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07.01.18

The Patent Maximalists Are Losing the Battle Over PTAB/CAFC Policies/Caselaw, Resulting in Underhanded Tactics

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

Palacio Legislativo en Montevi

Summary: Policies don’t favour the patent maximalists anymore; but they attempt to use anything they can to change these policies, even if that means manipulation of information and deceptive tactics (stirring up controversies where there are none)

WE typically mention the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in relation to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) because PTAB appeals go to CAFC, which typically just affirms PTAB’s decisions.

PTAB and CAFC are generally disliked by Patently-O, which tries to slow them down and mocks judges (only to apologise when blasted for it).

“In this case,” Patently-O wrote yesterday, “Prof. Lemley is representing the patentee Nichia who’s asserted claims were found invalid by a jury. The patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,998,925, covers an improved white-light LED.”

“PTAB and CAFC are generally disliked by Patently-O, which tries to slow them down and mocks judges (only to apologise when blasted for it).”This is a CAFC case and one which Patently-O sheds light on (pardon the pun) because it suits Patently-O‘s agenda. The Alice test (or Section 101) has long been applied by CAFC to invalidate software patents, i.e. something vastly different from the “white-light LED” noted above. Sites like Watchtroll and Patently-O will no doubt look for anything to discredit PTAB and CAFC, even ‘borrowing’ cases that have nothing to do with Section 101. Here is an example from 4 days ago and another which concerns Mayo rather than Alice (i.e. life, not software), as we noted a week ago. Dennis Crouch (Patently-O) wrote about it in relation to SCOTUS. To quote Crouch:

The claim in Vanda is directed toward a method of treating a patient suffering from schizophrenia with the drug iloperidone. The drug was already known as a schizophrenia treatment prior to the invention here, but some individuals did not tolerate the drug well (risk of “QTc prolongation”). The major discovery of the inventors here was that a genetic difference (the “CYP2D6 genotype”) led to those folks likely being poor metabolizers of iloperiodon.

This is really about Mayo rather than Alice. But it relates to Section 101, so they cite it anyway. Not only Watchtroll and Crouch do this but also his blog colleague, Jason Rantanen, who wrote about Broadest Reasonable Interpretation (BRI) rather than patent scope. They try to alter PTAB/CAFC scope of operation by soliciting input from the patent maximalists (who are their principal target audience). Watch what Patent Docs has just published.

“Considering the utter lack of favourable (to their agenda) cases, it’s hardly surprising that they already attempt to spin numbers…”The pattern we wish to highlight here (again pardon the pun) is one where patent maximalists cherry-pick cases about lights and life. They pick patent cases and potential interventions in PTAB and CAFC, hoping to set off a controversy and compel the administration of the USPTO to change course. Considering the utter lack of favourable (to their agenda) cases, it’s hardly surprising that they already attempt to spin numbers as noted yesterday evening. They’re totally losing it.

Stop Patenting Life, Nature is Not an Invention

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 10:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nature is beautiful and no person ‘owns’ it

Peacock

Summary: The ongoing lobby for patents on nature (euphemistically referred to as “Life Sciences”) carries on without reluctance; we must all challenge the notion that nature and life are human inventions which therefore merit patent monopolies

THIS post is not about the EPO, but we could not help noticing that Oppedahl Patent Law Firm LLC is pushing patents on life at the EPO — something which ought not be permitted as per the EPC. J A Kemp, another law firm, did something similar lately. That ought to stop. Yesterday Patent Docs published this advert:

EPO will look at the patentability of biotech/pharma subject‑matter under the European Patent Convention (EPC) and discuss exceptions to patentability. The webinar will enable participants to draft claims that comply with the EPC encompassing subject-matter such as plants/animals, (stem) cells, micro‑organisms, methods of surgery and diagnosis, antibodies and nucleic acids and medical uses thereof, personalised medicine and dose regimens. The webinar will also deal with PCT applications as the basis for European applications, including possible pitfalls.

Well, we wrote about antibodies last week (in relation to the EPO); patents on antibodies should be voided for quite a few reasons. Isn’t nature itself the prior art here? Does the public still need to be reminded that life/nature becomes some corporations’ monopolies (divided among the large corporations)?

What on Earth? Why is this even allowed?

A site whose sole purpose seems to be advocating patents on life now says that the “US [is] leading the way in patent filings for applications of synthetic biology” (i.e. copying nature in artificial form!).

To quote:

The US is leading the way in synthetic biology patent filings, according to a report released earlier this month from patent search software company PatSnap.

Synthetic biology is an area of research that encompasses the artificial design and engineering of biological systems.

According to the report, the US has the largest international patent collection within the applications of synthetic biology, (excluding patent offices serving multiple countries).

With 594 patents, it represents 25% of all filings. China placed second, with 335 patents (14%),.

Well, this “artificial design and engineering of biological systems” is based on nature itself. They’re just copying bodyparts, so where’s the invention? The production/fabrication itself? Those are general-purpose systems, not unique or limited to biology.

What on Earth? Corporate lobbying got them corporate monopolies.

We recently wrote about how calling it "Life Sciences" (again and again, like the above domain/’news’ site) helps them make it seem like life itself can be patented, discovered etc. That’s nonsense. We’re not even talking about chemistry (such as medicine) here. Yesterday Patent Docs published this advert titled “ACI Women Leaders in Life Sciences Law Conference” (here’s that term again, “Life Sciences”). Coming from a site that’s often pushing the agenda of patents on life, this did not surprise us.

Showing up again and again over the weekend is also this article from The New Indian Express, taking note of India’s intolerance of patents on life as well as software patents. India gets it right! Not everything needs to be patented! But the article pushes that ridiculous concept of poverty in terms of patents, as if patents can feed people (or they can eat “IP”). Right from the headline they carry on and on with that same old propaganda (IAM did a lot of that in 2017) and then they start talking about software:

It took Shubham Sharma (name changed) four long years to get a patent on software that he developed for his company. “On my seniors’ advice, I approached the authorities to get the software patented. But as soon as I filed the research paper on it, I faced a whole lot of regulatory issues. Finally, after all submissions, I got the patent,” the 35-year-old said.

Shubham blamed time-consuming laws and poor infrastructure for this. “In this age of technology, no one is willing to wait so long to get patenting work done. Moreover, there is a total lack of awareness about patent laws in India and the government seems to be doing nothing about it.”

Those two paragraphs reveal that the writer is clueless on these matters and merely parrots what patent maximalists asked to be said. It perpetuates this idea that patents on software are like registering a computer program and that one patent corresponds to a computer program (conflating it with copyrights). But don’t expect to receive facts from such sites; they’re being composed directly and sometimes indirectly by patent maximalists, published under the names of authors who merely assemble and edit words to come up with a propagandistic ‘salad’ of quotes, under the headline “India’s profile in global medical fraternity: Rich in research, poor in patents” (maybe India should feed its population with patents then rather than with salad and ‘nourishment’ of generic medicine). India is doing just fine! It’s one of the very few countries in the world which actually get patent balance just about right.

The EPO’s Attacks on Bloggers Other Than Me (and ILO-AT Being Utterly Unpredictable)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 9:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like a Trumpist witch-hunt

Some hand gestures

Summary: An infamous example wherein ILO-AT acted more like a parrot of EPO management (under Battistelli’s leadership, i.e. a one-person management) and ignored court rulings from outside the EPO

“TEAM Battistelli” at the EPO leaves an ugly ‘legacy’ of attacks on the media (or bribes for the media). They twisted the law to bully and manipulate people. They sent several legal threats to me (from several law firms), having already blocked the site for about a year. They’re not only liars but thugs too. They’re thugs. Remember that. The same people are, with few exceptions, still in charge of the Office. They’re a massive threat to free speech (or free press) and they SLAPP people, sometimes in court (not just threats but actual lawsuits). They exploit immunity. Will António Campinos at the EPO‘s top level end this clannish behaviour? Will he break apart “Team Battistelli”? We doubt so, but we can always hope so. He has the potential to be a good (ethical) revolutionary like his father was.

As regular readers are aware, we published several articles last week about the ILO-AT rulings, specifically those that affect staff representation — a target of Battistelli’s gruesome attacks. A lot is already known (publicly) about those cases, so mentioning names would probably do no harm (the name of Patrick Corcoran, by the way, wasn’t ‘outed’ not by us but by The Register; two defamatory articles from Team Battistelli had already ‘outed’ the nationality 2 years earlier, making it obvious to insiders who it was). In the interests of privacy, we’ll keep refraining from mentioning real names of people and instead use initials (or numbers).

