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08.28.16

Links 28/8/2016: Q4OS 1.6, ConnochaetOS 14.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • #MyOpenHA Part 1 -Philosophy

    Home Automation. The holy hipster and geek grail. I have played with it. I have tried. I have failed. But today I am proud to have a solution I can truly endorse. So join me on this journey. This series will explain my solution, in excruciating detail. In the hope that I can learn from you while I am explaining. This series will be filled over time with more and more articles. But now, let’s talk about philosophy. The Why. Soon you will see the What and How. One promise, or the TL;DR: It is all 100% Open Source.

    Well, almost. I have integrated some quite non-open things but always in an Open Source Way.

  • Events

    • On speaking at community conferences

      Many people reading this have already suffered me talking to them about Prometheus. In personal conversation, or in the talks I gave at DebConf15 in Heidelberg, the Debian SunCamp in Lloret de Mar, BRMlab in Prague, and even at a talk on a different topic at the RABS in Cluj-Napoca.

    • TPM Microconference Accepted into LPC 2016

      Although trusted platform modules (TPMs) have been the subject of some controversy over the years, it is quite likely that they have important roles to play in preventing firmware-based attacks, protecting user keys, and so on. However, some work is required to enable TPMs to successfully play these roles, including getting TPM support into bootloaders, securely distributing known-good hashes, and providing robust and repeatable handling of upgrades.

      In short, given the ever-more-hostile environments that our systems must operate in, it seems quite likely that much help will be needed, including from TPMs. For more details, see the TPM Microconference wiki page.

    • More translations added to the SFD countdown

      Software Freedom Day is celebrated all around the world and as usual our community helps us to provide marketing materials in their specific languages. While the wiki is rather simple to translate, the Countdown remains a bit more complicated and time consuming to localize. One needs to edit the SVG file and generate roughly a 100 pictures, then upload them to the wiki.

      Still this doesn’t scare the SFD teams around the world and we are happy to announce three more languages are ready to be used: French, Chinese and German!

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Disable the new Firefox 48 location bar – Tutorial

        Here we are. Seven minutes later, our life is bearable again, but not perfect. Thank you Mozilla, thank you very much. This is exactly what I needed to enrich my life. After all, we all know, cosmetic changes are good, because that’s what plants crave. Stop with these idiotic tweaks please. No one cares. It won’t make the browser better. It won’t change the market share. It will not attract idiots, as idiots are happy. It will only alienate diehard users who keep on using your browser because they have no alternative. From a loved favorite to the least of evils choice. That’s what Firefox has become.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • The Importance of BSD

      The Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is a Unix operating system developed by the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) of the University of California, Berkeley.

    • Second FreeBSD 11.0 Release Candidate Restores Support for ‘nat global’ in IPFW

      Glen Barber from the FreeBSD project announced the availability of the second RC (Release Candidate) development build of the upcoming FreeBSD 11.0 operating system.

    • LLVM Might Get An AAP Back-End (Altruistic Processor)

      There’s an active proposal to incorporate a back-end into LLVM for AAP, a processor ISA for deeply-embedded Harvard architectures.

      AAP is designed for FPGA usage and there is an open-source soft-core with commercial deployments also being available. AAP is short for the Altruistic Processor and is described in technical detail here. AAP is said to be an original design but inspired by the OpenRISC / RISC-V projects.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The Last LinuxCon, MariaDB Goes Open Core & More… [Ed: And a day later publicly attacks the Conservancy over GPL compliance against VMware]

      Linus Torvalds being interviewed by VMware’s Dirk Hohndel on the last day of the last LinuxCon North America. Next year’s event in Los Angeles will be renamed Open Source Summit.

    • GPL compliance suit against VMware dismissed

      In a setback to the Christoph Hellwig’s efforts to enforce the GPL on code that he wrote in the Linux kernel, his suit against VMware in Germany has been dismissed on procedural grounds. The court ruled that he had not provided enough specificity about the code he was claiming had been used by the company. The merits of the GPL and whether the two main parts of VMware’s product constitute a derived work of the kernel were not even considered. There may be another chance for the court to do so, however, as Hellwig will appeal the dismissal.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • UK-French Data Taskforce publishes joint report

      “Invest in and share experiences building core data registers, learning from the French National Address Database experience”; “develop initiatives to bring basic data literacy into primary and secondary education”; and “commission research into algorithmic transparency and accountability” are among the recommendations listed in a report published in July by the joint French-UK Data Taskforce.

    • Tuscany: how to promote the economy of sharing and collaboration

      In June, the region of Tuscany (Italy), in collaboration with Open Toscana and ANCI Toscana, launched a project, the goal of which is to “build a regional policy on the economy of sharing and collaboration”.

    • Open Data

      • MS Tries But Just Doesn’t Get FLOSS

        This is what drove me to GNU/Linux so many years ago.

      • Microsoft’s maps lost Melbourne because it used bad Wikipedia data

        Microsoft has laid part of the blame for Bing Maps’ mis-location of the Australian city of Melbourne by a whole hemisphere on Wikipedia.

        Yes, Wikipedia, “the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit.”

        Microsoft made its admission after your correspondent took to Twitter on Monday to do what we in publishing call “pimping”the story of Melbourne’s mis-placement.

        Ricky Brundritt, a senior program manager at Bing Maps, noticed that pimping and responded as follows.

      • Northern Ireland promotes Open Data in education

        The Northern Ireland Department of Finance has supported a challenge that encourages the re-use of public Open Data in education. Called the OpenDataNI Challenge – Using Open Data for Education” (ODNI4EDU), this project, officially launched on June 14, intends to award two applications or educational tools and resources that make use of at least one dataset published on the portal OpendataNI.

Leftovers

  • Try this handy tool to convert a Web site into a native app with Electron
  • Introducing CloudiumOS [Ed: built on Electron]

    It is a complete multi platform operating system that allows you to manage your documents, access your media files and collaborate with other people on the go. CloudiumOS can work side-by-side with another operating system (either via a VM, a Desktop app or Mobile App) or as a standalone installation.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EpiPen Maker’s Stock Value Plunges Nearly $3 Billion as Investors Panic

      Mylan Pharmaceuticals—the company that makes the EpiPen rescue device—has watched its stock value plummet over the last five days as panicky investors jump ship.

      According to U.S. Uncut, outrage over Mylan’s decision to jack up the price of the EpiPen has spooked shareholders, whose departures have reduced the value of Mylan stock by 12.4 percent. On August 19, Mylan stocks went from $49.20 per share to $43.11 on August 24, a net loss of nearly $3 billion for the company.

    • Big Pharma Increased Price of Life-Saving EpiPen by Over 450 Percent

      Martin Shkreli became one of the most notorious people in the United States for hiking the price of a rarely used life-saving drug by 4,000 percent in September 2015. And nearly a year later, dozens of reports are now coming out about how Mylan Pharmaceuticals hiked the price of the very common life-saving EpiPen by over 450 percent since Mylan bought EpiPen in 2007.

    • As the UN finally admits role in Haiti cholera outbreak – here is how victims must be compensated

      The United Nations has, at long last, accepted some responsibility that it played a part in a cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti in 2010 and has since killed at least 9,200 people and infected nearly a million people.

      This is the first time that the UN has acknowledged that it bears a duty towards the victims. It is a significant step forward in the quest for accountability and justice.

      Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is frequently devastated by disasters – both natural and man-made. Yet cholera was not one of its problems before 2010. Then a group of UN peacekeepers was sent to help after an earthquake.

      The UN did not screen its peacekeepers for cholera, nor did it build adequate toilet facilities in its peacekeeping camps. As a result, wastewater carrying cholera flowed directly into a tributary that feeds Haiti’s main river. Given that vast numbers of the population rely on the Artibonite river for washing, cooking, cleaning and drinking, cholera quickly spread around many parts of the country. The disease is now endemic within the country. People continue to die at an alarming rate by this preventable and treatable disease.

    • The UN undermined both public health and human rights in Haiti

      Despite the clear risks, in the long run, the UN would have clearly benefited from transparent investigations into the outbreak, and could have risk-managed any negative outcomes. Its shortsighted obfuscation and failure to accept responsibility was disastrous from a public health perspective. It likely undermined efforts to control the cholera outbreak and led to more deaths of impoverished Haitians, already suffering in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. It also violated key human rights principles promoted by the organization, such as the right of Haitians to the highest attainable standard of health.

      Ultimately, this approach damaged the UN’s credibility, and sent an unfortunate message to other governments, multilateral organizations, as well as transnational entities (multilateral corporations) about how to behave in the face of tragic public health mistakes.

      [...]

      UN officials counter that the organization has been instrumental in efforts to remedy their mistake, leading the fight against cholera through public health messages and treatment. Should these efforts be integrated into any calculation of the harm caused by the UN? The amount demanded in a recent US court system filing—USD 40 billion—is five times the UN’s yearly peacekeeping budget. How would any payout affect ongoing efforts by the UN to address governance, development, and health challenges in Haiti and elsewhere? Does such a ruling have unforeseen negative consequences? Would it spur organizations working in challenging and dangerous environments, such as post-earthquake Haiti, to be more responsible or possibly deter such work?

    • Obamacare’s Faltering for One Simple Reason: Profit

      There have been dozens if not hundreds of news articles about Aetna leaving the Affordable Health Care Act’s online marketplaces in eleven states, and whether this signals serious problems for Obamacare down the road.

      But none of them have truly explained that what’s happening with Aetna is the consequence of a flaw built into Obamacare from the start: It permits insurance companies to make a profit on the basic healthcare package Americans are now legally required to purchase.

