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New Paper Outlines Concerns That the EPO as a Patent Examination Office is Dying, Gradually Turning Into a Registration Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What would that mean for existing EP (European patent) holders who pay renewal fees (the financial lifeline of the Office)? What would that mean for domain gurus who work as examiners?

French and US flag

Summary: The EPO appears to be going in the opposite direction of the USPTO (post-Alice/Mayo) and becoming more like the French patent system, which is notoriously deficient in terms of quality because there is no quality assessment (or prior art search) at all

THE EPO, as we shall show later this month, has turned into somewhat of a nut house under Battistelli’s notorious leadership. It’s not because examiners have mental issues (they are very stressed, understandably so, and it's growingly worse as time goes by) but because the Battistellites think like neoliberals whose goal is to just maximise everything monetary by deregulating everything. They are burning down almost half a century of reputation, essentially squeezing the goose as if there’s no tomorrow.

We have already mentioned the French model here. We did so several times in the past. The French patent model is widely regarded as poor, but the following new paper lays out an explanation of what happens at the EPO under the mostly French leadership from INPI (the French patent office which Battistelli pulled former colleagues from):

The French Model for the EPO

When the EPO was created in 1977, its founding fathers decided on a patent system that would provide for a high degree legal certainty for the inventor (investor), the competitors and the public, through high quality searches and examinations, the whole backed up by an opposition procedure and a second instance in the form of the Boards of Appeal. That decision has largely remained unquestioned by subsequent Presidents until Mr Battistelli took over. Indications are that Mr Battistelli is currently trying to remodel the EPO according to the example of the French patent system – without informing anybody. This should worry not only staff, but also the users of the patent system and the public.

The French patent system then
Until 1968, in France patent applications were not examined but merely registered. All what the French patent office did was stamp a date (and time of day) on whatever documents the
applicants brought to them. Patent granted before that time bear the mention “S.G.D.G.” meaning “Sans Garantie du Gouvernement” (i.e. without a warranty of validity by the government). Granted patents were only looked at when the patent proprietors sought to establish their claims. At that point the patents had left the patent office and national courts were responsible.

There are advantages to a registration system, first and foremost that it is cheaper for the patent office because it saves work. The obvious disadvantage is a lack of legal certainty until the patent is actually examined – by the courts. The French system nevertheless worked reasonably well. Without the presumption of validity, the risk of having a patent revoked was relatively high. French applicants reacted by drafting their applications in the safest way possible, thereby producing mostly clear claims of relatively narrow scope.

The French patent system now
Things changed when law n° 68-1 of January 1986 came into force. Article 6 of law 68-1 introduced the concepts of novelty and inventive step. This is mirrored Article L611-10 presently in force, the first paragraph of which reads:
“Sont brevetables, dans tous les domaines technologiques, les inventions nouvelles impliquant une activité inventive et susceptibles d’application industrielle.”

Also the other articles resemble those of the European Patent Convention, so that at a first reading the French patent system now looks very similar to that of the EPO.

There is, however, a major difference: Article L612-12, point 5, makes it clear that an application will be rejected only when the application obviously is non-patentable.

We cite the Guidelines of the French Intellectual Property Office (INPI)1,2:

“La non-conformité manifeste aux conditions de brevetabilité peut donner lieu au rejet de la demande de brevet dans les cas suivants :
Est rejetée, en tout ou partie, toute demande de brevet…
4° qui a pour objet une invention manifestement non brevetable en application de l’article L. 611-16 à L. 611-19
5° dont l’objet ne peut manifestement être considéré comme une invention au sens de l’article L. 611-10, deuxième paragraphe ;
7° qui n’a pas été modifiée après mise en demeure, alors que l’absence de nouveauté résultait manifestement du rapport de recherche.
Dans tous les autres cas, la non-conformité aux conditions de brevetabilité ne fait pas obstacle à la délivrance du brevet. Elle peut toutefois être sanctionnée par la nullité du brevet prononcée par les Tribunaux.”

Lack of novelty and inventive step is excluded as grounds for rejection, as it is defined by Article L611-10 first paragraph (see previous page) and point 5 above only cites the second paragraph of L611-10 (exclusions of patentability), that is word for word equivalent of Article 52(2) EPC and lists non-patentable matter such as discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods etc.

What happens in practice is that the INPI3:
- sends the incoming applications to the EPO for searching4,
- sends the search report produced by the EPO together with the search opinion5 to the applicant, to which the applicant must respond within 6 months (3+3 months) when X or Y documents are cited, otherwise the demand is administratively rejected for lack of answer,
- the applicants amend the claims or files arguments supporting of the claims,
- in case of remaining obvious defects not concerning novelty or inventive step (Art. 611-10, para.2) a communication is sent. Otherwise a patent is granted.

The French patent system does not foresee a post-grant opposition procedure by patent examiners (i.e. technical experts) or an appeal procedure at a second instance within the patent office. Appeals against rejection by the examiner, opposition by competitors and other forms of patent disputes are all treated by a civil court: the “tribunal de grande instance” in Paris 6 . The members of this court are all lawyers. There are no technical members.

The lack of substantive examination and the outsourcing of searches to the EPO explains why the INPI has relatively few examiners, why it seeks to recruit only relatively non-specialised engineers as examiners (“ingénieur généraliste”), and why examiner salaries are relatively low.

The EPO towards the French model
[x] has on previous occasions pointed out that the reasons given by Mr Batistelli to justify his reforms (e.g. “remaining competitive”) do not make sense and asked him what the real plan is7. We never received an answer. Any analysis of what is happening at the EPO is furthermore hindered by the fact that Mr Battistelli tends to use a form of Orwellian “newspeak8” where what he says can be exactly the opposite of what he means.

By now the outlines are nevertheless becoming clear: Mr Battistelli may be trying to reshape the European patent system after the French model9. This is most easily seen by the changes in the examination practice: Mr Battistelli’s continued insistence on “early certainty”, on efficiency (“getting there fast 10 ”) and the ever-increasing individual targets for examiners necessarily led to a strong reduction in the time available per file. The most recent “early certainty” initiative foresees that the majority of applications will see only a single response of the applicants and then a final action, presumably a grant. Under the guise of “areas of competence” senior experts have actually been moved out of their technical fields to other domains. The planned reduction of the backlog foresees further technical “flexibility” of examiners.

The EPO now also seeks to recruit “generalists” instead of highly qualified experts. In doing so it has lowered the initial salaries for examiners, in particular for those with previous experience, making the job unattractive for highly qualified experts. The expected result of the above changes will be a more superficial examination, focusing mainly on formalities – like in France.

Mr Battistelli has been hostile towards the Boards of Appeal from the very beginning of his presidency. Last year Mr Battistelli stopped recruiting Boards Members, up to the point that some 27 of the about 170 posts were unoccupied. This obviously led to massive delays in appeals. The next step is a removal to under-dimensioned offices at the outskirts of Munich. The likely impact will be another brain drain. It very much looks like Mr Battistelli considers the Boards of Appeal “unnecessary”, while absent in the French system. In his “French model” their role could be taken over by the Unitary Patent Court.

[x] supported and still supports and examination model of the EPO that aims at delivering patents with a high presumption of validity (the “German model”), because:
- it provides legal certainty for the applicant who will know at an early stage whether the invention is likely to survive challenges by the competition and hence whether it is worth investing in its development,
- it brings legal certainly for the competitors who will know at an early stage whether to count with a monopoly or not and hence whether to negotiate a license or work around the invention,
- it reduces the risk of unfair competition not only by patent trolls, but also by big companies “squashing” smaller competitors with large patent portfolios and the threat of costly litigation.

Apparently the “French model” works in France. This may be in part because foreign applicants will mostly avoid the French route because of the language difficulties, and the thorough
examination by the EPO thus far protected France from abusive applications coming in via the EPO route. But with the quality of the search and examination at the EPO going down this may no longer be the case. The “French model” thus risks the introduction of a patent system, in France11 and elsewhere in Europe, wherein predictability is not based through a high presumption of validity but on financial muscle: the patent proprietor who can best afford litigation will win12.[x] does not believe that such a model would really support innovation in Europe.

Should, however, the original EPO model no longer be considered to serve the best interest of the European economy, then a change of direction should be the result of a democratic process following a public debate and not the decision of a President with a cultural bias and possibly an axe to grind.
1 https://www.inpi.fr/sites/default/files/directives_brevet_completes_0.pdf, bold-face added
2 Translation: Evident non-conformity to the conditions of patentability may give rise to a rejection of the patent application in the following cases: Applications
4. of which the substance evidently cannot be considered as an invention according to Article L. 611-16 to L. 611-19,
5. of which the substance evidently cannot be considered as an invention according to Article L. 611-10, second paragraph;
7. that have not been modified although the lack of novelty was evident of the search report.
In all other cases non-conformity with the conditions for patentability is not an obstacle to the grant of a patent. The lack of conformity may, however, lead to the invalidity of the patent being found by the courts.

3 http://www.sedlex.fr/brevets-francais/delivrance/lexamen-de-la-demande-et-delivrance-dun-brevet/


4 Before the EPO existed French patent applications were searched by the IIB, the predecessor of the EPO.
5 Before the EPO issued searches opinions French applicants were requested to react to documents marked X and Y in the search report.
6 Code de la propriété intellectuelle, article D631-2.
7 “A brave new EPO?”
8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak
9 There is still considerable diversity in European national practices. E.g. the grant procedure for national patent applications in Switzerland and Liechtenstein does not require a search and does not involve any substantial examination at all. The patent is granted provided that certain formal requirements are fulfilled. It is possible to obtain a search report during the procedure, but this is optional and has no effect on the decision to grant. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitary_patent_(Switzerland_and_Liechtenstein)#Grant_procedures
10 see “Getting there faster – Timely and efficient examination”.
11 We note that the lack of substantive examination in the French system has been criticised within France itself See the paper by Prof. Bertrand Warufsel for the University of Lille: http://www2.droit.parisdescartes.fr/warusfel/articles/warusfelexamenfondbrevetfr.pdf
12 Strikingly, the US seems to me moving in the opposite direction: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-490

That last footnote speaks of GOA — the relevance which it (to the EPO) we covered here not too long ago [1, 2]. If the above is an accurate assessment, there should be an uproar/revolt from existing EPO stakeholders, including patent holders.

Links 11/9/2016: Chakra GNU/Linux Refresh, Wine Staging 1.9.18

Posted in News Roundup at 10:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 3.14 Reached End of Life, Users Urged to Move to Linux 4.4 LTS

      We reported the other day that the long-term supported Linux 3.14 kernel branch is about to reach end of its life, and that one more maintenance version will be released in the next couple of weeks.

    • Allwinner A33 DRM Support Coming In Linux 4.9

      Maxime Ripard of Free Electrons has sent in the Allwinner DRM driver pull request that will ultimately land for the Linux 4.9 kernel merge window.

      New to report on for the young Allwinner DRM driver is support in the sub4i-drm code for the Allwinner A33 SoC. Aside from the Allwinner A33 SoC, there are various other bug fixes and updates.

  • Applications

    • Dstat – Versatile resource statistics tool for Linux

      Dstat – versatile tool for generating system resource statistics & replacement for vmstat, iostat, netstat and ifstat. Dstat is another handy tool for monitoring systems during performance tuning tests, benchmarks or troubleshooting. It overcomes some of other tools limitations and adds some extra features, more counters and flexibility.

      I really impressed by dstat utility when analyzing the tool to prepare the article. I excited then i dig into deep on dstat utility usage, wow! awesome features which i didn’t find any performance monitoring tools.

      You can monitor additionally MySQL database activity, batter percentage info for laptop, number of dbus connections, fan speed, nfs utility, postfix, system temperature sensors, power usage, etc,., more & more. I personally advise every administrator to give a try, which will help you to improve the troubleshooting skill a lot.

    • PostfixAdmin 3.0

      I just released the long awaited PostfixAdmin 3.0.

    • Samba 4.5 Is a Massive Release That Improves Security, Adds Many New Features

      Samba 4.5 has been released and it is the latest, newest stable branch of the widely-used, free, cross-platform, and open-source software project that re-implements the SMB/CIFS networking protocol on UNIX-like platforms.

      Samba is being used by default in numerous, if not all GNU/Linux operating systems, as well as on Apple’s macOS, to allow users to access network shares from other computers that run Microsoft Windows, and interact with them to exchange any file format that exists today.

    • The new v40 TrueType interpreter mode

      FreeType 2.7 ships the new v40 TrueType instructions interpreter version enabled by default. It finally brings DirectWrite/ClearType-like rendering to the screen, or ‘subpixel hinting’ as some FreeType code calls it. Actually, there is no subpixel hinting.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Release 1.9.18

        The Wine Staging release 1.9.18 is now available.

      • Wine-Staging Adds 1D Textures For D3D10/D3D11

        There is finally a new Wine-Staging version with release notes to talk about for this more-experimental version of Wine.

      • Wine Staging 1.9.18 Adds Experimental Support for 1D Textures in D3D10 and D3D11

        After being away since June, the Wine Staging development team is back to announce the new features incorporated in the latest version of the open-source software that let’s users run Windows apps and games on their Linux boxes, Wine Staging 1.9.18.

        Based on the recently released Wine 1.9.18, Wine Staging 1.9.18 is here to bring you all the neat features and improvements implemented in the respective development version of Wine, such as the ability to support multiple kernel drivers in only one process, improvements to the WebServices reader, and better joystick support.

    • Games

      • Ioquake3 Is Finally Moving To Its New OpenGL Renderer By Default

        The ioquake3 open-source game engine project that’s built around the Quake III: Arena code-base is finally moving to its new renderer by default and abandoning the original 17-year-old renderer.

        Beginning next month they will be defaulting new ioquake3 installs to using their “OpenGL 2″ renderer and in November will disable the original renderer for all ioquake3 installations.

      • Agricola spinoff and Patchwork pass Greenlight, heading to Linux

        Two more digital incarnations of designer Uwe Rosenberg’s hit 2-player board games are coming to Linux on Steam, as they’ve both now passed their Greenlight campaigns!

        Yes, they are mobile ports, just as Le Havre: The Inland Port is, but that doesn’t mean they’re of poor quality. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I’ve played all three on Android (and the Le Havre spinoff additionally on Linux), and they’re all fantastic and well-polished implementations. DIGIDICED is a team of only 4 developers, but they’re really doing a great job with the licenses. They’ve even shown evidence of acting on user feedback with Le Havre, so I feel confident in recommending them to my fellow Linux gamers.

      • Wargame: European Escalation works once again for Nvidia users, two years after breaking

        It seems Wargame: European Escalation was broken for nearly two years (see this forum post) for Nvidia GPU users on Linux.

      • Curvatron, a simple yet interesting evolution of the old game ‘Snake’, we have free keys for you

        Curvatron has recently been released on Linux and the developer sent in a bunch of keys for you lucky people. The game itself is inspired by the old game ‘Snake’ that was on rather old Nokia mobile phones.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.7.4 and several important package updates available in Chakra

        The latest update for KDE’s Plasma series is now available to all Chakra users, together with other important package updates mostly for the core repository.

        Plasma 5.7.4 includes a month’s worth of bugfixes and new translations, with the changes mostly found in the plasma desktop and workspace packages.

      • Chakra GNU/Linux Gets LibreOffice 5.2.1 and KDE Plasma 5.7.4, Vulkan API Support
      • KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS Desktop to Offer a More Efficient Pager, Per-Screen Pagers

        KDE developer Eike Hein reports on various improvements to pagers that will be implemented in the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS desktop environment, due for release on October 4, 2016.

        We reported a couple of months ago that the next major version of the KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment, build 5.8, will be a long-term supported one. KDE Plasma 5.8 will also be the first LTS (Long Term Support) version of the renowned desktop interface used in numerous GNU/Linux operating systems by default.

      • QtCon + Akademy 2016

        This year Akademy take place along with QtCon in Berlin, Germany. It is a year of great celebration for some free software communities, so they decided to get together to celebrate in a single event. KDE is celebrating 20 years, while VideoLAN and FSFE are celebrating 15 years. It was a historic moment and I could not miss it, so I went to Berlin for the second time (the first was to attend the Desktop Summit 2011).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • A Detailed Review On Elementary OS 0.4 Loki

        It’s also worth to mention that the distribution is almost empty; No many default applications are already installed, for example even LibreOffice isn’t installed so you can’t manage your documents or open them, you almost only have the elementary OS applications, Files, Photos, Videos.. But nothing else, and this is not a very good deal comparing it to a size of 1.4GB for the ISO file. You will need to do a lot of downloading after you install the system on your hard drive.

    • New Releases

      • Linux From Scratch and BLFS 7.10 Books Released to Support GCC 6.2.0, Glibc 2.24

        Bruce Dubbs from the Linux From Scratch (LFS) and Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) projects, which let users build their own Linux-based operating systems from scratch, proudly announced the release of LFS 7.10 and BLFS 7.10.

      • 4MLinux 20.0 Distribution to Be the First to Run on UEFI PCs, Core Beta Out Now

        Today, September 11, 2016, 4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki informs Softpedia about the availability of the Beta release of the Core Edition of his upcoming 4MLinux 20.0 GNU/Linux operating system.

        Still powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel series, 4MLinux 20.0 is now in development, and it looks like it incorporates the Glibc (GNU C Library) 2.23 and BusyBox 1.25.0 core components, along with GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 6.1.0 for compiling the programs included in the final release of the GNU/Linux distribution.

      • Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Alpha 2 Release and August Donation Totals

        The feedback from our first alpha release has reported the Moksha desktop on the 16.04 base is as stable as ever, so the only reason this remains with a pre-release tag is due to some rough edges in terms of polish. There are some minor issues with the default theme under our new 16.04 base and I am still looking to make time to compile a non-PAE kernel image and create a separate disc image for that.

      • Bodhi 4.0 Linux OS Gets a Second Alpha Build, Remains Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Bodhi Linux developer Jeff Hoogland is pleased to announce on September 11, 2016, the release and immediate availability of the second Alpha development snapshot of his upcoming Bodhi 4.0.0 GNU/Linux distribution.

        Bodhi 4.0.0 Alpha 2 remains based on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, and it looks like it brings an up-to-date Bodhi Builder tool that the developer uses to build his Ubuntu derivative. Moreover, the latest security and software versions pushed upstream in the Xenial repos have also been imported in the Bodhi 4.0.0 distribution, which uses the most stable release of the Moksha desktop environment.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • debhelper 10 is now available

        Today, debhelper 10 was uploaded to unstable and is coming to a mirror near you “really soon now”. The actual changes between version “9.20160814” and version “10” are rather modest. However, it does mark the completion of debhelper compat 10, which has been under way since early 2012.

