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12.25.17

Links 25/12/2017: Linux 4.15 RC5 and New Stable Kernels

Posted in News Roundup at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15-rc5

      Ok, so it’s not Sunday yet, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and while I’ve been in the US for over two decades, we still celebrate Christmas the only _right_ way – with Christmas Eve being the big day, and Christmas Day being just for recovery.

      So I’m doing the rc5 release a day early, in order to not have to do it during the actual Christmas festivities at our house.

      And it’s not like I expect to see a lot of patches or pull requests tomorrow anyway, so I guess it doesn’t really much matter when I do the rc release, the end result would look very similar even if I had done it on my normal Sunday schedule.

      This (shortened) week ended up being fairly normal for rc5, with the exception of the ongoing merging of the x86 low-level prep for kernel page table isolation that continues and is noticeable. In fact, about a third of the rc5 patch is x86 updates due to that. It all looks like very good cleanups, though, and it’s been through about two hundred iterations by now (no, seriously, Thomas has been keeping track of his iterative updates of the PTI series, and it apparently hit 196 in the last two months).

    • Linus Torvalds Releases Fifth Linux Kernel 4.15 Release Candidate for Christmas

      A day early than expected, Linus Torvalds released the fifth Release Candidate of the upcoming Linux 4.15 kernel for testing, just before the Christmas holidays.

      Because it’s almost Christmas, and the end of the year holidays are here, most Linux kernel developers took a short vacation to be with their family and friends, so Linux kernel 4.15 RC5 ended up being fairly normal, according to Linus Torvalds, except for an ongoing and noticeable merging of the x86 low-level preparation for kernel page table isolation. So a third of the RC5 patch is x86 updates.

    • Linux 4.15-rc5 Released Early For Torvalds’ Christmas Festivities

      As an early Christmas gift for those wanting to do some kernel testing this weekend, Linus Torvalds has done the release of Linux 4.15-rc5 a little bit early.

      Linus Torvalds explained in the release announcement he ended up releasing 4.14-rc5 early due to Christmas Eve being the “big day” per European traditions and the day after for recovery. So now 4.14-rc5 is out there and overall he’s happy with the relatively light code churn for the week.

    • Some holiday stable kernel updates

      The 4.14.9, 4.9.72, 4.4.108, and 3.18.90 stable kernel updates have been released with a large set of important fixes. The 4.14.9 update includes the kernel page-table isolation precursor patches that also just landed in 4.15-rc5.

    • Linux 4.14.9
    • Linux 4.9.72
    • 4.4.108
    • Linux 3.18.90
    • Graphics Stack

      • Chromium Embedded Framework Closer To Native Wayland Support

        Collabora’s latest Wayland enablement effort is on getting the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) running nicely under Wayland with the Mus/Ozone infrastructure.

      • Intel Submits Last Batch Of i915 DRM Feature Updates For Linux 4.16

        Intel Open-Source Technology Center developers have sent in their last planned set of feature changes for DRM-Next that in turn is targeting the Linux 4.16 kernel merge window.

      • Semaphores Support Updated For RadeonSI Gallium3D

        Andres Rodriguez, one of Valve’s Linux GPU driver developers, has sent out his latest 22 patches for enabling semaphores support (GL_EXT_semaphore) within the RadeonSI driver.

      • NVIDIA May Be Trying To Prevent GeForce GPUs From Being Used In Data Centers

        Making the rounds on the Internet this holiday weekend is an updated NVIDIA GeForce software license agreement prohibiting the use of their drivers in data-center deployments for consumer GPUs.

      • Marek Boosts Glxgears Performance By 20% For Christmas

        Well known open-source AMD driver developer Marek Olšák has taken to some Christmas day hacking on Mesa with a significant performance improvement for AMD APU owners and those who care about glxgears.

        While glxgears is not a benchmark, all too often people still seem interested in glxgears. If you fall into that boat, you will now find better performance with RadeonSI Gallium3D. By not using fast color clears for small images, this simple chage makes glxgears about 20% faster on APUs and a little more for discrete GPUs.

      • AMD Queues More AMDKFD HSA Kernel Driver Changes For Linux 4.16

        More AMDKFD changes are being queued for the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel merge window with this being the kernel HSA driver for ROCm support, etc.

        The big work ongoing is getting the discrete GPU support upstreamed so that the stock mainline Linux kernel could work with the user-space ROCm open-source packages for OpenCL support, etc. Unfortunately this latest AMDKFD pull request still doesn’t have all the dGPU changes as it’s still waiting on a patch for the PCI subsystem that introduces the needed PCI-E atomics support.

      • Freedreno Lands Context Priority Support

        Rob Clark of the Freedreno project has landed his context priority patches in Mesa that originate from this past October.

      • NVIDIA To Abandon All GPU Driver Support For 32-bit Operating Systems

        The time has come for gamers and enthusiasts to ditch their 32-bit operating system (assuming you haven’t already), because NVIDIA has announced that it will no longer support drivers for these operating systems. If you have been hobbling along on an old 32-bit version of an OS to save some money, perhaps Santa can bring you a 64-bit OS. NIVIDIA says that support will end after the 390 driver release.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDVLK vs. RADV vs. AMDGPU-PRO 17.50 Vulkan Performance

        With AMD’s release on Friday of the long-awaited open-source “AMDVLK” Radeon Vulkan driver here are our initial benchmarks of this official Radeon open-source Vulkan driver compared to the unofficial RADV Mesa-based Vulkan driver and the similar AMDGPU-PRO 17.50 closed-source Vulkan driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • 4 Awesome Places to Find Beautiful Linux Themes and Icons

      Linux is easy to customize from the desktop manager, file manager, down to the kernel. If you love “freedom,” you’ll definitely love Linux because you are never locked down when it comes to customizing your OS.

      Once in a while, you may want to change the look and feel of your desktop. A common change people make is using different themes and icon packs rather than the default. This is usually necessary, as some Linux distros have barely satisfactory user interfaces. Mind you, it doesn’t mean they are nonfunctional. They are just lean in their interfaces.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • You Can Experiment With KDE 2.2.2 & Qt2 This Christmas

        If you find yourself with some extra time this holiday season and want to dive into a classic codebase on your modern Linux desktop, KDE developer Helio Castro has been working on his porting skills by porting KDE 2.2.2 and Qt2 to work on modern Linux systems.

        KDE 2 was released in 2000 with the use of the DCOP communication protocol, the still-living KIO I/O library, KHTML that at the time brought HTML 4.0 rendering, and Konqueror came as the default web-browser.

        So far he’s got kdelibs 2.2.2 working — tests are passing, graphics are working, and overall a bit beyond a “proof of concept” stage. As part of this “KDE 2 Restoration Project” he’s trying to maintain the original code as much as possible but along the way also replacing the Autotools build system with CMake.

