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12.06.17

CEIPI and EPO: The Story So Far

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The French Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) a glaring example and part of a pattern of Benoît Battistelli’s meddling and nepotism (INPI and beyond)

Bergot letter
People in positions of utmost authority at the EPO are even relatives of Battistelli’s friends

Summary: Battistelli’s dubious French connection and Christoph Ernst’s obvious need to step in (not that he would ever do that)

TEACHERS (i.e. staff) of CEIPI are not happy about the Battistelli story. We have, by now (in a matter of days), heard that from several independent sources and we wrote the following articles about it:

Here is a portion of an article which later covered something that we had said beforehand (based on sources close to the action):

A source close to SUEPO noted that no EPO president had ever been appointed at the CEIPI during their mandate. The source said that the union was also concerned that the EPO’s administrative council may not have been duly informed of this move prior the official communication by the CEIPI.

The source said: “At this stage it is unclear if this may (or not) raise new ethical or even legal problems for the Council.”

The source pointed out that the move could have been made to keep Battistelli “active”, to make him a “credible candidate” for president of the Unified Patent Court when it comes into effect.

We have heard similar things. People ought to write letters to Christoph Ernst, urging him to do something about it. If he fails to respond or take action (he can, in theory, ‘discipline’ Battistelli), then he’s complicit by inaction or reluctance to intervene.

It’s sad to see the EPO/Battistelli poisoning institutions outside the EPO. They already corrupt media and academia, as well.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is Calling for Greater Transparency at USPTO and US Patent Courts

Posted in America, Courtroom, EFF, Patents at 6:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As independence is not enough when there’s no visibility

Judicial independence
Reference: Judicial accountability and independence (UK)

Summary: Digital rights groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation still insist that it is difficult to tackle patents, challenges (e.g. at PTAB) and legal actions given the current tools and publicly available data

THE prevalence of information (Open Access and open data) in conjunction with transparency is essential for justice. It needs to be seen to be assured or verified by independent outsiders. The USPTO wouldn’t rank too badly for open data, but there’s plenty of room for improvement still.

“A lot of people now rely on Google for access to such information (problematic as it demonstrates an element akin to privatisation).”Apple fan sites which keep abreast of Apple’s latest granted patents certainly manage to find out what was approved (this one is from yesterday), but when one only sees the finished ‘product’ it leaves limited room for challenge/opposition. The USPTO has an extensive database and easy-to-search data about granted patents, but little else. A lot of people now rely on Google for access to such information (problematic as it demonstrates an element akin to privatisation).

“As we’ve said since last year, the Board enjoys a 80% approval/reaffirmation rate from the Federal Circuit, so there’s no rift.”What about data other than granted patents? Well, some sites have come into existence to help track dockets and thus patent cases, soon to be used by the EFF, CCIA and so on. The Federal Circuit (CAFC) is hard to observe except when decisions are published (worse than the Supreme Court, SCOTUS, in that regard) and with PTAB dodged using tribal immunity (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe/Allergan) things get extremely dodgy. There are satellite/proxy entities all around the world, designed purely to complicate and therefore whitewash what many have dubbed a “scam” (hard to trace reassignments back to the source, much like money laundering).

Yesterday, this long article by Vera Ranieri (EFF) spoke about how secrecy (or lack of access to information) impacts cases in the Eastern District of Texas and beyond. To quote:

In a promising step toward transparency, the Eastern District of Texas (the court that sees many of the nation’s patent cases) recently announced an amendment to its Local Rules that would require parties to file redacted versions of documents that contain confidential information. Previously, parties would file whole briefs under seal, without any public version being provided, even if only one word or line in the brief was claimed to be confidential. One of the few ways the public could protest against this improper sealing was to attempt to intervene in cases so as to require the parties and the courts to justify the sealing. But members of the public can’t possibly intervene to unseal in every case. This rule change is a step toward greater transparency.

EFF has, in recent years, worked to push back against oversealing, especially in patent cases where improper sealing is practically routine. We successfully intervened in several cases in order to provide greater transparency to the public.

[...]

EFF has also been pushing for greater transparency in the high profile patent litigation between Allergan (a branded pharmaceutical company) and generic companies who wish to make a lower cost version of the drug Restasis. The litigation took on new interest when Allergan announced it had “sold” its patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in an attempt to shield the patents from scrutiny at the Patent Office.

[...]

In both the district court case and at the Patent Office, it is clear that parties are often sealing much more information than the law allows. It is only when challenged do they agree to reveal what should have been public in the first place. While we’re glad there has been greater transparency in the cases mentioned above, it should not take EFF (or anyone else’s) intervention before the courts and parties make public what should have been public all along.

Contrariwise, looking at the patent maximalists at Patently-O, they are taking advantage of access to PTAB/Federal Circuit proceedings to cherry-pick cases and often present the PTAB as rife with disputes, controversy, even scandals. Yesterday the blog wrote about three “PTAB decisions [which] seem inconsistent, but the differences can be explained by the fact that each IPR focused on different prior art references (or combinations thereof). Note here that the patentee loses (claims are cancelled) if a claim is found invalid in any one of multiple IPR proceedings. On appeal, the Federal Circuit consolidated the cases and has ruled against the patentee — affirming the Iron Dome and Dish cancellations, but reversing the Board’s nonobviousness decision from Hulu.”

