health data; teams of engineers who can build sensors for data collection and algorithms for analysis; and the resources to conduct projects at scales and speeds unthinkable in the public sector?

      Yet there is a major downside to monoliths such as Google or smaller companies such as consumer-genetics firm 23andMe owning health data — or indeed, controlling the tools and methods used to match people’s digital health profiles to specific services.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Infojustice: NGO And Academics Letter To US Secretary Of State On Access To Medicines

      Dear Secretary Kerry: We are writing to express our concern about recent statements made by representatives of the State Department on issues regarding intellectual property (IP) and access to medicines in various settings, including proceedings in Colombia, several important United Nations fora, and in India.

    • Will plain-packaged smokes help bring about the ‘endgame’ for tobacco?

      It’s as if the No Name brand was getting into the tobacco game. No more super slims. No choice of regular or king size. No logo on the filter. No colourful graphics next to the horrifying health warnings on packs, pouches and tins.

    • How Uruguay’s tobacco victory could boost Canada’s fight for plain packaging

      Canada’s efforts to force tobacco manufacturers to use plain packaging will get a boost from a recent decision on similar measures in Uruguay, health advocates said Monday.

      The South American country successfully beat back an international trade challenge by Philip Morris International, which objected to rules requiring warning labels on 80 per cent of packaging and restricting each brand to only a single product.

      Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, called the decision just the latest in a string of international defeats for the tobacco industry on the controversial issue of plain packaging.

    • Italy parliament begins debate on legalizing cannabis

      Italian lawmakers on Monday began discussing whether to legalize recreational cannabis, a fiercely-contested proposal likely to spark parliamentary battles.

      Loosening Italy’s marijuana laws is divisive, supported by those who say regulating the drug’s production and sale would strip mafia groups of an important source of income, but opposed by conservative groups and the Roman Catholic Church.

      Before the bill, backed primarily by deputies from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, even arrived for discussion in the lower house, opponents lodged more than 1,300 amendments.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • There’s No Business Like the Weapons Business

      When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

      It’s not that no one writes about aspects of the arms trade. There are occasional pieces that, for example, take note of the impact of U.S. weapons transfers, including cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia, or of the disastrous dispensation of weaponry to U.S. allies in Syria, or of foreign sales of the costly, controversial F-35 combat aircraft. And once in a while, if a foreign leader meets with the president, U.S. arms sales to his or her country might generate an article or two. But the sheer size of the American arms trade, the politics that drive it, the companies that profit from it, and its devastating global impacts are rarely discussed, much less analyzed in any depth.

    • The Obama Administration Has Brokered More Weapons Sales Than Any Other Administration Since World War II

      When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.

    • Revealed: the £1bn of weapons flowing from Europe to Middle East

      Eastern European countries have approved the discreet sale of more than €1bn of weapons in the past four years to Middle Eastern countries that are known to ship arms to Syria, an investigation has found.

      Thousands of assault rifles such as AK-47s, mortar shells, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons and heavy machine guns are being routed through a new arms pipeline from the Balkans to the Arabian peninsula and countries bordering Syria.

      The suspicion is that much of the weaponry is being sent into Syria, fuelling the five-year civil war, according to a team of reporters from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

      Arms export data, UN reports, plane tracking, and weapons contracts examined during a year-long investigation reveal how the munitions were sent east from Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Slovakia, Serbia and Romania.

    • The most ignored aspect of the South China Sea brawl might be the key to solving it

      Amidst the fracas between China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei over claims in the South China Sea, it’s the fish and coral that are the silent victims. With every move made to bolster their claims over the region, these countries, particularly China, are slowly destroying its unique marine havens.

    • Syria car bomb: Isis claims responsibility after attack in northern city of Qamishli kills at least 44 people

      Isis has claimed responsibility after least 44 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in a twin bombing in a predominantly Kurdish town in the north of Syria.

      Syrian state-TV said a truck loaded with explosives blew up on the western edge of the town of Qamishli, near the Turkish border.

    • France church attack: Priest killed by two ‘IS soldiers’

      An 84-year-old priest was killed and four other people taken hostage by two armed men who stormed his church in a suburb of Rouen in northern France.

      The two attackers, who said they were from the so-called Islamic State (IS), slit Fr Jacques Hamel’s throat during a morning Mass, officials say.

      Police surrounded the church and shot dead both hostage-takers. French media named one of them as Adel K.

      One of the hostages is in a critical condition in hospital.

    • This Is What It Was Like To Take Part In The Failed Turkish Coup, In The Words Of The Plotters

      There are two sources for the WhatsApp conversation. One was widely circulated on Twitter soon after the coup, and consists of a video purporting to show messages on the phone of a plotter. The other source is a series of photos obtained by a journalist with Al Jazeera, although no further information on them is given. Naturally, claims that these are authentic need to be treated with caution, and this is where the Bellingcat method of drawing on diverse sources shows its strength.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Scientists caught off-guard by record temperatures linked to climate change

      Record temperatures in the first half of 2016 have taken scientists by surprise despite widespread recognition that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense, the director of the World Climate Research Program said.

      The earth is on track for its hottest year on record with June marking the 14th straight month of record heat, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said last week.

      Temperatures recorded mainly in the northern hemisphere in the first six months of the year, coupled with an early and fast Arctic sea ice melt and “new highs” in heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels, point to quickening climate change, it said.

      In a further announcement on Tuesday, the U.N. agency said it would examine whether a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius (129 degrees Fahrenheit) reported in Kuwait last Thursday was a new high for the eastern hemisphere and Asia.

    • Greens take final Senate seat in Tasmania as grassroots campaign to save Labor’s Lisa Singh also claims victory

      The Greens have scraped into the final Senate seat in Tasmania and the Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed the return to Parliament of Labor’s Lisa Singh, who has been re-elected on a wave of public support after being dropped to an otherwise “unwinnable” spot on the ALP ticket.

      The AEC announced the 12 elected senators on Wednesday, with Green Nick McKim’s success coming at the expense of Liberal minister Richard Colbeck – another Tasmanian who fell victim to party power plays.

    • Indonesia Forest Fires Carbon Emissions Surpass All of EU

      The 2015 fires were the worst since 1997 when a strong El Niño also fanned widespread Indonesia forest fires, says the study published in Scientific Reports, which was a collaboration between scientists in King’s College London and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

      The practice of burning in Sumatra and Kalimantan, exacerbated by extended drought associated with El Niño, released 857 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from September to October 2015, which was 97 per cent of annual carbon emissions in Indonesia.