A blogger mentioned Case 4052 over the weekend. Here’s what was said:

AT-ILO is unpredictable. They do not follow their own jurisprudence, for example. The recent cases of Elisabeth Hardon and Patrick Corcoran, for example, are decided on the similar grounds of procedural economy: the court only argued that the disciplinary process was invalid and remitted the case. In the two cases, the court did not seek to determine whether the staff member was innocent or guilty, they simply argued that the decision was flawed. But one person was reinstated and the other one was not.

[...]

There is another gem in the latest decisions. Case 4052 was discussed in another blog and considers the situation of an ex employee of the EPO (dismissed in 2009, despite a national court rendering an opposite decision). The EPO initiated disciplinary proceedings against him in 2015, 6 years after he stopped working for the EPO for publishing his opinions on a personal blog. Indeed the EPO service regulations Articles 19 and 20 lay some limits as to what ex-employees may do and what they may publish, but common sense would interpret these articles quite differently. The normal way to oppose a blog for the EPO would be to go to a civil court. That would ensure equality of chances between an ex-employee and someone who never was an employee if they both start a blog. Or does the EPO wish to treat differently patent attorneys who are also ex-examiners and patent attorneys who never worked at the EPO, for example?

We’re familiar with this case and many other cases. Now that Battistelli is out of the Office readers can expect more information (previously-suppressed information) to come out, albeit cautiously and gradually. People will get to see just how absolutely ugly the “Battistelli years” really were…

Mind yesterday afternoon’s comment from “anonymous”:

I would like to repost here that comment about decision 4049 which was posted on the kluwer patent blog:

The whiff of scandal does not end with judgement 4052. As noted on another blog, judgement 4049 makes for alarming reading. However, to fully understand the significance of the judgement, it is necessary to provide a little bit of background information.

On 6 July 2016, the ILO-AT issued judgement no. 3694, which reached the following (seemingly very significant) conclusion with regard to the composition of EPO’s Internal Appeals Committee:
“The balance sought to be achieved by the composition of this body, which includes members appointed by the Administration and the staff representation, is a fundamental guarantee of its impartiality. That balanced composition is an essential feature underpinning its existence. WITHOUT IT, IT IS NOT THE APPEALS COMMITTEE”.

On 1 January 2017, AC decision CA/D 18/16 amended the Service Regulations by introduction of Article 36(2)(a). This allowed the President to make appointments to the Appeals Committee “by way of exception”.

On 5 May 2017, the decision impugned in case 4049 was issued by an Appeals Committee composed of a Chair, two members appointed by the President (Article 5(1) and (2) of the Implementing Rules), and two members “nominated by calling for volunteers or drawing lots from among eligible staff members in accordance with Article 36(2)(a)”.

Against all of this background, one might have expected the ILO-AT to refer to judgement no. 3694, and to find that the composition of the Appeals Committee still did not guarantee its impartiality. Indeed, a member of the Appeals Committee wrote a dissenting opinion to this effect.

The outcome? The ILO-AT sees no problem with the composition of the Appeals Committee, because it was in accordance with the relevant rules in force at that time.

Now, one might argue that impartiality is still ensured by the fact that the members appointed under Article 36(2)(a) must (presumably) still be elected Staff Committee members. However, that does not take into account the influence that the President has over the numbers of elected members and the conditions under which elections take place (Article 35 of the Service Regulations). It also ignores the possibility of the President pursuing a vindictive campaign of harassment against all Staff Committee members, with the result that few (if any) staff members would willing stand for election … thereby making it easy for the President to secure election of his “stooges” (who would of course be guaranteed to be protected from harassment).

Now, if anyone doubts that the President (or at least the soon to be ex-President) would ever consider conducting a vindictive campaign of harassment against staff representatives, based upon little or no proof of wrongdoing, then please refer to my earlier comments on this thread, where I point to a clear pattern of behaviour in this regard.

I guess this is just illustrative of a key problem with the ILO-AT: because it only examines matters from a formalistic standpoint (based solely upon the internal rules in force at the time, and without any attempt at independent fact-finding), it simply fails to see the wood for the trees.

Judgment 4052 is something that was also mentioned in some other comments in Kluwer Patent Blog, so we began researching it further. We did manage to gather some bits of information.

“The person in question was actually acquitted at first (in 2010). Then, the person was acquitted again (in 2011) by the Dutch Criminal Court, citing lack of evidence.”What we deal with here is a person who was accused in 2008 (Brimelow years) and dismissed in 2009 (also Brimelow years). It was labeled “serious misconduct”, which probably meant something else back then (Battistelli just loosely threw the term at anyone who did not agree with him). The person in question was actually acquitted at first (in 2010). Then, the person was acquitted again (in 2011) by the Dutch Criminal Court, citing lack of evidence. So this “serious misconduct” became double acquittal under the Battistelli years, albeit outside the Office itself. Similar to the Corcoran case, no? A double acquittal after years in courts.

This dismissal of the person was subsequently challenged — albeit lost — in front of ILO-AT (judgment 3297) for rather dubious reasons. It’s believed that the ILO-AT judgment was practically a copy of the judgment issued by the Office’s disciplinary committee and internal Board of Appeal. In other words, the suspicion is that in the early Battistelli years the ILO (or its Tribunal) basically became a parrot of the EPO rather than actual, functional courtroom.

“This dismissal of the person was subsequently challenged — albeit lost — in front of ILO-AT (judgment 3297) for rather dubious reasons.”The EPO as well as ILO-AT (remember that ILO-AT is an administrative tribunal only; that’s what the A stands for) decided that there was enough evidence against the accused and that guilt was proven “beyond reasonable doubt” (a term generally used by criminal courts) which is hard to believe because the Dutch criminal court decided otherwise. Oddly enough, ILO-AT did not take the two acquittals into account and ILO-AT made it clear that they have more confidence in the internal Office investigation than in the police investigations carried out by the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s and the Dutch Judges.

In the second and much later case (4052), the same person was then again accused by the EPO of having run a blog named “icsfight4yourrights” (which the accused denied) in 2014 and a Twitter account named “EPOnymous” (which this person also denied). We linked to it a few times and so did several commenters in IP Kat (e.g. here and here). Apparently the EPO also accused this person of “collaborating” with Patrick Corcoran and working for SUEPO without permission from EPO administration. That’s apparently as ludicrous as it gets, but we already saw these tactics of guilt by association before, e.g. Hardon and Corcoran.

“To think that this is a basis for dismissal (mere suspicion of voicing one’s concern) is in itself worrying.”As we understand it, ILO-AT mentioned “serious misconduct” in Judgment 4052 but failed to refer to the judgment number, perhaps because they are ashamed of their own judgment. It then begs or raises the question: “Do they have something to hide?”

What has ILO-AT been reduced to? Is it politically motivated? And can’t people anonymously blog about the EPO? There’s still no actual evidence that the said person was behind the blog and the Twitter account. To think that this is a basis for dismissal (mere suspicion of voicing one’s concern) is in itself worrying. The blog, by the way, vanished some years ago without prior notice.

Welcoming António Campinos, New President of the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Welcoming sign

Summary: António Campinos starts his job today; we wish him the best of luck and hope he will surprise us for the better

TODAY starts a week of hope at the EPO. After 8 years of tyranny (we have already covered Battistelli’s tyrannical behaviour going back to 2010) people hope for honesty, respect, and perhaps even management by a gentleman, not a brute. It’s doable, albeit the main issues are that 1) the new President is connected to Battistelli and 2) many of Battistelli’s friends remain in top-level management. Will any be gone by Christmas time to signal real and long-lasting change?

Battistelli failed really badly. His own bad behaviour contributed to the collapse of the UPC. A short while ago Alex Morrall (Lexology), avoiding the two lies about UPC, said this: “The European Commission’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement sets out proposals for ongoing equivalent protections in the UK based on existing EU IP rights. There is the potential for major impact on patents in relation to the Unitary European Patent Regime.”

Yes, because it won’t start. It cannot. 8 years of Battistelli’s vandalism/sabotage in the EPO didn’t do it.

We’re not the first to write about today’s change. It is already being pointed out by SUEPO that Christian Kirsch wrote about António Campinos over at Heise. See tweet and link (in German). We suppose SUEPO might produce an English translation some time soon, but it doesn’t seem to contain much new/critical information.

Another blog has just reprinted an IP Watch article, for which SUEPO already provided the full text. Here are some remarks on what’s expected from Campinos:

Patent attorneys are closely monitoring several changes Battistelli spearheaded. Some of those modifications — expedited timelines for obtaining and challenging patents — were introduced to speed up the patent examination and opposition processes, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP (London) patent attorney Leythem Wall said in an interview. One potential question is whether the system is moving too fast given the finite resources at the EPO, he said. The EPO “generally does a tremendous job,” but if the process is faster, the question is whether in the long term quality can keep up, he said.

