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As Part of So-called ‘Reforms’, the EPO’s President is Gradually Eliminating the Boards of Appeal, Not Just Their Independence

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wim Van der Eijk (below), Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) and EPO Vice-President of DG3, is said to be on his way out (giving Battistelli even more control/leverage)

Wim Van der Eijk

Photo from EPO.org

Summary: The EPO appears to be preparing for a post-examination (or very poor examination quality) era, heralded in part by the mistreatment of the Boards of Appeal, who are highly specialised workers akin to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in the United States

THE EPO is an office like no other office, but WIPO is a close match because it too is unaccountable and it routinely abuses staff, which then has no legal/judicial recourse (we have posted several links to stories about it in our daily links this month and earlier today). Even independent judges are being mistreated by the EPO and are then subjected to mock ‘trials’.

Today, for a change, the EPO invited people to sign up to the blog (lies) of Battistelli, who is a chronic liar that is a textbook definition of “newspeak” (see the recent announcement about the exile of appeal boards). When the EPO isn’t busy 'spamming' universities for a lobbying campaign of the Battistellites at the expense of the EPO (this continued today [1, 2] with two more universities) it is busy pushing or retweeting glamousing dross about “European Patent Office @EPOorg President #Benoit Battistelli” (this is what people are seeing if they follow the EPO, it’s just a cult of a single monomaniacal person).

Battistelli’s own lobbying event is the only thing that these people can talk about (other than repeated mentions of some pages in the EPO’s Web site) and right now the UK-IPO helps the EPO further marginalise the boards (barrier to Battistelli’s God-like powers), citing a vacancy which we mentioned earlier this week.

“Registration for the “Boards of appeal and key decisions 2016″ conference closes tomorrow,” the EPO says, but how long will it be before the boards too get closed/shut down by Battistelli? Judging by articles we read (not just in English), there are no long-term guarantees in Haar and the isolation of staff there is bound to discourage job applications, never mind poor retention of existing staff. We foresee the EPO trying to replace the boards with the UPC — a subject we have been writing about for a number of years now.

“EU software patents [are] pushed with the establishment of a pan-European patent court,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) wrote today, noting/highlighting again the correlation between the UPC and patent scope. We recently highlighted UPC lobbying by the EPO’s Margot Fröhlinger (as recently as last night) and we have been told by EPO insiders that their internal Gazette is lying about the UPC and other topics (more on that tomorrow; for now, see footnote 9 below). Here is what one person wrote today in a comment about Fröhlinger:

I am becoming increasingly concerned regarding the positions publicly espoused by Margot Fröhlinger.

I can agree with her position that “There are no guarantees in life so no one is sure if the CJEU will agree on the legality of UK’s participation if challenged”. However, what are we to make of the fears that she has voiced about the UPCA unravelling due to the CJEU being “politically insensitive”? That is, how else can those fears be interpreted other than as concerns that the judiciary will not provide a ruling that is politically convenient (for the executive)?

Further, indicating a belief that the CJEU will give “its blessing” to a revised UPC Agreement in which a non-EU Member State (i.e. the UK) participates can only be interpreted either as wishful thinking or an indication that undue pressure will be put on the CJEU to reach the “right” decision.

The fact is, the CJEU should be left to its own devices to decide whether any new UPC Agreement is consistent with EU law. I have my doubts about whether this will be possible. This is not least because I struggle to see how the CJEU could, in relation to a system established under EU law, give its blessing to the participation of a country that is not obliged to follow rulings of the CJEU. However, I do not rule out the possibility that a system could be devised that might genuinely be consistent with EU law. That is, unlike Ms Fröhlinger, I have no intention of pre-judging the outcome.

It seems that the EPO management in general (and not just the president) is in need of education regarding the different roles of the executive and the judiciary, as well as the importance of ensuring that one does not interfere with the other.

Whenever the EPO actively pushes for (if not lobbies for, inappropriately and unprofessionally) the UPC it shows rather clearly that it doesn’t envision a future with patent appeals. For what it’s worth, some insiders believe that examination (and thus appeals) is on its way out at the EPO.

“A different view on the relocation of the Boards of Appeal in Haar,” a short paper about the exile of the boards by Battistelli and his tyranny, was recently disseminated internally. In the interests of transparency we have decided to share it below:

Where have the Boards of Appeal gone?

The reform

With CA/D 6/16, the Administrative Council (AC) decided to create a new organisational entity, the “Boards of Appeal Unit”1 (BoAU). Comprised of the Boards of Appeal and the Enlarged Board of Appeal, including their registries and support services, the new unit shall be directed by a “President of the Boards of Appeal” (PBoA) to be appointed by the Administrative Council in accordance with new Rule 12a(1) EPC. Therefore, with effect from the 1st July 2016, DG3 has been disbanded and replaced by the BoAU.

The PBoA is to manage the Boards of Appeal Unit using functions and powers transferred to him by the President of the Office (PEPO) in an Act of Delegation2. In particular, the PBoA is expected to prepare resource requests to cover the needs of the Unit: the PEPO is then expected to provide the necessary resources (see new Rule 12a(2, 3) EPC).

The building

Although most stakeholders did not see any problem retaining the Unit in the Isar building, the PEPO insisted that relocation had to be included as part of the whole reform package in order to “improve the perception of independence”. In Part C of CA/43/16 Rev.1, the AC approved the principle of the removal of the BoA from the Isar building, but keeping them in the Munich area “in a location with good traffic links and appropriate accommodation standards”.

Although the first PBoA has not yet been appointed by the AC, nevertheless the Administration has been very active during the summer in defining the needs of the BoAU and identifying a “suitable” building in the location. Early in July, a few buildings in Munich were inspected for consideration together with representatives of the BoAU, but the Administration found none of them suitable. Shortly afterwards, Principal Director General Administration (PD44) publically announced that a suitable building had now been found and that the BoAU relocation was already scheduled to take place on 1st July 2017 to Richard-Reitzner-Allee 8 in Haar, a city of about 20 000 residents in the Munich hinterland. The chosen “8inOne” building was renovated by its owner to a “very high standard” in 2014, essentially following the concept of open-space offices. It has remained empty since then.

Not all details have been made public yet. However, it is a safe assumption that the rent should be much lower than in more desirable locations in Munich, although the building will have to be refurbished to accommodate individual offices, rooms for oral proceeding and other facilities and adapted to accommodate EPO IT systems. In order to amortise the costs of refurbishment, the contract would commit the Office to remain in the location for 15 years. This long commitment contrasts starkly with the hurried process of finalising the plans and then submitting a complete, formal proposal for approval in the October meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC).

The needs of the BoAU

This “rush to complete” is all the more problematic as the proposal doesn’t properly take into account the actual needs of the BoAU. The Boards themselves have expressed not only general concerns3 about the present situation; they also have concrete reservations on the suitability of the building for a proper functioning of the unit. To summarise, the Presidium concluded that the building will not offer enough space4 (or all the facilities) necessary for a proper functioning of the Boards and has informed the PEPO accordingly. For more details, [x] suggest that you read the publication5 by the Presidium. In a first response to addressing these problems, the President has decided to plan an additional two meeting rooms and to rent more space for a library in the basement.

The new reform of the BoA entails aspects of both perceived independence and performance improvement. It is obvious to us that the resources presently planned for the BoAU are woefully insufficient to produce the necessary improvements that will realise these goals since the working conditions are neither adequate nor appropriate for such judicial activities.

The needs of staff

From a staff perspective, the relocation would obviously be detrimental for the majority. Although the building is located outside Munich, perceived independence should not be confused with physical isolation. Besides, the offices are too small, the meeting rooms are too few, and the building has no other facilities or “social” rooms. It means that services normally offered to EPO staff in Munich (fitness room, Amicale room, medical and administrative facilities) won’t be available for EPO staff in Haar. Staff will be heavily impeded in availing themselves of these services if it means that they have to travel to the Isar building or to the Pschorrhöfe for them. The Administration already admits that the current canteen is too small to accommodate both EPO staff and staff from other tenants, not to mention visiting patent attorneys and the general public. As a workaround, they propose making use of local external outlets, but these appear to be insufficient and inadequate, thereby rendering the proposal impractical.

The Office praises itself for being a model employer offering numerous amenities to its employees. However, [x] can only conclude that staff at the Haar site would be disadvantaged when compared with their colleagues at Munich sites.

When this is combined with the conditions of employment resulting from the reform of the BoA (for example the limitations in the security of tenure6 , the capping of the career progression7 and increased constraints in post-service activities8), all these factors may prompt more active BoAU staff to retire earlier. With further reforms (pensions, etc.) expected to further worsen conditions of employment, all these changes will reduce the attractiveness of the BoAU as an employer and complicate (long-overdue) recruitment.


Staff in the BoAU perceives the reform process as both intransparent and non bona fide. To date, the statutorily required consultation with staff representation has not taken place. According to PD44, the floor plan (“Raumbelegungsplan”) had to be finalised in August. In our view, this renders the probability of statutory consultation leading to any improvement in the reform as unpromising.

A vision

There appears to be no clear, long-term AC vision for the Boards of Appeal.

In the AC meeting of June 2016, delegations kept advocating a quick ratification of the UPC Agreement thereby creating a Unified Patent Court, although its setting-up now seems subject to increasing uncertainty due to Brexit. They appear to align with the PEPO in this respect9. Anyway, legal study concluded that the number of cases migrating from the BoA to the UPC would be a very modest one.

The number of unfilled posts in the BoA has significantly increased10 from 2014 on and this worrisome trend continues unabated. At the same time, the upward production trend in DG1 does not suggest that we should expect any decrease in the number of appeals in the future, assuming [x] maintain a constant quality in the decisions of the first-instance Examining and Opposition Divisions.

[x] wonder whether the AC delegations should realistically expect such an efficiency boost in the BoAU, with new procedures so streamlined11 that the BoAU can both master the caseload and reduce the pendency with reduced resources. [x] suggest they should reconsider their options before embarking on a relocation project which already does not seem future-proof.


By hastily preparing a proposal to relocate the BoAU from the Isar building into the Munich hinterland, the PEPO pre-empts an action that should be assigned to the PBoA, in accordance with new Rule 12a(3) EPC, for the sake of improved (perceived) independence. Furthermore, the building does not meet the needs of the BoAU and its users (patent attorneys and public) and therefore cannot be said to meet the goal set by the AC of “appropriate accommodation standards”. It further deteriorates the working conditions of staff in the Unit whilst at the same time committing the PBoA and the Office to a long-terms contract.

It remains to be seen whether the BFC (and the AC) will actually condone what could be seen as an original sin.

1Unit: “a single thing, person, or group that is a constituent of a whole; a part of a military establishment that has a prescribed organization as of personnel and materiel” (Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)
2 See Part II of Annex 3 of CA/43/16 Rev.1
3 See the “AMBA Statement on the Current Situation” on the AMBA site
4 It is unclear whether the rented net surface amounts to 10740 m2, as mentioned by PD44, or to 9089 m2, as calculated by the Boards. Presently, the Boards have roughly 13000m2 in the Isar building.
5 Unfortunately, access to this publication is presently restricted to the BoAU
6 see new Rule 12d(3) EPC
7 see new Article 11 ServRegs as amended in CA/D 8/16
8 see CA/D 5/16
9 See Gazette August 2016, page 11: “I don’t see any reason why the UK couldn’t still ratify the UPC.”
10 See page 4/72 of the social report CA/55/16 Corr. 1
11 Pursuant to new Rule 12c(1) EPC, the BOAC as an emanation of the AC adopts the Rules of Procedure of the BoA, instead of the Presidium in the older days.

More information can be found in this article (in German, accurate translations are desirable).

