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04.01.18

IRC Proceedings: March 11th, 2018 – March 31st, 2018

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: March 11th, 2018 – March 17th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: March 18th, 2018 – March 24th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: March 25th, 2018 – March 31st, 2018

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Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: February 11th, 2018 – March 10th, 2018

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: February 11th, 2018 – February 17th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: February 18th, 2018 – February 24th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: February 25th, 2018 – March 3rd, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: March 4th, 2018 – March 10th, 2018

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Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: January 14th, 2018 – February 10th, 2018

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: January 14th, 2018 – January 20th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: January 21st, 2018 – January 27th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: January 28th, 2018 – February 3rd, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: February 4th, 2018 – February 10th, 2018

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Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: December 17th, 2017 – January 13th, 2018

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: December 17th, 2017 – December 23rd, 2017

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IRC Proceedings: December 24th, 2017 – December 30th, 2017

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IRC Proceedings: December 31st, 2017 – January 6th, 2018

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IRC Proceedings: January 7th, 2018 – January 13th, 2018

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Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: November 19th, 2017 – December 16th, 2017

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: November 19th, 2017 – November 25th, 2017

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IRC Proceedings: November 26th, 2017 – December 2nd, 2017

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IRC Proceedings: December 3rd, 2017 – December 9th, 2017

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IRC Proceedings: December 10th, 2017 – December 16th, 2017

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Links 1/4/2018: Apple Wants Linux Developers, Wine Staging 3.5 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Some Of The Grandest Open-Source / Linux Letdowns Over The Years

    There are no April Fool’s Day surprises on Phoronix, but considering the occasion and the otherwise slow Easter weekend, I figured it would be fun to discuss some of the grandest open-source/Linux letdowns or failures from over the years… Here’s a trip back down memory lane for some once promising projects and goals.

    Below is the list I came up with this morning. Feel free to chime in via the forums or on Twitter with your thoughts and other letdowns in the Linux/open-source space over the years. No hard feelings, just figured it would be fun to discuss and look back at some of these projects especially for newer Linux users that may have never heard of them. The list is in no particular order.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Thunderbird 60 to Bring Calendar Improvements, MBOX/Maildir Conversions

        Who said Thunderbird is dying? Mozilla plans to release the 60th version of its open-source and cross-platform email, calendar, and news client, which will introduce a plethora of new features and improvements.

        Mozilla Thunderbird 60 entered beta testing earlier this week to allow public testers to take a glimpse at the new features, which include the ability to view locations for calendar events in both the Day and Week views, along with support for deleting, cutting, or copying selected occurrences or entire series for recurring events.

        The Calendar component of Thunderbird will also provide users with the ability to send meeting notifications directly instead of displaying a pop-up. On the other hand, Thunderbird 60 will remove the app’s capability to send email invitations that are compatible with Microsoft Outlook 2002 and earlier versions.

      • Gervase Markham: Happy Birthday, Mozilla

        As most of you know, I probably won’t be around to see much more of it, but (this will seem trite if it’s not to seem big-headed!) Mozilla is much more than one or even a few people. There will always be a Mozilla as long as there is an Internet and people who care about people on it. In that vein, let me also say that I’m absolutely delighted with the final outcome of the worldview project. The four items in the addendum to the Manifesto are admirable goals to aim for, and ones I endorse wholeheartedly.

      • Mozilla Turns Twenty

        It’s the morning of March 31, 1998, and the Netscape campus is chock-full of engineers, hours earlier than on a normal day. It’s a Tuesday and it’s known universally in the Netscape browser world as “three thirty-one” and written as 3/31. It’s the day the Mozilla code is open-sourced to the world, and the day the Mozilla Project is formally launched.

        Three thirty-one was the result of a massive amount of work in two short months. The intent to make open source the code for “Netscape Navigator” had been announced on January 22. On that date the code was not ready, we didn’t know which free software / open source license we would use, and we didn’t have a structure for running an open source project. That was pure Netscape style.

      • Reps of the Month – February 2018

        Ziggy is a long time Mozillian that is involved in organizing our presence at FOSDEM or managing the volunteers at the Mozilla Festival. Together with Anthony he started working on both finding speakers for the DevRoom but also to be sure we have a good presence at the booth too. This work was spread around 3 months so we are definitely grateful for their effort.

  • CMS

    • Top 5 Web-based Project Management Applications

      According to Wikipedia, “Project management is the process of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.”

      The only solution to managing projects smoothly is to get project management software. They are online systems for working and collaborating on projects. The best project management apps help teams to handle common problems like slipped deadlines, automatically rescheduling tasks and generating relevant reports. That’s why, today, we will be exploring top 5 web-based project management software.

    • Migrating from wordpress.com to Hugo

      When I started this blog back in 2009, I chose to publish it on WordPress because it was easy to use and maintain. I hosted it using wordpress.com’s free tier, and it has worked well enough for me since then, but when it came time to move the blog off of wordpress.com and onto something self-hosted, I wasn’t convinced that WordPress was still the best solution for me.

      As a system administrator, my biggest concern regarding WordPress is its security. When our school’s website switched from some 90’s era framework to WordPress a couple of years ago, it wasn’t long before our site was compromised. We switched from a web host to a DigitalOcean instance running the latest version of Fedora and a system copy of WordPress (both kept up-to-date), which has (at least for now) kept our site from being compromised again, but that is one more service that we have to keep our eyes on.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD-Based TrueOS Finally Gets Patched Against Meltdown and Spectre Flaws

      TrueOS, the free and open-source FreeBSD derivative, has been updated on Friday to version 18.03, a release that finally includes patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities publicly disclosed in January 2018.
      TrueOS 18.03 comes three months after version 17.12 and includes mitigations for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that put billions of devices at risk of attacks. It ports all the fixes from FreeBSD to fix Meltdown for systems using Intel-based processors when running virtual machines.

      In addition, this release ports all available mitigations from FreeBSD HEAD, including the retpoline mitigation strategy, for the second variant of the Spectre security vulnerability. On top of this, TrueOS developers recommend all users to install the latest microcode update from Intel to fully mitigate Spectre.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open-source voting in SF may require match of state, local funds

      If San Francisco wants an open-source voting system that supporters say would be more reliable and transparent than current proprietary machines, it could cost between $11.5 million and $27.8 million, according to a new consultant’s report.

      The report comes as supporters of an open-source system, which includes the Elections Commission, are calling on Mayor Mark Farrell to help fund the effort.

      An open-source voting system means the software used to tabulate the ballots is open to public view. Anyone with computer knowledge can examine the software code and look for vulnerabilities or bugs.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Looking for San Jose’s best murals? There’s a map for that

      Software engineer Yan-Yin Choy has created “Heart of the Valley,” an open source, online map that shows the locations of murals and other pieces of public art, along with a short description that often includes the name of the artist and a photo.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Edwards testimony could spark battle of scientists in Flint water crisis

      McElmurry has testified he could not point to a specific instance in which Lyon attempted to prevent him from carrying out his research, but said “our contract was deliberately slowed” in an effort to prevent any connection between river water and outbreaks of Legionnaires’.

    • U.S. Supreme Court allows Flint water contamination lawsuits

      The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave the green light to two class-action lawsuits filed by residents of Flint, Michigan who are pursing civil rights claims against local and state officials over lead contamination in the city’s water supply.

    • Bottled water, brought to you by fracking?

      The report reveals that the majority of bottled water is municipal tap water, a common resource captured in plastic bottles and re-sold at an astonishing markup — as much as 2,000 times the price of tap, and even four times the price of gasoline. Besides being a rip-off, there is plenty more to loathe about the corporate water scam: The environmental impacts from pumping groundwater (especially in drought-prone areas), the plastic junk fouling up our waterways and oceans, and the air pollution created as petrochemical plants manufacture the materials necessary for making those plastic bottles filled with overpriced tap water.

    • Take Back The Tap: The Big Business Hustle of Bottled Water

      Industry marketing from corporations like Nestlè means that more people are buying bottled water than ever — even though about 64 percent of the bottled water comes from municipal water systems. That means that people buying bottled water are paying much, much more than they would for that same water from the tap. Bottled water is literally more expensive than gasoline — and about 2,000 times more expensive than tap water. 

      [...]

      Industry marketing strategies designed to promote the safety of bottled water to people who historically lack access to safe tap water (especially recent immigrants) prey upon those who may mistrust tap water and communities concerned about obesity and sugary beverages. In 2014, Nestlé spent over $5 million advertising Pure Life — the most advertised U.S. bottled water brand — and three quarters ($3.8 million) went to Spanish-language television advertising.

    • Giving patients the ‘right to try’ experimental drugs is a political maneuver, not a lifesaver

      Ultimately, we believe right to try is poised to give the Trump administration a political win on a popular public policy but will do little to change the status quo for terminally ill patients. Some opponents say, if anything, it could give terminally ill patients false hope for new access to drugs they already can obtain through existing FDA policy.

    • ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’ sprawling with far more debris than thought

      The sprawling patch of detritus – spanning 1.6m sq km, (617,763 sq miles) more than twice the size of France – contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic, new research published in Nature has found. This mass of waste is up to 16 times larger than previous estimates and provides a sobering challenge to a team that will start an ambitious attempt to clean up the vast swath of the Pacific this summer.

    • Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’

      “Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”

      [...]

      “It is a near certainty in the next few decades, and the risk is increasing continually as long as perpetual growth of the human enterprise remains the goal of economic and political systems,” he says. “As I’ve said many times, ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell’.”

  • Security

    • Finally extradited from Europe, suspected LinkedIn [cracker] faces US charges

      In a brief hearing before a federal magistrate judge in San Francisco, Yevgeniy Nikulin pleaded not guilty to illegally accessing computers belonging to those companies in 2012.

      Nikulin was arrested on October 5, 2016, but he was only very recently extradited from the Czech Republic to the United States. In the Czech Republic, Nikulin’s attorneys and the Russian government attempted to get him sent back home to face significantly lesser criminal charges dating back to 2009.

    • Georgia criminalizes routine security research

      SB315 creates a new crime of “unauthorized access” to computers, which will allow companies to seek criminal retribution against security researchers who conduct good faith research into vulnerabilities in systems that Georgians — and the world — relies on.

    • Intel’s Microcode Update for Spectre Makes a Comeback in Ubuntu’s Repositories

      After it’s been pulled from Ubuntu’s repositories in late January at Intel’s request due to serious hardware issues reported by numerous users, Inte’s microcode update to mitigate the Spectre security vulnerability makes a comeback.

      On January 22, 2018, Canonical replaced the Intel microcode firmware versioned 20180108 with the older 20170707 release at Intel’s request, thus no longer protecting users’ computers against the Spectre security vulnerability that could allow a local attacker to expose sensitive information from kernel memory.

      “Jann Horn discovered that microprocessors utilizing speculative execution and branch prediction may allow unauthorized memory reads via side-channel attacks. This flaw is known as Spectre. A local attacker could use this to expose sensitive information, including kernel memory (CVE-2017-5715),” reads the security advisory.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • One Morning in Baghdad
    • Dapchi girls: Freed Nigerian girls tell of kidnap ordeal

      The government says 106 children – 104 schoolgirls, a girl who did not go to the school, and a boy – were freed. It denied claims that a ransom was exchanged to secure the girls’ release.

      News of the girls’ return led to celebration in the town, although five girls are reported to have died. The only Christian girl of the group is still in captivity. Parents told AFP that Boko Haram would release her if she converted to Islam, which she refuses to do.

    • My daughter was not released because she refused to embrace Islam – Dapchi Parent

      *Sharibu:* All of them were released. They said some were dead there and my daughter is alive but they said she is a Christian and that is why they cannot release her. They said if she wants to be released until she converts and become a Muslim and she said she will never become a Muslim.

    • Swedish Rap Artist Predicts Civil War, Ponders Moving to Africa

      “Today, there is an open gang war. My brother was murdered. I have 18 or maybe even 19 mates who were murdered. Today’s Sweden is a different reality — today in Sweden, a completely different world,” Ken Ring told NRK.

    • US Announces $1 Billion in Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

      The State Department approved nearly $1 billion in new arms sales for Saudi Arabia as the kingdom’s crown prince continued his American tour.

      Congress was notified Thursday of the deal, which includes a $670 million sale of more than 6,600 TOW anti-tank missiles and a $300 million sale of spare vehicle parts for the Royal Saudi Land Forces Ordnance Corps.

    • US Admits “Doing The Planning” For Saudi Strikes In Yemen

      Mattis now admits the US is “doing the planning” in Yemen strikes, and has shown the Saudis how the concept of a no-strike zone is supposed to work, and engaged in a maturing process of “battlefield management” intended to see Saudi strikes killing fewer civilians.

    • Sexual Violence in Syria Used as Tool to Instill Fear and Shame

      Rampant sexual and gender-based violence is used by Syria’s warring parties to instill fear in the civilian population and to humiliate and shame their victims into silence, according to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

      [...]

      A report released March 15, said U.N. investigators found sexual and gender-based violence was pervasive throughout Syrian society.

    • India And Pakistan: Inching Toward Their Final War?

      Both India and Pakistan have between 120 and 140 nuclear warheads, according to estimates provided by the Arms Control Association. However a report produced in 2015 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center asserts that Pakistan may be outpacing India in terms of its nuclear stockpile, and may possess 350 nuclear warheads in the next five to ten years. A 2016 SIPRI report confirmed the assessment that Pakistan has more nuclear warheads than India.

      The major difference between the two countries’ nuclear doctrines is that while India has renounced first use of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has refused to do so by reserving its right to use nuclear weapons in the face of India’s conventional superiority.

    • Trump wants to get the U.S. out of Syria’s war, so he asked the Saudi king for $4 billion

      A $4 billion Saudi contribution would go a long way toward U.S. goals in Syria that the Saudis say they share, particularly that of limiting Assad’s power and rolling back Iran’s influence. By comparison, the United States last month announced a $200 million donation to the stabilization effort.

    • Surge in Muslims being jailed for drug offences despite drop in overall prison population
    • Kurdish Afrin Falls to Turkey

      Yesterday, while many Europeans are still pilloried for viewing mass migration from Muslim-majority countries as a threat to Western culture — and are still accused of “xenophobia,” “Islamophobia” and “fear-mongering” — the city of Afrin, in the Kurdish area of Syria, fell to Turkey.

    • Turkey’s ‘holy war’ in Syria puts a more religious nationalism on display

      When Turkey’s armed forces finally seized control last Sunday of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, after a two-month campaign, it was presented as a victory by “Islam’s last army” in a holy war, or “jihad.”

      Turkey has mounted frequent cross-border operations into Iraq over the years to target militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). And “Operation Olive Branch” – as Turkey named the Afrin offensive – is the second major operation into Syria since 2016, aimed at preventing Syrian Kurds affiliated with the PKK from building their own mini-state on Turkey’s southern border.

    • Civilians Who Fled Afrin Suffer from Dire Humanitarian Conditions

      i“It appears the majority of the population of the city … evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces. This adds to the already concerning humanitarian situation in the area, with United Nations agencies reporting a displaced population in or from Afrin district in the hundreds of thousands, who now require immediate shelter and other assistance to meet basic needs,” the statement said.

    • Turkey’s seizure of Afrin and the growing threat of a regional war in the Middle East

      While drifting away from its NATO partners, Ankara has forged closer relations, including both trade and military ties, with Russia and Iran, two main targets of US imperialism. On March 12, the Russian news agency TASS reported that Moscow would accelerate the delivery of the S-400 air defense systems to Turkey. Turkish-Russian economic and trade ties also continue to grow rapidly. Ankara and Tehran are developing close ties in different areas, including commerce and tourism, as well military relations, with almost daily reciprocal visits by government officials and business representatives. The main issue of cooperation between the two countries, however, remains that of “fighting terrorism,” which for Turkey is focused on Kurdish separatism.

    • John Bolton, cyber warrior

      John Bolton has spent years imploring the U.S. to go on the attack in cyberspace — a stance that some digital warfare experts caution could set the nation up for a conflict it would be better off avoiding.

      President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser has made this point in a series of op-eds, speeches and appearances on panels and television, arguing that America should deploy its “muscular cyber capabilities” to strike back against digital adversaries like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. The point, he said, would be to impose costs “so high that they will simply consign all their cyber warfare plans to their computer memories to gather electronic dust.”

    • Trump’s bellicose choice to lead the NSA

      President Donald Trump’s choice of John Bolton as his new national security adviser and his ongoing escalation of trade hostilities and reshuffling of his legal team have been interpreted as evidence that Trump is finally governing and conducting himself as he wanted to all along. He’s tired of advisers who are steering him away from his true agenda and persona, goes this narrative; instead, he’s getting back to the basics that make Trump who he really is.

    • Trump’s NSA is a threat to world peace

      In appointing John Bolton as his national security adviser, President Donald Trump is sending strong signals to his country and the world. First, in choosing a notorious hawk, he has lain to rest all expectation and hope that power will tame him.

      Second, he has no interest in securing independent let alone contrary advice so essential to making a sound decision, all the more so in the realm of foreign policy where decision-makers have to act on imperfect evidence, conflicting instincts and even conjectures out of sheer necessity.

    • Russia ‘Novichok’ Hysteria Proves Politicians and Media Haven’t Learned the Lessons of Iraq

      If there’s one thing to be gleaned from the current atmosphere of anti-Russian hysteria in the West, it’s that the US-led sustained propaganda campaign is starting to pay dividends. It’s not only the hopeless political classes and media miscreants who believe that Russia is hacking, meddling and poisoning our progressive democratic utopia – with many pinning their political careers to this by now that’s it’s too late for them to turn back.