      • Interview with Rositsa Zaharieva

        My name is Rositsa (also known as Roz) and I’m somewhat of a late blooming artist. When I was a kid I was constantly drawing and even wanted to become an artist. Later on I chose a slightly different path for my education and career and as a result I now have decent experience as a web and graphic designer, front end developer and copywriter. I am now completely sure that I want to devote myself entirely to art and that’s what I’m working towards.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME.Asia Summit 2017

        Thanks professors from university give us very good panel discussion, thanks Emily Chen to host this great panel discussion.
        It’s import to get support in university when we want to promote open source and freeware all the time.

  • Distributions

    • MX Linux 17 An Easy To Use Linux Distro For Noobs

      If you are looking for a Desktop Linux distribution that is simple yet different, reliable and runs well on legacy hardware, then MX Linux is a good choice. MX Linux is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities (hence the name MX). One can expect best of both worlds is put into MX Linux.

      MX Linux is a mid-weight operating system having Xfce as the desktop environment. The latest release MX Linux 17 has been released on Friday 15h December 17, 2017. MX Linux 17 is based on Debian 9.3 (Stretch) with Linux kernel version 4.13.0-1 and brings lot many changes when compared to its predecessor MX 16.1. Let us dig into further into MX Linux 17 (here onwards referred as MX 17) and see what its latest release offers to the Linux community.

    • New Releases

      • Merry Christmas: Black Lab Software Offers Free Copies of Linspire 7.0 Linux OS

        Black Lab Software’s CEO has informed Softpedia today that the company behind the Black Lab Linux operating system is offering free copies of the Linspire 7.0 Linux OS during the Christmas holidays.

        Linspire is a Debian/Ubuntu-based full-featured computer operating system designed to accommodate Microsoft Windows or macOS users who want to migrate to Linux. Besides security and reliability, Linspire offers easy installation of apps using a Click-N-Run (CNR) technology.

        Powered by Linux kernel 4.10, Linspire 7.0 comes with all the apps you need for your daily computing tasks, including a web browser (Firefox), an email, news and calendaring suite (Thunderbird), an office suite (LibreOffice), a virtualization software (VirtualBox), a media player (VLC), and Wine for running Windows apps and games.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Eelo, the Mandrake of the Mobile World?

        Today, I visited the OpenMandriva site and found a piece of news that caught my eye. It seems that Gaël Duval, the founder of Mandrake (later Mandriva) Linux, has started an ambitious Kickstarter project: eelo, a mobile platform that uses FLOSS and focuses on keeping user data on the hands of users.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Slax 9.3 Is The Latest In Resurrecting This Longtime, Lightweight Linux Distribution

        Slax 9.3 is now available as the latest feature release for this long-time Linux distribution that focuses on delivering a lightweight yet featureful Linux desktop experience.

      • Slax 9.3 is here

        Most of you celebrate something today, so here is a little gift for you :) I’ve released Slax 9.3 just few minutes ago and I have to say that I am happy with the progress we are heading.

      • Debian-Based Slax 9.3 GNU/Linux Distribution Arrives Just in Time for Christmas

        Just in time for the Christmas holidays, Slax developer Tomas Matejicek announced on Christmas Eve the final release of the Debian-based Slax 9.3 GNU/Linux distribution.

        Slax 9.3 is the second stable update since the developer decided to give it another go after two years of hibernation, but this time based on Debian GNU/Linux instead of Slackware, to the disappointment of many. The latest version is based on Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch.”

        “Most of you celebrate something today, so here is a little gift for you. I’ve released Slax 9.3 just few minutes ago and I have to say that I am happy with the progress we are heading,” writes developer Tomas Matejicek in the release announcement.

      • Free software log (November 2017)

        These are getting later and later despite the best of intentions, but I still have plans! Strategies! Intentions! Hopes! Next month’s might be a bit closer to on time.

        This month, I finally have some employer-sponsored free software work to report: overhauling the service account handling in Merou. Previously known as Grouper until I pointed out the Internet2 project of the same name, this is the system we use internally at Dropbox for privilege management. It’s essentially an account and group management framework with a delegated privilege model for assigning, managing, and auditing privileges.

      • Retiring bundle

        I adopted bundle to manage my personal systems and never quite got around to switching when we moved to Puppet for servers. (You can see my old notes on managing systems with bundle, which I left up as a historical curiosity.) But this year I finally finished the migration, and today I moved bundle into my obsolete software list and dropped the Debian package from the unstable section of my Debian repository.

      • Important Debian Stretch Linux Kernel Security Update Patches 18 Vulnerabilities

        Debian Project’s Ben Hutchings reports on a new Linux kernel security update for the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series that fixes several vulnerabilities discovered recently.

        According to the latest DSA 4073-1 Debian Security Advisory, it would appear that a total of 18 security vulnerabilities ranging from information leaks, privilege escalation, and denial of service were fixed in the Linux 4.9 LTS kernel of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system.

      • salsa.debian.org (git.debian.org replacement) going into beta

        Since summer we have worked on our git.debian.org replacement based on GitLab. I am really happy to say that we are launching the beta of our service today. Please keep in mind that it is a beta, we don’t expect any database resets, but under unexpected circumstances it might still happen.

        The new service is available at https://salsa.debian.org. Every active Debian Developer already has an account. Please request a password reset via https://salsa.debian.org/users/sign_in – your login is either your Debian login or Debian e-mail address.

      • Debian Salsa Is Served Out On A Beta Dish

        Rolling out as beta this Christmas is Debian Salsa.

        Debian Salsa (salsa.debian.org) is the project’s eventual replacement to git.debian.org. Debian Salsa is powered by GitLab and has been in development the past few months.

        Basically, Salsa is to be Debian’s collaborative development platform. GitLab is the open-source Git repository manager similar in nature to GitHub. GNOME and Debian have been among the free software projects working to migrate their development infrastructure around GitLab.

      • Salsa batch import

        Now that Salsa is in beta, it’s time to import projects (= GitLab speak for “repository”). This is probably best done automated.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Phones Will Soon Run Android Apps Thanks to Anbox, Says UBports

            Just a couple of days after releasing the OTA-3 software update for supported Ubuntu Phone devices, Ubuntu Touch maintainer UBports now teases users with upcoming support for Android apps.

            Remember Anbox (Android-in-a-Box)? It’s the open-source project that allows Linux users to run Android apps in a container inside their GNU/Linux distributions. Well, UBports has found a way to implement Anbox into the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system to let Ubuntu Phone owners run Android apps too.

            “People have come to depend on certain applications that are not available on Ubuntu Touch. In order to become a full-featured and mainstream mobile operating system, Ubuntu Touch needs to offer its users the proprietary services they depend on, at least until the point when free and open source alternatives are viable,” writes Dalton Durst.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia – Very nice

              Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia is a very reasonable distribution. First, it’s better than most 2017 offerings by a long shot. But comparing to bad stuff is hardly useful. When we stack it against a few rare gems, it holds quite well. You get familiar looks, most if not all of the stuff you need out of the box, and the rest is just a click away. Good networking, media and smartphone support, elegant package management, excellent stability, easy customization. Lots of perks and smart touches.

