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01.19.17

Shame on MapR for Pursuing Software Patents While Pretending to Stand for Free/Open Source Software

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 6:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MapR

Summary: The patents gold rush sees another company joining the ‘fun’, albeit this company should campaign hard against software patents rather than pursue any

After all that openwashing (or “open” marketing) by MapR, today we were greeted by headlines such as “MapR claims open source big data victory with patent award” and “MapR Nabs a Patent for its Converged Data Platform” (that’s software). CBR says the patent “covers key components such as protection for file, table and stream processing for technology advances such as convergence, fast processing with low latency, high availability and Strong consistency, and security.”

“If MapR intends to join the patents gold rush, then it is not a serious cooperative participant in the Hadoop community.”We can’t quite see a cause for celebration here because any new (additional) software patent is a case of adding fire to the fire, no matter who pursues and gets granted such a patent. There are no “good” software patents; there are benign ones, like those which got invalidated and can therefore not be sold, either (e.g. Red Hat getting liquidated and having its patents sold to trolls, or acquired in a potentially hostile takeover by a patent aggressor).

We recently noted that Blockstream had no patents yet oddly enough pledged not to sue using patents (which we therefore assume it was pursuing). We more recently wrote about the patent menace around Blockchain [1, 2] and now there is this new article about it:

Banks, Startups and Trolls to Duke Over Blockchain?

Reports came out during the holiday season last year of banks quietly stocking up on blockchain patents. Banks will compete with startups making the same moves. They will also compete for patents with trolls who suppress innovation.

The future of blockchain innovation depends on who exactly holds the keys to blockchain technology.

Trolls

Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Mastercard have all submitted requests for and hold patents for blockchain technologies.

The Economist reported that “startups, including Coinbase, Chain and 21 Inc, have been busy, too.”

If MapR intends to join the patents gold rush, then it is not a serious cooperative participant in the Hadoop community. It needs to rethink its strategy, wherever it got it from (probably some self-serving law firm/s), then focus on development and dissemination of code, not patents.

Doomsday Scenario in the Back Mirror as Michelle Lee Keeps Her Job (and Much-Needed Patent Reform) at the USPTO

Posted in America, Patents at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law is very slow to evolve, but under Lee (on the left below) it has evolved nicely

USPTO panel

Summary: The future of patent reform, i.e. tackling overpatenting and patent trolls, looks somewhat more promising with today’s confirmation of Lee’s ‘extended tenure’ at the Office

THE USPTO remains in fairly safe hands with Michelle Lee in charge. Despite some worrisome reports of rumours that she was leaving earlier today IAM wrote: “BREAKING NEWS – IAM understands an announcement could be made today that Michelle Lee will remain as USPTO Director in Trump administration.”

Shortly thereafter it published an article about it and it says the following:

Michelle Lee set to remain as Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office under the Trump administration

Well-placed sources have told IAM that the USPTO could announce as early as today that Michelle Lee will continue as the agency’s director under the Trump administration when the new President takes office following his inauguration tomorrow. If confirmed, the reappointment would not be subject to approval from the Senate.

Lee has helped make the USPTO “Great Again” by improving patent quality and tightening scope, unlike David Kappos, her predecessor who now receives money from big corporations to lobby for the USPTO to get worse again. Shame on him. Never again!

In the mean time, the Wall Street media says that infringement litigation figures — not just over patents but also over copyrights — are down sharply. The gist of it:

Intellectual property infringement complaints in U.S. federal courts dropped in 2016 from a year ago, driven by declines in patent and copyright infringement claims, Bloomberg Law data shows.

Patent infringement filings totaled 4,624 complaints in 2016. That represented a 22 percent drop from a year earlier, as recent case law and regulation have made it tougher for patent licensing companies, also called non-practicing entities (NPEs), to mount and win legal fights. Patent infringement complaint filings rose steadily starting in 2010 and peaked in 2013, when 6,314 cases were filed in federal courts.

We pessimistically thought that Trump would make the patent litigation mess "Great Again" (he still can, but with Lee in charge even after his inauguration it remains to be seen). We don’t know who was behind the decision to keep Lee in charge and whether that can change after Trump’s inauguration (we hope not). These are somewhat political appointments and today is the Democrats’ last day in charge.

Speaking of litigation numbers going down (under Lee’s watch), the trolls’ business is declining and Detkin’s move away (partly away) from Intellectual Ventures is certainly a good sign. Even a trolls-funded ‘news’ site, which habitually grooms Intellectual Ventures, tacitly that admits patent trolling is an iffy/dying business. See this week’s article:

But it was Detkin’s move that looked particularly significant. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the IV co-founder and Rivette are two legends of the patent transactions and strategy world. As our story made clear, the pair estimated that they have been behind around $5 billion-worth of IP-related deals. Having scaled back his IV workload in late 2014, Detkin will continue to spend 50% of his time working for the patent giant, while joining forces with Rivette will enable him to focus more on advising larger companies on their IP strategies.

These moves come at a time when we’re seeing a huge shakeout in the licensing industry. Over the last few years large numbers of senior executives, some with very respectable track records have been on the move, in many cases not of their own volition as assertion strategies have struggled. With that in mind a comment last week from Rivette stood out in particular. “It’s not just about focusing on monetisation anymore,” he remarked. “Instead it is a lot more nuanced than can we sue or sell.”

Trolls are more reluctant to sue after Alice. See what recently happened to Intellectual Ventures at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). It lost so badly that judge Mayer eliminated not only Intellectual Ventures’ software patents but also — by extrapolation/extension — almost all software patents out there.

Links 19/1/2017: PulseAudio 10.0, Linux 4.9 Longterm Kernel

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is open source software?

    The term open source when connected to software may today seem like it’s been around forever, but you would be surprised how new of a concept it is.

    The transformational nature of the telecommunication industry’s march towards a software future should not be under estimated. What for most of its history has been an industry based on live, physical hardware is quickly turning into a future where hardware will still be there, but it will be the software inside that is truly running the game.

  • Get to know Tuleap for project management

    Tuleap is a unique open source project management tool with great momentum right now, ever month they have one major release. It’s also been listed it in both the Top 5 open source project management tools in 2015 and the Top 11 project management tools for 2016.

    “Tuleap is a complete GPLv2 platform to host software projects. It provides a central place where teams can find all the tools they need to track their software projects lifecycle successfully. They will find support for project management (scrum, kanban, waterfall, hybrid, etc.), source control (git and svn) and code review (pull requests and gerrit), continuous integration, issue tracking, wiki, and documentation,” said Manuel Vacelet, co-founder and CTO of Enalean, the company behind the Tuleap project.

  • ATTYS Open-Source Biosignal Acquisition Device Helps Developers Build Wearable Gadgets

    The software within the ATTYS is open source and the idea for the device came out of Dr. Bernd Porr who has devoted his efforts to education the public about applications and techniques for measuring various biosignals. In the process he decided to build a manufactured device that can help developers bypass the difficult step of building such component themselves.

  • Be a force for good in your community
  • Deepgram open sources Kur to make DIY deep learning less painful

    Deepgram, a YC backed startup using machine learning to analyze audio data for businesses, is open sourcing an internal deep learning tool called Kur. The release should further help those interested in the space get their ideas off the ground more easily. The startup is also including 10 hours of transcribed audio, spliced into 10 second increments, to expedite the training process.

    Similar to Keras, Kur further abstracts the process of building and training deep learning models. By making deep learning easier, Kur is also making image recognition and speech analysis more accessible.

  • Events

    • Linux is part of the IoT security problem, dev tells Linux conference

      The Mirai botnet? Just the “tip of the iceberg” is how security bods at this week’s linux.conf.au see the Internet of Things.

      Presenting to the Security and Privacy miniconf at linux.conf.au, embedded systems developer and consultant Christopher Biggs pointed out that Mirai’s focus on building a big DDoS cannon drew attention away from the other risks posed by insecure cameras and digital video recorders.

    • The Linux Foundation Brings 3 New Open Source Events to China

      LinuxCon, ContainerCon, and CloudOpen will be held in China this year for the first time, The Linux Foundation announced this week.

      After the success of other Linux Foundation events in the country, including MesosCon Asia and Cloud Foundry Summit Asia, The Linux Foundation decided to offer its flagship LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen events in China as well, said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin.

      “Chinese developers and businesses have strongly embraced open source and are contributing significant amounts of code to a wide variety of projects,” Zemlin said. “We have heard the call to bring more open source events to China.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • How to get started contributing to Mozilla

        Open source participation offers a sea of benefits that can fine-tune and speed up your career in the tech, including but not limited to real-world technical experience and expanding your professional network. There are a lot of open source projects out there you can contribute to—of small, medium, and large size, as well as unknown and popular. In this article we’ll focus on how to contribute to one of the largest and most popular open source projects on the web: Mozilla.

      • Digital Citizens, Let’s Talk About Internet Health

        Today, Mozilla is launching the prototype version of the Internet Health Report. With this open-source research project, we want to start a conversation with you, citizens of the Internet, about what is healthy, unhealthy, and what lies ahead for the Internet.

        When I first fell in love with the Internet in the mid-1990s, it was very much a commons that belonged to everyone: a place where anyone online could publish or make anything. They could do so without asking permission from a publisher, a banker or a government. It was a revelation. And it made me — and countless millions of others — very happy.

        Since then, the Internet has only grown as a platform for our collective creativity, invention and self expression. There will be five billion of us on the Internet by 2020. And vast swaths of it will remain as open and decentralized as they were in the early days. At least, that’s my hope.

        Yet when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg shows up on the cover of The Economist depicted as a Roman emperor, I wonder: is the Internet being divided up into a few great empires monopolizing everyday activities like search, talking to friends or shopping? Can it remain truly open and decentralized?

      • Mozilla ditches the dinosaur, unveils new branding only a nerd could love

        The old Netscape browser had a dinosaur named Mozilla as its mascot and codename. When the browser was open sourced in 1998, it used the dinosaur’s name and visage as its branding.

      • Mozilla releases The Internet Health Report, an open-source document with version 1.0 coming by year end
      • Mozilla Dinosaur Now Extinct as Curl-like Logo Debuts

        Mozilla officially debuted its new logo, after an intensive open process that helped to select the new brand. Surely the new logo is a step forward away from the archaic dinosaur, but it’s not entirely a unique type of brand-mark either.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Brush Up on Your Big Data Skills, Including Free Training Options

      In the tech job market race these days, hardly any trend is drawing more attention than Big Data. And, when talking Big Data, the subject of Hadoop inevitably comes up, but Spark is becoming an increasingly popular topic. IBM and other companies have made huge commitments to Spark, and workers who have both Hadoop and Spark skills are much in demand.With all this in mind, several providers are offering free Hadoop and Spark training.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Open source organizations can now apply for Google Summer of Code 2017

      Open source ideology is changing the world. What was once (wrongfully) viewed as something just for hobbyists, is now a billion dollar industry. In other words, closed source is not the only way to make profits. Open source code is found in many places, including mainstream consumer electronics — look no further than Android smartphones.

      Speaking of Android, its creator — Google — is a huge proponent of open source. In fact, every summer, the search giant holds its “Summer of Code” program. This initiative partners inspiring developers (in college, age 18+) with organizations as a way to further the open source movement. Today, Google announces that organizations can begin applying for the program.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open-source voting is the answer to hacking concerns

      Will we ever have a voting system that is completely error-proof and impenetrable from malicious forces? Not likely. But the security breaches that are increasingly a part of daily life serve as a call to action.

