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09.25.16

What Insiders Are Saying About the Sad State of the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

At the EPO, from anonymity comes transparency and honesty because in some countries, including Eponia, journalism strictly requires anonymity (fear of retribution)

A venetian mask

Summary: Anonymous claims made by people who are intimately familiar with the European Patent Office (from the inside) shed light on how bad things have become

OUR previous post spoke about growing concerns about EPO layoffs that would eliminate much of the brainpower and set the stage for rubberstamping (or very superficial examination, maybe by machines rather than professionals). We sometimes hear from insiders who let us know just how terrible things are looking from the inside. Airing some concerns seems imperative if the goal is to better inform not only staff but also applicants, politicians, and the general public.

Patent Quality and End of Stock (Potentially Staff Layoffs)

Regarding patent quality, an EPO examiner told us that he or she “got a list with EP grants that are not new where the search work was soooo appalling you can hardly believe it [...] because that is the latest development, Munich-style searches become standard…”

This examiner further explained that “for us quite easy to find in the overall workload system… our guess is, within 2 to 3 years we are out of stock (also for examination) and than the big question is what next with us examiners…”

This relates to a topic we covered earlier this month as well as in our previous post.

Software Patents

When asked about software patents, which the EPO typically calls “computer-implemented” in order to dodge the negative connotation and explicit exclusion, this examiner told us that the Office would “sometimes grant controllers, but it is always linked to an apparatus (a control for …)” (that’s the loophole set up in the Brimelow days, now exploited also in India and New Zealand).

So, in simple terms, both patent quality and patent scope are being compromised. What gives? The examiner confesses that “there are plenty of bad grants, but it is now getting an epidemia” (maybe epidemic).

Some examiners begin to wonder what the EPO is trying to accomplish under Battistelli. This examiner said, “the question is, are patents a goal or just a means?”

“Minnoye is the Real King Slayer”

Asked about Battistelli’s role, this examiner clarified that “in our opinion he is not the worst but that is Minnoye … he is the real king slayer, the one who makes the big damage to the EPO.”

“CPC [the classification project with the US] is killing us,” this examiner added, “basically, a lot of the “production increases” got paid by putting less man hours in the classification activities … we say; He who controls the classification in fact controls the patent quality … this year 2016 will see an enormous rise in grants … [we] now (as in today) grant a lot of stuff that was 10 – 15 years ready on the shelves … meanwhile we neglect collectively the classification system, no maintenance, no new development, no one feels responsible anymore … meanwhile a lot of window dressing is going on, it is incredible the production goes up sky high and the quality also… [examiners] had to wipe some dust from the yellowed file folders… IAM is in our opinion not important at all, that is only our own specialist peer group (per technical field)…”

This serves to confirm some of what we said about so-called ‘production’ increases. They’re just clearing the shelves (old applications) without paying much attention to quality of patents. It cannot go on for much longer and when it’s all done and finished there’s expectation of massive layoffs, never mind the collateral damage of tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of poor patents in Europe, serving to ensure a climate of frivolous litigation and patent threats.

“Only the “Recognised” [Yellow] Union, i.e. FFPE, is Invited”

Remarking on the so-called ‘social study’ (which was released late on Friday; there are 3 reports on the intranet), the examiner told us that “the next funny event to come is 14 Oct. a social conference one day before AC meeting … it will go from top to root … it will be sold as a success” (to influence delegates with a pile of lies).

Adding insult to injury, and ensuring no dissent, “only the “recognised” union, i.e. FFPE, is invited (SUEPO of course not),” the examiner noted. So it’s truly a Kool-Aid event. The whole thing “is in a way a media war … for most EPO issue money is not really a problem , but just a means … for us, it is the whole setup with this weak AC on top of the water head that is the problem … plus that seriously not a single politician is interested…”

Those who say SUEPO tries to undermine the Office are clearly not paying attention; the aim is to actually save the EPO. “I do not want to harm,” the examiner told us, “but what we need is a transparent system without secret working contracts, without paid coverage, and without badly searched applications…”

The examiner explained that “money is no 1″ to these people, “but in our opinion it should be simply that we do our duties, not more and not less.” To the management, says the examiner, “money money money that’s what it is all about,” but “renewal fees for the Office will sink dramatically (in the report called NRF),” so the gains are short term and will be extremely costly once the stock runs out and many bad patents have been granted. “Theoretically,” the examiner added, “the Office will collect 50% of the state renewal fees (which can be zero)…”

“More Useless Stuff”

According to what we learned, not only did the EPO get scanners to treat the staff as though they’re boarding the plane; They got some “more useless stuff” (for bags).

Regarding “20 million [Euros] for the reward package,” the examiner called it “a shitty deal for us” as “we are being separated in the Have’s and Have-nots” and in “2015 all directors and principal directors got heavily rewarded… but the examiners not [as part of] 9 million for pensionable awards like salary step increases, and the rest for 2 types of bonuses and one-off rewards [...] they did nothing, it was the examiners and the administrative staff, you should have seen the huge piles with grants, it was incredible …] I mean piles to the ceiling, earlier this year … we are now basically emptying our stock (examination) and it is going pretty fast … and the good news is, we are even rewarded in case of oppositions! The bulk that is granted now still has pretty good search reports, but that is going to change quickly … in case of an opposition, we get time like 2 or 3 days [and] that is good for our productivity … some directorates got 3 times more oppositions as their counterpart (which should be kind of identical) … the new mantra is: Timeliness. But not a single applicant is interested in this, they want quality … believe me, if you put so much money in your patent portfolio you want a certain quality I have been in at least 20 huge companies and they all conveyed this message (think of: Philips, Daikin, Mitsubishi, Honeywell etc etc) … there are still capable courts active in Europe who decide on the validity of a patent … EpiPen in the US is another perfect example, complete bogus of course … they got a patent on the safety cap, and now charge like 150 dollar for something costing 10 bucks before (thanks USPTO)…”

“UPC is a Lame Duck”

When asked about the UPC, the examiner told us that the “UPC is a lame duck, but the duck does not want to know this.”

We were kindly asked to “realise that a UPC judge is going to earn less than an experienced EPO examiner, so they can forget about attracting skilled people except from Eastern Europe.”

Speaking of judges, there will soon be a verdict (at the end of the week) from the Dutch High Court. SUEPO will probably be writing something about it, but examiners expect nothing out of it. Either way, the EPO plans to disregard the court’s decision anyway (thanks, Mr. Minnoye, for an epic confession on Dutch television).

“By laughing the misery away we survive,” the examiner told us, “like being in the trenches … not all is true in the end, but where smoke [there] is a fire.”

The EPO Does Not Want Skilled (and ‘Expensive’) Staff, Layoffs a Growing Concern

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

French unions
Reference: “With French Election Over, Unions Fear Layoffs”

Summary: A somewhat pessimistic look (albeit increasingly realistic look) at the European Patent Office, where unions are under fire for raising legitimate concerns about the direction taken by the management since a largely French team was put in charge

PDF FILES WITH GRAPHS in them (internal EPO data) have already taught us all we needed to know (we learned from them what examiners are seeing). Patent quality at the EPO is dying if not dead. It’s only a matter of time before the public finds out about it and applicants come to grips with it. This would have a devastating effect on anyone who was granted an EP (European Patent) before Battistelli and potentially affect the valuation of companies to the point where they’re becoming insolvent.

“One might hesitantly say that union-busting agenda is intended to set the tone or prepare the ground for appalling ‘reforms’, such as layoffs.”What we’re seeing inside the EPO is horrifying for outside observers and even mortifying for insiders. It looks like they’re about to lose their jobs. Battistelli, a nontechnical charlatan, even thinks he can replace human operators and examiners with machines. What a lunacy this is!

It’s easy to see why Battistelli attacks staff that speaks out, notably staff representatives. These people are seeing the writings on the wall and speak to colleagues about it. The latest attack on staff (blaming everything on them, especially the senior ones) reinforces the belief that the EPO will replace highly-specialised examiners with junior workers (or rubberstampers) on short-term contracts and no lucrative benefits that are necessary to attract true talent (the EPO is no longer an attractive employer).

“It’s easy to see why Battistelli attacks staff that speaks out, notably staff representatives. These people are seeing the writings on the wall and speak to colleagues about it.”The so-called ‘social study’ will be the subject of future posts of ours. “There seem to be some interesting discrepancies between the “Social Study” and “OHSRA”,” one reader told us. Prepare for some major debunking of the EPO’s management with its talking point for next month's conference. Given the spending waste of over a millions Euros per year on PR, expect some media to repeat the lies as early as next week (starting tomorrow). Managing IP is already coordinating with the EPO a release of a bogus ‘interview’ with Battistelli (part 2), in which he will be allowed to spread his latest misinformation (which he himself commissioned with EPO budget). Managing IP is generally regarded as somewhat of an EPO mouthpiece these days.

“Battistelli has put the EPO on a euthanasia plan.”Putting aside the so-called ‘social study’ and conference (actually lobbying the Administrative Council just before an important meeting where social climate is on the agenda), let’s not forget that EPO managers “harass, attack/charge methodically their victims on Fridays and/or on their birthdays or before holidays,” as one insider told us last night. Let’s also not forget that they lie about their mistreatment of these people, they allegedly make “demonstrably fabricated accusations,” (we saw that in Munich and now it’s happening in The Hague) and they presently witch-hunt representatives in virtually all branches including Berlin (even the President of SUEPO Central was warned). No wonder SUEPO’s Web site has not been updated for nearly a fortnight now! Nothing but silence…

“EPO staff is rightly concerned and unless Battistelli and his cronies drop their agenda immediately (the UPC is already failing for them), everyone in Europe will suffer, not just EPO staff.”One might hesitantly say that union-busting agenda is intended to set the tone or prepare the ground for appalling ‘reforms’, such as layoffs. The EPO is unable to hire talent, and even after lowering the employment requirements the hiring is far too slow and members of the recruitment team are leaving (high staff turnover). We saw reports about it and the numbers speak for themselves. Battistelli has put the EPO on a euthanasia plan. Those who don’t leave or retire early will be increasingly — more and more over time — be pushed out or face growing demands that are not fulfillable. It’s like they were set up to fail, so that Team Battistelli can replace them with low-wage, obedient staff that are on limited contract, making them disposable and without pension liabilities. It does not make fiscal sense for Europe, but maybe it makes fiscal sense to Battistelli and large corporations that wish to amass tens of thousands of patents (each!) in Europe. They just want another USPTO.

The next post will present more facts supportive of what was stated above. EPO staff is rightly concerned and unless Battistelli and his cronies drop their agenda immediately (the UPC is already failing for them), everyone in Europe will suffer, not just EPO staff.

Patents Roundup: Accenture Software Patents, Patent Troll Against Apple, Willful Infringements, and Apple Against a Software Patent

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Patents at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A quick look at various new articles of interest (about software patents) and what can be deduced from them, especially now that software patents are the primary barrier to Free/Libre Open Source software adoption

THE previous post spoke about misleading coverage which would have us believe there’s a software patents rebound in the US. There is none of that, it’s just wishful thinking.

According to this new Slashdot post, linking to a report already mentioned in our daily links, in spite of the huge number of payment technology software patents being crushed (about 90% of them!), Accenture (somewhat of an evil and manipulative Microsoft ‘proxy’ in the UK) rushes for software patents in that area. As we noted here a few months ago, patents in this area are a growing cause for concern because they can undermine innovation. Things like Bitcoin and even Free/Libre Open Source software are affected profoundly. It’s not necessarily companies like Accenture and Microsoft that sue, but Microsoft has many patent trolls out there. Those trolls are no longer just a problem in the US; even in east Asia’s markets they are a growing problem or an epidemic (patent trolls spread there and there are new reports to that effect from publications that deny the existence of patent trolls).

Speaking of patent trolls, Joe Mullin has this new article about the latest moves from Mr. Horn. He summarised that as “Company backed by Nokia, Sony, and MPEG-LA gets a $3M verdict.” MPEG-LA is a massive obstruction to Free/Libre Open Source software, for reasons we covered here many times over the years.

“MPEG-LA is a massive obstruction to Free/Libre Open Source software, for reasons we covered here many times over the years.”Times are rough for those who develop software whenever software patents maintain some potency and patent trolls have an incentive to sue, not just to threaten. According to last week’s post from Patently-O the “patent act authorizes district court to award enhanced damages.” But only if you actually read patents, so don’t. Willful infringement can induce further penalties. To quote Patently-O regarding Halo [1, 2]:

The patent act authorizes district court to award enhanced damages. 35 U.S.C. 284 (“the court may increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed”). In Halo v. Pulse, the Supreme Court held that the statute grants district courts discretion in awarding enhanced damages – although noting that the punitive damages should ordinarily be limited to egregious infringement – “typified by willful infringement.” In rejecting the Federal Circuit’s Seagate test, the Court held proof of “subjective willfulness” is sufficient to prove egregious infringement. “The subjective willfulness of a patent infringer, intentional or knowing, may warrant enhanced damages, without regard to whether his infringement was objectively reckless.” Halo at 1933. As with other punitive damage regimes – proof sufficient for an award does not necessitate such an award. In patent cases, punitive damages remain within the discretion of the district court even after sufficient evidence establish the egregious behavior.