      • Unseen changes to lintian.d.o

        We have been making a lot of minor changes to lintian.d.o and the underlying report framework. Most of them were hardly noticeable to the naked. In fact, I probably would not have spotted any of them, if I had not been involved in writing them. Nonetheless, I felt like sharing them, so here goes.

      • Derivatives

        • It Looks Like Descent OS 5.0 Linux Will Be Based on Debian After All, Not Ubuntu

          After deciding to switch base one more time and move to Ubuntu, again, Descent OS Linux developer Brian Manderville announced at the beginning of the year first Alpha release of his upcoming Descent OS 5.0 GNU/Linux operating system.

          It took the developer two years to bring us an Alpha build of its Ubuntu MATE-based Descent OS 5.0 distribution, and we haven’t heard anything from him in the meantime. No Beta, not another Alpha build has been released since the February announcement of Descent OS 5.0 Alpha, which was based on Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Launcher List Indicator Update Adds PPA, New Workspaces Features

            Did you find the Launcher List Indicator we wrote about recently useful? If so, you’ll want to check in with the latest version that’s available.


            Well, a number of you said how more useful this applet would be if the launcher lists changed depending on which workspace you use.

            Well, this applet now supports exactly that!

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Download Linux Mint 18 KDE Edition

              The KDE Edition of Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” was officially released recently at Friday, 9 September 2016. You can download the ISO files from these links.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Women & Free Software projects

    To many women, a large social group of men they are supposed to join may be intimidating – the same could probably be said of any men joining a large social group primarily populated of women. But when what looks intimidating reveals itself as being actually oppressing , that is the moment we have a true problem. Male developers shunning, criticizing, belittling and offending female developers because they are females, even when not necessarily expressed in an explicit way, is purely not acceptable. It is neither on the most basic moral grounds nor in the letter and spirit of the Free Software movement. The Internet, unfortunately, reveals protracted bullies, the kind of people who would probably not have the guts to ask the targeted woman out, or even not dare look at a female developer in the eyes and tell her what he would be able to write from the comfort of his own keyboard, miles away from her.

  • RoundCube-Next Is Woefully Behind Schedule

    After raising more than $103,000 USD last year via crowd-funding the RoundCube-Next web-based email client doesn’t really appear to be going anywhere.

    A massive crowdfunding campaign was launched in early 2015 to make RoundCube-Next a reality where they raised $103,541 of their original $80k goal. RoundCube-Next is/was supposed to be completely redesigned, offer integrated chat functionality, support video conferencing with WebRTC, integrate cloud file access, and offer a new and quite nice looking responsive UI.


  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Some notes on programming languages and web development

      Even before I begin, I must state that I’m not a web developer. I’ve never been one, and I have no intention to turn into one either. It isn’t that I don’t like developing web applications. On the contrary, I find the topic incredibly interesting. It’s just that everything I need has pretty much already been developed by web developers, so I’ve never had to write an app myself. Add to that my lack of interest in pursuing a career the software development industry – I prefer my research – the implications are that I will always prioritise research related development.

      Take this blog, for example. It once used to be a WordPress deployment, but I eventually got fed up with it bleeding the resources of my shared hosting space and moved to a static site. I didn’t even bother learning a new language like Ruby to use Jekyll. I found something that was written in Python, a language that I know pretty well – Pelican – which works really well. So, really, for my web requirements, I tend to pick the path of least effort.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Is there a ‘club culture’ at the heart of the NHS’s quality regulator?

      A look at the Care Quality Commission’s choice of inspection chairs and overall processes reveals a predominantly white, male, corporate culture that risks letting down patients and staff.

    • U.S. Healthcare System Culls the Wheat from the Working Class Chaff

      Americans are an oddly and beautifully diverse lot, but the healthcare industry has us all figured out. For decades now, maintaining control over American lives and any vestige of the American dream has become increasingly the purview of big business. And no one relishes and maintains more direct control over the health and safety of every American life than the healthcare industry.

      No terrorist group is stronger or more threatening. No political candidate is more menacing – not even Donald Trump. Standing ever at the ready to pass judgement on the value or lack thereof of your life, my life, and every American life stands the health care industry and its stockholders. Until we recognize the depth of the internal threat from the collusion that drives the medical-financial-industrial-complex (the MFIC), we won’t change this system to one that truly values health and life over profits.

      The MFIC includes all the obvious suspects – the for-profit health insurance industry, big Pharma, medical device manufacturers, the giant hospitals and providers’ groups, and the collection agencies and financiers who keep the flow flowing. I have to add to that group all stockholders in these corporations who cannot reasonably assert any deniability about profiting personally from the pain of others. If you own stock in one of these areas, you are supporting the slow, sure genocide of those Americans deemed expendable by the healthcare system.

    • Brexit camp abandons £350m-a-week NHS funding pledge

      Leaders of the cross-party campaign that persuaded the British people to leave the EU have dropped their pre-referendum pledge of a £350m-a-week spending bonanza for the NHS.

      Many of those who headed the Vote Leave campaign, including its former chair, Labour MP Gisela Stuart, and Michael Gove, the Tory former justice secretary, are re-forming this weekend, creating a new pressure group called Change Britain.

      Other top names involved in the organisation, which says it is being established to help “deliver the UK’s referendum result in the most effective way”, include former chancellor Nigel (Lord) Lawson, Digby Jones, former head of the CBI, and David (Lord) Owen, the former Labour foreign secretary.

      But despite the NHS pledge having been at the heart of their message in the run-up to the 23 June vote, and displayed on the official Vote Leave battlebus, the Change Britain website made no mention of the NHS in its manifesto about how to make a success of Brexit.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What You Really Should #NeverForget on 9/11

      Happy 9/11 Day, our fifteenth anniversary together. If it was a child, she’d be almost ready to drive. They do grow up so fast, don’t they?

      We’re instituted full background checks, body scanners and cavity searches at my home for all guests and pets (can’t be too careful!), which keeps me pretty busy, so this will be a short post. Because they hate our freedoms, we’ve taken them away for safekeeping.

    • What Was the Saudi Involvement in the 9/11 Attacks?

      To this day, there is no clarity about the role of the Saudi Arabian government or individual Saudis with close ties to the government in the 9/11 attacks. We know that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. We know that the bin Laden family had close ties to the family of George W. Bush. We know that right after the attack, wealthy Saudis living in the United States frantically contacted the Saudi Embassy in Washington asking to leave because they feared a backlash. Just days after the attack, some 140 Saudis, including about two dozen members of the bin Laden family, were mysteriously spirited out of the country with little questioning by the FBI.


      Members of Congress were allowed to read the 28 pages in a secure, soundproof facility in the basement of the Capitol, but they were not allowed to take notes, bring any staff, or talk about the content. After reading the 28 pages, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said, “They’re the most consequential pages in the 1,000-page report.” Massie said the section was “shocking” and he had to “stop every couple pages and try to rearrange my understanding of history.”

      Former Sen. Bob Graham, who chaired the investigation, fought hard to get the section released. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” said Graham. He suggested that the Bush and Obama administrations refused to release the information for fear of alienating an influential military and economic partner.

    • US and Russia plan Joint Air Command to hit Terrorists in Syria

      Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced an agreement on a Syria plan between the US and Russia late on Friday, which they said the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad had agreed to.

    • Photo of the Week: A Tense Look Between President Obama and Vladimir Putin
    • Who, apart from its people, wants peace in Yemen?

      Following the collapse on August 6 of the Kuwait negotiations between Hadi’s internationally recognised government in exile on the one hand and the Huthi-Saleh alliance on the other, diplomatic activity to bring the war to an end has notably increased, particularly on the part of the external actors. How serious are their efforts? Will they achieve anything? Meanwhile the living conditions for Yemenis continue to deteriorate.

    • How America Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the War on Terror

      The “War on Terror,” which former President George W. Bush officially launched in late-September 2001, and which President Obama officially rebranded as “The Series of Persistent Targeted Efforts to Dismantle Specific Networks of Violent Extremists That Threaten America” in May 2013, has, at this point (i.e. fifteen years into it), become our official consensus reality … or in other words, “just the way things are.” An entire generation has come of age during the “National State of Emergency With Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks,” which President Obama recently extended. For most of this unfortunate generation (which some are calling “Generation Homeland”), the sight of soldiers in body armor, rifles held in the sling-ready position, patrolling the streets of their towns or cities, the absurd “security procedures” at the airport, the hysteria pumped out by the mainstream media, the sanctimonious memorialization of anything even remotely connected to the “Certain Terrorist Attacks” in question, and all the rest of it, is entirely normal, the way their world has always been.

      Of course, this is also the first generation for whom the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 are nothing but hazy childhood memories, or historical events they learned about in school, or on television, or the Internet. Odds are, what they learned about them was that “America” was attacked that day by a group of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, for no apparent logical reason, other than that “they hate our freedom.” Chances are they also learned that the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the bombing and destabilizing of numerous other countries (i.e. Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and any others I’ve forgotten to mention), the indefinite detentions, the assassinations, the torture, the illegal mass surveillance, the militarization of society generally, and all the other familiar features of the “state of emergency” that has been in effect for as long as anyone their age can remember … that all of this has something to do with “protecting Americans” or “America’s interests.”

      My heart goes out to this generation … or at least to all those in their early twenties who have been bombarded with this official narrative since more or less the day they were born and yet somehow have managed to maintain their sanity (and who continue to struggle on a daily basis to recognize, analyze, deconstruct, and otherwise fend off the relentless barrage of ideological bullshit aimed at their heads). Resisting the force of the official narrative is exhausting, and usually unrewarding, at least in professional and financial terms (unless, of course, one enjoys being marginalized). It’s so much easier to do like the king in The Parable of the King and the Poisoned Well, drink the Kool-Aid, and embrace the madness. Never mind that the official narrative doesn’t actually make much sense, or have anything to do with … well … history … or facts, or other stuff like that.

    • ‘Newspeak’, the U.S. and Palestine

      Let’s see how ‘Newspeak’ has been utilized in describing the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

      Rarely a day goes by that some Israeli politician isn’t screaming about an existential threat to that rogue nation. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, which includes churches, labor unions and universities voting to divest from Israeli holdings; scholars refusing to take part in academic projects with Israel, and entertainers refusing to perform there, along with the ‘rank and file’ boycotting Israeli products, is decried as an ‘existential threat’. Criticism by any nation of illegal settlements is seen as an ‘existential threat’. Palestinian resistance, that of a poorly armed, starved, occupied and blockaded population, is seen as an existential threat. The list is really endless.

      The United States government, of course, owned by the Israeli lobby AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee), buys right into this, with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money going to Israel, and laws being passed in various states banning the boycotting of Israel. How any elected official thinks such a law will ever stand up to a court challenge, and how they think such a law can be enforced, is beyond the understanding of this writer. But they all agree that these and other criticisms of Israel threaten the very existence of that country.

      Now, it must be remembered that Palestine has no army, navy or air force. Its imports are severely restricted, and its exports, thanks to the occupation and blockade, are almost non-existent. Israel continually ‘confiscates’ (read: steals) Palestinian land to build huge new housing developments, all in violation of international law. Palestine faces a very real existential threat, but is seen as threatening Israel. This is certainly Newspeak.

    • Why the Syrian People Won’t Accept a Deal to Remove Assad

      Once again a plan for democratic transition in Syria has been drawn up by a coalition of opposition groups meeting in London, supported by the usual suspects in the shape of Turkey, the EU, US, and Gulf States. It is described as a detailed plan committing Syria to democratic and religious pluralism. Predictably, and the reason why it is a non-starter, it contains the pre-condition of Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power.

    • Media Trumpet Another Phony “Secret Nuclear Deal” Story

      Two major media outlets — Reuters and The Washington Post — pushed another Iran “secret side deal” story last week, ignoring obvious facts that revealed it as clever political deception aimed at sabotaging the nuclear agreement with Iran.

      Stories in both of those outlets suggested that a leading think tank had revealed a secret deal that allowed Iran to exceed various qualitative and quantitative limits placed on it under the nuclear agreement reached last year — the main current theme of political opponents of the agreement. The stories were based on claims in a report co-authored by David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, who has long been treated by corporate media as the leading “independent” expert on Iran’s nuclear program.

      In fact, as Truthout revealed in 2014, Albright had abandoned any independence he had maintained on Iran as early as 2008 and had aligned his position on nuclear negotiations with Iran with those of the Bush administration and Israel.

      Albright wrote in the report, “We have learned that some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] limits on Implementation Day, but in anticipation the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits.”

    • 15 Years after 9/11, can we Recover our Republic?

      The Founding Fathers thought keeping a standing army was a danger to democracy. The great wars of the twentieth century appear to have imbued the United States with a permanent standing army, and this institution has been reinforced by the September 11 attacks. Or rather it has been reinforced by how Washington elites have decided to respond to those attacks. They have responded with lawlessness. If only we had treated al-Qaeda as the criminals they are instead of creating a ‘war on terror’ then we would have relied more on courts and due process and less on force majeure.

      Perhaps the US military itself is not a danger to democracy, but that it is there, well-trained and well-equipped, creates a constant temptation for presidents to use it. And war presidents are imperial presidents, as we have seen with both Bush and Obama.

      The pretext of national security born of wars has been fatal to our basic liberties. Both Bush and Obama sought to have their intelligence agencies carry out massive domestic surveillance and both have killed and buried the Fourth Amendment.

    • Despite ‘28 pages’ release, Saudi’s 9/11 involvement still buried

      The White House thinks releasing the “28 pages” summarizing Saudi involvement in 9/11 satisfied the public’s need to know. But don’t be fooled. The full story remains buried under more than 100,000 pages of other, still-secret documents.

      The public didn’t even get to see everything that was in those long-classified 28 (actually 29) pages from the congressional inquiry, which narrowly focus on Saudi government officials’ contacts with just two of the 15 Saudi hijackers during their stay in San Diego. The Obama administration blacked-out critical information throughout the document.

      In all, there are nearly 100 separate redactions, ranging from single words, such as names of Saudi suspects, to paragraphs and entire sections of text. Obama’s censors offered no reason why any of that information had to be kept secret 15 years after the attacks, even though such explanations are required as part of declassification reviews.

    • Will Christie Whitman Follow Her 9/11 Apology With One for Her Nuke Shill Game?

      Soon after the 9/11 terror attacks 15 years ago today, then-US EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman assured New Yorkers the air was safe to breathe.

      Today she has issued a “heartfelt” apology, admitting that her misleading advice caused people to die. But will she also apologize for pushing lethal atomic reactor technologies that could kill far more people than 9/11?

      Back in 2001, Whitman went public to “reassure the people of New York and Washington D.C. that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink.” She also said, “The concentrations are such that they don’t pose a health hazard….”

      The Environmental Protection Agency itself later said there was insufficient data to offer such assurances.

    • Ex-EPA boss Whitman offers first-ever apology for bad info on post-9/11 air quality: ‘People have died because I made a mistake’

      The former head of the Environmental Protection Agency apologized for the first time for her declaration a week after 9/11 that the air in lower Manhattan was safe to breathe.

      Christine Todd Whitman conceded Friday that it was a mistake to give the all-clear at Ground Zero and said she was sorry for the ongoing health crisis that still grips first responders.

      Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, quickly added that she never lied about the air quality and repeated that she was simply passing on information given to her by government scientists.

      “Whatever we got wrong, we should acknowledge, and people should be helped,” Whitman told the Guardian. “I’m very sorry that people are sick.”

      The mea culpa comes as several reports leading up to the 15th anniversary have underscored the consequences of letting people stay at Ground Zero. The reports reveal the fallout of inhaling toxic dust was worse than predicted. “I’m very sorry that people are dying, and if the EPA and I in any way contributed to that, I’m sorry,” Whitman said. “We did the very best we could at the time with the knowledge we had.”

    • The Time U.S. Spies Thought Al Qaeda Was Ready to Nuke D.C.

      On Christmas Eve 2003, Gen. Michael Hayden, the director of the secretive U.S. National Security Agency, made a secure phone call to his British counterpart, David Pepper, the director of the Government Communications Headquarters.

      “Happy Christmas, David,” Hayden said, speaking to Pepper from NSA headquarters at Ft. Meade, Maryland, about 20 miles from the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Such social calls weren’t unusual. The NSA and GCHQ were the closest of allies in a global hunt for the phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications of spies and terrorists.

      But Hayden had more on his mind than season’s greetings. In recent days, the NSA had been collecting what Hayden would later describe as a “massive amount of chatter”—phone calls and emails from terrorists—that suggested al Qaeda was planning multiple attacks inside the United States, timed to the holidays.

      “One more thing, David,” Hayden said after the two men exchanged pleasantries. “We actually feel a bit under threat here. And so I’ve told my liaison to your office that should there be catastrophic loss at Ft. Meade, we are turning the functioning of the American [signals intelligence] system over to GCHQ.”

      There was a long pause as Pepper absorbed what his American colleague had just told him.

    • Barbara Lee’s Lone Vote on Sept. 14, 2001, Was as Prescient as it was Brave and Heroic

      Almost immediately after the 9/11 attack, while bodies were still buried in the rubble, George W. Bush demanded from Congress the legal authorization to use military force against those responsible for the attack, which everyone understood would start with an invasion of Afghanistan. The resulting resolution that was immediately cooked up was both vague and broad, providing that “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

    • Retaliation: Reality Vs. Pundit Fantasy

      It’s worth recalling the US response to the bombing of a Berlin disco in April 1986, which resulted in the deaths of two US service members: The US immediately bombed Libya, which it blamed for the attack. According to Libya, 36 civilians were killed in the air assault, including the year-old daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy (Washington Post, 5/9/86). It is unlikely that Libyans considered this a “pinprick.” Yet these deaths apparently had little deterrence value: In December 1988, less than 20 months later, Pan Am 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in an even deadlier act of terrorism the US blames on Libyan agents.

      Likewise, a few months after a suicide bombing of the US embassy in Beirut in April 1983 that killed 63 people, the United States used battleships to pound hostile targets in Lebanon. This is hardly “issuing subpoenas,” but this violence did not deter another, more deadly suicide attack in October 1983, killing 241 US and 58 French military personnel.

      More recently, in 1998, Bill Clinton sent 60 cruise missiles, some equipped with cluster bombs, against Osama bin Laden’s Afghan base, in what was presented as retaliation for the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. One missile aimed at Afghan training camps landed hundreds of miles off course in Pakistan, while a simultaneous attack in Sudan leveled one of the country’s few pharmaceutical factories. Media cheered the attacks (In These Times, 9/6/98), though careful investigation into the case revealed no credible evidence linking the plant to chemical weapons or Osama bin Laden, the two justifications offered for the attack (New York Times, 10/27/99; London Observer, 8/23/98).