Another question is whether users of the EPO patent system could have more of a choice as to the speed and timeline of their patent applications, Wall said. There is no way to pause the process or slow it down beyond a few months, he said. The EPO proposed a suspended examination period for up to three years, but there has been no decision to implement, he said. The incoming president could revisit such a scheme, he said.

Some have said they see a change not so much with regard to the process of examining applications but in third-party challenges, Wall said. Since the process is now faster, it places more pressure on third parties to get their challenges right and means they may need to invest more in challenging patents, he said. For examination, following fairly recent changes in their Examination Guidelines, the EPO tends to offer more suggestions on how to overcome objections, which is good, but at the same time it appears to be getting quicker to summon parties to oral hearings at the office, which potentially imposes more costs on users, he said.

Battistelli, who was writing for IAM and doing their keynote speeches in recent months, is still a hero to them. “Battistelli’s achievements overshadow the mistakes he undoubtedly made,” said IAM in its typical Sunday evening post from Joff Wild, who is still acting as Battistelli’s propaganda arm. That says so much about Joff Wild and his motivation although it doesn’t surprise us (Joff Wild and Battistelli are pretty close). He was using words like “legacy” to refer to Battistelli like he was some kind of Napoleonic hero. Wild’s concluding words are as follows:

And so, a period of tumultuous change comes to an end at the EPO. Battistelli made some mistakes, undoubtedly, but his achievements overshadow them. He left the office having done almost everything he set out to do and with its international standing significantly enhanced. Over the long-term, whether his critics like it or not, it is this that will be remembered. As he begins the next chapter of his life, Benoît Battistelli can be very proud of the one that he has just closed.

Proud? He made a total mess. Many people’s lives were ruined (or ended). Many bogus patents got granted, assuring decades of frivolous lawsuits all across Europe. But that will be the subject of the next post. He ruined not only the EPO but also institutions around it, such as ILO.

Campinos’ success (or failure) will be judged based on two things: 1) adherence to the law and 2) honesty. Be honest, Mr. Campinos, and always respect and obey the law. That would at least signal to staff that things are changing for the better. For instance, if staff and stakeholders insist that patent quality has suffered (which is true) then say, “OK, we’ll look into it and try to improve” rather than just attack the messenger. The mess at the EPO is not the fault of Campinos, but whether he can fix things or not is up to him and Dr. Ernst (who over the past year acted quite recklessly, stonewalling dissent and simply denying legitimate concerns).

Links 2/7/2018: Linux Mint Everywhere, OpenShot 2.4.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 61 for Android Fixes Recurring Crash on Samsung Galaxy S8 with Android 8

        Mozilla released the Firefox 61 web browser this week for desktops, including Windows, Linux, and Mac computers, but also for Android devices to bring better browsing for those who are always on the go.

        Firefox 61 for Android isn’t a major release, but a small maintenance update that brings a couple of performance improvements like faster scrolling by implementing a new functionality that treats touch event listeners as passive by default, and better page rendering times by improving the Quantum CSS component.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • nChain’s Key Generating Software Is Not Open Source

      nChain, the Jimmy Nguyen and Craig Wright blockchain scaling company that focuses entirely on Bitcoin Cash, is not open source. This, despite creating key generating software that is crucial for security.

      nChain’s SDK, dubbed “Nakasendo” has a Github repository that is completely devoid of source code. There is a file that says “source code” but inside curious users will only find the same license and readme file available separately on the Nakasendo repository.

      While it is not unusual for developers to open a near empty repository in order to act as a holding page for when the real work begins, it is the license already included that disqualifies nChain from being open source.

    • GitHub Developers Are Giving Microsoft a Chance [Ed: Which ones? The one Conde Nast spoke to for this Microsoft puff piece? Many delete GitHub already.]
  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Three Things Exciting Clear Linux Developers With GCC 8

      While Intel’s Clear Linux platform has already been making use of GCC 8.1 since shortly after its release in early May, one of their developers has now published a blog post highlighting three performance and security features enjoyed and that helps benefit their performance-oriented Linux distribution.

      Victor Rodriguez Bahena of Intel wrote a blog post this week outlining three GCC 8 compiler improvements he finds important. Those features include improvements to interprocedural optimizations, Intel Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET), and changes to loop nest optimization flags. The first and last items benefit the GCC performance of generated binaries while CET helps with security.

  • Public Services/Government

    • US Senator Recommends Open-Source WireGuard To NIST For Government VPN

      One of the additions we have been looking forward to seeing in the mainline Linux kernel in 2018 is WireGuard. WireGuard is the open-source, performance-minded, and secure VPN tunnel. WireGuard is designed to be run within the Linux kernel but has also been ported to other platforms.

      WireGuard hasn’t yet made it into the mainline Linux kernel, but it’s looking like it still stands good chances of doing so in 2018. Curious about the state, I asked WireGuard’s lead developer Jason Donenfeld this week. He informed me that he is in the process of preparing the patch(es) for review and that it won’t hopefully be much longer before that happens. Of course, following the review process is when it could be integrated into the mainline Linux kernel at the next available merge window (he gave no explicit indication, but if it’s to happen this year, that would mean Linux 4.19 or Linux 5.0).

  • Programming/Development

    • Deep Learning with Open Source Python Software

      Let’s clear up one potential source of confusion at the outset. What’s the difference between Machine Learning and Deep Learning? The two terms mean different things.

      In essence, Machine Learning is the practice of using algorithms to parse data, learn insights from that data, and then make a determination or prediction. The machine is ‘trained’ using huge amounts of data.

      Deep Learning is a subset of Machine Learning that uses multi-layers artificial neural networks to deliver state-of-the-art accuracy in tasks such as object detection, speech recognition, language translation and others. Think of Machine Learning as cutting-edge, and Deep Learning as the cutting-edge of the cutting-edge.

    • Rediscovering blindness products

      While in the early 2000s, cell phones were still mainly made accessible by specialized software, for example Talks or MobileSpeak for the Nokia S60 platform, or special devices such as the PAC Mate were created to bring mainstream operating systems onto special hardware with a screen reader added, the advance of iPhone and Android devices in the late 2000s brought a revolution for blind and visually impaired people. For the first time, accessibility was being built into the platform, and no special software or hardware was needed to operate these devices.

      [...]

      All good, or what? Well, I thought so, for a long time, too. I even sold some blindness-related products such as my first generation Victor Reader Stream by Humanware because I thought my iPhone and iPad could now fulfill all my needs. And for the most part, they do, but at a cost.

      And that cost is not, in most cases, technical in nature, but rather has to do with the sheer fact that the device I am running the app on is a mainstream device. Many of these problems are, in one form or another, also applicable to people who aren’t blind, but might impact them less than they do me.

      [...]

      One other problem that keeps me always on the edge when using mainstream devices are screen reader inconsistencies and inaccessible apps or websites. Any update to an app can break accessibility, any update to the OS can break certain screen reader behavior, or web content I might need or have to consume at a particular moment can prove to be inaccessible, requiring me to either fiddle around with screen reader tricks to kick it into obedience, or simply not being able to get something done at all. Yes, despite all web accessibility efforts, this is still more often the case in 2018 than any of us could want.

Leftovers

  • 6 Things You Learn Trying To Meet A ‘Sugar Daddy’ Online
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Magazine: Finland’s state pension agency stops investing in tobacco industry

      Some 4,000 people die due to tobacco-related illnesses in Finland every year. In 2016, Parliament ratified the Tobacco Act with the aim of ending the use of tobacco and other nicotine products in Finland by 2030.

    • Finnish government caves in, postpones care reform [sic]
    • The Dark Side of the Orgasmic Meditation Company

      Workers exhausted by the long hours were told they should OM more, that orgasm is an endless energy resource. Some former staffers say frequent OM sessions left them in a constant state of emotional and physical rawness that, combined with a lack of sleep, blurred their ability to think.

    • The Military Drinking-Water Crisis the White House Tried to Hide

      But military personnel and veterans are particularly at risk, because PFAS compounds are in firefighting foams, which have been used in training exercises at military bases across America since the 1970s. Those foams have leached into the groundwater at the military facilities, and often the drinking water supply. Nearly three million Americans get their drinking water from Department of Defense systems.

    • Seeing the same doctor over time ‘lowers death rates’

      The benefits applied to visits to GPs and specialists and were seen across different cultures and health systems.

    • To save money, my insurance company forced me to try drugs that didn’t work

      Recently, I discovered why I hadn’t been prescribed the Botox treatment earlier: step therapy — a policy that forces patients to try cheaper and sometimes less effective drugs before insurers will pay for more expensive treatments.

