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02.19.19

Battistelli Trashed 223 Millions (of Stakeholders’ Euros) on a System That Destroyed the European Patent Office and Made Few Private Corporations a Lot Richer

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Before, on his final weeks on the job, passing millions of euros to his other employer

EPO’s IT - Yet another crack in Battistelli’s “excellence” bubble

Summary: A quarter of a billion euros later the EPO finally admits in private that this was a massive failure

READERS can find above “EPO’s IT – Yet another crack in Battistelli’s “excellence” bubble”.” Sources tell us this appeared in SUEPO’s site (non-public), having been published a fortnight ago, on 05/02/2019. As we showed yesterday, there’s less than a fortnight left before key components of this system get abandoned. What a waste of money.

As SUEPO put it: “Will Mr Campinos hold the managers, appointed by Mr Battistelli, accountable for these disasters?”

Of course not. From the above:

The eDossier programme has not been fully realised and is largely delayed. This seems to be amongst others due to the fact that the two releases, stock management/annotation and search workflow, are developed in parallel, but are based on different architecture and technology stack. The parallel development of the two releases turns out to be highly inefficient and not long-term sustainable. The audit recommends an immediate stop of all effort on one release and the work on the other release should be temporarily suspended.
As in all previous staff surveys, and the only positive statement in the audit, a strong individual commitment and team spirit among the IT staff is shown. Nevertheless, overall staff engagement is rather low. In particular, the pride, satisfaction and sense of purpose are relatively weak in comparison to benchmarks. Furthermore, the management style is perceived as too top-down and non-collaborative while appreciation of individual opinions is considered to be relatively low.

Conclusions:

- The audit clearly reveals that Mr Battistelli either lied to all the EPO stakeholders or was completely misinformed by his management about the state of affairs of the EPO’s IT.
- Fact is that 223 million Euros are spent on an IT project and there seems to be no tangible results coming from it. Mr Campinos and Ms Simon await an enormous task to repair the EPO’s IT organisation, infrastructure and IT staff motivation.
- The production rise of the last years can only be the result of the extreme hard work of the EPO staff and certainly not by the badly designed, wrongly developed or incomplete applications.
- Losing 223 million Euros is clearly not in line with the sustainability mantra of the EPO administration. Sustainability is an “approach aiming to create long-term stakeholder value through the implementation of a business strategy that focuses on the ethical, social, environmental, cultural, and economic dimensions of doing business. The strategies created are intended to foster longevity, transparency and proper employee development within business organizations”. It definitely does not mean for EPO employees to produce more and work harder in order to cover losses made by EPO managers.

Are the next cracks in Battistelli’s “excellence” bubble going to be: the patent quality, the reformed EPO legal system, the reformed social democracy and/or the ill conceived HR policies ?

How will Mr Campinos deal with the fact that the EPO is not the “excellent” model organisation his predecessor always claimed it to be?

Will Mr Campinos hold the managers, appointed by Mr Battistelli, accountable for these disasters?

SUEPO

We now live in a Europe with lots of dubious European Patents. In Lexology, for instance, Weickmann & Weickmann’s Stephan Jellbauer has just written about those fruity EPO patents that are laughable satires. See how Battistelli attempted to justify these. FRKelly has meanwhile written in the same site on “Patent enforcement through the courts in the European Union”; it should increasingly be accepted and broadly realised that many courts do not (not often anyway) tolerate patents granted by EPO. In order to fake numbers Battistelli allowed a lot of bogus patents to be granted; it may take decades before these go away (expiry). Who pays? The public.

Links 19/2/2019: Mesa 18.3.4, Cutelyst 2.7.0, Plasma Pass 1.0.0

Posted in News Roundup at 10:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • How Linux testing has changed and what matters today

    If you’ve ever wondered how your Linux computer stacks up against other Linux, Windows, and MacOS machines or searched for reviews of Linux-compatible hardware, you’re probably familiar with Phoronix. Along with its website, which attracts more than 250 million visitors a year to its Linux reviews and news, the company also offers the Phoronix Test Suite, an open source hardware benchmarking tool, and OpenBenchmarking.org, where test result data is stored.

    According to Michael Larabel, who started Phoronix in 2004, the site “is frequently cited as being the leading source for those interested in computer hardware and Linux. It offers insights regarding the development of the Linux kernel, product reviews, interviews, and news regarding free and open source software.”

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Video: Container Mythbusters

      Michael Jennings has been a UNIX/Linux sysadmin and software engineer for over 20 years. He has been the author of or a contributor to numerous open source software projects, including Charliecloud, Mezzanine, Eterm, RPM, Warewulf/PERCEUS, and TORQUE. Additionally, he co-founded the Caos Foundation, creators of CentOS, and has been the lead developer on 3 separate Linux distributions. He currently serves as the Platforms Team Lead in the HPC Systems group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, responsible for managing some of our nation’s most powerful supercomputers and is the primary author/maintainer for the LBNL Node Health Check (NHC) project. He is also the Vice President of HPCXXL, the extreme-scale HPC Users group.

    • Assessing App Portfolios for Onboarding to OpenShift

      Most professionals who’ve spent enough time in the IT industry have seen organizational silos in action. The classic silos are the ones created by Development and Operations organizations; silos we aim to break down through DevOps-style collaboration. But how many organizations pursuing digital transformation are continuing that siloed thinking when it comes to evaluating the application portfolio for cloud migration and modernization?

      Application Development, Database Operations, Infrastructure, and the various lines of business have portions of the application portfolio for which they take responsibility. When organizations think about modernization, they need to deemphasize the silos and develop a comprehensive approach that evaluates the entire portfolio, and the teams that support those applications. Otherwise, they’re leaving money on the table in the form of missed opportunities for cost savings and application improvements that generate revenue and increase customer engagement.

      A comprehensive approach takes into account the full range of workloads supported by the IT organization and starts making tough decisions about: which workloads can/should be modernized, which should be rehosted to take advantage of more efficient cloud platforms, and which should be left as is or even retired because they’re outlived their usefulness.

    • Big Blue Finally Brings IBM i To Its Own Public Cloud

      Well, that took quite a long time. After what seems like eons of nudging and cajoling and pushing, IBM is making the IBM i operating system and its integrated database management system, as well as the application development tools and other systems software, available on its self-branded IBM Cloud public cloud.

      Big Blue previewed its plans to bring both IBM i and AIX to the IBM Cloud at its annual Think conference in Las Vegas, on scale out machines aimed at small and medium businesses as well as to customers who want to run clusters of machines, and on scale up systems that have NUMA electronics that more tightly cluster them into shared memory systems.

    • Linux Professional Institute (LPI) transforming to a membership-based organisation

      LPI’s goals over the years has been to help steer careers and entrepreneurship by proving the skills of practitioners working with open source software. Its focus has been on Linux distribution neutrality, training methods, and promoting open source.

      Under the new arrangement, certification holders will soon be able to become LPI members, which means they will have the ability to elect the LPI Board of Directors and steer the direction of the organisation.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • LHS Episode #272: The Weekender XXIV

      Good grief! It’s the latest edition of the Weekender! In this episode, the hosts put together a list of amateur radio contests and special events, upcoming open source conferences and a hefty does of hedonism that blends together and goes down like a luxurious sippin’ whiskey. Thank you for tuning in and we hope you have an amazing upcoming fortnight.

    • Destination Linux EP108 – Ubuntu Studio Amped Up

      On this episode of Destination Linux, we discuss some news for Makulu Linux, GNOME 3.32, IPFire 2.21 and more. We’ll also check out a cool new system deployment tool that could change how multi-booting is done. Then we’ll check out a new desktop offering from ZaReason as well as an overclocking tool for Team Green users. Later in the show we’ll talk about some Linux Gaming news and much more including our Tips, Tricks and Software Spotlight picks!

    • Replacing OneNote or Evernote with open alternative ways to take notes
    • Linux vs. Windows The Fundamental Differences
  • Kernel Space

    • Debian 9.8 Released, Kernel 5.0-rc7 Is Out, Creative Commons Update on the EU Copyright Changes, Slax 9.8 Available and Mozilla Testing Picture-in-Picture Mode in Firefox

      Linux kernel 5.0-rc7 was released yesterday. Linus writes “A nice and calm week, with statistics looking normal. Just under half drivers (gpu, networking, input, md, block, sound, …), with the rest being architecture fixes (arm64, arm, x86, kvm), networking and misc (filesystem etc). Nothing particularly odd stands out, and everything is pretty small. Just the way I like it.”

    • FS-VERITY Updated For Read-Only, File-Based Authenticity Protection On EXT4/F2FS

      Since November we haven’t heard much about Google’s effort around FS-VERITY as transparent integrity / authenticity support for read-only files on a writable file-system. Fortunately, the effort didn’t stop and new patches are pending for this implementation that complements DM-VERITY.

      FS-VERITY offers read-only, file-based authenticity protection on a per-file basis that can reside on a read-write file-system, like DM-VERITY being at the block level. FS-VERITY is being implemented as its own framework akin to fs-crypt for file-system encryption. The initial Linux file-systems that Google cares about for hooking into FS-VERITY are EXT4 and F2FS, both of which are used by Android devices.

    • XFS Copy-On-Write Support Being Improved, Always CoW Option

      One of the recent XFS innovations under work and maturing with time has been Copy on Write (CoW) support for this mature Linux file-systems. The XFS CoW support continues to be improved upon and an “always CoW” option is being prepared to always force this behavior.

      Christoph Hellwig has been among the XFS developers working on the copy-on-write improvements as well as adding an always_cow sysfs option. The latest XFS CoW patches were sent out on Monday for review.

    • ACPI 6.3 Support Coming With The Linux 5.1 Kernel

      Version 6.3 of the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) was just recently published by the UEFI Forum and support for this latest ACPI revision is on the way with the Linux 5.1 kernel.

      There are many changes lining up for Linux 5.1 and now ACPI 6.3 support is the latest to tack on that list. ACPI 6.3 is the latest major annual update to this specification and was just released days ago.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Chamferwm: A Vulkan-Powered X11 Window Manager

        While we have talked about the possibilities of writing a Vulkan Wayland compositor and there was even a short-lived Vulkan renderer for KDE’s KWin, it’s also possible to write a X11 window manager around the Vulkan interfaces.

        Chamferwm is a new tiling X11 window manager that features a Vulkan compositor. Chamferwm doesn’t support Wayland at this point but is written using Vulkan and XCB for the X11 bits. This tiling window manager already supports a lot of standard window management functionality, all rendering is done with Vulkan and there is support for user-supplied shaders for decorations/borders, and support as well for using an external compositor.

      • mesa 18.3.4

        Mesa 18.3.4 is now available.

        In this release we have:

        A fix in the XvMC state-tracker, which was causing some video attributes to
        not take affect. On the video front the VAAPI state tracker has seen
        improvements with VP9 streams while the amdgpu driver advertises all available
        profiles.

        On Intel side we have compiler fixes and extra PCI IDs for Coffee Lake and
        Ice Lake parts. In the Broadcom drivers a couple of memory leaks were
        addressed and the NEON assembly should compile properly on armhf.

        Other drivers such as radeonsi, nouveau and freedreno have also seen some
        love. The RADV driver has seen addressed to compile correctly with GCC9
        amongst other changes.

        The Xlib based libGL have been addressed to work with X servers, which lacks
        the MIT-SHM extension such as XMing.

        To top it up we have a few fixes to the meson build system.

      • Mesa 18.3.4 Brings VA-API VP9 Improvements, More Coffeelake/Icelake IDs For Intel

        For those sticking to the Mesa 18.3 series until the Mesa 19.0 release is officially out and sufficiently matured, Mesa 18.3.4 is now available as the latest point release for these open-source 3D drivers.

        Mesa 18.3.4 adds some missing PCI IDs for Coffeelake and Icelake parts to the Intel driver code, VA-API Gallium state tracker improvements for VP9 video streams, memory leak fixes to the VC4 driver, several RADV Radeon Vulkan driver fixes, and even a fix for the old XvMC state tracker so it correctly handles video attributes.

      • Intel Confirms their Discrete Graphics Card in latest Linux Patches
      • Intel Already Adding Linux Kernel Support For 2020 Dedicated GPU Releases
      • Intel releases patches to add Linux Kernel support for upcoming dedicated GPU releases
      • Intel rolls out discrete GPU patches preparing Linux for Intel Xe graphics cards
      • Intel prepares for new graphics cards with driver updates

        Intel recently released new updates for its Linux graphics driver to prepare the system for its upcoming discrete graphics cards, Phoronix reported.

        The updates reportedly introduce memory region support to Linux graphics driver, which is required for discrete graphics cards that have dedicated VRAM.

        This feature was previously not necessary for Intel’s graphics drivers, as the company’s integrated graphics share memory with the CPU.

        At the end of 2018, Intel confirmed it was working on discrete graphics cards and it was set to launch its GPU products in 2020.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux 5.0 I/O Scheduler Benchmarks On Laptop & Desktop Hardware

        Our past tests have shown that while most Linux distributions default to “none” for their I/O scheduler on NVMe solid-state storage, that isn’t necessarily the best scheduler decision in all cases. Here are tests using the Linux 5.0 Git kernel using laptop and desktop hardware while evaluating no I/O scheduler, mq-deadline, Kyber, and BFQ scheduler options.

        Out today is the latest installment of our routine I/O scheduler kernel benchmarks. For this round of testing using a Linux 5.0 Git kernel atop Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, tests were done on an AMD Ryzen 5 2400G desktop and Intel Core i7 8550U laptop. The Ryzen 5 2400G had a Corsair Force MP500 120GB NVMe SSD. The laptop was a Dell XPS 9370 with Samsung PM961 solid-state drive. EXT4 was the file-system in use on both systems and with the default mount options.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Cutelyst 2.7.0 released, async is back!