      This makes Obamacare fundamentally different from essentially all systems of universal healthcare on earth. (There is one tiny exception, the Netherlands, but of the four insurance companies that cover 90 percent of Dutch citizens, just one is for profit.)

  • Security

    • OpenSSL 1.1.0 Series Release Notes
    • Linux.PNScan Malware Brute-Forces Linux-Based Routers
    • St. Jude stock shorted on heart device hacking fears; shares drop

      The stock of pacemaker manufacturer St. Jude Medical Inc (STJ.N) fell sharply on Thursday after short-selling firm Muddy Waters said it had placed a bet that the shares would fall, claiming its implanted heart devices were vulnerable to cyber attacks.

      St. Jude, which agreed in April to sell itself for $25 billion to Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), said the allegations were false. St Jude shares closed down 4.96 percent, the biggest one-day fall in 7 months and at a 7.4 percent discount to Abbott’s takeover offer.

      Muddy Waters head Carson Block said the firm’s position was motivated by research from a cyber security firm, MedSec Holdings Inc, which has a financial arrangement with Muddy Waters. MedSec asserted that St. Jude’s heart devices were vulnerable to cyber attack and were a risk to patients.

    • BlackArch Linux ISO now comes with over 1,500 hacking tools

      On a move to counter distros like Kali Linux and BackBox, BlackArch has got a new ISO image that includes more than 1,500 hacking tools. The update also brings several security and software tweaks to deliver an enhanced platform for various penetration testing and security assessment activities.

      The new BlackArch Linux ISO includes an all new Linux installer and more than 100 new penetration testing and hacking tools. There is also Linux 4.7.1 to fix the bugs and compatibility issues of the previous kernel. Additionally, the BlackArch team has updated all its in-house tools and system packages as well as updated menu entries for the Openbox, Fluxbox and Awesome windows managers.

    • Opera User? Your Stored Passwords May Have Been Stolen

      Barely a week passes without another well-known web company suffering a data breach or hack of some kind. This week it is Opera’s turn. Opera Software, the company behind the web-browser and recently sold to a Chinese consortium for $600 million, reported a ‘server breach incident’ on its blog this weekend.

    • When it comes to protecting personal data, security gurus make their own rules

      Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of a company devoted to protecting people from hackers, has safeguarded his Twitter account with a 14-character password and by turning on two-factor authentication, an extra precaution in case that password is cracked.

      But Cooper Quintin, a security researcher and chief technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, doesn’t bother running an anti-virus program on his computer.

      And Bruce Schneier? The prominent cryptography expert and chief technology officer of IBM-owned security company Resilient Systems, won’t even risk talking about what he does to secure his devices and data.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Erdogan at a crossroad: dictatorship or democracy

      An interview with A.H. Banisadr, Iran’s former president, about the aftermath of the coup in Turkey.

    • The Dumbed-Down New York Times

      In a column mocking the political ignorance of the “dumbed-down” American people and lamenting the death of “objective fact,” New York Times columnist Timothy Egan shows why so many Americans have lost faith in the supposedly just-the-facts-ma’am mainstream media.

      Egan states as flat fact, “If more than 16 percent of Americans could locate Ukraine on a map, it would have been a Really Big Deal when Trump said that Russia was not going to invade it — two years after they had, in fact, invaded it.”

    • Where are the Child Victims of the West?

      The Facebook page contains a post cheering on al-Nusra, the US-designated terrorist group, referring to them as ‘rebels’, not ‘terrorists’ and also calling the Syrian government a ‘regime’, the standard terminology of the corporate media when referring to Assad’s administration. Such phrasing destroys the Aleppo Media Centre as a neutral, credible source.

    • Is Syria Ceasefire Achievable? US-Russia Talks Bring No Solution

      Meanwhile, U.S.-allied Kurdish forces say they are now being bombed by U.S.-backed Turkish forces, Reuters reported Saturday, which Common Dreams noted was Turkey’s goal from the start of its military incursion into Syria earlier this week.

    • Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria

      Neocons and Clintonites have launched a major campaign with the goal of direct US military intervention and aggression against Syria, potentially leading to war with Iran and Russia. An early indication emerged as soon as it was clear the Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party nominee. Following the California primary, the NY Times reported on State Department diplomats issuing an internal memo “urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al Assad.”

    • Venezuela’s Maduro Accuses US of “Imperialist Attack” Against Latin American Leftists

      Venezuela’s leftist president Nicolas Maduro told a crowd of supporters Saturday that the turmoil of recent months in progressive Latin American countries are the result of “an imperialist attack on all,” teleSUR reports.

    • Venezuela’s Maduro Says Dilma Coup, Killing of Bolivia Minister ‘Imperialist Attack’ Against All

      President Maduro said the recent events in Bolivia and Brazil are part of a new plan to destabilize progressive governments in the region.

      Following the murder of the Bolivian vice minister by miners and as the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff reaches its final stage, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro warned Saturday of “imperialist” attacks on the region’s left and compared the situation to a new Plan Condor.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Standing Rock Sioux Chairman: Dakota Access Pipeline “Is Threatening the Lives of My Tribe”

      In North Dakota, indigenous activists are continuing to protest the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which they say would threaten to contaminate the Missouri River. More than a thousand indigenous activists from dozens of different tribes across the country have traveled to the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp, which was launched on April 1 by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The protests have so far shut down construction along parts of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has also sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its approval of the pipeline. For more, we’re joined by Dave Archambault, chairperson of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He’s in Washington, D.C., where there is a hearing in the tribe’s lawsuit on Wednesday.

    • Singapore chokes on smoke from Indonesia’s slash-and-burn fires

      A swathe of south-east Asia is blanketed in a smoky haze as smoke from forest fires in Indonesia drifts across the Malacca Strait to neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore’s air quality has deteriorated to very unhealthy levels, peaking at a reading of 215 on the National Environment Agency’s Pollutant Standards Index. Levels above 100 are defined as unhealthy and above 200 very unhealthy.

    • Just 90 companies are to blame for most climate change, this ‘carbon accountant’ says

      Last month, geographer Richard Heede received a subpoena from Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Smith, a climate change doubter, became concerned when the attorneys general of several states launched investigations into whether ExxonMobil had committed fraud by sowing doubts about climate change even as its own scientists knew it was taking place. The congressman suspected a conspiracy between the attorneys general and environmental advocates, and he wanted to see all the communications among them. Predictably, his targets included advocacy organizations such as Greenpeace, 350.org, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. They also included Heede, who works on his own aboard a rented houseboat on San Francisco Bay in California.

    • What Baton Rouge Can Learn from New Orleans About Bringing Flood Victims Home

      In the wake of the nation’s worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy, flood recovery efforts are now underway in Baton Rouge: Electricity is operating in certain neighborhoods, damaged floors and walls are being removed from homes, and homeowners are beginning to deal with emergency assistance and insurance—or a lack thereof.

      Soon, another aftereffect of the storm will sweep Baton Rouge communities: climate refugees—people who are displaced by climate change or natural disasters—will begin the daunting task of rebuilding their lives.

    • Nature Is Not Benign, It’s Responsive

      There’s a reason why Indigenous peoples everywhere have led on dealing intelligently with climate change: not because they’re wiser or nobler but because they haven’t experienced a rupture with the non-human world to the same degree as most of us. They remain aware of the ways we’re part of the natural realm, and how dangerous and menacing it can be if, like any relationship, that one is left unattended or gets misshapen by a power imbalance. If you live oblivious to something you’re intimately part of, the odds don’t favor you, ultimately.

      Now when I look out the kitchen window and see the squirrel (not “a” squirrel anymore: he’s become an individual, with motives and capacities), I don’t think of him as “scampering” (too cute and generic); more like lurking, working and perhaps pondering a revisit. You could say we’ve entered a relationship, with mutual regard.

    • We Can Have a Healthy Climate With Zero Warming in Our Lifetimes

      We can have a healthy climate — a climate with zero warming — in our lifetimes. The message for the last 20 years has been that we have to reduce emissions drastically to prevent dangerous climate change of more than 2 degrees C (3.6 F). This strategy would have likely worked when it was first suggested, but we have delayed far too long since then. Now, even stringent emissions reductions allow our warming to at least double and likely triple before finally beginning to cool.

      We must begin to reduce the load of already-emitted, long-lived carbon dioxide (CO2) climate pollution in the sky, regardless of costs. The good news is that, not only will costs be very similar to many things we do in our society today whose costs are taken for granted, but by disconnecting emissions reductions strategies from the removal of already-emitted climate pollution in our sky, we vastly simplify the myriad strategies that have been developed to avoid dangerous climate change.

    • 10th Temperature Record-Breaking Month in a Row

      October. November. December. January. February. March. April. May. June. And now July.

    • Indonesian police arrest hundreds in connection to burning land

      Singapore’s National Environment Agency said on Friday it expected air quality to remain poor into the weekend as Indonesian disaster management officials cautioned that wildfires in Sumatra and Kalimantan could persist through September.

      On Thursday Indonesia’s newly appointed police chief Tito Karnavian said police had prepared cases against 454 individuals in connection with burning land. “The arrests of individuals has increased compared with last year,” he said in Jakarta. “Just in Riau [province] 85 people have been arrested.”

      The head of the police’s criminal investigation division, Ari Dono Sukmanto, said he expected the number of arrests to rise in the coming months. Indonesian environment minster Siti Nurbaya called on police to “investigate thoroughly” for any links to companies and local government officials.

    • Raging Amazon forest fires threaten uncontacted indigenous tribe

      In April 2012, Survival International launched a global campaign to save the Awá, an uncontacted indigenous people that has been called “Earth’s most threatened tribe.” Two years later, the campaign claimed victory when the Brazilian government sent troops to remove illegal cattle ranchers and loggers from Awá land.