Another interesting article from Patently-O speaks about obviousness and prior art, along the lines stating that:

In response to being sued for patent infringement, Apple filed for inter partes reexamination of ClassCo’s Patent No. 6,970,695. That litigation (originally filed in 2011) has been stayed pending the resolution here. Although the patent had survived a prior reexamination, this time the Examiner rejected the majority of the patent claims as obvious; the PTAB affirmed those rejections; and the Federal Circuit has now re-affirmed.

The patent relates to a “caller announcement” system that uses a phone’s speaker (rather than screen or separate speaker) to announce caller identity information. The system includes a “memory storage” that stores identify information being announced.

The examiner identified the prior art as U.S. Patent No. 4,894,861 (Fujioka) that teaches all of the claimed elements (of representative claim 2) except for use of the phone’s regular audio speaker (rather than a separate speaker) to announce a caller’s identity (claimed as the “audio transducer”). A second prior art reference was then identified as U.S. Patent No. 5,199,064 (Gulick) that taught the use of the audio transducer for providing a variety of call related alerts.

What’s interesting here is that Apple, which uses software patents against rivals (including against Linux/Android), suddenly fancies invalidating one. Had there been no software patents, none of this mess would be necessary. Moreover, no money would flow into the pockets of patent law firms at the expense of developers and people who purchase products.

Software Patents Propped Up by Patent Law Firms That Are Lying, Further Assisted by Rogue Elements Like David Kappos and Randall Rader (Revolving Doors)

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s not alleged infringers who resort to foul play but those who game the system to classify everyone and everything “infringer” (so as to tax everyone and everything)

Randall R. Rader
Photo from Reuters

Summary: The sheer dishonesty of the patent microcosm (seeking to bring back software patents by misleading the public) and those who are helping this microcosm change the system from the inside, owing to intimate connections from their dubious days inside government

“The district court found all of Sprint’s asserted claims invalid as indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 2.”

This is one among various new stories which speak of the tightening of patent scope in the USPTO or outside of it, i.e. the kind of stories that patent law firms don’t want the public to see. It’s not good for lawyers’ business. The stories patent lawyers refuse to cover are notably stories where CAFC smashes software patents to pieces with Alice (or §101) as the basis (it happens almost all the time). How can they overlook so many cases which involve either PTAB or the courts? Are they that biased and dishonest? Yes, apparently they are. Here is another case covered this past week by Patently-O. It says that CAFC “affirms that Affinity’s challenged claims invalid as directed to an abstract idea. when “stripped of excess claim verbiage”, Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,970,379 “is directed to a broadcast system in which a cellular telephone located outside the range of a regional broadcaster (1) requests and receives network-based content from the broadcaster via a streaming signal, (2) is configured to wirelessly download an application for performing those functions, and (3) contains a display that allows the user to select particular content.” Slip opinion.”

“Even today, on a weekend, McRO still pops up in news feeds.”A few articles that we mentioned before, e.g. [1, 2], continue to resurface in news feeds along with others (new ones [1, 2, 3, 4]), serving to distract from cases like the above. The patent microcosm in the US is still trying to resurrect software patents and misleading or selective coverage seems to have become the means, as was the case earlier this year with Enfish. The cherry-picking involves even two patent lawyers at Watchtroll — a site which blasts the UN for what it calls an “Attack on Patents”, dubbing the UN’s report “fundamentally flawed” because it’s not good for maximalists. We’re not sure whether to laugh or cry because in the eyes of these people patent scope is just a nuisance or a travesty, rather than the thing which serves to legitimise the patent system and sometimes even protect investment in research (not the case when it comes to particular domains). At the middle of the month we said that software patenting proponents can go on for weeks milking McRO [1, 2] and this is exactly what is still happening (for nearly a fortnight now). Even today, on a weekend, McRO still pops up in news feeds. Why just McRO and why not the many other CAFC cases which deemed software patents invalid? That’s part of their propaganda tactics. It’s sad and we challenge anyone out there to prove that it’s untrue.

“Just more wishful thinking from patent maximalists looking for the right moment to stack statistics and issue some self-serving, deceiving statements.”A patent attorney who promotes software patents (and confronted yours truly on the subject before hiding behind a block) relies on small sample set of just 4 (yes, four!) to lie about the status quo. The other day he wrote: “Over the past 2 weeks, District Courts have denied motions to dismiss patent infringement cases based on 101/Alice 3X and granted 1X.”

Based on that tiny sample set he said: “We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the patent slaughter by Alice. It will take awhile for the USPTO to catch up.”

Are these patents (on software) coming back? Not by a long shot. Just more wishful thinking from patent maximalists looking for the right moment to stack statistics and issue some self-serving, deceiving statements. Same as Team UPC (see proponents of the UPC having a go again this weekend, e.g. in the IP Kat‘s comments [1, 2, 3], copying in their Google Plus posts into IP Kat while repeating the old tired talking points).

“They hope to attract more business, i.e. patent applications, litigation, etc.”The patent microcosm (both in the EU and the US) continues to lobby for its own interests and lies about all sorts of things. This leads us to the assumption that patent lawyers can be dishonest to the extreme and that their assessments of the status quo are more like shameless self-promotion, not objective advice. They pretend not to see what they prefer not to see. They are not helping clients, they are misleading them. They hope to attract more business, i.e. patent applications, litigation, etc.

The McRO hype one sees in the media this month is in vain; it was the same with Enfish. It barely changed anything at all. Even proponents of software patents (for many years now) — those who do not necessarily gain financially from them (as they just write about the topic) — go with the headline “Despite the CAFC’s recent 101 decisions don’t expect a deal frenzy or rapid rises in patent values”. To quote this article from the end of last week:

Over the summer, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued three decisions in software patent cases which, collectively have resolved some of the questions hanging over just what is eligible for patent protection. The most recent decision, McRO (dba Planet) v Bandai Namco Games America which was issued last week, has made arguably the biggest impression on the patent-owning community. Microsoft’s IP head Erich Andersen declared in a blog post that the decision “strengthened the law related to software patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act”.

Now bear in mind that’s what IAM says. It is typically amplifying Microsoft and their former ‘IP’ people (heck, their entire online system is heavily/purely Microsoft-based, which is rather unusual in this area of computing). Even IAM does not believe that McRO is going to change much. Regarding the person they cite, we have mentioned the above from Erich Andersen at least thrice since the McRO decision, noting that it proves just how much Microsoft pushes for software patents (even paying a lobbyist, David Kappos, for this purpose). Has David Kappos already registered as a corporate lobbyist? If not, he should. It would embarrass the USPTO for sure, but disclosure requirements for public officials are imperative. Is the USPTO’s pension plan so appalling that former officials need to turn into lobbyists for money (corrupting influence)?

“Even IAM does not believe that McRO is going to change much.”Speaking of corrupting influence, Randall Rader, the corrupt CAFC judge (we wrote about it before), joins the industry after he left (or was ejected) in disgrace. Systemic corruption doesn’t get any worse than this…

Here is what IAM wrote about the subject:

It’s all happening at China’s latest high-tech darling LeEco – one of the country’s fastest growing brands. Recently, it has pulled off a series of apparent coups as it continues to shore up its IP credentials ahead of expansion at home and abroad. But it also seems that one high-profile name has left the company after a matter of months.

Randall Rader, former chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and one of the world’s most renowned IP jurists, signed a “strategic cooperative agreement” with LeEco while visiting the company’s headquarters in Beijing, according to a report yesterday from Beijing-based IP agents firm Sanyou.

Speaking to IAM, a spokesperson for LeEco’s IP department confirmed that Rader will be formally collaborating with the firm, but could not give further details; so, we’ll have to wait for more information on his role. When Rader quit the CAFC back in June 2014, China, and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly, featured significantly in his post-retirement plans. What exactly he will bring to the company isn’t clear. Perhaps his participation points to a belief on the part of LeEco management that they could potentially be involved in a lot of litigation once they enter the US market in earnest. Alternatively (or additionally), Rader is well-known as an IP teacher, so could be working with LeEco IP personnel to bring them up to speed with key international issues and doing in-depth training.

Recall articles of ours like "The Corrupt Judge Rader (of CAFC) Still Pursuing Bad (More Aggressive) Patent System in the US" and "Judge Randall Rader Redefines “Patent Troll”". Expect to hear more about this scandalous figure in years to come, this time due to his capacity inside the private sector (like revolving doors).

Links 25/9/2016: Linux 4.7.5, 4.4.22; LXQt 0.11

Posted in News Roundup at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 Top Open Source Artificial Intelligence Tools for Linux

    In this post, we shall cover a few of the top, open-source artificial intelligence (AI) tools for the Linux ecosystem. Currently, AI is one of the ever advancing fields in science and technology, with a major focus geared towards building software and hardware to solve every day life challenges in areas such as health care, education, security, manufacturing, banking and so much more.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • This Week In Servo 78

        Our overall roadmap is available online and now includes the initial Q3 plans. From now on, we plan to include the quarterly plan with a high-level breakdown in the roadmap page.

      • Firefox 49 Release: Find out what is new

        Firefox 49.0 is the next major stable release of the web browser. Firefox 48.0.2 and earlier versions of Firefox can be updated to the new release.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • A short critique of Stallmanism

      I like Stallman and tend to agree with him often: regarding software, or other politics. This article tries to constructively criticize some parts of the free software movement’s ideology, which I collectively refer to as “Stallmanism” (only as pun). It is not an attempt at a personal attack on Stallman, and by reading further you will probably see my politics are very far from that: I coined the term Stallmanism simply because he is at the center of the movement and himself a primary source of the ideas I am critiquing.

    • Libreboot Drama Continues, GNU Might Keep The Project

      It’s been one week since the Libreboot downstream of Coreboot announced it would leave the GNU and denounced the FSF over supposedly a transgendered individual having been fired by the this free software group. Both Richard Stallman and the FSF denounced these claims made by Libreboot maintainer Leah Rowe. Since then, no actual proof has been presented to back up these claims by the Libreboot maintainer but the drama around it has seemingly continued.

      Waking up this morning, I received an email as part of a long email chain from Leah Rowe about how the “GNU project refuses to let go of libreboot” and she wrote, “GNU project has told me that they will not allow libreboot to leave GNU. This is quite possibly the biggest insult imaginable, considering what has happened.”

    • Libreboot lead developer masks FSF Employee’s disendorsement as “typofix”

      ELI5: Leah Rowe made this commit to the Libreboot website earlier today with the comment “typofix”. In fact, it was more than a typo-fix as it shows that the FSF employee either no longer or never did give permission for the opposition against the FSF.

    • Richard Stallman and GNU refused to let libreboot go, despite stating its intention to leave

      Leah Rowe is still libreboot’s maintainer, and the GNU project has zero right to keep libreboot under its umbrella. If the maintainer of a GNU project steps down without intending for that project to leave GNU, then fine. But if a maintainer stays on as that projects maintainer while stating the projects intention to leave GNU, then GNU should honour that request.

    • GDB Continues Improving, libstdc++ Is Doing Well On C++17 & More

      At the GNU Tools Cauldron earlier this month in the UK there was a presentation on forthcoming improvements to the GNU Tools, presented by Nick Clifton as part of the Red Hat Tools Team.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Can Justin Trudeau Fix Canada’s Broken Government IT System?

      During a March hearing before the House of Commons Government Operations Committee, there was a telling exchange between an official of Shared Services Canada (SSC)–the department that manages the Canadian federal government’s IT–and rookie MP David Graham. Graham wanted to know what percentage of SSC’s data centres and servers ran on Linux or other similar source software. Patrice Rondeau, the SSC official, replied that “approximately 15 percent are running Linux.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Oracle tries playing nice with Java EE rebels

      With Oracle now trying to get back on track with advancing enterprise Java, the company is seeking rapprochement with factions that had sought to advance the platform on their own. The two groups involved are mostly amenable to patching up the relationship.

      Oracle’s Anil Gaur, group vice president of engineering, said this week he had already been in touch with some of the concerned parties. The two factions include Java EE Guardians, led by former Oracle Java EE evangelist Reza Rahman, and Microprofile.io, which has included participation from Red Hat and IBM.

Leftovers

  • Facebook reveals new measurement tools and ad options for retailers

    With Facebook growing its advertising revenue 63 percent in the second quarter, the social giant is always looking for new ways to tailor ads to retailers and new measurement partners. Two announcements Tuesday and Wednesday are about expanding return on investment, while also making it easier for advertisers to measure that return.

    On Wednesday, Facebook announced five new measurement products with as many different partners. These are designed to allow marketers to work with the independent third parties they’re already familiar with, while Facebook addresses concerns that it has been a “walled garden” when it comes to data.

  • People Aren’t Watching Facebook Videos as Much as Facebook Said

    Over the past year, both media companies and advertisers have invested an enormous amount of money, labor, and time in Facebook’s video products.