        Cutelyst a Qt/C++ Web Framework just got a new version. This time bringing back proper async support.

        Perl Catalyst Framework was conceived as a sync/blocking framework, due that the Mojolicious framework was created, NodeJS and a few other web frameworks have pushed the async programming to the web. Performance wise being async doesn’t mean you get faster response times, rather the opposite, the need to unroll stack and make extra calls makes a CPU bound application slower.

        But depending on the problem to solve it allows you to serve more users at the same time, using the same CPU cores. A typical modern application might receive a request from a Phone App then do a REST API call to an external API which might take 2ms or 200ms for the reply. While waiting for the response, typical sync/blocking applications can’t process more requests, or have to spawn more threads increasing RAM consumption and leveraging concurrency to the OS scheduler. On an Async web application, you can process another request while you wait for the previous request, thus possibly making the first request reply to be sent back to the user at a later time than if there was a dedicated process just waiting for his reply.

        So, both ways have pros and cons and IMHO I’d like to support them both. When I started Cutelyst I thought that if I ever need async I could have a local QEventLoop to wait for the reply and would be able to deal with async requests, not recently I found out that supporting QEventLoop was causing stack overflow due it being used in pipelined scenarios, after that I removed it’s usage and performance improved in PlainText tests of TechEmpower, so I advised against using it and marked Cutelyst as not async.

      • Plasma Pass 1.0.0

        Last year I wrote about Plasma Pass, a Plasma applet for the Pass password manager. Over the couple last months I got some emails from packagers from various distributions asking for a proper release so they can package it…so here it is, proudly announcing Plasma Pass 1.0.0.

  • Distributions

    • Top 20 Parrot OS Tools

      Parrot Security OS is an Open source lightweight distro based on Debian Testing and also it doesn’t have mere Pentesting tools but it contains everything that Security researchers, security developers or privacy aware people might need. Unlike Kali Linux, it also has anonymity, cryptography and development tools with a loot of cool features. Here we’ll review some famous tools of Parrot Security OS which make it a preferable distribution among others.

    • Linspire Cloud Edition 8.0 Office 365 Officially Released, Here’s What’s New [Ed: Linspire works for Microsoft]

      The Linspire team informs Softpedia about the availability of the Cloud Edition (CE) Office 365 of the latest Linspire 8.0 operating system release.

      Targeted at corporate and education users, the Linspire Cloud Edition 8.0 Office 365 operating system brings together the security and stability of the GNU/Linux technologies and the standard Microsoft Office online platform called Office 365 into a single, affordable package that can be easily installed on a personal computer or deployed across a network in offices and classrooms.

    • New Releases

      • Arne Exton’s Six-in-One MultiBootCD Updated with Latest GNU/Linux Releases

        EXTON Linux MultiBootCD 6-OS is a live, bootable ISO image that consists of six popular and minimalist GNU/Linux distributions, including Gparted Live, 4MLinux, Tiny Core Linux, Porteus Linux, PuppEX Slack64, and SliTaz Linux. The latest version, build 190215, is here to update several of these bundled OSes.

        As such, EXTON Linux MultiBootCD 6-OS Build 190215 ships with 4MLinux 28.0, Porteus 4.0, Tiny Core Linux 10.0, SliTaz 5.0, and PuppEX Slack64 160822, a GNU/Linux distribution based on the popular Puppy Linux operating system. Also included is the older GParted Live 0.26.1-5 distribution.

      • Kali Linux 2019.1 Release

        Welcome to our first release of 2019, Kali Linux 2019.1, which is available for immediate download. This release brings our kernel up to version 4.19.13, fixes numerous bugs, and includes many updated packages.

      • Kali Linux Ethical Hacking OS Kicks Off 2019 with Metasploit 5.0 and ARM Updates

        Offensive Security announced today the general availability of the Kali Linux 2019.1, the first update of the popular ethical hacking and penetration testing operating system in 2019.

        Kali Linux 2019.1 kicks off the new year in style for fans of the penetration testing GNU/Linux distribution, which is based on the Debian GNU/Linux operating system, as it’s the first release to ship with the latest, greatest, and widely used Metasploit 5.0 penetration testing framework.

        Metasploit 5.0 is a major update that introduces numerous new features and improvements to the penetration testing framework, among which we can mention a new search engine, new evasion modules, integrated web services, support for writing shellcode in C, as well as a new json-rpc daemon.

      • Kali Linux 2019.1 Launched With Metasploit 5.0

        Offensive Security has announced the launch of Kali Linux 2019.1, the go-to operating system for penetration testers and cyber security enthusiasts.

        The Debian GNU/Linux based OS has been launched with Metasploit 5.0, which is considered to be among the best pen-testing frameworks available in the market today.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Will Have Firefox Wayland By Default But Could Be Reverted If Too B

        The plan to use the Wayland-native version of Firefox by default for Fedora Workstation 30 atop GNOME has been tentatively approved by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo).

        At this morning’s FESCo meeting, the Fedora stakeholders approved of this late change to ship the Wayland-enabled version of Firefox by default, after they’ve been carrying this spin of Firefox in their package repository for several cycles but haven’t made use of it out-of-the-box. This Firefox Wayland version will be used by Fedora 30 straight-away when running on the GNOME Shell Wayland session.

      • Bodhi 3.13.1 released
      • Install ImageMagick (Image Manipulation) Tool on RHEL/CentOS and Fedora

        ImageMagick is a free open source simple software suite for any kind of image manipulation that is used for creating, editing, converting, displaying image files.

        It can able to read and write over 200 image files such as JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, and Photo CD image formats and it is also used for thumbnail or captcha generation. It also includes command line options for creating transparent or animated gif image formats and many more feature like resize, sharpen, rotate or add special effects to an image.

        To use ImageMagick tool with PHP or Perl programming language, you will need to install ImageMagick with Imagick PHP extension for PHP and ImageMagick-Perl extension for Perl.

      • Changes in Flathub land

        Flathub uses buildbot to to manage the builds, and we have updated and customized the UI a bit to be nicer for maintainers. For example, we now have a page listing all the apps ever built, with links to per-app pages showing builds of that app.

        We also integrated GitHub authentication so that maintainers of individual applications automatically have authority to do operations on their own apps and builds. For example, the home and per-app pages have buttons that let you start builds, which anyone with write permissions to the corresponding GitHub repository can use. Also, similarly they can cancel or retry the builds of their own apps. Previously you had to ask a Flathub administrator to restart or cancel a build, but no more!

      • How to write an Ansible playbook
      • Stephen Smoogen: 503′s.. the cliffnotes version
    • Debian Family

      • Debian 9.8 released

        The Debian project has announced the eighth update of Debian 9 “stretch”. As a stable point release, this version mainly adds bugfixes for security issues and other serious problems. Click below for a list of changes.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 “Stretch” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available to Download

        The Debian Project released live and installable ISO images of their latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 “Stretch” operating system, which is now available to download for all supported architectures.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 is the eighth point release of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series, adding no less than 186 updated packages that include security and bug fixes. As of today, the Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 “Stretch” installable and live images are now available to download from the project’s homepage or via our free software portal.

      • Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, January 2019

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • User discovers bug in debian stable kernel upgrade; armmp package affected

        2 min read
        Last week, Jürgen Löb, a Debian user, discovered a bug in the linux-image-4.9.0-8-armmp-lpae package of the Debian system. The version of the system affected is 4.9.144-3.

        The user states that he updated his Lamobo R1 board with apt update; apt upgrade. However, after the update, uboot was struck at “Starting kernel” with no further output after the same.

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #199

        strip-nondeterminism is our tool that post-processes files to remove known non-deterministic output. This week, Chris Lamb adjusted its behaviour to deduplicate hardlinks via stat(2) before processing to avoid issues when handling files in parallel; as the per-filetype handlers are yet currently guaranteed to be atomic, one process could temporarily truncate a file which can cause errors in other processes operating on the “same” file under a different pathname. This was thus causing package build failures in packages that de-duplicate hardlinks in their build process such as the Debian Administrator’s Handbook (#922168).

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS now available to download

            The development team responsible for the Ubuntu Linux operating system have this week announced the availability and release of Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. For those unfamiliar with Ubuntu, takes the form of a Linux based open source software operating system that runs from the desktop, to the cloud, offering a solution all your internet connected things, says it’s developers.

          • Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS released and here is how to upgrade it

            he Canonical LTD has released an updated version of its long term support (LTS) Linux distribution Ubuntu Linux 18.04.02. You must upgrade to get corrections for security problem as this version made a few adjustments for the severe issue found in Ubuntu version 18.04.02. The Ubuntu LTS enablement (also called HWE or Hardware Enablement) stacks provide newer kernel and X support for existing Ubuntu LTS releases. These enablement stacks can be installed manually but are also available when installing with Ubuntu LTS point release media. These newer enablement stacks are meant for desktop and server and even recommended for cloud or virtual images.

          • It’s Still Undecided Whether Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Will Support 32-bit x86 (i386)

            Ubuntu 17.10 dropped its i386 / 32-bit x86 installer image while the i386 port has remained part of the package archive. Other Ubuntu derivatives over the past year have also moved to drop their 32-bit installer images and with Lubuntu/Xubuntu now ending their ISOs for that port, it’s hitting the end of the road. Now for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, there might not even be the i386 port.

            Canonical’s Steve Langasek has restarted the discussion about whether to include i386 for next year’s Ubuntu 20.04 Long-Term Support release. Langasek commented today, “The real question is whether i386 is still supportable (and justifiable) as a release architecture at all in the 20.04 timeframe. There are significant technical concerns raised about whether we can continue to provide the expected security support for i386 over the lifetime of Ubuntu 20.04.”

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 566
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Outreachy Summer 2019 Applications Open With Expanded Eligibility

    But beginning this round, they are also opening the application process to “anyone who faces systemic bias or discrimination in the technology industry of their country is invited to apply.” For evaluating the systemic bias or discrimination, an essay question was added to the application process about what discrimination they may have faced or otherwise think they could face in seeking employment.

    Also different beginning this round is only students (update: for non-student participants, this restriction does not apply) from the Northern Hemisphere can apply to this May to August round while the Southern Hemisphere round is being deemed the December to March round moving forward.

  • 5 Good Open Source Speech Recognition/Speech-to-Text Systems

    A speech-to-text (STT) system is as its name implies; A way of transforming the spoken words via sound into textual files that can be used later for any purpose.

    Speech-to-text technology is extremely useful. It can be used for a lot of applications such as a automation of transcription, writing books/texts using your own sound only, enabling complicated analyses on information using the generated textual files and a lot of other things.

    In the past, the speech-to-text technology was dominated by proprietary software and libraries; Open source alternatives didn’t exist or existed with extreme limitations and no community around. This is changing, today there are a lot of open source speech-to-text tools and libraries that you can use right now.

    Here we list 5 of them.

  • Events

    • VkRunner at FOSDEM

      I attended FOSDEM again this year thanks to funding from Igalia. This time I gave a talk about VkRunner in the graphics dev room. It’s now available on Igalia’s YouTube channel below:

      I thought this might be a good opportunity to give a small status update of what has happened since my last blog post nearly a year ago.

    • DevConf.CZ 2019

      Last month I attended DevConf CZ for the third time. The conference has been growing a lot in the last years and it has been attracting a wider variety of people. It is a free-admission conference in the lovely Brno, Czech Republic, the place that I now call home. If you haven’t attended it yet, you should definitely consider it for next year.

      This year I had a talk titled “Running virtual machines in the Flatpak sandbox”, where I described the process of Flatpaking GNOME Boxes. There’s a video available on YouTube.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice-Based Collabora Online 4.0 Adds New Look, Numerous Improvements

      Collabora Online 4.0 comes almost a year after the previous release with a new look that refreshes the toolbar icons, colors, and layout, adds a new icon to let users hide the menu bar, as well as various other smaller tweaks to simplify the user interface while giving users a more enjoyable and productive LibreOffice Online experience.

    • First LibreOffice Asia Conference

      The First LibreOffice Asia Conference Will Be Held On May 25-26, 2019 In Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan

      This is the first ever LibreOffice conference covering Asia, a rapidly-growing area for free and open source software. The call for papers will be launched soon.

      Berlin, February 18, 2019 – After the huge success of the LibreOffice Conference Indonesia in 2018, members of the Asian communities have decided to raise the bar in 2019 with the first ever LibreOffice Asia Conference in Nihonbashi – the very center of Tokyo, Japan – on May 25-26.

      One of the main organizers, Naruhiko Ogasawara, a member of the Japanese LibreOffice community and The Document Foundation, can’t hide his excitement: “When we launched the LibreOffice Mini Conference Japan in 2013 as a local event, we knew little about communities in other parts of Asia. In recent years we have attended the LibreOffice Conference and other Asian events like OpenSUSE Asia, COSCUP etc. We have realized that many of our colleagues are active and that our community should learn a lot from them. We are proud to be able to hold the first Asia Conference with our colleagues to further strengthen that partnership.”

  • Microsoft/Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Down productivity tools: Microsoft Teams takes a Monday tumble

      Microsoft’s collaborative Slack-alike, Teams, is having a difficult start to the week, with users unable to log in to share their hopes, dreams and Word documents with their co-workers.

      Problems started at around 13:00 UTC, as users found themselves presented with connection errors as they attempted to hook up to the service. Naturally, they took to Twitter to share their experience.