      Despite the dubious record of retaliatory violence in ensuring security, many pundits insist that previous retaliation failed only because it was not severe enough. As the Chicago Tribune‘s John Kass declared (9/13/01), “For the past decade we’ve sat dumb and stupid as the US military was transformed from a killing machine into a playpen for sociologists and political schemers.” This “playpen” dropped 23,000 bombs on Yugoslavia in 1999, killing between 500 and 1,500 civilians, and may have killed as many as 1,200 Iraqis in 1998’s Desert Fox attack (Agence France Presse, 12/23/98).

    • How Israel Stole the Bomb

      When Israel launched a covert scheme to steal material and secrets to build a nuclear bomb, U.S. officials looked the other way and obstructed investigations, as described in a book reviewed by James DiEugenio.

    • 9/11: A Story of Attacks, Horror, Victims, Heroes and Jingoistic Shame

      No. The Neo-Cons are unrepentant and still trying to advance themselves on the lie that their once and forever war justifies more than their prosecution and conviction in The Hague. Here is a belligerent and unrepentant Dick Cheney passing the torch of evil to his spawn Liz Cheney in the august pages of the Wall Street Journal…

    • America’s War against Terror Drugs Justice

      It’s a reminder that doesn’t get much attention elsewhere in the massive article that the US brought a bunch of (right wing) terrorists to the United States and effectively gave them shelter from justice in their own country.

      One reason the terrorists were spirited away to the US — and thereby hidden from the Peace and Justice process in Colombia — is because they had ties to former President Álvaro Uribe, as well as the CIA. In the one war where the US declared both sides terrorists, it managed to find a way to avoid treating “our” terrorists like we do all others.

      Compared to either the sentences your average low level drug dealer gets or your average young Muslim kid set up by the FBI, the sentences these key players in the drug and terror industry are remarkably light: 7.5 years on average for the paramilitaries and 10 for the drug lords, according to the NYT’s calculation.

      As such, I think this is one of the most important articles for you to read today, on Never Forget day. It reveals a dramatically different model for a war on drugs and terror than the Foreverwar we’re marking today, one in which America’s favored terrorists get impunity and the victims of terrorism get shafted.

    • It’s Not Enough to Remember 9/11

      To Michael Moore’s everlasting credit, these two scenes were never included in the film in any way. The 9/11 responders were not wanting sympathy. They wanted to be remembered. They wanted us to remember, and perhaps they wanted us to show just a fraction of the commitment to their well-being that they had committed to others — to the point of risking their lives if necessary. And we have failed them greatly.

    • The Lost Innocence of 9/11

      The renewed patriotism and commitment we felt a decade ago has decayed, sullied by jingoism, xenophobia and paranoid fantasies about race and religion. At the panel, Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York observed, “What stops another 9/11 is not profiling, but all New Yorkers becoming partners and friends.”

      We actually had that for a while in those first days and weeks of smoke and ash, those days when the smell of vaporized metal and electrical cable and God knows what else filled our air; so pungent you could taste it.

    • North Korea accused of ‘maniacal recklessness’ after nuclear test triggers earthquake

      North Korea has confirmed it has conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date, marking the 68th anniversary of its founding with a reminder to the world that it may be edging closer to developing a warhead capable of striking the US mainland.

      Friday morning’s test, which triggered a magnitude 5.3 earthquake, drew immediate condemnation from North Korea’s neighbours and Washington.

      Barack Obama, who was briefed on board Air Force One by National Security Adviser Susan Rice as he returned to the US from an Asian tour, said provocative actions by North Korea would have “serious consequences”.

      “To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” Obama said in a later statement. He said he would work “to take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.”

      The UN security council agreed at an urgent meeting on Friday to immediately begin work on a new raft of sanctions.

      During the meeting behind closed doors, the council strongly condemned the test and agreed to begin drafting a new resolution under article 41 of the UN charter, which provides for sanctions.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fall of the Wild: Study Documents ‘Catastrophic Decline’ in World’s Untouched Places

      Wilderness, though remote by nature, is not immune to the ravages of humanity. In fact, according to a new study in the journal Current Biology, the world’s wild places are undergoing “catastrophic decline” and could be facing elimination within decades if monumental policy shifts are not implemented.

      “If we don’t act soon, there will only be tiny remnants of wilderness around the planet, and this is a disaster for conservation, for climate change, and for some of the most vulnerable human communities on the planet,” warned lead author Dr. James Watson, of the University of Queensland in Australia and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. “We have a duty to act for our children and their children.”

      Watson and his team mapped wilderness areas around the globe, which were defined as “biologically and ecologically intact landscapes free of any significant human disturbance,” and then compared that to one produced by the same methods in the early 1990s.

      The amount of wilderness loss in those two decades was “staggering,” according to co-author Dr. Oscar Venter of the University of Northern British Colombia.

    • National Guard on Standby in North Dakota Before Court Ruling on Dakota Access Pipeline

      North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has activated the National Guard ahead of today’s ruling on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the U.S. government over the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg is set to rule today on an injunction in a lawsuit challenging the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to issue permits for the pipeline, arguing it violates the National Historic Preservation Act. This comes as over 1,000 people representing more than 100 Native American tribes are gathered along the Cannonball River by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to resist the pipeline’s construction. It’s been described as the largest unification of Native American tribes in decades. We go to North Dakota for an update from Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth.

    • Why Rivers, Why Now?

      For over ten years, I’ve worked on campaigns to protect forests and secure land rights for communities around the world. And this month, I’m thrilled to take on a new position, as the Executive Director of International Rivers.

      Why rivers? Why now? Believe it or not, it’s not such a big stretch.

      Throughout my career, I’ve worked to ensure that development is fair and equitable, that people’s rights are respected, and that their livelihoods are upheld with dignity. Rivers are an often overlooked but critical part of an ecosystem, and they are essential to the livelihoods of billions of people. Freshwater fisheries are the primary source of protein for millions. Fertile river basins nourish and irrigate farms to feed the world. And rivers provide critical energy and sanitation services. For many indigenous communities, they are also a sacred source of life.

      I joined International Rivers because it’s the only international organization fully dedicated to protecting rivers and the lives they support. This sharp, savvy group has always had an outsized impact relative to its size, jumpstarting a global river protection movement thirty years ago. Over the organization’s lifetime, it’s prevented more than 200 bad projects and supported thousands of communities around the world to defend their rights and territories in the face of wasteful development projects. From our back of the envelope calculations, we’ve channeled $174 billion from destructive dams towards better alternatives. This is an organization that takes on the big fights undaunted by entrenched interests with deep pockets, and time and again, wins equally big.

    • Shell begins production at world’s deepest underwater oilfield

      Royal Dutch Shell has started production at the world’s deepest underwater oil and gas field, 1.8 miles beneath the sea surface in the Gulf of Mexico.

      The first oil pumped from the Stones field, 200 miles south of New Orleans, comes after billions of dollars of investment from Shell over the last three years.

      The achievement will anger many climate change campaigners, but will boost annual pay for Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, under the group’s controversial performance bonus arrangements.

    • ‘A Good Day for Elephants’: Ban on Domestic Ivory Trade Passes

      In a bid to stop the killing of elephants for their tusks, world governments voted at a major conservation conference to urge the closure of all domestic ivory markets.

      After fierce debate, disagreements and walkouts the motion was adopted on the final day of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, a 10-day meeting that drew 9,000 people to Honolulu, Hawaii this month.

      The domestic ban was backed by most of the 217 state and national members of IUCN, as well as over 1,000 conservation groups that are part of the union. But some countries, including Japan, Namibia and South Africa, argued against the ban.

      The international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 but in many countries, including the US, UK and China, domestic ivory trading is still allowed for antiques.

    • Ban on domestic ivory trade passes at international summit

      Nations and environmental groups have agreed to shut down the domestic ivory trade, despite the resolution nearly being derailed by objections from countries including Japan and South Africa.

    • ‘Picking on’ Volkswagen: Why Follow Dieselgate?

      One of our commenters described my attention to Dieselgate as ‘picking on’ Volkswagen. It’s not as if there haven’t been scandalous problems with other automotive industry manufacturers, like General Motors’ ignition switches or Takata’s airbag failures, right?

      But Volkswagen earns greater attention here at this site because:

      1) A critical mass of emptywheel readers are not familiar with the automotive industry, let alone manufacturing; they do not regularly follow automotive news. Quite a number are familiar with enterprise information security, but not car manufacturing or with passenger vehicle security. Many of the readers here are also in policy making, law enforcement, judiciary — persons who may influence outcomes at the very beginning or very end of the product manufacturing life cycle.

      2) This is the first identified* multi-year incidence in which an automotive industry manufacturer using computer programming of a street-ready vehicle to defraud consumers and willfully violate multiple U.S. laws. This willfulness wholly separates the nature of this risk from other passenger vehicle vulnerabilities, ex: Fiat Chrysler’s hackable Uconnect dashboard computers or Nissan’s unprotected APIs for keyless remotes. (These latter events arose from inadequate info security awareness though responsiveness of vehicle manufacturers after notification may be in question.)

      3) Volkswagen Group is the single largest passenger vehicle manufacturer in Europe. This isn’t a little deal considering half of all passenger vehicles in Europe are diesel-powered. Health and environmental damage in the U.S. from 600,000 passenger diesels has been bad enough; it’s taking lives in the tens of thousands across Europe. 75,000 premature deaths in 2012 alone were attributed to urban NO2 exposures, the source of which is diesel engines. It was testing in the U.S. against U.S. emissions standards which brought VW’s ‘cheating’ to light making it impossible for the EU to ignore any longer. The environmental damage from all Volkswagen passenger diesels combined isn’t localized; these additional non-compliant emissions exacerbate global climate change.

  • Finance

    • Who Gains Most From School Choice? Not Low-Income Students Of Color

      As parents and students reenter public schools for a new year, they’re hearing a lot about “school choice.”

      Having “choice,” they’re told, lets parents send their kids to schools other than their assigned neighborhood school, such as a charter school, a magnet school, or, in some cases, even a school in another district.

      No doubt school choice will benefit some parents – just as any market-based system has some winners and some losers. But who really stands to gain most from choice and why?

      “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice,” Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump declared at the Republican National Convention. Reporters at Education Week have noticed Trump’s campaign is “increasing focus” on the subject, and recently hired a policy expert, with a background in crafting education policy in Indiana, to “work on school choice issues.”

    • Huge Consumer Scam Results in Paltry Fines—and Little Else—for Wells Fargo

      Banking behemoth Wells Fargo, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, was fined a mere $185 million by various regulators on Thursday for opening millions of unauthorized accounts that racked up fees for consumers and bonuses for employees.

      The biggest fine came from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which levied its largest-ever penalty: $100 million. The Los Angeles City Attorney and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency were also party to the settlement.

      “Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray on Thursday. “Because of the severity of these violations, Wells Fargo is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed.”

    • Black to School: The Rising Struggle to Make Black Education Matter

      Indeed, billionaire philanthrocapitalists have upended education over the past 15 years by backing a series of major policy changes — codified in the No Child Left Behind Act, the Race to the Top initiative and the Common Core State Standards. These policies have badly damaged education for all kids and have had particularly harmful effects on Black and Brown communities. Today, increasing numbers of people have discovered that these reforms are in reality efforts to turn the schoolhouse into an ATM for corporate America.

    • How inmates are organizing a nationwide strike from behind bars

      Whenever an inmate and a guard get into an altercation, Melvin Ray sees an opportunity to connect and educate. After stepping in and trying to de-escalate the situation, he’ll talk to his fellow inmate and ask him how he got here. Not just “here,” in the sense of an altercation stemming from the emotional stresses of being incarcerated. Or “here,” in terms of the conviction that sent him to prison in the first place. Ray, ultimately, presses a larger point: “You’re not here because of that crime. You’re here because someone has figured out a way to make money off of you.”

      These sorts of one-on-one conversations are critical for organizing incarcerated people, and Ray — who also goes by Bennu Hannibal Ra-Sun — knows this better than anyone. He is one of the founders of the Free Alabama Movement, or FAM — a prisoner-led human rights group that is organizing what could become the largest nationwide prison work stoppage, starting September 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising.

      Along with Support Prisoner Resistance and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, or IWOC, of the IWW labor union, FAM issued a call to action earlier this summer, with an estimated 40 prisons in 24 states expected to participate. Much like the inmates who took over New York’s infamous correctional facility in 1971, today’s prisoners are fighting against the conditions of their imprisonment, especially the conditions under which they are forced to work, which many describe as slavery.

    • Leading Economists Oppose TPP Provision Giving Corporations Upper Hand in Investor-State Disputes

      As the Obama administration begins a new push to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP, more than 200 of the country’s leading economists and legal scholars have written a letter urging Congress to reject the 12-nation trade pact, citing its controversial investor-state dispute settlement. Critics say the so-called ISDS regime creates a parallel legal system granting multinational corporations undue power. We speak with Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “This is an agreement so repugnant that members of Congress do not want to vote for it,” says Lori Wallach.

    • Elizabeth Warren: Apple’s Tax-Shirking Schemes Show Congress Must Reform US Code

      The ongoing Apple tax scandal in Europe is the perfect opportunity to reform the U.S. tax code, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times on Thursday.

      Multinationals and their lobbyists on Capitol Hill are pushing U.S. Congress to give them favorable deals even as the U.S. Department of the Treasury finalizes reporting requirements for American corporations with offices in foreign countries that could help expose their “jaw-dropping variety of tax-dodging schemes,” Warren wrote.

      “But instead of bailing out the tax dodgers under the guise of tax reform, Congress should seize this moment to take three crucial steps to repair our broken corporate tax code.”

      Last week, the European Commission slapped Apple with a $14 billion tax bill in a decision that came almost a year after it was revealed that the company had stockpiled $181 billion in profits in offshore funds in Ireland, more than any other American company. The commission found that Ireland’s levy on Apple was so lenient that it amounted to illegal state aid.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Open Letter to NBC Moderator Calls for Candidates to Debate ‘Democracy Itself’

      That is, democracy: issues ranging from money in politics to voting rights to freedom of the press. “Each of these topics deserves a full inquiry,” the letter reads. “Each affects, at the most fundamental level, who has power in this country and who doesn’t.”

      And “power— more specifically, the distribution of power—in this country affects every aspect of American life,” according to the missive, “from trade deals to criminal justice, from water quality to access to medical treatment. In the most extreme cases, power decides not only how people live, but if they live.”

      Voters deserve to hear presidential candidates speak about a system they’ve described as “rigged,” pro-democracy groups said on Thursday.

      “It’s evident this election cycle that Americans are fed up with a democracy that isn’t working for them,” said Rahna Epting, chief of staff at Every Voice.

      “At a time in which many Americans are losing faith in our government and public trust in politicians is at record lows, it’s critical that Lester Holt give voters a chance to hear from our presidential candidates about their take on our democracy and how they plan to restore people’s faith in the system,” she said.

    • Paranoid politics: how does Donald Trump get away with it?

      The paranoid style of politics accords enormous power to the enemy; it represents them as being able to change the normal course of history in an evil way.

      Hofstadter argues much of the enemy’s function lies in what can be condemned. The enemy’s supposed lack of morality gives paranoid stylists an opportunity to project and express similar aspects of their own minds.

      By focusing on Clinton’s alleged evil, corruption and lies, Trump’s and his supporters attempt to deny their own, simultaneously giving them voice and legitimising calling Clinton “crooked”, “weak”, “unstable” and “the Devil”.

    • Clinton ‘feeling great’ after getting overheated at 9/11 event

      Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly has raised questions about Clinton’s health and whether she had the “stamina” to serve as president.

      In December 2012, Clinton, 68, suffered a concussion and shortly afterward developed a blood clot.

    • Hillary Clinton Appeared To Faint At 9/11 Ceremony

      Hillary Clinton abruptly left the 9/11 ceremony at Ground Zero this morning because she “felt overheated,” according to her campaign.

      A senior law enforcement official told The Daily Beast that Clinton looked pale when she arrived at the ceremony. She left the ceremony at about 9:30 a.m., according to pool reports. As she walked away from the ceremony, according to numerous law enforcement officials, she slumped and appeared to faint. Then, according to the sources, her detail put her into a waiting vehicle.

      “They threw her in like she was a side of beef,” a senior law enforcement official told The Daily Beast.

    • Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign

      But the issue is that Clinton kept reporters totally in the dark for 90 minutes after her abrupt departure from the 9/11 memorial service for a health-related matter. No reporter was allowed to follow her. (Clinton has resisted a protective pool for coverage because Donald Trump refuses to participate in one.) This is, yet again, the Clinton campaign asking everyone to just trust it. She got overheated! But she’s fine now!

    • BBC Quietly Owns Up to Blatant Propaganda Lies

      Nine months after a massive propaganda campaign based on outright lies, the BBC quietly sneaked out an admission on its website tucked away in “corrections and complaints”. As the BBC went all out to galvanise support for bombing Syria, the meme was pumped out relentlessly that opponents of bombing Syria were evil and violent misogynist thugs, bent on the physical intimidation of MPs. Leading the claims was Stella Creasy MP.

      9 months after the propaganda had its effect – run on every news bulletin of every single BBC platform – the BBC published this correction, carried on zero news bulletins of any BBC platform.

    • Sanders, the “Progressive” Plutocrat, and the Supreme Court Vacancy

      Having made such profound campaign errors in his handling of this appointment as a candidate, it is still not too late for Senator Sanders to call on President Obama to make a recess appointment. The Democratic National Convention and the summer recess of seven weeks that expired on Labor Day was the best opportunity for making this demand. But there will be future recesses. Progressives should demand that Sanders call on President Obama to make a recess appointment of a progressive justice who will reliably fulfill the litmus test that he ascribes to Clinton without any evidence. He should also insist that Clinton join him in making this request. Progressives could let Sanders know that if he is too timid to take this action there is no reason to fund his “Our Revolution” venture or buy his book.

    • ‘Overheated’ Hillary Clinton Leaves 9/11 Event Early, Is Helped Into Vehicle

      Video shown on Twitter pages appears to show Clinton waiting at the curb as an official vehicle pulls up. As she is being led to the vehicle, she stumbles, her legs buckle and she is supported by aides before being helped into the vehicle. Witnesses said she lost a shoe in the incident.

    • Fooled Again

      The naive hopes of Bernie Sanders’ supporters—to build a grass-roots political movement, change the Democratic Party from within and push Hillary Clinton to the left—have failed. Clinton, aware that the liberal class and the left are not going to mount genuine resistance, is running as Mitt Romney in drag. The corporate elites across the political spectrum, Republican and Democrat, have gleefully united to anoint her president. All that remains of Sanders’ “revolution” is a 501(c)(4) designed to raise money, including from wealthy, anonymous donors, to ensure that he will be a senator for life. Great historical events happen twice, as Karl Marx quipped, first as tragedy and then as farce.

