11.24.20

Dr. Bausch Questions the Merits and Claims of EPO Management Regarding ViCo (‘Skynet’ Virtual ‘Courts’)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As did a few other law firms as of late, mostly for practical reasons rather than illegality (ripe for espionage)

Dollars
Can’t anyone see that outsourcing ‘European’ legal proceedings to the United States is outright absurd and unlawful?

Summary: Few courageous attorneys are willing to speak out about (and against) what EPO management is doing right now, in effect exploiting a public health crisis to override the law, spy on lots of people, outsource legal proceedings to the United States and so on

THE management of the EPO isn’t fooling staff. The management will have its E-mail boxes stuffed by complaints this week. This kind of action is long overdue and may be effective when staff cannot congregate (legally) to protest.

“Well, as it turns out, not everyone in the patent/legal profession appreciates this ridiculous rush to ViCo, which now forces (or compels) parties to participate in something illegal (SUEPO cited the relevant laws or regulations).”What about law firms and attorneys? As it turns out, those with a spine are willing to speak out and we’re thankful to the few that do. Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) wrote about the EPO’s management breaking the law (again), this time by rushing to ViCo (or VICO, the spelling varies). Laws replaced by buzzwords and catchy acronyms?

The “EPO should also listen to the parties’ concerns,” Dr. Bausch explains, “against oral proceedings by VICO in an individual case and take them seriously.”

Stocks
As we put it the other week, using an analogy and moreover paraphrasing the EPO’s misleading text: “Nuclear weapons advances have been broadly welcomed by the military profession.”

Well, as it turns out, not everyone in the patent/legal profession appreciates this ridiculous rush to ViCo, which now forces (or compels) parties to participate in something illegal (SUEPO cited the relevant laws or regulations). From Dr. Bausch’s analysis/opinion:

With that, we are back in the present. Just recently, the EPO President has ordered (oktroyiert) that oral proceedings before the Opposition Divisions will from now on take place via videoconference (VICO). Consent of the parties will be no longer required.

[...]

So, to cut it short, VICO as a means to hold oral proceedings in opposition proceedings were available since (at least) May 2020. Yet alas, they were not accepted by “the patent profession” to an extent sufficient to clear the EPO’s backlog. Thus, time to tell the profession how to do it properly. Thank you, Mr. President.

It is more the style of this communication that disturbs me than the substance of the President’s decision. I (and I think this applies to the majority of the patent profession) do realize that we live in difficult times, and that oral proceedings in person before the Opposition Divisions are not exactly what should be done in order to keep your contacts to the necessary minimum. I also understand that the EPO is building up a backlog of cases if no or only a few decisions can be made in COVID-19 times. The patent profession will suffer at least as much from this backlog as the EPO itself. Just imagine if you have to attend to (and ideally win) 2 or more oral proceedings every week… – So, I understand that something should be done to avoid this unpleasant state of affairs. But is this not the point in time where to conduct a public consultation and collect both the ideas of stakeholders and their concerns before announcing such a decision? Conversely, if you understand your position as the boss of an Octroybureau, why bother?

[...]

So this new Article would enable and empower the Boards of Appeal to adopt a “new normal”, i.e. oral proceedings by videoconference “if the Board considers it appropriate to do so“. Notably, this new Article in its present form would apply indefinitely, i.e. may well outlive the current COVID-19 situation. I would not be surprised if the Boards of Appeal and their President would tell us that this is definitely not intended and that the Boards would certainly return to the “old normal” after the end of the pandemic. I would even accept and believe that at face value. However, this is precisely the problem of enablement laws – you are completely dependent on the goodwill of the persons you have empowered. I personally would therefore much prefer a legal solution that is either limited in time from the beginning or made dependent on a declaration of the President of the Boards of Appeal or (better) by the Administrative Council that there is a state of emergency due to a pandemic, during which special rules apply, but these rules cease to be applied once this state of emergency has ended. If my understanding is correct, this is also how several contracting states (including Germany) have formulated their infection protection laws.

[...]

Conversely, the EPO should also listen to the parties’ concerns, if any, against oral proceedings by VICO in an individual case and take them seriously.

Some clever commenter has already made the point we last made yesterday, with respect to software patents in Europe: “How many patents are there over videoconferencing? Even the EPO can’t tell if it is a legal solution that respects all the patents they granted themselves.”

Yesterday we joked that those webchats of theirs can be taken down by a patent troll engaging in injunctions, patent assertion activities (blackmail) and so on. We already know about some European GNU/Linux developers who face such abuse, thanks in part to the corrupt EPO granting patents it never should have granted. It hurts everybody. At the moment there are a couple more comments in there. It’s good to see Dr. Bausch back to asking the “tough questions” — the sorts of questions that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos can only ever distract from using fluff/noise du jour.

Links 24/11/2020: Linux 5.9.11, Istio 1.6.14 and LibreOffice 7.1 Beta Released

Posted in News Roundup at 1:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Mobile/Desktop Convergence

      Mobile/Desktop convergence is something that Purism had planned and has been developing since the launch of the Librem 5.

      It all started with the amazing work that Adrien initiated with the libhandy library, that let the default Librem 5 applications be adapted from the exact same applications running on the laptops.

      Now the Librem 5 team is moving a step further by letting the Librem 5 being used as a real desktop computer by simply plugging it into an external monitor, keyboard and mouse through a single USB hub. The feature is still under active development at the time of writing this article, but the different components are starting to come together and it is already pretty functional.

    • Server

      • Announcing Istio 1.6.14

        This release contains bug fixes to improve robustness. This release note describes what’s different between Istio 1.6.13 and Istio 1.6.14

      • ISTIO-SECURITY-2020-011
      • Support for Istio 1.6 has ended

        As previously announced, support for Istio 1.6 has now officially ended.

        At this point we will no longer back-port fixes for security issues and critical bugs to 1.6, so we heartily encourage you to upgrade to the latest version of Istio (1.8) if you haven’t already.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linus Torvalds worried Linux kernel might get messy around Christmas

        Linus Torvalds has expressed some worries about progress of version 5.10 of the Linux kernel.

        “Hmm. The 5.10 release candidates stubbornly keeps staying fairly big, even though by rc5 we really should be seeing things starting to calm down and shrink,” he said in his weekly state of the kernel post.

        While Torvalds went on to write: “There’s nothing in here that makes me particularly nervous,” adding: “I’m still hopeful for things to calm down. Otherwise we get into uncomfortable territory for the next release with the holiday season coming up too.”

        Torvalds prefers releases to have eight release candidates. If he can stick to that plan, a full 5.10 release will emerge in the week before Christmas. His practice is then to open a two-week merge window that would occupy the less-than-busy times between Christmas and New Year. As a resident of the USA, Torvalds may also have this week’s Thanksgiving holiday on his mind as that’s another time in which productivity is not at its peak. Developers could therefore move slower than usual and see 5.10 remain a little unruly.

      • Linus Torvalds would love to own a new M1 MacBook Air, but it doesn’t run Linux Natively
      • Linus Torvalds would like to use an M1 Mac for Linux, but…
      • Linus Torvalds Wants Linux on Apple Silicon
      • Apple – Linus Torvalds desires Apple’s new M1-powered Macs to run Linux
      • Linux 5.9.11
        I'm announcing the release of the 5.9.11 kernel.
        
        All users of the 5.9 kernel series must upgrade.
        
        The updated 5.9.y git tree can be found at:
        	git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.9.y
        and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:
        
        https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s...
        
        thanks,
        
        greg k-h
        
      • Linux 5.4.80
      • Linux 4.19.160
      • Linux 4.14.209
      • Linux 4.9.246
      • Linux 4.4.246
      • Graphics Stack

        • Mike Blumenkrantz: Don’t Call It A Comeback

          I guess I never left, really, since I’ve been vicariously living the life of someone who still writes zink patches through reviewing and discussing some great community efforts that are ongoing.

          But now I’m back living that life of someone who writes zink patches.

          Valve has generously agreed to sponsor my work on graphics-related projects.

          For the time being, that work happens to be zink.

        • Valve funds open source developer to work on Zink, the OpenGL on Vulkan driver | GamingOnLinux

          Developer Mike Blumenkrantz has announced that they’re now being funded by Valve, so Blumenkrantz’s work on the OpenGL implementation on top of Vulkan with ‘Zink’ will continue.

          Hold on, what actually is Zink? As described by Collabora dev Erik Faye-Lund it’s an “OpenGL implementation on top of Vulkan. Or to be a bit more specific, Zink is a Mesa Gallium driver that leverages the existing OpenGL implementation in Mesa to provide hardware accelerated OpenGL when only a Vulkan driver is available”.

          After working on Zink for a while, Mike Blumenkrantz posted a blog entry back on November 6 saying it was the “last day” due to the end of it being hobby work while being between jobs. In a new blog post titled “Don’t Call It A Comeback”, Blumenkrantz mentions that “Valve has generously agreed to sponsor my work on graphics-related projects” and that the focus will be on Zink.

        • Valve Now Funding Blumenkrantz – Zink OpenGL-On-Vulkan To Continue

          Longtime open-source developer Mike Blumenkrantz who has been an Enlightenment developer for many years and was working for Samsung’s Open-Source Group prior to its demise jumped into the open-source Linux graphics world this year. While being unemployed he began hacking on the Zink Gallium3D code that allows generic OpenGL acceleration over the Vulkan API. He quickly got the code to the point of OpenGL 4.6 support and quite compelling performance compared to where Zink was at earlier this year. Now it turns out he will continue with his Linux graphics adventures thanks to funding from Valve.

          Mike Blumenkrantz shared today that Valve is going to be sponsoring his graphics-related work moving forward. At least for now, that Linux graphics work is still on the matter of Zink.

    • Benchmarks

      • Tiger Lake + Renoir On Ubuntu Linux For Battery vs. AC Performance

        Given the recent Intel presentation alleging AMD Ryzen laptop performance being worse on battery relative to the AC vs. battery performance seen with Intel EVO notebooks featuring Tiger Lake processors, I ran a mini comparison on my side to see whether there is any merit to Intel’s information when testing under Ubuntu Linux.

        Here is just some initial data on my side when benchmarking AMD Ryzen “Renoir” versus Intel Core i7 “Tiger Lake” when running Ubuntu 20.10 and comparing the AC power versus battery performance.

    • Applications

      • Top 7 Linux GPU Monitoring and Diagnostic Commands Line Tools

        A video card is a special circuit board that controls what is displayed on a computer monitor. It is also called a graphics processing unit (GPU), which calculates 3D images and graphics for Linux gaming and other usages. Let us see the top 7 Linux GPU monitoring and diagnostic command-line tools to solve issues.

        The following tools work on Linux for GPU monitoring and diagnostic purposes and other operating systems such as FreeBSD. The majority of Linux and FreeBSD users these days use Nvidia, Intel, and AMD GPUs.

      • LibreSSL 3.3.0 Released

        We have released LibreSSL 3.3.0, which will be arriving in the LibreSSL directory of your local OpenBSD mirror soon.

        This is the first development release from the 3.3.x series, which will eventually be part of OpenBSD 6.9.

      • New alpha release: Tor 0.4.5.2-alpha

        There’s a new alpha release available for download. If you build Tor from source, you can download the source code for 0.4.5.2-alpha from the download page on the website. Packages should be available over the coming weeks, with a new alpha Tor Browser release by mid-December.

        Remember, this is an alpha release: you should only run this if you’d like to find and report more bugs than usual.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Install XFCE Desktop Environment in Linux Mint

        XFCE is a well know desktop environment for Linux, Solaris, and BSD systems. It is a fast, lightweight, user-friendly, GTK toolkit based desktop environment. It comes with a wide range of applications and Linux users find it very useful and appealing.

        You can download Linux Mint 20, in three editions Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce. Here I will show you how to install Xfce 4.14 (GTK3 based) desktop environment on Linux Mint 20 Ulyana.

      • How to get system hardware details on CentOS 8

        When working on a Linux distribution, the user may need to know about hardware and basic system information of the current working system. Regardless of whether you are a software developer or a normal Linux user, it might be necessary to check software and hardware system compatibility. The command-line Linux system provides built-in commands through which a user can get the details about the currently used system and hardware platform.

        In this article, you will find a brief description of all commands, which will help you easily get details about your system and hardware.

      • [Old] The Finfisher Tales, Chapter 1: The dropper

        Amnesty International finally dropped the bomb and released a report about FinSpy spyware made by FinFisher Gmbh.

        The most interesting thing was the revelation of Mac and Linux versions, something that was missing from previous reports on this commercial malware (Kaspersky, Wikileaks).

        Their report summarizes the most important features but isn’t technically deep. This got me interested in verifying if FinSpy for Mac was any good malicious software or just the same kind of bullshit commercial malware like HackingTeam (they finally went kaput, oh so many crocodile tears!).

      • How To Install Zoom on CentOS 8 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Zoom on CentOS 8. For those of you who didn’t know, Zoom is a cross-platform video communication tool that works on Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux systems. With Zoom, you can host webinars, organize online meetings, and create conference rooms.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Zoom client on CentOS 8.

      • How To Install OpenLiteSpeed on CentOS 8 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install OpenLiteSpeed on CentOS 8. For those of you who didn’t know, OpenLiteSpeed is an open-source HTTP server developed by LiteSpeed Technologies. OpenLiteSpeed is a high performance and lightweight HTTP server which comes with a Web Gui administration interface. As far as Linux web servers are concerned, OpenLiteSpeed has some interesting features that make it a solid choice for many installations. It features Apache compatible rewrite rules, a web administration interface, and customized PHP processing optimized for the server.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of the OpenLiteSpeed web server on a CentOS 8.

      • How to Install Gibbon LMS on Ubuntu 20.04

        Gibbon is a free and open-source school management system specially designed for teachers, students, parents and leaders. It helps teachers to find, contact and help their students. It allows teachers to plan, teach, collect, assess and return work in one streamlined process. It is an excellent and one-stop-shop efficient tool that makes all information available in one place. It comes with a simple web-based interface that helps teachers to access all student details on the go.

      • How to Install Arch Linux [Beginner's Guide]

        This beginner’s guide explains the steps on how to install Arch Linux – in a most easy and friendly way.

      • How to install MySQL server on CentOS 8 Linux – nixCraft

        How do I install MySQL server 8.0 on CentOS 8 Linux server running on Linode and AWS cloud? How do I add and set up a new MySQL user and database account on the newly created CentOS server?

        Oracle MySQL server version 8.0 is a free and open-source free database server. It is one of the most popular database system used in web apps and websites on the Internet.

        Typically MySQL is part of the LAMP (Linux, Apache/Nginx, MySQL, Perl/Python/PHP) stack. Popular open-source software such as WordPress, MediaWiki, and others profoundly used by MySQL as a database storage engine. Let us see how to install MySQL server version 8.x on CentOS 8 Linux server.

      • Linux Fu: VPN For Free With SSH | Hackaday

        If you see a lot of banner ads on certain websites, you know that without a Virtual Private Network (VPN), hackers will quickly ravage your computer and burn down your house. Well, that seems to be what they imply. In reality, though, there are two main reasons you might want a VPN connection. You can pay for a service, of course, but if you have ssh access to a computer somewhere on the public Internet, you can set up your own VPN service for no additional cost.

        The basic idea is that you connect to a remote computer on another network and it makes it look like all your network traffic is local to that network. The first case for this is to sidestep or enhance security. For example, you might want to print to a network printer without exposing that printer to the public Internet. While you are at the coffee shop you can VPN to your network and print just like you were a meter away from the printer at your desk. Your traffic on the shop’s WiFi will also be encrypted.

      • YANUB: yet another (nearly) useless blog: QSoas tips and tricks: using meta-data, first level

        By essence, QSoas works with \(y = f(x)\) datasets. However, in practice, when working with experimental data (or data generated from simulations), one has often more than one experimental parameter (\(x\)). For instance, one could record series of spectra (\(A = f(\lambda)\)) for different pH values, so that the absorbance is in fact a function of both the pH and \(\lambda\). QSoas has different ways to deal with such situations, and we’ll describe one today, using meta-data.

        [...]

        QSoas is a powerful open source data analysis program that focuses on flexibility and powerful fitting capacities. It is released under the GNU General Public License. It is described in Fourmond, Anal. Chem., 2016, 88 (10), pp 5050–5052. Current version is 2.2. You can download its source code there (or clone from the GitHub repository) and compile it yourself, or buy precompiled versions for MacOS and Windows there.