Regarding the President of the Boards of Appeal, it seems certain that Battistelli is going to replace and maybe even eject Mr. Van der Eijk. According to a source, “he’s to be replaced” after being flagged as “ill” for a conspicuously long time (we wrote about it last year). “I don´t know his whereabouts,” this source told us. We may post an update about this pretty soon. Some people speculated that he had been punished for disloyalty to Battistelli (which is very much warranted), but we could never ascertain/verify this claim.

As Expected, Misleading Coverage Regarding Software Patents in the Wake of McRO v Bandai Namco

Posted in America, Patents at 5:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reuters and Software Patents

Summary: How media which is dominated or steered by patent law firms covered the McRO v Bandai Namco case, and why it’s bound to mislead a lot of people into thinking that software patents are OK

YESTERDAY we wrote about how patent law firms had turned rather nasty against anyone who enforces Alice and trashes software patents in lieu with the law. These firm are losing the battle, so now they play dirty. As far as we are aware, the McRO v Bandai Namco decision was first reported on by IAM and quickly thereafter mentioned by pro-software patents people (along with the misleading headline). In a nutshell, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) defended a few software patents (or just one single patent!) in one rare case (less than 10% of the time do we see such an outcome at CAFC), so patent maximalists make a lot of noise and try to amplify the message (whilst ignoring the decisions they dislike because it’s not supportive of their agenda and ‘sales’). We expect to see a lot more articles about McRO v Bandai Namco because it is good marketing of their ‘services’ (or ‘products’). They are hoping — inter alia — to help their large clients’ agenda.

“These firm are losing the battle, so now they play dirty.”“Don’t Assume an Abstract Idea” was the headline at Patently-O today. It said: “In an important Eligibility case, the Federal Circuit has ruled that MRCO’s software patent claims are eligible — rejecting District Court Judge Wu’s judgement on the pleadings that the non-business-method claims are invalid as effectively claiming an abstract idea. In my 2014 post in the case I wrote that the case may serve as an opportunity fo the Federal Circuit “to draw a new line in the sand.””

“Federal Circuit rules software patents valid in McRO v Bandai Namco” was the headline in MIP. The truth of the matter is, the Federal Circuit did not rule software patents valid but only very particular patents (or patent), in one single case (it almost always finds software patents invalid). As long as the US Supreme Court does not rule again on software patents (and as we noted here before, no such case is pending at all right now), Alice still stands, it is very much applicable, and software patents are effectively or generally dead. CAFC must follow the lead of the Supremes (Justices). That’s just how the law works.

“We expect to see a lot more articles about McRO v Bandai Namco because it is good marketing of their ‘services’ (or ‘products’).”The following headline (shown at the top) from Reuters is basically a lie. Software makers (developers) don’t want software patents; few oligarchs that own large software monopolies may want them (e.g. IBM and Microsoft), but not actual software makers, people like yours truly. “Animation patent saved, software makers exhale,” says the headline of this report, but every software maker (coder) out there is probably mortified by the idea that patent trolls with their software patents can use this decision to bolster their campaign of intimidation (patent shakedown). This is the same spin as found in the seminal headline from IAM — spin which strives to convince us that software makers actually want software patents. It’s a lie.

Speaking of software patents, watch the details of an upcoming event where software patents lobbyist David Kappos (and former USPTO Director) will share the stage with the current Director who reportedly denies fraud at the USPTO. “Michelle Lee has testified before a House of Representatives committee amid accusations of USPTO examiners claiming unsupported hours,” MIP wrote. In addition, the chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will be there. To quote IAM: “Joining keynote speaker USPTO Director Michelle Lee will be the chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, David Ruschke, ex-USPTO Director David Kappos and former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel. Alongside them will be senior representatives from companies that are closely involved in the ongoing patent reform debate, including Google, Johnson & Johnson, Qualcomm, Bristol-Myers Squibb and IBM. Also in the faculty, we have lead counsel in two of the pivotal Supreme Court patent cases of the last decade – KSR v Teleflex and Cuozzo v Lee – as well as several high-profile patent investors.”

“This is the same spin as found in the seminal headline from IAM — spin which strives to convince us that software makers actually want software patents. It’s a lie.”This seems like a corporate lobbying event, much like that EPO-supported pro-UPC event that IAM set up in the US earlier this year. We don’t know what will be discussed in this event, but certainly it’s so expensive to attend that it will essentially shut out dissenting views, just like Managing IP recently did (a pro-UPC lobbying event, as we noted last night). The
EPO tends to pay published to sell out these days. Sometimes it works.

Taking note of the arrogance and the audacity of the patent microcosm, see this new article by Robert Sachs, a proponent of software patents. Yesterday he wrote: “Of course, one can say that the Federal Circuit is bound by precedent and has no choice but to follow the Supreme Court. This is true but fails to grasp the problem: The Federal Circuit does not even recognize that the Supreme Court’s definition is wrong. There have been no dissents by the Federal Circuit raising this issue. Instead, they apparently believe that the Supreme Court is correct, and thus only raise other concerns about the application of the Mayo test.”

This is part one of a newly-published series (maybe paper) and when Sachs says that the “Federal Circuit does not even recognize that the Supreme Court’s definition is wrong” he basically flings another nonsensical attack on Alice/Mayo, much like Kappos and other interresants. Over at Patently-O, Professor Crouch goes with the headline “Patent Venue at the Supreme Court: Correcting a 26 Year Old Legal Error” and it’s basically a rant which relates to the VENUE Act — a subject which we covered here before.

“East Texas has been somewhat of a cesspool of patent trolls with their ludicrous software patents and they enjoy favourable treatment from the courts there.”Crouch does not say “patent trolls” but instead speaks of East Texas. He wrote: “Patent litigation continues to be concentrated in a small number of venues. This case is potentially a big deal because it could eliminate this concentration — especially patent cases in the E.D.Texas. Both the PTO and Congress appear in favor of venue reforms, but statutory reforms will likely wait until the Supreme Court decides TC Heartland.”

Well, any such reforms are sorely needed and the sooner, the better. East Texas has been somewhat of a cesspool of patent trolls with their ludicrous software patents and they enjoy favourable treatment from the courts there. It’s time to stop this.

East Asian Patent Activity Viewed by IAM ‘Magazine’ as ‘Proof’ of “IP’s Growing Strategic Role”

Posted in Asia, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 4:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Anyone who says they’re good for you is a liar, or badly informed. And hiding patents behind copyright & trademarks in “intellectual property” is like sugar hiding behind fat and salt. Patents are the sugar of technology.” –Pieter Hintjens, yesterday [1, 2]

The profit motive
The patent maximalists view patents like the war industry views bombs

Summary: The latest fine example of the mentality or the mindset of people who are making money from peddling patents even when these are not needed, let alone desirable

EARLIER THIS month we wrote about the rise of patent trolls in east Asia. There are several new examples of that and regarding a case which we covered here before Dr. Glyn Moody has published “Chinese State Patent Troll Absorbed By Smartphone Maker Xiaomi, Adding To Its Patent Hoard”, citing the same report that we did (from IAM). “The absorption of Ruichuan IPR Funds by Xiaomi,” he explained, “which must have taken place with the Chinese government’s approval — is clearly part of the same strategy of bulking up in the patent department as it prepares to expand abroad. The big question is whether Xiaomi is planning to use its new portfolio purely defensively, so that it can sign cross-licensing deals, or whether it will start going on the offense and sue Western companies in their home markets too.”

As Moody noted a few months ago, China is now using Texas courts to sue large US companies, more or less like trolls, proving that the trigger-happy system in the US can actually work against the US and undermine its dominance in the area of technology.

“IAM views the deal as just a bunch of patents, but it’s the kind of misguided view which assumes patents are physical assets.”IAM has published quite a few articles recently about Japan alone [1, 2, 3, 4] and in them we see IAM’s loaded statements and headlines, insinuating that because patents are being used for corporate wars in Japan it means that patents are desirable. That’s the same logic as “there are many wars, thus we need nuclear weapons” (irrespective of their effect or death toll, not just mutually-assured destruction). Another newer article mentioned the acquisition by HP of Samsung’s printer business (or a bundle of Samsung patents if one thinks the IAM way) and added that “Samsung Electronics announced yesterday that it had reached an agreement to sell its printer business to HP for $1.05 billion. The deal, which will see Samsung shed a significant number of IP assets, marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Korean company as it seeks to slim down and refocus on core business areas.”

Samsung has a large number of patents (the largest by some criteria, as measured in particular patent offices), but the company rarely if even uses them to sue. It’s not quite in the Korean tradition (the same goes for LG). IAM views the deal as just a bunch of patents, but it’s the kind of misguided view which assumes patents are physical assets. The use of the term “IP”, moreover, is misleading.

Links 14/9/2016: Arya.ai’s Braid, MySQL Exploit Patched

Posted in News Roundup at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 4 big ways companies benefit from having open source program offices

    At first glance, one big reason why a company not in the business of software development might more enthusiastically embrace an open source program office is because they have less to lose. After all, they’re not gambling with software products that are directly tied to revenue. Facebook, for example, can easily unleash a distributed key-value datastore as an open source project because they don’t sell a product called “enterprise key-value datastore.” That answers the question of risk, but it still doesn’t answer the question of what they gain from contributing to the open source ecosystem. Let’s look at a few potential reasons and then tackle each. You’ll notice a lot of overlap with vendor open source program offices, but some of the motivations are slightly different.

  • Everyone Wins With Open Source Software

    As open source software matures and is used by more and more major corporations, it is becoming clear that the enterprise software game has changed. Sam Ramji, CEO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, believes that open source software is a positive sum game, as reflected in his keynote at ApacheCon in Vancouver in May.

    Invoking his love of game theory, Ramji stated emphatically that open source software is a positive-sum game, where the more contributors there are to the common good, the more good there is for everyone. This idea is the opposite of a zero-sum game, where if someone benefits or wins, then another person must suffer, or lose.

  • 15 Top Open Source Artificial Intelligence Tools

    In a recent article, we provided an overview of 45 AI projects that seem particularly promising or interesting. In this slideshow, we’re focusing in on open source artificial intelligence tools, with a closer look at fifteen of the best-known open source AI projects.

  • To gamify or not to gamify community

    Years ago I was at a Canonical sprint in Europe, where a colleague, who was an active gamer, shared his idea for some kind of high-scores system in which community members could compete in the way they contributed. His off-the-cuff idea got me thinking.

    Although a competitive framework was not interesting to me—we had tried a hall of fame, which ultimately didn’t deliver the results we wanted—the idea of a gamification platform got me excited.

  • The future of money

    What happens when the way we buy, sell and pay for things changes, perhaps even removing the need for banks or currency exchange bureaus? That’s the radical promise of a world powered by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. We’re not there yet, but in this sparky talk, digital currency researcher Neha Narula describes the collective fiction of money — and paints a picture of a very different looking future.

  • Bitmain launches open-source bitcoin mining pool

    Bitmain, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of Bitcoin mining hardware, has announced the launch of an open-source bitcoin mining pool, as a part of its free bitcoin block explorer, analytics tool and bitcoin wallet BTC.com.

  • Bitmain Launches BTC.Com, a New Open-source Bitcoin Mining Pool with Zero Mining Fee!
  • In Race for Bitcoin Mining Profits, Fortune Favors the Old
  • New BTC.Com Mining Pool Wants To Set New Min ing Standards
  • One of Bitcoin’s Biggest Miners is Launching a Second Pool
  • Bitmain’s BTC.Com Mining Pool Goes Live
  • Open Source Execution without Dropping Windows

    IT managers are seeking alternative ways to replace their legacy software, without dropping Windows operating system due to high cost implementation and license dependency of proprietary software. Open Source software has found its way into enterprises infrastructures as it provides access to third party vendors and developers to modify the software and publish them. They are also known as Free or Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). FLOSS licenses users with the freedom to study and modify the program, to run for any function and to redistribute copies of either the original or modified source code (without having to pay royalties to previous developers). And, enterprises can update the FLOSS executions according to their requirement and also publish it for the other user’s requirement. This is one of the reasons why enterprises appreciate Open Source products and its advantages.

