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05.29.18

St. Germain’s “Système Lamy” and Its EPO Clone – Part 2: Misinformation and Silencing of Dissent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Express coverSummary: The suppression of information and dissemination of misinformation as a cornerstone of “Système Lamy” in St. Germain-en-Laye and “Système Battistelli” at the EPO

In Part 1 we looked at some of the striking similarities between the “Système Lamy” in St. Germain-en-Laye and its EPO clone.

In Part 2 we continue our comparative study by considering further aspects common to both systems.

Controlling and manipulating the flow of information

“In St. Germain-en-Laye Lamy achieved a certain notoriety for his refusal to disclose important administrative documents to opposition groups frequently invoking the pretext of “confidentiality”.”A key element in the political methodology of Lamy and Battistelli is the control and manipulation of the flow of information to their own advantage and with the aim of preventing or hindering any effective external scrutiny of their actions.

Suppression of documents

In St. Germain-en-Laye Lamy achieved a certain notoriety for his refusal to disclose important administrative documents to opposition groups frequently invoking the pretext of “confidentiality”.

During a municipal council meeting in July 2013, Emmanuel Fruchard from the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement criticised Lamy’s obsessively secretive methods and his refusal to release relevant administrative documents to opposition groups.

Fruchard noted that, despite Lamy’s persistent efforts to withhold documents relating to SIDRU and its “toxic loans”, the competent French Commission for Freedom of Information (CADA – Commission for Access to Administrative Documents) had repeatedly approved the disclosure of these documents.

“During a municipal council meeting in July 2013, Emmanuel Fruchard from the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement criticised Lamy’s obsessively secretive methods and his refusal to release relevant administrative documents to opposition groups.”“During the municipal council of last July 11… Emmanuel Fruchard insisted on the very surprising nature of the closed meeting requested by Emmanuel Lamy, also president of SIDRU, during the intermunicipal union’s public meetings. And likewise on the fact that the latter refused to communicate the interest rate negotiated with the Natixis bank to secure one of the two toxic loans of the SIDRU, while the CADA (Commission for access to administrative documents), to which the elected socialist had applied, gave a favourable opinion to his request for a copy! It may also be noted that the CADA, to which the Socialist Party has applied on numerous occasions, has systematically ruled in favour of Emmanuel Fruchard.”

EPO insiders could cite a whole litany of cases where Battistelli has suppressed the disclosure of relevant documents or otherwise blocked access to relevant information.

Unfortunately for staff at the EPO they do not have any access to an independent “freedom of information” oversight body comparable to national Freedom of Information Commissioners. A motion for disclosure can only be pursued – if at all – via the painfully slow internal appeal and ILOAT procedures which are from the very outset “loaded” against staff. By the time that the requested documents are disclosed – if that ever happens – it will probably be too late to provide any effective assistance or remedy to those affected.

Dissemination of disinformation

“The SIDRU “toxic loan” affair in St. Germain provides an excellent illustrative example of the ongoing strategic dissemination of “disinformation” in order to obstruct or derail a meaningful and objective public discussion of the underlying problems.”The political “machines” of Lamy and Battistelli not only rely on the suppression or withholding of relevant documents but they additionally appear to adopt a strategy of actively disseminating disinformation or “spin” designed to mislead or confuse the public.

The SIDRU “toxic loan” affair in St. Germain provides an excellent illustrative example of the ongoing strategic dissemination of “disinformation” in order to obstruct or derail a meaningful and objective public discussion of the underlying problems.

In 2007 when the Saint-Germain Autrement group first began to raise concerns about the financial risks inherent in SIDRU’s “structured debt contracts” and the long-term “latent” losses, Lamy’s response in issue no. 512 of the Journal de Saint-Germain in July 2007 was that everything was in order and that the prudent management of SIDRU’s debt had so far resulted in tax savings of the order of € 3 million.

JSG-512-6-7-2007

In November 2009, in a puff-piece editorial [PDF] published in issue no. 556 of the JSG, Lamy treated his readers to a self-serving hymn of praise about the fiscal prudence of his UMP-led municipal council in comparison to neighbouring left-wing dominated councils. This time he boasted of tax savings of the order of € 7 million due to the prudent management of SIDRU’s debt.

JSG-556-6-11-2009

Taxes: good and bad students

You have seen it on your local tax sheet: no increase in municipal tax rates in 2009, as in previous years, in Saint-Germain.

And for 2010, there shouldn’t be any rate increases either!

This fiscal moderation distinguishes us from most of our neighbours who do not hesitate, at the beginning of this municipal mandate, to increase their taxes.

Your local tax sheet also shows you how much other communities are costing you.

And thanks to the skills it has mobilized to properly manage its debt SIDRU, the association that disposes of our garbage, has achieved tax savings of 7.2 million.

Your tax sheet proves it: not all elected officials are as rigorous when it comes to public spending and there will be always good and bad students!

Lamy’s claims about prudent debt management carefully concealed the fact that at this point in time the “honeymoon period” for SIDRU’s loans was drawing to a close.

The crushing long-term liabilities which ultimately dwarfed the initial benefits only started to materialise when the applicable interest rates began to rocket after the initial fixed interest rate on the DEPFA loan expired on 15 December 2009.

As the financial situation at SIDRU worsened over the following years the Saint-Germain Autrement group continued to monitor and comment on the case despite the best efforts of Lamy to obfuscate and continue pretending that everything was in order.

“Lamy’s claims about prudent debt management carefully concealed the fact that at this point in time the “honeymoon period” for SIDRU’s loans was drawing to a close.”A complete listing of the group’s postings about SIDRU and its “toxic loans” from 2007 onwards (66 postings in total) can be found here.

For example, in November 2012 the group published a blog post complaining about Lamy’s continuing policy of “opacity and disinformation” in relation to SIDRU.

During the eight years of Battistelli’s reign staff at the EPO have become accustomed to a similar policy of obfuscation and “opacity and disinformation” as part of their daily diet.

Restricting the expression of dissenting opinions

Another notable feature of the methodology employed by Lamy and Battistelli to control the flow of information is the use of measures to restrict the expression of dissenting opinions.

“Another notable feature of the methodology employed by Lamy and Battistelli to control the flow of information is the use of measures to restrict the expression of dissenting opinions.”The main propaganda organ relied on by Lamy was the Journal de St. Germain which is financed by local taxes. Although it is supposed to be a newspaper for all the residents of St. Germain it is under the editorial control of the majority UMP group on the municipal council and its content is carefully filtered based on political considerations.

The Saint-Germain Autrement group has often referred to the JSG as “our local Pravda” and has frequently criticised the biased and misleading nature of its reporting on local matters which is always carefully slanted towards the interests of the majority UMP group.

Opposition groups are restricted to posting short political statements representing their point of view in a small “open forum” section buried among the back pages of the JSG. These statements are only permitted to be published in plain text without any accompanying pictures or graphics as explained by the Saint-Germain Autrement group.

“The Saint-Germain Autrement group has often referred to the JSG as “our local Pravda” and has frequently criticised the biased and misleading nature of its reporting on local matters which is always carefully slanted towards the interests of the majority UMP group.”“We are unfortunately familiar with the manipulation of many articles in the so-called ‘Journal’ of Saint-Germain, on all kinds of subjects. It is not journalism but institutional communication, 98% of which is controlled by the municipal majority. The opposition, let us not forget, is only entitled to an insert located in the least read postition [i.e. buried in the back pages], without any photo or illustration, without colours, without italics and without bold type (except in the title and signature line). This has nothing to do with technical constraints, it is a political decision of the Mayor.”

Lamy was also well-known for his frequent efforts to hinder or obstruct the expression of dissenting opinions during meetings of the municipal council.

For example, during a budgetary debate in July 2008 Lamy blocked the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement from presenting a graphic illustrating the estimated effect of SIDRU’s “toxic loans” on the consolidated debt of the municipality.

St-Germain-consolidated-debt-1999-2007

Lamy apparently claimed that the document was “non-existent” despite the fact that the opposition group had distributed copies to the other council members in advance of the meeting.

“As a further channel for “institutional communication” within the EPO Battistelli has at his disposal the EPO Intranet whose contents are carefully monitored and controlled and -according to EPO insiders – subject to rigorous censorship by his faithful Principal Director of Human Resources, Madame Bergot, and her superior, Vice-President Željko Topić.”At the EPO, Battistelli has established a channel of “institutional communication” comparable to the JSG in the form of the in-house EPO Gazette which is nowadays mainly devoted to publishing photos and “puff pieces” about the Sun-King’s daring exploits in the world of IP including his travels and adventures in foreign lands.

As a further channel for “institutional communication” within the EPO Battistelli has at his disposal the EPO Intranet whose contents are carefully monitored and controlled and -according to EPO insiders – subject to rigorous censorship by his faithful Principal Director of Human Resources, Madame Bergot, and her superior, Vice-President Željko Topić.

The communication restrictions imposed on staff representatives and the staff unions under Battistelli’s régime are a matter of public record as they formed the subject of a much-discussed judgment delivered by the Hague Court of Appeal in February 2015.

