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04.08.19

The EPO’s Incredulous Survey: Management’s Voice, Management’s Future — EPO Staff ‘Engagement’ Spin (Denial of Issues)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pure spin and distortion by Willis Towers Watson (that’s their job), such as the ‘outline’ below. It merely insults the intelligence of staff while calling it “your voice”.

Willis Towers Watson spin

Summary: The EPO lies to its staff and will soon lie to the public, too; In this Battistelli-styled stunt it’s constructing an alternate reality while trying to pass it off as ‘scientific’ (like oil companies funding ‘research’ to refute climate science)

YESTERDAY morning we wrote about the new survey, which was managed by European Patent Office’s (EPO) management. It was overseen by the deniers looking to cover up their misdeeds and incompetence. Willis Towers Watson offers spin as a ‘service’ (or ‘product’), so why not ‘pull a Battistelli’ (PwC) and waste some more EPO budget on PR disguised as ‘survey’ or ‘study’? Why not spin mismanagement and misconduct as success and promise? It’s all about controlling the narrative while making it seem like a reflection of reality (based on, e.g., the number of people surveyed).

We asked/called for insiders to ‘leak’ it to us, so some quickly did. The EPO should be accountable to the public, not to itself. We need this in the public domain in order for the public to be able to assess the EPO’s “sound bites” and see if they match what the contracted firm has found (which may not be accurate either because of the EPO’s money tainting objectivity). We also need to know what questions were asked, i.e. the methods. We doubt the EPO wishes to disclose all these ‘gory’ details. Unlike SUEPO-funded surveys, this one was conducted with the purpose of making António Campinos look good — a fact one must bear in mind. At the bottom we include the three PDF documents associated with the “sound bites”, which the EPO will soon use for propaganda purposes (it already does so internally). Here, below, is the enclosing message.


The Office-wide results are out!

Have a look at the

  • infographic which provides an executive summary or
  • browse through the presentation deck that WTW presented
  • further details in the annex to the presentation.

The President shared his view on the results in his communiqué here.

Following the Office-wide results release, the DGs will hold workshops for their management teams, delving further into these results. After these presentation workshops, all team managers will receive their unit results and organise workshops with their teams.

Final DG participation rates

Complete Invitees Return Rate
DG0 93 113 82%
DG1 4434 5204 85%
DG4 752 847 89%
DG5 217 253 86%
BoA 179 228 79%
Total 5675 6645 85%

About sustainable staff engagement

engaged

Engaged + Enabled + Energised = Happier colleagues, users and customers.

Sustainable Staff Engagement Engaged Enabled Energised
What it means To believe in where we’re going and be proud to work at the EPO To have the tools and opportunities to do good work To have a workplace that supports healthy and inspirational ways of working
What it measures /analyses Rational, emotional and behavioural attachment to the company In how far does the local work environment support productivity and performance Individual physical, interpersonal and emotional well-being at work

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson, an international expert survey provider, will help the Office set up a scientific way to measure the dimensions Engagement, Enablement and Energisation. In an open tender process, WTW put forward a solid proposal that convinced the award committee composed of management and staff representatives. Moreover, WTW will assist in ensuring the survey results will lead to actions. The company will administer the survey to guarantee full confidentiality of data.

About the survey

The survey is quick, easy and open to all EPO employees, who have been at the Office for more than 4 months. Anyone having started at the Office after 1 October 2018 (cut-off date) is still in the process of getting to know their new work place and will hence receive no invitation.

On 31 January 2019, you received an e-mail from our external survey provider Willis Towers Watson to participate in the survey. The survey has 55 questions and is as such shorter than previous surveys, to provide actionable and strategic insights. Key areas identified can be followed up in topic-specific Pulse surveys.

The survey is divided into three sections:

  1. About you section: 3 questions on demographics (This information will be used to construct meaningful analysis only; please rest assured that information will not be used to identify respondents cf confidentiality information)
  2. General opinion sections: 55+ multiple choice questions
  3. Open comments sections: 2+ open ended questions that will ask you to share your suggestions and opinions for the Office’s future. – Please note, comments will be reported as written. Please do not insert information like your name etc if you wish to remain anonymous.

High-level topics in the survey include: Sustainable Engagement, Communication, Management, Line Management, Service Focus, Working Effectiveness & Quality, Empowerment, Training & Talent Development, Remuneration, Diversity & Inclusion, External Reputation and Well-Being.

It was possible to complete the survey on your computer, mobile phone or tablet, at work or at home and in any of the three Office-languages.

Any management team with 8 or more responses will receive a unit specific report of the findings, which can help the manager identify strengths and areas for positive action.

Reporting examples

How are the 8 responses / 20 comments cut-off rules applied?

org

  • In this example scenario the following reports would be generated:
  • Team manager A will receive an unit report if 8 or more people in his team fill in the survey
  • Team manager B could receive an unit report if all of his staff fill in the survey, if only 7 or fewer people submit their results, all results from Team B would be rolled up to the next level (i.e. the All Directorate Employees report)
  • Team manager C will not receive a specific unit report, as the number of team responses is under the confidentiality protection cut-off of 8 people. Their results will be rolled up to the next level and will feature in the All Directorate Employees report.
  • The Director will receive a report of his management team (Direct Reports), which includes the responses from Team Managers A-C and his Assistants / Advisors, if all 8 fill in the survey. If fewer submit their responses, their results will be rolled up to the Directorate’s all employees report.
  • The Director will receive a report for all members of his directorate; this includes his management teams, advisors, assistants and all team members of A,B,C. This report is furthermore available to the Principal Director.
  • Open comments: The cut-off rule for open comments is 20 to protect respondent’s confidentiality. In this example, the Director may receive an open comments report, if more than 20 of the people in his directorate have filled in the survey. If fewer people provide comments, say 14 people, comments from the entire directorate will be rolled up to the Principal Director and feature in their report of comments of all Directorates in his line.
  • All responses will furthermore feature in the All PD employees report, in the All COO employees report and the All DG employees report and the All EPO employees report.

Survey timeline

Milestones Date
Willis Towers Watson to analyse survey results March
Office-wide results presentation by Willis Towers Watson

  • To MAC
03 April
  • To all managers (SIM)
Morning of 04 April
  • To CSC
Morning of 04 April
  • To staff (cross-site VICO)
Afternoon of 04 April
Video guide “Working with your results” available to managers As of 04 April
DG-specific results presentations by WTW 10-15 April
  • DG0
11 April
  • DG1
12 April
  • DG4
10 April
  • DG5
15 April
  • BoA
12 April
Unit reports available to managers 10-15 April
Start of unit results discussions

Your manager should reach out to you about these soon

Starting from 10 April

Contact

For questions, you can visit our FAQ section (blue box linked above), or reach out to the project team on staffsurvey@epo.org or your DG representative!


 

PDF files:

  1. EPO-Survey Results Infographics_nometadata
  2. EPO Office-wide results presentation 4 April_nometadata
  3. EPO overall results presentation_Annex_nometadata

Links 8/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC4, GIMP 2.10.10 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • A beginner’s guide to building DevOps pipelines with open source tools

    DevOps has become the default answer to fixing software development processes that are slow, siloed, or otherwise dysfunctional. But that doesn’t mean very much when you’re new to DevOps and aren’t sure where to begin. This article explores what a DevOps pipeline is and offers a five-step process to create one. While this tutorial is not comprehensive, it should give you a foundation to start on and expand later. But first, a story.

    I used to work for the cloud team at Citi Group, developing an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) web application to manage Citi’s cloud infrastructure, but I was always interested in figuring out ways to make the development pipeline more efficient and bring positive cultural change to the development team. I found my answer in a book recommended by Greg Lavender, who was the CTO of Citi’s cloud architecture and infrastructure engineering, called The Phoenix Project. The book reads like a novel while it explains DevOps principles.

  • The Demise of Google+ and the Case for FOSS

    So much for Google+. As of April 2, 2019, the social media site’s personal accounts are no longer available for posting or comments, although for the time-being users can still access their accounts for downloading data. News of the shutdown proved surprisingly disturbing to me, reminding me of why I have used free and open source software exclusively for years.

    Personally, I never warmed to Google+. Although I used it almost from the start, for me it was always a poor third to Facebook and Twitter among social sites. Although it often had better discussions, it wasn’t where most of my friends and acquaintances were — which, after all, is what social media is about. I would post a few times a week, and respond to comments, but I rarely checked other accounts, and never took part in any groups. Still, I would usually login for a few minutes before beginning my day’s work.

    Yet somehow I couldn’t let the news go. In the last month of Google+’s existence I found myself counting down the days. On the morning it was shuttered, I automatically started to go the site, and when I remembered it was no longer active, I had a flash of anger I couldn’t explain. Before I knew it, I was having a flashback to the mid-1990s and the end of OS/2. Once again, a company was making decisions that affected my computer use without bothering to consult me.

  • Events

    • Neil McGovern: GNOME ED Update – March

      We attended a couple of events this month. Firstly, we were at SCaLEx17, which took place in Pasadena, California from 7th -10th March. It was a busy conference with a large number of attendees. We had a booth, and warm reception from visitors where we sold a large number of t-shirts and received donations on the booth. Talks were given by Matthias Classen on Containerized Desktops for Fun & Profit and Christian Hergert on Modernizing Desktop Linux Application Development.

      After this, we were at the Free Software Foundation‘s event, LibrePlanet. As always, it’s a really community driven conference with a load of great talks. Given our historical association with the FSF and the GNU project, we received a really warm welcome with multiple people saying it was great to see us attend in person!

    • Maciej Lasyk: Recap from 16th Linux Session @Wrocław

      16th Linux Session @Wrocław is a wrap and I must say that it was one of the best editions from my point of view. I could finally stay for the whole weekend, enjoy discussions with most of attendees and learn something new. And have a beer or two or more ;)

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: Recommended Extensions program — coming soon

        In February, we blogged about the challenge of helping extension users maintain their safety and security while preserving their ability to choose their browsing experience. The blog post outlined changes to the ecosystem to better protect users, such as making them more aware of the risks associated with extensions, reducing the visibility of extensions that haven’t been vetted, and putting more emphasis on curated extensions.

        One of the ways we’re helping users discover vetted extensions will be through the Recommended Extensions program, which we’ll roll out in phases later this summer. This program will foster a curated list of extensions that meet our highest standards of security, utility, and user experience. Recommended extensions will receive enhanced visibility across Mozilla websites and products, including addons.mozilla.org (AMO).

        We anticipate the eventual formation of this list to number in the hundreds, but we’ll start smaller and build the program carefully. We’re currently in the process of identifying candidates and will begin reaching out to selected developers later this month. You can expect to see changes on AMO by the end of June.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP 2.10.10 Released

      We haven’t had any updates for a few months but the wait is hopefully worth it! We’ve got many nice new features, optimizations, and stability fixes in this release!

    • GIMP 2.10.10 Released With Minor Features Added & Other Improvements

      GIMP 2.10.10 was released today as the first stable release for this open-source image manipulation program since last November when GIMP 2.10.8 released.

      While most of you are probably looking forward most to GIMP 3.0 with the long-awaited GTK3 port, that release isn’t yet on the horizon but at least GIMP 2.10.10′s release this Sunday brings some feature additions and other usability enhancements for this widely-used cross-platform program.

    • GIMP 2.10.10 Released With Smart Colorization, Transformation Tools Improvements

      GIMP 2.10.10 comes with 3 Bucket Fill tool improvements. The most important one is a new Fill by line art detection (smart colorization) option. This was initially created for the G’MIC plugin suite, and it consists on an algorithm that fills areas surrounded by line arts without leaving unfilled pixels near the lines, while also closing not properly closed (holes in the lines) zones, so the color doesn’t leak outside. This feature is explained in detail on girinstud.io.

      It’s now also possible to pick colors by using Ctrl + left click (while the Bucket Fill tool is selected), without having to select the Color Picker tool.