      • Many ways to sort file content on Linux

        The Linux sort command can arrange command output or file content in a lot more ways than you might realize–alphabetically, numerically, by month and randomly are only some of the more interesting choices. In this post, we take a look at some of the more useful sorting options and explain how they differ.

      • How to install Luminance HDR

        Luminance HDR is an open-source GUI tool that provides an easy to use toolkit for HDR imaging. It is available on all major Linux operating systems and is excellent for photographers. In this guide, we will go over how to install Luminance HDR on Linux.

      • How to add a WordPress user sign up – Anto Online

        Adding an external user sign up page on a website allows users to register for different roles. Once registered, they can perform tasks such as adding new articles, new comments, and even performing other actions such as designing.

        Allowing a user to sign up is a common thing for bloggers and companies that accept guest posts. However, this feature can also be used to offer premium content for your members. But, this may require more custom fields and branding. The default WordPress sign up page contains fixed fields and a WordPress logo.

      • How to install Lyrebird on a Chromebook – a Discord Voice Changer

        Today we are looking at how to install Lyrebird, a voice changer for Discord on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • How to play Brawlhalla on Linux

        Brawlhalla is a free-to-play 2D fighting game. It was developed by Blue Mammoth Games, published by Ubisoft, and released on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, and PC. In this guide, we’ll show you how to play it on Linux.

    • Games

      • Aerofly FS 2 Flight Simulator from IPACS is now available on Linux | GamingOnLinux

        Need to take to the skies? We can possibly help with that. Aerofly FS 2 Flight Simulator from IPACS recently quitely released a Linux version. They don’t seem to have announced it in a news post but it’s up and live on Steam right now. A reader emailed in about this, and the developer has confirmed it on their Steam forum.

        Looks like quite a detailed flight sim too with a number of aircraft included like the A320, B737-500, F-15, F-18, Aermacchi MB-339, King Air C90 GTx, Learjet 45, ASG 29 and Swift S1 gliders and more. After being released in Early Access in 2016, then a full release in 2017 it’s continued being supported for a long time now. Most recently, it had a big update adding in the EC135 helicopter along with a bunch of optimizations to the game.

      • Amnesia: Rebirth is easily one of the scariest and best games of 2020

        After a rough launch, Frictional Games have nicely fixed up Amnesia: Rebirth and overall the experience is one we’re not going to forget any time soon.

        “In Amnesia: Rebirth, you are Tasi Trianon, waking up deep in the desert of Algeria. Days have passed. Where have you been? What did you do? Where are the others? Retrace your journey, pull together the fragments of your shattered past; it is your only chance to survive the pitiless horror that threatens to devour you.”

        While our livestreamer did a full playthrough live on our Twitch Channel cheered on by viewers which you can watch through on-demand on our YouTube Channel, I was spending it entirely alone in a dark room with no one but myself to count on. Not the best idea, because I am a complete wimp. I’m at least honest about that though and Amnesia: Rebirth was, in a word, terrifying. Okay, not all the way through, but plenty of it was.

        Amnesia: Rebirth might be Frictional’s weirdest yet too. All of their games are strange in their own way but it feels like they really went hard on the darkness in Amnesia: Rebirth. It worked well though, not many games have made me terrified to look at a tiny window on a door before while I search a room for anything useful to keep me going that little bit longer.

      • Deep survival game Vintage Story has my full attention with the latest expansion

        Vintage Story has a huge new version almost ready to release, with a couple of Release Candidates going up for the 1.14 release and it’s looking awesome.

        This is the survival game for those of you who love the blocky style of Minecraft but want something deeper, something much more complex and exciting. With full Linux support, Vintage Story is a good choice and the developer is definitely dedicated to their idea.

        With the 1.14 update pulling in lots of often requested features including character customization, the “Steel Age” along with assorted items to build like a metal door and a mechanical powered Pulverizer building that can grind down things for you which looks awesome. Your body temperature now matters more too with clothing giving warmth, frost damage during harsh winters, lots of new blocks, new graphics with shader effects and lots more.

      • You can now try the RetroArch Playtest on Steam for Linux | GamingOnLinux

        With the awesome RetroArch application for running emulators and all sorts coming to Steam, they now have a Playtest available you can opt into to try it out.

        Using the new dedicated Steam Playtest feature announced by Valve in early November, developers can have a banner on their Steam store page letting users request access. So the Libretro team have put this up, and as of today it also has Linux builds available for testing.

      • PulseAudio 14.0 Released With Better USB Gaming Headset Support – Phoronix

        While in 2021 we might begin to see PipeWire replacing PulseAudio by default at least on bleeding-edge distributions like Fedora, for now PulseAudio still is the dominant sound server used by desktop Linux distributions. Rolling out today is PulseAudio 14.0.

        PulseAudio 14.0 comes with many changes compared to PulseAudio 13.0 that shipped all the way back in September of 2019.

      • “Anarch”, a new, public-domain Doom-like game coded from scratch in <256K

        I’ve argued that the video-game “Doom” is a sort of cultural version of Turing Completeness. Given that we’re jamming computers and screens into just about any device these days, inevitably (and delightfully) someone gets it to run Doom: Watches, digital cameras, ATMs, pregnancy sticks.

        But you know what’s even cooler? Creating your own new, original game in the exactly style of Doom, and making it so wildly resource-efficient that it fits in under 256K and will run on just about any computational device around.

        That’s what the programmer Miloslav Číž has done, with his new game “Anarch”. You can play it in your browser here or download it here; I just blasted away in it for a while, and it’s a hoot — he neatly channels the mechanics and twitchy low-rez aesthetics of the original. Gameplay trailer is here; he put it in the public domain, and the code is all here on Gitlab.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Customize Task Switching Experience on GNOME Desktop With These Nifty Tools

          Unless you’re new to Linux, you know that there are several popular desktop environment choices for users. And if you’re that newbie, I recommend you to learn what a desktop environment is along with this tutorial.

          Here, I shall be focusing on tweaking the task switching experience on GNOME. I know that the majority of users just tend to use it as is and stock settings are good enough for the most part.

          I mean there is nothing wrong with the application switcher that you use with Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut in Ubunt

        • Gnome Asia summit 2020
    • Distributions

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Adam Williamson: Site and blog migration

          So I’ve been having an adventurous week here at HA Towers: I decided, after something more than a decade, I’m going to get out of the self-hosting game, as far as I can. It makes me a bit sad, because it’s been kinda cool to do and I think it’s worked pretty well, but I’m getting to a point where it seems silly that a small part of me has to constantly be concerned with making sure my web and mail servers and all the rest of it keep working, when the services exist to do it much more efficiently. It’s cool that it’s still possible to do it, but I don’t think I need to actually do it any more.

          So, if you’re reading this…and I didn’t do something really weird…it’s not being served to you by a Fedora system three feet from my desk any more. It’s being served to you by a server owned by a commodity web hoster…somewhere in North America…running Lightspeed (boo) on who knows what OS. I pre-paid for four years of hosting before realizing they were running proprietary software, and I figured what the hell, it’s just a web serving serving static files. If it starts to really bug me I’ll move it, and hopefully you’ll never notice.

          [...]

          I also set up a Kolab Now account and switched my contacts and calendar to it, which was nice and easy to do (download the ICS files from Radicale, upload them to Kolab, switch my accounts on my laptops and phone, shut down the Radicale server, done). I also plan to have it serve my mail, but that migration is going to be the longest and most complicated as I’ll have to move several gigs of mail and re-do all my filters. Fun!

        • IBM Cloud Now: Instana Acquisition, myInvenio Partnership, and Lower Prices for RHOS on IBM Cloud
      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • A New Chrome OS-Like Ubuntu Remix is Now Available

          If you’ve used Chrome OS, you know there’s a beauty in the simplicity. Over the years, there have been a few attempts at recreating that same simplicity for Linux, but many of those distributions have vanished. From the creator of Ubuntu Unity, comes yet another attempt to create that user-friendly magic. The new distribution, called Ubuntu Web, is based on Ubuntu 20.04, and offers an open source take on Chrome OS.

          The developer, Rudy Saraswat, has employed the GNOME desktop (version 3.36) to pull this off and includes plenty of pre-installed apps to make Ubuntu Web a distribution anyone can use. Included in the app listing you’ll find web apps for Mastodon, Twitter, SoundCloud, and a number of others from the /e/ Foundation.

        • Canonical publishes LTS Docker Image Portfolio on Docker Hub

          The LTS Docker Image Portfolio comes with up to ten years Extended Security Maintenance by Canonical. “LTS Images are built on trusted infrastructure, in a secure environment, with guarantees of stable security updates,” said Mark Lewis, VP Application Services at Canonical. “They offer a new level of container provenance and assurance to organisations making the shift to container based operations.”

          Canonical and Docker will collaborate on Docker Official Images and LTS Docker Image Portfolio to bring the best of the two to the community and ecosystem. The entire LTS Docker Image Portfolio will be exempted from per-user rate limits.

        • Ubuntu Linux maker Canonical publishes curated container images to help secure software supply chains

          A good deal of software development now relies on open source images, but it can be hard for businesses to know if they’re introducing security flaws by using them.

          Canonical — the company behind Ubuntu Linux — is addressing this by publishing the LTS (Long Term Support) Docker Image Portfolio, a curated set of secure container application images, on Docker Hub.

          LTS Images are built on trusted infrastructure, in a secure environment, with guarantees of stable security updates. Canonical and Docker will collaborate on Docker Official Images and the LTS Docker Image Portfolio to bring the best of the two to the community and ecosystem. The entire LTS Docker Image Portfolio will also be exempted from per-user rate limits.

        • Ubuntu Fridge | Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 658

          Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 658 for the week of November 15 – 21, 2020. The full version of this issue is available here.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • On Safety Razors and Technology

        Think Windows on one side, vs Linux (and the BSDs) on the other (with macOS initially being in the middle and increasingly swaying to becoming even more constraining than Windows). Think proprietary gaming consoles and mobile IAP-chasing games, vs game platforms that encourage participation like TIC-80 and LÖVE. Think US-centric proprietary social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and services (Dropbox, Google Suite) vs distributed social networks (Mastodon, Pleroma, Diaspora etc.) and self-hosted services (Nextcloud, Cryptpad etc.).

        What are most people sacrificing to the altar of promised convenience? Literally both time and money: our attention, higher costs; also our autonomy (you’re locked in) and our privacy (… so platform owners can mine your attention and monetize what they observe of your behavior).

        If you believe in capitalism, this is bad news. If you don’t it’s even worse.

        [...]

        But in other jurisdictions like the US, regulation might be a long time coming, except maybe in California (plus the companies we’re trying to unshackle users from are mostly US-based). So a lot of the solution has to be bottom up.

        We simply need to lower barriers to entry, both actual and perceived, to using the platforms we’re championing. Some involve compromises (e.g. Flatpak is a great way to abstract away the differences between Linux distributions, to the point that it’s easier to install proprietary apps, including Steam – which improves the availability of games on Linux despite, yes, being proprietary). Some involve corporate backing (e.g. Fedora on Lenovo laptops). A lot would involve being more welcoming to newcomers, and bridging the actual usability gaps there are.

        It’s hard enough to overcome incumbency and the network effect. Let’s not make it harder for ourselves.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 7.1 Beta Released With Faster Spell Checking, Speedier Find And Replace – Phoronix

          LibreOffice 7.1 was branched this weekend that also marked the hard feature freeze for this next half-year update to this open-source office suite. LibreOffice 7.1 Beta has now shipped ahead of next month’s release candidate and the additional test releases in January before going gold in early February.

          LibreOffice 7.1 brings presentation improvements, an outline folding mode as an experimental feature, faster find/replace performance, faster spell checking performance within the Calc spreadsheets, new physics-based animations within Impress, LibreOffice Math now has full support for HTML colors, native support for Windows ARM64, and a wealth of low-level improvements.

        • Community Member Monday: Yusuf Keten – The Document Foundation Blog

          I was born on February 25, 1998 in Istanbul, Turkey. Currently I’m a third-year Computer Engineering student at Hacettepe University in Turkey. I really like coding. Nowadays, I am working on computer graphics. Also, I have academic projects about GPGPU programming. I am contributing to LibreOffice in my free time because of my enthusiasm for open source culture.

      • FSF

        • Moving into the future with the FSF tech team

          The FSF is well-known for spearheading the advocacy and support of free software, not just by recommending it in the face of pervasive proprietary options, but also by condemning nonfree software altogether. Following this recommendation is hard, even for us, because of the ever-increasing dependency on software and computer networks that we are all subject to. To follow through with our commitment, our tech team maintains a large list of services that many other offices our size would have long ago been wrongly pressured into transferring to one of the handful of gigantic corporations that monopolize those services.

          Your work email account is most likely implemented through Gmail or Outlook; your office’s software is likely to be served by Amazon Web Services, along with all the data backups; your company’s customer service is likely to be managed through Salesforce or SAP, and so on. Make no mistake, this is true for your local government and school networks, too!

          In contrast, at the FSF, we never jumped on the outsourcing wagon, and we don’t use any Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS) in our operations. We run our own email servers, telephony and fax service, print shop, full server stack, backups, networking, systems monitoring, accounting, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and a long list of other tasks and software development projects, with a team of just four extremely dedicated technicians. And we implement this on hardware that has been carefully evaluated to meet very high ethical standards, criteria that we push for vendors to achieve through our “Respects Your Freedom” certification program.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • GNU Guix 1.2 Adds Btrfs Subvolume Booting, New GNU Hurd Options

            GNU Guix 1.2 is out today as both an update to the cross-platform package manager as well as the Guix System Linux distribution.

            This release comes after being in development the past half-year and also on the 8th anniversary of this GNU project. GNU Guix 1.2 comes with new features, performance improvements, and many fixes to the package manager as well as the GNU/Linux system distribution.

          • GNU Guix 1.2.0 Released With Linux-libre 5.9.3, GNOME 3.34.2, More

            Celebrating the eighth anniversary of the GNU Guix project, Ludovic Courtès has announced the release of a new GNU Guix version 1.2.0.

            The latest v1.2.0 includes several new features, user interface, security update, performance improvements, and bug fixes. But before we see it in more detail, let me brief you about GNU Guix.

          • Gimp Turns 25
      • Programming/Development

        • Perl/Raku

          • 2020.47 Present Release – Rakudo Weekly News

            Alexander Kiryuhin again did all the hard work to create a new Rakudo Compiler release: the Rakudo Compiler 2020.11 Release! With a bunch of new features, such as new coercion semantics, support for the [|| ] and {|| } postcircumfix operators, a new is test-assertion trait for better error reporting during testing. Plus some efficiency improvements and quite a number of bug fixes and improvements.

            Sadly, shortly after the release it became clear that some typical workloads seem to be affected by a noticeable performance regression. This appears to be caused by the new coercion semantics inadvertently disabling some runtime optimizations. Fixing this has now become a blocker for the next release. It just goes to show that in Raku, it’s important to first make it work, and then make it work fast. And that a lot of users are already relying on those runtime optimizations.

        • Python

          • 13 Best Free and Open Source Python Microframeworks

            One of the types of software that’s important for a web developer is the web framework. A framework “is a code library that makes a developer’s life easier when building reliable, scalable, and maintainable web applications” by providing reusable code or extensions for common operations. By saving development time, developers can concentrate on application logic rather than mundane elements.

            A web framework offers the developer a choice about how to solve a specific problem. By using a framework, a developer lets the framework control portions of their application. While it’s perfectly possible to code a web application without using a framework, it’s more practical to use one.

        • Java

          • JDK 16: The new features in Java 16 | InfoWorld

            Java Development Kit (JDK) 16 has added two more proposed new features including strong encapsulation of JDK internals and a foreign linker API. Previously proposed features include a foreign-memory access API, pattern matching, a production-ready package tool, concurrent thread-stack processing for garbage collection, support for C++ 14 language features, and an “elastic metaspace” capability to more quickly return unused class metadata memory to the OS.

            JDK 16 will be the reference implementation of the version of standard Java set to follow JDK 15, which arrived September 15. A proposed release schedule has JDK 16 reaching rampdown phases on December 10 and January 14, 2021, followed by release candidates arriving February 4 and February 18, 2021. The production release is slated to be published March 16, 2021.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • The Internet Archive are keeping Flash creations alive with the open source Ruffle

        Like many of you, I have certain fond memories of playing various Flash games many years ago. There’s obviously many better ways to do web games now and Adobe are killing Flash in December.