      Donald Trump and Theresa May during a NATO summit in Brussels. Photo Reuters

      As it was with Iraq in 2003, these dubious public figures require a degree of public support for their policies, and unfortunately many people do believe in the grand Russian conspiracy, having been sufficiently brow-beaten into submission by around-the-clock fear mongering and official fake news disseminated by government and the mainstream media.

      What makes this latest carnival of warmongering more frightening is that it proves that the political and media classes never actually learned or internalized the basic lessons of Iraq, namely that the cessation of diplomacy and the declarations of sanctions (a prelude to war) against another sovereign state should not be based on half-baked intelligence and mainstream fake news. But that’s exactly what is happening with this latest Russian ‘Novichok’ plot.

    • Trump Finds Fellow Bully in Bolton

      Trump bullies people on a nearly daily basis, directing his ire at immigrants, Muslims, women, LBGTQ people, the poor and the environment. He hurls Twitter attacks at those who disagree with him.

      The president has encouraged police brutality, suggesting in a Long Island speech that law enforcement officers bang suspects’ heads against police car doors. “Please don’t be too nice” when arresting people, Trump advised. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over” their head, “I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’”

      After being told someone might throw tomatoes at him at a campaign rally, Trump urged his supporters to “knock the crap out of them … I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” He stated on Fox News that a Black Lives Matter activist who was attacked at a Trump rally “should have been roughed up.”

      Trump’s fellow bully Bolton also engages in abusive behavior. Melody Townsel, working on a USAID project in Kyrgyzstan, became the object of Bolton’s wrath in 1994. Townsel had complained about incompetence, poor contract performance and inadequate funding of the project by a contractor Bolton represented.

    • Is the War on Guns the Next War on Terror?

      The leaders of the United States of America are sick people. They are ignorant. They lack judgement. They choose to fight rather than to cooperate. Especially the Republican party. And especially our current President, Donald Trump. However, the American public remains a sorry lot also. We kill each other at an alarming rate. We are a violent, angry, and bloodthirsty group from top to bottom.

    • All the President’s Women

      There is no doubt about it: Stormy Daniels is a formidable woman. Karen McDougal is no slouch either, though she is hard to admire after that riff, in her Anderson Cooper interview, about how religious and Republican she is; she even said that she used to love the Donald. Stormy Daniels is better than that.

      How wonderfully appropriate it would be if she were to become the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

      Even in a world as topsy-turvy as ours has become, there has to be a final straw.

      To be sure, evidence of Trump’s vileness, incompetence, and mental instability is accumulating at breakneck speed, and there are polls now that show support for him holding fast or even slightly rising. Trump’s hardcore “base” seems more determined than ever to stand by their man.

    • Who Calls Anyone Civilized?

      I myself tried to write something for the 15 year “commemoration” of the US war against Iraq, but wasn’t able to complete it. It was too much for me. A couple of months ago I was invited to go to the Northwest to speak about “Fifteen Years After the War.” It was too much for me emotionally, and somewhat shamefully I had to decline.

      As I write, I have the phone next to me. I am texting a young Iraqi boy who is alone in Turkey. About ten months ago he was kidnapped in Iraq. Through a chain of events, he ended up in Syria. About two months ago his father was contacted and was able to get his son smuggled across the border into Turkey. Last month his son turned 18 years of age and was eligible to register as a refugee with UNHCR. But he will not get an interview for many months to come. Traumatized, missing family and without friends, he tells his family he wants to come home. But it is much too dangerous for him to return. Trying to draw him out of his boredom, I ask him to tell me how his day was. What did he eat? Did he get outside? What is the weather like? I ask him what words he has learned in Turkish. I tell him what I ate, about the soup I cooked or the rainy weather. By the length of time between our messages, I suspect that he is looking up some of the English words. Sometimes we speak by phone and get to see each other.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Review: The Terrible Beauty of Wikileaks

      On 7 December 2010, Tunisian despot Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime blocked Internet access to the Beirut daily Al-Akhbar for publishing a US embassy cable which painted the dictator, his wife and her family in a deeply unflattering light. In the July 2009 cable, US ambassador Robert Godec had accused Ben Ali’s regime of having ‘lost touch with the Tunisian people…[tolerating] no advice or criticism whether domestic or international’, and of increasingly relying ‘on the police for control and focus on preserving power’. The cable mentioned the growing ‘corruption in the inner circle’, particularly around first lady Leila Trabelsi and her family, whom it said the Tunisians ‘intensely dislike, even hate’. It finally concluded that ‘anger is growing at Tunisia’s high unemployment and regional inequities. As a consequence, the risks to the regime’s long-term stability are increasing’.

    • Why has Ecuador silenced Julian Assange?

      The draconian measures taken by the government of Ecuador to cut off all access to the outside world by Julian Assange represent a reactionary attack on basic democratic rights that must be vigorously opposed by workers and youth in every country.
      Ecuadorian authorities have blocked the WikiLeaks founder’s access to the Internet as well as all other means of communication from Quito’s embassy in London, where Assange has been confined for nearly six years. In addition, it is barring visitors from seeing him, leaving him with fewer rights than a prisoner behind bars.
      Assange continues to face coordinated conspiracies by the British and US governments to have him arrested and extradited to face US charges of treason and espionage, which carry potential death penalties.
      The attack on Assange is part of a global assault on democratic rights that increasingly recalls the darkest days of the 1930s, in the midst of the rise of fascism and the drive to world war. It is significant that he was subjected to his enforced isolation in part for making a telling comparison on Twitter between the German government’s recent arrest of Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont at the behest of Spain and the 1940 arrest of the president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, who was extradited by the Nazis to Franco’s fascist dictatorship, which tortured and executed him.
      The placing of Assange under what amounts to incommunicado detention coincides with a drive by governments all over the world to impose censorship on the Internet. Assange has been in the forefront of the resistance to this antidemocratic campaign.

    • Ecuador urged to reverse Julian Assange bans

      The president of Ecuador is being urged to reverse the internet and visitor bans imposed on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy.

      Among those signing a letter to Lenin Moreno are actress Pamela Anderson, musician Brian Eno, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis.

    • Reverse Assange internet ban, Ecuador urged

      The appeal has been co-ordinated by campaign group the Courage Foundation.

      The Ecuadorian Government decided earlier this week to stop Mr Assange using the internet or social media from its embassy in London.

      He has been living there for almost six years, believing he will be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves.

    • Restore Julian Assange’s access to visitors and to the outside world

      It is with great concern that we heard that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador’s authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian.

      Only recently the government of Ecuador granted Julian citizenship and a diplomatic passport, in a bid to allow him safe passage from London. The UK government, under heavy pressure from the US government, refused to exploit this opportunity to end Julian’s detention – even after the Swedish authorities announced that no charges were, or would be, laid against him.

      Now, it seems that the Ecuadorian government has been ‘leaned’ on mercilessly not only to stop attempting to provide Julian with a diplomatic route to safety but to drive him out of their London Embassy as well. In addition to US pressure, the Spanish government is also using its leverage over Ecuador to silence Julian’s criticisms of Madrid’s imprisonment of Catalan politicians and, in particular, of the arrest of Catalonia’s former premier in Germany.

    • THE ISOLATION OF JULIAN ASSANGE IS THE SILENCING OF US ALL [Ed: Original, reposted below]
    • In Defense of Julian Assange and Free Speech

      If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now.

      Citing his critical tweets about the recent detention of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont in Germany, and following pressure from the U.S., Spanish and U.K. governments, the Ecuadorean government has installed an electronic jammer to stop Assange from communicating with the outside world via the internet and phone. As if ensuring his total isolation, the Ecuadorean government is also refusing to allow him to receive visitors. Despite two U.N. rulings describing his detention as unlawful and mandating his immediate release, Assange has been effectively imprisoned since he was first placed in isolation in Wandsworth prison in London in December 2010. He has never been charged with a crime. The Swedish case against him collapsed and was withdrawn, while the United States has stepped up efforts to prosecute him. His only “crime” is that of a true journalist—telling the world the truths that people have a right to know.

    • Eminent Activists Say The Isolation Of Julian Assange Must Stop

      A group of eminent people, including activists, journalists, film stars and academics, have issued a joint letter calling for an end to the campaign against Australian Julian Assange.

    • Breaking the Silence

      As if ensuring his total isolation, the Ecuadorian government is also refusing to allow him to receive visitors. Despite two UN rulings describing his detention as unlawful and mandating his immediate release, Assange has been effectively imprisoned since he was first placed in isolation in Wandsworth prison in London in December 2010. He has never been charged with a crime. The Swedish case against him collapsed and was withdrawn, while the United States has stepped up efforts to prosecute him. His only “crime” is that of a true journalist — telling the world the truths that people have a right to know.

    • 30,000 Sign #ReconnectJulian Petition as Support of Isolated Assange Grows
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Why there is a worldwide shortage of vanilla
    • ‘The Last Animals’ Sheds Light on Rhino, Elephant Extinction

      Brooks says in the past ten years, more than a thousand rangers have been killed in clashes with poachers in conservancies and parks across Africa. She filmed deadly encounters at Kenya’s Garamba National Park.