      But now the Awá are facing yet another existential threat in the form of forest fires. According to Survival International, fires are “raging” in Awá territory on the edge of the Brazilian Amazon and “threatening to wipe out uncontacted members of the Awá tribe.”

      Small groups of Guajajara Indians, the Awá’s neighbors in the Amazon, reportedly battled the blaze for days without the assistance of government agents until Brazil’s Environment Ministry launched a fire-fighting operation two weeks ago.

      According to Survival International, nearly 50 percent of the forest cover in the territory was destroyed by forest fires started by loggers in late 2015, and the Environment Ministry has warned that the situation is “even worse this year.”

  • Finance

    • The Hidden Homeless Population

      Most children in the United States spend their school days dreaming of their next birthday party or worrying whether they’re popular enough. Not America’s homeless youth.

      Students like Jamie Talley, who first became homeless at age 2, are thinking about how the weather will affect their sleep and how to silence their growling stomachs during a test.

      “I was pushed out of the world and left to survive on my own,” Talley said in a scholarship essay quoted by the Washington Post. “I had given up on the possibilities for me to become somebody.”

      Fortunately, Talley had a teacher who helped her get Medicaid and pushed her to focus on her education.

      But most homeless students don’t feel supported at school. They feel that their schools simply don’t have the funding, time, staff, community awareness, or resources to help, and that’s the way it’s always going to be. This feeling of invisibility continues to disconnect citizens with consistent housing from those without.

      There are more than 1.3 million homeless students in the U.S., according to a new report by Civic Enterprises and Hart Research Associates. Seventy-eight percent of homeless youth surveyed in the study have experienced homelessness more than once in their lives.

      Why are so many of us disconnected from this crisis?

      Many homeless students say they’re uncomfortable talking with their schools about their housing situation and the challenges that impact their ability to learn. Additionally, 94 percent of those surveyed stay with different people on an inconsistent basis, adding to the ambiguity that makes recognizing homelessness more difficult.

    • She’ll keep America not so great for workers

      The Trump plan would, of course, be a disaster for working people–and another windfall for the rich, with its proposals for eliminating the estate tax and opening up new tax loopholes for the wealthy.

      But Clinton’s own economic plan isn’t very new, much less positive for working people. It reads a lot like the policies of the Bill Clinton administration–and while Hillary denounces the failed Republican policies recycled by Trump, the truth is Clintonomics repurposed many of the GOP proposals that came before it.

      Providing targeted tax breaks to corporations, cutting “red tape” and doing away with regulations on business were all hallmarks of the Clinton-era policies that successfully made a break from the Democrats’ past image of the party of social welfare spending.

    • Education Reformers’ Core Beliefs Are Objectionable

      America’s corporate education reform movement has been a marketing success. Reformers have popularized slogans that promote a radically new public school system; one where tenure and bargaining rights are abolished or severely degraded; where CEOs and administrators, who may have backgrounds in business, politics or public relations rather than education, make hiring and firing decisions; and where data-based accountability — necessarily driven by test scores — perpetually imperils schools, tenure- and union-less teachers, as well as students who must conform to onerous protocols and codes of conduct under charter school contracts. Reformers’ slogans such as “demography isn’t destiny” and “poverty is no excuse” have been ingrained in the minds of all who follow education issues — and have apparently been successful in advancing their agenda. But ironically, while reformers’ slogans are well known, their core ideas around such reformer bedrocks as Teach For America, charter schools, and educational expertise are so objectionably elitist that they are unutterable.

    • Postal Contract Narrows the Gap between Tiers

      They didn’t end three-tier in a single blow. But in a new contract covering 200,000 members, the American Postal Workers Union made serious headway and fended off most concessionary demands, including the Postal Service’s effort to create yet another tier.

      The union entered bargaining with little obvious leverage. It was up against a management that’s been openly collaborating with postal unions’ Congressional foes to push a frenzy of cuts—slashing delivery standards, shutting down mail plants, privatizing work, and selling off post offices to real estate sharks.

      Postal workers can’t legally strike. If the union and management don’t reach a deal, an arbitrator writes the contract—which is what finally happened. Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg announced the results July 8.

      He stopped short of eliminating the three-tier system, as the union had proposed. But the new contract shrinks the number of bottom-tier workers and improves their situation, while defending the traditional raises and no-layoff protection for the two upper tiers.

    • Close My Tax Loophole

      My fellow venture capitalists and private equity investors are paying close attention to the heated election-year rhetoric about the future of “carried interest,” which is the performance fee we charge to manage other people’s money. Carried interest is the fund manager’s share of the earnings from a profitable investment, normally paid on top of a much smaller management fee.

      It’s also a subject of increasing political disfavor. Over the past year, every major presidential candidate — from Jeb Bush and Donald J. Trump to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — has called for an end to a tax loophole that exists for carried interest. Mrs. Clinton has vowed that if Congress does not close the loophole, as president she would ask the Treasury Department to use its regulatory authority to do so.

      Ultimately, the controversy has to do with tax fairness, or the lack thereof. Instead of being taxed as wages or commissions earned, carried interest is currently taxed as if it were a personal investment, or capital gains. This gives us a significant tax advantage since the capital gains tax rate is about 50 percent lower than the top rate on ordinary income.

      When I started my first fund, Alan Patricof Associates, in 1970, I vividly remember my accountant telling me about my first sale of an investment: “We’re going to treat this as capital gain, but sooner or later, it will be characterized as ordinary income.”

    • Last BHS stores to close for final time after 88 years

      The last BHS stores are set to close their doors for the final time, ending an 88-year presence on the High Street.

      The closure of the final 22 shops dotted around the UK comes after the retailer was placed into administration in March but failed to find a buyer.

      Previous owners Dominic Chappell and Sir Philip Green have been criticised for mismanaging the chain and failing to protect the company pension scheme.

      Administrators have already made 141 store closures over recent weeks.

    • Dimon is Forever

      Since neither poor earnings by the bank nor a need to find the money with which to pay Mr. Dimon his $27.5 million annual compensation explains why the interest rate on credit card cash advances has increased, there has to be some other explanation and, in fact, there is. Morgan Chase raised the interest rate on those credit cards because it could.

    • ‘People In Poverty Do Work’: What Paul Ryan Misunderstands About Poverty

      Twenty years later, it’s clear that welfare reform has left more families with fewer resources. There has been a 75% drop in the number of Americans receiving cash assistance since 1996, and a sharp rise in the number of households with children with incomes of less than $2 per day. There are 3 million American children who now live on no money for at least three months out of the year.

      [...]

      Ryan claims he is focused on moving people into full-time work—the surest way to get people out of poverty, he says. And it’s true—full-time jobs that pay well and provide benefits are indeed the best path to get out of poverty.

      But that’s not what Ryan is promoting, and his solution—like welfare reform before it—would not have helped me. (Nor would his votes—at least 10 times—against raising the minimum wage.)

    • Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats

      How much is President Obama willing to harm the Democratic Party in order to win approval for the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “trade” agreement? We may soon find out.

      On Tuesday, Politico broke the story that the White House will be “making an all-out push to win passage of the deal in the lame duck session of Congress, organizing 30 events over the congressional recess.” The effort will be designed to put pressure not only on Democratic members of Congress, but also on swing Republican votes, by lobbying important business interests in their districts.

    • TTIP Has ‘De Facto Failed,’ Says German Economic Minister

      Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Economic Minister said that the controversial Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has “de facto failed,” admitting that negotiations between the U.S. and E.U. have completely stalled.

      “Negotiations with the U.S. have de facto failed, because of course as Europeans we couldn’t allow ourselves to submit to American demands,” Sigmar Gabriel told the German news station ZDF in an interview that will air at 7pm German time Sunday, according to Der Spiegel.

      “Everything has stalled,” Gabriel said.

    • Germany’s economy minister: U.S.-EU free trade talks have failed

      Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade deal being negotiated by the United States and the European Union, had essentially failed.

      “The negotiations with the USA have de facto failed because we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to American demands,” he said, according to a written transcript from German broadcaster ZDF of an interview due to be broadcast on Sunday.

    • “TTIP Has Failed” – Global Justice Now Response

      “The fact that TTIP has failed is testament to the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to protest against it, the three million people who signed a petition calling for it to be scrapped, and the huge coalition of civil society groups, trade unions and activists who came together to stop it. TTIP would have resulted in a massive corporate power grab, and sovereign democracies across the EU would have been deeply compromised.

    • Common Core’s New New Math Has the Same Problem as the Old New Math

      Bad ideas are like unlucky pennies – they keep coming back again.

      Take the New Math. Or maybe I should say the New New Math.

      Common Core State Standards suggests we teach children a new way to do arithmetic. We should focus on multiple ways to reach an answer with an emphasis on understanding the concept behind the problem rather than just manipulating numbers.

      It sounds fine in theory – until you think about it for five minutes.

      When learning a new skill, it’s best to master a single, simple approach before being exposed to other more complex methods. Otherwise, you run the risk of confusion, frustration and ultimately not learning how to solve the problem.

      Take directions.

      If you’re lost and you ask for directions, you don’t want someone to tell you five ways to reach your destination. You want one, relatively simple way to get there – preferably with the least amount of turns and the highest number of landmarks.

      Maybe later if you’re going to be traveling to this place frequently, you may want to learn alternate routes. But the first time, you’re more concerned about finding the destination (i.e. getting the answer) than understanding how the landscape would appear on a map.