      And the last Bucket Fill improvement is the ability to continue filling more areas by keeping the mouse button down while using Fill similar colors and Fill by line art detection modes.

      Another interesting enhancement in GIMP 2.10.10 is the ability to use the Healing tool to paint changes on a different layer so the original remains unchanged, using the Sample merged option. The Heal tool has had this option in a very long time, but it didn’t actually work until this new GIMP 2.10.10 version. The Clone tool, which already had this option, was updated to work in a similar way.

  • Programming/Development

    • Categorical sequences with Pandas for household expense control

      Dealing with household expenses is never pleasant. Although banks try to make it fun these days, it is seldom that their user interface would actually help you to gain insight into how much you actually spend and on what “it all goes”. After all, the more you spend, the more likely you are to apply for a loan, correct?

    • Understanding for-loops in Python

      In this post, we will discuss how for-loops work in Python.

      We will start with a couple of basic examples and its syntax.

      Then we will go through iterables, iterators and the iterator protocol. We will also learn how to create our own iterators.

    • PyDev of the Week: Abdur-Rahmaan Janhangeer

      This week we welcome Abdur-Rahmaan Janhangeer as our PyDev of the Week! Abdur-Rahmaan is the French translator of Think Python.

    • How I learned Machine Learning

      I am a Senior Software Engineer or you could say FullStack Developer currently working at 10Pearls. I had a proven track record for requirements gathering, designing, and developing applications. Excels at learning new technologies and applying them to develop clean and well-structured code. Experienced at working on projects at all stages of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) from idea to development to delivering the completed product.

    • Bash vs. Python: Which language should you use?

      Bash and Python are most automation engineers’ favorite programming languages. Both have pros and cons, and sometimes it can be hard to choose which one you should use. The honest answer is: It depends on the task, the scope, the context, and the complexity of the task.

      Let’s compare these two languages to get a better understanding of where each one shines.

    • Getting started with Python’s cryptography library

      The first rule of cryptography club is: never invent a cryptography system yourself. The second rule of cryptography club is: never implement a cryptography system yourself: many real-world holes are found in the implementation phase of a cryptosystem as well as in the design.

      One useful library for cryptographic primitives in Python is called simply cryptography. It has both “secure” primitives as well as a “hazmat” layer. The “hazmat” layer requires care and knowledge of cryptography and it is easy to implement security holes using it. We will not cover anything in the “hazmat” layer in this introductory article!

    • Unity Is Growing Their LLVM Compiler Team As They Try To Make C# Faster Than C++ [Ed: Reminder that Unity has always been a Microsoft Mono Trojan horse inside GNU/Linux and elsewhere]

      With game engines becoming increasingly advanced, Unity Technologies is looking to expand their compiler team with more LLVM expertise.

      Unity’s Burst compiler is aiming to deliver greater performance out of a subset of C# and even aspiring for it to outperform C++ code… “Unlocking performance for a subset of C# code beyond what C++ has been usually able to do” and in doing so they are translating .NET code into “highly efficient native code” using LLVM. Some more details on Burst via this recent presentation.

    • Version Control For Your Machine Learning Projects
    • Two Bit Arcade: Plotter, Etch-A-Snap — Plotter
    • Two Bit Arcade: Image Processing, Etch-A-Snap — Image Processing
    • Rblpapi 0.3.10: B-PIPE support and other updates
    • PyBites: PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 04, 2019
    • Midnight Sun CTF 2019 EZDSA Writeup
    • Introducing WPEQt, a WPE API for Qt5

      WPEQt provides a QML plugin implementing an API very similar to the QWebView API. This blog post explains the rationale behind this new project aimed for QtWebKit users.

      Qt5 already provides multiple WebView APIs, one based on QtWebKit (deprecated) and one based on QWebEngine (aka Chromium). WPEQt aims to provide a viable alternative to the former. QtWebKit is being retired and has by now lagged a lot behind upstream WebKit in terms of features and security fixes. WPEQt can also be considered as an alternative to QWebEngine but bear in mind the underlying Chromium web-engine doesn’t support the same HTML5 features as WebKit.

      WPEQt is included in WPEWebKit, starting from the 2.24 series. Bugs should be reported in WebKit’s Bugzilla. WPEQt’s code is published under the same licenses as WPEWebKit, the LGPL2 and BSD.

      At Igalia we have compared WPEQt and QtWebKit using the BrowserBench tests. The JetStream1.1 results show that WPEQt completes all the tests twice as fast as QtWebKit. The Speedometer benchmark doesn’t even finish due to a crash in the QtWebKit DFG JIT. Although the memory consumption looks similar in both engines, the upstream WPEQt engine is well maintained and includes security bug-fixes. Another advantage of WPEQt compared to QtWebKit is that its multimedia support is much stronger, with specs such as MSE, EME and media-capabilities being covered. WebRTC support is coming along as well!

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 35 Russian regions reportedly decline to purchase antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients

      Dozens of Russian regions have decreased their participation in purchase programs for antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications for people living with HIV. In 2018, 35 out of 85 regions declined to purchase ART drugs, Kommersant reported based on research conducted by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. In 2017, 21 regions did not purchase their own medications for HIV treatment.

    • Cities Consider a Bold Approach to Counter Opioid Crisis

      Several U.S. cities are responding to the ever-growing threat of the opioid crisis by establishing the nation’s first supervised injection site, with Philadelphia moving the closest yet. The controversial sites have found success in Europe, Australia and Canada but do not have the support of most Americans and are vocally opposed by the Trump administration.

      At supervised injection sites (also known as safe injection sites, safe consumption sites and safe injection facilities), drug users can take pre-obtained illegal substances under medical and trained staff supervision at legally sanctioned facilities. While staff do not handle or assist with the consumption of illicit drugs, they may “provide sterile injection supplies, answer questions on safe injection practices, administer first aid if needed, and monitor for overdose” according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

      In Philadelphia, the nonprofit Safehouse recently announced lease negotiations to open a supervised injection site in the neighborhood at the heart of the city’s opioid crisis. Philadelphia has the highest opioid death rate of any large U.S. city, with more than 1,000 deaths per year, Philly.com reports. Philadelphia’s mayor and district attorney and a former Pennsylvania governor all support such a facility, but U.S. Attorney William McSwain has filed a lawsuit to block the site.

    • Take It From an Economist, Medicare for All Is the Most Sensible Way to Fix Health Care

      We all recognize that the status quo isn’t working. We spend more per person than any other country on health care, but we aren’t getting any bang for our buck. We have lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates and more preventable deaths, and too many personal bankruptcies are due at least in part to medical bills.

      Where we disagree is the solution. The favorite new “reasonable” plan is “Medicare for America,” a bill from Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Rosa DeLauro that has won the support of big names like Texas presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke and the Center for American Progress, the left-of-center think tank where the plan originated as “Medicare Extra for All.” It has been extolled in opinion pieces for some of America’s largest newspapers as a “realistic” plan to fix what’s broken in our health care system.

      On the other side, if punditry is to be believed, there are the Medicare for All “hard-liners” who believe in expanding a significantly improved Medicare system to every American, with coverage that includes dental, vision and long-term care. This is portrayed as radical or even unreasonable.

      Time to get real. As an economist who has spent decades studying our health care system, I can tell you that Medicare for All advocates are the only ones who are being reasonable, because theirs is the only plan that will control health care costs while finally achieving universal coverage.

    • Medicare for 64-Year-Olds Is a Step Toward Medicare for All

      There is a renewed push for making a Medicare-type government program universal so that a public health care insurance system covers everyone in the country. This effort gained enormous momentum from Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign for the Democratic nomination, as well as from the continuing Republican attacks on Obamacare. A bill put forward by Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal, outlining a Medicare for All (M4A) plan, now has 107 co-sponsors — nearly half of the Democratic caucus in the House.

      While this is great progress toward the goal of a universal Medicare-type plan, it still has a long way to go. For example, the supporters of Jayapal’s bill could not agree on a financing mechanism, so the bill has a menu of options rather an actual financing proposal.

      There is also serious pushback from other members of the Democratic caucus. Some of it undoubtedly reflects realistic political concerns that a quick switchover from the current system to M4A will not be popular in many districts.

      Many people are satisfied with the insurance they have now and may be reluctant to support what they view as a big leap into the unknown. Perhaps these people can be convinced over time that a universal Medicare-type system will be at least as good for them, but they are not there now.

      However, some of the pushback stems from the fact that many Democrats have long depended on campaign contributions from the health care industry. While the party has not gotten as much money as the Republicans, many members do get substantial contributions, which they are not prepared to abandon. Medicare for all 64-year-olds is designed to call attention to these politicians.

      If we accept that we are not likely to get to a universal Medicare system in a single step, the next question is: how can we find a way to phase in the system in a way that both minimizes disruptions and provides real benefits? Many have proposed lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from the current 65 to age 50 or 60. The idea is that we would bring in a large proportion of the pre-Medicare age population, and then gradually go further down the age ladder. (We can also start at the bottom and move up.)

    • On The Border, Volunteer Doctors Struggle To Provide Stopgap Care To Immigrants

      It wasn’t the rash covering Meliza’s feet and legs that worried Dr. José Manuel de la Rosa. What concerned him were the deep bruises beneath. They were a sign she could be experiencing something far more serious than an allergic reaction.

      Meliza’s mom, Magdalena, told the doctor it started with one little bump. Then two. In no time, the 5-year-old’s legs were swollen and red from the knees down.

      De la Rosa noticed a bandage-covered cotton ball in the crook of Meliza’s elbow, a remnant of having blood drawn. During their time at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility, Meliza had been sent to a hospital, Magdalena explained, cradling the child with her 5-foot frame. They had run tests, but she had no way to get the results. Through tears, she begged for help. “My daughter is my life,” she told him in Spanish.

      The doctor would see nearly a dozen patients that March evening at his makeshift clinic inside a warehouse near the El Paso airport. That week, similar ad hoc community clinics would treat hundreds of people, some with routine colds and viruses, others with upper-respiratory infections or gaping wounds. Like Meliza, all were migrants, mostly from Central America, a river of families arriving each day, many frightened and exhausted after days spent in government detention.

      De la Rosa, an El Paso pediatrician, is one of dozens of doctors volunteering on the U.S.-Mexico border as the flow of migrants crossing without papers and asking for asylum climbs to a six-year high. Unlike previous waves of immigration, these are not single men from Mexico looking to blend in and find work. Most are families, fleeing gang violence, political instability or dire poverty.

    • This Montreal Company Turns Juice Pulp Into Food

      More food isn’t the answer to a growing population problem. Sustainably upcycling food is, and there’s one Montreal man who knows how to make that happen.

      Jonathan Rodrigue is the former business development director of Moisson Montreal, the largest food bank in Canada. His job at Moisson was to take as much edible waste as he could find and distribute it to various food banks throughout the city.

      Rodrigue developed a program at Moisson that collected edible waste from more than 200 of the province’s grocery stores to feed people in need. You could say that he has seen his fair share of food waste (two tonnes per store monthly). “I saw the scope of food waste at many levels,” says Rodrigue.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Reckoning With Failure in the War on Terror

      Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency, as Max Blumenthal points out in his meticulously researched book “The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump,” was made possible not only by massive social inequality and concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of the oligarchic elites but by the national security state’s disastrous and prolonged military interventions overseas.

      From the CIA’s funneling of over a billion dollars to Islamic militants in the 1970s war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union to the billion dollars spent on training and equipping the radical jihadists currently fighting in Syria, the United States has repeatedly empowered extremists who have filled the vacuums of failed states it created. The extremists have turned with a vengeance on their sponsors. Washington’s fueling of these conflicts was directly responsible for the rise of figures such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden and ultimately laid the groundwork for the 9/11 attacks. It also spawned the rabid Islamophobia in Europe and the United States that lies at the core of Trump’s racist worldview and has been successfully used to justify the eradication of basic civil liberties and democratic rights.