              The negatives would be an odd glitch or two, and some visual dust. Mint feels a bit archaic, and font quality can be improved mostly by altering the default theme actually. But there are no showstoppers, no cardinal problems, nothing to make you want to cry in a dark corner of an abandoned warehouse. Solid, predictable, practical. Grade 9.7/10, and it really is one of the more refreshing distro releases recently. Well worth testing. So you should. Right now.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Blender 2.8 Xmas Report

    It’s that time of the year again. And what a year! Blender 2.8 is shaping up and made ready for use in daily production in a Blender open movie.

    Early in the year, we started sharing a daily build of 2.8 with all the latest changes. That lead to a great response by early adopters who embraced the potential of a real-time engine such as Eevee in Blender. We saw that in the demo we had at Siggraph, as well as the constant sharing of images and videos in social media.

    We also added a 2.8 hub on blender.org. A page where people could learn more about the 2.8 project. If you haven’t visited it, go check it out. You can find all the Siggraph demo files, as well as videos, documents and everything that is 2.8 related.

  • Blender 2.8 Is Coming In 2018 With Huge Improvements

    Developers behind the Blender 3D modeling software have shared a “Christmas update” about their ongoing work towards Blender 2.8 as the next major release for this open-source, cross-platform modeling software.

    Blender 2.8 will premiere with Eevee as the real-time engine integrated with the Blender viewport. Eevee supports PBR rendering, subsurface scattering, light probes, and many other features used by today’s 3D games.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Strings Freeze For GIMP 2.10 Is Now O

      GIMP’s user interface is currently available in 80 languages. So far ca. 20 translations have been updated in the unstable branch since the beginning of the work on v2.10, and only 8 translations in the ‘po’ directory (where most translatable messages reside) are at least 90% complete. So clearly we need to give our translators a head start.

      This is why GIMP’s master branch is now entering a tentative strings freeze phase in preparation for 2.10 release. We expect further changes between today and the v2.10 final release to affect no more than 1% of translatable messages. So it’s safe to start updating user interface translations now.

    • GIMP 2.10 Steps Closer To Release With String Freeze

      The long-awaited GIMP 2.10 stable update should indeed materialize in 2018 with the release now being under a tentative string freeze.

      Released two weeks back was the GIMP 2.9.8 development release and since then more feature work has landed like support for the FreeDesktop.org screenshot API. But in trying to get translators jumping on the translation work for GIMP 2.10, a tentative string freeze is now in place with developers thinking not more than 1% of the translations should change ahead of the 2.10 release.

      While GIMP has support for 80+ languages, only 20 of them have been updated in the unstable branch for 2.10 and only eight languages have at least 90% completion.

    • Art Eavesdrops on Life and Pagers

      Pagers use a protocol — POCSAG — that predates our modern (and well-founded) obsession with privacy and security. That isn’t surprising although the idea that private medical data is flying through the air like this is. Decoding POCSAG isn’t hard. GNU Radio, for example, can easily handle the task.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Kernel hardening group’s suit against open source advocate thrown out

      A judge in San Francisco has granted a motion by noted open source advocate Bruce Perens to dismiss a defamation suit filed against him by Grsecurity, a group that supplies a patch for hardening the Linux kernel.

      Magistrate judge Laurel Beeler agreed to Perens’ (right, below) motion on Thursday but denied his bid to invoke the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law in California.

      This law deals with legal complaints that are directed at stopping public discussion and free speech. California put in place an anti-SLAPP law in 1992.

    • Court Throws Out Libel Lawsuit Brought by Open Source Security

      The defendant Bruce Perens — who is a respected programmer known for his founding of the Open Source Initiative — criticized OSS’s business model for distributing its security patches on the ground that it violated the open-source license and thus potentially subjected users to liability for copyright infringement or breach of contract. The plaintiffs [sued, basically for defamation -EV]….

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Universities cashing in on unconditional offers are doing great harm to our examinations system

      It is, of course, hard to see anything other than a commercial reason for universities doing this. One, which ‘held out’ for some years before recently capitulating, states ‘the fact that you received an unconditional offer will look pretty good on your CV!’

      And as the Select Committee were told, the rise has been dramatic. 40 percent more unconditional offers were made in the last application cycle than the year before; the rise has been from a few hundred in the years to 2012, to 2,985 in 2013-14, 36,825 in 2014-15 and 51,615 last year. Unconditional offers are now given in response to 5 percent of applications, [...]

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Severe Complications for Women During Childbirth Are Skyrocketing — and Could Often Be Prevented

      Every year in the U.S., nearly 4 million women give birth, the vast majority without anything going amiss for themselves or their babies. But more than 135 expectant and new mothers a day — or more than 50,000 a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — endure dangerous and even life-threatening complications that often leave them wounded, weakened, traumatized, financially devastated, unable to bear more children or searching in vain for answers about what went wrong.

      For the past year, ProPublica and NPR have been examining why the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the industrialized world. The 700 to 900 deaths each year related to pregnancy and childbirth, though, overshadow a more pervasive problem that experts call “severe maternal morbidity.” For every U.S. woman who dies as a consequence of pregnancy or childbirth, up to 70 suffer hemorrhages, organ failure or other significant complications, amounting to more than 1 percent of all births. The annual cost to women, their families, taxpayers and the health care system runs into billions of dollars.

  • Security

    • Security Education in Uncertain Times: 2017 in Review

      We facilitated two webinars with the Electronic Frontier Alliance and learned more about the digital security training scene in various cities around the US. These conversations with trainers helped us to assess what seasoned digital security trainers are already doing, what kind of resources they are using, what kinds of resources are missing, and where more guidance is needed for newer teachers of digital security. We learned that many trainers use our Surveillance Self-Defense resources to inform their training, and we learned where trainers felt that these existing resources fell short. We shared these comments back with our SSD team, and we have worked hard to address these concerns.

      We decided to narrow our audience to new teachers of digital security who would be teaching to their friends and neighbors.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘When Was the US Ever an Honest Broker?’

      Donald Trump’s decision to officially “recognize” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, including possibly moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, was widely reported as a surprising break with previous US policy. Not surprising in that overturning previous policy is Trump’s favorite thing, but perhaps in its potential to stir up questions that US policy and media often artfully avoid.

      Here to help us with some context for this recent move is Phyllis Bennis. She directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies; author of many titles, including Understanding the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, now in its sixth, updated edition. She joins us by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Phyllis Bennis.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Plans to thwack Official Secrets Acts smacked: Journo-gagging reform postponed

      Proposals to reform and rewrite Britain’s aged Official Secrets Acts have been postponed for at least a year, the government’s Law Commission has confirmed to The Register.