      The multibillion-dollar extravaganza of our electoral Circus Maximus is part of the smokescreen that covers the ongoing devastation of globalization, deindustrialization, trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endless war, climate change and the intrusion into every corner of our lives by the security and surveillance state. Our democracy is dead. Clinton and Donald Trump do not have the power or the interest to revive it. They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game. Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook backs down on censoring ‘napalm girl’ photo after public outcry

      In a letter on its front page, Norwegian daily Aftenposten lashed out at Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg for “limiting freedom” after Facebook removed the image from the newspaper’s profile page earlier this week for violating its policy against showing nudity.

      Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg weighed in, posting on her Facebook page, “Facebook gets it wrong when they censor such images.” She added: “I say no to this type of censorship.”

      Hours later, Solberg’s post—which included the image—was removed from her account.

    • Tuur Demeester Defends Theymos’ Censorship of The Bitcoin Community

      Throughout the years, there have been a few people in the Bitcoin world who generate a lot of negative friction. Even though their intentions may be good, the way they go about things leaves much to be desired. Censorship in the Bitcoin world is unacceptable, and many people see Theymos as one of the culprits. But Tuur Demeester is supporting his “style”, which creates even more discussion among enthusiasts.

      To be clear, running a Bitcoin community forum and subReddit is a tedious task. While there is a lot of activity on these platforms, there is also a lot of spam and irrelevant news. When heated debates take place, a wide variety of opinions are presented. In a lot of cases, name-calling and foul mouthing are becoming all too common. Maintaining order requires some harsh actions now and then.

      But there is a vast difference between handling an unruly crowd and censorship. In the Bitcoin world, the latter option is becoming more prevalent as time passes. Anyone who speaks out against Bitcoin Core is silenced. Altcoin supporters get banned. People who voice their opinion may find themselves shadowbanned in the blink of an eye.

    • Nominations open for 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards

      Beginning today, nominations for the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship are open. Now in their 17th year, the awards honour some of the world’s most remarkable free expression heroes. Previous winners include Chinese digital activists GreatFire, Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat and Angolan investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais.

    • Western Publishers Submit to Islam
    • The real Islamophobia? Free speech dying in West
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Governing Google

      As for Google, without a more ‘joined up’ EU legal and regulatory framework integrating digital rights and economic concerns, users may need to look to solutions outside the law.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Seumas Milne named as aide who wanted Hebrew wording removed from Labour Passover greeting

      Seumas Milne, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest advisers, told a party worker to remove the Hebrew from a Passover greeting because it might look “Zionist”, it has been claimed.

      Mr Milne, Labour’s executive director of communications, is said to have wanted to delete the wording “Chag Kasher VeSameach,”, which translates as “A Happy and Kosher Holiday,’ from Mr Corbyn’s Pesach message to the Jewish community.

      According to Dave Rich, a senior official of the Community Security Trust, Mr Milne felt “the use of Hebrew implied support for Zionism”.

    • Don’t be surprised if Colin Kaepernick prompts more schoolchildren to sit for the Pledge of Allegiance

      Colin Kaepernick is a role model whether you like it or not. Many view Kaepernick’s choice of protest as disrespecting the flag, our armed forces and America itself, but the vitriol toward the football player represents the fears that children may grasp the power of civil disobedience. Students who idolize athletes like Kaepernick may also mimic him at school and sit during the pledge of allegiance in protest.

      Children in our broken U.S. school system have many reasons to take a seat.

      Every morning in most public and private schools, students recite the Pledge of Allegiance, although schools can’t legally force them to do it. The 1943 Supreme Court decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, ruled that students are protected by the Free Speech Clause in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Consequently, schools can’t force students to stand, recite, salute, place a hand on one’s heart or acknowledge the Pledge in anyway if the student objects.

    • The National Anthem’s False Notes

      One August morning in a small French town in Normandy 250 years ago, a crucifix that stood as a monument in the heart of town was found mutilated. People were upset. They wanted blood. (Irony has never been Catholics’ strongest suit.) No one had any idea who’d done it, so it was necessary to invent a suspect.

      The mob chose a 20-year-old aristocrat, the Knight of La Barre, who was known to run around town doing irreverent things with a couple of equally free-thinking late adolescents. The proof of his guilt was simple: during a religious procession, he refused to take off his cap and stand respectfully. Blasphemy! La Barre was interrogated, tried, and tortured, his head was chopped off in front of an immense and cheering crowd and he was burned.

      Substitute dogma for freedom and the cruelty and stupidity of men has no bounds. I was reminded of the treatment of La Barre by the entirely predictable controversy surrounding an NFL quarterback’s decision not to stand up for the national anthem before a game. No one is calling for Colin Kaepernick’s head, at least not literally, but he’s been all but guillotined nonetheless, and for what? For finally deciding, as too few athletes do, to show that he’s not exclusively an object of entertainment making $12 million a year. He decided to protest police brutality and racism his way, with a quiet act that doesn’t take away from anybody else’s right to believe what they will.


      Why confront racism and police injustice when you can hold an inquisition on who’s patriotic and who’s not, who’s behind our military and who’s not? When you can just scream U-S-A, U-S-A, the new anthem of goons too challenged by multisyllabic words or complete sentences to propose more reasoned arguments? And when all else fails, let it come down to that gibberish equivalence: compared to soldiers and the flag that represents them, apparently to the exclusion of everyone else, you, civilian whiner, are nothing.

    • High School Football Players Take Knee for Anthem Across Country

      High school football players across the US followed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead and declined to stand for the national anthem Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

      It appears that Kaepernick has started a movementwith his silent protest during the national anthem during a pre-season game on August 26. Kaepernick said his “taking a knee” was to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.

    • Chelsea Manning Begins Hunger Strike Against Prison Conditions

      U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning announced she began a hunger strike in protest of her prison conditions as she serves a 35-year sentence for leaking classified documents.

      Advocacy group Fight for the Future shared a statement from the 28-year-old transgender woman as she demanded written assurances from the Army she will receive all of the medically prescribed recommendations for her gender dysphoria and that the “high tech bullying” will stop. “High tech bullying,” is what Chelsea describes as “the constant, deliberate and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.”

      Following her sentencing, Chelsea has respectfully requested that the US Government give her treatment for her gender dysphoria. Over a year later, Chelsea filed a lawsuit in September of 2014, where she sued the government to get a battery of treatments. As a result, she began hormone therapy in February of 2015.

    • ‘Whose Side Are You On?’ Dakota Access Emerges as Pivotal Battleground

      It took months of fierce resistance, thousands camped out in protest, dozens of arrests, and a brutal encounter with attack dogs, but the tribal fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has emerged as a national moment of truth for the political establishment, as well as the hundreds of thousands who have voiced support for the Standing Rock Sioux in this pivotal moment.

      In anticipation of Friday’s federal court ruling that could temporarily halt pipeline construction, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple officially activated the National Guard to increase the security presence around the peaceful prayer camps, which heightened tensions for many tribal members.

      “To an average non-Native person, that might feel safe,” Faith Spotted Eagle, an Ihanktowan elder, explained to Indian Country Today. “To us, it feels really familiar, and it personally takes me back to the Whitestone Massacre,” she said, referring to the 1863 attack by the U.S. military on the very same land occupied by the prayer camp. “But we know how to handle these situations…We pray.”

    • Exclusive: Migrant Mother Says She Was Pushed to End Hunger Strike to Win Release from Detention

      In an exclusive interview, we speak with a woman held for nine months with her four-year-old daughter at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania as they seek asylum from El Salvador. She describes how she won their release only after she bowed to pressure to break her hunger strike and eat an apple. She agreed to do an interview if we did not show her face or use her real name. “Maria” had just arrived in Arlington, Texas. She must now wear an electronic monitor around her ankle. Democracy Now! correspondent Renée Feltz filed this report.

    • Jill Stein Spray Paints a Bulldozer and More Protesters Lock Down at #NoDAPL

      Over two thousand Natives have gathered in Standing Rock, North Dakota, in what some are calling the largest Indigenous convergence in more than a century. More than 100 nations are represented at multiple camps, with Natives travelling to Standing Rock from reservations and cities around the country, all with one aim: to thwart construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. If constructed, the Dakota Access pipeline would transport crude oil from the North Dakota Bakken region through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois — crossing the Missouri in treaty lands. On Tuesday, Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein also joined protesters on the frontline, speaking alongside Indigenous movement leaders and vandalizing a bulldozer as protesters cheered. Stein spray-painted the words “I approve this message” on a piece of equipment that had been shut down by protesters.

The Patent Microcosm is Losing the Fight Over Software Patenting and Now It Plays Dirty

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 8:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Camp collection

Summary: New evidence suggests that software patents continue their plunge in the United States and those who make money from software patents cannot help shooting the messengers (in the media) and smearing those who simply do their job by applying the criteria agreed upon by the US Supreme Court

TECHRIGHTS has been watching very closely matters pertaining to software patents for about a decade (I’ve watched them much longer than that, predating this site’s existence). After so much activism we finally see tremendous progress; they’re dropping like flies and litigation involving software patents is so uncertain (for the plaintiff who takes a huge risk) that numbers indicate a sharp decline if not dampening. Only a fool would spend money pursuing new software patents; reckless patent holders would dare have them subjected to scrutiny by a court (the higher the court, the higher the risk, thus suing deep-pocketed players is riskiest).

“The number of some types of software patent lawsuits in the US has taken a nosedive since the 2014 decision in Alice v CLS Bank.”
the numbers are on our side. As WIPR put it the other day (note the use of the word nosedive): “The number of some types of software patent lawsuits in the US has taken a nosedive since the 2014 decision in Alice v CLS Bank.

“This is the finding of Patexia, an online patent research platform, which reported that software patent suits have declined heavily, although the fall was not equal across all software patent classification codes.

“Patexia identified 14 different US classes that describe some sort of software-related system or process.

“Patexia identified 14 different US classes that describe some sort of software-related system or process.”
“These classes covered more than 14% of the 22,791 unique patents involved in patent suits from 2010 through to the first half of 2016.”

We are pleased to see that even insiders, such as Patexia, recognise the trend and write about it. Patent law firms prefer not to talk about it because it discourages their clients (or prospective/possible clients). Writing for “Canadian Lawyer Magazine”, one person gave 10 reasons you need a Canadian Lawyer (the real headline is “Ten reasons you need a Canadian patent”). This is an example of marketing/advertising in the form of an “article”. To quote from this — cough — article: “You may have heard that it’s not worthwhile to patent your company’s technology in Canada, with its smaller market, its conservative judicial remedies and its skepticism toward software-based patents.”

Well, recall i4i v Microsoft (Canadian company) and how things worked out [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. They pretty much risked going out of business after wasting years in court bickering over software patents. They still have a Web site which is active (last news item was a week ago), but we have not seen them in the media for literally more than half a decade. Recently, another Canadian company chose to turn into a patent troll down in Texas. This failing company, falling back on its patents, is Blackberry. How has it worked out so far? Any better than Nokia, which is still arming patent trolls in pursuit of cash? A lot of these patents are totally worthless, more so after Alice (Nokia — or Symbian at the time — had a famous software patent case in the UK nearly a decade ago).

“A lot of these patents are totally worthless, more so after Alice (Nokia — or Symbian at the time — had a famous software patent case in the UK nearly a decade ago).”Lexology, a site for lawyers, has just reposted (verbatim) an analysis from Fenwick & West LLP. It’s an analysis which we mentioned and also cited here the other day, showing a trend of invalidation of software patents in the US. It’s not looking good for software patents and it’s not getting any better, irrespective of what patent law firms are trying to tell us (by blatantly selective coverage of events or overt cherry-picking).

Dealing with a particular CAFC case, a pro-software patents propaganda site (for a long time) says it’s “keenly awaited” (by the vultures maybe) and that it relates to Alice. Expect it to change nothing at all, even if it somehow ends up in favour of a software patent (like in Enfish). CAFC rules against software patents around 90% of the time, so there’s probably no more of Enfish in the pipeline. Two years and about 3 months after Alice it’s effectively the end of software patents in the United States. Wait and watch how patent law firms (and their media mouthpieces) continue to deny this, hoping to convince the readers (or clients) that all is “business as usual…”

It’s not.

“It’s not looking good for software patents and it’s not getting any better, irrespective of what patent law firms are trying to tell us (by blatantly selective coverage of events or overt cherry-picking)”When pro-software patents propaganda Web sites want to undermine the importance/relevance of Alice they typically resort to insulting those who apply Alice (even judges are insulted!). To quote IAM: “In December last year the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in McRO Inc., DBA Planet Blue v Bandai Namco Games America et al, a case that many, particularly in the software industry, hoped would bring some much needed clarity to the issue of subject matter eligibility.”

Nonsense. It has nothing to do with clarify, that’s just what lobbyists for software patents — people like David Kappos — like to say while they simply object to Alice and the Justices at the Supreme Court. Oh, the vanity!

To quote further from IAM: “As with any 101 case, in the McRO suit there’s not only the matter of the law but also of the Federal Circuit’s complicated relationship with the Supreme Court. A string of decisions from SCOTUS, which have reversed the lower court, has helped create much of the uncertainty around patent eligible subject matter. According to former CAFC Chief Judge, Paul Michel, the stark divisions that have clearly arisen between members of the judiciary, might be the reason for the delay in the McRO decision.”

“When pro-software patents propaganda Web sites want to undermine the importance/relevance of Alice they typically resort to insulting those who apply Alice (even judges are insulted!).”That’s another pattern of FUD we have come across. Proponents of software patents like to scandalise the status quo and pretend there is a fight — if not actually ignite one — between different divisions, courts, boards, etc. It’s typically a fictitious framing that seeks to discredit the system and shake/destablise Alice, making it seem too “controversial” a decision to refer to/cite as precedent.

These software patents proponents, usually patent law firms that never wrote any software, are actively trying to undermine the US Supreme Court. Shame on them for doing that. Watchtroll, with its big mouth, is attacking PTAB again (it won’t stop until they’re gone). They’re like a gang of hyenas. Writing about PTAB, MIP has two more articles on the latest trends. One is titled “Don’t Estop Me Now” and the latter is a subtle attempt to discredit PTAB by associating it with “patent trolls” (again, total fiction!). Making money by trashing patents granted in error by the USPTO (for quick monetary gains) does not make one a “patent troll” and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the definition of “patent troll”. Watch this headline, “Hedge funds and reverse patent trolls” (nothing to do with trolls).

“These software patents proponents, usually patent law firms that never wrote any software, are actively trying to undermine the US Supreme Court.”To quote MIP: “A big story last year was the emergence of hedge funds and other entities using the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. While Kyle Bass is seeing his IPRs through to final decision, other entities are acting as reverse patent trolls, a phenomenon that is predicted to gather pace” (again, nothing to do with trolls and probably a good thing that will compel the USPTO to do its job properly).

Patent lawyers and their mouthpieces reject the term "patent troll" (denying such a problem exists, a lot like those denying global warming), but suddenly, when someone kills bad patents, then they adopt the term and call the actors that. How pathetic and self-serving. Fish & Richardson P.C., which represents patent trolls, pretends patent trolling is all just a myth (published almost a decade ago, but revisited now via Patent Buddy, who is a pro-software patents attorney). To quote the author from Fish & Richardson: “A new breed of companies has emerged, and they are being called patent trolls. A patent troll is a person or entity who acquires ownership of a patent without the intention of actually using it to produce a product. Instead, it licenses the technology to an entity that will incorporate the patent into a product, or it sues an entity it believes has already incorporated the technology in a product without permission. The government, corporate America, and the media are fervently acting against these trolls. New proposed legislation, a blizzard of Supreme Court cases involving trolls, and endless newspaper and magazine articles are all trumpeting the same story line: Patent trolls are bad for society and must be stopped.”

Well, that is very different from those who use IPRs at PTAB to correct the USPTO’s errors (spurious granting of patents). But this kind of distortion of terminology certainly would not bother those with dishonest agenda.

“Put another way, they’re protesting against PTAB because to them — the patent microcosm — less litigation would be a corporate disaster (litigation is their most expensive product, whether as defendants or plaintiffs).”AIA (Leahy-Smith America Invents Act) gave us PTAB, which demolishes software patents by the thousands, so now it’s considered “trolling” to apply quality control to patents and prevent these from going to court? Here is a new Bloomberg piece (titled “Five Years In: The AIA’s Effects on Patent Litigation (Perspective)”) in which it’s stated upfront that “The authors are IP lawyers at a large law firm.” The article is by Daniel Zeilberger, Michael Stramiello, Joseph Palys, and Naveen Modi from Paul Hastings LLP. Their conclusion is as follows: “AIA-created post-grant proceedings are changing the landscape of patent litigation. Complaints and declaratory judgment actions are down. Potential cost savings for accused infringers are huge. And PTAB outcomes historically disfavor patent owners, who have appeared willing to settle a large percentage of disputes. It remains to be seen whether these trends will continue as PTAB practice evolves, guided by an expanding body of caselaw and potential legislative tweaks.”

Put another way, they’re protesting against PTAB because to them — the patent microcosm — less litigation would be a corporate disaster (litigation is their most expensive product, whether as defendants or plaintiffs). They might actually have to find another job — one in which they produce something other than paperwork for monopoly and litigation. One thing we have noticed is, the authors of pro-software patenting pieces are sometimes choosing to write anonymously. Apparently they’re too shamed of their self-serving lies that they want to hide behind pseudonyms or no name/s at all.

Expect more attacks on PTAB (which needs to be defended from them) and expect a lot more attacks on Alice. These attacks typically come from patent bullies, their lobbyists, and their law firms. “A decade of court decisions has shaken the basis of patent law,” says this new article, sending across the message that this is terrible news when fewer cases go to court. To quote:

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for patent holders to seek larger damage awards when their patents are infringed.

For patent watchers, however, the high court’s ruling was only just the latest in a particularly active decade of major patent litigation.

Beginning in 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that holders who license their patents cannot win an injunction to stop third parties from infringing on their patent. That lawsuit, eBay v. MercExchange, L.L.C., changed the way patent lawsuits could be waged, altering incentives along the way.

“eBay substantially changed the world of patent litigation by limiting almost every verdict solely to monetary damages,” Robert W. Morris and Michael R. Jones, attorneys at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott L.L.C., wrote in March.


“The effect is harshest on individuals and smaller businesses that depend on the value of intellectual property for their livelihoods; these are the same inventors that have, for decades, produced many of our greatest technological advances,” MCM argues.