    • Microsoft is going all-in on ‘Inner Source’ [Ed: Microsoft's de facto PR person at CBS on how Microsoft will keep giving malicious software with NSA back doors while calling it "open". Dr. Glyn Moody, to his credit, warned about it over a decade ago in Linux Journal when he said Microsoft would bamboozle nontechnical people/officials by claiming it itself is its competition and is "open source" (even when it's proprietary, with back doors).]
    • After Open Source, Microsoft Wants “Inner Source” For A Better Future [Ed: Having bribed OSI and others, Microsoft is now trying to redefine and totally control FOSS (all products proprietary but with openwashing for marketing purposes). Remember "Shared Source"? Microsoft keeps rebranding. Microsoft: we’re sort of kind of like “open”. We bought some things. BP: we’re sort of green. We changed our logo and mentioned words like “climate”.]
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • How our non-profit works openly to make education accessible

        I’m lucky to work with a team of impressive students at Duke University who are leaders in their classrooms and beyond. As members of CSbyUs, a non-profit and student-run organization based at Duke, we connect university students to middle school students, mostly from title I schools across North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Our mission is to fuel future change agents from under-resourced learning environments by fostering critical technology skills for thriving in the digital age.

  • Programming/Development

    • Monte Carlo Simulation with Python

      There are many sophisticated models people can build for solving a forecasting problem. However, they frequently stick to simple Excel models based on average historical values, intuition and some high level domain-specific heuristics. This approach may be precise enough for the problem at hand but there are alternatives that can add more information to the prediction with a reasonable amount of additional effort.

      One approach that can produce a better understanding of the range of potential outcomes and help avoid the “flaw of averages” is a Monte Carlo simulation. The rest of this article will describe how to use python with pandas and numpy to build a Monte Carlo simulation to predict the range of potential values for a sales compensation budget. This approach is meant to be simple enough that it can be used for other problems you might encounter but also powerful enough to provide insights that a basic “gut-feel” model can not provide on its own.

    • PyCon 2019 Tutorial Schedule!
    • PHP HTML Tidy ironically doesn’t tidy up after itself
    • Multi-Stage Dockerfiles and Python Virtualenvs
    • Made With Mu: A Steady Hand and Heart

      I first met Les at PyCon UK back in 2013. I was coordinating the education track where we had around 40 teachers and 100 kids turn up over two days. This was an impossible endeavour for a single person to take on. Happily, the founding principle of the education track was to bring together, without prejudice, a collaborative and open community of people involved or interested in Python in education. Les was one of several folks who selflessly contributed for the benefit of the whole community: be it moving furniture to turn meeting rooms into classrooms, setting up and configuring equipment, helping out as a teaching assistant or participating in conversations and debates around Python in education, Les was making positive contributions. He was a role model who showed he was open, welcoming and helpful to anyone who turned up.

    • Podcast.__init__: Unpacking The Python Toolkit For Chaos Engineering

      Chaos engineering is the practice of injecting failures into your production systems in a controlled manner to identify weaknesses in your applications. In order to build, run, and report on chaos experiments Sylvain Hellegouarch created the Chaos Toolkit. In this episode he explains his motivation for creating the toolkit, how to use it for improving the resiliency of your systems, and his plans for the future. He also discusses best practices for building, running, and learning from your own experiments.

    • Answering Python questions from readers

      Every so often, I’ve asked readers of my free, weekly “Better developers” newsletter to send me their Python problems. And every so often, I get a chance to answer their questions, going through their Python problems and trying to solve them.

    • Final touch up for the boy boundary detection mechanism

      Sorry for not posting yesterday as I am terribly sick, although I am still sick today mine condition is a lot more better now. After the previous article we have basically developed a boundary detection mechanism for the player object and in this article, we will do the final touch up for that mechanism. Here are the final rules that we need to apply in order to complete the boundary detection mechanism for the boy.

    • PyCon 2020-2021 Location
    • Register Transfer Language for CRuby

      For the last two years, I have been trying to improve CRuby performance. I have been working simultaneously on two major fronts: introducing register transfer language (RTL) for the CRuby virtual machine (VM) and just-in-time (JIT) compilation. For background on the goal of having Ruby 3 be 3 times faster than version 2 (3X3), see my previous article, “Towards the Ruby 3×3 Performance Goal“.

      The JIT project (MJIT) is advancing successfully. The JIT approach and engine I proposed and implemented has been adopted by the CRuby community. Takashi Kokubun hardened the code and adapted it to the current CRuby stack machine and recently MJIT became an experimental feature of the CRuby 2.6 release.

      Introducing a Register Transfer Language (RTL) to the CRuby VM turned out to be an even harder task than introducing the initial JIT compiler. The required changes to the VM are far more invasive than the ones needed for the JIT compiler.

    • Template meta-programming: Some testing and debugging tricks

      There are only a few things more fun in this world than doing template meta-programming (TMP) and reading all those long poems that the compiler writes out when we make even the smallest mistake.

      While we don’t usually welcome these messages, there are ways to make them useful.

      One of the main causes of errors in TMP code are unexpected types – types that the compiler is deducing instead of the types that we expect it to deduce.

      This results in error messages occurring in seemingly random places in our code.

    • Open Science, Open Source and R

      Psychology changed forever on the August 27, 2015. For the previous four years, the 270 psychologists of the Open Science Collaboration had been quietly re-running 100 published psychology experiments. Now, finally, they were ready to share their findings. The results were shocking. Less than half of the re-run experiments had worked.

      When someone tries to re-run an experiment, and it doesn’t work, we call this a failure to replicate. Scientists had known about failures to replicate for a while, but it was only quite recently that the extent of the problem became apparent. Now, an almost existential crisis loomed. That crisis even gained a name: the Replication Crisis. Soon, people started asking the same questions about other areas of science. Often, they got similar answers. Only half of results in economics replicated. In pre-clinical cancer studies, it was worse; only 11% replicated.

    • Qt Design Studio 1.1 released

      We are happy to announce the release of Qt Design Studio 1.1 !

      Qt Design Studio is a UI design and development tool that enables designers and developers to rapidly prototype and develop complex UIs. Both designers and developers use Qt Design Studio and this makes collaboration between the two a lot simpler and more streamlined. To get an impression, you should watch this video.

      Since the Qt Design Studio 1.0 release last year we worked hard on bug fixes and new features.

    • Sublime Text and Language Server Protocol

      LSP – protocol for interactions between IDE and language server. The latter provides such means like autocompletion, goto implementation and etc. When IDE needs to show autocomplete choices on, for example, python language – it sends a request to the special server. And it responds with the necessary data. The cool part here is that it is an initiative of a big company – Microsoft.

    • C Programming Tutorial Part 5 – Character variables

Leftovers

  • Pakistan’s flag is Google’s top result for ‘the best toilet paper in the world.’ Here’s why

    A similar glitch [sic] in Google’s search algorithm popped up last summer, when President Donald Trump’s face appeared as the top result for the word “idiot.” The British were partly to blame after using the Green Day song “American Idiot” to protest Trump’s visit to their country.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Public “Medicare for All” Saves U.S. Taxpayers 1.5 Trillion Dollars

      Contrary to Michael Bloomberg and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, potential 2020 Presidential candidates, a completely public health care program could save taxpayers 1.5 trillion dollars, says Prof. Robert Pollin of PERI at UMass, Amherst and Adam Gaffney, President of Physicians for a National Health Program

    • The Key to Cheap Drugs: Pay Research Costs Upfront

      We face a bizarre situation where policy experts, advocacy groups, and politicians struggle to find ways to bring down drug prices. The situation is bizarre because drug prices would be low in a free market; it is only government policy that makes them expensive.

      It is the government-granted patent monopolies that create the problem of high drug prices, not the market. The government gives drug companies patent monopolies that make it illegal for competitors to sell the same drug. These patent monopolies allow companies to charge prices that are a hundred or even a thousand times the free market price.

      Drugs are almost invariably cheap to manufacture. But, if a drug company has a monopoly on a drug that can save a person from cancer or some other deadly or debilitating disease, it will be able to charge a very high price for it. Patients or their families will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more typically, get an insurance company or the government to pick up most of the bill. While there are instances where companies producing generic drugs can gain monopoly power and jack up their prices, this is a relatively small part of the story of high drug prices.

      Drugs produced by the brand drug sector account for roughly 75 percent of drug costs, even though they are just 11 percent of sales. This means that generic drugs account for only one-quarter of drug spending despite being almost 90 percent of sales. Even these numbers understate the role of patent and related protections. Some generic drugs also benefit from government-imposed protections, such as a six-month period of exclusivity for the first generic to enter a market.

      We are on a path to spend more than $450 billion (2.2 percent of GDP) on prescription drugs this year. We would likely be spending less than $80 billion, a savings of $370 billion annually, if all drugs were sold in a free market without patents or related protections.

    • WTO IP Council: Praise For Public-Private Partnerships, Use Of Competition Law To Fight High Drug Prices

      At the World Trade Organization Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) – which met on 13 February and finished in one day – discussions on IP and innovation, and IP and the public interest delineated points of views but also provided concrete examples of successful use of public-private partnerships, and use of competition law to prevent excessive pricing.

  • Security

    • USN-3891-1: systemd vulnerability
    • CVE-2019-6454: systemd (PID1) crash with specially crafted D-Bus message
    • 5 Best antivirus Solutions for Linux Malware in 2019 [Ed: Better solution: stop downloading malware. With Microsoft Windows you're not in control. The OS itself has literally become malware and sports deliberate back doors. GNU/Linux is a different paradigm.]
    • Week in review: RunC, Snapd flaws, Zero Trust browsing, 5 years of NIST Cybersecurity Framework
    • Firefox Monitor: Mozilla Firefox’s New Safety Feature Will Show You Notifications When You Visit Breached Sites

      Mozilla recently launched Firefox Monitor, a service that allows users to find out if their account has been been part of a data breach and has been compromised. Firefox Monitor provides data from the popular service Have I Been Pwned. Mozilla has been working hard day and night to improve the Firefox browser and as a part of security improvements, comes Firefox Monitors’s integration with the Firefox desktop browsers.

      Back in November last year, Mozilla announced in a blog post that the Firefox Monitor service was being integrated with the Firefox desktop browser to warn users with a notification when visiting sites that were known to be involved in a data breach. The company said that the update was going to be rolled out to all Firefox users in the coming weeks. According to Techdows, as of February 18, 2019, all the Firefox desktop users have received the Firefox Monitor integration update.

    • Vulnerability Scanning – Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure
    • 92 Million Accounts Put Up For Sale on the Dark Web by Well Known Hacker Group

      Gnosticplayers has been on fire recently, having put 620 million accounts for sale and then followed it up by another 127 million accounts. The asking price for the first round of data hack was about $20,000 while for the second round it was around $14,500.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Nest is locking customers out of accounts until they fix their security

      Emails were sent last night to all users that may have been affected by recent [breaches], with a new password being mandatory, as it tries to avoid the “I’ll do it later” attitude that means that often vulnerable passwords remain in use for months or years.

    • A Moment of Truth for Cyber Insurance

      Mondelez’s claim represents just a fraction of the billions of dollars in collateral damage caused by NotPetya, a destructive, indiscriminate cyberattack of unprecedented scale, widely suspected to have been launched by Russia with the aim of hurting Ukraine and its business partners. A compromised piece of Ukrainian accounting software allowed NotPetya to spread rapidly around the world, disrupting business operations and causing permanent damage to property of Mondelez and many others. According to reports, Zurich apparently rejected Mondelez’s claim on the grounds that NotPetya was an act of war and, therefore, excluded from coverage under its policy agreement. If the question of whether and how war risk exemptions apply is left to the courts to decide on a case-by-case basis, this creates a profound source of uncertainty for policyholders about the coverage they obtain.

    • A Deep Dive on the Recent Widespread DNS Hijacking Attacks

      The U.S. government — along with a number of leading security companies — recently warned about a series of highly complex and widespread attacks that allowed suspected Iranian hackers to siphon huge volumes of email passwords and other sensitive data from multiple governments and private companies. But to date, the specifics of exactly how that attack went down and who was hit have remained shrouded in secrecy.

      This post seeks to document the extent of those attacks, and traces the origins of this overwhelmingly successful cyber espionage campaign back to a cascading series of breaches at key Internet infrastructure providers.

    • With elections weeks away, someone “sophisticated” [cracked] Australia’s politicians

      With elections just three months away, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on February 18 that the networks of the three major national political parties had been breached by what Australian security officials described as a “sophisticated state actor.”

    • Australia’s major political parties [cracked] in ‘sophisticated’ attack ahead of election

      Sources are describing the level of sophistication as “unprecedented” but are unable to say yet which foreign government is behind the attack.

    • Parliament attackers appear to have used Web shells

      Attackers who infiltrated the Australian Parliament network and also the systems of the Liberal, National and Labor Parties appear to have used Web shells – scripts that can be uploaded to a Web server to enable remote administration of a machine.

    • How to install Sophos Antivirus for Linux [Ed: Installing proprietary software on GNU/Linux would likely cause security issues and/or add back doors, not improve real security]

      Seeing the Ubuntu popularity between both Desktops and serves, here we are using Ubuntu to show how to install Sophos Antivirus for Linux.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • War With China?

      In his highly acclaimed 2017 book, Destined for War, Harvard professor Graham Allison assessed the likelihood that the United States and China would one day find themselves at war. Comparing the U.S.-Chinese relationship to great-power rivalries all the way back to the Peloponnesian War of the fifth century BC, he concluded that the future risk of a conflagration was substantial. Like much current analysis of U.S.-Chinese relations, however, he missed a crucial point: for all intents and purposes, the United States and China are already at war with one another. Even if their present slow-burn conflict may not produce the immediate devastation of a conventional hot war, its long-term consequences could prove no less dire.