As we’ve said since last year, the Board enjoys a 80% approval/reaffirmation rate from the Federal Circuit, so there’s no rift. Compare that to the sheer disagreement between the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court, which as far as patents go is extraordinary. The Supreme Court overturned pretty much every single decision from the Federal Circuit.

Another Day of EPO Injustices in Europe and Campinos/Battistelli Connections at CEIPI

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Forensic ‘justice’ (Stasi-esque)

Two gloves on

Summary: ILOAT is scheduled to deliver 5 “exceptional” EPO decisions today (that’s 5 out of 8 in total) and more news from CEIPI is serving to suggest that nepotism has become chronic there too

THE EPO started the morning with its daily (for about a month if not a lot more than that by now) #IPforSMEs nonsense. It’s actually a big day because of ILOAT, not these usual distractions. ILO is to deliver 5 important judgments regarding the EPO later today. Unfortunately, I’m out of the house most of the day today, so I hope that some folks will contact us with legal interpretations of these judgments.

The EPO has, quite evidently, lost touch with justice. Judges themselves are being pushed around in courts and ILO seems so soft on the EPO that many insiders view it as an integral part of the problem, far from a solution. ILO is nearly a century old, yet it’s sinking/drowning in complaints about the EPO and these threaten the very function of ILO! Officials at ILO publicly admitted this.

“The EPO has, quite evidently, lost touch with justice.”Speaking of lack of justice, CEIPI seems to have become a target as well. Hitherto, Campinos has chaired it; he is a former banker who climbed his way up the ladder in the domain of trademarks despite lack of experience and then entered the patent world with virtually no experience at all, owing in part to behind-the-scenes lobbying by Battistelli, who himself had no experience in that area until his mid-fifties. It’s incredible! It’s truly incredible!

One source told us yesterday not to lose sight of another CEIPI person. To quote: “don’t forget the… 3rd French! Teachers may not be happy, but Director General of CEIPI and Campinos’ good friend is taking the CEIPI director’s position at the age of 35… well, you have to collaborate with the devil anyway” (I’m 35 myself).

As a recap, here is what we already wrote about CEIPI:

“Teachers may not be happy, but Director General of CEIPI and Campinos’ good friend is taking the CEIPI director’s position at the age of 35…”
      –Anonymous
Meanwhile, questions are also being raised about the dubious UPC. Battistelli is rumoured (by reliable sources) to be exploiting CEIPI as a stationing point for UPC in Paris and the German complaint which likely killed the UPC (for good) has already raised questions about appointment of judges. This comment from yesterday said: “To the question of whether a judge can be independent if there is no reliable judicial review available to him against adverse decisions of his appointing authority, the German Constitutional Court will hopefully give a response.” Imagine a judge basher and judge attacker (against his own rules and despite lack of authority) Battistelli overseeing courts and judges. To use an old analogy, as someone put it earlier this year, “this man should not have been in charge of anything more involved than a hamster cage (without the hamster, because that would have been animal cruelty)…”

Links 6/12/2017: CrossOver 17.0.0, SDDM 0.17.0

Posted in News Roundup at 4:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Buoyant’s New Open Source Service Mesh Is Designed with Kubernetes in Mind

    Today, Buoyant has announced a new, next-gen open source service mesh called Conduit, which was designed to be incredibly fast and lightweight, highly performant, and secure, with real-world Kubernetes and gRPC use cases in mind.

    Ahead of CloudNativeCon + KubeCon 2017 to be held this week in Austin, we spoke to George Miranda, Community Director at Buoyant, the maker of Linkerd. Be sure to catch Buoyant CEO William Morgan’s keynote on Conduit at CloudNativeCon. They’ll also be kicking off the conference with the New Stack’s Pancake Breakfast. Make sure to catch all of Buoyant’s talks at the conference.

  • Google makes AI tool for precision medicine open source

    Google announced Monday an open source version of DeepVariant, the artificial intelligence tool that last year earned the highest accuracy rating at the precisionFDA’s Truth Challenge.

    The open source tool comes as academic medical centers, hospitals, insurance companies and other healthcare organizations are gearing up for if not already embarking on artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and machine learning as well as precision medicine and the genomic sequencing that entails.

    Likewise, Google rivals IBM and Microsoft are all moving into the healthcare AI space while much speculation surrounds Apple and Amazon making forays into the space.

  • Events

    • One Month Left to Submit Your Talk to ELC + OpenIoT Summit NA 2018

      Embedded Linux Conference (ELC), happening March 12-14 in Portland, OR, gathers kernel and systems developers, and the technologists building the applications running on embedded Linux platforms, to learn about the newest and most interesting embedded technologies, gain access to leading experts, have fascinating discussions, collaborate with peers, and gain a competitive advantage with innovative embedded Linux solutions.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Woke up and thought you were in a different reality? Reality Redrawn Challenge launches with a total prize value of $40,000

        It’s not often I get to invite artists and developers to collaborate together so I’m excited to see how they respond to the Reality Redrawn Challenge from Mozilla which launches today. The boundaries between truth and fiction are becoming harder to define, in part because of the proliferation of fake news and other forms of misinformation. Mozilla wants to shed light on this by sponsoring public demonstrations, using mixed reality and other art media that make the power of misinformation and its potential impacts visible and visceral.