      Martin Wooster, one of the study’s authors and an earth observation science professor at King’s College London, says the data produced from the study were based on satellite observation and on-site measurement of the air in Palangkaraya, the capital city of Central Kalimantan province which experienced the thickest smog during the 2015 fires.

  • Finance

    • UK economic growth accelerated to 0.6% before Brexit vote

      Britain’s economy is now 7.7% higher than the pre-economic downturn peak, in the first quarter of 2008.

    • This could be the last economic growth Britain sees for a while

      The UK has recorded three-and-a-half years of uninterrupted economic growth, its third-longest streak since 1955. (But it’s probably over.)

      Gross domestic product increased 0.6% between April and June, including the days after Britain voted to leave the European Union, the Office for National Statistics said today (July 27). The data—which was better than expected—was skewed towards the beginning of that period and only takes into account a week of a post-Brexit world. And most of the GDP figure is derived from estimates of economic activity, as opposed to hard data.

    • European Commission appoints chief Brexit negotiator but says he won’t speak to UK until Article 50 triggered

      The European Commission has appointed a chief Brexit negotiator but has made clear he will not engage with Britain until Article 50 is formally triggered – nor start work until 1 October.

      Michel Barnier, a former French government minister and ex-European Commission vice-president, will start work after the holiday season and then spend the next few months preparing the ground in Brussels for the negotiations. His appointment was announced by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who said he wanted “an experienced politician for this difficult job”.

      Describing Mr Barnier as “a skilled negotiator with rich experience in major policy areas relevant to the negotiations”, Mr Juncker said: “I am very glad that my friend Michel Barnier accepted this important and challenging task. I wanted an experienced politician for this difficult job.

    • Olympics Committee Says Non-Sponsors Are Banned From Tweeting About the Olympics

      The US Olympics Committee has gone off the deep end, when it comes to intellectual property. It’s willing to sue anyone to protect their trademarks, even when the use is no real threat. But the committee’s latest claim is an entirely new level of absurdity.

      What’s getting the US Olympics Committee in a tizzy this time? Tweets. Specifically any company that tweets about the Olympic Games and isn’t a sponsor. ESPN obtained a letter from the US Olympic Committee chief marketing officer Lisa Baird who outlines the absurd demands.

    • At World’s Largest Hedge Fund, Sex, Fear and Video Surveillance

      Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, likes to say that one of his firm’s core operating principles is “radical transparency” when it comes to airing employee grievances and concerns.

      But one employee said in a complaint earlier this year that the hedge fund was like a “cauldron of fear and intimidation.”

      The employee’s complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which has not been previously reported, describes an atmosphere of constant surveillance by video and recordings of all meetings — and the presence of patrolling security guards — that silence employees who do not fit the Bridgewater mold.

    • Bitcoin’s not money, judge rules as she tosses money-laundering charge

      The hotel room was wired with cameras and microphones, and in it sat $30,000 in fake $100 bills. Miami Beach Detective Ricardo Arias, working undercover as an identity thief, flipped them in front of Michell Abner Espinoza. A “flash-roll,” it’s called, the kind you see in the movies where bad guys flick through wads of cash before holding it up in the air.

      For that $30,000, Espinoza had agreed to sell a slew of bitcoins, the almost unregulated virtual currency, which Arias’s character said he would exchange for stolen Russian credit-card numbers.

      The sting was designed to catch Espinoza, then 30 of Miami, laundering money. Florida law prohibits using financial transactions to “promote” illicit activity, such as, in this case, credit-card fraud.

      Ultimately, Arias arrested Espinoza on three felony counts of money laundering, capping a three-month investigation in 2014 into South Florida’s exchange of computerized money.

    • EU Plans Database of Bitcoin Users with Identities and Wallet Addresses

      The European Commission is proposing the creation of a database that will hold information on those using virtual currencies and that will record data on the users’ real-world identity, along with all associated wallet addresses.

      This is the first proposal part of an action plan that the EU got rolling after the Paris November 2015 terror attacks and that it officially put forward in February 2016 and later approved at the start of July 2016.

      As we wrote in our article from a few weeks back, the action plan, a reform of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) so it would also include the terms “virtual currency,” was only approved by the (EU President) Juncker Commission.

    • Highest-paid CEOs run worst-performing companies, research finds

      The highest-paid CEOs tend to run some of the worst-performing companies, according to new research.

      The study, carried out by corporate research firm MSCI, found that for every $100 (£76) invested in companies with the highest-paid CEOs would have grown to $265 (£202) over 10 years.

      But the same amount invested in the companies with the lowest-paid CEOs would have grown to $367 (£279) over a decade.

      Titled ‘Are CEOs paid for performance? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Equity Incentives’, the report looked at the salaries of 800 CEOs at 429 large and medium-sized US companies between 2005 and 2014 and compared it with the total shareholder return of the companies.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Those Viral Trump Supporting Singing, Dancing ‘Freedom Kids’ Now Plan To Sue Trump Campaign

      The fact that no lawsuit has yet been filed suggests that going public first is the latest method by which Popick is hoping to get paid by the campaign. Unless there are more details here, I’m not sure how much success Popick is likely to have with a lawsuit. It seems like a stretch from a legal angle. Without a written agreement, and with any verbal agreement sounding fuzzy at best, with Popick adding his own after-the-fact requirements for alternative compensation, I doubt any legal dispute stands much of a chance. Of course, it still doesn’t look good for the Trump campaign, which had a (somewhat ridiculous) viral sensation in their camp and appears to have squandered it:

    • Ex-NSA EMPLOYEE: It’s ‘essentially impossible’ to draw a straight line from the DNC hack to the Russian government

      The FBI suspects the Russian government could be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee after about 20,000 emails from the political organization were leaked late last week.

      But as one expert tells Business Insider, it would be “essentially impossible” to make a direct connection between the hackers and the Russian government.

      “I mean, it’s essentially impossible, 100%, given the advanced tactics these guys can deploy,” said Will Ackerly, a former cloud security architect at the National Security Agency and cofounder of the data security company Virtru. “It is relatively straightforward to design a misattribution system, where it looks like the attack is coming from somewhere else.”