      This is the problem with Common Core math. It doesn’t merely ALLOW students to pursue alternate methods of solving problems. It REQUIRES them to know all the ways the problem can be solved and to be able to explain each method. Otherwise, it presumes to evaluate the student’s understanding as insufficient.

    • A Do-Over for Our Unequal Economy?

      Families in the upper reaches of the American economy, by contrast, have done just swell. Families in the top 10 percent, the Congressional Budget Office calculates, have seen their net worths increase an average 153 percent.

    • Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism

      This week marks the first anniversary of the 2015 Greek debt crisis, the third in that country’s recent history since 2010. Last Aug. 20-21, 2015, the ‘Troika’—i.e., the pan-European institutions of the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), plus the IMF-imposed a third debt deal on Greece. Greece was given US$98 billion in loans from the Troika. A previous 2012 Troika imposed debt deal had added nearly US$200 billion to an initial 2010 debt deal of US$140 billion.

      That’s approximately US$440 billion in Troika loans over a five year period, 2010-2015. The question is: who is benefitting from the US$440 billion? It’s not Greece. If not the Greek economy and its people, then who? And have we seen the last of Greek debt crises?

      One might think that US$440 billion in loans would have helped Greece recover from the global recession of 2008-09, the second European recession of 2011-13 that followed, and the Europe-wide chronic, stagnant economic growth ever since. But no, the US$440 billion in debt the Troika piled on Greece has actually impoverished Greece even further, condemning it to eight years of economic depression with no end in sight.

      To pay for the US$440 billion, in three successive debt agreements the Troika has required Greece to cut government spending on social services, eliminate hundreds of thousands of government jobs, lower wages for public and private sector workers, reduce the minimum wage, cut and eliminate pensions, raise the cost of workers’ health care contributions, and pay higher sales and local property taxes. As part of austerity, the Troika has also required Greece to sell off its government owned utilities, ports, and transport systems at ‘firesale’ (i.e. below) market prices.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Jill Stein in Colorado: The Photos You Need to See

      On Saturday, Jill spoke at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. A large number of people showed up to hear her.

    • Clinton Foundation Official Requests State Lunch Invitation, Special Seating for Foundation Allies, Emails Show

      A series of newly released State Department emails obtained by ABC News offers fresh insight on direct contact between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s inner circle while she was Secretary of State.

      The emails -– released as part of a public records lawsuit by conservative group Citizens United and shared exclusively with ABC — reveal what the group claims is new evidence Foundation allies received special treatment. [Read the emails here.]

      In one December 2010 email chain with Clinton’s closest aide Huma Abedin, then-top Clinton Foundation official Doug Band offers names for a State Department lunch with Chinese President Hu Jintao scheduled for January 2011.

    • Green Party Candidates: Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka

      Born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park, Illinois, Dr. Jill Stein is a physician and longtime political and environmental activist with the GPUS. According to her campaign website, Stein “graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973, and from Harvard Medical School in 1979.” She unsuccessfully ran for governor of Massachusetts as the nominee of the Green-Rainbow Party, the Massachusetts affiliate of the national Green Party. Stein also ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in 2004, and for Massachusetts secretary of the commonwealth in 2006, and was the Green Party nominee for U.S. president in 2012.

      Despite her loss in the 2012 presidential election, coming in fourth place with 469,628 votes (0.36 percent of the national vote), Stein holds the record for the most votes won by a female presidential candidate in a general election. However, Hil­lary Clinton, unless forced out of the race, is likely to break this record in November.

      Endorsing the Black Lives Matter movement, Stein selected and the Greens nominated radical Black Nationalist and human rights activist Ajamu Baraka as the Green Party vice-presidential nominee.

      Also born in Chicago, Baraka served as the founding executive director of the US Human Rights Network, a self-described “national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States,” from 2004 to 2011.

    • How Sanders Shaped the National Discourse on Class: A Media Analysis

      Now that Bernie Sanders’ campaign is officially over, many of his supporters are adrift. The same week the Sanders’ campaign officially ended, the systematic efforts of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to sabotage his campaign became a matter of public record, thanks to WikiLeaks. The media largely ignored this scandal and proceeded to fawn over various politicians at the Democratic National Convention, as if they were deities. And Bob Woodward appeared on the August 14 Fox News Sunday, smugly joking that Sanders will now “write his memoirs about the revolution that didn’t quite happen.”

      But Sanders supporters should not get disillusioned. It may seem easy to forget, but the primary goal of the Sanders’ campaign was not the presidency, but a “political revolution.” Winning an election was a goal, to be sure, but “revolution” was the goal. The distinction matters. Consider the dictionary definition of revolution: “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.” Electing Sanders wouldn’t have been a revolutionary act by itself; the bulk of the work, no matter who won, was always going to take place after Election Day.

    • Number of registered lobbyists plunges as spending declines yet again

      The lobbying industry may start arguing for its own bailout bill, given the relentless decline in reported spending for its services.

      The first quarter of 2016 was sluggish, the second similarly so. And with it came a pronounced dive in the number of active registered lobbyists.

      With 325 fewer lobbyists registered in the second quarter of 2016 than in the first, this marks the biggest single-quarter drop in four years and puts the number of registered lobbyists at the lowest point OpenSecrets has ever recorded. Since 1998, the total number of lobbyists has never dipped below 10,000, but that figure has been falling ever since it peaked at nearly 15,000 in 2007 and this quarter’s decrease puts it at just more than 9,700.

    • Open up debates to Johnson, Stein

      With two less than optimum candidates for president filling the Democratic and Republican slots, two other candidates have generated heightened interest.

      But not enough, apparently, to convince the Commission on Presidential Debates to open the door and let them in.

      And a legal challenge to the format determined by the commission was rejected earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer.

      The lawsuit had been brought by Libertarian party presidential nominee Gary Johnson and Green party nominee Jill Stein, among others. It alleged that the threshold set by the debate commission was designed to prevent any but the major-party nominees from participating in the debate. And that is clearly the case.

      This threshold is set at 15 percent support from an average of public polls, a much more exacting standard than the 5 percent threshold set by Congress to qualify for public campaign funds.

    • Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein campaigns in Colorado

      Voters not in tune with everything politics may not even know what the Green Party is. That’s the party Dr. Jill Stein represents. It’s the party that is based on principles like social justice and protecting the environment.

      The trouble for Stein? She’s not well-known. She represents the party that hardly gets any airtime, the party that does not spend millions on ad campaigns, the party hidden behind the big two candidates from the two big parties.

      But there is a market for Stein, one with plenty of devout supporters.

      New numbers show more and more Colorado voters are registering Green and Libertarian. Right now there are more than 11,000 registered Green Party voters and 35,000 registered Libertarian voters.

      That’s not enough to win a presidency, but that is not stopping Dr. Stein from hitting the campaign trail.

      She joined her supporters at a Colorado Springs park Saturday afternoon.

    • Let a Third Candidate Join the Clinton-Trump Debates

      A month from now, the Commission on Presidential Debates will let us know which candidates get a golden ticket to that national forum.

      Will America get to hear from anyone besides Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the two most distrusted and reviled candidates in modern political history?

      [...]

      The Commission on Presidential Debates, an organization set up and originally co-chaired by the then-chairman of Republican National Committee and his Democratic counterpart, has served as the debates’ gatekeeper since 1988.

      CPD describes its mission as ensuring that the debates “provide the best possible information to viewers.” But its real mission is to make the debate stage a “safe space” for major-party candidates. It does so by rigging the rules to protect them from unflattering camera angles, the microaggressions of uncooperative moderators and—most hurtful of all—the terror of third-party competition.

    • Hillary Clinton hasn’t held a news conference since December — but NPR has proven why it’s not media blackout

      One of the circulating scandals surrounding Hillary Clinton is that she hasn’t held a news conference in 265 days (and counting!), leading to allegations that she has something to hide or is trying to “run-out the clock.”

      The Clinton camp denies this, and has begun to claim that she has given more than 300 interviews this year alone. To prove it, they provided NPR with a list of interviews through the end of July. NPR “made minor corrections after conferring with the campaign, and analyzed the results,” finding some interesting things.

      Clinton by far gave the most interviews to television (both national and local) and local radio. Those three account for 81% of the interviews she’s given this year. Despite her affinity for television, she rarely appears on Sunday shows, usually considered a staple of a politician’s press diet. (Trump, for reference, has appeared on twice as many Sunday shows as she has this year — 43 to 22.)

      Most of her interviews only last for between three and eight minutes — short enough that the reporters don’t have the time to ask follow-up questions or really press her on the issues. In nearly a fifth of the interviews she gave, they weren’t with what NPR considers a journalist or reporter. One radio host gave her an astrological reading.

    • Trump and the Transformation of Politics

      Illiberal politicians are not very interested in civil liberties. They will manipulate the rule of law to “get things done.” They tend to appeal to religious or national identity rather than political ideology. They also generally favor greater state intervention in the economy.

      In short, they defy the usual political categories.

      If Donald Trump weren’t so personally unpopular and so tactically inept, he might be able to join the ranks of these successful illiberal leaders. Still, he has gotten as far as he has – seizing the nomination of a major political party – by articulating the same anger and resentment as the others.

    • Rich Upper East Siders Are Spending Millions to Mess With Elections in Brooklyn and the Bronx

      A new super-PAC is spending millions of dollars to oust four labor-backed black and Latino state Democrats from the Bronx, Brooklyn, and nearby Suffolk County. But most of the $3.17 million campaign, which has already begun to flood the Bronx with mailers, has not been financed by local organizations or concerned constituents.