        We live in strange times in which legitimate news organizations such as CNN have to launch advertising campaigns to remind people what real information is. Meanwhile social networks that connect millions more people struggle to help them differentiate truth from fiction and to define their unplanned role as media platforms.

        Throughout historic moments of upheaval people have used art to make sense of what appears to be dystopian reality. The west side of the Berlin wall became one of the largest canvases in the world as Berliners attempted to make sense of their divided city, while the east side remained blank as none were allowed to get close enough to paint. I also like to remember that Jazz icon and civil rights activist Nina Simone set an enduring challenge to all artists when she asked “how can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”

      • Mozilla Files Cross-Complaint Against Yahoo Holdings and Oath

        Yahoo Holdings and Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla on December 1, 2017, claiming that we improperly terminated the agreement between Mozilla and Yahoo. Today, in response, Mozilla filed a cross-complaint against Yahoo Holdings and Oath for breach of contract.

        While this is a legal matter and much of it is confidential, as Mozilla, we want to share as much information as we can in the spirit of our values of openness and transparency.

        We will create a wiki page with links to relevant public court documents – over time we expect to add more content as it becomes public.

      • Mozilla Releases Open Source Speech Recognition Engine and Voice Dataset

        After launching Firefox Quantum, Mozilla continues its upward trend and releases its Open Source Speech Recognition Model and Voice Dataset. Well, Mozilla is finally back!

        In the past few years, technical advancements have contributed to a rapid evolution of speech interfaces and, subsequently, of speech-enabled devices powered by machine learning technologies. And thanks to Mozilla’s latest efforts, things look better than ever.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Call for Participants for the ANSI Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standardization Collaborative

      The UASSC’s mission is to coordinate and accelerate the development of the standards and conformity assessment programs needed to facilitate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – commonly known as drones – into the national airspace system (NAS) of the United States. The collaborative will also focus on international coordination and adaptability, with the goal of fostering the growth of the UAS market. The group will work to develop a standardization roadmap over the course of a year to identify existing standards and standards in development, as well as related conformance programs, define where gaps exist, and recommend additional work that is needed including a timeline for its completion and organizations that potentially can perform the work. The UASSC will not develop standards.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • HP & ASUS Rollout Their ARM-Powered Laptops

      Being announced from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit today is the HP Envy x2 and ASUS NovaGo, interesting ARM-powered laptops.

      The HP Envy x2 and ASUS NovaGo are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC. The Envy x2 has a 12-inch 1080p display, goes for a convertible/2-in-1 laptop design, and 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. The ASUS NovaGo meanwhile has a 13.3-inch 1080p screen and also has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Accused of medical malpractice—a lot? The VA may be the place for you

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has knowingly hired doctors with trails of misconduct allegations, licensing problems, malpractice accusations, and patient settlements, according to a recent USA Today investigation.

      In fact, the newspaper suggests that the VA may actually attract troubled doctors and clinicians because it doesn’t require that they have their own malpractice insurance. Thus, doctors dubbed too risky for private malpractice insurance based on problematic pasts may find relief at the VA, where malpractice claims are paid out using taxpayer money.

      In their investigation, USA Today dug up 15 prior malpractice complaints and settlements against neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider, who was hired in April by the Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, with an annual salary of $385,000.

    • New UNCTAD, GIZ Toolbox: How To Achieve Policy Coherence For Local Production And Access To Medicines

      What do investment, trade, intellectual property, health financing, R&D, industrial and medicines regulation policy have in common? They are all important building blocks for the successful promotion of local pharmaceutical manufacturing. As more and more countries are looking into building their own pharmaceutical production capacities, they need to ensure strong policy coherence to be successful.

    • Morals behind anti-vaccination: Vigilance against tyrannical, impure shots

      For years, doctors and health experts have tried in vain to douse the modern anti-vaccine movement with data and science. They’ve showered vaccine-hesitant parents with data on the safety and efficacy of the life-saving injections, plus information on herd immunity and the dangers of otherwise bygone diseases, such as measles. Nevertheless, the efforts largely fail. In some cases, they even backfire; mind-boggling studies have found that repeating myths and misinformation in the process of debunking them can actually reinforce them.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #136
    • Massive Breach Exposes Keyboard App that Collects Personal Data On Its 31 Million Users

      In the digital age, one of the most popular sayings is—if you’re not paying, then you’re not the customer, you’re the product.
      While downloading apps on their smartphones, most users may not realize how much data they collect on you.
      Believe me; it’s way more than you can imagine.
      Nowadays, many app developers are following irresponsible practices that are worth understanding, and we don’t have a better example than this newly-reported incident about a virtual keyboard app.
      A team of security researchers at the Kromtech Security Center has discovered a massive trove of personal data belonging to more than 31 million users of the popular virtual keyboard app, AI.type, accidentally leaked online for anyone to download without requiring any password.

    • Vortex and Bugware Ransomware Use Open Source Tools to Target .NET Users [Ed: 'News' sites continue to frame Microsoft Windows malware as "open source" to distract from the real culprit]

      A pair of ransomware variants called Vortex and Bugware are encrypting victims’ files by using open source repositories and targeting .NET users, researchers warned. Based on an investigation published by Zscaler, those affected by the two families are being hit with demands that, in the case of Vortex, start at $100 and double within less than a week.