      Campaigners and media organisations now hope that the new “journalistic ice age” threatened earlier this year may not happen after all.

      As proposed, the plans would have threatened reporters, as well as whistleblowers, with jail sentences of up to 14 years, regardless of the public interest in revelations, and even if what was revealed was not likely to cause damage.

      The Commission’s plan for the “first overhaul of the Official Secrets Act in 100 years … to meet 21st century challenges” and using so-called “future proofed” laws will not now be completed until late 2018 at the earliest. Plans for new laws had initially been proposed for publication this summer, newspapers were told, but were then held back.

    • It Seems Like Julian Assange Deleted His Twitter

      For reasons unknown the official Twitter account of Julian Assange, the leader of disgraced transparency organization Wikileaks, has been deleted. The Internet Archive—or someone availing themselves of its services—appears to have been preserving snapshots of Assange’s account once every hour since September 18th of this year. Based on that information, it’s likely the @JulianAssange account was deleted between midnight and 1am GMT.

      The account does not appear to have been suspended by Twitter, and the most recent cached version of his account suggests he had not tweeted since Friday. Strangely, the official account of Wikileaks itself remains intact and has not commented on the disappearance of its founder from the platform.

    • Julian Assange Twitter DOWN – Wikileaks hacktivist ‘deletes account’ on Christmas

      Twitter is Mr Assange’s most public means of communication with the world outside London’s Ecuadorian embassy – where he has been holed up for five years over fears he will be arrested the moment he sets foot out the door.

      But the controversial figure’s account, @JulianAssange, mysteriously disappeared between 12-1am on Christmas Morning.

      Mr Assange’s last tweet was on the 22nd December, leaving not hint as to why the account may have been removed.

      His last post was a notable quote from the man himself, which read: “A knowledgeable public, is an empowered public, is a free public.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Renewable energy now makes up nearly third of all electricity generated in UK

      Electricity generation from renewable energy has reached a “record high”, according to new government statistics.

      The third quarter of 2017 saw the share of electricity generated from renewable sources increase by nearly 5 per cent from the same period last year, reaching 30 per cent.

      The latest record is “yet another nail in the coffin for the claim that renewables cannot be a sizeable part of the UK’s electricity mix”, according to Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

    • London Zoo reopens as staff confirm four meerkats were also killed in blaze that claimed life of Misha the aardvark

      The zoo was on lockdown on Saturday after a devastating blaze destroyed the Animal Adventures section of the wildlife park, forcing keepers to risk life and limb to get animals to safety.

      Sadly nine-year-old aardvark Misha was killed by the blaze which also claimed the lives of four meerkats, who were all brothers.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • After rough year, Facebook does damage control in DC

      The Russian interference in the 2016 election hovered over the company all year.

    • Behind the Pentagon Papers: The beginning of Nixon’s end
    • How We Got Into This Trumpian Mess and How We Get Out of It (Video)

      There’s too much yelling these days, so we made this a silent video. (The only casualty was my arm, which ached for days afterward.) Hope you find it helpful. Best wishes for a 2018 that’s better for America than 2017 was.

    • Vice Says It ‘Failed’ Employees as Misconduct Incidents Emerge
    • Poverty-stricken Trump supporters regret voting for him: ‘We’re stuck and he’s like a spoiled brat’

      Robin DeFabbio wants Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account. She said, “We’re wasting so much time. He’s like a very bad child that I’m glad I didn’t raise.”

      Numerous Wisconsin voters are fed up with the political landscape and the country’s landscape in general due to Trump’s presidency.

      Kari Walker said, “I am a political science major. I am starting to hate politics. Actually, not starting, I do hate politics: the vitriol and the vulgarity and the lack of willingness to talk to people.”

    • Rupert Murdoch and President Trump: A Friendship of Convenience
    • UN Members Show Spine in Rebuffing Trump

      When North Korea began the Korean War with an invasion of South Korea in June 1950, the armed response was waged under the flag of the United Nations thanks to the Soviet Union having absented itself from the Security Council. The Soviets were boycotting the council to protest the fact that China’s seat had not been given to Mao Zedong’s communists, who had won the Chinese civil war the previous October. With no Soviet veto in the way, the Security Council quickly passed the resolutions necessary to bestow U.N. sanction on the U.S.-led military resistance to the North’s aggression.

      [...]

      More generally, the result of the vote is one more illustration of how much less is the capacity of the United States to push the rest of the world around than those Americans of an assertive nationalist stripe seem to think. This discrepancy between reality and uber-nationalist belief predates Trump and has existed at least since the post-Cold War “unipolar moment” that was barely a moment, if that. Trump’s policies and rhetoric have caused international confidence in the United States to plummet to even lower depths. The United States’ pushing ability has dropped along with the confidence.

    • Donald Trump has spent a year lying shamelessly. It hasn’t worked

      The U.S. president’s lies have deceived millions, fomented hate and left the world unable to accept even the most trivial words of its most powerful person. The Star has been keeping track.

    • U.S. Commerce Official Still Holds Stake in Company Linked to Putin Associates

      The chief of staff for Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Wendy Teramoto, still owns a stake in a shipping company tied to associates of Vladimir Putin, despite the fact that her former role as a board member for the same company prompted six Senate Democrats to request an investigation into her apparent conflicts of interest last month.

      “We have not been notified, nor are we aware, of a formal investigation by the inspector general,” Commerce Department spokesperson James Rockas said in a statement. “But we continue to answer any questions that are raised by department ethics officials or the inspector general.” The statement said that Teramoto has recused herself from any matters relating to her investments. (The same senators also requested an investigation of Ross, who initially retained an estimated $3.4 million stake in the company, Navigator Holdings, but has since sold it.)

      As long as Teramoto hangs onto her own investments, she will likely remain under scrutiny, especially since there is evidence that her official actions are affecting the shipping industry, in which she is heavily invested.

      Teramoto previously worked for Ross at his private equity firm WL Ross & Co. She invested in funds that held Navigator stock, as well as owning shares directly, and also served on the board of the shipping company from 2014 to July 2017. From 2014 to 2016, Navigator did $68 million worth of business with a Russian petrochemicals company named Sibur. That company is partially owned by two billionaires in Putin’s inner circle, Kirill Shamalov and Gennady Timchenko.

      In its annual report filed in March, Navigator said Teramoto directly owned $118,000 of the company’s stock. The Commerce Department spokesperson confirmed that Teramoto had not sold her Navigator stake or interests in WL Ross funds that held other shipping companies, such as Diamond S. Shipping.

      One of the most valuable assets listed on Teramoto’s financial disclosure form, which she filed in July, is her carried interest — a cut of the managers’ profits — in a fund called WLR Recovery Fund IV, which she valued at between $1 million and $5 million. An examination of that holding demonstrates how easily Teramoto’s portfolio could pose conflicts of interest.