    • There might be poop in the water you’re swimming in so please don’t swallow it, CDC says

      A team of researchers analyzed 140 outbreaks that made nearly 5,000 people sick, and even killed two swimmers between 2000 and 2014. Public parks and beaches accounted for roughly two-thirds of the outbreaks, according to the CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. And the majority of those outbreaks occurred over the summer months — right when the water is most inviting.

    • Australia wins landmark World Trade Organisation ruling on tobacco plain packaging laws

      In its ruling, the WTO panel said Australia’s “plain packaging” law contributed to improving public health by reducing use of and exposure to tobacco products, and rejected claims that alternative measures would be equally effective.

      The ruling, which is expected to be appealed, also rejected the complainants’ argument that Australia’s law unjustifiably infringed tobacco trademarks and violated intellectual property [sic] rights.

      [...]

      Some countries were now discussing a tobacco “endgame”, with less than 5 per cent of the population smoking, she said, adding: “Plain packaging is part of this path”.

  • Security

    • LTE wireless connections used by billions aren’t as secure as we thought

      The attacks work because of weaknesses built into the LTE standard itself. The most crucial weakness is a form of encryption that doesn’t protect the integrity of the data. The lack of data authentication makes it possible for an attacker to surreptitiously manipulate the IP addresses within an encrypted packet. Dubbed aLTEr, the researchers’ attack causes mobile devices to use a malicious domain name system server that, in turn, redirects the user to a malicious server masquerading as Hotmail. The other two weaknesses involve the way LTE maps users across a cellular network and leaks sensitive information about the data passing between base stations and end users.

    • LTE (4G) Flaw Allows Attackers To Redirect Browsers And Spy On You

      The Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard for mobile communication, also known as 4G was designed to overcome security flaws of its predecessor standards and is used by millions of people across the globe.

      However, researchers have now uncovered weaknesses in LTE that allows attackers to hijack browsing session which redirects users to malicious websites and spy on their online activity to find out which sites they visit through their LTE device.

    • UK researcher says one line of code caused Ticketmaster breach

      Well-known British security researcher Kevin Beaumont says the breach of the British operations of American multinational ticket sales and distribution company Ticketmaster, that has led to the possible leak of tens of thousands of credit card details, was caused by the incorrect placement of a single line of code.

      As iTWire reported, Ticketmaster UK blamed third-party supplier Inbenta Technologies for the incident. Inbenta, in turn, said that the breach had been caused by Ticketmaster directly applying a customised piece of JavaScript without notifying its (Inbenta’s) team.

    • Plant Your Flag, Mark Your Territory

      Some examples of how being a modern-day Luddite can backfire are well-documented, such as when scammers create online accounts in someone’s name at the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Service or the Social Security Administration.

      Other examples may be far less obvious. Consider the case of a consumer who receives their home telephone service as part of a bundle through their broadband Internet service provider (ISP). Failing to set up a corresponding online account to manage one’s telecommunications services can provide a powerful gateway for fraudsters.

    • Former Equifax Manager Allegedly Took Advantage of Data Breach Crisis with Insider Trading Scheme

      Federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced charges Thursday against a former software development manager who allegedly took advantage of the chaos in order to run an insider trading scheme. The defendant is Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu, 44.

    • Former Equifax manager is charged with insider trading for selling shares before data breach was disclosed

      Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu allegedly made more than US$75,000 after betting that his company’s shares would fall when the breach was revealed

    • Cryptocurrencies Have Limits

      The Economic Limits Of Bitcoin And The Blockchain by Eric Budish is an important analysis of the economics of two kinds of “51% attack” on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, such as those becoming endemic on Bitcoin Gold and other alt-coins:

    • New macOS Cyberattack Focuses on Cryptocurrency Investors

      Digital criminals who are using a piece of macOS-based malware called OSX.Dummy seem to be targeting a group of cryptocurrency investors who use Discord as well as those who use Slack. OSX.Dummy isn’t a particularly sophisticated piece of software, but it does seem to allow arbitrary code execution on machines that it can get embedded into.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • A Yazidi mother’s torment in Iraq, four years after the genocide

      The invaders committed unimaginable atrocities, including mass executions, which the UN has classed as genocide. So far, however, no one has been held accountable.

    • ‘I know the Yazidis are going through hell’: ISIS survivors in Canada plead for help for family left behind

      In a statement to The Current, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the government has “provided a new home to over 1,300 women and their families who endured the brutality of [ISIS], 85% of whom are Yazidi.” It also noted that the government has “increased funding for settlement services in every province and territory across Canada, totalling more than $1 billion.”

    • CNN reporter shouts at Trump: ‘Will you stop calling the press the enemy of the people?’

      Trump was met with criticism following his remarks for his frequent targeting of the press and comments he has made calling reporters the “enemy of the people.”

    • Shooting in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro on Sunday: police [iophk: "I know someone who still lives in that neihborhood; the press and politicians go to great lengths to avoid identifying the source of the problems"]

      A string of shootings took place in the neighbourhood during the second half of 2017, resulting in three deaths and a number of injuries. The violence was linked to gang-related organised crime.

    • Finnish man suspected of preparing terrorist acts released in London

      A warrant for his further detention was granted to counter-terrorism detectives on 12 June. The warrant expired on Sunday, 17 June.

      The Met has yet to disclose further details of the incident.

    • Islamic Relief: Charity, Extremism & Terror

      A new Middle East Forum report uncovers the extremism and terror connections of the largest Islamic charity in the western world: Islamic Relief.

      Despite receiving over $80 million from Western taxpayers over the last ten years — including over $700,000 from the U.S. government — Islamic Relief is an prominent Islamist institution, closely tied to Muslim Brotherhood networks, with branches in over 20 countries.

      Our report examines Islamic Relief’s extremist links. We look at its key branches, its links to dangerous Islamist movements, its connections to the terrorist group Hamas, its officials’ extremism and its promotion of extremist preachers who incite hatred against both moderate Muslims and non-Muslims.

    • Inflation nightclub shooting investigation stagnates one year on

      Fairfax Media can reveal that the couple have not been spoken to by anyone from the Armed Crime Squad or the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission since they provided statements immediately after the shooting at Inflation nightclub on July 8 last year.

      The delay has allegedly exacerbated the trauma of Zita Sukys, 38, and Dale Ewins, 36, who was accused by senior police of pointing a fake gun at members of the critical incident response team but has still not been charged with any offence.

    • US ends 70 years of military presence in South Korean capital

      The United States formally ended seven decades of military presence in South Korea’s capital on Friday with a ceremony to mark the opening of a new headquarters farther from North Korean artillery range.

      The command’s move to Camp Humphreys, about 70 kilometres south of Seoul, comes amid a fledgling detente on the Korean Peninsula, though the relocation was planned long before that. Most troops have already transferred to the new location, and the US says the remaining ones will move by the end of this year.

      The US military had been headquartered in Seoul’s central Yongsan neighbourhood since American troops first arrived at the end of World War II. The Yongsan Garrison was a symbol of the US-South Korea alliance but its occupation of prime real estate was also a long-running source of friction.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Not up to US to decide on Assange asylum, Ecuador says

      It’s not up to Washington to decide the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuador’s top diplomat said Friday, following the visit of US Vice President Mike Pence.

      Pence “raised the issue” of the Australian anti-secrecy activist — holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 — when he met with Lenin Moreno on Thursday, an official with the US vice president’s office confirmed.

      “Ecuador and the United Kingdom, and of course Mr Assange as a person who is currently staying, on asylum, at our embassy” will decide the next steps, Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told reporters.

    • US Democratic senators demand eviction of Julian Assange from Ecuador’s London embassy

      Ten Democratic Party senators have issued a reprehensible call for the Trump administration to demand that the Ecuadorian government renege on the political asylum it provided WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange six years ago and evict him from its London embassy. He would then be detained by British police, while US agencies filed extradition warrants.

      The letter of the senators was addressed to Vice President Mike Pence, ahead of his visit to Ecuador today and top-level talks with the small country’s president, Lenín Moreno. The signatories are a roll-call of leading congressional Democrats: Robert Menendez, Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Edward J. Markey, Michael Bennet, Christopher Coons, Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Diane Feinstein and Mark Warner.

    • In swipe at Clinton, Sessions cited material hacked by WikiLeaks. Was that okay?
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Barents Sea seems to have crossed a climate tipping point

      The challenge with tipping points is that they’re often easiest to identify in retrospect. We have some indications that our climate has experienced them in the past, but reconstructing how quickly a system tipped over or the forces that drove the change can be difficult. Now, a team of Norwegian scientists is suggesting it has watched the climate reach a tipping point: the loss of Arctic sea ice has flipped the Barents Sea from acting as a buffer between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans to something closer to an arm of the Atlantic.

    • What happened last time it was as warm as it’s going to get later this century?