    You can see evidence throughout the industry. It’s not just the auto-playing Donald Trump campaign ads that clog your News Feed (or, at least, which clog mine). In August, BuzzFeed restructured its organization so that video oversees most non-news divisions. In April, Mashable laid off about 24 writers and editors so it could make a “strategic shift” to video. Media analysts (including myself) began comparing where audiences spend their time to where advertisers spent their dollars. We suggested that soon mobile video could erode the entire television ad market.

    As of this morning, mobile still reigns. American consumers spend about 25 percent of their time on mobile phones (and a huge amount of that time on Facebook), but advertisers only spend about 12 percent of their budgets there.

  • Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric for Two Years

    Big ad buyers and marketers are upset with Facebook Inc. after learning the tech giant vastly overestimated average viewing time for video ads on its platform for two years, according to people familiar with the situation.

    Several weeks ago, Facebook disclosed in a post on its “Advertiser Help Center” that its metric for the average time users spent watching videos was artificially inflated because it was only factoring in video views of more than three seconds. The company said it was introducing a new metric to fix the problem.

    Some ad agency executives who were also informed by Facebook about the change started digging deeper, prompting Facebook to give them a more detailed account, one of the people familiar with the situation said.

    Ad buying agency Publicis Media was told by Facebook that the earlier counting method likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 80%, according to a late August letter Publicis Media sent to clients that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

  • Journalists Blaming Facebook For Decline Is Just As Tiresome As When They Blamed Craigslist & Google

    A few notes on some of the above links. The “study” that is cited in some of the first batch about how Craigslist is “killing” newspapers was from the Pew Research Center — the very same research shop that Greenslade points to in the link up at the top of this article blaming Facebook. Second, that first article in the second list, about Bob Woodward blaming Google… is also by Greenslade. Yet, in that case, Greenslade mocks Woodward for blaming Google (and very kindly provides a link to me mocking Woodward’s silly claims.

    So let’s get a few things out of the way here: Newspapers are struggling. They absolutely are. But it’s not “because” of Facebook (or Craigslist or Google). Newspapers were going to struggle with the rise of the internet no matter what, because it laid bare the basic coincidence that made newspapers profitable despite themselves. For many, many years, we’ve been pointing out that the true business of newspapers was a community business, rather than a news business. It’s just that in the pre-internet days, newspapers had a bit of a monopoly on being able to build communities — often local communities — around the news. But they had very little competition in that business, other than maybe a few other local newspapers (though consolidation took care of that in most markets). The business, then, of newspapers was taking the attention they received from that community, and selling it to advertisers.

    The internet structurally changed all of this, by creating all sorts of other areas where people could congregate and build communities. That’s kind of what the internet is good at. And suddenly there’s a ton of competition in the community space. But newspapers, incorrectly thinking they were in the “news” business, often made decisions that actively harmed the community aspect. They put up paywalls. They took away the ability to comment. They made it harder for local communities of interest to form.

    So what happened? The communities and their (valuable) attention went elsewhere. And, these days, much of that “elsewhere” when it comes to communities is Facebook.

    And, just like Google before it, Facebook has actually created a pretty valuable channel for sending people to your news website. Many publishers haven’t figured this out yet — or how to harness it. Hell, just a month or so ago, I was talking about how we here at Techdirt haven’t figured this out at all (we get depressingly little traffic from Facebook compared to many of our peers). But you won’t see us blaming Facebook for this. It’s on us. Have our ad rates dropped off a cliff? Yes. Is that Facebook’s fault? Hell no. Even if all the advertising money that used to go to newspapers and news sites magically shifted to Facebook (which it hasn’t), then it would be because of a failure on the part of those news companies to offer a better overall product for advertisers.

    It’s time for publications to stop blaming every new technology site that comes along, and to focus on actually adapting, changing and finding new business models that work. It may not be easy. And many will crash and burn completely. But that’s not the “fault” of these new companies at all.

  • Facebook launches first nationwide voter registration drive

    Facebook wants you to get out to vote.

    On Friday, Facebook users in the U.S. who are 18 and up will receive a reminder to register to vote at the top of their News Feed.

    The voter registration drive, Facebook’s first to roll out nationwide, is tapping the power of social media to influence millions of people and their friends, especially young people who are less likely to turn out. The reminder will be sent out over the next four days, Facebook said.

    Clicking on the “Register Now” button sends voters to the federal government’s vote.USA.gov which guides them through the registration process in their state. After registering to vote, users can share their status, a subtle form of social pressure for friends to perform their civic duty, too.

  • Microsoftter? Twoogle? Tech firms reportedly line-up to buy social network

    BAKE-OFF FORUM Twitter is being eyed up by a number of potential buyers, according to reports, including Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Verizon.

    CNBC has the scoop, having heard from sources close to the social network that Twitter is in discussions with several tech giants as it attempts to secure the best deal for investors.

    A sale would not be a huge surprise as Twitter has been in the doldrums for some time and has struggled to monetise the platform in the same way as Facebook. User growth has slowed, which has made advertisers less keen on the platform as its reach is far below that of others.

  • Microsoft shuts down Skype office in London as it develops yet another client

    Microsoft is closing the London office that was home to part of its Skype development, causing the loss of 220 jobs. A further 300 people are losing their jobs in Redmond as Microsoft makes cuts that were previously announced in July.

  • Science

    • Panel On The Right To Scientific Progress And Freedom For Scientific Research

      Scientists, national and United Nations representatives, academia and civil society this week explored and elaborated on the right to enjoy scientific progress and the freedom which is indispensable for scientific research. The right was placed in the context of today’s global challenges and scientists presented the latest examples of their research, in which human rights related to freedom of scientific research could be applied. The panel set out promote systematic dialogue to foster an understanding of the right and of what is being advanced.

      The World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research, a forum to foster dialogue between scientists and politicians, and the Associazione Luca Coscioni held the panel, chaired by the association’s representative Marco Cappato at the United Nations in Geneva.

      [...]

      He said “pharmaceutical companies which have so much cash asset can also support, not only in terms of taking money from the patient for drugs, but also to give something back to the whole society by spending money to make sure that hospital personnel is paid in the right way and that they are not suffering depression,” for example.

      “We need to have a paradigm change,” he said, “so the pharma industry, clearly has to be seen, not as a cost factor, they have to come into the game also as somebody which delivers something to society.”

    • Cut-throat academia leads to ‘natural selection of bad science’, claims study

      Getting stuff right is normally regarded as science’s central aim. But a new analysis has raised the existential spectre that universities, laboratory chiefs and academic journals are contributing to the “natural selection of bad science”.

      To thrive in the cut-throat world of academia, scientists are incentivised to publish surprising findings frequently, the study suggests – despite the risk that such findings are “most likely to be wrong”.

      Paul Smaldino, a cognitive scientist who led the work at the University of California, Merced, said: “As long as the incentives are in place that reward publishing novel, surprising results, often and in high-visibility journals above other, more nuanced aspects of science, shoddy practices that maximise one’s ability to do so will run rampant.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Europe Dominates List Of Candidates For Next WHO Director

      The World Health Organization today released the list of candidates to be the next director general of the UN health agency in Geneva. Of the six candidates, four are from the European region.

    • State’s cowardly act: Changing the rules for Flint

      Punitive. Self-serving. Cowardly.

      There’s no other way to describe the latest revelation about the State of Michigan’s unprecedented and irresponsible actions concerning the City of Flint: that this spring — at the direction of Gov. Rick Snyder, and with the support of GOP legislators — the state barred the city from suing it, without approval by a state-appointed board.

      In practice, that means the city can’t sue the state. And that means the City of Flint, on behalf of its citizen-taxpayer residents, can’t seek redress of its grievances against the State of Michigan through the courts — a protection conferred by the U.S. Constitution.

    • After court threat, state of Michigan removed Flint’s power to sue

      Days after Flint Mayor Karen Weaver served notice that her city might file a lawsuit against the State of Michigan over the Flint drinking water crisis, the state removed Flint’s ability to sue.

      Though Flint has not been under a state-appointed emergency manager since April 2015, the state still exerts partial control over the city through a five-member Receivership Transition Advisory Board, whose members are appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

      The board moved quickly to change the rules under which Flint is governed so that the city cannot file a lawsuit without first getting approval from that state-appointed board.

      In other words, Flint cannot sue the state without getting the state to sign off on it first.

    • State yanked Flint ability to sue after water lawsuit threat, report says

      A state-appointed board removed the city’s ability to sue following the threat of a lawsuit, the Detroit Free Press reported.

      After Mayor Karen Weaver sent notice that the city could file a lawsuit in connection to the Flint water crisis, the Reciever Transition Advisory Board changed governance rules and forced city officials to first get RTAB approval before entering litigation, the Free Press reported.

      Weaver filed a notice of intent to sue the state in March, the Free Press reported, and at the time Flint officials said they didn’t plan to sue the state, but needed to take action to reserve the city’s rights.

      Gov. Rick Snyder and House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, asked Flint to withdraw the notice, according to the report, but Flint did not.

      Eight state employees have been charged with crimes in connection to the drinking water crisis here.

    • Doctor Confesses: I Lied to Protect Colleague in Malpractice Suit

      Almost two decades ago Dr. Lars Aanning sat on the witness stand in a medical malpractice trial and faced a dilemma.

      The South Dakota surgeon had been called to vouch for the expertise of one of his partners whose patient had suffered a stroke and permanent disability after an operation. The problem was Aanning had, in his own mind, questioned his colleague’s skill. His partner’s patients had suffered injuries related to his procedures. But Aanning understood why his partner’s attorney had called him as a witness: Doctors don’t squeal on doctors.

      The attorney asked the key question: Did Aanning know of any time his partner’s work had been substandard?

      “No, never,” Aanning said.

      Now, Aanning, in a stunning admission for a medical professional, has a blunter answer: “I lied.”

      While it’s impossible to know to what extent Aanning’s testimony influenced the outcome, the jury sided in favor of his colleague — and, ever since, Aanning said, he has felt haunted by his decision. Now, 77 and retired, he decided to write about his choice and why he made it in a recent column for his local newspaper, The Yankton County Observer. He also posted the article in the ProPublica Patient Safety Facebook group. Aanning, who is a member, called it, “A Surgeon’s Belated Confession.”

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Impending cumulative updates unnerve Windows patch experts

      Microsoft’s decision to force Windows 10′s patch and maintenance model on customers running the older-but-more-popular Windows 7 has patch experts nervous.

      “Bottom line, everyone is holding their breath, hoping for the best, expecting the worst,” said Susan Bradley in an email. Bradley is well known in Windows circles for her expertise on Microsoft’s patching processes: She writes on the topic for the Windows Secrets newsletter and moderates the PatchMangement.org mailing list, where business IT administrators discuss update tradecraft.

    • Yahoo is sued for gross negligence over huge hacking

      Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) was sued on Friday by a user who accused it of gross negligence over a massive 2014 hacking in which information was stolen from at least 500 million accounts.

      The lawsuit was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, one day after Yahoo disclosed the hacking, unprecedented in size, by what it believed was a “state-sponsored actor.”

      Ronald Schwartz, a New York resident, sued on behalf of all Yahoo users in the United States whose personal information was compromised. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and unspecified damages.

      A Yahoo spokeswoman said the Sunnyvale, California-based company does not discuss pending litigation.

    • Yahoo faces questions after hack of half a billion accounts

      Yahoo’s admission that the personal data of half a billion users has been stolen by “state-sponsored” hackers leaves pressing questions unanswered, according to security researchers.

      Details, including names, email addresses, phone numbers and security questions were taken from the company’s network in late 2014. Passwords were also taken, but in a “hashed” form, which prevents them from being immediately re-used, and the company believes that financial information held with it remains safe.

    • Krebs Goes Down, Opera Gets a VPN & More…

      Krebs on Security in record DDOS attack: Everybody’s go-to site for news and views of security issues, has been temporarily knocked offline in a DDOS attack for the record books. We first heard about the attack on Thursday morning after Brian Krebs reported that his site was being hit by as much as 620 Gbs, more than double the previous record which was considered to be a mind-blower back in 2013 when the anti-spam site Spamhaus was brought to its knees.

      Security sites such as Krebs’ that perform investigative research into security issues are often targets of the bad guys. In this latest case, Ars Technica reported the attack came after Krebs published the identity of people connected with vDOS, Israeli black hats who launched DDOS attacks for pay and took in $600,000 in two years doing so. Akamai had been donating DDoS mitigation services to Krebs, but by 4 p.m. on the day the attack began they withdrew the service, motivated by the high cost of defending against such a massive attack. At this point, Krebs decided to shut down his site.

    • Upgrade your SSH keys!

      When generating the keypair, you’re asked for a passphrase to encrypt the private key with. If you will ever lose your private key it should protect others from impersonating you because it will be encrypted with the passphrase. To actually prevent this, one should make sure to prevent easy brute-forcing of the passphrase.

      OpenSSH key generator offers two options to resistance to brute-force password cracking: using the new OpenSSH key format and increasing the amount of key derivation function rounds. It slows down the process of unlocking the key, but this is what prevents efficient brute-forcing by a malicious user too. I’d say experiment with the amount of rounds on your system. Start at about 100 rounds. On my system it takes about one second to decrypt and load the key once per day using an agent. Very much acceptable, imo.