      To suggest this means reassessing our understanding of what constitutes war. From Allison’s perspective (and that of so many others in Washington and elsewhere), “peace” and “war” stand as polar opposites. One day, our soldiers are in their garrisons being trained and cleaning their weapons; the next, they are called into action and sent onto a battlefield. War, in this model, begins when the first shots are fired.

      Well, think again in this new era of growing great-power struggle and competition. Today, war means so much more than military combat and can take place even as the leaders of the warring powers meet to negotiate and share dry-aged steak and whipped potatoes (as Donald Trump and Xi Jinping did at Mar-a-Lago in 2017). That is exactly where we are when it comes to Sino-American relations. Consider it war by another name, or perhaps, to bring back a long-retired term, a burning new version of a cold war.

      [...]

      The media and many politicians continue to focus on U.S.-Russian relations, in large part because of revelations of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 American presidential election and the ongoing Mueller investigation. Behind the scenes, however, most senior military and foreign policy officials in Washington view China, not Russia, as the country’s principal adversary. In eastern Ukraine, the Balkans, Syria, cyberspace, and in the area of nuclear weaponry, Russia does indeed pose a variety of threats to Washington’s goals and desires. Still, as an economically hobbled petro-state, it lacks the kind of might that would allow it to truly challenge this country’s status as the world’s dominant power. China is another story altogether. With its vast economy, growing technological prowess, intercontinental “Belt and Road” infrastructure project, and rapidly modernizing military, an emboldened China could someday match or even exceed U.S. power on a global scale, an outcome American elites are determined to prevent at any cost.

    • Top 5 Reasons Trump should not get the Nobel Peace Prize

      Rumors are swirling that the Trump administration, i.e. Donald Trump himself, requested from Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe that he nominate Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. Trump no doubt thinks to himself that Obama got this prize and it is completely unfair that Trump hasn’t been awarded it, especially since Trump is at least half American whereas Obama was Kenyan. (Yes, I know it doesn’t matter where you’re from, and also Obama is from Hawaii, I’m just trying to understand the squirrels running around in Trump’s brain case).

    • Trump’s Withdrawal From the Iran Nuclear Deal Invites Disaster (Video)

      In the latest episode of “On Contact,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges examines the dangers of President Donald Trump’s decision to dismantle the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Hedges is joined by fellow Truthdig contributor and former weapons inspector for the United Nations in Iraq Scott Ritter, who accuses former CIA director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of a “dereliction of duty.”

      “This is another example of the United States using intelligence information to sell a lie,” says Ritter of the Trump administration’s insistence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. “And Pompeo as director of the CIA willfully went along with this. … One of the greatest insults you can level at an intelligence professional is to be part and parcel of selling a manufactured lie that you know is a lie, or are in a position to determine is a lie.”

    • Israeli Leaders’ Nazi Remarks Scuttle Summit With Europeans

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s off-hand comment in Warsaw about Poland and the Holocaust set in motion a diplomatic crisis that on Monday scuttled this week’s summit of central European leaders in Israel.

      Poland’s abrupt decision to cancel its participation in the planned Visegrad conference in protest blew up the gathering, which Netanyahu has touted as a major milestone in his outreach to emerging democracies in eastern Europe and his broader goal of countering the criticism Israel typically faces in international forums.

      The crisis was sparked last week when Netanyahu told reporters that “Poles cooperated with the Nazis.” The seemingly innocuous comment infuriated his Polish hosts, who reject suggestions that their country collaborated with Hitler.

    • Angela Davis Returns to Birmingham, Reflecting on Palestinian Rights & Fight for Freedom Everywhere
    • Despite ‘War Crimes’ Concerns in Yemen, Raytheon Nabs $1.6 Billion Arms Deal With UAE

      “The ongoing carnage against civilians in Yemen—including at the hands of the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition and the militias it backs—should give serious pause to all states supplying arms,” said Patrick Wilcken, arms control and human rights researcher at Amnesty International. “Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes.”

      The human rights group, which is calling for a stop to all arms transfers to the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition, also notes that the “the UAE has steered the ground offensive” in the conflict, which broke out in 2015 and has, by some estimates, killed over 60,000 Yemenis, uprooted millions, and left millions more on the brink of famine.

      “American fingerprints are all over the air war in Yemen,” as the New York Times recently reported, noting the nation’s key arms sales and intelligence. But given the accusations of war crimes committed by all parties during the conflict, mounting civilian casualties, and devastated infrastructure, new legislation is hoping to halt U.S. support for the war. Raytheon International CEO John Harris, for his part, though, has brushed off criticism his industry is facing, telling CNBC this weekend, “we don’t make policy.”

    • China Is Flooding the Middle East With Cheap Drones

      The appearance of the Rainbow CH-4 — the driving force of Chinese combat drones — is almost identical to the notorious Reaper drone of the U.S. arms manufacturer General Atomics. While the CH-4 lags behind the Reaper in most performance parameters, it can keep up with or even outperform its competitor in some of them. Also, the CH-4’s weaponry, the AKD-10 warhead, is almost identical to the Reaper’s Hellfire missiles.

      The striking similarity follows a strategy of Chinese engineering well-known from cell phones or cars: the look of a world-famous Western branded product is copied with an inferior but sufficiently good quality compared to that of the original — but at significantly less cost. Chinese drones are 50 to 75 percent cheaper than the originals from the U.S.

      A late 2015 article published in the Asia Times suggests that this copying of U.S. technology is likely rooted in Beijing’s data theft. According to records by world-famous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, by 2010 alone “Chinese hackers had conducted more than 30,000 cyber attacks” on Pentagon computer networks and other U.S. military agencies in order to “exfiltrate [data on] sensitive military technology.” Although there is no final proof that data on drones were skimmed off too, Asia Times quotes then NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, who suggests that it is highly likely that the Reaper blueprints were part of the Chinese data hack, while military experts and analysts largely share this view.

      With the latest model — the CH-7, which is still in the development phase — China could possibly pull ahead the U.S. for the first time, military journal Defense One explains. The CH-7 “will be the sole option for buyers wanting to field stealth combat drones,” it predicts. “The United States had a decade-plus head start on [drone] technology,” says military expert Paul Scharre, “and has unfortunately squandered that lead.”

    • Interview With Christina Schiavoni On Food Shortages And The Politics Of Food In Venezuela

      Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola are joined by Christina Schiavoni, who is a food sovereignty activist and doctoral researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. She has engaged in solidarity work in Venezuela and focuses on food issues, and she lived in a working class community in Caracas from early 2016 to 2018.

      Schiavoni describes how she became involved in activism around food sovereignty in Venezuela. She addresses the issues of food shortages and who owns most of the major food companies. She also grapples with the lack of diversification in Venezuela’s economy.

    • Haitians Seek Water, Food as Businesses Reopen After Protest

      Businesses and government offices slowly reopened across Haiti on Monday after more than a week of violent demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise over skyrocketing prices that have more than doubled for basic goods amid allegations of government corruption.

      Public transportation resumed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where people began lining up to buy food, water and gasoline as crews cleared streets of barricades thrown up during the protests.

      Moise has refused to step down, though his prime minister, Jean-Henry Ceant, said over the weekend that he has agreed to reduce certain government budgets by 30 percent, limit travel of government officials and remove all non-essential privileges they enjoy, including phone cards. Ceant also vowed to investigate alleged misspending tied to a Venezuelan program that provided Haiti with subsidized oil and said he has requested that a court audit all state-owned enterprises. He also said he would increase the minimum wage and lower the prices of basic goods, although he did not provide specifics.

    • With Trump Pushing Regime Change in Venezuela, Critics Warn News Outlets Failing US Viewers Once Again

      Leading the charge is journalist Adam Johnson, a contributor to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and host of the Citations Needed podcast, who recently warned that the “same U.S. media outlets that have expressly fundraised and run ad campaigns on their image as anti-Trump truth-tellers have mysteriously taken at face value everything the Trump White House and its neoconservative allies have said in their campaign to overthrow the government of Venezuela.”

      According to Johnson, “The self-aggrandizing ‘factchecking’ brigade that emerged to confront the Trump administration is suddenly nonexistent as it rolls out a transparent, cynical PR strategy to delegitimize a Latin American government it’s trying to overthrow.”

      Last week, Johnson specifically analyzed the coverage by MSNBC and found that its coverage of Venezuela “ranged from outright support” of Maduro’s overthrow “to virtual silence” on the critical issues and context that surround the situation. “Based on a search of MSNBC’s website,” only a 5-five minute segment by anchor Chris Hayes could be described as critical of regime change, he reported, and “these were the only five of the cable channel’s 30,240 on-air minutes since Trump’s coup was launched three weeks ago that were dedicated to criticizing it, and these did so only mildly.”

      To counteract such a trend, FAIR called on viewers to contact MSNBC to “urge the network to balance its pro-coup coverage of Venezuela.”

    • Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt

      Isn’t it amazing how the billionaires of the world seem to think they can meddle in anything and everything? “We Are the World!” they appear to assume, picking up on that “humanitarian” song from thirty years ago. I guess all that champagne consumed at Davos and elsewhere goes directly to their egos, inspiring new heights of arrogance and intrigue.

      On February 15th Sir Richard Branson (whose net worth is estimated at about $4 billion) announced plans for a “Venezuela Aid Live” concert to be held on February 22 in the Colombian city of Cucuta and also live-streamed on the Internet, to raise $100 million for food aid.

      Founder of the Virgin Group (400+ companies), Sir Branson is setting up the concert “at the request of” Juan Guaido (who declared himself interim president on Jan. 23) “and jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to draw attention to the crisis in Venezuela. ‘Our goal is to raise $100 million dollars in 60 days and reopen Venezuela’s border so humanitarian aid can finally reach those millions who need it the most,’ said Branson.” [1]

      There’s a lot to unpack in that one paragraph, so let’s start there and save the list of performers for later.

      [...]

      Cucuta, Colombia (where the concert will take place) is the main entrance for Venezuelans migrating to Colombia. According to Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, “Curcuta has a high presence of Colombian paramilitaries and smuggling mafias and is where those who attempted to assassinate [President] Nicolas Maduro last year were trained.” [4] So for those who want to establish a Trojan Horse “humanitarian corridor” into Venezuela, the Colombian city of Cucuta is a logical choice.

      On Saturday, February 16, a U.S. military transport plane carrying tons of aid landed in Cucuta. It was the first of three such U.S. military flights scheduled to arrive this week. According to The Guardian (UK), “The acting US defence secretary, Patrick Shanahan, said on Saturday the US used military aircraft to send aid to the Venezuelan border in Colombia because of the urgency of the humanitarian needs. ‘It’s a message to Venezuela that we are supporting their humanitarian needs,’ Shanahan said, adding the aid was being transported by three C-17 aircraft.” [5]

      At the Saturday news conference in Cucuta, a representative for Juan Guaido told Reuters that “millions of Venezuelans” will be traveling to Cucuta by Feb. 23 to “safeguard arriving aid”. He said: “We are going to have the accompaniment of people, of hundreds of thousands, of millions of Venezuelans that our president, Juan Guaido, has called upon, who we have asked to go to the border dressed in white as a sign of peace.” [6]

    • Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard

      Tulsi Gabbard’s candidacy for president has raised more problematic questions than answers for people on the Left. Many anti-war leftists call her a breath of fresh air in resisting the military industrial complex and the dangerous war duopoly. After she supported a diplomatic solution to Syria and supported Bernie Sanders for president in 2016, she made a name for herself in the left wing of the Democratic Party.

      Since she has announced her candidacy however, a number of serious, complicated and important questions have been raised: What is her position on Syrian human rights? What does it mean that right wingers such as Steve Bannon and David Duke sing her praises? Is she actually a peace candidate or a hawk, especially when it comes to foreign policy matters that impact Muslims? What are her positions on key social issues? Is she Islamophobic and homophobic? And what is her affiliation with Narenda Modi all about?

      In this interview, Professor Richard Falk breaks down the potential for Gabbard, and suggests that while the questioning and analyzing of her flaws are important, it might also be helpful to allow her candidacy time to develop and to see if her evolutions politically can adequately translate to governing effectively and progressively.

    • She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?

      A tidal wave of hypocrisy has greeted the discovery of the Bethnal Green schoolgirl and Isis bride Shamima Begum in a refugee camp in eastern Syria. Grandstanding politicians like Sajid Javid, the home secretary, say they will do everything to stop her coming back to the UK and might seek to put her on trial as a terrorist if she did return.

      It is a symptom of the parochialism of British political life that debate rages over the fate of Begum and her possible complicity in Isis crimes. But there is scarcely a word of well-informed discussion about the role of the British and other western governments in creating the circumstances in which Isis was able to create a powerful de facto state in the heart of the Middle East.

      The role of foreign fighters in Isis was important but tends to be exaggerated because of understandable public fascination with people who would leave London or Paris to go to fight for a murderous and bizarre jihadi cult in Syria and Iraq.

      I was once in touch with a former Isis fighter, himself a Syrian, who had talked to foreign volunteers of whom he was highly critical, saying that they were ill-informed about Islam and local customs. He thought that many had come to Syria because of unhappy home lives or simple boredom and were not much use for anything except propaganda – showing that Isis was a global movement – or as suicide bombers.

    • Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward

      Whatever solution South Asia analysts and policy makers may have in mind post the Pulwama terror attack, they shall have to test it with this yardstick—whether it will ensure Indo-Pak peace and harmony, and whether it can give peace to the 12 million people of Jammu and Kashmir.