The Hague Court of Appeal found amongst other things that the communication restrictions imposed on the staff unions were in breach of fundamental legal principles including the principle of freedom of association. The EPO was ordered to grant the staff union unhindered access to EPO’s e-mail system, and in particular to make sure that e-mails originating from ‘@suepo.org‘ were no longer blocked, that the use of group mail for staff union purposes was no longer blocked and that staff union representatives sending general communications via their personal work e-mail address to EPO employees in connection with staff union related subjects were no longer threatened with disciplinary measures.

Although the Court of Appeal judgment was subsequently subject to cessation by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, the judgment was set aside on purely formal grounds because the Supreme Court considered that the Court of Appeal had not been competent to hear the case.

“Battistelli also appears to exert total control over the content of the EPO’s Official Journal as can be seen in the case of three decisions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal relating to proceedings under Article 23 of the European Patent Convention.”The substantive findings of the Court of Appeal were not reviewed by the Supreme Court and as such remain valid. In particular, the factual situation concerning the communication restrictions imposed on the staff unions has never been in dispute. The position taken by Battistelli is that he is entitled to impose such restrictions and that Dutch courts have no jurisdiction in the matter.

Battistelli also appears to exert total control over the content of the EPO’s Official Journal as can be seen in the case of three decisions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal relating to proceedings under Article 23 of the European Patent Convention.

Although copies of these decisions have turned up on various websites, including Wikipedia, the decisions have never been officially published in the Official Journal despite the fact that the Enlarged Board ordered their publication.

When one of these decisions (Art. 23 1/15 of 17 September 2015) appeared in electronic format on the EPO’s official website on or around 10 December 2015, it mysteriously disappeared soon afterwards under circumstances which have never been explained.

“It seems that as far as Battistelli is concerned these “undesirable” Enlarged Board decisions will never see the light of day in any official EPO channel of communication as long as he is President of the Office.”EPO insiders suspect that the rapid suppression of the electronic publication of the decision was carried out on the direct orders of Battistelli who had apparently been infuriated by the Enlarged Board’s temerity in daring to issue a judgment that did not comply with his personal wishes.

It seems that as far as Battistelli is concerned these “undesirable” Enlarged Board decisions will never see the light of day in any official EPO channel of communication as long as he is President of the Office.

In Part 3 we will continue and conclude our comparative study of “Système Lamy” and its EPO clone.

Links 29/5/2018: KBibTeX 0.7.95, LG’s Thin Client Monitor With Ubuntu Linux Support

Posted in News Roundup at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 trending open source machine learning JavaScript frameworks

    The tremendous growth of the machine learning field has been driven by the availability of open source tools that allow developers to build applications easily. (For example, AndreyBu, who is from Germany and has more than five years of experience in machine learning, has been utilizing various open source frameworks to build captivating machine learning projects.)

    Although the Python programming language powers most of the machine learning frameworks, JavaScript hasn’t been left behind. JavaScript developers have been using various frameworks for training and deploying machine learning models in the browser.

  • Progress on the road to open source applications for imaging informatics

    Open source applications for imaging informatics have come a long way in the last decade.

    During a recent Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine webinar, moderated by SIIM Chair Paul Nagy, a panel of contributors to the June issue of the Journal of Digital Imaging discussed the new tools available in imaging informatics.

  • OpenText underlines AI platform Magellan’s open source approach to counter Watson

    Aside from naming its artificial intelligence platform, Magellan, after a 16th-century explorer instead of a 20th-century businessman, Waterloo, Ont.-based OpenText Corp is looking for other ways to differentiate itself from competitor IBM Corp.’s Watson.

    Division directors speaking this week at OpenText Enfuse about the Apache Spark-based platform emphasized its capability to integrate, gorge on huge amounts of unstructured data and spit out useful insights, and its open source nature. They also don’t mind pointing out that IBM’s Watson is a proprietary platform – or as Mark Gamble, senior director of product marketing for analytics at OpenText puts it, a black box.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • A weekend on the new computer (or, introducing “TenNineFox”)

        This Memorial Day weekend I pulled the Sonnet FireWire card from my Quad G5 and put it to sleep. I mean, I put it in sleep mode, and sat down with the Talos II to see if I could get Firefox building and running, and then QEMU (and to see if the G5 would stay asleep for more than a few hours, since I don’t need a hot and noisy 230+ watt computer running next to my less hot but noisier 180W one). One glitch with this was switching the KVM away from the G5 caused it to wake up again, so I wrote a little Perl script to fork and log me out, and in the child process run a trivial AppleScript to tell application “Finder” to sleep. Then I could just run that from a remote login session from the T2, and the G5 would peacefully rest at about 20 watts or so.

        First was to grab all the updates. This fixed amdgpu for X11 and now I’m running a fully accelerated GNOME desktop on the AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100. I got Sabrent Bluetooth and USB audio dongles, which “just worked” with Linux, and even got VLC to play some Blu-ray movies (as well as VLC can play them, given that BD+ is still not a solved problem). The T2 firmware update to 1.04 also diminished some of the fan hunting I was hearing and while it’s still louder than the G5, it’s definitely getting better and better. I’m thinking of getting one of the Supermicro “superquiet” PSUs next, since I notice its higher-pitch fan sound more than the case fans. The only hardware glitch still left over is that I can’t figure out why Linux won’t recognize the Sonnet FireWire/USB PCIe combo card. It should work, the chipsets should be supported. More on that later.

      • Splitting the Firefox Health dashboard

        Back in January I had to make a critical decision. I had to determine if to separate the Firefox health dashboard (formely known as Platform health) into a backend and frontend projects or to keep it together.

        The intent was to make it easier to maintain the project by reducing the complexity of having code that is presentational versus processing code. I also wanted to remove the boilerplate needed for webpack and babel. It was also beneficial to have the liberty of changing packages without worrying of regressing the frontend or the backend. The only disadvantages was to have to do the work and that we might need in the future coordinated changes (or versioned APIs). We did not see the disadvantage of code being duplicated since there wasn’t any (or much — I can’t recall now) shared between the two apps.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Network Security Audit

      As a part of a funded project, I am conducting a security audit of NetBSD’s network stack. The work will end soon, and I would like to briefly present some results.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Emacs 26.1 Released, Linux 4.17-rc7, GNOME Foundation Receives Anonymous Donation and More

      Emacs 26.1 was released yesterday. New features include limited form of concurrency with Lisp threads, support for optional display of line numbers in the buffer, use of double buffering to reduce flicker on the X Window System, redesign of Flymake, support for 24-bit colors on text terminals and lots more.

      Linus Torvalds had these remarks over the weekend on Linux 4.17-rc7: “This week we had the whole ‘spectre v4′ thing, and yes, the fallout from that shows up as part of the patch and commit log. But it’s not actually dominant: the patch is pretty evenly one third arch updates, one third networking updates, and one third “rest”. He also mentioned “The bulk of it is really pretty trivial one-liners, and nothing looks particularly scary. Let’s see how next week looks, but if nothing really happens I suspect we can make do without an rc8.”

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source, open standards to underpin Govpass

      The DTA was trying to reduce the amount of vendor lock-in in government services, and that suited Vault Systems as it had always worked with open standards. Its cloud is built on the open source OpenStack platform and security is baked in.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open-source, downloadable textbooks could relieve price strain

        Students and professors at DePaul University may set a new policy — usurping expensive textbook-buying requirements with the option of downloading the material at a discount price.

        Students and professors are now getting the survey via email. Their responses will determine whether the library will be able to grant PDF copies of textbooks that the survey respondents deem the most egregiously expensive.

        The library could do so using Open Educational Resources (OERs) — books that have an open domain that lets people download, share and distribute legally.

        “What we have noted so far is that this is truly a concern and a challenge for DePaul students as evidenced by the fact that we had over 100 responses in the first 10 minutes that the survey was open,” said DePaul librarian Terry Taylor.

        Students at DePaul have been vocal about the high costs of textbooks and have taken advantage of the survey, voicing their concerns.

      • Claudia Garad, Executive Director of Wikimedia Österreich: “We want to create a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers”

        Claudia: There are roughly 10% female contributors in the German-language Wikipedia, and that reflects what I see during offline events. Non-binary is probably around 1-2%. But the numbers are not all 100% accurate, as many volunteers choose not to disclose their gender, and we respect their wish for anonymity. That is even more true for ethnicity – we do not ask for that anywhere. This is what you can get from the information people provide on their user pages. Apart from that, we do not collect any personal data.

        But there are other ways to make the diversity gaps visible: by comparing the number of biographies about females to the number of articles about men. Wikidata makes that really easy nowadays. Or by looking at the language and perspectives that are represented in articles. It becomes obvious very quickly that we have a problem there, and that should be fixed if we strive to collect “the sum of all human knowledge” as our vision statement says.

  • Programming/Development

    • Ohcount – The Source Code Line Counter And Analyzer

      Ohcount is simple command line utility that analyzes the source code and prints the total number lines of a source code file. It is not just source code line counter, but also detects the popular open source licenses, such as GPL, within a large directory of source code. Additionally, Ohcount can also detect code that targets a particular programming API such as KDE or Win32. As of writing this guide, Ohcount currently supports over 70 popular programming languages. It is written in C programming language and is originally developed by Ohloh for generating the reports at www.openhub.net.