    • Irssi 0.8.20 Released
    • What It Costs to Run Let’s Encrypt

      Today we’d like to explain what it costs to run Let’s Encrypt. We’re doing this because we strive to be a transparent organization, we want people to have some context for their contributions to the project, and because it’s interesting.

      Let’s Encrypt will require about $2.9M USD to operate in 2017. We believe this is an incredible value for a secure and reliable service that is capable of issuing certificates globally, to every server on the Web free of charge.

      We’re currently working to raise the money we need to operate through the next year. Please consider donating or becoming a sponsor if you’re able to do so! In the event that we end up being able to raise more money than we need to just keep Let’s Encrypt running we can look into adding other services to improve access to a more secure and privacy-respecting Web.

    • North Korean DNS Leak reveals North Korean websites

      One of North Korea’s top level DNS servers was mis-configured today (20th September 2016) accidentally allowing global DNS zone transfers. This allowed anyone who makes a zone transfer request (AXFR) to retrieve a copy of the nation’s top level DNS data.

      [...]

      This data showed there are 28 domains configured inside North Korea, here is the list:

      airkoryo.com.kp
      cooks.org.kp
      friend.com.kp
      gnu.rep.kp
      kass.org.kp
      kcna.kp
      kiyctc.com.kp
      knic.com.kp
      koredufund.org.kp
      korelcfund.org.kp
      korfilm.com.kp
      ma.gov.kp
      masikryong.com.kp
      naenara.com.kp
      nta.gov.kp
      portal.net.kp
      rcc.net.kp
      rep.kp
      rodong.rep.kp
      ryongnamsan.edu.kp
      sdprk.org.kp
      silibank.net.kp
      star-co.net.kp
      star-di.net.kp
      star.co.kp
      star.edu.kp
      star.net.kp
      vok.rep.kp

    • Yahoo’s Three Hacks

      As a number of outlets have reported, Yahoo has announced that 500 million of its users’ accounts got hacked in 2014 by a suspected state actor.

      But that massive hack is actually one of three interesting hacks of Yahoo in recent years.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • 40 Years Ago, This Chilean Exile Warned Us About the Shock Doctrine. Then He Was Assassinated.

      In August 1976, The Nation published an essay that rocked the US political establishment, both for what it said and for who was saying it. “The ‘Chicago Boys’ in Chile: Economic ‘Freedom’s’ Awful Toll” was written by Orlando Letelier, the former right-hand man of Chilean President Salvador Allende. Earlier in the decade, Allende had appointed Letelier to a series of top-level positions in his democratically elected socialist government: ambassador to the United States (where he negotiated the terms of nationalization for several US-owned firms operating in Chile), minister of foreign affairs, and, finally, minister of defense.

      [...]

      After a powerful international campaign lobbied for Letelier’s release, the junta finally allowed him to go into exile. The 44-year-old former ambassador moved to Washington, DC; in 1976, when his Nation essay appeared, he was working at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a left-wing think tank. Haunted by thoughts of his colleagues and friends still behind bars, many facing gruesome torture, Letelier used his newly recovered freedom to expose Pinochet’s crimes and to defend 
Allende’s record against the CIA propaganda machine.

    • Mario Murillo on Colombian Accord, Kevin Miller on Gender Wage Gap

      This week on CounterSpin: After more than a half century of bloody conflict that saw more than 200,000 mostly poor civilians killed, Colombia has a chance at a peace accord between the government and the FARC, the region’s oldest insurgent movement. You aren’t hearing too much about it in the press; we’ll get more from Mario Murillo, author of Colombia and the United States: War, Unrest and Destabilization.

    • Communal tension in Coimbatore after young Hindu Munnani leader hacked to death.

      A 36-year-old Hindu Munnani functionary was hacked to death by a four-member gang here, leading to tension in the district and neighboring Tirupur with the outfit calling for a bandh on Friday.

      C Sasikumar, district spokesperson of the organization, was returning home in Subramaniampalayam, in the outskirts, on a two-wheeler when the suspected Jihadi assailants chased him on motorcycles and attacked him with sickles late last night.

    • Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress

      Lawmakers in both parties are growing more skeptical of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia.

      This week, 27 senators — three Republicans and 24 Democrats — voted against a $1.15 billion arms sale to the country. That wasn’t enough to block it, but it was more votes against the deal than observers expected.

      “You are seeing more willingness to challenge the nature of the relationship, and I think that’s positive,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the leaders of the effort to block the arms sale. “Alliances go both ways. If you’re partner is doing things that aren’t in your interest, then you need to reserve the ability to start questioning your participation in that alliance.”

      Before now, President Obama had been seen as taking a lonely stance as the Saudi skeptic-in-chief.

      Obama angered Saudi Arabia earlier this year in an interview with The Atlantic when he referred to the country as “free riders” and suggested it is too focused on its rivalry with Iran at the expense of broader regional stability.

      Lawmakers repeatedly slammed Obama for turning his back on Saudi Arabia as he pursued the nuclear deal with Iran, the country’s traditional foe.

      But the roles have now reversed. Obama on Friday vetoed a bill that would allow families of the 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government in court. Obama argued the bill undermine sovereign immunity and open up U.S. diplomats and military service members to legal action overseas.

    • LAVROV MAKES HISTORY: ‘Ceasefires’ were bogus, nixes future ‘unilateral measures’ [VIDEO]

      Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov made history today at the UN’s meeting of the Security Council, declaring that future unilateral pauses couched as ‘ceasefire agreements’ are off the table. He has skillfully referred to the mounting factual evidence of the US’s continued flagrant violations on any number of points of agreement over the course of this conflict.

    • How US Propaganda Plays in Syrian War

      Manipulation of public perception has risen to a new level with the emergence of powerful social media. Multibillion-dollar corporate giants, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, influence public perceptions, often via payments for “boosting” Facebook posts, paid promotion of Tweets, and biased results from search engines.

      Marketing and advertising companies use social media to promote their clients, but so do U.S. foreign policy managers who hire or enlist these companies to influence public perceptions to support U.S. foreign policy goals.

    • Another Kerry Rush to Judgment on Syria

      Secretary of State John Kerry has engaged in another rush to judgment blaming the Russians for an attack on a United Nations relief convoy in Syria before any thorough investigation could be conducted and thus prejudicing whatever might follow, as he did with the Syrian sarin case in 2013 and the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

      Eager to go on the propaganda offensive – especially after a U.S. military airstrike last Saturday killed scores of Syrian soldiers who were battling the Islamic State in eastern Syria – Kerry pounced on an initial report that the attack on the convoy on Monday was an airstrike and then insisted that the Russians must have been responsible because one of their jets was supposedly in the area.

    • Turkey and the Kurdish Quandary

      Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will continue until “the very last rebel is killed.” What is puzzling about this statement is that after more than 30 years of violence that has claimed the lives of over 40,000 Turks and Kurds, Erdogan still believes he can solve the conflict through brutal force.

      But he is fundamentally mistaken, as the Kurds’ long historical struggle is embedded in their psyche and provides the momentum for their quest for semi-autonomy that will endure until a mutually accepted solution is found through peaceful negotiations. To understand the Kurds’ mindset, Erdogan will do well to revisit, however cursorily, their history and the hardship they have experienced since the end of World War I.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dakota Access Blackout Continues on ABC, NBC News

      The Sacred Stone Camp established by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota has brought together thousands of demonstrators in opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile conduit designed to carry some 200 million barrels of crude oil per year from fracking fields in North Dakota to Southern Illinois. An unprecedented coalition of hundreds of Native American tribes has faced down attack dogs and pepper spray in defense of sacred and historic sites, irreplaceable water resources and the planet’s climate.

      The action has won the support of environmental groups, some labor activists and numerous celebrities, and has halted pipeline construction at least temporarily. The Obama administration issued a statement calling for a work stoppage and saying, “This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”

      Nevertheless, to this day, ABC News and NBC News have yet to broadcast a word about the pipeline struggle, according to searches of the Nexis news database.

    • Drone video from independent investigation exposes illegal of 3000 hectares

      A drone video captured the extent of burnt oil palms and the clearing of land in the western region of Indonesia. The burning of land is believed to be the cause of the haze that has blanketed Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia every year.

      The drone’s launch was part of an investigation by Eyes on the Forest Indonesia (EOF), a coalition of three environment groups which was established in 2004 to study the recurring forest fires.

      According to EOF, the video gave proof that 3,000 hectares of land allegedly owned by plantation company Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) were ‘deliberately burned’.

      The video can be used as an additional evidence against the company, which is facingcharges of land grabbing and operating without a proper license.

    • Climate change is not a problem for 2100, it’s here now

      It was not just at the Olympics that records were broken during the summer just past. July and August were the joint hottest months in 136 years of modern record keeping.

      There may be a familiar ring to this story. That’s because, in an unprecedented streak, every month for the past 16 has set a new global record. This year will not just break the record for the warmest year (set just last year), it will shatter it. The odds of this occurring without man-made climate change are infinitesimally small.

      Younger millennials, who will live to see a world utterly transformed by climate change, rank it as the biggest threat to their future. This is unsurprising, considering the NextGen Climate action group estimate that it will cost each 2015 graduate €160,000 in lost wealth over their lifetime. But older cohorts, especially older males, are more likely to engage in climate denial and less likely to see climate change as a threat.

      But let’s be clear: this debate is over. Climate change is not something for 2100, it is happening now in the world around us.

      The wildfires that ravaged Northern Alberta in June received considerable media attention, as did the staggering one-in-a-thousand-year rains that swamped southern Louisiana in August.

  • Finance

    • CETA To Be Signed (Again) During EU-Canada Summit In Mid-October

      European Union trade ministers at an informal meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia today agreed on the final steps to enact CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU. There will be no other reopening of the text, assured EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem after the meeting. But ministers have agreed, according to Slovak Minister of Economy Peter Ziga, that some sensitive issues have to be straightened out in an additional annex to the CETA text.

    • EU Commission refuses to revise Canada CETA trade deal

      The European Commission has ruled that a controversial EU-Canada free trade deal – CETA – cannot be renegotiated, despite much opposition in Europe.

      “CETA is done and we will not reopen it,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

      Ms Malmstrom was speaking as EU trade ministers met in Slovakia to discuss CETA and a similar deal with the US, TTIP, which has also faced criticism.

      A draft CETA deal has been agreed, but parliaments could still delay it.

    • I Worked For Wells Fargo: They Made Us Do Some Shady Sh!t

      So it looks like Wells Fargo is the latest big bank to come under fire for doing shitty, illegal things to millions of people. Federal regulators have revealed that the company’s employees created more than two million fraudulent bank and credit card accounts in order to meet quotas. 5,300 employees were fired, Wells Fargo paid a $185 million fine, and the government released statements like this absolving the executives of any responsibility.

    • Elizabeth Warren Just Gave Hillary Clinton a Big Warning

      Senator Elizabeth Warren fired an unmistakable warning shot to Hillary Clinton and her advisers on Wednesday, cautioning against appointing cabinet or administration members who are linked to Wall Street while name-checking a firm closely tied to Clinton and the Democratic Party.

      Warren’s speech, delivered at the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund, cast the upcoming presidential election in stark economic terms. She described the tax-slashing, deregulatory approach laid out by Donald Trump and contrasted it to a laundry list of populist economic policies embraced by Hillary Clinton. Clinton has faced criticism recently for focusing too heavily on Trump’s competency and not enough on fundamental economic issues, and so Warren’s speech was well-timed and well-received.

    • NYT Promotes Protectionism in Guise of ‘Free Trade’

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has little to do with free trade. The trade barriers between the United States and the other countries are already very low, with few exceptions; in fact, the US already has trade deals with six of the 11 countries in the TPP. The TPP is primarily about installing a corporate-friendly structure of regulation, as well as increasing protectionist barriers in the form of stronger and longer patent and copyright and related protections. (It doesn’t matter if you and your friends like patent and copyright protection; they are still protectionism.)

      President Obama is pulling out all the stops in pushing the TPP, and it seems the New York Times has decided to abandon journalistic principles to join this effort. It reported that people in the United States favored trade in a confused article (9/21/16), which randomly flipped back and forth between the terms “trade,” “trade agreements” and “free trade.” As everyone knows, except apparently the people who work for the New York Times, these are not the same thing.

      It is hard to believe that many people in the United States would be opposed to trade. Imports and exports combined are more than a quarter of GDP. Many of the products we now import, like coffee, would either not be available at all, or extremely expensive without trade. It’s difficult to believe that many people in the United States would support autarky as an alternative to the current system.

      If people are asked about “trade agreements,” it is not clear what they think they are referring to. The United States has been involved in hundreds of trade agreements over the last seven decades. These agreements hugely reduced trade barriers between the US and the rest of the world, leading to large increases in trade and large drops in price. Of course, most of these benefits accrued before 1980, but it seems unlikely that many of the people polled on the topic would have a clear idea of the costs and benefits of the trade deals negotiated since World War II.

