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12.09.18

Good News: US Supreme Court Rejects Efforts to Revisit Alice, Most Software Patents to Remain Worthless

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 11:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 will likely remain in tact for a long time to come; courts have come to grips with the status quo, as even the Federal Circuit approves the large majority of invalidations by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) panels, initiated by inter partes reviews (IPRs)

2017 and 2018 have been very good years. Irrespective of what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants as patents (more on that in a separate post), courts do a good job. They’re a lot tougher than before.

“Irrespective of what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants as patents (more on that in a separate post), courts do a good job.”As Karl Auerbach put it some days ago: “The supreme court and the IP bar have gotten a lot smarter about software, so they are far more able to recognize that a huge portion of software patents are simply old ideas rewrapped as code and are thus not eligible for patent protection..”

Here’s the full comment (a reply I received):

I do not accept the mantra that “software is math”. Sure, computers operate through the application of the laws of physics, via the emergent properties of electronics and electro-mechanical devices. But so do procedures in chemistry. The act of using a hammer to pound a nail is ultimately “mathematical” in the sense that it is an expression of the laws of force and mass and velocity – all of which are usually expressed in mathematical form. That would make a patent on a novel and non-obvious use of a hammer and nails to be unpatentable.

Some software is, indeed, used to computer mathematical expressions. So are pencils. And pencils are not unpatentable because they are mathematics. (Pencils are unpatentable because they or no longer novel or non-obvious.)

The analogy with gears is to counter the argument that software has no physical reality – which is not true given that once it is reduced to its basic form it consists of charges in electronic circuits that, when combined with electrical time pulses, turns into a very physical machine – but with electrical charges interacting rather then gears meshing.

The main problem that has existed with software patents is that they fail the required test of being non-intuitive to someone practiced in the art of computer programming. The US patent office for decades refused to hire computer people, so it made itself intentionally stupid and thus thought that every chunk of software was non-intuitive. The head of the USPTO during much of that time was a total jerk – he even was booed by a bunch of IP lawyers at a meeting I attended.

The supreme court and the IP bar have gotten a lot smarter about software, so they are far more able to recognize that a huge portion of software patents are simply old ideas rewrapped as code and are thus not eligible for patent protection. But no court has said that a patent, just because it is expressed in the form of a computer programs, is by virtue of that expression, not patentable.

The way things stand, technology companies gained leverage over law firms. It’s still not ideal. As Benjamin Henrion put it the other day in light of this report (“Google, Amazon Invited to Talk Patent Eligibility With Lawmakers”): “Software developers and small companies not invited to discuss software patents, only large companies and patent lawyers…”

The above report comes from a lawyer’s section, too. “If you have no money,” I told Henrion, “then your opinion does not matter. You’re disposable “workforce”…”

The above talk, however, did not deal with courts directly. They’re separate. So what do courts say? The decision to reassess Helsinn v Teva (several days ago) was put in our daily links as it’s pretty irrelevant to us (it’s not at all about patent scope/quality). As proponents of patents on life put it, “Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Helsinn v. Teva” (mentioned here before in passing).

“The way things stand, technology companies gained leverage over law firms.”So SCOTUS will look at Helsinn v Teva, but as expected Carl M. Burnett v Panasonic Corporation goes nowhere. It’s another small victory for us programmers who’ve long campaigned against software patents and now have 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Office cannot bully judges. It cannot force Justices (at SCOTUS) to challenge 35 U.S.C. § 101. Days ago the USPTO published yet another talk of Iancu. He can moan about 35 U.S.C. § 101 all he wants, but courts won’t care.

“Another one bites the Alice dust,” wrote this patent maximalist from Watchtroll, linking to an opinionated Watchtroll report about last Monday’s decision:

On Monday, December 3rd, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in Carl M. Burnett v. Panasonic Corporation, declining to take up the case on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This is now the latest case involving questions of patent-eligibility for an invention under 35 U.S.C. § 101 declined by the nation’s highest court. In this case, however, the Supreme Court hasn’t addressed the patentability of the relevant subject matter, namely electronic data and electromagnetic analog and digital signals, since 1853.

SCOTUS has also just rejected SSL Services v Cisco and it’s hilarious to see the response from patent extremists who loathe PTAB and love software patents. They’re losing their minds as courts gradually restore/impose sanity on the patent system. Here is what Watchtroll said: “On Monday, November 19th, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a list of orders regarding pending cases where the Court refused to take the appeal. The Supreme Court on that day denied the petition for writ of certiorari to take up SSL Services, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc. on appeal from the Federal Circuit. In denying certiorari, the Supreme Court refused to answer whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) erred in instituting an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding in the face of federal statute barring institution of an IPR based on similar arguments and prior art raised in a previous validity challenge.”

“At the end of the day, when it all boils down to Alice, these patents are still unlikely to withstand judges’ scrutiny.”Watchtroll can be hilarious in the sense that it has nothing left but judge-bashing and as we’ll mention again later, the founder and editor steps down. A month later these people still bring up Ancora v HTC. They’re living in the past, cherry-picking rare case outcomes in desperate efforts to somehow revive software patents in US courts. Watchtroll suggests adding “Technical Solutions” and King & Wood Mallesons’s Veg Tran and Esme Wong argue you should say “an improvement in the computer”; anything to hopelessly fool examiners and judges into software patents?

At the end of the day, when it all boils down to Alice, these patents are still unlikely to withstand judges’ scrutiny. That’s just the way it is; there’s no point pretending that adding some catchphrases will help as if it’s all about words. It’s about the underlying claims, not semantics.

“The bottom line is, software patents are bygones; even the lawyers know it, but they still try to attract applicants, i.e. money/legal bills.”James Fussell, Nikko Quevada and Vincent Violago, three people who do ‘patents’ for a living (nothing else actually) say “Alice Must Be Revisited In View Of Emerging Technologies” (published 5 days ago); they just worry they’ll become unemployed as they will need to find a real job. They start their articles with a bunch of meaningless buzzwords: “The increasing convergence of artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics and other emerging technologies are expected to generate various novel legal issues that courts will soon have to grapple with…”

Yes, “artificial intelligence” or “internet [sic] of things” and so on. Why not add “cloud” and “smart” and other nonsense?

The bottom line is, software patents are bygones; even the lawyers know it, but they still try to attract applicants, i.e. money/legal bills.

Florian Müller’s Article About SEPs and the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Report from the court in Munich, where the EPO is based

THE writings of Florian Müller have become more frequent lately. He used to write about the European Patent Office (EPO) after he had campaigned — quite famously in fact — against software patents in Europe.

His latest article, which deals with “standard-essential patents” (SEPs), may be of interest to EPO insiders. Here’s a portion:

While “standard-essential patents” (SEPs) is one of the most common terms in the tech sector, it would sometimes be more accurate and inclusive to refer to “standard-essential intellectual property rights” (SEIPRs). That collective term would include both SEPs and SEUMs: standard-essential utility models. Utility models are a German specialty, basically a second-class type of patent with a shorter term but instant registration (no substantive examination). This blog covered a utility model case years ago when Apple asserted a slide-to-unlock utility model against Samsung in Germany; that case got stayed over validity concerns and never went anywhere. Beyond German utility models, the collective term “SEIPRs” would cover any other IPRs that may exist in other jurisdictions and are like patents, but aren’t called patents.

Yesterday I went to the Munich I Regional Court to watch a standard-essential utility model case, Netlist v. SK Hynix and HP, over German utility model no. DE2020100185017, which was derived last year, in preparation of this lawsuit as counsel for Netlist explained, from a pending European patent application, EP2454735 on a “system and method utilizing distributed byte-wise buffers on a memory module.” From what I’ve been able to find out, this patent was declared essential to a JEDEC memory standard.

An EPO patent examiner rejected the application, though Netlist is still trying to persuade the EPO to grant a patent. But in parallel to that effort, they quickly took out a utility model, with claim language drafted specifically for the purposes of the lawsuit against SK Hynix and HP, and sued in Munich.

Wrong patent grants can have devastating effects not just for large companies but also individual engineers/developers. This is why we so aggressively campaign for patent quality at the EPO. Granting patents isn’t the equivalent of growing fruit because patents are essentially monopolies, not products.

EPO Vice-President Željko Topić in New Article About Corruption in Croatia

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kuterovac Topić WIPO 2010

Summary: The Croatian newspaper 7Dnevno has an outline of what Željko Topić has done in Croatia and in the EPO in Munich; it argues that this seriously erodes Croatia’s national brand/identity

An article about Željko Topić, a Vice-President at the European Patent Office, recently appeared in the Croatian newspaper 7Dnevno. We mentioned it at the time.

Below we’re including an English translation of the part of the article which pertains to Željko Topić.

CORRUPTION AND PEDOPHILIA AS A CROATIAN BRAND

Published by Tomislav KOVAČ – November 30, 2018

The Republic of Croatia has a recognizable tourist and sport brand, but it should be creating its own strong and positive national brand because it offers a key competitive advantage over other countries. Regarding the emphasis of the importance of creating an image and branding, Croatia as a country has not built up a sufficiently recognizable image to strengthen its position either vis-à-vis other states nor within international relations in its entirety. In addition, Croatia does not have a clear and quality system to build and manage a national brand. And, in our country, there is not enough developed awareness of the importance of branding as a tool for strengthening the competitiveness of the Croatian economy within the world context. The words are those recently addressed to the public by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar – Kitarović on the round table under the title “Identity and the Trademark of the Republic of Croatia”.

FIRST SHE BRANDED ONLY HERSELF

What is a brand? The brand is a set of associations that a product or service has in the consumer consciousness, and the branding process makes any product, service or individual recognizable based on its visual identity, the way of communication, and the entire content that is attached to that brand. In the branding process it is most important to define the visual identity (logo, name and typography) and the entire content that will be linked to that brand. When we talk about content, we mean everything that will be published with respect to that brand, from texts, photos, visuals, or video content. However, the visual identity is like a person’s personal identity card of a brand, and the communication message as well as the tone of the communication, are very important and indispensable parts of the brand. Starting from herself, it could be concluded that KGK (Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović), when she arrived in Pantovcak (e.g. the residence of the the Croatian President), began her personal branding, which was observed by the domestic and international media (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765822) but she did not do much, or almost anything, for the branding of the state of which she is the leader. After all, and judging by her behavior so far, and especially by making a home for a stay dog (Kike), she is purely opportunistic with the intention of gaining sympathy from the general public.

As noted above, the result of today’s recognizability of the Republic of Croatia in the world lies in the individual endeavors and activities of individuals in entrepreneurship or science, i.e. collectively in tourism or sport. In the latter, it is necessary to distinguish the activities and expenditures of state funds available to the parasitic promoter from the HGK (Croatian Chamber of Economy) and safari hunter such as Nadan Vidošević (e.g. former chief of the Croatian Chamber of Economy) in the so-called campaign “Let’s Buy Croatian” or the self-effacing and modest Janica Kostelić (e.g. a famous Croatian skier with several Olympic medals). Based upon these facts, the president has been running around in the wrong wardrobe, in that she doesn’t know, or is unfamiliar with all of the features and charms hidden within the patent community in the Republic of Croatia and beyond, which are in a direct or causal relationship with the person (e.g. Former President Ivo Josipović) whom she defeated in the 2014 presidential election.

THE STATE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE AND THE SYNERGY OF CORRUPTION

Unfortunately as a consequence, the subpar results, in the case of the present-day branding of the Republic of Croatia, can be read in the work of a national patent institution which has a rather nebulous name – the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), and particularly regarding the people in charge of that institution.

The State Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Croatia is a state administrative body that carries out activities in the area of ​​the protection of intellectual property rights. The activity of SIPO in the legislative and professional domain includes the area of ​​copyright and related rights. Apart from the legislative work, an important part of the SIPO’s work is information and service activity, as well as cooperation with other institutions for the enforcement of intellectual property rights and support for innovation activity, as well as cooperation with economic and scientific research entities!? So, any person, like our president or a legal entity, who wants to brand and protect something is directed (whether or not they want to be) to SIPO. Administratively, there’s no dispute that this domestic institution of the last few decades has been handled by suspicious people just based upon their character and professional qualities. This deals with Mr. Željko Topić and his successor (and mistress by the way), Ljiljana Kuterovac, are labeled as highly corrupt people with a judicial dictionary. Mr. Topić is a former director, and Mrs. Kuterovac is the current Director of SIPO, or at least she appears to be, although sources from the Government of Croatia explicitly state that she has never been confirmed by them. So, Mrs. Kuterovac is issuing patents (or branding) on the “black market”. Contrary to her, Mr. Topić, although in the majority of the scientific community, was prominently known for his fake master’s degree, has advanced as the vice-president of the EPO in Munich because of his corruptive services. The duo have an unbridgeable synergy in the corruption of the Republic of Croatia at least in the question of the state foundation of branding which KGK advocates. Randomly or not, both as well as most of the SIPO staff were recruited from ZAMP, which is a phantom company with parafiscal charges, whose former leader was the loser of the election with KGK, the gentleman with the white collar, Dr. Ivo Josipović. According to the declared revenues of ZAMP, it seems that crime in Croatia is profitable. In such circumstances, the long-standing failure and obstruction by the SDP’s (e.g. Social Democratic Party) hawk, Željko Jovanović, former, but also present president of the National Monitoring Council for the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy (NVPPSSK) of the Croatian Parliament, is of particular significance. Namely, regarding the journalist’s inquiries as to whether the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, as the supervisory body of SIPO for the Republic of Croatia, informed EPO or OLAF regarding criminal charges against Topić, were met with silence from the Ministry of Science for many years. However, former Minister Željko Jovanović and Chairman of the NVPPSSK (http://www.sabor.hr/nacionalno-vijece-za-pracenje-provedbe-strateg-9) used to say that Željko Topić has the protection of former President Ivo Josipović. The EPO, which is based in Munich, is one of the institutions of special importance in the EU, which has offices in The Hague, Berlin and Vienna (e.g. and Brussels) and employs about seven thousand people. The fundamental role of the EPO is to regulate and strengthen cooperation among European member states in the protection of patents. In comparison, the WIPO organization, which has headquarters in Geneva, deals with the protection of brands on the world level.