        On December 31, Adobe will be cutting off Flash from any further updates, it will effectively be End Of Life. There’s a few projects around trying to keep it alive, like the open source Ruffle emulator written in Rust. Ruffle is still in development but even so the results are impressive, and it can already play thousands of Flash items. All you need is an up to date browser and it does it all for you with no plugins needed. If you have any Flash stuff, you can even test it online.

        Seems people have taken notice of this effort, like The Internet Archive who are known rather well for their Wayback Machine that stores websites at various dates. Announced in a blog post on November 19, the archive’s Jason Scott announced that they’re now storing and emulating various Flash animations, games and toys in their growing collection.

  • Leftovers

    • Have You Ever Loved Someone?

      The letting go is not out of hate, but out of an even deeper love, where truth and balance and harmony exist. Knowing that a more perfect love is not only possible, but something that must be and we are moved. Love, true love, the kind we imagine in our best moments, eventually always requires a full commitment to that which is real and honest.

      In real love, the masks come off, which of course is a grand part what makes love so enticing, exciting, and fun! Love of the other, in such a case requires, if it is to be of its fullest nature, requires that it needs to be coupled with that ever so important other ingredient in any mutual affection, self-respect and the kind of love “of self” that a respect of self generates.

    • Sharing the Landscape: Gator and Gunner Come To An Agreement, More or Less
    • Buy Nothing Day

      Although Buy Nothing Day can be celebrated as a holiday, most people consider it an anti-holiday. It is a day that is celebrated all over North America and Europe on the Friday after the United States’ Thanksgiving – on the same day as Black Friday. In a sense, this makes this holiday the anti-Black Friday, at least in the U.S. In some parts of Europe, however, it is celebrated on the last Saturday in November.

    • The Olympic Machine Meets With Protest in Tokyo

      It was a bizarre attempt at normality in highly abnormal times. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, visited Tokyo last week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic throttled Japan. In a highly scripted set of photo-ops throughout Tokyo, Bach projected a brand of buoyant optimism untroubled by the precariousness of our collective historical moment.

    • Science

      • Why Is Scientific Illiteracy So Acceptable?

        When it comes to science rather than mathematics, it isn’t so simple. Proudly proclaiming scientific illiteracy is not de rigueur. Instead another refrain has recently become popular among politicians and public figures: “I am not a scientist, but…” Equally prominent, is the statement “I believe in science” (as if there is a choice) which is then followed by some scientific gibberish.

        Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick once said, “Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.” The line between being scientifically or empirically controversial vs being politically controversial has been blurred to the point of erasure. In Washington, and many other seats of government throughout the world, belief trumps reality.

    • Education

      • For Some Workers, Schools Never Closed

        Before Covid-19 hit Lexington, Mass., Amy Morin loved her job helping special needs students at an elementary school. She still does, but now she also feels a creeping sense of dread.

      • Siberian student scales birch tree for internet access as classes move online

        Russian student Alexei Dudoladov has been forced to go to great lengths – or rather great heights – to attend classes online, having to climb a birch tree in his remote Siberian village every time he needs an internet connection.

        The 21-year-old, a popular blogger and a student at the Omsk Institute of Water Transport, located 2,225 kilometres (1,383 miles) east of Moscow, has got the authorities’ attention by pleading for better internet coverage from the top of a snow-covered birch tree.

        In his plea – viewed 1.9 million times on TikTok and more than 56,000 times on Instagram since last week – Dudoladov tells regional governor Alexander Burkov that his home internet is not strong enough to connect to his online classes and that he has been forced to come up with a creative solution.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • CDC ready for Biden transition: ‘This is what we’ve been waiting for’

        Leadership at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, beset by a Trump White House that was harshly critical of the agency’s coronavirus response, are anticipating the Biden transition team and the change a new administration will bring, senior health officials tell CNN.

      • Drugmakers Will Profit Off COVID Vaccines Generated by Taxpayer-Funded Research
      • Russian authorities launch investigation over forced sterilizations at assisted living facility in Yekaterinburg

        Russia’s Investigative Committee branch in the Sverdlovsk region has opened an investigation into reports of the forced sterilization of women at the Uktussky Assisted Living Facility in Yekaterinburg. This was reported by the news outlet Lampa Yekaterinburg on its Telegram channel. 

      • High Drug Prices Could Result in Premature Deaths of More Than 1.1 Million Seniors in Next Decade: Analysis

        “The costs of doing nothing about high drug prices are too high.”

      • Two School Districts Had Different Mask Policies. Only One Had a Teacher on a Ventilator.

        On a balmy August morning in Emanuel County in eastern Georgia, hundreds of children bounded off freshly cleaned school buses and out of their parents’ cars. They were greeted by the principal, teachers and staff at Swainsboro Middle School who hadn’t seen them in four months. Before allowing the children to enter, a longtime receptionist beamed a temperature gun at their foreheads and checked for violations of the public school’s strict dress code: mostly neutral colors, nothing tight and no shoulders exposed.

        Masks were optional, and about half of the children wore them. So did the receptionist, but only sporadically, according to several teachers.

      • What Could be Better Than a Drug That Can Stop Covid? A Society That Doesn’t Let Some Make Billions off a Drug Millions Can’t Access

        Now we find ourselves in a race of much greater import: the dash to develop an effective vaccine for Covid-19. The world now watches with that fabled bated breath. Pfizer, a Big Pharma behemoth, is running neck-in-neck with Moderna, a lavishly funded corporate upstart.

        Pfizer, first to announce trial results, reports 90 percent effectiveness rates for its pandemic-stopper. Moderna, not to be outdone, reports 95 percent success rates. We actually hit that brass ring, too, retorts Pfizer. And ours even works with older people!

      • A People’s Vaccine? Drugmakers Set to Profit from COVID Vaccines Made with Publicly Funded Research

        With the world pinning its hopes on a successful coronavirus vaccine to curb the pandemic, corporate watchdogs say much of the research and development of the medicines rely on publicly funded research. “The investment in these vaccines, as for most drugs, has really been underwritten by the taxpayer, by the government,” says Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

      • Steak-umm vs. COVID-19 misinformation

        Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US nine months ago, a number of bizarre things that I never thought I’d see have happened. For example, I never thought I’d see a President of the United States promote unproven treatments for a deadly viral illness, as President Trump did with hydroxychloroquine. (Dr. Mehmet Oz and other medical grifters promoting unproven treatments, sure, but the President of the United States? Well, I guess I did forget momentarily who our President was.) Nor did I ever think I’d see a President say such incredibly stupid things about potential treatments for such a disease, including using light and disinfectants internally to fight the coronavirus. Don’t get me wrong, though. Given my background, certainly, I did expect there to be COVID-19 conspiracy theories and wasn’t particularly surprised to see the antivaccine movement team up so quickly with COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and cranks given their shared world view viewing the same groups as villains hiding “The Truth” from you—yes, you!—but even I was a bit taken aback at how vociferously antimask ideology became a thing even though masks do work (COVID-19 denier misinterpretations of studies notwithstanding) to slow the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the strangest thing, though, that happened during the pandemic is the rise of the most unexpected source of reason, science, and information to fight disinformation. I’m referring to the Twitter feed of a frozen meat company called Steak-umm.

      • 120,000 too many: Russia’s coronavirus mortality statistics at odds with spike in excess deaths during the pandemic, report says

        The official mortality statistics from Russia’s operational headquarters for the fight against the coronavirus contradict the country’s excess mortality rate for 2020, says a new report from “Mediazona.” Based on data from Russia’s federal statistics agency and regional registry offices, “Mediazona” calculated that in the last seven months, Russia has seen 120,000 more people die than on average for this same period over the last five years. The country’s coronavirus headquarters, on the other hand, has only counted 28,200 deaths from COVID-19 during this period. 

      • Newsom, family quarantining after exposure to COVID-19
      • We’re celebrating Thanksgiving amid a pandemic. Here’s how we did it in 1918 – and what happened next

        “Every time I hear someone say these are unprecedented times, I say no, no, they’re not,” said Brittany Hutchinson, assistant curator at the Chicago History Museum. “They did this in 1918.”

        On Thanksgiving more than a century ago, many Americans, like today, lived under various phases of quarantines and face mask orders. Millions mourned loved ones. And health officials in many cities issued the same holiday warning: Stay home and stay safe.

      • NY’s Cuomo to receive International Emmy for virus briefings

        International Academy President & CEO Bruce L. Paisner said Cuomo is being honored with the academy’s Founders Award for using his briefings to inform and calm the public. Previous recipients include former Vice President Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, and director Steven Spielberg.

        “The governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,” he said. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.”

      • Patrick Quinn, co-creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, dies

        The men’s spin on the trend, in which social media users filmed themselves being doused in a bucket of ice-water and then nominating friends to do the same, encouraged participants to donate to ALS research after completing the challenge.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Manchester United forced to take systems offline following cyberattack

          Manchester United said in a statement Nov. 20 that it had extensive protocols and procedures in place for such an event and had rehearsed for this risk. It added that “our cyber defenses identified the attack and shut down affected systems to contain the damage and protect data.”

          Media channels including the club’s website, mobile app and streaming service were unaffected by the attack and no personal data is believed to have been stolen.

        • Apple’s global security chief and two members of Sheriff’s office indicted for alleged bribery
        • iPads for gun permits: Apple global security chief indicted in bribery case

          The head of global security at Apple and two top officials from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and a local business owner have been accused in a grand jury indictment of exchanging bribes for concealed gun permits, the Morgan Hll Times, a newspaper in California, has reported.

        • Apple Security Head Charged With Bribery for Gun Licenses

          A California district attorney accused Apple Inc. Chief Security Officer Thomas Moyer of offering a bribe to state officials for gun licenses, according to indictments issued on Monday.

          Moyer was named along with Santa Clara County Undersherrif Rick Sung and Captain James Jensen in a case that involved offering bribes in return for concealed firearms licenses, according to a court document and a statement from the Santa Clara district attorney’s office.

        • Apple head of security accused of offering iPads as bribes for concealed gun permits

          A California grand jury has indicted Apple’s head of global security on charges that he tried to bribe Santa Clara County officials to procure firearms (CCW) licenses, according to a news release. Santa Clara district attorney Jeff Rosen alleges that Thomas Moyer offered 200 iPads — worth about $70,000 — to Capt. James Jensen and Undersheriff Rick Sung in the Santa Clara County sheriff’s office, in exchange for four concealed firearms licenses for Apple employees.

          The charges came after a two-year investigation. “In the case of four CCW licenses withheld from Apple employees, Undersheriff Sung and Cpt. Jensen managed to extract from Thomas Moyer a promise that Apple would donate iPads to the Sheriff’s Office,” Rosen said in the news release. The iPads were never delivered, according to Rosen’s office, because Sung and Moyer became aware in 2019 that the district attorney was executing a search warrant for the sheriff department’s CCW records.

        • Security

          • Israel cyber directorate warns of remotely exploitable Drupal flaw

            A warning has been issued by the Israel National Cyber Directorate about a critical remote code execution flaw in the Drupal content management system.

          • Australian legal industry provider Law In Order hit by Windows ransomware

            Australian end-to-end document and digital solutions provider to the legal industry Law In Order says it has suffered a “cyber security incident” and has had to limit access to most of its website as a precaution.

          • Critical VMware Zero-Day Bug Allows Command Injection; Patch Pending

            VMware explained it has no patch for a critical escalation-of-privileges bug that impacts both Windows and Linux operating systems and its Workspace One.

            The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is warning of a zero-day bug affecting six VMware products including its Workspace One, Identity Manager and vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager.

            The critical unpatched bug is a command injection vulnerability.

            In a separate VMware advisory, the company did not indicate whether the vulnerability was under active attack. Tracked as CVE-2020-4006, the bug has a CVSS severity rating of 9.1 out of 10. The company said patches are “forthcoming” and that workarounds “for a temporary solution to prevent exploitation of CVE-2020-4006” are available.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Russia’s Cabinet mandates pre-installed Russian-made apps on all new devices starting in 2021

              Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed a government decree obliging electronics manufacturers to install Russian-made software on new devices — including smartphones, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and smart TVs — as of January 1, 2021.

            • Florida Sheriff’s Pre-Crime Software Says D-Students And Victims Of Domestic Violence Are Potential Criminals

              Predictive policing is coming for your children. That’s what’s happening in Florida, where the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has taken an inappropriate interest in minors. It all begins with some questionable access to sensitive records and ends with the Sheriff deciding some students are destined for a life of crime. (h/t WarOnPrivacy)

            • Research Shows iOS Covid Apps Are A Privacy Mess

              Jonathan Albright, director of the Digital Forensics Initiative at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, recently released analysis he did into 493 COVID-19 related iOS apps across dozens of countries. The results are…not great, and highlight how such apps routinely hoover up far more data than they need to, including unneeded access to cameras and microphones, your photo gallery, your contacts, and far more location data than is needed. Much of this data then winds up in the adtech ecosystem for profit, where it winds up in the hands of third parties.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • US Must Halt Renewed War Between Morocco and Polisario

        We must act swiftly to prevent war and further conflict, end the occupation, and allow Sahrawis to make their decision on union with Morocco or independence. 

      • Should Michèle Flournoy be Secretary of Defense?
      • Russian peacekeeper injured in mine explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh

        A Russian peacekeeper has been injured in a mine explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh, reports Interfax on Monday, November 23, citing Russia’s Defense Ministry.

      • FBI Turns A Man With Mental Health Issues Into A ‘Terrorist,’ Busts Him For Using The Internet

        Another FBI counterterrorism “investigation” has turned someone with mental health issues into a potential long term tenant of the federal prison system. The arrest happened in August, but the documents related to the arrest weren’t unsealed until earlier this month.

      • Message to Joe Biden: No Torturers in the Next Cabinet

        Biden and Harris must eschew anyone complicit in torture or who frustrated oversight.

      • What If They Called an Election and Nothing Changed in the War State?

        Foreign policy, sacred cows, and the U.S. Military.

      • Biden’s Secretary of State Pick Showed Support of Iraq and Libya Invasions
      • Reports of Meeting Between Netanyahu, Pompeo, bin Salman Spark Fear of Iran War
      • #FeminismNotMilitarism: Peace Groups Blast Biden’s DNI Pick Over Links to Drones, Torture, and Mass Surveillance

        CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies recently noted that Avril Haines “provided legal cover” for CIA torture and “worked closely” on the Obama administration’s expanded drone policy. 

      • Hey Joe, Where You Going With That Pentagon in Your Hands?

        The pernicious and lucrative aspects of military madness are personified in the favorite to be Biden’s Defense Secretary.

      • ‘Iran in the Crosshairs?’ Reports of Secret Meeting Between Netanyahu, MbS, and Pompeo Spark Fears of War Plot

        “It is extremely alarming that the warmongers most reliant on Trump’s blank checks are secretly meeting in the middle of the night as the clock nearly runs out on the Trump administration.”

      • The Yemen Civil War Arms Bonanza

        They do, and will continue to do so, despite the cholera outbreak, coronavirus, poorly functioning hospitals, and 10 million hungry mouths. The latest illustration of this is the Trump administration’s hurried $23 billon sale of 50 F-35 fighter aircraft, 18 MQ-9B Reaper drones, air-to-air missiles and various other munitions to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE used to be a more enthusiastic member of the Saudi Arabian-led coalition that has been pounding Yemen since 2015. Despite completing a phased military withdrawal from the conflict in February 2020 to much fanfare, Abu Dhabi remains involved in the coalition and an influential agent. Amnesty International has issued a grim warning that such weapons might well be used in “attacks that violate international humanitarian law and kill, as well as injure, thousands of Yemeni civilians.”

        With the imminent change of administration in the United States, there is a moral flutter in Congressional ranks, though much of it remains meek and slanted. Democratic Senators Bob Menendez (NJ) and Chris Murphy (Conn.), along with Republican Senator Rand Paul (Ky) intend introducing separate resolutions disapproving of President Donald Trump’s sale. Menendez felt morally mighty in warning the Trump administration that “circumventing deliberative processes for considering a massive infusion of weapons to a country in a volatile region with multiple ongoing conflicts is downright irresponsible.”

      • Dagestani police colonel accused of complicity in 2010 Moscow subway bombings

        On Monday, November 23, Russian state investigators charged Dagestani Police Colonel Gazi Isayev with complicity in a 2010 terrorist attack on the Moscow subway system. Isayev has headed a district police department in Dagestan for a decade. State investigators maintain that he is also responsible for leaking information on special operations to local militant groups, and sources told the media that he is potentially under suspicion for organizing murders, as well. 