      In the current situation, the local community in Jammu and Kashmir is unable to exercise any clout and is unable to think constructively about structural change. Politics is an abstract notion for the young people in the state, and not a concrete method to bring about long-term reforms, which younger generations could build on.

      The translation of a political vision into reality requires diligence and hard work at the grass-roots level, rebuilding of ideological structures and mass movements, which would produce dynamic indigenous politics.

      You cannot achieve peace if your objective is not to make political accommodations, unmindful of the fact that the attitude of inflexibility and intransigence contributes conflict in the subcontinent. You do not then give first priority to peace but to hold on to what you have got in your possession by any means. It is because of this that it is incumbent on South Asia analysts and policy makers to clearly fix their objective before you they deliberate upon the problem before them.

      If we are all agreed upon the objective, then I have no doubt in my mind that there will be no difficulty in finding a way out. But, if we are doubtful in our objective, then our deliberations will not yield any results.

    • On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam

      I have spent over 40 percent of my adult life outside of my home country, never content with having my soul controlled by geography, to paraphrase George Santayana. I carry a U.S. passport but it doesn’t define me. I am a U.S. ex-patriot and global citizen who calls Vietnam home.

      It was during my first visit to Hanoi 23 years ago this month that this country – with its tragic yet inspirational millennia-long history – cast its spell on me. After moving here in 2005, I joined a select group of expats – an estimated 100,000 of them, according to official sources – who live in the midst of 97 million Vietnamese.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Who Else Might Like Medicare for All? Retired Coal Miners Who Just Had Their Health Benefits Ripped Away

      As the Casper Star-Tribune in Wyoming reported over the weekend, retired union members who worked at the local Kemmerer coal mine in Lincoln Country, Wyoming “likely lost their company health benefits” after Judge David R. Jones of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston ruled that the Westmoreland Coal Co.—now up for auction under bankruptcy proceedings—could eliminate retirement health care and a union contract in order to sell the mine.

    • Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment

      Women’s critical role in saving the environment took a new twist when on February 7, 2019, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat-New York) introduced a new climate change resolution which intends to push the U.S. to take the lead role in reducing carbon emissions to the environment. The proposal, “Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to Create a Green New Deal,” strives for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

      According to this proposal, the U.S. economy would shift from fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and replace them with renewable resources such as wind and solar power. Republicans have called the plan a pipedream that would ravage the economy and lead to a huge tax increase. President Trump said that it sounds like “a high-school term paper that got a low mark.”

    • The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy

      On January 22nd, Wyoming Game and Fish released its second official report on the tragic death of hunting guide Mark Uptain in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Mark was killed on September 14th, 2018, after being attacked by an adult sow grizzly and her year-and-a-half old male cub. The first official report was filed by WYGF not quite a month after Uptain was killed. As one might expect, because this report was released relatively early in the investigation, it was premature at best. This most recent iteration, however, attempts to backfill many of the holes created by the first report as well as to bolster at least some of WYGF’s original conclusions. One of the report’s handful of reliable proofs is that the bears they “removed” were indeed the two bears involved in the attack, which was determined through the analysis of DNA evidence. However, while this determination may allay some concerns, this finding seems almost insignificant when compared to other, more troubling aspects of WYGF’s handling of the investigation. Equally troubling is that no one in the mainstream press seems especially interested in asking WYGF some of the more baffling questions raised by their reports. Case closed in fatal griz attack, one headline reads. Despite what this headline would have us believe, however, this case is only just getting started.

      As someone who has been following Mark Uptain’s story since it broke, I’ve read pretty much everything that has been published on the subject, including articles, official reports, and comment threads. Not surprisingly, they represent a wide array of perspectives, theories, and ideas, most of which seek to make some sense of what, from the point of view of many, was a senseless tragedy. But I also came across a number of ideas that do not serve this end, the most insidious of which is the “Monday quarterback” fallacy, or the notion that because we weren’t there we have no business speculating about what happened or second-guessing the decisions and actions of those involved. This attempt to silence people who are, for the most part, just trying to understand what happened and why, sounds an awful lot like the “shoot, shovel, and shut up” mentality we hear so much about here in the West. I for one am deeply suspicious of anyone who advises against asking questions; offering contrary, plausible explanations; and advancing different theories of what happened and why.

      [...]

      Although I disagree with WYGF’s characterization of the bear’s behavior as abnormal, no investigator worth his salt is going to hang his hat on a single piece of evidence. It’s only when evidence for a particular conclusion starts piling up that a case is made. I admit I’ve been troubled by WYGF’s handling of the Uptain investigation since The Jackson Hole Daily’s Mike Koshmrl originally reported on it. After talking with Koshmrl, and like other people who care about humans and wildlife, I had hoped that future reporting would be more critical and answer other, equally important questions raised by the investigation. Unfortunately for everyone involved, those questions not only remain unanswered, but have become even more urgent now that WYGF seems intent on putting the Uptain tragedy behind them. Oddly, one question that has notcome up in the reporting may well be the most important question of all: Why did the SAR team consisting of two SAR personnel and one game warden leave the scene before determining whether or not Mark Uptain was dead? The report attempts to answer this question in a number of explicit and implicit ways, but if I were Mark Uptain or a member of his family, I would not be heartened or persuaded by a single one them. The first piece of information (I won’t call it a reason) that may have informed, but by no means determined,the SAR team’s decision to leave before locating Uptain was Chubon’s belief that Uptain likely hadn’t survived the attack. But one would have to be very cynical indeed to conclude that Chubon’s belief that Uptain was dead was a factor, which is why I mention it only in passing. The second and third pieces of information, which I wouldcall reasons, are found in one of the supplemental reports. The report indicates that after extracting Chubon from the mountain, the SAR helicopter “needed to refuel and headed back to forward Ops.” As a result, “Daylight ran out and IC suspended the mission until the following day.”

      For the record, I tried contacting two separate SAR Teams, one here in Utah and one in the Jackson Hole area, to ask for their thoughts on this information. But I don’t think one has to be a trained SAR team member or game warden to see why this information would be alarming. That is, wouldn’t one assume that the SAR helicopter would have never left the hangar without enough fuel to stay out as long as needed to complete the mission? Although I was unable to reach anyone from SAR, I was able to ask former and longtime National Park Service employee Bob Jackson about this apparent misstep. Jackson was a backcountry park ranger for Yellowstone National Park, and over the course of his 30-year career was both directly and indirectly involved with a number of SAR operations, including a handful of grizzly bear attacks. “There is no way they had so little fuel they could not have at least landed and let a couple people out,” he told me. “I have been around a fair number of helicopter operations in the Park. From these I know helicopters don’t go out on anything unless there is enough fuel to cover variables.” Another obvious variable that the SAR team responding to the Uptain attack seems not to have prepared for was nightfall. On this point, Jackson was even more emphatic: “I never, ever heard of a Park Service case where somebody was left for the night when there were bear-human incidents. They had to have had everything with them ready to spend the night. Never do you leave the scene of something like this incident. They had no idea of whether the mauled victim was alive or dead. You don’t leave a possibly live human for a night of terror.”

    • Biggest animals face extinction for food

      The world’s biggest animals – the largest birds, the bigger mammals and even reptiles, sharks and amphibians – are in increasing danger of extinction. Climate change, habitat loss and pollution may all be part of the problem, but the biggest and most direct threat is a simple one.

      They are being hunted to death. They are being killed for meat, for trophies such as horns and tusks, and for body parts used in Asian medicine.

      The findings, reported in the journal Conservation Letters, are stark. Of 362 mammals, sharks and rays larger than 100 kilograms and birds and reptiles larger than 40kg, 200 species or more were in decline and more than 150 could become extinct. And when the researchers composed a catalogue of hazards to species survival, they found that hunting was for most large animals the biggest danger.

      “Our results suggest we’re in the process of eating megafauna to extinction,” said William Ripple, an ecologist at the Oregon State University school of forestry in the US.

  • Finance

    • China Accuses U.S. of Trying to Block its Tech Development

      China’s government on Monday accused the United States of trying to block the country’s industrial development by alleging that Chinese mobile network gear poses a cybersecurity threat to countries rolling out new internet systems.

      And in a potential blow to the U.S.’s effort to rally its allies on the issue, British media reported that U.K. intelligence agencies found it’s possible to limit the security risks of using Chinese equipment in so-called 5G networks.

      The U.S. argues that Beijing might use Chinese tech companies to gather intelligence about foreign countries. The Trump administration has pressured allies to shun networks supplied by Huawei Technologies, threatening the company’s access to markets for next-generation wireless gear.

    • Google Secretly Expands Tech Empire Across the U.S., Getting Millions in Tax Breaks

      Amazon spent much of the last three months in the media spotlight, with its search for a second headquarters outside Seattle leading both to bidding wars between cities fighting for its affections, and extensive backlash from residents and elected officials in New York City, one of the winning locations. The protests against the new development were loud enough to cause Amazon to cancel the deal last week.

      While Amazon received both suitors and scrutiny, another tech behemoth was quietly expanding its footprint across the United States. At the end of 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced expansion plans leading to a presence in 24 out of 50 states. The Verge reported in December that “So far, most of Google’s facility development plans in the US have been met with little opposition outside of the Bay Area.” According to a new report in The Washington Post, however, that might be because the public wasn’t aware of them.

      Post Reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin writes that Google’s “development spree has often been shrouded in secrecy, making it nearly impossible for some communities to know, let alone protest or debate, who is using their land, their resources and their tax dollars until after the fact.”

    • ‘A Nameless Ghost’: One Mother’s Reflection on Life Cleaning Houses on Minimum Wage

      Although the relationship wasn’t supposed to last, it wasn’t supposed to end the way it did. Stephanie Land was 28. She and her boyfriend were working in cafes in Port Townsend, Ore., living together and saving up until they could part ways to fulfill separate dreams. She planned to move to Montana to study creative writing. Then she got pregnant, the boyfriend got abusive, and she left him. “My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter,” Land writes of what happened next, in “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.”

      “Maid” is a memoir of Land’s years as a single mother, working as a housecleaner on minimum wage, moving from shelters to Section 8 housing, struggling to support her daughter and herself. It’s also a study of just how expensive it is to be poor in America, and how the government punishes people who apply for assistance, demanding time and effort Land couldn’t spare as she scrubbed floors and toilets, and took care of her daughter.

      “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Land writes of her relationship with many of her housekeeping clients. “My job was to wipe away dust, dirt, to make clean lines in carpets, to leave without a trace.” But while she was an apparition in her clients’ homes, she was conspicuous and judged in public. Strangers criticized her purchases in the grocery store checkout line. A friend even said Land should thank her for paying taxes that contributed to the programs Land depended on for basic survival.

      Now a journalist in Montana, Land spoke to Truthdig shortly after “Maid’s” release, about what people get wrong about poverty in America, the reaction to the book and what she hopes readers learn from her story.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Alibaba is the force behind hit Chinese Communist Party app: sources

      “Xuexi Qiangguo”, which literally translates as ‘Study to make China strong’ and is a play on the government propaganda theme of applying President Xi Jinping’s thoughts, overtook Tik Tok’s Chinese version Douyin and WeChat to become the county’s most popular app on Apple’s China app store last week.

      It was developed by a largely unknown special projects team at Alibaba known as the “Y Projects Business Unit”, which takes on development projects outside the company, said the people.

    • Trump Rails Against ‘SNL,’ Again, And Suggests ‘Retribution’ for NBC

      President Trump once again took aim at “Saturday Night Live,” suggesting that there should be a price to pay by TV networks for delivering such scathing satire.

    • Kremlin seeks more control over [Internet] in Russia

      The bill would require that all internet traffic move through servers physically based in Russia. And it will expand the state-run communications office to oversee that routing.

      In a separate move, the Kremlin has also announced that it is planning to build its own version of the Domain Name System (DNS), the records systems used for the internet to direct users to specific domains for websites.

    • Facebook accused of acting like ‘digital gangsters’ in a devastating report by lawmakers

      The comments come in a devastating report on fake news by British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, made up of cross-party UK politicians and led by Conservative MP Damian Collins.

      Facebook deliberately flouted privacy and competition laws and should be subject to new regulation, the committee wrote.

    • Facebook is a law-breaking “digital gangster,” UK government report says

      Committee Chair Damian Collins, a member of Parliament from the Conservative Party, said that Facebook did not fully cooperate with the investigation.

    • British lawmakers slam Facebook for violating UK laws, recommend stiffer regulation

      The report on fake news and disinformation on social media sites followed an 18-month investigation. The parliamentary committee that prepared the report says social media sites should have to follow a mandatory code of ethics overseen by an independent regulator to better control harmful or illegal content.

    • N. Carolina Elections Head Says Ballots Handled Illegally

      A Republican operative conducted an illegal and well-funded ballot-harvesting operation, North Carolina’s elections director said Monday, but the first session of a days-long hearing produced scant evidence that the GOP congressional candidate he worked for knew about it or even benefited.

      The director’s testimony came at the opening of a state elections board hearing into whether mail-in ballots were tampered with in the race for the state’s 9th congressional district seat that saw Republican Mark Harris narrowly defeat Democrat Dan McCready.

      The race wasn’t certified, leaving the country’s only congressional election without a declared winner. The elections board is expected to either declare a winner or order a new election after the hearing.

    • Confirmation of William Barr Escalates War on Immigrants

      As the country reels from the longest government shutdown in history, we are facing a national emergency declaration and a deal rife with so-called “border security” measures that only serve to further militarize our borders. It’s the latest episode in the long-running “crisis” that President Trump has manufactured to criminalize and attack migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

      Now Trump will gain another powerful ally to support his extremist vision with the Senate confirmation of William Barr as attorney general. While the Republicans have positioned Barr as a seasoned former attorney general and the Democrats are focused on whether he will interfere in the Mueller investigation, it is Barr’s prior experience that reveals what kind of attorney general we should expect when it comes to the president’s views on immigration.