    • End culture of disposables to save the planet

      This year, Earth Hour was marked on March 24 with millions of people around the globe turning off non-essential electric lights for an hour as a sign of commitment to rejuvenate the planet. Organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature, what started as a one-off event in Sydney, Australia, has by now drawn in thousands of towns and cities across 187 countries and territories (according to the WWF).

    • Truly alarming’: No babies for endangered right whales

      The winter calving season for critically endangered right whales has nearly ended with zero newborns spotted in the past four months _ a reproductive drought that scientists who study the fragile species haven’t seen in three decades.

    • ‘We were trying not to get hit by their tails’ – how I filmed the Faroe whale hunt

      People have their own minds made up about that issue. We’re saying if the pollution is so bad in the sea that the animals are that toxic, then all of these groups should be uniting over this bigger threat.”

    • Experts call for checking illegal shark trade

      In Karachi, shark meat is largely consumed as finger fish while fins are illegally exported as “salted dry fish”.

    • Native American, conservation groups sue Trump for failing to protect humpback whale habitat

      The suit, filed Thursday in a San Francisco federal court, alleges that Trump’s National Marine Fisheries Service failed to designate critical habitat for humpback whale populations after they were again listed as an endangered and threatened species in 2016, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

    • Mass die-offs are driving efforts to create hardier corals

      Schemes to cool reefs in this way have, however, been criticised as hopeless at best and possibly even harmful. Colder water can absorb more carbon dioxide, and is therefore likely to be more acidic. That would damage reefs. A growing number of scientists therefore reckon that an entirely different approach to saving coral is needed. If oceans are changing faster than coral can adapt via the normal processes of evolution, why not, these researchers argue, work out ways to speed up such evolution?

    • Carbon Markets: Foolish Climate Policy that Big Banks Can Love

      The most revealing thing about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) might be the location Virginia Governor Ralph Northam chose to hold the final hearing on whether his state would join the regional carbon trading program: The Bank of America building in Richmond. It was a telling move. After all, big financial interests are lining up to capitalize on carbon trading, and Bank of America itself has invested billions in oil and gas development.

      Though it is cheered by Northeast politicians and many environmental groups as an effective tool to fight climate change, RGGI does not reduce carbon emissions – no carbon trading system will – and it actually protects and entrenches fossil fuel development, instead of fighting it.

    • Judge Rejects Exxon’s Attempt to Shut Down Climate Fraud Investigations

      With a sharp rebuke, a federal judge on Thursday rejected Exxon’s attempt to shut down two state investigations into whether the oil giant misled investors for years about the risks of climate change.

      U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed Exxon’s complaint with prejudice, meaning the company can’t refile it.

      In the first line of her ruling, the judge describe Exxon’s actions as “running roughshod over the adage that the best defense is a good offense.”

      “The relief requested by Exxon in this case is extraordinary: Exxon has asked two federal courts—first in Texas, now in New York—to stop state officials from conducting duly-authorized investigations into potential fraud,” she wrote. “It has done so on the basis of extremely thin allegations and speculative inferences.”

    • In court, oil companies accept climate science but rewrite its history

      As the case plays out, the defendants’ differing version of climate science’s certainty over time will play a role. The lawyers for San Francisco and Oakland, on the other hand, will likely try to counter that internal documents show these companies weren’t befuddled by scientific uncertainty, rather they were consciously combatting scientific certainty.

  • Finance

    • No Wonder Teachers Are Saying Enough Is Enough

      In the majority of the country, teachers are working in classrooms that are not being adequately funded, even after state budgets have gotten healthier as the recession has faded from view. As of 2015, state money allocated for schools was still lower than it was before the recession in 29 states. Oklahoma is the leader of that pack, having reduced it by more than a quarter over the last decade, but West Virginia has cut back by more than 11 percent. During this same period, many states also cut taxes, further starving themselves of resources that could go to schools.

    • Kushner Companies confirms meeting with Qatar on financing

      Jared Kushner’s father met with Qatar’s finance minister three months after President Trump’s inauguration, a New York City session at which funding for a financially troubled real estate project was discussed, the company acknowledged Sunday.

      [...]

      The Kushners had earlier sought money from Qatar, working from 2014 until at least 2016 to obtain funding from a private investment fund run by Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, a wealthy former prime minister.

    • This is the Most Dangerous Time in Decades to Be an American Living in Poverty

      To name a few damaging policy initiatives: a proposal to punish immigrants for participating in programs like Head Start; closing a Department of Justice office that was created to make legal aid more accessible; repealing guidance to judges that suggested they consider an individual’s ability to pay a fine before allowing her to languish in jail; imposing work requirements and time limits on people who need assistance with health care, housing, or food.

    • Why polygamy breeds civil war

      Polygamy nearly always means rich men taking multiple wives. And if the top 10% of men marry four women each, then the bottom 30% cannot marry at all. This often leaves them not only sexually frustrated but also socially marginalised. In many traditional societies, a man is not considered an adult until he has found a wife and sired children.

    • Seizing Upon Post-Hurricane Damage, Puerto Rico’s New “Education Reform” Law Paves Way for Charters, Vouchers

      Roughly six months after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, the island’s governor signed into law “education reform” legislation that he says “puts our students first” but that critics say stinks of a privatization plan that will do nothing to help students.

      The plan will consolidate schools and allow for charter schools and vouchers—ideas that are not endorsed by the Puerto Rico Teachers Association (Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico).

      Another teacher’s union, the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, vowed that it, alongside teachers, parents, and students, would “defeat the false reform with the struggle on the street and in schools.”

    • Snowden: Satoshi is ex-NSA Researcher and Original Binance Seed Investor

      The latest round of revelations from former CIA analyst and whistle-blower Edward Snowden appear to confirm what many observers had long suspected.

      The creator of Bitcoin, known under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, was a high-ranking NSA in-house researcher who is thought to have left the intelligence agency sometime in early March 2009, barely a few weeks after the release of Bitcoin itself.

    • Under GOP Tax Law, Top 1% Get Extra $33,000 Per Year. The Poor? $40

      In its first analysis of how the GOP tax plan will affect Americans’ personal income taxes alone, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) this week underscored what experts and most of the public already knew: that the Republican tax law will pour tens of thousands of extra dollars into pockets of the wealthy few while providing mere crumbs for the poor.

      Specifically, according to TPC’s new report, the top one percent of earners will receive an average annual tax cut of around $33,000 just from individual tax changes under the GOP law. The poorest Americans, by contrast, will see an average break of about $40 per year.

      “While most of the corporate tax cuts flow to the top of the income distribution, what this shows is that even in the direct changes to the individual-side of the tax code, most of those changes are still being allocated to the top,” Kim Rueben, a senior fellow at TPC, told the Washington Post.

    • If Brexit was hacked, shouldn’t we know exactly who paid?

      Yes, the Leave campaign probably cheated. And yes, Remain played unfair advantages. But where did the Brexit dark money actually come from? And how is it still shaping our democracy?

    • ‘Crimes’ committed by Brexit campaigners? One extraordinary coincidence offers a new clue

      In April 2016, Aggregate IQ was a tiny digital services firm working out of a cramped office in British Columbia, Canada. The company had no web presence and no obvious track record. Yet over the final two months of the Brexit campaign, several pro-Leave campaign groups (Vote Leave, the DUP, Veterans for Britain – and bizarrely, a 23 year old fashion student named Darren Grimes) would spend over £3.5m with Aggregate IQ.

      Why?

      Speaking in parliament today, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie said that all these Leave groups were working together – and breaking the law. “This must be co-ordination,” he told MPs. Under British law, there are strict campaign spending limits, and groups that ‘work together’ have to pool their spending under one combined cap.

      But the various Leave groups all declared their spending with AIQ separately, and claim that the firm treated them as separate clients, without co-ordinating their campaigns. This allowed them to throw dramatically more cash than would othewise have been possible into winning the knife-edge Brexit referendum.

      We now know that AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica – the firm behind Trump’s campaign which has been accused of a massive Facebook data breach – are closely intertwined. AggregateIQ developed the very election software that Cambridge Analytica sold for millions of dollars during the 2016 US presidential election. This raises the possibility that AIQ – the company that Vote Leave spent some 40% of their cash with – was using data illegally harvested from Facebook.

      Jeff Silvester chief operating officer at AIQ said: “AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where we operate. AggregateIQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica.”

    • From the Falklands to Brexit: cut-price Jingoism

      If you want to understand how British policy makers think; don’t go to Chatham House, go to Lewis Carroll instead. The current government’s Brexit strategies are straight from the White Queen: Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. A list of Brexit ideas emanating from Theresa May’s cabinet number far more than six impossible things – such as Boris Johnson’s ludicrous suggestion that the success of the London congestion charge showed how easy it would be to replace customs checks on a post-Brexit Irish border.