      In this brief tutorial, we are going to how to install and use Ohcount to analyze source code files in Debian, Ubuntu and its variants like Linux Mint.

    • Adapt: A Open-Source Decentralized Application Programming Toolkit

      Cryptocurrency is an ever-evolving industry, and there are so many opportunities for traders and investors to take advantage. However, there is one question in any new business venture that has to be answered before any progress can be made – how do you start? While there are pages upon pages of articles that other traders have written, the creators behind ADAPT have developed a clear-cut regimen for new platforms to follow.

Leftovers

  • Reports of the Impending Demise of Operations Are Greatly Exaggerated

    Our industry has spent the past 7-8 years proclaiming the need for better integration of Dev and Ops to improve flow and quality. Despite this work — or perhaps because of it — there is a new rift forming between Dev and Ops.

    Once upon a time, Developers had to be convinced that they should even care about operational concerns. But now, here we are in the middle of 2018, and there is a growing segment of Devs who proclaim that Ops is a thing of the past, won’t exist in the future, and good riddance. “Ops is dead.” “Containers and Serverless make Ops unnecessary.” “Just give us a login and get out of our way.”

  • Science

    • Re-creating the First Flip-Flop

      Many engineers are familiar with the names of Lee de Forest, who invented the amplifying vacuum tube, or John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley, who invented the transistor. Yet few know the names of William Eccles and F.W. Jordan, who applied for a patent for the flip-flop 100 years ago, in June 1918. The flip-flop is a crucial building block of digital circuits: It acts as an electronic toggle switch that can be set to stay on or off even after an initial electrical control signal has ceased. This allows circuits to remember and synchronize their states, and thus allows them to perform sequential logic.

  • Hardware

    • Software-Defined Storage or Hyperconverged Infrastructure?

      It’s easy to get software-defined storage (SDS) confused with hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Both solutions “software-define” the infrastructure and abstract storage from the underlying hardware. They both run on commodity servers and pair well with virtualization. Reporters, analysts, vendors and even seasoned IT professionals talk about them in the same breath.

      But there are important distinctions between HCI and SDS. It comes down to how you want to manage your storage. SDS requires deep storage expertise; HCI does not. While there are some differences in capital costs, there is much more in operational costs. More so, each solves different problems and fits best for different use cases.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Fake Medicines To Be Discussed On Side Of WTO TRIPS Council Next Week

      Alongside next week’s World Trade Organization intellectual property committee meeting, Brazil, India, and South Africa are convening a workshop on the neighbouring World Health Organization’s approach to substandard and falsified medicines.

      The objective of the workshop, according to the organisers, is to brief WTO members on the WHO’s recent decision to replace the term “substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit medical products” with “substandard and falsified medical products.”

      The workshop will take place on 5 June, on the margins of the WTO Council for the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), taking place on 5-6 June.

    • Video: How More Midwives May Mean Healthier Mothers

      But what makes maternal health care in other affluent countries look so different than the U.S.? Among other things, midwives. Midwives in the U.S. participate in less than 10 percent of births. But in Sweden, Denmark and France, they lead around three-quarters of deliveries. In Great Britain, they deliver half of all babies, including all three of Kate Middleton’s. So if the midwifery model works for royal babies, why not our own?

      [...]

      Today we see vestiges of that history in states with restrictive midwifery laws and barriers to entry for midwives. Earlier this year, one study was the first systematic look at how and where they practice, offering new evidence that empowering them could significantly boost maternal and infant health. Many of the states with poor health outcomes and hostility to midwives also have large black populations. And with black mothers three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth, the study raises the possibility that greater use of midwives could reduce racial disparities in maternal health.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Low-Priced Android Phones Shipped with Pre-installed ‘Cosiloon’ Malware, Says Avast

      Are you thinking about settling for a cheaper Android phone? You might want to reconsider this decision. A study conducted by Avast Threat Labs reports that several Android devices are shipped with malware pre-installed on them.

      The report says that more than 100 countries, including the US, Russia, and the UK have been affected by the adware and malware which is carried by hundreds of such low-cost Android devices, which includes manufacturers like ZTE, myPhone, and Archos.

    • The Benefits of HTTPS for DNS

      DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is entering the last call (right now Working Group, soon IETF wide) stage of IETF standardization. A common discussion I have about it basically boils down to “why not DNS over TLS (DoT)?” (i.e. work that has already been done by the DPRIVE WG). That does seem simpler, after all.

      DoH builds on the great foundation of DoT. The most important part of each protocol is that they provide encrypted and authenticated communication between clients and arbitrary DNS resolvers. DNS transport does get regularly attacked and using either one of these protocols allows clients to protect against such shenanigans. What DoH and DoT have in common is far more important than their differences and for some use cases they will work equally well.

    • Python May Let Security Tools See What Operations the Runtime Is Performing

      In its current form, Python does not allow security tools to see what operations the runtime is performing. Unless one of those operations generates particular errors that may raise a sign of alarm, security and auditing tools are blind that an attacker may be using Python to carry out malicious operations on a system.

    • If Avast Broke Your Windows 10 April Update, Here Is The Fix

      One of the many problems associated with the Windows 10 April Update is because of the Avast antivirus software. A few days ago, some Windows 10 users saw a blank desktop with no icons after upgrading, and Microsoft had to block April Update.

      Later, it was known that the Avast Behavior Shield was incompatible with the April 2018 Update and causing the issue which even left some people with unusable PCs.

    • Avast fixes issues with Windows 10 version 1803 and their antivirus
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #161
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Tomgram: Making Sense of America’s Empire of Chaos

      I’ve lived through two periods of public war mobilization in my lifetime: the World War II era, in which I was born and in which the American people mobilized to support a global war against fascism in every way imaginable, and the Vietnam War, in which Americans (like me as a young man) mobilized against an American war. But who in those years ever imagined that Americans might fight their wars (unsuccessfully) to the end of time without most citizens paying the slightest attention? That’s why I’ve called the losing generals of our endless war on terror (and, in a sense, the rest of us as well) “Nixon’s children.”

    • Drone wars: How ‘off-the-shelf’ drones are changing the way wars are fought.

      In the air, wars have long been fought with fighter jets and attack helicopters. Now, a new front is opening up. Militant groups are using off-the-shelf drones as weapons – retrofitting them with bombs. Mike Armstrong reports on the new threat from above.

    • Croatia blocks extradition of suspect in killing of Hamas engineer

      Croatia’s top court on Monday blocked the extradition of a Bosnian man to Tunisia over the alleged murder of an aerospace engineer, described by the Palestinian terror group Hamas as one of its members.

      Mohamed Zouari, 49, was killed in a hail of bullets outside his house in Tunisia’s second city Sfax in December 2016.

    • Croatia blocks extradition of suspect in Hamas murder

      Croatia’s top court on Monday blocked the extradition of a Bosnian man to Tunisia over the alleged murder of an aerospace engineer, described by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas as one of its members.

      Mohamed Zaouari, 49, was killed in a hail of bullets outside his house in Tunisia’s second city Sfax in December 2016.

      “The Supreme court accepted the appeal of the suspect… and rejected the request for extradition from the Republic of Tunisia,” the court said in a statement.

    • Europe and the US: Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation

      Virtually all European allies of the U.S. voted for the resolution condemning Washington for its decision. The stance of major NATO allies UK, France, and Germany was particularly painful.

      An injured UN ambassador Nikki Haley declaimed in front of the assembly: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

      What a total disconnect. She’s saying: We pay you to support us, no matter what we do, even if it’s something as inflammatory as moving our embassy to territory the UN considers disputed. (That goes for both the western part occupied in 1948 and the eastern part occupied since 1967.) We have the right to place our embassy wherever we want even if no other country agrees with us, except maybe a few small ones we’ve bought. And if you don’t like it we’ll remember your dislike the next time you need us for something.

      She’s saying this not to the Third World so much as to Europe. Those ungrateful allies.

      This ignorant, haughty, undiplomatic woman is the perfect Trump representative in the UN. She blames Hamas for the deaths of 92 people in Gaza, and depicts their deaths as an expression of Israel’s right to “defend itself” against peaceful demonstrators and some guys with sling-shots, like David used (see 1 Samuel 17:40).

    • Memorial Day – 7 Facts Documenting Our Neglect of Millions of Veterans

      318,000. The Veterans Administration estimated there are over 318,000 appeals of veteran benefits pending nationwide with an average wait time for appeals of 935 days.

      370,000. Over 370,000 veterans are unemployed according to the US Department of Labor. Unemployment is higher for younger veterans between the ages of 22 and 34 than civilians.

      1,465,807. The Census Bureau reports that 1,465,807 veterans live under the official U.S. poverty line.

      1,500,000. Almost 1.5 million veterans live in households with low enough incomes that they receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps).

    • Trump, the NRA, Mass Shootings and the American Culture of Death

      Another week has come and gone, and with it, another mass shooting. The American culture of death marches on, fueled by our obscene stockpiles of lethal weaponry and stoked by the divisions, alienation, hatred and fear that have come to define us as a nation.