PATENTED BALKANS GANGSTER

By coming to EPO, Mr. Topić stated in his CV that he worked on establishing a national system of intellectual property, i.e. the Croatian legislation, which is untrue, because it was done by the lawyers of the SIPO, and not by him. He stated that he was the initiator, coordinator and chief contributor to the National Strategy for the Development of the Intellectual Property System in the Republic of Croatia, but this was a document he never respected, which was proved by his ignorance about public lending rights, a new right of importance to writers, which is why they were financially irreparably damaged. He further stated that he was the national coordinator for intellectual property in the EU accession process, but that was Professor Siniša Petrović from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb. He also lied and stated that he was a Croatian patent and trademark agent, but he had no such role in SIPO. The question is whether KGK was informed within the institutions of the Republic of Croatia about the actions of Josipović’s intimates, which resulted in the inaction of the competent institutions in the Republic of Croatia, where Željko Topić has no immunity, and has resulted in 5 suicides of employees within the European Patent Organization (EPO). Željko Topić currently works there (e.g. in EPO) as one of the vice presidents and as a vice president he has immunity, resulting in, among other things, the action before the European Council for the removal of immunity in international organizations such as the EPO, which was extensively written about by Petra Sorge, the award-winning Berlin-based journalist. We also don’t know whether the President of the Republic of Croatia has been informed that Zeljko Topić, Romana Matanovac Vučković and Ljiljana Kuterovac have been charged with jointly committing criminal offenses regarding unlawful changes in the structure of the state administration and the abuse of office and authority. At the same time, the current director of SIPO, which the Government of A. Plenković hasn’t yet confirmed, is currently under the investigation of USKOK (e.g. Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime) due to her damages to the state budget. In such circumstances, of particular concern, according to unofficial sources from SIPO, is the possible return of the Balkan criminal from Munich to the position of Director of SIPO in Zagreb.

Croatia’s accession to the EU poses an open question: is there a relationship of corruption between the structures of Croatian state institutions, politics and the domestic public prosecutors’ lobbies? These questions have so far avoided the credible verification from the Ministry of Justice, MUP (e.g. Ministry of Interior Affairs), DORH (e.g. Public Prosecutor of Croatia) and USKOK, the bodies responsible for protection of the legal framework and legal security of the Republic of Croatia which have been provided for within the constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Therefore, it is no surprise that our country is at the top spot for corruption in the world, according to the latest international research, and as one of the major Croatian export-oriented brands we are offering unacceptable and deviant social behavior in the form of intellectual corruption. So, with the proposal of the new rebranding of the Republic of Croatia by the recommendation and on the initiative of KGK, it is ultimately the responsibility of the state, which is not acting responsibly, and because of that we have been brought to where we are now.

Because the rest of this article isn’t relevant to the subject of Željko Topić, whom we focus on, we will discontinue the translation here.

The Quality of European Patents Continues to Deteriorate Under António Campinos and Software Patents Are Advocated Every Day

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 9:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even several times per day, as shameful as it may seem

EUIPO outsourcing

Summary: The EPC in the European Patent Office and 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the USPTO annul most if not all software patents; under António Campinos, however, software patents are being granted in Europe and the USPTO exploits similar tricks

DISREGARD for the rule of law is pretty normal at the EPO. There are endless examples of it and a broad range of aspects to it. We spent years covering that. Today, however, we would like to focus on how the EPO (as well as the USPTO) gets to grant software patents, never mind if courts dismiss these.

Mostly illegal software patents that pertain to my research field (computer vision) are being openly promoted and bragged about by today's EPO. This did not happen under Battistelli; this is a Campinos thing. We cannot stress often enough that as far as software patenting is concerned Campinos seems a lot worse than Battistelli; judging by how often the EPO promotes such patents under the leadership of Campinos (as opposed to Battistelli’s). It is a race to the bottom. Just before the weekend the EPO wrote: “The number of European patent applications relating to self-driving vehicles increased by 330% between 2011 and 2017.”

A few days ago a news report was published under the headline “GM Patents the Blockchain Solution for Driverless Cars”.

“We cannot stress often enough that as far as software patenting is concerned Campinos seems a lot worse than Battistelli; judging by how often the EPO promotes such patents under the leadership of Campinos (as opposed to Battistelli’s).”Combining two buzz/hype waves, blockchains and SDV (the EPO’s buzzword/term of choice), these people nowadays facilitate and permit patents on software. Software patents are bogus however. They’re likely worthless too as most judges would laugh them out of court (if it ever gets this far).

And speaking of blockchains, which the EPO promotes patents on (misleadingly-named event, which is actually about patents but doesn’t explicitly say so), mind this new article from Swiss media (in French). The headline speaks of blockchains and “open source”; a French-speaking Free software (“open source”) developer just said: “Software patents, the end of free software…”

By granting patents on blockchains the EPO blatantly tramples/stomps on Free/Open Source software, which is fundamental to the adoption of blockchains.

We understand that the Campinos-led EPO saw a hype wave and decided to ride/surf it, but at what cost? The concept of blockchains is being brought up even by those who don’t understand it; several days ago Forbes published “Blockchain For Business: This Startup Thinks It Solves All Of Blockchain’s Worst Problems” (marketing disguised as an article).

This is eerily similar to the “AI” hype, which resurfaced about a year ago. Everyone started rebranding things “AI”, years after they had rebranded everything “smart” and “cloud” or whatever (more buzzwords to be mentioned below).

“By granting patents on blockchains the EPO blatantly tramples/stomps on Free/Open Source software, which is fundamental to the adoption of blockchains.”Even the lawyers admit it’s just hype/buzz. This new article from a law firm starts with this sentence : “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a loaded technology buzzword that comes in different forms in various commercial products.”

Yes, it’s a buzzword. So far this month we’ve seen an “Artificial Intelligence Trading Expert” [1, 2] (just using algorithms; nothing new) and this article titled “‘Buzz about AI’ lends to Linguamatics win”. Calling mere algorithms “AI” is now as commonplace as can be. Here is an example from a few days ago: “Artificial intelligence technology has helped build software that can analyze videos for better capturing of events, understanding patterns and surveillance.”

“Everyone started rebranding things “AI”, years after they had rebranded everything “smart” and “cloud” or whatever…”All of these examples (above) mention patents and “AI”. Everything is being called “AI” these days… for marketing purposes. “iCAD Announces FDA Clearance of ProFound AI™ for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis,” says this new press release. Here comes the Allied Security Trust (AST) and the “AI” hype; lots of bogus patents as usual. But… “AI”! So it’s innovative!

Software potentially puts the patent ‘industry’ in the ashtray; so they call software “AI” now, as usual (because they’re technically inapt). “Wave Computing®,” states another new example, “the Silicon Valley company that is accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) from the cloud to the edge…”

All the above are from the past fortnight alone; “AI” and “patents” everywhere. It is intentional. As we recently noted on numerous occasions, even the USPTO has swallowed the “AI” hype and offers it as a route towards software patentability. An article by Sameer Gokhale (Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, LLP) makes it very obvious. They’re pretty shameless about it.

“As we recently noted on numerous occasions, even the USPTO has swallowed the “AI” hype and offers it as a route towards software patentability.”How about “Smart” and “IoT”? These are two more buzzwords recently embraced everywhere (globally even).

“Smart devices in IoT need a smarter patenting strategy,” IAM’s new headline says. Just keep stuffing buzzwords like “smart” and “IoT” in hope of enabling software patents, right?

“This article provides a comprehensive report on the challenges faced in patenting technology in the Internet of Things domain,” it says. It’s a domain that just means devices with an Internet connection. It’s far too vague, intentionally so.

We are meanwhile seeing European law firms trying hard to find all sorts of ways to patent software. Philip M. Nelson and Ronald J. Schoenbaum (Knobbe Martens), for example, have published [1, 2] “Will New PTO Guidance Be The Antidote to Alice In The Medical Device Patenting Process?”

“We are meanwhile seeing European law firms trying hard to find all sorts of ways to patent software.”Here they go again with “Medical Device”, two cheeky terms combined to associate software with “life-saving” and “physical” (even when it boils down only to code).
Marks & Clerk’s Thomas Prock has just published “A feather in one’s app: why the UK could lead the way for medical app patents” (similar talking point). It adds the buzzword “app”…

Suyoung Jang, Cheryl T. Burgess and Mauricio Uribe (also of Knobbe Martens) are still pushing anti-Section 101 lies. It’s that classic software patents propaganda, spread at all costs (even to multiple publishers that charge for it; it’s cross-posted [1, 2] again). They’re using the fata morgana that is "Berkheimer and Aatrix"; the latter became known for little more than that patent lawsuit (Aatrix is mostly/only mentioned in relation to patents, even when it’s not about patents) and the former became a placeholder for “I don’t like Alice and Alice sucks because fact-finding.”

“Today’s EPO is rotting with corruption and fake patents (that bear no presumption of validity).”António Campinos may not say much on the subject, but his actions in a leadership position are revealing. The EPO’s Twitter account has just quoted Campinos as saying: “In my time at the EPO I’ve been able to rely on the expertise, dedication and commitment of an experienced staff to help in the transition process…”

What transition? Some staff calls him “mini Battistelli” and some claim that he’s even worse than Battistelli; it’s clear that nothing is changing, except for the worse. Today’s EPO is rotting with corruption and fake patents (that bear no presumption of validity). Staff cuts are implemented (he did the same in another agency) by means of limited (with time limits) contracts, longterm hiring freeze and encouragement of early departure/retirement.

Team UPC is Still Spreading False Rumours in an Effort to Trick Politicians and Pressure Judges

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents, Rumour at 7:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO wrote this (below) almost three years ago

UPC

Summary: Abuses at the European Patent Office, political turmoil and an obvious legislative coup by a self-serving occupation that produces nothing have already doomed the Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC); so now we deal with complete fabrications from Team UPC as they’re struggling to make something out of nothing, anonymously smearing opposition to the UPC and anonymously making stuff up

LAST WEEKEND the person who ratified something that cannot in principle be ratified (or become functional) decided to publicly announce his resignation. There were some reports that mentioned this in relation to the UPC as well (even though there’s more to his decision, primarily Brexit itself). Science Minister (or whatever his job title was at the time; it kept changing) Sam Gyimah wasn’t the first to resign and his predecessor too kept changing job titles until resignation (for similar reasons). We can only imagine how Germany’s constitutional court views this turmoil. Not too favourably…

“The UPCA is dying in its sleep, the EPO already ignores it (the subject is almost never brought up), and Team UPC blogs are more or less dead (no new posts).”With only a couple of weeks left before Christmas it seems pretty clear that the UPC is more “dead” than it has ever been. There will be some more restful weekends soon. As for weekdays? Don’t expect any oral hearings as none are even scheduled. In two or three weeks’ time Team UPC will need to explain why it floated totally false (fabricated) ‘unitary’ rumours. The UPCA is dying in its sleep, the EPO already ignores it (the subject is almost never brought up), and Team UPC blogs are more or less dead (no new posts).

Days after Ramona Livera (Elias Neocleous & Co LLC) published lies and distortions about the UPC in Cypriot press she apparently paid money for more sites to carry these ‘unitary’ lies (self promotion rather). It says more about the integrity and honesty of such firms (than it says about UPC/A itself).

A few days ago Hogan Lovells’ Joseph Raffetto and Steffen Steininger decided to relay some more falsehoods. Perpetuating false rumours of Team UPC is nowadays seen as a virtue, surely?

Here is what they wrote:

While the German Federal Court (FCC) has still not officially announced when it will issue a decision regarding the constitutional complaint against the German law that ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA), rumors about a possible decision in December are circulating the German patent community. The FCC, however, officially has not acknowledged a decision date at this point. Across the channel, in the meantime, two UK patent practitioners argued before the House of Lord’s EU Justice Sub-Committee in favor of a UK participation in the Unitary Patent system during the transitional period agreed upon in a withdrawal agreement following Brexit and beyond that period.

When they say “rumors about a possible decision in December are circulating the German patent community” they don’t cite any sources. Because there are none. There’s no basis for this.

Where are those sources? They’re not even being named. It’s like a self-serving whispering campaign.

“When they say “rumors about a possible decision in December are circulating the German patent community” they don’t cite any sources. Because there are none. There’s no basis for this.”Alan Johnson has meanwhile had nothing to say on the subject. He and his colleagues are among those who spread these false rumours the most. Days ago he wrote in their UPC Blog about SPCs, not UPC (Bristows are big boosters of SPCs). So the UPC Blog is not even about UPC anymore! And on the same day Kluwer Patent Blog (where Bristows often writes) published SPCs under friendly fire (overly dramatic headline).

Why does nobody mention anything of substance about UPC or UPCA? Because there’s nothing.

JUVE, which likes patent trolls (and therefore the UPC as well), still calls patent trolls by a euphemism (“NPE”) and seems happy that they choose to troll companies that actually make something… in the country where JUVE itself is based. JUVE’s subscribers are profiting from these trolls and they hope to profit even more from something like the UPC (which would be inviting to trolls). As JUVE put it: “For NPEs, Germany will continue to be the court location in Europe. This is demonstrated by Data Scape’s lawsuits against none other than Apple, Amazon and Spotify at the Regional Court Düsseldorf…”

More money for lawyers would mean more money for the publisher (JUVE), but the UPC isn’t happening and JUVE isn’t writing about it anymore. It’s almost as if they’ve given up completely.

“More money for lawyers would mean more money for the publisher (JUVE), but the UPC isn’t happening and JUVE isn’t writing about it anymore.”Benjamin Henrion has meanwhile said about UPC that: “Defining how courts are established (130 pages of the rules of procedure) should be the only privilege of Parliaments, not outsourced to biased patent experts like Mr Mooney” (citing an old article from JUVE, which amplifies Team UPC itself).

“Mooney is a symptom of the problem,” I told him, as UPC “is a legislative coup.” It’s a bunch of lawyers attempting to hijack the law and enrich themselves. The constitutional court’s judges can hopefully see that because it’s not difficult to see that and it would be an utter embarrassment to Germany if it ever went ahead; it would also be a political crisis and possibly lead to legal action.

Patents on Life and Patents That Kill the Poor Would Only Delegitimise the European Patent Office

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

They’re also not legal

EPO backlash

Summary: After Mayo, Myriad and other SCOTUS cases (the basis of 35 U.S.C. § 101) the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reluctant to grant patents on life; the European Patent Office (EPO), however, goes in the opposite direction, even in defiance of the European Patent Convention

TECHRIGHTS has long focused on software patents, but sometimes the subject of patents on life was brought up because it’s equally if not even more controversial. It’s not hard to understand why patents on nature and on life are insane. They’re not inventions. The patent system wasn’t made for this purpose. You breed some things and then all future generations of these things are ‘owned’ by you? Based on what? This is just a ploy, a cynical effort to privatise life itself. What next? Oxygen?