      • France’s Macron asks Muslim leaders to back ‘republican values’ charter

        The CFCM has agreed to create a National Council of Imams, which will reportedly issue imams with official accreditation which could be withdrawn.

        It follows three suspected Islamist attacks in little more than a month.

        The charter will state that Islam is a religion and not a political movement, while also prohibiting “foreign interference” in Muslim groups.

      • Trump, GOP’s ridiculous, flailing coup isn’t a joke. It’s a crime. There must be consequences | Will Bunch

        But it’s time now for all the laughter to die in outrage. Because we need to state in the clearest and most unambiguous terms what is happening in America in November 2020: The president of the United States is using the power of his office to try to overturn, by any means necessary, the fair and democratic election that will remove him from office. In a nation that stakes its claim to “exceptionalism” on 44 peaceful transfers of power (despite one that wasn’t) over 231 years, its current leader is attempting a coup.

        It’s not a joke. It’s a crime. And there ought to be consequences — for Trump and his enablers, and to ensure this never happens again.

      • Trump’s Coup Attempt Will Be a Very Costly Failure

        Meanwhile, most Republican voters don’t think Joe Biden won fairly, despite election officials — including Republicans, who are now getting death threats from other Republicans — saying it might have been among the fairest elections on record. Trump and his enablers in Congress and right-wing media are treating their own supporters with sneering contempt, writes Jonathan Bernstein, but the damage is done: Many of these people may never accept a loss as legitimate again.

      • In Another Country This Would Be Called a Coup: Detroit NAACP Head on Trump Trying to Overturn Vote

        As part of the unprecedented attempt to keep President Trump in office despite his election loss, Republicans have focused on Michigan, where the party is seeking a delay in the certification of the vote results and to throw out votes from Detroit, which is overwhelmingly Black. A group of Michigan Republicans met with President Trump at the White House last week in what was widely viewed as an attempt by Trump to personally pressure the lawmakers to block Biden from being awarded the state’s 16 electoral votes. “This is an attempt to disenfranchise the African American vote and to give the election to Trump,” says Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. “If we were in a different country, this would be called a coup, a political coup.”

      • The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency

        They are probably right. Then again, we in the media don’t have a great record for recognizing coups when they are staring us in the face. One of the best critiques of American journalism, still taught today because it remains relevant a hundred years after its publication, is an essay by Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, “A Test of the News,” which analyzed the Times’ failure to cover the Russian Revolution. But Russian journalists missed it, too. On October 25, 1917, my great-grandfather, Arnold Gessen, wrote a long article for Petrograd’s Birzheviye Vedomosti (Stock Market News)—the Wall Street Journal of its time and place. He had been serving as the paper’s parliamentary correspondent since the Russian parliament had been formed, twelve years earlier. Great-grandpa Arnold explained that the Bolsheviks ought not to be taken seriously, because they were a bunch of grifters with no political plan. His article was printed the following day—November 8, 1917, on the Western calendar—in what turned out to be the last issue of Birzheviye Vedomosti: it was promptly shuttered by the Bolsheviks, who had seized power.

        “Con versus coup” might be a false dichotomy. A coup is a power claim made illegitimately, often but not always with the use of force, sometimes illegally but sometimes within the bounds of a constitution. A con is a mushy term: it can be a criminal act or simply an unethical one, perhaps just wily and manipulative. A con, in other words, is an illegitimate act of persuasion. A coup always begins as a con. If the con is successful—if the power claim is persuasive—then a coup has occurred.

      • The Danger (and Ineptitude) of Trump’s Failed Coup

        As a straightforward putsch, it’s too little, too late. Trump failed to come up with a theory for disqualifying crucial states in time, settled on one so silly many Republicans can’t convince themselves of its validity, and failed to lay the groundwork to overrule the election. And while his maneuvers won’t prevent Biden from taking office on January 20, they will serve several other purposes. First, the coup attempt provides Trump with a narrative to sustain his next venture. In the decades-old Trumpian mythos, he never loses; every event must be categorized either as Trump winning or Trump being treated very unfairly. Having now established the latter to the satisfaction of a large segment of the party base, Trump can fulfill plans he has been reportedly discussing to monetize his loyalty as a media brand, run again in 2024, or perhaps both. The Trump cult will stay in place, and any Republican with national ambitions will feel compelled to draw upon its energy and defer to his twisted alt-history. A Reuters interview of 50 Trump supporters found every one of them calling the election rigged or illegitimate and only 20 even open to the possibility of accepting a Biden win.

        Second, the stolen-election narrative helpfully motivates the right to despise Biden. Biden’s personality has been the weakest point in the Trump campaign all along. Republicans could not get their voters to hate and fear the Democratic nominee as they did Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Whipping them up against his “stolen election,” and priming them to view the Biden presidency itself as illegitimate, does the base-mobilization work for them.

        Third, and most dangerously, it gives Trump a pretext for withholding cooperation from the incoming Biden administration. Trump’s order forbidding all federal officials from cooperating with the normal transition planning has been felt most keenly in the pandemic response. Staffers at the Department of Health and Human Services “have been informed that if anyone from Biden’s team contacts them, they are not to communicate with them and should instead alert the deputy surgeon general of the communication,” CNN reported. Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed public alarm at the failure to loop in the next president.

      • Donald Trump is attempting a coup. I fear what comes next

        My three days and nights on the streets of Moscow were the most exhilarating and the most frightening of my career.

        No one knew who was in control of the military and law-enforcement agencies. That question was crucial in determining the fate of the plot.

        Finally, with most of the armed forces supporting Yeltsin, the conspirators were arrested and imprisoned. Gorbachev returned to Moscow, where he ruled for four more months, until the Soviet Union officially dissolved that Christmas Eve.

        Twenty-nine years later, Donald Trump has flipped the script.

        Once again, there is a coup attempt from the highest government levels of a superpower.

        Only this time, the president isn’t being held hostage.

        This time, it’s democracy itself.

        This time, the coup comes from inside the Oval Office.

      • Just because Trump’s coup is comically inept doesn’t make it less dangerous

        There isn’t much chance that all the effort will pay off in a second Trump term. Biden’s victory margin is just too large, even if barely so. But even if it doesn’t work, Trump’s half-baked coup attempt is setting a precedent that elections are just an opening bid. From that point, the loser can simply negotiate—a few ballots thrown away here, some questionable affidavits there—and either overturn the results, or at the very least invalidate them in the eyes of half the electorate.

        We are heading down a dark path, and laughing all the way about the shoddy paving.

      • Alarm over Trump’s ‘coup’ in slow motion

        Many political analysts and commentators are sounding alarm over what they see as a coup. “The legal ‘challenges to the election are toast. Realizing the courts are a lost cause, Trump is now trying to convince elected officials to overturn the will of the voters. This is a political coup that is the definition of anti-democracy,” Daniel Goldman, a former Congressional counsel warned.

        Full-fledged editorials are now appearing in US newspapers and international dailies referring to an unfolding coup. There is also alarm over some of the more ardent Trump aides urging his followers to “retake the country” — words seen as a call to arms to militant groups.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Are the American Media Legitimizing Terror Attacks in France?

        This is also a major difference between France and the American mainstream outlets, of which some apparently would even like to change the date of foundation of the United States. The New York Times’s “1619 Project” could serve as Exhibit A for this new “manipulation of history”.

        Macron plans to fight “Islamist separatism”. We do not know if the French president’s project will be successful; it is legitimate to have doubts about its real effectiveness in stopping the disintegration of French society operated by the extremist communitarianism that feeds terrorism. We are not, all the same, allowed to accuse France of racism and “Islamophobia”, as the Anglophone media is obsessively doing. It seems that the entire American media has decided to blame the victim of terrorism.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • The Krugman Boom? Don’t Count on It

        He argues that this will lead to a spending boom, as consumers have accumulated savings through the slump and will now be in a position to spend lots of money. As a model he points to the boom in 1983 and 1984 after the Fed lowered interest rates.

        While I have not been one of the doomsayers predicting economic collapse, I can’t be as optimistic as Paul on this one. First, just to be clear, Krugman does not at all question the need for immediate and substantial stimulus. In the next few months, with the pandemic spreading largely unchecked until vaccines become widely available, millions of people will be thrown out of work as restaurants, bars and other businesses in the service sector are either forced to close or see demand collapse even if they remain open.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Pennsylvania certifies Biden win over Trump in presidential election
      • The Smoke Rings of My Mind

        I felt really good to finally have gotten out of the prison day-camp Catholic boys high school I’d been in for 4 years, and out of the nice suburban North Shore Long Island town my family lived in during my adolescence (before that being in New York City); and I had a brand spanking new draft deferment that I thought would insulate me from the carnage of the Vietnam War, which was at its peak at that time with the Tet Offensive.

        In fact, Lyndon Johnson’s televised speech with the surprise announcement that he would not seek reelection in November 1968 happened two days after my 18th birthday, after which I had to troop down to the post office and register for the draft. That didn’t feel too good believe me, because I’d watched the news and read the papers daily all through high school. Those were my “Greta Thunberg” years, 1964-1968: from the Bay of Tonkin con-job and 1965’s Marine invasion of South Vietnam — “escalatio” as Tom Lehrer called it — to Tet, erupting on January 31, 1968, and pulsing through three bloody phases that year; when I was dreading the fucked-up situation the adults were shoving my way (you know: die for us, it’s good for “the country”).

      • A Man-Child in A Promised Land

        It sucked. The interview that is. I can’t and won’t read the memoir. Myself also (like Obama) the author of three books on Obama, I have read enough of the 44th president’s dreary, pedantic, fake-progressive, and fake-poetic prose to last a lifetime. No more, please.

        The interview warmed the Obama fan Goldberg’s heart by “remind[ing him] of what a thoughtful president sounds like.”

      • Portland, Maine Passes Facial Recognition Ban That Says The City Can Fire Employees For Violating It

        Another facial recognition ban has been passed, bringing a bit more enforceable privacy to the eastern side of the nation. Most of the ban action to date has been on the West Coast, with small pockets of resistance popping up elsewhere. Well, mainly just Massachusetts. The latest ban passed during the most recent election, gives Portland, Maine residents the freedom to live their lives with a little less panopticon.

      • Neither harmless nor distant How Russian state conservatism combines emancipation and tradition to undermine women’s rights and suppress sexual awareness

        Many in Russia are inclined to dismiss the bluster of state conservatism as a largely meaningless sideshow. After all, the nation’s laws protecting women’s rights remain relatively liberal, and even the loudest speeches by right-wing politicians have virtually no effect on the everyday lives of the denizens inhabiting Russia’s big cities, where women are part of the workforce, where they get proper healthcare, and where the state apparently doesn’t interfere in their lives. In an article for Meduza, European University at St. Petersburg Sociology Professor of Public Health and Gender Anna Temkina explains how Russia’s “conservative turn” is in fact quite real for many women. 

      • To Prevent ‘Active Sabotage’ of His Agenda, Biden Urged to Clean House of Trump Loyalists on Day One

        “The next administration must consider all possibilities, including unconventional but legal removals, to get the federal government working for the public interest as quickly as possible.”

      • Crashing Against the Glass Ceiling

        Jews have long held important positions at all levels of government, but have never been closer to the highest office since the vice-presidential bid of Senator Joseph Lieberman. An argument can be made that Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 was far away from being even close to liberal, but of major party candidates in this duopoly, he got as close as has been recorded.

        In a post-election discussion of her multiethnic background, Kamala Harris noted that besides being of Black and South Asian heritage, she is married to a Jew (“Doug Emhoff prepares to brake new ground as America’s second gentleman,” Guardian, November 11, 2020). Her status as a woman also broke through another glass ceiling. Marriage doesn’t count as an attribute, however, since partners in the US can’t ascend to political office.

      • The Liberal Establishment Is ‘a Stranger to Self-Examination’

        How might we explain to youths, who have witnessed a world turned upside down by Covid-19 and the rise of strongmen around the world, the liberal triumphalism of the 1990s and 2000s? How might they, for instance, respond to Francis Fukuyama’s pronouncement at the end of the Cold War that “what we may be witnessing [is] the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”?

      • Here’s the Truth: The Oligarchy Loves This Democratic Decay and Politics of Lies

        American political leaders display a widening disconnect from reality intended to mask their complicity in the seizure of power by global corporations and billionaires.

      • Georgia GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler Just Got Caught Violating the Law

        Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler is the richest member of the United States Senate, but that hasn’t stopped the appointed senator from making an illegal pitch for money to fund her embattled bid for a full term in the chamber.

      • The Day After
      • Pussy Riot activists fined for rainbow flag protests on Putin’s birthday

        On Monday, November 23, two Moscow courts handed down fines to Pussy Riot activists Maria Alyokhina and Veronika Nikulshina for a protest action they conducted on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s birthday, reports MBX Media. 

      • ‘The People of Michigan Have Spoken’: Trump Defeat More Official Than Ever After Board Certifies Election Results

        A Democratic county clerk warned that a vote against certifying the results of the state’s November election would “signal that democracy is dying in Michigan.”

      • Future of American Democracy: On Inequality, Polarization and Violence

        The demotion of a country that has constantly prided itself, not only on being democratic but also on championing democracy throughout the world, took many by surprise. Some US pundits challenged the findings altogether.

        However, judging by events that have transpired since, the accuracy of the EIU Index continues to demonstrate itself in the everyday reality of American politics: the extreme political and cultural polarization; growing influence of armed militias, police violence; mistreatment of undocumented immigrants, including children; marginalization of the country’s minorities in mainstream politics and so on.

      • US Political Crisis Just Entered More Dangerous Phase

        The veil of Democracy in America is being ripped away from the body politic right before our eyes. Not only can the Electoral College thwart the popular vote for president; but there are even more nefarious ways for political elites to circumvent the Electoral College if they don’t like it.

        The electoral college is, of course, the means by which the popular vote for the president is prevented. Instead of Democracy’s principle of ‘one person, one vote’, we have electors who are selected by their state legislatures who then cast their vote for president. That’s the appearance. But it’s even worse than that.

      • Democrats No Longer Have a Coalition

        In 2008, Barack Obama was widely described as having built a game-changing political coalition: young people, racial and ethnic minorities, educated professionals, urban and suburban voters. He was held to have built an innovative campaign infrastructure, leveraging big data and social media in an unprecedented way, increasing turnout and Democratic vote share with constituencies that are typically underrepresented at the ballot box.

      • Trump’s Election Fraud Claims Don’t Appear in Result-Challenge Lawsuits
      • All Eyes on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona — Will They Certify?
      • ‘Elite Strike Force’? Trump Legal Team Throws Right-Wing Attorney Sidney Powell Under the Bus as Coup Attempt Flails

        “It’s OK to laugh at this hilarious clown car and yet appreciate that what’s going here is deadly serious. These tactics will go nowhere but still infect our democracy with doubt.”

      • Profiles in Cowardice

        Most elected Republicans in Washington are failing the test by refusing to stand up to Trump. Their cowardice is one of the worst betrayals of public trust in the history of our republic.

      • As Biden Taps Blinken as Secretary of State, Critics Denounce Support for Invasions of Iraq and Libya

        “In the U.S., there is no accountability for supporting the worst foreign policy disaster in modern history. Only rewards.”

      • Trump’s Massive, Lawless, and Immoral Legacy to Our Country Will Continue Unless …

        Refusing to concede, however, so as to prolong his crazed fantasies, Trump is distracting the mass media from his looting of the Executive Branch departments to the advantage of big business bosses and his failing family enterprises. Expect this to continue until January 20, 2021. (See my op-ed titled: “If Trump loses, expect him to exact revenge on his way out” Boston Globe, August 10, 2020).

        Trump and his cronies will get away with their crime sprees unless Joe Biden has a Justice Department team that will follow the law and prosecute any government official who broke the law. In 2009, Barack Obama let law-breaking Wall Streeters and the Bush/Cheney war criminals become successful fugitives from justice.

      • What Will a Biden Presidency Mean for the Asia-Pacific Region?

        It is unlikely that Joe Biden will continue Trump’s trade war with China. That would simply be too destabilizing for everyone. Not only is the U.S. greatly dependent on China for so many of its industrial imports, but so many countries are dependent on China as a market for their exports.

        This is not only for raw materials and agricultural goods, as in the case of Africa and Latin America, respectively, but also industrial goods, as in the case of Southeast Asia, which manufactures components that are shipped to China, assembled there, then sent to the U.S., Europe, and everywhere else.