      As I wrote in my column after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, we are in the grips of a self-destructive social and psychological disorder—a Hobbesian “war of all against all”—that has long festered. Far from improving since then, the disorder has metastasized to new levels under the leadership of our 45th president.

      The latest outrage took place early Friday morning at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, a rural community of just over 12,000 about 20 miles northwest of Galveston.

      [...]

      On Friday afternoon, Trump ordered flags at federal facilities to be flown at half-staff. Still later in the day, he announced that his school safety commission would reconvene. The commission, which is led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions but has no rank-and-file teachers or students, was set up after the murders in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

    • The United States Is a Force for Chaos Across the Planet

      The United States is “incapable of producing any results other than destruction and further fragmentation across staggeringly large parts of the planet,” argues Tom Engelhardt, author of A Nation Unmade by War. Since 1991, the US has been engaged in a misguided and destructive exercise of triumphalism. In this interview, Engelhardt discusses why the US is an empire of chaos.

    • Can US ensure release of Pakistani doctor who helped CIA reach Osama bin Laden?

      The United States is said to have established high-level contact with Pakistani authorities to secure the release of Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped CIA confirm whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a garrison city in Pakistan’s north.

      Dr. Afridi has been languishing in jail following a 33-year sentence by a tribunal for ties with terrorists, a charge he has denied. United States had termed Dr. Afridi’s conviction as “unjust and unwarranted”.

      Since then, power corridors in Islamabad are abuzz with the speculations that Pakistan may release Shakil Afridi soonest. An official of Pakistani government confirmed this to Al Arabiya English on Monday.

    • America’s applause for veterans often drowns out their words

      For this Memorial Day, I hope that my documentary ‘Going to War’ could bridge the civilian-military divide that separates us.

    • 1918

      On Memorial Day 2018, in the year marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Michael Parenti contemplates the trenches and the oligarchs who caused so much unnecessary misery.

      Looking back at the years of fury and carnage, Colonel Angelo Gatti, staff officer of the Italian Army (Austrian front), wrote in his diary: “This whole war has been a pile of lies. We came into war because a few men in authority, the dreamers, flung us into it.”

      No, Gatti, caro mio, those few men are not dreamers; they are schemers. They perch above us. See how their armament contracts are turned into private fortunes—while the young men are turned into dust: more blood, more money; good for business this war.

      It is the rich old men, i pauci, “the few,” as Cicero called the Senate oligarchs whom he faithfully served in ancient Rome. It is the few, who together constitute a bloc of industrialists and landlords, who think war will bring bigger markets abroad and civic discipline at home. One of i pauci in 1914 saw war as a way of promoting compliance and obedience on the labor front and—as he himself said—war, “would permit the hierarchal reorganization of class relations.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • John Pilger endorses June 17 Sydney demonstration in defence of Julian Assange

      The demonstration called for Sunday, 17th June, in support of Julian Assange, is one of the most important and urgent for many years. Two days later, it will be six years since Julian was forced to take refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      If he steps outside the embassy, it’s more than likely he will face extradition to the United States on concocted charges of espionage. What this means is that he and WikiLeaks have performed an extraordinary public service by revealing the lies and crimes of great power. This is true journalism.

      Julian is a courageous editor persecuted for exercising a right enshrined in the United States Constitution. Today, he has never been more isolated, with communication and his right to visitors cut off. Here, in his homeland, we must let him know he is not alone, and we call on the Turnbull government to fulfill its responsibility under international law and to bring Julian home.

    • Demand freedom for Julian Assange! Join the demonstration in Sydney on June 17!

      The Socialist Equality Party has called a demonstration in Sydney on Sunday June 17 to demand that the Australian government act immediately to secure the freedom of WikiLeaks’ editor and Australian citizen Julian Assange. We call on all workers, students and organisations that defend freedom of speech, democratic rights and civil liberties to take part. The grave danger facing Assange requires the broadest mobilisation.

      Assange’s situation stems directly from the Australian government’s refusal to protect one of its citizens from persecution by other governments. Canberra has instead trampled on Assange’s rights in the most reprehensible manner.

      The American state accuses WikiLeaks and its personnel of “espionage” for publishing leaked data in 2010 that exposed the extent of its war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and its sinister intrigues around the world. Last year, WikiLeaks published further material that exposed CIA operations to hack and spy on Internet and other communications.

    • Julian Assange faces kangaroo trial if snatched by US – Randy Credico

      If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange enters US custody, he will face a kangaroo court and a lifetime imprisonment, radio host Randy Credico told RT.

      Credico was named by Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone as an intermediary between him and Assange in an effort to obtain information on Hillary Clinton. This put him in a position to meet the House Intelligence Committee.

      Last week he claimed that he told ranking Democrat member of the committee, Adam Schiff, that Assange would be willing to testify about the allegation if asked. The response was reportedly that Schiff would interview Assange only after he is in US custody.

    • Twitter Reacts as WikiLeaks Exposes Foreign Spy Accusations Against Assange

      US intelligence agencies have repeatedly accused Assange of having conspired with Russia after WikiLeaks hacked and unveiled Democratic Party emails from the private server of the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election. For instance, the newly sworn-in Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, called WikiLeaks “a hostile intelligence service,” while serving as CIA director.

      [...]

      In a 2015 interview with Byline, Assange said that “anyone who’s been involved in exposing or criticizing very powerful organizations will understand that all sorts of assaults are made on your public record. […] Sometimes it’s quite funny having been called a Mossad agent, a CIA Agent, a cat torturer. Of course, I am none of these things.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Canadian Government Too “Liberal” With Big Oil

      Is this the same government that’s planning to reduce CO2 emissions? How does that happen with greater extraction, shipments and burning of petroleum??? The last time I checked, global warming was global. We can’t export the problem somewhere else. My government should be in the business of cutting back on petroleum combustion, not investing in it. I’m buying an EV that will run on renewable electrical energy. Should I do that with one hand and promote burning of oil on the other? That would be schizophrenic. I’m not.

    • Liberals to buy Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5B to ensure expansion is built

      The Liberal government will buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion, and could spend billions more to build the controversial expansion.

      Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced details of the agreement reached with Kinder Morgan at a news conference with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr this morning.

      “Make no mistake, this is an investment in Canada’s future,” Morneau said.

  • Finance

    • 5 Ways Uber (And Similar Companies) Are Messing Up The World

      And it turns out there was a good reason for those medallions. New York wanted to limit the number of taxi drivers in order to combat traffic congestion, hence requiring the purchase of expensive and finite certifications. Now, with the advent of ridesharing apps, traffic congestion has increased by 8 percent. That may not sound like a lot, but 8 percent in New York is like a billion cars, and they’re all right in front of you, trying to turn left from the righthand lane.

    • Investment law leads to more investment: A faulty premise?

      If a government ratifies investment treaties and provides foreigners with access to investor-state arbitration, they will receive additional foreign investment. This has been the premise of investment law for over 50 years. Is it true? Two decades of studies testing this premise have been inconclusive (as Bonnitcha, Poulsen, and Waibel summarize). Since statistics on foreign investment are notoriously unreliable, they are unlikely to provide a clear answer anytime soon.

      We can, however, answer a slightly different question: when officials drafted investment treaties and arbitration, did they expect them to facilitate more investment? The answer that emerges from internal discussions among officials in the UK and the US is clear: no.

    • This is the New Italy

      Sesto San Giovanni, a town on the outskirts of Milan, used to be one of the industrial capitals of Italy.

      With around 200,000 inhabitants (45,000 blue collar workers, and a robust middle class), it was the headquarters of some of the most dynamic Italian companies, including Magneti Marelli, Falck, Breda and many more.

      Today Sesto is an industrial desert – the factories are gone, the professional middle class has fled, many stores have shut down, and the city is trying to reinvent itself as a medical research center.

      Twenty-three kilometers (14 miles) to the north of Sesto, the town of Meda was the seat of various symbols of Italian excellence: Salotti Cassina and Poltrona Frau, both of which exported high-quality furniture all over the world and employed tens of thousands of workers and designers. They fed a number of small family-based companies providing parts and highly qualified seasonal labour. Today both companies are gone.

    • Canadian banks, TMX, use open source blockchain pilot to process security settlements instantly

      An ongoing pilot project is continuing to transform the Canadian financial infrastructure, and recently proved that blockchain can instantly settle both cash and security settlements.

      The Bank of Canada, Payments Canada, TMX Group and Accenture began tinkering with distributed ledger technology (DLT) in 2015 after the launch of Project Jasper. The goal was to better understand how blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies could change the way payments were performed between parties in Canada.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Illegitimate Trump

      Trump must really get a chuckle out of how he’s cowed the news media and the Democratic Party. They both are not talking about impeachment nearly enough and the I-word is on the back-burner.