“This is just a ploy, a cynical effort to privatise life itself.”McKee Voorhees & Sease PLC’s Patricia A. Sweeney wrote a few days ago that “The European Patent Office Board holds a rule can no longer be used to Reject Plant and Animal Breeding Inventions” and it’s behind a paywall; we wrote about this subject last week, as did many others. There were two main news stories: one about drugs and another about plants.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International should say more about patents on nature and on life, but in last week’s appeal to the Office/public it focused on patents on medicine instead. That is expected considering MSF’s goals, assuring access to medicines/medical treatment or removal of barriers that would otherwise — in their absence — have saved lives (many poor people die because of the patent monopoly, never mind if the treatment is cheap to produce). There was relatively late coverage about it here; these patents will certainly end up killing people if this goes ahead. To quote: “Recently, 6 European organizations appealed a European Patent Office (EPO) decision to uphold Gilead Science’s patent on the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, sold as Sovaldi. In March 2017, organizations from 17 European countries filed a challenge against Gilead’s patent that covers the base compound found in sofosbuvir, alleging that it lacked inventiveness. Despite the accusations, the EPO decided to uphold Gilead’s patent in September 2018, maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace.”

More press coverage, however, was dedicated to a decision from the EPO’s Board of Appeal, potentially contradicting the Biotech Directive as one comment (among many) pointed out:

Well it’s an exciting turn of events for patent attorneys also as it’s not every day that an EPC rule is declared void.

National courts and the CJEU are bound by the Biotech Directive and so presumably are duty bound to follow the EU’s interpretation of this, which is that the products of essentially biological processes are not patentable, and so I suspect claims to them will be declared invalid in any litigation.

Alas, I think this decision brings forward the day when the EU takes control of the EPO on the pretext of harmony, so whilst this little skirmish against the EU Commission has been won, the battle will ultimately be lost.

There are several more comments like this in IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog, mostly from patent maximalists with vested interests. It’s those sorts of people who openly advocate CRISPR and antibody patents, as did this hours-old advert from a site dedicated to promotion of patents on life. Among their questions: “What are the differences between U.S. requirements and EPO requirements?”

“By aligning itself with some of the most loathed companies on the planet the EPO does itself irreparable damage.”The US has long limited the scope of such patents. Likewise, patents on life itself aren’t quite permitted in Europe, but the EPO doesn’t care what law and practice say. The very founding document of the EPO (the EPC) is now being grossly violated and the EPO sets up events to ‘normalise’ this violation (as it does when promoting software patents in Europe under the guise of “AI”, “blockchains” etc.), reminding us that the EPO is a rogue institution that totally disregards the rule of law.

Kluwer Patent Blog, a site of patent maximalists, wrote on Friday about the EPO’s reaction to decision T1063/18 Board of Appeal (the above decision). Champagne at Monsanto (now part of Bayer in Germany), no doubt…

To quote:

The European Patent Office ‘will consider possible next actions’ together with the EPO Member States after a high-profile decision of a Board of Appeal earlier this week, concerning the patentability of plants. In case T 1063/18, the BoA decided that EPC Rules which were introduced by the EPO Administrative Council in 2017 to exclude plants or animals from patentability, were in conflict with 53(b) of the European Patent Convention and they can therefore be considered void.

The decision opens a new chapter in the debate concerning the patentability of plants or animals exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process. Late October the European Patent Office revoked a Bayer patent covering a type of broccoli adapted to make harvesting easier, because of the 2017 amendment of the Rules (27 and 28 EPC) by the EPO’s Administrative Council.

[...]

What will happen next is not clear. The organization No Patents On Seeds, which had hailed the revocation of the Bayer broccoli patent as ‘an important success for the broad coalition of civil society organizations against patents on plants and animals’, said a ‘chaotic legal situation’ has been created by the BoA decision. It declared: ‘This has put the EPO into conflict with its 38 member states that decided to stop these patents, such as those on broccoli and tomatoes derived from conventional breeding.’ No Patents On Seeds is clear about what it thinks should be the consequence of the BoA decision: ‘The EPO must suspend all pending patent applications on plants and animals until sufficient legal certainty and clarity is achieved.’

The exclusion of plants and animals from patentability was introduced by the EPO’s Administrative Council in the EPC two years ago, following a Notice of the European Commission, clarifying that the Directive on Biotechnological Inventions (98/44/EC) intended to exclude these products ‘exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process’. Earlier, in the decisions G2/12 and G 2/13 of 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeal had ruled that certain tomatoes and broccoli were patentable.

So while the outcome of this isn’t so clear yet, it doesn’t look too good. I’m not against patents, I’m just pro-patent sanity and we’re not there yet; now that the EPO ponders granting (yet again) patents on animals, life, nature, plants, seeds and so on how can one argue that patents reward actual inventors? These are not inventions. They patent nature itself; it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds. We’re not oversimplifying it! People should be up in arms and some are (there were EPO protests over it). Reported by Ben Wodecki just before the weekend were some underlying issues:

Pressure group No Patents on Seeds has accused the European Patent Office (EPO) of putting the office “into conflict with its 38 member states”, following a ruling on a patent on pepper plants.

Agrochemical company Syngenta attempted to file a European patent for a pepper plant with improved nutritional value. Examiners from the EPO denied the application as the patent’s claimed subject matter falls into the EPO’s exception to patentability under article 53(b) and rule 28(2) of the European Patent Convention (EPC).

In 2017, the Administrative Council of the EPO adopted a binding rule 28(2) for the interpretation of the EPC, which prohibits patents on process of conventional breeding, as well as on plants an animals derived thereof.

If EPO management wants to give ‘ownership’ of everything in your vegetable/fruit basket to companies like Monsanto (the very ‘concept’ of the life), what will the public think? By aligning itself with some of the most loathed companies on the planet the EPO does itself irreparable damage.

No patents on beer

EPO ‘Untapped Potential’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MoU signed by Bergot

Summary: “Campinos is diligently looking for ways to further increase the Office’s output without increasing the number of examiners,” says the EPO-FLIER team

FLIER Number 44 (humour) was published two days ago. It’s written by European Patent Office insiders, who still use the old FLIER acronym (staff representatives used it when still trying to correct things in very diplomatic ways, at times using “IFLRE” and “LIFER”). See what we published last Christmas [1, 2].

The following mentions EPO President António Campinos and is mostly sarcastic (although the underlying facts are serious).

LIFER
7 December 2018
IFLRE

EPO FLIER No. 44

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Untapped potential

During his last years in Office Mr Battistelli claims to have increased the production in the examining area by 36%1. We hear that our new President, Mr Campinos is diligently looking for ways to further increase the Office’s output without increasing the number of examiners2. Since putting even more pressure on the examiners didn’t seem the right thing to do, we decided to look for some hitherto untapped potential, and we found it, in the form of … directors!

Directors are normally selected from amongst the highest producers. Until recently we had about 150 directors in DG1. Mr Battistelli reduced their number to about 60. Some of the now directorate-less directors have left the Office. But many are still there. Some have been parked on jobs for which they have no particular skills, and the usefulness of which might be seen as doubtful. This is an enormous waste of their potential. We therefore propose that these directors are reassigned to work as “senior experts” in directorates that are short of staff.

And the directors who still have a directorate could also be asked to make a contribution. Mr Campinos insists that elected staff representatives not be freed 100% for their staff representation but have to do (currently) 50% of other work so that they will remain in touch with the staff they represent. The same logic applies to directors. It will give them a better understanding of the tools examiners use and of the obstacles they face.

The same applies to the managers in patent administration, where the tools are notoriously bad. We are convinced that if formalities managers were obliged to work with those tools and cover the broad range of procedures that formalities staff are expected to cover, they would soon demand improvements.

And while we are at it: why shouldn’t Principal Directors and COOs be asked to show solidarity and do a “fair contribution” in the form of one or two files a week?

We recognize that this will not have a major impact on the overall production, but it would certainly be more motivating for staff than the present “do as I say and not as I do” exhortations for higher production. And, why shouldn’t a few randomly selected patent searches and grants done by Principal Directors and COOs undergo a quality check? It would give them an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to their subordinates that the quality of their ‘products’ is not compromised at the level of production they demand from their staff.
______
1 « Modernising the EPO for excellence and sustainability » pages 50-51.
2 Report on the 121st meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee (CSC, 31.10.2018)

www.epostaff4rights.org

We are going to focus on EPO affairs the rest of the day, then move on to covering some affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Links 9/12/2018: New Linux Stable Releases (Notably Linux 4.19.8), RC Coming, and Unifont 11.0.03

Posted in News Roundup at 3:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Blockstream Releases the Open Source Code for Its Bitcoin Block Explorer

    Last month, Blockstream, a leading developer of blockchain technologies, launched a new block explorer that allows users to monitor real-time data for both the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain and the Liquid Network sidechain.

    After receiving a largely positive response, the company has made the decision to release Esplora, the free and open-source software that powers the site.

  • New opensource VR viewer for OpenSim may be coming soon

    OpenSimulator core developer Melanie Thielker — also known as Melanie Milland in-world — announced that she is releasing her virtual reality OpenSim viewer to the open source community.

    The new viewer uses the Unreal Engine to display OpenSim regions, such as areas from the grid Thielker founded, Avination.

    “We were actually able to walk through those sims with a VR headset on,” she said. “It changed my whole view of the world. I’ve been in virtual worlds for a long time but actually walking through Avination was a new dimension for me. It was like coming home.”

  • Why open source makes sense for cloud deployments

    Instaclustr is a 100% open-source business, using Cassandra (“one of the most scalable databases in the world”) for data storage, Spark for analytics, Elasticsearch for search, and Kafka for messaging, among other pieces of software.
    Instaclustr’s proposition is that organisations need to be able to massively and reliably scale cloud applications, and if Instaclustr looks after the data layer, its clients can concentrate on their applications, chief executive Peter Nichol told iTWire.

    Benefits of open source in this context include the absence of expensive licences, and the flexibility to run the same software in any public cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid environment. Organisations are looking for “cloud independence”, he explained. Eventually it will be possible to run a single Cassandra cluster across multiple cloud providers.

  • The Consequences of a Changing Open-Source Software Business Model

    It has been an interesting year for open-source software makers. The primary commercial sponsors and/or individual contributors to projects as game-changing and as popular as Apache Kafka, MongoDB and Redis, among many others, may now be asking themselves if they are being taken advantage of, are using the right open-source licenses, or if they’re truly engaged in communities of like-minded people.

    This is happening as some cloud providers and open-source brands are taking code that was written by open-source project “volunteers,” lofting it onto their clouds or locking it down and then reselling it. The most recent occurrence happened late last week at Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference.

  • We’re Building on Hollowed Foundations: Worrying Trends in Open Source and What You Can Actually Do About It

    Heather Miller is Director of the Scala Center at EPFL, Professor at Northeastern University. Heather is a co-founder of and the Executive Director of the Scala Center at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at Northeastern University in Boston. She obtained her PhD in October 2015 under Martin Odersky at EPFL, and is a longtime member of the Scala team.

  • SD Times news digest: Qt 5.12, Hyperledger Sawtooth 1.1 and Linux’s new open source, Linux and Git courses

    Qt has announced the latest version of its cross-platform software development framework for building apps, user interfaces and embedded devices. Qt 5.12 comes with long-term support, improved performance and quality updates.

    Features included reduced memory consumption support for asset conditioning, TableView, input handling, support for Python, remote objects and WebGL streaming plugin, and updates to its design and developer tools.

  • Open Source Project Allows e-Bike Rentals in Seconds over Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

    Matthias Steinig, a German programmer, has developed a new mechanism that allows e-bikes to be rented in exchange for payments on the bitcoin Lightning Network. A prototype built using a modified bicycle is already fully functional and has been demonstrated in a video posted on Twitter.

  • NVIDIA Extends PhysX for High-Fidelity Simulations, Goes Open Source

    NVIDIA PhysX, the most popular physics simulation engine on the planet, is going open source.

    We’re doing this because physics simulation — long key to immersive games and entertainment — turns out to be more important than we ever thought.

    Physics simulation dovetails with AI, robotics and computer vision, self-driving vehicles, and high performance computing.

    It’s foundational for so many different things that we’ve decided to provide it to the world in an open source fashion.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla: Microsoft’s Chromium Shift Will Strengthen Google’s Monopoly

        Yesterday, Microsoft made it official that they are bidding bye to EdgeHTML and will redesign a Chromium-based Edge browser. Chromium is an open source web browser project initiated by Google. Microsoft’s shift to Google’s open source platform has been described as bad by Mozilla.

        In an official blog post titled, “Goodbye, EdgeHTML,” Mozilla has criticized Microsoft’s decision. The post says that by adopting Chromium, Microsoft is handing over even more control of our online life to Google.

  • CMS

    • WordPress 5.0 Delivers Block-Based Editing Approach

      The open-source WordPress blogging and content management system (CMS) project on Dec. 6 released a major milestone update—WordPress 5.0.

      WordPress 5.0 is code-named “Bebo,” named after Cuban jazz musician Bebo Valdés, following the project’s long tradition of naming releases after notable Jazz musicians. WordPress 5.0 boasts a number of improvements, with the biggest user-facing change being the new Project Gutenberg editor. The new editor is the primary interface to how WordPress site administrators create content and define how it is displayed.

      “Our new block-based editor is the first step toward an exciting new future with a streamlined editing experience across your site,” Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, wrote in a blog. “You’ll have more flexibility with how content is displayed, whether you are building your first site, revamping your blog, or write code for a living.”

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12 Is Running Great On The Dell PowerEdge R7425 EPYC 2P Server

      AMD EPYC on BSDs has generally worked out well though in the case of motherboards occasionally there are mishaps in the FreeBSD kernel support — just as we often see with new Intel platforms too when trying out the BSDs. With the Dell PowerEdge R7425 it was hanging during the boot process on the older FreeBSD 11.2 (granted, I didn’t spend much time exploring workarounds for that older BSD release), but when testing this week with FreeBSD 12.0-RC3 it has been running well. OpenBSD 6.4 was also tested on this Dell PowerEdge EPYC 2P server and it too has been running without a hitch. Unfortunately, the new DragonFlyBSD 5.4 release isn’t panning out yet on the hardware: when booting the USB installer media, the system ends up rebooting during the boot process.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Unifont 11.0.03 Released

      Unifont 11.0.03 is now available. Significant changes in this version include the Nushu script contributed by David Corbett, and the Kana Supplement and Kana Supplement-A scripts contributed by Johnnie Weaver.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Software Licensing Effort Focuses on Compliance Tools

      “License compliance is an important hygiene factor in the open source ecosystem,” said Endocode CEO Mirko Boehm. “With QMSTR, we started to create a toolchain that focuses on fact-finding and accurate, complete and up-to-date compliance documentation for every software build.”