      WLR Recovery Fund IV counts Navigator, as well as other shipping interests, among its holdings. It also includes investments such as Amalgamated Bank and Exco Resources. Another entity in which Teramoto is invested, WLR Recovery Associates V, includes additional positions in shipping companies, as well as a stake in the Russia-connected Bank of Cyprus.

      If those funds perform well, they will make up a significant chunk of Teramoto’s net worth. In total, she listed personal net assets worth $6 million to $19.3 million on the disclosure.

    • ‘Whataboutism’ Runs Amok as Jake Tapper Rattles Off Trump Talking Points

      For over a year, US media have insisted that the tactic of deflecting criticism by pointing to others’ flaws was the devious Soviet tool of “whataboutism,” and anyone using it was practicing “one of Russia’s favorite propaganda tactics.” If so, when it came time for CNN’s Jake Tapper (12/21/17) to spin for the Trump administration’s provocative and deeply unpopular move of the US embassy in Israel, the most trusted name in news was peak Pravda.

      Borrowing straight from Trump administration talking points, Tapper reported on the UN voting 128 to 9 in an emergency session against the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a gesture effectively solidifying 50 years of illegal military occupation—by heavily implying antisemitism was to blame. In the segment, Tapper employed a popular, superficially appealing pro-Israel talking point that the UN was “singling out” Israel at the expense of other Bad Countries. “Among the 128 countries that voted to condemn the US on this issue,” Tapper charged, “were some countries with some questionable records of their own.”

    • Democrats Need to Make Clear that Firing Mueller Triggers Impeachment

      Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivered a powerful warning to the Trump administration and its Republican allies this week, when he declared on the Senate floor that a move by the president to fire special counsel Robert Mueller or to undermine Mueller’s inquiry would cross one of the “red lines” that Congress must maintain.

      “Any attempt by this President to remove special counsel Mueller from his position or to pardon key witnesses in any effort to shield them from accountability or shut down the investigation would be a gross abuse of power and a flagrant violation of executive branch responsibilities and authorities. These truly are red lines and [Congress] simply cannot allow them to be crossed,” explained Warner. “Congress must make clear to the President that firing the special counsel or interfering with his investigation by issuing pardons of essential witnesses is unacceptable and would have immediate and significant consequences.”

      Warner’s right. Though Trump aides deny that the president is angling to shut down Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling with the 2016 presidential election—and a host of other issues that cut close to the president and his inner circle—there can be no question that the Trump team and its media allies have launched a campaign to discredit the special counsel. This has stirred speculation on Capitol Hill that Mueller and his investigation are being attacked in order to clear the way for a firing. So high marks to Warner, and to others who have raised concerns. It is vital to get ahead of these threats.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Julian Assange’s Twitter account goes mysteriously offline on Christmas and no one knows why

      In a mysterious turn of events, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s Twitter account has suddenly gone offline. Although it appears to have been just a couple of hours since the account went down, speculation about the account’s mysterious disappearance are already doing the rounds on Twitter.

      Gizmodo reported that Assange’s Twitter account was likely deleted between midnight and 1am GMT. While some of Assange’s die-hard supporters are outraged by what they consider to be Twitter’s censorship of free speech, others are celebrating the account’s disappearance.

      Assange joined Twitter in February this year and has been a fairly active user. Over the past year, Assange has tweeted out several provocative posts, including mysterious codes believed to be a “dead man’s switch”, a post teasing that he may run for UK parliament, and more.

    • West: Censorship at the CDC and beyond

      At a meeting earlier this month, analysts were reportedly given a list of seven words they were not going to be allowed to use when formulating their budget documents in 2018. The offending terms were, in no particular order, “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

    • Libertarians slam US ‘arbitrary censorship’ of foreign media & alternative views

      The DOJ demand for RT America to register as a foreign agent is an attempt to silence undesired voices, the Libertarian Party has said, echoing views that the move is the worst attack on press freedom since the McCarthy era.

      Forcing RT America to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) under the pretext of its alleged links to perceived Russian meddling in the US 2016 elections, de facto amounts to government “censorship,” the party said in a statement. US government officials are using FARA “in an effort to silence views they don’t like,” it said further.

      On Thursday, it was revealed by DOJ official Adam Hickey that the Department based its decision regarding RT America on the controversial report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) dating back to January. Riddled with factual inaccuracies and not providing any hard evidence, the report also featured a quite hollow 7-page annex devoted to RT.

      Hickey also outrageously disputed that RT America was somehow forced to register under FARA, claiming, instead, that it was a “voluntary decision” by the channel.

    • Judicial censorship violates our Constitution

      Recent cases in which courts have banned the press from reporting judicial proceedings violate India’s Constitution. Before his timely retirement, Justice C.S. Karnan made a series of shocking orders in two high courts against judges of the Supreme Court of India. He was sentenced to a term in prison for contempt of court. Then Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar made an order on May 9, 2017 forbidding the media from publishing the contents of the orders passed by Justice Karnan. The public surely has every right to know why he was sent to prison and the contents of his orders.

    • In an Era of Online Outrage, Do Sensitivity Readers Result in Better Books, or Censorship?

      Late last year, the novelist Keira Drake announced that her publisher was giving away copies of her upcoming young adult novel, “The Continent,” a fantasy set in a world where two nations have been at war for centuries. “It’s raining books!” she wrote.

      Her enthusiasm was quickly punctured. Online reviews poured in, and they were brutal. Readers pounced on what they saw as racially charged language in the descriptions of the warring tribes and blasted it as “racist trash,” “retrograde” and “offensive.” Ms. Drake and her publisher, Harlequin Teen, apologized and delayed the book’s publication.

      In the year since, “The Continent” has changed drastically. Harlequin hired two sensitivity readers, who vetted the narrative for harmful stereotypes and suggested changes. Ms. Drake spent six months rewriting the book, discarding descriptions like her characterization of one tribe as having reddish-brown skin and painted faces. The new version is due out in March.

      In today’s hair-trigger, hyperreactive social media landscape, where a tweet can set off a cascade of outrage and prompt calls for a book’s cancellation, children’s book authors and publishers are taking precautions to identify potential pitfalls in a novel’s premise or execution. Many are turning to sensitivity readers, who provide feedback on issues like race, religion, gender, sexuality, chronic illness and physical disabilities. The role that readers play in shaping children’s books has become a flash point in a fractious debate about diversity, cultural appropriation and representation, with some arguing that the reliance on sensitivity readers amounts to censorship.

    • The Long Arm Of The Chinese State: Employing Global Censorship, Subversion And Political Influence Around The World

      China, under Xi Jinping’s “new era” has attested to be the heir apparent of a world order erstwhile dominated by the United States of America since the Second World War. Claiming to export the “China model” globally (economic liberalisation minus political liberalisation) as an alternative to the liberal order established by the US, China has been working towards revising existing international institutions and creating new ones of its own design in order to facilitate its rise and influence.