      • Trump’s Wisconsin Recount Observers Are Breaking Rules, Making Absurd Challenges
      • Biden’s Moral Hazard

        Next month will mark a year since US newspapers published the Afghan Papers, a mass trove of secret US government documents that irrefutably detailed a coordinated effort by the US government, through three presidential administrations, to lie to the American people and their elected leaders, about the war in Afghanistan. Of course, these lies of the Afghan War followed the lies that made possible the US invasion and destruction of Iraq. The 2011 war in Libya was another war built on lies, as documented by the British Parliament. Slips of the tongue and leaks by senior US officials, including the incoming US President, have shown the US and its allies’ role in the Syrian war to be in support of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Lies, perjury and propaganda characterize what the US people have been told with regards to torture; intelligence surveillance of their phones and computers; the incredibly high rate of civilians killed by US drones, including American citizens; and the presence of US forces in Africa, including hiding knowledge US soldiers have been killed and wounded in countries that senior members of Congress had no idea US troops were in.

        The lies to elected officials and the American people continue. This month, Ambassador James Jeffrey, explained to journalists how he intentionally lied to the President of the United States about the number of troops in Syria. In case you think this is fine because the President was Donald Trump, remember it was the computers of Democratic Senators who were hacked and monitored by the CIA in retaliation for the Senate’s investigation of the CIA’s torture program.

      • What Biden Can Do About the Israeli-Palestinian Mess He’ll Inherit

        As if finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict weren’t difficult enough, the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government seem hell-bent on making this already bad situation even worse. Sensing that the Trump era will soon be over, members of his team and the Israelis are racing against the clock to implement new “facts on the ground” that will, they hope, permanently alter the political landscape in Israel’s favor.

      • How Long Can Biden Avoid Confronting Trump?

        Refusing to concede his loss in the presidential election, Donald Trump continues to spin absurd conspiracy theories, file vexatious lawsuits, pressure state lawmakers to overturn vote counts, and in general stonewall the transition to the next presidency. On Sunday night, Trump sent out one of his typically nonsensical tweets, writing, “In certain swing states, there were more votes than people who voted, and in big numbers. Does that not really matter? Stopping Poll Watchers, voting for unsuspecting people, fake ballots and so much more. Such egregious conduct. We will win!”

      • “Frankenstein’s Monster”: Judge Slams Trump Team’s Efforts to Overturn Election Results

        As President Trump’s unprecedented campaign to overturn the results of the presidential election drags on, over two dozen lawsuits filed by his legal team have been dismissed or withdrawn. The Trump team is now focusing on delaying or blocking the certification of the election in several states while trying to toss out votes in cities with large Black populations, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta. New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon says the Trump legal team’s efforts have so far lacked real substance, with the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani “treating court as if it’s cable news.” She also says more Republican lawmakers need to stand up against Trump’s attempt to subvert democracy.

      • Trump Is Blowing Up the Georgia GOP—and It Couldn’t Happen at a Better Time

        Never underestimate the capacity of Republicans to put aside differences and “come home” just before an election, but right now I’d say Donald Trump’s insults and demands that Georgia Republicans somehow overturn Joe Biden’s stunning if narrow win there—after they certified it on Friday—is inflicting genuine damage to the campaigns of GOP Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

      • Moscow Court rejects Navalny’s lawsuit against Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

        Moscow’s Presnensky District Court has dismissed opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s defamation lawsuit against Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. 

      • The Birther Myth Stuck Around For Years. The Election Fraud Myth Might Too.

        A significant number of Americans currently believe the 2020 election was stolen, even though it wasn’t. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week showed 52 percent of Republicans believe President Trump “rightfully won” the election. But the only “evidence” of election fraud has been widely debunked.

        An optimist might think the public will gradually drop this election fraud myth as the Trump campaign’s lawsuits are thrown out, recounts and audits are conducted, and, eventually, Joe Biden is sworn in as president. But we’ve seen Trump try to falsely claim a president is illegitimate before, as he spent years claiming without evidence that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and thus ineligible to be president. If this recent saga is anything like the birtherism movement, it’s not going anywhere.

      • 3 Hong Kong activists incl. Joshua Wong remanded in custody over 2019 demo, sentencing next Wed

        Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow have been remanded in custody on unauthorised assembly charges linked to the siege of the police headquarters in Wan Chai last June. The trio will face sentencing next Wednesday.

      • Right-Wing Social Media Finalizes Its Divorce From Reality

        Parler, whose backers include the conservative donor Rebekah Mercer and the prominent pro-Trump activist Dan Bongino, was founded in 2018 and began marketing itself to a right-wing audience that felt victimized by supposed censorship on mainstream social platforms. The conspiratorial right-wing media outlet Epoch Times was an early adopter, but most prominent conservative media figures did not join until June 2020, when Twitter took the bold step of fact-checking the president’s tweets. That supposed injustice prompted a recruitment drive for Parler, where posts are neither fact-checked nor labeled, even when demonstrably false. Influential figures such as Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Representative Devin Nunes tweeted about the app. Senator Ted Cruz made a two-minute video declaring that he was joining Parler, and exhorting his followers to join him on the platform: “Let’s speak freely.” For some of American conservatism’s highest-profile figures to insinuate that they were being censored was patently absurd, but the publicity push still won Parler a few hundred thousand new users over a three-day span. By early July, the service claimed 2.8 million users. Parler attracted approximately 1 million downloads in the five days following November 3, and COO Jeffrey Wernick recently put the app’s user count at nearly 9 million. (By comparison, Twitter has 330 million active users globally; Facebook has 2.7 billion, and 255 million in the United States alone.)

      • Epidemiologist warns of “contagion” of violent speech coming “from the White House”

        Dr. Gary Slutkin is an epidemiologist who spent years working with the World Health Organization to respond to the AIDS crisis and epidemics in Africa and Latin America. After returning to the United States in the 1990s, he “saw the problem that the U.S. was having with violence.” He soon launched a project that eventually became Cure Violence, a non-governmental organization that “stops the spread of violence in communities by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control.”

      • Rush Limbaugh Criticizes Trump Campaign for Hyping Up ‘Blockbuster’ Voter Fraud Evidence: ‘Nothing Happened… Not Good’

        “You call a gigantic press conference like that, one that lasts an hour,” Limbaugh said. “And you announce massive bombshells, then you better have some bombshells.”

      • Trump fears Giuliani and other Biden vote challenge lawyers are fools
      • Georgia Senate race reminds Republicans they don’t have a lock on ‘God talk’
      • Biden team pushing Democrats to strike quick stimulus deal with GOP: report – Business Insider

        The surge in virus cases is causing another wave of restrictions and closures that experts say could damage the economic recovery.

      • White House Christmas tree arrives, continuing tradition amid Covid-19 and election disputes – CNNPolitics

        First lady Melania Trump welcomed the 2020 White House Christmas tree Monday afternoon, continuing the long-held tradition even as the coronavirus pandemic rages on and as President Donald Trump’s longshot election challenges remain unsettled.

      • Trump administration officially begins transition to Biden after weeks of delay
    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Roskomnadzor takes administrative action against Google for failing to remove banned sites from search results

        Russia’s media regulation and censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, has opened an administrative case against Google for its alleged refusal to delete information banned in Russia from its search results.

      • Retracting a Controversial Paper Won’t Help Female Scientists

        Why should this possible takeaway evoke outrage? A recent study8 found that people evaluate scientific studies reporting a male-favoring advantage less favorably, compared to those reporting a female-favoring one. Papers demonstrating a male (versus female) advantage were viewed as less credible, less valuable, more offensive, and more harmful. These findings suggest merely highlighting a disparity disfavoring women is likely to evoke public outcry. Science, however, relies on the dispassionate accumulation and scrutiny of data. It is quite improbable that the entirety of findings will cohere perfectly with our cherished worldviews. With larger and larger datasets available for analysis, we will inevitably uncover unpalatable findings, some with important implications. However, only by documenting reality (or our closest approximation to it) can we strive to improve society. Interventions based on faulty data or incorrect assumptions will fail, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and innumerable hours. When we bury findings that make us uncomfortable, the empirical landscape presents an inaccurate, lopsided view of reality. If policies and interventions hinge on that empirical landscape, we will only set ourselves up for failure. Moreover, by presenting an incomplete picture of phenomena, we undermine trust in science. Millions of taxpayers are counting on scientists to forward the most compelling evidence, to best inform subsequent interventions and policies.

        If female scientists benefit by collaborating with both male and female scholars, we deserve to know that. Female scientists deserve to know that. Rather than erasing AlShebli and colleagues’ laborious work from the record, their findings should stimulate future investigations to examine whether the patterns replicate, and if so, examine the underlying causal forces.

      • [Old] Hollywood Continues to Cave to Chinese Censorship, Jeopardizing Free Speech, Report Finds

        Hollywood has increasingly capitulated to the Chinese regime’s pressure to censor its films, threatening freedom of speech, according to a new report by rights group PEN America.

        The report, based partly on interviews with industry insiders, said that Beijing has used the allure of China’s massive film market to get Hollywood studios to censor or alter movies—either through direct censorship requests or increasingly through voluntary self-censorship.

        This year, the Chinese cinema market is projected to overtake the U.S. box office, which in 2019 stood at $11.4 billion. Beijing allows only 34 international films to be screened in the country each year.

      • One Year After Iran’s Deadly Crackdown, Victims’ Families Face Harassment

        One year after Iran’s deadliest crackdown on anti-establishment protests, no one has been held responsible for the killing of hundreds of citizens.

        Officials have instead pressured the families of some of those killed to remain silent and warned them not to hold public memorials for their loved ones.

      • Kazakh Blogger Critical Of Government Forcibly Admitted To Psychiatric Clinic

        A Kazakh blogger and journalist accused of being involved in the activities of a banned organization has been taken to a psychiatric clinic on a court order.

        Police in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, on November 23 took Aigul Otepova from her apartment after a court decision to forcibly admit her into a clinic was upheld by an appeals court last week.

        Before getting into the police car, Otepova told an RFE/RL correspondent that she had no medical conditions, including mental problems.

      • Defendant In Chechen Blogger Assault Case In Sweden Says He Acted On Grozny’s Orders

        A Russian citizen charged in Sweden with the attempted murder of a blogger and outspoken critic of the authoritarian leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya says he acted on orders he received from Chechen officials.

        As the trial started at the Attunda district court in Sweden on November 2, the defendant, Ruslan Mamayev, testified that from the very beginning he secretly planned to fail when carrying out the assault against Tumso Abdurakhmanov to keep the Chechen officials who ordered the attack from turning on him. He added that he has since asked for political asylum in Sweden.

        Abdurakhmanov’s lawyer, Jens Sjolund, said at the hearing that Chechen authorities had promised a reward for the assassination of his client.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • France’s ‘global security’ bill

        The French National Assembly is currently examining, with the usual fast track procedure that prevents and marginalises parliamentary debate, a bill called “global security”. This law, filed on October 20 by a group of MPs from the presidential party, couched in the best neoliberal rhetoric, aims to provide a new framework for security actions that its drafters promise will be “inventive and innovative”.

        With these two adjectives, “inventive and innovative”, the legislators are probably referring to the three highly controversial articles of the proposal that concern the recording and dissemination of images in the context of police actions. Perfectly in line with the trend of the times – and by consequence, we are sorry to have it observed, with very little inventiveness and innovation – these articles impose a general surveillance for the many and a privileged disclosure for the few, as they provide for ground mass surveillance, air mass surveillance and a ban on documenting police action.

      • French bill banning images of police sparks concern over media freedom, civil rights

        France’s parliament voted to approve a controversial law Friday that will ban the publication of images of on-duty police officers as well as expand the use of surveillance drones and police powers. Journalists’ groups, human rights activists and unions – including Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International’s French branch – organised protests in Paris and other French cities on Saturday.

      • FRANCE: Draft law on “Global security” is dangerous for fundamental rights

        From 17 to 20 November, the National Assembly is scheduled to examine the so-called “Global Security” bill, supported by MPs from the governing majority. If such a law were to enter into force as it stands, it would constitute a serious violation of the right to information, respect for privacy, and freedom of peaceful assembly, three conditions that are essential to the right to freedom of expression.

        We deplore the fact that this bill is being examined under an accelerated procedure when there is no urgency to do so. This has already been the case in recent years for several laws with a strong impact on human rights (the Intelligence Act, the SILT Act, the so-called “anti-rioters law”). This procedure de facto restricts their in-depth examination and informed communication to society. We regret that this text is no exception to the rule.

      • Macron prepares “global security” law banning the filming of French police

        On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron’s government presented its “global security” bill to the National Assembly. Coming after the announcement of plans for a law against “separatism” ostensibly targeting Islamist groups, this bill is part of a campaign to establish a permanent state of emergency, handing draconian powers to the police.

        Its provisions are unprecedented. Anyone publishing of images of a public event including police agents in a way that could “harm the agent’s physical or psychological well-being” faces one year in jail and a €45,000 fine. This purely subjective criterion, which allows police to arrest anyone filming them simply by stating that they feel uncomfortable being filmed, undermines freedom of the press and any attempt to hold security forces accountable for police brutality.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Indigenous Activists Are Occupying the Hamptons Until Thanksgiving
      • The Philippines wants to outlaw child marriage. But in Muslim-majority Bangsamoro, change will be hard

        Experts say decades of war in the Bangsamoro region have caused an increase in child brides, while long-held cultural practices could prove difficult to shift.

      • Workshop on child marriage in Raqqa

        In the workshop, 3 sessions were held on causes of child marriage, methods to reduce child marriage and scientific approach to child marriage.

        A presentation was made by Jineoloji Center Board Member Xaliya Neimê on the topic of reasons for child marriage. Xaliya noted that child marriage occurs because when there are no deterrent sanctions against violence against women.

      • White Hat Senior and Education – Experiences in the community

        I had been thinking of doing a blog post on RCEP which China signed with 14 countries a week and a day back but this new story has broken and is being viraled a bit on the interwebs, especially twitter and is pretty much in our domain so thought would be better to do a blog post about it. Also there is quite a lot packed so quite a bit of unpacking to do.

        [...]

        Now that lies in the eyes of the Court whether the single bench choses the literal meaning or use the spirit of the law or the genuine concerns of the people concerned. While in today’s hearing while the company asked for a complete sweeping injunction they were unable to get it. Whatever may happen, we may hope to see some fireworks in the second hearing which is slated to be on 6.01.2021 where all of this plays out. Till later.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The FCC’s Independence and Mission Are at Stake with Trump Nominee

        When there are only five people in charge of a major federal agency, the personal agenda of even one of them can have a profound impact. That’s why EFF is closely watching the nomination of Nathan Simington to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

        Simington’s nomination appears to be the culmination of a several-month project to transform the FCC and expand its purview in ways that threaten our civil liberties online. The Senate should not confirm him without asking some crucial questions about whether and how he will help ensure that the FCC does the public interest job Congress gave it, which is to expand broadband access, manage the public’s wireless spectrum to their benefit, and protect consumers when they use telecommunications services.

        Next time you hear someone blame Section 230 for a problem with social media platforms, ask yourself two questions: first, was this problem actually caused by Section 230? Second, would weakening Section 230 solve the problem?

        If you are on Instagram, you have been probably bombarded by Instagram Stories and notifications about new features like emojis, chat themes, selfie stickers, and “cross-platform messaging” that will allow you to exchange direct messages with, and search for, friends who are on Facebook. But the…

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Sherwin-Williams Co. v. PPG Industries, Inc. (W.D. Pa. 2020)

          Earlier this month, in Sherwin-Williams Co. v. PPG Industries, Inc., Special Master Henry M. Sneath issued a Report and Recommendation in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania that a motion by Defendant PPG Industries, Inc. to partially exclude the opinions of Plaintiff Sherwin-Williams Co.’s expert witness should be granted. In particular, the Special Master recommended that the opinions set forth in ¶¶ 94-117 of the expert’s Rebuttal Report be excluded.

          Sherwin-Williams initiated the dispute between the parties by filing suit against PPG for infringement of certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,617,663; 8,835,012; 9,242,763; 9,415,900; and 9,862,854. The asserted claims are directed to “[a] coating composition for a food or beverage can” that is substantially free of bisphenol A (“BPA”). PPG retained two experts, including Dr. Leon Perez, to opine on the invalidity of the asserted patents, and Sherwin-Williams retained two experts of its own, including Dr. F. Joseph Schork, to rebut the opinions of PPG’s experts.