      VMware’s contribution, Tern, provides a “bill of materials” for application containers. VMware said the tool would help developers meet open-source compliance requirements as containers make steady inroads in handling enterprise production workloads.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • CZI announces funding for open-source software efforts to improve image analysis in biomedicine

      The CZI Imaging Software Fellows work on three critical and widely-used tools: scikit-image, FIJI / ImageJ, and CellProfiler. After several workshops, hackathons, and discussions with the imaging community, these three projects were identified as playing a critical role in the imaging ecosystem, and their developers demonstrated an interest in improving the interoperability and capabilities of their tools.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Saving lives with open source, RISC-V and Linux Foundations team up, and more news

        Chip designer ARM pretty much dominates the worlds of embedded systems and the Internet of Things. At least the instruction set architectures (ISA) that underlie those worlds. That could soon change thanks to the RISC-V Foundation teaming up with the Linux Foundation to “to encourage adoption of the open source RISC-V ISA.”

        Although the Linux Foundation is better know for its software and IT infrastructure projects, this alliance makes sense according to Rick O’Connor, the RISC-V Foundation’s executive director. O’Connor told online publication The Register that the ISA is “where software meets hardware. There’s a lot of overlap in our respective ecosystems that will create a fair amount of synergy.” The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin also noted that “RISC-V is a technology that has the potential to greatly advance open hardware architecture.”

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Thousands of Utah state employees entangled in reply-all nightmare

    An apparently simple email about a holiday potluck at a state office in Utah went off the rails Friday when it was accidentally sent to approximately 25,000 state employees.

    One early respondent seemed to anticipate the coming storm of emails by replying to all, “braces self for receiving thousands of emails from people hitting ‘reply all’ to say they got added by mistake.”
    Then the ‘reply-all’ responses began.

  • Science

    • 50 years ago, Douglas Engelbart’s ‘Mother of All Demos’ changed personal technology forever

      Imagine someone demonstrating a jet plane 15 years before Kitty Hawk. Imagine someone demonstrating a smartphone 15 years before the first cellular networks were even launched. Imagine someone demonstrating a controlled nuclear chain reaction 15 years before Einstein formulated e=mc2.

      On a crisp, overcast, and breezy Monday afternoon in San Francisco on December 9, 1968, before an SRO audience of more than 2,000 slack-jawed computer engineers, a soft-spoken engineer named Douglas Engelbart held the first public demonstration of word processing, point-and-clicking, dragging-and-dropping, hypermedia and hyperlinking, cross-file editing, idea/outline processing, collaborative groupware, text messaging, onscreen real-time video teleconferencing, and a weird little device dubbed a “mouse” — the essentials of a graphical user interface (GUI) 15 years before the first personal computers went on sale.

    • Canada proves land of opportunity for famous immigrant inventors

      Ask the leader of any technology company and they’ll tell you that hiring engineers, data scientists or mathematicians is one of their biggest challenges. STEM careers are the fastest growing part of the labour market, and some estimates put the need for technology workers at 216,000 jobs by 2021. To explore the talent gap, the FP talked to innovators who have left Canada to pursue opportunities with big multinational companies, and also those who have moved here to be a part of this country’s digital transformation. You can find all of our coverage here.

    • Companies tap into an underused but highly capable workforce

      Oliver Willcox was always an excellent student. He earned an A in honors physics and a master’s in applied math from Loyola University Chicago. But when he started applying for jobs, Willcox, who has ADHD and a speech and language disorder, got nowhere. In interviews, he could be socially awkward, fidgeting nervously and not looking people in the eye.

      At one bank, after Willcox had aced the data analyst test, hiring managers told him about their tradition of drinking Scotch on Fridays. But Willcox, his mother noted, is not a Scotch Friday kind of guy. And sure enough, the bank ended up rejecting him, as many other employers did, because he wasn’t a good “cultural fit.”

    • Gender Diversity Is Urgently Needed Say Prominent Women In Technology

      Injustice against women persists in the application of new technologies. While our values and norms evolve, the old values remain locked into the internet. Gender-biased algorithms are becoming rampant. And these are not the only problems that women face with this male-dominated industry. As the battle for equality inside and outside the workplace continues, it is time to step up to the mark and make the changes needed to create social justice. If we are to become the equal society that we aspire to or pretend to be, then we need to ensure diversity in the workplace.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Prominent Doctors Aren’t Disclosing Their Industry Ties in Medical Journal Studies. And Journals Are Doing Little to Enforce Their Rules

      One is dean of Yale’s medical school. Another is the director of a cancer center in Texas. A third is the next president of the most prominent society of cancer doctors.

      These leading medical figures are among dozens of doctors who have failed in recent years to report their financial relationships with pharmaceutical and health care companies when their studies are published in medical journals, according to a review by ProPublica and The New York Times and data from other recent research.

      Dr. Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, the president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, for instance, declared that he had no conflicts of interest in more than 50 journal articles in recent years, including in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

      However, drug companies have paid his employer nearly $114,000 for consulting and speaking, and nearly $8 million for his research during the period for which disclosure was required. His omissions extended to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which is published by the group he will lead.

    • Agriculture as Wrong Turn

      Pesticides are a nightmare. By dint of their particulate nature when sprayed, they are easily carried away by the wind and end up contaminating soil and water and poisoning other creatures. Only 1% hit their intended target. 1%! Subsequently, at the large scale they are used, they degrade habitat, reduce biodiversity and magnify extinction rates. Ironically, pollinators required for food production are frequent victims. As with war, one can question whether non-target damage can honestly be described as “collateral”—”being aside from the main subject, target, or goal; tangential”—when it is inevitably, one could even say characteristically, a “subject” of nearly every attack, never truly “tangential.” But nature can be resilient, and targeted plants can and do develop herbicide resistance over time, meaning they survive being sprayed. Unfortunately, the agriculture industry’s response is to jack up the amount of herbicide and develop new poisons.

      Irrigation damages the environment from the points of source to delivery, and the bigger the project, the worse it is. Anytime water is diverted from one place to another, there is always at least one loser: the immediate locale from which it was taken. Whether it is a spring, river or lake, the effects of use will make their mark, sooner or later. In many cases, the crop being irrigated isn’t even be food. In northern California, rivers have been running too low for the Salmon because of the wine and Cannabis industries. In other words, we are prioritizing getting drunk and high over the lives of other creatures. Such trade-offs are emblematic of agriculture. That these acts are not considered theft or assault is demonstrative of mere cultural creed, not the honest administration of logic.

    • Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them

      What every American doesn’t know: Cancer is also helping some Americans become exceedingly rich. And these Americans will do most anything to keep their windfalls coming, even prey on the fragile psyches of the families cancer strikes.

      Top cancer treatment centers, the consumer group Truth in Advertising charges in a new report, are “deceptively promoting atypical patient experiences through the use of powerful testimonials.” Back in 2005, U.S. cancer centers spent $54 million showcasing these deceptive testimonials. By 2014, that annual outlay had more than tripled to $173 million.

      One typical testimonial in this advertising barrage features an effusively grateful patient named Carl, a pancreatic cancer survivor. The ad never mentions that pancreatic cancer five-year survival rates run just 8.5 percent.

      “Any cancer center can find a patient who has beat the odds,” notes the new Truth in Advertising report, The Deceptive Marketing of Hope. “But using that atypical experience to play on the hopes and fears of such a susceptible patient population has real consequences.”

  • Security

    • Recorded a substitution of the site Linux.org capture DNS

      According to the administrator of the website, the attackers gained access to the account of the owner of the site Registrar Network Solutions. Apparently, for the domain Linux.org via the Whois service display complete information about the owner and the attacker have used existing databases of breached accounts were able to access a mailbox in Yahoo, using previously fallen into the hands of zloumyshlennikov database with the password hashes. Then using the function to reset a forgotten password, the attacker could change the password for an account, Network Solutions, to which was attached a hacked Inbox in Yahoo. An obstacle could be to use two-factor authentication, but it has not been enabled for additional protection of your account.

    • CyptoJacking Campaign Used Two Malware Strains to Target IoT and Linux Devices
    • ‘Open-Source’ DarthMiner Malware Targets Adobe Pirates with Cryptominer [Ed: Sergiu Gatlan found a way to call malicious proprietary software with holes in it... something about "Open Source"]

      A slightly weird malware strain has been observed using the open source XMRig cryptominer and EmPyre backdoor utilities to target software pirates as reported by Malwarebytes Labs.

    • Bethesda blunders, IRS sounds the alarm, China ransomware, and more

      Linux boot management tool SystemD is once again getting the wrong kind of attention as researchers have spotted another security vulnerability.

      This time, it is an elevation of privilege vulnerability that would potentially let users execute system commands they would otherwise not be authorized to perform.

    • GSX, TZERO, +10 Others Form Open-Source Consortium Focused On Security Token Interoperability And Compliance
    • Iranians indicted in Atlanta city government ransomware attack

      Details leaked by City of Atlanta employees during the ransomware attack, including screenshots of the demand message posted on city computers, indicated that Samsam-based malware was used. A Samsam variant was used in a number of ransomware attacks on hospitals in 2016, with attackers using vulnerable Java Web services to gain entry in several cases. In more recent attacks, including one on the health industry companies Hancock Health and Allscripts, other methods were used to gain access, including Remote Desktop Protocol [attacks] that gave the attackers direct access to Windows systems on the victims’ networks.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing

      During the late CST evening hours of January 17, 1991, the much-promised and anticipated fireworks began.

      For weeks prior NBC’s Lester Holt’s daily announcements were mortifyingly sinister. Much like a tease for a big event, the oft announced “Countdown to the war in Iraq” was repeated during NBC’s daily station breaks. And much like the media’s announcements about the countdown for a Super Bowl game or a national championship college playoff game, Holt’s promise came to fruition during the January 17, 1991 late evening hours.

      And for the first time in history war turned into a real time spectator sport, a mind-boggling atavistic frenzy of fiendish fire unleashed in sadistic synchronicity from the air, land, and sea.

      Glued to CNN’s first-ever live 24/7 reporting on the flaring fireworks illuminating the Baghdad skies, I was not sure whether our doorbell did indeed ring. As the second ring echoed in the hallway, I reluctantly detached myself from the screen to open the front door to our house.

    • Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds

      The turmoil is intrinsic to the nature of Colombian society. Nelson Lombrano Silva recently outlined characteristics. Writing for the Colombian Communist Party website, he castigated the Colombian state as “serving this filthy and immoral bourgeoisie.” Dominance of that sector signals “the inexorable decadence of capitalism in a state of extreme decomposition.” And “narco-trafficker number 82” is in charge. Lombrano is recalling Uribe’s place on an old U.S. list of Colombian drug traffickers.

    • Are we mishandling the war on terror in Africa?
    • The Khashoggi skeletons in America’s closet

      US officials are keen to condemn Jamal Khashoggi’s murder but remain silent on US crimes against journalists.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Manafort-Assange meeting that wasn’t: A case study in journalistic malpractice

      Furthermore, as FAIR (8/22/18, 9/25/18) has already catalogued, media giants such as Facebook are already working with governmental organizations like the Atlantic Council to control what we see online, under the guise of battling Russian-sponsored fake news. The Atlantic Council is a NATO offshoot whose board of directors includes neoconservative hawks like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger and James Baker; former CIA directors like Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Michael Hayden; as well as retired generals like Wesley Clark and David Petraeus.

    • New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!

      It’s tough to be an engineering student these days, with so many new developments in modern technology and technological knowledge. The course curricula are more crowded than ever and the impact of emerging technologies is monumental. Some engineering professors worry that their students’ busy course schedules prevents them from adequately exploring the liberal arts. Without exposure to the liberal arts, engineering students will lack the broad context that will help them approach their work as a profession, not just a trade.

      Pressed as they are now in their undergraduate and graduate courses, engineering students may not appreciate the pressures and challenges they will face in their work after graduation. More than handling the stress that comes from needing to meet commercial or governmental deadlines and standards, they will need to understand the ethical ramifications of their actions. Existing industry standards rarely measure up to the necessary health, safety and reliability requirements in the workplace, marketplace and the environment. Moreover, the news media and social media create an environment that shines a spotlight on the personal responsibility of the engineering professions and the obligation to blow the whistle on misdeeds.

      The core curriculum for engineering students must include courses and seminars that explore the ethical responsibility of engineering. Understanding economic and political pressures and, if necessary, whistleblowing obligations are all important matters for engineers. This is the subject of Ethics, Politics, and Whistleblowing in Engineering (CRC Press), a new book edited by Rania Milleron, Ph.D and Nicholas Sakellariou, Ph.D (Rania, my niece, is a microbiologist at the Texas Department of State Health Services and Nicholas is a lecturer at California Polytechnic State University).

    • WikiLeaks requests dismissal of DNC lawsuit, citing First Amendment rights: reports
    • Trump Campaign Calls DNC’s Russia Hacking Suit Sour Grapes

      President Donald Trump’s campaign organization told a judge that the Democratic National Committee made a specious attempt to “explain away” Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat by claiming in a lawsuit that there was a vast conspiracy with Russia and WikiLeaks to hack the DNC’s emails and tilt the election.

      The racketeering suit against dozens of individuals and entities, including Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence, also risks colliding with investigations by congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, raising the possibility that the case would need to be put on hold, the campaign said Friday in a court filing seeking dismissal of the suit.

      The Trump campaign argues the DNC’s conspiracy claim fails because the campaign is only accused of receiving advance notice of leaks, making political use of the revealed material and publicly encouraging more hacks.

      “The DNC does not claim the campaign had any role in hacking its systems and stealing the materials — it attributes that only to Russia,” according to the filing. “Nor does the DNC claim the campaign played any part in publishing the stolen materials — it attributes that only to Russia and WikiLeaks.”

    • ‘Biggest attack on freedom of speech in decades’ – WikiLeaks hits back against DNC lawsuit

      WikiLeaks is taking the fight to the Democratic National Committee, accusing the party of an unprecedented assault on the First Amendment in a legal filing that underlined both the absurdity and the overreach of its lawsuit.

      Prosecuting WikiLeaks for publishing “truthful information of public interest” would have a disastrous effect on press freedom, opening the door to prosecution of any and all media organizations that dare to speak truth to power, the embattled publishers wrote.

    • Bush Nostalgia Gives W. a Pass. ‘Vice’ Should Wake Up Everyone.

      Two of the most consequential pieces of journalism of that time did not involve any deep investigative journalism or any major funding: They were the release by Wikileaks of 720,000 secret documents from the State and Defense departments and the series of revelations from Edward Snowden about the massive reach of surveillance conducted by the NSA and CIA.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Conceivably the Worst’: Groups, Lawmakers Blast Confirmation of Climate Denier to FERC

      Bernard McNamee, a climate change denier who helped write the Trump administration’s failed coal and nuclear bailout plan, was confirmed Thursday as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

      The Senate approved the nominee on a straight party-line vote of 50-49 after Sen. Joe Manchin, the pro-coal Democrat of West Virginia, withdrew his support due to his concerns about McNamee’s stance on climate change.