    Due to the open nature of the software, the design deliberations are open in contrast to the closed processes of proprietary vendors’ software. Also, the Open Source software products are easy to assess and evaluate with the help of the Community and Help pages. Open Source allows anyone to contribute code and permits software to integrate with not commonly encountered use cases, that a proprietary vendor would least taken into consideration. In terms of innovation, the Open Source development reflects Bill Joy’s law: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” That is unfeigned for all the software vendors, so leveraging a product with potentially larger developer base enables access to greater innovation.

  • Startup Arya.ai Launches Open Source AI Tool Braid

    Braid is designed as an open source tool for developing artificial intelligence (AI) systems. According to Vinay Kumar Sankarapu, CEO and founder of Arya.ai, by introducing open sourcing key tools in AI, the emerging field will grow faster and developers will be able to easily design more impactful applications.

  • Arya.ai’s Braid Aims to Weave Together Neural Network Components

    Startup Arya.ai on Monday introduced Braid, an open source tool available for free to companies developing neural networks. Braid is a flexible, customizable, modular meta-framework that works with operating systems for deep learning. It is designed for rapid development and to support arbitrary network designs. It is simple and scalable, for use with networks that need to handle many data points at large volume, Arya.ai said. Braid allows for quick experimentation without having to worry about the boilerplate components of the code.

  • Arya.ai launches Braid to integrate ‘deep learning’ into systems
  • Arya.ai announces the global launch of ‘Braid’, an Open Source deep learning tool
  • Arya.ai Launches AI Tool To Build Intelligence Quickly Into Systems
  • Open Source Release Cycle Tyranny

    The little talked about stress of Open Source project release management…

    So I really enjoy writing code. Been doing it for years, since I was 8! I still do it now when work needs me to, or in my less than copious free time.

    The problem I tend to find on these projects is that you can make them as simple or as complex as you like. This can be a curse and a blessing.

    For me it tends to be a curse.

  • Oracle’s NetBeans Headed to The Apache Software Foundation

    Oracle’s open-source NetBeans IDE could become the next former Sun Microsystems project to land at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

  • Apache Announces Updated Syncope Identity Management Toolset

    In recent posts, we’ve taken note of the many projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been moving up to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent months. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support and more.

    Recently, Apache Bahir became a Top-Level Project (TLP). Now, the foundation has announced that it is making available Apache Syncope 2.0, a digital identity and access management system. Implemented in Java EE technology, Apache Syncope is designed to keep enterprise identity data consistent and synchronized across repositories, data formats, and models.

    “Syncope 2.0.0 is a major milestone for the community,” said Francesco Chicchiriccò, Vice President of Apache Syncope, and one of the original creators of the project. “The numbers of this release look great –new features, new components and tools, new contributors, more enterprise appeal, and even more extensibility.”

  • Events

    • Bastille to Lead Industry Discussions on Wireless Hacking at GNU Radio Conference 2016

      Researchers Balint Seeber, Marc Newlin and Matt Knight to Speak and Host Wireless Hacking Challenge for Conference Attendees

    • The Future at the Internet’s Edge

      With the current focus on the cloud it might seem that the Internet works from the center out — if the Internet can be said to have a center. And with the massive move of IT infrastructure to the cloud, DevOps folks might be wondering what this means for the future of their careers and if increasing centralization will mean a shrinking job market, a question Robert Shimp with Oracle’s Linux and virtualization unit, took a stab at answering at last month’s LinuxCon.


      Shimp was giving a presentation on “Linux Administration in Distributed Cloud Computing Environments.” Despite the use of the word “Linux” in the title (it was LinuxCon, after all), he spent the first half of his presentation laying out his vision for what the Internet holds in store, with none of it being Linux specific. The future, it seems, will almost certainly be operating system agnostic.

    • Keynote: Open Source is a Positive-Sum Game – Sam Ramji, CEO, Cloud Foundry Foundation
    • Free Software Directory recapping the “Golden Oldies” meeting
    • FSF Events: Free Software Foundation community meetup (Washington, D.C.)

      Come share snacks and refreshments with the free software community. FSF campaigns manager Zak Rogoff will be happy to talk about our ongoing battle against Digital Restrictions Management in Web standards, the recent European net neutrality victory, our role in the new White House source code policy, and almost anything else you ask him about. The FSF will provide the first round of snacks and beers, with more available from the menu.

      This is an informal gathering for anyone interested in spending time with the free software community or learning more about the FSF; you are welcome, whether you are free software noob or hacker extraodinaire.

  • Databases

    • MySQL 0-day could lead to total system compromise
    • MySQL Exploit Evidently Patched

      News began circulating yesterday that the popular open source database MySQL contains a publicly disclosed vulnerability that could be used to compromise servers. The flaw was discovered by researcher Dawid Golunski and began getting media attention after he published a partial proof-of-concept of the exploit, which is purposefully incomplete to prevent abuse. He said the exploit affects “all MySQL servers in default configuration in all version branches (5.7, 5.6, and 5.5) including the latest versions.” In addition, MariaDB and Percona DB which are derived from MySQL are affected.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • NetBeans Java IDE Might Become An Apache Incubator Project

      A proposal posted today is looking to shift the NetBeans integrated development environment from being an Oracle project to one within the Apache incubator space.

      Geertjan Wielenga, an Oracle employee who serves as the project manager for Oracle JET and NetBeans, posted a proposal today looking to offload NetBeans from being the open-source IDE maintained at Oracle to becoming “Apache NetBeans.”

    • Apache NetBeans Incubator Proposal
  • Healthcare

    • Taunton’s open source success: a new era for electronic patient records

      Almost one year ago our organisation, Taunton and Somerset NHS FT, achieved an important milestone in delivering transformational change in our digital programme: we became the first NHS trust to go live with an open source electronic patient record (EPR).

      Some may have perceived this as a risky choice. An open source EPR was untested within the NHS, and NHS organisations can tend to do what everyone else has already tried. Yet we saw that, by having a flexible system that had no licence fees, we would be able to tailor the system as we went along, to suit the needs of our clinicians, patients and our healthcare partners in Somerset.

    • Navigating the challenges of international teamwork

      OpenEMR, OpenMRS, and VisTA are three of the most well-known open source applications in the health IT genre. OpenEMR has worldwide acceptance as a complete and flexible electronic healthcare records (EHR) system that can be tweaked with relative ease to work anywhere. That is evident in its adoption by the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, the Peace Corps, and most recently by the Health Services Dept of Israel. OpenMRS is a respected tool set and API that has been predominantly used in Africa, and has been adopted for targeted healthcare needs all over the world. Despite being a US-based project, its adoption in the US is minimal. VisTA is the US Veteran’s Administration EHR and it is now, due mainly to the formation of OSEHRA.org, beginning to get traction in other countries as a solution to the high cost of proprietary EHR systems for hospitals. New on the horizon are projects like FHIR, started in Australia, and adopted by hl7.org.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Udacity plans to build its own open-source self-driving car

      Sebastian Thrun’s online education startup Udacity recently created a self-driving car engineering nanodegree, and on stage at Disrupt today Thrun revealed that the company intends to build its own self-driving car as part of the program, and that it also intends to open source the technology that results, so that “anyone” can try to build their own self-driving vehicle, according to Thrun.

      The crowdsourced vehicle plans will ultimately be created in service of the school, rather than a product in and of itself. The open-sourcing of the data should help other projects ramp up, and will include driving data and more to contribute to other people’s projects.

    • Q&A: SFU alumna launching new “open source” food co-op

      SFU alumna Jennifer Zickerman is making it easier to access locally grown, high quality herbs through her venture, the Lower Mainland Herb Growers Co-op.

      The co-operative offers economy of scale to local small growers growing culinary herbs. It will buy fresh herbs from local growers, then dry and package them as culinary herb blends and distribute them to retail stores.

      Zickerman first developed this business idea as a student in SFU’s Community Economic Development (CED) program. She pitched it as part of the program’s annual Social Innovation Challenge, winning $12,000 to implement her idea.

      The co-op’s high quality products aim to replace the poor quality dried herbs found in most retail stores that are imported from countries with poor environmental and labour standards.

      Local farmers will also have a new market for a crop that grows well in this climate and requires few artificial supports such as fertilizer, pesticides and greenhouses.

    • Open Data

      • Chile’s green energy future is powered by open data analysis

        Open source software and open data play key roles in implementing Chile’s long-term energy planning, identifying ways to get the maximum value from development, minimizing its impact, and requiring less development overall.

        Over the past two years, our company—in partnership with the Centro UC Cambio Global of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile—has been designing, building, and testing a framework to support Chile’s Ministry of Energy in policy evaluation and regional hydroelectric power planning activities. Open source software and open data play a key role in this framework, but before I explain how, I need to summarize the context.

      • DYNAcity project starts mobility pilot in Flemish City of Ghent

        The mobility service is based on information published on the open data portal of the City of Ghent. It also incorporates data from innovative sources like thermal cameras and a carpool system. Participants in the pilot will receive travel advice each morning through a pop-up on their mobile phones.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

  • Programming/Development

    • How to help developers help themselves

      Developers need help. It comes with the territory for software companies employing thousands of developers, many who live and work in remote locations all over the world. At Red Hat, Rafael Benevides doles out lots of help. He teaches developers about tools and practices so they can be more productive, and he’ll be taking the show on the road for the tech conference All Things Open this year where he’ll share his specfic thoughts on cloud development.


  • Adblock Plus finds the end-game of its business model: Selling ads

    Eyeo GmbH, the company that makes the popular Adblock Plus software, will today start selling the very thing many of its users hate—advertisements. Today, the company is launching a self-service platform to sell “pre-whitelisted” ads that meet its “acceptable ads” criteria. The new system will let online publishers drag and drop advertisements that meet Eyeo’s expectations for size and labeling.

    “The Acceptable Ads Platform helps publishers who want to show an alternative, nonintrusive ad experience to users with ad blockers by providing them with a tool that lets them implement Acceptable Ads themselves,” said Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus.

    Publishers who place the ads will do so knowing that they won’t be blocked by most of the 100 million Adblock Plus users. The software extension’s default setting allows for “acceptable ads” to be shown, and more than 90 percent of its users don’t change that default setting.

    Eyeo started its “acceptable ads” program in 2011. With the new platform, it hopes to automate and scale up a process that until now has been a cumbersome negotiation. What once could take weeks, the company boasts in today’s statement, now “takes only seconds.”

  • Science

    • 5 Ways The Modern World Is Shockingly Ready To Collapse

      As technology embraces the digital, abandoning the crude and primitive notion of “physical existence” entirely, the idea that you actually own the media you buy is vanishing faster than that goddamn Walkman you swore was in the closet. And it’s more than inconvenient for consumers; it may be apocalyptic for our society.


      If you tried to purchase an Adobe product recently, you’re already aware of this trend. As of 2013, you can no longer buy programs such as Photoshop, Flash, or Dreamweaver. You can only “subscribe” to them for a monthly fee. Yes, now you have the privilege of paying for your software forever. Isn’t the future wonderful?