    • By suing WikiLeaks, DNC could endanger principles of press freedom

      In 1993, WILK radio host Frederick Vopper broadcast a conversation intercepted by an illegal wiretap and sent anonymously to the Pennsylvania radio station, in which two teachers union officials discussed violent negotiating tactics. The officials sued Vopper, arguing that he should be liable for the illegal wiretap that captured their comments. But the Supreme Court disagreed. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the Bartnicki v. Vopper decision, “A stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.”

      In April, the Democratic National Committee, the governing body of the Democratic Party, announced that it was suing WikiLeaks and Julian Assange–along with a number of other defendants, including the Trump campaign and Russian operatives–for their alleged involvement in the theft and dissemination of DNC computer files during the 2016 election. On its surface, the DNC’s argument seems to fly in the face of the Supreme Court’s precedent in Bartnicki v. Vopper that publishers are not responsible for the illegal acts of their sources. It also goes against press freedom precedents going back to the Pentagon Papers and contains arguments that could make it more difficult for reporters to do their jobs or that foreign governments could use against U.S. journalists working abroad, First Amendment experts told CPJ.

      “I’m unhappy that there’s even an allegation that you could be held liable for publishing leaked information that you didn’t have anything to do with obtaining,” said George Freeman, a former lawyer for The New York Times and executive director of the independent advisory group, Media Law Resource Center. James Goodale, the First Amendment lawyer who defended The New York Times in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, said that the suit appeared to be the first time WikiLeaks has been sued for a journalistic function. Goodale, a senior adviser to CPJ and former board chair, added that the DNC had “paid zero attention to the First Amendment ramifications of their suit.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The silencing of schoolteachers is out of control

      Most chilling of all is when online threats spill over into real life. Teachers who have expressed dissenting opinions have found their schools bombarded with demands that they be investigated as their views apparently make them unsuitable to work with children. Some teachers are even reported to the police. Often, the people behind these threats are happy to make clear that they are education professionals. Old says he has been threatened with legal action – just for recounting these tales on his blog.

    • In The UK… You’re Not Allowed To Talk About It. About What? Don’t Ask!

      On Friday, British free-speech activist and Islam critic Tommy Robinson was acting as a responsible citizen journalist — reporting live on camera from outside a Leeds courtroom where several Muslims were being tried for child rape — when he was set upon by several police officers. In the space of the next few hours, a judge tried, convicted, and sentenced him to 13 months in jail — and also issued a gag order, demanding a total news blackout on the case in the British news media. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was immediately taken to Hull Prison.

    • Israel’s very popular on Chinese social media—thanks to China’s online Islamophobia

      With Facebook and Twitter blocked in China, foreign embassies looking to spread their message in China have to turn to WeChat and Weibo—two of the country’s biggest social media sites. While many of these missions struggle with engagement, and censorship by their host, one country is succeeding—for reasons that aren’t flattering to China.

      Israel ranks as the foreign mission with the most followers on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, with over 1.9 million people subscribed to its page, according to research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on the activity of 10 foreign embassy accounts over the three months ended in January. The country’s embassy also had the fourth-highest number of likes per post, behind only the embassies for the US, UK, and Japan, countries with far greater cultural exports and economic ties to China, according to the study’s author, Fergus Ryan, an analyst focusing on cyber policy at the Canberra-based think tank.

    • Foreign embassies ‘self-censoring content on Chinese social media’

      Heavy-handed censorship of foreign government content on Chinese social media has decreased as censors have found more subtle and effective ways to control sensitive information, at the same time as more foreign governments have self-censored content posted through their embassy channels, a new report from an Australian cybersecurity research group says.

    • DFAT ‘avoids rocking boat’ in Chinese social media posts: defence think tank

      The Foreign Affairs department is avoiding rocking the boat in posts on a leading Chinese social media website, despite Australia’s commitment to promote liberal values, a defence think tank says.

      A foreign policy paper released on Tuesday says embassies in China are self-censoring and failing to speak up when Weibo, which has more than 500 million users, censors messages posted to the platform.

    • Zambia’s Pilato, another target of government censorship

      Zambia’s musician and activist Pilato, also known as Fumba Chama, is among the African artist facing government censorship over their activism and music.

      Pilato, who was last week released from jail, had been accused of targeting President Edgar Lungu and his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) ministers with his song, Koswe Mumpoto, which translates to ‘rat in a pot’ in Bemba.

      Pilato was forced to flee the country following threats from Lungu’s supporters upon releasing the song in December. The government had ordered him to stop singing the song, which was also taken off the air. He was also allowed to perform in select concerts under heavy surveillance or denied permits entirely.

    • Using Government to Oppose Social Media Censorship?

      It appears conservatives have grown weary of being censored on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Recently, right-leaning organizations have called on the government to address the issue.

      This action has ignited a debate among conservatives. As Americans who advocate for less government interference and personal liberty, should we be trying to use the government to prevent private organizations from silencing our viewpoints?

    • reign embassies hit by Chinese c

      Over lunch in Beijing a few years ago, one of China’s best-known writers, Yu Hua, revealed how he side-stepped China’s rigorous censorship regime to find out what was happening in the world.

      He would go to the foreign ministry website every day and look at the transcript from its daily press conference. By reading the questions asked by journalists he could work out what was going on, even without looking at the answers.

      It was through this close study that Yu found out about China’s widespread crackdown on human rights lawyers.

    • Beijing censoring social-media messages in China from Western embassies

      Chinese authorities routinely delete and suppress posts made to social media in China by embassies in Beijing, imposing the country’s censorship regime upon foreign governments − and raising fears that those governments, including Canada’s, are adapting by self-censoring.

      Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like Chinese service, was once touted as a potent tool that would empower foreign diplomats to use “Weiplomacy” to reach hundreds of millions of people.

      But a new report indicates that censors are redacting material from embassies’ posts, raising fresh questions about China’s imposition of its values on others, an effort that includes demands that airlines and hotels use language approved by Beijing when they refer to subjects such as Taiwan and Tibet.

    • Agony Uncensored Patch Will Not Be Available Due To Legal Issues

      Madmind Studio issued a press statement over on the Steam community page, noting that the uncensored patch that would enable several additional seconds of footage to be on display in two out of the seven endings will not be available.

    • Hellish horror game Agony will be slightly toned down, ‘uncensored’ patch plan dropped
    • Agony PC will not receive the “Adult-Only” patch after all
    • Agony’s Adult Only Patch Has Been Cancelled – Censorship Affects 2 of the 7 Endings
    • Agony Censoring Content Due To Legal Issues
    • Don’t call it censorship when Islam critic’s simply in contempt of court
    • Papua New Guinea is banning Facebook for a month, maybe forever

      Papua New Guinea will prohibit all access to Facebook for a month within its borders. The start date has yet to be determined, but this move is necessary, the government says, for research and digital security.

      “The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed,” said Communication Minister Sam Basil. “This will allow genuine people with real identities to use the social network responsibly.”

    • A South Pacific nation is banning Facebook for a month as the region grapples with fake news and censorship

      The South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Australia’s closest neighbor, directly to its north, will temporarily ban Facebook as the region grapples with potentially troubling side effects of the platform.

      The month-long ban will allow the government to research how the social media platform is being used and, in particular, will target fake news and fake accounts.

      “The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information on Facebook to be filtered and removed,” Communications Minister Sam Basil said, according to the local Post-Courier.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Amazon, Stop Powering Government Surveillance

      EFF has joined the ACLU and a coalition of civil liberties organizations demanding that Amazon stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure. Last week, we signed onto a letter to Amazon condemning the company for developing a new face recognition product that enables real-time government surveillance through police body cameras and the smart cameras blanketing many cities. Amazon has been heavily marketing this tool—called “Rekognition”—to law enforcement, and it’s already being used by agencies in Florida and Oregon. This system affords the government vast and dangerous surveillance powers, and it poses a threat to the privacy and freedom of communities across the country. That includes many of Amazon’s own customers, who represent more than 75 percent of U.S. online consumers.

      As the joint letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explains, Amazon’s face recognition technology is “readily available to violate rights and target communities of color.” And as we’ve discussed extensively before, face recognition technology like this allows the government to amp up surveillance in already over-policed communities of color, continuously track immigrants, and identify and arrest protesters and activists. This technology will not only invade our privacy and unfairly burden minority and immigrant communities, but it will also chill our free speech.

      Amazon should stand up for civil liberties, including those of its own customers, and get out of the surveillance business.

    • GDPR Will Change Security and Privacy Everywhere

      You’ve probably read a lot about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the enormous fines organizations could face for violations of the data protection and privacy law, which takes effect today. What you probably haven’t heard enough is how thoroughly the law could change IT security and data management practices, so I’ll go out on a limb here: GDPR could finally be the precipitating factor that changes the way companies think about security and protect our personal information.

      First, some background. GDPR addresses data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union – and the law also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. That’s a pretty broad mandate. The primary goal is to have common regulations within the EU for data privacy and to allow EU residents to control their personal data. It replaces the 1995 Data Protection Directive, and is a regulation, not a directive, so countries within the EU do not have to pass any enabling legislation.

