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05.02.17

At IAM Event in Korea, Patent Trolls in the Panels and Advocacy of Software Patents From the EPO

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 10:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IAM and the EPO remain joined at the hip

IAM events

Summary: With the ‘good company’ of the EPO, IAM organises an event in Korea (IPBC Korea), which conveniently enough happens to be exploited for software patents and UPC purposes

THE EPO spends (wastes) a lot of money on media companies. Right now, for instance, it’s planting a lot of paid coverage about ‘European Inventor Award’ (we’ll come to that later).

“Where were the techies? Not invited? Blocked? Conveniently excluded?”Among the recipients of support and money (from the EPO's PR agency) there is that incognito site called IAM, which Battistelli really, really loves citing. Last year they did a pro-UPC event in the United States (the screenshot at the top is from there) and last week they did something similar in Korea. Was it an event for inventors? Of course not. Where were the techies? Not invited? Blocked? Conveniently excluded? Under “Speakers”, the site of IPBC Korea lists 20 individuals and they are all management or “IP” people. Let’s face it, that’s just a think tank or an echo chamber with MC Jacob Schindler from IAM as the “presenter” (staged, stacked panels). Technicolor, a patent troll which we wrote about earlier this year [1, 2], was in the panels. In IAM’s own words:

Something else that’s particularly relevant to Korean corporates given their important status in the global supply chain is the thorny issue of what to do when enforcing IP rights comes into conflict with keeping customers happy. Panellists including Park, Technicolor’s Deirdre Leane and AT&T’s Scott Taylor agreed that one of the worst conversations a head of IP can have is when the CEO wants to a know why a major customer has been sued with current or former patents. As Korean companies continue to be more active in the sales market, including in NPE deals, that’s something they are going to have to increasingly keep in mind. It may also mean pointing out uncomfortable hard truths to CEOs who are pushing for those high returns Park cautioned about – potentially a big cultural challenge in the kind of corporate hierarchies prevalent in so many Korean businesses.

“NPE” is just a euphemism for patent trolls (like Technicolor) and AT&T is hardly representative of innovation. It’s mostly renowned (or notorious) for mass surveillance. Some legal experts in Korea say that Korea’s patent office (KIPO) has bans on software patents, but not everyone agrees with them.

“Some legal experts in Korea say that Korea’s patent office (KIPO) has bans on software patents, but not everyone agrees with them.”Anyway, a “keynote presentation” there was given by a familiar person… Grant Philpott.

It takes us back to the days when EPO sent us legal threats. Back then IAM published something from him which we repeatedly said must not be published. IAM betrays sources. It’s not a professional news site, just a lobbying apparatus and at times the megaphone of the EPO. IAM should not be taken seriously; it usually does PR, it doesn’t speak anonymously to or for someone.

“IAM betrays sources. It’s not a professional news site, just a lobbying apparatus and at times the megaphone of the EPO.”Yesterday IAM wrote: “The EPO’s principal director for information and communications technology Grant Philpott gave a keynote presentation which placed significant emphasis on software patents, an area of the law that is generating significant regional differences in approach.”

Like his colleagues (earlier this year), Philpott likes to push for software patents in Europe even though it’s verboten.

“So far, everything we have ever said about the UPC turned out to be true.”“His colleague Reinoud Hesper,” IAM continued, “followed up with a deep dive on what Korean companies can expect from the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court.”

Battistelli’s right-hand henchwoman recently embedded herself in Korean media with lies about the UPC. Margot first, now Reinoud Hesper. What next?

A short while ago IAM wrote that the “UK gov has no coherent Brexit strategy, so it would be wrong to think it has a thought-through approach to the UPC.”

“Helped by IAM, the EPO continues to embed itself in all sorts of conferences (usually attended by Margot, especially when Managing IP sets it all up) and even though Korea virtually banned software patents, this is no taboo subject there.”“The UPC proponents like to make up, distort, [and] lie about the government’s stance on Unitary Patent,” I told them.

So far, everything we have ever said about the UPC turned out to be true. We challenge anyone out there to prove otherwise. We have studied and written about the UPC for nearly a decade and we’re not paid to lie about it.

We’ve been asking around for additional input about the above IAM event. Helped by IAM, the EPO continues to embed itself in all sorts of conferences (usually attended by Margot, especially when Managing IP sets it all up) and even though Korea virtually banned software patents, this is no taboo subject there. “I guess that being member of the WTO,” one person from the UK (Paolo) told me, “South Korea will have to enforce other countries sw [software] patents. Banning the possibility of patenting a SW doesn’t means you can ignore other countries patents or you’ll get some forms of retaliations.”

“Is the EPO prepared to give awards (at the expense of EPO stakeholders) to those whose work fed patent trolls?”The EPO is trying to get Korea into the fold, though, rather than accept Korea’s arguments against software patents. “That was my point,” Paolo told me, and “in [the] future UPC are controlled by the usual lobbyists & corporations.”

Like the ones that receive special treatment from the EPO

Going back to the expensive lobbying charade which is ‘European Inventor Award’, the EPO is now listing as contenders people with software patents, e.g. part of the MPEG cartel. Is the EPO prepared to give awards (at the expense of EPO stakeholders) to those whose work fed patent trolls? People like Lars Liljeryd?

“Theranos is a “hall of famer” to the EPO. Says a lot about the EPO.”As a reminder, 2 years ago the EPO under Battistelli promoted and rewarded in 'European Inventor Award' a fraud that now admits culpability (may have caused many deaths by defrauding clients). Based on this morning’s news, “Theranos settles “series of lies” lawsuits from investor that chipped in $96M” and to quote:

On Monday, Theranos announced the settlement of two lawsuits that were in response to an alleged “series of lies.” Both suits had been brought by Partner Fund Management LP, a hedge fund that invested $96.1 million in the blood-testing company.

In the suits, both filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, PFM claimed that Theranos mislead investors about the abilities of its blood-testing technology, the Wall Street Journal reports. One suit sought to recoup PFM’s entire investment, plus damages. The other sought to prevent Theranos from making deals with late-stage investors. Those deals, which can now proceed, will provide additional stock to investors who agree not to sue Theranos.

Theranos is a “hall of famer” to the EPO. Says a lot about the EPO. Theranos shows that lies and corruption can pay off, at least in the short term. Chains of lies such as these often end up in suicide/s.

Speaking of Lars Liljeryd, now a “Finalist for the European Inventor Award 2017,” his work for Dolby Laboratories actually denied public access to work. It may have done more societal damage (not “societal benefit” as the EPO calls it) with those patents.

“Theranos shows that lies and corruption can pay off, at least in the short term.”Today, the FFII’s President wrote, these patents have finally expired (that actually happened some days ago and there was a large discussion about this at Reddit yesterday). Fraunhofer and Technicolor (from IAM’s panel) are also to blame. As he put it this morning: “You could not freely write an encoder for MP3 format, Fraunhofer and Technicolor has been an enemy of freedom…”

That’s just software patents with their terrible impact demonstrated for all to see. And in an act of evergreening they’re now pushing newer and supposedly better patent traps, under the guise of “HEVC” [1, 2]. Clearly, they wish to have us forever trapped, eternally shackled by a thicket of terrible software patents. The EPO is helping them rather than obeying the EPC, the directives, common sense, and public interests. Today’s EPO is a tool of corporate occupation, not a service.

The Patent Microcosm Still Demonises Alice, PTAB, and Patent Reform (AIA)

Posted in America, Deception, Google, Patents at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The efforts to crush patent progress in the United States are too easy to see and very easy to rebut, using simple facts that are being defended by courts

THE misleading characterisations keep flying about and the patent maximalists want us to believe that they stand for innovation. The truth is, most of them just have a degree in law (or none) and have never innovated/invented anything in their entire life. To them, the USPTO is just a cash cow, it’s nothing to do with science and technology. They’ll never openly admit it, but deep inside they can feel it.

“They hate PTAB’s guts with a great passion and they hate anyone who facilitates PTAB, including Michelle Lee.”The patent maximalists are of interest to us. We watch them closely enough to know what they’re up to and which trick/s they have up their sleeve. We rebut their arguments in simple terms that anyone out there can understand and it typically drives them nuts. They insult us, just like they insult judges. Watchtroll is calling PTAB "impotent" and habitually attacks judges. Watchtroll’s writer who recently attacked Michelle Lee was attacking PTAB yesterday, as usual. It’s a lobbying site for patent trolls and their lawyers, so no surprise there. They hate PTAB’s guts with a great passion and they hate anyone who facilitates PTAB, including Michelle Lee. They will never make allies with tweets like these:

Paul Morinville sickened

When challenged, this is what he told me:

Paul Morinville on Google

So conspiracy theories against Michelle Lee turn into conspiracy theories against me. Maybe he also thinks Google is “Illuminati” or something… or that it controls the entire planet, yours truly included (I never worked for Google or even had it as a client at work).

The attacks on PTAB are not limited to the cesspool which is Watchtroll (“IP Watchdog”). Patently-O has been doing the same thing, albeit with a more diplomatic language (the “scholar” façade).

“The attacks on PTAB are not limited to the cesspool which is Watchtroll (“IP Watchdog”).”There are more openings/opportunities for invalidation of patents based on prior art, more so post-AIA (2011), so yesterday and today Patently-O wrote a couple of posts [1, 2] in which the maximalist argued that “a Federal Circuit has interpreted the post-AIA on-sale bar of 35 U.S.C. § 102 to include sales made available to the public (i.e., noticed in an SEC filing), even if the published portion does not fully disclose the invention.”

He said that the “PTO needs to immediately change its rules, and some prosecutors will need to start disclosing again.”

“These issues,” he wrote in a followup post today, “involve an interesting and largely unresolved mix between statutory prior art and “non-statutory bars to patentability.” The outcome of this mix becomes quite relevant and important once we begin focusing on obviousness. The Post-AIA obviousness statute redoubles its focus on the prior art – as such any non-statutory-bars eventually developed by the courts should probably not qualify as prior art for obviousness purposes.”

“Thankfully, however, courts in Japan have been getting tougher on patents and are now closely scrutinising all these rubbish patents.”Put in very similar terms (people with law degrees like to over-complicate things), when someone produces something — with or without a patent — that thing can be considered prior art, obviousness aside. It takes the patenting bar even higher, as many patents (software patents for sure) can be discredited by simply pointing to a working prototype/code that predates the date of filing.

No post about patent maximalism would be complete without IAM’s pearls of ‘wisdom’ (mind the scare quotes for sarcasm). This morning it once again piggybacked Japan (JPO has been used as a lobbying tool of IAM quite routinely as of late) to shame the US into granting abstract patents on business methods. Here is the relevant part:

In the United States, Supreme Court decisions in eBay (2006), Bilski (2010) and Alice (2014) have significantly reduced the prospects of obtaining patent protection on such inventions – as well as of successfully enforcing business method patents where they have been obtained.

In Japan, the reverse appears to be true. Applications for patents on business-related inventions hovered between 2,000 and 4,000 until a massive spike to 19,231 in 2000 – almost a fivefold increase on the figure for 1999 – which the JPO ascribes to the effects of “judgments and litigation over patents on business methods in the United States”. This application rate slowed over the following years, though – unlike the general picture in Japan when it comes to patent filings – business method applications have generally risen in number each year since 2011.

That’s not a good thing. It’s a very, very bad thing. Thankfully, however, courts in Japan have been getting tougher on patents and are now closely scrutinising all these rubbish patents.

The Patent Microcosm and Its Ludicrous New Narrative/Tale That Patent Reform is a Plot of Large Corporations

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 8:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An inversion of narratives in patent reform

Summary: Tackling the misconception that it’s somehow the billionaires and oligarchs/megacorporations who are pursuing patent reform in the United States, rather than many small companies that are suffering from patent trolls (whom they cannot afford to defend against in a court of law)

THE US COURTS, unlike the USPTO, are eager to be tough on patents. They demand proof that patents granted by the USPTO are in fact eligible and they put the burden of proof increasingly on plaintiffs (or petitioners in the case of PTAB).

“A lot of that boils down to pure nonsense and gossip, not facts.”The above tweet matches a pattern that we’ve observed for a number of months. Patent maximalists try to paint their side as the “small guy” and in doing so they create conspiracy theories about Michelle Lee and Google, about corporate ties to reform, and so much more. A lot of that boils down to pure nonsense and gossip, not facts. The above person, who obviously does not want his/her (sur)name known, seemingly pretends that only those 5 companies call for patent reform (they don’t). That’s pure nonsense. The text of the above is reproduced as follows (in case the original tweet gets deleted): “I’m going to keep tweeting this table to remind people how untrue these 5 sound when they cry injury and the need for more patent reform”

I’ve already argued with him/her about it, but it seems pointless. S/He maintains his/her position on this and so do sites like Watchtroll. They pretend they stand for inventors — the very thing their stance keeps harming the most.

“They pretend they stand for inventors — the very thing their stance keeps harming the most.”The account above is called “patentsales” — the very same thing that large corporations like doing. Recall IP3 for example [1, 2]; IAM blogged yesterday that “[t]he news, which was announced today, follows last year’s original IP3, which saw a group of companies from diverse industries come together to build on an initiative that Google had originally undertaken in 2015. This year’s version of the platform will only be available to AST’s 30 members, who include Ford, Google, IBM, Microsoft and recent joiner Uber.”

IAM’s report/blog is titled “Fixed-time patent-buying programme IP3 back again for 2017; but this time it’s different” (remember who’s behind IP3).

Meanwhile, over at Watchtroll, they promote the notion of “intellectual property as a driver of innovation” (that’s the headline) while leaving critical bits aside until late in the report. To quote:

In questioning, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) decided to advance the patent troll narrative and found a perfect sounding box in Eron to do so. “Patent trolls can use weak patents to extract monies,” Klobuchar said. Eron assented, noting that, while she was not an expert in IP laws, her understanding was that low-quality patents hurt Intel’s resources, diverting them from innovative R&D and towards litigation defense. “We do have a problem with patent trolls,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) would later add. “I don’t buy this idea that big guys are trying to squeeze out the small guys, a lot of times they’re looking for those smaller guys to scale up,” Tillis said, noting that app stores are filled with services being brought to the market on platforms provided by larger developers like Google and Apple.

What do they mean by “larger developers like Google and Apple”? Or “those smaller guys”?

There is one main difference between those “larger developers” and “those smaller guys”; one group can afford taking the trolls all the way to the court and invalidate the patent/s in question, whereas the other group cannot.

“For those who allege that United for Patent Reform is some kind of front for Google, Apple etc. watch the complete list of companies they stand for.”United for Patent Reform, which recently defended Michelle Lee for her tough stance on trolls, is quoting Mytheos Holt as saying that “[p]atent trolls “exist purely to register patents and then accuse actual inventors of violating them”” (links to an article we mentioned 2 days ago). It later tweets (with photo) “I stopped innovating. I stopped creating.” –Small business owner Eric Rosebrock on the result of his fight with a patent troll” and also tweets: “Thanks to Darrell Issa for coming to the screening of The Patent Scam today, and for being a champion in the fight to fix patents every day” (we also mentioned “The Patent Scam” 2 days ago).

For those who allege that United for Patent Reform is some kind of front for Google, Apple etc. (that’s the new talking point), watch the complete list of companies they stand for. Here is a current screenshot from the front page (list of backers).

United for Patent Reform

Yeah, those few massive companies… it’s only them behind patent reform. If anything, some of them are behind patent trolls (Microsoft for sure, in a big way) — the very opposite of patent reform.

Links 2/5/2017: Qt 5.9 Beta 3, Slackel 7.0 “Live Openbox”

Posted in News Roundup at 7:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Five Reasons for Enterprise Use of Open Source

    If there is anyplace in the enterprise where the use of open source software is still a hard sell, it’s going to be with management. By now, most workers and managers in IT departments are already sold on open source, and deploy it whenever they can — if they’re allowed to do so.

    Even in this day and age, sometimes they’re not. This is partly because management is often resistant to change, with the attitude that what isn’t broken doesn’t need fixing. Or it might be because in a dog-eat-dog business environment, where buying and selling rules the day, it might be difficult to understand using software that’s neither bought nor sold. You know, if it’s free it can’t be good and all that…

  • The great open-source software debate: Does this model have a future?

    It sounds like a good idea in concept: Outsource costly software development and testing operations to a community of skilled developers who work for free.

    Then take the fruits of their labors and package it up with other add-ons and extensions – also created by other people for free – and sell it to enterprises that can’t be bothered with all the hassle of configuration, installation and support. Undercut your competition’s prices by 90 percent and still make money because your development costs are near zero. Rinse and repeat in other product categories.

  • Rockbox 3.14 Open-Source Jukebox Firmware Released After 4 Years of Development

    Rockbox, an open-source project providing a complete, feature-rich replacement for the proprietary software of numerous digital audio players, putting users in charge of the device, reaches version 3.14 after many years in development.

  • Nextcloud is about collaboration

    Today the Nextcloud community released the Nextcloud 12 beta. The final release will be out later this month. This is a major new step forward. And it is also an interesting release because we are entering a new area for the product.
    At the beginning, 7 years ago the focus was clearly file sync and share. Of course this term did not exist at the time or at least I didn’ know it. The task was to syncronize file between all your devices and share it with others.

  • Nextcloud 12 Beta Released, Focuses On Collaboration Possibilities
  • Events

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD vmm hypervisor: Part 2

      As good as the OpenBSD documentation is (and vmm/vmd/vmctl are no exception) I had to do a lot of fumbling around, and asking on the misc@ mailing list to really get to the point where I understand this stuff as well as I do. These are my notes so far.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Danish OS2 community for open source is professionalising

      OS2, an open source community open to all Danish public agencies, is in the middle of a professionalisation process. “Over the last year, our focus has been on governance,” says Business Manager Rasmus Frey. “We decided on a new organisation and government model at the general assembly last year. This allows us to support projects and products throughout their entire lifecycles, taking them through the various stages of becoming mature open-source projects — to the benefit of the many.”

    • Citizen: ‘Madrid should study switch to open source’

      The city of Madrid (Spain) should do a feasibility study to see if it can switch to free and open source software, one of its citizens has proposed on Consul, the city’s eParticipation portal.

    • Paris social housing reuses Madrid eParticipation portal

      Paris’ public housing agency Régie Immobilière de la Ville de Paris (RIVP) is reusing Consul, the eParticipation portal built by the city of Madrid, available as open source software. RIVP, a city-owned agency, is using the software to gather input on 10 of its social housing projects across the city.

  • Programming/Development

    • PGI Community Edition

      PGI Community Edition includes a no-cost license to a recent release of the PGI Fortran, C and C++ compilers and tools for multicore CPUs and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs, including all OpenACC, OpenMP and CUDA Fortran features. The PGI Community Edition enables development of performance-portable HPC applications with uniform source code across the most widely used parallel processors and systems.

    • PGI 2017 v17.4 Compiler Released

      Yesterday marked an updated release of a community edition build for the NVIDIA-owned PGI code compiler that focuses on code compilation for CPU and GPU execution.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • A Closer Look at the ‘Learning’ Aspect of Machine Learning

      The goal of Machine Learning is to combine existing data with a predefined algorithm like linear regression to minimize the gap between actual and the predicted values. In our scenario, based on 10 rows, we assumed that the salary increase is $1,800. But what if Stack Overflow pays better for developers with 10+ years of experience? If it adds $2,200 per each year after crossing 10 years of experience, our assumptions go haywire. Our formula is hardwired to consider $1,800 as the delta which will break the algorithm when we input anything above 10. This scenario emphasizes the need for additional data. For ML, the more the data, the better the accuracy. This is one of the reasons why public cloud providers are luring customers to bring their data to their respective platforms.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Secure Boot booted from Debian 9 ‘Stretch’

      Debian’s release team has decided to postpone its implementation of Secure Boot.

      In a release update from last week, release team member Jonathan Wiltshire wrote that “At a recent team meeting, we decided that support for Secure Boot in the forthcoming Debian 9 ‘stretch” would no longer be a blocker to release. The likely, although not certain outcome is that stretch will not have Secure Boot support.’

    • Intel Confirms Vulnerability In Intel AMT/ME

      Many of you already have expressed your displeasure over Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) and Management Engine (ME) for various reasons in the past and now it’s been disclosed that for years there has been a vulnerability in this business-oriented feature that could open your Intel systems up to attackers.

      Intel Active Management Technology, Intel Small Business Technology, and Intel Standard Manageability are subject to a hole allowing an unprivileged attacker to gain control of the management features for these products. The issue was made public today via INTEL-SA-00075.

    • Intel Active Management Technology, Intel Small Business Technology, and Intel Standard Manageability Escalation of Privilege
    • Intel patches remote code-execution bug that lurked in chips for 10 years

      Remote management features that have shipped with Intel processors for almost a decade contain a critical flaw that gives attackers full control over the computers that run on vulnerable networks. That’s according to an an advisory published Monday afternoon by Intel.

      Intel has released a patch for the vulnerability, which resides in the chipmaker’s Active Management Technology, Intel Small Business Technology, and Intel Standard Manageability. Business customers who buy computers running vPro processors use those services to remotely administer large fleets of computers. The bug doesn’t affect chips running on consumer PCs. The chipmaker has rated the vulnerability critical and is recommending vulnerable customers install a firmware patch.

    • Intel’s remote AMT vulnerablity

      Intel chipsets for some years have included a Management Engine, a small microprocessor that runs independently of the main CPU and operating system. Various pieces of software run on the ME, ranging from code to handle media DRM to an implementation of a TPM. AMT is another piece of software running on the ME, albeit one that takes advantage of a wide range of ME features.

    • On reCAPTCHA Dread

      I wanted to read Matthew Garrett’s post on Intel’s remote AMT vulnerability, but since I’m using Private Internet Access, Cloudflare has gated it behind reCAPTCHA. reCAPTCHA is much, much harder than it used to be. Although there seem to be a couple of other variants, nowadays you’re generally expected to identify squares that contain street signs and squares that contain mountains. Now either the answer key is regularly wrong, or I just don’t know what street signs and mountains are. You’d think the former… but there actually is a good degree of ambiguity in selecting which squares to tag. Do I only tag all the squares that contain the signage-portion of the sign, or do I also tag the squares containing the signpost? (The former seems to work better, in my experience.) What if only a little bit of the sign extends into a particular square? (Jury’s out.) What if there are very distant signs in the background of the image, with many big signs in the foreground: should the distant signs be tagged too? And what constitutes a mountain anyway? Most of the “mountains” I see in the reCAPTCHA images look more like impressive hills to me. My guess is that reCAPTCHA wants me to tag any bit of elevated land as a mountain, but who knows, really.

    • Remote security exploit in all 2008+ Intel platforms

      The short version is that every Intel platform with AMT, ISM, and SBT from Nehalem in 2008 to Kaby Lake in 2017 has a remotely exploitable security hole in the ME (Management Engine) not CPU firmware. If this isn’t scary enough news, even if your machine doesn’t have SMT, ISM, or SBT provisioned, it is still vulnerable, just not over the network. For the moment. From what SemiAccurate gathers, there is literally no Intel box made in the last 9+ years that isn’t at risk. This is somewhere between nightmarish and apocalyptic.

    • Vulnerability hits Intel enterprise PCs going back 10 years
    • 6 signs enterprise security is getting better [Ed: This Microsoft employee will not want to say it, but shift away from Windows contributes to security]
    • Welsh Linux Mint terror nerd jailed for 8 years [Ed: For second time in one week El Reg links Linux Mint to terror even though it could just as well be (often is) Windows. Next time, when El Reg writes an article about terrorists and they are Windows users, will it point that out in the headline? And if not, why not?]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • War: Missing from Public Response to Trump, but Urgent
    • Tony Blair says it’s hard to be hated [iophk: "he could clear the air by voluntarily turning himself over to The Hague for war crimes trial"]

      Tony Blair has admitted he finds it hard to be hated by some people. The former Prime Minister, who swept to power on a surge of popularity 20 years ago, also insisted the image of him concentrating on making money around the world since he left office in 2007 was wrong.

      Asked how he felt about being considered toxic by some and hated by others, Mr Blair told GQ magazine: “Yep, it’s hard. It’s all about coming to terms with the fact that when you’re running for power you can be all things to all people.

    • U.S. Signals Possible Airstrikes in Somalia by Asking Aid Groups for Their Locations

      U.S. officials this week requested the geographic coordinates of aid groups working in Somalia, according to a document obtained by The Intercept — a move that could indicate an escalation of military action against the Shabab. The notice to NGOs comes a month after President Trump declared portions of the country an “area of active hostilities,” giving the military wider scope to launch strikes that could potentially kill more civilians.

      “Due to the need for increased operational security in Somalia, and based on best practices in other complex emergencies, humanitarian and development organizations may want to provide information about their fixed locations in Somalia for deconfliction,” states the letter, written by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and intended for “all international and local humanitarian and development organizations with operations in Somalia.” Aid groups have an extensive presence in Somalia, where the government declared a state of disaster in February due to crippling drought and food shortages.

    • The Risk of Brushing Aside Intelligence

      The mainstream U.S. media, which knows President Trump disdains facts, accepted his claims about the April 4 Syrian chemical incident without question and ignored doubts of intelligence analysts, a dilemma that Lawrence Davidson addresses.

    • Giving Peace a Chance in Korea

      As the Trump administration rattles the sabers over North Korea and its nuclear-weapons program, peace advocates are countering with warnings about the grave dangers if war breaks out on the peninsula and expressions of hope if fresh thinking about peace and reconciliation can prevail.

      “If we are ever going to build the critical mass of an anti-war movement with a U.S. social movement,” said Christine Ahn, the former executive director of the Korea Policy Institute and currently the International Coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, “we have to fight together now, to put an end to this saber rattling, and potential first strike that the U.S. may conduct on North Korea.”

    • Meet Britain’s Nuclear Nutcase: Defense Secretary Micheal Fallon

      Michael Fallon’s recent claim that Britain under Theresa May’s leadership would be willing to launch a preemptive nuclear strike confirms what many suspected – namely that the British people are being ruled by a clutch of certifiable fanatics who will get us all destroyed unless they can be reined in, and soon. The Defence Secretary’s stupendously stupid statement came in the same week that the BBC’s Andrew Marr asked Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn in an interview if there were any circumstances in which he would launch nuclear weapons?

      Both taken together suggest that the moral sickness that has long pervaded the country’s privately educated elite, when it comes to unleashing wars against poor countries abroad and attacking poor people at home, has progressed into the realms of actual insanity. Have we seriously now entered an age when nuclear weapons are considered anything other than an abomination that no civilized country or non-sociopathic human being would ever contemplate using for more than a second?

    • Trump sends US Troops to Patrol Turkish-Syrian Border as Ankara Threatens US Allies

      So Trump had to order US military personnel up to the Turkish-Syrian border to put themselves between the Turkish troops and the Syrian YPG. The US military is now protecting the YPG with its own bodies, from a NATO ally.

    • How can we explain radicalisation among Central Asia’s migrants?

      While few Central Asians have joined the Taliban and other Islamists in Afghanistan, many more have gone to join the so-called Islamic State. Estimates vary widely, reflecting the difficulty of tracking recruits who cross multiple borders, but perhaps somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 Central Asian citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq in the past five years. Central Asian militants were involved in the June 2016 Ataturk airport attack and January 2017 nightclub attack, both in Istanbul. Central Asians have certainly grabbed headlines with attacks in recent months. But these are not the first signs that global jihadism is spreading to Central Asia.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Coal Miners’ Futures in Renewable Energy

      President Trump has scored political points by touting coal-mining jobs, but he could create more real jobs in coal country by recognizing the potential for renewable-energy jobs, says Jonathan Marshall.

    • American climate refugees could flee inland

      If humans go on burning ever greater volumes of fossil fuel, then dramatic rises in sea levels could turn 13 million US citizens into climate refugees and send them fleeing inland – many of them to Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix.

      This latest study, in Nature Climate Change, builds on an earlier assessment of what could happen in 319 American coastal counties if sea levels rise 1.8 metres by 2100.

    • Donald Trump Is Slashing Programs Linking Climate Change to U.S. National Security

      Over the last several decades, top government officials and even military brass have come to view climate change as a national security issue. Under President Barack Obama, the notion was codified through recognition of the link by the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, the State Department, and the National Intelligence Council. Now, President Donald Trump, with nearly all the government’s climate change work in his crosshairs, is poised to dramatically scale back environmental security programs — perhaps eliminating many entirely — through dramatic budget cuts.

    • Berta Cáceres’ Sister Speaks Out About the Ongoing Assassinations of Land Defenders in Honduras

      The People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., also called attention to the perilous climate for environmental justice activists worldwide, where an increasing number of land and water defenders are being murdered for their organizing efforts. During the march, we spoke with Neery Carrillo, the sister of murdered Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres.

    • California driving the energy storage market through groundbreaking legislation: new case study

      The Climate Group has published a new case study assessing how California is implementing innovative legislation to drive the energy storage market and support the state’s ambitious climate targets.

      The case study is part of The Climate Group’s Energy Transition Platform – a global initiative supporting highly industrialized sub-national governments in accelerating the low carbon transition. It addresses California’s strategy to support the uptake of emerging energy storage technologies and provide market security to investors and suppliers through a procurement target for utilities.

  • Finance

    • Organising against the gig economy: lessons from Latin America?

      Workers in the so-called ‘gig economy’ face heightening conditions of precarity and exploitation. From delivery couriers to taxi drivers, this series has shown that conditions of work are increasingly deleterious and show little sign of improvement.

      To combat this, innovative new strategies of organisation and mobilisation have been developed. New, and more direct, tactics of trade union struggle have been at the heart of successful disputes led by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain in London and via spontaneous strikes by Uber drivers and others across the USA, the UK, France, and beyond.

      [...]

      Third, where Uber and Lyft – the two dominant ride-sharing companies of the gig economy – have sought to establish themselves in major cities –in Argentina and Brazil, for example – a combination of worker protest and regulation has contained their ambition.

    • Britain’s complacency over Brexit will end in humiliation

      Most countries think they are special, but few have ever allowed their sense of exceptionalism to damage their interests in the way Britain is doing. British politicians, business leaders and newspaper editors are remarkably confident that Britain will flourish outside the EU. While both France and Germany sometimes bridle at the EU, neither seriously thinks that the EU diminishes their ability to pursue their interests. There is no justification for British over-confidence. The UK needs the EU as much as the Germans or French do.

    • Trust in our own strength: the African Movement of Working Children and Youth in Senegal

      From 18 February to 2 March 2017, a group from Germany travelled to Senegal to learn, among other things, about the African Movement of Working Children and Youth. It met with grassroots groups in Saint-Louis and Thiès and had the opportunity to talk extensively with delegates on the aims, activities, and experiences of the movement. The movement is active in 27 countries in Africa and has almost one million members. It has been officially recognised as representing the interests of working children and youth, and is accredited as an observer organisation by the African Union.

    • Apple’s cash reserves swell to $250bn

      In January, Apple said reserves had increased by $8.5bn to $246bn. More than $230bn was parked at offshore subsidiaries, the biggest overseas holdings of any non-financial company.

    • Apple has a record $250 billion in the bank

      When it reports its quarterly financial results on Tuesday, Apple will likely have a quarter-trillion dollars in cash in the bank.

      [...]

      Some 93 percent of the company’s cash and other liquid assets are kept overseas.

    • A simple people’s Brexit plan can replace May’s flawed strategy

      What galaxy are you in? That’s the real question posed by this election and one our political system is not designed to answer.

      After a disastrous dinner at Downing Street last week, Jean-Claude Juncker briefed Angela Merkel that Theresa May was in a “different galaxy” to those negotiating on behalf of the EU27.

      May expects Britain to leave Europe while paying nothing; she expects her threat to walk away without an agreement to achieve a trade deal as good as single-market membership; she expects the talks to remain secret. Juncker gently explained that all these expectations were illusory. He warned that the British prime minister was “deluding herself” and that there is now more than a 50% chance that Britain will crash out of Europe without a deal in place.

    • Returning to the Roots of Case Farms’ Workforce

      For 25 years, Mayans from an isolated string of villages in the northwestern highlands of Guatemala have made their way to blue-collar towns in Ohio and North Carolina to work in Case Farms chicken plants. The unusual migration began after a Case Farms human resources manager recruited a group of Guatemalan civil war refugees who’d been working in the orange groves and tomato fields around Indiantown, Florida.

    • Sold for Parts

      By late afternoon, the smell from the Case Farms chicken plant in Canton, Ohio, is like a pungent fog, drifting over a highway lined with dollar stores and auto parts shops. When the stink is at its ripest, it means that the day’s 180,000 chickens have been slaughtered, drained of blood, stripped of feathers and carved into pieces — and it’s time for workers like Osiel López Pérez to clean up. On April 7, 2015, Osiel put on bulky rubber boots and a white hard hat, and trained a pressurized hose on the plant’s stainless steel machines, blasting off the leftover grease, meat and blood.

    • The latest polls show most people think Brexit was a mistake. This could be a turning point

      When Theresa May called her opportunistic general election, she claimed that the public was getting behind Brexit. She just needed an endorsement from voters to stop the rotters in Westminster from denying the will of the people.

      May’s assertion was always patently ridiculous, as her opponents were swift to point out. She secured a thumping majority in the Commons for her Article 50 bill – a profoundly undemocratic piece of legislation that is the nearest this country has seen to an Enabling Act – in the House of Commons.

    • Is the Philippines really the best country for female social entrepreneurs?

      But is the Philippines the best country in the world for female social entrepreneurs?

      That was the conclusion of a 2016 study by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Deutsche Bank and the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network. It ranked the Philippines first, followed by Russia and Norway.

      Also in the top ten were Malaysia, China, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The study suggested that women in Asia succeed as social entrepreneurs because there is “a fairer playing field and higher drive to put compassion over valuation.”

    • Tennessee’s Billionaire Governor Works With His Corporate Buddies to Privatize Government Jobs

      Tennessee’s state government has inked a sweetheart deal with a company linked to the state’s billionaire governor to privatize thousands of facilities and management jobs at colleges, prisons, and other public buildings.

      It’s being touted by some officials in other states as a model for the nation.

      The $330 million, five-year contract covers custodial services, groundskeeping, and repair and maintenance work. Government officials say that each public facility can choose to only partially comply, or opt out, keeping their employees on the public payroll. “If they’re happy with business as usual, there’s nothing to do,” said Michelle Martin, a spokeswoman for the office that issued the contract.

      But Gov. Bill Haslam has been adamant about the need to outsource state jobs. And any facility considering outsourcing will no longer be able to seek quotes from a variety of bidders. Their only choice, according to a master contract signed last Friday, will be to hire Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the world’s largest facilities management firm. Under a process called “vested outsourcing,” JLL actually helped write the contract.

    • UK’s Brexit plan poses a risk to nuclear industry – lawmakers

      Britain’s plan to leave the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) when it exits the European Union will severely hinder nuclear trade and research, and threaten power supplies, a UK parliamentary committee said in a report on Tuesday.

      The government says Britain must leave Euratom as part of its goal to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice when the country leaves the EU.

      Euratom is the EU’s framework for nuclear energy safety and development, establishing a European market for goods and services and compliance with international safeguards to control the use of uranium and plutonium.

    • Time to Recall a Progressive ‘Truly Great’ First 100 Days

      Franklin Roosevelt’s first “Hundred Days” of 1933, in which the newly-elected president and a Democratic-controlled Congress confronted the ravages of the Great Depression by enacting an unprecedented roster of 15 major new laws, have haunted the egomaniacal Donald Trump – and his own first 100 days as president have fascinated the media. While Trump in his own inimical way has been both dismissing the significance of the first 100 days and hyping the greatness of his own presidential performance in the course of those days, journalists and pundits have been keeping scorecards on him. But no consensus has emerged.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How ‘Russiagate’ Got So Much Momentum

      One of the most promising progressives to arrive in Congress this year, Rep. Jamie Raskin from the Maryland suburbs of D.C., promptly drank what might be called the “Klinton Kremlin Kool-Aid.” His official website features an article about a town-hall meeting that quotes him describing Trump as a “hoax perpetrated by the Russians on the United States of America.”

      Like hundreds of other Democrats on Capitol Hill, Raskin is on message with talking points from the party leadership. That came across in an email that he recently sent to supporters for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. It said: “We pull the curtain back further each day on the Russian Connection, forcing National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to resign, Attorney General Sessions to recuse, and America to reflect on who’s calling the shots in Washington.”

      You might think that Wall Street, big banks, hugely funded lobbyists, fat-check campaign contributors, the fossil fuel industry, insurance companies, military contractors and the like are calling the shots in Washington. Maybe you didn’t get the memo.

    • Twitter Says It Would Love World Leaders to Use It Like Trump
    • White House ethics office ‘not consulted’ on plans to make Ivanka Trump presidential adviser

      The US Office of Government Ethics has said it was not consulted by the White House about plans to make Ivanka Trump a formal adviser to the president.

      This contradicts statements from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who said on 21 March that Ms Trump was working “in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics” in her transition to the new role.

    • Try seeing if you can tell the difference between dictators’ palaces and Trump’s own home
    • Turkey Purges 4,000 More Officials, and Blocks Wikipedia

      A total of 3,974 civil servants were fired on Saturday from several ministries and judicial bodies, and 45 civil society groups and health clinics were shut down, according to a decree published in Turkey’s official gazette.

    • Trump invites Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ murderous authoritarian leader, to the White House: Why should we be surprised?

      The Philippine president has compared himself to Hitler and vowed to kill 3 million people. Now he’s Trump’s BFF.

    • Murdochs’ TV Deal in Britain Hinges on 3 Words: ‘Fit and Proper’

      For most of the last 10 years, the Murdoch family, which controls 21st Century Fox, has wanted one thing for its global media empire above all else: the complete ownership of the popular and highly profitable Sky satellite and cable network.

      Sky is the dominant pay television system here, a hub for Premier League soccer, movies, and networks like Fox News, MTV and Zee Punjabi. It was Rupert Murdoch who founded Sky, and 21st Century Fox already owns part of it.

    • Orange Is The New Black, Black Lives Matter, and Project Censored Student Researchers

      The program begins with a discussion of how TV depicts female inmates; is “Orange Is The New Black” a step forward in public understanding? Next, what’s happened to media coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement since Donald Trump took office? Finally on the program, three Project Censored student researchers at San Francisco State University describe their projects, as well as a concept called “constructive media literacy.”

    • Historian Timothy Snyder: “It’s pretty much inevitable” that Trump will try to stage a coup and overthrow democracy

      American democracy is in crisis. The election of Donald Trump feels like a state of emergency made normal.

      Trump has threatened violence against his political enemies. He has made clear he does not believe in the norms and traditions of American democracy — unless they serve his interests. Trump and his advisers consider a free press to be enemies of his regime. Trump repeatedly lies and has a profoundly estranged relationship with empirical reality. He uses obvious and naked racism, nativism and bigotry to mobilize his voters and to disparage entire groups of people such as Latinos and Muslims.

    • Barack Obama Is Using His Presidency to Cash In, But Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter Refused
    • Drinking the Russia-gate Kool-Aid

      Russia-gate, the Democrats’ over-the-top attempt to blame the Kremlin for Hillary Clinton’s disastrous campaign, has become the party’s go-to excuse to avoid confronting how it lost touch with average Americans, says Norman Solomon.

    • Le Pen Promotes Holocaust Denier and Plans to Ban Kosher Butchers and Yarmulkes

      France’s Jewish community is watching the second round of this year’s presidential election with profound unease, as Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front has unveiled plans to ban the ritual slaughter of animals for kosher and halal meat and promoted a deputy who has been accused of praising an infamous Holocaust denier.

      Le Pen temporarily stepped aside this week as the leader of the extreme nationalist party founded by her Holocaust-denying father, Jean-Marie, as part of an effort to present a more moderate face in the general election.

      That attempt was immediately spoiled, however, by the revelation that the former associate of her father she put in charge of the party, Jean-François Jalkh, told a scholar in 2000 that he did not accept evidence that the Nazis used the pesticide Zyklon B to murder Jews in the death camps.

    • The lamentable tri-color

      In these times of renewed nationalism, it is notable that three cultural and political icons – all in flux – also claim the same choices in their national flags: red, white and blue. But the trio of colors share a far deeper narrative than just positions on the chromatic spectrum. Red Republicans have taken dubious control of all three branches of the US government, white ultra-nationalists are threatening to overwhelm the rationale of the French Revolution, and Britons have become increasingly blue after digging themselves the virtual grave of Brexit.

    • Why French progressives should vote for Macron

      It is perhaps the single-most important failure of progressives across Europe since the outbreak of the 2008 financial crisis and Brussels’ blundering crush of the Athens Spring in 2015 – an utter inability to come together and present a solid front, and a sensible, non-sectarian agenda, against the xenophobic and toxic nationalistic forces tearing apart the European Union.

      While the urgency to once and for all overcome such a failure to unite should have become painfully obvious after the Brexit and Trump experiences of 2016, the latest wakeup call to European progressives after the first round of the French presidential election may also go ignored along with another missed opportunity for progressives to come together.

      Regardless, we must try.

    • Marine Le Pen Can Win, if She Campaigns “à la Trump,” Her Father Says

      Despite that dramatic falling out, the elder Le Pen voted for his daughter in the first round of France’s presidential election, along with 7,679,492 others, and proudly called her achievement in advancing to the May 7th run-off against Emmanuel Macron, the former economy minister, “the culmination of a 45-year political battle” for the party he started in 1972.

      Now Jean-Marie Le Pen is eager to offer his daughter some advice, whether she wants it or not: to win, she needs to drop the facade of moderation and “campaign à la Trump,” by channeling the anger of disaffected working-class voters who have abandoned mainstream parties for the far-left as well as the far-right.

    • Donald Trump’s Failing Presidency

      The 100-day mark may be an artificial measuring stick for a U.S. president. Obviously much can happen in the remaining 1,361 days of a four-year term. But Donald Trump’s decisions in his first three months in office have put him on an almost irreversible path to failure.

    • 100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 3

      Trump promised to be a transformational leader. It wasn’t an idle threat. He has assembled an unprecedented governmental wrecking crew. This is the third installment on Trump’s unique combination of kleptocracy and kakistocracy that is reshaping America in ways that most of voters won’t like.

    • The Authoritarian President

      So what is he?

      An authoritarian.

      [...]

      An authoritarian would instead assail judges who rule against him, as Trump has done repeatedly. He’d also threaten to hobble the offending courts, as Trump did last week in urging that the 9th Circuit (where many of these decisions have originated) be broken up.

      Likewise, an authoritarian has no patience for normal legislative rules – designed, as they are in a democracy, to create opportunities for deliberation.

      Which is why Trump told Mitch McConnell to use the “nuclear option” against the time-honored Senate filibuster, in order to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

    • Reign of Idiots

      The idiots know only one word—“more.” They are unencumbered by common sense. They hoard wealth and resources until workers cannot make a living and the infrastructure collapses. They live in privileged compounds where they eat chocolate cake and order missile strikes. They see the state as a projection of their vanity. The Roman, Mayan, French, Habsburg, Ottoman, Romanov, Wilhelmine, Pahlavi and Soviet dynasties crumbled because the whims and obsessions of ruling idiots were law.

      Donald Trump is the face of our collective idiocy. He is what lies behind the mask of our professed civility and rationality—a sputtering, narcissistic, bloodthirsty megalomaniac. He wields armies and fleets against the wretched of the earth, blithely ignores the catastrophic human misery caused by global warming, pillages on behalf of global oligarchs and at night sits slack-jawed in front of a television set before opening his “beautiful” Twitter account. He is our version of the Roman emperor Nero, who allocated vast state expenditures to attain magical powers, the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, who funded repeated expeditions to a mythical island of immortals to bring back the potion that would give him eternal life, and a decayed Russian royalty that sat around reading tarot cards and attending séances as their nation was decimated by war and revolution brewed in the streets.

    • Donald Trump Fails on Currency With China, but Wins on Daughter’s Trademarks

      Everyone understands that when you go into a negotiation you have to make trade-offs. No one expects to get everything on their wish list. For this reason, no one should have been surprised that Donald Trump wasn’t able to run the table when he met with China’s President Xi Jinping last month, but they might be surprised at what he apparently gave up.

      A central theme of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was that our trade negotiators were stupid and that they had negotiated rotten trade deals. He claimed this was the cause of the country’s $500 billion-plus trade deficit (a bit less than 3 percent of GDP).

    • Trump’s First 100 Days Show That US Families Are His Last Priority

      The first 100 days of Trump’s administration have been an unending assault on democracy and our communities: from stacking his cabinet with people committed to dismantling the very agencies they lead, to travel bans and deportations. Among these attacks, Trump has outlined a budget that was nothing short of a declaration of war on our families. When I think about what lies ahead, I worry most about the health and safety of our families.

    • Inequality: Trump’s Challenge, Trump’s Failure?

      Ten days later, Trump issued an executive ordered cutting U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards put in place by the Obama administration. It was a victory for the auto industry and – like his order promoting “clean” coal – strengthening his anti-environmental stance.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Courts Must Allow Online Platforms to Defend Their Users’ Free Speech Rights, EFF Tells Court

      Online platforms must be allowed to assert their anonymous users’ First Amendment rights in court, EFF argued in a brief filed Monday in a California appellate court.

      The case, Yelp v. Superior Court, concerns whether online review website Yelp has the legal right to appear in court and make arguments on behalf of its users.

      Courts across the country have increasingly recognized that online platforms do have the right to argue for their users’ free speech rights, particularly when private litigants or government officials seek to learn the speakers’ identities.

    • Africa: Gender Censorship a Glaring Reality

      Journalists’ safety especially women journalists is becoming a serious problem that is effectively silencing them leading to self-censorship and even some women leaving the profession. It is however saddening that in many instances these threats remain unreported and are not taken seriously.

    • Repression 2.0: An Updated Global Censorship

      Censorship tactics have become more complex, posing new challenges for journalists and non-journalists alike, a new report finds.

      In its annual “Attacks on the Press” report, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented a range of censorship cases from around the world and revealed a new world of media repression.

      “[Censorship] is definitely becoming more sophisticated and complex and is occurring at a variety of levels,” CPJ’s Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch told IPS.

    • Spicer Confirms White House Actively Planning Attack on Press Freedoms

      White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed Monday that the Trump administration is actively—and in his words “substantively”—reviewing the nation’s libel laws as it explores ways it could more easily sidestep First Amendment protections and target press coverage or news stories it deems objectionable.

    • Attacks On the Press: The New Face of Censorship

      Censorship tactics have become more complex, posing new challenges for journalists and non-journalists alike, a new report finds.

      In its annual “Attacks on the Press” report, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented a range of censorship cases from around the world and revealed a new world of media repression.

      “[Censorship] is definitely becoming more sophisticated and complex and is occurring at a variety of levels,” CPJ’s Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch told IPS.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Australian Mandatory Data Retention Abused Just Weeks After Rules Are Put In Place

      We’ve been talking about Australian politicians’ odd obsession with passing ever more draconian data retention rules for years now. As you may recall, the politicians pushing for this appeared to have absolutely no clue what it actually entailed. Just a few months ago, we wrote about reports about how Australia’s data retention laws had been abused to spy on journalists and their sources. While some parts of the law went into effect a year and a half ago, it appears some parts just went into effect a few weeks ago. These new rules require every ISP to retain metadata on all online communications for at least two years. And… it took just about two weeks before the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were forced to admit that it had used the info to spy on journalists (again). They insist this was a mistake, of course.

    • A VPN will not save you from government surveillance

      Late on Friday afternoon, the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police waltzed out in front of the microphones and admitted that his agency had misused the metadata that the nation’s telecommunication companies are forced to store.

      It was a stunning admission. The nation had barely made it a fortnight since the deadline for telcos to have their data retention systems in place had passed, yet here was the AFP self-reporting an event that saw an officer in breach of the metadata laws, and despite years of preparation and interaction with metadata, placed the blame on “human error”.

    • NSA Ends Upstream “About” Data Collection [Ed: Should say that NSA and its ilk claim so, which means it’s not a fact. The reality may be very different.]
    • Hearing Wednesday: EFF Argues Against Massive Government Hacking in ‘Playpen’ Case

      On Wednesday, May 3, at 9:30 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue that an FBI search warrant used to hack thousands of computers around the world was unconstitutional.

      The hearing in U.S. v. Levin at the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit stems from one of the many cases arising from a controversial investigation into “Playpen,” a child pornography website. The precedent set by the Playpen prosecutions is likely to impact the digital privacy rights of Internet users for years to come.

    • Cybersecurity for the People: How to Keep Your Chats Truly Private With Signal [Ed: Not good advice from Micah Lee. He's ignoring Vault 7 -- Signal compromised through phones (all have back doors).]
    • The Internet of Things Needs a Code of Ethics

      The Internet of Things, as it’s called, is also lacking a critical ethical framework, argues Francine Berman, a computer-science professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a longtime expert on computer infrastructure. Together with Vint Cerf, an engineer considered one of the fathers of the internet, Berman wrote an article in the journal Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery about the need for an ethical system.

      I spoke to her about ethical design, and how to balance individual privacy with the potential for social good of connected devices that share data with one another.

    • NSA Halts Some of Its Email Surveillance
    • NSA Statements On ‘About’ Collection Shutdown Contradict PCLOB’s Findings

      The impact the dropping of the “about” collection will have on the NSA’s upstream harvesting will either be massive or minimal, depending on who you ask.

    • What Don’t You Want the NSA to Know About You?

      For years, U.S. government surveillance of innocent Americans has been a topic of heated debate, especially for those in the tech community.

      With Congress gearing up for a fight over the 2017 reauthorization of a surveillance authority that lets the NSA spy on innocent Americans without a warrant—Section 702, enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act—that debate is sure to rage on in the coming months.

      So we sent a reporter to the RSA Conference in San Francisco, California in February to ask one simple question: What don’t you want the NSA to know about you?

    • Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling ‘insecure’ and ‘worthless’ [iophk: "predatory"]

      Leaked documents said to describe how the social network shares psychological insights on young people with advertisers

    • Facebook studied teenagers’ posts to find when they were emotionally vulnerable

      A leaked document revealed how the company was able to establish if users as young as 14 were feeling “worthless”, “insecure” or “anxious”.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Louisiana DA’s Office Used Fake Subpoenas For Decades To Trick People Into Talking To Prosecutors

      If defense lawyers did this, you can bet the local prosecutor’s office would be there in an instant to file charges. But since it’s a prosecutor’s office doing it, local prosecutors see nothing wrong with lying to witnesses to obtain testimony. Charles Maldonado of The Lens looks into the unethical practices of the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office.