  • Hardware

    • Kernel NET Policy Still Being Tackled For Simplified, Better Networking Performance

      With the latest version of the patches, the NET policy subsystem is now disabled by default, the queue selection algorithm has been modified, amd there are various other changes. For those failing to remember what this is all about, “NET policy intends to simplify the network configuration and get a good network performance according to the hints(policy) which is applied by user. It provides some typical “policies” for user which can be set per-socket, per-task or per-device. The kernel will automatically figures out how to merge different requests to get good network performance. NET policy is designed for multiqueue network devices. This implementation is only for Intel NICs using i40e driver. But the concepts and generic code should apply to other multiqueue NICs too.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Philip Morris loses investment arbitration against Uruguay’s anti-tobacco legislation

      Furthermore, Mr. Born held that the terms of the Switzerland-Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty cannot be understood to provide the host state
      with a ‘margin of appreciation’ – a concept developed in a different context, namely the European Convention on Human Rights. The case has been used by NGOs (see for instance the Global Justice Now website) as an example of the allegedly deterrent effect of investment arbitration on states that intend to issue public health measures (so-called ‘regulatory chill’). The dismissal of Philip Morris’ claims shows that such fears are largely unfounded. On the other hand, even though the arbitral tribunal’s majority decision is well-reasoned, the question remains whether it is appropriate to bring about a result whereby a lawful business can be subjected to a such severe restriction in respect of core assets, such as its brands, without being paid any compensation (even in case of a public health measure). In this respect, the dissenting opinion of Mr. Born raises convincing arguments in favour of Philip Morris.

    • Abolish Bottled Water

      Bottled water is a con. It makes about as much sense as designer bottled air, but after a few decades on the market, one’s instinct often says to reach for a bottle of Dasani when your mouth’s dry and brain’s half-pickled on a hot day. It’s not water, it’s Water, baby!

      Bottled water in Canada comes from aquifers near the Great Lakes, where it’s pumped for $3.71 per million litres by companies that later sell it for a massive profit. This is in a country where dozens of First Nations communities are living under decades-long boil water advisories, and all of their drinkable water is trucked in by the bottle. Naturally, it comes from Nestle and other corporate producers.

      Policymakers and activists have raised calls to hike the price that companies pay to pump water from municipal sources, but some experts say that doesn’t go far enough. Instead, according to critics, the practice of pumping water for a profit should be banned wholesale for social and scientific reasons and Nestle’s license to do so shouldn’t be renewed by the provincial government.

  • Security

    • Securing the Programmer

      I have a favorite saying: “If you are a systems administrator, you have the keys to the kingdom. If you are an open-source programmer, you don’t know which or how many kingdoms you have the keys to.” We send our programs out into the world to be run by anyone for any purpose. Think about that: by anyone, for any purpose. Your code might be running in a nuclear reactor right now, or on a missile system or on a medical device, and no one told you. This is not conjecture; this is everyday reality. Case in point: the US Army installed gpsd on all armor (tanks, armored personnel carriers and up-armored Humvees) without telling its developers.

      This article focuses on the needs of infrastructure software developers—that is, developers of anything that runs as root, has a security function, keeps the Internet as a whole working or is life-critical. Of course, one never knows where one’s software will be run or under what circumstances, so feel free to follow this advice even if all you maintain is a toddler login manager. This article also covers basic security concepts and hygiene: how to think about security needs and how to keep your development system in good shape to reduce the risk of major computing security mishaps.

    • Software-Defined Security Market Worth 6.76 Billion USD by 2021
    • Two critical bugs and more malicious apps make for a bad week for Android
    • Let’s Encrypt Aiming to Encrypt the Web

      By default, the web is not secure, enabling data to travel in the clear, but that’s a situation that is easily corrected through the use of SSL/TLS. A challenge with implementing Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security has been the cost to acquire an SSL/TSL certificate from a known Certificate Authority (CA), but that has changed in 2016, thanks to the efforts of Let’s Encrypt.

      Let’s Encrypt is a non-profit effort that that was was announced in November 2014 and became a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project in April 2015. Let’s Encrypt exited its beta period in April 2016 and to date has provided more than 5 million free certificates.

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • [Mozilla:] Cybersecurity is a Shared Responsibility

      There have been far too many “incidents” recently that demonstrate the Internet is not as secure as it needs to be. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve seen countless headlines about online security breaches. From the alleged hack of the National Security Agency’s “cyberweapons” to the hack of the Democratic National Committee emails, and even recent iPhone security vulnerabilities, these stories reinforce how crucial it is to focus on security.

      Internet security is like a long chain and each link needs to be tested and re-tested to ensure its strength. When the chain is broken, bad things happen: a website that holds user credentials (e.g., email addresses and passwords) is compromised because of weak security; user credentials are stolen; and, those stolen credentials are then used to attack other websites to gain access to even more valuable information about the user.

      One weak link can break the chain of security and put Internet users at risk. The chain only remains strong if technology companies, governments, and users work together to keep the Internet as safe as it can be.

    • IoT malware exploits DVRs, home cameras via default passwords

      The Internet of Things business model dictates that devices be designed with the minimum viable security to keep the products from blowing up before the company is bought or runs out of money, so we’re filling our homes with net-connected devices that have crummy default passwords, and the ability to probe our phones and laptops, and to crawl the whole internet for other vulnerable systems to infect.

      Linux/Mirai is an ELF trojan targeting IoT devices, which Malware Must Die describes as the most successful ELF trojan. It’s very difficult to determine whether these minimal-interface devices are infected, but lab tests have discovered the malware in a wide range of gadgets.

    • Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

      First, a little background. If you want to take a network off the Internet, the easiest way to do it is with a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Like the name says, this is an attack designed to prevent legitimate users from getting to the site. There are subtleties, but basically it means blasting so much data at the site that it’s overwhelmed. These attacks are not new: hackers do this to sites they don’t like, and criminals have done it as a method of extortion. There is an entire industry, with an arsenal of technologies, devoted to DDoS defense. But largely it’s a matter of bandwidth. If the attacker has a bigger fire hose of data than the defender has, the attacker wins.

    • Internet’s defences being probed: security expert

      A big player, most possibly a nation state, has been testing the security of companies that run vital parts of the Internet’s infrastructure, according to well-known security expert Bruce Schneier.

      In an essay written for the Lawfare blog, Schneier, an inventor of the Blowfish, Twofish and Yarrow algorithms, said that the probes which had been observed appeared to be very carefully targeted and seemed to be testing what exactly would be needed to compromise these corporations.

      Schneier said he did not know who was carrying out the probes but, at a first guess, said it was either China or Russia.

      Pointing out that the easiest way to take a network off the Internet was by using a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, he said that major firms that provide the basic infrastructure to make the Internet work had recently seen an escalation of such attacks.

    • Hackers smear Olympic athletes with data dump of medical files

      Hackers are trying to tarnish the U.S. Olympic team by releasing documents they claim show athletes including gymnast Simone Biles and tennis players Venus and Serena Williams used illegal substances during the Rio Games.

      The medical files, allegedly from the World Anti-Doping Agency, were posted Tuesday on a site bearing the name of the hacking group Fancy Bears. “Today we’d like to tell you about the U.S. Olympic team and their dirty methods to win,” said a message on the hackers’ site.

      The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed it had been hacked and blamed Fancy Bears, a Russian state-sponsored cyber espionage team that is also known as APT 28 — the very same group that may have recently breached the Democratic National Committee.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What If America Happened To Forget The September 11th Attacks?

      The United States will never forget the September 11th attacks. It is interwoven into the fabric of the nation. Its identity is partially defined by remembering the horror that unfolded that day, but that is part of why a provocative question must be asked: What if America happened to forget the attacks?

      For fifteen years, politicians, military leaders, celebrities, corporate executives, as well as the families of those killed on 9/11, have deployed the words “Never Forget” when speaking about the attacks. The words function as a kind of pledge, a loyalty oath to show one’s allegiance to the country. Those who do not pledge to “Never Forget” may not be as American as those who openly relive trauma by sharing where they were that day, even if these individuals were nowhere near the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.

      Yet, what are people pledging when they reflexively attach these words to memories or statements?

      Pentagon Deputy Secretary Bob Work declared at the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial the “enemy” will “fail because all of us as Americans will never forget what we stand for. We will remain steadfast in our determination to stamp out this evil and secure a better future for our children. And we will work together collectively to create a world free from terror and oppression.”

      Work also said, “We must never allow—never allow—those who were lost to ever fade from our memories…as well as those who have sacrificed in the long wars ever since. And we must continue to allow them to motivate us in our continuing struggle against those who would seek to destroy that which we hold dear.”

    • #NeverForget911 . Wait, did something happen yesterday besides #ClintonCollapse ? I forgot.

      #NeverForget911 . Wait, did something happen yesterday besides #ClintonCollapse ? I forgot.

      OK, ok, serious now. It’s been 15 years now people, so we can talk about this kind of thing, ‘kay? That’s what anniversaries are for, after all.

      Peter Bergen, at CNN, who is often the sanest clown in the CNN circus, tell us that al Qaeda really blew it on 9/11.

      “Like the attack on Pearl Harbor,” says Bergen, “9/11 was a great tactical victory for America’s enemies. But in both these cases the tactical success of the attacks was not matched by strategic victories. Quite the reverse.” He goes on to remind us the U.S. totally kicked Japan’s butt.

      Now it can get a little fuzzy when you try to jam 9/11 and al Qaeda into the Saving Private Ryan narrative framework. So it’s important to understand what Bergen thinks al Qaeda’s goal was with the attacks 15 years ago. I’ll quote him so when I call him an idiot a bit later, you’ll understand my reasoning:

      “Bin Laden believed that al Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington would result in an American withdrawal from the Middle East. Instead, the United States quickly toppled the Taliban and al Qaeda… The United States not only did not reduce its influence in the Middle East, but it also established or added to massive bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. And, of course, it also occupied both Afghanistan and Iraq. Bin Laden’s tactical victory on 9/11 turned out to be a spectacular strategic flop.”

    • In Leaked Emails, Iraq War Architect Expressed Relief That Brexit Distracted From U.K. War Inquiry

      Newly leaked emails show how a key U.K. architect of the Iraq war expressed relief that the “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union would reduce media coverage of the devastating results of an inquiry into the United Kingdom’s role in the the war.

      On July 4, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw emailed former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss the upcoming release of the Chilcot Report– a document detailing the British government’s inquiry. The report probed, among other things, the depth of private British commitment and support for the American-led war in Iraq.

      In anticipation of coming press coverage, Straw asked Powell to review a statement in a Word document he drafted. He wrote that the “only silver lining of the Brexit vote is that it will reduce medium term attention on Chilcot — thought it will not stop the day of publication being uncomfortable.”

    • Pushing NATO to Russia’s Southern Flank

      In pursuit of a new Cold War with Russia, Official Washington wants to expand NATO into the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia, creating the potential for nuclear war to protect a sometimes reckless “ally,” writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • The Existential Madness of Putin-Bashing

      Official Washington loves its Putin-bashing but demonizing the Russian leader stops a rational debate about U.S.-Russia relations and pushes the two nuclear powers toward an existential brink, writes Robert Parry.

    • ‘They Let Everybody Know the US Was on the Side of This Coup’ – CounterSpin interview with Mark Weisbrot on the ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
    • China and Russia Press Ahead, Together

      The G20 summit in China marked a possible tectonic shift in global economic power, with China’s President Xi pushing for a new model based on physical connectivity, like “One Belt, One Road,” writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

    • Post-9/11’s Self-Inflicted Wounds

      The damage done to U.S. foreign policy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks was largely self-inflicted, a case of wildly overreacting to Al Qaeda’s bloody provocation, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • Al Qaeda’s Ties to US-Backed Syrian Rebels

      The new ceasefire agreement between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which went into effect at noon Monday, has a new central compromise absent from the earlier ceasefire agreement that the same two men negotiated last February. But it isn’t clear that it will produce markedly different results.

      The new agreement incorporates a U.S.-Russian bargain: the Syrian air force is prohibited from operating except under very specific circumstances in return for U.S.-Russian military cooperation against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS or ISIL. That compromise could be a much stronger basis for an effective ceasefire, provided there is sufficient motivation to carry it out fully.

    • Israel’s Bogus Civil War

      Is Israel on the verge of civil war, as a growing number of Israeli commentators suggest, with its Jewish population deeply riven over the future of the occupation?