      Of New Yorkers for Independent Action’s sixteen donors, all have addresses listed outside Brooklyn, Bronx, and Suffolk County, according to the New York State Board of Elections. All those registered in New York list addresses on the Upper East Side and in midtown. And all of the super-PAC’s donors appear to be white.

      The group’s main issue has been advocating for an education tax credit, which would give tax rebates to donors and companies for donations to private and parochial schools and has long been opposed by most state Democrats.

    • LISTEN: Maine’s Governor Unleashes Obscenities On Lawmaker Who Criticized Him

      The vulgar voicemail left Thursday was first reported by the Portland Press-Herald. The newspaper also reports that in an interview, LePage said he wished it were 1825 so that he could challenge Gattine to a duel — and that if he did, he wouldn’t shoot in the air like Alexander Hamilton.

      “I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt,” LePage told the Press-Herald.

      LePage has since apologized for his language, and said his comments about shooting Gattine were metaphorical. Democratic leaders in Maine, meanwhile, have said the governor is not “mentally or emotionally fit to hold office.”

      The hostile remarks follow — and are directly linked to — a series of widely-criticized remarks the Republican governor made on race.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Pahlaj Nihalani is in favour of controlled censorship

      Pahlaj Nihalani has become quite inured to criticism these days, and in his 20-month tenure as the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), he has found the going tough since the online leak of censor copies of ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Great Grand Masti’ recently. In fact, Nihalani makes no secret of the fact that the CBFC has become a punching bag as everyone has got it into their head that all the ills that plague Bollywood have something to do with the CBFC.

    • Piers Morgan takes dig at Indian Twitter users, tweets about who Sachin Tendulkar follows
    • Twitterati teach Piers Morgan a lesson for poking fun at Indian Olympians
    • Piers Morgan TWEETS AGAIN: UK journalist takes credit for PM Modi setting up task force for next three Olympics
    • Piers Morgan and Indian athletes at Rio
    • Piers Morgan tweets Shekhar Gupta’s blog about India’s easy embrace to mediocrity and we kind of agree with both

      Days ago, British journalist and Television personality Piers Morgan was trending on twitter worldwide after he literally broke the internet. Morgan’s tweet questioning the over-zealous celebration by Indians for only two Olympic medals, agitated the Indian twitter and soon enough everyone was thrashing and slamming Morgan for it.

    • The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens

      So, establishment pro-Israel organizations are increasingly shrill in smearing the growing Palestinian solidarity movement. While supporters of Palestinian rights generally ignore these smears or reply that it’s not anti-Semitic to stand up for Palestinian rights, defensive strategies aren’t sufficient. The anti-Semitic label is too potent to not confront directly.

      [...]

      Of course, considering the historical oppression originally defined by the term, most progressive minded folk would be discomforted by the idea of mocking and re-appropriating “anti-Semitism”. But, isn’t this inevitable when “leading Jewish organizations” publicly denounce “anti-Semitism” in inverse relation to discernible anti-Jewish animus? When Jews fleeing Hitler’s atrocities were blocked from entering Canada, notes A Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada, the dominant Jewish organizations mostly shied away from publicly criticizing Ottawa’s prejudice. Similarly, some Jewish representatives negotiated with McGill over the cap it placed on Jews in some university programs in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

      While some Jewish activists at the time pushed for a more forceful response to this quantifiable anti-Semitism, the “leading” community representatives didn’t want to rock the boat. Their aim was largely to join the power structure.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NSA Whistleblowers: NSA Hack Was Likely An Inside Job

      The mainstream press is accusing Russia of being behind the release of information on NSA hacking tools.

      Washington’s Blog asked the highest-level NSA whistleblower in history, William Binney – the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”) – what he thinks of such claims.

    • Tampa man at center of web spying case that could impact the workplace

      A federal appeals court has ruled that a Tampa man can sue Awareness Technologies, a Connecticut firm that makes an electronic monitoring program.

      While the ruling by the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involved the use of the monitoring program in a divorce case, it could impact what happens in the workplace, an attorney involved in the case told the Wall Street Journal.

      Employees agree to be monitored as part of their jobs, but the people they communicate with do not provide the same agreements. That could lead to more exposure for companies that provide employee monitoring services, attorney Mark Pickrell, interim head of Vanderbilt Law School’s appellate litigation clinic, told the Journal.

    • Man Sues Surveillance Company for Spying on His Conversations With Married Woman

      Javier Luis, of Tampa, Florida, met a woman named Catherine Zang in a chat room on metaphysics in 2009. Zang’s husband, Joseph Zang, somehow became aware of the personal relationship and installed a program called WebWatcher, created by a company called Awareness Technologies, on the family computer to monitor her. WebWatcher made recordings of all the online interactions between Luis and Catherine Zang, which Joseph Zang was then able to review after they were routed to Awareness Technologies’ servers in California. Though Javier Luis and Catherine Zang never actually met in person, Zang’s husband allegedly was able to use the compiled communications to his advantage in their divorce proceedings.

    • Proposed ‘social media ID, please’ law draws outrage

      A plan by the U.S. government to require some foreign travelers to provide their social media IDs on key travel documents is drawing outrage.

      People who responded to the government’s request for comment about the proposal spared little in their criticisms. They call it “ludicrous,” an “all-around bad idea,” “blatant overreach,” “desperate, paranoid heavy-handedness,” “preposterous,” “appalling,” and “un-American.”

      But the feds are most serious about it.

      The plan affects people traveling from “visa waiver” countries to the U.S., where a visa is not required. This includes most of Europe, Singapore, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — 38 countries in total.

      Travelers will be asked to provide their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and whatever other social ID you can imagine to U.S. authorities. It’s technically an “optional” request, but since it’s the government asking, critics believe travelers will fear consequences if they ignore it. Business and pleasure travelers are affected, too.

    • All the Ways Your Wi-Fi Router Can Spy on You

      City dwellers spend nearly every moment of every day awash in Wi-Fi signals. Homes, streets, businesses, and office buildings are constantly blasting wireless signals every which way for the benefit of nearby phones, tablets, laptops, wearables, and other connected paraphernalia.

      When those devices connect to a router, they send requests for information—a weather forecast, the latest sports scores, a news article—and, in turn, receive that data, all over the air. As it communicates with the devices, the router is also gathering information about how its signals are traveling through the air, and whether they’re being disrupted by obstacles or interference. With that data, the router can make small adjustments to communicate more reliably with the devices it’s connected to.

      But it can also be used to monitor humans—and in surprisingly detailed ways.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Nothing to See Here: The Counter-Revolution Against Black Lives Matter

      There is a phenomenon in this country that we need to examine and it’s just not in New York,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton told reporters in May, after addressing a national conference of police chiefs at the Times Square Marriott Marquis. “This has become very serious. I would almost describe it as an epidemic.”

      Bratton, who announced his retirement on August 3— much to the delight of Black Lives Matter demonstrators who set up an encampment at City Hall calling for his resignation one day previously — was not speaking of zika or ebola. He was talking about civilians filming police, a viral occurrence in recent years.

      Bratton went on to equate recording law enforcement with intimidation and attempts to free individuals in police custody. “The community has to make up their mind if they want law enforcement or if they want mob rule,” Bratton said.

    • As the Private Immigrant Detention Business Persists, Families Fight Back

      Moussa came to the United States nine years ago seeking asylum. He lost his asylum case, but while appealing the decision, he fell in love with Victoria. The two were married and have three beautiful children together. Moussa also adopted Victoria’s two children from a prior relationship. When Victoria filed for a family petition on his behalf in April 2015, they thought their immigration struggles were finally over. Sadly, they had just begun.

    • Slavery in modern Britain? Too true but today, it’s on farms and kitchens

      One victim said she came to England from south-east Asia to work as a servant in the home of a wealthy family. “I was forced to work 14 hours a day, even on building sites,” she said. “I felt like a chained dog. Even now, I feel like I am in chains. I still have nightmares that my boss is chasing me.”

      The woman is now in a safe house and is applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. Officials say 21st century slavery takes these basic forms: domestic servitude, sex trafficking, forced labour, forced marriage and child labour.

      The Salvation Army said that 44 per cent of those it helped had been exploited sexually, 42 per cent were used on farms and building sites, and 13 per cent were household slaves.

    • Hate Crime in Tulsa: Khalid Jabara’s Family Speaks Out After His Murder by Racist White Neighbor

      In Oklahoma, funeral services were held Friday for Khalid Jabara, a Lebanese-American man police say was shot dead by his next-door neighbor in a possible hate crime. Police say Stanley Majors will be charged with first-degree murder. Majors has harassed the Jabara family for years. The August 12 killing came less than a year after Majors was arrested and jailed for hitting Jabara’s mother with his car while she was jogging. At the time, the mother, Haifa Jabara, already had a restraining order against Majors, after he had threatened and harassed her. But eight months later, Majors was released on $60,000 bond even though Tulsa County prosecutors called him “a substantial risk to the public.” For more, we speak with Khalid’s brother and sister, Rami Jabara and Victoria Jabara Williams.

    • Socializing the Corrupt: Cheating, Education and Law Enforcement in Pennsylvania

      Collaborations between higher education institutions and law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania have multiplied in the past two decades. Although many of these collaborations purportedly aim to improve law enforcement by educating current and future generations of police officers, they have unfortunately produced ethically questionable and socially deleterious consequences, such as lowering academic integrity standards, encouraging systemic cheating and artificially inflating graduation rates. As a result, higher education institution executives and law enforcement leaders in Pennsylvania have managed to create an educational system for socializing successive generations of corrupt police.