      We have, however, been here before. Crashing Through the Looking-Glass seems to be a recurring pathology of British leaders. We saw it with Anthony Eden over Suez and with Margaret Thatcher in the run up to the Falklands conflict. But what distinguished Thatcher from Eden was good luck and skilful manipulation of jingoism.

    • How to democratise Brexit and take back control of our future: an appeal to Jeremy Corbyn

      Labour’s ingenious proposal to negotiate a new custom union with the EU could be a sensible solution, both for Northern Ireland and to limit friction on trade. However, there is simply no way it can be negotiated in the six months that would follow a vote against whatever Brexit deal May might strike. Disentangling the custom union from the single market is an extremely complex task which requires careful reflection on both sides, and patience doesn’t run high in Brussels, after what appears to be a never-ending indecisiveness from the British side. Besides, Labour could only come to negotiate a deal after getting into government through a general election, which would steal a few more months from the total. There simply isn’t enough time to change May’s Brexit course.

    • Radicalization of European politics: growing chorus of calls for Facebook breakup

      I wish this were just an April Fool’s Day post, but sadly it’s true that politicians in the EU are making ever more radical proposals concerning U.S. Internet giants. While I don’t expect anything extreme to actually happen in the near term, calls for or speculation about breakups of large corporations contribute to a climate in which it becomes increasingly hard to find reasonable solutions, and to focus on actual wrongdoing by abusers of dominant market positions. It’s a climate of thoughtlessness.

      About a week ago, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, more descriptively named Activistager, told the Telegraph that a breakup of Google into multiple smaller entities would have to remain on the table as an option for competition enforcement. No one seriously believes this would be the outcome, but just mentioning the possibility is a kind of saber-rattling that appears totally disproportionate. One may or-as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission concluded in 2013–may not consider any of Google’s business practices anticompetitive. But even if one agreed with the EU Commission’s charges, one can’t seriously think about a breakup. Maybe some minor remedies and limited fines, but that’s the maximum extent of it.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Scott Walker Is Trying To Dismantle Democracy in Wisconsin

      Walker and Republican leaders in the legislature are still looking for ways to avoid following the existing law. On Tuesday, they announced a plan to rewrite state statutes so that governors would no longer be required to call special elections to fill legislative vacancies “as promptly as possible.” Under the Republican rewrite of the statutes that was unveiled Tuesday, legislative vacancies occurring after early December of odd-numbered years could be left unfilled until the regular November election of the following year.

    • The Trump Team’s Account of the Stormy Daniels Story Is So Bad It’s Funny

      So why do 41 percent of Republicans buy it?

      [...]

      Margaret Hartmann wrote for New York magazine that, “while there’s little evidence that Cohen was kept on the payroll for his sharp legal mind, he’d demonstrated again and again that he possesses the unshakable loyalty that Trump values so highly,” and yet Cohen claims that he didn’t even tell his boss about this magnanimous gesture, and never planned to do so. He says that he negotiated the agreement and made Trump a party to it without uttering a word about it, and certainly didn’t ask to be reimbursed for it. Paying a porn star $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair that never happened was just a personal transaction by a guy who refers to himself as a “pit bull” on behalf of a guy with much deeper pockets than he has. (The White House has consistently dodged the question of whether Trump knew of the payoff.)

      Cohen further insists that it had nothing to do with the Trump Organization, despite the fact that he used his company e-mail address to set up the wire transfer to Daniels and, according to CNN, “Jill Martin, a top lawyer at the Trump Organization,” is listed in a court filing as the attorney representing the LLC that Cohen established specifically to pay off Daniels. Martin, whose title is vice president and assistant general counsel for the Trump Organization, also issued a statement claiming that she worked on the matter only “in a personal capacity,” despite the fact that the address she listed on the filing is that of the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.

      All of this, according to the White House and Cohen, also had nothing to do with the presidential campaign—never mind that this all went down just weeks before Election Day, at a time when it appears the campaign was working furiously to kill off stories about the affair that were set to run in at least three outlets. If it had been related to the campaign, Cohen would be liable for an illegal $130,000 campaign contribution, but he insists that it wasn’t.

      [...]

      It’s become common these days to lament “media polarization,” as if it’s a generic problem that afflicts both sides of the partisan divide. But it’s important to note that there’s a stark difference in how the left and the right views the mainstream media, and its flaws. Partisan outlets on both sides of the ideological divide see themselves, at least in part, to be watchdogs for the traditional media. But progressives tend to focus on subconscious biases or questionable norms, like the tendency to present both sides’ arguments as if there are no objective facts, reporters’ hesitation to risk their access to the powerful or their eagerness to conform to the conventional wisdom. When conservatives talk about “media bias,” they’re often not talking about bias—as a subconscious process—at all.

      If you think that professional reporters regularly invent stories out of whole cloth, it may seem defensible to do so yourself in the name of fighting fire with fire. So when a conservative operative tried to pose as a victim of former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in order to dupe The Washington Post into reporting a false charge against him, her cover was blown when reporters uncovered a post she had written in which she gleefully announced that she’d “accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt [sic] of the liberal MSM.”

    • A Hong Kong Newspaper on a Mission to Promote China’s Soft Power [iophk: “how long till the old articles disappear from the web?”

      The revival began with The Post’s acquisition two years ago by the Alibaba Group, the Chinese technology and retail giant. But if Alibaba is breathing new life into the paper, it has also given it a new mission: improving China’s image overseas and combating what it sees as anti-Chinese bias in the foreign media.

      In effect, Alibaba has taken Hong Kong’s English-language paper of record since the days of British rule and put it on the leading edge of China’s efforts to project soft power abroad. Every day, The Post churns out dozens of articles about China, many of which seek to present a more positive view of the country. As it does, critics say it is moving away from independent journalism and pioneering a new form of propaganda.

    • Smearing Jeremy Corbyn

      The most recent controversy with regard to this issue stems from Corbyn’s opposition, via a Facebook post, to the removal in 2012 of an antisemitic mural in the East End of London, on the grounds that this was censorship of an artist. Corbyn has since apologized for not taking into consideration the content of the mural, and said he would have supported its removal given what he found out subsequently.

    • Trump opioid plan will include death penalty for some drug dealers: report

      A White House plan to combat the opioid crisis calls for the death penalty to be imposed on certain drug dealers, according to a new report.

    • Keep anti-environment riders for Alaska out of spending bill

      As if on cue, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is providing a compelling demonstration of just how bad earmarks can be. She also demonstrated how earmarks persist despite efforts to eliminate them: the riders she is seeking to include in the pending omnibus appropriations bill nominally change policy rather than setting aside funding. Yet they fit the earmark profile to a tee: wasteful, unfair, and undemocratic.

    • For Trump, Cruelty Is the Point
    • UNMASKED: ED Apologist In Crazy Anti-USA Propaganda, Attacks Senators

      SADC and the AU, African regional groups of which Zimbabwe is a member have since condemned Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections because the process was not free and fair and thus put to shame the denial that Zanu PF had failed to hold free and fair elections. SADC leaders forced Zanu PF to join hands with the two MDC factions to form a Government of Nation (GNU) which was then tasked to implement a raft of democratic reforms designed to stop Zanu PF rigging future elections.

    • Calls for Pruitt to Resign After Reports of ‘Sweetheart’ Rental From Energy Lobbyist’s Wife

      This deal stinks like the swamp Scott Pruitt is mired in. Pruitt’s wanton corruption doesn’t just ignore the rule of law and clear ethical boundaries, it threatens the health of our families,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. “He must be fired immediately.”

      “Pruitt the Polluter”—who earned his nickname by attempting to roll back numerous anti-pollution regulations—paid a nightly rental fee of $50 for a bedroom in a condo co-owned by healthcare lobbyist Vicki Hart, the wife of energy lobbyist Steven Hart, whose firm reported a $16 million federal lobbying income last year and who worked temporarily on the Trump transition team.

      Pruitt stayed at the townhouse “while transitioning to Washington,” according to an EPA spokesperson who verified the terms of the lease to The Hill. By the time Pruitt moved out at the end of July 2017—more than four months after he was confirmed as head of the EPA—he had racked up $6,100 in rent charges.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Russia Asked ISPs to Block 13.5 Million Amazon IP Addresses to Silence One App

      Zello rose to fame in August 2017 when the ‘walkie-talkie’ app was used by relief effort volunteers and those stranded in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Russian government, however, wants to take the app down and this week it was revealed that the country’s telecoms regulator told ISPs to prepare to block 15 million IP addresses, most belonging to Amazon, in order to do so.

    • The Tommy Robinson problem: Does everyone have the right to ‘free speech?’

      He has been branded as “racist” and “bigoted.” Entire groups from all over Britain attend his rallies to try and shut him down because of his anti-Islam stance. The former English Defence League (EDL) leader refuses to accept accusations he is spreading hate, because in his words, it is his “right” to say what he wants about any religion he chooses.

      In the UK, free speech is not set out in law – but it is assumed through the nation’s association with the European Convention of Human Rights, and various case law.

    • Turkey’s last big independent media firm is snapped up by a regime ally

      For one of the country’s largest media conglomerates, the sale must have felt like a coup de grâce. Dogan outlets, including two of the country’s four biggest newspapers, Hurriyet and Posta; a leading television channel, CNN Turk; and a news agency, among many others, have been squirming under government pressure for years. The group’s ageing owner, Aydin Dogan, one of the symbols of Turkey’s deposed secular order, has been hounded by tax inspectors and prosecutors. People close to his group say Mr Dogan conducted the sale without consulting any associates. Some believe the mogul faced arrest unless he sold his empire to one of the president’s men. Had that happened to the 81-year-old, he would have joined over a hundred other Turkish journalists already in prison, most of them jailed since the failed [sic] coup of 2016.

    • Turkish internet broadcasting law “not censorship”, claims regulator

      A recently introduced Turkish law to regulate the broadcasting of content on the internet is a liberal measure intended to protect families, Turkey’s broadcasting regulator RTÜK claimed.

      “This law, in spite of what others have said, is a liberal law, it is never a ‘censorship law’. It does not cover the entire internet,” RTÜK head İlhan Yerlikaya said.

      “There is no inspection of YouTube, Twitter or Facebook at all. We will only inspect broadcasters which are felt not to be broadcasters due to broadcasting only over the internet, such as Netflix, Blu TV, and Puhu TV.”

      The measure was necessary, he said, to protect children from bad role models.

    • Cutting of Sakina Kamwendo’s radio show amounts to media censorship: Sanef

      The cutting of veteran talk show host Sakina Kamwendo’s radio show was nothing short of media censorship‚ the SA National Editors Forum says.

      Taking to their Twitter account on Saturday‚ the group said: “Sanef has noted that it is certainly the prerogative of SABC management to make decisions about programming. However‚ we believe this incident with Kamwendo was extremely poorly handled and smacks of censorship!”

      “Kamwendo should have been given the space to explain to her listeners what had transpired with her show & with the termination of her time as the shows host.”

      Sanef intended to consult with the SABC to address the matter.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (21/21): Conclusion, privacy has been all but eliminated from the digital environment

      It’s going to be a long uphill battle to win back the liberties that were slowly won by our ancestors over about six generations, and which have been all but abolished in a decade.

      It’s not rocket science that our children should have at least the same set of civil liberties in their digital environment, as our parents had in their analog environment. And yet, this is not happening.

      Our children are right to demand Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights — the civil liberties our parents not just enjoyed, but took for granted.

    • The FBI Used Classified [Cracking] Tools in Ordinary Criminal Investigations

      The FBI’s Remote Operations Unit (ROU), tasked with [cracking] into computers and phones, is one of the Bureau’s most elusive departments. But a recent report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Justice has now publicly acknowledged the unit’s existence seemingly for the first time. The report also revealed that the ROU has used classified [cracking] tools—techniques typically reserved for intelligence purposes—in ordinary criminal investigations, possibly denying defendants the chance to scrutinize evidence, as well as destabilizing prosecutors’ cases against suspects.

    • Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: Pretty much everyone’s looking the wrong way and learning nothing

      Every single time one of your information-hygiene-moron “friends” are taking yet another test, there’s yet another leak of your information.

      And that’s the bigger picture we should be talking about [...]

    • Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you

      This is one of the craziest things about the modern age. We would never let the government or a corporation put cameras/microphones in our homes or location trackers on us. But we just went ahead and did it ourselves because – to hell with it! – I want to watch cute dog videos.

    • Think you’re immune to advertising? It’s the greatest trick Facebook ever pulled
    • Internal posts show Facebook workers condemning leakers and fearing ‘spies’

      The extraordinary messages obtained by tech website the Verge provide a rare window into Facebook’s internal culture: while there was dissent from employees, many appeared focused on flushing out whistleblowers.

    • Trump admin wants to track 14 million US visitors’ social media history

      Want to visit the United States in a non-immigrant capacity? Should the State Department get its way, your application to enter the country may soon hinge on coughing up five years of your online history.

      The Trump administration’s proposal, published at the Federal Register on Friday, would expand this request, which is currently required to apply for an immigrant visa. Friday’s proposal could be enacted after a 60-day public-comment period pending passage by the Office of Management and Budget. Alternatively, the State Department could modify the proposal and start another comment period. But should this current iteration go into effect, an estimated 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants per year would be asked to list any “identifiers” used on a variety of popular social media sites. Those applicants will additionally be required to disclose identifiers they have used during that timespan on sites that aren’t on the State Department’s default list.

    • 14 Million Visitors to U.S. Face Social-Media Screening

      The proposal covers 20 social media platforms. Most of them are based in the United States: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. But several are based overseas: the Chinese sites Douban, QQ, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Youku; the Russian social network VK; Twoo, which was created in Belgium; and Ask.fm, a question-and-answer platform based in Latvia.

    • US visa applications may soon require five years of social media info

      Once the planned rule change is filed to the Federal Register on Friday, the public will have 60 days to comment on it.

    • US to require would-be immigrants to turn over social media handles

      According to notices submitted by the State Department on Thursday, set for formal publication on Friday, the government plans to require nearly all visa applicants to the US to submit five years of social media handles for specific platforms identified by the government — and with an option to list handles for other platforms not explicitly required.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Facebook Executive’s 2016 Memo Shows Company Aware of Its Faults

      A 2016 memo from a Facebook Inc. executive made the case for the company’s grow-at-all-costs culture, explaining that the negative consequences of the social network — even deaths and terrorist attacks — weren’t reason to abandon its purpose of connecting people to one another.

    • Senator blasts Facebook over memo: ‘Terrorist attacks cannot be the cost of doing business’

      Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) on Friday hammered Facebook over a leaked memo in which an executive argued the company’s growth is justified even it comes at the loss of human lives.

      “Death from bullying cannot be the cost of doing business. Terrorist attacks cannot be the cost of doing business,” Markey tweeted, referring to scenarios mentioned in the memo.

    • China and Russia accused of waging ‘war on human rights’ at UN

      The two countries have used the UN budget panel, known as the fifth committee, to cut funding for human rights monitors and for a senior post in the secretary general’s office which is supposed to ensure that human rights – one of three pillars of the UN’s function – are not forgotten in its day-to-day work.

    • The Mysterious Death of a Papuan Child

      Questions about police conduct in Ayomi’s case don’t end there. Ismawanto confirmed that police waited 23 hours after they detained Ayomi to take him to a hospital, attributing the delay to slow official approval. He said police noted Ayomi’s failure to regain consciousness while in detention as “strange,” but that a doctor at the hospital certified that he was “healthy.”

    • ‘Are You a Citizen?’: The Dangerous Question Coming to the Next Census
    • The grim racialism of ‘light-skinned privilege’

      Identity politics is becoming more depraved by the day. Now it seems even light-skinned black people must atone for their privilege. Amandla Stenberg, a 19-year-old black actress, recently revealed that she stopped pursuing a role in the recent Black Panther film because she felt it deserved a more ‘dark-skinned’ cast.p>

    • Stephon Clark: Police shot unarmed man ’7 times in back’

      Authorities said that each officer fired 10 times. Any one of the eight bullets that struck Clark could have proved fatal, Dr Omalu said.

    • Sacramento Is Seething Over the Police Killing of Stephon Clark

      Clark’s elderly, disabled grandparents heard the shots, called the police to notify them of the gunplay, and then sat in their living room talking to the responding officers at length about what they had heard. At no point did the officers tell them that the Sacramento police had shot someone in their backyard. Only after they had left, when the grandmother pulled back the blinds and looked out the window, did they realize that there was a body in their garden, and that that body was their grandson. There is, even by the cruel standards of this era, a peculiar grotesquerie to this macabre sequence of events.

    • Stephon Clark’s Family and the NAACP Are Interested in a Federal Investigation of His Shooting
    • Stephon Clark’s Family Urges Criminal Charges Against Police Who Shot Him

      The family of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man fatally shot by police in his grandparents’ back yard, on Monday urged the Sacramento, Calif., district attorney’s office to bring criminal charges against the two officers who killed him.

    • Police ‘Testilying’ Remains a Problem. Here Is How the Criminal Justice System Could Reduce It

      “The public doesn’t know the complete picture as to the number of these cases because some judges for whatever reason choose not to publish these decisions,” said Barry Kamins, a former judge and the author of the standard legal book on police search and seizure law in New York State.

      This could easily change. All it would take is for judges to make a point of publicly disseminating written decisions whenever they find an officer was not credible. That would give the public a better understanding of the prevalence of dubious police testimony. And it would allow the criminal justice system — from judges down to defendants — to better evaluate the credibility of individual officers.

    • Officers in Alton Sterling case won’t be charged, Louisiana AG Jeff Landry says

      Landry said Sterling then “quickly sits up and rolls to his left away from officer Salamoni,” which Landry said creates an angle for the officers where Sterling’s right side appears to be concealed. As Sterling tries to get up, Salamoni fires three more shots into Sterling’s back. The autopsy shows that Sterling had six gunshot wounds.