      On one side is a new peace movement, Decision at 50, stuffed with former political and security leaders. Ehud Barak, a previous prime minister who appears to be seeking a political comeback, may yet emerge as its figurehead.

      The group has demanded the government hold a referendum next year – the half-centenary of Israel’s occupation, which began in 1967 – on whether it is time to leave the territories. Its own polling shows a narrow majority ready to concede a Palestinian state.

    • Donald Trump, After Blasting Iraq War, Picks Top Iraq Hawk as Security Adviser

      Donald Trump named former CIA director and extremist neoconservative James Woolsey his senior adviser on national security issues on Monday. Woolsey, who left the CIA in 1995, went on to become one of Washington’s most outspoken promoters of U.S. war in Iraq and the Middle East.

      As such, Woolsey’s selection either clashes with Trump’s noninterventionist rhetoric — or represents a pivot towards a more muscular, neoconservative approach to resolving international conflicts.

      Trump has called the Iraq War “a disaster.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘Affair Assange’ – Malicious handling of a political case

      In a few days the Swedish court shall rule on Assange’s freedom; or it will rule in favour of prosecutor Ny. This article deals with prosecutor Marianne Ny’s assaying anew to influence the court, in exactly the same fashion that she did the last time; I question Ny’s statement, made during her press conference, on Swedish prosecutors fairness, ­and that “all should be treated equal”; I base my query on factual cases, i.e. allegations against a right-wing Swedish politician that were similar to the one against Assange, and that were quickly dropped by the prosecutors at the time Assange was under arrest in London by orders of Ny. This article also refers to the Swedish media reactions after the revelations in the recent TV program Uppdraggranskning, which dealt with the extradition of Assange to the US. This program – aired the same day of Ny’s press conference –partly failed to comment, or even mention, the resolution of the UNGWAD ruling for the immediate freedom of Mr Assange; and partly omitted for the Swedish viewers crucial facts which ascertain the absolute existence of a ‘criminal investigation’ against Assange in the US, based among other on the new laws on terrorism. All that makes the extradition of Assange to the US not only ‘probably’ – as publicly acknowledged for the first time in the Swedish state-owned media (or for that part in all mainstream media of Sweden)– but also its request by the US highly incumbent.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Who Is Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline? Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo

      We continue our conversation Food & Water Watch’s Hugh MacMillan about his new investigation that reveals the dozens of financial institutions that are bankrolling the Dakota Access pipeline, including Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase. “They are banking on this company and banking on being able to drill and frack for the oil to send through the pipeline over the coming decades,” MacMillan says. “So they’re providing the capital for the construction of this pipeline.”

    • Wind power is going to get a lot cheaper as wind turbines get even more enormous

      In a nugget of very good news for the renewable energy sector, a survey of 163 wind energy experts has found that in the coming decades, the cost of electricity generated by wind should plunge, by between 24 and 30 percent by the year 2030, and even further by the middle of the century.

      One key reason? New wind projects are about to get even more massive, in both the offshore and onshore sectors. As turbines get taller and access stronger winds, and as rotors increase in diameter, it becomes possible to generate ever more electricity from a single turbine.

      “Our experts clearly anticipate a significant potential for further cost reductions, both onshore and offshore,” said Ryan Wiser of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who conducted the study with colleagues from several other institutions, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an International Energy Agency task force on wind energy.

    • One in 10 UK wildlife species faces extinction, major report shows

      More than one in 10 of the UK’s wildlife species are threatened with extinction and the numbers of the nation’s most endangered creatures have plummeted by two-thirds since 1970, according to a major report.

      The abundance of all wildlife has also fallen, with one in six animals, birds, fish and plants having been lost, the State of Nature report found.

      Together with historical deforestation and industrialisation, these trends have left the UK “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world”, with most of the country having gone past the threshold at which “ecosystems may no longer reliably meet society’s needs”.

      The comprehensive scientific report, compiled by more than 50 conservation organisations, spells out the destructive impact of intensive farming, urbanisation and climate change on habitats from farmland and hills to rivers and the coast. It found that the fall in wildlife over the last four decades cannot be blamed on past harm, but has continued in recent years.

    • Highest Water Levels During Hurricane Hermine

      NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services maintains a permanent observing system that includes 210 continuously operating water level stations throughout the U.S. and its territories. These water level stations provide real-time oceanographic and meteorological observations, which are critical data for communities, particularly during storms impacting the coast.

      This graphic depicts highest water levels along the coast throughout the duration of this storm. Highest water levels are measured in feet above Mean Higher High Water (MHHW). MHHW is defined as the average daily highest tide. Inundation typically begins when water levels exceed MHHW.

  • Finance

    • France backs Barroso ethics inquiry

      French President François Hollande on Tuesday endorsed the investigation into the conduct of former European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso, aimed at deciding if he broke EU law by joining Goldman Sachs in July.

      “I fully support this initiative,” Hollande said, two days after Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ordered a probe into his predecessor’s decision to take up the role as chairman and senior adviser at the international arm of the investment bank.

      “When you know that Goldman Sachs was one of the reasons for the difficulties we encountered” during the financial crisis, “that justifies a procedure, the one that Juncker has just started,” the French president said during a trip to Bucharest, AFP reported.

    • The 101 on how global trade treaties came to threaten the environment

      Such accusations have been made lately against a bewildering alphabet soup of global treaties now under negotiation, including the TTP, TTIP, and TISA.

      NAFTA protests rage on worldwide, reignited by recent Chapter 11 cases and the threat of new and looming trade treaties such as TTP, TTIP and CETA. Photo by Billie Greenwood licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 generic license

    • Globalisation, Glocalisation, Glokatisation

      History tells us periods of globalisation do not come smoothly. According to economic commentator Thomas Friedman, our current era of globalisation is new, unique, terrifying and exciting. As exciting as it is, such change can be disquieting and the spoils of globalisation are not equally distributed. Against this new political and economic backdrop is a political reaction which, consciously or unconsciously, seeks to reverse this trend. This idea of a policy reaction is the subject of a recent US Chamber of Commerce report, “Preventing Deglobalization: An Economic and Security Argument for Free Trade and Investment in ICT.”

      Friedman divides globalisation into three phases. The first, starting with the ‘discovery’ of the Americas, runs from 1492 to 1800, which he argues is the globalisation of countries. The second phase is from 1800 to 2000, a time dominated by the Industrial Revolution, in which companies become globalised. In our present era, from 2000, it is the individual who joins globalisation. Not everyone wins, and periods of increased globalisation are often followed by periods of political turmoil. The ICT sector is a dominant sector driving change in our current wave of globalisation.

    • Census Shows Post-Recession Rebound — But Many Are Still Worse Off Than in 2007

      There is much to cheer in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 report on American incomes, poverty, and health coverage released Tuesday.

      Median real income household income rose 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, and the poverty rate declined by 1.2 percentage points.

      The percentage of Americans without health insurance coverage declined to 9.1 from 10.4 in 2014. Overall, the number of Americans without health insurance declined to 29 million.

      These numbers point to an economy that is seriously starting to rebound from the Great Recession. The Census also notes that number of “full-time, year- round workers increased by 2.4 million in 2015.”

      But many Americans continue to see their incomes lag behind where they were around a decade ago.

      Median household income increased from 2014 to 2015, but it is still 5 percent behind where it was in 2007.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 90: Is Capitalism Over?

      As technology ushers more and more things towards the realm of “post-scarcity”, an inevitable conversation has arisen around the very roots of capitalism and what this rapid change means for our economic systems at the most fundamental levels. But the answer is far from simple — is capitalism dying? Can it evolve? Is the whole question being framed incorrectly? This week, we discuss the notion of a post-capitalist world, what it might look like, and how close it actually is.

    • More Details On How Corporate Sovereignty Provisions, Like Those In TPP & TTIP, Are Dangerous

      A few weeks ago, we wrote about a really great and detailed look by BuzzFeed’s Chris Hamby into “investor state dispute settlement” (ISDS) provisions in international trade agreements — something we refer to as corporate sovereignty, because it enables companies to effectively force countries away from certain regulations. Hamby’s piece was about how rich corporate execs were using corporate sovereignty provisions to get out of criminal prosecutions. That was only part I of his investigation. Part II of the series may have been the most useful, because it detailed how the mere threat of an ISDS case could pressure countries into changing regulations. This is super important, because one of the key talking points from defenders of corporate sovereignty provisions is to point to stats on actual cases. But if the threats are really effective, the stats on cases really is only showing a portion of what ISDS is doing.

    • TPP Goes Down to the Wire: Help Stop It by Joining Our Call-In

      It’s now or never for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s almost certain that if the TPP can’t pass during the lame duck session of Congress in its present form before the new President takes office, it won’t pass at all.

      You may also have heard that a lame duck vote on the TPP is off the table—but that’s false. In fact, the administration’s pressure for such a vote to take place following the election has never been greater. Officials held a new round of meetings just last week with business interests to encourage them to sell the flawed agreement to an increasingly skeptical public and Congress. So you shouldn’t believe for a moment that the TPP can’t still pass within the next few months. It can.

    • Security Territory and Population Part 5: Governmentality And Introduction to Foucault’s Method

      As a simple example, for a number of years, Keynesianism was the form of knowledge about the economy. Then it was replaced by neoliberalism. That’s the historical situation as I see it today. Why it changed, the genealogy of that change, is open to discussion. One strand of the discussion can be found in Philip Mirowski’s Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste.

      4. Foucault suggests that the family as a model for the economy had to be overcome and replaced by operations on the population as a whole. As we know, the idea of the family as model for both government and for government of the economy as a whole has not died out, but like most bad ideas will never die.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump and the Art of Spinning Secrets Into Lies

      This year, some suggested that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, should not be privy to classified briefings due to his habit of sneezing out the unfiltered contents of his head into the public domain. “This man is dangerous,” said Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ minority leader, in a recent interview. Reid suggested that intelligence officials deceive Trump with phony secrets: “Fake it, pretend you’re doing a briefing,” he said.

      In 1952, Harry Truman started the practice of letting presidential candidates sample secret intelligence. Three candidates have since declined to receive the special briefings — Barry Goldwater in 1964, Walter Mondale in 1984, and Bob Dole in 1996. But how to deal with a candidate who can’t keep his mouth shut? In Trump’s case, fairness prevailed over caution. President Obama decided to admit Trump into the classified world, although this year’s briefings are reportedly classified at the level of secret, not top secret as they were during the 2008 race.

    • FBI calls Clinton email probe ‘different’ as key witness ditches House hearing

      As lawmakers continued to probe Hillary Clinton’s private email use, the aide who set up the service declined to appear before the House committee. FBI officials had to be given a summons to produce documents on the investigation.

      On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee summoned contractors and former State Department officials who set up and maintained Clinton’s email servers and mobile devices. However, the key Clinton aide, Bryan Pagliano, did not show up for the hearing, pleading Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

      The afternoon before, the committee dressed down FBI’s Acting Assistant Director for Congressional Affairs Jason Herring, who was at pains to explain his absence from a major meeting last week and the bureau’s reluctance to hand over unredacted investigation documents.

    • Clinton Aides Complain About Double Standard, But Media Also Went After Bush Foundation

      Claiming victimhood after critical coverage of Saudi donations to the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton campaign Press Secretary Brian Fallon recently whined on Twitter that comparable Saudi links to a Bush family foundation didn’t receive anything like the same level of media scrutiny.

    • Samantha Bee: Have We Come to Demand ‘Meaningless Campaign Coverage’ From Our Media? (Video)

      A furious “Full Frontal” host returned from a break to rail against NBC’s Matt Lauer—who oversaw the recent live forum featuring presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—and the rest of the members of the mass media who are failing to ask tough questions during this election cycle.