      The expression socialization of the corrupt is Charles Bahn’s. In the 1975 article “The Psychology of Police Corruption,” he compares police corruption to academic cheating. In a study of students’ attitudes towards cheating and their actual cheating behavior, there was no correlation. Students who disapproved of cheating still cheated; others who approved of cheating chose to abstain. Bahn concludes that, “while verbal morality is learned, it is not necessarily true that the related behaviors are also learned.” The implication of this study for police training is that being taught the importance of an institution’s core values (e.g., honesty, integrity, fidelity) and expressing one’s commitment to these values do not curtail unethical behavior. Socializing the corrupt means filling students’ heads with empty slogans and moral platitudes, hoping that they will do what is right in any particular situation.

    • No Way to Call Home: Incarcerated Deaf People Are Locked in a Prison Inside a Prison

      Silent Voices is truly silent. The group’s three members are doing what looks like a dance in the front of a classroom at a state prison near the banks of the Mississippi River, just south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, performing their version of the song “I Believe” by R. Kelly. Instead of singing, the performers are interpreting R. Kelly’s lyrics into American Sign Language, or ASL, the sign language most commonly used in the United States. ASL is an animated language. Gestures, facial expressions and even foot-stomping the floor to a beat allow ASL speakers to add context, detail and music to their conversations. The three men in Silent Voices are stunning in this way. The performance is part ASL, part gospel choreography and it’s contagiously uplifting — in stark contrast with the backdrop of armed guards and barbed wire. The classroom erupts into applause.

    • Corporate Conquistadors Rape Indigenous Lands and Bodies

      Canada’s National Inquiry into Murdered and Disappeared Indigenous Women ought to investigate the role of the extractive industry.

      Recently, KWG Resources Incorporated, a Canadian mining company, posted a video online using women dressed in bikinis to promote the mining of chromite on Indigenous lands in northern Ontario, known as the Ring of Fire. KWG President Frank Smeenk defended his company’s actions saying “sex sells.” Perhaps this was the most honest statement of those in the industry.

    • A Shocking Story of How a Chicago Cop Killed a Teen — Then Locked Up His Best Friend for the Murder

      In 2012, 19-year-old Tevin Louis and his best friend Marquise Sampson allegedly robbed a restaurant. After reportedly making off with about $1,200, the two ran in different directions. Sampson crossed paths with an officer, who gave chase and ultimately opened fire, killing the teenager. Louis arrived at the scene where his friend was shot, and attempted to cross the police line. He was arrested for disorderly conduct. But in a shocking turn, Louis was eventually charged with first-degree murder in the death of his best friend, even though it was the officer who killed Sampson. Louis was found guilty. He is now serving a 32-year sentence for armed robbery and a 20-year sentence for murder. Louis is one of 10 people with similar cases exposed in the Chicago Reader’s new article headlined “Charged with Murder, But They Didn’t Kill Anyone—Police Did.” For more, we speak with the article’s authors: Alison Flowers, a journalist with the Chicago-based Invisible Institute, and Sarah Macaraeg, an independent journalist and fellow with the International Center for Journalists.

      [...]

      AMY GOODMAN: And, Alison Flowers, are police using this murder—this felony murder rule to protect their own misconduct?

      ALISON FLOWERS: That is what we heard from experts about this, that it’s really a red flag for misconduct when you see civilians or co-arrestee suspects being charged with a killing that they didn’t commit, but that police did. It’s often a red flag for misconduct. And, you know, here in Chicago, we have a problem with that, as we see nationwide, of course, but we know that 97 percent of Chicago police misconduct complaints go undisciplined. And so, there really is a problem of immunity, where police officers face little discipline, and it’s pretty easy for them to shift blame.

    • Why Colin Kaepernick Didn’t Stand for the National Anthem

      Explaining the gesture, Kaepernick said that he had decided to remain seated as a statement against racial oppression.

      “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media in an interview published on Saturday.

    • Yes, Innocent People Confess To Crimes They Haven’t Committed

      A cop friend of mine told me not to talk to the police even if you aren’t even a suspect. She warned that, in court, they can take one tiny thing you said — take it totally out of context — and use to to yank you into a prison sentence. Like how you “hate that girl.” The sort of hyperbole many of us use without ever wanting to kill someone. Or it could be something more innocuous. Suddenly, you are a suspect. And in court, they only present the things that make you sound guilty.

      Via @PINACNews, Cops coerce a 13-year-old kid into confessing to a murder he did not commit, sending him to prison for three years. A question from the video — did he really understand Miranda rights? I think it’s probably often unlikely that young teens do understand the rights and the ramifications of talking.

    • Now we need a reunited kingdom, open to Europe and the world

      Despite being drawn from different political parties, all of us campaigned proudly and passionately for Britain to remain in the European Union. The result was not the one we wanted, but of course we respect the democratically expressed verdict of the British people.

    • New pro-European campaign organisation: Stronger In relaunched as Open Britain

      Open Britain will help tackle the many unanswered questions about our future relationship with the EU, whether over funding, trade, immigration, security, the environment or workers’ rights. We will also, we hope, play a part in the now necessary debate about how we make our economy fairer – arguably the most pressing issue after June 23rd.

    • How storytelling can help address police violence

      On the same evening that three police officers were killed and three more were wounded in Baton Rouge in July, media outlets around the country reported that police officers and members of a local Black Lives Matter group met for a peaceful cookout in Wichita, Kansas. A nation fatigued by police violence was quick to pick up on the story, and social media posts about the gathering were soon trending, signaling peoples’ overwhelming desire to affirm that “all is well.”

      Except that all is not well. As an Oakland member of Black Lives Matter stated the following week when asked to respond to the offer of a cookout with police, “I eat pigs, I don’t eat with them.” Many people are obviously dissatisfied with such piecemeal displays of collaboration, and are seeking something much more substantial.

      So what’s gone wrong? After all, police departments all around the country have been working to implement Department of Justice recommendations intended to reduce incidents of violence. Why have these recommendations, which focus on policing policies and practices, failed to result in meaningful reform?

      As the nation struggles to find a path forward, storytelling, one of the oldest human traditions, could help pave the way. In 2013, I began my own process of leveraging this ancient human tradition to begin building a restorative bridge in my community. I attempted to get law enforcement officers and members of the non-law enforcement community to publicly tell stories about their true, personal stories about police violence.

    • The ‘Burkini Battle’: France’s capitulation to extremism

      Approximately two years ago in Turkey, there was an odd case in which AKP-allied Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc made a statement declaring that it was indecent for women to laugh in public or, presumably, in mixed company.

      Naturally, this statement was effectively a call to arms. Women took to social media in droves, posting pictures of themselves smiling accompanied by the hashtags #direnkahkaha (resist laughing) and #direnkadin (resist woman). Many similar stories have come out of the Middle East since the rise of social media, in which online activists and citizens protest their government’s encroachments upon their self-representation and lifestyle.

      Recently, another such viral campaign came in the form of Masih Alinejad’s “My Stealthy Freedom Project.” A fascinating challenge to both Iran’s state-enforced gender binary and state-enforced veiling/modesty codes of dress, this campaign as well as the #resistlaughing campaign and many others like it have been hailed in international media as shining examples of women and their male allies fighting against a repressive and reactionary theocratic state, and received well-deserved popularity and accolades for their bravery.

      Last week, another story of reactionary state control over women’s bodies rose for its moment of international attention, yet this time the tone of coverage by international media outlets was generally one of uncomfortable ambivalence. Beginning with the cancellation of a planned party at a waterpark and expanding to include legislation by several towns in France and an ongoing protest, the ‘burkini’ (a swimming costume allowing for most of the body to remain covered while in the water) has become a central topic in France’s ongoing crisis over its relationship to its Muslim citizens.

    • The burkini as a mirror

      Last week, the mayor of Oye-Plage in France was so disturbed by seeing a woman in a burkini on the beach that he is planning to ban such a garb from the beaches of his own town. This reminded me of some of my own experiences in the past that may just be relevant to the current debates over the burkini in Cannes, Marseille and other beaches in France.

      About fourteen years ago I was in Jordan with my not-yet-adolescent daughter. We were in a goldsmith’s shop in Amman looking at jewelry. The shop was very small, almost a cubicle. At one point six to eight women entered. They were totally covered by burkas; only their eyes were partially visible through a bit of lacework. This was the first time I had found myself in such a situation, in a very small space, surrounded by a group of women of whom I could see nothing. I was more than a bit uncomfortable. We bought a pair of earrings and left the shop.

      Some two years later I was in Esalen, California for a conference. Among those attending was an old friend of mine, a very observant Jewish man who lives in an ultra-orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. We were both quite taken with the open-air hot tubs, which famously look out over the Pacific Ocean.

      We quickly learned, however, that the etiquette of Esalen demanded that one enter the hot tubs naked, men and women together. We felt rather uncomfortable with this arrangement and contrived to go one morning at about 3:00 am, certain that nobody would be there. We took off our clothes, ran the water in the tubs, and were enjoying ourselves immensely when we were suddenly joined by—a naked woman.

    • Photo of the Week: A Burkini in Marseille

      A woman steps into the sea. Water displaced by her feet flies lightly into the air. Nearby, children wade and play. No one appears uncomfortable, yet the image is a trigger in France, where descendants of people who once displayed the words “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” in their public squares wish to exclude from those ideals certain peaceful others, many of whom were forced from their homelands by oppressors and events beyond their control.

      Bans on “burkinis” this month in more than a dozen French cities and towns—a move supported by many high-profile public figures—reminds us that the capacity for cultural intolerance or its more aggressive elder sibling, cultural bigotry, is a nagging constant in human affairs.