      President Trump’s nomination of the fossil fuel lawyer as one of the FERC’s five commissioners was strongly opposed by environmentalists, public health groups and elected leaders.

    • The Deathly Insect Dilemma

      Insect abundance is plummeting with wild abandon, worldwide! Species evolve and go extinct as part of nature’s normal course over thousands and millions of years, but the current rate of devastation is off the charts and downright scary.

      Moreover, there is no quick and easy explanation for this sudden emergence of massive loss around the globe. Yet, something is dreadfully horribly wrong. Beyond doubt, it is not normal for 50%-to-90% of a species to drop dead, but that is happening right now from Germany to Australia to Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest.

      Scientists are rattled. The world is largely unaware of the implications because it is all so new. It goes without saying that the risk of loss of insects spells loss of ecosystems necessary for very important stuff, like food production.

    • Trump’s Great American Forest Liquidation Sale

      The millions of tourists cruising through North America’s last intact temperate rainforest in Southeast Alaska soak up dark green conifers as far as the eye can see. But a troubling side of this chilly landscape also comes into view. Swaths of Alaska yellow cedars have lost their needles and turned a deathly brown. Scientists say the cedar can’t handle the changing climate, placing it at an ever-increasing risk for extinction.

      On a recent ferry ride through Peril Strait, a narrow 40-mile-long passageway north of Sitka, two Cascadia Times reporters spot a gigantic brown bear foraging near stands of dead cedars, clearly oblivious to another emerging threat. Government bureaucrats want to let the timber industry liquidate its wild Chicagof Island habitat. Someday soon, the view from cruise ships could include clearcuts — but no bears.

      During its first two years in office, the Trump administration kept under wraps plans for federal forests — unlike its very public push to pump up the oil, gas, and coal industries and open disregard for climate change.

      But in August, the administration unveiled a proposal giving the timber industry access to ancient old-growth trees within the nation’s 50 million acres of wild, intact forests, known as roadless areas. The proposal came to life in January when Alaska Gov. Bill Walker petitioned the US Forest Service to remove protection from Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

      The idea is already controversial in ways reminiscent of the timber wars that roiled the Pacific Northwest 30 years ago. The scheme could extend to Utah, where Gov. Gary Herbert is seeking a similar exemption, and possibly all other national forests.

    • Climate Change Is Likely to Come Sooner and Be Worse Than Latest Worst-Case Forecasts Suggest

      Now, this is going to get a bit wonky, but hang in there—the future viability of the life support system you rely on may be at stake.

      First, let’s review the headlines from the recent reports, and then examine why warming is likely to be much worse, and come much sooner than even these grim reports suggest.

      The recent IPCC report told us that even a temperature increase of 1.5°C could be devastating and that we have very little time to act to avoid it. The Fourth National Assessment told us the U.S. is already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change and that flooding, droughts, fires, and disease would only get worse before it gets better, even if we act immediately.

    • Heavy Police Presence Accompanies March for Climate at Katowice UN Talks

      More than a thousand people marched amidst heavy police presence to demand negotiators and ministers attending the UN climate talks in the southern Polish city of Katowice take more ambitious action on climate change.

      Campaigners and activists from around the world took part in the March for Climate, which marked the end of the first of two weeks of global climate negotiations in Katowice.

      Protesters chanted “keep the coal in the hole”, urged negotiators to “wake-up”, and demanded “climate justice now” while waving colourful banners and flags. Some were also wearing pollution masks to highlight Katowice’s heavily polluted air due to local coal mining.

    • In Another Blow to Keystone XL, Judge Rules TransCanada Can’t Conduct Pre-Construction Work

      Opponents of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline—from indigenous and environmental groups to local farmers and ranchers—celebrated a win in court after a federal judge ruled on Friday that the fossil fuel giant cannot conduct pre-construction work on the pipeline until the full environmental review ordered last month is complete.

    • I went Dungeness crabbing in Washington for the first time this fall. Here’s why I’m concerned about increased shipping from Trans Mountain pipeline.

      Risking these abundant natural resources to fossil fuel shipping is reckless to coastal economies. It is why we should be concerned about the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline shipping expansion. We would see an estimated 700% increase in shipping traffic in the Salish Sea. With it would come increased risks to fishing families, coastal communities and our marine wildlife. The risk of oil and other pollutant spills, marine noise pollution, increased greenhouse gas emissions and other disturbances pose a threat to our wildlife — and thus our ways of life.

    • Shaping New Climate Narratives: Why a Journalist/Historian Turned to Theatre for Climate Stories

      Earlier this year, taking a front row seat at a church in Gary, Indiana, I watched as a young rapper, local food leader and an arts educator beguiled a standing-room-only audience with a theatrical envisioning of their city in the year 2030.

      To the side of the stage, jazz legend Billy Foster and his trio added a lively soundtrack to the performance; a multi-media show reflected the images of their stories in the background.

      To be sure, this “Ecopolis” performance was no simple task. After a short period of training, developing the script and rehearsing, the actors had to transform the sanctuary into a pop-up theatre and a community of the future in the minds of the audience.

      Requiems for Gary’s demise have been written for years, where entrenched poverty and unemployment have left the city in ruins; where the strong scent of hydrocarbons still sting the cold night air. “The maw of that beast, the steel industry,” actor and urban farmer Walter Jones recounted, “takes up nine miles of lakefront.”

      “Love song to the scarred lungs, my people bare,” performance poet Krystal Wilson rapped, “because in my city glocks ain’t got nothing on poison and hostile air.”

    • Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution

      The Americanism that people will never voluntarily give up the consumption that is killing the planet represents the triumph of a long con. The problem that consumed (apologies) economists in the early twentieth century was how to get people to want the stuff that capitalism produces. Past the point of meeting basic needs, people really didn’t want consumer goods. Early on, capitalism was a method of economic production in search of a constituency.

      In the present, this most likely reads as being wildly counterintuitive. China and other recent entrants into mass consumer culture prove the universal character of the desire to consume, goes the argument. But the Chinese development of a consumer culture has been driven by top-down economic policies, not ‘demand’ from below. As a strategy for maintaining political control, it is easier to satiate manufactured wants than to cede power to truly democratic inclinations.

      In 1958 economist and advisor to presidents John Kenneth Galbraith wrote The Affluent Societyas an explanation of post-War political economy in the U.S. Prominent in his theory of ‘dependence’ are corporations that use commercial propaganda (advertising) to create demand for the products they produce. Mr. Galbraith, a committed capitalist, understood that Western consumption is a function of what is produced, not ‘consumer demand.’

    • Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent

      Thinking in siloes about the climate and about our planet’s people puts us at risk of increasing climate disruption and massive loss of life. COP 24 is a crucial test of whether the severity of the climate and human situation will finally be acknowledged and addressed.

      Several years ago I attended a meeting of major environmental organizations, brought together by the Climate Action Network to hear the results of a survey conducted on how to best inform the public about climate change. The consultants advised giving people something they can do, focusing on what they directly experience, and being positive. Climate solutions should be contextualized as lifestyle choices with a promised reward such as more free time; money back from carbon tax rebates; harmony with nature; and a society of high tech living based on “clean energy”.

      Glenn Greenwald describes how American leaders get away with murder and much else through a positivity of “moving forward” and leaving out the past. Paul Jay of the Real News Network speaks with alarm about the infantilization of the public when “we need to tell people the whole truth about the urgency of this historical moment… The existential threat of the current moment.” What sets Corbyn apart is his treating people as adults. [1}

      Three current climate news items leave out crucial realities: the October IPCC warning about the dangerous differences between 1.5C and 2C, advising greenhouse gas reductions of 45% by 2030; the Nobel economics prize awarded to William Nordhaus for his work on the carbon budget which would allow an additional 270 billion tonnes into the atmosphere; and the California forest fires.

    • ‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19

      “Get me outta here.”

      At the recent G20 meeting in Argentina, Donald Trump was on the world’s stage when he muttered this aside to an aide. He was supposed to be getting ready for a photo op with the other global leaders at the conclusion of the meeting. And, after some confusion, Trump eventually did come back to pose for the group shot.

      But the unscripted utterance perfectly captured the United States in the world today. With all eyes on him, the leader of the free world wandered away from the spotlight, whining like a six-year-old upstaged at his own birthday party. Trump, who lambastes his counterparts for being “weak,” was publicly incapable of manning up even when the stakes were so low. This is what passes for U.S. “leadership” at the moment.

      The moment also illustrates Trump’s paradox. He wants to be at the center of everything. And he wants to be teleported out of these international confabs as soon as possible. Psychologically speaking, this all-in, all-out approach corresponds to the publicly arrogant and privately insecure temperament of a world-class narcissist. It would all make for an amusing Dr. Phil show — if it didn’t have such a profound impact on global affairs.

      No doubt there were millions of people around the world who nodded their heads along with Trump at that moment: “Please, dear god, get him outta there. And send him somewhere he can’t do anyone any harm.”

  • Finance

    • Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff

      Nasser’s text is an economic and political history of the United States since the latter part of the nineteenth century. In narrating this history, Nasser does not separate the economic establishment from the nation’s political structure. Instead, each page provides greater proof in the intricate and intimate relationship between the two. It is the author’s contention that capitalism as an economic system is neither moral or immoral. Instead, it is without morals of any kind. Like the algorithms Wall Street whiz kids create, capitalism does not know right from wrong. However, those who apply those algorithms do. Likewise, argues Nasser, the politicians and administrators in Washington, DC know right from wrong. When they vote to increase social spending, these men and women are making a choice to use some of capitalism’s profits to help those left behind in the pursuit of those profits. When the politicians and administrators decide to remove so-called safety net spending, they are choosing to let the people affected by that spending suffer. In other words, they are making a moral choice no matter what decision they make.

      Of course, there are other machinations and motives at play in these decisions. For example, the pursuit of profit has blinded stronger men than Donald Trump. It is also true that that pursuit has created an economy that does not fill the needs of all the people. Instead, it creates unneeded products and uses marketing to convince folks that such products are needed. As part of this mechanism, the act of buying and owning certain products creates artificial needs and desires. This understanding, perhaps stated best by Herbert Marcuse in his book One Dimensional Man, is an operative and fundamental part of contemporary human society.

    • Bitmain, Roger Ver, Kraken Sued for Alleged Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork Manipulation

      Florida-based United American Corp. (UnitedCorp) has purportedly filed a lawsuit against Bitmain, Bitcoin.com, Roger Ver, and the Kraken Bitcoin Exchange, according to a press release published Dec. 6. UnitedCorp alleges that the defendants planned a scheme to take control of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network.

      Founded in 1992, UnitedCorp is a development and management firm with a focus on telecommunications and information technologies. The company manages a portfolio of patents and proprietary technology in telecoms, social media and blockchain. UnitedCorp also owns and operates BlockchainDomes stations, that provide heat for agricultural applications.

    • An important reform in antitrust law could be on the way

      Last week, the United States Supreme Court signaled that it was about to adopt a major change in antitrust law. In a delightful contrast to the political branches of government, justices appointed both by Democrats and Republicans appear ready to make the change, moving toward an outcome that none of the detractors of the recent appointees would have predicted. Justices Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Kagan, Sotomayer, Alito and Breyer indicated in their questioning at oral argument that each would favor the same point of view — expanding the right of consumers to sue companies that had, for the last 40 years, largely escaped antitrust scrutiny.

    • An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?

      An NYT article on the stock market’s plunge also noted that the yield curve, defined as the gap between the interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds and two-year notes, is close to being inverted. The interest rate on 10-year bonds was just 0.12 percentage points higher than the interest rate on 2-year notes. The piece points out that an inverted yield curve has historically been associated with a recession in the near future.

      While I would not rule out a recession (we will have another recession someday), I am less impressed by this signal than the NYT. The longer-term rates tend to follow the expected path of the short-term rate with a longer yield providing a greater premium since the holder of a long-term bond suffers a substantial capital loss if the price goes down.

      For example, if I’m holding a 10-year Treasury bond and the interest rate increases from 3.0 percent to 4.0 percent in a relatively short period of time, the price would fall by close to 9.0 percent. To cover that risk, I will want a premium over the short-term rate. The same logic applies to a 2-year note, except that the potential loss from a rise in interest rates is much smaller so the necessary premium is much smaller.

      However, the risk in this story is that the Federal Reserve Board will raise interest rates. Currently, the federal funds rate is at 2.25 percent. While there is a good chance the Fed will raise rates by 0.25 percentage points at its meeting this month, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has made it clear that he thinks we are near the end of a cycle of rising rates. For this reason, holders of longer-term debt have less reason to fear that short-term rates will rise much from their current level. Therefore, they are not demanding large risk premiums.

      Historically, we have reached this point where investors no longer saw much risk of further rate hikes after a period of aggressive rate increases by the Fed. In 1989, the peak of the federal funds rate was almost 4.0 percentage points above its cyclical low. In the mid-1970s, it was more than 8.0 percentage points, and in 1980 the federal funds rate peaked more than 14.0 percentage points above the low for the cycle.

    • Can the Nation’s First Charter School Strike Transform the Industry?

      For the first time, charter school teachers are striking. Over the past week, a strike at Chicago’s largest unionized charter network gained steam, with 15 schools serving Acero’s 7,500 predominantly Latino students remaining closed since Tuesday.

      This week’s strike is the first in the nation against a charter operator, and comes only days after Acero released a financial audit showing that the nonprofit currently has at least $24 million in cash and brought in $89 million in revenue this year.

      Despite having $10 million more than it had at the end of 2017, Acero managed to spend $1 million less on salaries this year, only giving their teachers a “paltry” wage increase, according to the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), and no raise at all to the schools’ support staff.

      While charter teachers are typically paid $13,000 less than those in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), charter schools bring in 8 percent more per student in funding than CPS under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s so-called “student-based budgeting” scheme, which gives each school a fixed amount of money per student enrolled.

    • Charter School Lobby Silent as Charter Teachers Continue Strike

      For decades we’ve been told that these types of schools were all about innovation. They were laboratories where teachers and administrators could be freed from the stifling regulations at traditional public schools.

      Yet whenever wealthy operators stole money or cut services to maximize profits or engaged in shady real estate deals or collected money for ghost children or cherry picked the best students or fomented “no excuses” discipline policies or increased segregation or denied services to special education kids or a thousand other shady business practices—whenever any of that happened, we were told they were just unfortunate side effects. Malfeasance and fraud weren’t what charters were all about. They were about the children.

      And now when charter teachers speak out and demand a better environment for themselves and their students, these ideologues have nothing to say.

      Funny.