    • Colin Powell Urged Hillary Clinton’s Team Not to Scapegoat Him for Her Private Server, Leaked Emails Reveal

      Former Secretary of State Colin Powell attempted to discourage Hillary Clinton and her team from using him as a scapegoat for her private email server problems, according to newly leaked emails from Powell’s Gmail account.

      “Sad thing,” Powell wrote to one confidant, “HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me to it.”

    • Media Undermine Democracy by Speculating Wildly About Undermining Democracy

      This is pure, unadulterated speculation—the kind of “what if, then they might” house of cards one would expect from an episode of Ancient Aliens, not in one of the most influential papers in the English-speaking world. In a moment of outright self-parody, Applebaum notes that “rumors of election fraud can create the same hysteria as real election fraud” while spending 800 words doing nothing but spreading rumors of election fraud. We have met the rumormonger, Ms. Applebaum, and she is you.

      One sure way to undermine confidence in US elections is to speculate wildly about such scenarios. Evidence-based discussions of the potential for electoral fraud are useful–and it’s important to note that there’s always a risk of voting manipulation–but running away with wholly speculative scenarios built on even more speculative scenarios, while pontificating about “media hysteria, hearings, legal challenges, mass rallies, a constitutional crisis,” does nothing to inform the reader, much less address the real dangers of election fraud. It simply serves to frighten the public by cynically appealing to our baser Cold War instincts.

    • FBI Director: Our Electronic Voting System Is Such A Complete Mess, It Would Be Difficult To Hack

      There’s been plenty of talking going around this election cycle about the terrible security problems with our current voting technology — along with some conspiracy-theory level talk of foreign agents looking to “hack” the election. We haven’t been very impressed with officials telling us all to calm down and it’s difficult to see how FBI director James Comey did himself any favors by basically arguing that the voting system is secure… mainly because of what a complete and utter mess it is. The larger point he’s making is somewhat valid, if clunky, in the fact that each state runs their own voting, so it’s not like hackers can get into one central system and wreak havoc. The different systems definitely make it harder.

    • Former Attorney General Speechwriter: James Comey Most Autonomous FBI Director Since J. Edgar Hoover

      Riley Roberts, speechwriter for former attorney general Eric Holder, has a fascinating examination of James Comey’s first four years as the head of the FBI. It details his frequently-antagonistic relationship with, well, nearly everyone, as well as his long history of going head-to-head with high-ranking government officials.

      Roberts says no FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover has acted with such autonomy. The unprecedented public discussion of the agency’s Clinton email investigation is just one such example. While Comey was undoubtedly correct that there was significant public interest in not just the outcome, but the inner workings of the investigation, his decision to hold a press conference and release investigative documents came as a surprise to his closest colleagues.

    • What Do the Presidential Candidates Know about Science?

      Jill Stein (G): It is a major concern that many Americans don’t trust our scientific and regulatory agencies, and extremely unfortunate that there are valid reasons for this declining trust that must be addressed.

      For example, the current FDA commissioner appointed by President Obama was a highly paid consultant for big pharmaceutical corporations, as Senator Sanders pointed out in opposing his nomination. In the case of Vioxx, the FDA approved a profitable pain reliever that caused up to 140,000 cases of heart disease, and even tried to silence its own scientists who discovered this deadly side effect.

    • Presidential Debates: 76 Percent of Americans Want Four-Person Debates: Clinton, Johnson, Trump, Stein, Why Are Establishment Elites Preventing It

      A recent USA Today poll found 76% of voters want debates with four candidates including not just the two most hated candidates in history, the Republican and Democratic nominees and their vice presidential running mates, but Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Greens, and Gary Johnson and Bill Weld of the Libertarians.

      Any candidate on enough ballots to achieve 270 electoral college votes should be in the debates. The people have a right to see all candidates debating the issues who are on their ballots.

      The deceptive debate commission, which is called a debate commission just to hide the truth: it is a corporation of the Democrats and Republicans whose purpose is to limit debates to their two parties, has no legitimacy. It has a major conflict of interest – why should the two establishment parties decide their opponents cannot debate? It is an obvious conflict of interest that the media should be calling out. The media should join the demand of the people – open debate are essential for democracy.

    • The Candidates’ Views on America’s Top 20 Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Issues in 2016

      The candidates for president have responded to America’s Top 20 Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Issues in 2016. These key issues affect voters’ lives as much as the foreign policy, economic policy, and faith and values views that candidates traditionally share with journalists on the campaign trail. Several of America’s leading science and engineering organizations are urging the candidates and the press to give them equal priority in the national dialogue. For three cycles, presidential candidates have chosen to share their views here, as the Democratic and Republican candidates did in 2008 and 2012. In 2016, we also invited the Green and Libertarian candidates.

    • Fact-checking Donald Trump’s Charity Claims

      Donald Trump says he has donated millions to charity.

      Earlier this year, Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold set out to prove him right.

      But finding evidence to support Trump’s claims turned out to be surprisingly difficult. The Republican presidential nominee provided few details. His campaign offered little help. Even Trump’s son, Eric, who runs his own charitable foundation, couldn’t cite specific donations.

      Fahrenthold reached out to dozens of charities, and took to Twitter, asking his followers for leads. Despite his exhaustive efforts, he hasn’t been able to come close to accounting for the $8.5 million Trump publicly pledged over a 15-year period.

    • Clinton’s penchant for secrecy goes back decades

      She responded this way when challenged about potential conflicts of interest involving her family’s foundation, and again when questioned about her use of private email to conduct government business.

      And now, when asked about her health Sunday, Hillary Clinton has fallen back on the same strategy she has used for decades: silence.

      Her secrecy seems to create as much controversy – if not more – than the initial issue itself, perpetuating a belief held by most voters since the start of the presidential campaign that she is not honest.

      In other words, Clinton’s careful attempts to avoid political trouble only seem to get her into more political trouble.

    • CBS News edits transcript, video clip of Bill Clinton discussing Hillary’s health

      CBS News edited a video clip and transcript to remove former President Bill Clinton’s comment during an interview that Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential nominee, “frequently” fainted in the past.

      Bill Clinton sat down with CBS’s Charlie Rose on Monday to try to clear the air around questions regarding his wife’s health after she collapsed while getting into a van at a 9/11 memorial ceremony on Sunday.

      “Well, if it is, then it’s a mystery to me and all of her doctors,” Bill Clinton said when Rose asked him if Hillary Clinton was simply dehydrated or if the situation was more serious. “Frequently — well, not frequently, rarely, on more than one occasion, over the last many, many years, the same sort of thing’s happened to her when she got severely dehydrated, and she’s worked like a demon, as you know, as secretary of State, as a senator and in the year since.”

      But the “CBS Evening News” version cut Clinton’s use of “frequently” out. And a review by The Hill of the official transcript released by the network shows that Clinton saying “Frequently — well, not frequently,” is omitted as well.

      Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller first discovered the edit of the television version

    • Jill Stein Cites FAIR’s Correction of MSNBC Falsehood
    • Google Supports Hillary

      Everything in America, including our Internet search engine, is corrupt. Progressive Stephen Lendman reports that Google has put its search engine in support of Hillary, a crazed warmonger with medical problems, as president of the US.

      What is extraordinary is that the rest of the world’s governments have accepted US control of the Internet and relies on the United States, the tyrannical government of which despises every country that is not an American puppet state. Why militarily powerful countries such as Russia and China and rich countries such as China allow Washington to control the Internet is the mystery of our time.

      The need is desperate for competing Internet systems and search engines available to all, or the Internet will become another censored provider of Washington propaganda.

    • REVEALED: Google staffers have had at least 427 meetings at the White House over course of Obama presidency – averaging more than one a week

      Newly compiled data reveals Google and its affiliates have attended meetings at the White House more than once a week, on average, since President Barack Obama took office.

      Numbers crunched by the Campaign for Accountability and the Intercept show 169 Google employees have met with 182 government officials in the White House.

      The meetings took place at least 427 times. The data used spans from Obama’s first month in office in 2009 until October 2015, and includes government meetings with representatives of Google-affiliated companies Tomorrow Ventures and Civis Analytics.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Another Day, Another Problem With Facebook’s Random Decisions To Block Content

      Last week one of the big stories of the week was Facebook blocking people from posting an iconic photo from the Vietnam War because it showed a young girl, naked, running from an attack. After lots of press and lots of public outcry, Facebook relented and claimed that it would be adjusting its policies. And yet… another week, another set of stories of problems on Facebook. It’s unclear how widespread this is, but on Monday there were suddenly reports (on Twitter, of course) of Facebook randomly blocking perfectly reasonable links. The first example I saw of this was reports that Facebook was blocking this story from The Intercept about Rep. Barbara Lee’s lone vote against the PATRIOT Act (the only member of the House to vote against it) a few days after September 11th.

    • German Lawyer Details Politics and Double-Standards of Facebook Censorship

      On his website, Hamburg lawyer and blogger Joachim Steinhöfel collects deleted Facebook comments which didn’t pose a threat. He believes that the platform is under political pressure, and that it isn’t neutral in its approach to censorship. Currently, he is preparing a case against Facebook, and may set a precedent.

      “Facebook-Sperre — Wall of Shame” is Steinhöfel’s website, where he documents the site’s methodology for blocking posts. He believes the site’s decisions are motivated by politics rather than its own stated principles.

    • Silje Mari on Instagram Censorship

      My Instagram account is where I can share with my followers and also the rest of the world who I am as a person. I tend to share thoughts and beliefs on individual posts and can be very outspoken if it is something I feel strongly about. Recently however, Instagram has been removing some of my posts due to not following their community guidelines.

      It started with them removing one picture of me which was censored to apply with their community guidelines, to me then retaliating by posting another censored picture. My nipples were not visible in these pictures. Instagram still removed them. They have also removed two older posts which were creative pictures by photographers, not showing any nipple. I will be reposting theses pictures later on.

    • ‘Censorship of the internet is harmful to dialogue’

      Editors Sunetra Sen Narayan and Shalini Narayanan analyse the growth of new media in Digital India from a broad communications and interdisciplinary perspective in their latest book titled, India Connected, published by Sage Publications.

      The book critically examines the growth of new media in India and offers a perspective on the opportunities and challenges it poses to governance, development, businesses as well as in social marketing efforts.

      Narayan has more than 25 years of experience in communications, including in advertising, print journalism, documentary film production and teaching. She is currently associate professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Narayanan, D.Phil, is an independent media consultant and trainer with two and a half decades of experience in the government and non-government sectors.

    • Statement from Gawker Media Editorial Union on Univision’s Deletion of News Stories

      Univision has said that it bought Gawker Media because it believed in the work that our publications do. That work, for well over a decade, was only possible because we knew that our company leadership would defend it if it came under frivolous legal attack.

      Univision’s first act on acquiring the company was to delete six true and accurate news stories from our archive, because those stories had been the targets of frivolous or malicious lawsuits. This decision undermines the foundation of the ability of Gawker Media’s employees to do our work. We have seen firsthand the damage that a targeted lawsuit campaign can do to companies and individual journalists, and the removal of these posts can only encourage such attempts in the future.

      We condemn this action by Univision’s executives in the strongest possible terms. It sets an alarming precedent both for our relationship with our new owners and for the business of journalism as a whole. It is unacceptable for a publisher to delete legitimate and true news stories for business reasons.

    • Cuba’s Telecom Monopoly Banning Text Messages Containing Words Like ‘Democracy’

      The door to modernizing Cuba’s communications networks opened slightly wider recently after the FCC removed the country from the agency’s banned nation list. That allows fixed and wireless companies alike to begin doing business in Cuba as part of an overall attempt to ease tensions between the States and the island nation. And while Cuba has been justly concerned about opening the door to NSA bosom buddies like AT&T and Verizon, it’s still apparently not quite ready to give up some of its own, decidedly ham-fisted attempts to crack down on free speech over telecom networks.