      The misguided interventions by the national security apparatus have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, over 5 million desperate refugees fleeing to Europe, the destruction of entire cities, the squandering of some $5 trillion of U.S. taxpayer money, rampant corruption and criminality. The mandarins of national security, rather than blunt the rise of radical jihadism, have ensured its spread across the globe. The architects of this imperial folly have a symbiotic relationship with those they profess to hate. The two radical extremes—the interventionists in the national security apparatus and the radical jihadists—play off of each other to countenance ever-greater acts of savagery. The more perfidious your enemy, the more your own extremism is justified. We are locked in a macabre dance with the killers we created and empowered, matching war crime for war crime, torture for torture and murder for murder.

      The binary view of the world imagined by right-wing ideologues such as Richard Pipes during the Cold War, defined as a battle to the death against godless communism, has been reimagined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American neocons such as Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Robert Kagan, Steve Bannon, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and leaders of the Christian right including Gary Bauer and William Bennett to become a battle to the death between the “barbarity” of Islam and the “civilized” ethic of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a rebranding of the Cold War, so useful to the retrograde forces of capitalism in crushing popular dissent and so profitable to the arms industry. Its most prominent voices are a bizarre collection of neofascist ideologues and quack conspiracy theorists such as Bannon, Sean Hannity, Stephen Miller and Pam Geller, who claims that Barack Obama is the love child of Malcolm X.

    • U.S. Pulls Forces From Libya as Fighting Approaches Capital

      The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to “security conditions on the ground,” a top military official said Sunday as a Libyan commander’s forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias.

      A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.

      “The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command. “Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue to remain agile in support of existing U.S. strategy.”

      He did not provide details on the number of U.S. troops that have been withdrawn or how many remain in the country.

    • This Israeli Election is Between the Right Wing and the Even More Right Wing

      Israel’s election campaign, now in its last days, must be the first in which a sitting Israeli prime minister has sought to win over voters by boasting about how much he insulted a president of the United States.

      One of the last campaign videos by Benjamin Netanyahu spliced together media clips of US analysts voicing disbelief back in 2011 at the Israeli prime minister’s public humiliation of Barack Obama.

      The ad not only described Netanyahu as “lecturing” Obama, but showed him visibly angering the US president by berating him for chasing “illusions” in his pursuit of peace talks with the Palestinians. It closed with Likud’s campaign slogan: “Netanyahu. Right-wing. Strong.”

    • ‘Another Horrific Attack’: US-Backed Saudi Coalition Bombs Yemen School, Killing Mostly Children

      With a War Powers resolution that would end U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen currently on President Donald Trump’s desk, the Saudi-led coalition on Sunday reportedly bombed a residential area in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, killing at least 11 and injuring dozens more.

      According to local medical officials, most of those killed were young children after Saudi airstrikes hit a Yemeni school.

      “Everyone was hysterical, some were crying and shouting in panic,” Fatehiya Kahlani, principal of Al Raei school, told Al Jazeera. “The situation was horrible as the school population is 2,100. Some girl students were killed and others were wounded and are in a hospital as a result of the missile strike. The school building was destroyed too.”

    • Why Is Barbara Lee Helping Fund Our Forever Wars?

      What Barbara Lee did on the House floor three days after 9/11 — speaking prophetic words and casting the only vote against a green light for endless war — remains the bravest wise action in Congress during this century. The contrast was jolting last week when her vote enabled the House Budget Committee to approve a bill with a $17 billion increase in military spending for next year and another such increase for 2021.

      Because of the boost to the military, three progressive Democrats on the committee voted against the budget bill: Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Ilhan Omar. “This is a key philosophical moment for our party,” Khanna said. The second-term congressman told the committee: “We cannot be against endless wars and then fund those wars.”

      But, in effect, Barbara Lee voted to fund those wars — plus vast quantities of new weaponry and waste. If she had joined with Jayapal, Khanna and Omar in voting no, the committee would have deadlocked with an 18-18 tie, blocking the bill. (Many deficit-hawk Republicans voted against the bill because it raises the caps on non-military and military spending.)

      After the committee vote on April 3, I requested a statement from Congresswoman Lee. “I voted to advance a bill out of committee that sets budget caps for the next two fiscal years,” she said. “To be clear: I do not support the Pentagon spending levels in the bill and voted for an amendment offered by my colleague Rep. Khanna to freeze Pentagon spending at FY2019 levels. Unfortunately, the Khanna amendment failed.”

    • DHS Thinks Homeland Will Be More Secure If Two Federal Agencies Ignore Domestic Terrorists

      Like many federal government agencies — especially those tied to law enforcement — the FBI and DHS have allowed terrorism to become an eye-of-the-beholder sort of thing. The DHS throws time and money at border security and hassling travelers at international airports. The FBI focuses on ISIS-inspired terrorism, conveniently forgetting plenty of other belief systems are capable of producing violent acolytes.

      There’s really only one conclusion to draw from this: domestic terrorism is ignored because it usually involves Good Americans™ with white skin and American flag bumper stickers. Foreign terrorism involves brown people of indeterminate origin. This may not necessarily indicate the agencies are filled with racists, but this selective distribution of talent and resources doesn’t encourage many alternate theories.

      These agencies are supposed to defend us from all threats foreign and domestic. It’s just not happening. This is a continuation of the proud American tradition of implicitly viewing foreigners as a threat and white, male citizens as the personification of patriotic virtue. The world may have changed radically over the past several decades, but one narrative — foreign threats — still plays better to the home crowd than the idea their friends and neighbors may be planning to shoot up a mosque or drive a vehicle into a crowd of protesters. It’s depressing enough that a significant percentage of the US population thinks only people who don’t look like them can be dangerous. It’s morally repugnant federal agencies reflect this mindset in their priorities.

    • It’s Time to End U.S. Military Aid to the Philippines

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “War on Drugs” has now claimed over 27,000 lives — almost all poor and indigent people, including children, summarily executed by police or vigilantes.

      Over 140,000 pre-trial detainees are being held in overcrowded Philippine prisons, many on trumped up drug charges; 75 percent of the total prison population still awaits their day in court, let alone conviction. On top of this, assassinations of human rights lawyers, journalists, labor and peasant organizers, indigenous leaders, clergy, teachers, and activists are spiraling out of control.

      Duterte has systematically silenced voices of political dissent, jailing Senator Leila DeLima, an early drug war critic; ousting Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who opposed the imposition of martial law in Mindanao; and now arresting Maria Ressa, internationally renowned journalist and executive editor of the indy outlet Rappler.

      Meanwhile, less known to U.S. audiences, Duterte has dropped bombs on Philippine soil over 368,391 times — and some 450,000 civilians have been displaced by militarization. After scuttling peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Duterte has jailed internationally protected peace consultants. And in January, consultant Randy Malayao was murdered in cold blood by armed hit men.

    • What an Empire Built on Nazi Collaboration Says About Our Economy

      Coffee drinkers and donut eaters learned something troubling recently. The owners behind JAB Holding Company — the German firm that owns or controls Krispy Kreme; Panera Bread; several coffee brands, including Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s and Caribou; Pret a Manger and Einstein Bagels — revealed that the family fortune was in no small part built on their mid-century ancestors’ enthusiastic collaboration with the Nazi regime, including the use of forced labor in their factory and home.

      It’s an open question whether the $11 million or so the Reimann family has promised to donate to an as-yet-unspecified organization is enough to atone for this shameful corporate heritage. But let’s, for the sake of argument, take the Reimanns’ denials of prior knowledge and their willingness to face their family’s awful history at face value.

      What does it say about our economy when capital’s provenance is so opaque that even the direct descendants inheriting it did not understand where it came from, let alone the consumers whose relationship with that capital is mediated almost entirely through the artificial distinctions of brand identity?

    • Germany’s Second-Richest Family Discovers a Dark Nazi Past

      Germany’s second-richest family built its multibillion-dollar fortune with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Jimmy Choo shoes and Calvin Klein perfume — and forced laborers under the Nazis.

      The Reimann family, which controls the consumer goods conglomerate JAB Holding Company, recently commissioned a historian to dig deep into company archives and shed light on its activities during the 12 years of Nazi rule.

      The initial revelations, 74 years after World War II ended, are damning.

    • Critics Warn Designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as Terrorist Organization Is Trump Itching for War

      Foreign policy observers said the Trump administration is sowing the seeds of war on Monday after it designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization.”

      The new desingation for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told media, “an important step to counter the Iranian regime’s terrorism.” The IRGC, which is a branch of the country’s armed forces, merely “masquerades as a legitimate military organization,” he added.

      The White House acknowledged that it was an “unprecedented” move, as it’s the first time the U.S. has ever slapped the designation on part of another government.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • On the Pavement with Wikileaks

      Entirely unexpectedly, I have been down in London this last three days outside and around the Ecuadorean Embassy, following WikiLeaks’ announcement that their sources indicate Julian might be expelled within hours or days. Plainly Julian’s position within the Embassy has deteriorated fundamentally, to the extent he is now treated openly as a closely guarded prisoner. I still have not myself been granted permission to visit him and he is now very isolated.

      Nothing has happened so far this weekend, though I stated from the start that if the police were going to move in. the most likely time would be 4am on Monday morning. There is a thought that the massive media presence occasioned by Wikileaks’ announcement may have succeeded in deterring President Moreno from the expulsion. Let us hope that will prove the case.

      I am very exhausted, having been more or less on 24 hour watch for three days. It was also somewhat difficult to tell Nadira her birthday celebration had shifted without notice from a restaurant in Edinburgh to a wet pavement in London. But I was very pleased to have a very fruitful in depth conversation with Kristin Hrafnsson, editor in chief of Wikileaks. Our thoughts ran along these lines, and as this does not involve secrets but rather media handling, I see no harm in sharing these thoughts with you.

      When Julian does leave the Embassy, whatever the circumstances in which he does that, it will be for a day or two the largest media story in the world and undoubtedly will lead all the news bulletins across every major country. The odds are that he will be leaving and facing a fight against extradition to the United States, on charges arising from the Chelsea Manning releases which revealed a huge amount about US war crimes and other illegal acts.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Could a Green New Deal Make Us Happier People?

      For as long as climate change has been a part of America’s national consciousness, it’s been talked about in dire terms, evoking images of some hellish, Mad Max-style dystopia. The title and much of the content of David Wallace-Wells’s recent book is a variation on the same theme, stirring up hundreds of pages of images worth of an “Uninhabitable Earth” to make the case that the conversation has not been dire enough.

    • CO2 levels pass 3-million-year record

      German scientists have confirmed, once again, that carbon dioxide is reaching concentrations unprecedented on any human time scale, with CO2 levels in the atmosphere already higher than they have been for at least three million years.

      And their computer simulations – backed up by analysis of ocean sediments that tell a tale of changing temperatures and greenhouse gas levels – show that before the century’s close the world will become warmer than at any time in the last three million years.

      The last time planetary temperatures reached a level higher than the target set by 195 nations in Paris in 2015 was during a bygone geological period, the Pliocene.

    • Let’s Get ‘Creaturely’: a New Worldview Can Help Us Face Ecological Crises

      No farmer has ever gone out to the barn to start the day and discovered that a baby tractor had been born overnight. For farmers who work with horses, the birth of a foal would not be surprising.

      That observation may seem silly, but it highlights an important contrast: Machines cannot reproduce or maintain themselves. Creatures can.

      The tractor comes out of the industrial mind, while the horse is creaturely. The tractor is the product of an energy-intensive human-designed system, while the horse is the product of an information-intensive biological process that emerges from earth and sun.

      The implications of this difference are rarely acknowledged in the dominant culture, but we believe they are crucial to explore, especially with new political space opened up by the Green New Deal for discussing ecological sustainability and economic justice.