    • Amazon Defends Its Pricing Algorithm, But Leaves Out Billions in Sales

      Earlier this week, we reported how Amazon often makes its products look like better deals than they actually are. When the website ranks products by price that are available from Amazon and other sellers, the company excludes the cost of shipping only on the products sold by Amazon and vendors that pay the company.

      Amazon has long described itself as “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” But it declined to answer our questions about why the detailed Amazon’s product rankings excluded shipping costs only for itself and its paid partners.

    • Naked Shorts Can’t Stay Naked Forever

      Who engages in massive trades in penny stocks on the industry’s own “chill list”? And what happens when you sell a stock you don’t have? Victimized investor Chris DiIorio finds the answers in plain sight and wonders why no one else seems to care.

    • Accenture Touts Need For Blockchain Editing Tool

      Editable blockchain controversery, but Accenture insists it would only be used under ‘extraordinary circumstances’

      One of the core principles of Blockchain technology has potentially been undermined by the creation of an editing tool.

      The company responsible however, Accenture, says edits would only be carried out “under extraordinary circumstances to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features.”

    • Cherry-Picking Trade Polls to Pave Way for a TPP Flip-Flop

      But when you look at the actual numbers from the report, you find that when people were asked about TPP specifically, a plurality opposed it, 38–35 percent. When asked to rate their feelings about TPP, 27 percent gave unfavorable ratings, while only 18 percent were favorable. The polling also found that people found anti-TPP arguments much more convincing than pro-TPP arguments (which suggests, I would note, that they haven’t been exposed to as many critiques of TPP in media accounts).

      [...]

      Calmes concluded her story by suggesting that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would likely be more supportive of the TPP than they have been on the campaign trail, citing Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: “People who run for office often campaign against trade, but people who become president of the United States end up supporting trade.”

      If that happens, the New York Times will have paved the way for such a flip-flop—having assured us that that’s what we really want anyway.

    • Education Department Terminates Agency That Allowed Predatory For-profit Colleges to Thrive

      The Education Department announced today that it is stripping the powers of one of the nation’s largest accreditors of for-profit schools.

      The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or ACICS, has been under scrutiny for continuing to accredit colleges whose students had strikingly poor outcomes.

      As ProPublica has reported, schools accredited by the agency on average have the lowest graduation rates in the country and their students have the lowest loan repayment rates.

      Accreditors are supposed to ensure college quality, and their seal of approval gives schools access to billions of federal student aid dollars.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Which Voters Show Up When States Allow Early Voting?

      One-third of voters took advantage of early voting options in 2012. But does so-called convenience voting increase turnout overall and minority turnout in particular?

    • Obama used a pseudonym in emails with Clinton, FBI documents reveal

      President Barack Obama used a pseudonym in email communications with Hillary Clinton and others, according to FBI records made public Friday.

      The disclosure came as the FBI released its second batch of documents from its investigation into Clinton’s private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

      The 189 pages the bureau released includes interviews with some of Clinton’s closest aides, such as Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills; senior State Department officials; and even Marcel Lazar, better known as the Romanian hacker “Guccifer.”

      In an April 5, 2016 interview with the FBI, Abedin was shown an email exchange between Clinton and Obama, but the longtime Clinton aide did not recognize the name of the sender.

      “Once informed that the sender’s name is believed to be pseudonym used by the president, Abedin exclaimed: ‘How is this not classified?’” the report says. “Abedin then expressed her amazement at the president’s use of a pseudonym and asked if she could have a copy of the email.”

    • The mystery of Donald Trump’s man in Moscow

      In March, in a bold “Oh yeah?” moment during an interview with the Washington Post’s editorial board, Donald Trump took the paper’s dare and revealed, then and there, his very short list of foreign policy advisers. There were just five, though he said, “I have quite a few more.” The list was a head-scratcher, a random assortment of obscure and questionable pundits. One of the names, offered without elaboration, was, “Carter Page, PhD.”

      Who?

      Reporters quickly Googling found that Page is the founder and managing partner of an investment fund called Global Energy Capital, and that he claims to have years of experience investing in Russia and the energy sector. As for his connection to Trump, when Page was reached for comment by the New York Times the day after Trump’s big reveal, he said he had been sending policy memos to the campaign and the paper said he “will be advising Mr. Trump on energy policy and Russia.”

    • The TV Interview That Haunts Hillary Clinton

      Now, as she gets closer to the presidency than any woman ever has, she is struggling with unfavorable ratings that would be historically high if it weren’t for her opponent’s being even higher. There are substantive reasons, as with any politician with a long public record, but underlying them are the same frictions that came to the fore in that 60 Minutes interview—sentiments that, fair or not, have grown only more pronounced with Clinton’s perennial, awkward and generally unsuccessful efforts to re-introduce herself, to redefine herself.

    • Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn defeats Owen Smith

      Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as Labour leader, comfortably defeating his challenger Owen Smith.

      Mr Corbyn won 61.8% of the total vote, a larger margin of victory than last year.

      He vowed to bring the party back together and “make Labour the engine of progress for our country”, insisting the party could win the next election.

    • Yvette Cooper reveals Twitter user threatened to behead her as she demands Corbyn takes stronger action against abuse

      The former Labour Cabinet minister, Yvette Cooper, has revealed how she has been subjected to death threats online, with one abuser telling her she should be “beheaded”.

      Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Ms Cooper said it was an example of the increasingly vicious internet abuse that Labour MPs suffer and demanded that Jeremy Corbyn act to stamp it out.

      Mr Corbyn, who was last night re-elected as Labour leader by another landslide, was accused of failing to stop bullying and abuse by a minority of Labour members, despite being warned about it a year ago.

    • With Sanders not an option, some millennials going third-party

      Clinton’s 21-point lead among 18-34-year-olds in a two-way matchup against Trump shrinks to 5 points in a four-way race with Johnson and Stein, a Sept. 14 Quinnipiac University poll showed. And in a McClatchy-Marist national poll of likely voters released Friday, third-party candidates lopped 10 points off Clinton’s 38-point lead over Trump among 18-29-year-olds. In that age group, Clinton gets 47%, Trump and Johnson get 19% each, and Stein gets 13%.

    • Clinton used private Gmail as secretary of state

      Hillary Clinton used a previously undisclosed Gmail account during her tenure as secretary of state, as revealed in summaries of interviews released by the FBI on Friday.

      According to one unnamed former aide, the Gmail account was set up in 2010 after he purchased an iPad for Clinton so that she could read “articles of interest” sent to her.

      “[NAME REDACTED] stated that she could not view the articles on her Blackberry and the iPad and email account were set up as a way to test a different delivery method,” the FBI’s account of the interview reads. The unnamed aide said he was “fairly sure” the Gmail account wasn’t used after its initial setup, however.

      The aide also recounted how, “after he gave the Secretary the iPad, the Secretary fell asleep holding the unopened packaging in her arms.”

      “This struck [NAME REDACTED] as funny because, in contrast, he would not be able to sleep if he had just received a new iPad,” the summary reads. “He noted that this episode was foreshadowing for how little she would use the iPad.”

    • Top Earners Back Clinton in Bloomberg Poll After Decades With GOP

      Higher-income voters are narrowly supporting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in another sign of how the 2016 presidential race is fracturing traditional voting blocs.

      In a two-way contest, Clinton beats Republican Donald Trump 46 percent to 42 percent among likely voters with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more, the latest Purple Slice online poll for Bloomberg Politics shows.

      The findings may sound an alarm for Trump because they show he’s failing, at least so far, to dominate among a group of voters who historically have supported Republicans, including Mitt Romney in 2012. In that election, the group made up 28 percent of the electorate and backed Romney over President Barack Obama by 10 percentage points, exit polls show.

    • Are US Presidential Debates Worthless — or Less?

      Let’s call the whole thing off. Not the election, although if we only had a magic reset button we could pretend this sorry spectacle never happened and start all over. No, we mean the presidential debates — which, if the present format and moderators remain as they are, threaten an effect on democracy more like Leopold and Loeb than Lincoln and Douglas.

      We had a humiliating sneak preview Sept. 7, when NBC’s celebrity interviewer Matt Lauer hosted a one-hour “Commander-in-Chief Forum” in which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke with Lauer from the same stage but in separate interviews.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • New Book Covers Hot Button Topics Of Censorship And Moral Panic

      A new book from author Jerry Barnett was recently published and is currently available as a digital download or in physical paperback form. The name of the book? Porn Panic!: Sex and Censorship In The UK.

      Now I know what you’re all thinking “This has nothing to do with video games!” and you’re absolutely right, but some readers suggested for Barnett’s book to get a little face time here on the site and since it relates directly with the recent topic of heavy censorship both from the establishment and from party ideologues, it’s hard to dismiss it.

      The book is actually about the recent rise in moral panics being spread throughout the media, as well as the prominent attacks on how we view sexuality in today’s society. It’s not too far removed from the current topic of discussion in gaming regarding various risque video games dealing with some sexual material that have been heavily censored or outright banned recently, such as Meiq or Criminal Girls 2, amongst many others.

    • YouTube “Heroes” Program Makes Censorship Into a Role-Playing Game

      YouTube is shamelessly incentivizing censorship by involving its users in a new program called “YouTube Heroes,” wherein creators and consumers are awarded points and exclusive perks for reporting negative videos and policing negative community content.

      [...]

      YouTube Heroes comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to Google or its subsidiaries in recent months, as many of those on its “Google Ideas” council have been collaborating to defeat online trolls in the public eye. Montage and other Google apps have enabled the platform the perform analysis on a massive scale without individually watching each video and assessing its content. There’s even been talk of crowd-sourcing video moderation and allowing artificial intelligence to weed out trolls who target people such as Anita Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn.

    • More online police possible in fight against hate speech

      Finland’s Interior Minister wants the police to be more proactive in taking on hate speech online. Paula Risikko says that police leaders should consider new ways of working to uncover, investigate and prevent extremist groups operating online.

      In addition, she says that the Justice and Interior Ministries should jointly consider if legislative changes are needed.

      “Under the current legislation it seems difficult to investigate the background and motives of figures involved in hate speech, and to intervene,” said Risikko in a statement. “The legislation is also fragmented.”

      On Friday Helsinki-based police officer Jarmo Heinonen, who works with online offences, told Yle that the law needs to be clarified. At present it does not define clearly what constitutes hate speech and what does not.

    • The Good, The Bad And The Misunderstood Of ‘YouTube Heroes’

      Whether or not you watched the video, let’s discuss its points. Firstly, though my initial instinct was that moderation was the primary goal of YouTube Heroes, the rewards make it clear this isn’t the case: adding closed captioning or translated subtitles to videos is by far the most efficient way to rack up points. Internationalizing its huge library of videos, and making them accessible, is a big deal for YouTube and it makes sense that this is the main thrust of the program. In this sense (and perhaps this sense alone) it’s a great idea.

      There are still three main complaints, each of a different nature: one is based on a complete misunderstanding, one is legitimate but likely to never come to fruition, and one (yes, the moderation) represents a genuine concern, at least in part.

      First, the misunderstanding: the graphics and vague language in YouTube’s promotional video give the distinct impression that in addition to mass-flagging videos, ‘Heroes’ will gain the ability to moderate comments. Not only does this sound ripe for abuse (the YouTube commenting community is frequently toxic and hardly above gaming the system), it also irritated content creators who (unlike on many similar platforms) are unable to even designate their own community moderators for their YouTube channels. But: it isn’t true. Heroes only gain the ability to moderate posts on a YouTube creators forum that is barely-known and comically hard to find (watch the video to see what I mean). So let’s put that one aside.

    • Quick Take: Censorship and Comics

      Library technician Katherine Keller is fighting censorship of comic books and graphic novels through her work with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

    • How Iran Is Building Its Censorship-Friendly Domestic Internet

      In the early spring of 2011, Iranian authorities made a series of bombastic public statements about government plans to strengthen their control over information. What emerged is the enduring specter of a “halal Internet” — a network cleansed of immorality and disconnected from the global Internet.

      Over the next several months, the political and religious establishment began to aggressively challenge the morality and security of the Internet, calling instead for a network that promoted the strict religious values promoted by the Islamic Republic. The then-Deputy Vice President for Economic Affairs described the vision for a national Internet as “a genuinely halal network, aimed at Muslims on an ethical and moral level.”

    • Censorship and healthcare’s redactable blockchain trapdoor

      Censorship has been explained actions taken in the best interests of the public. A benevolent public concern for morality. China’s censorship of WeChat for Uber. The decision by India’s film censor to cut 94 scenes from a movie about Punjab’s drug problem. Michelangelo’s 1565 “The Last Judgement.”

      Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction. The right to be heard.

      Does a network hold trust if all voices are not heard? Are we talking about the ability to edit a transaction or present proof-of-trust, of immutability? The concepts are mutually exclusive.

    • Mexico Catholic Church Claims Censorship Over Marriage Equality Opposition

      A spokesman for Mexico’s Catholic Church claims that clergy members are being “censored” over their opposition to marriage equality.

      Father Hugo Valdemar, a representative of the Archdiocese of Mexico, believes that Conapred — the country’s council to prevent discrimination — is persecuting the church, broadcaster Telesur reports. Following nationwide anti-marriage equality protests that rocked the Latin American nation, Conapred advised church officials to avoid speaking publicly about the demonstrations.