      A recent investigative report by blogger Yoani Sanchez and journalist Reinaldo Escobar found that the nation has been banning certain words sent via text message with the help of state-owned telecom monopoly ETECSA. The report, confirmed in an additional investigation by Reuters, found that roughly 30 different keywords are being banned by Cuba’s government, including “democracy,” “human rights,” and the name of several activists and human rights groups. Words containing such keywords simply aren’t delivered, with no indication given to the sender of the delivery failure.

    • Palestinian women fight elections name ‘censorship’

      With Palestinian municipal elections delayed, authorities will now have time to fix a contentious issue surrounding the names on the candidate lists.

      Some of the literature used for the polls in the West Bank and Gaza that were scheduled for October had replaced the names of female candidates with “sister of…”, “wife of…” or just their initials.

      The issue first rose to prominence at the end of August when female voters and candidates started using a hashtag to voice their dissent and to call for women’s names to be properly represented.

    • How YouTube is Using Censorship to Choose Advertisers Over Content Creators

      YouTube has been trending in the news due to various reports from YouTube creators displaying notifications received from the video-sharing website saying that their videos have been demonetized. In case you’re unfamiliar with how YouTube stars earn money, they have an AdSense account which allows them to earn revenue from ads on their videos. When a video is demonetized, it means the creator is unable to receive income from the AdSense revenue from said video.

      The company, unfortunately, has the right to do this. In fact, they’ve been demonetizing videos since 2012, when they first introduced their new “ad-friendly” guidelines. At the time, and today, the company uses an algorithm to remove videos that do not follow the rules. But, even though the company has previously held guidelines for ad-friendly content, the descriptions of what is considered ad-friendly are vague and seem to censor creators, rather than help them create better content.

    • Lionel Shriver sparks censorship row in Australia after criticising cultural appropriation ‘fad’

      American author Lionel Shriver has sparked an international row about censorship, artistic licence and respect for minorities after she delivered a scathing attack on the concept of “cultural appropriation.”

      Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About Kevin, which was turned into a 2011 film starring Tilda Swinton, was invited to the Brisbane Writers Festival to speak about fiction and identity politics.

      But instead of delivering a mild address, her speech so shocked the organisers that they censored her on the festival website and publicly disavowed her remarks – hastily arranging a conference to rebut her views.

    • Mehta asks film industry to come together on censorship

      Filmmaker Hansal Mehta has often been at loggerheads with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the director has appealed to the film fraternity to come together against censorship.

    • Hansal Mehta asks film industry to come together on censorship
    • Pokemon Go The Latest Tool For Russian Government To Silence Speakers It Doesn’t Like

      On the list of countries I’ve always wanted to visit but would be somewhat scared if I did, Russia is probably near the top. While there are certainly more dangerous parts of the world for any variety of reasons, I’ve found that the thing that gets me in the most trouble is my big mouth — and the Russian government has made a habit of coming down on any kind of speech it doesn’t like with a hand heavier than a Russian bear. This government uses its own laws in perverse ways to accomplish this, notably its laws that make it illegal to offend others on religious grounds, as seen chiefly in its treatment of punk band Pussy Riot.

      This use of religious protectionism has proceeded to the present. The Russian government recently announced that it was locking up a noted atheist blogger for two months. His crime? Playing Pokemon Go in a church.

    • Israeli Official Who Promoted Genocide on Facebook Now Fighting ‘Incitement’ on Social Media
    • Israel: Facebook complying with requests to takedown inciting content, claims Ayelet Shaked
    • Israel and Facebook join hands to decide what is censored
    • Facebook and Israel Government Team Up To Tackle Terrorism On Social Media
    • Facebook to help Israel censor comments
    • Why Is Israel Letting Facebook Off the Hook on Incitement?
    • Israel teams with Facebook to fight terrorism
    • Facebook to let the Israelis help censor your news feed
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘We Are Criminalizing Transparency to Protect Illegitimate Uses of Power’

      If the expression “I can’t breathe” holds power for you, it’s because of Ramsey Orta. He’s the one who held his cellphone camera steady while New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked the life out of Eric Garner in July of 2014.

      Garner was Orta’s friend. He used to give Orta’s daughter a dollar to spend at the local store every time they walked past. Ramsey Orta’s been sentenced to four years in prison stemming from drug and weapon charges, those that stuck among the many and various police have brought against him since the Garner video came to light.

      Chris Leday uploaded video of Alton Sterling’s killing at the hands of Baton Rouge police. Reporting to work the next day, he was arrested, handcuffed and shackled by civilian and military officers. First he “fit a description,” then it was assault charges that didn’t exist; finally, it was unpaid traffic tickets.

    • How you can help India’s first free public library for the Tibetan exile community

      Earlier this year, I wrote about a wonderful library project that Tibetan friends in India are putting together for a Tibetan exile community there, with the support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Here’s an update from my friend Phuntsok Dorjee, who is one of the organizers.

    • Settler Colonialism on Trial at Standing Rock

      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s remarkable struggle to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline sparked a movement. Thousands of people – including representatives from more than 180 indigenous nations – traveled to North Dakota in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they defend their rights and protect nature. The companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline responded by using attack dogs and bulldozing their sacred sites in order to forcibly displace them. Mounting pressure from the movement forced the Obama administration to intervene and temporarily stop the construction of the pipeline on indigenous land. However, it would be a mistake to believe that the struggle is over. The U.S. government has a long way to go in regards to respecting its treaties with Native American peoples.

    • Arrest warrant for muckraking U.S. journalist

      New York, September 12, 2016 — Prosecutors in the U.S. state of North Dakota should immediately drop all criminal charges against broadcast journalist Amy Goodman, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Goodman, who hosts the global news program Democracy Now!, faces criminal trespass charges in connection with her reporting on protests against the construction of an oil pipeline opposed by Native American tribes in the region.

      The warrant, issued September 8, followed Goodman’s filming of security guards using dogs and pepper spray to disperse protesters seeking to stop the construction of the pipeline, according to Democracy Now! and National Public Radio. Both protesters and security guards were injured in the September 3 clash, according to the reports.

      The Morton County’s Sherriff’s Department issued a statement saying that protesters entered private land after breaking down a fence, according to the NPR report. Democracy Now! reported on its website that an officer from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation acknowledged in an affidavit that Goodman is seen in the video identifying herself as a journalist and interviewing protesters. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Goodman could face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.

    • I Was a CIA Whistleblower. Now I’m a Black Inmate. Here’s How I See American Racism

      It is a strenuous, unceasing effort to cope with the ordeal of being incarcerated at a federal prison. I find myself identifying with the title character from Shakespeare’s “Richard II” when he laments his own effort to adjust to confinement by wondering, “I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world.” I do my best to resist the thought that prison is a reflection of our society, but the comparisons are unavoidable. Unlike “Richard II,” my “studying” has not been so much a comparison as an unhappy realization.

      From the moment I crossed the threshold from freedom to incarceration because I was charged with, and a jury convicted me of, leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, I needed no reminder that I was no longer an individual. Prison, with its “one size fits all” structure, is not set up to recognize a person’s worth; the emphasis is removal and categorization. Inmates are not people; we are our offenses. In this particular prison where I live, there are S-Os (sex offenders), Cho-Mos (child molesters), and gun and drug offenders, among others. Considering the charges and conviction that brought me here, I’m not exactly sure to which category I belong. No matter. There is an overriding category to which I do belong, and it is this prison reality that I sadly “compare unto the world”: I’m not just an inmate, I’m a black inmate.

      Thinking that you know about something and actually experiencing it are completely different. Previously, my window into prison life was informed, in part, by the same depictions in movies, TV shows, and books that the rest of America has seen. And unfortunately, as a child I heard firsthand so many stories about prison life from people I knew that it seemed commonplace. I expected there to be a separation of the races — by some accounts “necessary” racial segregation — because that is what I saw, read, and heard. My expectations and naiveté could not prepare me for actually living in it, however.

      I didn’t have to be taught the rules of prison society, particularly in regard to racial segregation, because they are so ingrained in just about every aspect of prison society that they seem instinctual. Even though there is no official mandate, here, I am my skin color. Whenever, in my stubborn idealism, I refuse to acknowledge being racially categorized and question the submission to it, the other prisoners invariably respond, “Man, this is prison.”

    • Hillary Clinton: Boycotting North Carolina Is Noble and Just; Boycotting Israel Is Bigoted and Hateful

      Could someone explain why it’s noble, enlightened, justifiable, and progressive to boycott an American state, but hateful, bigoted, retrograde, and evil to support a boycott of a foreign country that has been imposing a brutal, discriminatory, and illegal occupation for many decades, a boycott that is led by people with virtually no political rights? How did that happen? Hillary Clinton is far from the only person espousing this bizarre distinction — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as but one example, is punishing companies that support a boycott of Israel while forcing state employees to honor the boycott of North Carolina — but what could possibly justify U.S. politicians drawing the moral and ethical lines about boycotts in this manner?

    • FBI Arrests Two Suspects Involved With Hacking Of CIA Director’s Personal Email Account

      If nothing else, the CWA hackings proved government agencies like the DHS and FBI must not be able to hear themselves talk when they demand more data on Americans, despite not being able to secure the information they already have from 16-year-old hackers who go by the name of “penis” on Twitter. Their efforts also made it clear that most cell phone service providers’ authentication processes have miles to go before they even approach “competent.”

    • New court hearing over ‘imprisoned’ daughter as deadline for return passes

      On August 3, a judge in London ordered Saudi academic Mohammed Al-Jeffery to return his daughter, Amina, to Britain.

      The deadline set by Mr Justice Holman has now passed and she has not yet returned.

      His order was that Mr Al-Jeffery had to “permit and facilitate” his daughter’s return to England or Wales by 4pm on Sunday.

    • Lead Investigator For CIA ‘Torture Report’ Explains Why It Was Necessary To Hijack A Copy Of The ‘Panetta Review’

      The Guardian has published a long report detailing Senate staffer Daniel Jones’ experience with the CIA while acting as the Senate Committee’s chief investigator during the compilation of the “Torture Report.” While much has already been written about the CIA’s actions during this time, the Guardian’s multi-part piece gives the public an insider’s look at the effort the agency went through to disrupt the preparation of the report.

      The process started off on the wrong foot. It was the New York Times, not the agency itself, that initiated the Senate’s examination of the CIA’s counterterrorism efforts.

    • North Dakota’s Governor Declared a State of Emergency to Deal With Peaceful Oil Pipeline Protesters. We Call It a State of Emergency for Civil Rights.

      Something historic is happening in North Dakota. People are protesting an oil pipeline. And the people who are protesting the oil pipeline are mostly Native Americans.

      It’s historic because the 200 or so tribes that are protesting the construction of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline have not united together for more than 150 years. Several thousand indigenous people from across the county have journeyed to a little-known pasture on the prairie just miles from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation — where the oil pipeline is slated to cross the Missouri River — to protect the land the tribes consider sacred and culturally significant as well as the water necessary for life. The protectors, as the protesters call themselves, are defending the land and water using little more than the right to assemble and speak freely, a long-standing protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution.

      Unfortunately, there is another kind of history happening here. It’s a history that is all too familiar to indigenous people; it is the shameful cycle of government-sanctioned disregard for the human and civil rights of Native Americans. In response to the pipeline protests, North Dakota’s government suppressed free speech and militarized its policing by declaring a state of emergency and calling out the National Guard.

    • Call in Congress for Family Court Reform

      On a Saturday evening in late March 2008, a 41-year-old Maryland man named Mark Castillo drowned his three children in the bathtub of a Baltimore hotel room.

      Castillo and his wife of 10 years, Amy, had been embroiled in a grueling custody dispute. Amy Castillo had repeatedly warned the courts that her mentally ill husband was unraveling, and had physically threatened her and their children. As a result, she tried to persuade the judge in the custody case to end Castillo’s unsupervised visits with the children.