      In the short term, humanity needs to devise policies that respond in meaningful ways to today’s multiple, cascading ecological crises (including, but not limited to, rapid climate disruption), which present risks now greatly accelerated and intensified well beyond previous predictions. If that seems alarmist, we recommend “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” for details.

      To put uncomfortable realities bluntly: In ecological terms, things are bad, getting worse faster than anticipated, leaving humanity with increasingly limited options. Everyone agrees that there are no quick and easy fixes, but we want to push further: Do not expect any truly sustainable fixes to emerge from the industrial mind.

    • What Will You Say to Your Grandchildren?

      Facing oncoming climate disaster, some argue for “Deep Adaptation”—that we must prepare for inevitable collapse. However, this orientation is dangerously flawed. It threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy by diluting the efforts toward positive change. What we really need right now is Deep Transformation. There is still time to act: we must acknowledge this moral imperative.

      Every now and then, history has a way of forcing ordinary people to face up to a moral encounter with destiny that they never expected. Back in the 1930s, as Adolf Hitler rose to power, those who turned away when they saw Jews getting beaten in the streets never expected that decades later, their grandchildren would turn toward them with repugnance and say “Why did you do nothing when there was still a chance to stop the horror?”

      Now, nearly a century on, here we are again. The fate of future generations is at stake, and each of us needs to be prepared, one day, to face posterity—in whatever form that might take—and answer the question: “What did you do when you knew our future was on the line?”

      Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past few months, or get your daily updates exclusively from Fox News, you’ll know that our world is facing a dire climate emergency that’s rapidly reeling out of control. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a warning to humanity that we have just twelve years to turn things around before we pass the point of no return. Governments continue to waffle and ignore the blaring sirens. The pledges they’ve made under the 2015 Paris agreement will lead to 3 degrees of warming, which would threaten the foundations of our civilization. And they’re not even on track to meet those commitments. Even the IPCC’s dire warning of calamity is, by many accounts, too conservative, failing to take into account tipping points in the earth system with reinforcing feedback effects that could drive temperatures far beyond the IPCC’s worst case scenarios.

    • Which U.S. Cities Are the Most Dangerous for Migratory Birds?

      That’s the question answered by a new study published last week in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, which looked at the problem of light pollution. Seventy percent of bird species present in the U.S. are migratory, and more than 80 percent of those species migrate at night. The increasing light pollution of cities attracts the avian travelers, who then crash into buildings. Building collisions kill an estimated 600 million birds in the U.S. every year, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which led the study.

      The researchers created two lists for the cities that pose the greatest risk to birds during both the spring and fall migratory season, based on both geography and light pollution.

    • March of the Ticks: Is Lyme Disease Spreading Faster Than We Can Respond?

      Ticks and the diseases they carry are spreading so quickly across the United States — likely driven by climate change — that the government is having trouble keeping up with the data.

      In the past most cases of Lyme disease, the country’s most common tick-borne illness, occurred in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest states. But a recent report issued by lab-testing company Quest Diagnostics reveals the disease has dramatically expanded its range. According to the report, Lyme disease has now been found in all 50 states.

      “Our data show that positive results for Lyme are both increasing in number and occurring in geographic areas not historically associated with the disease,” Quest’s senior medical director, Harvey W. Kaufman, M.D., said in a prepared statement last summer. “We hypothesize that these significant rates of increase may reinforce other research suggesting changing climate conditions that allow ticks to live longer and in more regions may factor into disease risk.”

      Lyme outbreaks have long been tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the agency’s data present an incomplete picture because Lyme reporting is still voluntary in many states. Quest’s report, compiled from data on physician-ordered blood tests for the disease, presents a bigger picture of the spread and shows higher numbers of cases in some states than those in the CDC’s records. Quest’s Lyme disease cast count for California in 2017 is more than three times higher than the CDC’s count.

    • 70 Dead From Weeks of Flooding in Iran as Warnings Continue

      At least 70 people have died in flooding caused by heavy rainfall in Iran since mid-March, as forecasts for more wet weather have prompted additional evacuations in the country’s south, Al Jazeera reported Sunday.

      The floods have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to agriculture and water infrastructure across the country and forced thousands to flee their homes. Since March 19, around 1,900 cities and villages have been inundated, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported.

    • 7 of the Best Ted Talks About Climate Change

      It’s hard to narrow down when there are so many amazing people out there fighting for solutions. (This must have been how Nick Fury felt while he was assembling the Avengers, right?) But, for us, we would try to pick people who are taking on the climate crisis in totally different — but equally incredible — ways.

      Think of this collection of TED Talks as our guest list for the world’s most inspiring dinner party on climate. Read on to hear from the leader of the student strike movement, climate scientists, a former president, a trained meteorologist and more.

    • Researchers Warn Arctic Has Entered ‘Unprecedented State’ That Threatens Global Climate Stability

      A new research paper by American and European climate scientists focused on Arctic warming published Monday reveals that the “smoking gun” when it comes to changes in the world’s northern polar region is rapidly warming air temperatures that are having—and will continue to have—massive and negative impacts across the globe.

      The paper new paper—titled “Key Indicators of Arctic Climate Change: 1971–2017″—is the work of scientists at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland in Copenhagen (GUES).

      [...]

      Rising temperatures, along with ocean acidification, pollution, and thawing permafrost threaten the Arctic and the more than four million people who inhabit it, including 10 percent who are Indigenous. But, as UNEP acting executive director Joyce Msuya noted at the time, “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.”

      That warning was echoed by the researchers behind the new study out Monday. Their hope, they said, is that the findings about air temperatures and the delicate interconnections between the climate and other natural systems in the Artic will “provide a foundation for a more integrated understanding of the Arctic and its role in the dynamics of the Earth’s biogeophysical systems.”

  • Finance

    • Canadian Youth Fight Back Against Governments That Limit Their Choices

      Last week, young people across the country sent powerful messages to Canadian federal and provincial politicians: We have you on watch, and we will not be dismissed.

      We saw 338 young women take their seats in the House of Commons on Wednesday and make forward thinking statements as a part of the Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote initiative. They talked about action on climate change, they spoke of intersectional feminism and Indigenous rights, and they boldly and brilliantly challenged the status quo of Canadian political discourse.

      On Thursday we saw thousands of students across Ontario walk out to protest proposed education cuts. Premier Doug Ford made the mistake of underestimating the influence and autonomy of these young people with flippant remarks aimed to minimize their efforts.

      The resistance to policy changes and the political status quo alike—like many throughout history—will be led by young people who choose to see through partisan talking points and demand that government work for them.

      These young people are a tidal wave intent on shaping the direction of our country. They are watching, they are activating and organizing, and they are taking notes for how they will do politics differently.

      They give me hope.

      And this is a moment in Canadian history when hope for our political systems is much needed.

      In Quebec, the Legislative Assembly is debating what is, in the words of Montreal philosopher Charles Taylor, “An unneeded answer to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

      The Quebec government has tabled Bill 21, aiming to ban public sector employees who are deemed to serve in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. This would apply to teachers, police officers, prison guards, and judges who wear head coverings such as hijabs or turbans.

    • Wealth and the Invisibility of Human Life

      In his introduction, Slobodian corrects erroneous assumptions about neoliberal theory: they didn’t believe in self-regulating markets as autonomous entities; they did not see democracy and capitalism as synonymous and they did not see people as motivated only by economic rationality. The Geneva School sought to safeguard capitalism at the scale of the entire globe, to protect competition and capital against the threat of irrational human behavior. Neoliberalism arose after World War I at a time of crumbling empires when a number intellectuals grappled with how to balance state power and economic interdependence.

      The Geneva School solution was double government: global jurisdiction for capital, with the nation state “encasing” capital from encroachment by particular interests. The League of Nations, founded after World War I and located in Geneva, had set about to reorder European states and their former imperial possessions.

      They believed that the one determinant of global stability was the unimpeded flow of capital and that politics and economics needed to be distinct. For example, most Geneva School neoliberals opposed South African apartheid, and Hayek was unambiguous in his public denunciation of apartheid, yet he had “even stronger words for attempts by international organizations to use sanctions and embargoes against South Africa.” Fascism looked promising to some until it raised tariff walls. Hayek was opposed to criticizing Chile under Pinochet.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • After 2016 Loss, Democrats Know They Need White Male Voters

      When he moved to Pennsylvania about five years ago, it was a coin toss which party Brian Heitman would register with.

      No longer.

      Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, Heitman, who is 42 and white, has become a reliable Democrat. Last week, he voted for the Democratic candidate in a special state Senate election in Pittsburgh’s affluent southern suburbs.

      “A decade ago I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this election was happening,” Heitman said, “but I’m making a point in voting in every one I can nowadays.”

      The Democrats’ 2020 presidential primary may feature a historically diverse field of women and minorities, but in some ways it is testing how the party appeals to white men such as Heitman. Many Democratic politicians went into the last presidential campaign cycle taking little account of those voters, and banked on a coalition of women and minorities to carry them to victory. Trump’s victory proved that thinking wrong. Many in the party are determined now not to make the mistake again.

    • Our First Amendment Rights Are Under Assault With the Global Gag Rule

      On Wednesday White House adviser Ivanka Trump announced she is planning a trip to Africa to promote a global women’s initiative she is leading. Her goal is to “economically empower” 50 million women in developing countries by 2025 at the cost of $100 million.

      As Ivanka embarks on her plan to help support women in Africa, the Trump administration is simultaneously dismantling women’s health and rights in the very same countries Ivanka will be visiting.

      Just last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took steps to dramatically expand the implementation of the Global Gag Rule—a policy that prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations who receive U.S. federal aid from performing or providing information on abortion.

      The rule, enacted by every Republican president since Regan, has been catastrophic, imperiling women’s health, driving up unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, and contributing to global poverty. The ill effects extend far beyond limiting abortion rights, impacting every facet of reproductive health and constraining NGOs’ ability to lobby for reform.

      The new move goes beyond any previous interpretation by other administrations, restricting “gagged” organizations from funding groups that provide abortion services and information, even though those organizations don’t get any U.S. aid.

    • Senate GOP Game Plan: More Trump Nominees, Fewer Bills

      Mitch McConnell says the Senate will be in the “personnel business” this year. But the majority leader’s focus on confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees is coming at the expense of any big legislative priorities.

      Nearly 100 days into the new Congress, the drive to confirm is adding more conservatives to the courts and putting more Trump appointees in government offices. But Trump’s promises to replace the Affordable Care Act, invest in infrastructure or cut middle class taxes have been essentially shelved.

      The result is that the GOP-controlled Senate is on a very different path heading into the 2020 election than is the House, where the Democratic majority is churning out a long list of bills on ethics, gun violence and other topics that, while unlikely to become law, show voters their priorities.

      Sara Binder, an expert on Congress at George Washington University, said there doesn’t seem to be much room in the Senate “to set out a policy agenda and make some progress toward it.” She added: “It does leave on the table quite a number of issues that don’t get any progress.”

      Underlying his strategy, McConnell, R-Ky., engineered a rules change last week to speed the confirmation process, pushing past Democrats’ stalling of Trump’s picks for administration jobs and district courts.

    • Can We Stop Pretending Now?

      Irony, paradox, contradiction, consternation — these define the times in which we live. On the one hand, the 45th president of the United States is a shameless liar. On the other hand, his presidency offers an open invitation to Americans to confront myths about the way their country actually works. Donald Trump is a bullshit artist of the first order. Yet all art reflects the time in which it’s produced and Trump’s art is no exception. Within all the excrement lie nuggets of truth.

      Well before Trump rode the down escalator to the center of American politics, there were indicators aplenty that things had gone fundamentally awry. Yet only with the presidential election of 2016 did the chickens come home to roost. And with their arrival, it became apparent that more than a few propositions hitherto accepted as true are anything but.

      Let me offer seven illustrative examples of myths that the Trump presidency has once-and-for-all demolished.