      Shaping public opinion is also a key facet of that plan. The active shaping of the Chinese narrative is a “battlefield” upon which a highly disciplined political struggle must be waged and won. While domestically, the interpretation of this battlefield has been tested successfully through the web of information control and censorship, China aims to export this abroad in order to shape/manipulate its message.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Medical Privacy Under Attack: 2017 in Review

      If you care about maintaining privacy over medical records and prescriptions, this was not a good year.

      Both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued disappointing decisions that declined to recognize a significant privacy interest in prescription records. In California, the state’s high court ruled that the Medical Board of California can rifle through records of prescriptions for controlled substances—used to treat anxiety, depression, pain, and insomnia—without notifying patients, obtaining a court order, or showing any suspicion of wrongdoing. The Ninth Circuit reversed on procedural grounds a good ruling out of Oregon, which found that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) couldn’t access sensitive prescription records without a warrant. Both courts punted to another day the question of whether the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement protects prescription records.

      This precedent is concerning, especially in an era of digital pills that use stomach acid to generate electronic data about exactly when you take your medication. Prescription records reveal our medical and mental health conditions and histories. They are a subset of our medical and mental health files, and they are just as sensitive as any other medical or mental health records, which are afforded a heightened degree of privacy protection. Prescription records should be, too. Just as with any other medical records, the government should need a warrant supported by probable cause before accessing them.

      The courts may be responding to the opioid crisis in declining to address whether law enforcement’s warrantless access of controlled-substance prescription records violates the Constitution, but everyone should be able to expect privacy in their drug prescriptions and law enforcement should be required to get a warrant to access those records. Thanks to technology, getting a warrant is easier than ever. And it’s not too much to ask when we are talking about highly sensitive medical information.

    • Rajkummar Rao: ‘It is for govt to take a stand on censorship’

      “As an actor or an artist, you should be socially responsible. I really don’t want to do films where I am spreading hatred. Or do something that will influence 10 more boys in small towns, who follow me… I am very aware of that,” Rajkummar Rao said at Express Adda in Mumbai on Saturday.

      There is little doubt that 2017 belongs to the 33-year-old actor, who has appeared in no less than seven feature films this year, including the critically acclaimed Trapped, and Newton, which was chosen as India’s entry for the Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film category.

    • ‘NSA backdoor spying on US citizens requires stringent controls & accountability’

      It’s time to push back on the US government’s “backdoor” spying on its citizens under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and introduce stricter controls to protect civil liberties, attorney Michael Flanagan believes.

    • Turn Your Android Smartphone Into A Personal Surveillance System With Snowden’s New App

      Now there is another addition to the list of ways you can reuse your old smartphone: by turning it into a personal surveillance system to catch any unexpected guest or intruder trying to circumvent your privacy and security.

    • The FBI and the New York Times warn that smart toys are emissaries from the Internet of Shit

      One by one, the New York Times warns of the dangers of every hot smart toy your kids are begging for this Xmas: Furbies, Cayla, kids’ smart watches, the ubiquitous Vtech toys (they omit the catastrophic Cloudpets, presumably because that company is out of business now).

      They warn of privacy dangers to your kids and your family, of adding vectors for attacks to your home network and its devices, and remind you that the FBI has issued a warning to parents not to buy these things.

    • Beating Back the Rise of Law Enforcement’s Digital Surveillance of Protestors: 2017 in Review

      In 2017, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of high-profile cases where law enforcement has deployed digital surveillance techniques against political activists. From the arrest and prosecution of hundreds of January 20, 2017 Inauguration Day (J20) protestors to the systematic targeting, surveilling and infiltration of Water Protectors in Standing Rock, North Dakota, and the Black Lives Matter Movement over social media, law enforcement and private security firms have taken advantage of the wealth of information available online to thwart activists’ credibility and efficacy.

      While government surveillance and investigation of opposition groups may not be anything new, the tools and methods for conducting such surveillance and the sheer scope of information that can be captured about these groups is staggering. The magnitude of information now available in the digital age via platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, continues to grow exponentially, documenting your location information, contact networks, calendars, and communications. Independently, consent-less access to these discrete data-points may seem little more than intrusive, but when aggregated together, this information creates a very intimate portrait of our day-to-day lives that law enforcement can and has used against dissenting voices.

    • Congress Is Debating Warrantless Surveillance in the Dark

      Several of the programs Snowden revealed are authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. The 2008 law was scheduled to sunset on December 31, but in a last-ditch effort Thursday, Congress extend its authority through January 19.

      The Trump administration, meanwhile, believes that the authorization doesn’t really expire until April, leaving lawmakers several months to either reform or strengthen the provision. Hanging in the balance is the legal framework the government largely relies on to conduct mass surveillance of foreigners, and Americans who communicate with them. Which makes it all the more concerning that the fight over Section 702′s future has taken place largely in the dark.

    • Security News This Week: France Goes After WhatsApp For Sharing Data With Facebook

      At worst, WhatsApp faces a fine, which presumably it could easily afford. But the censure at least draws more attention to an already controversial move, and hopefully reminds people that if WhatsApp knows something about you, Facebook probably does too.

    • By ditching usernames, OKCupid is removing a crucial protective barrier

      In an ideal world, the trust and intimacy of allowing a stranger to know your sexual orientation, your religion, or your politics would be a welcome part of finding a potential partner. In reality, it requires more caution than that. OKCupid’s decision isn’t just ignoring what its users want; it’s mocking them while it takes that away. It’s dismantling their ability to stay safe, and it’s doing so with a sneer.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods

      In the early hours of Labor Day, Brooklynites woke up to the sound of steel-pan bands drumming along Flatbush Avenue, as hundreds of thousands of people gathered to celebrate J’ouvert, a roisterous Caribbean festival that commemorates emancipation from slavery. But having been marred by gang violence in recent years, this J’ouvert was markedly different, as The New York Times described. The event, which derives its name from a Creole term for “daybreak,” was heavily staffed by the New York City Police Department. Floodlights and security checkpoints were scattered along the parade route, and many revelers were piqued by what they saw as excessive police presence—an overwhelming show of force in response to a comparatively small number of bad actors.

      “There’s a criminalization of our neighborhood,” Imani Henry, the president of the police-accountability group Equality for Flatbush, told me recently. After the NYPD declined Henry’s public-information request about security ahead of and during the festival, citing safety concerns, his group decided to sue for it. (The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.)

    • Judge Sides With ACLU, Ruling American Detainee In Iraq Has Right To Lawyer

      “Somewhere in Iraq, a United States citizen has been in the custody of the U.S. armed forces for over three months.”