      And yet, the climate won’t stop changing in 2100. Even if we succeed in limiting warming this century to 2ºC, we’ll have CO2 at around 500 parts per million. That’s a level not seen on this planet since the Middle Miocene, 16 million years ago, when our ancestors were apes. Temperatures then were about 5 to 8ºC warmer not 2º, and sea levels were some 40 meters (130 feet) or more higher, not the 1.5 feet (half a meter) anticipated at the end of this century by the 2013 IPCC report.

    • How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country [iophk: "astroturfing != grass roots"]

      In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government.

    • Trump rescinds Obama policy protecting oceans

      President Trump is repealing a controversial executive order drafted by former President Obama that was meant to protect the Great Lakes and the oceans bordering the United States.

    • Senate blocks bid to stop Obama water rule

      The Senate voted Thursday to block a measure by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would have repealed former President Obama’s landmark water pollution rule.

      The amendment would have prohibited funding in a major spending bill from being used by the Army Corps of Engineers to enforce the Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States.

    • Mining set to begin in land Trump removed from national monument

      Glacier Lake Resources Inc., a copper and silver mining firm based in Vancouver, announced its acquisition of the Colt Mesa deposit last week in a press release, saying that the area “recently became open for staking and exploration after a 21 year period moratorium.”

    • GMO grass is creeping across Oregon

      The grass arrived here uninvited, after crossing the Snake River from old seed fields in Idaho. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which vets most new genetically engineered products, had not approved the plant’s release. But in 2010, landowners discovered it growing in great mats throughout the irrigation system that stretches like a spider web across Malheur County.

      [...]

      No one believes the bentgrass can be fully eradicated, either. And as long as it’s around, some fear it could contaminate non-GMO crops and invade natural areas. “It just scares the bejeezus out of me,” says Erstrom, a retired Bureau of Land Management natural resource specialist who chairs the Malheur County Weed Advisory Board.

    • Death on foot: America’s love of SUVs is killing pedestrians

      Almost 6,000 pedestrians died on or along U.S. roads in 2016 alone — nearly as many Americans as have died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. Data analyses by the Free Press/USA TODAY and others show that SUVs are the constant in the increase and account for a steadily growing proportion of deaths.

    • Our natural world is disappearing before our eyes. We have to save it

      We forget even our own histories. We fail to recall, for example, that the 1945 Dower report envisaged wilder national parks than we now possess, and that the conservation white paper the government issued in 1947 called for the kind of large-scale protection that is considered edgy and innovative today. Remembering is a radical act.

    • Sunshine is making Deepwater Horizon oil stick around

      In the days and weeks after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, sunlight hit the oil slicks on the surface of the water. That triggered chemical reactions that added oxygen to oil molecules that once were just chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms. These oxygenated hydrocarbons are still sticking around eight years later with little evidence of degradation, researchers report May 29 in Environmental Science and Technology.

    • Nordic Wildflower Day celebrates natural diversity

      Sunday, 17 June is designated as Nordic Wildflower Day, and hundreds if not thousands of Finns will take to nature to observe and learn about the small gems dotting our surroundings.

      The day has been celebrated since 1988, when Denmark started the tradition. The theme plant for this year’s special day is the arctic starflower (Trientalis europaea).

    • Solar Power Employs Twice As Many As Coal In US

      According to a report produced by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative, there are more than twice as many solar power jobs in the US as coal industry jobs. “Solar energy firms employed, in whole or in part, 350,000 individuals in 2017, with more than 250,000 of those employees spending the majority of their time on solar. Coal-fired generation employment held steady at 92,000 jobs.”

    • Mumbai bans plastic: A list of items you can and can’t use

      The Maharashtra government had on March 23 issued a notification imposing a ban on manufacture, use, sale, distribution and storage of all plastic materials, including one-time use bags, spoons, plates, PET and PETE bottles and thermocol items.

    • Starting today, get ready to pay a fine for carrying plastic in Maharashtra

      Come Monday — day three of the plastic ban — the BMC will start fining citizens too for using plastic. While the ban on dozens of daily-use plastic items, such as carry bags, PET bottles less than 500ml, takeaway containers from restaurants, among others, came into effect on Saturday, the civic body’s special squad in-charge of implementing the ban only penalised retailers over the weekend.

    • No More Delhi Trees To Be Cut Till July 4, Says High Court

      A controversial project that requires the cutting of 17,000 trees in Delhi to make way for government officers’ houses and a commercial complex was put on hold by the High Court today. “Has the tree-cutting been approved by the green tribunal,” the court questioned as it put off the project till July 4, the next hearing.

  • Finance

    • Moonlit Photographs of Detroit’s Resilience
    • Democracy Against Capitalism: Competing Stories About Wages

      Ellen Meiksins Wood’s book Democracy against Capitalism, tells a story of capitalism at odds with the story economists tell. At the root of this is her view that we make a big mistake when we separate politics from economics. Here’s an example, summarized from three prior posts, one at Empthywheel, and this one and this one at Naked Capitalism. The original posts give more detailed discussions.

    • Bullshit jobs and the yoke of managerial feudalism

      One thing it shows is that the whole “lean and mean” ideal is applied much more to productive workers than to office cubicles. It’s not at all uncommon for the same executives who pride themselves on downsizing and speed-ups on the shop floor, or in delivery and so forth, to use the money saved at least in part to fill their offices with feudal retinues of basically useless flunkies.

    • Mapped – hard Brexit guru Singham’s ‘unparalleled’ access to government

      Today news has broken that Singham, who also heads a trade unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has stood down from the “committee of experts” advising the Department for International trade. Singham, who has been described as the “hard Brexit Svengali”, has emerged as one of the most influential voices in Brexiter circles.

    • A Voltaire for our age; what can the Enlightenment teach Brexit Britain?

      Voltaire was impressed when he arrived in London and saw a multitude of religious groups co-existing peacefully (though not in equality). He sees diversity as a key ingredient for a harmonious and free society; ‘If there was in England but one religion, despotism would have to be feared. If there were two, they’d cut each other’s throat. But there are thirty and they live together peacefully.’

    • “Serious flaw” in management of Brexit donor Arron Banks’s charity

      Banks, who claims to have spent more than £8m on the campaign to leave the European Union, has become of the most controversial characters in British politics, with questions raised over everything from the size of his fortune to the extent of his links with Russia.

      Love Saves the Day was set up in 2015. The charity’s website reported charitable work worth hundreds of thousands of pounds taking place around the world, including in Lesotho and Belize.

    • Of Brexit, the fracking lobby and the revolving door

      In January I wrote about how the fracking industry could take advantage of a dirty Brexit. But it goes further than direct lobbying and trying to hijack the Brexit narrative. Companies are also enlisting the help of PR agencies who are hiring former ministerial and even prime-ministerial advisors to lobby for them.

      The UK’s PR and lobbying industry is the second biggest in the world, worth £7.5 billion according to Spinwatch. PR agencies will work to shape the public agenda in their clients’ interest, including some of the world’s most environmentally destructive companies.

      According to the most recent Public Affairs and Lobbying Register, fracking firm Cuadrilla hires Hanover communications consultancy, whose Chief Executive is John Major’s former press secretary Charles Lewington, to help promote its work. This relationship goes back until at least 2013.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook labelled ‘evasive’ by MPs investigating company
    • Facebook reveals data-sharing partnerships, ties to Chinese firms in 700-page document dump

      Facebook revealed to Congress late Friday that it shared user data with 52 hardware and software-making companies, including some Chinese firms.

      The new acknowledgement came as a part of a more than 700-page document dump to the House Energy and Commerce Committee late Friday evening. The committee released the information publicly on Saturday.

    • Turkey election: Does Kurdish leader jailed as ‘terrorist’ hold the key?

      Turkish President Erdoğan has tried mightily to consolidate power, imprisoning foes as “terrorists” in authoritarian fashion. But the democratic impulse in the country is still strong.

    • Hank Aaron on whether he would visit White House: ‘There’s nobody there I want to see’

      Hall of Fame outfielder Hank Aaron said Friday that he supports athletes who use their platform to speak about social and political issues, adding that he would not visit the White House today if he were part of a championship-winning team.

      “There’s nobody there I want to see,” Aaron said at a ceremony for the “Hank Aaron Champion for Justice Awards” in Atlanta, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    • Supreme Court vacancy exposes bankruptcy of the Democratic Party

      Trump’s shaping of the Supreme Court following the resignation of Anthony Kennedy will mark another stage in the consolidation of power by far-right, fascistic forces over the institutions of the American state.