          PPG’s experts opined that the asserted patents were invalid in view of U.S. Patent No. 5,714,539 (the ’539 patent or Perez Patent). In his Rebuttal Report, Dr. Schork opined that the ’539 patent does not disclose a BPA-free coating, explaining that “Perez does not disclose a complete coating formulation,” much less one that is BPA-free; that “Perez’s lack of reference to BPA is not an affirmative disclosure of a composition that” is substantially free of BPA; that PPG did not to cite the ’539 patent as prior art when prosecuting its own BPA-free coating patent; and that when PPG formulated the exemplary latexes disclosed in the ’539 patent into coatings, PPG made coatings that contained BPA.

        • Lost in translation

          Spain has a well-deserved reputation of being a rather formalistic country when it comes to litigation. For example, according to the Civil Procedure Act, a Spanish translation of documents written in languages other than Spanish must be attached to the initial complaint. Otherwise, the Court may simple ignore them. A judgment of 15 October 2019 from the Valencia Court of Appeal is a good example of the risks entailed when embarking on litigation without bringing onboard the required translations. The facts of the case, for the purpose of the theme discussed in this blog, can be summarised as follows:

          A toy manufacturer filed a patent infringement action against another toy manufacturer based in Spain, alleging the infringement of a European patent. The latter filed a revocation counterclaim based on lack of novelty and lack of inventive step. For the purpose of questioning novelty, the defendant filed a video and a catalogue, which allegedly disclosed the invention. The inventive step attack was based on two French patents, a German patent, and a Spanish patent. No translations of the French or German patents were filed.

          Valencia Commercial Court Number 2, in a judgment of 5 December 2018, dismissed both the infringement action and the revocation counterclaim. This judgment was entirely upheld by the Valencia Court of Appeal in the aforementioned judgment of 15 October 2019. Some of the highlights, dealing with the patent’s validity, are briefly discussed below:

          First, the Court of Appeal dismissed the novelty attack because, in its opinion, neither the video nor the catalogue invoked by the defendant disclosed all the features of the claims of the relevant patent. Therefore, it was not satisfied that the invention, as such, had been made accessible to the public at the priority date.

          [...]

          All in all, this teaching warns prospective complainants on the risks of getting lost in translation or, to be precise, failing to duly provide the translations required by law.

        • For Better or Worse: A time for Family
        • Software Patents

          • InterDigital patent challenged as likely invalid

            On November 20, 2020, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,363,724 as part of its ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone. The ’724 patent is owned by InterDigital VC Holdings, Inc. The patent is claimed to be essential as part of SISVEL’s Video Coding pool, as to both the VP9 and AV1 standards. It was also formerly owned by Technicolor, who self-declared the patent as essential to H.265.

      • Copyrights

        • Senator Tillis Plans Major Copyright Overhaul: Recognizes Legit Problems, But Current Solutions Are Lacking

          We’ve criticized Senator Thom Tillis for his patent and copyright reform ideas that seemed to take a strong “maximalist” line in its approach. He’s also taken the Hollywood line on things like the Internet Archive that was troubling. He’s been promising a copyright reform bill for a while, and many thought it wasn’t going to matter much, since polls indicated that he was very, very likely to lose his re-election campaign in North Carolina (even after his opponent’s bizarrely chaste sex scandal made the news). However, Tillis pulled out a surprise victory, and that means that his plan to reform copyright is something worth watching.

        • ‘The US Piracy Watchlist is a Marketing Campaign for Pirate Sites’

          A concerned taxpayer has warned the US Trade Representative that its annual “notorious markets” overview, which lists prominent pirate sites, may do more harm than good. According to former criminal defense practitioner Jim Zhoui, it essentially acts as an “advertising campaign for black marketeers at the taxpayer’s expense.”

        • YouTube “Failed to Provide Evidence” in Copyright Class Action Counterclaim

          During the summer, Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider and Pirate Monitor sued YouTube in an attempt to gain access to its Content ID tools. YouTube then fought back, claiming that Pirate Monitor had already proved itself untrustworthy. However, in a motion to dismiss, Pirate Monitor now says that YouTube has provided zero evidence to back up its claims.

        • The Broadcasting Act Blunder, Day Three: Minister Guilbeault Says Bill C-10 Contains Economic Thresholds That Limit Internet Regulation. It Doesn’t.

          The uncertainty of who is caught by the regulation is sure to have an impact on the market. Internet streaming services thinking about the Canadian market may put those plans on hold until they have some visibility over what they face from a regulatory perspective, leading to less competition and less choice for Canadians. Should the CRTC establish an economic threshold, that too could have an unexpected impact. If it sets a high threshold that is limited to a handful of large, U.S.-based streaming services, it invites the possibility of a trade challenge. If a low threshold becomes the standard, foreign services may avoid the Canadian market altogether given the regulatory costs. Either way, Bill C-10 in its current form creates considerable uncertainty that is compounded by inaccurate claims from Minister Guilbeault.

        • Ridiculous: ‘Cyberpunk 2077′ Will Ship With A Mode Just To Help Streamers Avoid DMCA Notices

          You will likely have been following along with us as we have steadily commented on the ongoing controversy at Twitch. But if you’re not read up on the topic, Twitch suddenly nuked zillions of hours of recorded content made by Twitch streamers in response to RIAA and game publisher DMCA notices, all without warning and all without a way to counternotice or get any of that content back. As the community went into revolt, Twitch continued taking down content, at times for sound effects within the games streamers were streaming. All the while, Twitch has issued a steady stream of apologies, while the streamer community has basically just shouted “Well then do something!” in response.

Lots of Good News Today

Posted in Site News at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s a courageous fightback despite the growing risk

Serbia execution

Summary: A quick roundup of news and key developments; most of them are positive and they give us hope

TODAY we’ve finally caught up fully with many EPO affairs and we’re gratified to see intense blowback against the UPC as well (see the comments here; SUEPO has just linked to that). Less than a day ago Donald Trump finally conceded, EPO staff is starting to mass-mail the management, and many other positive things are happening. The fascists are on the run…

We don’t expect anything to come out of UPC/A, so we won’t be writing much about that, except to ridicule it. We’ll also write a little less about the EPO, seeing that staff (productive staff, e.g. examiners) started to fight to take back control of the Office. We don’t regret spending the past 2-3 weeks focusing so much on the EPO. It’s well overdue and very much necessary.

“The fascists are on the run…”Not everything is so positive however; the pandemic is still destroying lots of things, Groklaw is still offline (the last time Google saw that site online and took a snapshot of the front page was October 24th and today it’s November 24th, so we very much doubt the site will ever come back*), Phoronix is begging for money (it deserves readers’ support), and we still haven’t migrated to the new server — it's an urgent matter.

Phoronix setupPhoronix recently upgraded the setup a bit; included or added to the right is a new photograph. They still do decent journalism about technical matters. Areas that they cover aren’t touched by anyone else (except LWN, sometimes).

Linux Journal isn’t publishing much anymore (maybe once a week, on average, usually a HOWTO) and a lot of coverage about “LINUX” is just ridiculous click-bait (right now a lot is based on some private E-mail in which Linus Torvalds responds to a question about Apple hype).

Geeks who now work from home have more time and more motivation to improve their setups. It’s not just Phoronix.

MinceR has just pointed out in IRC Tony Arcieri’s latest setup, a multi-screen laptop arrangement. Some people use a tiny so-called ‘phone’ to scroll down and click on “timelines”, whereas others get some real work done (not pressing “like” or uploading selfies).

Tony Arcieri's setup

Linus Torvalds, a longtime home (‘remote’) worker, famously said:

“If it’s a hobby for us and a job for you, then why are you doing such a shoddy job?”

Suddenly, working in a bathrobe isn’t considered so eccentric, right?
____
* When we saw signs of trouble we mirrored the Bill Gates deposition videos.

Massive Collective Action Begins at the European Patent Office Today, Demanding Change and Forewarning the Management (Litigation)

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 9:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Financial Stock

Chasing The MarketsSummary: The financial "hoax" at the EPO (taking away money from staff to feed a gambling addiction of managers) needs to stop; staff has begun mass-mailing the management, threatening legal action

THE EPO is trying to distract the public from a crisis long brewing at the Office. António Campinos has lower trust/approval rates than CEIPI‘s Benoît Battistelli (Campinos also came from CEIPI) and there are legal actions on the way (EPO staff against the EPO). Several weeks ago we learned that some European publishers had been studying EPO affairs; knowing and seeing some letters, however, we know that the Mafia which runs the EPO will resort to blackmail and bribes to prevent negative publicity. Will that succeed?

“The European citizens definitely deserve to know what’s being done in their name.”Regardless of whether or not mainstream media writes about EPO corruption, we have enough material that we can publish here to show the public some internal EPO affairs. The European citizens definitely deserve to know what’s being done in their name. Sometimes with their money, too…

This morning SUEPO circulated among staff a Central Staff Committee publication bearing the following message (“TH/MN” means The Hague/Munich, where well over 90% of staff is based):

General assemblies of staff TH/MN: E-mailing your feelings to the President

Dear colleagues,

We thank you very much you for the high participation of the general assemblies held in Munich and The Hague on Thursday. We feel a momentum among staff, the feeling of enough is enough. We have suffered from many reforms that have had a cumulative detrimental effect, without any credible justification, the most recent of which being the implementation of the new salary adjustment procedure (SAP).

In both assemblies, we call on you to make your views known by sending an email to the President and VP4, preferably adding in cc your local staff committee to keep your staff reps updated. A number of colleagues have already done so, and the depth of feeling portrayed in those emails has left a strong impression on us, hopefully also on the President, and we sincerely thank you for your actions. We received requests during the general assemblies to draft a template for the email.

In this publication, we provide an example of an email as well as a short list of questions as inspiration to put your thoughts into writing.

We appreciate that colleagues have varying views on the best action to take to express our discontent, but we hope that a significant proportion of you are on-board to help demonstrate the frustration felt with a flood of emails. We further want to express that this collective action, to evidence that we are not at all happy with the outcome of the SAP, is just the beginning.

Sincerely yours,

The Central Staff Committee – CSC

The corresponding letter is dated yesterday and it says this: “We have suffered from many reforms that have had a cumulative detrimental effect, without any credible justification, the most recent of which being the implementation of the new salary adjustment procedure (SAP).”

Here’s the full text:

Munich,23.11.2020
sc20174cp

E-mailing your feelings to the President

Dear colleagues,

We thank you very much you for the high participation of the general assemblies held in Munich and The Hague on Thursday. We feel a momentum among staff, the feeling of enough is enough. We have suffered from many reforms that have had a cumulative detrimental effect, without any credible justification, the most recent of which being the implementation of the new salary adjustment procedure (SAP). The outcome of the latter can be found in this CSC publication.

During both assemblies, we informed you that in the meeting of the CSC with the President on Wednesday, the President stated that he did not believe that staff were furious about the outcome of the SAP, and therefore he did not have any incentive to change it. So now we call on you to make your views known by sending an email to president@epo.org and vp4office@epo.org, preferably adding in cc DHSTCOM@epo.org / MNSTCOM@epo.org / berlinstcomm@epo.org / pvwien@epo.org to keep your staff reps updated. A number of colleagues have already done so, and the depth of feeling portrayed in those emails has left a strong impression on us, hopefully also on the President, and we sincerely thank you for your actions.

We received requests during the general assemblies to draft a template for the email. Here we provide an example:

Dear Mr Campinos, dear Ms Simon,

I was informed during the General Assembly held by our Staff Representation of the first impact that our new SAP will have on my salary progression. I would like hereby to express my discontent and disappointment regarding the new SAP, which to my knowledge is shared by many colleagues.

Such a salary adjustment does not meet my legitimate expectations that my remuneration, at the very least, keeps up with the living costs at my place of employment and maintains equality of treatment. This measure comes on top of past measures that have also breached my legitimate expectations. I can only hope that you will take staff’s concerns into consideration.

Unfortunately, if the SAP is applied as is currently foreseen, I see no other option than to seek legal remedy, beginning with a Request for Review.

Finally, I urge you to discuss reasonable remedies for the SAP with the Staff Representation.

With kind regards,

However, we feel that the impact of writing to the President is significantly stronger if colleagues put their views into their own words. Therefore, in order to assist you with drafting your personal emails, or with adding extra information to the template above, we provide a short list of questions as inspiration to put your thoughts into writing.

• How do you feel about this year’s salary adjustment being lower than local inflation (–1.2% in NL, –0.3% in DE, –0.7% in AT)? Particularly when considering that despite the pandemic, the Office surplus for 2020 is estimated to be €310m and the number of filings as of Q3 have not reduced with respect to last year.
• The effect of the new SAP this year is equivalent to losing approximately 1 step, and if a similar result were to materialise in the next two rounds, it would amount to a loss of around 10% of your salary in only three years, when compared to the old SAP. Does that influence your work mentality?
• Are you concerned about the influence of the SAP on the amount of our monthly pensions, which is particularly pertinent for those at the beginning of their careers and those in the NPS who already have a very limited maximum monthly amount?
• Have the other recent reforms, proposals, and changes influenced your view of the EPO as an employer? (e.g. the new career system, restructuring of the formalities teams, automatisation of your tasks, constant changes in your working tools, the education and childcare reform proposal, introduction of fixed-term contracts for all newcomers, changes to the SSP contributions and the 16:1 distribution of SSP cash injections, ever-increasing targets/workload)
• How do you perceive the social dialogue between staff representation and the administration? Do you feel your elected staff committees are being listen to by management?

We appreciate that colleagues have varying views on the best action to take to express our discontent, but we hope that a significant proportion of you are on-board to help demonstrate the frustration felt with a flood of emails. We further want to express that this collective action, to evidence that we are not at all happy with the outcome of the SAP, is just the beginning.

Sincerely yours,

The Central Staff Committee

Notice how they put it at the end: “We appreciate that colleagues have varying views on the best action to take to express our discontent, but we hope that a significant proportion of you are on-board to help demonstrate the frustration felt with a flood of emails. We further want to express that this collective action, to evidence that we are not at all happy with the outcome of the SAP, is just the beginning.”

A lot of readers of ours might not be familiar with the basis for these grievances (there are several angles/aspects to these, not purely financial). Earlier this month two publications were disseminated to explain what the Office was doing with SAP (not the company), in effect lying to staff and to member states in order to pillage and plunder at the cost of — or expense to Europeans to the tune of — billions of euros. As a bonus, there’s a link to the far right (Mercer family, boosters of racist sites and Donald Trump propaganda outlets).

Exactly one week ago the following open letter (open for staff to see) was sent to Campinos regarding the “Salary “Adjustment” Procedure” (they put scare quotes around the misleading euphemism) for 2020. “Three proposals for repairing the EPO new salary “adjustment” procedure” were put forth, saying they were “looking forward to a positive sign from the President (and his Administration) regarding our proposals.”

Of course nothing has happened since.

“In this open letter to the President,” they said, “we propose three concrete measures.”

“The new SAP is currently a disaster in terms of equality of purchasing power and parallelism with the evolution of the salaries of national civil servants.”

Going back to the first letter, the representatives “feel a momentum among staff, the feeling of enough is enough.”

This is the reason for the escalation. The latest letter to Campinos reads as follows:

Reference: sc20172cl
Date: 17.11.2020

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – R.1081

OPEN LETTER

Proposals for repairing the EPO new salary “adjustment” procedure

Dear Mr President,

The new salary adjustment procedure is cutting EPO staff salaries and pensions massively. Instead of an adjustment of about 3.8 % in July 2020, the newly introduced “sustainability clause” will cap it at 0.5% in January (in The Netherlands and in Germany). Such savings go way beyond the forecasts and are hitting staff unnecessarily.

Regarding the forecasts, the draft budget for 2021 (CA/50/20)1 mentions an adjustment of 2.2% from the year 2021 onwards delivering EUR 2bn savings until 2038. The Advisory Group on Remuneration has argued (GCC/DOC 17/20)2 that by the end of 2025 already EUR 1bn will have been saved. This assessment seems to be very conservative. The adjustment in 2021 of 0.5% instead of 3.8% will already contribute EUR 0.95 bn to the savings that will be made until the end of 2025.

Moreover, the operating surplus of the EPO is predicted to reach EUR 310m by the end of 2020. EPO staff should have been thanked for their efforts during the on-going pandemic, since they were the ones who maintained business continuity and who even made possible that +6% European patents were published compared to the plan. Unfortunately, the administration already anticipates that there will be no adjustment at all for next year due to the application of the exception clause.