      That is how a federal Judge on Saturday begins her ruling, describing the situation of a never-charged American classified as an enemy combatant, as she ordered the Pentagon provide the prisoner with “immediate” access to a lawyer.

      The still-unnamed man was captured by the Syrian militia in mid-September and handed over to the U.S. military as a suspected member of the Islamic State.

      A couple weeks later, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a habeas corpus petition and seeking to represent the man, who, by the government’s own account, requested an attorney after being read his Miranda rights.

      The Defense Department argued that the circumstances did not warrant the ACLU’s having immediate access to the detainee.

    • Stoked! Journalist Alexei Wood & First J20 Defendants Found “Not Guilty” as 188 Still Face Trial

      In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to silence dissent, the first trial of people arrested at Inauguration Day “Disrupt J20” protests ended Thursday with all of the defendants found not guilty of all charges. Six people faced multiple felonies and 50 years in prison for just being in the area where anti-fascist and anti-capitalist protesters were marching. During the protest, police blockaded more than 200 people into a corner in a process known as “kettling” and carried out mass arrests of everyone nearby, including medics, legal observers and some journalists. This first case was closely watched as a bellwether for free speech, because one of the six people on trial was Alexei Wood, an independent photojournalist from San Antonio, Texas, whose work focuses on resistance movements. He came to document protests during the inauguration on January 20 and live-streamed the street detentions by police and even his own arrest. Alexei Wood joins us from Washington, D.C., and we speak with Jude Ortiz, a member of the organizing crew of Defend J20 and the Mass Defense Committee chair for the National Lawyers Guild.

    • Putin critic Navalny barred from Russian presidential election

      Russia’s central election commission voted on Monday to bar opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running in a presidential election next year, saying he was ineligible because of a past criminal conviction.

      The commission said the conviction, for which Navalny received a suspended sentence and which he has repeatedly described as politically-motivated, meant he could not run for president in March.

      Twelve members of the 13-member commission voted to bar Navalny. One member of the commission abstained, citing a possible conflict of interest.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Can net neutrality be a potent political issue for Democrats?

      The question is whether the outrage on Reddit forums can translate into votes for Democratic candidates next fall given the fact that younger people engaged on the issue are often the least reliable voters — particularly in midterm elections.

    • The Year the Open Internet Came Under Siege: 2017 Year in Review

      The fight between the Federal Communications Commission’s choice to abandon the principles of net neutrality and the majority of Americans started early in 2017 and continued into the very last month of the year. But even with the FCC’s bad vote coming so late, we fought all year to build up momentum that will allow us to fix their blunder in 2018.

      2017 started out with a warning: in his final address as chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler said that the future of a free and open Internet safeguarded by net neutrality was hanging by a thread. “All the press reports seem to indicate that the new commission will choose an ideologically based course,” said Wheeler. Wheeler also offered up the argument that “Network investment is up, investment in innovative services is up, and ISPs’ revenues—and stock prices—are at record levels. So, where’s the fire? Other than the desires of a few [providers] to be free of meaningful oversight, why the sudden rush to undo something that is demonstrably working?”

      That would be a constant question posed throughout 2017: why would the FCC, under its new chairman, former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, move to eliminate something as functional and popular as net neutrality? After all, net neutrality protections guarantee that all information transmitted over the Internet be treated equally, preventing Internet service providers from prioritizing, say, their own content over that of competitors. It’s a logical set of rules that preserves the Internet as we know it. Net neutrality has been protected by the FCC for over a decade, culminating in the 2015 Open Internet Order, which we worked hard to get adopted in the first place.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Piracy Notices Can Mess With Your Thermostat, ISP Warns

        US Internet provider Armstrong warns that persistent pirates can have their Internet access throttled. As a result, they may no longer have full control over their thermostats. Those who continue pirating after an obligatory copyright education may have their full service terminated.

      • Might Google Class “Torrent” a Dirty Word? France is About to Find Out

        A dispute between the French recording industry and search engines Google and Bing could find the latter pair filtering searches containing the word torrent, initially in connection with three local artists. The issue is currently under discussion by the parties’ lawyers. Meanwhile, a blocking injunction has just been handed down targeting several popular torrent sites.

Raw: Philip Cordery Urged France to Withdraw/End Battistelli’s Presidency at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pieyre-Alexandre AngladeIt remains to be seen what his successor (since June of this year), Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade (shown to the left), will do as the next EPO President (June next year) is also French

Summary: Translation of a letter composed by Philip Cordery about four years ago when there was an opportunity to salvage the EPO by removing Benoît Battistelli

For the attention of the Minister

Dear Sir,

I am writing to draw your attention to the extremely deleterious social climate which has prevailed for a number of months at the European Patent Office (EPO), the facilities of which are based at the Hague, Brussels, Vienna, Munich, and Berlin.

I have been approached by the staff union of the European Patent Office and by a number of French officials, who have expressly requested me to safeguard their anonymity in fear of reprisals, with regard to failure to respect the fundamental rights of the employees. A number of articles in the press have likewise been reporting on this in local newspapers.

The facts speak for themselves. The exercise of the right to strike has been violated and threats of disciplinary sanctions have been abusively applied in order to limit the right of
the staff to express themselves. The union has been muzzled, and disciplinary sanctions imposed on a dozen union representatives. Certain employees have likewise been subjected to suspension and demotion in status for reasons which are both abusive and fallacious. Two cases of suicide have even occurred in the past few years, one at the Hague during working hours.

The situation has become a matter of extreme concern for the vast majority of the 7,000 employees who work within the EPO without enjoying the protection accorded by national law in matters of the right to work, which has rendered them particularly vulnerable. A number of decisions taken recently by the organization are contrary to French and European law, which is totally unacceptable for an international organization based in the territory of the European Union.

This incurs the risk in due course of affecting the role and efficiency of the institution itself, in its mission of European and international public service. This antisocial policy, pursued by a former French functionary, is seriously damaging the image and reputation of France on the international level, far from enhancing it.

I would therefore ask you to instruct the French representative on the Board of Administration of the EPO to demand expressly that all the abusive disciplinary sanctions be lifted which to date have been imposed on the representatives of the personnel, and not to vote in favour of the changes to the rulings regarding the designation and organization of the representatives of the personnel, which are shortly to be submitted to the Board of Management.

In addition to this, in view of the facts described, I call upon you to reconsider France’s support for the renewal of the appointment of Mr. Battistelli to the Presidency of the EPO, which is due to be discussed at a forthcoming meeting of the Board of Management on 27 and 28 March or 25 and 26 June 2014.

I am appending to this letter all the documents in my possession, and I would inform you that legal action against the management of the EPO is currently under way.

I take the liberty of emphasising the urgent nature of the situation, and I am at your disposal to meet you and exchange views on this matter.