    • EU Parliament’s Own Website Violates The GDPR

      We’ve been pointing out for a while that, however well-intentioned the GDPR may be, and however important the general concept of protecting user’s private data is, that still doesn’t make the GDPR any less ridiculous. Indeed, we’ve pointed out that the setup of the GDPR is such that it’s becoming a regulatory nightmare because the compliance costs are high, and the setup of the rules are so vague that the liability risk remains high. I know that some people keep insisting that the requirements to be compliant aren’t actually that difficult. Indeed, EU Commissioner Vera Journova recently claimed that complying with the GDPR was so easy that even she could do it.

      Upon hearing that, software engineer Matthias Gliwka wondered if the EU was actually complying with its own “so easy” GDPR rules. Turns out, not so much. As Gilwka noted, the EU Parliament’s own website appears to violate the GDPR.

    • DOJ, FBI Issuing Corrections To Statements, Testimony Containing Bogus Uncracked Device Numbers

      The FBI’s push for encryption backdoors relied on ever-skyrocketing numbers of uncracked devices the agency’s best and brightest just couldn’t seem to access. “Look!” DOJ and FBI officials said, pointing lawmakers at charts showing an explosion in the number of locked devices over the last couple of years. Unsustainable, it seemed to say. But it was all a lie. Not a deliberate lie, maybe, but a lie nonetheless. A convenient misrepresentation of the problem caused by a software error.

      [...]

      Even if the count had been accurate (which it wasn’t), the numbers were delivered dishonestly. What appears to be a cumulative total of all devices the FBI had collected over the years is presented in testimony as being the total number of devices the FBI couldn’t unlock during a single fiscal year. This vastly misconstrues the severity of the issue and while FBI officials may have been unaware the FBI’s software was delivering bogus counts, it didn’t stop them from overstating the problem by presenting historical cumulative numbers as a single year’s total.

      Whatever number the FBI finally delivers will be decidedly underwhelming. Considering it still hasn’t provided Congress with details of its attempts to access supposedly uncrackable devices, the FBI has managed to decimate its own forces in the new War on Encryption. It overplayed its hand — perhaps inadvertently — and weakened its argument severely. Something this important to the FBI was handled carelessly — not because the FBI doesn’t really want weakened encryption, but because the FBI will not do anything to weaken its anti-encryption position. It never bothered to check the phone count because the number given to officials was sufficiently impressive. That mattered far more than accuracy or honesty. “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity” my ass.

    • FacePause: This Extension Pauses YouTube Automatically When You Look Away

      It’s pretty annoying when someone interrupts when you’re in the middle of a YouTube video. You only realize after some moments that you’ve missed a few seconds or minutes and you need to rewind.

    • GCHQ bod tells privacy advocates: Most of our work is making sure we operate within the law

      Privacy advocates, journalists and a representative from GCHQ squared off in a debate on surveillance in Cambridge today.

      The heavyweight exchange of ideas between Cambridge security engineering professor Ross Anderson and Ian Levy, technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre, the assurance arm of GCHQ, took place to mark the anniversary of the foundation of the FIPR think tank1.

      Professor Anderson opened a panel discussion titled “Crypto wars: the control of interception and surveillance” by arguing that the concept of key escrow – which technologists defeated in the 1990s – was back but since “most IP traffic was encrypted it’s all about your phone”. He also said that one of the main issues with government-developed surveillance tools is that they aren’t being applied to fight cybercrime, a particular problem as more and more economic crimes happen online.

      Following on after Prof Anderson’s argument was a history of surveillance by investigative journalist Duncan Campbell titled “100 years of data stealing”. GCHQ’s Levy, who was next up, joked that he was addressing a “hard audience”. Levy began by saying that both privacy advocates and governments were putting across a narrative that’s “not quite right” when it comes to real world crypto systems.

    • Former CIA spy accused of selling secrets to China claims he was freelance triple agent

      Kevin Mallory, a former CIA officer, admits he met with Chinese spies. He admits he planned a covert meeting with one of the operatives, that he handed over U.S. intelligence documents and that he accepted thousands of dollars.

      Federal prosecutors call it espionage. But the Virginia man, who for years held a top-secret clearance, says it was no crime. He contends it was a ruse intended to out the spies to U.S. authorities.

      On Tuesday, Mallory goes on trial in federal court in Alexandria, where a jury will decide which story they believe.

    • Trial To Start For Ex-CIA Officer Accused Of Passing Secrets
    • China’s communist party has so much power in New Zealand that western countries might stop sharing intelligence

      A former CIA analyst has raised the prospect of kicking New Zealand out of an international intelligence-sharing alliance, which includes the US.

      Five Eyes is the name of the intelligence alliance between the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand that has routinely shared sensitive intelligence since 1955. But failure to respond to interference attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) should endanger New Zealand’s membership, Peter Mattis, a former CIA China expert testified to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission last month.

      “In New Zealand, both the last prime minister, Bill English, and Jacinda Ardern, have denied that there’s a problem at all,” Mattis, now a fellow at The Jamestown Foundation, said.

      “To quickly move to a recommendation, I think that at some level the Five Eyes, or the Four Eyes, need to have a discussion about whether or not New Zealand can remain given this problem with the political core, and it needs to be put in those terms so that New Zealand’s government understands that the consequences are substantial for not thinking through and addressing some of the problems that they face.

    • G20 Called On To Put People At Centre Of Digital Economy

      Some three dozen global civil society groups have called on the G20 countries to set a digital agenda that puts the interests of people and their rights front and centre, in particular on privacy.

    • Ex-spy accused of selling secrets to China claims he was trying to help the United States
    • In China’s footsteps: Amazon and US schools normalize automatic facial recognition and constant surveillance

      Tracking a student throughout the day, and recording everyone he or she interacts with, seems like a rather extreme response to an offense against the school’s code of conduct. It’s particularly problematic because it turns blanket surveillance into a practice that students are expected to regard as totally routine. In other words, it normalizes constant high-tech monitoring by the authorities.

    • Lawmakers sound alarm over Amazon face recognition software

      But critics are raising questions and calling for more safeguards after an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter obtained hundreds of pages of documents showing Amazon offering the software to law enforcement agencies across the country.

      In a Tuesday report, the group called Amazon’s facial recognition project a threat to civil liberties.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • John Kiriakou and Chris Hedges On the CIA’s Bush-Era Torture Program

      In introducing the latest episode of “On Contact With Chris Hedges,” the show’s host and Truthdig columnist swiftly dispels one of the more enduring ideas about America’s place in the world. “We like to believe, and we want other countries to believe, that we are this shining beacon for human rights and civil rights and civil liberties, and it’s just simply not true,” Hedges contends.

      More specifically, Hedges is taking up the issue of how the George W. Bush administration, in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency, did their part to puncture that illusion during the lead-up to, and duration of, the Iraq War. Joining him for this discussion is Truthdig contributor, whistleblower and onetime CIA analyst and case officer John Kiriakou, who has given his own take on Haspel’s promotion—and it’s not giving much away to say that Kirakou does not look favorably upon that choice.

    • US torture program is greatest recruiting mechanism for our enemies – John Kiriakou

      We like to believe, and we want other countries to believe, the US is a shining beacon for human rights, civil rights and civil liberties. It’s simply not true, whistleblower John Kiriakou told RT’s On Contact host Chris Hedges.

      Hedges discussed the CIA and torture with whistleblower and former CIA analyst and case officer John Kiriakou.

      John Kiriakou is the first US government official to confirm in December of 2007 that the CIA was using torture. He was charged with disclosing classified information to journalists, convicted, sentenced and served 30 months in a high-security Federal Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania. John is currently involved in prison reform.

      The decision to approve Trump nominee Gina Haspel as head of the Central Intelligence Agency raises serious questions about the rule of law. Haspel is alleged to have been the chief of a CIA black site in Thailand where torture occurred and involved with the destruction of videotapes that recorded some of the torture of Al-Qaeda suspects captured during the Bush administration.

    • Reflections on Haspel’s confirmation

      It is appalling that the Senate would approve for CIA Director someone who was directly involved in carrying out torture. Haspel should have been disqualified from the beginning, no matter what she told the Senators during and after her confirmation hearing. Despite crucial information held back by the CIA, Senators had sufficient knowledge for an informed decision. The majority, which included six Democrats, chose to ignore what they knew.

      Torture is a war crime. The Senate is now on record for approving a war criminal to run an agency with a long record of engaging in unlawful acts.

    • Christian Aid condemns torture and press censorship in Nicaragua

      A Christian charity has condemned the 76 deaths found by a human rights investigation in Nicaragua.

      After large scale protests in the Central American country, a commission set out to find out if there were human rights abuses.

      The Inter-American Commission confirmed there had been 76 deaths and more than 800 people injured.

      They also found evidence of torture, random arrests and censorship of the press.

    • We don’t have to be related to be a family

      I’m 35 years old, which is the kind of age when your parents, or even random people at dinner parties, start asking when you’re going to ‘start a family’ too. Thankfully I rarely get asked that question because I don’t really speak to my parents, never go to dinner parties, and most people don’t realise I’m 35 because—as a visibly genderqueer person who likes colourful clothing—they always seem to assume that I’m a child.