      Throughout Barr’s career, he has consistently promoted anti-immigrant and racist policies that overwhelmingly criminalize people of color. As attorney general under George H. W. Bush, Barr tried to take away due process rights for all immigrants with criminal convictions by proposing unconstitutional “summary deportation proceedings” and justified sending 12,000 Haitian refugees to prison at Guantánamo Bay simply because some were HIV positive.

      But Barr’s extremist world views didn’t stop in the 1990s. In 2018, he wrote in The Washington Post applauding Jeff Sessions’s work at the Department of Justice (DOJ), which included the implementation of the “zero-tolerance” policy and attempted prosecution and imprisonment of all migrants (including those with children) arrested after crossing the border. Barr saluted the expansion of Operation Streamline, a program that establishes an altogether separate and unequal court, devoid of due process and equal protection, designed to facilitate the mass prosecution and imprisonment of immigrants for crossing the border — an act that equates legally to a misdemeanor traffic violation. Across the southern border, the U.S. government packs people into freezing cells, deprives them of food and water, and forces them to sleep on the floor for days. They then parade dozens of immigrants, shackled at their hands and ankles, through assembly line hearings that one former San Diego judge referred to as a “fast food process that sullies centuries of judicial tradition.”

    • The US Not Immune to a Fascist Takeover by a Demagogue

      We speak with world-renowned educator, author and public intellectual Henry Giroux, the author of American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism, who joins us to discuss his article at Truthout, “Resisting the Weaponization of Ignorance in the Age of Trump.” We discuss how democracies in Poland, Hungary, India, Turkey and recently Brazil have succumbed to fascist takeovers by demagogues, and how the United States is not immune to the same forces of malicious ignorance and arrogant anti-intellectualism led by our own Donald Trump.

    • 260+ ‘Fake Emergency’ Protests Take Place in 47 States Today; Tens of Thousands are Expected to Join
    • Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump

      I rise refreshed on this holiday. Thanking dead presidents for my extra three hours of sleep. Sipping my coffee slowly, savoring the foreign flavors, I think maybe we’ll put our differences aside, at least for the morning: Washington’s slave mountain, Jefferson’s hemming and hawing, Jackson’s death marches, Lincoln’s foot dragging on the question of basic human equality. I file them away, at least until noon, grateful for the day off, with pay. And for the shortened work week ahead that is the delightful flip side of what already feels like a blessing.

      To many, I guess, Columbus Day is scarcely different. A chance to catch one’s breath, to catch up on sleep. To go shopping.

      How can the raping and pillaging of European marauders, the laying waste to a dozens of native tribes, the arrogance of Christian conquerors whose crosses doubled as pikes, the slave taking, the scalping, the dismembering of natives for the failure to pay an impossible tax in gold dust…How can any of this ‘ancient history’ compete with the sweet redemption of a three-day weekend?

      Exhausted, maxed out on sleep debt, my students have trouble criticizing the legacy of someone who has bestowed upon them a holiday, a chance to rest up. It’s not that they can’t see Columbus’s crimes—colonialism’s crimes; with a little help from Howard Zinn’s People’s History at least, they can. (Though, of course, the crimes of American Presidents are more difficult for many to admit.) But, above all, they are afraid of losing a much needed chance to sleep in. And, perhaps, afraid that even if the holiday stays put, a critical consciousness may make it a bit harder to sleep soundly, even on those rare occasions when they are allotted the time to do so.

      Can you really blame them? Most weeks, I’m exhausted myself. How can we not feel grateful today for the “Founding Fathers,” in body, if not in my mind?

      Rhetorically speaking, it might go better for us radicals if we argued for *more* holidays, rather than fewer. (The changing of Columbus Day to some version of Remembrance Day or Indigenous People’s Day being here a relevant half-measure.) In addition to Labor Day and Martin Luther King Day, let us have a Monday off for Geronimo, for Nat Turner, and John Brown. A Friday free for Frederick Douglass, a Wednesday off for Rosa Parks.) Let us all sleep in and dream of liberation, and its slaughtered loss. Let us drown our overseers in ecstasies of sleep, like slaves after a weeklong festival of Jubilee. Let us lay in bed in memory of those who were worked such long hours as never to ever get enough sleep, who were reduced to zombies and died brutally (according to some estimates) on average only about six years after having been put to work in the rice fields, the sugar fields, the coffee plantations. Let us sleep and rejuvenate ourselves in the memory of those who were forced into eternal sleep before their time, so that their “betters” could party long into the night, rising when and if they wanted to, counting coin and making plans for more.

      Let us take a few days off to remember that the masses of people can make history too. That the servants make the masters’ beds, as well as their own.

    • As UK Lawmakers Call Out Facebook Execs as ‘Digital Gangsters,’ New Zealand Moves to Tax Tech Giants

      New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed the decision in a press conference following a cabinet meeting on Monday, telling reporters that “our current tax system is not fair in the way it treats individual tax payers, and how it treats multinationals.”

      “Highly digitalized companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently earn a significant income from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax. That is not fair, and we are determined to do something about it,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement.

      Revenue Minister Stuart Nash explained that the government is working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “to find an internationally agreed solution for including the digital economy within tax frameworks.” However, he added, “we believe we need to move ahead with our own work so that we can proceed with our own form of a digital services tax, as an interim measure, until the OECD reaches agreement.”

      The news out of New Zealand came as the U.K. Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee put out a report outlining the results of an 18-month probe of “disinformation and fake news” on Facebook—which found that the company “intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws,” as Tory MP and committee chairman Damian Collins summarized in a statement.

    • Nationwide Rallies Denounce #FakeTrumpEmergency and President’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      The ACLU was swift in its announcement of intent to sue, doing so on Friday. “Let’s get something straight upfront,” wrote the organization’s deputy legal director, Cecillia Wang. “There is no emergency. Members of Congress from both parties, security experts, and Americans who live at the border have all said so. What the president is doing is yet another illegal and dangerous power grab in service of his anti-immigrant agenda.”

      In addition to the rights group, environmental advocacy organizations as well as a number of states have vowed legal challenges to the emergency declaration.

    • White House Indicates Trump to Veto Disapproval of Emergency

      President Donald Trump is prepared to issue the first veto of his term if Congress votes to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, a top White House adviser said on Sunday.

      White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration.” Asked if that meant Trump was ready to veto a resolution of disapproval, Miller added, “He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed.”

      The West Wing is digging in for fights on multiple fronts as the president’s effort to go around Congress to fund his long-promised border wall faces bipartisan criticism and multiple legal challenges. After lawmakers in both parties blocked his requests for billions of dollars to fulfill his signature campaign pledge, Trump’s declared national emergency Friday shifts billions of federal dollars earmarked for military construction to the border.

    • Something New and Something Old – A Story Still Being Told

      The patently cynical declaration of a national state of emergency by President Donald Trump (aka *45) offers a teachable moment on history, politics and empire. The lies and fear-mongering of those in power, the propaganda to legitimize violating the sovereignty of other nations, the use of fake manufactured crises and old war criminals to promote new atrocities—these are all time-tested tactics of the politics of the USA.

      The naked psychological shortcomings of the current head of state leading to undisciplined statements which reveal truth is new, offering a unique opportunity for people to ask the right questions and learn the right lessons.

      New too is Congress invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution as a check against executive overreach. Yet this was driven by the loose tongue of *45 putting a dollar value on life following the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The rot of empire begins from within. Concern for human rights in Yemen didn’t animate Congress, but rather exposed money-mad policy undermining US soft-power.

    • Presidents’ Day Can Kiss My Ass

      On this Presidents’ Day, let us all take a moment to gaze in awe at the ever-expanding field of 2020 candidates, which now officially includes California Sen. Kamala Harris, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former New Jersey Rep. John Delaney, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and, of course, President Donald Trump.

      The list of as-yet-undeclared Hot Maybes includes former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld; Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown; former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; former New York Mayor and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; former Vice President Joe Biden; California Rep. Eric Swalwell; former Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan; Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley; Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; and probably the surviving cast members from Ben-Hur, I Am Spartacus and Gone With the Wind before all is said and done.

      As there are fully 624 days until the aforementioned 2020 presidential election, please allow me to invite the entire concept of “Presidents’ Day” to take a flying copulation at a rolling doughnut in a gravel driveway. Enough already with the presidents and with our obsession with that high and highly corrupted office. Here at Truthout, we observe our own holiday today: Native Sovereignty Day, recognizing the civil rights, human rights and humanity of the many peoples who were damn well here first. Doing so, we acknowledge that in a world without colonial displacement and genocide, the very concept of a “U.S. president” would not, in fact, exist.

    • In New Hampshire, Kamala Harris Makes Clear She Is Not With the Democratic Socialists

      Distancing herself from the label that more progressive lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have embraced in recent election cycles in the United States, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) made it clear during a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Monday that she does not consider herself a democratic socialist.

      “The people of New Hampshire will tell me what’s required to compete in New Hampshire, but I will tell you I am not a democratic socialist,” Harris said in response to a question from a FOX News reporter while at a stop in Concord.

      “I believe that what voters do want,” she continued, “is they want to know that whoever is going to lead, understands that in America today, not everyone has an equal opportunity and access to a path to success, and that has been building up over decades and we’ve got to correct course.”

    • To Defeat Trump With People-Powered Political Revolution, Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Run

      With an interview with Vermont Public Radio that aired early Tuesday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially announced his candidancy for president in 2020, telling listeners in his home state he is determined to defeat President Donald Trump while building a grassroots-style campaign—with a network of “at least a million people”—designed to win Medicare for All, a national $15 minimum wage, reduced student debt, bold climate action, criminal justice and immigration reform, and create a political and economic system that works for the many and not just the few.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Chinese Newspapers Fold Amid Growing Censorship, Falling Incomes

      At least 13 newspapers that rely on advertising revenue but are still subject to the government’s strict censorship regime have folded, including the Beijing Morning Post, the Beijing Suburban Daily and the Heilongjiang Morning News, official party newspaper The People’s Daily reported.

      The Anyang Evening News and Zhangzhou Evening News titles have also been suspended.

      Analysts told RFA that as commercial newspapers are increasingly squeezed by growing controls on what they can print on the one hand, and falling revenues and competition from social media on the other, government-run media are experiencing a huge boost resulting from their whitelisted status.

    • Wife of jailed Saudi blogger seeks U.S. help to free him
    • ‘Highly Disturbing’: Facebook Blocks Viral Video Outlets Critical of US Foreign Policy and Corporate Media

      Journalists and advocates of press freedoms are once more directing outrage and criticism at Facebook for selectively censoring pages on its platform and refusing to explain the reason behind a decision that appears to many as a clear double standard applied to outlets critical of U.S. foreign policy and corporate interests.

      Facebook is under fire for shuttering four pages managed by the Berlin-based news and media company Maffick, after CNN reporters asked the social media giant about Maffick not disclosing that it is partly funded by the Russian government.

      CNN held its report—titled “Russia is backing a viral video company aimed at American millennials”—until Friday, when Facebook blocked Soapbox, Waste-Ed, Backthen, and In The Now.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Swedish Activist Fined for Viral Live-Streamed Protest Against Deportation of Afghan Asylum Seeker

      In a video Ersson live-streamed on Facebook—which has now been seen by millions of people across the globe—she said: “I want him to get off the plane because he is not safe in Afghanistan. I am trying to change my country’s rules, I don’t like them. It is not right to send people to hell.”

      Prosecutors charged that by refusing to comply with crewmembers’ instructions to take her seat, Ersson had disobeyed the captain and violated the air traffic regulations. While her protest on the Turkish Airlines flight could have landed Ersson behind bars for up to six months, the judge declined the prosecution’s request for jail time.

      As the verdict stated, according to The Local Sweden, “In this case, Elin Ersson’s actions took place when the plane was on the ground and although it led to palpable concern among other passengers, nothing else has emerged than that the plane was able to take off around half an hour late and continued to Istanbul without further problems.”

      Tomas Fridh, Ersson’s attorney, told the Guardian that he was disappointed with the fine and would appeal. “Elin’s ambition was not to commit a crime or break the law—her protest might be seen to have an element of civil disobedience, but in this case what was right was also legal,” he said.

    • No One Knows How Many Indigenous Women Are Missing or Murdered

      I won’t pretend to be impartial. This, like most of the issues I write about, is highly personal. The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people (collectively known as MMIWG2) impacts all Indigenous lives. Most of us know a relative or community member that has gone missing or been murdered. Indigenous women and Two Spirits often discuss the violence we face when we gather. However, the data on missing and murdered Indigenous people simply haven’t existed for those that are urban-based until recently.

      The Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) conducted the first-ever report on urban missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people, and the findings are terrifying. They found that many MMIWG2 weren’t being properly counted by law enforcement, making it difficult to advocate for policy to help bring an end to this violence. Media coverage was also found to be abysmal, resulting in a lack of public awareness.

      These findings hurt me to read and write about due to the pain I feel when I think about what our people have endured. They also strike fear in me as an urban Indigenous Two Spirit who is read and treated as a woman. Would I be properly counted if I were to go missing or found murdered? Would law enforcement actually give my case the respect it deserves? Would I be counted as both Indigenous and Two Spirit? Probably not.