      Every day brings a new report of hacking or suspicious activity, and increasingly with fingers pointing to international actors. Whether it is statewide voter registration databases (Illinois and Arizona; some say more); national party organizations (the Democratic National Committee); utilities (Vermont’s Burlington Electric); or Russia’s state-run television station (RT) suddenly interrupting C-SPAN last week — the incident is still under investigation and not confirmed as a hack — it is all very unsettling and leaves us feeling vulnerable.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • SugarPill, Substantial create open-source designs for civic action

      SugarPill owner Karyn Schwarz is used to customers coming in and asking for help with depression and anxiety. After Donald Trump won the presidency, she said she realized what she wanted to prescribe were ways to take effective action against intolerance and injustice.

  • Programming/Development

    • Java Performance Monitoring: 5 Open Source Tools You Should Know

      One of the most important things for any application is performance. We want to make sure the users are getting the best experience they can, and to know that our app is up and running. That’s why most of us use at least one monitoring tool.

      If you’re looking for something a little different in the performance monitoring market, one option you can choose is going for an open sourced tool. In the following post we’ve gathered some open source APM tools that are available today as an alternative to the paid tools, so you’ll be able to see if it’s the right choice for you.

Leftovers

  • Google & Facebook ad traffic is 90% useless.

    You Exec is a side-project that is very different from my 9-5 job, I use it as an excuse to try different services and do different consumer experiments. Recently, I have been using Fullstory to view how my visitors behave on my landing page – and boy does it make a huge difference when that visitor comes from Google or Facebook ads.

  • Fifa technical director Marco van Basten suggests scrapping offside as part of his radical plans for football

    Restricting players to 60 games a year. Replacing penalty shootouts with eight-second run-ups. Introducing orange cards and sending players to sinbins for 10 minutes.

    Former Milan and Netherlands forward Marco van Basten is using his role as technical director at Fifa to propose a series of changes to soccer to stir a debate.

    Rather than using his job to meddle, Van Basten highlights the need to preserve soccer as the world’s most popular sport.

  • Phone ban means pupils have to talk

    Gregg Davies, headmaster of Shiplake College, says students now talk to each other a lot more rather than spending their time on social media.

    He decided to restrict the use of mobiles at the 460-pupil independent school at the beginning of last term.

    Pupils caught using their phones between 8.15am and 5.45pm are given a detention. Staff can use their phones only in their offices.

    Mr Davies said: “While the accessibility of education and learning is heightened with the use of technology, increasingly I had noticed that our pupils were losing the key skill of social intercourse.

    “Connectivity was getting in the way of experiencing and communicating in real life and pupils were losing the ability to engage in social dialogue.

    “The subtle nuances of conversation are lost within electronic communication. It is simply not enough to read information, one has to see and hear intonation and gestures.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Nestlé Will Pay 13,500% More to Pump Ontario’s Water for Bottling

      Today, Nestlé pays just $3.71 per every million litres of water the company pumps out of the ground in Ontario, so that it can bottle it and then and sell it back to thirsty customers for profit. But that won’t last for much longer.

      The provincial government, which sets the price rates for water, is set to propose a sharp increase in the amount that companies like Nestlé pay, the Canadian Press reported on Wednesday. The proposed fee will be $503.71 per million litres of water, an increase of roughly 13,500 percent.

    • 3 Critical Questions Tom Price Didn’t Answer at the Health and Human Services Hearing

      Republican congressman and orthopedic surgeon Tom Price, President-elect Trump’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, spent as much time this morning defending his character as he did defending his vision of healthcare for all Americans. Nothing he said precluded the Senate committee conducting his hearing from recommending that he get the job, although several key questions remain—and must be raised before the Senate confirms him.

      Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee were particularly interested in Price’s desire to privatize Medicare and replace the Affordable Care Act with something less comprehensive, and they harshly criticized him for drafting legislation that favored companies he’d invested in.

    • Bernie Sanders Just Showed the Country How Wrong Tom Price Is for HHS

      It has been argued with some validity that budgets are moral documents, as the priorities they outline reveal the values of the political figures who draft, debate, and enact them. And if this is the case then, surely, presidential cabinets must be understood as moral constructs, as the men and women who are nominated reveal not just the personalities but the values that will guide the incoming administration.

      Yet debates about cabinet picks often fail to reflect on the moral values of the nominees and the agendas they advance. That’s unfortunate, because those who propose to guide a government should be forced to confront the morality—and the immorality—of their own choices.

      The process by which senators offer their advice and consent with regard to cabinet nominations should weigh those choices, and the policies that extend from them. But only a few legislators are genuinely willing to hold nominees to account on fundamental matters of right and wrong.

      That is why the questioning by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as secretary of health and human services, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, was so vital.

      Price is an indefensible pick for an essential position. A longtime lackey of health-care industry profiteers, whose own investments are now the subject of scrutiny, the congressman has made it his mission to shred not just the Affordable Care Act but the whole of the safety net that provides what minimal protections are available to low-income Americans, working families, people with disabilities, and retirees. “If confirmed,” argue leaders of the National Nurses United health-care union, “it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the health-care industry,”

    • Industry Initiative Against Non-Communicable Diseases Launched At WEF

      Nearly two dozen top biopharmaceutical companies have launched a global initiative intended to increase access to prevention and care of non-transmitted diseases in low and lower-middle income countries.

      At the World Economic Forum in Davos on 18 January, 22 companies launched a collaborative initiative called Access Accelerated in partnership with the World Bank Group and the Union for International Cancer Control.

    • Flint’s Water Crisis Still Isn’t Over. Here’s Where Things Stand a Year Later

      Residents still can’t drink the water

      A year ago, Flint, Mich., was engulfed in crisis. After officials belatedly acknowledged that the city’s water supply had been contaminated with lead and had poisoned local children, both Michigan and the federal government declared a state of emergency. Furious residents questioned what government officials knew about the dangers of the drinking water and why they didn’t act sooner.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Why Donald Trump’s Pro-Assad Stance Won’t End Syria’s Turmoil

      AFTER NEARLY SIX YEARS, the Syrian civil war is heading towards a possible conclusion. High-profile talks organized by the Russian government are set to commence later this month, seeking to bring a negotiated end to the brutal conflict. The U.S. has been encouraging these talks as a step towards a broader political settlement that will require American participation.

      While President-Elect Donald Trump and Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader, have both publicly flirted with the idea of partnering in the future, any normalization of U.S. relations with Syria should occur only if major reforms and a transition of power are carried out, according to many experts on the region. Any other outcome would not end the country’s instability, only postpone it.

      “The attitude of the United States towards the upcoming talks is very important,” says Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “Donald Trump has said he prefers Bashar al-Assad over any alternatives, but the reality is that any outcome that doesn’t result in guaranteed political transition and reform in Syria will not end the conflict there.”

    • Obama’s Bombing Legacy

      President Obama has joked he still doesn’t know why he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but his record of waging war was no joke to thousands at the receiving end of U.S. bombs…

    • SEAL Team 6 Responds to The Intercept’s Investigation of Its War Crimes

      The commander of SEAL Team 6 has circulated a memo, obtained by The Intercept, to members of the command in response to The Intercept’s two-year investigation into the unit’s war crimes and subsequent cover-ups. In the memo, the commander claimed the article was “full of grievous, accusatory claims” and allegations that had been “previously investigated and determined to be not substantiated.”

      “The article alleges involvement of ST-6 personnel in law of armed conflict violations, including accusations of cover up by senior officials,” the memo continued. “The 41-page online article goes into great detail on various operations naming specific people and operations dating back to 2002 up to 2011.”

      “While this article appears damning on many members of our team and most likely evokes strong emotions,” the commander wrote, “we must be mindful about what a journalist can do who latches on to unfounded claims and is willing to print based on limited evidence.”

      The commander’s letter does not dispute any facts or details in our January 10 report, which describes, in detail, accounts provided by former SEAL Team 6 leaders of what they believed were war crimes committed by members of the unit in Afghanistan and Iraq that were largely ignored or covered up by senior officers.

    • America’s Russian Problem

      Russian-American relations over the past several years have taken on some of the most familiar aspects of the Cold War. The conventional wisdom is extremely one-side, concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is entirely responsible for the setback as a result of his actions in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, and that the Russian leadership is not trustworthy on any diplomatic or political level. This is a simplistic view.

      Before there can be any progress in resolving the considerable differences between Moscow and Washington, it is paramount that the U.S. contribution to the imbroglio is recognized. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union twenty-five years ago, a brace of American presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama) have taken advantage of Russia’s considerable geopolitical weakness. Clinton was the first to do so with the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which marked a betrayal of U.S. commitments not to do so.

    • The whole Pravda about Russian propaganda

      Russian engineers prepare to investigate whether the Americans really landed on the moon. Sergey Lavrov declares that US diplomats were frequently among the protesters on Moscow’s streets. These claims aren’t from the draft of a forgotten Tom Clancy novel – they’re the reality of today’s newsfeeds.

      Over the past few weeks, the Russian word kompromat [incriminating material] has entered the English language alongside babushka, vodka and sputnik. Alongside the scandal of “fake news”, European states are even more wary of Russian interference on their electoral processes. How should Europe respond? How should any state approach pro-Kremlin propaganda being broadcast to its citizens? And aren’t we exaggerating the force of the “Kremlin’s hidden hand”?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Stunning Admission from Obama on Wikileaks

      Most crucially of all Obama refers to “The DNC emails that were leaked”. Note “leaked” ad not “hacked”. I have been repeating that this was a leak, not a hack, until I am blue in the face. William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, has asserted that were it a hack the NSA would be able to give the precise details down to the second it occurred, and it is plain from the reports released they have no such information. Yet the media has persisted with this nonsense “Russian hacking” story.

      Obama’s reference to the “the DNC emails that were leaked” appears very natural, fluent and unforced. It is good to have the truth finally told.

    • WikiLeaks Founder’s Fate Uncertain Following Chelsea Manning Commutation

      President Barack Obama’s decision to commute the bulk of former U.S Army soldier Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence for leaking classified materials places WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the spotlight.

      Just five days prior, Assange offered to face criminal charges in the United States if Manning—who provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets about the Iraq War—went free.

      “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case,” the official Wikileaks account tweeted on January 12.

      Melinda Taylor, one of Assange’s attorneys, told the AP on Tuesday that he is “standing by” his promises. Assange confirmed through the official Wikileaks Twitter account he is “happy to come to the US provided all his rights are guaranteed,” on Wednesday.

      It’s unclear whether the U.S. Department of Justice has even charged Assange with a crime, let alone demanded Assange’s extradition. There is, however, an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault.

      British police have vowed to arrest Assange if he steps foot outside the Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he fled over four years ago, and has remained ever since.

    • For first time, CIA publishes guidelines for handling Americans’ info

      Two days before Donald Trump takes office, the CIA on Wednesday published for the first time its guidelines for how it collects, stores, searches and shares information about Americans. New rules put limits on those who can search it and require they give a reason.

      While some of the policies haven’t been updated since 1982, others have been changed, reflecting radical developments in technology over the past three decades and the CIA’s effort to be more transparent and protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, the spy agency said. The changes will go into effect on March 18.

    • CIA documents expose internal agency feud over psychologists leading interrogation program

      Newly released CIA documents expose a bitter internal feud over the qualifications and ethics of two former military psychologists who pushed the agency to adopt interrogation methods widely condemned as torture.

      A series of internal emails reveal that the CIA’s own medical and psychological personnel expressed deep concern about an arrangement that put two outside contractors in charge of subjecting detainees to brutal measures including waterboarding, then also evaluating whether those methods were working or causing lasting harm.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Videos of starving sun bears in a zoo begging for food spark outrage

      Gaunt sun bears in an Indonesia zoo, so hungry they’ve taken to begging visitors for food and eating their own faeces, have been captured on video by animal rights activists.

      Footage shot by the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group showed several emaciated bears at a zoo in the Indonesian city of Bandung.