      But actually I’ve already started a family myself, just a different kind of family to the ones we’re normally used to. While ‘proper’ families spend their weekends at IKEA or hiking in national parks, I’m in the club dancing to Whitney Houston with mine, or in an anarchist meeting or a collective cleaning day for the local social centre.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Charter Claims NY Lawsuit Over Crappy Broadband Speeds Just An Evil, Netflix ‘Cabal’

      Early last year, Charter Spectrum was sued by New York State for selling broadband speeds the company knew it couldn’t deliver. According to the original complaint (pdf), Charter routinely advertised broadband speeds executives knew weren’t attainable — while simultaneously refusing to upgrade their network to handle added consumer demand (a problem that only got worse in the wake of its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks).

      Buried in the suit were all manner of interesting allegations, including claims that Charter executives discussed via e-mail how they hoped to manipulate congestion to drive up costs for companies like Netflix (you’ll recall this was part of the whole interconnection slowdowns Netflix and companies like Level3 complained about a few years ago). The suit also highlights how Charter gamed the results of a program the FCC has traditionally used to measure real-world broadband speeds using custom-firmware embedded routers in consumer volunteer homes.

      Charter has since been trying to tap dance out of the suit by flinging pretty much every legal argument against the wall to see what sticks. Most recently, the company tried to claim that the FCC’s recent net neutrality repeal contains language banning states from trying to protect consumers. And while that was certainly the hope of Ajit Pai’s FCC, legal experts have argued that the agency’s claims don’t hold water. More specifically, when the FCC rolled back its Title II authority over ISPs, it also ironically dismantled its legal authority to tell states what to do.

    • Life or Death for the FCC

      It’s life or death for the Federal Communications Commission, and death may be the honest option.

      Let’s face it, the FCC’s mission to regulate communications media in the public interest, has been beaten to a pulp by politicians of both parties over the last two decades. Now Trump’s FCC chair, Ajit Pai, wants to kill the wounded agency off, and he may have done it, to all intents and purposes, when he and his two fellow Republican commissioners voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality rules last December. The Senate may have just voted to annul the FCC’s rollback, but this victory is largely symbolic, as the House has no intention of taking up similar legislation.

      It would be easy to see this as an abdication of responsibility, but perhaps when Pai criticized net neutrality as a set of “outdated rules,” he was right in a terrible way. The FCC is a relic of a bygone age. It dates back almost a century to a time when new technology was bursting with potential for use or abuse, and people were clear about the implications for democracy in a way we don’t seem to be today.

      Back then, the FCC’s mission was forged by social movements that understood that the nation teetered on a brink. Would the US be the land of misogyny, white supremacy, militarism, anti-semitism and anti-immigrant bias, or something better?

    • Today: Tell the California Senate to Defend Net Neutrality and Pass S.B. 822

      California’s S.B. 822 is a gold standard for states looking to protect net neutrality. And since the FCC abandoned its role in protecting a free and open Internet, states stepping up is more important than ever. Today, EFF, representatives from groups across California, and other advocates for net neutrality are in Sacramento telling legislators not to bow to the will of large ISPs like AT&T and Comcast. Add your voice to theirs by calling your state senator.

      Sen. Scott Wiener’s S.B. 822 would prevent ISPs in California from engaging in blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and anti-competitive zero rating. Blocking and throttling are what they sound like: preventing access to or slowing down access to any service or content an ISP chooses. Paid prioritization and zero rating are more subtle threats to the free market.

      Certain types of paid prioritization allow ISPs to create fast and slow lanes, either charging a fee to guarantee companies faster access to Internet users or making sure their own content is delivered faster or better so that they can make extra money off of their subscribers. An ISP that owns a streaming service has a reason to relegate competitors to the slow lane, even if the competitors have a better service. Similarly, anti-competitive zero-rating practices allow ISPs to pick and choose services that don’t count against a customer’s data cap. A low data cap combined with zero-rating its own content incentivizes people to use the ISP’s service to watch its content, again artificially increasing its bottom line.

    • Shockingly, Streaming Providers Are Dominating Cable At Customer Satisfaction

      It’s really no secret that traditional cable and broadband providers have some of the worst customer satisfaction of any companies in America. Comcast and Charter (Spectrum) in particular can usually be found stumbling around in last place in most satisfaction and support rankings. That’s been particularly true of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which routinely shows cable and broadband providers rank consistently worse than nearly any other company in any industry in America. In fact, these companies even tend to be ranked worse than Americans’ experiences with government agencies like the IRS.

      And despite seemingly bi-annual promises by these companies that customer service is their top priority (remember when Comcast promised a new “Customer Experience VP” would fix everything?), it’s actually getting worse.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • European Commission proposes Regulation to limit SPC protection with “export manufacturing waiver”

      In this press release published yesterday, the European Commission stated that it is proposing to change the rules around Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) to introduce a so-called “export manufacturing waiver”. This would allow EU-based companies to manufacture a generic or biosimilar version of an SPC-protected medicine during the term of the certificate, but only if done “exclusively for the purpose of exporting to a non-EU market where protection has expired or never existed”. Why do they want to do this? So that EU-based companies can get a foothold in the global generics and biosimilar business. According to the Commission, this will help prevent the delocalization of manufacturing outside of Europe, loss of investment and risk to innovation and job creation. At the moment EU-based companies are currently unable to do so because during the SPC period of protection they are not permitted to manufacture a SPC-protected medicine for such purposes. If the data is to be believed, this waiver would allow them to do so generating an expected extra growth of at least €1 billion/year in net additional export sales in the EU and creating up to 25,000 extra high-skilled jobs over 10 years.

    • Copyrights

      • Controversy Hides Within US Copyright Bill

        In a time when partisanship runs wild in the USA and the country’s political parties can’t seem to agree on anything, the Music Modernization Act is exceptional. The MMA passed the House of Representatives on 25 April with unanimous support. And for good reason. Almost all the major stakeholders back this legislation, which will bring some badly needed changes to copyright law’s treatment of music streaming. But wrapped in the MMA is a previously separate bill – the CLASSICS Act – that has been attacked by many copyright law experts, is opposed by many librarians and archivists, and runs counter to policy previously endorsed by the US Copyright Office.

      • The Monkey Selfie Lawsuit Will Never, Ever Die: Appeals Court Judge Wants A Do Over

        On Friday, the case came back to life. The court declared that another judge in the 9th Circuit is requesting that the court rehear the case en banc. This means that rather than just a typical 3 judge panel, a 9 judge panel would rehear the case (in other circuits, en banc often means all the judges, but the 9th is so big, they just go with 9). Often one of the parties in a case will ask for a case to be reheard en banc. In this case, it was a judge. This happens, though rarely. This doesn’t mean the case will get heard again. There needs to be a vote. But, in the meantime, the court is asking the various parties to file briefs on whether or not the case should be reheard.

        We’re unlikely to find out, but it’s worrisome that there’s a judge who thinks the case should be reheard, as it certainly suggests a judge who believes animals can get copyright. Indeed, it suggests that there may be a judge in the 9th Circuit who believes the important Cetacean case, which was crucial to this ruling, and which says that without it being expressly noted by Congress, animals do not get the right to sue in court.

        And while that may not seem like a big deal it could be a very big deal — and not just for the likes of PETA deciding to go around suing everyone on behalf of animals, but because a change in such a case might impact a totally different, but increasingly important area of law: whether works created by artificial intelligence will get covered by copyright law.

      • EU Member States agree on monitoring & filtering of internet uploads

        On 25 May, the European Council agreed to a negotiating position on the draft copyright directive. This will allow the presidency of the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament on mass monitoring and filtering of internet uploads and a chaotic new “ancillary copyright” measure that will make it harder to link to and quote news sources.

        Despite a large number of demands from a wide range of different stakeholders (including EDRi and Copyright for Creativity) to keep working on the text in order to create some semblance of balance, the Council decided to finalise its position with a flawed text. This position, as well as the mandate to the Council to negotiate, was voted against by Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium and Hungary.

      • ISP Wants US Marshals to Help Serve Piracy Tracking Outfit

        Internet provider Grande Communications is requesting assistance from U.S. Marshals to serve piracy tracking company IP-Echelon. As part of the RIAA lawsuit, the ISP wants to find out more about a scam where IP-Echelon’s name was abused by scammers to extract payments. Thus far, however, it has been unable to reach the company at its Hollywood office.

      • Pirate IPTV Sellers Sign Abstention Agreements Under Pressure From BREIN

        Earlier this month, Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN won a court ruling against a company that sold access to IPTV links offering live TV, movies and TV shows. That company and two others have now signed an abstention agreement with BREIN which will see all three refrain from their copyright-infringing activities or face penalties of 10,000 euros per infringement.

High US Court Rules Against Patents on GUIs

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How on Earth are such simple GUIs being patented as though they are inventions?

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has decided that patents on handheld devices for displaying GUIs aren’t valid, in effect affirming the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

TECHRIGHTS wrote several articles about patents on GUIs some months back. These are arguably software patents, mostly the callback functions. The EPO earned infamy after it had granted a patent on the progress bar, so this debate isn’t entirely new. In fact, it was recently revisited — at least indirectly — because of Apple v Samsung; patents on designs are inadequate. It’s the wrong law. Use of trademark law, for example, can cover appearances. Making the USPTO look farcical was this decision captured as an image. Are patents on mere looks worth a hundred times more than function/utility? Apple makes itself looks like an enemy of patent reason and Apple has in fact just been sued again, this time too by Voip-Pal (this press release is an hour old).