    • US Media Hides Real Scandal, Says ‘Trump a Manchurian Candidate for Putin’

      America’s corporate media have gobbled up the Hillary Clinton campaign’s spoon-fed lines that the real story of the WikiLeaks email revelations isn’t that they stole a US election, but rather that Putin and Russia are somehow interfering with the election to benefit Trump — despite zero evidence.

    • Report: FBI Investigating DNC Hack

      Last month, DNC officials and security experts told the Washington Post that Russian government hackers gained access to the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, stealing login credentials and monitoring email and chats. Security firm Crowdstrike was hired by the DNC to investigate, and it concluded that two separate hacking cells with known ties to the Russian government compromised the DNC’s systems.

      This weekend, Wikileaks then posted the emails that had been stolen from the DNC in a searchable format online, revealing that the party’s top brass tried to help presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton clinch the nomination over Bernie Sanders, despite a claim that it was neutral. That prompted the Sunday resignation of the party’s leader, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    • Kerry Confronts Russia About DNC Hack, Russia Threatens To Swear

      Russia’s foreign minister refused to answer U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s question about Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacking allegations because he didn’t “want to use four-letter words.”

      Kerry raised the allegations July 26 in Laos at the ASEAN summit, and told reporters, “I raised the question and we will continue to work to see precisely what those facts are.” Kerry did not reveal Sergei Lavrov’s private response, but highlighted the FBI had opened an investigation into the allegations that Russian intelligence services were behind the DNC hack.

    • Lavrov dismisses claims Russia behind DNC leak

      While speaking ahead of talks at the ASEAN summit in Laos with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov soundly dismissed allegations that the Russian government was behind the Democratic National Committee (DNC) email leaks.

      Lavrov told a reporter, “I don’t want to use four-letter words”, in response to a question regarding Russia’s unproven involvement.

    • Talk Nation Radio: Jill Stein on Why You Should Help Make Her President of the United States
    • Internet troll facing jail after violent antisemitic threats to Labour MP

      John Nimmo, previously jailed for abusive messages, sent emails to Luciana Berger telling her she would ‘get it like Jo Cox’

    • Hillary Clinton spokeswoman: We believe Russians behind WikiLeaks release of DNC emails

      Hillary for America communications director Jennifer Palmieri discusses the campaigns take on last week’s WikiLeaks release of DNC emails. Palmieri speaks with McClatchy’s political editor Steve “Buzz” Thomma on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

    • What WikiLeaks Emails Reveal About The DNC, The White House And Lobbyists

      When Barack Obama became the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, he directed the national party to reject donations from federal lobbyists. “We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs,” he said. “We’re going to change how Washington works. They will not fund my party.”

      The ban was perceived as symbolic and did little to stop the flow of corporate cash to the Democratic party, but it was heralded by government watchdog groups as a positive step towards limiting the influence of business interests over policymaking. Now, late into Obama’s presidency, the Democratic National Committee has begun accepting and soliciting lobbyist cash, and the White House has warmed to the idea of lobbyists playing a role in the party’s fundraising.

      Under the party’s new fundraising policy, detailed by the Washington Post in February, lobbyists cannot participate in DNC events with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden or their wives. But lobbyists can attend party events with White House staffers, according to a MapLight review of DNC emails. The messages were part of the nearly 20,000 emails from hacked DNC accounts that were released by WikiLeaks on Friday.

    • Democrats Ignored Cybersecurity Warnings Before Theft

      The Democratic National Committee was warned last fall that its computer network was susceptible to attacks but didn’t follow the security advice it was given, according to three people familiar with the matter.

      The missed opportunity is another blow to party officials already embarrassed by the theft and public disclosure of e-mails that have disrupted their presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia and led their chairwoman to resign.

      Computer security consultants hired by the DNC made dozens of recommendations after a two-month review, the people said. Following the advice, which would typically include having specialists hunt for intruders on the network, might have alerted party officials that hackers had been lurking in their network for weeks — hackers who would stay for nearly a year.

      Instead, officials didn’t discover the breach until April. The theft ultimately led to the release of almost 20,000 internal e-mails through WikiLeaks last week on the eve of the convention.

    • Assange: Why I Created WikiLeaks’ Searchable Database of 30,000 Emails from Clinton’s Private Server

      In March, WikiLeaks launched a searchable archive for over 30,000 emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state. The 50,000 pages of documents span from June 2010 to August 2014; 7,500 of the documents were sent by Hillary Clinton. The State Department released the emails as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request.

    • This Isn’t the First Time Donald Trump Has Asked Hackers for Help Taking Down His Enemies

      Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, setting off howls of outrage from across the political spectrum for actually soliciting foreign espionage on his opponent. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.

    • Putin’s Internet Trolls Are Stoking The Vitriolic Fire By Posing As Trump Supporters

      Over the last year we’ve repeatedly noted how Putin’s Internet propaganda efforts go well beyond flinging insults in news story comment sections. Thanks to whistleblowing by the likes of Lyudmila Savchuk, we learned how Putin employs multiple factories operated by a rotating crop of shell companies whose sole purpose is to fill the internet with Putin-friendly drivel twenty-four-hours a day. Early reports noted how these efforts focused on what you’d expect from Putin: discrediting reporters, distorting Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, or opposing Finland’s entry into NATO.

      But a little more than a year ago, New York Times Magazine’s Adrian Chen decided to see just how deep that particular rabbit hole went.

    • Leaked emails reveal Atherton’s bill for Obama fundraiser

      Buried in the avalanche of the WikiLeaks email drop that brought down Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is an interesting item closer to home — this one dealing with President Obama’s fundraising visit in February to the Atherton home of millionaire businessman and former state Controller Steve Westly.

      Not everyone in the exclusive Peninsula enclave has been happy about the president’s repeated drop-ins. After a fundraising event in 2013 wound up costing Atherton about $8,000, the City Council drafted an ordinance allowing the town to seek repayment from hosts of such large-scale gatherings.

      The leaked emails show that Atherton officials sent Westly an itemized invoice to cover $5,909 for the February fundraiser, including the pay for eight police officers, a police sergeant, a dispatcher and a public works crew.

      The emails also show that upon receiving the invoice, Westly wrote to Democratic National Committee officials, asking, “How you like us to handle this?

      “I will do whatever you would like here, including paying the bill,” messaged Westly, who has been eyeing a 2018 run for governor. “We are all very loyal to you and the president.”

