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08.11.14

Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents, Site News at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EU too is besieged by corporations

EU

Summary: A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens’ interests

Some well-meaning people still focus on patent trolls, not on software patents. The world’s largest corporations engage in a coup or an occupation against policy-makers and it shows. This includes some who purport to be supporting FOSS, fair competition, etc. Melanie Chernoff, the Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, says that “North Carolina says ‘no’ to patent trolls”. To quote the article published this afternoon:

North Carolina became the latest state to take a stand against patent trolls when NC Governor Pat McCrory signed a new law last week aimed at preventing bad faith assertions of patent infringement. Patent trolls (more officially called “patent assertion entities” or “non-practicing entities”) are known for sending very vague letters, with often meritless claims, to other businesses in the hopes of extorting a settlement to avoid the nuisance of a lawsuit.

But this is not the thing to strive for. The real (core) issue is patent scope and even those who spend all their time diverting attention and/or arguing about “trolls” (front groups CCIA with its lawyers who are funded by giant corporations) increasingly — however rarely — recognise the issue of scope while still trying to shift attention to “trolls”.

The other day The Economist, widely recognised for its pro-Big Business agenda, published this article titled “Patents that kill”. To quote some of the relevant parts:

IN 1742 Benjamin Franklin invented a new type of stove, for which he was offered a patent. Franklin refused it, arguing in his autobiography that because “we enjoy[ed] great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours.”

[...]

The pharmaceutical industry makes the best case for patents (and makes the most of patents when they are approved). Medical research and development (R&D) is costly. Moreover, although a patent application must be filed straight after a drug discovery, clinical trials necessary for drug approval may take several years. This shortens the effective life of the patent. As three economists argue in a recent paper this causes problems. In order to prove the efficacy of a drug, pharmaceuticals have to match the length of a clinical trial to the expected survival time of the patients. A clinical trial for patients with metastatic prostate cancer lasts only three years compared to an 18-year-long trial for those suffering from a milder, localised prostate cancer. Since a typical patent is in force for 20 years, firms only have two years of effective patent length left to commercialise a new drug against localised prostate cancer.

Here we deal with an issue that has nothing to do with patent trolls but with patent scope.

Dealing with the issue of European approach towards software patents, Glyn Moody put the words of some British patent lawyers in a frame of mind that assures us Europe is assimilating to the US (and USPTO), not the other way around. To quote Glyn Moody: “It would be easy to assume that the European Patent Office (EPO) stands in the same relationship to the European Union as the USPTO does to the United States, but that’s actually wide of the mark.”

There is corporate control of the USPTO, which is operating against the interests of US citizens (except the top 1% perhaps). The lawyers’ blog has apparently produced “a great piece, but its gentle humor exposes a serious point about the EPO: it is literally above the law.

“That emphasizes once more that the unitary patent system has been decoupled from the normal legislative and democratic processes of the European Union, and thus will be under no obligation to take heed of the economic interests of the European citizens.”

We are soon going expose corruption at the EPO, based leaks from a source which is pursuing encryption at the moment.

Moody continues: “There is no precedent in the political history of modern democracies where important property issues affecting the economic sustainability and development of a country, and the proprietary rights and business prospects of its people, were conclusively and exclusively taken by a judicial body at supranational level. A democratic policy-making process for the determination of patents as objects of property exists, of course, in all countries of the world, including the US, whose system the UPC tries to imitate. The difference is that the US unified patent system does not escape democratic control, and the economic policies that it serves are widely debated by legislators, judges, economists, lawyers and industry players, all of whom are residents of the same country.”

Finally, says Moody: “It’s still early days for the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court, so it’s not yet clear how the new system will work, and how serious the problems will be. The danger is that Eponia might turn out to be not so much a quaint oddity in the European political landscape as a dangerous rogue state with serious negative consequences for the region’s businesses and citizens.”

The system is out of control at the moment. It gets worse as patents expand in terms of scope (especially in Europe but also in other continent) while the US merely makes baby-steps in the opposite direction, while much of the effort is being diverted towards “trolls” (small abusers), of course at the behest of large corporations, as usual in US politics as per the modus operandi.

03.03.14

Open Source Initiative, Free Software Foundation, SFLC, Red Hat and Others Fight Against Software Patents at SCOTUS Level

Posted in America, FSF, Law, OIN, OSI, Patents, Red Hat at 5:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The debate about software patents in the United States is back because many Free software advocacy groups and companies (not Open Invention Network though) are getting involved in a Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case

OVER THE past 6 months or so there have not been many debates about software patents. There were debates about trolls and other such distracting debates; many of them were ‘pre-approved’ by corporations and covered by the corporate press. We had highlighted this appealing trend several dozens of times before pretty much abandoning this debate and giving up on involvement; generally speaking, providing coverage for these debates is basically helping those who create obstacles for small players (monopolies/oligopolies) just shift the public’s attention away from patent scope.