    • 100,000-strong botnet built on router 0-day could strike at any time

      Attackers have used an advanced new strain of the Mirai Internet-of-things malware to quietly amass an army of 100,000 home routers that could be used at any moment to wage Internet-paralyzing attacks, a researcher warned Monday.

      Botnet operators have been regularly releasing new versions of Mirai since the source code was openly published 14 months ago. Usually, the new versions contain minor tweaks, many of which contain amateur mistakes that prevent the new releases from having the punch of the original Mirai, which played a key role in a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks that debilitated or temporarily took down Twitter, GitHub, the PlayStation Network and other key Internet services.

    • Mastermind behind sophisticated, massive botnet outs himself

      The mastermind behind some of the world’s biggest and longest-running botnets has been jailed and his vast criminal infrastructure taken down, in part because of a careless operational security blunder that allowed authorities to identify his anonymous online persona.

      Officials from the Republic of Belarus reported Monday they detained a participant in the sprawling Andromeda botnet network, which was made up of 464 separate botnets that spread more than 80 distinct malware families since 2011. On Tuesday, researchers with security firm Recorded Future published a blog post that said the participant was a 33-year-old Belarusian named Sergey Jarets.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Honduran Riot Police Refuse to Carry Out Crackdown on Opposition Protests After “Illegal” Election

      National police in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa—including elite U.S.-trained units—refused to impose a nighttime curfew Monday night that was ordered by incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández after days of protests over allegations of fraud in the country’s disputed election. The move comes after at least three people were killed as Honduran security forces opened fire on the protests Friday night in Tegucigalpa. Protests erupted last week after the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes from the November 26 election, after the count showed opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla ahead by more than 5 percentage points. The commission now says Hernández has pulled ahead of Nasralla, by 42.98 percent to 41.39 percent, after a recount of suspicious votes. This comes as Nasralla and international observers are calling on the Honduras electoral commission—which is controlled by President Hernández—to carry out a recount. We speak with Allan Nairn, award-winning investigative journalist; Sarah Kinosian, a Honduras-based reporter; and Congressmember Jan Schakowsky, who represents the 9th District of Illinois. Her op-ed published in The New York Times is headlined “The Honduran Candidate.”

    • ‘This Is Very Much a US/Saudi War on Yemen’

      The enormity of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is staggering. At least 10,000 people have died in the last two years of Saudi war in the country, already among the poorest in the region. The UN says Yemen faces the worst famine the world has seen for decades, with at least 7 million people in need of immediate food aid. More than a half million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, and millions more lack access to any healthcare at all. This while Yemen faces an outbreak of cholera that’s being called possibly the worst in history.

      Yet Americans have heard little about what’s happening in Yemen, and still less about how it relates to us. Shireen Al-Adeimi is a doctoral candidate and instructor at Harvard University, working to bring attention to the crisis. She joins us now by phone. Welcome to CounterSpin, Shireen Al-Adeimi.

    • Trump Administration to Allow More Cluster Bombs

      The Trump administration has waived a ban on older cluster bombs, paving the way for the U.S. to expand its use of the weapons, which are banned under a treaty signed by over 100 nations. The weapons scatter so-called bomblets over a wide area, exploding into shrapnel that tears through flesh. Some of the bombs fail to explode, effectively becoming land mines that later maim and kill civilians—especially children.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Our Dirty Double Standard for Corporate Polluters

      But one thing we shouldn’t and can’t be thankful for is the double standard by which our society and its so-called “regulatory” agencies treat corporate polluters compared to private citizens. Proof positive is the recent announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to fine anyone for the deaths of more than 3,000 snow geese on Butte’s Berkeley Pit last year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is supposed to be protecting our public wildlife, had “no comment.”

    • Native American Tribes Join to File Lawsuit Against Trump Attack on Bears Ears National Monument

      Five Native American tribes have joined to file what they are calling an historic lawsuit against President Donald Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and several other members of the administration. The move came just hours after Trump visited Utah Monday, where he announced his plan to open up protected federal lands to mining, logging, drilling and other forms of extraction. The plan calls for shrinking the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument by more than 80 percent and splitting it into two separate areas. Trump would slash the state’s 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent. Bears Ears National Monument was created in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama. President Bill Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996. The national monuments were designated under the century-old Antiquities Act, a law meant to protect sacred sites, artifacts and historical objects. We speak with Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and former co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and with Bob Deans, director of strategic engagement at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

  • Finance

    • Homeless Samaritan buys home with money from fundraiser

      A homeless man who used his last $20 to fill up the gas tank of a stranded motorist in Philadelphia has bought a home with some of the nearly $400,000 raised for him by the woman he saved.

      “The feeling is indescribable and (it’s) all thanks to the support and generosity that each and every one of you has shown,” Johnny Bobbitt Jr. wrote on a GoFundMe page. “I’ll continue to thank you every single day for the rest of my life.”

      Kate McClure, of Florence Township, New Jersey, ran out of gas on an Interstate 95 exit ramp late one night. Bobbitt walked a few blocks to buy her gas.