    • Declaring Cyberwar On Russia Because Of The DNC Hack Is A Bad Idea

      There’s been plenty of talk, of course, about whether or not Russia did the hack that exposed various Democratic National Committee emails and other documents. While we’ve already pointed out that this shouldn’t impact the newsworthy nature of the material leaked, it’s still an interesting story. We’ve highlighted some reasons to be skeptical of the claims attributing the hack to Russia, but it does appear that more and more evidence is pointing in that direction. Thomas Rid, over at Vice, has a pretty good analysis of why much of the evidence points to Russia as being behind the attack, and the FBI is now apparently on board with that as well. While I’d still prefer more evidence, at least at this point, it should be admitted that there’s quite a lot of evidence pointing in Russia’s direction making it, at the very least, the most likely suspect.


      This is insane for a variety of reasons, and hopefully no one is seriously listening to this. First of all, hacking happens all the time. In fact, as Ed Snowden points out, revealed documents show that the US itself has authorized the hacking of foreign political parties. So if Russian hackers possibly doing that to us is a “cyberwar attack” and it’s the kind of thing we need to hit back on, then, uh, haven’t we been committing “cyberwar” on tons of other parties via the NSA — for which we, too, deserve retaliation?

    • Jill Stein vs. Ben Jealous: Should Progressives Reject Hillary Clinton & Vote Green?

      After a tension-filled opening day of the Democratic National Convention that saw Senator Bernie Sanders endorse his former rival Hillary Clinton, we host a debate between Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein and Ben Jealous, former NAACP president and CEO and a Bernie Sanders surrogate.

    • Who Is Jill Stein? Meet The Third-Party Alternative To Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump

      With Donald Trump officially named the Republican presidential nominee last week and Hillary Clinton poised to become the Democratic candidate Thursday, you may feel like your options for the November general election are locked in.

      But you’re wrong. Jill Stein, a 66-year-old physician, is also in the running for the White House.

      Stein is on track to become the Green Party’s 2016 nominee for president, just like she was four years ago. And though a third-party candidate has never landed in the Oval Office, Stein is performing well among voters who are dissatisfied with the establishment and faced with choosing between Trump and Clinton. As of Tuesday morning, she was polling at about 3 percent support, according to RealClearPolitics.

    • Bernie Sanders Delegates Prepare to Confront Obama About TPP, Symbol of Corporate Control

      Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both now oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — so why were so many Bernie Sanders delegates yelling about it Monday night and waving anti-TPP signs over their head?

      The TPP has become a hot-button issue for a lot of progressives who want the party to take a more anti-corporate tone.

      Some of the opposition comes from bad memories of the job-losses that came in the wake of the NAFTA agreement in the 1990s. But the TPP is not actually a free-trade pact. It won’t lower tariffs, the most common trade barriers.

    • The Trump-Putin Fallacy

      In the earlier months of the Donald Trump campaign, many people I knew asked me to comment on the similarities between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Recently I have been asked to comment on direct connections between Trump and Putin. And now, with the release of nearly 20,000 emails apparently stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s email server by Russian hackers, has come the suggestion that Putin may actually be interfering in the US election to help get Trump elected. These ideas—that Trump is like Putin and that he is Putin’s agent—are deeply flawed.

      Imagine that your teenage child has built a bomb and has just set it off in your house. The house is falling down all around you—and you are blaming the neighbor’s kid, who threw a pebble at your window. That’s what the recent Putin fixation is like—a way to evade the fact that Trump is a thoroughly American creation that poses an existential threat to American democracy.

    • Did Russian Intelligence Hack the DNC Servers?

      The only experts cited work for a company hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate the hack. There is no indication of any neutral third party investigation. The company, Crowdstrike, issued a publicly available report on what they found.

    • Assange: WikiLeaks to release ‘a lot more’ on US elections

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his organization plans to publish “a lot more material” concerning elections in the U.S.

      “This is having so much political impact in the United States,” he told CNN on Tuesday, referencing last Friday’s leak of 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

      Assange said Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is trying to disrupt focus on the messages by blaming Russia for their release.

      “What we have right now is the Hillary Clinton campaign using a speculative allegation about hacks that have occurred in the past to try and divert attention from our emails, another separate issue that WikiLeaks has published,” he said.

      “I think this raises a very serious question, which is that the natural instincts of Hillary Clinton and the people around her, that when confronted with a serious domestic political scandal, that she tries to blame the Russians, blame the Chinese, etc,” Assange added. “If she does that when she’s in government, that’s a political, managerial style that can lead to conflict.”

    • Some Sanders backers spurn Clinton, say they’ll go Green Party

      Bernie Sanders delegates and supporters speak out about the DNC email scandal, the Democratic Party and how they should move forward. Delegates on the floor during the Democratic National Convention often booed as Clinton was mentioned. USA TODAY

    • The DNC email leaks expose the rampant elitism that made way for Trump

      Compared to the sturm und drang swirling around last week’s Republican National Convention, the Democratic convention this week seemed likely to be a fairly placid affair. Then, as Democrats prepared to gather in Philadelphia to officially nominate Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate, Wikileaks released a dramatic cache of hacked emails sent and received by members of the Democratic National Committee.

      The emails confirmed many Sanders supporters’ fears—previously derided as conspiracy theories—about both anti-Sanders sentiment within the DNC and the role of money in politics. The emails showed, among other things, that supposedly neutral DNC staffers were actively hostile to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign and gave donors access to president Barack Obama and other key White House staffers.

    • Leaks show DNC asked White House to reward donors with slots on boards and commissions

      Email exchanges involving top officials at the Democratic National Committee released along with private documents by WikiLeaks show that DNC officials hoped to reward top donors and insiders with appointments to federal boards and commissions in coordination with the White House.

      The revelations give an inside look into how the Democratic Party attempted to leverage its access and influence with the White House to bring in cash.

      In an April 20, 2016 email, DNC National Finance Director Jordan Kaplan canvassed what appears to be the committee’s finance department – its fundraising office – for names of people (mainly donors) to reward with federal appointments on boards and commissions.

      That email exchange yielded a list compiled by DNC Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer and emailed to Kaplan on April 26 titled “Boards and Commissions Names_Final,” which listed the names of twenty-three DNC donors and insiders.

    • ALEC 2016 Agenda Boosts Charters, Coal, and Other Corporate Funders

      The American Legislative Exchange Council will push bills to protect failing charter schools, silence political speech, and obstruct environmental protections in the ALEC 2016 agenda introduced at its annual meeting in Indianapolis this week.