      Myth #1: The purpose of government is to advance the common good. In modern American politics, the concept of the common good no longer has any practical meaning. It hasn’t for decades. The phrase might work for ceremonial occasions — inaugural addresses, prayer breakfasts, that sort of thing — but finds little application in the actual business of governing.

      When did politics at the national level become a zero-sum game? Was it during Richard Nixon’s presidency? Bill Clinton’s? While the question may be of academic interest, more pertinent is the fact that, with Trump in the White House, there is no need to pretend otherwise. Indeed, Trump’s popularity with his “base” stems in part from his candid depiction of his political adversaries not as a loyal opposition but an enemy force. Trump’s critics return the favor: their loathing for the president and — now that Trump’s generals are gone — anyone in his employ knows no bounds.

      It’s the Mitch McConnell Rule elevated to the status of dogma: If your side wins, mine loses. Therefore, nothing is more important than my side winning. Compromise is for wusses.

      Myth #2: Good governance entails fiscal responsibility. This is one of the hoariest shibboleths of modern American politics: feckless Democrats tax and spend; sober Republicans stand for balanced budgets. So President Ronald Reagan claimed, en route to racking up the massive deficits that transformed the United States from the world’s number one creditor into its biggest debtor. George W. Bush doubled down on Reagan’s promise. Yet during his presidency, deficits skyrocketed, eventually exceeding a trillion dollars per annum. No apologies were forthcoming. “Deficits don’t matter,” his vice president announced.

    • The Political Left is Bigger Than Imagined: Ask the Feds

      There has always been official disdain for the political left in the U.S. The suppression of left movements began with the Palmer raids of 1919-1920 in the First Red Scare. Anarchists were deported in a manner similar to the removal of immigrants from the U.S. today, some of whom committed only minor offenses, and some of whom have been held or deported while active asylum claims have been made, or could have been made. Then there were the communist witch hunts of the Cold War of the 1940s and 1950s, culminating, but not limited to, the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 for transmitting the so-called secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, a crime that they were not capable of committing.

      The FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO, 1956-1971) was a dragnet that entangled left protesters and activists, some of whom were guilty of the high crime of donating money to a cause, or speaking out for justice for an aggrieved group. They relentlessly pursued groups such as the American Indian Movement, the Black Panthers, and the New Left because the government saw the people in these groups as a threat to the smooth operation of the capitalist system and especially the military-industrial complex. When black protest articulated the oppression of masses of people across the U.S. that originated with the colonial experience, actors such as J. Edgar Hoover did not blink an eye in subverting, in sometimes lethal ways, that protest. The leaders of that movement for freedom were mercilessly targeted. When Native American and black protesters found themselves in prison, draconian sentences and solitary confinement were common practice.

      The murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton and the suicide of actor Jean Seberg are two of many COINTELPRO operations resulting in those deaths. They targeted Seberg with a dirty tricks campaign for her support of black liberation. Her harassment was like that of Martin Luther King, Jr by the FBI. That the FBI is seen as some sort of savior fighting for equality in 1964 Mississippi is beyond belief.

    • Committee Votes to Move David Bernhardt’s Nomination as Interior Secretary to Full Senate Vote

      The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on April 4 voted 14-6 to move the nomination of Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former Westlands Water District and oil industry lobbyist, to a full Senate vote, setting the stage for a contentious and heated debate.

      In his lobbying disclosures, Bernhardt has listed “potential legislation regarding the Bureau of Reclamation and the Endangered Species Act” under his specific lobbying areas, including trying to minimize protections for endangered salmon, Delta smelt and other fish populations.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • British woman faces Dubai jail over Facebook ‘horse’ insult

      A British woman is facing two years in jail in Dubai for calling her ex-husband’s new wife a “horse” on Facebook, campaigners have said.

      Londoner Laleh Shahravesh, 55, was arrested at a Dubai airport after flying there to attend her former husband’s funeral.

      She faces prosecution over two Facebook comments she posted on pictures of her husband remarrying in 2016.

    • U.K. Set to Crack Down on Facebook After Live-Streamed Attacks

      Plans for an industry-funded regulator, which would enforce rules on removing online content that encourages terrorism and child sexual exploitation and abuse, are part of a push by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to hold the companies accountable. Enforcement powers could include blocking access to sites and imposing liability on individual company managers.

      The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport laid out the proposals as it opened a 12-week consultation on the measures on Monday.

    • How pro-government media in Morocco use “fake news” to target and silence Rif activists

      In September 2018, Nasser Zefzafi, imprisoned leader of Morocco’s Hirak protest movement in the Rif region, was nominated for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize For Freedom of Thought. The annual award was established in 1988 to honor ‘’individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe.’’

      Zefazfi is currently serving a 20-year prison term for his role as a leader in the Hirak protests. The protest movement first took hold after the death of Mohsin Fekri, a fish vendor whose product was seized by authorities in the city of Al Hoceima on October 29, 2016. When Fekri tried to reclaim the fish, he was crushed to death by a garbage truck.

    • Tech Companies Need to Get Serious About Confronting Hate

      In the wake of these massacres, where social media enabled individuals to both incite and then praise these hate-filled attacks, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism.

      Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other large tech companies already have policies that ban hateful, violent, and harassing content. But the way these policies have been enforced has disproportionately silenced people of color speaking out against injustice and racism while ignoring how white supremacists use these platforms to spread their hateful ideology.

      Though organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center identify and monitor hate groups across the country, and publicly share their findings, many of these groups operate in the mainstream and have prominent pages on social-media platforms—allowing them to maintain a veneer of legitimacy.

      These hate groups also use popular memes and game social-media algorithms to ensure that their toxic ideas spread to the widest possible audiences.

      Tech companies are falling prey to this manipulation—and they have their own inadequate content-moderation policies and enforcement mechanisms to blame.

    • Head of Russia’s Khakassian Republic files new lawsuit against Rosneft spokesman

      According to the regional news outlet Taiga.info, Konovalov’s case was filed at the Abakan City Court. The lawsuit also names the local website Vg-News.ru and “Medvedev” advertising agency as co-defendants in the case. Because Konovalov filed the lawsuit as a private individual, his government spokesperson has refused to comment on the matter.

    • The DCMS Online Harms Strategy must ‘design in’ fundamental rights

      Increasingly over the past year, DCMS has become fixated on the idea of imposing a duty of care on social media platforms, seeing this as a flexible and de-politicised way to emphasise the dangers of exposing children and young people to certain online content and make Facebook in particular liable for the uglier and darker side of its user-generated material.

      DCMS talks a lot about the ‘harm’ that social media causes. But its proposals fail to explain how harm to free expression impacts would be avoided.

      On the positive side, the paper lists free expression online as a core value to be protected and addressed by the regulator. However, despite the apparent prominence of this value, the mechanisms to deliver this protection and the issues at play are not explored in any detail at all.

      In many cases, online platforms already act as though they have a duty of care towards their users. Though the efficacy of such measures in practice is open to debate, terms and conditions, active moderation of posts and algorithmic choices about what content is pushed or downgraded are all geared towards ousting illegal activity and creating open and welcoming shared spaces. DCMS hasn’t in the White Paper elaborated on what its proposed duty would entail. If it’s drawn narrowly so that it only bites when there is clear evidence of real, tangible harm and a reason to intervene, nothing much will change. However, if it’s drawn widely, sweeping up too much content, it will start to act as a justification for widespread internet censorship.

    • European Parliament accepts Mass Censorship (Terrorism Regulation)

      The LIBE (“civil liberties”) Committee has just adopted its report on the Anti-terrorist Censorship Regulation. This report will be the text discussed in a few days by the whole European Parliament.

      The text, as it was adopted1The report adopted today is not published yet but is almost entirely based on these Compromise Amendments., states that an authority (administrative or judicial) can order any actor of the Internet to remove a content under one hour. This unrealistic obligation will destroy small and medium platforms and, in contrast, reinforce Google and Facebook which are already working together with States to enforce mass and unchecked censorship – this is the very purpose of the Regulation proposed last September by the European Commission.

    • Five Civil Society Organizations Remind Congress: Look to the Supreme Court, Not Silicon Valley CEOs, For Guidance Before Regulating Online Speech

      As policymakers around the U. S. contemplate regulations to protect and/or restrict online speech, a group of public interest organizations dedicated to free expression are publishing a set of legal guideposts that must inform any legislative or regulatory discussion. The document, entitled “Online Speech and the First Amendment: Ten Principles from the Supreme Court,” explains a series of fundamental safeguards for free speech that our nation’s highest court has articulated and should be followed in any potential regulation of online speech.

      The five organizations are the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and New America’s Open Technology Institute.

      U.S. Supreme Court rulings have established principles sharply limiting the situations in which speech may be regulated or silenced. The First Amendment protects a vast array of expression, including posts that society may consider indecent or hateful (Principle #3), anonymous speech (Principle #5), and speech targeted for its content (Principle #7).

      The court has held that any attempt to censor protected speech must meet exacting constitutional standards. Recognizing the critical role the Internet plays in democracy, the court has also stressed that our rights are just as strong when we speak online.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • These Chinese sanitation workers have to wear location-tracking bracelets now

      On April 3rd, news broke that sanitation workers in Nanjing, China’s Hexi district were being required to wear GPS-tracking smart bracelets to not only monitor their location at all times, but audibly prod them if they stopped moving for more than 20 minutes.

      Just one day later, the South China Morning Post reports, public pressure had mounted to the point that the local sanitation company decided to walk things back a bit — but only by removing the most obnoxious part of the system. Now, the bracelets will no longer say “please continue working” if a worker decides to stay in one place, but they’ll reportedly still track workers just the same.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The BLM’s Burning Man environmental impact statement is terrible, calls for drug searches, dumpsters, and a 19,000,000lb concrete wall

      There’s lots more — including a mandate for the festival to conduct anti-drug surveillance of attendees, volunteers and staff, which is simply out of scope of the National Environmental Policy Act.

      The Burning Man Organization has published an extensive backgrounder on the EIS’s deficiencies and a guide to submitting comments to the public docket.

      Here’s my comment, submitted yesterday: [...]

    • ACLU Asks CBP Why Its Threatening US Citizens With Arrest For Refusing Invasive Device Searches

      Those are the words of Andreas Gal, Apple engineer and outspoken defender of online privacy. Gal is a US citizen, not that you’d know that from the treatment he received from the CBP. Gal also has “Global Entry” status, which provides “expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.”

      Global Entry is the CBP’s version of the TSA’s Precheck program. In both cases, the federal government is willing to respect a bit more of your rights in exchange for a lot of personal info and a bit of cash. You can see how well that’s working out for Gal, who was told he could not speak to an attorney and would be arrested if he did not allow agents to search his devices. In addition, he was told his Global Entry status would be revoked and was only allowed to exit the CBP’s custody by leaving his devices behind so the CBP could search them at its leisure.

    • Criminal Justice Legislation Will Force New York Prosecutors to Disclose More Evidence, Sooner

      The New York state legislature has passed a reform package aimed at increasing fairness in the criminal justice system.

      The new law requires prosecutors to share evidence against criminal defendants within 15 days of arraignment, a major shift for a state that previously had no such deadlines and maintained a notably restrictive approach toward disclosure.

      New York defense lawyers have long complained of “trial by ambush,” where prosecutors were allowed to deliver crucial evidence at late stages of criminal proceedings, forcing defendants and their lawyers to make difficult decisions about whether to accept a plea deal or take their chances at trial based on limited information.

      The reform package “will end the gamesmanship and power dynamics that have favored prosecutors for decades, resulting in thousands of coerced pleas and wrongful convictions,” said Janet Sabel, CEO of Legal Aid, calling the changes “monumental.”

    • Trump and the Global Rise of the Christian Right

      If Donald Trump goes to church regularly, he’s kept it a pretty good secret.