    • The Unsubtle Art of Non-Verbal Communication

      Human beings can communicate by gesture and facial expression as well as by verbal language. In the following video, at 39 seconds in BBC presenter Jo Coburn is not communicating to the viewer – the director has switched back to her before she expects. She is however working very hard on communicating non-verbally to somebody, presumably the director, with quite an extreme facial gesture.

      My question to you is this – what do you think she is trying to communicate with that facial gesture, and why? It is not a rhetorical question, your answers are welcome. You need to watch the whole video for context – it’s less than a minute.

    • Maxine Waters responds to death threats: ‘You better shoot straight’

      Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has addressed a series of recent death threats she said she has received, telling would-be threateners to “shoot straight” during an immigration rally on Saturday.

      “I know that there are those who are talking about censuring me, talking about kicking me out of Congress, talking about shooting me, talking about hanging me,” Waters told the crowd in Los Angeles.

      “All I have to say is this, if you shoot me you better shoot straight, there’s nothing like a wounded animal,” she added to cheers.

    • Abolishing ICE becomes Dem litmus test

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shock victory in a Democratic primary is underscoring calls to eliminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • ‘Replace censorship with ratings’ – PFM president [NSTTV]
    • Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners

      Sex workers, porn producers and anyone working in the erotic labor trade have always faced discrimination from payment processors and banks—many institutions refuse to give accounts to people working in the sex trade. Patreon set itself up as an alternative home for creators of all kinds to make money doing what they love, but in the last year or so, even they have experienced pushback from payment processors on what is and isn’t allowed.

      Patreon’s guidelines for adult content state that “all public content on your page be appropriate for all audiences,” and “content with mature themes must be marked as a patron-only post.” For several of these reports, Patreon warned that “implied nudity” was the reason for the suspension, where it appeared in public areas or publicly-visible patron tiers and banners.

    • “Inventor of email” appeals ruling that tossed his libel suit against Techdirt

      Lawyers representing the Massachusetts man who for years has made a highly-controversial claim that he invented email have filed their appeal in an ongoing lawsuit brought against the tech news site, Techdirt.

      The appeal to the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals comes more than a year after a federal judge dismissed the libel lawsuit brought by Shiva Ayyadurai, an entrepreneur who is now also running as a longshot candidate for the United States Senate.

    • Sex-Worker Advocates Sue Over Internet ‘Censorship’ Law

      The lawsuit asks for a preliminary injunction, which, if granted, would mean that SESTA-FOSTA cannot be used as grounds for a lawsuit or criminal charge until Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al. v. United States is decided.

    • Iran bans public screenings of FIFA World Cup

      The Islamic republic is thought to be the only country in the world that refuses to allow fans to gather in open public spaces for the World Cup, possibly due to opposition to the idea of men and women watching together.

    • Google Downranks 65,000 Pirate Sites in Search Results

      With the aim to protect the interests of copyright holders, Google is making ‘pirate’ sites more difficult for its users to find. This week the search engine revealed more information about the scope of this effort. Thus far, Google has downranked 65,000 sites, a measure that led to a 90% reduction in referrals from search results.

    • Moderate Islam Falters in the Face of Silicon Valley Censorship

      In 2017, Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) was targeted by “a coordinated reporting and flagging campaign” that led to Facebook’s restricting their posts. EXMNA opposes radical Islam and offers a home to apostates facing abuse and persecution. Nothing it posts on social media is remotely hateful.

      In fact, censorship of anti-Islamist voices by Silicon Valley is now an almost weekly occurrence. Just last month, Canadian intelligence expert and prominent anti-Islamist researcher Tom Quiggin lost access to his Gmail and YouTube accounts after Google decided that a trailer for a podcast merely mentioning the issue of extremism warranted a suspension.

    • Southern Poverty Law Center Settles Lawsuit After Falsely Labeling ‘Extremist’ Organization

      Nawaz, a former British politician who has railed against Islamic extremism and the false use of the Koran to incite violence around the globe, and Quilliam were incorrectly characterized and listed in the SPLC’s “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

    • SPLC apologizes, pays up, for ‘hate’ labeling

      SPLC had accused Nawaz of “savaging Islam,” in a diatribe similar to its attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali- and Muslim-born critic of the religion.

    • Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc. Admits It Was Wrong, Apologizes to Quilliam and Maajid Nawaz for Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists, and Agrees to Pay $3.375 Million Settlement

      The Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc. has apologized to Quilliam and its founder Maajid Nawaz for wrongly naming them in its controversial Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. In a public statement, the SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen, explained that “Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.” Watch Mr. Cohen’s complete statement at https://www.splcenter.org/20161025/journalists-manual-field-guide-anti-muslim-extremists.

    • Student-run Lindenwood University magazine to lose funding, students claim censorship

      Lindenwood University administrators on Friday informed staffers at The Legacy, the student-run magazine, that the university would cease publication. The move sparked accusations of censorship from the students who work at the magazine.

      The news editor of The Legacy, Madeline Raineri, said the decision was made because university officials found some coverage of issues and topics inappropriate.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How government will collect the new social media tax

      Our reporters have been told to wait for the official statement, however, a source from one of the telecoms has confirmed that the statement is authentic.

      In the statement, the telecoms say that effective 1st July 2018 when the new financial year starts, access to over the top services i.e Social media will be blocked, and to access them, Ugandans would have to pay.

    • Social Media Day: 5 dangerous habits you must quit
    • The NSA is deleting hundreds of millions of phone call and text records it wasn’t supposed to have

      The National Security Agency (NSA) on Friday announced it has been deleting hundreds of millions of records of phone calls and text messages dating back to 2015.

      Due to “technical irregularities” in its data, the agency said, it possessed certain records it had no authority to receive. As of May 23, the NSA began deleting all of this type of records that were collected after 2015 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), just to be safe.

    • NSA deletes hundreds of millions of call records over privacy violations

      The deletions began on May 23rd. It’s not certain when the purge ends, but this is all metadata, not the content of the calls and messages themselves. A spokesperson also told the NYT that it didn’t include location data, as the Freedom Act doesn’t allow gathering that information under this collection system. The companies involved have “addressed” the cause of the problem for data going forward, the NSA said.

    • NSA — Continually Violating FISA Since 2004

      Which means the NSA’s streak of violating FISA just got extended several more years. It has been violating FISA, in one way or another, for 14 years.

    • NSA deletion of call records raising questions

      The National Security Agency is deleting more than 685 million call records the government obtained since 2015 from telecommunication companies in connection with investigations, raising questions about the viability of the program.

      The NSA’s bulk collection of call records was initially curtailed by Congress after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing extensive government surveillance. The law, enacted in June 2015, said that going forward, the data would be retained by telecommunications companies, not the NSA, but that the intelligence agency could query the massive database.

      Now the NSA is deleting all the information it collected from the queries.

    • My Quest to Get My Data Back From Facebook, OkCupid and More

      Reporter Nate Lanxon explores what Europe’s far-reaching data regulation means for ordinary consumers.

    • Manipulative Social Media Practices

      The Norwegian Consumer Council just published an excellent report on the deceptive practices tech companies use to trick people into giving up their privacy.

    • Swann home security camera sends video to wrong user

      Swann is owned by the Infinova Group, a US-based security camera specialist with offices across the globe.

    • ‘I downloaded all my Facebook data and it was a nightmare’

      I’m 28, and I’ve spent most of my life online. I got a Hotmail account at 10, my first phone at 11, and a Facebook account at 16. I must have given so much personal information away (let alone all the embarrassing drunk photos I posted online while at uni) that it’s easier to live in denial and not think about it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Culture is not an excuse for oppressing women

      If sexual violence can be rationalised as inevitable, just imagine the other forms of domination over women that are accepted or seen as unavoidable consequences of culture. Let me be clear: sexual violence is not cultural, it is criminal.

    • Muslim businessman blames anti-Semitic easyJet flight rant on smoking cannabis during Ramadan
    • Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the Sahara

      Algeria provides no figures for its involuntary expulsions. But the number of people crossing on foot to Niger has been increasing since the International Organization for Migration (IOM) started counting in May 2017, when 135 people were dropped, to as high as 2,888 in April 2018. In all, according to the IOM, a total of 11,276 men, women and children survived the march.

    • For those who fight sex-trafficking, dark rituals compound the problem

      In March, an attempt was made to tackle this problem by fighting fire with fire. Ewuare II, the oba (king) of the Benin region of Nigeria (not to be confused with the country of Benin) conducted a kind of counter-ceremony. It was announced that the monarch had cursed all those involved in trafficking and released all those who had been bound by voodoo rituals.

      Almost everybody who works to combat trafficking has welcomed the news, but many feel it is only the first step on a long battle to stop a social scourge.

    • As Saudi ban on women drivers ends, activists who made it happen are in jail or exile

      Since May 15, Saudi authorities have arrested more than a dozen prominent Saudi women activists and their male supporters, and imposed travel bans on others. Those arrested include some of the women who first defied the Saudi driving ban in 1990.