      ALEC faces renewed public attention as it gears up for the annual meeting, where corporate lobbyists sit side-by-side with state legislators in luxury hotels to vote as equals on “model bills” that then get pushed to become law in states across the country.

      As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, Donald Trump chose an ALEC ally, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, as his running mate, while his party’s 2016 platform was clearly stamped in the Koch-fueled ALEC mold.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Russian Censor Bans Comodo… Doesn’t Realize Its Own Security Certificate Is From Comodo

      The Russian government’s state censorship organization, Roskomnadzor (technically its telecom regulator) has been especially busy lately as the government has continued to crack down on websites it doesn’t like. However, as pointed out by Fight Copyright Trolls, it appears that Roskomnadzor may have gone a bit overboard recently, in response to a court ruling that had a massive list of sites to be banned (over a thousand pages). Apparently, as part of that, various sites associated with Comodo were all banned. That’s pretty bad for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that Comodo remains one of the most popular issuers of secure certificates for HTTPS.

    • Anti-Vax Film Distributors Threaten Critic And Autistic Rights Advocate With Defamation

      Any time we discuss the segment of our population that is still, despite all evidence to the contrary, pushing anti-vaccination conspiracy theories out into the ether, the comments section is inevitably invaded by these proponents. I know I can’t stop it, so just go ahead and leave what I’m sure will be your well-reasoned, science-backed arguments as to why we shouldn’t trust one of the most life-saving kinds of medicine ever invented.

      That said, this is not a post about the plausibility that vaccinations are the reason for all the world’s ills. It is instead a post about how the distributors of the upcoming sure-to-be smash hit film about the horror of vaccinations, creatively entitled Vaxxed, are also going around threatening people arguing against its message with defamation for pointing back at the filmmakers’ own words.

      Meet Fiona O’Leary of Ireland. Fiona is an advocate for autistic children, helping to run a group called ART (Autistic Rights Together) as well as a Tumblr page dedicated to dispelling the myths of autism and vaccines. On that Tumblr page and on social media, O’Leary has often set her sights on the makers and distributors of Vaxxed, including producers Polly Tommey and Del Bigtree. Included in her pushback, O’Leary points out some rather unfortunate comments both have made about autistic children, as well as interviews and videos in which Tommey in particular pushes religious faith to treat autism. Through it all are the calls for parents to not vaccinate their children.

    • Vaxxed anti-vaccine film distributor threatens autism rights advocate

      Cinema Libre Studio, the distributor of the dishonest Andrew Wakefield anti-vaccination fiction-film, Vaxxed, has threatened an Irish autism-rights advocate with defamation.

    • Students debate censorship and the EU

      Censorship in society and a second EU referendum were subject to debate when two schools competed against each other.

    • Entire website blackholed over one allegedly plagiarised story

      Russian ISPs have been ordered by the Moscow City Court to block access to a website for 15 days over one allegedly plagiarised story that it ran.

      The story—a travel piece about what to do in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan—was first published by the popular Russian site Gazeta.ru back in March, but then apparently plagiarised by Story-media.ru.

      It is not currently possible to check whether the two texts are indeed the same, since Story-media.ru is currently offline, and there is no copy on Archive.org.

    • Kerala writer attacked over book title

      An upcoming Malayalam writer was allegedly attacked by a group of people for using the word ‘padachon’ (the creator) in the title of his soon to be released book at Koottanad in the district.

      ‘Padachon’ is a colloquial Malayalam word used to refer to ‘God, the Creator’. It is used generally by the Muslim community in the state.

    • Kuwaiti PM sentenced 14 years jail for insulting Saudi and Bahrain

      Kuwait has handed one of its parliamentarians, Abdul-Hamid Dashti, to 11 years and six months in prison for insulting Saudi Arabia and a seperate sentence for insulting Bahrain.

      He was tried as well for defaming Kuwait’s judiciary.

      In March, the National Assembly of Kuwait, approved the claim presented for lifting Dashti’s parliamentary immunity. The request was based on the case on a homeland security lawsuit issued against Dashti for incitement against Saudi Arabia.

    • Colorado Republican Committee Tries To Use CFAA To Get Even With A Bogus Tweeter, Fails Completely

      The tweet was taken down minutes later and the official Twitter account explained that someone with “unauthorized access” had posted the tweet and it was not a reflection of the Colorado GOP’s official stance.

      This led to a brief internet wildfire, where CRC reps were interviewed by reporters about the tweet and enraged Trump supporters [also: 4chan] — believing the fix was in — began posting threatening messages to and about Colorado GOP leaders. So far, so internet.

      The CRC took this a step further though, attempting to sue the “Doe” with allegedly “unauthorized access” for breaching the “threat to public health or safety” clause of the CFAA. The original complaint [PDF] shows the CRC is perhaps far better at electioneering than investigating.

    • Mudzvova speaks on censorship

      AWARD winning actor, Sylvanos Mudzvova, who was recently in Norway for the Bergen Afro Arts Festival, said Zimbabwe’s censorship laws were archaic and draconian compared to other progressive societies.

    • Censorship company drops bogus lawsuit against researchers who outed them
    • An Internet Censorship Company Tried to Sue the Researchers Who Exposed Them

      Netsweeper is a small Canadian company with a disarmingly boring name and an office nestled among the squat buildings of Waterloo, Ontario. But its services—namely, online censorship—are offered in countries as far-flung as Bahrain and Yemen.

      In 2015, University of Toronto-based research hub Citizen Lab reported that Netsweeper was providing Yemeni rebels with censorship technology. In response, Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert revealed in a blog post on Tuesday, Netsweeper sued the university and Deibert for defamation. Netsweeper discontinued its lawsuit in its entirety in April.


      When reached over email, Deibert said Citizen Lab is not offering comments to the press on the lawsuit. Netsweeper did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.

      If the lawsuit had gone to court, Deibert wrote that Citizen Lab intended to lean on the 2015 Protection of Public Participation Act, which was designed to thwart litigation against organizations acting in the public interest.

      “Citizen Lab does rigorous research into censorship, surveillance, and digital attacks and it is clearly in the public interest for them to be able to share those results,” Brenda McPhail, director of the surveillance project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, wrote Motherboard in an email. “We support their right to freely disseminate and discuss their important work.”