      While bears in enclosures very rarely beg for food, you can see the bears rushing for pieces of fruit thrown in, and begging visitors for more.

    • Let’s make Donald Trump’s swearing-in a call to action for the environment

      Just five months after the devastating result of the European Union referendum, and the struggle against the forces of darkness seemed to have just become even harder. Donald Trump’s election left the many in the United States reeling. In particular his success has left women, people of colour and those with disabilities feeling more vulnerable than ever. The land of the free seems a lot less free than before.

      Americans aren’t the only ones who fear a Trump presidency. His win reinforced a right-wing populism that is resurgent across the western world, but also threatens to slow down the global movement against climate change. Not only does the president-elect not believe that climate change is man-made, but his cabinet level appointments show an utter disregard for our environment.

    • Indonesia: 18 hot spots detected in Sumatra

      Forest and land fires have begun to reappear in Sumatra, with 18 hot spots detected on Wednesday morning, the highest number in the wet season of early 2017.

      Pekanbaru Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin said Terra and Aqua satellites detected hot spots in West Sumatra (1 spot), Riau (7), North Sumatra (1) provinces.

      In Riau, most of the hot spots were detected in Rokan Hulu (3 spots) followed by Pelalawan (2). The rest were detected in Bengkalis and Kuantan Singingi regencies.

    • HSBC financing tied to deforestation, rights violations for palm oil in Indonesia

      Loans and credit from the British bank HSBC have helped support the unsustainable clearing of forests for oil palm plantations in Indonesia, Greenpeace said in a report published Tuesday.

      The world’s sixth-largest bank has helped marshal $16.3 billion in financing for six companies since 2012 that have illegally cleared forests, planted oil palm on once-carbon-rich peatland, and failed to secure the support of local communities for their operations – all of which run counter to HSBC’s own environmental commitments, according to Greenpeace.

      “HSBC claims it’s a respectable bank with responsible policies on deforestation,” said Annisa Rahmawati, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a statement. “But somehow these fine words get forgotten when it’s time to sign the contracts.”

    • Forest and land fires reappear in Riau

      Forest and land fires have begun to threaten Riau again with an increasing number of hot spots detected.

      Pekanbaru Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head, Mr Sugarin, said the hot spots were first detected by satellites on Sunday.

      “At that time, six hot spots were detected. The following day the number increased to seven, with hot spots in Siak, Pelalawan and Kuantan Singingi,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

      He said more hot spots were detected in Rokan Hulu, Rokan Hilir and Siak, with another on Meranti Island.

      “Four of the hot spots were indicated as fire-linked hot spots with a reliability level of over 70 per cent,” Mr Sugarin said, adding that hot spots were also detected in other provinces in Sumatra.

      The reappearance of the hot spots, Mr Sugarin said, might be caused by high temperatures, which hit 34.5 deg C, and rampant slash-and-burn practices.

    • How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia

      According to the report, land cleared by fire carries a higher price tag than that cleared through cut-and-slash techniques, as it is ready for immediate planting, saving the buyer from any land preparation.

      The trade of burned land is known locally as terima abu, or receiving the ashes, which fertilize the soil.

      The trading value of such land is $856 per hectare, compared to $665 per hectare for cut-and-slashed land, the report notes. Land already burned and planted with oil palm is even more lucrative, with a reported value of $3,800 per hectare.

      “Buyers came from various levels: colleagues and family members, resident immigrants, company staff, village officials, business people and residents from nearby district towns,” the study says. “Networks also involved buyers from other islands, for example, medium-scale investors from Jakarta, Bogor or Surabaya.”

    • It’s Time to Stand Up for the Climate—and for Civilization

      During his campaign for president, Donald Trump promised to end action on climate change and kill the climate treaty adopted in 2015 in Paris. To truly understand why that’s such a big deal—perhaps the biggest deal ever—you need to think about a few things.

      Yes, you need to think about the oft-repeated but nonetheless true and alarming statistics: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded till 2015 snatched the crown—till 2016 obliterated the record. Last summer featured some of the hottest days ever reliably recorded on this planet: 128 degrees Fahrenheit in cities like Basra, Iraq—right at the edge of human endurance. Global sea ice has been at a record low in recent months.

    • Scientology’s UK HQ angers residents by felling trees in conservation area

      The church of Scientology has angered neighbours at its UK headquarters by expanding its facilities without planning consent and felling trees in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.

      Residents close to the sprawling HQ near East Grinstead in West Sussex have accused the church of “selfishly and arrogantly” carrying out “destructive development plans before authorisation” by building a coach and minibus park before securing planning permission.

      People in the hamlet of St Hill Green are objecting to noise and light pollution and what they say is the destruction of wildlife habitats, including the cutting down of 22 trees. A planning application has now been lodged for retrospective consent.

    • History of Earth’s surface temperature 1880-2016

      2016 is officially the new warmest year on record, edging out previous record holder 2015 by 0.07°F, according to NOAA. It is the third year in a row that global average surface temperature set a new record, and the fifth time the record has been broken since the start of the twenty-first century.

      This animation shows annual temperatures each year since 1880 compared to the twentieth-century average, ending with record-warm 2016. Because of global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases, the maps from the late 1800s and the early 1900s are dominated by shades of blue, indicating temperatures were up to 3°C (5.4°F) cooler than the twentieth-century average.

    • U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observing Network: Building Global Connections

      One of the best ways to understand how our ocean is changing is to closely monitor the health and diversity of marine life. Armed with this knowledge, researchers can better track the health of ocean ecosystems. This, in turn, helps us make better decisions to protect marine resources and support the people and businesses who depend upon the ocean for their lives and livelihood. But monitoring marine life is no easy task. Through the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, NOAA is developing a U.S. Marine Biodiversity Network through three pilot programs around the nation to create a better long-term system to monitor changes in marine life.

      At the same time, U.S. MBON researchers are growing relationships with marine biodiversity networks around the world. Why? The ocean doesn’t recognize borders. While NOAA and partners are working to strengthen local and regional networks in the U.S., researchers are also looking past our nation’s borders to help ensure marine life data is shared around the globe.

    • EPA Nominee Pruitt’s Hearing Shows Him Poised to Be “Every Polluter’s Ally”

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee dug into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, blasting his record of suing the very agency he’s been selected to lead, and putting his fossil fuel industry ties front and center.

      As Ben Jervey and Steve Horn reported for DeSmog Blog, the morning hearing unfolded in something of a pattern, with “Republican members complimenting the [Oklahoma] attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment.”

    • Interior Pick Ryan Zinke Vows to Review Obama’s Safeguards Against Fossil Fuel Extraction

      During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Montana, promised not to hand over federal land to state control when he takes on the role of secretary of the interior.

      By standing firm against that one nightmare promise from the 2016 Republican platform, Zinke seems to have avoided the kind of fury Democrats have directed at President-elect Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency pick Scott Pruitt and his Energy Department nominee Rick Perry.

      But although Zinke says he won’t hand federal land to states, he is likely to lease vast tracts to the oil, gas, and coal industries — and flip green the yellow light that Obama’s administration put on federal lands fossil fuel development.

      Although Zinke repeatedly invoked Teddy Roosevelt on Tuesday, and promised to strike a balance between conservation and energy development, he also indicated he would support efforts to review or overturn a list of Obama administration rules including the ban on drilling in parts of the Alaskan Arctic, the moratorium on coal extraction on public land, new stream protections, and rules preventing methane flaring during oil and gas extraction.

  • Finance

    • Hundreds of thousands of retired Britons in EU ‘may be forced to return’

      Hundreds of thousands of elderly Britons living in Europe may be forced to return to the UK unless the government guarantees that their healthcare will continue to be reimbursed by the NHS, campaigners for British people settled in Spain and France have warned.

      The House of Commons Brexit select committee was told on Wednesday that an unintended consequence of Brexit could be a surge in immigration of British migrants both working and retired.

      Groups campaigning for the rights of Britons settled in Europe told the committee that many pensioners in countries such as Spain and France would not be able to afford private health insurance if the current system was jettisoned post-Brexit.

    • Four hundred jobs to go in Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank branch closures

      The owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks has announced it is shutting more than a third of its branches with the loss of 400 jobs.

      It came on a gloomy day for smaller lenders as Airdrie Savings Bank, the UK’s last remaining independent savings bank, said it was to close after 182 years – at the cost of 70 roles.

      Each bank partly blamed changes in the sector, including a shift to online banking and away from using branches for day-to-day transactions.

    • Senate’s Closer Look at Steven Mnuchin Reveals Much More

      At first blush, Mr. Mnuchin was a busy enough man, with his investment business and his Hollywood endeavors listed on a Dec. 19 questionnaire for the Senate Finance Committee that he swore was “true, accurate and complete.”

      But when pushed by committee aides, Mr. Mnuchin conceded there was more. In a revised questionnaire to the committee this month, he disclosed that he was also the director of Dune Capital International Ltd., an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. He also revealed his management posts in seven other investment funds, which he said he “inadvertently missed,” according to Finance Committee documents obtained by The New York Times.

    • Davos Elite Fret About Inequality Over Vintage Wine and Canapés

      You have perhaps noticed that in many countries, history-altering numbers of people have grown enraged at the economic elite and their tendency to hog the spoils of globalization. This wave of anger has delivered Donald J. Trump to the White House, sent Britain toward the exit of the European Union, and threatened the future of global trade.

      The people gathered here this week in the Swiss Alps for the annual World Economic Forum have noticed this, too. They are the elite — heads of state, billionaire hedge fund managers, technology executives.

      They are eager to talk about how to set things right, soothing the populist fury by making globalization a more lucrative proposition for the masses. Myriad panel discussions are focused on finding the best way to “reform capitalism,” make globalization work and revive the middle class.

      What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.

    • 5 Things You Only Learn About America Foreclosing On Homes

      Hey, remember the giant economic crash of 2007? No? You drank that one away, along with your failed marriage, and the ending of Lost? We’ll help you out: It started with the collapse of the housing bubble. It turned out appraisers had been overvaluing houses for years, and banks had been giving people mortgages they couldn’t actually afford. Then all those mortgage holders started missing their payments, the cascade of defaults nearly killed several banks, and more than 7 million Americans had their homes foreclosed upon. While the bankers responsible for it all were out blowing their multi-million dollar bonuses on leather-wrapped Lamborghinis, people like our source for today’s article, Sarah, had to do all the actual legwork of ruining people’s lives. She told us…

    • Centrelink staff told not to fix mistakes in debt notices – whistleblower

      Centrelink’s compliance teams are being told not to correct errors with its flawed debt recovery program, allowing the “unjust system” to generate millions of dollars in bogus debts, a new whistleblower has alleged.

      The explosive claims are detailed in a lengthy letter anonymously sent by a Centrelink compliance officer to the progressive political group GetUp, which released it publicly alongside the Community and Public Sector Union on Thursday.

      The department of human services has dismissed the letter as inaccurate, and general manager Hank Jongen said it did not “accurately represent how the system works”.

    • Centrelink systematically ripping off clients: whistleblower

      Another whistleblower has come forward with an insider’s account of how the “debts” are being pursued, alleging that glaring errors are being deliberately ignored by Centrelink to allow it to extract money from its clients.

      Others are being told they must repay “fictitious payments”; money that they never even received, according to the allegations.

    • Trump Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Lied to the Senate

      There are many reasons Betsy DeVos’s nomination to serve as Donald Trump’s education secretary could be justifiably quashed by the U.S. Senate. Her long public record indicates she is a religious Christian zealot who does not believe in the actual separation of church and state, wants public monies funneled into religious schools, and has contributed through family foundations to bigoted groups with a militant anti-gay agenda. During her confirmation hearing she gave disturbing answers to questions about her views of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, standardized tests, and school vouchers. She also suggested guns have a place in American schools, though her claim that they were necessary to defend students from grizzly bear attacks was not very compelling.