That last part promotes a myth, unless they speak of patent trolls. Those who benefit the most from the status quo are patent bullies like IBM and the only small entities to also benefit (as a side effect) are trolls, not startups that actually produce things.

“We hope that more people will recognise the problem with software patents and react accordingly.”In the area of militarism, arms manufacturers (or war contractors) have taken over the system and became a burden (or a parasite) inside it. The same goes for the area of patent, but the products are patents and lawsuits rather than weapons and wars. We hope that more people will recognise the problem with software patents and react accordingly.

USPTO Fraud Accusations and the ‘Coverup’ Attempt by USPTO Circles Inside the Corporate Media

Posted in America, Deception, Fraud, Patents at 7:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Distracting from the accusations

USPTO cash

Summary: The USPTO is found to have been burning taxpayers’ money and the patent microcosm, which profits from this entire sort of ‘racket’, is trying to defend or belittle these findings

THE USPTO has been dealt a serious blow which we mentioned here very briefly the other day (billing fraud, similar to what's alleged to be happening at the EPO).

It is no surprise that examiner misconduct and fraud is defended by IAM ‘magazine’, but having followed their sources we are left worried. Here is what IAM wrote to excuse/dismiss it all (the headline is “accusations against USPTO staff may have less meat than reported”):

But according to Matt Levy, patent counsel with the Computer Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the numbers from the OIG’s report should be put in context. Earlier this week, in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, Levy claimed that the report exaggerated the scope of the problem. When broken down, he calculates that the waste amounts to an average of six minutes per examiner at the USPTO (he went into further detail in an IP Watchdog post here).

I reached out to Levy for a little more detail on his reasons for writing the letter. Here’s his response: “It seemed pretty clear that the OIG was making the problem look far worse than it was. I’ve written about the GAO’s report on quality, and I’ve been hopeful that it would garner some attention. Unfortunately, the scandal that the IG’s report created seemed likely to suck up all the oxygen. My goal was to bring a little perspective and, hopefully, help focus the conversation back on patent quality.”

Most patent owners would probably agree with Levy. That isn’t to denigrate the latest findings of the OIG but the more fundamental problem for the US patent system is the quality of the grants that it makes. That was certainly one of the main findings of IAM’s most recent benchmarking survey which was elaborated on by a more recent piece of research by Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University

Putting aside that last paragraph which is IAM's self-promotion (of propaganda), watch who they’re using to support their position. Remember which companies are behind CCIA, never mind Watchtroll (IP Watchdog) and other USPTO friends/buddies. It’s like a sort of coverup attempt because a lot of the above piggybacks Matt Levy from CCIA. It is a man whose wife works for the USPTO, i.e. his household receives a salary from the USPTO — something that should probably be mentioned (he personally asked me not to mention this again, but it’s hard given these circumstances and given that Levy gave away this potential conflict of interest himself, in his own blog). Watch what he wrote in response to the original piece (filed under “opinions”). His wife works for the USPTO, yet he does not disclose this in his letter to the editor (regarding the USPTO). How is one supposed to simply ignore this? The echo chamber in defense of fraud isn’t something that’s a minor detail that can be trivially overlooked. Found via this tweet are some vicious attacks on Florian Müller for bringing up the issue. A former IP Kat writer is slamming him for stating the obvious and he responds with: “Doesn’t matter due to fee diversion. Ultimately it is taxpayers’ money anyway.” Patent law firms too are against taxpayers now [1, 2, 3, 4]? Or implicitly in defense of billing fraud? How would that make them look? It is hard to explain to the patent microcosm its unwanted role (as it relates to practicing developers) [1, 2], but Müller did try and at the end he wrote a summary of his position as follows [1, 2, 3, 4]: “Some patent folks are being too emotional about USPTO fee diversion to think things through correctly. Let’s enlighten them now: Question was: if employees steal from USPTO, are taxpayers the ultimate victims? Yes. There are 2 independent ways to prove this. First, every $ less that the USPTO can send to Treasury (fee diversion) is a $ more that taxpayers have to contribute to pay for something. Second, fee diversion goes both ways: if theft contributed to a USPTO deficit, taxpayers would have to close the gap.”

“Slamming the watchdog isn’t easy (shooting the messenger which is independent) and if nefarious tactics are used to belittle the problem itself, what does that tell us about the accused (collectively) or their spouses?”I have exchanged quite a few E-mails about this subject since (Müller expressed some views) and it’s saddening to hear that patent law firms implicitly threaten alienation in retaliation for stating of the obvious. By doing so they probably risk only isolating themselves even further, turning software developers like myself and Müller into a foe.

For those who want to hear opinions from sites not run by software developers, consider reading “Patent office employees steal millions from American taxpayers”. To quote: “A new report from an independent watchdog found that employees of the Patent and Trademark office billed the government (AKA, the taxpayers) for 300,000 hours they never worked, costing the American people $18.2 million.

“Many employees work from home, and the report found numerous instances of time logged without any work being completed.

“The amount of wasted man-hours that could have been spent reducing the patent backlog is astounding, not to mention the millions of taxpayer dollars that were wasted paying employees for work they were not doing,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told the Washington Post.”

Working from home for the USPTO is something which Levy’s wife has been doing. It’s a shame that he did not disclose that in his letter of response to this piece from August 31st (“Patent office workers bilked the government of millions by playing hooky, watchdog finds”).

Slamming the watchdog isn’t easy (shooting the messenger which is independent) and if nefarious tactics are used to belittle the problem itself, what does that tell us about the accused (collectively) or their spouses?

The Collapse of the European Patent Office Under Battistelli Has Already Begun

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The only way is down

Union Jack

Summary: The British people have already been divorced from the EPO — a trend which is likely to continue amid Brexit negotiations and because the Battistelli-induced crisis deepens by the week

THE European Patent Office has lost its appeal here in Britain and it has nothing to do with Brexit (or a vote for Brexit). For quite a while now we have been hearing (privately) from disgruntled British applicants at the EPO (those who already have UK-IPO patents) — people whose stories will be published in the future when there’s no chance of it compromising ongoing disputes. Basically, we are left with the impression that British inventors don’t feel like they get their money’s worth at the EPO under Battistelli. One of them even considered suing the EPO before he realised it would not be possible (because of the immunity).

“Basically, we are left with the impression that British inventors don’t feel like they get their money’s worth at the EPO under Battistelli.”The EPO no longer hires people from the UK, based on recent figures that we published a couple of weeks ago. Earlier this year we learned that there was a 80% reduction in recruitment from the UK, but things appear to have gotten worse since (depending on which internal source of figures one relies on). As far as the EPO is concerned, Brexit appears to have already started and the only thing “English” about the EPO is the official language (for communication with clients, court/appeal/tribunal hearings etc.); as Battistelli started a vicious war against an Irish judge, there might soon be too little diplomatic affinity between Ireland (the other English-speaking country) and the EPO. I’m no proponent of Brexit but merely an observer of how the EPO’s abuses (top-level management like Battistelli) contributed to the negative image of the EU here, potentially convincing more people to have voted “Leave”.

Based on the following new article from Battistelli’s ‘protégé’ James Nurton (softball questions as ‘interviews’), individuals and businesses from the UK now file for trademarks (maybe also patents) at the UK-IPO rather than EUIPO (equivalent of EPO for trademarks) and there is a statistically-meaningful difference. To quote MIP: “UK trade mark and design filings jumped by 33% and 95% respectively in August 2016 compared to the same month last year, according to figures compiled by the UK IPO at the request of Managing IP” (MIP).

“Insiders at the EPO, as we shall show later this month, recognise the erosion of the EPO’s reputation (still ongoing and exacerbating).”We imagine that figures for the EPO would be similar, but due to long pendency of patents, the ‘Battistelli effect’ and the ‘Brexit effect’ might take some time for us to truly notice. Since MIP is now seemingly in bed with the EPO, we expect reluctance to produce reporting on that.

Insiders at the EPO, as we shall show later this month, recognise the erosion of the EPO’s reputation (still ongoing and exacerbating). We find it truly pathetic when all a company can say about itself to its shareholders is, “look we have got a patent at the EPO!” (latest such example). It’s not as though today’s patent quality at the EPO is what it used to be.

“Now that Battistelli is doing photo ops with Cambodia, which incidentally has zero European Patents (in the past 8 years or so), it’s not hard to sympathise with EPO staff for choosing to leave.”Patent quality at the EPO has gotten so bad under Battistelli (more on that later as well) that staff with dignity and good education often decides to leave. The EPO hardly wants and needs examiners now; it just wants people who can do a superficial search and stamp quickly (or “early certainty” as it euphemistically dubs it). Watch this very nonsense from the EPO regarding software patents, which are not legal in Europe. Just before the weekend it wrote: “Check out this course to see how computer-implemented inventions are examined for patentability under Article 52 EPC” (if they are computer-implemented inventions — a weasel word for software patents — they should be rejected outright).

Meanwhile, the EPO is still 'spamming' universities (latest examples in [1, 2) and if it deems this a recruitment tool/push, then it doesn’t seem to understand what academics who are experts in their field are looking for in an employer. Now that Battistelli is doing photo ops with Cambodia, which incidentally has zero European Patents (in the past 8 years or so), it’s not hard to sympathise with EPO staff for choosing to leave. I, personally, would never wish to work for Battistelli, whose office already threatened me in spite of me not working for him (and I'm not even in the same country!). The only way is down (unlike the song) as long as Battistelli stays.

Links 11/9/2016: 20 Years of KDE, Budgie 10.2.7 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • issue #45: Zines, Kubernetes, Trojans, myLG, InfluxDB, hop & more!
  • HPE Boosts SUSE, Rootkit Targets Linux & More…

    Damn if the days aren’t already getting too short for this old soul who no longer feels comfortable driving after dark. This is made worse by the fact I live way out in the country — miles from nowhere, as they say — meaning I’m pretty much stuck in the house at night. The good news is, this means that these days I’m getting a lot of writing done.

    Now on to this weeks FOSS news…

    We’ll start with the good news. The Creative Commons has scored a victory in Austria. This started as one of those right versus left sort of stories, involving a left leaning film collective, Filmpiraten, and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, or FPO. It seems that Filmpiraten posted a video to YouTube documenting protests against Akedemikerball, an annual event hosted by the FPO each year in Vienna that brings right wing leaders to Austria. Also, each year it brings thousands of protesters.

  • Server

    • IBM unveils new Linux-based servers to boost AI, deep learning

      IBM on Thursday revealed a series of new servers designed to help propel cognitive workloads and to drive greater data centre efficiency.

      Featuring a new chip, the Linux-based lineup incorporates innovations from the “OpenPOWER” community that deliver higher levels of performance and greater computing efficiency than available on any x86-based server.

  • Kernel Space

    • [Older] Linux is 25. Yay! Let’s celebrate with 25 stunning facts about Linux.
    • Memfd Transport Now Enabled By Default For PulseAudio

      With this summer’s PulseAudio 9.0 release was support for Memfd-based transport. That support is now enabled by default in time for PulseAudio 10.

      This feature is about using Memfd on modern versions of the Linux kernel as a transport / shared memory method in place of the existing POSIX SHM shared memory transport. Memfd has been around since Linux 3.17 and this transport method for PulseAudio should be more secure and modern — for allowing better sandboxing/container support, etc.

    • Graphics Stack

      • It’s Been Another Exciting Week Of RADV Development (Radeon Vulkan)

        The RADV open-source Radeon Vulkan driver continues to look promising and there’s been a lot more code being merged the past few days.

        Since last weekend when writing about RADV Radeon Vulkan Driver Continues Building Up Features Quickly, there have been 17 pages of commits landing in the code repository (Mesa semi-interesting branch) by David Airlie and Bas Nieuwenhuizen.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks 5.26.0 Improves the Breeze Icons, Plasma Framework, and Sonnet

        Today, September 10, 2016, the KDE project announced the release of the KDE Frameworks 5.26.0 collection of over 70 add-on libraries for the Qt5 GUI toolkit.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.26 Released
      • KDE neon – Weak lighting

        KDE neon is an interesting project. If we ignore the world, it does bring some fresh new changes into the Plasma universe, with significant improvements but also a handful of bugs and glitches. If we expand our view to include all other distributions, the scintillating allure of neon begins to fade. It does not have any killer features that make it a worthy rival to other, well-established home players.

        The visual distinction from Kubuntu is a small one, the smartphone support is lacking, the media support can be slightly polished, the package manager is awful, the app layer thin, and you can’t really pimp the distro because the beauty framework is utterly broken. I did like that more stuff works than before, but it’s like priding yourself on getting the highest fail grade in the classroom. Overall hardware support, network excluded and resource utilizations are probably the only redeeming features, but even then, by a tiny margin. Which gets quickly drowned in the sea of bugs, errors, problems, and glitches. Samba is another sore point.

        At the end of the day, this distro is a cool test bed for what Plasma has in store, but it does not have the critical mass of goodies needed for any serious use. The recent wave of distros was pretty much awful, so you might be tempted to look at them, but no. Any old Ubuntu based on 14.04 is way better, and so is the new Fedora. CentOS 7, too. In the end, neon needs a lot more work before I can phrase the word recommended in association with its behavior. Overall, 5/10. But, compare it to the K-flavored Xerus, and there’s still hope. To be continued.

      • Project: Integrating Sentinel-2 data into Marble

        In conclusion the project has paved the groundwork for future efforts on Sentinel-2 data integration, which will lead to Marble Virtual Globe being the first in it’s kind to possess this quality data, it being open for users all around the world to create and develop with.

      • Embedded Notifications for Externally Modified Files

        In the past, KTextEditor notified the user about externally modified files with a modal dialog. Many users were annoyed by this behavior.

      • Kate & Akademy Awards 2016

        Dominik and me got the Akademy 2016 Award for our work on Kate and KTextEditor.

      • [Krita] Experimental OSX Build Available
      • Another Happy Birthday
      • Hello World

        I guess I should tell you all a little about myself. I learned C++ in high school computer science, but that was long ago. Since then, I have never stopped programming toys for myself and others. I have been a Linux user since around when I started in computer science and have used KDE as my main DE for just about the entire time. Around 2003, I switched to purely open source software. You see, I had always dabbled, but I just was not really ready to stop using the other proprietary operating systems. Then, in 2005, I started to become a fairly active member over at the Kubuntu forums. I started mostly doing it as a fun way to expand my knowledge base while helping others.

      • AtCore test
      • First Year As a Mentor
      • QtCon wrap up

        We had an incredible time in Berlin. First the training day by KDAB and then three conference days packed full with topics ranging from how to set up an open source organisation to fine tuning Qt graphics.

        Second. a shout out to the communities that we had the pleasure to work with to create QtCon, FSFE, KDE and VideoLAN, and of course to our partners KDAB, you guys rock!

        Last but definitely not least, Thank You obviously to all the volunteers from the different communities!

      • Day 6 at Akademy 2016
      • Back from Akademy
      • Wiki, what’s going on? (Part 14-Akademy Day3-4)
      • Akademy
      • Plasma 5.8: Per-screen Pagers

        The other day I wrote about the Pager improvements awaiting in Plasma 5.8. In the comments user btin re-raised the issue of limiting the Pager’s display to the screen it’s currently on, instead of being all-exclusive.

        At the time I wasn’t sure we could still sneak this in before feature freeze, but thanks to the screen-awareness of the new backend (which, to recap, is shared with the Task Manager and already needs to determine what screen a given window resides on), it turned out to be easy enough to do!

      • Kdenlive 16.08.1 released

        We are happy to announce a new dot release with some improvements and various fixes. We also celebrate some code contribution from Harald Albrecht (TheDive0) hoping to see more devs joining our team.

      • Akademy 2016 is over :(
      • New features in Krita 3.0.1
      • “20 Years of KDE” book released!
      • 20 Years of KDE

        A tour through the moments that marked the 20 years of community history, starting with the technologies that made possible its existence.

      • Happy 20 Years, KDE
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Spending GNOME’s privacy money

        In 2013, the GNOME Foundation ran a successful campaign that raised funds for enhancing privacy features in the GNOME desktop and application suite. Unfortunately, subsequent changes in the organization left GNOME without a clear plan for how best to use the earmarked funds, so they remain—untouched—in GNOME’s bank account. At GUADEC 2016 in Karlsruhe, Germany, the topic of how to utilize the money was revisited, and a plan has now begun to take shape.

      • Announcing Gtef, an incubator for GtkSourceView

        Gtef – the acronym for “GNOME Text Editor Framework” – is a new library that eases the development of GtkSourceView-based text editors and IDEs. It can serve as an incubator for some GtkSourceView features.

      • Wrap-up from this cycle of Outreachy

        Now that all interns have completed their work, I wanted to share a few final thoughts about this cycle of Outreachy. Hopefully, this post will also help us in future usability testing.

        This was my third time mentoring for Outreachy, but my first time with more than one intern at a time. As in previous cycles, I worked with GNOME to do usability testing. Allan Day and Jakub Steiner from the GNOME Design Team also pitched in with comments and advice to the interns when they were working on their tests and analysis.

      • GNOME 3.22 – Whats New | GNOME Files (Nautilus)
  • Distributions

    • Budgie 10.2.7 Released

      We’re thrilled to announce the release of Budgie 10.2.7, the last release in our 10.2 series that aims to resolve a multitude of issues as well as land some user experience improvements.

    • Solus Released

      Today we are providing a minor update to Solus 1.2 in the form of Solus This release enables us to address a multitude of issues that have since been resolved after the release of Solus 1.2…

    • This Week in Solus – Install #35
    • New Releases

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • LinuxScreenshots.org is closed.

        LinuxScreenshots.org is closed.

        An archive of all screenshot tours from this site have been made freely available to the community, which consists of 2300 releases from 580 distributions.

        You may download this archive for fun, or to start your own Linux screenshots website. Please help seed torrents.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Trying out openSUSE Tumbleweed

        While distribution-hopping is common among newcomers to Linux, longtime users tend to settle into a distribution they like and stay put thereafter. In the end, Linux distributions are more alike than different, and one’s time is better spent getting real work done rather than looking for a shinier version of the operating system. Your editor, however, somehow never got that memo; that’s what comes from ignoring Twitter, perhaps. So there is a new distribution on the main desktop machine; this time around it’s openSUSE Tumbleweed.

        Most rational users simply want a desktop system that works, is secure, and, hopefully, isn’t too badly out of date. Tumbleweed is not intended for those users; instead, it is good for people who like to be on the leading edge with current versions of everything and who are not afraid of occasional breakage. It’s for users who like an occasional surprise from their operating system. That sounds like just the sort of distribution your editor actively seeks out.