    • Truthdigger of the Week: Ethiopian Silver Medalist and Protester Feyisa Lilesa

      A member of the Oromo tribe of Ethiopia, Lilesa made headlines on the final day of the Rio Olympics when he raised his crossed arms in a gesture of solidarity with the Oromo people as he reached the finish line of the men’s marathon. He repeated the pose later during an Olympic ceremony. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 people have been killed and tens of thousands arrested since Nov. 2015, when the Ethiopian government began to forcibly displace Oromo and other people during an effort to develop land around the capital, Addis Ababa.

    • Airline pilots arrested on alcohol charge at Glasgow Airport

      Two airline pilots were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol as they prepared to fly from Glasgow Airport to New York.

      The United Airlines pilots, aged 35 and 45, were detained by police ahead of the 09:00 flight on Saturday.

    • Pilots arrested in UK over alcohol concern

      Two pilots were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol as they prepared to fly a transatlantic passenger jet from Scotland to the US.

      Concerns were reportedly raised over the pilots before the 9am United Airlines UA162 flight to Newark, New Jersey, was due to depart from Glasgow Airport on Saturday.

    • Police brutality against Blacks: ‘Changes in the air thanks to videotape & social media’

      Black Americans have had problems with police brutality in each generation. The difference now is the introduction of technologies that allow victims to pursue justice in a court of law, said Roland Martin, host and Managing Editor of TV One’s ‘News One Now’.

      Fifty one years ago, it was legal for African-Americans to be treated as second-class citizens in the United States of America. During the Jim Crow era African-Americans were prohibited from attending the same schools as the Whites, using the same restrooms, same restaurants and from drinking out of the same water fountains as white Americans. Now in 2016, segregation is no longer legal. But since the Jim Crow era ended it seems practices have been put into place to ensure African-Americans aren’t given a fair chance to succeed in the US.

      RT America correspondent Ashlee Banks focuses on issues related to the black community in the United States and discusses them with experts.

    • Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery

      Before a preseason game on Friday, San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. When he explained why, he only spoke about the present: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

      Twitter then went predictably nuts, with at least one 49er fan burning Kaepernick’s jersey.

      Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today it would be bizarre to expect African American players to stand for the Star Spangled Banner. Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African Americans.

    • Slavery: memory and afterlives

      Tomorrow, 23 August 2016, is International Slavery Remembrance Day; yesterday, the UK’s first ever memorial service to the victims of the transatlantic slave trade/African holocaust was held in Trafalgar Square. But what exactly should or can we remember, and why, and what should we ‘do’ with these memories? The forthcoming series of articles will reflect on these questions as they relate to the memory of slavery and the different conversations that can be had about its past and present. But they do not, and cannot, provide the answer to these questions, for there is no simple or single answer.

    • The living legacy of Emmett Till’s casket

      A casket is an unusual item to display in a museum. Most people visit museums not to dwell on death but to learn about what people did while alive. But there are times when a person’s death itself leaves an impact on history. Such is the case of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old from Chicago who was tortured and murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi on Aug. 28, 1955.

      Many Americans do not remember Till as a carefree, smiling teen but as a brutally disfigured civil rights martyr. Once a person has seen Till’s disfigured face inside his casket, it is impossible to forget.

      That’s why the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will open in Washington, D.C., next month, will feature Till’s casket among its exhibits. The display will give visitors to the museum the opportunity to hear an audio recording of Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, tell her son’s story and why she decided to shake up the civil rights movement by holding an open casket viewing and showing the world just how brutally Blacks were treated in America.

      A year before Till was killed while visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, the U.S. Supreme Court in its Brown v. Board of Education decision overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, holding that its doctrine of “separate but equal” was in fact unconstitutional.

    • Abu Zubaydah: Torture’s ‘Poster Child’

      Last week, Abu Zubaydah, who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo for 14 years without being charged with a crime, appeared for the first time before the U.S. military Periodic Review Board, which determines whether Guantanamo detainees will continue to be held as “enemy combatants.”

      Zubaydah argued he should be released because he has “no desire or intent to harm the United States or any other country.” During his hearing, Zubaydah also said he had been tortured by the CIA, an allegation confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report. The U.S. government maintains he is an enemy combatant.

    • Readers Think. Thinkers Read. – by Ralph Nader

      Here are my recommended books to read for the late summer holidays.

    • Journalist ‘Worried’ Next President May Order Assassination of WikiLeaks Founder

      ​As Jake Sullivan points out in his chilling opinion piece titled “Why I’m Worried America’s Next President Will Kill Assange,” the sentiment expressed by Beckel far from being an exaggerated response of anger has recently become part of the mainstream political discourse in the United States.

      The author points to a new narrative, budding primarily from the Hillary campaign but expressed by think tanks and defense analysts throughout the country that “Russia Weaponized WikiLeaks to Disrupt the US Election” and various derivative forms of the conspiracy theory that Julian Assange is an anti-Hillary agent of Putin.

      Assange for himself explained that he would gladly post damaging material on Donald Trump, but with the caveat that “we would have a hard time publishing something worse than what comes out of his mouth every second day.”

      [...]

      “Trump has indicated his treatment of an extradited Assange or Snowden would be severely harsh,” explained Sullivan. “Snowden, in particular, would be assassinated if Trump had his way. I can only shiver imagining how a President Trump would react to a major leak from the inner chambers of his new political empire.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Non-U.S. Universities with .edu Domain Names: They’re More Common Than You Might Think

      We were curious to see how many 2nd-level dot edu domains (including grandfathered edus) actually map to non-US IP address space. This may be of some practical importance since often people forget that users coming from legacy dot edu domains may not be from the United States.

      Now obviously, a non-US university could elect to host their domain in US address space, or a US university could choose to host their domain in non-US address space, but for the most part we’d expect to see US universities in US IP address space, and international universities in non-US address space.

      So can we identify dot edu domains that are hosted outside the US? It turns out that yes, yes we can.

    • ‘MegaMIMO 2.0’ wireless routers work together to triple bandwidth and double range [Ed: Runs Linux]

      Some enterprising researchers have found a way to make those routers work together, though. Dina Katabi and her team at MIT”s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory call it MegaMIMO 2.0, and they claim some pretty serious improvements: three times better data transfer speeds and doubled range.

      “In today’s wireless world, you can’t solve spectrum crunch by throwing more transmitters at the problem, because they will all still be interfering with one another,” said MIT grad student and lead author Ezzeldin Hamed. “The answer is to have all those access points work with each other simultaneously to efficiently use the available spectrum.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Library of Congress Might Become a Piracy Hub, RIAA Warns

        The U.S. Copyright Office is considering expanding the mandatory deposit requirement for publishers, so that record labels would also have to submit their online-only music to the Library of Congress. The Library would then allow the public to access the music. The RIAA, however, warns that this plan introduces some serious piracy concerns.

      • Commissioner Oettinger is about to turn EU copyright reform into another ACTA

        Instead, Commissioner Oettinger has let the publishing, film and music industries hijack the reform in an attempt to protect old business models from progress – at a tragic cost to freedom of creativity and expression on the internet, startups’ right to innovate and the cause of a Europe without digital borders.

The United States Has Gotten Over Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 3:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The very home (or origin) of software patents is finally breaking up with them

Breakup

Summary: A roundup of new articles about software patents in the United States, 2 years into the post-Alice era (the US Supreme Court deeming patents on software too abstract to have merit)

WE are very pleased to see the USPTO (and also GAO) recognising that patent quality truly counts. The EPO under Battistelli treats quality control as a nuisance, which is a terrible mistake. A lot of people publicly acknowledge right now that software patents are somewhat of a “thing of the past”, even if few of these still trickle in past the examiners (later to be properly scrutinised by PTAB and/or the courts, whereupon there’s a reversal). Jakob Schnaidt, writing for MIP, said this: “In the early 1960s, patent practice was quiet and inventors often faced a hostile environment.” Nowadays, by contrast, “patent practices” take over the system (they write patent law by proxy), tax everything, and inventors face a hostile environment full of patent trolls and fear. Which way — or status quo — will we be better off with? Remember that back in the 1960s there was software but no software patents. In fact, back then FOSS (Free/Open Source software) was the norm; people openly shared source code and didn’t keep it secret. It didn’t work too badly, did it? A lot of software innovation happened around that time, arguably more so than today. Magazines used to publish source code (e.g. for compression) and there was no atmosphere of fear over patent lawsuits in the field of software.

“Remember that back in the 1960s there was software but no software patents.”An industry full of (or rife with) patent lawyers is certainly good for “patent practices” but not for developers. An article which was mentioned here before but reposted/revisited by MIP over the weekend compares the situation in Japan to that of the US. “As Suntory and Asahi settle their patent dispute over non-alcoholic beer,” says the summary, “John A Tessensohn surveys the state of litigation in Japan, and compares it with the United States” (spoiler alert: there’s a paywall).

Japan is arguably the only country in which software patents are potent, other than the United States (which is moving away from them anyway). There are a few other east Asian countries where software patents stand a chance, but then again, quality control there is virtually non-existent. Consider SIPO in China for instance…

Looking at some recent patent news from the US, Cioffi, which was mentioned here before, uses software patents against Google. Cioffi does this in the Eastern District of Texas, the capital of patent trolls where courts advertise themselves as plaintiff-friendly. The US Supreme Court might eventually weigh in (latest reports on the case suggest that the software patents might somehow reach SCOTUS), potentially reaffirming its position on Alice. As one writer put it: “Central to the decision was the court’s interpretation of two of the claims that Cioffi had made in the patents pertaining to a “web browser process” and a “critical file.” While Cioffi’s lawyers maintained that the terms as defined in the claim were narrow and specific in scope, Google argued that there were no common definitions for these terms on which to base an infringement claim.”