      “There is persecution against the church,” Valdemar said in a press release. He warned of a “gay dictatorship” that threatening to take over Mexico.

    • West Bengal: Blogger arrested for criticising Islam on social media

      A blogger from West Bengal, Tarak Biswas was arrested by police for allegedly committing blasphemy against Islam. Tarak Biswas was arrested for writing critical post on Islam on social media. The arrest of the freethinker blogger came after a local Trinamool Congress leader Sanaullah Khan registered a first information report with the Howrah Police against for mocking at Islam. Tarak Biswas was charged under sections 295 A (insulting religion), 298 (hurt religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code as well section 66, 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act (posting and sending offensive messages).

    • Facebook is expanding its campaign to combat hate speech

      Facebook is expanding its efforts to combat online hate speech, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The company’s Online Civil Courage Initiative, announced in January, will transition from a pilot phase to offer advertising credits and marketing advice to a wider range of groups that counteract extremist messaging. The Berlin-based program has so far focused its efforts on France, Germany, and the UK.

      The announcement marks Facebook’s latest effort to combat propaganda from terrorist organizations and far-right groups. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other major web companies have faced increased pressure to escalate anti-hate speech campaigns, and to more swiftly remove propaganda from groups like ISIS and far-right extremists. While the companies have touted an increase in takedowns of extremist content, the Online Civil Courage Initiative is focused on so-called counter-messaging, which seeks to discredit hate speech and propaganda. A Google-funded study published over the summer found that such campaigns can be an effective means of sparking debate online.

    • Judge Claims Facebook Not Taking Terrorism Threat Seriously

      A federal judge slammed Facebook Inc., saying the social media giant might not be doing enough to deter terrorists from using its platform.

      U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, also accused Facebook’s lawyers — by sending a first-year associate to a hearing — of not taking seriously lawsuits with implications of international terrorism and the murder of innocent people.

    • Facebook Plans to Expand Program to Fight Against Online Hate-Speech

      Facebook Inc. plans to broaden a program that gives free advertising to online activists who fight back against online hate speech, the latest expansion of tech-industry efforts to undermine internet propaganda from Islamist terrorists and far-right radicals.

    • Spain fails to turn page on Franco’s legacy of censorship

      In the case of Hemingway’s Across the River and Into the Trees, even recent Spanish editions include a string of changes made by the censors.

    • Telegraph’s managing editor resigns from Nashua newspaper over ‘censorship’

      A newspaper known for promoting transparency has lost its executive managing editor, Roger Carroll, who resigned after a dispute over what he believes was censorship.

      Carroll said he recently resigned from his position with The Telegraph of Nashua after concerns were raised about an article published in the paper that detailed the organization’s future move from its current location in Hudson to Main Street in Nashua.

      He confirmed that after the article was published, higher-ups at the newspaper asked that the purchase price of the downtown building, along with the assessment value, be removed from the story for the online version.

    • Telegraph editor resigns over censorship of story about downtown Nashua move
    • DA petitions against Censorship Bill
    • FPB’s Bill could ruin online gaming in South Africa
    • How South Africans are fighting back against the Internet Censorship Bill
    • Facebook Disables Accounts of Palestinian Editors
    • Evidence of Feared Israel-Led Censorship as Facebook Bans Palestinian Editors
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Hillary Claims to Support Targeted Spying But Advisor Matt Olsen Was Champion of Bulk Spying

      It appalls me that Hillary is getting advice from Mike Morell, who has clearly engaged in stupid propaganda both for her and the CIA (though he also participated in the Presidents Review Group that advocated far more reform than Obama has adopted). I take more comfort knowing Mary DeRosa is in the mix.

      But I do wonder how you can take advice from Matt Olsen — who was instrumental in a lot of our current spying programs — and claim to adopt a balanced approach.

      Olsen was the DOJ lawyer who oversaw the Yahoo challenge to PRISM in 2007 and 2008. He did two things of note. First, he withheld information from the FISC until forced to turn it over, not even offering up details about how the government had completely restructured PRISM during the course of Yahoo’s challenge, and underplaying details of how US person metadata is used to select foreign targets. He’s also the guy who threatened Yahoo with $250,000 a day fines for appealing the FISC decision.

      Olsen was a key player in filings on the NSA violations in early 2009, presiding over what I believe to be grossly misleading claims about the intent and knowledge NSA had about the phone and Internet dragnets. Basically, working closely with Keith Alexander, he hid the fact that NSA had basically willfully treated FISA-collected data under the more lenient protection regime of EO 12333.

    • Snowden-Slamming Lawmakers Accused of Embarrassing Errors in Report

      A three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist says the House Intelligence Committee made surprisingly erroneous claims in the three-page executive summary of a report that denounces exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      The summary asserts that Snowden caused “tremendous damage to national security” and is “a serial exaggerator and fabricator.” The full and unreleased report, 36 pages, was unanimously adopted last week after two years of work, says a committee release.

      Barton Gellman, the former Washington Post journalist who first reported some of the most explosive 2013 Snowden revelations about mass surveillance, says two details in the committee summary are demonstrably false and others arguably so.

      “A close review of Snowden’s official employment records and submissions reveals a pattern of intentional lying,” the committee summary says before detailing alleged lies.

      The first example offered by lawmakers: “He claimed to have left Army basic training because of broken legs when in fact he washed out because of shin splints.”

      Gellman writes in an article posted Friday on the Century Foundation’s website that the sentence “is verifiably false for anyone who, as the committee asserts it did, performs a ‘close review of Snowden’s official employment records.’

    • House Intel Claim that Snowden Had Whistleblower Protection Is False and Misleading

      In a brief 3-page report dated September 15, 2016, the House Intelligence Committee concluded that Edward Snowden “was not a whistleblower” because there were “laws and regulations in effect at the time” that “afforded him protection” and he failed to exercise those whistleblower rights. The Committee report specifically cited the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (IC WPA) that does permit employees, like Snowden, to make disclosures of wrongdoing to Congress if certain other conditions are met.

      However, the House Intel Committee failed to state the obvious. That the IC WPA contains no whistleblower protections whatsoever if an employee were to exercise the right to disclose information about agency wrongdoing to Congress.

    • Department of Homeless Security

      For example, the city of New York boasts it has more than 8,000 cameras pointed at Manhattan streets. The NYPD calls it the city’s “Ring of Steel.”

      Images from those cameras feed into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. Officers there also keep track of biological, chemical, radiation, and shot-spotter sensors (which detect gunfire), throughout the city.

      Data from the cameras and the detectors, as well as 911 calls, license plate readers, and crime databases is fed into a map-based Domain Awareness System, which analyzes information. The NYPD also has a “Dashboard” system that receives alerts on unattended packages, stolen vehicles crossing tunnels and bridges, and suspicious odors of hazardous materials.

      In addition, the Lower Manhattan Center maintains a “vehicle of interest” listing to track vehicles utilizing license plate readers, and can go back 30 days to find suspect vehicles. More than 200 license plate readers within the city triangulate information with GPS systems.

      That is a helluva lot of watching, all keeping us safe. Except it didn’t.

    • A Walking Tour of New York’s Massive Surveillance Network

      Earlier this month, on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the lower tip of Manhattan was thronged with soldiers in uniform, firefighters marching with photos of lost friends pinned to their backpacks, and tourists bumbling around the new mall at the World Trade Center. Firetrucks and police cars ringed Zuccotti Park and white ribbons adorned the iron fence around the churchyard on Broadway. Trash cans were closed up, with signs announcing “temporary security lockdown.”

      So it felt a bit risky to be climbing up a street pole on Wall Street to closely inspect a microwave radar sensor, or to be lingering under a police camera, pointing and gesturing at the wires and antenna connected to it. Yet it was also entirely appropriate to be doing just that, especially in the company of Ingrid Burrington, author of the new book “Networks of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure,” which points out that many of the city’s communications and surveillance programs were conceived and funded in response to the attacks.

    • The price of connection: ‘surveillance capitalism’

      Imagine, if you can, a period long before today’s internet-based connectivity. Imagine that, in that distant time, the populations of every country were offered a new plan. The plan would involve linking up every space of social interaction, most sites of work, a large proportion of private moments of reflection, and a significant proportion of family interactions.

      Once linked up miraculously, all these diverse spaces of human life would be transposed onto a single seamless plane of archiving, monitoring and processing.

      This link-up, those populations are told, would have some remarkable consequences. Each one of those once separate sites could be connectable in real time to every other. The contents of what went on there would become linkable to and from everywhere.

    • The Justice Department’s Refusal to Prosecute CIA for Illegal Surveillance

      Had the Justice Department decided to prosecute, we would be looking at a very different world today. Even a failed prosecution would have sent the message that the potential for legal consequences was there. Instead, it reinforced the attitude of some in national security circles that they didn’t have to worry about the legal ramifications – only a public relations “flap.”

      It’s a mistake the Justice Department seems to keep making – but it doesn’t have to.

      Below, you can read the Report of the Department of Justice Concerning Its Investigation and Prosecutorial Decisions with Respect to Central Intelligence Agency Mail Opening Activities in the United States.

    • Indian Students Score a Partial Win in Facebook Privacy Dispute

      Two Indian students scored a partial victory over Facebook Inc. in a closely watched legal battle over privacy, though they failed to get the internet giant to reverse policies they say threaten the rights of millions of users.

      WhatsApp revised its privacy policy last month to share data with owner Facebook and allow targeted ads and messages from businesses, laying the groundwork for the free messaging service to begin making money. Students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, 19 and 22 respectively, then filed a public-interest litigation — akin to a class action — seeking to block those changes. They wanted a rollback of those updates, in a lawsuit that’s attracted attention as a test case for how legal authorities around the world may respond.

    • Don’t use Google Allo
    • NSA’s Failure to Report Shadow Broker Vulnerabilities Underscores Need for Oversight
    • Did Russia Hack The NSA? Maybe Not
    • NSA hacking tools were likely stolen after an operative accidentally left them on a computer
    • NSA operative might have accidentally leaked its hacking tools
    • Shadow Broker security leak was probably down to NSA error
    • The NSA’s Hubris and the Shadow Brokers 0-day
    • One NSA Employee’s Mistake Caused The Worst Leak Since Snowden
    • Probe of leaked US NSA hacking tools examines operative’s ‘mistake’
    • Former NSA Employee’s Mistake May Have Led to Hack
    • Report: NSA operator left source code exposed before breach
    • Woman sues parents for sharing embarrassing childhood photos

      She claims that since 2009 they have made her life a misery by constantly posting hundreds of photos of her, including embarrassing and intimate images from her childhood.

      Legal expert Michael Rami was quoted by Austrian media as saying he believes she has a good chance of winning in court.

      The shared images include baby pictures of her having her nappy changed and later potty training pictures.

      “They knew no shame and no limit – and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public,” the 18-year-old said. The photos were shared on Facebook with her parents’ 700 friends.

      Despite her requests, they have refused to delete the photos – prompting her to sue them. “I’m tired of not being taken seriously by my parents”, she said. Her father believes that since he took the photos he has the right to publish the images.

      Rami says that if it can be proven that the images have violated her rights to a personal life, then her parents may lose the case. This is the first case of its kind in Austria, but he says that based on similar cases abroad the girl’s parents may have to pay some financial compensation for her pain and suffering, and will also be liable for her legal costs.

      The case will be heard in November – and if the parents lose this could have repercussions for Austrians who post countless images of their children on social media without their consent.

    • Austrian Teenager Sues Parents For Posting Pictures From Her Childhood To Facebook

      When we talk about young people filing lawsuits over “oversharing” of information and/or media on social media sites, schools are typically the targets of the suits. Inevitably, whether school personnel originally sought access to a student’s social media accounts for good intentions or simply to be a slut-shaming dick, the contents within the accounts are then weaponized for humiliation purposes.

      But a recent lawsuit filed by an eighteen year old woman in Austria must have parents the world over wincing. At issue wasn’t some random person or school official attempting to shame the girl. It was just her parents’ sharing photos of a family member and now they face a lawsuit.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Police seize Montreal reporter’s computer to find source for story

      A Montreal journalist whose computer was seized by police after reporting on the alleged abusive behaviour of a judge did nothing wrong and broke no laws, said his managing editor on Thursday.

      Provincial police seized Journal de Montreal reporter Michael Nguyen’s computer at the behest of Quebec’s judicial council on Wednesday at the offices of the tabloid newspaper.

      Managing Editor George Kalogerakis said Thursday the search warrant indicated the council suspected Nguyen illegally accessed its website for details about a complaint against a Quebec Court judge.

      “I can tell you that our reporter did not break any laws to get his story,” Kalogerakis said. “We do not break laws at the Journal. We will contest the validity of the search warrant as far as we can.”

      Nguyen reported in the newspaper last June that judge Suzanne Vadboncur allegedly hurled insults and acted abusively towards constables after a Christmas party in December at the Montreal courthouse.

    • The Body Count Rises: A Call for International Oversight of U.S. Police Killings

      The police killing of Keith Scott in Charlotte is simply the latest evidence that the United States is fundamentally unable to protect communities from state-sanctioned violence. Therefore, I’m calling for an international response from agencies designed to monitor and hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations around the world.