The situation is unsustainable for EPO staff (and pensioners). The new salary adjustment procedure must now be repaired together with proper transitional measures. This adds on top with the proper settlement of the previous procedure to reduce litigations.

_____
1 See pages 4, 9, 67 and 168.
2 See paragraph 58.


We propose the following measures:

1. Winding up the previous salary adjustment procedure: Settlement of the moderation clause effect

The moderation clause introduced by your predecessor in the previous salary adjustment procedure has resulted in delayed adjustments negatively affecting a number of countries. A measure is foreseen in Article 1(2) of CA/D 4/20 but its implementation is still pending and is in our view incomplete. Simply paying out lump sums cannot solve litigation.

We suggest:
• To adjust the scales of all countries affected by the moderation clause during the period 2014-2019 (e.g. The Netherlands, Sweden etc) and update all scales from 1 July 2019;
• To pay the respective contributions into the pension schemes of active staff.

The positive effects would be as follows:
• Such contributions into the New Pension Scheme and the SSP would be for instance of particular benefit for staff in the lower grades.
• Updating all scales with effect from 1 July 2019 would allow solving the problem of the Luxemburg scale which will otherwise be hit hard by the recently introduced sustainability clause in the new method.

2. Transitional measures: Adapting the scales as a compensation for postponing the adjustment from July to January

Article 9(2) of CA/D 4/20 effects a six-month transition from the previous salary adjustment procedure to the new one. However, it remains unclear which procedure will be applied over this period and how it will be implemented. Merely paying out lump sums might trigger further litigation.

We suggest:
• To apply the result of the new salary adjustment procedure (i.e. 0.50% in The Netherlands and Germany) on the salary scales as from 1 July 2020.
• To pay out a lump sum of the remainder of the same period (e.g. 3.28% for Germany and 3.3% for The Netherlands).


The positive effect would be that the adjusted scales would lag less behind the real economic evolution. Please note that adjusting the scales to compensate for the six-month delay in adjustments is the solution which was implemented by the Co-ordinated organisations when they introduced the same change in the past. At the EPO the cumulative adjustments on 1 July 2020 and 1 January 2021 would then amount to 1% which would remain far below the real result of the procedure (3.8%). It would require a specific proposal to the Administrative Council. In budgetary terms the normal adjustment of the scales would still be cut by 70% instead of being cut by 85%.

3. Amendments to the new salary adjustment procedure

The results of the new salary adjustment procedure for the year 2020 have now been confirmed: salaries will be adjusted on 1 January 2021 less than inflation meaning that staff (and pensioners) will lose purchasing power. This contradict the Office’s promise made in your Communiqué of 9 April 2020. The most obvious pitfalls must be corrected.

We suggest:

• To propose to the Administrative Council the necessary amendments to Article 18 of CA/D 4/20 to implement the measures as described in points 1 and 2 above;
• To amend as well the implementation of the carry-forward mechanism of Article 10 of the Implementing Rule for Article 64 ServRegs in such a way that any positive adjustment remaining from Article 9 (“sustainability clause”) accumulated every year shall be used to adjust the salary and pension scales accordingly after 3 years (mid-term review of the SAP).

The positive effect would be that the scales are at least adjusted to the real economic evolution in the middle of the application period of the salary adjustment procedure. In view of the fact that the exception clause will be triggered next year, there is no risk that the EPO would lose control over the evolution of the salary mass in that period.

Whilst still allowing huge savings for the Organisation this further proposal would re-establish purchasing power equality after three years and also be more in line with what is in force in the EU institutions, for which the negative GDP evolution this year is triggering only a postponement of the 2.5% part of the adjustment corresponding to the specific indicator and their scales will be fully updated when the GDP has recovered.


4. Application of the exception clause – amendment to GCC/DOC 7/2020 (interpretation of the interaction between Articles 9 and 11 of the new procedure)

The application of the “sustainability clause” (Article 9) for the year 2020 causes an excess adjustment which is not applied in January 2021 (GCC/DOC 7/2020, paragraph 24: +3.3% for Germany, +3.3% for the Netherlands, +2.4% for Austria and +1.6 % for Belgium).

However, document GCC/DOC 7/2020 (paragraph 27) states:

“According to the latest real GDP 2020 forecast available as of 31 October 2020, it is probable that the exception clause may (Article 11) be triggered next year, for the threshold below -3%. If so, no salary adjustment would apply for 2021. (emphasis added)

In our view, this statement does not reflect correctly Article 11(1) which
provides that:

“The delayed adjustment shall not be taken into account for the purpose of Article 9 above.”

Our interpretation is that whichever adjustment foreseen for next year will be delayed (Article 11) except for the part that would have been integrated next year in application of Article 9. In legal terms, the provisions of the sustainability clause shall not be cancelled by the application of the exception clause.

We therefore suggest that the document is amended as follows:

“According to the latest real GDP 2020 forecast available as of 31 October 2020, it is probable that the exception clause may be triggered next year, for the threshold below -3%. If so, the only adjustment of the salaries taking place from 1 January 2022 will be due to the application of Article 9(4) up to the ceiling provided in Article 9(2). Any adjustment resulting from Article 2 to 4 in the reference period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 will be postponed in accordance with Article 11.


Conclusion

The new salary adjustment procedure is currently a disaster in terms of equality of purchasing power and parallelism with the evolution of the salaries of national civil servants. Furthermore, the results of the SAP are producing savings well in excess of the EUR 2bn envisaged.

As a duty of care of the Organisation not to harm staff if this is not financially justified, we are looking forward to a positive sign from your administration regarding our proposals.

Yours sincerely,

Alain Dumont
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

Several days earlier a fact sheet was passed around to explain the SAP scam, accompanied by this message:

Salary “adjustment” procedure for 2020: Loss of purchasing power for all staff (and pensioners)

Instead of an adjustment of about 3.8% in July 2020, we get 0.5% in January 2021 (in NL and DE). This is equivalent to a pay cut of about one step.

Each year the salaries at International Organisations (IOs) are adjusted according to a salary adjustment procedure (SAP). The same applied so far at the EPO with a procedure respecting two fundamental principles: equality of purchasing power among the places of employment and parallelism with the evolution of the salaries of civil servants in member states.

Based on the flawed Financial Study of 2019 by Oliver Wyman & Mercer, Mr Campinos has decided to push a “sustainability clause” – in form of a capping mechanism – on the SAP at the EPO and to ignore the warnings of the Staff Representation that this capping mechanism would abolish both principles and apply arbitrarily.

The results for the year 2020 are disastrous: salaries will be adjusted on 1 January 2021 less than inflation meaning that staff (and pensioners) will lose purchasing power.

In conclusion, EPO staff (and pensioners) no longer have a salary adjustment procedure worth the name, but rather an arbitrary mechanism for cutting their purchasing power. This is unheard-of in other International Organisations. Massive appeals will have to be lodged against this year’s adjustment and again next year.

The sheet had some tables in it. We’ve converted these to HTML but left out colour:

Munich 12.11.2020
sc20171cp – 0.2.1- 4.2.2

Salary “adjustment” procedure for 2020 Loss of purchasing power for all staff:

Instead of an adjustment of about 3.8% in July 2020, we get 0.5% in January 2021 (in NL and DE). This is equivalent to a pay cut of about one step.

Each year the salaries at International Organisations (IOs) are adjusted according to a salary adjustment procedure (SAP). The same applied so far at the EPO with a procedure respecting two fundamental principles: equality of purchasing power among the places of employment and parallelism with the evolution of the salaries of civil servants in member states. Based on the flawed Financial Study of 2019 by Oliver Wyman & Mercer1, Mr Campinos has decided to push a “sustainability clause” – in form of a capping mechanism – on the SAP at the EPO, and to ignore the warnings of the Staff Representation that this capping mechanism would abolish both principles and apply arbitrarily. The results for the year 2020 are disastrous: salaries will be adjusted on 1 January 2021 less than inflation meaning that staff (and pensioners) will lose purchasing power.

Mr Campinos’ promise…
In his communiqué of 09-04-2020, Mr Campinos stated that (emphasis added):

“There is no desire to cut staff purchasing power or impose unnecessary savings. There is a desire, however, to make sure that we have a stable and predictable method that generates savings, ensures salaries continue to grow, even above eurozone inflation and even in times of financial crisis, and, above all, make sure we can do so for many years into the future.“

… vs. the facts
The results of the new method before capping and after capping reveal an impressive reduction of the salary “adjustment” as of 01-07-2020.

Country Calculated adjustment Capped adjustment Difference
AT 2,73% 0,36% -2,37%
BE 1,80% 0,24% -1,56%
DE 3,78% 0,50% -3,28%
NL 3,81% 0,50% -3,30%

______
1 See the selected analysis by Ernst & Young of the 2019 Financial Study and its background.


Overall, our salary adjustments are reduced by -86% because of the capping mechanism. Contrary to the President’s words “not to cut staff purchasing power” and “to ensure salaries continuing to grow”, the results also show clearly a huge loss of purchasing power in The Hague, Vienna, Berlin and Munich.

Country Inflation (HICP2) Capped adjustment Difference
AT 1,10% 0,36% -0,74%
BE 0,20% 0,24% +0,04%
DE 0,80% 0,50% -0,30%
NL 1,70% 0,50% -1,20%

Whichever reference one takes (cost of living evolution measured by parities or by reference to national inflation) the results in the above tables show the arbitrariness of the method introduced under the governance of Mr Campinos.

Losses are higher where the evolution of the cost of living is higher, which is contrary to what a salary adjustment method should result in. One could illustrate it even better with reference to some pensioner scales, like the Turkish scale which should have been adapted by 14,86% but will be adapted by 1,97%. This means a loss of purchasing power of 12,89% in one year, due to arbitrariness. The same applies for Luxemburg (-15,67% this year), which scale should have been corrected as in the Coordinated Organisations but will not be. One can expect lots of unhappy staff and pensioners every year as this arbitrariness will hit randomly year after year.

The operating surplus of the EPO is predicted to reach €310million by the end of 2020. This achievement was made possible thanks to the dedication of staff who worked hard despite the on-going pandemic.

EPO staff should have been thanked for their efforts, since business continuity could be maintained and even +6% published European patents than planned have been produced. Staff certainly does not deserve a massive cut in purchasing power. The benchmark with other IOs for 2020 shows that EPO staff will have the worst salary “adjustment” in 2020. The administration has tried to argue away any criticism of the capping method by claiming that the carry-over mechanism is a fix-all solution. However, as will be laid-out in a future publication, the cash pay-out associated with the carry-over is just a cheap attempt to pacify our discontent, and we will not be fooled by such a transparent effort to throw sand in our eyes.

For 2021, the administration already anticipates that there will be no adjustment at all due to the application of the exception clause, another limiting mechanism in the salary adjustment procedure of the EPO which is very likely to kick in next year due to the drop in Gross Domestic Product this year.

EPO staff (and pensioners) no longer have a salary adjustment procedure worth the name, but rather an arbitrary mechanism for cutting their purchasing power. This is unheard-of in other International Organisations. Massive appeals will have to be lodged against this year’s adjustment and again next year.

______
2 HICP = Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices

We look forward to the next steps, seeing that there’s a boiling point being reached. The representatives say “the feeling of enough is enough” is consistent (across workers). We’re back to 2015. Will representatives be subjected to more threats? Will union-busting activities resume (in their previous levels)? A dysfunctional patent office is a real threat to the economy; the examiners want to rectify things and avoid collapse.

EPO Management is Still Distracting From the ‘Elephant in the Room’ by Corrupting Media and Academia

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO staff suffers a lot; but the EPO’s managers paint rosy pictures to confuse the masses

Elephant falls

EPO panzerSummary: Under the EPO’s dictatorship the law is being routinely violated; in order for the public to not pay attention or receive mixed messages (resulting in confusion) the EPO is manufacturing so-called ‘studies’ (which patent offices aren’t supposed to do; they should focus on patent-granting while complying with the law)

THE pseudoscience industry is big and likely growing. It gives people false hopes; not too long ago, as we noted here, the EPO mentioned homeopathy, saying it was not backed by evidence. That’s an understatement. But the EPO’s regime isn’t backed by evidence either. All it can do is some annual publicity stunt for photo ops with actual scientists who actually accomplish something, wrongly insinuating that those accomplishment are owed to patents and nothing else. The “EIA” festivals are an insult to science because they associate scientists with Europe’s most corrupt institution; people who sometimes win Nobel prizes are compelled to take photos with criminals. Lots to be gained from it (for the criminals, not those scientists).

“The “EIA” festivals are an insult to science because they associate scientists with Europe’s most corrupt institution; people who sometimes win Nobel prizes are compelled to take photos with criminals.”And published some hours ago at the EPO‘s ‘news’ section was the latest piece of garbage (warning: epo.org link) seeking to associate actual scientists and the public interest… with the EPO. The management of the EPO has been bribing universities for biased ‘studies’ (on a range of issues, including UPC), in effect corrupting academia as much as it had corrupted the media (with bribes and blackmail). Once again the tyrants at the EPO are doing so-called ‘studies’ (marketing). The Office is doing ‘research’ about itself… once again. Anything to distract from the corruption there…

A new study published by the European Patent Office (EPO) today, 24 November 2020, shows that European universities and public research organisations use European patents as the main instrument to exploit their inventions commercially. It finds that these institutions already exploit more than a third (36%) of their inventions, with another 42% of their inventions planned to be exploited.

The study, entitled “Valorisation of scientific results – Patent commercialisation scoreboard: European universities and public research organisations”, further finds that licensing is by far the preferred channel of commercialisation (accounting for 70% of the commercialisation of inventions), followed by R&D co-operation (14%) and the sale of patents (9%).

The puff piece includes passages like “says EPO President António Campinos…” (the hallmark of Benoît Battistelli‘s self-promotional garbage and lies. Is António Campinos different from him except in name?)

The EPO is still corruption-led.

New EPO study: European patents preferred tool for the commercialisation of inventions developed by Europe universities and public research organisations
The latest publicity stunt from the EPO is widely known as ‘science-washing’, e.g. by misusing white coats (to portray something unscientific or antiscientific and non-factual as a “science”)

EPO’s Central Staff Committee on Latest Meeting With Office Dictator: “No Meaningful Discussion Could Take Place.”

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EUIPO outsourcing

Summary: Whilst allegedly preparing legal action the staff representatives at the EPO report on the lack of progress after so-called ‘dialogues’ (merely a false impression of consultation)

TWO days ago we shared here a publication informally entitled “16 for me and 1 for you” (it’s about grossly imbalanced wealth distribution by EPO President António Campinos, referred to as “16:1 ratio” below; remember Campinos sent EUIPO jobs abroad).

Is Campinos a president or a demolition man with suit and tie?

“…remember Campinos sent EUIPO jobs abroad…”As recently as early November the Central Staff Committee wrote about its ‘meeting’ with Campinos — a ‘meeting’ in which he continued to merely fake a “dialogue”.

In Central Staff Committee’s own words:

We welcome the transfers of funds in the RFPSS and in the Salary Savings Plan (SSP). However, we stressed that the distribution key for the SSP was even more unfair than in previous years. The Administration acknowledged that the 16:1 ratio between the injections for a G17.1 colleague vs a G7.1 colleague was correct.

When we objected to the lack of discussion on the content of the “emergency” teleworking measures, the President replied that we were merely being formalistic. No meaningful discussion could take place. The meeting confirmed our impression that the President intends to make the transition from emergency measures to “New Normal” gradual, putting Staff and its Representation before “faits accomplis”.

When we point at weaknesses of the current conditions of employment or suggest improvements, we regret that the President often reacts by announcing that the conditions could in fact be worse. We would expect a more staff-oriented approach.

Here is the full publication, regarding a ‘meeting’ that was basically a webchat:

Munich, 06.11.2020
sc20169cp – 0.2.1/6.2.1

Report on the GCC meeting on 27 October 2020

The GCC met again by videoconference.

Transfer of Funds from the Office’s Treasury to the RFPSS and Salary Savings Plan (CA/56/20)

The document on the transfer of funds into the pension schemes was the single item on the agenda for consultation. We emphasised that we appreciate the transfers in the RFPSS and in the Salary Savings Plan (SSP). However, we stressed that the distribution key for the SSP was even more unfair than in previous years1. The administration acknowledged that the 16:1 ratio between the injections for a G17.1 colleague vs a G7.1 colleague was correct. It argued that it was also “technically fair”.