After Alice these patents are not likely to survive. Cioffi is wasting its time and money and once it leaves the crooked courts of the Eastern District of Texas it doesn’t stand a chance. These patents are far too abstract and broad, as Google already points out.

“Sadly for lawyers, in order to win cases they need to do more than just call patents “medical” or “health” (to convince judges).”Revisiting MIP, there are a couple of new articles about PTAB’s fourth anniversary [1, 2]. “Covered business method (CBM) proceedings have lost some of their appeal recently,” says one article. The same goes for software patents and “two recent interesting ITC decisions involving PTAB proceedings,” as the latter article puts it, further reaffirming this (see the statistics presented/charted in the pages). The ITC‘s rejections of software (or abstract) patents were covered here very recently in relation to two cases, not just one. There’s almost no hope left for software patents in the US and vocal patent law firms are fuming. Watchtroll, for instance, is now resorting to ‘medi-washing’ (see “life-saving results” in the headline) of software patents, in an order to make it sound as though if the US doesn’t grant software patents, people will die! These truly pathetic tricks that exploit a perceived dilemma over life — a sort of hostage situation or ransom — just come to show how low Watchtroll would stoop (recall how he mocked PTAB a month ago). As we saw at the EPO’s appeal boards, calling software "device" or "medical" does not make the software patentable. And speaking of software patents on something “medical”, here is a new article titled “What have we learned from four years of digital health patent fights?”

“In 2012,” notes the author, “CardioNet sued several companies, including heart-monitoring company MedTel for allegedly infringing five patents by either selling devices or offering cardiac monitoring services using CardioNet’s software.”

We wrote about this case one year ago (“Healthwashing Patents”). Sadly for lawyers, in order to win cases they need to do more than just call patents “medical” or “health” (to convince judges). As this article notes, even Intellectual Ventures does not bother with the strategy. To quote: “The biggest of these NPEs, Intellectual Ventures, hasn’t filed a single suit in the mobile health space according to the firm’s website, though it has litigated aggressively in the telecom and digital camera spaces since 2012.”

“It’s only now, decades too late, that the US Congress, GAO, courts, ITC, PTAB and even the USPTO (however begrudgingly) acknowledge this was a mistake all along.”Yes, the Microsoft-connected Intellectual Ventures even went after Linux with such patents, as we showed earlier this year and last year. Finally, notes this article, Alice changed everything. To quote: “The judges in those two cases cited a Supreme Court precedent, Alice v CSL Bank. Much older precedents have created a category of inventions that are unpatentable because they constitute an “abstract idea”. Under Alice, a 2014 unanimous decision, the Supreme Court devised a test for whether computer software was a patentable invention or just the application of technology to an unpatentable human process, and therefore an unpatentable abstract idea. Both American Well and Jawbone failed that test.”

Patent law firms will tell us that this is bad news (for “innovation” of course!); so will officials-turned-lobbyists like David Kappos. But the reality is, such patents should never have been granted at all. It’s only now, decades too late, that the US Congress, GAO, courts, ITC, PTAB and even the USPTO (however begrudgingly) acknowledge this was a mistake all along. Better fix the system; better late than never.

More Lies From President Benoît Battistelli and the EPO Crisis Which Continues to Deepen

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The Member States must decide very quickly if they wish to throw away more than 40 years of success, and replace it with a system that no longer rewards innovation, but instead becomes simply a tool for large corporations to dominate by means of their financial muscle.”

Battistellius

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO), collectively speaking, is still wrestling with a Battistelli infiltration (a circle of high-level managers) which habitually lies and viciously attacks those who dare counter these lies

MANAGEMENT of the EPO is a disaster and the cause of crisis. It has been doing far too much damage to be simply tolerated and taken for granted. More than 2 years since we began coverage of some of the cliquish scandals Battistelli is still in power (having merely broadened his ‘circle’) and his agenda, except the UPC, is still moving forward. Software patents in Europe will be promoted next month in New York [1, 2] because who cares about the EPC, right? These people don’t seem to care about patent quality, not even when the US is itself withdrawing or moving away from software patents (post-Alice). It often seems like the USPTO quickly redeems itself, whereas the EPO goes (or races) in the opposite direction under Battistelli. Have we learned nothing from the mistakes of David Kappos, who is publicly accused this weekend of discarding patent quality?

Battistelli liarThe EPO has been rather silent for several weeks, probably more so than last year (in spite of summer holidays). It can be seen messaging everyone with dull repetition but slight variation (as if from a set of templates) [1, 2, 3] regarding Battistelli’s next lobbying event. The EPO is now 'spamming' the University of Manchester too (it ‘spams’ quite a few universities to jack up the votes/nominations, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]). Apart from that, there’s nothing which counts as news, just a lot of repetition. The UPC is on the rocks, so there’s nothing to be celebrated. According to this report titled “U.K. Patent Bar Says Country Should Join EU Patent Court” (via), Team UPC has grown rather desperate as short of political mischief the UPC cannot happen in the UK (or anywhere in Europe unless profoundly overhauled). Still, these people are pushing Lucy to ratify the UPC for their own personal gain. This takeover by non-practicing elements led Henrion to stating (to one from Team UPC, his employer) that “upc is not a reform, it is n hostile takeover.” It’s a Battistelli-backed takeover. It would be valuable for large corporations from abroad, not to mention patent trolls from the US.

“Well, the lies of Battistelli are very common and very frequent.”As we already noted here years ago, the UPC would likely make the boards of appeal redundant and despite the fallout (post-Brexit) Battistelli is still punishing the boards. It speaks volumes about his horrible sense of leadership. Responding to an article from the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice, one person in the comments section now notes that Battistelli “has instructed staff to provide preferential treatment to such mega corporations,” as per leaks we published here a year ago. Here is the full comment:

It is encouraging to see a critique of the current situation at the EPO, but it focusses on the situation of the Boards of Appeal, without going into enough detail about the staff conflict, which has major repercussions for the mission of the EPO. The editorial seems to accept that there was a need for “reform” without saying what reform and why. Once on accepts the use of this term, much wielded by the President, it is a very short step to considering it a “good thing”, and that the only difficulty lies in its implementation. This is very far from the truth. The President’s aims since his appointment seem to be to replace the high- standard examination at the EPO, which has contributed so much to the its reputation, and to the rewarding of innovation by small and medium industries, with a registration system, such as prevails in France, which favours mega corporations with deep pockets for litigation. To this end he has instructed staff to provide preferential treatment to such mega corporations, made impossible productivity demands on examiners, and appears to be intent on destroying the Boards of Appeal. The editorial is correct in identifying the weakness of the governance of the EPO by those who benefit financially from it. The President has had no hesitation in exploiting that fact, linking grants to agreement with his agenda, promising that the EPO will pay for “emergency” dental treatment for delegates at AC meetings, etc. In fact he realized from the outset that the only real opposition he was likely to encounter was from the staff, and specifically, the staff union, SUEPO. The resistance of the staff is not linked to salaries and benefits, but rather to the idea that with privilege comes responsibility, and with pride in fulfilling that responsibility by providing a high standard of examination to the benefit of industry. Hence the President has specifically targetted the union, and the staff with a series of repressive measures that would be impossible in any member state, secure in the knowledge that, as the editorial correctly states, staff have little or no recourse to timely justice. He has dismissed or demoted Union officials on trumped-up charges, forbidden strikes, rigged the internal system of appeals, and done away with almost all of the feeble safeguards available to staff. Indeed the ATILO itself has expressed extreme disquiet at the overwhelming workload generated, to the extent that it is threatening to expel the EPO.

The editorial is right to say that something must be done. A reputation is built over many years, but can be destroyed quickly and is slow to be recovered. Already experienced staff are leaving in droves, and recruitment criteria are being greatly lowered. The Member States must decide very quickly if they wish to throw away more than 40 years of success, and replace it with a system that no longer rewards innovation, but instead becomes simply a tool for large corporations to dominate by means of their financial muscle.

As long as Battistelli demolishes patent quality at the EPO there is an uncertain future for the Office. NPOs (national patent offices) might turn out to be the better route in all cases, thus jeopardising everything that the EPC stood for. In the EPO’s own words (a couple of days ago): “To get protection in just a few countries, applying for national patents may be best” (under Battistelli it may be best under all circumstances).

Another comment said: “In the Administrative Council every member-state has the same level of voting power. One possible solution might be that there will be a different weight added to the vote of a member-state.” As readers may recall, the EPO’s President is rumoured to be ‘buying’ votes of small countries. He is also lying to Administrative Council delegates in order for them to support his unpopular proposals, including the crushing of the appeal boards.

In light of the recent coverage from Bernhard Lohr (not Katja Riedel or other colleagues), as well as an article about Haar for which a translation is still needed, one person published the following comment:

From the text of the reform concerning the relocation of the boards:

“in Germany, it was decided to separate the former boards of appeal administratively and physically from the German Patent and Trademark Office, as the new Federal Patent Court, in order to reinforce their independence.”

Actually, the trade mark department of the DPMA is in the same building as the Bundespatentgericht.

It is surprising that at least the German representative in the AC did not point out this lie of Battistelli. May be he will get a post as vice president or as the president of the boards in the near future.

Well, the lies of Battistelli are very common and very frequent. We pointed out some lies of his just a few days ago. Those who have the courage to question him and his lies are punished severely, so the record is rarely corrected from within. From September onwards we plan to accelerate coverage of the EPO. There is still a lot of ‘dirty laundry’ or skeletons in Battistelli’s closet.

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