      He and his wife have made sure to alert the press on the few times he does attend services, for instance on Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. Otherwise, the president seems to worship regularly only at the Church of the Hole in One. Since inauguration, he has made 165 visits (and counting) to golf courses, often on Sundays.

      Trump is like a secular Elmer Gantry, the hot-blooded preacher of Sinclair Lewis’s eponymous 1927 bestseller. Gantry preaches on Sundays about the heavenly virtues even as he drinks, commits adultery, and breaks one commandment after another on every other day of the week. Trump, meanwhile, has acted irreligiously all his life and only recently made any pretense to churchgoing piety. He confines his preaching to the political realm. In both cases, however, loyal congregations gather around these hypocrites, convinced that they are true representatives of God.

      Trump a representative of God? During the 2016 presidential campaign, evangelical Christians voted in large numbers for Trump not because of his religious convictions but despite his lack of them. They viewed Trump as an imperfect vehicle for God’s will, which was presumably expressing itself about the composition of the Supreme Court, government funding for abortion, and the eroding wall between church and state.

      Give us a virtuous president, the evangelicals trumpeted in true Augustinian fashion, but not yet. In the meantime, they would overlook the Republican candidate’s biblical illiteracy (“Two Corinthians”!) on top of his very public indiscretions with women, money, and gambling.

    • Pardon the Confusion! Aid to Central America and the “Crisis” at the Border

      The Trump Administration says there is a crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. The President is frustrated with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador because they have not done enough to stop emigration from their countries, despite U.S. aid. The State Department announced that it will stop some U.S. aid to these countries. News reports indicate that the aid to be cut is economic and humanitarian, but that “security”aid (to police and military) will be maintained. In fact, just before the State Department announcement, the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary signed a joint agreement with the governments of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to increase cooperation and support around “security”issues. Many Republicans and Democrats in Congress and many private humanitarian and economic aid agencies argue that more aid, not less, is needed to improve conditions in these Central American countries.

      Other Members of Congress see this whole issue somewhat differently. Some are sponsoring and supporting a bill (the Berta Cáceres Act) that would review and stop “security”aid to these countries because that aid goes to police and military that governments use to forcefully repress popular peaceful protest and for human rights violations. The Act was introduced in the last Congress, but it is being re-introduced now with a Democratic majority in the House. So is aid to Central America a solution to the crisis of migration from Central America? Confusing! Some realities to consider.

    • ‘History Will Judge Her’: DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Resigns After Months of Imposing Trump’s Immigration Policies

      Nielsen was confirmed by the Senate in December of 2017, after John Kelly left the position to serve as Trump’s chief of staff. The president’s tweets came shortly after CBS News reported that Nielsen was expected to offer her resignation Sunday as “part of a massive DHS overhaul engineered and directed by top Trump adviser Stephen Miller.”

      The Associated Press, citing two unnamed sources, also reported that she resigned. “Nielsen went to the White House to speak with Trump on Sunday following their trip to the border,” per the AP. “The people say she has long been frustrated by the difficulty getting other departments to help with the growing number of families coming crossing the border.”

      [...]

      Her departure, noted the New York Times, “comes just two days after Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly expressed anger at a rise in migrants at the southwestern border, withdrew his nominee to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he wanted the agency to go in a ‘tougher’ direction.”

      The National Immigration Law Center, which has battled the administration’s policies in court, said on Twitter Sunday: “Nielsen presided over a [DHS] that showed a blatant disregard for our Constitution, civil rights, and human life. History will judge her.”

      Looking ahead to Trump’s forthcoming appointment of the department’s next secretary, the group added that “the Senate can and should take its advise and consent role seriously this time.”

    • Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen Resigns

      Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday amid the administration’s growing frustration and bitterness over the number of Central American families crossing the southern border, two people familiar with the decision said.

      President Donald Trump thanked her for her work in a tweet and announced U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would be taking over as acting head of the department. McAleenan is a longtime border official who is well-respected by members of Congress and within the administration. The decision to name an immigration officer to the post reflects Trump’s priority for a sprawling department founded to combat terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks.

      Though Trump aides were eyeing a staff shake-up at Homeland Security and had already withdrawn the nomination for another key immigration post, the development Sunday was unexpected.

      Nielsen traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday with Trump to participate in a roundtable with border officers and local law enforcement. There she echoed Trump’s comments on the situation at the border, though she ducked out of the room without explanation for some time while Trump spoke. As they toured a section of newly rebuilt barriers, Nielsen was at Trump’s side, introducing him to local officials. She returned to Washington afterward on a Coast Guard Gulfstream, as Trump continued on a fundraising trip to California and Nevada.

      But privately, she had grown increasingly frustrated by what she saw as a lack of support from other departments and increased meddling by Trump aides, the people said. She went into a meeting with Trump at the White House in Sunday not knowing whether she’d be fired or would resign, and she ended up resigning, they said.

    • ‘Absolutely the Direction We Should Go’: Sanders Becomes First 2020 Candidate to Support Felons Voting From Behind Bars

      Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday became the first 2020 presidential candidate to speak out in support of allowing Americans to vote from behind bars.

      During a campaign stop in Iowa, the Independent senator from Vermont was asked about his position on imprisoned people participating in political elections.

      “I think that is absolutely the direction we should go,” Sanders said at a town hall in Muscatine, Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register, a local newspaper.

      Several states disenfranchise citizens convicted of felonies—though some states, such as Florida, have been pressured to change their laws to allow people who have served their sentences to vote. Currently, only Maine and Vermont let felons retain their voting rights while incarcerated, which the senator noted on Saturday.

      “In my state, what we do is separate. You’re paying a price, you committed a crime, you’re in jail. That’s bad,” Sanders said. “But you’re still living in American society and you have a right to vote. I believe in that, yes, I do.”

    • A World Divided by Ideologies

      Six-year-old Kate was playing with her younger brother, each had a Frisbee, which they threw as far as they could. After each round of throws Kate declared that she had ‘won’, having thrown the Frisbee further than her three-year-old sibling. She was the ‘winner’, and by extension, Richard was the loser. They were not playing together any longer, they were competing; Kate had been conditioned into the ideology of competition, presumably by school and her peers, perhaps her parents, and her brother, whether he likes it or not, would shortly join her.

      Some years ago the Max-Planck Institute in Germany conducted an experiment with a group of toddlers; the children were placed in a room with adults, the adults dropped something and the children were encouraged to pick it up for them. This they happily did, working collectively. Then a reward was introduced and given to the child who handed the item to the adult. The group work immediately broke down, harmony was shattered and the children began fighting over the item to be retrieved. Their behavior had been corrupted – conditioned by motive; the effect was social division and conflict.

      We have all been the victims of such sociological/psychological conditioning, some more, some less. Conditioned images of oneself and of others are unconsciously built up, attachment to content made firm. Far from creating the security we yearn for, attachment to the construct ensures fear is maintained. Instead of allowing ourselves to be, we have become something – someone: we belong to a nation, and share in its values; its history and traditions become ours, as do its enemies. We are Brazilian, French, British, American, etc.; successful, middle class, or unsuccessful and poor; white or non-white; a colonizer or the colonized; strong or weak, ideologically inclined – Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, socialist, capitalist, and so on. The image of ‘me’ in contrast to the ‘you’ is formed, the ‘us’ against ‘them’ takes root; my country versus your country, my political party against yours, my God versus your God, my opinions versus yours and so on, and on, and on.

    • Moscow court frees stage director Kirill Serebrennikov from house arrest

      Moscow’s City Court has freed three defendants in the “Seventh Studio” case from house arrest, releasing them on their own recognizance, overturning an April 2 ruling by the Meshchansky District Court that extended the suspects’ arrests until July 2019.

    • FSB adds allegedly tortured activists’ left-wing community to Russia’s list of terrorist organizations

      Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has added the “Set” (Network) community to its list of terrorist organizations, citing a decision by the Moscow District Military Court on January 17, 2019, which entered force on March 14.

      Federal officials are currently building a case against several left-wing activists from Penza and St. Petersburg arrested for plotting terrorist attacks through “Set.” According to investigators, the suspects planned attacks during Russia’s March 2018 presidential election and the summer 2018 FIFA World Cup. The case evidence relies heavily on confessions from several defendants who now say they were tortured into incriminating themselves.

    • The Burning of Highlander Center: a Fascist-like Attack

      The deadly racist spree in Charlottesville in 2017 and the killing of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg in 2018 were fire bells in the night. Another rang out in New Market, Tennessee on March 29 as the main building at the Highlander Research and Education Center burned to the ground, along with archives.

      In the nearby parking lot, someone spray-painted a symbol associated with Romania’s fascist Iron Guard movement of the 1930s. That symbol appeared on a gun used by the shooter in the recent Christchurch, New Zealand massacre. The Highlander Center issued a statement April 2 declaring its awareness that the white power movement has been increasing and consolidating power across the South, across this nation, and globally.”

      The Highlander Center, operating since 1962, is the successor to the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, founded by Myles Horton in 1932, together with educator Don West. Fire, presumably arson, destroyed the buildings of the Folk School in 1961. State authorities, acting out of racism and anti-communism, had just closed it. Until his death in 1990, Horton led both the Folk School and the Center.

      The Highlander Center, according to its website, “serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South. We work with people fighting for justice, equality and sustainability, supporting their efforts to take collective action to shape their own destiny.” Based in Knoxville until 1971 and thereafter in New Market, the Center has addressed strip mining and immigrant rights

    • Syariah Matters: the Kingdom of Brunei’s Stoning Affair

      From time to time, celebrities recoil and, in anger, seek to march for a change to the status quo. Much of is never intended to alter much, but they can count their names among the indignant luminaries and say they tried to do something.

      The recent imposition of Syariah law in the Kingdom of Brunei, a tiny speck of territory wedged between Sabah and Sarawak, was enough to enrage George Clooney, Sir Elton John, and a few others concerned that their moral credentials might be hurt by the move.

      In incensed words penned for Deadline, Clooney’s moral advisory noted that, “Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.” Clooney is also careful to pour some scorn on the sultanate. “Brunei isn’t a significant country.”

      He also notes previous boycotting efforts against the kingdom for its treatment of the gay community that supposedly worked. “We cancelled a big fundraiser for the Motion Picture Retirement Home that we’d hosted at the Beverly Hills Hotel for years.” Remarkable, indeed, but for the fact that the process of imposing Syariah laws remained unimpeded.

      Such exasperated notes of anger ignore the fact that the Kingdom had been engaged in amending the penal code with these Hudood laws to better reflect religious doctrine for some six years or so: the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah had made it clear in 2013 that sharp and direct laws of that sort would be introduced in due course. The country, in his words, would “have two criminal justice systems working hand in hand”.

    • Reflections of a MEChista by a Chicano Scholar Activist

      I first learned about MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlán) during UCLA’s Freshman Summer Program (FSP) in 1985, as a 17-year-old freshman. Many moons later, when I became a member, I still stand by MEChA’s mantra: “Once a MEChista, always a MEChista.” (To pretend to be younger, I usually joke that I was “actually” a 7-year-old math prodigy at UCLA in 1985!)

      When I shockingly learned of the proposed name change of MEChA at the MEChA National Conference 2019 at UCLA (March 29 – 31, 2019), I didn’t know whether to cry or yell. Given that I was raised in one of the most dangerous/toughest public housing projects/neighborhoods in the country, the notorious Ramona Gardens housing project or Big Hazard projects in Boyle Heights, where I don’t want to lose my “street cred,” I resorted to the latter. As a result, the cops paid a visit to me at my home. After assuring them that all was well, and that I had “accidently hit my foot” on the corner of my metal bed frame, I decided to write down some short reflections about the state of MEChA (or lack thereof in terms of its future?) to express what this important organization means to me and its significance for students (current and future) and alumni from our high schools, colleges and universities.