    • Netherlands approves ban on face veils in public spaces
    • Our research on abortion laws shows they are not based on facts and can even harm women

      Our study compared the safety of more than 50,000 abortions provided in ASCs and office-based settings throughout the U.S. We found that abortion is safe in both ASCs and office-based settings and that there is no significant difference in the safety of abortions in the two settings. The similarities in safety also applied to women in different stages of pregnancy.

      We found that few women who had abortions in either type of facility had a complication within six weeks of the abortion (about 3 percent). Even fewer women (only 0.3 percent) had a more serious complication (for example, something requiring an overnight hospital stay).

    • Blaming Men For The Crime Of One Man

      This is the correct view, the evidence-based view — the one that, sadly, does not enable what feminism to often is these days: a path to shaming of men as a group and unearned power over them by those pushing this view of men as toxic and criminal by nature.

    • Silence Is Not Spiritual: The Evangelical #MeToo Movement
    • Want to Reduce the Number of People in Prison? Stop Sentencing So Many People to Prison

      In recent years, California has made a number of important policy advances, on the budgetary front and in other areas. But as a new video from Brave New Films highlights, drawing in part on the Budget Center’s analysis, California still spends more than $20 billion a year on incarceration and responding to crime, when you include state and county dollars. These are dollars that could be going to any number of priorities, from boosting access to affordable housing and childcare to enhancing the kinds of services and supports that help prevent people from getting tangled up in the criminal-justice system in the first place.

    • Couple beaten up night-long, woman’s head shaved for ‘illicit affair’ in Assam

      “The woman’s head was shaved by other women of the village. Their clothes were torn and they were tortured through the night. The villagers informed the police only during early hours in the morning,” he added.

    • Why Women Don’t Code

      Saying controversial things that might get me fired is nothing new for me. I’ve been doing it most of my adult life and usually my comments have generated a big yawn. I experienced a notable exception in a 1991 case that received national attention, when I was fired from Stanford University for “violating campus drug policy” as a means of challenging the assumptions of the war on drugs. My attitude in all of these cases has been that I need to speak up and give my honest opinion on controversial issues. Most often nothing comes of it, but if I can be punished for expressing such ideas, then it is even more important to speak up and try to make the injustice plain.

    • Immigrant toddlers ordered to appear in court alone

      Leaders at three legal services organizations and a private firm confirmed that children are being served with notices to appear in court. They are not entitled to an attorney but rather are given a list of legal services organizations that might help them.

    • Attorneys Say Immigrant Toddlers Are Facing Deportation Proceedings Without Their Parents
    • We’re Going to Abolish ICE

      Beltway insiders will be quick to note that the voters aren’t there yet, and of course that’s true. But examining the incredible momentum this idea has gained in a short amount of time, one thing seems clear to me: We’re going to abolish ICE.

    • Justice Minister calls for child marriage ban in Finland
    • America’s Terrorism Problem Doesn’t End with Prison—It Might Just Begin There

      These fears are common throughout Europe, where prison radicalization, whether involving the radicalization of inmates convicted of non-terrorism related offenses or the often-connected phenomenon of proselytism by those incarcerated for their involvement in terrorism, is a major policy issue.

    • South Carolina Sought an Exemption to Allow a Foster-Care Agency to Discriminate Against Non-Christians

      Governor Henry McMaster personally intervened with the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of Miracle Hill Ministries.

    • Escape from Jesus Land: On Recognizing Evangelical Abuse and Finding the Strength to Reject the Faith of Our Fathers

      I think it’s important for liberal Americans who do not come from a patriarchal religious background to hear our stories and to sit with that shock. Why? Because I remain convinced that if American civil society and the American press fail to come to grips with just how radically theocratic the Christian Right is, any kind of post-Trump soft landing scenario in which American democracy recovers a healthy degree of functionality is highly unlikely.

    • A Girl’s Killing Shakes Germany’s Migration Debate
    • The Right Abandoned Civility a Long Time Ago

      So why is it always the left that’s being told to pipe down?

    • The Enlightenment’s Cynical Critics

      The idea that some kinds of people should either not hold slaves or—more importantly—be held as slaves has ancient roots. The idea of ‘freedom for some, slavery for others’ is evident in most ancient and medieval prohibitions of slavery. These are clearly not intended as universal condemnations; they are rooted in the kind of tribalism that truly did give birth to modern racism. From the Bible to the Koran to William the Conqueror, pre-Enlightenment proclamations on the morality of slavery fell largely into four categories: prohibitions against holding some kinds of people as slaves (no Israelites, no Muslims, no Christians, etc), exhortations to treat one’s slaves kindly, a ban on the slave trade (without freedom for current slaves), or the abolition of debt slavery. No one thought to say, “No human being should own another human being as property.”

    • A Complaint. [iophk: “also in the US if you do not have an advocate present you will go untreated or mistreated even with insurance; they have enough money to pay the C-levels, they ought to pay staff instead; in the 1990s a friend got at job as a security guard at a hospital because they mistreated people so badly that they or their relatives would come back shooting

      I’d been in intense pain since Thursday, to the point where I’d had difficulty standing up to get to the bathroom.

    • Populist wave, ‘crisis overload’ weaken global voices for human rights

      But even though ordinary citizens in a number of countries report a sense of “humanitarian crisis overload,” and traditional champions of human rights such as the United States are ignoring many abuses, courageous individual human rights defenders are still working at the local level around the world.

    • 20-yr-old Rajasthan girl axed to death by father for eloping with younger boy: Cops

      However, the woman’s father was not happy with the decision and decided to kill her, the SHO said.

    • Sudan overturns death sentence for teen who killed her husband after he raped her

      Her legal team told CNN on Tuesday that Hussein, now 19, has been given a five-year jail term for killing the 35-year-old man. The court ordered her family to pay 337,000 Sudanese pounds ($18,700) in “blood money” to the man’s family.

      Her lawyers say they plan to appeal both the jail term and the payment.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • California man arrested for threatening to kill FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s family over net neutrality

      A 33-year-old resident of Norwalk, California was arrested today for sending threatening emails to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai last year, according to the US Department of Justice. The threats, sent by an individual named Makara Man, were made primarily in the second of three messages sent to Pai’s official FCC email accounts in late December, just days after the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality protections.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Julia Reda discusses the current Proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market

        Here at the Kluwer Copyright Blog we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask Julia Reda MEP a few questions on the controversial Proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSM Directive).

        But first, some background. The original proposal was submitted in November 2016 by the Commission. The ordinary legislative procedure places the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on equal footing, meaning that a separate process for assessing the proposal takes place within each institution.

PTAB Agrees With Patent Examiners on Rejections of Applications Based on Alice/Section 101, But Watch Out for the Spin

Posted in America, Patents at 12:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An agreement survey

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is still encouraging patent examiners to reject patent applications on abstract ideas; the patent microcosm, however, tells a different story

THE APPEAL boards at the EPO are seriously bruised. Battistelli nearly killed them, almost literally. In the US, however, the appeal boards are doing a great job and Iancu, the new Director, fails to find pretext for their elimination (even if he wants to, thanks to Oil States).

“So far this month,” wrote a person who keeps track, “for PTAB opinions addressing 101 questions, the PTAB has reversed 7 of 39 examiner rejections.”

“It’s just about the lowest possible form of ‘case’; it’s not even a case.”We used to write about these earlier this year; those aren’t even inter partes reviews (IPRs) but interventions at earlier stages of USPTO patent examination, way waaaaaay before a court like the Federal Circuit gets a chance to apply Alice as per SCOTUS.

A recent article by Mark St. Amour does not wish to paint a positive picture; being from the patent microcosm, he now picks PTAB-examiner cases and not even court cases; looking to the lowest possible level for favourable outcomes? Here is what he wrote:

Ruling on the appeal, the PTAB sided with the Examiner, stating that “given the appropriate selection of rotation speed and material for the inner surface of the container, tumbling would be inherent.” The PTAB disregarded Applicant’s Reply Brief arguments as not being responsive to arguments made in the Answer.

Applicant sought rehearing on the basis of improperly applied inherency doctrine. The PTAB denied rehearing stating that the obvious rejection did not rely on the inherency doctrine and refused to consider Applicant’s arguments regarding the divider walls.