      DeVos is married to Richard DeVos, the heir to the Amway Corporation fortune. She is also the sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who is secretly advising the Trump team on intelligence matters, as The Intercept reported Tuesday. The Prince and DeVos families’ merger through marriage was reminiscent of the monarchies of old Europe, and since the 1980s they have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican campaign coffers and the war chests of far right religious organizations, at least one of which — the Family Research Council — has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    • Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing

      At her contentious confirmation hearing as Donald Trump’s nominee to be education secretary on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was asked a question by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about an important education debate involving how student progress should be measured. The query essentially rendered her speechless as she appeared not to know how to answer. When Franken told her he was upset she didn’t understand it, she did not protest.

      That was just one of several moments during the hearing in which DeVos either displayed a lack of knowledge about education fundamentals or refused to answer questions that Democratic members of the Senate Education Committee believe are critical to her fitness for the job.

    • Betsy DeVos: Unprepared, and undeterred to serve as education secretary

      Even a truncated confirmation hearing designed to limit the nominee’s exposure couldn’t conceal the myriad ways in which Republican mega-donor Betsy DeVos is unprepared for the responsibility she is about to assume as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Education.

      Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who chairs the committee responsible for vetting the nomination, allotted Democratic committee members just 5 minutes each to grill DeVos. But even that abbreviated scrutiny revealed some disturbing deficits in her basic knowledge of the department’s responsibilities and authority:

      She said it should be “up to the states” to make sure public schools meet the needs of disabled students, and appeared to be unaware of the federal law that establishes both requirements and penalties for schools that fail to meet them.

    • Four Takeaways from Trump’s Latest Tweet Tantrum

      1. As usual, Trump has his facts wrong. Analysts say Ford’s decision to expand in Michigan rather than in Mexico had mostly to do with the company’s long-term plans to invest in electric vehicles. It’s easier for companies to find highly skilled workers to build new products, such as electric cars, in the United States than in Mexico.

      GM said its plan was approved before the election, but it was “accelerated” under pressure from Trump. Relatedly, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler chief executive, said Chrysler’s plan to build some cars in the U.S. had been in the works for more than a year and had nothing to do with Trump. Marchionne credited the decision to talks with the United Auto Workers.

      2. Once again, the tweet reveals Trump’s pathological narcissism. All Trump can think of about is “TRUMP,” which he capitalizes, then insists that the jobs “Came back because of me!” This is the rant of a child wanting attention and praise, not someone who will shortly be President of the United States.

      3. It’s also dangerous. Although Trump’s outrage at NBC – like his condemnation of other specific media outlets that don’t report what he wants – is harmless now, it could threaten press freedom when Trump has power over regulators at the FCC and antitrust division who could make life difficult for targeted media outlets.

      4. It’s intended to divert attention from the big stuff. Trump’s specific deals with particular companies diverts attention from his larger initiatives that will hurt working Americans.

    • UK post-Brexit trade deal with India threatened by Theresa May’s visa crackdown

      One of Britain’s most important post-Brexit trade partnerships could be at risk due to Theresa May’s refusal to reform visa restrictions for Indian citizens.

      The Prime Minister has insisted leaving the EU would allow Britain to find other partners abroad and India, the world’s fastest growing major economy, was the first country she visited, accompanied by a large business delegation, outside Europe after the referendum.

      But as the offensive to secure a trade deal continued on Wednesday, senior diplomats and Indian government officials warned Ms May’s refusal to reform visa restrictions could scupper her hopes.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The first-ever close analysis of leaked astroturf comments from China’s “50c party” reveal Beijing’s cybercontrol strategy

      The Harvard Institute for Quantitative Science team that published 2016′s analysis of the Chinese government’s ’50c Party’, who flood social media with government-approved comments has published a new paper, How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument, in which they reveal their painstaking analysis of a huge trove of leaked emails between 50c Party members and their government handlers.

      The research refutes the widely held view that the 50c Party is a group of paid piece-workers who pile on to people who post negative comments about the government; rather, the 50c Party is a closely coordinated group of government workers whose messages are part of their normal, salaried duties, and consist largely of upbeat talk about upcoming government initiatives — or issues that distract from scandals.

    • How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument

      The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim that these so-called “50c party” posts vociferously argue for the government’s side in political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime’s strategic objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime. We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of “common knowledge” and information control in authoritarian regimes.

    • The Creepy Religion That Explains All Of Trump’s Actions

      America may not have an official religion, but you’d have to be crazy to think that politicians aren’t expected to fit in a certain spiritual mold. While there might be a few exceptions, like JFK’s Catholicism, Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and Barack Obama’s dastardly secret Muslim agenda, if you want to run for president in this country, you usually need to belong to a mainstream branch of Protestantism. And a study by Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Americans think it is important for the president to have “strong religious beliefs.” That’s why when Donald Trump entered the political arena, people suddenly started asking for proof that he gave a shit about God.

    • ‘The Running Man’ Is the Perfect Dystopian Movie For Trump’s Inauguration

      The Running Man, a 1987 sci-fi action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is having a brief resurgence of relevance this year—though not in the way its stars and writers ever really envisioned.

      The film is replete with all the cheesy 80s music and smug, action-hero one liners that one might expect from a Schwarzenegger flick (yes, he even drops an “I’ll be back”). But the movie about a dystopian America pacified by a deadly reality show in the then-futuristic year of 2017 is still incredibly unsettling to watch on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

    • This ‘paid protestor’ service is likely fake, but the online conspiracy machine doesn’t care

      “Demand Protest is the largest private grassroots support organization in the United States,” the ads read. “We pay people already politically motivated to fight for the things they believe. You were going to take action anyways, why not do so with us!” The post claims to offer $2,500 per month “retainers” plus $50 hourly payments to protestors aligned with the organization. The logo for demandprotest.com is a raised black first, and the site includes photos of young, chanting protestors, some wearing Anonymous masks.

      If there’s any doubt about the target of protests, the ad is titled, “Get paid fighting against Trump!” For those enticed by the ads, an anonymous “recruitment” form on demandprotest.com asks potential protestors for personal information, covering areas including, “Do you have any family in government?” and “Would you say that your relationships are simple or complicated?”

    • The Unbelievable Baby-Man!
    • Trump’s pick for Commerce secretary assures lawmakers he is not anti-trade

      Wilbur Ross, the billionaire financier selected to be the new Commerce secretary, made clear Wednesday that Donald Trump’s campaign promise to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement was not just an empty threat.

      At his confirmation hearing, the 79-year-old Ross, who like his future boss has long expressed concerns about NAFTA, said that renegotiating the 23-year-old pact with Mexico and Canada would be “very, very early” as a matter of priority for him and the Trump administration.

      Ross also signaled that his agency was likely to take steps to impose duties on Chinese steel and possibly other goods that have been dumped at unfairly low prices or subsidized by the state.

      At the same time, he struck a more measured tone overall than Trump, whose populist attacks on trade throughout the campaign had raised worries among businesses and leaders in the Republican Party who favor free trade.

    • FBI, CIA, NSA and others have been probing alleged Russian money aiding Trump for months

      Law enforcement and intelligence services in the US have been collaborating to investigate possible Russian money covertly be used to aide the Trump campaign for months, McClatchy reported.

      Two sources told McClatchy that the FBI, CIA, NSA, Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network have been involved in an inquiry that started in spring 2016, long before allegations of Russian links to Trump were gathered by a former MI6 agent and released in an unverified document by Buzzfeed.

    • Ex-CIA chief rejects report Israel was warned of sharing intel with Trump

      Former CIA and NSA director Gen. (ret.) Michael Hayden rejected a recent report that Obama administration intelligence officials told Israeli officials to be wary of sharing intelligence with the incoming Trump administration.

    • How RT became the star of CIA, FBI & NSA’s anticlimactic ‘big reveal’

      The eagerly awaited Director Of National Intelligence’s (DNI) report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” didn’t need such a long winded title. They could have just called it: “We Really Don’t Like RT.”

      Almost every major western news outlet splashed this story. But it was probably the New York Times’ report which was the most amusing. America’s “paper of record” hailed the DNI’s homework as “damning and surprisingly detailed.” Then a few paragraphs later admitted the analysis contained no actual evidence.

      Thus, in a few column inches, the Gray Lady went from describing the DNI’s release as something conclusive to conceding how it was all conjecture. “The declassified report contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions,” the reporter, one David E. Sanger, told us. He then reached further into his bag of tricks to warn how it is “bound to be attacked by skeptics.”

    • The DNC Contenders Are Not Interested In Your Populist Moment
    • DNC Chair Candidate Tom Perez Refuses to Support Ban on Corporate Money and Lobbyists

      Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of the leading candidates for chair of the Democratic National Committee, has stumbled in recent days when asked about his position on money in politics.

      Asked at a DNC forum in Phoenix last Saturday whether he will “revive President Obama’s ban on corporate donations to the DNC” and a ban on appointing lobbyists as party leaders, Perez demurred.

      “It’s actually not that simple a question,” Perez responded, adding that such a move might have “unintended consequences.” Perez argued that such a ban might impact “union members who are lobbyists,” though the question explicitly only addressed corporate lobbyists.

      Speaking to the Huffington Post, Perez has refused to clarify his position on resurrecting President Obama’s ban on lobbyist donations to the DNC, which was overturned by former DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., during Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

    • Trumpology With a Twist

      The fervent thousands who streamed in Mobile’s football stadium for a campaign appearance by quirky celebrity candidate Donald Trump in August 2015 surprised even his vain self. That was his first mega rally, and it showed he might actually be running for president rather than staging a self-promotional tour. As thanks for that he made a return to Mobile the final stop on his victory lap around the country last month.

      Some adult fans treated his approach shortly before Christmas like kids following the route of Santa’s sleigh from the North Pole: Yesterday he was in Pennsylvania, today Florida, tomorrow Mobile!

      A co-worker from a job years ago was following events closely on local news. Soon after Trump One touched down in the city, he reported on Facebook: Our next President in his motorcade to his rally right now.

      I replied that you can believe he’s your president if you like, but he and the fellow billionaires he’s packing into the cabinet are going to treat you as a subject.

    • Throw Sand in the Gears of Everything

      As many are saying, we woke from a nightmare to find it was our new reality. A gaggle of inflated far-right self-promoters and operatives, big businessmen and their toadies, and homegrown fascists will control the presidency and determine the Supreme Court majority, maybe for a generation or more. The Congress is firmly in Republican hands, save for the uncertain possibility that Senate Democrats will muster the gumption to filibuster. And that possibility could also evaporate with the 2018 midterm elections, when as many as 20 or more Democrats will have to defend their seats. No wonder that everyone I speak with searches for someone to blame—Clinton or Comey or white women or the white working class or the Bernie troops—and then asks plaintively: What do we do now?

      [...]

      Chanting crowds are the familiar insignia of movements. And I think movement politics may even make resistance to a Trump regime possible. But while the great movements of American history were the crucial determinant of our most important democratic reforms—from the basic electoral elements of representative democracy, to Emancipation, to labor rights, to women’s and LGBTQ rights—none of these movements achieved their successes simply through the gathering of people to show their commitment. People gathered, of course, but what makes movements a force—when they are a force—is the deployment of a distinctive power that arises from the ability of angry and indignant people to at times defy the rules that usually ensure their cooperation and quiescence. Movements can mobilize people to refuse, to disobey, in effect to strike. In other words, people in motion, in movements, can throw sand in the gears of the institutions that depend on their cooperation. It therefore follows that movements need numbers, but they also need a strategy that maps the impact of their defiance and the ensuing disruptions on the authority of decision-makers.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook to build new data centre in Denmark

      Social media behemoth Facebook announced on Thursday that it will establish a new data centre in Odense, Denmark’s third largest city.
      The data centre will result in at least 150 permanent jobs and as many as “a couple thousand” jobs in the construction stage, Facebook’s director of data, Niall McEntegart, said at a joint press conference with Odense Mayor Peter Rahbæk Juel.