    • Lawsuit charging USDA censorship dismissed

      A lawsuit that accused the USDA of censoring its scientists in violation of their free speech rights has been dismissed by a federal judge.

      Last year, the non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed a complaint claiming that USDA’s “scientific integrity policy” unconstitutionally muzzled scientists to appease “corporate stakeholders.”

      The USDA policy, issued in 2013, states that “scientists should refrain from making statements that could be construed as being judgments of or recommendations on USDA or any other federal government policy, either intentionally or inadvertently.”

      According to PEER, the policy effectively prohibited USDA researchers from making public statements about controversial subjects, stifling scientific discourse about agriculture.

      Specifically, the complaint pointed to Jonathan Lundgren, an entomologist for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, who was prevented from speaking publicly about certain subjects.

      For example, USDA barred Lundgren from speaking to the media about the impact on non-target insects from crops that are genetically engineered to have pesticidal qualities, the complaint said.

    • South Africa sacked reporters win SABC censorship case
    • South African Court Rules Journalists Sacked in Censorship Row Must be Reinstated
    • New battle in SABC censorship row

      A new court battle is expected after an employment tribunal in South Africa ordered the state broadcaster, SABC, to reinstate four journalists. They’d been sacked for fighting its policy of not showing footage of violent protests. But William Bird from the campaign group Media Monitoring Africa says the arguments are set to rage on.

    • SABC management incur third legal setback
    • Sacked SABC journos must return to work, says court
    • Fired SABC journalists reinstated by Labour Court
    • Labour court finds SABC’s dismissal of four journalists unlawful
    • Sanef welcomes court decision on SABC journalists
    • Censorship in Turkey: what it really means for terrorism and freedom of speech
    • Facebook admits it blocked links to DNC email leaks after censorship accusations
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Snowden is designing an anti-spyware gadget for iPhone 6
    • Edward Snowden Designs Device To Detect iPhone Snooping
    • Edward Snowden has Designed a Phone Case that Can Tell if You’re Being Hacked
    • Edward Snowden’s Ears Must Be Burning in Russia– He’s Mentioned in Two Movies Opening this Weekend
    • Who Hacked The Democratic National Committee?
    • Snowden: US should modernize disclosure process
    • Snowden On Russia Backing DNC Hack: I Wanna See The Receipts
    • US Intel Has ‘High Confidence’ Russia Behind DNC Email Hack
    • US Intel Agencies Have ‘High Confidence’ Russia Hacked DNC Emails
    • Snowden says NSA would know if Russian behind DNC leaks
    • NSA Whistleblower: Not So Fast On Claims Russia Behind Hillary Clinton Email Hack
    • Edward Snowden said the NSA could ‘certainly’ trace the DNC hack — here’s what experts think
    • Tor: Statement

      Seven weeks ago, I published a blog post saying that Jacob Appelbaum had left the Tor Project, and I invited people to contact me as the Tor Project began an investigation into allegations regarding his behavior.

      Since then, a number of people have come forward with first-person accounts and other information. The Tor Project hired a professional investigator, and she interviewed many individuals to determine the facts concerning the allegations. The investigator worked closely with me and our attorneys, helping us to understand the overall factual picture as it emerged.

    • Democrats wants to balance liberty and security in encryption debate

      In 2012, the Democratic party platform document (released every four years at the Democratic National Convention) made barely a mention of internet privacy and how it affects US citizens. But that was before Edward Snowden’s revelations. This year, as the DNC kicks off in Philadelphia, the new Democratic Party platform addresses the privacy concerns brought to light in 2013. It also gets into the recent battle over encryption that was highlighted by the FBI trying to force Apple to decrypt an iPhone connected to a murder suspect.

    • The Internet of Things Will Turn Large-Scale Hacks into Real World Disasters

      Disaster stories involving the Internet of Things are all the rage. They feature cars (both driven and driverless), the power grid, dams, and tunnel ventilation systems. A particularly vivid and realistic one, near-future fiction published last month in New York Magazine, described a cyberattack on New York that involved hacking of cars, the water system, hospitals, elevators, and the power grid. In these stories, thousands of people die. Chaos ensues. While some of these scenarios overhype the mass destruction, the individual risks are all real. And traditional computer and network security isn’t prepared to deal with them.

      Classic information security is a triad: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. You’ll see it called “CIA,” which admittedly is confusing in the context of national security. But basically, the three things I can do with your data are steal it (confidentiality), modify it (integrity), or prevent you from getting it (availability).

    • Hiding Internet Infrastructure Doesn’t Really Keep It Safe

      There are two questions that come up pretty frequently when I tell people that I document and write about network infrastructure. The first one is, So, where’s the cloud? (Spoiler: mostly, northern Virginia, but also it’s not a cloud and you should really stop calling it that.) The other is, Why do you want to let terrorists destroy the internet? The implication is that by mapping out the internet’s geography, I’m basically offering up a blueprint for destroying it.

      Anxiety about physical infrastructure security is understandable. Sometimes the threats to infrastructure security can feel a little over the top, as in the case of the New York Times report on the possibility of Russian submarine cable taps. It isn’t a purely speculative concern, however. Last year, a spate of mysterious fiber optic cable cuts in northern California left parts of the region disconnected for hours.

      My book, Networks of New York, is an illustrated guide to identifying network infrastructure, including internet cables. Conceivably, this could guide a would-be vandal to their targets—but the primary method they’d use to find those targets is a tactic explicitly already used to keep cables safe. Labeling buried utilities with color-coded flags, posts, or spray paint is a well-established part of street excavation. If one utility provider needs to do work that requires digging up a road, they need to know what’s buried under that road so they don’t end up damaging anything else buried nearby.

    • EU Data Protection Official Says Revised Privacy Laws Should Ban Backdooring Encryption

      The EU’s “Cookie Law” is a complete joke and waste of time. An attempt to regulate privacy in the EU, all it’s really served to do is annoy millions of internet users with little pop up notices about cookie practices that everyone just clicks through to get to the content they want to read. The EU at least recognizes some of the problems with the law and is working on a rewrite… and apparently there’s an interesting element that may be included in it: banning encryption backdoors. That’s via a new report from European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Giovanni Buttarelli, who was put in charge of reviewing the EU’s ePrivacy Directive to make it comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that is set to go into effect in May of 2018.