      But the judge was not persuaded. He chose instead to rely on the testimony of a court-appointed psychologist, who said Castillo posed no risk to his family. Castillo’s visits with his children remained unchanged. Less than a year later, the children were dead. Castillo turned himself in hours after he killed them, having failed in his attempt to also kill himself. Castillo pleaded guilty in 2009 and is currently serving three life terms without the possibility of parole.

      Anti-domestic violence plan to cite the Castillo case and others like it at a Congressional briefing in Washington on Tuesday in an attempt to gain support for family court reform. The advocates say that children are too often endangered by family courts and the supposed experts those courts rely on. Psychologists used by the courts to help make decisions “in the best interest” of children, the advocates argue, often lack expertise in child abuse and domestic violence.

    • Oklahoma’s Top Court: Companies Can’t Set Own Rules for Injured Workers

      A national campaign to rewrite state laws and allow businesses to decide how to care for their injured workers suffered a significant setback Tuesday when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s version of the law is unconstitutional.

      The 2013 legislation gave Oklahoma employers the ability to “opt out” of the state workers’ compensation system and write their own plans, setting the terms for what injuries were covered, which doctors workers could see, how workers were compensated and how disputes were handled. The statute was backed by the oil and gas industry and retailer Hobby Lobby.

      Buoyed by the success in Oklahoma, proponents took the idea nationwide as a coalition led by Walmart, Lowe’s and several of the largest retail, trucking and health care companies sought to pass similar laws across the country. Bills and draft proposals have been floated in Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Illinois.

    • Tell Justin Trudeau to Fight for Web Developer Saeed Malekpour

      Imagine: you’re a programmer who loves to code. You’re studying at college, but you’re also working as a freelance web developer. In what spare time you have, you polish and release your best work under an open source license, for the world to use. Your father has grown sick and may be dying, and so you take a short break to travel back to the country of your birth to visit him.

      After the long flight, you take a walk along the streets of the capital — perhaps to shake off your jetlag. Two men approach you, and begin aggressively questioning you. You’re confused. Are they police officers? Without warning, they grab you by the arm, handcuff you, and force you into an unmarked sedan. You are thrown into solitary confinement, and held there for months, out of contact with the outside world. You are tortured. You are told that you are a criminal mastermind behind a network of evil websites. If you confess, they say, you will be released. You confess. They show your confession on national television. Your mother has a heart attack when the confessions are shown. You are sentenced to death. Your father dies as you await your execution.

    • More Proof the U.S. National Anthem Has Always Been Tainted with Racism

      The decision of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to sit during the pregame playing of the national anthem has had a larger impact than anyone could have foreseen.

      President Obama has weighed in, endorsing Kaepernick’s “constitutional right to make a statement.” When Kaepernick changed his protest to kneeling instead of sitting, teammate Eric Reid joined him. Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos followed suit and lost an endorsement deal. Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs raised a fist during the anthem, a la John Carlos and Tommy Smith at the 1968 Olympics. An unidentified Navy sailor who took a seat in solidarity with Kaepernick may face disciplinary action. The protest has even spread to high school players across the country.

    • Reporter who documented guard dogs charged with trespassing at pipeline protest site

      A reporter from Democracy Now! who documented security personnel with guard dogs working for Dakota Access Pipeline is facing criminal trespassing charges in Morton County.

      Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Amy Goodman of New York for a Class B misdemeanor, according to court documents.

    • North Dakota Wants to Arrest Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman for Engaging in Journalism

      So much for the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

      Despite well-established freedom of the press protections that outline and guarantee the rights of reporters who cover breaking news stories—including confrontations between demonstrators and authorities—North Dakota officials have charged Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman with criminal trespassing after she documented private security personnel’s use of dogs to attack Native American foes of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

      Video footage obtained by Goodman, an internationally respected and frequently honored independent journalist, helped to alert Americans to the tactics being used to stop demonstrations against the pipeline by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies. On Friday, the Obama administration halted work on key portions of the $3.8 billion pipeline project—recognizing concerns raised by the tribe and environmental activists.

    • Fired for not shooting, West Virginia cop breaks silence

      A Marine veteran says he was fired from the Weirton, West Virginia Police Department because he did not shoot an armed black man who was looking for “suicide by cop.” Two other officers arrived and killed the man, whose gun was not loaded.

      Stephen Mader, 25, answered a call on May 6 from a distraught woman who said her boyfriend was trying to commit suicide. He tried to de-escalate the situation using his Marine Corps and police academy training, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Weirton is a city of about 20,000 in the West Virginia panhandle, 36 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    • The Native American, the Palestinian: A Spirited Fight for Justice

      Thousands of Native Americans resurrected the fighting spirit of their forefathers as they stood in unprecedented unity to contest an oil company’s desecration of their sacred land in North Dakota. Considering its burdened historical context, this has been one of the most moving events in recent memory.

      The standoff, involving 5,000-strong Native American protesters, including representatives of 200 tribes and environmental groups, has been largely reduced in news reports as being a matter of technical detail – concerning issues of permits and legal proceedings.

      At best, both the tribes and the oil company are treated as if they are equal parties in a purportedly proportionate tussle.

      “’Dakota’ means ‘friendly’ and yet, it seems, neither side has been too friendly to each other,” wrote Mark Albert in the website of the American broadcasting television network, CBS.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Netflix Urges FCC To Crack Down On Broadband Usage Caps

      We’ve long pointed how how broadband usage caps (especially on fixed-line networks) are arbitrary, punitive and confusing. In addition to being totally unnecessary, broadband caps open the door to anti-competitive behavior (like zero rating a company’s own content but not a competitor’s). The idea that caps are necessary to manage the network has long been debunked, and even the ISPs themselves have admitted that caps have nothing to do with congestion. Broadband caps are little more than glorified price hikes on captive markets, useful to protect legacy TV revenues from streaming video.

    • Netflix wants annoying data caps to be illegal

      Netflix wants you to be able to stream plenty of TV shows whether you’re at home or on a mobile connection, so it’s pushing for the US government to make some data caps illegal.

      In a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission last week, Netflix said that the commission should consider banning data caps on wired internet connections and banning “low” data caps on mobile connections.

      “Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage based pricing discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband and may impede the ability of some households to watch internet television in a manner and amount that they would like,” Netflix writes.

    • Engineers propose a technology to break the net neutrality deadlock

      Stanford engineers have invented a technology that would allow an internet user to tell network providers and online publishers when and if they want content or services to be given preferential delivery, an advance that could transform the network neutrality debate.

      Net neutrality, as it’s often called, is the proposition that internet providers should allow equal access to all content rather than give certain applications favored status or block others.

      On home networks, favored status is known as fast track delivery. On mobile devices the terminology is zero-rating, because favored traffic does not count against data usage caps.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Kenya In Drive To Get Artisans, Designers To Embrace IP

      While it is common knowledge that Kiondo is a Kenyan product produced not just by artists by ordinary women as well, it is widely believed in Kenya that the product was patented in Tokyo, Japan by some entrepreneur, something that is both shrouded in myth and controversy.

      “I do not care if the basket was patented in Japan or not, all I know is that making covers for the basket gives me an income. In fact, I do not understand all this talk about patents or what they are all about,” Musyoka, told Intellectual Property Watch, his homemade needle in hand as he joins pieces of leather together to make the baskets.

      Musyoka, like the tens of artisans and creators working at the popular market frequented by foreign tourists, displays little knowledge of intricacies surrounding patents.

    • Group Of Nations Demand UN Investigative Report On WIPO Director [Ed: background here]

      About a dozen members of the World Intellectual Property Organization yesterday demanded to be provided with a report conducted by the United Nations Office of Investigation and Oversight Services (OIOS) on allegations against the WIPO director general.

      “The report was requested by Member States and should be available to Member States,” they said in a statement, available here, to the WIPO Coordination Committee. “We reiterate our request that the CoCo [Coordination Committee] Chair immediately formally request that OIOS produce a full version of the OIOS report, redacted only to protect witness confidentiality, and to provide this to member states no later than September 26, one week before the General Assemblies. It is imperative for organizational transparency and Member State oversight. Any further delays in releasing the report are unacceptable.”

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Shouldn’t Hold Technology Back

        The FCC is about to make a decision about whether third-party companies can market their own alternatives to the set-top boxes provided by cable companies. Under the proposed rules, instead of using the box from Comcast, you could buy your own from a variety of different manufacturers. It could even have features that Comcast wouldn’t dream of, like letting you sync your favorite shows onto your mobile phone or search across multiple free TV, pay TV, and amateur video sites.

        We’ve been closely following the “Unlock the Box” proposal since it was first introduced in February, but its history goes back much further. Congress first authorized the FCC to enact rules bringing competition to the set-top box market 20 years ago, as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. We’re so close to finally unlocking the box, but pay TV providers and big content companies have been throwing out every distracting argument they can to stop it.

      • Advertiser Tells Court It’s Not Liable for Pirate Sites

        Advertising network JuicyAds has told a California federal court that it’s not responsible for pirate sites that use its service to generate revenue. The case is the first where an ad-company stands accused of aiding pirate sites, which has been a major complaint from entertainment industry insiders in recent years.

      • More on the European Supreme Court’s hyperlink ruling and why reactions are all over the map

        Reactions have been all over the map about the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the legality of hyperlinks to infringing material. Some outlets despair that links can be illegal, others rejoice that links to infringements can be legal. The legal landscape is complex and there are many underlying issues – not the least being what the law says today, versus what the law should be saying.

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation screamed out in despair that “this terrible ruling is hard to fathom” in a post titled that the ECJ “ushes in a dark era for hyperlinks”. In contrast, TorrentFreak proclaimed that the ruling means “linking is (usually) not infringement” (updated since original publication). There are other opinions and analysis pieces on the ruling all over the scale.

        Why is this? A large amount of the confusion can be summed up in the conflation of two completely different issues: the first and obvious issue is whether the ruling is reasonable as the law stands today, but there’s also the issue of what the law says today versus what the law should be saying according to common sense of the net generation. While opinions vary on the morality of the copyright monopoly among the net generation, most seem to agree that you should be able to talk about a resource on the net, the same way you’re able to describe an address in a city without that description being illegal in itself (so-called “Analog-Equivalent Rights”). But this is not what the law looks like today.

      • No new copyright for news sites, say young MEPs ahead of EU State of the Union

        MEPs Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, Germany), Marietje Schaake (ALDE, Netherlands), Brando Benifei (S&D, Italy) and Dan Dalton (ECR, United Kingdom) joined forces today to reject the European Commission’s proposal for a new extra copyright for European news websites. Commission President Juncker is expected to announce the plan in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.

      • Wikimedia, EDRI, and others call for EU Copyright Package to uphold DSM fundamental principles

        Wikimedia, EDRI, Application Developers Alliance, along with other associations advocating for digital rights and NGOs representing digital creators and platforms, addressed a letter [available here] to, among others, EU Commission’s President Junker, Vice-President Ansip, and Commissioner Oettinger, urging the Copyright Package expected to be released on 15 September to uphold

        “the fundamental principles of the Digital Single Market such as rights of citizens to freedom of information, access to knowledge and the limitation of intermediaries’ liability, which lie at the very foundations of the internet”.

        In the letter published on 9 September, the signatories request the EU Commission:

        - Not to create a new ancillary right for publishers. After the tragic experiments in Spain and Germany, the signatories stress, that – you guys should have understood that distorting copyright to tax snippets produce “no positive outcomes but has harmed consumers, innovation and the internet at large” — i.e., not only Google, but many other small companies and startup aggregating and indexing news on the internet and struggling to fill the gap between old media and digital revolution. In the same regard, the signatories also urge the Commission to publish the response to the public consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the ‘panorama exception’. The signatories say that “many have pointed out that new ancillary rights for publishers were harmful”.

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