Yours faithfully
Philip Cordery

More from Cordery:

Raw: Battistelli’s Circle (Topić and Bergot) Undermines Justice at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MoU signed by Bergot
Photo op from last year (Battistelli, Topić and Bergot shoulder to shoulder)

Summary: The managers of the European Patent Office (EPO) continue to demonstrate that the concept of justice seems outlandish to them

Mr Željko Topić
Vice-President DG4
ISAR – R.707

Request for information re appeals

Dear Mr Topić,

We continue to be approached by colleagues who inform us that their unanimous positive recommendation of the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC) has been rejected either by you or by PD4.3 (Ms Bergot). We have the same experience ourselves: in fact, we are not aware of a single positive opinion having been respected by you or your staff in 2013 and 2014.

Should the above perception prove to be correct, then this would amount to a systematic abuse of the internal appeal process and a denial of justice for EPO staff. The President (or person to which he has delegated this authority) is required to take the opinion of the Internal Appeal Committee fully into account when taking a final decision.

We are also informed that the backlog of internal appeals have exceeded 700 cases. We have understood that rather than taking measures to increase the capacity of the appeal system, the resources available have been reduced in 2013. At current expected processing rates of less than 100 cases per year, a complainant cannot expect to receive a final decision in less than 7 years.

The above problems undermine the integrity of the appeal process and may already represent a systematic failure of access to justice. One outcome will be an unnecessary increase in cases before the ILOAT. But is it also likely that an increasing number of cases will be filed in national courts since access to justice internally can no longer be guaranteed.

In order to clarify the situation, we request detailed information on the following:

- the number of cases treated in 2013
- the number of unanimous and majority positive opinions in 2013
- the number of these positive opinions not followed by the President.

At the same time, we remind you of a letter (copy attached) we sent to the Internal Appeals Committee on 15 November 2013, wherein we requested information on the case-load backlog. In their response, the Secretariat informed us that they were in the process of preparing a full report on their activities which was due to be finished “in early 2014”. Since this may provide at least a partial answer to some of our questions, we would appreciate receiving a copy of the report.

Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to receiving all pertinent information.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels
Central Staff Committee

cc.: Mr Raimund Lutz, VP5,
Mr Dražen Petrović, Registrar ILO-AT
Open letter to staff

Raw: “Social Democracy” at the EPO Means Staff Gets to Comment on Changes That Have Already Been Implemented Anyway

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full: Report on a meeting with members of the Working Group Career [PDF]

EPO social democracy

Summary: What the EPO’s management likes to refer to as “social democracy” is zero consultation with those affected, except after decisions have already been made to harm them

Raw: French-Led EPO Gives Air France Non-Exclusive Contract for All Staff Flights (Even Though EPO Lacks Branches in France)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reminder: The next President of the EPO will also be French (a lot of top-level management is already French, thanks to Battistelli’s shamelessness, and the President before his successor was French also)

French EPO

Original/full: English [PDF] | French [PDF]

Air France and EPO

Summary: It’s getting hard for the EPO under Battistelli to even hide its French bias, especially with deals/arrangements like the above-mentioned one (EPO has one branch in Austria and two in Germany)

Raw: Before Battistelli Sacked Nearly a Handful of Staff Representatives He Warned a Dozen and Had Already Punished Some

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Policy fusion (Turkey too is an EPO member) not based on European standards

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at EPO

Posted last night:

Summary: A letter from the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO reveals just how far back attacks on staff representatives go

Your open letter dated 6th March 2014

Dear Mr Battistelli,

While paying lip service to social dialogue, you have consistently interfered with the legitimate activities of the Central Staff Committee (CSC). We refer to you recent decisions and consequent actions:

- A referendum on “social democracy” organised by the CSC was prematurely terminated by the administration.
- Six members of the CSC were threatened with heavy sanctions with respect to the organisation of this referendum.
- Twelve (!) elected staff representatives received written warnings and reprimands.
- A Munich staff representative was downgraded from A4 to A3, despite the unanimous recommendation from the Disciplinary Committee to stop the procedure and pay the subject her legal costs.
- A CSC expert was suspended for allegedly having helped the CSC with the above referendum.

In an open letter to all staff dated 06.03.2014, you now claim that the decision to organise the above referendum “had never, in fact, been discussed at CSC level”.

Please take note that the referendum was discussed and the decision was taken by the CSC.

Yours sincerely,

[omitted]

Raw: PEACES Initiative of the Staff Union of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PEACES Initiative

Summary: Staff representatives tackle Battistelli’s incoherent lies about reasons for unrest and dictatorial style of management which came under fire by staff

The Federal Circuit (CAFC) is Doing a Good Job, Which Means It’s Hated and Mocked by the Patent Microcosm

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: A High US Court (CAFC) Continues Rejecting Software Patents (Even of Microsoft’s Patent Trolls)

Sharon ProstSummary: Chief Judge Sharon Prost has turned the highest patent court below the Supreme Court into a decent court which respects the wishes of science and technology professionals (not law firms), which makes it the target of ridicule and criticism from law firms

THE Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has had a good year. As we said yesterday, CAFC helped eliminate software patents by consistently ruling against them this year. This will hopefully continue next year.

As one can expect, this makes patent maximalists rather hostile toward CAFC. A new sponsored ‘article’ (paid-for marketing) at IAM frames a good CAFC decision as injustice. “This decision is important for life sciences intellectual property,” it says, “and could significantly impact pharmaceutical compound patenting. Under this holding, existing claims to a large genus of antibodies are far more likely to be invalidated for lack of written description if challenged. ”

“Not only IAM keeps bashing CAFC.”Stop patenting life. It’s not an invention. It’s nature.

Not only IAM keeps bashing CAFC.

Crouch keeps writing about CAFC. When patents are associated with the actions of the controversial TSA, for example, Crouch says that one may “attribute TSA’s activities to the accused infringer Travel Sentry.”

He adds: “The problem with Tropp’s method claims is that they require both (1) supplying the special lock (done by Travel Sentry) and also (2) the TSA (“luggage screening entity”) using the provided master key. This is a problem because infringement ordinarily requires a single-entity who practices (or controls the practice) of every step of a method claim. Here, Travel Sentry performs step-1, but not step-2.”

“So patents are again being leveraged against the government itself. And the plaintiff loses. Again.”The context of it is worth considering; we now see patents creeping into the public sector which is funded by taxpayers. It may therefore relate to privatisation and protectionism with nepotism.

On another day Crouch wrote about American Innotek v US (CAFC). “The lawsuit here is against the U.S. government,” he said, and “as such, it was filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims without right to jury trial, punitive damages or injunction. At the CFC, the court held the patent invalid – finding it obvious even as of its 1989 priority date. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed, although only after rejecting the lower court’s misapplication of obviousness law.”

So patents are again being leveraged against the government itself. And the plaintiff loses. Again.

Let’s remember what patents exist for and who for. They’re not supposed to just cushion the business model of ‘career litigators’.

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