    • George H.W. Bush Was an Enemy of the Working Class

      In 1992, media reports claimed that then-president George H.W. Bush was “amazed” at the sight of a grocery store scanner. While the claim has since been debunked, the encounter says a lot about his presidency.

      Bush Sr., who died last week at the age of 94, appeared suspiciously wide-eyed about grocery scanner technology during a photo-op at a grocer convention. The episode was used as evidence during Bush’s re-election bid that he hadn’t been grocery shopping since the 1970s when scanners were first introduced.

      Later revealed to have been the product of a creative misreading by the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal (who hadn’t been present at the convention), the farce—and the fact that so many at the time bought it—nonetheless reveals a deeper truth about his presidency: Bush Sr. was out of touch with the plight of working and middle-class Americans.

      Bush was one of just five presidents in the 20th century to lose a re-election campaign. In 1994, he lost to Bill Clinton, the upstart governor from Arkansas, in the midst of a recession that swept the nation during the early 1990s. Bush had failed to recognize the simple truism of Clinton’s campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

    • Bush Obsequies

      When taking stock of a life, especially one as extended as George H. W. Bush’s ninety-four years, it is the long view that is called for. The sights and sounds of Wednesday’s state funeral expanded the time frame far beyond the former president’s earthly sojourn of nearly a century.

      On surveying the knights and ladies of the realm arrayed in the gothic expanse of the Washington National Cathedral, a dignitary from another planet (one that, in order to secure the invitation, had deeded over the requisite terrain to American off-world military bases) might well have wondered whether medieval crusaders had pitched up in the District of Columbia and promptly built this unlikely edifice’s spires, vaults, and buttresses. “Damn Right!” came Wednesday’s resplendent response.

      Crusading General “Black Jack” Pershing had led the fundraising efforts to begin construction at the beginning of the last century, and it was meet and right that the body of the commander-in-chief of the international host that invaded the Arabian Peninsula in the First Gulf War should be hymned in the shadow of the cathedral’s high altar. Beyond all credulity Bush was lionized in the first eulogy by presidential historian Jon Meacham as “the last soldier statesman”—a Godfrey of Bouillon of the New World Order. A millennium on, the Christian crusades are still underway thanks in no small measure to St. George of Kennebunk.

      [...]

      Unlike his namesake son, who adopted the Methodism of his wife Laura, George Bush the elder was born and buried an Episcopalian—the rebrand of the Church of England undertaken after the American Revolution, with the newly independent branch remaining reliant on the musical traditions back in the Mother Country. Director of music at the National Cathedral, Canon Michael McCarthy, a leading Anglican church musician, is a musical immigrant to this country. He assuredly directed the anthems—syrupy and affecting—by twentieth-century American composers following in the English tradition.

      [...]

      The ceremony’s musical culmination came not with strains redolent of Westminster Abbey, however. Instead, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan belted out sickly-sweet patriotic sentiment in the form of Larry Grossman’s Lincolnian anthem, “Last Full Measure of Devotion.” Having sung “Silent Night” at Bush’s deathbed, Tynan was accompanied at the funeral by the red-coated marines delivering the cheesy harmonies with swelling strings, heroic brass, fearsome timpani, and snare drum’s martial lash that had all stepped directly off Broadway and into the solemn reaches of the National Cathedral. Grossman is the composer of, among other classics, the soundtrack for Disney’s Pocahontas II. It was fitting that such musical sensitivity to American history should be deployed to mark Bush’s passing. The effect of this upwelling of schlock was to swamp all the Anglican grandeur that had preceded it.

      With Grossman’s campy canticle echoing down the endless nave, George Bush’s body was heading to Texas for one last show.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Democrats Need a Clear Economic Vision. Here’s Where to Start.

      Budgets aren’t sexy and don’t get much airtime on the campaign trail, but the allocation of America’s financial resources is arguably the most important act in politics. As the newly Democratic-controlled House of Representatives enters office in January, the People’s Budget presents an immediate opportunity for Democrats to support a bold, concrete plan for creating living-wage jobs and rebuilding America’s corroded and unsustainable infrastructure.

      Crafted annually by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC)—the largest Democratic caucus in the House—the People’s Budget proposes to invest $2 trillion over 10 years (employing 2.5 million people in the first year) to “eliminate our lead-contaminated water system, address our overburdened mass transit system, and rebuild our schools, crumbling roads, and bridges.” That’s double what the Democratic Party leadership asks for in its “Better Deal” package of reforms. The CPC budget also provides money for worker re-training and apprenticeship programs to help workers transition to new green jobs.

      But, will Democratic Party leaders embrace this brick-and-mortar economic justice package, which could boost employment and wages for millions while bolstering the nation’s healthcare, education and infrastructure and expanding green jobs to mitigate climate crisis? And, crucially, how will Democrats hash out overlapping agendas in the People’s Budget and the newly ascendant Green New Deal?

    • Michigan Is the Latest Example of the Restaurant Lobby Subverting Democracy

      It’s been a bad week for democracy. While all eyes have been on a Republican power grab in Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature quietly gutted its brand-new laws to increase the state’s minimum wage and provide residents with paid sick leave.

      Lawmakers initially passed the popular policies in September, after it became clear that ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022, phase out the tipped minimum wage, and guarantee 72 hours of paid sick leave were likely to be approved if they were put to the state’s voters in November. Concerned that they’d be unable to overturn a ballot initiative, which would require a three-fourths supermajority, Republican legislators took the extraordinary step of passing the law themselves — so they could come back and dismantle it with a simple majority in the current lame duck session.

      The new Republican bill delays the minimum wage increase by eight years, until the year 2030. Paid sick time is slashed in half, to just 36 hours per year. In addition, it maintains the tipped minimum wage, increasing it to just $4.58 by 2030, which earlier legislation would have phased out. The bill now heads to the desk of the outgoing Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign it into law.

    • A Requiem for Donald Trump

      I attended Donald Trump’s funeral today in a half-empty Washington Cathedral, curious to learn how the 45th president, who of course resigned in disgrace in 2019, would be remembered by those who came to mourn him. The only living former presidents, Mike Pence, Barack Obama and 100-year-old Jimmy Carter, were in attendance but did not speak to eulogize him. (Pence was scheduled to speak but was overcome by tears.) That task fell to Donald Trump, Jr., just out of prison after his early release following his conviction in 2019 for lying to Congress and the FBI.

      “He was a great dad,” said a tearful Don, Jr. “He set an example that made me into the man I am today.”

      Also speaking his praises was an elderly Rudy Giuliani, who said Trump had gotten a raw deal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and had nothing to be ashamed of. “I admire President Trump for many things, but most of all for never backing down. He did nothing wrong and he stood his ground. By the way, is this on live TV?”

      A parade of convicted felons followed Giuliani to the stage, all of them pardoned by Trump before he left office under the cloud of a pending impeachment for obstruction of justice and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Former Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, speaking from a wheelchair at age 93, praised Trump for his tough stance on immigration. (“He treated those criminal migrant families a lot better than I would have.”) Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort said the president had stood behind him through thick and thin before pardoning him on the eve of his own resignation. (“He and I were on the same page, even when the whole world thought I was lying.”)

    • The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years

      In the 2001-2003 period, I was the first person anywhere to consistently apply the framework of fascism to try to understand unfolding events. Some among the commentariat dumped on me for using the term when clearly, according to them, we were in no such condition.

      In those years the publisher of a well-known progressive press responded to my proposal for a book on emergent fascism by wanting me to interrogate—in person, in their own lairs no less!—John Ashcroft, Viet Dinh, Donald Rumsfeld, and other leading Bush administration figures at the forefront of introducing fascism. The standard for veterans of the progressive press turned out to be considerably less rigorous; they continued their armchair reporting, using the same discredited old framework. The publisher’s absolute condition for the book was that I must not, under any circumstances, use the term “fascism”—I could call it anything else, just not that; presumably it would upset armchair revolutionaries.

      Naomi Wolf—always quick on the mark, she, as in recently discovering The Vagina—wrote several years after the fact a book called The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (2007), in which she listed the major symptoms of the fascist tendency, borrowed particularly from the Nazi model, elements of which I too had applied earlier in the decade. The problem is, Nazism is not as universal a model as Italian fascism, so the standards are too narrow. By the time Wolf wrote, fascism in America had shifted to an insidious corruption of bureaucratic institutions. It was evident that tanks weren’t going to march on the streets, and there wasn’t going to be a violent militia to enforce fascism. So Wolfe’s work was too little, too late, and in fact counterproductive because it distracted from the actual threat.

    • New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’

      Pearl Harbor was a national crisis and in times of crisis people quite often overreact, do and say things they may later regret and make bad decisions in the heat of the moment (9/11 is a more recent example). The highly charged atmosphere on the West Coast was satirized in the 1979 film, 1941, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, among others, which left out any mention of Japanese-American internment.

      I agree with Louis that European-American and specifically FDR’s own racism towards the Japanese were clearly a factor in the internment decision. Comparatively small numbers of German and Italian nationals and American citizens of German or Italian descent were also interned in camps, however, it was nothing like the experience of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast. But let’s examine this with more historical background.

      Japan underwent one of the most astonishing transformations in history in the late 19thcentury, from a feudal backwater to a modern, industrial, Capitalist-Imperialist state in less than thirty years. Japan’s new modernity was coupled with retention of key aspects of its ancient culture, such as the belief that its emperor was descended from the gods and was, in fact, a deity himself. Closely related was the idea that the Japanese were a chosen people, a superior race with the right to dominate East Asia and the Pacific. Coincidentally, Japan was poor in the resources necessary to fuel an industrial economy.

    • John Kelly Leaving as Trump’s Chief of Staff

      President Donald Trump said Saturday that chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job by year’s end amid an expected West Wing reshuffling reflecting a focus on the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats reclaiming control of the House.

      Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, is Trump’s top choice to replace Kelly, and the two have held discussions for months about the job, a White House official said. An announcement was expected in the coming days, the president told reporters as he left the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

      Kelly had been credited with imposing order on a chaotic West Wing after his arrival in June 2017 from his post as homeland security secretary. But his iron first also alienated some longtime Trump allies, and he grew increasingly isolated, with an increasingly diminished role.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Journal Times editorial: Facebook tries to bury bad news about itself
    • What Marc Lamont Hill’s Pro-Palestine Message Means to a Palestinian

      On November 29, CNN fired Professor Marc Lamont Hill, a prominent academic, author and activist, for having the audacity to step outside the spectrum of what is considered acceptable discourse on Israel and Palestine: Hill simply acknowledged that an oppressed population has the moral right to resist its oppressor.

      Unlike how his words are being characterized, his statements were neither controversial nor radical; a quick skim of our history books would clearly suggest the contrary, and that it was not Hill’s message that led CNN to fire him, it was the result of the Palestinian exception to free speech and the subject of his criticism: Israel.

      That is not to say Israel is never criticized or discussed in the mainstream media. It’s just that when it is, the criticism needs to neatly fit into one of two pre-packaged positions. On one side, we have the Donald Trump-Benjamin Netanyahu camp that blames the Palestinians for all of Israel’s abuses and mistakes. On the other, we have the Democratic Party-liberal Zionist camp that acknowledges Israel’s unjust treatment of the Palestinians but excuses it under a web of “well-intentioned” justifications.

      Hill challenged this narrative unapologetically, and provided a rare voice of criticism outside this narrowly accepted spectrum of debate. As a result, his rhetoric, words and tone might have shocked people’s sensibilities, but he has nothing to apologize for, and CNN should reinstate him immediately. Here’s some context to the “controversial” statements he made, from the perspective of one member of the people Hill was fired for defending.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Apple to spy on your snoozing: Tech giant is set to make an iSheet woven with sensors

      Apple is set to make an iSheet woven with strange sensors that monitor people’s sleep, according to the firm’s latest patent.

      The multi-sensor sleep system includes a camera that analyses people as they snooze from above.

    • GCHQ boosts powers to launch mass data hacking

      The UK’s intelligence agencies are to significantly increase their use of large-scale data hacking after claiming that more targeted operations are being rendered obsolete by technology.

      The move, which has alarmed civil liberty groups, will see an expansion in what is known as the “bulk equipment interference (EI) regime” – the process by which GCHQ can target entire communication networks overseas in a bid to identify individuals who pose a threat to national security.

      A letter from the security minister, Ben Wallace, to the head of the intelligence and security committee, Dominic Grieve, quietly filed in the House of Commons library last week, states: “Following a review of current operational and technical realities, GCHQ have … determined that it will be necessary to conduct a higher proportion of ongoing overseas focused operational activity using the bulk EI regime than was originally envisaged.”

    • Epic Games Store Privacy Policy Conflicts With EU GDPR Laws, Sketchy Refund Policies

      Launched earlier this week during The Game Awards 2018, the Epic Games Store aims to take on Steam by offering numerous exclusive titles. The new game store’s revenue share policies gives developers 88% of the sales profit, which has already begun to attract games like Ashen and Hades. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however, as digging into Epic Games Store’s privacy policy has unearthed some very worrying details, some of which do not conform with the GDPR laws.

      Reddit users from r/pcgaming researched the privacy policy of the store and found that parts of it conflict with the GDPR laws implemented by the EU earlier this year. Several clauses of the text state that, by agreeing to privacy policy, you allow Epic Games to temporarily share your personal details with advertisers. While you can restrict Epic from sharing your personal information, you can only do so in “limited circumstances”. This goes directly against the GDPR laws, which call for increased privacy for consumers.

    • What’s going on with Huawei?
    • ‘Secretive Facebook could threaten democracy’: UK expert
    • The Dark Days Of Facebook, And The Light Ahead

      Facebook just suffered the ugliest few weeks in its history, and I’m not talking about its shares plunging over 40% in the last four months.

    • China’s Great Social Credit Leap Forward

      The data-driven system would help meet market objectives by effectively extending financing options to the country’s large unbanked population, and ideological objectives by addressing rampant corruption, profiteering, and mistrust in the country—or as early documents promised, to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

    • How China’s Social Credit Systems Are Shaping Travel

      Travel is a privilege, not a right — at least according to the Chinese government. The country’s expansive social credit system has been used as a justification to ban a substantial number, 15.39 million by the latest count, from traveling by air or high-speed rail.

      It isn’t just the government that’s rolling out these “credit” regimes, tech giants Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group, via its affiliate Ant Financial, have both released their own propriety credit systems integrated into their digital ecosystems, which serve a similar purpose to a credit score in the U.S. While these digital systems are designed to have substantial consumer applications in regards to finance, they have some major implications for travel.

    • The federal government and Labor have passed controversial new encryption laws. What do they actually mean?

      The government will have three levels of requests. The first stage is voluntary while the second stage is compulsory and includes fines up to $10 million and $50,000 for an individual. The third stage is also compulsory and demands companies proactively work to build mechanisms to help authorities collect information.