The President and his administration further argued that the distribution key could only be changed when the entire pension system was reviewed, adding that the present contribution share of staff (one third by staff vs two thirds by the Office) was in fact too low. On a more positive note, he added that the Office would also work towards making the SSP lump sum payment as safe as possible from taxation by national tax authorities.

Extension of Emergency Teleworking Guidelines

The President’s intention was only to inform us, with a one-pager, of his decision to continue with the “measures currently in force” and his intention to extend the temporary guidelines on telework until 15 September 20212.

Although we support the general idea of giving staff the possibility to telework during the pandemic, we objected that the topic of the teleworking guidelines was on the agenda for information only. We had already protested in June about unclarities in the measures in force at the time, which were scattered over the Intranet and constantly evolving3. The actual situation has evolved further and it is not clear what forms part of the teleworking guidelines

___
1 See our publication “16 for me and 1 for you”.
2 The document actually ascribes the decision and the intention to “the Office”. We wonder whether the President is reluctant to take responsibility.
3 See our Report on the GCC meeting of 4 June 2020


which are being extended. Instead of being “informed” of an extension date, we should rather discuss the content of the concrete measures.

The President was not impressed: he replied that we were just being formalistic about documents “for information” and documents “for consultation”. No meaningful discussion could take place.

Any other business

The meeting lasted one hour and we only had a few minutes to address further topics. In order to improve the perception of their respective roles, we asked for some re-organisations in the Office structure4, in particular transferring the Conflict Resolution Unit to DG0 under the future Ombudsperson Office (PD08) as announced already one year ago5, moving employment law away from PD43 back to DG5, as well as strengthening the status of OHS. The President assured that something would be done about the Ombudsperson Office in 2021.

As regards the “Patent Workbench” we explained that team managers had access to information which in our view should remain within the divisions entrusted with the procedure under Article 15 EPC6. The President agreed to disagree and maintained that granting access was one of his prerogatives under Article 10 EPC.

Conclusion

When we point at weaknesses of the current conditions of employment or suggest improvements, we regret that the President often reacts by announcing that the conditions could in fact be worse. We would expect a more staff-oriented approach.

As regards teleworking, the meeting confirmed our impression that the President intends to make the transition from emergency measures to “New Normal” gradual, preferably dispensing with any meaningful exchange with the Staff Representation before “faits accomplis” are put in place.

The Central Staff Committee

Annex: the opinion of the CSC members of the GCC on the document for consultation as sent to the President after the meeting.

____
4 See also the new EPO organigramme.
5 See President’s announcement “Reorganisation implementation” on 8 October 2019.
6 See our open letter: “Patent Workbench: confidentiality of deliberations”.


Opinion of the CSC members of the GCC on GCC/DOC 15/2020: Transfer of funds from the Office’s Treasury to the RFPSS and to the Salary Savings Plan

The CSC members of the GCC give the following opinion on the proposal of transfer of funds from the Office’s Treasury to the RFPSS and to the Salary Savings Plan (SSP).

On the transfer of funds to the RFPSS and to the SSP
As in the previous years the CSC appreciates the transfer of surpluses into both the RFPSS and the SSP, especially because a) these surpluses are the result of staff’s hard work and b) pension and salaries are by far the main expenses and liabilities the Office has.

Furthermore, the CSC supports the transfer of funds since it ensures the long-term stability of the pension schemes for the benefit of the staff and the pensioners as well as the long-term financial sustainability of the Organisation.

On the transferred amounts according to document CA/56/20

RFPSS
The Office forecasts an annual cash surplus amounting to EUR 310m, resulting in EUR 124m to be transferred into the RFPSS. Furthermore, the administration proposes also to transfer EUR 1m unspent from the budget for the rewards 2020 in the RFPSS. The total amount therefore to be transferred in the RFPSS amounts to EUR 125m.

This year, the total amount of the transfer to RFPSS for 2020 is proposed to be allocated solely to the Pension Reserve Fund (PRF) thereby contributing to improving the coverage of the pension liabilities.

The CSC appreciates the transfer in the RFPSS, however wonders about the EUR 1m unspent reward budget and why it wasn’t spent during the reward exercise. EUR 1m could have been used to reward staff who worked hard despite the difficulties under the current circumstances (an average step amounts to EUR 217).

SSP
The Office also proposes a cash transfer into the SSP on the basis that the SSP assets (EUR 129.6m) represent 1.54% of the PRF assets (EUR 8 431m) on 31 August 2020. The proposed cash transfer to the SSP would be equal to EUR 1.925m, i.e. an amount proportional to the suggested PRF cash transfer (1.54% x EUR 125m).

The CSC also appreciates the transfer into the SSP. However, it cannot support the administration’s proposal on the distribution key. As in the previous years, the administration proposes an amount paid into each individual salary savings account proportional to the amount of contributions paid into that account in 2020 (see CA/56/20, paragraph 16).

This method creates significant distribution spreads amongst employees in the lower and higher grades of the salary scale, leading to a distribution ratio of 16:1 between a colleague in G17.1 and one in G7.1. This means that if a G7.1 colleague gets 600 Euros whereas a G17.1 colleague will get 9.600 Euros. This distribution ratio is perceived as being completely unfair by staff.

The CSC proposes that the distribution should reflect the benefits provided by the injection into the RFPSS. Cash injections into the RFPSS protect members of staff against potential future rises in global contribution rates. Those global contribution rates are proportional to salary. This calculation method results in a distribution ratio of 3:1, which maintains a


difference between the lower and higher grades. This proposal would provide a fair distribution, such that the growing unfairness could be overcome1.

Broken promises on the cash injections into the SSP
The CSC has made similar proposals to the administration in previous years. The President announced in the AC/158 meeting (see CA/PV 158, paragraph 112) that he would have a discussion on the topic so that there would be a positive outlook. He mentioned in the GCC on 22 November 2018 that it was important to start the discussion as soon as possible (see GCC 4/2018, paragraph 48). So far, this promise has not materialised.

Legal aspects of the consultation procedure
Furthermore, the consultation process foreseen this year appears to lack proper procedure. The document CA/56/20 is already present in MICADO, but it is presented to the GCC for opinion on 27 October 2020, one day before the meeting of the BFC on 28 October 2020. This timeline renders the consultation of the GCC a mere formal hurdle, but not a truthfully meant consultation procedure.

The CSC requests the administration to include the CSC’s proposal for the distribution key in section VI. ALTERNATIVES of a revised version of CA/56/20.

Transfer ratio into RFPSS and EPOTIF
Following the orientation provided in CA/18/20 (“Long-term Sustainability – Bundle of measures for the period 2020 – 2038”), it is proposed to inject 40% of the annual surpluses in the RFPSS and 60% in the EPOTIF. The reasons being “that the EPOTIF is less exposed to market fluctuations than the RFPSS, due to the asset allocation. Moreover, the cash injected in the EPOTIF has no specific attribution and can always be redirected to cover other needs while the transfers to the RFPSS are definitive.”

The CSC doubts that the transfer into the EPOTIF of 60% is a safer option than the transfer into the RFPSS, since the EPOTIF has no supervisory body comprising all stakeholders, namely the AC, the staff representatives and the pensioners’ representatives. Moreover, the RFPSS is geared towards long-term sustainability, which the EPOTIF is not.

The CSC requests that in future the transfer of funds shall be weighted such to be transferred mainly into the RFPSS and SSP.

The CSC members of the GCC

___
1 See also our publication “16 for me and 1 for you – Fairness as defined by the administration”

In the next post we’ll show the staff representatives elaborating on financial hardships (in relative terms) caused by a corrupt regime that gambles the EPO's money away.

Growing Concerns That EPO Staff Has Been Placed Under de Facto House Arrest by an Entirely Unaccountable Office

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 5:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bars

Summary: “House arrest” is excessive and disproportionate. So says the Central Staff Committee of Europe’s second-largest institution (which surprisingly enough the media is failing to properly study and investigate) as it highlights yet more human rights violations.

WHEN we started the “Corona” series earlier this months we gradually showed a large number of illegalities at the EPO, perpetrated by António Campinos and his friends (whom he now calls “colleagues”). Days ago we started showing the intent to start legal actions over this.

Dog in distressJust over 3 weeks ago the following letter was sent and then circulated among EPO staff by the Central Staff Committee, basically a group of elected staff representatives who work to highlight the grievances of staff and protect staff from an unaccountable Office management. Sick leave and incapacity scheme means “house arrest” during a pandemic:

Reference: sc20165cl-0.3.1
Date: 30.10.2020

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – R.1081

OPEN LETTER

Urgent amendment of Circular 367 and immediate suspension of “house arrest”

Dear Mr President,

Recently, the Appeals Committee has unanimously found that the Office is bound to take due account of human rights, in particular the fundamental right to privacy1 . Consequently, it has unanimously confirmed our view that the obligations imposed on sick staff to stay at home under certain times2, also known as “house arrest”, are excessive and disproportionate.

Our Service Regulations already contain less intrusive measures available to verify persons on sick leave. We ask for a meeting with you with a view to amending in depth Circular No. 367, as a matter of urgency. A proposal to revise the Circular inspired by the EU practice was already submitted to the COHSEC on 6 September 2019. It could be a basis for discussion.

In addition, we consider it absolutely necessary to alleviate any undue pressure on sick staff now, out of a duty of care.

We request therefore an immediate suspension of the provision on “house arrest”.

Yours sincerely,

Alain Dumont
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

_______
1 As in Article 12 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2 Currently, Article B(3) of Circular No. 367 obliges a sick employee to be available at their home address from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day, including on weekends.

“In this open letter to the President,” the Central Staff Committee said, “we ask for a meeting with a view to amending Circular No. 367, as a matter of urgency.” We’ve been back to the Benoît Battistelli era for quite some time now; if this doesn’t prove it, what will?

“Days ago we started showing the intent to start legal actions over this.”In another recent letter the Central Staff Committee sought feedback from staff regarding the general sentiment and stress levels. “Of course we will treat your feedback confidentially,” they said, pointing out mindless buzzwords and euphemisms commonly used by the corrupt administration, run by incompetent bullies.

Here’s the full letter:

Munich, 26.10.2020
sc20164cp

Dear colleagues in Job Groups 5 and 6
We are listening to you, let’s talk, make your voice heard!

SP2023 – agility – reorganisations – new normal – staff health – new career – production targets – diversity and inclusion… EPO buzzwords these days, but do you find yourselves addressed in all this?

Does management involve you, take your concerns and input into account? Or do you rather feel ignored by management and are issues specific to your situation not taken seriously?

Your staff representation has started an internal Job Group 5 and 6 Working Group because we are sure that there are issues you would like to share with us – and of course also positive ideas and experiences.

Take a moment and reflect on the following questions

 Do you feel stressed?
 Can you cope with the workload?
 Did the reorganisation(s) impact you?
 Is the frequency of changes too high, at a pace too fast to follow?
 Have you received the training you need to do your (new) job?
 Do you have a feeling of job satisfaction?
 Do you feel supported by your colleagues within your team?
 Is your work recognised?
 Do you feel respected for your contribution to the EPO?
 Are you worried about your future at the EPO?

We are very keen to receive your feedback to these questions, no matter how detailed or short they are, and would like to include them in the list of topics relevant to you. Of course we will treat your feedback confidentially.

The aim is to get an idea on which topics to start with in our discussions with management, topics especially relevant for colleagues in Job Groups 5 and 6.

Your staff representatives

Notice the part about “diversity and inclusion…”

As recently as 6 days ago Office management pretended to care about disabled people; in reality, they’re a large contributor to this problem. EPO workers aren’t gullible enough for Office management to get away with these white-washing lies.

11.23.20

Internal Error: Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent Incompatible With the Constitution and Basic Laws

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Internal Error: 500

Summary: The FFII has issued a statement for Members of the Bundestag, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the Council, German Presidency of the EU, Chancellor Merkel, Commissioner Von Der Leyen, Commissioner Reynders, and Battistelli‘s buddy Breton

TWO days ago we wrote about the latest claim from Team UPC, later pointing out that many scholars across Europe line up and stand in Team UPC's way. The EPO (Office) hardly even mentions the UPC and the Council barely touched the subject. Miraculous leaps of faith are required to “believe” in the UPC.

“Saying that UPC/A can still be ratified and be started is akin to saying (at this point) that Donald Trump will overturn the election results and remain President until 2024.”UPC won’t materialise for a lot of reasons, not just a list of constitutional complaints and withdrawals. Team UPC has a long tradition of lying about the UPC; it’s all about money and saving face (they made false promises to clients). Some “core people” of Team UPC are about to become unemployed and they know it. They just try to buy another month or two.

AceIs the UPC about to become a reality? Been there, done that, seen that… they always say it’ll come Real Soon™ or Almost There®.

How many times? Dozens if not hundreds.

Two years ago they told us it was imminent (just before the end of 2018).

It was a lie. Fabrication.

Just to be sure the lid stays shut, the following statement has just been published by the FFII (a few hours ago) to say:

FFII e.V. is a pan-European alliance of software companies and independent software developers, defending the rights to a free and competitive software creation since 1999. Over the years, more then 3,000 software companies accross Europe have supported our calls against software patenting, among which 1,100 German ones. With the Unitary Patent project, we are at the third attempt to validate software patents in Europe. The previous 2 first attempts to change the law (EPC2000 and the 2005 software patent directive) failed.

This Wednesday 25th november 2020, the Legal Affairs committee of the Bundestag will vote on the ratification by Germany of the Unitary Patent and its Court [ref1]. In a series of answers to questions asked by the Free Democratic Party (FDP) [ref2] [ref3], the German Ministry of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) says that they are “no constitutional problems” with the Unitary Patent and its Court [ref4].

Firstly, on the 22nd of April 2020, the same Legal Affairs committee of the Bundestag voted [ref5] to participate in the legal proceedings in front of the German Federal Constitutional Court (GFCC) in Karlsruhe, on cases related to the question inter alia of impossibility to sue the administration (the EPO) in front of the courts for maladministration. The possibility to sue an administrative body, such as the EPO, for maladministration before the courts is one of the fundamental pillar of our western democracies, also called the “Rule of Law” (TFEU art2) and is a categorical constitutional guarantee (i.e judicial review of administrative acts). This applies also to the institutional possibility, under the requisite constitutional system of separation of powers, to appeal acts and decisions of administrative bodies (e.g. the EPO), as it can be observed in all national systems and also at the EU level, as with the other intellectual property rights of trademarks and designs, where the decisions of the EUIPO are frequently appealed before the CJEU. In this respect, the constitutional mechanism that sustains the absolutely necessary separation of powers exists for intellectual property rights in the EU (trademarks and designs) but is spectacularly absent from the Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent institutional arrangement. As they cannot provide such basic constitutional-democratic guarantees, they concern clear unconstitutional arrangements that deprive the patent system in Europe from adequate democratic control and undermine the whole system of the EU, as these constitute blatant constitutional failures that fly in the face of the whole institutional design and function of the EU and of the arrangements and understanding that member states have with the EU. On this basic issue there is now a pan-European academic initiative [ref6] from various EU member states, including from Germany, asking for a legal reform of the the Unified Patent Court in order to restore essential democratic safeguards in its operation, such as those seen in other areas of intellectual property, as pointed out above.

For example, one of those cases relate to the fact that the EPO examiners prefered to go watch a football match of the 2010 FIFA world cup in South Africa instead of hearing an appeal (Wallinger case) [ref7]. In 2012, our association also hit the same problem during our oral opposition at the EPO against Amazon’s One Click Gift patent [ref8]. The EPO refused to provide us a live translation in the language of our choice (spanish in the particular case) [ref9]. We came to the conclusion at the time that the EPO could not be sued for maladministration.

Nevertheless, despite these well known institutional anomalies, some members of the Bundestag and the Ministry of Justice want to go forward with this ratification project, even though there are obvious “constitutional problems”. The Bundestag is now part of the legal proceedings that are active before in front of the Constitutional Court and should have more insight about those particular cases. Those cases on the impossibility to sue the EPO for maladministration were on the agenda of the Court for 2020, but apparently they won’t be decided this year, but early next year in 2021.

As far as we know, FFII isn’t the only party prepared to torpedo the whole thing with another complaint. UPC is a dead thing because it’s simply not compatible with the law and key stakeholders have already walked away. Saying that UPC/A can still be ratified and be started is akin to saying (at this point) that Donald Trump will overturn the election results and remain President until 2024.

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts