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10.08.17

Microsoft Lobbying, the EPO, and Software Patents Disguised as ‘Internet of Things’

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Standard at 6:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” —Marshall Phelps (Microsoft at the time)

ITU Microsoft

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues to act like a vassal of patent aggressors, Microsoft carries on pretending that it’s no longer attacking Free software, and evidence shows that patent policy is being perturbed by lobbyists connected to Microsoft

TECHRIGHTS published many thousands of articles about Microsoft, particularly regarding the company’s use (or misuse) of patents. It’s no secret that Microsoft front groups and other nefarious lobbies want to make Free/Open Source software more difficult (if not impossible) in Europe. Microsoft lobbies if not bribes for the removal of GNU/Linux not just from Munich but also anywhere else around Germany and Europe as a whole. We wrote many articles about it over the years. We gave many concrete examples. We also published some secret E-mails to that effect. The evidence is there, but corporate media is rarely interested in such stories; there’s a PR campaign going on now. It’s more profitable. Nasty spin is what brings income. Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing. “Microsoft loves Linux” is one of the latest incredible lies*.

“Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing.”Recently we saw further evidence that Apache had been compromised. Microsoft paid the ASF too much and even put its own ‘moles’ (or full-time staff) in leadership positions at the ASF. And let’s not even mention the LF and OSI. That may be a subject for another day. Notice how Microsoft never joined OIN and never promised not to sue/threaten with patents (the same promise needs to be made for Microsoft-connected patent trolls). In 2017, unfortunately, Microsoft continues to operate like the Mafia; it pays those who may otherwise speak out (or simply ‘eliminates’ them) while patent blackmail goes on covertly.

The other day we found out that the BSA-connected firm of Bill Gates’ father, a firm which is also connected to Microsoft lobbyists, is targeting the EPO now. As a reminder, many employees of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) moved back and forth (from and to this firm). We wrote a lot about that around 2007. This article came out a few days ago:

K&L Gates has launched a European Patent Office (EPO) practice.

The new practice, combined with K&L Gates’ network of intellectual procurement, portfolio management, and litigation lawyers and patent attorneys makes it the only fully integrated global law firm with full-service patent capabilities in the US, Australia, and Europe, it claims.

“Some time back, we embarked on the mission of bolstering our global patent prosecution capabilities to include an EPO practice in order to better provide our clients with a truly global IP solution,” said Robert M. Barrett, a partner at the firm’s Chicago office.

Remember that a lot of the staff is connected to the BSA, which we’ll come to in a moment.

As we have been pointing out for a number of months, the “IoT” buzzword is nowadays being used as a loophole for software patents. Another such word is “AI”, which only yesterday Watchtroll tried to frame as patentable (in spite of Alice). A few days ago we saw a new press release that said “AI Technology Patents” in the headline. “AI” is just a codeword for software patents which are neither allowed nor enforceable in the US anymore. “Procurement Software Company Xeeva Announces Receipt of Multiple AI Technology Patents,” it said, but these are simply software patents ‘dressed up’ as something scientific or smart. As we shall show in a moment, Microsoft uses such buzzwords more and more.

“What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword.”As for the EPO, internal documents exposed that it had offered Microsoft an inherently-discriminatory fast lane. And yet, the "SMEs" lies continue to be trotted out. Here’s one from Friday, followed by retweeting of others who do the same. This is all based on a big lie from the EPO — the pure nonsense which is EPO working for SMEs rather than to their impediment/detriment. See “Using intellectual property to help large multinationals harness their innovative edge” — that’s the headline and tone of an article published by IAM some days ago. We’re expected to believe that anyone other than these “large multinationals” (or patent trolls) would benefit. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Now comes the interesting part. Last month we wrote quite a bit about IP Europe and the EPO. Days ago someone told us about “European Standardization” with “Francisco MINGORANCE (IP Europe)” in it. It’s about so-called ‘IoT’ and there’s a “Kick-off meeting CEN-CENELEC/WS IoT SEP licensing” (“SEP licensing” is standard-essential patent tax).

So the lobbyists are once again killing everything that is sane!

Mingorance isn’t new to us. We wrote about him when he worked for the BSA and more recently in relation to the UPC and EPO [1, 2]. They’re all pretty close.

What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword. They link to a patent maximalists’ site and tweet: “#Standards bodies, global tech developers & users to create a European Vision for #SEP licensing for #IoT and #5G”

“Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee.”As the President of the FFII interpreted it, “5G and IOT standards to be dominated by trolls, making free software impossible [] Today swpat [software patents] lobbyists meetup to exclude free software from 5G and IOT https://is.gd/eaT8xS”

Incidentally, only days ago IAM published this article titled “Monetising patented wireless technologies”, composed by Marc Pépin from TechPats, Ottawa, Canada. About a week ago we also heard from inside sources about a war on Free software in wireless technology. They’re understandably concerned when software patent are being painted “IoT” or G*” to impose a tax on everything, rendering Free software unsuitable for purpose.

It was pointed out to us that Apache played a role in it, too. Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee. As it turns out, Jim Jagielski became part of the problem and he recently sent a shout-out to Sam Ramji and congratulated Microsoft. It would not be a big deal if he hadn’t also been “very big” on Inner Source, and gave 3 talks at this secret event, InnerSource Commons Fall Summit 2017.

“As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.”Then there’s this event, Second Joint ITU-NGMN Alliance Workshop on Open Source and Standards for 5G. Hosted by Microsoft! This is what entryism looks like. This is the second workshop and the first one was hosted by Qualcomm.

“Software patents are the key issue there,” we got told, and “the mobile industry wants to define FOSS as “access to the code” and normalise separate patent agreements, and wants regulators to endorse that position.”

As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.
_____
* The PR campaign is so strong and so broad that one gets nothing but scorn (like “tinfoil hat”) for being sane and rational about what Microsoft is truly up to.

Depressing State of Affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s becoming all about litigation, not patents

Scott Pruitt's Crimes Against Nature
Reference: Scott Pruitt’s Crimes Against Nature

Summary: The slow, agonising disintegration of the EPO as seen from the lens of insiders, many of whom are baffled by the self-harm inflicted by EPO management

THE EPO has truly become a catastrophe. Employees of the EPO are unable to grasp how or why this was tolerated. Could the Organisation not see that the head of the Office was a deranged individual whose grim vision would doom the Office? Is it possible that the Organisation — or at least some delegates there — did not mind this destruction if that meant an ascent of the UPC? Whatever the case may be (and there’s room for speculation), the EPO is expected to lay off many of its employees next year. It’s simple mathematics, seeing how the number of applications continues to decline while files are processed faster than ever (which is not a good thing as it’s indicative of low quality). Recently, judges from the appeal boards were driven out of EPO premises and thrown at some facility in Haar — a precursor to further declines in patent quality (or inability to decline patent grants based on thorough, in-depth analysis).

“Recently, judges from the appeal boards were driven out of EPO premises and thrown at some facility in Haar — a precursor to further declines in patent quality…”We have been writing about the EPO for about a decade and covered it more closely since the summer of 2014. Things have gotten a lot worse since. As a reminder, patent litigation in Germany is soaring, mostly because of patent trolls. This is good for patent law firms, but it’s bad for everybody else. Well, maybe the local hospitality business benefits from housing of claimants and plaintiffs, but what good is that in the long term? And who for? At whose expense?

The other day we saw a press release about a new lawsuit in Germany over an EP [1, 2], followed by something about the shares [1, 2].

“The migration of legal firms to Germany (not just Munich) — a subject we’ll touch again in our next post — follows the gold rush of aforementioned litigation.”Earlier today Patently-O wrote about Bayer, the German company that had bought Monsanto, suing companies over genetics (using patents that oughtn’t even exist).

This litigation was in the US:

Bayer sued Dow for infringement, but a prior agreement forced to the case to arbitration and a $455 arbitration award for Bayer that was affirmed by the Federal Circuit.

[...]

Unlike many areas of law, the Patent Act includes a particular provision recognizing voluntary arbitration of patent dispute. 35 U.S.C. 294. The provision indicates that the Federal Arbitration Act (Title 9) should be followed “to the extent such title is not inconsistent with this section.” The statute particularly provides that the ordinary defenses to patent infringement “shall be considered by the arbitrator if raised.”

The migration of legal firms to Germany (not just Munich) — a subject we’ll touch again in our next post — follows the gold rush of aforementioned litigation. Days ago Marks & Clerk employees were updating or reposting their old stuff (which we covered before). Thomas Prock and Will Nieuwenhuys once again pushed out puff pieces about UPC and patentability tricks. They try hard to encourage the harvesting of low-quality patents to be followed by litigation. But as people in the US found out, low-quality patents untilmately lead to low confidence in the potency of one’s patents and thus sharp decrease in litigation.

It’s hard to tell what the EPO will look like in 5 or 10 years (if it even exists at that stage), but certainly Battistelli now faces a crisis of his own making.

Links 8/10/2017: Debian 9.2 Released, OpenBSD 6.2 Next Week

Posted in News Roundup at 1:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux Journal October 2017
  • Desktop

    • System76 – POP! goes my heart

      This was far more interesting than I’d expected. One, there isn’t ONE font that works uniformly well across different desktop environments, and frankly, that is a little bit disturbing. Two, Ubuntu still offers the most complete default package. Three, POP! fonts are rather nice and modern, and it seems they work the best in stock Gnome, if you’re not already using something like Droid Sans.

      It would seem we’ve chipped another facet of this multi-dimensional monster called Linux Fonts, as it feels just impossible to nail down the simple, elegant formula for maximum ergonomics, productivity and fun. You have to ride the licensing, anti-aliasing and hinting shuttles all at the same time, and they seem to be going in different directions. Ubuntu is way ahead of the rest, and this is why the System76 experiment will be rather intriguing. I want to see how the complete package will behave. You should test and see how you feel about Roboto Slab and Fira. My hunch says, Gnome great, Ubuntu, not so much. But we will see. And of course, we shall be testing the distro, so stay tuned.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • S10E31 – Plausible Dull Story

      This week we’ve been playing Wasteland 2 and switching back to Firefox. We also discuss Amber Rudd (dullard UK home secretary) not needing to understand encryption, Mycroft 2 is vertical, Firefox is going Quantum, Uber being banned in London and a new Linux laptop from Google.

  • Kernel Space

    • Notes from the LPC tracing microconference

      The “tracing and BPF” microconference was held on the final day of the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference; it covered a number of topics relevant to heavy users of kernel and user-space tracing. Read on for a summary of a number of those discussions on topics like BPF introspection, stack traces, kprobes, uprobes, and the Common Trace Format.

      Unfortunately, your editor had to leave the session before it reached its end, so this article does not reflect all of the topics discussed there. For those who are interested, this Etherpad instance contains notes taken by participants at the session.

    • An update on live kernel patching

      In the refereed track at the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), Jiri Kosina gave an update on the status and plans for the live kernel patching feature. It is a feature that has a long history—pre-dating Linux itself—and has had a multi-year path into the kernel. Kosina reviewed that history, while also looking at some of the limitations and missing features for live patching.

      The first question that gets asked about patching a running kernel is “why?”, he said. That question gets asked in the comments on LWN articles and elsewhere. The main driver of the feature is the high cost of downtime in data centers. That leads data center operators to plan outages many months in advance to reduce the cost; but in the case of a zero-day vulnerability, that time is not available. Live kernel patching is targeted at making small security fixes as a stopgap measure until the kernel can be updated during a less-hurried, planned outage. It is not meant for replacing the kernel bit by bit over time, but as an emergency measure when the kernel is vulnerable.

    • Safety-critical realtime with Linux

      Doing realtime processing with a general-purpose operating-system like Linux can be a challenge by itself, but safety-critical realtime processing ups the ante considerably. During a session at Open Source Summit North America, Wolfgang Mauerer discussed the difficulties involved in this kind of work and what Linux has to offer.

      Realtime processing, as many have said, is not synonymous with “real fast”. It is, instead, focused on deterministic response time and repeatable results. Getting there involves quantifying the worst-case scenario and being prepared to handle it — a 99% success rate is not good enough. The emphasis on worst-case performance is at the core of the difference with performance-oriented processing, which uses caches, lookahead algorithms, pipelines, and more to optimize the average case.

    • A New Ubuntu Kernel Build With The Very Latest AMDGPU DC Patches For 4.15

      This week the latest AMDGPU DC patches were queued up ahead of Linux 4.15. As covered in that article, those several dozen patches mostly further clean-up this major AMDGPU display code rework and trim it up by a few thousand lines of code. For those wishing to test out this new display stack, here is a fresh Ubutu/Debian x86_64 kernel build.

    • Facebook Developers Working On FSPERF For Better Linux File-System/Block Testing

      Josef Bacik of Facebook’s file-system/storage team has announced fsperf as a new testing framework around the Linux file-system/block storage code.

      With every Linux file-system developer seeming to construct his own scripts and to test their file-system/block kernel code in a different manner, Josef is hoping fsperf can unify some of the processes by these Linux kernel developers.

    • SLIMbus Framework Revised For The Linux Kernel

      Linaro developers have restored work on the SLIMbus patches for the Linux kernel, which have long been dormant.

      SLIMbus is the Serial Low-power Inter-chip Media Bus, which is a standard from the MIPI alliance to allow multiple digital audio components to communicate simultaneously and carry multiple audio streams of differing sample rates and bit widths.

    • Graphics Stack

      • A memory allocation API for graphics devices

        At last year’s X.Org Developers Conference (XDC), James Jones began the process of coming up with an API for allocating memory so that it is accessible to multiple different graphics devices in a system (e.g. GPUs, hardware compositors, video decoders, display hardware, cameras, etc.). At XDC 2017 in Mountain View, CA, he was back to update attendees on the progress that has been made. He has a prototype in progress, but there is plenty more to do, including working out some of the problems he has encountered along the way.

        Jones has been at NVIDIA for 13 years and has been working on this problem in various forms for most of that time, he said. Allocating buffers and passing them around between multiple drivers is a complicated problem. The allocator will sit in the same place as the Generic Buffer Management (GBM) component is today; it will be used both by applications and by various user-space driver components. The allocator will support both vendor-agnostic (e.g. Android ION) and vendor-specific back-ends, as well as combinations of the two.

      • Testing Primitive Binning With Vega 10 On RadeonSI

        One month back Marek Olšák landed support in the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver for primitive binning with Vega 10 GPUs but now that feature is likely to be disabled by default.

        Marek is moving ahead now to disable primitive binning by default for Vega 10 GPUs but to keep it enabled for upcoming Raven Ridge APUs. He explained in the proposed patch, “Our driver implementation is known to decrease performance for some tests, but we don’t know if any apps and benchmarks (e.g. those tested by Phoronix) are affected. This disables the feature just to be safe.”

      • Vulkan 1.0.62 Adds A New AMD Extension

        Vulkan 1.0.62 is now available as the latest updated specification for this high performance graphics and compute API.

        Vulkan 1.0.62 is mostly comprised of the usual documentation fixes and other clarifications. Nothing really too notable on that front with Vulkan 1.0.62.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Blade update – an alternative KRunner

        After David’s post, I got a few mails asking whether this change has anything to do with the project I started last summer, so I decided to provide a small update.

        My original plan was to ship a test version of Blade a few months after the project announcement, but that did not happen. The main reason was that there were some higher-priority things in Plasma I needed to work on, so I had to put this on hold a bit.

        While the project is not yet made public, some important things have happened that moved it forward quite a bit.

      • Plasma secrets: Custom app launchers – WINE, too

        I told you this was a beauty. It elegantly goes against all the accepted conventions of the Plasma desktop, including hidden desktop icons, task manager launchers linking to hidden icons, and Windows software running through WINE playing ball. All of this can be done relatively simply, quickly, easily, without any great messing about. I hope you like.

        One last thing, notice how my screenshots above no longer have any shadow, which is something that both Ksnapshot and Spectacle always do, if you use compositing? Well, that’s another secret we will resolve next time!

      • KDE at #UbuntuRally in New York! KDE Applications snaps!

        I was happy to attend Ubuntu Rally last week in New York with Aleix Pol to represent KDE.

      • KDE connect makes your mobile life easier

        KDE Connect connects between your mobile and Linux, wirelessly.

        You can copy photos, videos, or other files from mobile, or vise versa.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 114 released

        This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 114. It brings some changes under the hood and modernises the base system. On top of that, minor issues are being fixed and some packages have been updated.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora’s foundations meet proprietary drivers

          The Fedora project’s four “foundations” are named “Freedom”, “Friends”, “Features”, and “First”. Among other things, they commit the project to being firmly within the free-software camp (“we believe that advancing software and content freedom is a central goal for the Fedora Project, and that we should accomplish that goal through the use of the software and content we promote”) and to providing leading-edge software, including current kernels. Given that the kernel project, too, is focused on free software, it is interesting to see a call within the Fedora community to hold back on kernel updates in order to be able to support a proprietary driver.

          On September 5, Fedora kernel maintainer Laura Abbott announced that the just-released 4.13 kernel would be built for the (in-development) Fedora 27 release, and that it would eventually find its way into the Fedora 25 and 26 releases as well. That is all in line with how Fedora generally operates; new kernels are pushed out to all supported releases in relatively short order. Running current kernels by default is clearly a feature that many Fedora users find useful.

          More recently, though, James Hogarth noted that the NVIDIA proprietary driver did not work with the 4.13 kernel. This kind of breakage is not all that unusual. While the user-space ABI must be preserved, the kernel project defends its right to change internal interfaces at any time. Any problems that out-of-tree code experiences as a result of such changes is deemed to be part of the cost of staying out of the mainline. There is little sympathy for those who have to deal with such issues, and none at all if the out-of-tree code in question is proprietary. Community-oriented projects like Fedora usually take a similar attitude, refusing to slow down for the sake of proprietary code.

        • Progressive Web Applications

          This week I was talking about Progressive Web Applications at the headquarters of Táchira Univesity ( UNET ) and invited by the professor and my friend Miguel Useche, I also had the oportunity to speak to the students about the Fedora Project, i hope to get the doors open to new events like this and more students with interest to share knowledge at the future.

        • Fedora Classroom: Git 101: report
        • PHPUnit 6.4
    • Debian Family

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 “Stretch” Update Introduces over 150 Security and Bug Fixes

        The Debian Project today announced the release of the second maintenance update of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series, adding a considerable number of bug fixes and security patches.

        Coming two and a half months after the release of Debian GNU/Linux 9.1, the Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 point release introduces numerous updates that regular Debian Stretch users should have received through the official channels of the popular distribution used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

      • FAI 5.4 enters the embedded world

        I’m happy to join the Debian cloud sprint in a week, where more FAI related work is waiting.

      • Derivatives

        • Updated Debian 9: 9.2 released

          The Debian project is pleased to announce the second update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename “stretch”). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

          Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “stretch” media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.

          Those who frequently install updates from security.debian.org won’t have to update many packages, and most such updates are included in the point release.

          New installation images will be available soon at the regular locations.

        • Debian 9.2 Released

          The Debian project this week has announced the release of Debian GNU/Linux 9.2.

          This second point release to “Stretch” has a number of bug fixes and several security issues have been resolved. Among the changes in this release include a possible crash in Apt, a new upstream version of D-Bus has been incorporated, a new stable release of Flatpak, and more. The Linux 4.9.0-4 kernel is used by Debian 9.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Newbie’s Guide to Ubuntu 17.10 Part 1

            This is a tutorial series for newbies to operate Ubuntu 17.10. This is targeted to help newbies from MS Windows environment to run Ubuntu. This series is divided into 3 parts: first operating the desktop, second navigating the file manager, and third setting the system so it suits your needs. After the final part, this will be re-published as an ebook of UbuntuBuzz. So start your Ubuntu and enjoy this!

          • Ubuntu 17.10 New Features, Release Date and Upgrade Procedure

            Ubuntu 17.10 is a short-term release and will be supported for nine months. Which means that in July 2018, you must upgrade to a newer version or else you won’t get system and security updates.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • NO to Open-Source Ethereum Scaling Projects ICO – Vitalik Buterin

    Co-founder of Ethereum Blockchain Network – Vitalik Buterin, has declared through social media that he will not support or conduct an ICO for Plasma which is an open-source Scaling solution he developed working together with Joseph Poon – Bitcoin’s Lightning Network co-author.

  • Vitalik Buterin is Against Open-Source Ethereum Scaling Projects Conducting ICOs

    Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, recently announced that he will not be conducting an initial coin offering (ICO) for Plasma, an open-source scaling solution he has developed in collaboration with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network co-author Joseph Poon.

  • Cascadia Community Builder Award: 2017 winner announced

    The Cascadia Community Builder Award recognizes a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the free software movement in the Cascadia region, and this year’s winner is Lance Albertson. The award was presented in person on Saturday, October 7, at the Seattle GNU/Linux conference. Albertson is director for the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (OSUOSL) and has been involved with the Gentoo Linux project as a developer and package maintainer since 2003.

  • ITA trains MoE staff on using free and open source software

    The Information Technology Authority (ITA), in cooperation with Daleel Petroleum, is conducting a training programme for Ministry of Education employees, on using free and open source software (FOSS) till October 22.

    The training programme targets 200 employees in Dakhliyah and Dhahirah governorates and focuses on three main training curricula: Ubuntu for beginners, designed for teachers and supervisors and advanced Ubuntu for technicians in addition to GIMP and Inkscape software for teachers.

  • Open source technology promises to alter enterprise storage

    The most obvious example of this is the development of Linux, various distributions of which have been adopted as the cloud operating system of choice and the go-to platform for modern application developers.

  • Events

    • Join us at Sibos in Toronto!

      We’re traveling to Toronto in a few weeks to attend Sibos 2017, Oct 16-19. Under the conference theme of ‘Building for the Future,’ we have a robust program agenda planned that is designed to help attendees learn about permissioned blockchains, distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts, plus the latest innovations coming out of Hyperledger.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Programming/Development

    • Facebook Has Been Working On C++ Modules Support For GCC

      For C++20 the long-awaited modules system is likely to finally land. Facebook engineers have been working on a C++ modules implementation already for the GNU Compiler Collection.

      Since LLVM Clang 5.0 has been an experimental C++ modules implementation there while on the GCC side there hasn’t been any implementation merged to master, but then again this technical specification isn’t yet set in stone for C++20. Nathan Sidwell of Facebook has been among the developers working on supporting C++ modules within GCC’s G++ front-end. Those unfamiliar with the proposed C++ module system can see the current TS.

Leftovers

  • Saying goodbye to the proto-social network of AOL Instant Messenger

    Many people remember specific, weird things about September 11, 2001. For me, it was a headline about stamps tucked into the chaos.

    As I started to absorb the horror of the day through TV and online news sources that Tuesday morning, I noticed an odd inflection point highlighted on the Washington Post’s list of “Top News” links. While the first three stories were blaring headlines about the terrorist attacks, I remember clearly that the fourth was a news brief about the threat of postal stamp rate increase, the last trivial story published before all other news got pushed aside indefinitely.

  • kthxbai: AOL Instant Messenger is being turned off on December 15th
  • The end of an era: AOL is shutting down iconic instant messaging tool AIM
  • London’s amazing underground infrastructure revealed in vintage cutaway maps

    Londonist’s roundup of cutaway maps — many from the outstanding Transport Museum in Covent Garden — combines the nerdy excitement of hidden tunnels with the aesthetic pleasure of isomorophic cutaway art, along with some interesting commentary on both the development of subterranean tunnels and works and the history of representing the built environment underground in two-dimension artwork.

  • Head, limbs of Kim Wall found, sinking story of suspect in submarine murder

    Danish investigators have announced that divers discovered bags containing the head, arms, legs, and clothing of reporter Kim Wall. She disappeared in August while aboard the crowdfunded submarine UC3 Nautilus with Peter “Rocket” Madsen, the sub’s designer. The bags were found not far from where Wall’s dismembered torso washed ashore 10 days after the Nautilus was deliberately sunk by Madsen near Copenhagen on August 11.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘Antibiotic apocalypse’: doctors sound alarm over drug resistance

      Scientists attending a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported they had uncovered a highly disturbing trend. They revealed that bacteria containing a gene known as mcr-1 – which confers resistance to the antibiotic colistin – had spread round the world at an alarming rate since its original discovery 18 months earlier. In one area of China, it was found that 25% of hospital patients now carried the gene.

      Colistin is known as the “antibiotic of last resort”. In many parts of the world doctors have turned to its use because patients were no longer responding to any other antimicrobial agent. Now resistance to its use is spreading across the globe.

    • Special Report: Puerto Ricans in Vieques Cope with Devastation & Fear Toxic Contamination from Maria

      We end today’s show where we began the week: in Puerto Rico. Doctors say the island’s health system remains crippled two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island, leaving more than 90 percent of the island without electricity and half of its residents without drinking water. That’s at least according to statistics published by FEMA on Wednesday. But on Thursday, FEMA removed data about access to drinking water and electricity in Puerto Rico from its website. Democracy Now!’s Juan Carlos Dávila is on the ground in Puerto Rico, and this week he managed to make it to the island of Vieques to speak with residents of the area that the U.S. Navy used as a bombing range for decades. Since the 1940s, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of the island for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions. The bombing stopped after a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, but the island continues to suffer. The Navy says it will take until 2025 to remove all the environmental damage left by more than 60 years of target practice. Juan Carlos filed this report from Vieques in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

    • Madagascar in panic amid raging “double plague” outbreak; dozens dead

      An unusually deadly seasonal outbreak of plague has gripped the island nation of Madagascar. As of Friday, 258 have been sickened and 36 have died just since August, according to Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Health.

      To try to stifle the spread, the government has forbidden public gatherings, including sporting events, and schools have closed for insecticide treatments that kill plague-spreading fleas. People have swarmed pharmacies, desperately seeking face masks and any antibiotics they can get. The World Health Organization on Friday announced that it has released $1.5 million in emergency funds and delivered nearly 1.2 million antibiotic doses to help combat the outbreak.

    • Dems Jump on Medicare-for-all Bandwagon, But Are They Sincere?

      Last month, Bernie Sanders unveiled a Senate bill that would phase in government-run universal health care. The single-payer, Medicare-for-all proposal attracted over a dozen Democratic Party co-sponsors and ignited progressives’ hopes across the country.

      Liberal figures like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts signed on, but so too did other likely contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination — Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

    • Tainted Honey: Bee-Poisoning Pesticides Found Globally

      Raising further concerns about the global food production system, a new study found that bees worldwide are being widely exposed to dangerous agricultural chemicals, with 75 percent of honey samples from six continents testing positive for pesticides known to harm pollinators.

      “What this shows is the magnitude of the contamination,” the study’s lead author, Edward Mitchell, a biology professor at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, told the Denver Post. He said there were “relatively few places where we did not find any” contaminated samples.

      For the study, published in the journal Science, Mitchell’s team of researchers examined nearly 200 samples for the five most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics.

    • Senator Calls on Insurers to Improve Access to Non-Opioid Pain Treatments

      UnitedHealth was cited in the story because it stopped covering Butrans, a painkilling skin patch that contains buprenorphine, an opioid that has a lower risk of abuse and dependence than generic, long-acting opioids. As a result, a patient said she turned to long-acting morphine to control her pain, went to the emergency room because she could not control her pain, and now visits her doctor more often than before.

    • Duterte’s ‘drug war’ is fueling the spread of disease
  • Security

    • FireEye Warns of Expanding FormBook Malware Attacks

      “Because of the affiliate model (or Malware-as-a-Service) set up and its open availability on the web, it is difficult to determine the attack origins, and could be attributed to anyone who has subscribed to the service,” Randi Eitzman, FireEye Analyst, told eSecurityPlanet.

      FormBook is being distributed via different document formats, including PDF, DOC and archive files that have some form of download link, macro or executable payload.

    • Disqus hacked [sic] : More than 17.5 million users’ details stolen by hackers in 2012 data breach

      About a third of the compromised accounts contained passwords that were salted and hashed using the weak SHA-1 algorithm. Disqus said the exposed user data dates back to 2007 with the most recent data exposed from July 2012.

    • iOS 11’s Misleading “Off-ish” Setting for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is Bad for User Security

      Turning off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios when you’re not using them is good security practice (not to mention good for your battery usage). When you consider Bluetooth’s known vulnerabilities, it’s especially important to make sure your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings are doing what you want them to. The iPhone’s newest operating system, however, makes it harder for users to control these settings.

      On an iPhone, users might instinctively swipe up to open Control Center and toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off from the quick settings. Each icon switches from blue to gray, leading a user to reasonably believe they have been turned off—in other words, fully disabled. In iOS 10, that was true. However, in iOS 11, the same setting change no longer actually turns Wi-Fi or Bluetooth “off.”

      Instead, what actually happens in iOS 11 when you toggle your quick settings to “off” is that the phone will disconnect from Wi-Fi networks and some devices, but remain on for Apple services. Location Services is still enabled, Apple devices (like Apple Watch and Pencil) stay connected, and services such as Handoff and Instant Hotspot stay on. Apple’s UI fails to even attempt to communicate these exceptions to its users.

    • The Worst-Case Scenario for John Kelly’s Hacked [sic] Phone

      “Having a phone compromised for several months definitely is not good”

  • Defence/Aggression

    • We Need Thoughtful Coverage of Gun Violence, Not Slow Pans Over Arsenals

      Those words are from a 2015 blog post of a young man named Chris Harper-Mercer, describing Vester Flanagan, a man who killed a reporter and photographer on-air at a Virginia TV station before shooting himself, days previously. Harper-Mercer went on to shoot nine people to death at his community college in Oregon before shooting himself.

      Social scientists have long said that events like mass shootings are contagious, and that media serve as carriers. Forensic psychologist Park Dietz told the Village Voice in 1999 (5/4/99) that suicide, product tampering and mass murder lent themselves to imitation, and the degree of imitation is connected to sustained and sensationalized media coverage.

      UC San Diego’s David Phillips said he’d written a series of suggested guidelines for the World Health Organization that would make stories like this less likely to be imitated, without making it so the stories disappeared from the paper, adding, “You have to think of these stories as a sort of advertisement to mass murder.”

      [...]

      Some nonsense comes dressed up as thoughtfulness. Washington Post factchecker Glenn Kessler (10/4/17) gave “two Pinocchios” (“significant omissions and/or exaggerations”) to the claim by an obviously heated Sen. Tim Kaine that the attack was reason to oppose a GOP bill that would streamline the purchase of silencers for firearms. His remarks implied he thought silencers made shooting quieter, when actually they only muffle direction and besides, noise wasn’t “the only” reason police were able to locate the killer.

      You could also check the box for misleading superlatives. As The Root‘s Michael Harriot (10/3/17) pointed out, repeated references to the “worst mass shooting in US history” erased massacres like the 1921 riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when after bombing and burning the part of town known as “Black Wall Street,” white mobs—some “deputized” by local law enforcement, and given guns from the city armory—killed as many as 300 African-Americans. It’s not a contest, but context matters.
      The Nation: Gun Sales Are Plummeting and Trump Wants to Help

    • Lawyers accuse UK-backed Bahrain watchdogs over torture inquiry

      A group of British human rights lawyers have accused Bahraini oversight bodies funded by Britain’s government of violating international law by allegedly failing to investigate torture allegations against two inmates on death row.

      Mohamed Ramadan and Husain Moosa face imminent execution in Bahrain after its Supreme Court last year confirmed death sentences imposed by a lower tribunal based on false confessions extracted through torture, according to legal charity Reprieve.

      The two men had been convicted for a 2014 bomb attack in the village of al-Dair that killed a policeman.

    • Nuclear Ban Group ICAN Wins Nobel Peace Prize as Trump Threatens to End Iran Deal & Nuke North Korea

      As the Nobel Committee made their announcement today in Oslo, President Trump is expected to “decertify” the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal next week. We speak with Tim Wright, the Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and go to Tehran and Washington to get response.

    • Recalling Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’ Rapes

      K.J. Noh: The term “Comfort Women” is a euphemism for the young women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military between 1932 and 1945 throughout the Asia Pacific region of Japan’s colonial “co-prosperity sphere.”

      It’s estimated that approximately between 200,000-400,000 women and girls, some as young as thirteen, were forced into an industrialized system of rape, “servicing” up to 60 soldiers a day. Scholars estimate that this resulted in a fatality rate of up to 90%. The system has been described as “considered unprecedented in its cruelty and magnitude,” and survivors have referred to “comfort stations” as “a living hell”, “a slaughter house”.

    • How Military Outsourcing Turned Toxic

      Fraud. Bribery. Incompetence. The military’s use of contractors adds to a legacy of environmental damage.

    • Shielding Saudis on Yemen Atrocities

      While rich Arab states bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, the U.S. government (starting with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump’s) has continued to support them not only through the sale of weapons, but also through mid-air refueling, targeting intelligence, and other logistical support.

      The international community has betrayed Yemenis over and over again – examples include the United Nation’s capitulation to Saudi pressure by removing it from the list of child killers and allowing the Saudi-led Coalition to investigate (and clear) itself from any wrongdoing. Even as an inquiry into Yemen war crimes was finally agreed recently, the word “investigation” was dropped, and it remains to be seen which “regional experts” will comprise the committee.

    • Senator: Someone Needs to Be Fired Over Wasted $65 Million Plane

      When it comes to Afghanistan, the Pentagon seems to have a penchant for buying planes that don’t fly.

      The military “wasted” nearly $65 million on a single inoperable plane that spent years resting on jacks in a warehouse and didn’t manage even one flight in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense inspector general recently reported. The plane, tricked out with sophisticated surveillance capabilities, was supposed to fly counternarcotics missions to disrupt Afghanistan’s vast heroin operations, but languished on its perch in Delaware.

      “Consequently, the DoD received no benefit for its more than seven years’ work and $64.8 million in funds wasted,” the inspector general wrote.

    • Ignoring Today’s ‘Great Hungers’

      The Sisters have embraced numerous projects to protect the environment, welcome refugees, and nonviolently resist wars. I felt grateful to reconnect with people who so vigorously opposed any Irish support for U.S. military wars in Iraq. They had also campaigned to end the economic sanctions against Iraq, knowing that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children suffered and died for lack of food, medicine and clean water.

      This year, the Sisters asked me to first meet with local teenagers who would commemorate another time of starvation imposed by an imperial power. Joe Murray, who heads Action from Ireland (Afri), arranged for a class from Dublin’s Beneavin De La Salle College to join an Irish historian in a field adjacent to the Dunshaughlin work house on the outskirts of Dublin.

      Such workhouses dot the landscape of Ireland and England. In the mid-Nineteenth Century, during the famine years, they were dreaded places. People who went there knew they were near the brink of death due to hunger, disease, and dire poverty. Ominously, behind the workhouse lay the graveyard.

    • The Time for a Debate on Gun Control Is Now

      Another horrific mass shooting has occurred in the United States. On the night of Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, a 64-year-old white man named Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on more than 20,000 people attending a country music festival below. The death count at the time of this writing stands at 59, with 527 injured. The immediate response must be: How do we prevent another massacre? But that is exactly the debate the Trump administration wants to avoid.

      White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the shooting from the podium of the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room – named in memory of President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, who was shot and paralyzed during a 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan.

    • Are Trump’s Efforts to Sabotage Iran Nuclear Deal a Precursor for U.S. War with Iran?

      Amid news of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, we turn now to look at whether President Donald Trump is trying to sabotage the Obama-brokered nuclear agreement with Iran and seek a war with Iran. According to The Washington Post, Trump is expected to announce next week the deal is not in the United States’ national interest, and will move to “decertify” the deal. If this happens, Congress will decide whether or not to reinstate harsh economic sanctions against Iran, potentially tanking the landmark deal. The move comes despite the fact the Trump administration begrudgingly certified that Iran has complied with its obligations under the agreement earlier this year, as has the International Atomic Energy Agency, which closely monitors Iran’s activities.

    • Kurdish Referendum Roils the Mideast

      What may have been conceived as a clever ploy by Masud’s eldest son, Masrour, to bolster the Barzani family’s flagging popularity by posing as a nationalist leader looks increasingly like a misstep. (Michel Rubin of AEI, has noted that “some [U.S.] Congressional staff and leaders with whom [Masrour] has met, came away from their meeting convinced that Masrour sought independence more to be heir apparent, in what will become hereditary [Kurdish] leadership, than out of sincere nationalistic concerns.”)

      And now, presidential and parliamentary elections — hastily called in the wake of the Oct. 3 death of former Iraqi President and Kurdish political leader Jalal Talibani — have descended into a mess. Rather than settle “the succession” upon his eldest son, Masud Barzani may instead have opened a wider struggle over leadership of the Kurdish people.

    • Challenging the Saudi Air War on Yemen

      The bill introduced by a bipartisan group of House members last week to end the direct U.S. military role in the Saudi coalition war in Yemen guarantees that the House of Representatives will vote for the first time on the single most important element of U.S. involvement in the war — the refueling of Saudi coalition planes systematically bombing Yemeni civilian targets.

    • Plummeting in Polls, Will Trump ‘Wag the Dog’ With Iran and North Korea?

      Trump is a blowhard and you can’t pay too much attention to his bluster or you’d never get any sleep.

    • Ellsberg, In Upcoming Book, Warns of Nuclear Dangers in the Era of Trump

      For most people, Daniel Ellsberg is known mainly for — or only for — the Pentagon Papers he leaked in 1971. And that’s plenty. It set in motion a landmark First Amendment case and led to shifts in public opinion that helped quicken the US withdrawal from Vietnam and the end to that war. Ellsberg was back in the public eye recently in relation to the epic 10-part PBS series on Vietnam, which included a lengthy segment on the Pentagon Papers — but his absence from the series as an interview subject drew criticism. Coming up: a movie drama on the Papers directed by Steven Spielberg.

      But, for me, the name Ellsberg does not immediately evoke “Vietnam” but rather “anti-nuclear.” And now he has written a book titled The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, to be published by Bloomsbury in December. In it he reveals that the 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers that he copied from his office at the Rand Corporation in 1969-70 were only “a fraction” of what he had borrowed from office safes. Much of the rest amounted to the “other” Pentagon papers — secret documents on US nuclear war plans and capabilities.

    • Normalising Russia

      There has been surprisingly little coverage of almost three hundred arrests yesterday of protestors across Russia demonstrating against Putin on his birthday. While the evidence so far is that demonstrations were not suppressed with the same level of brutal thuggery as witnessed in Spain, many more arrests were made which will have long term consequences for protestors.

      I fear the reason it was not covered much is that it is unsurprising. We have become habituated to the idea that democracy has not really taken root in Russia, and probably will not. But Putin’s continued domination of Russian politics, his playing of the system to avoid the restriction on number of terms, the elimination of the opposition media and the gradual but relentless tightening of the limits of free expression, are not inevitable.

      Children of the Cold War like myself were brought up to view Russia as isolated, threatening and entirely irrelevant to contemporary European culture. That of course is wrong. Russian writers, thinkers, scientists and composers are central to the very fabric of European civilisation. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bulgakov are as central to our thought as Tchaikovsky is to our emotion.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The dangerous hypocrisy of celebrating Obama while criminalizing Manning: Kanji

      Last month, two well-known Americans — former president Barack Obama, and whistleblower Chelsea Manning — were supposed to visit Canada. But while Obama was welcomed like a hero, Manning — who was prosecuted by the Obama administration for leaking materials that included evidence of American atrocities — was banned.

      Two weeks ago, Canadian border officials prohibited Manning from entering the country: a decision that Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he was unlikely to “interfere” with.

      Obama, in contrast, was eagerly embraced when he arrived in Toronto to deliver a speech last Friday. He was greeted by throngs of admirers and acclaimed by media commentators, whose only disappointment was that Obama was not more forthcoming in criticizing his successor.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • EPA photos show what US looked like before pollution regulation
    • Nate heralds latest US destruction as 2017 poised for record clean-up bill

      As Hurricane Nate crossed the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, it brought with it the prospect of yet more destruction in a storm-battered year that is shaping up to be the most costly on US record.

      Nate was set to be the fourth major hurricane to hit in quick succession, after Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated southern Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

      According to statistics issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) on Friday, the clean-up bill could be without precedent. The US government can also expect more unwelcome news about how climate change is intensifying such natural disasters.

    • Nate makes nine Atlantic hurricanes in a row—unprecedented in modern era

      On August 9th, deep in the southern Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Franklin reached 85mph winds before moving into Mexico. Although the storm dropped some heavy rains over the Mexican state of Veracruz, Franklin’s effects were relatively moderate, and it was soon forgotten.

      But following Franklin’s formation two months ago, eight additional tropical systems have developed and been assigned names by the National Hurricane Center. And during this frenetic season, all of those systems have become hurricanes as well. That’s nine in a row, which is unprecedented in the modern hurricane era.

    • The Coral Reef Economy

      Coral reefs are one of Earth’s most productive ecosystems — both in terms of biology and cold, hard cash. Healthy coral reef ecosystems do everything from supporting millions of jobs to protecting lives and valuable coastal infrastructure, like hotels and roads, from storms and waves. In fact, each year coral reefs pump more than $3.4 billion into the U.S. economy And that’s a conservative estimate!

      Despite all they do for us, our coral reef ecosystems are threatened. Climate change, pollution from the land and harmful fishing practices top the list of threats. Fortunately, it’s not too late to protect these resources.

    • ‘Recovery Efforts Have Continually Favored the Monied Classes’

      The New York Times may have meant well with their September 24 editorial headlined “Puerto Rico Is American. We Can’t Ignore It Now,” which called on “all Americans” to rally behind their “fellow citizens” as Puerto Rico faces staggering devastation after hurricanes Maria and Irma.

      But there’s something hollow about underscoring the “Americanness” of people who do not in fact have the same rights of US citizenship, and in describing the factors that make the disaster much worse, and harder to address—namely Puerto Rico’s crushing debt and stifled economy—as “persistent agonies,” as though they were endemic conditions which we can only look upon and lament.

      With thousands of people lacking water, electricity, fuel, food and homes, the hurricanes created one sort of crisis in Puerto Rico, but they brought another into stark relief. What possible ways forward are there that could address both? Ed Morales is a freelance journalist and poet. He teaches at the Center for Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, and is co-director of the documentary film Whose Barrio? about gentrification in East Harlem. He joins us now by phone. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Ed Morales.

    • Appetite for Destruction: Trump’s War on the Environment

      From the senseless slaughter in Las Vegas to the horrific impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, to Trump’s boisterous threats against North Korea and unfolding strife within the White House — it’s easy to get lost in the world’s madness and the nefarious mind of Prez Trump. It’s a dangerous vortex, no doubt, but Trump’s twitter storm and paper towel tossing photo ops are little more than a distraction from his administration’s unfettered assault on the environment.

      This past week, Team Trump quietly denied protection for 25 species that are on the verge of extinction, including the Pacific walrus and black-backed woodpecker. The reason, of course, is that science doesn’t mean jack shit to the corporate barons ruling our government.

    • We Lift You Up: Pretty Much Everyone Is Going Rogue To Help Puerto Rico

      In the same spirit, because the government can’t seem to get it together to help brown people suffering, many others have said they will. Groups of nurses, doctors and truckers have gone to the island, and multiple fundraising efforts are underway. Stephen Colbert, along with actor Nick Kroll, launched one of the more entertaining ones with #PuberMe. Daring celebrities to post their most cringe-worthy pre-pubescent photos of themselves complete with adolescent warts and angst – see John Oliver! – he promised to donate $1,000 per post to Puerto Rican relief. In a week, he raised a million dollars – or at least a thousand shy of a million until Lin-Manuel Miranda came by to help.

    • Climate change IS political, says Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley

      The Green Party will hit back at criticisms that it has politicised climate change at its conference next week – with co-leader Jonathan Bartley due to declare that global warming “is political”. The party conference kicks off in Harrogate on Sunday and Mr Bartley will give the leader’s speech on Monday. He will once again draw a link between extreme weather events such as hurricanes and climate change – as co-leader Caroline Lucas did in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma last month.

    • Warming Soils Could Trigger Potentially Unstoppable Climate Feedback Loop: Study

      New results from a long-term study point towards a potentially unstoppable feedback loop as earth’s rising temperatures drive soils to release more carbon emissions.

      As Bloomberg put it, “There’s a carbon bomb right under your feet.”

      Researchers behind the 26-year, ongoing experiment buried cables in a set plots in a Massachusetts forest and warmed the soil to 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) above the ambient temperature to see how their carbon emissions varied with control plots. They four phases of alternating soil carbon loss and carbon stability. Newsweek explains that “the team believes that during the peak periods, microbes [in the soil] are using up a plentiful supply of food. But when that runs out, the community has to find a new source of food, leading to the lulls in carbon release.”

    • The Spiraling Crisis of Puerto Rico

      Though President Trump bragged about the relatively low death toll from Hurricane Maria — 16 at the time of his visit on Tuesday — the number soon jumped to 34 and was expected to rise much more when isolated hospitals could finally report in.

      Many of the island’s 59 hospitals were cut off from power and half the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants lacked safe drinking water. The continuing crisis reflected a slow response from the federal government.

    • “It Was an Insult”: Rep. Nydia Velázquez on Trump’s Visit to Puerto Rico, Attacks on San Juan Mayor

      We get response from Puerto Rican-born Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) to President Trump’s visit to the island two weeks after Hurricane Maria, and his comments that he would help the U.S. territory wipe out its $73 billion debt to help it recover from the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Maria. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney later walked back the remarks.

    • Administration Blots Out Damning Data on Puerto Rico’s Lack of Power, Water From Federal Response Website

      The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has removed statistics on the large percentage of residents who still have no clean drinking water or electricity from its web page providing updates on the federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

      The Washington Post reported Thursday on the suppressed information.

      The page still exists, but no longer contains key data that 96 percent of the island’s residents still don’t have electricity and half still have no clean drinking water—statistics that clearly don’t comport with President Donald Trump’s positive pr spin on the administration’s highly-criticized response to the devastation.

      The data was still on the page as recently as Wednesday, but by Thursday had been wiped out.

  • Finance

    • The Elites ‘Have No Credibility Left:’ An Interview With Journalist Chris Hedges

      On Monday, WSWS International Editorial Board Chairman David North interviewed Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, lecturer and former New York Times correspondent. Among Hedges’ best-known books are War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, The Death of the Liberal Class, Empire of Illusion: the End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, which he co-wrote with the cartoonist Joe Sacco, and Wages of Rebellion: the Moral Imperative of Revolt.

      In an article published in Truthdig September 17, titled “The Silencing of Dissent,” Hedges referenced the WSWS coverage of Google’s censorship of left-wing sites and warned about the growth of “blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of ‘fake news.’”

    • US Chamber of Commerce calls Trump’s NAFTA proposals ‘highly dangerous’
    • Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

      Here’s how the alleged scam worked. JPMorgan moved to forgive the mortgages of tens of thousands of homeowners; the feds, in turn, credited these canceled loans against the penalties due under the 2012 and 2013 settlements. But here’s the rub: In many instances, JPMorgan was forgiving loans on properties it no longer owned.

    • Hacking Code/Space: Confounding the Code of Global Capitalism

      [...] first by emphasizing the relational aspect of these code/spaces, and second by showing how the digital algorithms of code/spaces are hackable rather than hegemonic. Using the case study of frequent flyer programs we demonstrate how networked knowledge sharing reshapes code/spaces to provide unintended opportunities such as low-cost travel and access to spaces normally only frequented by global elites.

    • New paper – Hacking Code/Space: Confounding the Code of Global Capitalism

      [...] we argue that while these sorts of practices are fun (and allowed us both something approaching unlimited mobility over the last few years), they have important (and more sinister) implications for what Doreen Massey refers to as ‘power geometries’.

    • How to hack frequent flyer miles for fun and profit

      This week, the Oxford Internet Institute published a new paper on the internet subculture of mile-churning, and it’s a surprisingly good introduction to the subculture. You’ll hear about the infamous Phillips Pudding Gambit, in which David accumulated 1.2 million miles by purchasing 12,150 cups of pudding that had been erroneously marked as individual purchases, thus achieving a legendary cost-per-mile of $.0025. There’s also the less well known Emmi Cheese Contango, in which a consortium of speculators purchased 1260 wheels of Emmi Swiss Gruyere for a slightly higher CPM of $.012.

    • German firms told to prepare for hard Brexit or face heavy losses

      German firms operating in the UK must brace themselves for a “very hard Brexit”, the Federation of German Industries has warned, as it called on its members to take precautions or be prepared to face heavy economic losses.

    • Don’t count on our independent Bank to stop Brexit disaster

      This Brexit business is an unmitigated disaster. As a senior European politician recently observed of the British: “It was heroic of you in 1940 to stand on your own against your enemies; it is ridiculous in 2017 to stand on your own against your friends.”

    • To Understand Amazon’s Delivery Ambitions, Consider the Long Game
    • Wells Fargo Offering Refunds Nationwide for Improper Mortgage Fees

      In a scandal that extended wider than was previously known, Wells Fargo said it would offer refunds to tens of thousands of customers who were improperly charged fees on home mortgages.

      ProPublica first reported earlier this year that the bank was chiseling customers by making them pay to extend interest rates on loans even when the delays were the bank’s fault. Current and former employees said at the time that the practice was especially prevalent in the Los Angeles area and Oregon. As it turns out, about 10 percent of the affected mortgages were in those two regions, and the rest were scattered nationwide, according to a person familiar with the issue. A Wells Fargo spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.

    • Week in Review: End of May reopens Tory Brexit wounds

      Who wins from a Tory leadership contest? The usual assumption is that it is Remainer Tories, who finally have a chance to get rid of a hard Brexit prime minister and replace her with one of their own. “The plot is by Remain MPs to topple the PM, destroy Boris and put a Remain leader in place to delay and possibly destroy Brexit,” Conservative backbencher Nadine Dorries tweeted this morning. Ukip’s Patrick O’Flynn clearly smells a plot as well. “Is there a single Tory backbencher who supported Leave in the referendum who now wishes to ditch the PM before spring 2019?” he asked.

    • ‘Two-thirds’ of Hammond’s £26bn Budget war chest faces wipeout

      As much as two-thirds of the £26bn of headroom in the public finances that the chancellor created last year as a buffer for the economy through the Brexit period is likely to be wiped out after the government’s fiscal watchdog concludes its forecasts for growth have been too optimistic.

      The Office for Budget Responsibility will publish on Tuesday a new analysis suggesting it has persistently over-estimated Britain’s productivity over the past seven years and will give a broad hint that it will rectify the situation with a more pessimistic Budget forecast.

    • Muhammad Yunus on Microfinance, Grameen Bank & How 5 Men Own More Wealth Than Half the World

      Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, joins us for an extended interview on microfinance, the Grameen Bank, and how five men own more wealth than half of the world. His new book is titled “A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions.”

    • Data Analysis: Bankruptcy and Race in America

      The main driver of this disparity is chapter choice. Black people struggling with debts are choosing to file under Chapter 13, as opposed to Chapter 7, at much higher rates. Unlike Chapter 7, which in almost all cases provides permanent debt relief within a matter of months, Chapter 13 is a particularly risky choice for these debtors, because Chapter 13 usually requires five years of payments before any debt is wiped out, and black Americans are much less likely to have the resources to run this gauntlet. Nationally, for the years 2008 through 2010, only 39 percent of Chapter 13 cases filed by debtors from majority black zip codes ultimately resulted in a discharge of debts. In contrast, 58 percent of the cases filed by debtors from majority white zip codes were discharged. When we examined this disparity, controlling for income and other factors, a large gap remained.

    • “The Very Rich Will Benefit”: Trump’s Proposed Tax Plan Makes It Clear

      Did anyone really believe Trump when he said of his tax plan: “It’s not good for me, believe me. We’re targeting relief to working families. We will make sure benefits are focused on the middle class, the working men and women, not the highest-income earners”? If so, it proves that there is indeed a sucker born every minute.

      Now that the GOP has released its nine-page proposal, it is clear only a liar or fool or both (the definition of a politician?) would believe this to be anything other than a boon to Trump and his swamp-mates. Just what are some of the benefits accruing to those least in need of tax relief?

      (1) The highest marginal tax rate (MTR) — for individual incomes in excess of $418,400 — will be reduced from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, a policy that (as I outlined in an earlier article for Truthout), is not economically stimulative. After all, people with everything already have everything. They take windfall wealth and simply sock it away in already bloated investment accounts.

    • Britain, divided

      A country divided; that’s how Britain has felt since last year’s vote to leave the European Union. Remoaners versus Hard Brexiteers, all shades of gray abandoned. But what if Britain was literally, physically divided?

      The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish have spent the months since the referendum grumbling about London’s approach to Brexit. Some even predict the union could be rent asunder as a result, with the Scots leading a domino effect of independence.

    • For-Profit Schools Get State Dollars For Dropouts Who Rarely Drop In

      Last school year, Ohio’s cash-strapped education department paid Capital High $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars to teach students on the verge of dropping out. But on a Thursday in May, students’ workstations in the storefront charter school run by for-profit EdisonLearning resembled place settings for a dinner party where most guests never arrived.

      In one room, empty chairs faced 25 blank computer monitors. Just three students sat in a science lab down the hall, and nine more in an unlit classroom, including one youth who sprawled out, head down, sleeping.

      Only three of the more than 170 students on Capital’s rolls attended class the required five hours that day, records obtained by ProPublica show. Almost two-thirds of the school’s students never showed up; others left early. Nearly a third of the roster failed to attend class all week.

    • Americans deepest in poverty lost more ground in 2016

      Although the overall U.S. poverty rate declined and incomes rose rapidly for the second straight year in 2016, many poor Americans fell deeper into poverty, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

      The official poverty rate was 12.7% last year, close to its pre-Great Recession level (12.5% in 2007). This represents 40.6 million people in poverty. But categorizing people as below or above the poverty line is just one way of looking at economic well-being.

    • Theresa May under pressure over ‘secret advice’ on halting Brexit

      Theresa May is under pressure to publish secret legal advice that is believed to state that parliament could still stop Brexit before the end of March 2019 if MPs judge that a change of mind is in the national interest. The move comes as concern grows that exit talks with Brussels are heading for disaster.

      The calls for the prime minister to reveal advice from the country’s top legal experts follow government statements declaring that Brexit is now unstoppable, and that MPs will have to choose between whatever deal is on offer next year – even if it is a bad one – or no deal at all.

    • Why it’s not too late to step back from the Brexit brink

      Last week, in response to a petition seeking a referendum on the final deal, the government not only refused to allow “the people” to decide on the terms of Brexit, it categorically stated that parliament will not be allowed to do so either. Parliament will instead be given what it calls “a meaningful vote … either [to] accept the final agreement or leave the EU with no agreement”.

      This is the opposite of “meaningful”; the government intends to refuse parliament the chance to reject both options – it must accept what is offered or take nothing at all. And this is the government’s position, irrespective of the dire consequences for our country or “the will of its people” to avoid them. Even though the UK could before March 2019 change its mind, the government says that it will on no account let that happen.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook’s chief security officer let loose at critics on Twitter over the company’s algorithms

      The algorithms can be fooled or gamed, and part of the criticism is that Facebook and other tech companies don’t always seem to appreciate that algorithms have biases, too.

    • Facebook Security Chief Warns of Dangers in Fake News Solutions

      The company sent a note to advertisers telling them it would start to manually review ads targeted to people based on politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues. The company is trying to figure out how to monitor use of its system without censoring ideas, after the Russian government used fake accounts to spread political discord in the U.S. ahead of the election.

    • Facebook to manually review some political, social issue ads: report

      Facebook says it will now require ads that target people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues” to be manually reviewed by Facebook staff before going live, according to an Axios report Saturday citing a recent company email to advertisers.

    • What the Supreme Court Says About Sitting Out the National Anthem

      When the president uses what used to be called his “bully pulpit” – but now is called “Twitter” – to attack a person or an issue, of course it has much broader consequences.

    • Paedophilia and Politicians

      Paedophilia is in fact thankfully rare in society. It is notoriously difficult to estimate but medical authorities rate sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children at around 2% of the male population. But that is a figure for those who feel any kind of attraction, not for those who are prepared to act on it. That figure is far, far smaller. But it is very hard to quantify. There are approximately 20,000 convictions per year in the UK, but as the crime mostly happens within families that is certainly an understatement of the incidence. Most of the convictions also involve a family relationship.

    • For-Profit Schools Reward Students for Referrals and Facebook Endorsements

      Lyla Elkins transferred to North Nicholas High School in Cape Coral, Florida, in 2016 with hopes of sailing through its computer-based courses and graduating early. She didn’t realize the for-profit charter school would also be a source of income: a $25 gift card each time she persuaded a new student to enroll.

      “I referred almost all of my friends,” said Elkins, 17, who earned three gift cards. She also won a Valentine’s Day teddy bear in a raffle for sharing one of the school’s Facebook posts.

    • The Breakthrough: How a Reporter Uncovered Widespread Russian Meddling — In the Olympics

      In the spring of 2016, a Russian government chemist named Grigory Rodchenkov sat across from Rebecca Ruiz of The New York Times and gave her the kind of scoop journalists dream of.

      He told Ruiz and her colleague Michael Schwirtz how he helped orchestrate the covert distribution of steroids to dozens of the country’s top athletes. Russia went on to win 33 Olympic medals at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi — more than any other country. At least a third of the medal winners were linked to the elaborate doping scheme.

    • That Mythical Pro-Spanish Majority in Catalonia

      The media constantly pumps out the lie that there is a silent anti-independence majority in Catalonia, which is merely curiously invisible.

      Consider this. The highest turnout ever at an election in Catalonia was the 74.9% in the 2015 Regional Election, with 4,130.196 people casting their vote. At Spanish general elections turnout is even lower, at 69%. A minimum of 25.1% of the population never vote at all. Of that 25% who do not vote, some will be dead, or moved away, but most are probably just not civilly engaged.

      The trick of the pro-Spanish lobby is to boycott polls on Independence, and then claim that this minimum 25% of the electorate who never vote at all anyway, are anti-Independence and participating in the boycott. In truth there are absolutely no grounds to attribute the minimum 25% habitual non-voters as anti-independence. Particularly the dead ones.

    • The Islamaphobia industry

      The prevalence of Islamophobia in liberal discourse is part of the mainstreaming of anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and anti-migrant racism that many believe to be the territory of the far right.

    • Sack Boris Johnson and reshuffle cabinet, senior Tories to tell May

      Theresa May must sack Boris Johnson and shake up her cabinet if she is to reassert her authority and silence talk of a leadership plot in the wake of this week’s calamitous party conference, Conservative MPs will tell her.

      Few backbenchers were willing to give their public backing on Friday to Grant Shapps, the former party chairman who emerged as the prime mover behind a bid to gather enough MPs to convince the prime minister to step down.

    • Trump approval hits record-low 32 percent in AP poll

      President Trump’s approval rating has sunk to a new low in a new Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey.

      Thirty-two percent of Americans polled said they approved of Trump’s handling of his job in office nine months into his presidency, while 67 percent of those polled said they disapproved.

      The president’s approval rating in the poll is down from 42 percent in March and 35 percent in June.

    • Green Party conference: Brexit and Grenfell Tower on agenda

      Like the Lib Dems, SNP and UKIP, the Greens saw their vote share fall in the 2017 general election, as 82% of voters backed the Conservatives or Labour.

      The party got 1.6% of the vote, down on the 3.8% it got in 2015, although it retained its Brighton Pavilion seat.
      The party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley, who will give a speech on Monday, said the Greens would say “things others won’t” – including on Brexit.

    • President Zigzag

      Trump essentially pulled the rug out from under the intermediaries by insulting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” threatening to “totally destroy” Kim’s nation of 25 million people, and calling for regime change in Iran. Trump’s bluster on Sept. 19 also deepened internal tensions with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was privately supporting the secret diplomacy.

    • Who’s Really in Charge of the Voting Fraud Commission?

      On Friday, in response to a judge’s order, the Department of Justice released data showing the authors, recipients, timing, and subject lines of a group of emails sent to and from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. They show that in the weeks before the commission issued a controversial letter requesting sweeping voter data from the states, co-chair Kris Kobach and the commission’s staff sought the input of Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams on “present and future” state data collection, and attached a draft of the letter for their review — at a moment when neither had yet been named to the commission.

      The commission’s letter requesting that data has been by far its most significant action since its formation in May — and was widely considered a fiasco. It sparked bipartisan criticism and multiple lawsuits. Yesterday, a state court blocked the state of Texas from handing over its data due to privacy concerns.

      The involvement by Adams and von Spakovsky, both Republicans, in drafting the letter even before they were nominated to the commission shows their influence. Von Spakovsky previously raised eyebrows after documents from February showed him lobbying against the inclusion of Democrats on the commission.

    • The Resident Evil

      At last, we know what it takes to bump RussiaGate off of MSDNC for a few hours: three deadly hurricanes and a mass shooting with nearly 600 victims. Trump took advantage of this lull in his prime-time persecution to publicly scold the distressed people of Puerto Rico for their alleged profligacy and indolence, before turning his consolatory ministrations toward the bloodbath in Las Vegas. The theologian-in-chief advised the appalled national audience that this was an act of “pure” and “unspeakable evil”—unspeakable, one presumes, because to name the evil would require him to face the specific evil at work in real terms, define the conditions which hatched it and punish the institutions that profit from its existence. Better politically to keep the precise nature of the “evil” in Vegas vague and eschatological.

      Just as I braced myself at the thought of Donald Trump launching into a moral homily on the evils of violence, the president shifted gears, offering a brisk psychological profile of the shooter as a “sick” and “deranged” man, a psycho who had managed to stockpile an arsenal of 49 guns of varying calibers and killing capacities and enough explosives to blow a hole in Hoover Dam. I must admit this prospect was not especially reassuring to me, but Trump seemed intent on making the point that the shooting rampage was not the work of a normal man. The nation could rest easy. The shootings in Las Vegas had nothing to tell us about the devolving nature of the American character.

    • Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point

      One afternoon in late September, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called a meeting of the six countries that came together in 2015 to limit Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. They gathered on the main floor of the United Nations headquarters, in Manhattan, in the “consultations room,” a private chamber where diplomats can speak confidentially before stepping onto the floor of the Security Council. Tillerson, who was the head of ExxonMobil before becoming President Trump’s top diplomat, had not previously met Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement with the Obama Administration. Tillerson’s career had been spent making deals for oil, and his views on such topics as Iran’s nuclear weapons were little known. Even more obscure were his skills as a diplomat.

      Sitting at a U-shaped table, Tillerson let the other diplomats—representatives of Germany, France, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Iran—speak first. When Zarif’s turn came, he read a list of complaints about the Trump Administration and its European partners. The nuclear deal had called for the removal of economic sanctions against Iranian banks, but, he said, the United States had not yet lifted them. “We still cannot open a bank account in the U.K.,” he said.

    • Caroline Lucas: Theresa May Quitting Cannot Solve Tories’ Brexit Catastrophe

      Theresa May stepping down as prime minister would not solve the Tories’ “Brexit catastrophe”, according to Parliament’s only Green MP.

      Caroline Lucas said May’s disastrous party conference speech must have been “an excruciating experience”, but that her resignation – being called for by a number of Conservative MPs, led by former party chairman Grant Shapps – would fail to address any problems.

      Speaking to HuffPost UK ahead of the Greens’ annual conference, which kicks off this weekend, Lucas said: “On a personal level my heart goes out to her, in the sense that it was clearly an excruciating experience that you wouldn’t wish on anybody. Having said that, the real disaster of that speech was not the prime minister’s cough, but more what was in the speech and a complete failure to address the overwhelmingly important issues of the day.

    • Get Involved With the Fight to Restore America’s Voting Rights

      The wave of voter suppression measures accelerated after the 2010 elections, with politicians enacting new laws that made it more difficult to register to vote and curtailed access to the ballot box. This effort got a boost from the Trump administration, which launched its own attacks on voting rights. Following President Trump’s baseless claim that 3 to 5 million people committed voter fraud during the 2016 election, the administration created the sham Pence-Kobach commission to push for restrictive voting laws.

    • America’s Hypocrisy on Democracy

      The U.S. government explicitly mentioned the specter of “one man, one vote, one time” in condoning in 1992 the Algerian military’s cancellation of the second round of a legislative election that the Islamic Salvation Front, which had won a plurality in the first round, was poised to win. The military’s intervention touched off a vicious civil war in which hundreds of thousands of Algerians died.

      History has indeed offered examples of rulers coming to power through democratic means and then clinging to power through undemocratic means. Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany only after his Nazi Party had won pluralities in two successive free elections in 1932. But there is no reason to associate such scenarios with Islamists more so than with parties of other ideological persuasions.

      A relevant modern data point is Tunisia, the one Arab country in which democracy took hold as a result of the Arab Spring. The Islamist Ennahdha Party won a free election in 2011 and formed a government but willingly stepped down in 2014 after it lost much of its public support, very much in the mold of how governments in parliamentary democracies in the West vacate office after losing the public’s confidence.

    • Losses at Trump’s Scottish resorts doubled last year

      Donald Trump boasts of making great deals, but a financial report filed with the British government shows he has lost millions of dollars for three years running on a couple of his more recent big investments: his Scottish golf resorts.

      A report from Britain’s Companies House released late Friday shows losses last year at the two resorts more than doubled to 17.6 million pounds ($23 million). Revenue also fell sharply.

      In the report, Trump’s company attributed the results partly to having shut down its Turnberry resort for half the year while building a new course there and fixing up an old one.

    • Russian Journalist Masha Gessen on Trump & Putin’s Autocracy and Media’s Refusal to Call Out Lies

      As the Senate Intelligence Committee says Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, we discuss Russia and Trump with Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen. Her new book, “The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” has just been shortlisted for the National Book Award and offers a warning to the United States today as she points to the similarities between Trump and Putin, and warns of the threat of autocracy under a Trump presidency.

    • The Madness of Donald Trump

      He said monstrous things and lied with stunning disinhibition, and when the civilized world recoiled in horror, he seemed to take sadistic pleasure in every minute – win or lose, the run was pure glory for him, a Sherman’s March of taboo politics and testosterone fury that would leave a mark on America forever.

      There was one more thing. Candidate Trump may have been crazy, but it was craziness that on some level was working. Even at his lowest and most irrational moments – like his lunatic assault on the family of fallen soldier Humayun Khan, in which he raved to the grieving Gold Star parents about how it was he, Trump, who had “made a lot of sacrifices” – you could argue, if you squinted really hard, that it was strategy, a kick to the base.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Why does Britain want to put the public in prison for fact-checking claims in the mainstream media?

      British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a fifteen-year prison sentence for watching terrorist propaganda, whatever that means this week. There is an exception for academics and journalists with “legitimate reason” to watch the material firsthand. But this also means the general public is going to be banned, under threat of a long prison sentence, from fact-checking such stories in the mainstream media.

    • The Many Problems With the Trump Administration’s Plan to Hold on to Some Immigrants’ Social Media Posts

      The policy is another part of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

      The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a public notice that, among other things, indicates the department has expanded the records it retains in immigrants’ files to include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.” Following initial media reporting on the notice, we’ve been hearing from green card holders and naturalized citizens who are worried that DHS will now be monitoring their social media use on an ongoing basis.

      That’s not what the notice announces, but it is cause for concern. To understand what the notice means for immigrants, it’s important to start with where it came from. DHS issued it under the Privacy Act, which applies only to citizens and lawful permanent residents, and which requires the government to issue notices like this one when it modifies “systems of records” — i.e., databases with information that could be used to identify individuals.

    • Podcasts Explore Academic Censorship in China

      While efforts to censor Western publications can be thwarted by the publications themselves, as they were by the Journal of Asian Studies, the situation is much more restrictive for Chinese researchers. Starting in 2014, the Party escalated a campaign against Western values in Chinese universities, imposing restrictions on curriculum and requiring “ideological oversight” of teaching staff. Jane Puckett, who is on the executive committee of the China Quarterly, has called on international universities to beware of increasing censorship within China. Holly Else reports for Times Higher Education…

    • University of Wisconsin approves protest punishment policy

      University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments.

      The Board of Regents adopted the language on a voice vote during a meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. The policy states that students found to have twice engaged in violence or other disorderly conduct that disrupts others’ free speech would be suspended. Students found to have disrupted others’ free expression three times would be expelled.

      “Perhaps the most important thing we can do as a university is to teach students how to engage and listen to those with whom they differ,” system President Ray Cross told the regents. “If we don’t show students how to do this, who will? Without civil discourse and a willingness to listen and engage with different voices, all we are doing is reinforcing our existing values.”

    • Big Canadian ISP is actually asking the Canadian Government for Internet censorship

      Bell Canada, one of Canada’s major ISPs, is requesting the Canadian government to create a governmental censorship regime, blacklisting resources that Canadians shall not be reading. According to Bell Canada, this is necessary to “prevent people from leaving regulated television and turning to piracy instead”. It is not explained how leaving the regulated TV system, or forcing new services onto the market by turning to unlicensed distribution, is a bad thing in itself.

    • Britain announces 15 years in prison for reading banned literature

      British lawmakers have announced 15 years in prison for taking part of banned literature. However, the threat of prison only covers new story formats that lawmakers think don’t deserve the same kind of protection as old-fashioned books: it’s only people who watch video on the Internet who will be put in prison, and only when they watch something that promotes terrorism, whatever that means this week.

    • Bethesda: Anti-Nazi game wasn’t meant to “incite political discussions”

      Bethesda, publisher of the upcoming shooting game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, has issued a formal response to decidedly informal (and largely anonymous) criticisms surrounding the anti-Nazi game. In doing so, however, the company has made the curious decision to try to absolve itself of particularly political overtones.

    • Netizen Report: LGBT People Face Online Censorship and Threats in Egypt, Jordan

      Egypt’s broadcast regulator, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, has banned all forms of support to the LGBTQ community, allegedly to “maintain public order”. The move came after a rainbow flag was raised at a concert of the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo on 22 September. The band supports LGBTQ rights and its lead singer Hamed Sinno is openly gay.

      Egyptian authorities arrested dozens of concert goers and have since launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

    • Alibaba’s censorship for sex toys is AMAZE-BALLS
    • Fears of censorship grow as Facebook begins ‘human review’ of potentially sensitive ads

      Facebook says it will begin manually reviewing advertisements that target certain groups and address politics, religion, ethnicity and social issues.

      The company has informed some advertisers about the new “human review” requirement, warning them that it might cause delays before their ads can appear on the social media platform.

    • Censorship attempts typically will backfire

      I don’t think people should ever tell anyone else what to read or what to think (“Parents: Remove book from reading list,” Reading Eagle, Sept. 26). The best way to sell a book is to say that it shouldn’t be read. I am 82 and well past the age where it matters, but I had never read “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I just ordered my copy from Amazon.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Amber Rudd knows nothing about encryption, says Amber Rudd

      Speaking at the Conservative Party conference earlier this week the UK home secretary, Amber Rudd, stated that she didn’t need to “understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping the criminals.” She does, however, need to understand how backdooring encryption would disadvantage perfectly legitimate businesses and potentially cost them dearly.

      With such things as the EU General Data Protection Regulation coming into play in May next year, and the UK Data Protection Bill already progressing through Parliament, encryption is a topic that will not be going away. It’s vital that businesses not only know under what circumstances encryption should be implemented, but also understand the how such encryption gels with the regulatory compliance process. That Rudd is, in effect, muddying the waters with demands for technical solutions to enable encryption to be broken on demand is unhelpful to say the least.

    • Smart jewelry tested: do beautiful devices have the brains to compete?

      I tested out a few of these pieces of smart jewelry to see if their fashion sense, combined with their tech chops, really set them apart from their traditional wearable counterparts.

    • On encryption, the UK sets a collision course with Europe

      Is encryption a threat to law and order, or an essential tool for staying secure online? Two events this week show how much disagreement there still is about it.

      First, at a meeting at the Conservative party conference earlier this week the UK’s home secretary Amber Rudd said technology experts had been “patronising” and “sneering” at politicians who try to regulate their industry.

    • Face scans at the border to keep track of EU migrants after Brexit

      A controversial requirement to fingerprint EU nationals who want to work in the UK after Brexit has been dropped from a forthcoming immigration white paper.

      Instead ministers will require EU visitors to the UK to their faces scanned if they want to stay and work in the UK, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

      The news will ease concerns of critics that EU nationals might feel they were being criminalised if they were finger printed for trying to work legally in the UK.

    • The Israeli algorithm criminalizing Palestinians for online dissent

      The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) arrest of West Bank human rights defender Issa Amro for a Facebook post last month is the latest in the the PA’s recent crackdown on online dissent among Palestinians. Yet it’s a tactic long used by Israel, which has been monitoring social media activity and arresting Palestinians for their speech for years – and has recently created a computer algorithm to aid in such oppression.

      Since 2015, Israel has detained around 800 Palestinians because of content they wrote or shared online, mainly posts that are critical of Israel’s repressive policies or share the reality of Israeli violence against Palestinians. In the majority of these cases, those detained did not commit any attack; mere suspicion was enough for their arrest.

    • Treasury’s IG probing illegal surveillance allegations
    • 58 Human Rights and Civil Liberties Organizations Demand an End to the Backdoor Search Loophole
    • Judge denies bond for accused NSA leaker
    • LinkNYC Improves Privacy Policy, Yet Problems Remain

      Since first appearing on the streets of New York City in 2016, LinkNYC’s free public Wi-Fi kiosks have prompted controversy. The initial version of the kiosks’ privacy policy was particularly invasive: it allowed for LinkNYC to store personal browser history, time spent on a particular website, and lacked clarity about how LinkNYC would handle government demands for user data, among others issues. While CityBridge, the private consortium administering the network, has thankfully incorporated welcome changes to its use policy, several problems unfortunately remain.

    • These 13 House Reps sponsored a bill to legalize mass surveillance on Americans and called it the USA Liberty Act

      Section 702 permits the warrant-less targeting of foreign targets located in international places, not on US soil. However, in practice, the mass surveillance has picked up US citizens data – and the NSA refuses to state how many Americans’ are caught up in this surveillance database. However, the USA Liberty Act would codify this mass surveillance. The USA Liberty Act is an affront on the average American’s intelligence – and is even worse than the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Act put forth by these 9 Senators.

    • National Security Agencies Are Evading Congressional Oversight

      Last week, federal officials from several spy agencies engaged in a full court press in Washington, spinning facts before media outlets, flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists, and bringing lawmakers to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Ft. Meade headquarters to feed them selective information about their unconstitutional mass surveillance activities. Predictably omitted from these conversations are the many Americans from across the political spectrum who have raised concerns, ranging from constitutional and commercial to security-related, that have rightfully dogged federal mass surveillance efforts since their revelations—not in official proceedings, but rather by whistleblowers—in 2005 and 2013.

      Rather than embrace bipartisan calls for long overdue and constitutionally necessary limits, executive officials have instead chosen to shoot the proverbial messengers, vilifying whistleblowers and building new programs to prevent others from ever coming forward. Last week’s meetings included claims that particular examples of mass surveillance proved useful, ignoring its repeated failures. While the appearance of security may be comforting to some, NSA veterans have identified discarded programs that, relative to their replacements, reportedly did a better job of protecting national security while also protecting the privacy of Americans by encrypting data collected within the U.S. and requiring a warrant for investigators to access it.

    • Kaspersky denies involvement in alleged Russian NSA breach

      Security firm Kaspersky Lab has soundly denied claims that its software was used by the Russian government to steal confidential documents belonging to a contractor of the US National Security Agency.

    • NSA breach leads to theft of government spy software
    • California won’t require Uber, Lyft drivers to be fingerprinted

      California regulators won’t require ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to get fingerprinted as part of their background checks to operate in the Golden State. Taxi drivers, however, must be fingerprinted in California.

      The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates the ride-hailing industry, said that “after much consideration and debate,” criminal background checks on drivers that don’t include fingerprint checks are all that will be required, and those checks must be done by an accredited company and performed annually.

    • Judge Denies Bail for Reality Winner, Accepting Prosecutor’s Dubious Allegations

      ON THURSDAY, A FEDERAL judge denied a second request for bail from Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor accused of violating the Espionage Act, despite an admission from the federal prosecutor in charge of the case that the government relied on false information in Winner’s initial bail hearing.

      In his decision denying bail, Judge Brian Epps did not acknowledge or reference the prosecutor’s false statements, despite the statement having been a principal reason the defense moved for the renewed hearing.

      The fight over whether Winner should be released pending trial stemmed from her bail hearing shortly after she was indicted in June. Winner was initially denied bail partly on the basis of alleged jailhouse recordings that suggested she may have other classified documents that she wanted to make public.

    • Russian Hackers Pilfered Data from NSA Contractor’s Home Computer: Report
    • US security secrets reportedly stolen in Russian NSA hack
    • Wall Street Journal Reporter Says Vital Information Was Exposed In NSA Breach

      NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly speaks with writer Shane Harris, one of the journalists who broke the story of the major security breach at the National Security Agency for the Wall Street Journal.

    • NSA: There’s a New Normal on the Nation-State Front

      The NCTOC’s primary mission is defending the non-classified US Department of Defense (DoD) network and its 2.9 million users that are spread everywhere from office buildings in DC to battlegrounds in Afghanistan. It also works hand-in-hand with US Cyber Command to protect other federal agencies, including the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security. The group also is in the process of moving to an integrated cyber-center that will house 250 people. “We’re talking six-foot walls and the whole nine,” said Hogue. “It will be the center of the universe for how we defend cyber.”

      [...]

      As to the former, he said that the US government network rejects 85% of the emails that it receives on a daily basis. “90% of intrusions we see come from phishing, whaling and spear phishing, and it’s just a relentless barrage of emails. It still works,” Hogue said.

    • Forget Kaspersky Labs, it’s the NSA that sucks at security
    • Privacy of Web Request API
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Sheriff, Deputies Indicted After Subjecting Entire High School To Invasive Pat Downs

      According to school policies, students may be searched if there’s reasonable suspicion the student is in possession of an illegal item. The same rules apply to law enforcement, but they were ignored here. Sheriff Hobby claimed he could search any student he wanted to (in this case, all of them) simply because he was accompanied by a school administrator.

    • Ga. student in massive school drug search felt ‘sexually violated’
    • Ga. sheriff indicted for sexual battery in high school drug search

      A south Georgia grand jury indicted Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby on Tuesday for sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office after he ordered a school-wide search of hundreds of high school students. Deputies allegedly touched girls vaginas and breasts and groped boys in their groin area during the search at the Worth County High School April 14.

      Two of Hobby’s deputies were also indicted Tuesday in connection with the case.

      The controversial search drew national attention because of how the body search of students was conducted under the guise of a drug search, but produced no drugs or arrests.

    • The House Is Moving Along a Bill Worth $10 Billion That Would Fund Trump’s ‘Big, Beautiful’ Wall and Expand His Deportation Force

      A House committee advanced a bill yesterday that will only make the unconstitutional abuses at our borders worse.

      Last month, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics concluded “the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.” Between 2000 and 2016, Border Patrol apprehensions declined by 72 percent. The decline has been so significant that the average border agent is catching about one migrant per month. Despite this, there are thousands more Border Patrol agents now than even 10 years ago, as the force more than doubled after 9/11 to over 21,000 authorized personnel today.

      The fact of the matter is that U.S. border security is more than adequate, unless you’re a Republican member of Congress that is.

    • NYT Reveals Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein
    • Bishop Cantu Reiterates Call To Pentagon To Close Guantanamo Bay Prison

      Moral and financial reasons require the Pentagon to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace reiterated in a letter to the secretary of defense.

      Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, also said in an Oct. 3 letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis that any of the 41 remaining detainees who have been cleared of charges should be transferred to new host countries and that no new detainees should be assigned to the prison.

      The bishop called for the continuation of periodic review of the cases of the detainees who remain, saying “indefinite detention without trial is also inhumane.”

    • Swedish model gets rape threats after ad shows her unshaved legs

      A Swedish model says she has received rape threats for posing in an advertisement with unshaved legs.

      Arvida Byström, who is also a photographer and digital artist, appears in a video and photograph promoting Adidas Originals’ Superstar range. Byström, who has described the norm for women to shave as “fucked”, has hairy legs in the images and says she has faced a vicious backlash as a result.

      She wrote on Instagram: “Me being such an abled, white, cis body with its only nonconforming feature being a lil leg hair. Literally I’ve been getting rape threats in my DM inbox. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to not possess all these privileges and try to exist in the world. Sending love and try to remember that not everybody has the same experiences being a person.”

    • These Photos Plunge You Into the Inner Madness of Guantánamo

      Debi Cornwall’s Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay (Radius Books) is an exhaustively researched, exceptionally photographed documentation of one the most heavily guarded prisons in the world. The way in which photographs, interviews, and government documents intersect and overlap in a multifaceted layout makes the physical book itself becomes important to the narrative. As Cornwalls says, the fold-over pages and other layout elements invite the reader to either “take what is given or choose to dig a little deeper.” It’s rare to find a photobook in which the book doesn’t just act as an outlet, but actually amplifies the power of the work within.

    • Why students are ignorant about the Civil Rights Movement

      The Civil Rights Movement was once a footnote in Mississippi social studies classrooms, if it was covered at all. Then, in 2011, Mississippi became a “model” for other states when new social studies standards set an expectation that students learn civil rights in depth.
      But despite those new expectations, most school districts in the state where the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till mobilized black Americans still use textbooks that give local civil rights milestones short shrift.

    • How A Bond Hearing Saved Me From Deportation

      Before Jennings, people fighting deportation could be detained indefinitely while they defend their rights to remain in the United States. This includes lawful permanent residents like me; asylum seekers and survivors of torture; the parents of young children who are citizens; and even citizens who are wrongly classified as immigrants. Many go on to win their deportation cases, which means their detention was completely unnecessary.

    • We’re Challenging Muslim Ban 3.0, Which Is Just More of the Same

      President Trump signed the third version of his Muslim ban executive order on Sept. 24, about two weeks before the case involving the second version of the ban was to be argued before the Supreme Court. This action led the court to cancel oral arguments on the earlier version so that the parties could address whether the new order renders the Trump administration’s appeal moot.

      In the meantime, the ACLU has returned to the federal district court to challenge the new order, which is set to go into effect on Oct. 18.

      The new ban indefinitely bans people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, five overwhelmingly Muslim countries that were also targeted by the earlier versions. The order emphasizes that countries are being banned because they have not cooperated in providing information for visa vetting. Yet Somalia remains banned even though it does live up to the government’s new visa cooperation standards.

    • 112 CASE MOVES FORWARD AGAINST HISTORIAN FOR DOUBTING 16TH CENTURY ‘ELEPHANT DUEL’

      A famed social critic and intellectual elder accused of defaming the monarchy by questioning whether a royal elephant battle really happened four centuries ago said he’s been ordered to appear before military prosecutors.

      Sulak Sivaraksa, 84, said Thursday night that he’s been told to report Monday morning to police who will take him to a military court to meet with prosecutors preparing a case against him for allegedly criticizing a king who reigned from 1590 to 1605.

    • The Importance of Training Teachers to Better Understand Their Native Students

      Native American students make up 1.4 percent of the students in Washington state public schools. And they have the lowest graduation rate of any ethnic group, with just 56.4 percent earning a high school diploma in four years.

      “I was that young person, I dropped out of school. I was one of those statistics of Native women dropouts,” says Dawn Hardison-Stevens, who is a member of the Steilacoom Tribal Council.

      Hardison-Stevens, who at the time was a young mother with a 3-year-old and a newborn, says that a school counselor convinced her to get a high school diploma rather than just a GED. That extra push led her to pursue college, then graduate school, and then eventually to where she is today—working as program manager of the Native Education Certificate Program at the University of Washington.

    • Why the Harvey Weinstein Sexual-Harassment Allegations Didn’t Come Out Until Now

      His behavior toward women was obviously understood to be a bad thing—this was a decade after Anita Hill’s accusations against Clarence Thomas had helped the country to understand that sexual harassment was not just a quirk of the modern workplace, but a professional and economic crime committed against women as a class. But the story felt fuzzier, harder to tell about Harvey: the notion of the “casting couch” still had an almost romantic reverberation, and those who had encountered Weinstein often spoke of the conviction that they would never be believed.

    • Spain: how a democratic country can silence its citizens

      Yet the authorities’ response to the protests has been characterised by unnecessary and excessive force. They have fined participants and organisers, harassed, stigmatised and imprisoned ordinary people on criminal charges and introduced legislation that imposes additional restrictions on the freedom of peaceful assembly.

      Sadly, the organisers of protests and the participants face many challenges when trying to gather peacefully and express their views to those they voted into power. First of all, a gathering or demonstration with more than 20 people requires prior notification to the authorities, in writing and at least 10 days in advance—Spanish legislation doesn’t allow for spontaneous demonstrations.

    • British tourist faces jail in Dubai after brushing against man in bar

      A British tourist is facing a three-year jail sentence in Dubai after putting his hand out in a bar to stop himself spilling his drink and touching a man’s hip, according to his representatives.

      Campaign group Detained in Dubai said Jamie Harron, from Stirling, central Scotland, was arrested for public indecency. Harron is said to have since lost his job and has spent more than £30,000 in expenses and legal fees, having already been stuck in the country for three months.

    • Arizona man receives death threats for handing in guns to police

      A Phoenix man who posted pictures on Facebook giving his guns over to local police says he received multiple death threats after the post went viral. The original post, which has since been deleted, showed 36-year-old Jonathan Pring posing with his tactical rifle, then handing a bag of guns to the officer.

      Pring, a dual citizen of the US and Britain, said he wanted to make a change after the shooting deaths of 58 people in Las Vegas on October 1. The post is still circulating around Facebook, garnering more threats from people who say Pring should be shot and some who shared his home address to the social media site, according to the Phoenix New Times.

    • As Jeff Sessions Guts Federal Oversight of Policing, It Opens the Door for Long-Needed Local Oversight

      It’s time to demand that state and local prosecutors step up when it comes to monitoring police actions and practices.

      As President Trump spends his time denigrating black NFL players and their allies who are protesting police brutality, racial inequity, and a broken criminal justice system, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is working hard to make these problems even worse.

      Earlier this month, Sessions ended a federal police oversight program widely shown to be effective in curbing abusive policing. That follows Sessions’ announcement earlier this year that he was reexamining all Obama-era agreements between the Justice Department and troubled police departments, a move widely expected to result in the termination of these agreements or to render them toothless by refusing to enforce them.

    • Are Mexicans Indigenous?

      As many US states and municipalities have begun to eschew the colonial tradition of “Columbus Day” in favor of adopting Monday’s holiday as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” one might wonder where people of Mexican heritage fit in.

    • White and black men legally openly carry assault rifle down US streets — but police reactions are very different

      A social experiment has shown how police react to a white man and black man legally carrying an assault rifle along an American street.

      In the film by left-wing political organisation Occupy Democrats, a white man is seen carrying a semi-automatic AR-15.

      A police officer then approaches the man, named as Warren at the start of the film, and asks to see his ID.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC will allow Alphabet’s Project Loon to deliver air balloon LTE to Puerto Rico

      The Federal Communications Commission yesterday granted Alphabet-owned Project Loon an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for the purpose of helping the islands regain connectivity. The license extends from October 6th until April 4th, 2018, and it was granted to Ben Wojtowicz, a software engineer and member of Alphabet’s X lab who works on Project Loon.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Salt Lake Comic Con Fights Back Against Judge’s ‘Unprecedented’ Gag Order

        As you will recall, the trademark dispute between the San Diego Comic Convention and the Salt Lake Comic Con is now in full swing. Thus far, the action has been somewhat strange, with the SLCC getting some pushback from the court based on what looks to be a flipflopping of exactly what defense it is claiming. That flipflopping has mostly amounted to varied claims by SLCC, run by Dan Farr Productions, that San Diego Comicon trademark for “comicon” was either generic at the time it was granted the mark or has become generic since being granted the mark. Due to that, Judge Anthony Battaglia has allowed the jury trial to move forward instead of issuing a judgment. But before he did so, Battaglia also issued a somewhat strange gag order on the Salt Lake Comic Con, prohibiting it from putting information about the case on its website, engaging the press regarding the trial, and even requiring Dan Farr Productions to put a disclaimer on its website about the injunction. At the time, we wrote that the gag order seemed strange and likely a violation of First Amendment rights.

    • Copyrights

      • Defending Users in NAFTA 2.0: Who Are We Up Against?

        After three rounds of negotiations, with a fourth coming up fast, we are still in the early days of NAFTA 2.0. In particular, the fight over copyright in NAFTA is just beginning, with the United States submitting its opening bid for the Intellectual Property chapter just last week.

        What does that bid look like? It’s hard to say, because the negotiation process is opaque and exclusionary. But even with what little information we have, we can already identify some of the key protagonists in this unfolding battle, and some of the positions that they have been lobbying their governments to adopt.

        [...]

        Unfortunately, it does seem that the USTR has taken the music industry letter to heart. The initial draft IP chapter did not include a provision on balanced copyright limitations and exceptions such as fair use, despite the inclusion of such a provision in the previous trade agreement that it negotiated, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). And although the ISP safe harbor provision was not omitted altogether, its inclusion was in the form of placeholder text only, suggesting that the USTR does intend to make changes to the TPP’s rules on that topic.