      “Odense is not just a great site for a data centre. It’s also a great city that we look forward to living in,” he said.

    • Facebook, Google Refuse to Help Bundestag Inquiry Into NSA Activity in Germany

      US IT giants Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple refused to attend the hearing organized by the German Parliamentary Committee investigating the US National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, the committee’s working group spokesman said Thursday.

    • Verizon Claims Its Millennial Ad Pivot Has Been Slowed By Its Breathless Dedication To Consumer Privacy

      So we’ve noted repeatedly how Verizon really wants to pivot from stodgy, old protectionist telco to Millennial-focused media and advertising juggernaut. The company desperately wants in on Facebook and Google advertising cash, and apparently believes this is possible by ceasing network fiber upgrades and gobbling up failed 90s internet brands like Yahoo and AOL.

      Except Verizon’s brand revolution so far hasn’t been much to write home about.

      Verizon began its pivot with a short-lived website that imploded after writers revealed they couldn’t talk about net neutrality or mass surveillance. The company’s acquisition of Yahoo has also been plagued with issues, from Yahoo’s mammoth, undisclosed hacking scandal to revelations of the company’s wholesale spying on user e-mail accounts for the government (not that this latter issue bothered Verizon much). And Verizon’s Go90 streaming video service, the cornerstone of Verizon’s effort, has been derided as “a dud” by Verizon’s own media partners.

    • Why Finding The Best VPN For Your Needs Matters

      Finding the right VPN service provider for one’s needs can prove to be quite the challenge. Most people are well aware of the benefits brought to the table by using a VPN, including bypassing geo restrictions and circumventing censorship. These powerful and essential tools can be used for all types of online activity, ranging from online gaming to accessing websites otherwise blocked from being accessed.

    • A look at the proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation

      As a result, on January 10, 2017, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation (ePrivacy Regulation), in view of the economic and social importance of digital services, the development of Internet of Things (i.e. connected devices and machines communicating through electronic communications networks, also known in literature as “Enchanted Objects”) and the rise of the so-called Over-the-Top communications services (i.e. services provided in the form of applications running over an internet access service, such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Imessage, and Telegram; Gmail, Facetime and Viber), all of which currently fall outside of Directive 2002/58/EC [for more details on OTT services and the scope of protection of the ePrivacy Regulation, see WP240, Article 29 Data Protection Working Party's opinion 3/2016 on the evaluation and review of the ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC)].

    • Encrypted email service ProtonMail now supports Tor to thwart meddling governments
    • Encrypted email service ProtonMail opens door for Tor users
    • To combat online censorship, encrypted email provider ProtonMail launches Tor hidden service
    • ProtonMail Launches Tor Onion Site to Evade State Censorship
    • ProtonMail adds Tor onion site to fight risk of state censorship
    • ProtonMail launches Tor hidden service to dodge totalitarian censorship
    • ProtonMail Is Now Available via a Tor Address to Avoid Global Censorship
    • ProtonMail Over Tor Can Now Increase Privacy, Security, And Censorship Resilience
    • Trump’s Homeland Security Team Likely to Emphasize Facial Recognition and Biometric Surveillance

      The backgrounds of the members of the team that President-elect Donald Trump is picking to shape the Department of Homeland Security suggests he will aggressively pursue surveillance using the latest technological advancements.

      Trump, on the campaign trail, suggested that his law-and-order agenda would include mass surveillance of certain targets. “I want surveillance of certain mosques,” Trump declared at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama. “I want surveillance,” he added, “I will absolutely take [sic] database on the people coming in from Syria.”

    • DMARC Secured Your Email Identity, But See How it Ruined Mailing Lists

      Email was originally designed for messages to be stores and forwarded multiple times before they got the their destination. Servers would just have to trust that the From header was correct. For many years, there was no real way to verify that you really got the email the person that the From header states.

    • Chicago Lawyer Sues City, Police Department Over Stingray Cellphone Surveillance

      What’s undisputed is that the Chicago PD is in possession of regular IMSI catchers, as well as souped-up versions known as DRTboxes. Thanks to crowd-sourced FOIA activity, it’s also known this equipment has been purchased with asset forfeiture funds in an effort to keep the PD’s surveillance purchases from leaving as wide of a paper trail.

      What can also be inferred from the allegations is that the Chicago PD deployed its surveillance equipment on participants in First Amendment-protected activity, which may only add to the Constitutional fallout of this lawsuit. This surveillance also occurred more than a year before state legislation was passed requiring court orders for Stingray deployments.

    • Why I Am Switching To Private Messaging — And You Should Too

      Starting January 20, I will be turning off Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp and every other chat app I have been using in the past decade. I will switch to Signal for private messaging and to ProtonMail for my private emails.

    • The Post-Snowden Cyber Arms Hustle

      Just after lunchtime one day in February 2015, Manish Kumar entered the presidential palace in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott via the side gate—the one reserved for private business. His government SUV was driven by a gregarious man in a loose-fitting white robe, who navigated the vehicle toward the back of the compound, away from the main palace building’s soaring glass atrium and modern-looking turrets, which give it a Martha Stewart-meets-Gunga Din look. The driver pulled up to a smaller structure with a massive satellite dish on top, where Kumar was to meet Ahmed Bah dit Hmeida, an official with the innocuous-sounding title of counsellor to the president.

      A month earlier, Bah, whose responsibilities include overseeing an electronic spying apparatus aimed at his boss’s enemies, had transferred half a million dollars to an account in the British Virgin Islands, as a down payment for a sophisticated technology suite offered by Kumar’s company, Wolf Intelligence. The full contract was worth $2.5 million, plus an annual service agreement. It was the biggest score of Kumar’s blossoming career as a globe-trotting cyberweapons dealer.

      A native of India, Kumar was no more than a competent coder, who mostly hired out bug-hunting and other demanding tasks essential to the success of a digital spy contractor. And Wolf Intelligence was still an upstart with little reputation to speak of. But Kumar was ambitious, and his timing was good. Two years after Edward Snowden had revealed the extent of National Security Agency espionage around the globe, most every country on earth wanted to develop its own mini-NSA.

    • All metadata is not personal, Federal Court rules

      The Australian Federal Court has effectively ruled that all an individual’s metadata stored by telecommunications companies does not constitute personal data and therefore need not be handed over to said individual.

      Today’s verdict, delivered by a full bench of the court, was the latest step in a long-running saga for former Fairfax Media technology journalist Ben Grubb.

      Back in 2013, he had asked Telstra for access to the metadata that the telco was retaining about him, and that it would hand over to government agencies. His request was knocked back by Telstra’s privacy department.

    • Europe: Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe

      Hundreds of people were killed and wounded in violent attacks in the European Union in 2015 and 2016. The need to protect people from such wanton violence is obvious and urgent. This report gives a bird’s eye view of the national security landscape and shows just how widespread and deep the “securitization” of Europe has become. It focuses on eight themes: states of emergency, principle of legality, right to privacy, freedom of expression, right to liberty, freedom of movement, stripping of nationality, and the prohibition on sending people to places where they risk torture.

    • Dangerously disproportionate

      Amnesty International’s research richly documents the disturbing “Orwellian” trend sweeping across Europe, where states’ growing unchecked powers to tackle terrorism are trampling freedoms.

      The boundaries between the powers of the state and the rights of individuals are being redrawn and Europe’s human rights framework, which was so carefully constructed after the Second World War, is being rapidly dismantled.

    • Leaked transport plan would replace new car tax with road usage fee

      Yle has obtained an advance copy of a government white paper calling for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s road traffic system. Transport Minister Anne Berner is to present the report on Thursday morning. If the plan goes through, it would bring significant changes for motorists. The current tax on new cars would be replaced by an annual customer fee, averaging 500-600 euros a year. Drivers could pay for road use by the week, month or year.

    • Russia Allows Edward Snowden to Remain Through 2020
    • Will Edward Snowden stay in Russia? Officials confirm asylum extended until 2020

      Snowden will be allowed to apply for Russian citizenship, his legal team confirmed.

    • Snowden’s stay in Russia has been extended by the Russian government

      U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will be allowed to stay in Russia for “another couple of years,” according to a spokeswoman for the government there.

      The Russian government has extended the residence permit for Snowden, the former NSA contractor charged with espionage for leaking details of U.S. surveillance operations, said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Zakharova announced the extension on her Facebook page late Tuesday.

      Zakharova’s post came in response to a column by Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the U.S. CIA, who said Russia can return Snowden to the U.S. as a “perfect inauguration gift” to President-elect Donald Trump.

    • Whistleblower Snowden can apply for Russian passport next year: RIA cites lawyer

      Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been allowed to remain in Russia for another three years and will next year qualify to apply for Russian citizenship, his Russian lawyer was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

      Russian authorities said earlier on Wednesday they had extended a residency permit for Snowden, who was given asylum in Russia after leaking classified information about U.S. spy operations.

      That permit is now valid until 2020, the lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, was quoted as saying by Russia’s RIA news agency.

    • How—and why—you should use a VPN any time you hop on the internet

      One of the most important skills any computer user should have is the ability to use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect their privacy. A VPN is typically a paid service that keeps your web browsing secure and private over public Wi-Fi hotspots. VPNs can also get past regional restrictions for video- and music-streaming sites and help you evade government censorship restrictions—though that last one is especially tricky.

      The best way to think of a VPN is as a secure tunnel between your PC and destinations you visit on the internet. Your PC connects to a VPN server, which can be located in the United States or a foreign country like the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, or Thailand. Your web traffic then passes back and forth through that server. The end result: As far as most websites are concerned, you’re browsing from that server’s geographical location, not your computer’s location.

    • Is Trump ready for a national security crisis?

      Much of the speculation focuses on the NSC, which plays the vital role of coordinating foreign policy and national security within the White House. NSC aides refine and advise the president on competing policy options generated throughout the federal government.

      But the Trump team has also not yet announced any appointments below the Cabinet level for the departments of State or Defense, leaving many more important posts open days before Trump’s inauguration.

      “This isn’t getting attention it deserves. Who will run and implement policy? Right now there is a big vacuum,” Max Boot, a military historian and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Tuesday.

    • Snowden Does Not Deserve the Threat He Faces

      The last time I saw Edward Snowden, while on assignment for The Financial Times in September, he was not holding out any great hope that President Obama would show the kind of clemency to him that he just granted to Chelsea Manning.

      Of course, he would prefer to return home to the United States: It was never his intention to be stranded in Russia, his passport revoked. Although a petition to pardon Mr. Snowden has now attracted more than a million supporters, he is a realist.

      I had not met Mr. Snowden in June 2013 when I was the editor of The Guardian and we broke the first revelations from the National Security Agency documents he leaked revealing the scope of modern state surveillance. My decision to publish those and subsequent stories was based on the documents themselves and the public importance of what they disclosed.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Instead of Certain Death, Chelsea Manning Now Has a Chance at Life

      Yesterday, around 4:15 p.m., we learned that President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence to 7 years with a release date of May 17, 2017. In four months, with our continued vigilance to ensure her safety and lawful release, she will be free.

      No doubt saving her life, the president cut 28 years off her egregiously long sentence. Having already served nearly seven years in custody, Chelsea has spent more time in prison than any other whistleblower in U.S. history. And history will no doubt look favorably upon President Obama’s decision to cut short Chelsea’s unprecedented sentence.