      As a resident of Washington, D.C., the violence aimed at me and other Indigenous people is never too far from my mind. I fight my way through a city in which some of the most powerful people in the world live and work. I have to navigate a never-ending maze of disembodied Native heads on football jerseys worn by people that claim to “honor me” with said genocidal iconography. I have to drive on a road named “Indian Head Highway.” I have to swallow down my righteous rage in order to chase stories, access quotes and organize in a city that is home to my people’s mass murderers. It’s not a stretch for me to worry for my safety and that of my community.

    • Predators Home In on Developmentally Disabled Women

      Julie Neward’s sister, Natalie, is developmentally disabled. She is “nonverbal”: her only form of communication is moaning. She moans when she is hungry, when she wants a bath or when she is tired. Natalie communicates well with her eyes, however, and she is able to walk. Neward explains that Natalie’s body functions differently than most women’s. She does not menstruate. She can’t make tears, nor does she have sweat glands.

      Although Natalie, 37, lives at home, during the day she visits a day care facility for disabled people.

      One day, in 2012, as she was driving home from work, Neward received a phone call from an urgent care center, where her mother had taken Natalie.

      “It was a nurse from an urgent care facility, telling me I had to bring my sister in to receive an antibiotic,” Neward recalls. “Natalie had just been diagnosed with gonorrhea.”

      For Neward, the diagnosis explained the many health issues her sister had been suffering from in the previous months. Their mother had noted changes in Natalie’s behavior. She would moan all night and was not sleeping well. She would not urinate in her diaper.

    • California Prisoners Say Videos Show ‘Gladiator Fights’ At Soledad State Prison

      California prisoners released video recordings of two prisoner fights they say were set-up by officials at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, California. It is now the second facility to report so-called “gladiator fights” after prisoners spoke out about similar incidents at the state prison in Corcoran.

    • Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey

      “Democracy is like a tram; you get off when you have reached your destination.”

      The comment by Recep Tayyip Erdogan — made more than 20 years ago when he was first elected mayor of Istanbul — sums up the Machiavellian cynicism of Turkey’s authoritarian president.

      As Turkey gears up for municipal elections on March 31, it is a prophecy Erdogan has more than fulfilled: the prisons filled with the opposition, the media largely silenced, the courts intimidated, the bureaucracy tamed, and more than 150,000 people fired.

      But for all that, there dark clouds on the horizon, much of them largely of the president’s own making. And since it’s traditional for the Turkish electorate to use local elections to send a message, Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) may be in for a setback.

    • Russian anti-corruption leader releases a report about unsanitary school catering in Moscow, but a fake image spoils the big reveal

      Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has published a new investigative report featuring an interview with a woman identified as Natalia Shilova, who says she used to work at a business called “Moscow Schoolboy.” In a video recording, she describes how the company supplies the city’s schools and kindergartens with low-quality food. According to the magazine RBC and anti-corruption researchers at the political party Yabloko, Moscow Schoolboy has ties to catering magnate and Putin ally Evgeny Prigozhin.

      Shilova says she worked for the company from December 2016 to April 2017, and claims the business is part of the corporate structure of “Concord,” which Prigozhin owns. She told Navalny’s researchers that she deliberately took the job “to find out what they’re feeding our children.”

    • The Lucky Ones

      Nearly 30 years after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as an undocumented child, a reporting trip brought me back to that very stretch. The memories followed.

      [...]

      “Tattoos are the art of pain in exchange for meaning,” Beto told me. “Tattoos start as open wounds that heal to reveal permanence. Growth requires healing, the only other person we let us cut open to bleed, to fix something, to live, is a doctor.” My tattoos now tell my story in a way that I couldn’t capture in words.

    • Report: EU Settled Status Automated Data Checks: Proposed outcomes, concerns and questions

      This briefing addresses the automated data checks within the EU Settlement Scheme (“the scheme”), the application route through which EU nationals must apply for settled status post-Brexit.All EU nationals (an anticipated three million plus people) will have to apply through the scheme in order to remain in the UK after 30 June 2021, in the case of a deal, or 31 December 2020 in the case of no deal. Acquiring settled status will in most cases require evidence of five years’ continuous UK residence.

      The scheme relies heavily on an automated data check. Input of a National Insurance number triggers automatic transfer of certain data from HMRC and DWP to the Home Office. This data is subjected to algorithmic machine analysis according to a Home Office “business logic” – details of which have not been made public. Result outputs of pass, partial pass and fail are issued to a Home Office caseworker. Once the output is received, the raw data disappears.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • If you call this firm a “patent troll,” it might sue for defamation

      We’re not going to say that Automated Transactions LLC is a “patent troll,” but several others have. The American Bankers Association has called ATL a troll. The Credit Union National Association called ATL a troll—they even illustrated the accusation with a picture of a troll. Individual lawyers, legal commentators, and banks have all described ATL as a troll.

      Inventor and ATL founder David Barcelou got so fed up with people labeling his firm a patent troll that he sued about a dozen individuals and organizations for libel in 2016. Last year, a New Hampshire state judge dismissed Barcelou’s lawsuit.

      And on Thursday, February 14, the New Hampshire Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether to overrule the lower court’s decision and allow the lawsuit to move forward.

    • Non-Analogous Art — More than Simply Different

      Obviousness is the central patentability doctrine. Obvious innovations are not patentable. Instead, to be patentable, and invention must embody a substantial step beyond what was known in the prior art.

    • Trademarks

      • ‘Glen Buchenbach’ is a misleading indication, Hamburg Court rules

        A few months ago former GuestKat Mirko Brüß reported on a decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerning Geographical Indications (GIs), whisky, and a particular liquor produced in Germany.

        Now, the referring court has decided the case after it returned from Luxembourg.

    • Copyrights

      • EU Commission Decides To Mock The Public; Insists Fears About EU Copyright Directive Are All Myths

        On Thursday, the European Commission posted — on its official Medium page — an astoundingly juvenile and obnoxious post, lashing out at those who have complained that Articles 11 and 13 in the EU Copyright Directive will be destructive. The post was snide and condescending, and suggested that most of the opposition was fake and “astroturfed” and that anyone who really believed that the EU Copyright Directive was a problem was brainwashed by Google and Facebook. It was… quite a post. On Friday evening, I wrote up a (mostly) line-by-line response to its utter nonsense and planned to post it this week once people were back in the office to review it.

      • The best tweet ever on the EU Copyright Directive sums up the bloc’s miserable failure and misguided approach

        Prior to Dr. Schestowitz, no one had actually noticed the fact that the European Commission was using an American Internet platform–Medium–for this insult because it’s so normal in a way, though it’s an insanity if you actually think about it. It relates to why the whole mess that is the EU Copyright Directive is on the agenda, and to what’s bound to go wrong in the future, especially with that bill being enacted into law.

        The insanity here is that Medium is exactly an example of the blessings that user-generated content brings and that the EU Copyright Directive’s Article 13 is designed to hamper.

        As I explained yesterday, the EU institutions are now about to adopt a fake compromise. The companies opposing the directive have no one to blame but themselves because they didn’t leverage those genuine grassroots activities out there in the right way. They failed to persuade politicians from the center to the right, and didn’t even convince some left-wingers (even the German Greens). Blowing things out of proportion with terms like “censorship” gets you nowhere. Also, while I’m really happy about and impressed by the success of the savetheinternet.info online petition, it doesn’t make sense to claim that the directive threatens the Internet in general. We’re talking about specific issues and should define them precisely.

        [...]

        Investment in digital-platform startups will be discouraged, and the carveout for companies younger than three, smaller than 10 million euros in annual revenues and with fewer than five million monthly users won’t help in the slightest as I explained in my previous post.

        Not only the European Commission but also the other institutions (and the national governments, which are represented in the Council) should ask themselves why the EU can’t even use a European digital platform to insult voters and taxpayers. And they should realize that a focus on how to win, not an indulgence in envy, is the solution.

        The European Union will only make things worse if it employs the methods of the old Soviet Union. You can’t compete with the United States by restricting freedom. What has made China so successful? Freedom in the sense of capitalism (human rights are another topic).

        To be clear, it’s not just about platform companies. Europe’s economy and society will suffer in general if European user-generated content will be less abundant than American or Asian user-generated content. User-generated content is used in so many sectors of the economy, and–which is extremely important–in education. And even in politics, as the Commission’s post demonstrated in a negative sense.

      • EU Commission calls opponents of Copyright Directive a “mob,” as thousands take to the streets for the #Artikel13Demo

        The EU Commission has been forced to retract a Medium post in which it patronised and dismissed opponents of the controversial Article 13 proposal that will force platforms to surveil and censor users’ postings with copyright filters, calling them a “mob.”

        The Commission characterised the opposition as being stooges for Google, hoodwinked by the company to carry water for it, despite the fact that Google has quietly supported the idea of filters as an acceptable alternative to other forms of regulation (Facebook, too, has supported the proposal).

      • EU Commission Deletes Article 13 Post Because ‘Mob’ Understood it Incorrectly

        On Friday, the EU Commission published a piece on Medium that suggested that Google has taken over the minds of millions of citizens, rendering them incapable of thinking for themselves in their opposition of Article 13. The piece was later deleted with a note implying that people simply aren’t capable of understanding the subtle nuances of the English language.

      • The Worst Possible Version of the EU Copyright Directive Has Sparked a German Uprising

        Thankfully, Europeans aren’t taking this lying down. With the final vote expected to come during the March 25-28 session, mere weeks before European elections, European activists are pouring the pressure onto their Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), letting them know that their vote on this dreadful mess will be on everyone’s mind during the election campaigns.

        The epicenter of the uprising is Germany, which is only fitting, given that German MEP Axel Voss is almost singlehandedly responsible for poisoning the Directive with rules that will lead to mass surveillance and mass censorship, not to mention undermining much of Europe’s tech sector.

        The German Consumer Association were swift to condemn the Directive, stating: “The reform of copyright law in this form does not benefit anyone, let alone consumers. MEPs are now obliged to do so. Since the outcome of the trilogue falls short of the EU Parliament’s positions at key points, they should refuse to give their consent.”

        A viral video of Axel Voss being confronted by activists has been picked up by politicians campaigning against Voss’s Christian Democratic Party in the upcoming elections, spreading to Germany’s top TV personalities, like Jan Böhmermann.

      • Backroom deal on EU Copyright Directive is a fake compromise: here’s what a genuine compromise would look like

        Politico.eu published the outcome of backroom negotiations (called “trilogue” because three institutions participated) on the EU Copyright Directive. Adoption of that text would be tantamount to the unconditional surrender of critics of the most ill-conceived parts of the proposal.

        But the problem is that losers can’t be choosers. They can try, and every once in a while it may work, but the resistance movement needs to realize that it has missed previous opportunities to build a majority in the Parliament, or a blocking minority in the Council. In order to prevent the worst, it’s important to make a significant concession–accepting Article 11 despite the fact that it’s moronic and will be counterproductive–and to focus on Article 13 (upload filters).

        As I explained in the blog post I just linked to, it’s not just about demands. It’s also about strategy and execution. While it’s really impressive that the grassroots activists behind SaveTheInternet.info collected 4.7 million digital signatures on change.org, which they delivered to Germany’s minister of justice today, savetheinternet.eu is an underwhelming, run-of-the-mill issue coalition website. The bottom line is that what has been done so far has not been enough.

        The “trilogue” result is a typical example of what happens when one side has the upper hand and just makes some cosmetic but unhelpful concessions. Germany’s minister of justice, who simply seeks to hide behind an EU decision and Germany’s coalition government (despite the coalition agreement speaking out against upload filters), welcomes a carve-out for small companies. But that’s a fake carve-out. It only applies to companies that are less than three years old, have annual revenues below 10 million euros and fewer than 5 million users a month. I don’t want to accuse Mrs. Barley of lying, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she simply doesn’t understand the world of technology startups. But if a startup seeks to raise capital, it must present a business plan that will obviously envision staying in business for more than three years and generating, in the foreseeable future, more than 10 million euros in annual revenues–and if the legislative framework poses a threat to a business model once such a modest size has been reached, it’s basically as much of a problem as if the risk factors were there from the get-go.

What Happened in the United States Now Happens in Europe: Lots of Patents Turn Out to Be Bunk, Fake, Bogus, Invalid and Thus Worthless

Posted in America, Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 5:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Low patent quality has done incredible harm/damage to confidence in the system

Cardboard recycling

Summary: Worthless patents — not opposition to such patents — are the greatest threat to the legitimacy of the patent system, yet bureaucrats fail to heed the warning in the name of short-term profits

HERE AT TECHRIGHTS we’ve been following the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for more than a decade and a half (I wrote about it long before the site even existed). When I was about 20 I was upset to see Graffiti input on Palm being destroyed by patents. I wrote about it in my personal blog. Such ridiculous US patents could possibly be used by a relic like Xerox to embargo — e.g. via ITC — devices I so often used (I still own and use a Palm PDA). The workaround was known as Graffiti 2, which is vastly inferior. The PDA I use was manufactured in 2003 — the same year Graffiti 2 was introduced, so I’m lucky to have dodged this sabotage by patents. For those who wonder what got me upset at such patents (software patents), that was it. Richard Stallman often attributes the creation of GNU and then the FSF to Xerox printers that upset him. So I share more than my initials with him and we’ve been good friends. We share our views on patents and the European patent system.

Things have changed a lot since, especially in 2014 when SCOTUS ruled on Alice, giving rise to 35 U.S.C. § 101 as we now know it.