    • Split Key Cryptography is Back… Again – Why Government Back Doors Don’t Work

      Let’s cover some history of attempts to regulate cryptography and why they’ve failed, and then apply that knowledge to the current situation. This will help us understand why cryptographers around the world are universally against this kind of scheme.

    • The Week in Tech: Facebook Is in the News. Again.

      The documents revealed how Facebook treated user data as a bargaining chip. The social network had a “white list” agreemenhack://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/AA18-337At with companies it favored, including Airbnb, Lyft and Netflix. The arrangement involved sharing user data with those parties that other companies were restricted from obtaining.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition

      The time to resume using words like “resistance” and “revolution” in philosophically sound and historically accurate ways was long ago.

      [...]

      The situation is especially confusing because, for many decades now, most self-declared socialists have been social democrats under the skin. The ideas are distinct, however, even when the words are used in loose and misleading ways.

      From a more scrupulous standpoint, it would be fair to say that socialists and social democrats have been on different tracks at least since the Second (Socialist) International split in the aftermath of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution.

      From then on, social democracy, no matter how named, has functioned as an alternative to the Communism of the Soviet Union and its allies.

      Communists were socialists, not social democrats and, as political heirs of militants who actually made a socialist revolution, they enjoyed uncommon levels of prestige. Moreover, because their achievement was, or seemed to be, so monumental, their purchase on socialism, however flawed it might be, swamped all others.

      It was therefore natural for opponents of Bolshevism to drift over into the social democratic camp. There was, it seemed, nowhere else to go.

    • Lessons From South of the Border

      President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric hasn’t just infected U.S. politics. Now it’s made its way south of the border.

      As a caravan of hundreds of migrants arrive in Tijuana, some residents there have started taking up Trump’s ideology. Juan Manuel Gastélum, the mayor of Tijuana, has been seen wearing a red “Make Tijuana Great Again” baseball cap. In an interview with Milenio News, he painted the migrants as a dangerous threat.

      “Sure, there are some good people in the caravan, but many are very bad for the city,” Gastélum said.

      And on November 19, a few hundred protested against the migrant caravan in Tijuana chanting “Tijuana first.” In the days before the protest, locals even attacked some migrants with stones.

      These are the real effects of Trump’s rhetoric. Luckily, despite growing anti-immigrant sentiments, there are still many in Mexico who support and defend the migrants. This gives me hope.

      Thousands of migrants are facing a humanitarian crisis in Tijuana, after walking more than 2,500 miles. Many simply want their chance to seek asylum in the United States, which is their legal right. But they may have to wait months for their chance.

    • The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual

      In this work, Chomsky condemns intellectuals who lie. He notices that intellectuals have a unique right to not only speak their mind, but to seek the truth.

    • Spare me America’s tears for Jamal Khashoggi – this excuse for Trump-bashing ignores the CIA’s past crimes

      Can I be the only one – apart from his own sycophants – to find the sight of America’s finest Republicans and Democrats condemning the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for murdering Jamal Khashoggi a bit sickening? “Crazy”. “Dangerous”. A “wrecking ball”. A “smoking saw”. These guys are angry. CIA director Gina Haspel, who was happy to sign off on the torture of her Muslim captives in a secret American prison in Thailand, obviously knew what she was talking about when she testified about Mohammed bin Salman and the agony of Jamal Khashoggi.

    • The Conspiracy Against Refugees

      Watching the ongoing debate between liberal and right-wing pundits on US mainstream media, one rarely gets the impression that Washington is responsible for the unfolding chaotic situation in Central America. In fact, no other country is as accountable as the United States for the ongoing chaos and resulting refugee crisis. So why, despite the seemingly substantial ideological and political differences between right-wing Fox News and liberal CNN, are both media outlets working hard to safeguard their country’s dirty little secret?

      In recent years, state and gang violence — coupled with extreme poverty — have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, among other countries in Central and South America. The mainstream media in the US, however, is rarely interested in the root cause of that reality.

    • Trump, the CIA and the future of torture

      Investigating claims of impeding justice, seventeen years after the worst attack on the US and ongoing rampant claims of prisoner abuse and torture.

    • The Psychological Impact Of The US Torture Program

      The report concludes that the company facilitated these flights and delivered detainees to black sites where many received further enhanced interrogation approved by a post-9/11 administration. The report also details the abuses suffered by the detainees and the lingering psychological impacts on survivors’ health. It also points to the need for greater accountability from federal and state officials for their involvement in this program.

      Host Frank Stasio is joined by two experts to review the report “Torture Flights: North Carolina’s Role in the CIA Rendition and Torture Program,” which was released in September. Joe Margulies, a professor of law and government at Cornell University, talks about his work representing detainee Abu Zubaydah. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in CIA custody, according to the report, and still remains at Guantanamo Bay. Katherine Porterfield joins the conversation to talk about the psychological impact of the CIA torture program. Porterfield is a senior psychologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City who has worked for the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture since 1999 and interviewed some of the detainees.

    • The morality of torture: A toxic legacy

      An investigation into the covert CIA programme of torture outlawed by former President Obama and favoured by the Trump administration.

    • Family sues CIA to find body of post-9/11 detainee

      The family of an Afghan man detained and allegedly tortured to death by the Central Intelligence Agency in the wake of the 9/11 attacks sued Thursay to find out what happened to his body.

      The lawsuit says that Gul Rahman and his family were living in a refugee camp in Peshawar when he was kidnapped by the U.S. spy agency on suspicion of being a jihadist militant on November 5, 2002 and transferred to a CIA prison for interrogation.

      “Over the next two weeks, CIA personnel subjected Mr. Rahman to extensive and systematic torture and abuse,” the lawsuit said, until he died of hypothermia on November 20, the lawsuit said.

      His death was not reported until 2010 and not officially confirmed until 2014.

      “To date, the CIA has not officially informed Mr Rahman’s family of his death, nor returned his body to his family,” the lawsuit said.

      The suit, brought in the federal district court in Washington, demands the release of records regarding his death and his body under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    • The CIA Tortured An Afghan Suspect To Death But Refuses To Say Where His Body Is

      October 2002 was the last time Gul Rahman’s family ever saw their father, dead or alive. Little did they realize that the Afghan citizen, who was residing in a refugee camp in Peshwar, Pakistan, at the time with his family, was taken by Central Intelligence officers to a secret prison over 40 miles away near the Afghanistan capital.

      It was inside this clandestine facility, also known as the Salt Pit, where Rahman was chained up, interrogated and tortured for three weeks. He was also deprived of food and sleep, made to stand for days and was drenched with freezing water until he showed signs of hypothermia. For the almost the entire time he was held, Rahman was either fully naked, naked below the waist, or naked except for a diaper he wore.

    • Obama Banned Torture Years Ago but Its Replacement Is Still Brutal

      Hanns Scharff was already a legend when Allied forces captured him at the end of World War II. A businessman conscripted into the Nazi war machine in 1939 and assigned to interrogate captured Allied pilots, Scharff quickly earned a reputation in the Luftwaffe for his uncanny ability to elicit valuable intelligence from his subjects—without laying a hand on them. “He could get a confession of infidelity from a nun,” one of his former prisoners later quipped. Like Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who got a second chance with the Pentagon’s ballistic missile program, Scharff had expertise that was recognized after the war’s end by the U.S. Air Force, which in 1948 invited him to lecture on his techniques and adopted many of his methods for its interrogation school curriculum.

      Scharff’s ideas gained currency over the decades but never completely won over the front-line intelligence agencies, especially after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Panicking over the possibility of another devastating assault, the CIA in particular ignored the evidence produced by Scharff and other like-minded interrogation veterans and opted for what amounted to the movie version of questioning suspects: threats and torture.“

      Important lessons learned about the usefulness of non-coercive, ‘strategic interrogation’ techniques,” wrote one expert in a 2006 historical study of U.S. interrogation methods, “were forgotten.”

    • The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left

      According to our nation’s paper of record, the New York Times, the Nicaraguan Contras re-activated some time ago in order to take on their old foe, Daniel Ortega, who had been re-elected in 2007 after a long hiatus of 17 years. One may recall that it was the pressure of the Contras, and their brutal terrorist tactics, which were critical to unseating Ortega from office the first time back in 1990.

      Just as a refresher, the Contras (short for “counterrevolutionaries”) were made up largely of the National Guardsmen of the US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. After the successful 1979 revolution against Somoza – a revolution led by Ortega and the FSLN (or, Sandinistas) — the CIA organized the Guardsmen into the Contras and trained, armed and directed them for the purpose of undermining the fledgling Sandinista government. The Contras, with the direct encouragement of the CIA, carried out various terrorist acts which included the torture, rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure. All told, around 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the 1980’s as a result of the US-backed Contra War.

    • Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front

      Rwanda has served as an important metaphor in American foreign policy for the failure to act to intervene in genocide. Presidents ordering bombing attacks or Special Forces operations have frequently said that they could not allow another Rwanda on their watch.

      According to Samantha Power’s Pulitzer-prize winning book, A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide (2002), a veritable bible for policy-makers in the era of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the Clinton administration had foreknowledge of the April 1994 disaster, and failed to save the Tutsi from slaughter carried out by Hutu extremists.

      [...]

      The Bush and Clinton administrations, with their British counterparts, supported Kagame and the RPF because Habyarimana, though originally installed in a CIA supported coup in 1973, had become a proxy of the French. After Habyarimana’s killing Clinton urged the removal of UN forces so the RPF would win Rwanda’s civil war.

      The RPF instigated the war in October 1990 by invading Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to reclaim the Tutsis former privileged status. (The Tutsi were favored by the Belgian colonialists and then subjugated and many expelled following Rwanda’s Hutu Power revolution in the early 1960s). The U.S. and British trained the RPF in counterinsurgency and helped to turn the refugee army into a military powerhouse. Kagame was trained in psychological warfare methods at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: The Decade That Roared, and Wept

      era, it seems, has the United States been able to overcome its original sin of slavery, racism and racial caste. It most certainly failed to do so in the ’20s. There were, of course, early signs that the renaissance of black culture following the First World War had strict geographic and temporal limitations. Indeed, the hundreds of thousands of African-American soldiers who deployed overseas during 1917-18 found that the racial and social norms in France were far more open and accepting than those of the United States—especially those in the American South. Some never left France, forming a robust and creative black expatriate community in Paris. Then, when most black soldiers did return home, proudly adorned in their military uniforms, they faced political violence and the threat of lynching at record levels. A number were lynched while still in uniform.

      Still, for all these grim intonations, the 1920s was a vibrant era for black culture. Jazz, made popular in the period, is arguably the only true, wholly American art form. The Harlem Renaissance formed by black writers, musicians, poets and critics in New York City would become legendary. The 1920s, in the wake of World War I, was also the start of the First Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North—one of the largest and fastest internal movements of a population in modern history. This shift created the racial pattern and mosaic that modern Americans take for granted. In 1900, 90 percent of American blacks still lived in the South. They left to seek war-industry jobs and postwar urban industrial work. Others hoped to escape the racism, violence and suffocating caste system of the South. Most settled in urban centers in the Midwest and Northeast. Detroit, for example, counted some 6,000 black residents in 1910, but more than 130,000 in 1930.

    • We and the Uighurs

      In the United States, there is great concern for the plight of the Uighurs. It was well described in an editorial that appeared in the New York Times on Dec. 1. It was titled: “Who Will Speak Up for the Uighurs?” The editorial writer described the “urgent need to address at the highest levels of the American government what have been described as China’s worst human rights abuses in decades.” The need for the editorial seems obvious.

      The Uighurs, and members of other Muslim minority groups are being held in China’s far northwestern Xinjiang region, in what are described by outside observers as beyond deplorable conditions. The number of Uighurs detained may be in excess of one million and the inhabitants of the camps are reportedly subject to torture, and food deprivation. There have reportedly been countless deaths resulting from the treatment of the Uighurs by the Chinese authorities.

      It comes as no surprise to learn that the Chinese do not have the same perception of life in the camps as outside observers, former inhabitants of the camps and the editorial board of the Times.

      Explaining the treatment of the Uighurs, the Chinese say it is necessary to crackdown on them to “combat extremism and terrorism on its western frontier. Mimicking Trump, who says the same things about immigrants in the United States on its southern border, the Chinese say, “many of those detained are common criminals.”

      The Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups detained in the camps represent the largest number of Chinese citizens detained since the days of the Cultural Revolution. According to the Chinese government, their detention is needed in order to crackdown on religious extremism. Thanks to reporting from a Chinese government spokesman, we have learned that the camps are not nearly as bad as the editorial writers of the Times and others would have us believe.

    • The Dead End of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”

      “La lucha obrera no tiene frontera.” “The working class struggle has no borders.”

      That’s a chant you’ll often hear on an immigrant rights protest. But for too long, this sentiment has been absent from the mainstream debate around immigration.

      That’s because the movement for immigrant justice and equality has been damaged politically for over a decade by its support for the pro-corporate framework known as “comprehensive immigration reform” (CIR).

      Comprehensive immigration reform takes as its starting point the need to offer enhanced border security and enforcement against “bad” immigrants as the precondition for winning some sort of limited relief for “good” immigrants who are willing to pay the price and atone for being “illegal” in the first place. (Most versions of CIR also include “guest worker” provisions to ensure a continued supply of cheap immigrant labor, though this aspect is often downplayed by advocates.)

      [...]

      As Justin Akers Chacón documents in his book No One is Illegal, this criminalization led to a drop in pay for undocumented workers, who had previously made similar wages to their US-born counterparts. IRCA thus became a major milestone in the creation of a pool of hyper-exploited undocumented labor.

      Since then, the government has only gained more tools to control and repress immigrants. In the 1990s Bill Clinton combined vague promises of relief to the undocumented population with harsh anti-immigrant legislation that increased border security, expanded the grounds for deporting immigrants with legal status and cut noncitizens off of many federal benefits.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Rapper Sues Video Game Maker Over Fortnite Dance Move

      Fortnite is free to download and play, but gamers can spend real money to purchase costumes and other virtual additions to their digital avatars. And they do: Fornite has made Epic Games more than $1 billion dollars. Those add-ons include dance moves (known as “emotes”) like Swipe It, which was added to the game in July.

      “They took my craft and they sold that,” 2 Milly told TMZ, adding that he wasn’t familiar with Fortnite before hearing rumors his dance appeared in the game. “Whatever they made off the specific emote, Swipe It, that’s what I want.”

      The lawsuit asks the court to prevent Epic Games from continuing to display that dance in Fortnite, and for 2 Milly to be compensated financially for its use.