Generally speaking, GUIs don’t merit patents and more often than not they’re a bloody joke because there’s plenty of prior art in the analogue world. CAFC ‘gets’ it. It seems like right now, as opposed to months ago, CAFC decides that “Shapes and Shading of Graphical User Interface Not Enough to Uphold Validity,” based on this new analysis of Valmont Industries, Inc. v Lindsay Corp. To quote:

The Board found that all of the challenged claims, except claim 11, would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art, but that claim 11 would not have been obvious.

In particular, the Board found that claims 1–3, 6–10, 12–14, 17, and 18 would have been obvious in view of two prior art references including a primary reference that described remotely monitoring and controlling an irrigation system using a computer to display GUIs, and a secondary reference brought in for describing remotely monitoring and controlling various types of field devices for industrial processes using a handheld device displaying GUIs.

On appeal, Valmont argued that there was insufficient evidence of a motivation to combine the references because the handheld devices in the secondary reference lacked sufficient display capabilities and computing capacity to operate the system described in the primary reference. The ’357 patent has a 2001 priority date, and expert testimony was provided to demonstrate that at the time of the invention, a person of ordinary skill would be able to employ the system of the primary reference on a mobile device disclosed in the secondary reference. In particular, mobile phones at the time, could display GUIs and receive user commands through manipulation of GUIs.

The patent microcosm barely spoke about this; they probably hope that nobody will notice and instead people will remember that months-old decision on mobile phone GUI.

St. Germain’s “Système Lamy” and Its EPO Clone – Part 1: Rubber-stamp Committees and Secret Meetings

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lamy SIDRU voting

Summary: A look at the parallels between the notorious governance style of Emmanuel Lamy (above) and that of Benoît Battistelli at the EPO

A recent Techrights posting drew attention to the reputed influence of the “Système Lamy” in St. Germain-en Laye on the “Système Battistelli” at the EPO and posed the question whether the political culture of Battistelli’s hometown in France had contaminated the governance of the EPO.

Further research on this topic has confirmed the existence of striking similarities between the management style of the ENArque Battistelli at the EPO and the functioning of the municipal “political machine” operated in St. Germain-en-Laye for decades by his fellow ENArque and political mentor, the late Emmanuel Lamy.

Indeed the similarities are so pronounced that one could almost speak of a clone of the “Système Lamy” at the EPO.

The operational methods of both “systems” include a number of key characterising features such as:

  • Reducing oversight bodies to “rubber-stamp committees”
  • Suppression of open debate and transparency
  • Controlling and manipulating the flow of information
  • Shooting the messenger and defaming opponents
  • Disclaiming responsibility for one’s own mistakes and projecting the blame onto others

We propose to look at the above operational methods in more detail and give some specific examples to let readers form their own opinion.

Reducing oversight bodies to “rubber-stamp committees”

In an interview given to the local press during the 2014 municipal election campaign, Anne Gommier of the conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain expressed a general dissatisfaction with Lamy’s style of governance in St. Germain-en-Laye.

“Indeed the similarities are so pronounced that one could almost speak of a clone of the “Système Lamy” at the EPO.”Amongst other things she spoke of an unacceptable “disconnect” with the local populace as well as problems with a lack of transparency and consultation. She also deplored the way in which the municipal council had been degraded to a rubber-stamp committee: “Le conseil municipal est une chambre d’enregistrement”.

See the article (in French)Municipales : une dissidente en lice à Saint-Germain-en-Laye“.

It should be noted here that Gommier served as a Deputy Mayor under Lamy from 2008 to 2014 and was speaking from first-hand experience of his modus operandi.

“In an interview given to the local press during the 2014 municipal election campaign, Anne Gommier of the conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain expressed a general dissatisfaction with Lamy’s style of governance in St. Germain-en-Laye.”Gommier’s criticisms were echoed by another conservative dissident, Yves Maillard, who also ran as a candidate in the 2014 municipal elections and expressed similar views in the local press:

“The purpose of my action and my project is to strengthen local democracy, he says. What frustrates me in our operations is that the mayor [i.e. Lamy] is capable of acting like a patriarch at the head of a family business. He listens to all sides but the decision will be made by a small committee and the group as a whole is presented with a fait accompli. There’s not going to be any debate. For me, this is not democracy. During the current mandate I have not seen a single decision that has been the result of a debate. The council is a rubber-stamp committee.”

See the article (in French)Municipales. Yves Maillard veut raviver la démocratie locale“.

“It should be noted here that Gommier served as a Deputy Mayor under Lamy from 2008 to 2014 and was speaking from first-hand experience of his modus operandi.”Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era should have no difficulty in recognising the parallels, in particular the way in which Battistelli successfully reduced the EPO’s various statutory bodies including its governing body, the Administrative Council, to mere “rubber-stamp committees”.

With regard to Battistelli’s control of the Administrative Council it should be noted that here he managed to surpass his mentor Lamy. During the period in question Battistelli was not the head of the EPO’s Administrative Council but was — at least on paper — subject to its authority. This was truly a most spectacular case of the “tail wagging the dog”!

The tail wagging the dog

Suppression of open debate and public scrutiny

“Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era should have no difficulty in recognising the parallels, in particular the way in which Battistelli successfully reduced the EPO’s various statutory bodies including its governing body, the Administrative Council, to mere “rubber-stamp committees”.”Both Lamy and Battistelli have shown themselves to be masters at suppressing open debate and public scrutiny.

A favourite tactic of Lamy was to declare meetings of public bodies such as the municipal council of St. Germain or the executive committee of SIDRU to be “closed sessions” due to the discussion of allegedly confidential matters.

Behind closed doors

For example, as the “toxic loan” problems at SIDRU were becoming the subject of public concern in 2013, Lamy managed to have an important public meeting of the intercommunal executive committee declared a “closed session” as reported in the local newspaper Courrier des Yvelines on 23 January 2013 [PDF]. This resulted in the exclusion of the press and members of the local opposition group who were in attendance as public observers.

“A favourite tactic of Lamy was to declare meetings of public bodies such as the municipal council of St. Germain or the executive committee of SIDRU to be “closed sessions” due to the discussion of allegedly confidential matters.”See the blog post (in French)Débat d’orientation budgétaire du SIDRU: la presse et l’opposition expulsées de la salle !

A video of the opening of the meeting showing the vote in favour of a closed session on a proposal from Lamy can be seen here.

SIDRU, Committee meeting of 16 January 2013

Request for a closed meeting by union president Emmanuel Lamy (UMP).

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines): Meeting of the Committee of the urban waste disposal union (SIDRU). This is a public meeting of which we usually put the most notable passages online, as the law allows. For the second time, the SIDRU executive requested that the meeting be held behind closed doors, so that the debates would not be filmed. The journalists and the municipal opposition of Saint-Germain were therefore expelled.

“For example, as the “toxic loan” problems at SIDRU were becoming the subject of public concern in 2013, Lamy managed to have an important public meeting of the intercommunal executive committee declared a “closed session”…”In a posting dated 13 August 2013 the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement criticised Lamy’s attempts to silence its members on the municipal council because of their persistent criticism of his management of SIDRU and its “toxic loans”.

See the blog post (in French)Débat sur le SIDRU : quand le maire de Saint-Germain-en-Laye veut faire taire l’opposition de gauche“.

Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era will be familiar with the deployment of such tactics, in particular Battistelli’s frequent use of “confidential sessions” of the Administrative Council to pursue dubious agendas and keep matters of legitimate public interest hidden away from any external scrutiny.

“Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era will be familiar with the deployment of such tactics, in particular Battistelli’s frequent use of “confidential sessions” of the Administrative Council to pursue dubious agendas and keep matters of legitimate public interest hidden away from any external scrutiny.”Like the mythical vampire Battistelli and his cronies at the EPO seem to have a strong aversion to sunlight. Perhaps this has something to do with its reputation as the “best of disinfectants” to borrow a well-worn phrase from Louis Brandeis.

Jut to give one prominent example, Battistelli’s reaction to the Enlarged Board of Appeal’s decision to hold a public hearing in the case of proceedings under Article 23 of the European Patent Convention (removal from office of a member of the Boards of Appeal) is well known and has been widely documented, e.g. [1, 2].

In most other contexts — leaving aside totalitarian states such as North Korea — any holder of public office who had been caught interfering with judicial independence in such an open and flagrant manner would most likely have been forced to face the consequences.

“In most other contexts — leaving aside totalitarian states such as North Korea — any holder of public office who had been caught interfering with judicial independence in such an open and flagrant manner would most likely have been forced to face the consequences.”In Battistelli’s case he was never called to account. Perhaps this was because he had been so successful in reducing his oversight body to a mere “rubber-stamp committee”?

In Part 2 we will examine some further aspects of “Système Lamy” and its EPO clone.

Rubber Stamp

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