    • Prosecutors: Inmate’s water cut off for 7 days before he died of dehydration

      Milwaukee County Jail staff cut off an inmate’s access to water for seven days straight before he died of dehydration, and the man was too mentally unstable to ask for help as he slowly died, prosecutors said Monday at the beginning of an inquest.

      The statements from prosecutors are the first official account validating what inmates previously told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about Terrill Thomas’ access to water in his cell. In prior interviews, the inmates said they begged jail staff to help Thomas as he grew weak without water.

    • Lawsuit: Woman Shackled While Giving Birth at Milwaukee Jail

      A woman is suing the Milwaukee County jail, alleging that deputies refused to unchain her while she was giving birth because of a jail policy requiring inmates to remain shackled while they’re hospitalized, regardless of the circumstances.

      The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks class-action status, claiming at least 40 other women experienced similar circumstances at the jail since 2011.

      The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to the lawsuit, but generally the county can’t comment on pending litigation.

    • Demonstrating America’s Need for Immigrants

      President Trump has pushed for the expulsion of millions of undocumented immigrants, but they are pushing back by using May 1 to demonstrate the importance of their hard work, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

      [...]

      he Bracero Program, as it was dubbed back in 1942, an agreement between the United States and Mexico, to provide workers, Mexican workers, to the United States. Not only to work in agriculture, but to work in an important industry–the railroad industry–throughout the United States. Some 3 million to 4 million Mexican immigrant guest workers, contracted workers, were brought into the United States to work in these industries. And that program lasted from 1942 to 1964.

    • Bahrain: “Undeclared Martial Law”

      Clashes after the death of a young Bahraini after being shot outside the home of the Shiite leader in Bahrain on March 25, 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.Six years ago, New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof described his experience of being detained during the aftermath of Bahrain’s Arab Spring protests as a glimpse “through a haze of tear gas, [at] hints of a police state.”

    • Supreme Court Recognizes Discrimination Hurts Entire Cities

      An important ruling handed down by the Supreme Court today recognizes that when banks systematically discriminate against their customers, entire communities and cities are harmed.

      Today’s decision rejects the claims of banks that racial discrimination against a city’s residents has no impact on the city itself. The lawsuit stems from the recent foreclosure crisis, and was brought by the city of Miami, which was hit particularly hard. As in other cities across America, neighborhoods where people of color live were disproportionately devastated. That can be largely attributed to the fact that Black and Latino homeowners received more expensive mortgages than their similarly creditworthy white counterparts.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Too little, too late? FCC wins net neutrality court case

      If the Federal Communications Commission still intended to enforce net neutrality rules, a court decision issued today would have qualified as great news at the commission.

      The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the broadband industry’s petition for a rehearing of a case that upheld net neutrality rules last year. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the FCC in June 2016, but ISPs wanted an en banc review in front of all of the court’s judges. The request for an en banc review was denied in the order issued today.

    • Appeals court won’t rehear a challenge to net neutrality rules

      Five broadband trade groups, including USTelecom and CTIA, as well as AT&T, CenturyLink and other providers, challenged the rules.

    • Too little, too late? FCC wins net neutrality court case

      The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the broadband industry’s petition for a rehearing of a case that upheld net neutrality rules last year. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the FCC in June 2016, but ISPs wanted an en banc review in front of all of the court’s judges. The request for an en banc review was denied in the order issued today.

    • Federal court lets net neutrality regulations stand

      The victory for net neutrality supporters comes just days after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he is starting proceedings to repeal the rules, and could set the stage for a Supreme Court showdown.

    • Limitations of ISP Data Pollution Tools

      Republicans in Congress recently voted to repeal the FCC’s broadband privacy rules. As a result, your Internet provider may be able to sell sensitive information like your browsing history or app usage to advertisers, insurance companies, and more, all without your consent. In response, Internet users have been asking what they can do to protect their own data from this creepy, non-consensual tracking by Internet providers—for example, directing their Internet traffic through a VPN or Tor. One idea to combat this that’s recently gotten a lot of traction among privacy-conscious users is data pollution tools: software that fills your browsing history with visits to random websites in order to add “noise” to the browsing data that your Internet provider is collecting.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Update on WIPO

      Following Council’s request that the FICSA membership be provided updates relative to staff-management relations in some of the more troubling organizations, we would like to provide you with the attached document published yesterday by a lawyer who is currently defending a Geneva-based journalist who had reported on the relatively recent FICSA/CCISUA organized demonstration against the WIPO Director General.

      The document states that the Swiss Ambassador who this time lent his name to the WIPO Director General’s criminal complaint, is the same Ambassador who had allegedly helped the WIPO Director General when WIPO staff members’ stolen personal effects were illegally transmitted to a Swiss laboratory for DNA analysis several years ago, without the staff members’ knowledge and consent. An OIOS investigation was blocked due to the Swiss/Geneva authorities’ refusal to cooperate with the OIOS investigators.

    • Copyrights

      • Post-TPP Special 301 Report Shows How Little Has Changed

        Last Friday the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the 2017 edition of its Special 301 Report [PDF], which the USTR issues each year to “name and shame” other countries that the U.S. claims should be doing more to protect and enforce their copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Most of these demands exceed those countries’ legal obligations, which makes the Special 301 Report an instrument of political rhetoric, rather than a document with any international legal status.

        Last year’s Special 301 Report included 45 references to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was at the time soon expected to become the jewel in the USTR’s crown. This year, following the TPP’s humiliating defeat, it is not mentioned in the Special 301 Report even once. Indeed, not only has the TPP been expunged from the text as if it never happened at all, but the USTR has also finally ceased touting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), another dead IP treaty that it had nonetheless included as a supposed global standard in its previous Special 301 Reports.

      • Chinese Government and Hollywood Launch Snoop-and-Censor Copyright Filter

        Two weeks ago the Copyright Society of China (also known as the China Copyright Association) launched its new 12426 Copyright Monitoring Center, which is dedicated to scanning the Chinese Internet for evidence of copyright infringement. This frightening panopticon is said to be able to monitor video, music and images found on “mainstream audio and video sites and graphic portals, small and medium vertical websites, community platforms, cloud and P2P sites, SmartTV, external set-top boxes, aggregation apps, and so on.”

      • Chris Dodd ‘Stepping Down’ From MPAA

        It appears that Chris Dodd’s reign atop the MPAA is coming to an end. As you may recall, he took the job in 2011 to become the head of the MPAA — directly contrasting a statement he’d made just months earlier that he’d never become a lobbyist. Dodd’s first move was to preside over the MPAA’s first legislative Titanic. After years of easily passing every copyright law it wanted, Dodd helped turn a slam dunk, easy-to-pass SOPA/PIPA into a huge disaster that has consistently scared Congress away from making any substantial copyright law changes. And, yes, it was Dodd’s failed leadership that was a big part of the problem.

      • 10 Years in Jail For Internet Pirates Now Reality in the UK

        Having received royal assent before the weekend, the UK’s Digital Economy Bill is now law. As a result, Internet file-sharers can be jailed for up to ten years, if they knowingly make infringing content available to the public while exposing a copyright owner to even a risk of loss.

      • Canada and Switzerland Remain on US ‘Pirate Watchlist’ Under President Trump

        The Office of the United States Trade Representative has published its yearly Special 301 Report, highlighting countries that fail to live up to U.S copyright protection standards. Effective enforcement of IP {sic} rights is a core issue for the Trump administration, which keeps Canada and Switzerland among the two dozen countries that are on the ‘Watch List.’

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