“We are saddened to see Europe falling into the same trap that the US had fallen into a few decades ago when the Federal Circuit gave a green light to software patents.”Seeing what happens in the US this year, we’re not even tempted to resume coverage of it. Virtually all cases are concluded the way we’d like them to. Janal Kalis (“Patent Buddy”) is still obsessing over mere patent applications, as PTAB and district courts have nothing for these patent maximalists to celebrate. This week he wrote: “The PTAB Reversed an Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Claims for a Method of Detecting Similar Objects” (the exception).

Usually it’s the other way around. We also note that patent extremists blame “big tech” for the demise of software patents, never mind if “small tech” (firms) too pushed towards that. “They ‘happen’ to be those who also produce a lot of software,” I replied to him, “unlike patent trolls and law firms, so…”

“It is impossible to argue (any longer) that the EPO has no patent quality issues; even the EPO’s management now admits it.”Readers can probably agree that what happened in the US after Alice, more so in recent years as caselaw shaped up, was overwhelmingly positive. Developers were able to focus on actual work rather than hire lawyers.

We are saddened to see Europe falling into the same trap that the US had fallen into a few decades ago when the Federal Circuit gave a green light to software patents. The European Patent Office (EPO) under the leadership of António Campinos is a very vocal booster of software patents in Europe. The managers at the Office, preoccupied and obsessed with so-called ‘production’, are still trying very hard to break the rules (e.g. misinterpret the EPC) and grant bogus patents — European Patents courts would reject such as "blockchain" patents.

The EPO has already admitted these are software patents as so does Bastian Best on Twitter, soon to be retweeted by EPO (official). The EPO reposted this yesterday: “For the blockchain enthusiasts in my network: Koen Lievens does a great job in this video explaining how #blockchain inventions can be #patent’ed at the @EPOorg. Hint: It’s the exact same standard as for any other type of CII.”

What are these people thinking? Bearing in mind the EPO's own admission of quality problems (albeit internally only, for now), shouldn’t they quit this madness? Sooner or later all these patents will fall in an avalanche like Alice in the US.

Meanwhile, judging by yesterday’s long post from IP Kat, the non-impartial and not-so-independent (i.e. partially dependent) EPO appeal boards are hard to rely on as long as Battistelli and Campinos, two crooked patent maximalists, control them. Watch this latest situation:

A recent decision by the EPO Technical Boards of Appeal (TBA) departed from previous boards on how the novelty of the increased purity of a known compound is to be assessed. In T 1085/13, the TBA diverged from previous decisions that established special criteria for determining the novelty of a claim directed to a known compound of increased purity. The decision also ignores the criteria set out in the EPO Guidelines for Examination. These state that to be novel a selection invention must be “purposive”. The decision therefore confirms that the EPO is prepared to depart from its previous positions on the criteria for assessing the novelty of selection inventions. It seems that, for the purpose of assessing novelty, the TBA are now in favour of applying the same novelty criteria to these inventions as to any other type of invention, and nothing further.

[...]

As far as this Kat is aware, T 1085/13 is the first decision by the TBA to depart from the “special criteria” for purity inventions provided in T 0990/96 (although she is happy to be corrected on this if readers are aware of any earlier decisions).

T 1085/13 also appears to have ignored the criteria for selection inventions established by earlier TBA (and outlined in the EPO guidelines for examination) that a claimed selection must constitute a “purposive selection”. This is in line with other recent decisions of the TBA. It therefore appears that the third criteria for the novelty of selection inventions is being phased out, although this is still not reflected in the most recent EPO Guidelines for Examination. If this really is to be the new position of the EPO, is it not time for these changes to be reflected in the guidelines? This Kat also awaits with interest to see whether this latest decision on purity inventions will be followed by subsequent boards and the Examiners.

Guidelines should be based on law, not so-called ‘production’ aspirations. This is akin to what Iancu does at the USPTO, in effect mimicking Battistelli. Judges are being pressured and condemned.

As further evidence of the decline of quality of patents (EPO and USPTO in this case), watch these two new reports (from yesterday) [1, 2] as they cover something we wrote about some days ago (based on the original press release). The gist of it is, the EPO admits it granted false patents… yet again (not just the USPTO, where such invalidation is a lot more common with Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs)).

To quote the first report:

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have both invalidated patents owned by Immunex Corporation.
The patents cover antibodies that target human interleukin-4 receptors.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals had opposed the patents, arguing that European patent 2,990,420 and US patent 8,679,487 were invalid due to the insufficiency of disclosure.

The EPO invalidated Immunex’s European patent a day after the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated all 17 claims of the US patent due to obviousness.

Joseph LaRosa, executive vice president of Regeneron, commented: “We applaud decisions by the US and European patent offices this week, which invalidate Immunex’s functional patent claims to antibodies that target human IL-4 receptors.”

The second such report says:

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: REGN) has announced two important legal developments invalidating Immunex patents with functional claims to antibodies that target human interleukin-4 receptors (IL-4R).

On Friday, the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) revoked wholly-owned by Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN) subsidiary Immunex’ European Patent No 2,990,420 in its entirety because the claims were invalid for insufficiency of disclosure. This follows a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to invalidate all 17 claims of Immunex’ US Patent No 8,679,487 as obvious. These decisions are subject to appeal by Immunex.

Regeneron’s shares closed up 2.17% at $423.79 on Friday, while Amgen dipped 1.51% to $185.50 in after-hours trading.

“We applaud decisions by the US and European patent offices this week, which invalidate Immunex’ functional patent claims to antibodies that target human IL-4 receptors,” said Joseph LaRosa, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, at Regeneron. “It is our position that Immunex’ functional claims unfairly attempt to claim ownership far beyond the molecules developed, and stifle innovation within the broader scientific community,” he added.

It is impossible to argue (any longer) that the EPO has no patent quality issues; even the EPO’s management now admits it.

Stephen Rowan’s and Nellie Simon’s Letter to EPO Staff: eDossier Has “Not Reached the Required Quality Levels.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: We've just commented on it; here is the raw letter in full, explaining that eDossier and related frameworks will be abandoned entirely and indefinitely within less than a fortnight

The EPO management team has taken the decision to stop the eDossier project in its entirety.

After three years of intense efforts to design and deliver eDossier, the implemented solution is unfortunately neither performant nor scalable enough to create a paperless, electronic workflow. In addition, after two rounds of corrective testing, the latest release has not reached the required quality levels. This was independently confirmed by the recent IT Audit performed by Boston Consulting Group. The Audit also highlighted that the planned benefits have not materialised and expressed concerns over the expected benefits and feasibility of the programme, as currently defined.

In light of these findings, the management team has followed the recommendation of the IT Audit and stopped the eDossier project, including the Cellule de Suivi. The three directorates currently using it for Stock Management will now accept and allocate files in the same way as all other directorates.

Stopping a project of this magnitude is never easy and the decision has not been taken lightly. The Office invested greatly in this project with the aim of delivering significant benefits to the organisation, through the introduction of an electronic dossier and workflow. We also appreciate that this has been one of a number of efforts over time to introduce a more electronic workflow. However, it is a reality of innovative organisations that not all projects work out exactly as we had hoped, no matter how great the effort from those involved.

We will now draw lessons from eDossier to better prepare us for other projects in the future. With a more agile BIT structure that is being proposed, and the overall maturation of technologies, we are also better equipped to achieve our aims in the future. As part of the Office’s Strategic Plan, the Office will now make proposals for a new back-office to support the patent grant process using an improved platform, which will deliver both performance and scalability.

We fully realise that many of you have invested great energy in this project to make it a success. We would therefore like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you, whether examiner, para-technical, formalities officer, team manager or director, who has used eDossier Stock Management, as well as all the IM, PD13 and PD14 staff who worked on the project and supported the cellule during the past two years.

eDossier Stock Management will stop on Friday 1 March 2019 at 16:00. All those using eDossier will receive information later today on how the transition will be managed and what you can expect and when.

Stephen Rowan
Vice-President DG1
Nellie Simon
Vice-President DG4

Search Matters Not at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Early Certainty From Google (April 1, 2018)

Campinos in the penthouse

Summary: The EPO has found out that “System Battistelli” [1, 2] has been catastrophic for the quality of patents; it stops short of openly admitting it as such and in fact it keeps the message strictly confidential (explained to insiders, who will inevitably notice a system being abandoned)

IT ought to have become clear by now that the European Patent Office (EPO) is unable/unwilling to reform. António Campinos is not changing anything except the level of advocacy for software patents in Europe (i.e. lowering patent quality even further).

Earlier this month we wrote about teffgate and now it’s mentioned in IP Kat as well, courtesy of yesterday’s post from Jonathan Pratt. He mostly cites other sources, but he binds together several items we covered earlier this month (about departure from the EPC, decline of patent quality/legitimacy, and courts throwing out European Patents).

Kluwer’s patent blog has also posted a number of articles this week. This started with an analysis of how to deal with unusual prior art when applying the EPO’s Problem and Solution Approach, in particular when there are doubts about whether the closest prior art is enabling. The second post related to the changes in the latest version of Visser’s Annotated European Patent Convention. Next up, a court in the Netherlands ruled that two Dutch patents for processing teff (a kind of grain) are invalid. This was declared as “great news” for Ethiopia which has been using teff for thousands of years. This was followed up with a comparison of the test for sufficiency in Australia and the UK following recent cases relating to Lyrica. Finally, there was an analysis of the recent decision of the District Court of The Hague that the Dutch part of Eli Lilly and Company’s patent EP 1 313 508 is valid.

As recently as last week we wrote about the “AI” buzzword/hype taking over Europe in an effort to promote bad things like surveillance; it’s often a Trojan horse/back door for software patents as well and hours ago Intellectual Property Watch published “EU Members Adopt Plan To Make Europe A Leader In Artificial Intelligence”. It turns out that it isn’t necessarily about patents, but it likely cites things like that recent UN/WIPO report. “The European Council of member states has adopted an all-encompassing plan to make Europe a global leader in artificial intelligence and integrate AI into all aspects of regional life. The plan, which comes as Europe has been identified as lagging in AI research and investment behind the United States,” says the opening (not behind their paywall).

Speaking of “AI”, belatedly the EPO admits it’s failing to replace examiners with so-called ‘AI’ (which means just “Algorithms” or “Computers” these days). As Märpel has just explained:

Märpel heard that the office computer tools are not working as well as they should. This was confirmed at the beginning of this month by an audit that was concluded by Boston Consulting Group and published by President Campinos. Märpel is frankly surprised that the audit did not leak into the general public as it paints a dismal picture of system Battistelli. Our readers will certainly remember that under President Battistelli millions were paid for software development and that a surprisingly high proportion of the IT firms chosen were French.

The pinacle of the IT tools was supposed to be the “Electronic dossier system” or eDossier. The office had great hopes in the eDossier, as it would have rendered formality officers redundant: the computer would have managed the procedural aspects automatically. The catastrophic state of formalities results from a continuous policy of understaffing in the past years: why replace staff if the computer will render them all redundant anyway?

But the e-dossier does not work. The audit suggested to close the project and the decision was published last week.

The original message came from a new appointee and former colleague of Campinos.

It seems clear that for a number of years the EPO foolishly attempted to replace examiners with low-quality automation which SUEPO repeatedly warned about/against (as did we). In fact, almost every day this month the EPO published “searchmatters” tweets like this one from half a day ago: “Check out this collection of lectures and workshops to see why #SearchMatters…”

Well, if only the EPO truly believed that “SearchMatters”; it seems to be trying to cut costs and cut the legitimacy of European Patents. If these were the goals, it succeeded at both. However, that puts at peril the future of this entire institution. This is why there was such strong resistance from examiners. In the next post we shall give new examples of bogus (as confirmed by assessors) European Patents.

António Campinos Still Needs to Undo Battistelli’s Union-Busting Activities at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yesterday: António Campinos Still Needs to Hold Team Battistelli Accountable for Illegally Bringing Weapons to the EPO

SUEPO Support/Solidarity with Laurent Prunier

Summary: Solidarity and support for Laurent Prunier are needed because the new French president lacks empathy even for fellow Frenchmen whose sole ‘crime’ is that they represented EPO staff

NOT ONLY SUEPO (the union) but also the Central Staff Committee (CSC, representatives) is being gagged by the European Patent Office (EPO). Bergot, whom many insiders perceive to be the 'real' boss, sends them threatening letters. It’s not surprising that they hardly say anything anymore. It is an atmosphere of sheer fear.

António Campinos has not repaired anything that Battistelli did; he has in fact escalated advocacy of software patents in Europe and he is stonewalling on the subject of staff representatives being subjected to union-busting by Battistelli. None of that has changed, based on this SUEPO support letter for Laurent Prunier, which one recipient decided to pass to us:

Dear SUEPO Members,

Mr Campinos has announced, in his Communiqué of 30.10.2018, that he would work towards amicable settlements. The CSC, SUEPO and the Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) have written to the President calling for an “amnesty” for all staff representatives targeted by Mr Battistelli & co, and in particular for those who remain dismissed.

So far the Office has not reconsidered Laurent’s unlawful dismissal and the Tribunal is unlikely to grant him relief before the end of 2019. Laurent is sick, remains unable to work, and thus without independent income. He still needs our support to stay afloat until a proper solution is found.

You can support Laurent with one-off donations, or with regular (monthly) donations. All donations are welcome and very much appreciated, regardless of the amount.

Here are Laurent’s bank coordinates:

[redacted]

We thank you for considering supporting a colleague who worked tirelessly to defend (y)our collective rights and got sacked for that.

Your SUEPO Committee The Hague

The deteriorating health of this staff representative, whom sources of ours describe as a nice person, makes it a matter of urgency. But of course Campinos lacks compassion and common sense; he’s all PR skills, but deep inside it’s another Battistelli/Bergot. People are rightly running out of patience with him.

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