      While there are many racist lies, state-sponsored misinformation actions and reactionary views towards MEChA, for someone like myself—a former Chicano kid from the projects—MEChA represented a haven in a white-dominated space.

    • Former Lithuanian ambassador to Russia arrested on allegations of helping Russian banker get Schengen visa

      Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service has arrested Rimantas Šidlauskas, the country’s former ambassador to the Russian Federation. The Lithuanian news outlet Delfi reported that the diplomat is suspected of “influence trading”: law enforcement agents believe that he promised to acquire a Schengen Zone visa for a Russian citizen in exchange for that individual’s efforts to “influence a particular group of people.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • DCMS publishes White Paper on Internet Safety and Online Harm

      The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today published its long-awaited White Paper on Online Harms.

      The White Paper focuses heavily on the duties of social media platforms to police user-generated content. It proposes imposing a duty of care on platforms to protect users, particularly children and young people, from harm, with compliance overseen by a regulator.

      DCMS extends the scope of the duty of care to include “tools or services which allow, enable or facilitate users to share or discover UGC or interact with each other online”. This is a broad-reaching definition and includes search tools, app stores and messaging services.

    • Understanding the tech media’s obsession with VPN services

      If you visit a couple of the largest tech media publication on a regular basis, you may have come away with the impression that you absolutely have to “protect yourself” with a shared Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider at all times. All of them have plenty of recommendations for which service you should subscribe to yet they don’t seem to have much of an understanding about how VPNs work or what threats they may protect you against. So why is the tech media obsessed with VPN services?

      VPN services do have some legitimate uses especially when you’re out and about and absolutely must connect to an unknown and untrusted Wi-Fi network like the network at an airport or café. The best possible security strategy is to avoid connecting to unfamiliar Wi-Fi network unless you absolutely have to.

      [...]

      I called out PCMag at the May 2018 for not clearly disclosing that their VPN coverage featured affiliate partner links that yielded sales commissions to PCMag. In that article, I included a table showing just how profitable these partner programs can be to websites like PCMag. Selling one VPN subscription can give reoccurring revenue for as long as the referred customers keeps renewing their subscription.

      VPN services are quite cheap and you can sell them to people located anywhere in the world. It’s a great money-maker as the VPN services are essentially reselling bandwidth from basic servers with easy-to-configure software. All their affiliate partners need to do is to sell a subscription by scaring people into believing they’re a likely target of a sophisticated and targeted attack. Accompanying the article with some dark-cyper-hacker-esq graphic like the feature image for this article doesn’t hurt either.

    • ‘Call Your Freakin Reps’: Pressure on Congress to Restore Net Neutrality or Face Public Wrath

      “Despite the terrible decision from Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai—a former Verizon lawyer—it’s clear that people all across the political spectrum want net neutrality,” wrote Mary Alice Crim, field director for Free Press Action. “But we’ll win only if all of us take action and contact our reps. Are you in? Could you make a call today—and help make history?”

      “Call your rep at 202-751-4622. Tell your lawmaker to pass the Save the Internet Act with no loopholes,” Crim added. “This legislation would restore real net neutrality protections.”

      The Save the Internet Act needs at least 218 votes to pass the House. As of this writing, the bill has 197 co-sponsors in the House.

      “Call your freakin reps,” tweeted digital rights group Fight for the Future.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Last week, in Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics LLC, the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia holding claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 9,575,065 and claims 1 and 2 of U.S. Patent No. 9,581,597 invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as directed to an ineligible natural law. Finding the asserted claims to be patent ineligible, the District Court had dismissed a complaint for patent infringement filed by Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Cleveland HeartLab, Inc. (“Cleveland Clinic”) against True Health Diagnostics LLC under Rule 12(b)(6) (see “Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics, LLC (E.D. Va. 2017)”). In affirming the District Court, the Federal Circuit determined that its precedent, and not the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s guidance, must control.

    • Error Costs, Ratio Tests, and Patent Antitrust Law

      This paper examines the welfare tradeoff between patent and antitrust law. Since patent and antitrust law have contradictory goals, the question that naturally arises is how one should choose between the two in instances where there is a conflict. One sensible approach to choosing between two legal standards, or between proof standards with respect to evidence, is to consider the relative costs of errors. The approach in this paper is to consider the ratio of false positives to false negatives in patent antitrust. We find that the relevant error cost ratio for patent antitrust is the proportion of the sum of the monopoly profit and residual consumer surplus to the deadweight loss. This error cost ratio, for a wide range of deterministic demand functions, ranges from infinity to a low of roughly three. This suggests that patent antitrust law should err on the side of protecting innovation incentives.

    • Cost-Plus Patent Damages

      This Article assesses recent proposals to use risk-adjusted costs of producing an invention as a basis for either setting patent damages or valuing patents taken by eminent domain. In theory, cost-plus damages can address one of the central challenges of patent law: ensuring that a patentee does not obtain excessive rents for an invention. But cost-plus damages have three principal problems. First, risk may be difficult to estimate, and estimates may be infected by hindsight. Second, if the permitted rate of return is too low, there may be insufficient incentives to invent.

      Indeed, even a rate of return that seems generous for existing companies may discourage entry into the industry. Third, inventors may spend much more on invention, anticipating that these greater expenses will not only increase the chance of success, but also increase the amount that they can charge. This Article assesses recent literature proposing cost-plus patent damages, and it offers a simulation model to assess the magnitude of these problems. It concludes that while these problems are serious, social welfare still might be increased by considering cost­plus damages as a factor in the patent damages calculus.

    • Huawei leads Asian domination of U.N. patent applications in 2018 [Ed: WIPO as #patent extremist does not care at all about quality, only quantity. WIPO is highly corrupt. The UN need to abolish WIPO as it only tarnishes the UN's reputation, makes it seem like guardian of bullies.]

      Chinese telecoms giant Huawei led the pack with Asia accounting for more than half of the international patent applications at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) last year, WIPO said on Tuesday.

    • FTC Must Protect New Entrants From Anticompetitive Patent Infringement Suits

      New technology poses the biggest threat to Nielsen’s monopoly. Reuters noted recently that Nielsen “faces competition from start-ups using automated content recognition (ACR) to track viewing habits via mobile devices and smart TVs.” Yet through a combination of mergers, litigation, and regulation, Nielsen is trying to nip competition in the bud.

      [...]

      Now Nielsen is once again using suing SambaTV–another small startup that uses new technology to challenge its dominance. As Alan Wolk noted in Forbes after the Samba lawsuit, “Nielsen has shown a proclivity as of late to sue companies in the smart TV and ad space.”

      To be clear, I don’t have enough information to know if Nielsen’s litigation against Samba or Sorenson is frivolous. While I understand the FTC is not equipped to judge the merits of every IP action taken by a dominant firm before the cases resolve, this behavior shows that the agency needs to take some proactive steps to ensure that dominant firms don’t bankrupt their competitors through litigation and then acquire them—essentially escaping all meaningful review and oversight.

    • C3J Therapeutics Announces Issuance of U.S. Patent Covering Synthetic Bacteriophage
    • Copyrights

      • The Sky Is Rising: The Entertainment Industry Is Thriving, Almost Entirely Because Of The Internet

        A funny thing happened on the way to the internet supposedly destroying the entertainment industry. It saved the entertainment industry instead.

        A little over seven years ago, we released our first Sky is Rising report for CCIA. At the time, the key point we found in looking at the state of the modern entertainment industry was that the parts that were whining the loudest about how awful the internet was for content were only representing a very small part of the actual content industries. Recorded music may have been struggling as a business, but every other aspect of the music business was thriving. More music was being produced than ever before. More music was being consumed than ever before. More people were spending more money on music than ever before — just not in the traditional ways. Ditto for video. And books. As we noted back in that original report, if you focused on the supposed true purpose of copyright — to “promote the progress” of content production — it was clear that the internet had made that possible a lot more than “copyright” law ever did.

        Today, again in partnership with CCIA, we’re releasing our brand new Sky is Rising report for 2019, again looking at the state of the global entertainment industry. And, once again, it’s thriving. But something big has changed in the past decade or so: even the legacy parts that were struggling when we put together the last report, the parts that were most impacted by the transformative nature of the internet, are now thriving as well. And in basically every case it’s because of the internet that the legacy companies have shunned and complained about (not to mention demanded a continuous, never-ending, new set of laws to “tame” the very internet that is saving them).

      • Copyright and the distributed peer-to-peer web

        The distributed web overturns many of the assumptions of the traditional centralized web especially when it comes to how everything is distributed. Copyright laws protect a creator’s exclusive rights to distribute their creative works. So how does all of this work when you as a creator publish something on a distributed website? And how does it work for the end users?

      • Reddit’s /r/Piracy is Deleting Almost 10 Years of History to Avoid Ban

        Under pressure from Reddit’s administrators over copyright issues, the site’s largest forum dedicated to piracy discussion has opted for “The Nuclear Option”. After voting by its contributors, all posts older than six months are now being deleted. That’s almost 10 years of data, the vast majority of it completely legal. The negative effects are already being felt.

Jono Bacon Works for Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

He has not responded to our request for comment, either

Jono Bacon tweet
From the sponsor prospectus (below). “Page 14 shows there are 3 tiers to get a tweet by Jono Bacon,” a reader has alerted us.

Jono Bacon for Microsoft
Love for sale. Image from October 27, 2018 of Jono Bacon bragging about Microsoft swag on LinkedIn. See the above (or below). One Tier – 2017: “3 Social Media Sponsor Mentions from Linux Foundation and 1 from Jono Bacon’s (OCC Chair) Twitter account”

Summary: Jono Bacon and the Linux Foundation’s work for Microsoft are a subject scarcely discussed as it’s shrouded in secrecy/mystery; but we continue to dig deeper and unearth the ugly business model at hand

TWO prior posts [1, 2] on this topic are essential reading. They explain the reality of Linux Foundation “events” and what they are well beyond “events”.

“Many people are hanging around the Zemlin PAC like fish that swim near the shark for some food scraps.”Many of our readers do not like and do not trust Jono Bacon. They sometimes ask me why I’m still being nice to him. They challenge me over it and question his motivations. A decade ago Bacon invited me to FLOSS Weekly only to attack me on the show (mostly for my criticism of Microsoft). He defended Mono and Miguel de Icaza, among other Microsoft things/people. He and Microsoft had connected beforehand; they tried to hire him at least once before, so why not just ‘rent’ him instead (helps hide the motivations better)?

His modus operandi became clearer to me in recent years. I saw him promoting Microsoft (not just the above). Prior to that he was preaching to people about “open respect” and “politeness” while rapidly and casually attacking people and defending companies that do criminal things. This is the classic case of shielding oneself behind the cloak of “ethics” while attacking those who are actually ethical, painting them as impolite, “toxic”, “racist”, “sexist” and so on.

Here is the full brochure (there’s lots more there other than the above, which mentions Bacon by name).

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Stay tuned for future parts. Bacon’s role at the Linux Foundation will become a lot clearer. Many people are hanging around the Zemlin PAC like fish that swim near the shark for some food scraps. Bacon isn’t alone in this; in future parts we may name a few more individuals who have compromised principles for a quick buck.

Only One in Six EPO Workers Trusts the Management, According to New Survey Skewed by Management

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A new survey carried out by Willis Towers Watson shows that the António Campinos regime has not improved the atmosphere at the EPO (Campinos merely suppressed staff’s voices)

READERS who have a copy of the Willis Towers Watson survey are encouraged to send us a copy with additional remarks. It seems like António Campinos is ‘pulling a Battistelli’ already.

An anonymous post from around lunchtime yesterday said:

Only two thirds of EPO staff are proud to work at the European Patent Office. Four in ten say they face substantial obstacles to doing their job well. They have a very negative view of management effectiveness, with low confidence in senior management decisions, lack of clarity about direction, and insufficient contact between senior management and staff. Concerns are high about the Office’s commitment to quality, and about its reputation and service focus. The majority of staff have autonomy to do their work, but far fewer think it is safe to speak up, or feel encouraged to contribute new ideas. There is little evidence of a ‘continuous improvement culture’ in the Office.

These are the most important conclusions of ‘Your voice, our future: The EPO Staff Engagement Survey’. The results of the survey, carried out by Willis Towers Watson, were published in a report which was distributed among staff last week.

[...]

Some other striking results:

‘I have confidence in the decisions made by senior management (PD and above)’: 16 percent favourable (Europe norm 66 percent)

‘Senior management (PD and above) communicates the reasons for important decisions effectively.’ 13 percent favourable (Europe norm 56 percent)

‘Sufficient effort is made to get the opinions of staff in the Office.’ 21 percent favourable (Europe norm 59 percent)

‘It is safe to speak up at work.’ 27 percent favourable (Europe norm 66 percent)

‘The Office has established a good reputation for the quality of its services.’ 61 percent favourable. In 2011 it was 87 percent. (Europe norm 82 percent)

‘All staff are treated with respect here.’ 39 percent favourable (Europe norm 75 percent), 49 percent unfavourable.

‘The Office is effective in identifying the changes that are necessary for our long-term success.’ 20 percent favourable (Europe norm 56 percent)

‘Aspects of the EPO culture support well-being, but nearly 50% do not think that all staff are treated with respect. Further investigation is advisable on what lies behind this result, as it is also the most frequently mentioned topic in the comments about what would make the biggest difference to the Office as a place to work’, according to the survey.

We think that the entire (original) document should be in the public domain because the EPO isn’t a private institution and it has impact on billions of people.

People are already taking note of the glaring issues, e.g.:

the external reader should know that from one survey to the next the EPO is systematically making use of a different questionnaire. So no reliable benchmark possibly showing further deteriorations of already highly deteriorated indicators, can be produced.

Also a detail but technically speaking the EPO survey is not a psycho social risks survey like that organised by EPO’s main union in 2010, 2013 and 2016 (see https://suepo.org/results_of_the_2016_european_patent_office_staff_survey/d-43311).

It is thus doubtful that after 8 years of Battistelli and now close to 1 of Campinos — but with Battistelli’s minions kept at their very positions, atmosphere and well-being at EPO are matching the results published (answers always depend on the way question are designed). In any case about well-being, these results are not in line with feedbacks from the work floor which on the contrary show worried, tired, demotivated and sick staff.

Also not so sure that the soon to come new deteriorations of the work package — currently being prepared behind closed doors by Campinos et al. which will be announced in his “strategic plan” at the June meeting of the AC e.g. axing the current pensions and the like, are of a nature to foster well-being among staff (and obviously improve the quality of the work produced by strained staff).

After so much pain and suffering under Battistelli (suicides, depressions, burn outs, dismissals, force resignations you name it) and the same HR policies kept unchanged since Campinos’ arrival, SUEPO should consider a re-run of its survey.

The next person wrote: “…to see how such devastating results will be turned into even higher production targets for staff and juicy bonuses for EPO management..”

The latest one says “it is entirely misleading to conclude from the answers to these four questions that the staff at the EPO has a positive view about well-being.”

To quote:

The conclusion “Views are also positive about issues impacting staff well-being” is misleading.

In the questionnaire, there were 62 questions in 13 categories. According to “Appendix 1: Detailed Item Results” provided by the survey provider, exactly 4 of these 62 questions relate to “well-being”, namely:

Question 4: My work schedule allows sufficient flexibility to meet my personal/family needs.
Question 24: There is usually sufficient staff in my unit to handle the workload.
Question 38: People in my unit are attentive to each other’s well-being.
Question 54: My immediate manager cares about my well-being.

Regarding question 4: this question only relates to flexibility, not to the workload per se

Regarding question 24: the file stocks are rapidly decreasing in many technical areas of the EPO due to ever increasing production targets and examiners are quickly running out of work. This is why one would answer “yes” to that question. However, this does not indicate well-being at all – on the contrary, staff is afraid of being laid off as soon as the remaining file stock is exhausted.

Regarding question 38: this question only relates to one´s direct “unit”, NOT to the EPO per se. A “unit” is a small team of colleagues (for examiners, a few other examiners and one team manager). The question ONLY relates to that small team (“unit”). It is evident that people who work together closely on a day-to-day basis are attentive to each other´s well-being. However, this neither implies that employees regard the EPO as being an institution which is attentive to employees well-being, nor that there is a high degree of well-being at the EPO.

Remark: The “Appendix 1” compares the answers of the EPO employees to benchmarks of employees from other companies or organizations for most questions, but not for this question (“not available”). Thus, this question does not seem to be a default question (I do not know whether it was tailored specifically to the EPO). Furthermore, it is not possible to compare the EPO results with answers of employees of other companies (given the specific wording of the question, the results would probably be very positive in almost every company). However, this does NOT indicate at all that the employees have the impression that the EPO cares about their well-being. For a question worded “The EPO cares about my well-being”, the results would probably be devastating.

Regarding question 54: similar to question 38, this ONLY relates to the “immediate” manager (for examiners and formalities: “team managers”). “Team managers” were appointed only recently from the groups of examiners and formalities and thus used to be direct colleagues just a short time ago. They have no real managerial power, but only execute the instructions and orders provided by higher management. While the answers are positive for the “immediate” managers (former colleagues), I am sure that the answers would be much more negative for a question which also includes the higher ranking managers (which actually take the decisions at the EPO, not the team managers).

Thus, it is entirely misleading to conclude from the answers to these four questions that the staff at the EPO has a positive view about well-being.

We are sure insiders have a lot more to say. Without seeing the original, however, it’s hard for yours truly to say much.

Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) — Like MedTech at the EPO — Just Another Dodge for Illegitimate Software Patents

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The buzzwords game carries on, as usual, on both sides of the Atlantic; abstract patents are being granted which are being spun as essential for patients

TODAY’S European Patent Office (EPO) keeps granting software patents in Europe, thanks to Brimelow, Battistelli and now António Campinos (software patents disguised as “AI” as well as “CII”, “4IR”, “blockchains” and so on). Similarly, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) dodges Alice (SCOTUS decision) by altering examination criteria surrounding 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101). Examiners are bound by these; instead of following the law (e.g. EPC) they need to follow the instructions from their management, which is blatantly violating the law.

It is nowadays ‘trendy’ to speak about patent “quality” (or lie about it), so why can’t (or won’t) the USPTO do that like the EPO does? Here is what’s coming soon:

Deputy Chief Judge Jackie Bonilla and Lead Judge Jessica Kaiser from the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) will discuss how the new pilot program will provide opportunities not only to receive feedback from the PTAB about a first motion to amend, but also to file a second motion to amend based on that feedback.

To be fair, the PTAB tackles examiners who are bypassing Section 101, as does the Federal Circuit, which deals either with lawsuits or inter partes review (IPR) appeals. PTAB, however, does not exercise full freedom under Iancu; same problem as BoA at the EPO. We have in fact just noticed (yet again) this semantic dodge that we mentioned last year [1, 2]. The latest ‘trendy’ loophole or cheat (for granting abstract patents) is passing off algorithms as “medical” and “device”; the EPO has been calling it “MedTech” lately and the patent extremists across the pond call it “SaMD”. “What are the hurdles for patent counsel to demonstrate a software-related claim is not abstract?”

That’s one of the bulletpoints, followed by: “What guidance have the courts provided in recent decisions concerning patent eligibility for software-related inventions?”

This is what Finnegan is doing right now:

Strafford will be offering a webinar entitled “Protecting Software as a Medical Device: Patents, Design Patents and Trade Secrets” on April 9, 2019 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (EDT). Cory C. Bell, Elizabeth D. Ferrill, and Susan Y. Tull of Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner will guide counsel for companies in the medical device industry on protecting software as a medical device (SaMD) and discuss the FDA rules regulating SaMD and how to leverage IP law to protect SaMD.

Those are just software patents; the EPO keeps painting these are “for SMEs” and “medical” (as in “life-saving”). We wrote about it half a dozen times this year.

Europe’s EPO Has Become France’s INPI

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No examination necessary (almost)

EPO incest

Summary: The patent office of Europe disregards laws pertaining to patent scope; the sole goal is to grant as many patents as possible

PUBLISHED BY Watchtroll yesterday was an article entitled “Latest CAFC [Federal Circuit] Ruling in Cleveland Clinic Case Confirms That USPTO’s 101 [35 U.S.C. § 101, based on SCOTUS] Guidance Holds Little Weight” and it’s about that old stunt from the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), who got 'dissed' by judges for his efforts to work around them. There’s an analogy here — one that ought to be made and emphasised. The European Patent Office (EPO) has long ignored if not attacked judges. Donald Trump appointed an ‘American Battistelli’ and it leads to friction between the Office and the courts. What matters more? Profits or the law? Can profit be made at the expense of the law? Put another way, can the law be violated in order to increase profits (for the Office)?

“Donald Trump appointed an ‘American Battistelli’ and it leads to friction between the Office and the courts.”Antonella Gentile, over at IP Kat, cited Watchtroll the same day when dealing with software patents in Europe (disguised as “AI” under the António Campinos administration). To quote: “The IPWatchdog [Watchtroll] analyses the European Patent Office’s new guidance for examination for AI and ML patent applications (issued in November 2018) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s revised guidance directed to what constitutes patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101 (issued in January 2019) and considers how these guidance will shape the examination of Artificial Intelligence Inventions.”

IP Kat, in an earlier post, also mentioned the violation of the EPC for the sake of patent maximalists:

In Purity can be unconventional, a new position for the EPO boards of appeal (T 1085/13), GuestKat Rose Hughes takes a look at a recent decision by the EPO Technical Boards of Appeal which departs from previous boards on how the novelty of the increased purity of a known compound is to be assessed. Rose also discusses the technical board of appeal’s decision following the decision T-1063/18 and concerning the power of the EPO’s Administrative Council to amend the EPC using the Rules. Finally, Rose reports on a new question of double-patenting being referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA).

We are saddened to see what the EPO as a whole (as in the Organisation) has turned into. It became a sad comedy (or even satire) of duplicate patents and patents on humans and animals. See this press release which has just resurfaced in the news. Patents on “Human and Animals Cells”. Similarly, in the United States, take note of this shameless self-promotion from yesterday. McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP (the people behind Patent Docs) are rabid promoters of patents on life and nature (because they profit from pillage of what’s natural!), so how can this event be regarded as balanced? It’s propaganda/lobbying.

“The situation in INPI really mirrors the EPO’s mentality, where patents now boil down to a numbers “game” (or “competition”) irrespective of underlying quality/validity.”In an effort to bypass the courts (external to the EPO) Team Battistelli hoped to prop up the UPC. It failed. 4 years ago in the EPO’s PR stunts (warning: epo.org link) of Benoît Battistelli they said: “It is hoped that the first unitary patent could be seen as early as the second half of 2016.”

It never happened. Never will (probably). What Battistelli hoped for is a sort of “leap” above justice. Patents would be granted without proper scrutiny and then asserted without a proper legal process. Good for plaintiffs, surely, but not for anybody else. Think of INPI in France. There’s no patent examination there; everything that applicants file gets registered as patents (as long as basic standards are adhered to).

A few days ago we spotted this puff piece about Valeo. It says that “Valeo remains France’s leading patent filer for third year in a row,” but with no patent examination this is such a meaningless number. To quote:

For the third year running, Valeo has taken first place in France’s INPI industrial property institute rankings, with 1,355 patents published in 2018, versus 1,110 in 2017, consolidating its position as the most innovative company in France.

So it is “most innovative company in France” for filing a bunch of papers nobody even scrutinised? Really?

The situation in INPI really mirrors the EPO’s mentality, where patents now boil down to a numbers “game” (or “competition”) irrespective of underlying quality/validity.

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