      As the ACLU’s Ben Wizner said on August 21, 2013, the day of Chelsea’s sentencing, “When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system.” Years before that, in 2010, then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said of Chelsea’s disclosures, “Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.” And then just last week, unnamed Army intelligence officers told NBC News that in retrospect, Chelsea’s sentence “seems excessive.”

    • Chelsea Manning’s Attorneys: Obama’s Commutation Will Help Save Life of Jailed Army Whistleblower

      In one of his final acts in office, President Obama shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners and pardoned 64 individuals on Tuesday. The list included Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who is now set to be freed on May 17, after Obama reduced her sentence from 35 years to seven. According to her attorneys, she is already the longest-held whistleblower in U.S. history. Manning leaked more than 700,000 classified files and videos to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. foreign policy. She has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. We speak with Nancy Hollander, Manning’s appellate attorney, and Chase Strangio of the ACLU, who represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon for denial of medical care related to her gender dysphoria.

    • Five Reasons that President Obama Was Right to Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence
    • In Defense of the Chelsea Manning Commutation

      On Tuesday, President Obama commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, a former Army analyst who violated several laws that forbid disclosing facts that have been declared classified by the U.S. government. Laws against revealing state secrets are intended to protect national security and the safety of the men and women who serve in the military and intelligence services. Those are worthy aims and the laws are defensible in principle.

      In practice, the legitimacy of state-secrets laws has been undermined by their frequent abuse.

    • The Unexpected Release of Chelsea Manning

      She appealed not for absolution for her actions, but for dignity. “I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the [U.S. Disciplinary Barracks] as the person I was born to be,” she wrote.

      Now, days before leaving office, Obama has granted her request. Manning will leave prison on May 17th, 2017.

      When I interviewed Manning this past September, it did not feel like this day could ever come. We exchanged messages just before she found out she would be sent to solitary confinement. For days I did not know where she was. Only when she was released from solitary did I learn what had happened to her.

    • Chelsea Manning’s Liberation, and Ours

      I am again at a loss for words. Like I was on that hot summer day in 2013 at Fort Meade when, after years of arduous work documenting and transcribing Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s court-martial, her 35-year sentence came down.

      For years during those proceedings, the government prohibited the public from accessing the court record, despite Manning having been charged with aiding the enemy, one of only two offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice that apply to any person—not just military personnel. The day the sentence came down, I felt numb. Today, I feel gratitude.

    • Why Did Police Kill an Alleged Small-Time Hacker?

      Sam Maloney looks like he could be 21. In photos posted to Facebook, he’s smiling, and so are the first-year university students surrounding him. His boyish face doesn’t seem at all out of place during the 2015 frosh week celebrations captured in these images, and he looks happy and excited. Everyone does.

      But Sam Maloney wasn’t 21, despite what he reportedly told his fellow students while living in university residence and enrolled in a first-year computer science course at Western University in London, Ontario, a two-hour drive from Toronto.

      In reality, Sam Maloney was a 35-year-old freelance developer and an adept self-taught programmer of encrypted and distributed computer systems. Though he maintained a room in residence, Maloney had a common-law wife, Melissa Facciolo, and a son. The family owned a house about a 15-minute drive from the school.

    • St. Louis Cop Searched Woman’s Vagina for Drugs in Public — and Found None, Suit Alleges

      A female officer with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department allegedly probed the inside of a black waitress’ vagina while a male officer watched — leading to discipline for the female officer and, now, a lawsuit in federal court.

      The lawsuit, filed in November by attorney Jeremy Hollingshead, alleges that detective Angela Hawkins handcuffed 24-year-old Kayla Robinson after she was a passenger in a car during a routine traffic stop in 2012. Hawkins allegedly pushed the young woman up against a tractor-trailer and demanded to know where “the dope and the guns” were, according to the suit.

      But the cavity search turned up no drugs. And Hawkins was later disciplined for her actions, the suit says.

    • Saudi Arabia to continue ban on ‘immoral, atheistic’ cinema

      Proposals to reopen cinemas in Saudi Arabia have been strongly dismissed by the current head of the country’s religious authority.

      “Motion pictures may broadcast shameless, immoral, atheistic or rotten films,” said the grand mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, on his weekly television programme.

      “There is nothing good in song parties, for entertainment day and night, and opening of movie houses at all times is an invitation to mixing of sexes.”

      Public cinemas in the country have been illegal since the 1980s, but a plan to reintroduce them has been mooted by the head of the General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani, as part of the government’s Vision 2030 slate of cultural and economic reforms.

    • Group: Mali Civilians Threatened by Extremism, Banditry

      Human Rights Watch says Mali’s government is failing to protect civilians in its northern and central regions from Islamic extremists who killed dozens of people last year while pressuring families to give up their children to jihad.

      The group’s new report Wednesday describes how militants have occupied villages, attacked U.N. peacekeepers and tried to impose a strict interpretation of Sharia law barring celebrations including marriages and baptisms.

    • Muslim couples freed after warning on riding m-cycles together

      The Terengganu Religious Affairs Department (Jheat) today said it had only given a warning to the 26 unmarried Muslim couples caught travelling together on their motorcycles during a recent operation.

      Jheat chief assistant commissioner (enforcement) Nik Zulhaiza Ismail said the men and women were also given counselling before they were released.

      “They were told that if they were caught for the same ‘offence’ again, they could be arrested,” Nik Zulhaiza said, adding that such couples would be detained with the help of the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and police as Jheat did not have such powers itself.

      “We are doing this to prevent social ills in Terengganu which stem from freely mingling with the opposite sex.”

    • Philly PD Bows To Union Pressure, Guts Independent Officer-Involved-Shooting Board Ordered By The DOJ

      The Philadelphia Police Department is one of many to be on the receiving end of a consent decree with the DOJ. Most PDs finding themselves in this position earn it through years of abusive policing and a consistent disregard for constitutional rights and civil liberties. The Philly PD is no exception.

      This department has been trying to make the changes recommended by the Justice Department, but apparently found some of the DOJ’s hurdles too high for it to jump… at least willingly. That hasn’t stopped police officials from declaring their inability to live up to the DOJ’s standards a success, however.

    • Texas Panel on Wrongful Convictions Calls for Ending Use of Unverified Drug Field Tests

      Drug field tests are too unreliable to trust in criminal cases, according to a Texas courts panel, which has called on crime laboratories across the state to confirm drug evidence actually contains illegal drugs for every prosecution.

      State lawmakers created the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission in 2015 to research wrongful convictions in Texas and suggest ways to prevent future injustices. The commission named field tests as a significant concern in its final report, released last month, due to their “questionable reliability.”

      In Houston over the past decade, the crime lab found that the alleged drugs in more than 300 convictions were not drugs at all. Police had used inexpensive test kits to identify the substances as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, or marijuana, and prosecutors had used those allegedly positive tests to gain guilty pleas.

    • The Ugly Specter of Torture and Lies

      January 17 was an unusually good day for truth and human rights on both sides of the Atlantic. Even before President Obama commuted whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s long prison sentence, the British Supreme Court ruled unanimously that government ministers cannot claim “state immunity” or other specious grounds to avoid legal accountability in cases of abduction (rendition) and torture. The decision was heralded by Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and other human rights groups.

      [...]

      Owing to an edict by President Obama, Bush administration officials have never been tried for their complicity in more than 60 renditions of CIA prisoners, but Britain’s senior officials may face justice thanks to their Supreme Court ruling, which cited legal authorities ranging from the Magna Carta of 1215 to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

      Evidence of official British complicity in the kidnapping of Belhaj was discovered by Human Rights Watch in Gaddafi’s intelligence files after the Libyan dictator was overthrown in 2011. A 2004 fax by the chief of counterterrorism at MI6 to his Libyan counterpart said of Belhaj’s capture, “This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built in recent years.”

    • Obama’s Pardon of Gen. James Cartwright Is a New Twist in the War on Leaks

      The celebrations over President Barack Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence have overshadowed what might be a more consequential development in the government’s long-running war against leakers and whistleblowers: Obama’s pardon of Marine General James Cartwright.

      Late last year, Cartwright pled guilty to lying to the FBI about disclosing classified information on the Stuxnet computer virus to reporters from The New York Times and Newsweek. The former general, a vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was known as Obama’s “favorite general,” was due to be sentenced this month on felony charges. Prosecutors were seeking a two-year prison term.

      Obama pardoned him yesterday, which means Cartwright will not go to prison.

    • I’m a Refugee. In America, I Felt Safe for the First Time. Now All I Feel Is Fear.

      President Trump has been hostile to Muslim refugees, and I worry my neighbors will take his words as a license to hate.

      In the third piece in the series, “Waking Up in Trump’s America,” Sharefa Daw, a refugee from Burma, discusses her fear that the Trump administration will limit the number of refugees the U.S. resettles while creating a suffocating atmosphere of hate and fear.

      I now live in Dallas, Texas, about 9,000 miles away from where I was born in Southeast Asia. My husband and I came to Dallas as refugees with our three kids — and for the first time in our lives, we felt safe. But during Donald Trump’s election campaign, I stopped feeling safe anymore. I worry that President Trump will lead with hate and fear, and our neighbors will follow his example in ways that hurt my family.

      Back in Burma, in the city of Rangoon, I was a teacher and my husband, Haroon, sold condensed milk he transported from the countryside. We had both studied biology and zoology in university, but the government barred us from entering certain professions because we were Muslims — we were second-class citizens. Haroon started going to meetings with pro-democracy activists.

    • Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama

      Not only did Dr. King and Barack Obama exist in two distinct but interrelated periods, they represented two distinct moral trajectories. By 1967 King condemned the U.S. as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” He said that he could not morally square calling for non-violent resistance in the U.S. and remain silent in the face of the massive destruction and death being unleashed by the U.S. military against the people of Vietnam.

      However – for Obama – U.S. violence presented no such qualms because his loyalties are not with the peoples of the world but with the American empire.

      During his 2009 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the newly elected President Obama presented an argument for the concept of a “just war.” Startling many in the Oslo audience, Obama forcefully asserted in what would become known as the “Obama doctrine” that: “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

      For Obama, like liberal thought in general, there is a hierarchy of humanity where a peoples’ worth is directly related to their value to the empire. If they are the objects to be “saved” from some “dictator” and they reside in a national territory that empire has decided to seize in order to plunder its resources or for other geopolitical objectives, those peoples will occupy a higher status and will be recognized as humans – at least temporarily. But it is another story for the human beings who may be resisting the interests of empire. Those people have been assigned to what Fanon referred to as the “zone of non-being” and are, therefore, killable without any remorse and with impunity – take, for example, the Native Americans, the Vietnamese, Libyan and Syrian nationalists, Palestinians, Eric Garner and Walter Scott, and the list goes on throughout the bloody history of this white supremacist, settler state.

    • Republican Lawmakers in Five States Propose Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest

      On Saturday, the Women’s March on Washington will kick off what opponents of the incoming administration hope will be a new era of demonstrations against the Republican agenda. But in some states, non-violent demonstrating may soon carry increased legal risks — including punishing fines and significant prison terms — for people who participate in protests involving civil disobedience. Over the past few weeks, Republican legislators across the country have quietly introduced a number of proposals to criminalize and discourage peaceful protest.

      The proposals, which strengthen or supplement existing laws addressing the blocking or obstructing of traffic, come in response to a string of high-profile highway closures and other actions led by Black Lives Matter Activists and opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Republicans reasonably expect an invigorated protest movement during the Trump years.

    • UN Independent Expert On Promotion Of Democracy Calls On Governments To Stop Persecuting Whistleblowers

      Alfred de Zayas, who is the UN’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and international order” has put out quite a statement in support of President Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence. But de Zayas didn’t stop there. He went on to point out that the US government and other governments have been persecuting many other whistleblowers around the world, including Ed Snowden and Julian Assange, and that should stop…

    • “It is time to recognize the contribution of whistleblowers” – UN expert welcomes commutation of Manning’s sentence

      “I welcome the commutation of sentence of Chelsea Manning and her forthcoming release in May. There are, however, many whistleblowers who have served the cause of human rights and who are still in prison in many countries throughout the world. It is time to recognize the contribution of whistleblowers to democracy and the rule of law and to stop persecuting them.