    • Islamic group files complaint, seeks a ban on TV show that talks about Triple Talaq

      An Islamic association named Raza Academy has filed a complaint against a TV show named ‘Ishq Subhan Allah’ which sought to highlight the Triple Talaq issue in a mature manner. The TV show has also taken into account the recent Supreme Court judgement on the matter.

    • Prison infiltrator: “Imams urged inmates to wage holy war”

      During the hour of prayer they not only gave instructions regarding the jihad but also on how to treat women. “It was said that women are entrusted to the custody of men, be it husband or brother, and that as such men had the right beat them if they disobeyed”.

    • Welfare pamphlet: ‘Information for one married to a child’

      Sweden’s board of Health and Welfare, in cooperation with the Migration Authority, released a pamphlet titled Information for one who is Married to a Child, intended to help guide men who marry underage girls through the Swedish welfare system.

      [...]

      “We have chosen to legalize marriages between adults and children and thereby abandon the most vulnerable – young immigrant girls who are being robbed of their future under the watchful eye of the Swedish state,” Hernroth-Rothstein wrote.

    • HASSAN: Be wary of Muslim causes that don’t represent the faith’s moderates

      Perhaps they should ponder the reasons why so many women in the Islamic world have tired of such contradictions and have rejected the hijab outright.

    • Resistance Continues to End Child Marriage in Northern Nigeria

      Nigeria has the largest number of child brides in Africa, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund. The practice is most prevalent in the predominantly Muslim north where conservative Islamic groups staunchly resist efforts to criminalize child marriage. Most girls accept whether they want to or not, but times are changing.

    • Imam who allegedly impregnated 14-year-old girl plans to marry her

      According to a young humanitarian identified as Fateemah Habeeb, a 14-year-old girl was defiled by an Imam who is over 50 years old. She explained that the Imam in question had bragged about defiling the girl with courage that nothing was going to happen to him.

    • 14, Pregnant from Rape, Dead in Childbirth

      Abortion is illegal in Paraguay for pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest. It is illegal when the pregnancy poses a serious – but not life-threatening – health risk, and when a fetus has no hope of surviving outside the womb.

    • Two Imams in court for allegedly gang-raping two students in Lagos

      Two Islamic teachers identified as Kamaledeen Alade and Hammed Adebayo were on Wednesday arraigned before a Surulere Chief Magistrate Court in Lagos for allegedly raping two girls between the age of 14 and 16.

    • Updated: Black man shot by police was carrying cellphone, not ‘tool bar,’ when he was shot, department says

      The 22-year-old black man fatally shot by Sacramento police in his own backyard Sunday night was carrying a cellphone, not a “tool bar,” when confronted by officers, the department clarified late Monday.

    • France Introduces Legislation That Proposes Fines for Sexual Harassment on the Street

      During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, legislators in France were expected to introduce a new bill, conceived months ago, that would take harsher action against sexual harassment and assault, according to The Guardian. The bill, which will reportedly go to parliament in the next few months, allows police officers to give people sexually harassing others in public on-the-spot fines ranging from €90 to €750 (about $111 to $925).

    • Charges dropped against Turkey’s presidential thugs who were filmed brutally beating protesters in Washington

      When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington DC last year, he brought along his gang of goons who beat protesters so brutally that nine were hospitalized. US prosecutors dropped charges against against 11 of the 15 men accused of the bloody assault. In the video above you can see the suited thugs kicking people on the ground as police officers try to stop them.

    • Who Would Speak Up For The Little Doggie?

      I agree. These are the same people who shuffle compliantly through TSA lines, getting their bodies and rights violated by repurposed mall food court workers dressed up to look like cops.

      [...]

      iAnd even if you don’t have a dog, what kind of human being are you if you don’t stand up?

    • The number of ex-Muslims in America is rising

      Mr Olad was told he would leave college and be turned over the next day to the care of Muslim clerics who would restore his faith. “I was aware of the horrors of these camps,” Mr Olad says. “They operate them in the middle of nowhere, where you cannot escape. They subject you to beatings, starvation and trampling.” He tried to contact the American embassy, but it could not send help because of recent terrorist attacks nearby. Luckily, he also managed to reach a Kenyan atheist group. In the dead of night he sneaked into his mother’s room, stole his passport and was whisked away by taxi to the embassy, which eventually returned him safely to America. He has not spoken to his family since.

    • We’re All Fascists Now

      Yes, these future lawyers believe that free speech is acceptable only when it doesn’t offend them. Which is to say, they don’t believe in it at all.

    • Sharia Scare as Quarter of Copenhagen’s Immigrant Youths Ready to Override Law

      Furthermore, 27 percent of Copenhagen’s non-Western population responded that religious laws and traditions must be followed at all costs, even though they may violate Danish law. Again, this was an increase from 2016, when the corresponding figure was 24 percent.

    • Suspect accused of kidnapping, drugging woman and taking her to Juarez over Muslim shaming

      A woman described as a “Mexican Muslim” was arrested in west El Paso, suspected of kidnapping a woman who she said brought shame to the Muslim community, according to court documents.

    • Raped woman married-off for money and visa, court told

      Mr Justice Baker decided the Islamic marriage was “arranged entirely” by the man and the woman’s father.

      He said the marriage took place at Northampton Islamic Centre when the woman was vulnerable to influence and ruled it was invalid under English law.

    • American Tragedy: Did religion trigger mom’s murder?

      Altantawi worried his children — particularly the two daughters — were becoming “too Americanized,” the Detroit News reports.

    • Man axes mother of eight to death over ‘honour’ in Badin

      A man in Badin surrendered himself to police on Wednesday after killing his 38-year-old wife for ‘honour’ by repeatedly hitting her with an axe.

      [...]

      In a separate incident, a man killed his 25-year-old wife and a mother of one, along with another man for the sake of “honour” in the Dilawar Marfani village of Shikarpur.

      [...]

      Scores of women in Pakistan are still being murdered by relatives for bringing shame on their family, a year since new laws came into force aimed at stemming the flow of ‘honour killings’.

    • Iran: Crackdown on Dervish Minority

      The ensuing clashes left dozens of people injured and at least three police officers and one Basij member dead. One arrested protester died in custody in unexplained circumstances. The Iranian authorities should immediately release those held or charge them with a recognizable crime. The authorities should also allow for an independent investigation into possible use of excessive force during the clashes.

    • Jakarta opposes Aceh plan to behead murderers

      The administration’s plan to implement Qisas (retributive justice) through beheading has been met with a chorus of criticism from human rights activists who have long campaigned for the abolishment of the death penalty in the country.

    • Deep state attacks: Gov’t ‘Fusion Centers’ spying on patriots concerned about Islam

      “It’s about that FOIA request you made about the building plans for the mosque,” he told her.

      It did not immediately dawn on her that she was actually not the one whose name was on the Freedom of Information Act request.

    • UP woman tied to tree, beaten by husband for eloping as locals watch

      According to reports, a village panchayat of the Bulandshahr district had ordered the beating of the woman on March 10 because she was suspected of having an affair. Her crime and punishment were decided by the panchayat – one of the countless kangaroo courts that populate India’s countryside.

    • Uttar Pradesh: 32 madrasas built on public land face action
    • Paul McCartney remembers John Lennon at NYC March for Our Lives

      McCartney, 75, was joined by his wife Nancy Shevell on Saturday during the March for Our Lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side when he spoke off-camera to CNN’s Jason Carroll.

    • Experts Balk at Judicial Impeachment Moves in Pennsylvania

      As regional gerrymandering challenges draw an increasingly national focus, impeachment threats inspired by one such case drew condemnation from experts in constitutional law and judicial ethics.

      “In Putin’s Russia, this is completely normal,” Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig said in a phone interview.

    • Three teens get corporal punishment for participating in national school walkout
    • Police slammed over memo saying Telford child abuse was ‘consensual’
    • Veterans With PTSD Find Relief in Native American Rituals

      Vielle and Falcon were reluctant to share too many details about the ceremonies, which are sacred to their culture.

      “Non-Natives are really exploiting our way of life and our ceremonies, grabbing them and selling them,” said Falcon, recalling the 2009 deaths of three people at an Arizona sweat ceremony conducted by non-Native, New Age guru James Arthur Ray.

      [...]

      “I tell them, ‘I can’t stop you if you want to go and build one. But it won’t be done in the right way,’” Falcon said. “And once I tell them that, they are very respectful and say, ‘I’ll build a sauna instead.’”

    • Man freed after wrongful conviction, only to be taken into custody by immigration authorities

      Rodriguez’s case is the 10th related to retired Chicago police Detective Reynaldo Guevara that has been tossed out since mid-2016 following allegations that Guevara beat suspects and improperly coerced witnesses.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Watchtroll and Patent Docs Do Anything They Can to Undermine PTAB, Even Adopting and Defending a Patent “Scam”

Posted in America, Patents at 10:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Allergan has a dodgy past (and past practices) going quite some time back

Pfizer Buying Allergan So It Can Pretend To Be Irish In Tax Scam
Reference (2015): Pfizer Buying Allergan So It Can Pretend To Be Irish In Tax Scam

Summary: The patent “scam” of Allergan, which is attempting to hide its patents within an American tribe’s belly so as to misuse its tribal/sovereign immunity, is still being promoted enthusiastically by anti-PTAB sites, which also resort to attacking politicians who formally prevent such attempted misuse of immunity

THE USPTO‘s reassessment of granted patents, owing to PTAB, is improving patent quality and significantly reducing the number of patent lawsuits.

Earlier today Watchtroll (never mind if it’s Sunday) resumed its PTAB bashing. Robert Schaffer, Joseph Robinson and Gene Quinn gave more tips to that effect and so did Patent Docs, another PTAB-hostile site which earlier today advertised a conference “Exploring Oil States vs. Greene’s Energy Group and the constitutionality of IPR proceedings” (Oil States decision will come soon).

It certainly looks like Watchtroll is trying to manufacture controversy around PTAB. With Michael Shore as a guest writer there, it’s pretty clear what agenda the site has in mind. The same goes for Patent Docs, whose most prolific writer, Kevin E. Noonan, mostly writes pieces against PTAB while piggbacking the patent “scam” of an American tribe. Some days ago Watchtroll bashed expanded PTAB panels (we responded to this at the time) and those same panels are obviously disliked by people who dislike PTAB in general (no matter what substance the arguments may have) because they are patent maximalisms who do not tolerate patent quality. Noonan had a go at it (expanded PTAB panels) some days ago while Watchtroll tries to cook up another fake scandal.

At around the same time Noonan also did some ‘lip service’ to Michael Shore and his client, who are basically gaming the system in order to exploit tribal immunity (to overcome PTAB). To quote:

The Federal Circuit has granted the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s motion for stay in inter partes review proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. In the Order, the Court notes that the

Not too shockingly, Watchtroll, where Michael Shore is a guest writer, wrote about this too (and almost at the same time). To quote:

The dispute between the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Mylan Pharmaceuticals arose when Allergan transferred the RESTASIS patents to the Tribe so a claim of sovereign immunity could be raised, which would divest the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of jurisdiction. The Tribe filed a motion to dismiss the various inter partes review (IPR) proceedings instituted against the RESTASIS patents by the PTAB at the request of Mylan. In a controversial and questionable decision the PTAB panel assigned to the case refused to recognize the Mohawk claim of sovereign immunity. It has since been learned through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that the three Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) assigned to the case engaged in off-the-record deliberations with supervising APJs, which on its face seems to clearly violate the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

Well, Federal judges, politicians, PTAB itself and many others around the Web have already condemned what the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and Allergan lawyers are hoping to accomplish. It has been called a “scam” many times, a judge called it a “sham”, and several US politicians already work on formally banning the practice.

We’re not sure if there’s a loop of communication there, basically a sort of group that attempts to bolster the patent “scam” in the media. What we know for sure is that Watchtroll remains supportive of a patent “scam” which it perceives to be helpful to its anti-PTAB (anti-patent quality) agenda. Watchtroll already attacks some of the main politicians who tackle the issue, notably Senator Claire McCaskill, whom we wrote about several times before. To quote:

On March 7, 2018, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), along with Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), David Perdue (R-GA), introduced the Preserving Access to Cost Effective Drugs Act. The bill, which is also known as the PACED Act, is allegedly for the purpose of restoring “the power of the Patent and Trade Office and federal courts, and the International Trade Commission to review patents regardless of sovereign immunity claims made as part of sham transactions.”

While the definition of “sham transactions” might be in the eye of the beholder, this bill is clearly, and objectively, aimed at stopping the type of transaction Allergan entered into with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe on the RESTASIS patents.

A couple of days later came another rant from Watchtroll, shaming technology firms as usual. “Myopia and hubris explain why tech elite lobby for a weakened patent system,” said the headline. They dare calling “weak” strong patents, or a system that encourages strong/legitimate patents.

Then came Watchtroll with more bashing of politicians, having already bashed judges many times over the years. “The House IP Subcommittee: A Bunch of Fiddling Neros Watching the U.S. Patent System Burn” was the headline and it repeats debunked accusations of “panel stacking”, which is just Watchtroll’s attempt to manufacture scandals that do not (or barely) exist. To quote:

Informed observers of the patent system who watched the hearing would recognize that there was absolutely no attention paid by the House Judiciary leadership of the actual harms brought to bear by the PTAB on the U.S. patent system. The obvious anti-patent views of witnesses testifying before Congress was just further proof that panel stacking is not just an issue at the PTAB.

All in all, Watchtroll and Patent Docs remain determined to attack PTAB by any means possible, even by boosting a patent “scam”, attacking politicians, smearing judges, and so on. Such is the nature of patent extremists.

Anonymous USPTO Whistleblower Explained Internal Management Affairs Last Month

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 9:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whistleblowers exist not only at the EPO

Whistleblower
Reference: Whistleblower

Summary: The culture of whistle-blowing, or conscientious insiders/whistleblowers willing to criticise their bosses, has spread to the United States’ patent office

EARLIER this year we mentioned "USPTO CIO Watchdog" — an account which several respected other accounts are citing as a USPTO insider (or similar). Taking stock of what it wrote this past month we have:

In case the account or the tweets vanish one day (that happens a lot with whistleblower accounts when they feel threatened, get unmasked, and sometimes sued), here’s the full text (local, not embedded remotely): “Now that the new USPTO Director is on board, maybe he can fix the 10 year $2 bil tech crash left by CIO John Owens, Tony Chiles, Pam Isom and other ex-AOLers. Dir Iancu should ask CFO Scardino and CAO Steckler to explain these expenditures with no return on investments [...] PTO CIO is still on the path of destruction as Chiles and Isom try to save Owens’ legacy. CIO is a bloated organization plagued by excessive internal oversight and duplicate office functions, according to a recent org chart. Empire building at its best [...] The PTO CIO job is now closed and we hope the new director will not be swayed by the business in his selection, as the business was duped into selecting some of the idiots we have today. Remember David Chiles was made CTO because he failed to lead the Dev shop, 3 years ago. [...] Furthermore, David was moved because the business heads at that time asked Owens to move him. To save David Chiles, Owens elevated the CTO position, preselected David so he could hire preselected Tony Chiles. The DOC IG is supposedly looking into this. Business as usual at PTO.”

There’s now talk not only about the CIO (whose job is connected to a relative at the Office).

This is interesting to us because “USPTO CIO Watchdog” is aware of what’s going on at the EPO (also a culture of gross nepotism and incompetence at the top). Techrights was in fact mentioned by him/her before.

Remarking on EPO management earlier today, a prolific commenter in IP Kat and elsewhere wrote about the role of the Administrative Council (AC), which not only protected Battistelli but also empowered him. “No wonder the AC is so good at covering the President’s back,” wrote the commenter. “What else can one reasonably expect?”

His abuses implicate them too. They were often complicit and they have much to hide or cover up. The last thing they want is a former ICC judge in charge of the Office; instead they put an old friend of Battistelli (Campinos) in charge.

Here is the comment in full:

The louder EPO management shouts out about how much it values “trust”, the more I find myself thinking, with rising feelings of disgust, not about trust but about betrayal of trust.

In particular, I am reminded of that famous old quotation about the possibility of theft of silver spoons, by a guest invited for the week-end in an English country house. It originated with Johnson (definitely not Boris though) and was modernised by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It goes like this:

“The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted the spoons.”

Sadly, at the EPO though, it’s not just one shameless thief acting alone though, is it? Rather, it seems to be a wilfully blind AC quietly trousering the proceeds of management venality and treachery. Quite frankly, the less the EPO boasts about trust, the less queasy and embarrassed we will all feel.

These days, nobody should be surprised when an International Organisation, enjoying immunity from the Rule Of Law, and therefore acting with impunity, degenerates to institutional kleptocracy, whenever the opportunity arises. Who can hold the Organisation to account? Only the bulk users, the key customers, by which I mean the sociopathic, itinerant, global titan corporate giants.

These giants insist on paying no tax. They play one country off against another, threatening to pull out of any country that dares to tax them. What’s the alternative to taxing them then? System Battistelli of course. BB pulls in the cash, then dispenses it as dividends to those EPO Member States he likes most. At least for those favoured countries, Plan BB does at least deliver much-needed cash, that cannot be gathered otherwise, because any attempt to tax the corporations will be futile or, even worse, self-destructive.

No wonder the AC is so good at covering the President’s back. What else can one reasonably expect?

The problem is that even when/after Campinos comes the Council and the management remain largely in tact and identical. We expect nothing substantial to change; readers tell us the same thing. It’s just another nontechnical Frenchman like Battistelli, albeit two decades his junior. It’s all about connections, not about skills, and it’s often said that Battistelli got his job at the EPO thanks to Nicolas Sarkozy (who has just been charged with corruption).

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