Applicant then turned to the Federal Circuit to appeal the PTAB determination. The Federal Circuit sided with Applicant, and remanded the case to the PTAB to consider the inherency arguments. To support the decision, the Federal Circuit first pointed out the shifting arguments made by the Examiner. Specially, the Examiner cited different Figures throughout her various arguments, and the PTAB failed to identify which Figure was relied upon for upholding the Examiner’s rejection. Further, the Federal Circuit noted the tension between the Examiner and the PTAB rejecting the claims because they were allegedly inherent in the prior art and the PTAB’s assertion that the rejection did not rely on the inherency doctrine. Finally, the Federal Circuit pointed out the Examiner first made an argument regarding structural identity in her Answer to the Appeal Brief, and that Applicant’s unconsidered arguments regarding the dividers in the Reply were in response to such arguments and should have been considered.

And this is what they celebrate? It’s far from high profile and there’s barely even caselaw or anything to cite here. It’s just about the lowest possible form of ‘case’; it’s not even a case.

So OK… we understand that the patent microcosm is very nervous about PTAB, but it’s no excuse for such slant; going back to the statistics at the top, we still see PTAB affirming Section 101 rejections more than 80% of the time. The following (sole)reply to it says: “At a minimum, I hope this signals a shift toward consistent and predictable decision-making from #PTAB judges on #PatentSubjectMatter The swings from decision-to-decision have made outcomes difficult to predict, and essentially rendered opinions worthless for guiding examination”

“…we still see PTAB affirming Section 101 rejections more than 80% of the time.”What is he talking about? PTAB affirming examiners’ rejections more than 80% of the time is hardly good news for them. The only “consistent and predictable” thing here is that abstract patent get invalidated, sometimes before they even reach the court and before an IPR gets filed.

But OK… we get it. Never let facts get in the way of “good” spin. Meanwhile, the PTAB-bashing from Watchtroll resumes (the usual tradition, albeit it lost a lot of momentum after Oil States). Michelle Armond and Forrest McClellen still try hard to squash PTAB, even if the facts aren’t on their side. The headline sounds like a joke, much like watchtroll itself.

Anthony Kennedy’s Retirement From SCOTUS Means That the Patent Microcosm Has Selective Recollection

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anthony Kennedy on Wikipedia
Reference: Wikipedia

Summary: The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has been responsible for much of the actual reform in terms of patent scope, patent litigation venue and so on; patent maximalists, livid in the face of these changes, bring up Bilski and anything they can throw at the wall, hoping that something will miraculously stick

THE effort to derail Alice (a 2014 SCOTUS decision) isn’t stopping, having just entered its fifth year.

Dennis Crouch says that patent maximalists’ front groups (AIPLA, IPO, and NYIPLA) want software patents back. What a shocking surprise! Not!

This speaks of “35 U.S.C. § 101—Inventions Patentable” and then Crouch adds:

Here, the term “claimed invention” does not mean what might suggest — an invention that has been claimed in a patent or patent application. Rather, the term “claimed invention” is narrowly defined as “the subject matter defined by a claim in a patent or an application for a patent.” 35 U.S.C. 100(j). In other words, the “claimed invention” is what is claimed to be the invention.

Of course, the next step will be much more difficult for proponents of the legislation – getting Congress to act.

Congress does not need to act and it’s not for Congress to decide on anyway. A month ago Crouch kept sort of ‘bullying’ for Congress to get involved, even when it wasn’t asked to (misqoting or misinterpreting a Federal Circuit judge, who did not even mention Congress).

“Congress does not need to act and it’s not for Congress to decide on anyway.”IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, did the same thing by stating: “The New York IP Law Association just released a statement in support of @IPO / @aipla proposal on re-writing of statute around patent eligible subject matter. Big sign of consensus in IP community on 101…”

By “IP community” IAM means patent maximalists. So the lawsuits ‘business’ agrees with lobby/front groups of the litigation giants, boosted by the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM. Great! So they all agree on that. How is that even newsworthy? It’s like saying that Japanese people agree on sushi.

“So the lawsuits ‘business’ agrees with lobby/front groups of the litigation giants, boosted by the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM.”But anyway, that’s just the tip of a bigger iceberg because there’s now a glimmer of hope among those people that Anthony Kennedy’s retirement will have consequences for patents. But will it? Some of the most vocal patent maximalists recall an old case, the Bilski case (Bilski v Kappos) from nearly a decade ago. One response to this said: “Kennedy made up for his bilski concerns in Alice, so careful what you wish for. You’ll not like his replacement, but Gorsuch & Roberts will” (naming the people who dissented on Oil States).

Well, the patent microcosm’s tears could fill up a bucket of 10 million milliliters (or patents). They just can’t stand SCOTUS and hope to reboot the whole court. As for Kennedy, he was hardly a patent-hostile person; they just sort of quote-mine him to make it sound like he opposes Alice (based on an unrelated decision from almost half a decade earlier!).

“They just can’t stand SCOTUS and hope to reboot the whole court.”Dennis Crouch and his chums then mentioned Kennedy’s record on patents, which is a lot more extensive than the Bilski case but they’re starting with Bilski v Kappos (probably by intention). It will certainly be interesting to see who gets nominated and appointed, but to suggest that Kennedy opposed Alice based on views expressed in an entirely different decision (of a different nature) is spin at best or lying at worst. But they’d cling onto anything…

Misattributed Inventions Cemented Using Patents and Frivolous Litigation

Posted in America, Patents at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The winning hand

Summary: What happens when notorious charlatans falsely claim to have invented things and then sue large companies or, contrariwise, large companies claim credit for the work of public sector research, ultimately patenting that work

A few days ago the press made it known that Shiva Ayyadurai, who falsely claims to have invented E-mail (right after the real inventor of E-mail died), continues to SLAPP people who say the truth. I should know because he threatened me too (threatening legal letters) and he’s one of those people who would conflate trademarks with patents to rewrite history.

“Sadly, a long time ago the patent system departed from this original purpose (short-term monopoly in exchange for publication rather than secrecy)…”We are not against patents; we believe that they help manage attributions w.r.t. contributions to science and they help document useful ideas (the good patents anyway, not the many bogus ones). Sadly, a long time ago the patent system departed from this original purpose (short-term monopoly in exchange for publication rather than secrecy) and now we have another charlatan — a worse one than Ayyadurai — suing all sorts of people and firms (even more than Ayyadurai does). Raniere (a charlatan and troll) we last wrote about just a few months ago and Joe Mullin, who joined the EFF earlier this year, wrote about the patent of Raniere, calling it “Stupid Patent of the Month” [1, 2]. TechDirt, which is the main target of Ayyadurai’s SLAPP campaign, published a copy of the EFF’s article:

In April, Mexican federal police arrested Keith Raniere, taking him from the $10,000-per-week villa where he was staying and extraditing him to New York. According to the NY Daily News, Raniere, leader of self-help group NXIVM (pronounced “nexium”), is now being held without bail while he awaits trial on sex-trafficking charges. Through NXIVM, he preached “empowerment,” but critics say the group was a cult, and engaged in extreme behavior, including branding some women with an iron.

This was not the first controversial program Raniere was involved in. In 1992, Raniere ran a multilevel marketing program called “Consumer Buyline,” which was described as an “illegal pyramid,” by the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. More recently, he has collected more than two dozen patents from the U.S. Patent Office, and has more applications pending—including this one, which is for a method of determining “whether a Luciferian can be rehabilitated.”

So Raniere is basically a fraud, his patent is a joke, and even though he’s suing a company we strongly dislike we hope that he loses badly and goes bankrupt (eventually). These people are just very major parasites and the only way to stop their bad behaviour is cause them to go bankrupt or go to a mental asylum.

“So Raniere is basically a fraud, his patent is a joke, and even though he’s suing a company we strongly dislike we hope that he loses badly and goes bankrupt (eventually).”Asymmetric numeral system (ANS) is an example of a large company doing the opposite thing, namely claiming credit for the work of low-profile researchers. This was
revisited recently [1, 2] in light of Google’s persistence and insistence. As Google is the "devil" in Watchtroll (for various misguided reasons) they too caught up with this story. This is what they wrote:

Last June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published U.S. Patent Application No. 20170164007, titled Mixed Boolean-Token ANS Coefficient Coding. Originally filed by Google with the USPTO in December 2016, the patent application claims a method for decoding an encoded bitstream using a computing device, the bitstream including frames having blocks of pixels, which involves the use of an entropy decoder state machine including a Boolean asymmetric numeral system (ANS) decoder and a symbol ANS decoder. The claimed invention is intended to improve the transmission of digital video streams with the use of the entropy decoder to reduce the amount of data involved in the transmission of digital streams.

This time we agree with Watchtroll (that what Google does it absolutely not OK and should be widely condemned); it’s not often that we agree with Watchtroll. Usually it’s just a load of nonsense, spin and yesterday Watchtroll was trying to sells services.

Techrights has a long tradition calling out charlatans and liars. All they ever do is threaten their critics because the risk of being publicly exposed as frauds is high and rather costly.

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