      While the media tends to see each of these incidents in a vacuum, the bigger picture underscores the need for oversight and action from another source: According to a comprehensive database published by The Guardian entitled The Counted: People Killed by Police in the U.S., law enforcement has killed 791 people in 2016 alone. This is a staggering and unacceptable figure. Only 13 police officers have been convicted of murder or manslaughter since 2005, in spite of the abundance of cell phone and police videos that suggest a much higher murder rate.

    • The Counted: tracking people killed by police in the United States
    • DOJ Tells Forensic Experts To Stop Overstating The ‘Scientific Certainty’ Of Presented Evidence

      The DOJ is finally addressing some long-ignored problems with the forensic evidence its prosecutors rely on. For two decades, FBI forensics experts handed out flawed testimony in hundreds of criminal cases, routinely overstating the certainty of conclusions reached by forensic examination. Of those cases, 28 ended in death penalty verdicts.

      An earlier attempt to address issues with flawed science and flawed testimony swiftly ran aground. Federal judge Jed S. Rakoff very publicly resigned from a committee formed to examine these issues after he was informed by the attorney general’s office that he wasn’t actually supposed to be examining these issues.

    • NYPD Says Releasing Basic Stingray Contract Info Will Result In A Supercriminal Apocalypse

      Soghoian also points out that the release of other information would similarly have zero effect on the devices’ capabilities. Because they spoof cell towers, it does criminals no good to know how many the NYPD has or even where they tend to deploy them. A cellphone can’t tell it’s connected to a BS “tower.” And just because the NYPD may be more likely to deploy them in certain areas does not guarantee that avoiding those areas will allow criminals to avoid detection.

    • NYPD Says Software Built To Track Seized Property Can’t Actually Do The One Thing It’s Supposed To Do

      Where accountability is needed most, it almost always seems to go missing. Asset forfeiture — in multiple, mostly-nefarious forms — is a law enforcement tool seemingly handcrafted for abuse and exploitation. When the NYPD isn’t seizing cash and cars simply because Officer Smith thought he spotted a fleck of marijuana somewhere in a three-mile radius, it’s taking ownership of people’s personal belongings (phones, cash, etc.) simply because they happened to be in their pockets when they were arrested.

      The NYPD’s inability to quantify its sketchy takings isn’t surprising. There’s nothing to be gained from keeping a tracking system like this in working order. The more data the NYPD can provide to overseers, FOIL-wielding citizens, and meddling defense lawyers, the more likely it is that someone will uncover abuse of the forfeiture process.

    • NYPD can’t count cash they’ve seized because it would crash computers
    • Cop To Court: This Normal Behavior I Literally Observe All The Time Is Suspicious Behavior Justifying A Traffic Stop

      Carlos Velazquez was pulled over by Officer Ken Scott, a “traffic investigator” patrolling the Ft. Bragg military base in North Carolina. Scott observed Velasquez make a right-hand turn at a stop sign, then reverse course when he encountered a gate preventing traffic from entering the Ft. Bragg Special Operations Compound. The stop resulted in the search of the vehicle and, eventually, the discovery of illegal drugs.

      Velazquez moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the stop was suspicionless. The government disagreed, but Scott’s own testimony indicates it was a suspicionless stop. Scott claimed the stop was justified because he believed Velazquez was “intoxicated or lost.” That last part Scott himself ignored, even during his testimony as the government’s sole witness. The actions Scott viewed as “suspicious” during his justification of the traffic stop were also actions Scott had witnessed numerous times while patrolling the area around the military base.

    • Cops pepper-spray 15-year-old girl who fell off her bike

      This is very sad and infuriating. A 15-year-old girl from Hagerstown, Maryland was riding her bike and collided with a car. When police arrived they told her an ambulance was going to take her to the hospital. She didn’t want to go. She got back on her bike, but before she could get away, an officer grabbed her from behind. The next thing you know, she was roughed up, cuffed, put in the back of a patrol car, and then pepper sprayed. Instead of taking her to the hospital, the officers took her to the police station for interrogation.

      The girl was black, and the police officers were white. It made me sick to watch this video. She’d just been in a bad accident, flew 15 feet through the air, and was knocked out. The police were cold, harsh, and violent with her. They kept aggressively shouting at her “Stop!” and “What’s your name!” Imagine your own child suffering a head injury and then being treated like this. Her frightened shrieks are heartwrenching.

    • Cops Pepper-Spray Girl Who Fell Off Bike

      A 15-year-old girl crashed into a car and tried to refuse medical care, which Maryland police said is an arrestable offense so they roughed her up and took her away.

    • Congo’s Female Tech Activists Risk Violence, Jail, and Rape to Speak Out

      In the dusty yard of a youth centre, Christiane Binja posed for a portrait in front of a colourful mural.

      “Take my picture with this strong African woman,” said the lawyer and women’s rights activist, smiling for the camera.

      Activism is a dangerous business in the eastern province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Between violent rebel groups and government crackdowns, young people challenging the status quo risk harassment, violence, jail time, and even death. Sexual violence—particularly rape—is another punishment reserved almost exclusively for female activists.

      Despite the danger, Binja is undeterred. The 29-year-old loves her province and is determined to see lasting peace in her lifetime. Her goal: empower female leaders to spread their message of positive change using technology.

    • Naureckas to AlterNet: ‘Treat Police Statements as Claims’

      Writing about the protests over the killing of Keith Lamont Scott by Charlotte, N.C., police, AlterNet‘s Sarah Lazare (9/22/16) quoted FAIR’s Jim Naureckas on the need to be skeptical about information coming from police…

    • Four arrested over Gothenburg riots

      Four people have been arrested in connection with riots in a Gothenburg suburb this week.

      Two police officers were injured after a green laser was pointed at them and the window of a police car was shattered by rocks being thrown at officers during riots, involving around 15-20 youths, in the Bergsjön area of Sweden’s second-biggest city on Wednesday night.

      A bystander also received minor injuries after being hit by rocks in the back and hand. He called an ambulance which was not able to reach the scene because of the disturbances.

      Four cars were set on fire in the area on the night, said police.

      Four people have so far been arrested by a prosecutor in connection with the riots, including three men aged 18-25 who were seized overnight, said Gothenburg police on Friday, adding more were set to be questioned.

    • De Lima on UN probe don’ts: Censorship

      Embattled Sen. Leila de Lima scored the government on Saturday for imposing restrictions on the United Nations and other investigators from international bodies it plans to invite to check on President Duterte’s war on drugs that has left over 3,000 suspects dead so far.

      De Lima said the administration’s conditions betrayed the intent of what are supposed to be independent investigations into the killings. She said the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) restrictions were tantamount to “censorship and control.”

    • De Lima questions ground rules for UN visit
    • De Lima questions parameters on UN probe
    • Duterte Lets The World Know What He Thinks Of The EU
    • Duterte tells De Lima, Critics: My mouth is not the problem
    • Legaspi: What is the truth?
    • Duterte under anti-drug investigation

      “Opposition to an impartial investigation into these killings only intensifies the spotlight on Duterte and his administration’s disregard for basic human rights protections for all Filipinos”.

      President Duterte invites the European Union to consider that even if accusations against him are true, those whom he killed had killed more.

      Since his election, 3,000 have been reportedly killed in Duterte’s new national drug war.

      Explaining why he was “bullshitting” the European body, Mr. Duterte said on Wednesday he took offense because he felt he was being unfairly reprimanded.

      Duterte said Saturday he did not realize the severity of the problem until he became president. It’s likely the panel will back off; de Lima’s replacement, Senator Richard Gordon, is an ally of the president.

      Bank robber Herbert Colangco told Congress he had paid 3 million pesos ($62,637) a month since October 2013 to De Lima, then justice secretary, to let him hold concerts and sell beer to inmates.

      The statement from the President came after EU Parliament passed a five-page resolution last week urging the Philippines “to put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings” of individual involved in illegal drugs.

    • ‘He doesn’t have a gun!’ Keith Scott’s wife releases footage of fatal shooting (VIDEO)

      Keith Scott’s family has released a video of police officers fatally shooting him that was recorded by his wife, who was talking to police from a distance. It was released to NBC News after law enforcement once again refused to release their footage.

      Despite law enforcement’s refusal to release any footage, Scott’s family made the video recorded by his wife public.

    • More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem

      So the Chicago is going to hire yet more cops. Five hundred more. Yet more, you say? Yes – the city already almost leads the nation in its level of sworn officers, and has got precious little to show for it.

      When politicians say we need more police, from Bill Clinton’s 1990s call for 100,000 more cops, to the 2012 Chicago mayoral election, a certain amount of fact-free electioneering is expected.

      But when Crain’s Chicago Business’s Greg Hinz is joined by his editorial board in this fact-free nonsense, we’ve reached a new low in the civic discussion about how to save more lives in our city. Like the mass incarceration boom of the 1990s, the City is escalating a disastrous trend which our communities (and wallets) will spend many years trying to extricate ourselves from.

    • CIA Torture Whistleblower: ‘Quest for Peace Must Be Part of Election’

      The CIA agent who was jailed for blowing the whistle on the United States’ illegal torture program has made a statement about what the nation’s electorate must demand from White House hopefuls this election season.

      The whistleblower, John Kiriakou, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to releasing the name of an officer implicated in a CIA torture program to the media and violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

      “Our country is in crisis, whether it is because of our apparently seamless escalation into a permanent wartime economy, our inability to wage peace in the Middle East and South Asia, or our national compulsion to prosecute and humiliate national security whistleblowers,” he said in a statement.

    • Chelsea Manning Sentenced to Solitary Confinement for Suicide Attempt

      U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sentenced to 14 days in solitary confinement — punishment the U.N. recognizes as torture — for charges related to her suicide attempt in July, and for possession of an unmarked book in her cell.

      Half of her 14-day punishment was “suspended,” meaning it can be reinstated later, so Manning now faces seven days in isolation. It is unclear when Manning’s sentence will begin.

      According to a dictated statement from Manning, once she receives notification of her punishment in writing, she will have 15 days to appeal it.

      At a four-hour disciplinary hearing Thursday, at which Manning was not allowed a lawyer, Manning was found guilty of “conduct that threatens,” broadly defined as “any conduct which interferes with the orderly running, safety, good order and discipline, or security of the facility.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Arguments Over Internet Governance Transition Get Even More Stupid

      First, the plan does not hand over control to Russia, China and Iran — and keeping IANA under the Commerce Dept. makes it A LOT MORE LIKELY that that coalition of countries is able to grab control of the IANA functions from ICANN and the US. But, uh, even more importantly, claiming that Trump is in favor of “free speech online” is laughable. This is the candidate who has repeatedly talked about “opening up our libel laws” to go after speech he doesn’t like, has threatened to sue many publications for protected speech, and has flat out declared that we should turn off parts of the internet and anyone who responded with “freedom of speech” was “foolish.”

  • DRM

    • HTML standardization group calls on W3C to protect security researchers from DRM

      The World Wide Web Consortium has embarked upon an ill-advised project to standardize Digital Rights Management (DRM) for video at the behest of companies like Netflix; in so doing, they are, for the first time, making a standard whose implementations will be covered under anti-circumvention laws like Section 1201 of the DMCA, which makes it a potential felony to reveal defects in products without the manufacturer’s permission.

      This is especially worrisome because the W3C’s aspiration for the new version of HTML is that it will replace apps as the user-interface for the Internet of Things, making all sorts of potentially compromising (and even lethal) bugs difficult to report without serious legal liability.

      The EFF has proposed that W3C members should be required to promise not to use the DMCA and laws like it this way; this has had support from other multistakeholder groups, like the Open Source Initiative, which has said that the W3C work will not qualify as an “open standard” if it doesn’t do something to prevent DMCA abuse.

    • DRM and Web security

      For a few years now, the W3C has been working on a specification that extends the HTML standard to add a feature that literally, and intentionally, does nothing but limit the potential of the Web. They call this specification “Encrypted Media Extensions” (EME). It’s essentially a plug-in mechanism for proprietary DRM modules.

      Much has been written on how DRM is bad for users because it prevents fair use, on how it is technically impossible to ever actually implement, on how it’s actually a tool for controlling distributors, a purpose for which it is working well (as opposed to being to prevent copyright violations, a purpose for which it isn’t working at all), and on how it is literally an anti-accessibility technology (it is designed to make content less accessible, to prevent users from using the content as they see fit, even preventing them from using the content in ways that are otherwise legally permissible, e.g. in the US, for parody or criticism). Much has also been written about the W3C’s hypocrisy in supporting DRM, and on how it is a betrayal to all Web users. It is clear that the W3C allowing DRM technologies to be developed at the W3C is just a naked ploy for the W3C to get more (paying) member companies to join. These issues all remain. Let’s ignore them for the rest of post, though.