    • Worksheet on ‘Sharia law’ irks school parents

      Parents in Southern Indiana are upset by a middle school worksheet’s portrayal of “Sharia law,” which they say casts the Islamic code in a positive light while ignoring human rights violations and the oppression of women.

      “The way that the worksheet is left would be like describing how effective Hitler was at nationalizing Germany and creating patriotism but leaving out that he slaughtered 6 million Jews,” said Dean Hohl, one of several parents who spoke out against the assignment at a recent New Albany-Floyd County school board meeting.

    • ‘We’re facing OBLIVION’ Malta blasts EU and says bloc WON’T SURVIVE another migrant influx

      Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of the tiny island which is on the frontline of Europe’s immigration crisis, blasted Brussels for its “inadequate” response to the chaos and said the bloc must finally get its act together before it is too late.

    • Pakistan student: ‘I was tortured by hardline Islamists’

      A Pakistani student has said he was abducted and badly beaten by hardline Islamist students after posting tweets in support of five liberal bloggers who have gone missing.

      The student said he needed hospital treatment after he was blindfolded for several hours and tortured.

      No-one at Punjab University responded to his cries for help, he said.

      The five bloggers disappeared after they condemned extremism and the role of the military in Pakistan.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Graphic footage shows FIVE cops shooting dead a blind man in convenience store because he was ‘agitated’ and ‘holding a knife’

      Shocking video shows several police officers cornering a mentally ill man before shooting him dead in a convenience store.

      In the CCTV footage, obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com, James Hall, 47, is surrounded by heavily armed cops before being gunned down at the Chevron Station in Fontana, California.

      Hall, who was legally blind and suffered from schizoaffective disorder – a combination of schizophrenia symptoms and mood disorder – seemed agitated when he entered the store in the early hours of November 22, 2015.

    • Authorities revise upwards number of DAPL protesters arrested in latest confrontation

      The Morton County Sheriff’s Office has revised the number of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters arrested in a hostile confrontation with law officers over 10 hours Monday and early Tuesday. 

      The protesters attempted to push through a line of officers in riot gear who were behind a wire fence. 

      Initial reports said there were 3 arrests. The updated arrests over two days now totals 16. 

    • Girl who cried wolf over hate crime could be charged with filing false report

      A young Muslim girl who claimed she had been the victim of a hate crime at a train station and pushed onto the tracks has been accused of making it all up.

      The 14-year-old, named only as Sinem, claimed on social media that she had been called a “terrorist” and was then pushed onto the tracks by a stranger who had taken offence at her headscarf at a railway station in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

      She wrote on an online anti-discrimination and racism group that she was saved in the “last seconds” by another stranger who pulled her back onto the platform before a train pulled in.

    • Iran female bodybuilder arrested for publishing revealing photos of herself

      An Iranian bodybuilder has been arrested for publishing revealing photos of herself on social media, the judiciary’s news agency reported on Wednesday. “One of the female bodybuilders who recently published nude photographs on social networks has been arrested,” the agency said.

    • What I’ve witnessed in Turkey is an assault on democracy itself

      Democracy is a bundle of rights and freedoms wrestled from the powerful. Our rulers only surrender their power when compelled to – when the cost of resisting pressure from below becomes greater than the cost of giving ground to it.

      But it is naive to regard these concessions as permanent. Elites are always waiting for opportunities to seize back their power. The ideal excuse is a national crisis, contrived or otherwise, normally involving an alliance of internal and external threats, all requiring drastic measures to defeat. The authoritarian rightwing populism sweeping the Western world skilfully exploits fear to drive back the borders of democracy.

    • Turkey’s parliament set to approve sweeping new powers for president

      A sweeping bill that will alter the Turkish constitution and grant broad powers to the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is on track to pass in parliament, paving the way for a historic spring referendum that could transform the country’s politics and strengthen the ruling party.

      The parliament passed amendments to seven articles in the constitution in a second round of voting in the early hours of Thursday, and is expected to continue voting on the remaining articles on Friday.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump’s Plan Is To Gut All FCC Consumer Protection Powers

      Trump’s telecom advisors have made it abundantly clear the incoming administration intends to gut net neutrality, roll back most consumer broadband protections, and defund and defang the FCC as a broadband consumer watchdog. While deregulation works in some sectors, history makes it abundantly clear that blindly deregulating the broken telecom market only makes the problem worse. Just ask Michael Powell, the former deregulatory-focused FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist, whose blanket deregulatory tenure at the agency helped forge the “Comcast experience” most modern consumers enjoy today.

    • Netflix May Not Be Worried About The Looming Death Of Net Neutrality, But Startups Should Be God-Damned Terrified

      With Trump’s telecom advisors and the remaining FCC Commissioners making it abundantly clear that they intend to gut net neutrality rules and dismantle pretty much all of the FCC’s consumer watchdog functions, there are more than a few worried companies, startups and consumers concerned that the net neutrality fight is about to get downright stupid. One of Trump’s telecom advisors doesn’t even think telecom monopolies are real, which should speak volumes about our looming vacation to dysfunction junction.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • State-led innovation success story for China is also a warning on trade secrets protection

      China manufactures a whopping 38 billion ballpoint pens per year. But making the tip of a pen requires advanced machinery and special steel alloys that were hitherto beyond the grasp of Chinese industry – so manufacturers have relied on importing the tips from countries including Japan, Switzerland and Germany. This may not seem like a matter of huge strategic importance, and it probably isn’t; but when Premier Li Keqiang went on television in 2015 and lamented China’s inability to produce a simple pen with a smooth writing function, it was laden with symbolic significance. The effort to remedy the problem, however, dates back to 2011, when the Ministry of Science and Technology invested $9 million to solve the problem and enlisted state-owned enterprise Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group to lead the effort.

    • Trademarks

      • LA Chargers Already Face Trademark Opposition To Their Name Over The Term ‘L.A.’

        There may be nothing more frustrating than trademarks being granted for terms that serve as simple geographic identifiers. With a couple of recent stories revolving around names of cities, or acronyms of them, it’s probably time to consider whether some kind of official reform of trademark rules needs to be undertaken to keep companies from locking up such broad terms for commercial purposes. And there may be at least a slim chance that this conversation is starting, with the high profile example of the newly minted Los Angeles Chargers NFL team serving as notice.

        It was only this past week that the Chargers finally announced what everyone already knew was going to happen: the team is moving to the city of angels. As is SOP for an organization of its size, the team filed trademark applications for several iterations of its team name, including the term “LA Chargers.” And that, almost immediately, is where the problems began to arise.

      • The Federal Trademark Office Won’t Protect Our Band’s Name, The Slants, Because It Says the Name Is Racist. We’re All Asian-American, By the Way.

        In the name of protecting us against racism, the Patent and Trademark Office denied us our rights based on race.

        I believe in the culture of untrammeled free speech.

        I don’t block or unfriend people I disagree with on social media. I actively engage with them. Despite the prevailing advice, I read the comments section. It isn’t out of a hope that I’ll find a source of deep insight on complex issues. I do it because I believe it is important to connect with others who hold opposing beliefs. To me, an open exchange of ideas, even when I personally disagree with a viewpoint, is an integral part of living in a free democracy.

        That’s what makes it all the more frustrating that I’ve spent almost a quarter of my life fighting the government simply because they don’t think it is appropriate for an Asian-American band to use the term “slant.” Today I take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Hating Mississippi Attorney General Sues Company… With Ammo From EFF

        We’ve written a fair amount about Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood over the years, with a major focus on his factually-challenged hatred of Google, that may or may not be influenced by Hood’s heavy funding from Hollywood. What is known, however, is that the MPAA, quite clearly, decided to use Hood as a pawn in its campaign to attack Google. The Sony Pictures hack from a few years back revealed a detailed plan, put together by the MPAA, to funnel money and resources to Hood solely for the purpose of attacking Google with questionable legal claims. Hood’s first attempt to do so (with letters that were literally written by the MPAA’s lawyers) effectively failed, following a legal challenge from Google.

        Hood, of course, is not one to give up, so he’s back again with a lawsuit filed against Google, arguing that the company has violated student privacy with its Google Apps for Education. If this sounds vaguely familiar, here’s the twist: this is the same basic complaint that the EFF complained about in a filing to the FTC a year and a half ago. The EFF, of course, actively fought Jim Hood in his initial attack on Google, so it’s a neat trick by Hood (and, perhaps, the MPAA?) to now use the EFF’s own legal arguments against Google.

      • The Perils of Secrecy in Copyright Rulemaking

        When a big corporation seeks special-interest laws to boost its profits at the expense of the broader public interest, it naturally gravitates towards the most secretive lawmaking venue possible. This is why Hollywood’s copyright maximalists have invested so much in international trade agreements, where negotiations over copyright rules take place behind closed doors, and negotiators take the advice of secretive, industry-dominated advisory panels.

        Last year, that tactic backfired—big time. After five wasted years of taxpayer-funded flights around the world, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) dramatically imploded, frustrating big media’s plans to extend the term of copyright protection across the Pacific rim, to set broken U.S. rules on DRM in concrete, and to turn some cases of non-commercial copyright infringements into international crimes.

      • ISP Says it Won’t Send BREIN’s Anti-Piracy Warnings

        ISP Ziggo says it will not send warning notices to file-sharers on behalf of Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN. The ISP, which is the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, has declared itself a neutral access provider that won’t become involved in enforcing third-party rights.

      • Internet Freedom Day: How Massive ‘Blackout’ Protests Killed Two Anti-Piracy Bills

        Five years ago today the Internet went on strike to fight SOPA and PIPA, two anti-piracy bills. As part of the historic protests tech giants such as Google and Wikipedia stood by many smaller players in a massive “Internet blackout,” which helped to defeat the bills. Since then, January 18 has become known online as “Internet Freedom Day.”

      • 5 Years Later, Victory Over SOPA Means More than Ever

        It would have happened slowly at first. A broken hyperlink here and there. A few Google searches with links leading to nowhere. In the beginning, global users of the web would have barely noticed pieces of the Internet going dark.

        Then there may have been a few investigative journalists piecing things together, and then more coverage as mainstream media picked it up. Adversaries of the open web would have grown bolder, attacking larger and larger websites. Services and companies that we enjoyed would have been shut down or drastically changed. Some sites would never have existed at all, but Internet users would never really know what they were missing.

        The increasingly rigid control of the Internet would have turned surfing the web into an experience more like surfing television stations—moving from one controlled, expensive online platform to the next—than the strange maze of eccentric, eclectic information flows that we have today.

        In a few generations, the wildness of the web would have been extinguished.

Corporate (Wall Street) Media Agrees That Brexit Dooms the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is what the EPO said in 2015 (every year the UPC is “ready” or “about to start”)…

Benoît Battistelli quote

Summary: The nonstop lies or the fake news about the UPC starting “real soon now” don’t quite pass a reality check or a basic assessment based on fundamental concepts, such as the UPC’s facilitation of subordination (to Europe) in the United Kingdom

THERESA May may indeed have just killed the UPC, based on her historic speech which was delivered earlier this week. We already published a couple of articles about it and this one person drew our attention to a a new article by Peter Leung from Bloomberg BNA. “U.K.’s ‘Hard Brexit’ Plans May Undermine Patent Court” says the headline and here is the opening part with a succinct explanation:

The U.K.’s plan to join the proposed Europe-wide patent court could run into conflict with Prime Minister Theresa May’s desire to leave the jurisdiction of the European Union’s highest court.