    • Rep. Keith Ellison: GOP Tax Bill Would Reorder Society & Create “Hereditary Aristocracy” for Rich

      On Saturday morning, Senate Republicans passed a nearly 500-page tax bill that will have dramatic impacts not only the U.S. tax code, but also healthcare, domestic spending and even oil and gas drilling. The plan would cut taxes by nearly $1.5 trillion. Major corporations and the richest Americans, including President Trump and his own family, would reap the most dramatic benefits. Overall, the bill is expected to add $1.4 trillion to federal budget deficits over the next decade. The bill passed the Senate 51 to 49, with every Democrat voting against the bill and all Republicans voting for it except for Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. We speak with Minnesota Democratic Congressmember Keith Ellison. He’s the first Muslim member of Congress. Ellison is also the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.

    • Consumer Bureau’s New Leader Steers a Sudden Reversal
    • GOP Bill Restricts Suits Against Businesses

      Republican lawmakers are introducing a bill that would slash the amount of time that people have to file civil suits against businesses for injuries and other matters.

      The measure is backed by a host of powerful special interests, including manufacturers, insurers, builders, agriculture, transportation, hospitals, and doctors, among others.

      The proposal would cut the current statute of limitations for several types of civil lawsuits. The statute of limitation for lawsuits involving liability, fraud and injury to character would be reduced from six years to three years. The deadline for suing over injuries caused by property improvements would be cut from 10 years to six years.

    • Plunder Capitalism

      I deplore the tax cut that has passed Congress. It is not an economic policy tax cut, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with supply-side economics. The entire purpose is to raise equity prices by providing equity owners with more capital gains and dividends. In other words, it is legislation that makes equity owners richer, thus further polarizing society into a vast arena of poverty and near-poverty and the One Percent, or more precisely a fraction of the One Percent wallowing in billions of dollars. Unless our rulers can continue to control the explanations, the tax cut edges us closer to revolution resulting from complete distrust of government.

      [...]

      The neoliberal economists who are the shills for the rich, Wall Street, and the Banks-Too-Big-Too-Fail claim, erroneously, that by cutting the corporate income tax rate to 20% all sorts of offshored profits will be brought back to the US and lead to a booming economy and higher wages. This is absolute total nonsense. The money won’t come back, because it is invested abroad where labor costs are lower, if invested at all instead of buying back the corporation’s stock or buying other existing companies. After 20 years of offshoring US manufacturing and professional tradable skills and the incomes associated with the jobs, who is going to invest in America? The American population has no income with which to purchase the goods and services from new investment, and the American population’s credit cards are maxed out.

      All that is going to happen is that Wall Street will calculate the lower tax rate into a higher equity price. Wall Street can do this without any of the offshored earnings coming home. Suddenly, everyone who owns equities will experience a boost in wealth, or the boost has already occurred in anticipation of the handout.

      The deficit-conscious Republicans have put into the Bill for Enhancement of the Rich’s Wealth, cuts in social services in order to “save workers from higher interest rates from budget deficits.” This is more dishonesty. If the Fed lets real interest rates rise to any meaningful amount, derivatives will unwind, and the Fed will have to create trillions more in new dollars to keep its Ponzi scheme in place. The deficit that results from the tax cut will be covered by the Fed purchasing the Treasuries, not by a rise in interest rates.

      What we are witnessing in the US and indeed throughout the western world is the total failure of capitalism. Capitalism is now merely a looting machine. The financial sector no longer supplies capital for production. What the financial sector does is to turn discretionary consumer income into interest and fee payments to banks. Aggregate demand can only grow through debt expansion, and the consumers reach a point where they cannot expand their debt.

    • The Never-Ending Foreclosure

      In retrospect, refinancing their home was a bad idea. But the Santillan family never thought that it would lead them to foreclosure, or that they’d spend years bouncing among hotels and living in their car. The parents, Karina and Juan, never thought it would force three of their four children to leave the schools they’d been attending and take classes online, or require them to postpone college and their careers for years. They did not know they would still be recovering financially today, in 2017. “Having lived through everything I see life differently now,” Karina Santillan, who is now 47, told me. “I’m more cautious—I probably think through financial decisions three, four, five times.”

      In the big picture, the U.S. economy has recovered from the Great Recession, which officially began a decade ago, in December of 2007. The current unemployment rate of 4.4 percent is lower than it was before the recession started, and there are more jobs in the economy than there were then (though the population is also bigger). But for some, the recession and its consequences are neverending, felt most strongly by families like the Santillans who lost jobs and homes. Understanding what these families have experienced, and why recovery has been so evasive, is key to assessing the economic risks the nation faces. Despite ever-sunnier economic conditions overall, the Great Recession is still rattling American families. When the next economic crisis hits, the losses could be even more profound. “There are people who still, to this day, are trying to get back on their feet,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, told me. “These households are slowly finding their way back, but they’re still on a journey.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump and RNC Back Roy Moore Senate Bid Despite Sex Abuse Accusations

      The Republican National Committee has recommitted money and resources to Alabama’s special election on December 12, after President Trump tweeted his support for Senate candidate Roy Moore. At least nine women have accused Moore of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers—one as young as 14. Despite the charges, Trump tweeted Monday, “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!” The Republican Party’s support came as a woman in Florida produced evidence she says proves Moore lied during a campaign rally last month, when he said he did not know any of his women accusers. Registered Republican Debbie Wesson Gibson says she had a consensual relationship with Moore when she was 17 and he was 34. In an interview, Gibson showed The Washington Post a handwritten note she says Moore handed her at her high school graduation in 1981.

    • Roy Moore’s Son Has a Murky Employment Situation With His Dad’s Foundation

      If you look at Caleb Moore’s resume, his current position is assistant executive director at the Foundation for Moral Law, the organization founded by his father, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore.

      He allegedly has been in that position for three years, previously serving as an information systems specialist at the foundation from May 2013 to May 2014.

      But if you ask the foundation, he is not an employee there and hasn’t been one, at least for the past year.

      The Foundation for Moral Law is no doubt a family affair for the Moores. The president of the organization is Kayla, Roy’s wife. The Washington Post reported that the charity has employed at least two of the couple’s four children, although it’s not clear what their compensation was.

    • A Second Chance: This Amazing Organization Helps Disgraced Pedophiles Rebuild Their Lives By Getting Them Elected To Political Office

      For many pedophiles, it’s impossible to make ends meet. These sex criminals are often shunned both socially and professionally, making it extremely difficult for them to find any sort of gainful employment. But now a group called the GOP is trying to change all that: This amazing organization helps disgraced pedophiles rebuild their lives by getting them elected to political office.

    • Headlines Ignore the Abuse Reports That Make Moore Endorsement Newsworthy

      Headlines typically attempt to draw in readers by including the most relevant or pertinent information, but in the case of breaking news Monday that President Trump had endorsed Roy Moore in next week’s Senate special election in Alabama, the single most important fact of the case—that Moore faces multiple sexual abuse charges—was omitted by the majority of outlets altogether.

      [...]

      FAIR has repeatedly pointed out that only 40 percent of readers read past the headlines, which means most people form their worldview based on how a story is framed. Perhaps editors assumed readers were intimate with the allegations against Moore, that the antecedent was obvious. But recent polls show people are either ignorant or confused, with 89 percent of likely Alabama voters pinning the allegations on “newspapers and the media” and 10 percent having never heard of them at all. Certainly the fact of the president—himself accused by assault by multiple women—throwing his considerable weight behind someone running under a cloud of pedophilia should lead the story.

      Editors perhaps want to avoid harsh or unseemly language. Which is a perfectly fine instinct, if such language is gratuitous or unrelated—but in this case, the depravity and visceral disgust of the crime in question is the story. By skirting the terms “child abuse” or “sexual assault,” media are burying the severity of the major issue at hand: that the most powerful person earth just endorsed a possible child molester. Newspapers aren’t meant to be managers of cognitive dissonance; in theory, they’re conveyors of truthful information. By burying and downplaying what makes this story news, they are protecting people’s feelings rather than plainly stating what’s at stake, and in doing so providing cover for an accused child abuser and his growing list of enablers.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Coronado students protest alleged censorship

      Coronado Middle School journalism students are protesting alleged censorship after, they say, they were forced to cancel a news segment in their student broadcast called “In the News”. The segment covers national and international headlines.

      Students made the announcement in their newscast on Friday. The kids, afraid to speak on camera, told 10News they were forced to make the changes after a broadcast where they mentioned sexual misconduct allegations, amongst people of power, making national headlines.

      [...]

      Parents think the censorship violates the student’s first amendment. They want the segment back in the broadcast.

    • Art exhibition: Is Malaysia a Stalinist regime, asks Pua

      An opposition MP today slammed the authorities for purportedly tampering with an installation at an art exhibition, on the grounds that it contained “communist” elements.

      Calling the reported act a “blatant attempt at censorship”, DAP’s Tony Pua said the irony was that the authorities were acting “precisely like the purported ‘communism’ elements which the artists were accused of portraying”.

      “Are we now like a Stalinist totalitarian regime where the police and other relevant authorities will act like the Big Brother controlling how and what its citizens think?” he said in a statement.

    • Censorship of artworks for trivial reasons must be condemned

      Last month, the Malaysian art community made headlines again when seven artists withdrew themselves from the inaugural KL Biennale after pieces from their installation titled, “Under Construction” were purportedly confiscated by the police the day before the official launch of the exhibition.

      The KL Biennale is a biennial contemporary art exhibition jointly organised by the National Art Gallery and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC). Modelled after the famous Venice Biennale, the KL version was heavily promoted as it featured 103 local artists and 11 international artists.

    • Censorship shall not pass at CSUB

      The American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week supports First Amendment rights, taking a stand on literature censorship and the freedom to read.

      Banned Books Week is a celebration that was first launched in 1982 by the ALA.

      Students, staff and administrators at CSU Bakersfield don’t officially celebrate Banned Books Week or have a history of challenging or banning publications. Several literary works from ALA’s Banned Books Week 2017 list are available for check out at CSUB’s Walter W. Stiern Library.

      Gabby Rios, a sophomore nursing major at CSUB, chooses to read books that interest her in between classes.

    • This painting might be sexually disturbing. But that’s no reason to take it out of a museum.
    • Metropolitan Museum Defends Balthus Painting After Petition Demands Its Removal
    • Demands that Met Museum Censor Art Deflect Debate from Achieving Justice and Equality
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Intelligence Director Says Gov’t Can Demand Encryption Backdoors Without Having To Run It By The FISA Court

      A set of questions from Senator Ron Wyden — directed at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — have finally received answers. The answers [PDF] were actually given to the Senate oversight committee in July but have just now been made public.

      Zack Whittaker of ZDNet has taken a look at the answers the ODNI provided and found something that indicates the government can not only compel the creation of backdoors, but can do so without explicit approval from the FISA court.

    • How We Are Monitoring Political Ads on Facebook

      Political ads on Facebook have come under scrutiny since it was revealed that Russia used such messages to try to influence the 2016 U.S. election. But online political ads are often seen only by a small target audience — making it difficult for the public to check them for accuracy. In order to shine a light on political advertising on Facebook, we built a tool that allows Facebook users to automatically send us the political ads that were displayed on their news feeds. (You can install the tool, known as a web browser extension, for Chrome or Firefox.)

      The extension, which we call the Political Ad Collector, is a small piece of software that users can add to their web browsers. When a user logs into Facebook, the extension will collect the ads displayed on the user’s news feed and guess which ones are political based on an algorithm built by ProPublica. Ads that are found likely to be political are made public in a searchable database.

    • Political Ads on Facebook
    • Facebook Allowed Political Ads That Were Actually Scams and Malware

      In September, an ad with the headline, “New Approval Ratings For President Trump Announced And It’s Not Going The Way You Think,” targeted Facebook users in the U.S. who were over 40 and labeled as “very liberal” by the tech company.

      “Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump and his policies, it’s fair to say that his appointment as President of the United States is one of the most…,” ran the text. “Learn more.”

    • Germany Preparing Law for Backdoors in Any Type of Modern Device

      German authorities are preparing a law that will force device manufacturers to include backdoors within their products that law enforcement agencies could use at their discretion for legal investigations. The law would target all modern devices, such as cars, phones, computers, IoT products, and more.

      Officials are expected to submit their proposed law for debate this week, according to local news outlet RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • No room for dissent in Singapore

      AFTER a short flirtation with openness, the Singapore PM has fallen back on the authoritarianism favoured by his father, as the prosecution of social worker and activist Jolovan Wham will show, said a participant in one of Wham’s vigils who is now under investigation.

    • German Pilots Ground Flights to Protect Afghan Asylum Seekers

      And a new report finds German airline pilots are increasingly grounding flights in solidarity with Afghan refugees whose applications for asylum have been refused. Germany’s government said Monday that pilots have refused to fly at least 222 flights carrying Afghans out of Germany—in some cases delaying their deportations long enough for them to successfully appeal their asylum claims.

    • Internet Censorship Bills Wouldn’t Help Catch Sex Traffickers

      In the most illuminating part of last week’s House subcommittee hearing on the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865), Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent Russ Winkler explained how he uses online platforms—particularly Backpage—to fight online sex trafficking. Winkler painted a fascinating picture of agents on his team posing as johns, gaining trust with traffickers, and apprehending them. His testimony demonstrated how, with proper training and resources, law enforcement officers can navigate the online platforms where sex work takes place to find and stop traffickers, especially those trafficking children.

      It was a rare moment of clarity in the debate over FOSTA and its sibling bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693). Since these bills were introduced, there’s been little discussion of how law enforcement officers use the online platforms that the bills would threaten and how SESTA and FOSTA would make it more difficult for law enforcement to do its work. Winkler made it crystal clear how heavily his work relies on online platforms: “We’ve conducted operations and investigations involving numerous perpetrators and victims. The one constant we encounter in our investigations is use of online platforms like Backpage.com by buyers and sellers of underage sex.”

    • Senator Kamala Harris Serves Up A Not-Completely-Terrible Revenge Porn Bill

      Senator Kamala Harris — famous here mostly for her constant, Quixotic attempts to turn Backpage into a criminal defendant — is now crafting laws at the federal level. Her support for the internet-crippling SESTA is already known. Her next target, apparently, is revenge porn purveyors.

      Harris’ bill [PDF] will likely be remembered more for its too-clever acronym than its content. The ENOUGH Act of 2017 (brace yourself: Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment) is another attempt to criminalize revenge porn at the federal level. The problem is the subject matter is slippery and difficult to nail down precisely enough to avoid First Amendment concerns.

      The bill does make an attempt at narrowly crafting a definition and at least tries to limit the liability of platforms hosting user-generated content, but it still has some issues. For one, the definition of images covered by the act is a bit too vague to prevent the possible criminalization of harmless images.

    • Weinstein’s Complicity Machine
    • New York Ballet Chief Peter Martins Ousted over Sex Harassment Claim

      Elsewhere, the School of American Ballet has removed its longtime teacher Peter Martins, while the school and the New York City Ballet conduct a joint investigation into a sexual harassment claim against him.

    • Hyperloop One co-founder takes leave after sexual harassment accusations

      Shervin Pishevar, a well-known Silicon Valley investor who co-founded Virgin Hyperloop One, has now taken a leave from his professional duties in the wake of recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

      According to Bloomberg, five women have recently accused Pishevar of using “his position of power to pursue romantic relationships and unwanted sexual encounters.”

      According to Pishevar’s Tuesday statement, the venture capitalist will immediately step down from Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, as well as give up his board seats at other companies.

    • Court Rules ICE Can’t Detain Immigrant Teens Without Due Process

      ICE locked up immigrant teenagers for months without evidence in violation of their due process rights.

      After five months locked up in detention, F.E.* returned home to Brentwood, New York. “I thought I’d never see my ‘Mami’ again,” the 17-year-old said.

      His offense? Scribbling “503,” the calling code for El Salvador, in his school notebook and allegedly hanging out with the “wrong people” at his high school. Local police, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, claimed this implicated F.E. as a gang member, which meant that ICE could arrest him, send him away across the country, and detain him for months — all without notifying his family or giving him a hearing.

      They were wrong.

    • ACLU Files Supreme Court Brief Responding to Government Request to Throw Out Jane Doe Abortion Ruling

      The Trump administration has provided no legal justification for its extraordinary request.

      The ACLU filed a brief last night in the Jane Doe abortion case opposing the Trump administration’s request that the Supreme Court throw out a lower court’s decision that cleared the way for Ms. Doe’s abortion after a month of unconstitutional delay.

      The government’s brief also asked the court to stop Ms. Doe from continuing her challenge to the government’s policy, which still prevents other pregnant immigrant teens from getting abortions while in federal custody. Finally, it asked the court to consider discipline against ACLU lawyers.

      Legal scholars describe the Trump administration’s request as baseless and unprecedented. We believe it was an effort to deflect attention away from mistakes it made in litigating the case and to insulate from court review an unconstitutional policy of coercing pregnant immigrant minors into carrying pregnancies to term against their will.

      Ms. Doe, a 17-year-old who came to the United States without her parents in September, learned that she was pregnant while in federal custody shortly after crossing the border. She immediately said she wanted an abortion, but the government refused to allow her to leave the shelter where she was living for any abortion-related appointments. In response, she filed a legal challenge, alleging that the government’s refusal to allow her to leave the shelter for abortion care constituted a ban on abortion and was thus unconstitutional.

    • Local Lawmakers and Civil Rights Groups Call for Suspending Pedestrian Tickets in Jacksonville

      Several local lawmakers and civil rights organizations have called for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to suspend all pedestrian ticket writing over concerns officers are targeting blacks and other residents of the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

      Isaiah Rumlin, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, and Reverend Levy Wilcox of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s local branch, said in a news release made public Tuesday that while public safety was a great concern, so was the possibility that the sheriff’s office had been discriminating against African Americans by selectively enforcing sometimes obscure pedestrian statutes.

      The calls from the civil rights organizations come two weeks after the Times-Union and ProPublica reported that a disproportionate number of the more than 2,200 pedestrian tickets issued from 2012 to 2017 had been given to blacks. Those tickets, issued for everything from jaywalking to walking on the wrong side of the road, can have an impact on people’s driver’s licenses and, if unpaid, their credit ratings.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Days Before Doing Verizon’s Bidding, Ajit Pai Gives A Talk At Verizon

      So, either no one at the FCC gives a shit any more or there’s no one there with the slightest perspective on how this might look, but earlier today, Ajit Pai gave a talk at Verizon. Pai, as you know, used to be Verizon’s deputy General Counsel — though that was a while ago, and just because he used to work there doesn’t necessarily mean he would be regulating in their interest. However, basically every move that Pai has taken since becoming chair of the FCC has been exactly what Verizon has asked for, no matter how ridiculous. Given that, you’d think at least someone in his office would have the sense to say “perhaps talking at Verizon just days before giving them a HUGE gift in destroying net neutrality is… not a good look.”

    • AT&T, Whose Ex-CEO Promised To Wreck Net Neutrality, Insists It Won’t Do Anything To Net Neutrality

      AT&T is the latest big broadband player to try to suggest that everyone just calm down a little about this whole thing where the FCC destroys net neutrality. And, sure, some of the reports out there and some of the predictions being made about the impending death of net neutrality are fairly exaggerated. But, there are serious concerns, and AT&T’s decision to set up some strawmen to knock over ignores the importance of the issue.

    • 50,000 net neutrality complaints were excluded from FCC’s repeal docket

      The Federal Communications Commission docket for its repeal of net neutrality rules is missing something: more than 50,000 complaints that Internet customers have filed against their ISPs since the rules took effect in 2015.

      The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) was able to obtain the text of net neutrality complaints from the FCC via a public records request but says it has not been able to convince the FCC to include them in the repeal docket. “It seems to me that the commission is going to great lengths to ignore these documents and not incorporate them into the record,” NHMC General Counsel Carmen Scurato told Ars.

    • Ajit Pai Doesn’t Want You Talking About Court Ruling That Undermines His Bogus Claim That The FTC Will Protect Consumers

      We’ve noted a few times how the attack on net neutrality and consumer broadband privacy protections are just a small part of a massive lobbyist attempt to remove nearly all oversight of one of the least-competitive and least liked business sectors in America. Industry lobbyists (and the lawmakers and policy folk paid to love them) have made it abundantly clear that the goal is to gut FCC authority over broadband ISPs, then shovel any remaining, piddly authority to an FTC that’s not only ill-equipped to handle it, but is currently engaged in a lawsuit with AT&T that could dismantle its authority over large ISPs entirely.

      That FTC lawsuit was filed against AT&T after the company lied about throttling its wireless customers as part of an effort to drive unlimited customers to more expensive plans. Lower courts sided with AT&T’s creative argument that the very Title II common carrier FCC classification AT&T has been fighting tooth and nail against on the net neutrality front — exempted it from the FTC’s jurisdiction.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

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