        More to the point, Tumbleweed is a rolling distribution; rather than make regular releases that are months or years apart, the Tumbleweed developers update packages individually as new releases come out upstream. Unlike development distributions like Rawhide, Tumbleweed does not contain pre-release software. By waiting to ship a release until it has been declared stable upstream, Tumbleweed should be able to avoid the worst unpleasant surprises while keeping up with what the development community is doing.

      • Daimler AG Migrates its Mission Critical Servers to Suse Linux

        SUSE technologies are helping Daimler AG, the German automotive behemoth, to migrate a large proportion of its mission-critical servers from proprietary UNIX operating systems to ‘the open and flexible Linux platform’.

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Weeks 2016/36

        Another week with 4 snapshots has passed, sadly some issues managed to sneak in but, as you are used to by Tumbleweed already, we managed to resolve the issues on the mailing list in no time and made sure that upcoming snapshots get the fixes asap. The snapshots published were 0901, 0905, 0907 and 0908.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • The New Features Expected In DNF-2, Currently In Development

          DNF(Dandified YUM) is a relatively new package manager for Fedora , a community-supported Linux distribution. Referred to as the next generation YUM package manager, DNF was introduced in Fedora 18 and has ever since been the default package manager for this popular distribution.

        • PHP 5.5 is dead

          After PHP 5.4, and as announced, PHP version 5.5.38 was the last official release of PHP 5.5

          Which means that since version 5.6.25 and version 7.0.10 have been released, some security vulnerabilities are not, and won’t be, fixed by the PHP project.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Paramount Wipes “Infringing” Ubuntu Torrent From Google

            It’s no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content as they can, but targeting open source software is not something we see every day. Paramount Pictures recently sent a DMCA takedown to Google, listing a copy of the popular operating system Ubuntu. An honest mistake, perhaps, but a worrying one.

          • The first international UbuCon in Europe

            UbuCon Europe 2016 is the first conference dedicated to the European Ubuntu community. Look forward to two days full of talks, workshops, demos, exhibitions and (hopefully) great food! Social events in the evenings will give you the opportunity to meet fellow community members and visit some of Essen’s most beautiful sights!

          • [Older] Canonical certifies big software solutions at Facebook’s new lab

            Today at the OCP Technology Day, Facebook announced the grand opening of its new hardware lab space in Menlo Park to validate and certify software solutions and Canonical was one of the first to test its solutions are OCP compliant.

            At the new lab, enterprise and carrier-grade Big Software solutions were deployed including OpenStack Mitaka and Ubuntu Storage on OCP Leopard, Honey Badger, and Knox. These solutions were deployed to bare metal in time measured in minutes and hours instead of days or weeks due to the use of two key technologies: Juju and MAAS, both of which are tested and validated at Facebook’s new facilities.

          • Compiling Ardour on Ubuntu Linux from Source Code
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Design Team working on Spices website

              About a week ago, I decided to create a new team, dedicated to artwork, style and design for Linux Mint. The main goal of this team is to restyle our various websites, but also long term to work in coordination with the development team to make various aspects of our distribution more pleasing to the eye.

              Artists who recently helped with web design were invited to join, and the team now has 8 members.

              I’d like to thank Carlos Fernandez already for his involvement and Eran Gilo for the beautiful work he’s already produced.

            • Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon Edition : See What’s New

              Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon Edition is the latest version of Linux Mint 18 featuring the latest Cinnamon 3.0 as default desktop environment.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Sun gets it wrong, we’re here to help. [Ed: for context]

    Recently the Sun published an article by Ryan Sabey (@ryansabey), “UNION HACK Jeremy Corbyn’s digital democracy manifesto ‘would let foreign spooks rob UK’”. The post included several criticisms from government officials and pundits challenging the quality and security of open source software, cautioning readers, “sensitive data could be at risk under Labour leader’s plans.”

    Mr. Corbyn’s, “Digital Democracy Manifesto” calls for public bodies in the U.K. to, “encourage publicly funded software and hardware to be released under an Open Source license,” and “financially reward staff technicians who significantly contribute to Open Source projects”.

    Neil Doyle, who the Sun simply identified as an expert, warned, “cyber-criminals and foreign intelligence agencies would have a field day” under such an approach while, “private firms or individuals would be reluctant to get involved in public sector projects.”

    Adding further criticism was British MP Nigel Adams who said Mr. Corbyn’s initiative, “ignores the issue of Internet abuse” adding, “his shambolic policies could leave us open to malicious attack and put our national security at risk.”

  • Open source at the European Broadcasting Union/Eurovision

    Exactly ten years ago, motion graphics artist Jonas Hummelstrand posted a message on a web forum. It read: “In 15 minutes the Swedish election TV-show airs, and we’ll be outputting a lot of real-time graphics directly from Flash!” Jonas was excited. He stood at the cradle of something new, but he probably had no clue how big his baby would turn out to be.

    Jonas is the main person behind CasparCG, the open source professional graphics and video playout software developed by Swedish public broadcaster SVT. This year, a decade after its conception, CasparCG was used for the Eurovision Song Contest graphics, including all of the animated votes counting.

  • Yahoo! Open Sources Pulsar, a Pub/Sub Messaging Platform

    According to Yahoo!, Pulsar is a low latency Pub/Sub messaging system that can be scaled horizontally across multiple hosts and datacenters. Yahoo! has been using Pulsar in production for Mail, Finance, Gemini Ads, Sherpa, and Sports since Q2/2015. By making it open source, they hope it will be widely used by being integrated with other open source products. Yahoo! has deployed Pulsar in over ten datacenters, reaching over 100B msgs/day spread over 1.4 million topics with an average publish latency of less than 5ms. Pulsar comes with guaranteed delivery of messages and two persisted copies, automatic cursor management for message readers and cross-datacenter replication.

  • Penn researchers develop open-source software to infer evolutionary track of tumor metastasis

    Individual cells within a tumor are not all the same. This may sound like a modern medical truism, but it wasn’t very long ago that oncologists assumed that taking a single biopsy from a patient’s tumor would be an accurate reflection of the physiological and genetic make-up of the entire mass.

    Researchers have come to realize that cancer is a disease driven by the same “survival of the fitter” forces that Darwin proposed drove the evolution of life on Earth. In the case of tumors, however, individual cells are constantly evolving as a tumor’s stage advances. Mobile cancer cells causing metastasis are a deadly outcome of this process.

  • Open365 mail – You’ve got … something?

    Ladies, gentlemen, everyone else. Not that long ago, I reviewed Open365, a free, open-source, cloud-based productivity suite based on LibreOffice, with some nice spicy additions. I liked it. It’s a pretty decent product, with a lot of potential. But there’s still a lot more work to be done.

    The one aspect of the five-app combo you get in Open365 that I missed in the earlier article is the mail functionality. You have the three power programs – LibreOffice Writer, Calc and Impress – plus GIMP, with the mail client as the fifth element. Get the joke? Oh my. Well, it is time to right all past wrongs and give the final piece of the cloud suite its due review. Rhyme. Word.

  • Julia Reda, MEP: “Proprietary Software threatens Democracy”

    Julia Reda ended the QtCon, a conference for the Free Software community, with a closing keynote on, among other things, Free Software in the European Public Sector.

    Ms Reda, a member of the EU Parliament for the Pirate Party, explained how proprietary software, software that forbids users from studying and modifying it, has often left regulators in the dark, becoming a liability for and often a threat to the well-being and health of citizens.

    An example of this, she said, is the recent Dieselgate scandal, in which auto-mobile manufacturers installed software that cheated instruments that measured fumes in test environments, only to spew illegal amounts of toxic exhaust into the atmosphere the moment they went on the road.

    Ms Reda also explained how medical devices running proprietary software posed a health hazard for patients. She gave the example of a woman with a pacemaker who collapsed while climbing some stairs due to a bug in her device. Doctors and technicians had no way of diagnosing and correcting the problem as they did not have access to the code.

    Also worrying is the threat software with restrictive licenses pose to democracy itself. The trend of substituting traditional voting ballots with voting machines is especially worrying, because, as these machines are not considered a threat to national security, their software also goes unaudited and is, in fact, unauditable in most cases.

  • Events

    • LibreOffice Conference 2016

      It was the third big open source desktop conference we’ve managed to get to Brno (after GUADEC 2013 and Akademy 2014). 3 days of talks, 150 attendees from all over the world, 4 social events.

      The conference went pretty well from the organizational point of view. Feedback has been very positive so far. People liked the city, the venue (FIT BUT campus is really, really nice), the parties, and catering during the conference. TDF board even lifted Red Hat to the highest sponsorship level for the amount of work we did for the conference. The only major bummer we had was no online streaming. It’s quite easy to set it up with the university’s built-in video recording system, but the university didn’t allow it in the end. Nevertheless, we treated online streaming as nice-to-have. Video recordings are important to us and we’ll do our best to get them online as soon as possible.

    • Git microconference accepted into LPC 2016
    • Git Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      The Linux kernel community has been using Git for more than a decade, but it is still under active development, with more than 2,000 non-merge git commits from almost 200 contributor over the past year. Rather than review this extensive history, this Micro Git Together instead focuses on what the next few years might bring. In addtion, Junio will present on the state of the Git Union, Josh Triplett will present on the git-series project, and Steve Rostedt will present “A Maze Of Git Scripts All Alike”, in which Steve puts forward the radical notion that common function in various maintainers’ scripts could be pulled into git itself. This should help lead into a festive discussion about the future of git.

    • Rumors of OpenOffice Demise Exaggerated

      LibreOffice spun out from OpenOffice in the aftermath of the Oracle/Sun acquisition. It was one of many projects including Hudson/Jenkins and MySQL/MariaDB that got forked. To the best my knowledge while all those forks have strong user bases and have become the default tools in their respective domains – the original projects persist.

    • Token-based authorship information from Git

      At LinuxCon North America 2016, Daniel German presented some research that he and others have done to extract more fine-grained authorship information from Git. Instead of the traditional line-based attribution for changes, they took things to the next level by looking at individual tokens in the source code and attributing changes to individuals. This kind of analysis may be helpful in establishing code provenance for copyright and other purposes.

      German, who is from the University of Victoria, worked on the project with Kate Stewart of the Linux Foundation and Bram Adams of Polytechnique Montréal. It was a “combination of research plus hacking”, he said, and the results were fascinating.

  • BSD

    • TrueOS vs. DragonFlyBSD vs. GhostBSD vs. FreeBSD vs. PacBSD Benchmarks

      For your viewing pleasure this weekend are benchmarks of TrueOS 20160831 (the rolling-release distribution formerly known as PC-BSD), DragonFlyBSD 4.6, GhostBSD 10.3, FreeBSD 11.0-RC2, and PacBSD 20160809 (formerly known as Arch BSD) all benchmarked from the same system! Plus for reference to the Linux numbers are Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS and Clear Linux 10040 being compared to these BSDs on the same tests and hardware.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • GPL Time-bomb an interesting approach to #FOSS licensing

      In short I have put a time limit of 3 years to make money out of the product and if I am unable it is turned over to the world to use as they see fit. Even better, assuming searchcode server becomes a successful product I will be forced to continually improve it and upgrade if I want to keep a for sale version without there being an equivalent FOSS version around (which in theory could be maintained by the community). In short everyone wins from this arrangement, and I am not forced to rely on a support model to pay the bills which frankly only works when you have a large sales team.

      Here’s hoping this sort of licencing catches on as there are so many products out there that could benefit from it. If they take off the creators have an incentive to maintain and not milk their creation and those that become abandoned even up available for public use which I feel is a really fair way of licencing software.

    • The kernel community confronts GPL enforcement

      Some of the most important discussions associated with the annual Kernel Summit do not happen at the event itself; instead, they unfold prior to the summit on the planning mailing list. There is value in learning what developers feel needs to be talked about and, often, important issues can be resolved before the summit itself takes place. That list has just hosted (indeed, is still hosting as of this writing) a voluminous discussion on license enforcement that was described by some participants as being “pointless” or worse. But that discussion has served a valuable purpose: it has brought to the light a debate that has long festered under the surface, and it has clarified where some of the real disagreements lie.

      It all started when Karen Sandler, the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), proposed a session on “GPL defense issues.” Interest in these issues is growing, she said, and it would be a good time to get the kernel community together for the purposes of information sharing and determining what community consensus exists, if any, on enforcement issues. It quickly became clear that some real differences of opinion exist though, in truth, the differences of opinion within the community may not be as large as they seem. Rather than attempt to cover the entire thread, this article will try to extract some of the most significant points from it.

  • Programming/Development

    • Moving to Pelican and GitHub pages

      I have decided to move to using GitHub pages and Pelican to create my person ‘hub’ on the Internet. I am still in the debate about moving some content over to the new hub, but have not made a decision yet.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Marylanders face hefty rate increases for Obamacare

      The cost of health insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act will jump 20 percent or more next year under rates to be announced Friday by Maryland regulators.

      The CEO of Maryland’s largest insurer defended the hefty rate increases and said the federal law that expanded health insurance to most Americans needs to be changed if it is to remain sustainable.

      “We regret that such rate increases are needed,” said Chet Burrell of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. “It is the last thing on earth we want. But no company can sustain the kinds of losses we have seen.”

    • A fourth Zika-positive mosquito pool identified in Miami Beach

      Despite local backlash against the use of a controversial insecticide, the first round of aerial spraying to curb the spread of Zika virus in South Beach took place early Friday. It lasted about 30 minutes.

      A plane contracted by Miami-Dade County flew in the darkness just after 5 a.m. for the first of four spraying cycles that officials hope will quickly bring down the number of mosquitoes carrying Zika virus in Miami Beach.

      The drone of the plane could be heard and lights could be spotted from Ocean Drive as it passed over the water three times. Few people were out. Some joggers hurried by in Lummus Park, where a few men slept along the rock wall. Restaurant staff were cleaning sidewalk tables.

    • NHS in England at ‘tipping point’ – hospital bosses

      NHS leaders in England say they have reached a “tipping point” and cannot maintain standards for patients on the funding they are getting.

      Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said many hospital bosses wanted to “sound a warning bell” to political leaders.

      It comes after latest figures showed record levels of delayed hospital discharges and patient waiting times.

      The government has said it is giving NHS England the £10bn it asked for.

      NHS Providers, the organisation that represents hospitals in England, says unless urgent funding is provided it will have to cut staff, bring in charges or introduce “draconian rationing” of treatment.

      It highlights that 80% of England’s acute hospitals are in financial deficit, compared with 5% three years ago – while missed A&E waiting time targets have risen from 10% to 90%.

    • Arizona Drug Firm Insys Makes Synthetic Pot Compound, Spends Big to Defeat Legal Pot

      A Chandler-based drug firm under investigation for its aggressive sales of a lethal painkiller claims that the large donation it made to a group that opposes marijuana legalization was an attempt to protect the public’s safety.

    • Seriously ‘Sinister’ Big Pharma: Opioid Maker Bankrolls Opposition to Pro-Pot Referendum

      It has been revealed that the maker of a powerful, addictive opioid drug is bankrolling the opposition to the effort to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use in Arizona.

      The Phoenix New Times reported Thursday that Insys Therapeutics, the company behind the fentanyl-based medication Subsys, made a $500,000 donation to the group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP), which is leading the campaign against Proposition 205.

      On the ballot in November, Prop. 205 would allow people 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes as well as establish a department to regulate the drug’s cultivation and sale.

      It appears that Insys is trying to “eliminate the competition,” according to the New Times, which noted that the company “expects to soon launch a pharmaceutical version of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.”

      What’s more, Insys is currently facing numerous state investigations for deceptively marketing and selling Subsys, which is intended to treat cancer pain, and coercing doctors to promote it to patients for off-label uses. Fentanyl is estimated to be 80 times as potent as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and may be fatal to users.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Sen. Bob Graham: Before 9/11, Bush and Cheney Made Sure Plot and Saudi Gov. Role Would Not be Exposed

      Senator Bob Graham, former co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells Paul Jay that the Bush administration created a culture of “not wanting to know” about potential terrorist attacks among American intelligence agencies, who have rewritten history with “aggressive deception” since 9/11.

    • House unanimously passes bill to allow 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi Arabia

      The House on Friday passed legislation allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts, days before the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

      The legislation passed unanimously by voice vote, to thunderous applause.

      The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in May, now heads to President Obama’s desk, where its future is uncertain.

      The White House has hinted strongly it will veto the measure. Obama has lobbied fiercely against it, arguing it could both strain relations with Saudi Arabia and lead to retaliatory legislation overseas against U.S. citizens.

      But lingering suspicion over Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks and pressure from victims’ families made the bill a popular bipartisan offering on Capitol Hill.

      The bill’s popularity puts the president in a delicate position. Supporters are hoping Obama will be leery of expending political capital he desperately needs during the lame-duck session.

      The president is hoping lawmakers will pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a criminal justice reform measure and confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

      If Obama does choose to veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, supporters believe that they have the two-thirds majority needed to override him — a first during his presidency.

    • Despite Obama’s Veto Threat, US House Votes to Allow 9/11 Victims to Sue Saudi Arabia
    • Netanyahu’s Land-Grab Strategy

      Behind the smokescreen of the broader Mideast chaos, Israel pursues a strategy of gobbling up Palestinian lands to establish de facto control of the West Bank while confining indigenous Arabs to isolated cantons, explains Alon Ben-Meir.


      Netanyahu is not deterred by the criticism and condemnation from the international community. He takes the position that building new housing units is largely in settlements that will eventually be part of a final status deal in exchange for land swaps, as if he has the right to unilaterally decide which settlements will be incorporated to Israel proper without an agreement with the Palestinians.

    • Palestinian Hunting Season

      May 2017 will mark fifty years of Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank characterized by institutionalized inequality and injustice toward Palestinians. At the bidding of the government, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) routinely and violently confronts Palestinians, but also Israeli and international dissidents who dare challenge the continued expansion and entrenchment of the illegal settlements in the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza strip. Protesters run the risk of getting cursed, spat on, detained, beaten up, stoned, stabbed, shot, kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured or any combination thereof. Moreover, in an unfortunate yet predictable move, the Israeli government has recently declared war on the nonviolent boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

      Like clockwork, every few years a cycle of violence disproportionately bathes Palestinian society in blood and tears and serves to further fortify the occupation (see Israeli Occupation for Dummies). According to renowned scholar Ilan Pappe, Israeli society needs a regular dose of war not only as a means to justify its excessive military budget and lucrative arms industry, but as a tool to reaffirm itself as a cohesive settler-colonialist entity faced with an existential threat.

    • How Everything Became War

      The laser-guided Hellfire missile is highly accurate. When one is fired from a Predator drone at an alleged enemy of the United States, whether in the deserts of Yemen, the mountains of Pakistan or elsewhere, it rarely misses. The remarkable innovation of pairing an unmanned aerial vehicle with a deadly precise missile emerged soon after Sept. 11, 2001. The United States has reportedly used this tool extensively against potentially thousands of terrorist targets around the world in the subsequent 15 years.

      Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor, former adviser at the Defense Department and influential voice in U.S. policy circles, is one of the many critics of America’s “direct action” program using these drones. In her new book, “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything,” she argues that drone strikes rely on problematic legal justifications and that their effectiveness and legitimacy cannot be independently evaluated because of the program’s secrecy. These strikes, along with government opacity about them, she believes, will ultimately undermine the international rule of law, further weaken America’s moral standing and set the stage for others to follow our law-bending lead.

      For Brooks, drone strikes are but one illustration of the challenges we face in this new era of conflict. She contends that the distinction between war and peace has blurred and that the consequences for international law are enormous and underappreciated. Her core argument is that international law, as well as U.S. government organizations, have not kept pace with this smudging of the line. Her book is a cri de coeur that unless we build legal foundations that stand some chance of containing war and legitimating our actions, and restructure our agencies to accommodate new realities, we risk inviting further chaos, eroding the values upon which America was built and failing future generations. While ambitious and astute, the book is also diffuse and in some important ways misses its targets.

    • Nearly 500 more US Troops sent to Iraq for Mosul Attack in advance of Election Day

      Stars and Stripes is reporting that the number of US troops in Iraq has risen from 4,000 to 4,460 in preparation for the Iraqi government campaign against Mosul.

      The WSJ reported that the government of Iraqi prime minister Haydar al-Abadi wants to begin the campaign in October.

    • Demonize and Distract: Sanitizing Syria for the Masses

      But we know that the entire Syrian fiasco was engineered by the CIA with cash, guns, and training, and unceasing support from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at our behest. It is a long-standing neoconservative plan to break the so-called Shia Crescent that runs from Lebanon through Syria to Iran. These are, of course, the independent-minded states that have thus far refused to accept either Israeli colonization of Palestinian land or permit Western-backed energy projects to take shape on their territory. Hence the need to dismember them into tiny, feckless statelets that pose no challenge to either Tel Aviv or Washington.

      But this is hidden behind the fog of war and a domestic haze of media nuance. This entire conflict could reasonably be said to hinge on a single phrase: “moderate rebels.” The words “moderate” and “rebel” make all the difference in the telling of this fable. The truth is that we have hijacked Arab Spring discontent and festooned it with brigades of terrorist mercenaries procured from around the Middle East and Asia, all with the singular mandate to take down the Assad government. Tens of thousands of jihadists have been injected by NATO into a multi-confessional state governed by an elected leader who won a larger percentage of the electorate than our liberal messiah Barack Obama.

    • The Death of One of Washington’s Favorite Tyrants

      The death of long-time Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov has brought rare U.S. media attention to the Central Asian country of 30 million. Uzbekistan is ranked among the half dozen worst countries in the world for human-rights abuses. What U.S. government officials and our media mostly ignore, however, is that American taxpayers subsidized that regime and its brutal security apparatus for most of Karimov’s thirty-five years in power.

      Torture has been endemic in Uzbekistan, where Karimov banned all opposition groups, severely restricted freedom of expression, forced international human-rights workers and NGOs out of the country, suppressed religious freedom, and annually took as many as two million children out of school to engage in forced labor for the cotton harvest. Thousands of dissidents have been jailed and many hundreds have been killed, some of them literallyboiled alive.

      Karimov became leader of the Uzbek Communist Party in 1989 while the country was still part of the Soviet Union. He backed the unsuccessful coup by Communist Party hardliners against reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 and personally opposed Uzbek independence. But finding himself president of a sovereign state when the Soviet Union suddenly dissolved, he quickly modified his position, changing his first name to “Islam” and morphing into an Uzbek nationalist.

    • North Korea’s Understandable Fears

      Every year, America pays its vassal-state South Korea huge sums of U.S. taxpayer money to mount 300,000-man-strong military “games” that threaten North Korea. North Koreans view images that never seem to make it to U.S. kitchen tables: hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. armaments swarming in from the sea, hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops – their turrets and rifles pointed north – and nuclear-capable U.S. warplanes screaming overhead.

      But when a young dictator straight out of central casting responds to U.S. threats with an underground test on North Korea’s founding day, it’s the number-one story on the front page of the New York Times.

    • Donald Trump’s View of Military Sexual Assault Is Chauvinistic — and Not Uncommon

      Donald Trump’s latest attempt to deflect criticism about a 2013 tweet in which he blamed the prevalence of sexual assault in the military on the presence of women has been to criticize the military court system for letting offenders go unprosecuted.

      But a big reason the military court system is so ineffective at punishing sexual assault offenders is precisely because senior members of the chain of command are involved — and too many share Trump’s view that rape and sexual assault are inevitable given the circumstances.

    • Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War

      In the days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents.

      Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.

      Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the War on Terror is still in its opening act.

    • The Truth About 9/11

      Internationally, the greatest threat to America’s security is, of course, nuclear armed Russia which has enough intercontinental and sea-launched missiles to wipe the United States off the map. Accordingly, Washington’s most important foreign and national security priority is maintaining calm, well-mannered relations with Russia and its leadership.

      Instead, we have Hillary Clinton and her frantic war party neocons trying to provoke Russia at every turn and giving Moscow the impression that she will start a war with Russia. It was precisely such war talk and sabre rattling that in 1983 during the Able Archer crisis brought the US and USSR to within minutes of a full-scale nuclear war.

      For all Trump’s bluster and Islamophobia, he is absolutely right about seeking good relations with Moscow. The schoolyard demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin by the Clinton camp and its tame US media is childish, shameful and unworthy of a great power.

    • A 9/11 Retrospective: Washington’s 15-Year Air War

      On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda launched its four-plane air force against the United States. On board were its precision weapons: 19 suicidal hijackers. One of those planes, thanks to the resistance of its passengers, crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The other three hit their targets — the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. — with the kind of “precision” we now associate with the laser-guided weaponry of the U.S. Air Force.

      From its opening salvo, in other words, this conflict has been an air war. With its 75% success rate, al-Qaeda’s 9/11 mission was a historic triumph, accurately striking three out of what assumedly were its four chosen targets. (Though no one knows just where that plane in Pennsylvania was heading, undoubtedly it was either the Capitol or the White House to complete the taking out of the icons of American financial, military, and political power.) In the process, almost 3,000 people who had no idea they were in the bombsights of an obscure movement on the other side of the planet were slaughtered.

      It was a barbaric, if daring, plan and an atrocity of the first order. Almost 15 years later, such suicidal acts with similar “precision” weaponry (though without the air power component) continue to be unleashed across the Greater Middle East, Africa, and sometimes elsewhere, taking a terrible toll — from a soccer game in Iraq to a Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey (where the “weapon” may have been a boy).

      The effect of the September 11th attacks was stunning. Though the phrase would have no resonance or meaning (other than in military circles) until the U.S. invasion of Iraq began a year and a half later, 9/11 qualifies as perhaps the most successful example of “shock and awe” imaginable. The attack was promptly encapsulated in screaming headlines as the “Pearl Harbor of the Twenty-First Century” or a “New Day of Infamy,” and the images of those towers crumbling in New York at what was almost instantly called “Ground Zero” (as if the city had experienced a nuclear strike) were replayed again and again to a stunned world. It was an experience that no one who lived through it was likely to forget.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks Source Chelsea Manning Starts Hunger Strike

      Chelsea Manning, the U.S. army private convicted in 2013 for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, has announced she has started a hunger strike to protest what she calls “constant and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.”

    • How should history measure the Obama administration’s record on transparency?

      Given the fundamental role that whistleblowers play in highlighting fraud, waste and abuse, an administration’s record upon the incidence, manner and prosecution of whistleblowers (or policies that protect or expose them) is a critical part of its open government record. The way a White House takes legal or administrative action regarding leaks that demonstrate unconstitutional behavior in the executive branch matters.

      On the one hand, the Obama administration added to congressional legislation with more protections for whistleblowers through an executive order, save for an exemption for those working in or contracting for the intelligence agencies. On the other, there have been a record number of cases filed against whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than all previous administrations combined. The double standard for “senior administration officials” quoted in stories favorable to the White House and whistleblowers who go to the press with embarrassing facts is one that no future administration should espouse.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 10 Percent of the World’s Wilderness Has Been Lost Since 1990s

      Wilderness areas around the world have experienced catastrophic declines over the last two decades, with one-tenth of global wilderness lost since the 1990s, according to a new study.

      Since 1993, researchers found that a cumulative wilderness area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon has been stripped and destroyed.

      The shrinking wilderness is due, in part, to human activity such as mining, logging, agriculture, and oil and gas exploration. The researchers said theirfindings underscore the need for international policies to recognize the value of wilderness and to protect wilderness areas from the threats they face. [In Images: One-of-a-Kind Places On Earth]

      “Globally important wilderness areas — despite being strongholds for endangered biodiversity, for buffering and regulating local climates, and for supporting many of the world’s most politically and economically marginalized communities — are completely ignored in environmental policy,” study lead author James Watson, an associate professor in the School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management at the University of Queensland, in Australia, said in a statement.

    • Erased By False Victory: Obama Hasn’t Stopped DAPL

      All Native struggles in the United States are a struggle against erasure. The poisoning of our land, the theft of our children, the state violence committed against us — we are forced to not only live in opposition to these ills, but also to live in opposition to the fact that they are often erased from public view and public discourse, outside of Indian Country. The truth of our history and our struggle does not match the myth of American exceptionalism, and thus, we are frequently boxed out of the narrative.

      The struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, has been no exception, with Water Protectors fighting tooth and nail for visibility, ever since the Sacred Stone prayer encampment began on April 1.

      For months, major news outlets have ignored what’s become the largest convergence of Native peoples in more than a century. But with growing social media amplification and independent news coverage, the corporate media had finally begun to take notice. National attention was paid. Solidarity protests were announced in cities around the country. The National Guard was activated in North Dakota.

    • Texas Tribes Mobilize in Solidarity With Sioux Against Dakota Access Pipeline

      As members of more than 100 tribal nations continue their historic standoff against the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, Texas tribes protested in solidarity at the headquarters of the Dallas-based company behind the project — Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) — and spotlighted the company’s conflicts of interest and corrupt practices in their own state.

      Just before poorly trained private security officers sicced dogs on Indigenous water defenders protecting sacred burial grounds in North Dakota over the weekend, Indigenous activists with the American Indian Movement of Central Texas (AIMCTX) gathered more than 1,000 miles away at the corporate headquarters of ETP in Dallas on September 2 to decry CEO Kelcy Warren’s “Black Snake” pipeline projects and pray in rhythm to Native drumsongs.

    • Fasten your seat belt – turbulence is on the rise

      United Airlines Flight 880 was carrying more than 200 passengers from Houston, Texas, to London’s Heathrow airport two weeks ago when it was battered by turbulence that threw people on to the cabin ceiling. Twenty-three people were injured. “We were flying along as smooth as can be and then were just slapped massively from the top as if someone had torpedoed us,” one passenger told journalists.

      The aircraft, a Boeing 767-300, made an emergency landing at Shannon airport and the injured were taken to University Hospital, Limerick. No one was seriously hurt but all went through a terrifying experience and one, say experts, which will increasingly affect flights.

  • Finance

    • British Trade Secretary Calls Country ‘Too Lazy and Fat’

      Britain’s international trade secretary called the country “too lazy and fat” and described business leaders as more interested in playing golf on a Friday than seeking new trade opportunities.

      “This country is not the free trading nation that it once was. We have become too lazy and too fat on our successes in previous generations,” Liam Fox said at an event on Thursday for the right-wing group Conservative Way Forward, BBC News reported.

    • Panama Papers: Denmark to pay $1.3M-plus for leaked data to probe tax evasion

      Tax officials in Denmark are reportedly paying an unknown source around £1 million (~$1.3M) for secret financial information on hundreds of Danish nationals.

      Their names appear in the Panama Papers, leaked earlier this year, which consist of 11.5 million files from the database of Mossack Fonseca—the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm.

      This is the first time, according to Danish newspaper Politiken, that Denmark has agreed to buy information on possible tax evaders in this way. Denmark also seems to be the first country to admit that it’s acquiring data from a source with access to the leaked Mossack Fonseca documents. [Update: apparently Iceland made an earlier deal—see comment below.]

    • Stop the Fed Before it Kills Again

      Why has the Fed created incentives for US corporations to loot their companies and drive them deeper into debt?

      Despite four consecutive quarters of negative earnings, weak demand and anemic sales, US corporations continue to load up on debt, buy back their own shares and hand out cash to their shareholders that greatly exceeds the amount of profits they are currently taking in. According to the Wall Street Journal: “SandP 500 companies through the first two quarters of the year collectively returned 112% of their earnings through buybacks and dividends.”

      You read that right, US corporations are presently giving back more than they are taking in, which is the moral equivalent of devouring one’s offspring.

    • Did Obama Administration’s Policies Contribute to Chicago’s Deadly Violence?

      For many years, parents and education activists in Chicago have warned that the deliberate destruction of neighborhood public schools was causing a rise in violence. The city, first under Arne Duncan, now under Rahm Emanuel, ignored the critics, and made a virtue of closing public schools, opening charter schools, and sending kids long distances to new schools. Mayor Emanuel recognized that the critics’ complaints had some validity. He didn’t stop the school closings–in fact, he closed 50 public schools in a single day, an unprecedented action in American history. But to assuage the critics, he established “safe passages,” supposedly to assure students’ safety as they adapted to new and longer routes to their new schools. In 2013, a student was raped while walking to school on a “safe passage” route.

    • Palestinian Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley Ask PayPal to Level the Playing Field

      The letter to Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, states, “We are writing to urge you to extend PayPal’s services to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza thereby removing a major limitation on the Palestinian technology sector, one of the only bright spots in the overall economy. More importantly, extending PayPal services would resolve the current discriminatory situation whereby PayPal’s payment portal can be accessed freely by Israeli settlers living illegally (per international humanitarian law) in the West Bank while it remains unavailable to the occupied Palestinian population.”

    • Rio’s Olympic wounds are still raw

      Project 100 is a special report on Olympic-related evictions in Rio de Janeiro, run by Brazil’s Agencia Publica – an independent, woman-led and non-profit investigative journalism agency committed to the facilitation of democratic debate and the promotion of human rights. The project investigates one of the untold stories of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro: what has happened to the lives of those affected by the city’s large-scale evictions programme?

      Between 2009 and 2015, the Rio de Janeiro City Hall reported that 22,059 families – 77,206 individuals – had been subject to eviction. Authorities claim only one community removal, the highly publicised Vila Autódromo, was a consequence of Olympics development and a general lack of official data on Olympics-related removals provides a veil of secrecy as to the true social impact of the event.

    • Priorities

      I am being laid off by my employer, IBM. Jobs in the Netherlands move to lower-wage countries like Poland and India, while IBM changes course towards a “cognitive” future in which there is less interest in the traditionally skilled technical IT jobs.

      Unparalleled (because forced) job cuts in the Netherlands are the result of that change of focus. Almost 10% of the IBMNL work force is sent away in a “re-balancing” operation and I am out of a job per November 1st.

      On an intellectual level I understand the reasons for this. It is nothing personal and it also has nothing to do with the appreciation of my performance. I have scored among the top 5% of IBM Netherlands employees during my performance reviews of the last couple of years, which is quite decent for someone aged 55 in a technical role. Nevertheless, I am affected personally and my close circle is affected too.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • North Dakota issues arrest warrant for Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman

      Amy Goodman, host and executive producer for Democracy Now, has been criminally charged for documenting attacks on indigenous protesters.

      Last week, a Democracy Now film crew captured footage of private security contractors hired by the oil companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline attacking protesters with dogs and pepper spray. Video of the attacks went viral on social media, with Democracy Now’s story about the attacks garnering over 131,000 shares on Facebook as of this writing. WDAZ reported that Goodman, along with Cody Charles Hall, a media spokesman for the Red Warrior Camp, have both been charged with criminal trespassing.

    • Breaking: Arrest Warrant Issued for Amy Goodman in North Dakota After Covering Pipeline Protest [iophk: "DN is closer to what NPR used to be than what NPR is now. These days NPR just toes the line in all areas, but especially in regards to tech policy coverage."]

      An arrest warrant has been issued in North Dakota for Democracy Now! host and executive producer Amy Goodman. Goodman was charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor offense. A team from Democracy Now! was in North Dakota last week to cover the Native American-led protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.

      On Sept. 3, Democracy Now! filmed security guards working for the Dakota Access pipeline company using dogs and pepper spray to attack protesters. Democracy Now!’s report went viral online and was rebroadcast on many outlets, including CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and Huffington Post.

      “This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” said Amy Goodman in a statement. “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”

    • Donald Trump Is Us

      We cannot look at the sun for long. When reality gets too painful and unbearably bright, we avert our eyes. But let’s hear it for the military, the same military that counseled caution before our mad, destabilizing plunge into Iraq and Afghanistan arranged by George W. Bush’s coterie of erstwhile draft-dodgers.

      Military analysts are talking climate change as a prime “national security” issue. Small wonder; a lot of their island and coastal naval bases are on the brink of inundation. Also, the military appreciate “the chain of causation” from climate change disasters to the destabilization of nation states and the rise of new forms of terrorism.

      The DOD’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review called climate change an “accelerant of instability” and a “threat multiplier.” The National Academy of Sciences in 2015 noted that climate change fueled the beginning of Syria’s civil war. Longer-lasting and more severe droughts, combined with government refusal to deal with crop failures and livestock deaths. set the stage for the current chaos.

    • For Clinton v. Trump: Blame Corporate Media

      Labor Day has come and gone; the campaign season is now in high gear. Getting to this point was hard for anyone paying attention. It will soon be worse a hundred-fold.

      The collective intelligence of the American people is about to be insulted even more shamelessly than it has already been — as the sales campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rev up, seemingly without budget constraints.

      Now would therefore be a good time to lay in a supply of anti-emetics, before the stores run out.

      Ahead lies a barrage of news, impossible to avoid, of an electoral contest that makes a mockery of American “democracy.” That, unfortunately, is the least of it. The more portentous problem is what it is all leading to – a Clinton presidency.

    • Trump vs. Clinton: Predictions Have Consequences

      That brings us to the last factor, which I shall call the factor of the “importance of voting” at all. There are many eligible voters who are skeptical that voting makes any real difference in what happens after the election. This group may be subdivided into those who feel it is of no importance at all and those who waver on this question. The waverers may be persuaded not to vote for their only mildly preferred candidate if they feel they know the outcome but not if they feel uncertain about the outcome.