May’s Jan. 17 speech promised to “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain.”

However, decisions by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) will be binding on the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

May’s speech highlights the fact that the fate of the UPC is closely intertwined with the complex negotiations over the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.

In November, the U.K. announced that it would ratify the UPC agreement even though it will leave the EU. The new patent court is expected to start operations in 2017 and will have jurisdiction over a new unified patent right to have effect in most of Europe.

“The decision to proceed with ratification should not be seen as pre-empting the U.K.’s objectives or position in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU,” the U.K. Intellectual Property Office told Bloomberg BNA in an emailed statement.

The above, for a change, involved some fact-checking. Many publications these days, especially in the area of patents (or IP, which would mean also trademarks, copyrights etc.), are used/exploited/hijacked by Team UPC and/or the patent microcosm to promote the UPC based on jingoistic lies. They do the same thing to high-profile blogs. We have grown tired of that and recently adopted the label “fake news” in rebutting that noise.

“We need a strike in the UK against the Unitary Patent,” Benjamin Henrion wrote this week, as there is threat of “software patents via the backdoor” (as we covered here before).

“Shall the need arise,” I told him, we can set up a petition and call for protests, but “for now they’re just waffling over a dead UPC…”

There are attempts to fool or to shame the system into the will of UPC hopefuls. Those who are sober realists are being painted as having embraced a more extreme view. Take this new blog post for instance. “Ultimately,” it says, “whether the argument is accepted by the government and argued for strongly will depend not on its detailed, technical merits but whether it is acceptable to enough Tory MPs and right-wing newspapers. There are plenty of other areas of international trade where similar arguments are being raised. For example, representatives of the Law Society and English Bar made similar points about the mutual recognition of court judgments in the UK and EU, post-Brexit, when they gave oral evidence to the House of Lords’ Justice Sub-Committee recently.”

The matter of fact is, businesses in the UK — or Europe as a whole for that matter — do not want the UPC (they're being talked about — not for — by the patent microcosm). Most of them don’t even know what the heck it stands for and what on Earth the UPC is or does. Those who think they know what the UPC would do often base it on misinformation, as they have been lied to by the patent microcosm (see this week's example of fake news in ‘Financial Director’).

The “Unitary Patent,” says Gérald Sédrati-Dinet this week, “after 6 years, arguments I’ve raised on http://unitary-patent.eu are still valid” (links to some other fake news).

Remember he was threatened by the EPO, just like us. These people are bullying dissenting voices; they want to silence UPC antagonists.

It turns out that there is yet another barrier to the UPC, other than Brexit and Spain’s persistent refusal to accept the UPC. According to this tweet, which links to a new article in Polish, “Poland [is] yet not ready to join European Unitary Patent System | WTS Rzecznicy Patentowi @MSZ_RP @PremierRP http://wtspatent.pl/aktualnosci/patent-europejski-ze-skutkiem-jednolitym/”

“And if not dead,” asks the following comment, “is the UPP mortally wounded?”

Well it is dead unless it somehow gets resurrected, which is almost an impossibility in nature, unless one has strong religious beliefs (like a lot of the UPC echo chamber, where people just preach to their choir and say to each other what they want to hear). The UPC is dead/dying. But nobody wants to say it. Here is the full comment:

TM has now ruled out the CJEU having “direct” legal authority in the UK. Does this mean that the unitary patent project has just been killed (despite the UK, rather bizarrely, having previously indicated its willingness to proceed)?

And if not dead, is the UPP mortally wounded? It is now crystal-clear that the UK will no longer be an EU Member State, most likely by 2019. But the current wording of the UPC Agreement and the UP Regulations rather heavily rely upon all “Participating” Member States being EU Members. This affects pretty much every founding principle of the UPP, including issues such as unitary effect / character, legal personality of the UPC and scope / enforcement of decisions of the UPC… and there are no signs yet of any plans to “fix” those problems.

Based upon current signs, it seems that the political will is to press on regardless. But placing such a huge gamble on the system being able to survive Brexit seems absurd. The UK may feel that it will gain influence by getting the UPC up and running before Brexit… but it will then become a hostage to fortune with regard to the inevitable challenge at the CJEU, alleging non-compliance of the UPP with EU law. At that point, the UK will have no representation at the CJEU. So what will the UK then do if the EU Member States decide to kick out the non-EU country in order to preserve the system?

Here is another (longer) comment on the subject, latched just yesterday onto an article from 3 years ago:

Darren: I have an off-the-wall question for you. Can a “unitary” European Patent have unitary effect in a “Participating Member State” (PMS) that has not ratified the UPCA?

I had always presumed that the answer is a clear “no”. However, the rather loose wording used in Reg. 1257/2012 has given me pause for thought. Let me explain why.

Art. 2(a) of Reg. 1257/2012 defines a “PMS” essentially as an EU MS that participates in Enhanced Cooperation under Decision 2011/167/EU (or subsequent decision) in connection with unitary patents. That definition of PMSs clearly includes countries that have not ratified the UPCA.

So this begs the question of whether Reg. 1257/2012 limits the unitary effect of an EPUE to only certain PMSs.

Art. 5(2) is one example of a provision of Reg. 1257/2012 that refers to PMSs in which an EPUE has unitary effect. This of course implies that there can be PMSs in which the EPUE does not have unitary effect… a concept that is confirmed by the 2nd paragraph of Art. 18(2).

However, what is meant in Art. 18(2) by “participating Member States in which the Unified Patent Court has exclusive jurisdiction with regard to European patents with unitary effect”? The UPCA does not talk about “exclusive jurisdiction”, but rather “exclusive competence”. Further, the “exclusive competence”, as defined in Art. 32 UPCA does not have any geographical limits. (The opposite is true for the territorial scope of the decisions of the UPC, as defined by Art. 34 UPCA… but the question of where a decision has effect is completely separate from the question of where a patent has effect.)

Of course, this is where Art. 17(2) or Art. 18(5) of Reg. 1257/2012 could help. Those provisions require PMSs to update the Commission with progress made in updating national laws to ensure no “double” (unitary / national) protection. That is, those countries that do not notify the Commission under Art. 17(2) or 18(5) might be deemed to be PMSs in which there can be no unitary effect.

However, it seems absurd to interpret the territorial effect of an EU Regulation (which, of course, has direct effect regardless of national implementation) by reference to actions taken, or not taken, under national law.

Indeed, if ratification of the UPCA were a prerequisite to an EPUE having unitary effect in a PMS, then why does Reg. 1257/2012 not explicitly say so? After all, ratification progress is mentioned in Art. 18(3)… but with no apparent connection to Art. 18(2).

Also, what are we to make of the mis-match between “exclusive jurisdiction” in Reg. 1257/2012 and “exclusive competence” in the UPCA (bearing in mind the small areas of retained competence of the national courts, as well as the shared competence during the transitional period)?

If we can answer all of the above points, then I suspect that the answer to your original question will also emerge. Indeed, there will likely be a way found for the UPC and national courts to clearly distinguish between EPC Contracting States that are “ratified” PMSs, “non-ratified” PMSs, non-PMS EU MSs and non-EU MSs. But whether that distinction will survive Brexit is another question entirely…

People who are actually in this profession know deep inside that the UPC is unlikely to happen (certainty true in the UK). But what they say publicly is just a futile attempt to persuade young and inexperienced (especially in this area) politicians like Jo Johnson. We oughtn’t let them get away with the spreading of falsehoods.

Farce of an ‘Independence’ for the Boards of Appeal as Another Ally of Benoît Battistelli Enters as Parasite Inside the ‘Overseer’/Host

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Mole’ or ‘rat’ a more derogatory way to put it in such scenarios…

A mouse trap

Summary: The latest cluster of lies from the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) and direct refutation of false claims of independence for the Boards of Appeal, where the former Vice-Presidents can flock, just like the Mini Minion (Minnoye) of Battistelli

Pinocchio Battistelli, after a month of almost complete silence (the longest he has managed to go on without lying to the public), resumed his lying today. He speaks (warning: epo.org link) of “further improvements” in his so-called ‘blog’, but actually patent quality declined sharply, a lot of experienced examiners are leaving, and the EPO has become a laughing stock not just in Europe but in the whole world.

Battistelli, who is known for his fantasy world (either living in extreme denial or just lying habitually and also knowingly) boasts “best value for all our stakeholders” and “high quality”. This new caricature of EPO workers calling out "Bullshit!" comes to mind. Here is the complete paragraph from Pinocchio Battistelli: “It is clear from our preliminary results that filings have continued to rise during 2016. As an administering organisation, it is our job – no matter what the figures – to ensure that we are delivering the very best value for all our stakeholders; to our users, high quality, competitive services; for our member states, a modern international organisation that supports the European economy and its inventors; and, to our staff, an organisation that prepares its future on solid ground through investments and that appropriately rewards their achievements.”

It’s not hard to see that the above paragraph is full of lies. Battistelli is also lying about the UPC today, pretending that it’s coming this year (he says so every year and it’s always turning out to have been a lie). Here is the full paragraph: “The potential arrival of the unitary patent is set to be one of the most significant developments this year. 2016 was a mixed year for the UPP, with further UPC ratifications and a Brexit vote that caused speculation on its future. Now, following the UK’s decision to continue with ratification of the UPC, 2017 may well be the year in which the EPO administers the very first unitary patent. While the UPC is set to bring greater legal certainty to the European patent system, there will also be judicial developments at the EPO itself. The reform of the boards of appeal, adopted last year, is set to enhance perceptions of independence and managerial efficiency. This spring will see the start of the mandate of the new President of the BoA and the BoA unit is scheduled to relocate to a specific building this summer.”

That last part is one among many misleading claims (we don’t have time to rebut them all, including parts of about the UPC, which will be the subject of our next post), but when Pinocchio speaks of “perceptions of independence” he is talking out of his back hole again.

Based on some of the latest comments in IP Kat, for instance, not only Battistelli's ‘pet chinchilla’ Patricia García-Escudero is in the supposedly independent management. See this comment:

What a pity VP1 lacked examination experience.
Otherwise he could have continued service in the ranks of the examiners.

Just like VP3 who following his departure as Vice-President is now a common or garden legal member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal …

http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/171AFEDA714D60A2C125807C004D801E/$File/Enlarged_Board_of_Appeal_BDS_01_01_2017.pdf

“Sorry to hear about VP1,” another person responded. “He hasn’t been as fortunate as the former VP3 who apparently continues in service as a normal legal member of the Boards of Appeal.”

“Apparently,” said the above person. “the Kat is intent on censoring my comments referring to the fact that the a former Vice_President remains in service as a legal member of the Boards of Appeal.” This person later retracted this claim and wrote: “I take it all back. The Kat has apparently managed to extract my previous comments from its fluffball spam-filter…”

We wrote about censorship of comments over there at IP Kat several times before, even when these comments were very much needed (and polite).

Either way, the above continued with: “It means that he is a (legal) member (but not chairman!) of the Enlarged Board of Appeal rather than of a simple Board of Appeal.”

Finally came a clearer explanation with a reference:

Not just the Enlarged Board of Appeal.
He is a member of the Legal Board.
Check the business distribution for the Technical Boards.

https://www.epo.org/law-practice/case-law-appeals/business-distribution.html

He is assigned as a legal member to Boards 3.2.04 and 3.4.03.

So then… how much of an independence will these boards have? In some sense, the EPO continues to get worse than ever and the management sets itself up for more scandals.

As mentioned in this post yesterday, there is a new article in French about the EPO and someone noticed it, then wrote: “Article today in Le Canard Enchainé with a very pertinent cartoon !”

Here is the cartoon in question (below). Not to worry; we’ll end this secrecy.

French EPO cartoon

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