      One of the other problems with DRM is that, since it can’t work technically, DRM supporters have managed to get the laws in many jurisdictions changed to make it illegal to even attempt to break DRM. For example, in the US, there’s the DMCA clauses 17 U.S.C. § 1201 and 1203: “No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title”, and “Any person injured by a violation of section 1201 or 1202 may bring a civil action in an appropriate United States district court for such violation”.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WIPO Traditional Knowledge: Text Passes Committee Approval, Goes To Next Session [Ed: Incredible that the thugs who run WIPO try to distinguish between private/monopolised knowledge and “traditional”[

      World Intellectual Property Organization delegates today agreed on a text compiling divergent views on how traditional knowledge should be protected in the intellectual property system to be forwarded to the next session of its committee on the protection of traditional knowledge. Some clear dividing lines remain, such as traditional knowledge which is widely known and could have been placed in the public domain, or if conditions of eligibility should be part of a potential treaty.

      The 31st session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources (GRs), Traditional Knowledge (TK)and Folklore (IGC) took place from 19-23 September.

    • Law & Economics – The Italian Edition

      A hot topic at EALE was understanding “Pay for Delay,” aka a reverse payment patent settlement. It’s the bizarre phenomena in the US where patent holders pay potential competitors not to challenge their patent or enter the market. This is most common in the pharmaceutical industry when companies seeking to keep generics out of their market. Ramsi Woodcock, in a presentation entitled, “Innovation, Litigation and New Drugs” looked at the consumer welfare impact of these payments. Using a theoretical model in combination with empirical data, he estimates that payments which delay the entry of a generic drug by more than 15 months result in consumer harm.

    • Copyrights

      • German Library Claims Copyright on “Nazi Anthem,” Censors Documentary on YouTube

        YouTube has faced its fair share of copyright controversies, one even more absurd than the others. In what appears to be an indirect censorship effort, the German National Library is now claiming copyright on the 87-year-old Nazi anthem, taking down a historical documentary in the process.

      • For The Gander: Bahnhof Sends Copyright Troll Spridningskollen A Trademark Violation Settlement Letter

        We were just talking about Bahnhof, the Swedish ISP with a reputation for protecting its customers privacy, and its script-flipping battle with a copyright troll called Spridningskollen. At issue is that Bahnhof has for some time operated a website, Spridningskollen.org, and has applied for a trademark registration for it more recently. The copyright troll is new in town, so to speak, and Bahnhoff is relying on common law trademark rights while its application goes through the process, but that isn’t keeping the ISP from continuing to give Spridningskollen a taste of its own medicine.

        In a move laced with irony, Bahnhof has sent Spridningskollen a settlement letter on the basis of its trademark infringement.

      • Macedonia Copyright Collection Group Forces All Macedonian Music Off Of All Macedonian Broadcasts

        This is a strange one, for sure. Often times when we discuss disputes from copyright licensing or collection groups, which will universally complain that they are not collecting enough money when given any opportunity, some will comment that the artists should just pull their music from all broadcasts if they’re not happy with the arrangement. This kind of nuclear option is rarely, if ever, invoked for a whole host of reasons that include compulsory licensing arrangements and rules, the sincerity of the complaints from the licensing groups, and the simple business interests behind the benefits of having music heard on the radio.

        But in Macedonia, one such licensing group has quite literally taken its musical ball and stomped home. This whole spat has been initiated by ZAMP, previously the sole music copyright collection organization in all of Macedonia, all because a second collection group has been started in the country, alongside more strict rules governing how much money ZAMP can collect for the artists it represents. As a result, ZAMP has informed Macedonia’s broadcasters that they are henceforth banned from playing any music created by Macedonian artists, whom ZAMP claims to represent.

09.24.16

Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Battistelli ‘revolution’ is just a gory mess

Battistelli-like Guillotin
Reference: Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

Summary: The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world’s best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli

THE extremely unpopular Battistelli regime at the EPO has turned the entire institution (or Organisation, not just the Office) into a laughing stock. We used to think it paled in comparison to the USPTO (about a couple of years ago), but after publishing more than a thousand articles about the EPO it seems evident that the EPO sets the standards for abuse at international bodies (worse by far than WIPO and broader in terms of scale). Right now there are attempts to blame low-level staff for this.

Due to Team Battistelli, the Office is rapidly losing public support. It took more than 40 years to gain credibility and Battistelli ruins it all in just a few years if not as little as months. He even harms the very function of the Office by killing patent scope and patent quality. Dr. Glyn Moody retweeted Stephen Curry regarding an article we mentioned the other day in relation to the EPO; the situation with regard to patent scope has gotten him upset enough to say “this is yet another reason why we need to abolish patents…” (we presume he meant as a whole because these patents serve to discredit the system’s goals).

Yesterday the EPO was trying to associate itself with aerospace, even though the EPO is run by a right-wing politician who knows zilch about science and detests people who are scientists. He treats the Office like a crude production line and it shows. At the same time the EPO is inherently rotten from the top down (the rot comes/starts from the head) and it is all crooked when it comes to bidding and tenders. Watch the latest nonsense from the EPO. They try to give an impression of transparency and accountability when in fact, as one comment put it today (emphasis is ours):

US becoming an EPO memberstate says…

BB [Battistelli] appoints A. Keyak [sic] a US national based in Washington as a “EPO Delegate to the United States” furthermore he gets carte blanche to establish a network within the Office to support him in his future role.

It is clear that DG5 again has not read the EPO Serv. Regs, as to who can be appointed by the EPO and at what distance he has to reside from the EPO buildings,… home working on a permanent basis from Washington and not being a national of one of the EPO Member states is clearly something for the IU or are some Chinese, Japanese delegates to come as well? … furthermore should the AC not be informed about BB’s industry lobbyist activities behind the scenes for attracting foreign investments to France.

Keyack’s bizarre role was last mentioned yesterday and we wrote a lot more about him before [1, 2]. How on Earth does Battistelli keep his job in the face of all those scandals? The answer is, total lack of accountability; what used to exist of it (or left of it) has been deliberately shut down by Battistelli, with a supine, cowardly Administrative Council consenting to it.

Judging by the latest propaganda from the EPO, it’s all business as usual. Watch the latest publicity stunt which they promoted in Twitter, their Web site (warning: may be trackable) and even the European authorities’ platform. To quote the last of these (pertaining to patent scope or patents on seeds and plants):

The Community Plant Variety Office was pleased to host a workshop with many officials of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Angers on 21 and 22 September.

[...]

Martin Ekvad, President of the CPVO and Heli Pihlajamaa, Director Patent Law at the EPO, welcomed the fruitful and very useful workshop for both organisations and look forward to further cooperation.

The organisation and participation of the two organisations in conferences, courses, workshops and other meetings of mutual interest with the aim of maintaining high quality decisions in both institutions will complement this cooperation.

So the EPO is lobbying in Parliament and the Commission (recall what happened and who attended Battistelli’s hugely expensive lobbying event) while at the same time claiming immunity from both and denying the rules as they were put together in the EPC (e.g. exclusion of software patents*).

Here is Barker Brettell LLP speaking about how the EPO is entering a phase of turbulence by basically making a mockery out of the patent examination process, rushing it all as if speed can be attained without compromising quality. To quote this new article: “The European Patent Office (EPO) brought in new guidelines on 1st July 2016 which aim to simplify [sic] the opposition procedure and deliver decisions faster. Here we report on the impact of the new guidelines. Full details of the changes and a useful animation can be obtained via the EPO website.

“The opposition procedure provides third parties with the opportunity [sic] to challenge the validity of European patents centrally, by filing an opposition within nine months of grant. After the opposition deadline has passed a third party must undertake separate national invalidity proceedings, which can be more costly, complex and time consuming. As such, the opposition procedure is popular and approximately four per cent of all granted patents are opposed. According to the EPO annual report (2015) 31 per cent of opposed patents were revoked, 38 per cent were maintained in amended form and 31 per cent survived unamended.”

Given the systematic marginalisation of the appeals process by Battistelli, this has got to be some kind of a joke. It’s clear that Battistelli just wants to rubberstamp everything very quickly, leaving little or no opportunity for in-depth reassessment. It’s truly a recipe for disaster and possibly the end of the EPO as we know it. Some time soon we shall provide more details from the inside, shedding more light on how terrible things have gotten.
____
* CEN and CENELEC would like to help poison Europe with FRAND, based on this recent publication. They want to advance patents you cannot work around and must pay for, even when they’re likely invalid in Europe.

Bristows LLP’s Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team UPC has no sense of shame or humility because it wants more money and power

Bristows LLP and EPO

Summary: Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives

THEY JUST NEVER give up, do they? Perseverance is therefore required from both sides.

Team UPC, a small group of self-serving patent law firms, is trying to steal democracy and hijack the law in a truly undemocratic if not antidemocratic move. They brainwash public officials, throw incentives at them, and then pressure Battistelli's British photo op mate, Lucy.

“Team UPC, a small group of self-serving patent law firms, is trying to steal democracy and hijack the law in a truly undemocratic if not antidemocratic move.”IP Kat (whose staff/writers include Bristows LLP staff who exploited the platform for UPC lobbying for a number of years now) published this piece in the afternoon. It must be like the hundredth so-called ‘analysis’ of Brexit and the UPC (we put analysis in scare quotes because these are typically composed by Team UPC or think tanks/pressure/interest groups like CIPA).

As we have demonstrated here many times in the past, the UPC is extremely undesirable to the vast majority of European businesses and after a Brexit referendum it is dead and buried, no doubt about it at all. Unless… Team UPC can pull some dirty tricks that they have up their sleeves, hence our eternal vigilance.

“So,” says IP Kat, “while it may be legally possible for the UK to overcome the requirements of Opinion 1/09 by a new agreement, it could still be very politically sticky to sell a treaty which proposes the ongoing supremacy of EU law over the UK – even within the relatively limited context of patent disputes before the UPC.”

“They brainwash public officials, throw incentives at them, and then pressure Battistelli’s British photo op mate, Lucy.”In other words, any attempt to ratify the UPC right now would be extremely antidemocratic and flirting with “corrupt”.

Meanwhile, as pointed out to us by one reader, one of the latest so-called ‘analyses’ of the UPC and Brexit came from Edward Nodder from Bristows LLP (attempting to rebrand as “Bristows UPC” in order to capitalise on change/transitions induced by their own lobbying). The wording is extremely revealing and it piggybacks Battistelli cronies like Margot Fröhlinger [1, 2, 3, 4]. The villainous Bristows (Team UPC) dare say “that not only will the pressure for UK ratification of the UPC Agreement continue, but [...] a decision is wanted within weeks.”

So they play dirty. Bristows has, all along, been a major contributor to this dirty play.

“Nodder did not dare point out that not a single person at AIPPI (which he wrote about) believed the UPC would happen (based on a quick straw poll at the event).”To quote further: “Despite universal agreement that the UPC would be better with UK participation, there is an unwillingness, in some quarters at least, to wait for the UK. Dr Froehlinger said that under the EU principles of sincere cooperation, the UK should either ratify or withdraw from the UPC Agreement. She said that under streamlined procedures other countries could make modest amendments to the existing Agreement and re-ratify quickly – within months – and hence go ahead without the UK. Thierry Sueur believed the unitary patent and UPC system to be important for innovation and growth in Europe. In such a new regime London would lose the pharmaceutical branch of the UPC’s central division, but Dr Froehlinger would not be drawn upon whether the political negotiations on the fate of this branch (which city or cities would host it) would involve only France and Germany, or other countries, nor would she speculate on how long such negotiations might take.”

Nodder did not dare point out that not a single person at AIPPI (which he wrote about) believed the UPC would happen (based on a quick straw poll at the event). Bristows are enemies of European interests and they will definitely continue to fight for the UPC. It’s their project (along with few other law firms and EPO facilitators). It’s our project to ensure they do not succeed as it would undermine Europe for very few people’s enrichment and power hoard.

Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social ‘Study’ (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On the same night as this, maybe for similar reasons:

Social study - 1

Social study - 2

Summary: The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least

THE ABOVE SCREENSHOTS, taken from the first phase of a propaganda campaign (to culminate with a so-called 'conference' intended to influence the Administrative Council), would not be exactly shocking to EPO staff. It’s part of an effort by Battistelli to dismiss and discredit any claims that he abuses staff, strategically at a point when the Administrative Council brings up the subject. It is an infamous politician’s trick (see what the US government did on the very same day as the debut of the film “Snowden” and simultaneous calls for Presidential pardon).

“The quick summary: Blame the staff for all the problems.”Lots of EPO coverage is planned for this weekend and we decided to begin by getting this propaganda out of the way. It wasn’t — as far as we are aware — expected to come out last night, which makes one wonder. If this propaganda about the social climate was released prematurely late on a Friday, then maybe they try to bury or distract from something. Are they trying to suppress discussion about it? Has Team Battistelli lost its mind again? Why did the social study appear on the intranet at such strategic timing (when few would even notice the release)? Why has nobody covered it yet? Journalists are obviously away for the weekend (see what the FBI has just done, as Wikileaks pointed out 19 hours ago). It’s a big document, no doubt, and staff might be taking it home for the weekend. The Financial Study and Occupational Health and Safety Risk Assessment have appeared also.

The quick summary: Blame the staff for all the problems. Expect us to say more about it in the near future. The above is just somewhat of a preview.

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