    • Servicewomen Get Short Shrift in Commander-in-Chief Forum

      Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton sparred separately on military matters with back-to-back appearances on NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday. Trump stuck with his usual empty bombast, assuring a meek Matt Lauer that he would fix things up just fine – while offering no concrete plans or budgets. Clinton had more substance, stating she would not put ground troops in Iraq or Syria, and stressing the steadiness and temperament needed for the job.

      Lack of timely treatment of veterans in Veterans Affairs hospitals got a good deal of the attention from both candidates. But in all the discussion about PTSD and the need for mental health treatment, one group was all but ignored – female service members. They were barely mentioned, except when one questioner from the audience asked Donald Trump what he would do about sexual assault in the military.

  • Censorship/Free Speech


      The one line I remember from high school history is “clear and present danger.” Established in the Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, this phrase outlines that speech creating a “clear and present danger” can be punished. So what speech constitutes a “clear and present danger” that someone’s First Amendment rights can be abridged?

      This past April, Lindsey Riback, the news editor at the Albany Student Press, wrote an informative article detailing the resources available to report sexual assault in her article, “Sexual Assault Reports up 200 Percent at UAlbany.” Although this headline may seem shocking, the content explained that the increase in resources on campus to report sexual assault contributed to the sharp increase in reports. This headline came into question as the Accepted Student Open House rolled around. A University at Albany tour guide instructed other guides to remove any newspapers from the Lecture Center that displayed this headline so that prospective students and their families wouldn’t see it.

      On Saturday, April 16, I attended this open house. At the time, I was a high school senior and had decided to major in English. I wanted to double major, but I was wrestling with which second major to pick. History? Linguistics? Journalism? These possible majors circulated in my mind; I couldn’t pick a definitive path. That is, until I heard Professor Rosemary Armao speak for the Journalism Department. The idea that I could talk to others and learn mounds of information—all through researching and reporting—appealed to me. Even more, the enthusiasm with which Professor Armao presented drew me to the right path: journalism.

    • YouTubers are accusing the site of rampant censorship

      YouTube is the third-largest website on Earth, a behemoth viewed by millions each day. It’s also “over” — or on the brink of it — according to a group of outraged creators who claim the company has begun censoring them.

      The controversy springs from confusion over YouTube’s long-standing policy of disabling ads on videos that could draw advertiser complaints. Those include videos that are violent, sexually suggestive, or that contain drug use or bad language.

      But whereas YouTube has historically hidden demonetization notifications in its video analytics dashboard — meaning that some creators never saw them — the company recently began sending notices by email and alerting them directly on video pages.

    • YouTube Video Creators Not Happy With “Demonetization” Of Some Content
    • New censorship restrictions on YouTube hit users in the pocket

      Kiwis who post videos online featuring “contentious issues” like sex, drugs and political speech could be hit in the pocket as YouTube clamps down on users profiting from them.

      User Dolan Dark, who only wanted to be known as “Jay”, has 191,000 subscribers but said he was unable to make money from two of his videos which were not deemed “advertiser friendly” under new regulations.

      Users who post videos to the site have the option to “monetise” their content whereby adverts are added to the start of the video.

    • Facebook censors iconic napalm photo: Are algorithms undermining news?

      A Norwegian newspaper editor publicly censured Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg after his social media platform took down a famous wartime photograph, citing concerns about child pornography.

      Facebook’s decision to censor the famous photo of a naked child fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam war has prompted questions about Facebook’s policies and its use of algorithms to control the content posted online.

    • Facebook will follow in Murdoch’s footsteps

      Once Rupert Murdoch performed this role, now increasingly Zuckerberg and Google do. To think they were ever likely to be more benevolent than the corporations of old is to subscribe to magical thinking.

    • Censoring Our War Crimes

      Facebook has backed down amidst outraged charges of censorship after deleting the iconic photo of a naked burned Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Demonstrating questionable journalistic standards now being increasingly challenged, the social network deleted the harrowing, Pulitzer Prize-winning image by AP photographer Nick Ut – which shows nine-year-old Kim Phuc running screaming from her village of Trang Bang after she was severely burned by napalm dropped by South Vietnamese planes on June 8, 1972 – in the name of “maintaining a safe and respectful experience for our global community.”

      Phuc survived. Despite years of ongoing pain and surgeries related to her burns, she now lives in Canada, runs a foundation dedicated to help other child victims of war, and sometimes speaks about the powerful impact of one of the most famous war photographs of all time taken by the Vietnamese, then-21-year-old Ut. The recent uproar came after Norwegian author Tom Egeland included it in a Facebook post about photos that changed the history of wars, and in this case perhaps helped end one. Facebook removed the picture, Egeland protested, Facebook banned him and then proceeded to remove the image several more times when it was defiantly re-posted by other high-profile Norwegians – including Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who charged, “If you edit past events or people, you change history, and you change reality.”

    • Vietnam photo censorship reignites debate over Facebook’s responsibilities

      Facebook’s decision to temporarily censor the iconic Vietnam War photo of Kim Phúc has set off alarm bells for journalism watchdogs and reignited the debate over the social media company’s editorial responsibilities.

    • Does Facebook need to act more like a news organization?

      Facebook’s decision Friday to reverse its ruling about an iconic photo from the Vietnam War that it initially said violated company policy is raising the issue about whether it is a social media platform or a news distributor.

      The reversal followed online uproar after Facebook deleted the famous photo of Kim Phuc running naked from a napalm attack from a Norwegian author’s Facebook page.

    • ‘Facebook needs an editor’: media experts urge change after photo dispute

      Tensions between Facebook and the news industry boiled over this week when the social media corporation censored a Pulitzer-winning Vietnam war photo, because it featured a naked child and violated site “community standards”.

      The dispute over the “napalm girl” image, which a Norwegian writer published in a post about historic warfare photography, ended Friday when Facebook reversed its decision, acknowledging the “global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time”.

      But the spat has exposed what journalists and ethicists say are fundamental flaws in the way Facebook controls and spreads news. Critics say the company’s decisions were driven by PR concerns and should serve as a wake-up call to free speech advocates about how powerful Facebook has become– and how ill-equipped the corporation is for its role, however unwilling, in journalism.

    • Facebook’s Censorship Problem Is What Happens When a Tech Company Controls the News

      In the space of a single day, Facebook has managed to: Draw condemnation from a Norwegian news organization for censoring a famous work of photojournalism from the Facebook News Feed.

    • Dear Mark. I am writing this to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove this picture.

      The demand that we remove the picture came in an e-mail from Facebook’s office in Hamburg this Wednesday morning. Less than 24 hours after the e-mail was sent, and before I had time to give my response, you intervened yourselves and deleted the article as well as the image from Aftenposten’s Facebook page.

      To be honest, I have no illusions that you will read this letter. The reason why I will still make this attempt, is that I am upset, disappointed – well, in fact even afraid – of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society.

    • What Facebook’s Aftenposten Censorship Teaches Us About Facebook’s Role As Worldwide Editor In Chief
    • Facebook reverses ‘napalm girl’ photo censorship following media pressure
    • Correction: Norway-Facebook-Napalm Girl story
    • Facebook makes u-turn on decision to censor an iconic Vietnam War photo
    • Facebook Pulled Down This Iconic Image From The Vietnam War, Restored It After Social Uproar
    • Facebook’s big content problem
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • [Purism] We updated our FAQ — Here’s why it matters

      Recently, we have updated our Frequently Asked Questions. “Who cares!” you might say. Well, here’s why I think it may be more important than you think. For the longest time we had five FAQ’s. Five. As a small company with little staff, FAQ’s and documentation were initially not as big of a priority as they perhaps should have been. Things that needed to be addressed have often been put on the back burner as we had larger issues to address. But, in recent weeks, we have begun to try and make changes in our approach, changes in our communication with you.

      As we have begun this process, we are altering our previous method of outreach and communication to focus, quite simply, on these aspects: “more,” “better” and “engagement.” We have heard many of your calls for us to communicate more often and better. We consider important, especially for the free and open source community, to have engagement and a back and forth dialogue between you and us. From here on, this blog will be updated more often with all of us chipping in at times. Our FAQ’s have been updated to address many of the common questions that we get asked and it will continue to be updated as more questions come in to us. With our new communication team, we have also recently changed our approach on social media as well, aiming for more engaging conversations with you and moving away from the previous “privacy news fire hose” approach where we were sharing too many Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt (FUD) articles that overall impaired our credibility. All in all, we’d like to bring some fun back to our social media process and to talk WITH you instead of AT you.

    • Brexit won’t harm UK security, says US former spy chief

      Brexit will not make “one bit of difference” to Britain’s intelligence relationship with the rest of Europe and the US, according to a former senior official with the National Security Agency.

      William Binney, a technical director for the US intelligence agency turned whistleblower, said GCHQ will continue to share data and resources with organisations around the world following Britain’s retreat from the EU.

    • Zachary Quinto: Calling Snowden a ‘Treasonist is Absurd’
    • ‘Let him come home:’ Star Trek’s new Spock calls Espionage Act charges against Snowden ‘absurd’

      Hollywood heartthrob Zachary Quinto, who plays Star Trek’s new Spock and Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone’s new film, has spoken out in defense of the NSA whistleblower, who is now in exile in Russia, calling the Espionage Act charges against him “absurd.”

      The star was speaking at the premier of the latest film, Snowden, which tells the story of the young programmer’s interest in espionage work and eventual disillusionment with it, leading to one of the most significant revelations in recent history.

    • Star Trek’s new Mr Spock Zachary Quinto slams spying charges against whistleblower Edward Snowden as ‘absurd’

      Hollywood heartthrob Zachary Quinto has spoken out in defence of Edward Snowden, slamming the spying charges made against him as “absurd”.

      Quinto, who plays Star Trek ‘s new Spock, said the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower should be returned to the US and called for authorities to drop charges against him.

      Fugitive Snowden, who is seeking asylum in Russia granted by Vladimir Putin, is responsible for the biggest leak in modern US history.

      He quit his £130,000-a-year job at the NSA after claiming he could not stand by and watch the civil liberties of millions of people be eroded.

      Quinto, who stars in Oliver Stone’s new film Snowden, which tells the story of the young programmer’s early interest in espionage work, said at the Toronto premiere: “I do think he should be able to come back [to America].

    • Toronto Film Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’

      Oliver Stone’s docudrama, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is the director’s most exciting — and relevant — movie in years.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Kazakhstan makes former deputy PM new prime minister

      Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev promoted a former deputy premier on Friday to succeed longtime ally prime minister Karim Massimov, who he has transferred to the role of security chief.

      Massimov, who had led the cabinet since 2014 was dismissed and made the Central Asian country’s internal security chief Thursday, on the back of a summer that saw a spike in homegrown radical violence.

      The appointment of Bykytzhan Sagintayev as premier temporarily ends speculation that Dariga Nazarbayeva -Nazarbayev’s 53-year-old daughter – might take up higher office.

    • Senate investigator breaks silence about CIA’s ‘failed coverup’ of torture report

      For six years, Daniel Jones was the chief investigator for the Senate intelligence committee’s inquiry into CIA detentions and interrogations carried out in the post-9/11 Bush era. Jones and his team turned 6.3m pages of internal CIA documents into a scathing study which concluded that torture was ineffective and that the CIA had lied about it to two presidents, Congress and the US public.

      But before Jones’s investigation was released in December 2014, the CIA searched through Senate files on a shared, firewalled network that had been set up by the agency for Jones and his team to securely receive classified documents.

      The CIA accessed Jones’s work and even reconstructed his emails, sparking an unprecedented clash between the agency and its legislative overseers on Capitol Hill.

    • Follow Colin Kaepernick, Change the World

      Take Colin Kaepernick. By choosing not to stand for the national anthem, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback has stood up for justice. He has raised awareness of police brutality and oppression against African-Americans in the United States. He has exposed the anti-Muslim origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and forced us to address the uncomfortable: institutional racism. Kaepernick’s act of rebellion was a risk from the start. The cost to him has been a stream of criticism and public blowback. But his courage has sparked a national conversation on free speech and what it means to be an American in the 21st century.

    • Diversity Bloat Is All About Colleges Looking Good While Not Doing Much

      Yet, there are so many programs — and not just in college — where fellowships, for example, are offered based on skin color. That’s not fair and its also insulting to black students from middle-class environments (or better) and from intact families who do well in school, but may be lumped in by skin color as having gotten special boosts.

    • 7 Police Officers to Be Charged in Bay Area Sex Scandal

      A prosecutor in California said on Friday that criminal charges would be filed against seven current or former police officers in the San Francisco Bay Area, capping a monthslong investigation into allegations of officers having sex with a teenage prostitute.

      The allegations had roiled the Oakland Police Department, and five of those being charged were from that agency.

      The charges include obstruction of justice, engaging in an act of prostitution and engaging in a lewd act in a public place, Nancy E. O’Malley, the district attorney for Alameda County, Calif., said in a statement.

      A former deputy from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and a former officer from the Livermore Police Department also face charges, the statement said.

      A prostitute, the 19-year-old daughter of a police dispatcher, claimed that she had had sex with multiple officers from agencies around the Bay Area. At least one of the relationships began while she was a minor, Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland has said. The prostitute said the police had routinely tipped her off to raids.

    • A Grammar Lesson of Experience

      It was so successful in turning out ersatz privately educated pupils that I have been mistaken for one more or less since. And there is no doubt at all that this helped me get in to the fast stream of the FCO – in an intake in which I was one of only two state school educated entrants in the fast stream. There were two graduate entry streams – administrative (fast stream) and executive (slow stream). In 1984 there were just two state school entrants in the fast stream, and no private school entrants in the slow stream.

      It is this plucking of hearty young yeomen and turning them into officers for which Theresa May nostalgically yearns. But I absolutely hated the school. I hated the discipline, I hated the militarism, I hated the narrow thought. I hated it so much I performed terribly – I got a B and two E’s at A Level and scraped into university on clearing. Yet once in University with much more personal freedom, I flourished and never in my entire University career came less than top in any exam I took, culminating in a first class degree. The grammar school system had almost destroyed my potential because of my reaction against its class divisiveness.

    • The Politics of Nonviolence

      These days, the question for me is: What are the politics of nonviolence? Nonviolence is a whole new way of life, but it is also a methodology of social change, a power at our disposal, a spiritual path, a way to relate to others, and a way of hope for the whole human race, despite the odds.

    • If You’re Not a Feminist – What the Hell is Wrong with You!!?

      I am a male human being.

      And you’d better believe I’m a feminist.

      I wear that label proudly.

      The other day a friend of mine heard one of my articles was published in Everyday Feminism. And he said, “Kind of a backhanded compliment. Isn’t it?”

      Hell no!

      What does that mean? Would someone suppose that a man being considered a feminist somehow made him less of a man?

      On the contrary. I think it makes him more of one. It makes him a decent freakin’ person.

    • Truthdigger of the Week: Former British Ambassador and Whistleblower Craig Murray

      This week, Murray was denied entry into the United States via the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The program is intended to enable “most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.” Murray is set to chair the presentation of this year’s Sam Adams Award for integrity in intelligence, which takes place Sept. 25, to CIA-torture whistleblower John Kiriakou.

    • Federal Regulation Saves Millions of Lives

      Fifty years ago this month (on September 9, 1966), President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety laws that launched a great life-saving program for the American People.

      I was there that day at the White House at the invitation of President Johnson who gave me one of the signing pens. In 1966, traffic fatalities reached 50,894 or 5.50 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. By 2014, the loss of life was 32,675 or 1.07 fatalities per hundred million vehicle miles traveled. A huge reduction!

      This was an astounding success for a federal safety program that included mandatory vehicle-safety standards (seat belts, airbags, better brakes, tires and handling among other advances) and upgrading driver and highway-safety standards.

      When the crashworthy standards were first proposed in 1967, Henry Ford II warned that they “would shut down the industry.” Ten years later on NBC’s Meet the Press he conceded, “We wouldn’t have the kinds of safety built into automobiles that we have had unless there had been a federal law.”

    • We need bolder politicians
    • Protest Targets Expo ‘Spreading War on Our Communities’

      Hundreds of people gathered in California on Friday to protest Urban Shield, the annual expo showcasing police and military weapons and offering SWAT training in the Bay Area.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Who controls the internet? Ted Cruz’s fantasy vs. the reality

      In June, Senator Ted Cruz released a video declaring that President Obama is on the verge of “giving the internet away” to Iran, Russia and China. The video deploys an appropriately menacing soundtrack, some cyber-spooky glitch effects, and the threat of a “mini UN” taking over our beloved bastion of free speech and free enterprise—unless Congress acts before a deadline of September 30. Cruz upped the drama last week, in preparation for Congress returning from summer vacation, by launching a countdown clock on his website.

  • DRM

    • DRM products are defective by design. Time to tell users what they’re buying

      Digital products are weird: they are inert without software to animate them, and software is so technologically and legally weird that it can be very hard to know exactly what you’re buying.

      But there just might be some clarity on the horizon, thanks to documents I recently filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), signed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), several publishers and public interest groups and 20 EFF supporters with important (and alarming!) stories to tell.

      In 1998, the US Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), whose Section 1201 makes it a felony to bypass or tamper with “access controls” (today we call these “DRM” or “digital rights management”). Originally this was used to ensure that no one reconfigured their games console to play unofficial games (meaning that the console maker could extract fees from games companies without fear of competition) and that DVD players weren’t modified to play out-of-region discs. But software proliferated and the DMCA wasn’t far behind.


      Apple repeatedly did this with iTunes, while Nintendo designed the 3DS game system to render itself permanently inoperable if an update detected evidence of tampering. This means that any solution the FTC comes up with will require extensive disclosures from the more baroque DRM schemes – which is as it should be. You can’t consent without being informed, and the entire basis for taking away our rights with DRM products is that we’re consenting when we “choose DRM”. All of this is just a sticking plaster, of course.

      The real solution is to reform the laws that protect DRM – DMCA 1201 in the US, EUCD Article 6 in the EU, among others – to ensure that doing legal things with your own property remains legal. The fact that this principle needs legal protection tells you how bonkers the whole thing is. That’s why EFF has filed a lawsuit against the US government seeking to invalidate Section 1201 of the DMCA.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Trolls Claim Student Pirates Could Lose Scholarships, Face Deportation

        Copyright trolls are known for their dubious tactics but a new report from Canada shows just how low they can sink. According to the University of Manitoba’s copyright office, among a flood of 8,000 piracy notices are some warning students that they could lose their scholarships or even be deported if they don’t pay a fine.

      • Linking after GS Media … in a table

        Readers may remember that a few months ago I published a table that I had prepared for my students at the University of Southampton, attempting to summarise the position of the Court of Justice of the European Union as regards linking to protected content.

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