      • Students Overwhelmingly Vote Pirate Party in Simulated “General Election”

        People in Need, a nonprofit that implements educational and human rights programs in crisis zones, has just released the results of a rather interesting project. After polling more than 40,000 Czech students aged 15 and above in a simulated general election, the local Pirate Party booked a decisive victory.

Thugs United: Francis Gurry Lecture, Courtesy of Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Australia, Europe, Law, Patents at 6:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law school featuring talks from (and in honour of) people who break the national law and then claim immunity

Battistelli's Gurry Lecture on Intellectual Property

Summary: On the black comedy which is a lecture in a law school delivered by one who shows flagrant disregard for the law (and named after another)

What does it say about a law school when it invites and honours people who break the law? That certainly brings back memories of last month’s Harvard debacle.

The University of Melbourne Law School says that “Mr Benoît Battistelli will be presenting the Francis Gurry Lecture on Intellectual Property on Wednesday 18 October 2017 on the topic “The European Patent System: Serving the Global Economy”.”

“Do they know much about Battistelli? Have they researched his background before inviting him to a law school?”“In this year’s Lecture,” says another page, “the President of the EPO will explain these developments and explore their implications and benefits for Australian innovators.”

Do they know much about Battistelli? Have they researched his background before inviting him to a law school?

Both Battistelli and Gurry are governing like dictators who boast their utter disregard for the law and/or their immunity. For a law school to invite a person with such a terrible record when it comes to obeying the law is an utter disgrace. And to honour or name the lecture after another? Just because he’s Australian?

Patent Microcosm, Patent Media and Patent Office: “It’s a Big Club and You Ain’t in It”

Posted in America, Patents at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

To use the famous saying from George Carlin

Great Seal of the United States

Summary: When the national patent law is constructed behind closed doors by a cabal of lawyers and few opportunists who attempt to justify their own existence rather than represent the innovators who they claim to be “protecting”

THE world has plenty of conflicting interests. The war industry, for instance, has a tremendous leverage over foreign policy. This would probably surprise nobody, but the same is true at the USPTO and the patent ‘industry’. Just look at their echo chamber-type events. Nowadays, it’s almost an accident if an actual engineer has a say on the subjects debated (sometimes they let some lawyer of massive corporations have a say).

What about judges? Well, they too are typically former lawyers.

And watch how Dennis Crouch categorises them (just before the weekend): “Chief Judge Prost, Judge Taranto and Judge Hughes – would not be identified as overly pro-patentee.”

Well, as if they fall into a category. At least he didn’t use a term like “anti-patents” or “anti-innovation” as Watchtroll likely would. Watchtroll has already called for the firing of one of their colleagues. Here is what Crouch wrote:

On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated the injunction – holding that the district court made reversible errors with regard to written description and enablement. Before walking through the decision, I’ll note here that the Federal Circuit panel here – made up of Chief Judge Prost, Judge Taranto and Judge Hughes – would not be identified as overly pro-patentee.

The problem is that many people read sites like the above, as well as Watchtroll. They wrongly assume there’s insight there because of the profession, often forgetting that this profession attempts to perpetuate if not expand itself. So the bias is dyed in the wool.

Days ago Watchtroll was reposting that old press release that said “Bednarek began his career in the early 1980s as patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, examining some of the first software patents granted by the agency.”

He is moving from public to private, just like the crooked David Kappos. We wrote about it exactly a week ago. Nowadays software patents are no longer recognised by courts, but the USPTO continues to grant these. PTAB, which is run by David Ruschke, knows all about Alice, but he too will be lobbied in another echo chamber-type event of IAM, according to this blog post from a few days ago. Does he know who is funding IAM? Does he really want to be associated with that? Also in that event there will be the person behind the STRONGER Patents Act — a bill which strives to do the very opposite of making patents stronger. It could be renamed the Patent Trolling Act. To quote IAM: “Among the outstanding faculty members are: Senator Chris Coons, co-sponsor of the STRONGER Patents Act introduced into the Senate earlier this year; Joseph Matal, acting head of the US Patent and Trademark Office; and David Ruschke, chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. They will be joining a number of other high-profile figures from the US patent community…”

The term “US patent community” just means the patent microcosm.

As we said a long time ago, IAM is in the business of lobbying and we know who it’s lobbying for; just follow the money.

Herein lies the key point. The media that covers patents, the patent ‘industry’ and the branch of government that deals with patents are all in the same bed. Their goal — unlike courts’ goal — is to just throw patents at everything. It cannot go on like this. That’s like putting companies that manufacture bombs in charge of foreign policy; obviously they would initiate war at any opportunity.

This is a real problem that more people ought to be speaking about. Such an incestuous relationship reveals disturbing lack of separation, maybe even collusion.

The other day IAM spoke to some law firms about patent policy. Here is what one firm from Malaysia said about software patents:

To what extent can inventions covering software or computer-implemented inventions be patented?

It is possible to protect software-related inventions in Malaysia, provided that these meet the statutory definition of an ‘invention’ (ie, an idea that solves a technical problem). Data processing which involves no technical effect or advance does not constitute a patentable invention. Software inventions which are construed as business methods are not patentable, as business methods are excluded from patentability.

According to MyIPO’s patent examination guidelines, claims directed to a computer program per se or a computer program embodied on a carrier, regardless of its content, are not allowed. A computer program may be patentable if the claimed subject matter makes a technical contribution to the art (eg, program-controlled machines or program-controlled manufacturing processes).

According to this, the rules in Malaysia are somewhat similar to what happens in the EPO. The End Software Patents (ESP) campaign said (back in 2010) that “Malaysia Section 13(1)(a) of the Malaysian Patents Act 1983 excludes from patentable subject matter “discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods” and paragraph (c) excludes “schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games”.”

As we showed many times before, national policies on patents (in various patent offices) are often put together by the patent ‘industry’ and are influenced by their lobbyists. As soon as public officials find out about public views (the stance of those impacted by these laws) they correct these laws, as Australia recently did.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part VII: Quo Vadis EPO?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Campinos Casado and Escudero

Summary: An analysis of a shift in the EPO and what motivates this shift, which likely dooms decades of EPO excellence and integrity

THIS seventh part of the series is probably the most important one.

The EPO‘s deal with Angola was mentioned in part 1, parts 2, 3 and 4 looked more closely at Angola and in parts 5 and 6 we looked again at Europe. Now it’s back to the EPO. We’ll wrap things up in the next (and final) part of this series.


At first glance, the revelations about Luso-Angolan and domestic Portuguese corruption networks may seem very remote from the EPO.

“Another point that should be kept in mind here is that the current master plan of “King” Battistelli aims at the installation of the “Dauphin” Campinos as his successor at the head of the EPO.”However, the lack of effective external oversight at the EPO means that bilateral “co-operation agreements” with countries such as Angola give rise to very real risks of a misuse of official funds.

The dubious dealings of WIPO’s Francis Gurry with North Korea and the general lack of accountability of international organisations provide an example that should set alarm bells ringing.

Another point that should be kept in mind here is that the current master plan of “King” Battistelli aims at the installation of the “Dauphin” Campinos as his successor at the head of the EPO.

The driving force behind this high-level political intrigue seems to be a Franco-Iberian axis led by the Corsican Battistelli, his faithful Spanish lieutenant Casado and a pair of Iberian “pet chinchillas” on the Administrative Council, namely the Director General of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (Ms Patricia García-Escudero Márquez) and the Director of the Portuguese National Institute of Industrial Property (Maria Leonor Mendes Da Trindade).

“The driving force behind this high-level political intrigue seems to be a Franco-Iberian axis led by the Corsican Battistelli, his faithful Spanish lieutenant Casado and a pair of Iberian “pet chinchillas” on the Administrative Council…”The Franco-Iberian axis is said to be supported by a group of smaller Southern European states, including Monaco and San Marino, as well as a number of relatively recent EPC member states from Eastern Europe.

The close collusion between Battistelli, Casado and Campinos is reflected by their heavy involvement with the Spanish private university Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP). They frequently turn up at UIMP events or feature as guest lecturers at seminars and conferences organised by the UIMP and Battistelli has even been awarded with an honorary doctorate from the UIMP.

By a curious coincidence in April 2016 both Casado and Campinos received awards from the Spanish government “for their dedication to the promotion and protection of IP rights”. On that occasion they appeared together for a photo-op with the Spanish PTO Director Mrs. García-Escudero Márquez. [Photo here showing Casado, Campinos as well as García-Escudero Márquez]

“The Franco-Iberian axis is said to be supported by a group of smaller Southern European states, including Monaco and San Marino, as well as a number of relatively recent EPC member states from Eastern Europe.”Casado who was Vice-President of the EU’s Intellectual Property Office in Alicante (formerly the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market – OHIM from 1994 to 2004 has recently been appointed as head of the new EPO Directorate-General Patent Granting Process.

Although he has largely remained in the shadows up until now, his new appointment as Willie Minnoye’s successor seems to confirm suspicions that Casado is a die-hard Battistelli loyalist who is destined to play a leading role during the last year of Battistelli’s presidency. It is speculated that one of his task is likely to be to prepare the EPO for the planned takeover of Campinos.

As far as Campinos is concerned it is worth noting that he is of Luso-Angolan ancestry. His father Jorge Campinos was born in Lobito in 1937 when Angola was still a Portuguese colony and it is a matter of historical record that Campinos Senior was involved with the Angolan MPLA during the colonial era in the 1960′s. Following Portuguese withdrawal from Angola in 1975, the MPLA became the dominant political party which has governed the country since independence. José Eduardo Dos Santos assumed the leadership of the MPLA in 1979.

“The close collusion between Battistelli, Casado and Campinos is reflected by their heavy involvement with the Spanish private university Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP).”Given this background it could be useful to investigate what connections, if any, Campinos Junior might have to the key players in the contemporary circles of the post‑colonial Angolan elite as well as the domestic Portuguese networks exposed by Operation Marquis.

Regardless of what such investigations might or might not reveal one thing seems certain.

Battistelli’s plan to install Campinos as his successor — if it proves successful — will be likely to produce a shift of the EPO’s political centre of gravity southwards away from the “founder states” of North and Central Europe (U.K., Benelux, Germany and Switzerland) and towards the Mediterranean region.

The appointment of the EPO’s “first Portuguese President” is likely to be accompanied by frantic efforts to gloss over his strong French connections and shouts of acclamation by his fan club about progress towards “a more diverse EPO” (to quote Battistelli).

Looking at the levels of systemic high-level political corruption uncovered by official investigations such as Operation Gürtel in Spain and Operation Marquis in Portugal, it is questionable as to whether such a triumph for the Franco-Iberian axis would really be a cause for celebration.

“The appointment of the EPO’s “first Portuguese President” is likely to be accompanied by frantic efforts to gloss over his strong French connections…”It is interesting to note that compared to other EU member states the countries at the forefront of Battistelli’s “Club Med” have relatively poor rankings in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published by Transparency International. According to the CPI 2016 out of a total of 176 states surveyed France was ranked at position 23, Portugal at 29 and Spain at 41.

Spain’s position in the 2016 CPI plummeted sharply as a result of the recent prominent corruption probes implicating both of the major political parties, the governing conservative Partido Popular and its main opposition the Socialist Party.

It will be interesting to see whether the revelations emerging from “Operation Marquis” will have a similar effect on Portugal’s rating in next year’s CPI.

“This struggle is reported to be between a group of states which supports Battistelli’s “Club Med” and a counter-bloc whose core is formed by the main EPC founder states including Germany, Netherlands, UK and Switzerland.”At the EPO some insiders are already talking about a power struggle or a “clash of civilisations” within the Administrative Council which is predicted to intensify in the coming months.

This struggle is reported to be between a group of states which supports Battistelli’s “Club Med” and a counter-bloc whose core is formed by the main EPC founder states including Germany, Netherlands, UK and Switzerland.

The role of France in all this is shrouded in uncertainty. It is reported that the Corsican Battstelli who is considered by many of his compatriots to be an international embarrassment for France does not enjoy the support of the new government under Emmanuel Macron (in spite of the ENA connection). It is also rumoured that those responsible for IP matters at governmental level are at best “lukewarm” about the prospect of Campinos as the next EPO President. But the official position of the French government is not yet known.

“It is also rumoured that those responsible for IP matters at governmental level are at best “lukewarm” about the prospect of Campinos as the next EPO President.”Whatever happens over the coming months, the outcome of this power struggle within the EPO’s Administrative Council is likely to determine the direction in which the organisation moves in the post-Battistelli era.

It may well be that future historians will view Battistelli’s presidency as a watershed era during which the old “historical” EPO with the sense of mission based on the vision of its “founding fathers” to serve European interests, uphold patent quality and respect the rule of law was gradually and surreptitiously replaced by a new “modern” EPO designed to serve the hidden “corporate” and “global” agendas of European political elites and their “business partners” in developing world kleptocracies such as Angola.

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