    • Privacy International reveals extent of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ bulk data collection

      THE HEARING into Privacy International’s challenge to the UK security services’ collection of bulk communications and personal data opened in London on Monday, and previously secret documents revealed for the first time the extent of government surveillance into ordinary citizens’ communications.

      This follows a ‘dirt dump’ in April which showed that successive home secretaries have allowed this to carry on since at least 2005.

      The documents provide evidence that MI5, MI6 and GCHQ collected data on every citizen in the UK, including location information, telephone numbers dialled and calls received, as well as metadata regarding time, date and duration of calls.

      In addition, the security services are accused by Privacy International of collecting data in bulk via the internet, including browsing history, IP addresses visited, instant messaging data and operating systems. The bulk collection of personal information even includes physical post data.

    • Oliver Stone’s Snowden, about NSA whistle-blower, to premiere at Toronto film festival

      Director Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the 1960s Western The Magnificent Seven is expected to kick off the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, which will include movies about whistle-blower Edward Snowden and former US president Lyndon Johnson among the usual Oscar hopefuls.

    • ‘Honions’ Used To Find More Than 100 Snooping TOR Nodes

      TOR anonymity network is one of the most useful online security measures that we’ve got.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Official who oversees whistleblower complaints files one of his own

      The Obama administration’s top official overseeing how intelligence agencies handle whistleblower retaliation claims has lodged his own complaint, alleging he was punished for disclosing “public corruption.”

      Daniel Meyer, who previously oversaw the Defense Department’s decisions on whistleblowing cases, also says he was targeted for being gay, according to records obtained by McClatchy.

      Meyer made the allegations in a complaint before the Merit Systems Protection Board, an administrative panel that handles employment grievances from federal employees, after another agency rejected his claims.

    • Disobedience Has Its Award

      As one whose early early political education, after I was old enough to quit listening to my father and think for myself, came largely from the various civil disobedience factions in the 1960s, it’s heartening to see that disobedience now has an award. So far it’s one off, but if successful might be repeated and perhaps be awarded annually. The award will also offer the recipient more than mere accolades, as it’s attached to a $250,000 prize.

    • MIT Media Lab Launched Disobedience Award, Funded By Reid Hoffman

      That’s a pretty cool idea for a prize. And I particularly like Michael Petricone’s suggestion that the award should be named after Aaron Swartz, who of course was engaged in a great number of civil disobedience projects. And, unfortunately, one of them involved MIT turning on him, leading him to getting arrested and charged with a variety of ridiculous charges. Since then, there has been a struggle among many at MIT to figure out how that happened and what the university should do to prevent similar things in the future. Naming this kind of award after him would be a great start.

      We recently wrote about the book The Idealist, about Swartz and the world of free culture (and had the author, Justin Peters, appear on our podcast for an excellent two-part discussion about the book). One things that becomes clear from the book was the absolute disbelief by Swartz and his family of the fact that MIT refused to support Swartz after his arrest. The university basically turned its back on him completely. It’s something that the university still ought to do something about, and naming this award after Swartz would be a step in the right direction.

    • Catalonia tells Spain it will push for secession with or without assent

      The Catalan government has intensified its war of words with Spain by vowing to use its democratic mandate to forge a separate Catalan state with or without the approval of Madrid.

      Catalonia is preparing to defy Spain’s constitutional court this week by debating the conclusions of a working group on sovereignty, nine months after the Catalan parliament put forward a resolution calling for the “beginning of a process of the creation of an independent Catalan state”.

    • Official who oversees whistleblower complaints files one of his own

      The Obama administration’s top official overseeing how intelligence agencies handle whistleblower retaliation claims has lodged his own complaint, alleging he was punished for disclosing “public corruption.”

      Daniel Meyer, who previously oversaw the Defense Department’s decisions on whistleblowing cases, also says he was targeted for being gay, according to records obtained by McClatchy.

      Meyer made the allegations in a complaint before the Merit Systems Protection Board, an administrative panel that handles employment grievances from federal employees, after another agency rejected his claims.

      Meyer’s claims add to a barrage of allegations that the federal government’s handling of defense and intelligence whistleblower cases is flawed.

      In the complaint, Meyer, who once worked for the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office, accused his former Defense Department bosses of “manipulation of a final report to curry favor” with then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

    • Bradford woman’s death in Pakistan investigated after ‘honour’ killing claims

      Police are investigating the death of a British woman in Pakistan after her husband claimed she was the victim of an “honour” killing for marrying a man from outside the family allegedly against her parents’ wishes.

      Samia Shahid, a beauty therapist from Bradford, died on Wednesday while visiting relatives in Pandori village near Mangla Dam in northern Punjab, the Foreign Office confirmed.

      Shahid’s local MP, Naz Shah, has demanded that authorities in Pakistan exhume her body and commission an independent autopsy.

      The police officer leading the investigation in Pakistan told the Guardian he had sent samples from the body to the country’s top forensics lab in Lahore on Tuesday.

      Mohammad Aqeel Abbas, the station house officer for Jhelum district who is investigating the case, said a postmortem was carried out immediately after Shahid died and she was then buried in her village graveyard. There were no visible injuries or signs of violence on her body, he said.

    • Illinois politician resigns after fighting social network fakes

      Politicians tend to quit over scandals or sheer public outcry, but fake social networking accounts? That’s new. Illinois House representative Ron Sandack has resigned after spending weeks battling with “cyber security issues” — namely, people creating multiple impersonating Facebook and Twitter accounts. The fight made him “re-evaluate” his role in office and whether or not it was worth missing “important family events” to be there, he says.

    • Young Muslims Threaten Nudist Bathers With ‘Extermination’

      A swimming pool in the town of Geldern in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany is home to bathers who prefer a more “natural” form of swimming. Nudists at the pool were verbally abused by a group of young Muslim men who threatened them because they consider swimming in the nude ‘indecent behaviour’. The group of Muslims not only threatened the male bathers but also spat upon them and several women and children, reports Junge Freiheit.

      A total of six Muslim men were involved in the incident and are described by witnesses as being in their mid 20’s, all with full Islamic-style beards. The men insulted and threatened the nudists in both German and Arabic, yelling “Allahu akbar” at the bathers along with other Arabic insults.

    • Homicide rate surging for black Chicagoans, report finds

      Chicago’s per capita homicide rate climbed over the last decade, and the chances of an African-American being killed in the city spiked drastically, according to a new report.