    • Rapper sues Epic Games over “unauthorized” Fortnite dance use

      The Milly Rock dance move traces its roots back to 2014, when it was popularized in a video for a song of the same name that currently has over 18 million YouTube views. The extremely similar “Swipe It” emote in Fortnite is currently sold for 500 V-Bucks (about $5) or as part of a Season 5 Battle Pass for 950 V-Bucks (About $9.50).

      “Epic uses the Milly Rock, and other dances, to create the false impression that Epic started these dances and crazes or that the artist who created them is endorsing the game,” the lawsuit argues. “Indeed, players have posted thousands of videos of themselves performing the ‘Swipe It’ emote with the hashtag, #fortnitedance, without referencing the Milly Rock or crediting Ferguson as the dance’s creator and owner.”

    • 285, Claim Construction and Lessons from Fee Awards [Ed: David Hricik on the situation where patent aggressors need to compensate their victims]

      The accused infringer, rather than seeking fees caused by judge shopping, sought all of its fees incurred early in the case, before consolidation, rather than those that were the extra fees caused by the judge shopping: $590,000. It got nothing, but from the court’s order had it segregated out the fees reasonably, it might have received around $59,000.

      It is hard to tell whether the billing records were insufficiently clear to allow for this, or that the strategy was to seeking it all without recognizing the need to show causation of additional fees. Either way, there are good lessons to learn both during litigation (write good work records as they may be used for, or against, you) and in seeking fees, be reasonable.

      With respect to the fees after Markman, the accused infringer sought all of the fees from the date of the Markman ruling onward: “every single item” as the court noted. The court again applied a reasonableness standard and looked to causation. It first reasoned that it was absurd to suppose the lawyer instantly could have determined the court’s order rendered further prosecution unreasonable, consulted with its client, and dismiss the case. The court reasoned that about six weeks was enough time for the patentee’s lawyers to have done that work, so immediately lopped off fees for that time period. Then, because work records showed duplicative work, the court lopped off an additional 10% as a rough cut. The first step took the amount sought from $430,000 to $340,000, and then down to $310,000.

      [...]

      Finally, the accused infringer sought $157,000 for seeking fees (i.e., for preparing and filing the 285 motion. The accused infringer had made five arguments to support an award, and the court found 2 meritorious (above), and so lopped of 3/5 of the amount sought, taking it to $94,000. Then, exasperated, the court stated it could not understand how it took nearly 300 hours to prepare the motion when the accused infringer had not, as noted above, gone through the billing to show which were actually caused by the misconduct. It awarded $6800.

    • More on Fee Awards and Competent Billing and Motion Practice

      Of course, there are reasons at time not to be very explicit: once, for example, I was involved in a case where the opposing lawyers were required to submit their fee statements monthly in a related bankruptcy case. We monitored that, and as a result we were able to see what issues opposing counsel were examining in almost real-time. But, the rise of Section 285 fee shifting is good reason to make clear and precise time entries a habit.

    • POP! – Precedential Opinion Panel takes on Late-Joinder Attempt

      In September 2018, the USPTO rewrote several Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Revised SOP2 creates the Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) to be convened to rehear issues of “exceptional importance” as well as for re-designating prior opinions as precedential, when deemed appropriate. According to SOP2, the Precedential Opinion Panel will “typically” include the PTO Director, Commissioner for Patents, and the PTAB Chief Judge.

    • Standing to Appeal IPR Judgments: When does a Statute Create Injury-in-Fact?

      In 2016, JTEKT (Toyota) an inter partes review (IPR) petition challenging GKN’s Patent No. 8,215,440 (2wd/4wd dual drive-train). During the IPR, GKN disclaimed the broadest claims, and the PTO confirmed validity of the remaining claims. Here, the key difference from the prior art was a negative limitation – that the system coupling is “without a differential gearing.” Wanting to also cancel those claims, JTEKT appealed. Although JTEKT and GKN are competitors, JTEKT has not yet developed a competing product — arguing (without real evidence) that the ‘440 patent was a roadblock to its development project.

      [...]

      The question here is substantially the same as the petition found in the pending case of RPX Corp. v. ChanBond LLC (17-1686) (awaiting input from the Solicitor General). There is a good chance that briefing in JTEKT will be complete before the Solicitor submits the government brief in RPX. JTEKT would be a good companion case to RPX because it presents the added element of competitor challenge.

    • Pharmaceutical and Technology Industry Innovation Growth at Stake in Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva

      Today’s oral arguments in Supreme Court case Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva illustrate the power that a successful appeal could have to change a longstanding doctrine and significantly impact how businesses handle intellectual property transactions. The issue at hand is whether secret sales will still be considered prior art despite their potential to invalidate claims.

      In concrete terms, this could have a large impact on several industries. In the pharmaceutical industry, companies often identify potential drug candidates but may choose not to further develop every candidate because of the time or money required. Similarly, in the software and high technology fields, employees often develop inventions that may be highly innovative, but peripheral to the core business of the employer.

      But because the time between identifying a potential invention and bringing a product to market may be long, it is risky to purchase early-stage drug candidates or software concepts since this triggers the start of the patent clock. The first round of patents could expire before marketing is possible, reducing potential profits. A change in law could result in more transactions involving early-stage innovations.

    • Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Helsinn v. Teva

      The Court heard oral argument in this case on Tuesday. It is impossible to know, and even more foolhardy to guess, what the members of the Court are thinking from their questions during oral argument, but that cannot stop an attempted analysis of the aspects of the issues before them that naturally arises when reviewing an oral argument transcript.

      Kannon K. Shanmugam argued for Petitioner Helsinn; William M. Jay argued for Respondent Teva; and Malcolm L. Stewart, Deputy Solicitor General, argued for the Government. The Chief Justice posed the first question to Mr. Shanmugam, noting that Helsinn’s interpretation of the word “sale” in the statute (to mean sales to the general public) is not necessarily consistent with the plain meaning of the word (Mr. Shanmugam attempted to distinguish on the basis of their being a linguistic difference between “sale” and the statutory language “on sale”). New Justice Kavanaugh jumped on Mr. Shanmugam’s hypothetical (regarding a purported private sale of Mr. Shanmugam’s overcoat to Mr. Jay), disputing why that wouldn’t be a sale (“it’s pretty hard to say something that has been sold was not on sale”). Justice Breyer, referring to Helsinn’s argument in the brief, questioned whether Helsinn’s contentions that its position was supported by the Court’s precedents (“we only have Justice Story, Learned Hand, and I guess various others, maybe John Marshall for all I know”, which in vacuo seem pretty solid), and opined that “the purpose of this on-sale rule including private sales is to prevent people from benefiting from their invention prior to and beyond the 20 years that they’re allowed.” Mr. Shanmugam countered that “the predominant purpose of the on-sale bar was preserving the public’s access to inventions that have entered the public domain.” Justice Kavanaugh mentioned “commercial exploitation” as another aspect of the bar, and Justice Breyer interjected that such sales (like the one here) can be secret sales. Mr. Shanmugam, attempting to provide clarification to Justice Ginsberg, said that Congress intended to “clarify” the scope of what would be considered to be “on sale” with, inter alia, the catchall phrase “or otherwise available to the public,” which Justice Kavanaugh opined was “a terrible clarification,” stating that there were many efforts during debate over the AIA to “actually change the ‘on sale language, and all those failed.” Mr. Shanmugam countered by suggesting that the way Congress had revised the statute was appropriate to its purpose, which included “abrogating some of the outlying lower court decisions that had extended both the on-sale bar and the public use bar to cases where there was not public availability.” Mr. Shanmugam responded directly to Justice Kavanaugh’s citation of an amicus brief by Mark Lemley (and other legal academics) that the on-sale bar always included secret sales, a statement challenged by Justice Breyer based on the Court’s citation in its Bonito Boats case of Learned Hand’s dichotomy that a patentee “has to go ahead and patent [her invention] or keep it a secret forever.” To Justice Breyer’s accompanying hypothetical of an inventor selling her invention to multiple parties under confidentiality agreements, Mr. Shanmugam says his “submission is a much more modest one,” to “correct the Federal Circuit’s error, which is to say that public availability is not required.”

    • News from Abroad: Canada’s New Patent Rules — Twelve Notable Changes and Tips

      On December 1, 2018, the Canadian government released its proposed new Patent Rules in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This is one of the last steps necessary for implementing significant changes to Canada’s patent law, which are expected to come into force in 2019.

      There will be many changes to Canadian patent law and practice. In this article, we discuss the most notable changes expected, and some tips for safe and effective practice under the new rules.

    • Nasdaq ISE Files Motion to Disqualify Fish & Richardson at PTAB Over Prior Representation

      On October 11th, electronic options exchange provider Nasdaq ISE, a subsidiary of the Nasdaq stock market entity, filed a motion to disqualify counsel representing trading service provider Miami International Holdings, Inc. (MIAX), in a covered business method (CBM) review proceeding being conducted at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Nasdaq ISE argued that counsel from Fish & Richardson representing MIAX should be disqualified because Fish & Richardson formerly represented Nasdaq in intellectual property matters for 13 years and the firm is now representing an adverse party in a substantially related matter.

      Between 1998 and 2011, Fish & Richardson prosecuted patents on behalf of Nasdaq related to inventions in electronic trading technology and was provided with information regarding Nasdaq’s strategic approach to IP. After Nasdaq and its subsidiaries filed a patent infringement suit in 2017 against MIAX, in which Nasdaq asserted four patents prosecuted by Fish & Richardson, MIAX hired both Fish & Richardson as well as Reed Smith LLP as defense counsel. Although Fish & Richardson made claims that it wouldn’t participate in the portion of the suit involving the Nasdaq patents it helped to prosecute, Nasdaq successfully moved to disqualify Fish & Richardson in the district court proceeding after a magistrate judge held that MIAX’s defense was a collaborative effort and that Nasdaq and MIAX’s interests were materially adverse.

    • CAFC Overturns Preliminary Injunction on Generic Suboxone Film Over Newman Dissent

      On Tuesday, November 20th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in Indivior Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, S.A., which vacated a preliminary injunction handed out by the District of New Jersey in a Hatch-Waxman patent infringement case brought by British pharmaceutical firm Indivior. The majority panel of Circuit Judges Alan Lourie and Kara Stoll found that the district court erred in the interpretation of the scope of patent claims asserted by Indivior. Circuit Judge Pauline Newman authored a dissenting opinion in which she explained she would have found the district court’s preliminary injunction grant sustained on appeal.

    • Personal Jurisdiction is Not Established by Prior Lawsuit or Sending Infringement Notice Letters

      Wok & Pan, Ind., Inc. (“Wok”) competes with Maxchief in the plastic folding table industry. Wok, also headquartered in China, is the owner of four patents directed to folding tables. In February 2015, Wok filed suit in the Central District of California against Staples alleging infringement of its patents by selling tables manufactured by Maxchief. Staples, in turn, requested indemnity by Meco, and Meco requested indemnity by Maxchief.

    • Reasonable Royalty Cannot Include Activities That Do Not Constitute Patent Infringement

      The Federal Circuit vacated a $4 million damages award to Seoul Semiconductor Co. (“Seoul”), holding that the district court erred when it denied Enplas Display Device Corp.’s (“Enplas”) motion for judgment as a matter of law that the damages award was not supported by substantial evidence. See Enplas Display Device Corp. v. Seoul Semiconductor Co., No. 2016-2599, 2018 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 19, 2018) (Before Newman, Hughes, and Stoll, J.) (Opinion for the court, Stoll, J.) (Concurrence-in-part and Dissent-in-part, Newman, J.).

    • To Shift or Not to Shift: Burden Shifting Framework and the PTAB

      Looking at Magnum Oil and Dupont v. Synvina, in the IPR that led to Magnum Oil, the Board shifted the burden of producing proof of patentability to the patentee when it should not have done so. Conversely, in the IPR that led to Dupont v. Synvina, the Board failed to shift the burden when it should have done so. It is noteworthy that in each case, the Board was following what it believed was the Federal Circuit precedent. This article sheds light on the issues underlying the confusion over burden shifting in Magnum Oil and Dupont v. Synvina. Magnum Oil is considered first.

    • IP Australia launches guide for digital businesses

      IP Australia has unveiled a guide for start-ups to help them understand intellectual property in the digital age.
      Dubbed IP for Digital Business, the guide is aimed at helping entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls of starting a company, including copyright, ownership, licenses and infringement.
      The guide has five categories which cover protecting concepts and solutions, turning ideas into reality, avoiding pitfalls when going to market, keeping IP secure and going international.

    • Abbott faces suit from FlexStent over stent patent

      FlexStent alleged in a lawsuit this week that Abbott infringes a vascular stent patent with its Xience line of drug-eluting devices.

      The suit, filed Nov. 26 in the U.S. District Court for Central California, accused Abbott’s Xience stents of infringing on U.S. Patent 6,187,035. The Xience devices infringe Claim 1 of the ‘035 patent, which specifies a stent with specific width and thickness ranges for its vertical and horizontal branches.

      The FlexStent patent calls for vertical branches with thicknesses between 0.09mm and 0.12mm, horizontal branch thickness of 0.05mm to 0.09mm and branch thickness ranging from 0.08mm to 0.12mm. The Xience device cited in the lawsuit has vertical branches of 0.09906mm to 0.1016mm, horizontal branch width of 0.0762mm and thickness 0.08128mm – all within the range specified in the FlexStent patent, according to the lawsuit.

    • IP Disputes Among Private Business Co-Owners Dominate Three Recent Cases

      Last month gave us three noteworthy post-trial decisions in three different cases from three different states, all centering on disputes among business co-owners over the ownership and exploitation of the businesses’s core intellectual property. While each case stems from a unique set of facts, they all have in common failures to allocate IP ownership by means of clear contractual undertakings ex ante and/or failures to exercise due diligence at inception or during the life of the business.

    • Qualcomm fears being required to renegotiate patent license agreements with Samsung, many others

      This is the first post, and probably not the last, in which I’ll discuss some interesting information I found in the Federal Trade Commission’s and Qualcomm’s proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law with a view to next month’s San Jose trial. Qualcomm’s filing is more than twice as long (157 pages) as the FTC’s submission (71 pages), but Judge Lucy H. Koh will decide strictly based on the law and the facts, so this antitrust case is not going to turn into a battle of matériel. The litigation departments of government agencies are outnumbered by private-sector litigants’ armies of lawyers all the time, but quite often they prevail nevertheless.

    • Netherlands: Tomra v. Kiremko, District Court of Midden-Nederland

      The Court confirmed that a District court, not specialised in patent matters, does have relative jurisdiction to decide a motion to produce exhibits for determining patent infringement. In order to positively decide a motion to produce exhibits, (threat of) infringement should be made plausible, but the threshold for plausibility is relatively low. F

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