    • Black Lives, Blue Lives, and the Fight Over Criminal Justice in America

      Two people from Milwaukee took to the national stage at the Republican National Convention (RNC) and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to present two very different perspectives on one of the most divisive issues of our time, the shootings of unarmed African Americans by police and civilians.

      The conventions took place against a backdrop of traumatic news stories. The shooting death of Philando Castile and its dramatic aftermath, live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, sparked national protests. At one protest in Dallas, Texas, five police officers were shot and killed by an African American military veteran who had served in Afghanistan. This was followed by the shootings of police in Baton Rouge. The very next week, Charles Kinsey, an African American caregiver for an autistic adult, was shot by police while he was on the ground with his arms raised.

      While the terrible events and constant media churn left many wondering if the nation was coming apart at the seams, some fanned the flames of division.

      Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an African American and right-wing commenter for Fox News, who has blamed several of the victims of police killings, took to the floor in full dress uniform: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to make something very clear: Blue Lives Matter!”

    • Singapore PM’s visit is chance to address censorship, LGBT protections

      United States President Barack Obama should press visiting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to address the Singapore government’s severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms, Human Rights Watch said today. President Obama will meet with Prime Minister Lee in Washington, DC, on 2 August 2016.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Is the internet being ruined and manipulated by big companies?

      We think of the internet as disrupting, and sometimes replacing, traditional institutions and industries, as it has grown and changed. There are now more than 3.2 billion users, and over time, a handful of companies — Facebook, Apple and Google among them — have come to have an outsize influence on how we use the internet.

      Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who studies the social impact of technology, noticed a troubling problem in August 2014. She was following the news on Facebook and Twitter, and realized that Twitter was full of updates after the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black resident of Ferguson, Missouri, by a white police officer.

      Meanwhile, Facebook’s algorithm — with its emphasis on what people “like” — largely missed the protests. “I’d go to Facebook and I’d see nothing,” Tufekci told Freakonomics recently. “These complex algorithms are having all these downstream effects. … Facebook is unleashing these computer programs that are designed to make Facebook advertiser-friendly and that are designed to keep us on the site.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • IP Lawyers Tell Copyright Office To Stop Screwing The Public By Opposing Cable Box Reform

      Last week we noted how the cable industry was distorting the definition of copyright to try and fend off the FCC’s attempt to bring competition to the cable box market. Through misleading editorials and leveraged relationships with beholden lawmakers, the cable industry has been successfully convincing some regulators that we can’t bring competition to the cable box or we’ll face a piracy and copyright apocalypse.

      Dig deeper and you’ll find that copyright has nothing to do with the proposed changes being tabled. The FCC’s proposal simply requires (pdf) that cable providers deliver their existing programming, sans CableCARD, to third party set tops with an eye toward boosting competition. The FCC has stated repeatedly that under their plan, cable providers can utilize the standards and copyright protection of their choice to make this happen, keeping existing DRM in place (for better or worse). Again, it’s important to understand that for cable providers this fight is about control and $21 billion in annual rental fees.

    • South African Government Staves Off Critics With IP Consultative Framework

      South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) appears to be meeting its detractors halfway with a new intellectual property consultative framework it says will help pave the way for consultative engagement with IP stakeholders both inside and outside of government.

    • Many Hepatitis C Patients Do Not Have Access To Medicines In India, Group Says

      Despite being the global leader of generic drug manufacturing, access to hepatitis C treatment in India remains out of reach for a large portion of the population, a civil society group has said in a new paper. The authors call for India to work on a national programme of prevention and treatment of hepatitis, and warn against voluntary licences developed by multinational pharmaceutical companies.

    • WTO DG Sees Positive Changes, More Engagement; Would Consider A Second Term

      World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo today said he would consider a second mandate at the head of the organisation. He also described a positive momentum in the organisation in the first semester of 2016, after two successful ministerial conferences, with members coming up with new ideas. About Brexit, potential scenarios are being explored but it seems a lot of renegotiations might be on the United Kingdom’s plate.

    • Copyrights

      • Court Orders News Site Blocked Following Article Piracy

        Blocking torrent and streaming sites is a regular occurrence in many countries but the practice is now extending to other areas. Following a complaint by Russian news site Gazeta, the Moscow City Court has ordered a news portal to be blocked by ISPs after it ‘pirated’ a tourism article.

      • Pirate Bay Founder: The ‘Piracy’ Scene Needs Innovation

        Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde says that the “piracy” scene needs more innovation if it wants to sustain itself. In the wake of the KickassTorrents shutdown, he argues that the current ecosystem relies too heavily on a few large sites. More decentralization is the key to solve this vulnerability.

      • But Wait: Copyright Law Is So Screwed Up, Perhaps The Rolling Stones Are Right That Donald Trump Needed Their Permission

        So for years and years and years, every time a musician or a group whined about politicians using their music at an event, we’d point out that they have no legal basis to complain. Assuming either the venue or the campaign (or both) had the proper blanket licenses from ASCAP/BMI/SESAC no other permission was needed. That’s actually part of the point of the structure of those blanket performance licenses. Everyone recognizes that it would be virtually impossible to play music publicly without such a blanket license structure. And so, every time a musician complains that the use was “unauthorized,” they’re almost certainly wrong. In fact, we pointed that out (again) for the nth time earlier this week. Now, as we’ve said all along, we still think smart politicians and smart campaigns should first seek out musicians who don’t mind (or, better yet, who endorse the candidate), because otherwise they’re just giving someone famous an easy platform to slam them. But, from a legal standpoint, we’ve always pointed out that there’s basically no legitimate argument here, and people who toss around non-copyright theories like publicity rights and Lanham Act arguments are generally wrong.

        But… we forgot about one thing. Copyright law is so screwed up that there actually may be a case where the law does require permission. And it has to do with pre-1972 sound recordings. If you’ve been reading Techdirt for any length of time, you know that we’ve discussed this issue many times in the past. Historically, while compositions were covered by copyright, under the 1909 Copyright Act sound recordings were not. This resulted in a patchwork of state laws (and state commonlaw) that created special forms of copyright at the state level. Eventually, sound recordings were put under federal copyright law, but it only applied to works recorded after February 14, 1972. Works recorded before that are not under federal copyright law, but remain basically the only things under those state copyright laws (the 1976 Copyright Act basically wiped out state copyright laws for everything but that one tiny thing).

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