Debates about software patents returned about a week ago. The Open Invention Network (OIN) was mentioned in the article “Software patents should include source code”, but it’s such an offensive idea because it helps legitimise software patents, which is what the Open Invention Network often does anyway. To quote the article: “Computer-implemented inventions that are patented in Europe should be required to fully disclose the patented invention, for example by including working, compilable source code, that can be verified by others. This would be one way to avoid frivolous software patents, says Mirko Boehm, a Berlin-based economist and software developer working for the OpenInvention Network (OIN).”

Why on Earth does the Open Invention Network get involved in pushing the idea of software patents in Europe? Source code or not, software patents are not legal in Europe and the same goes in most of the world, including India where lawyers’ sites still try to legitimise them.

In another blog post, one from a proprietary software company, the ludicrous notion of “Intellectual Property” is mentioned in the context of Free software and patents. The author is actually pro-Free software, but the angle he takes helps warp the terminology and warp the discussion somewhat. To quote him: “My usual response to the question, “Do I have to worry about patent trolls and copyright infringement in open source software?” is another question, “Does your proprietary vendor offer you unlimited liability for patent trolls and copyright infringement and what visibility do you have into their source code?” In the proprietary world I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a vendor who provides unlimited liability for their products against IP infringement, or even much over the cost of the products or services rendered. How often do you review their source code and if given the opportunity are you able to share your findings with other users. In open source that’s simply table stakes.”

Contrary to all the above, the Software Freedom Law Center, together with the FSF and the OSI (Simon Phipps and Luis Villa) actually fight the good fight. To quote Phipps: “How important are software patents? We know they’re a threat to the freedom of developers to collaborate openly in communities, chilling the commercial use of shared ideas that fuels engagement with open source. We know that the software industry was established without the “incentive” of software patents. But the importance of the issue was spotlighted yesterday in a joint action by two leading open source organizations.”

Here is how Phipps concludes his article at IDG: “I endorse and welcome this joint position calling for firm clarity on software patents. (I was obviously party to the decision to take it, although I’m not writing on OSI’s behalf here.) With 15 years of history behind us, there’s far more that unites the FSF and the OSI than divides us. We’ve each played our part in the software freedom movement that has transformed computing. Now all of us in both communities need to unite to end the chilling threat of software patents to the freedom to innovate collaboratively in community.”

Red Hat too is joining this battle and announcing this to shareholders, making some press coverage in the process amid many articles about SCOTUS in the post-Bilski case era (see some coverage in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 910]).

Software patents are finally in the headlines again (not much sympathy for them), but there is also some focus on trolls, courtesy of companies like Samsung and Apple. Other recent reporting about patents covered patent lawyers’ business, the role of universities in patents (they help feed trolls these days), and also USPTO reform (that was a fortnight ago). None of this dominated the news, however, as much as the debate was on software patents. So, perhaps it’s time to get back to covering patents on an almost daily basis.

Software patents are the most important issue as they are the biggest barrier to Free software. We just need to have the subject of software patents and their elimination publicly discussed.

01.16.14

Cable/Media Companies’ Conflict in Reporting (and Rupert Murdoch Really Hates Net Neutrality!)

Posted in America at 10:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: How the large cable companies, which also control the corporate (mainstream) media in many cases (or receive funds from the same sources), deceive the public on net neutrality

COVERAGE THAT we have found about net neutrality in the corporate media (media which is also in the business of cable, e.g. Comcast/CBS) has been superficial and deceiving, but almost nobody was as biased as Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, as we already noted yesterday. Propagators of “trickle-down” and “free market” nonsense are truly happy this week, but they try to at least appear as though they’re sympathetic with the public and they cannot just ignore the news (it would harm their perceived legitimacy). A lot of good coverage from bloggers and online rights groups is virtually being drowned out by disinformation from the corporate media. This is very bad. It may also affect a similar crossroad in Europe [1], which also debates net neutrality these days.

Consider decent coverage like [2-7] and then consider the corporate media doing its coverup [8-11] (ranging in strategy from defeatism to misinformation). The whole episode shows that by moving from the analogue world to digital we are actually losing our freedom [12] because corporations take over (e.g. MPAA in W3C).

The most disgusting coverage continues to come from Murdoch’s biggest publications. He continues his assault net neutrality with biased coverage [13], having recently acquired yet more news sources [14], and even used his propaganda channel, Fox ‘news’, to beam out endorsement of Obama assassination [15]. How can anyone get away with this? It seems like nothing, even crime like cracking a dead girl’s phone, can put such oligarchs in jail, ever.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. EU Parliament Committee on “Civil Liberties” Must Address Free Expression in Anti-Net Neutrality Proposal

    A few weeks before a crucial vote on the future European Regulation on the Single Market of telecommunication in Civil Liberties (LIBE) committee, La Quadrature du Net just sent the following email to all the members of this committee, inviting them to propose strong amendments in favour of fundamental rights to the lead committee on this dossier, the Industry (ITRE) committee.

  2. Will Net Neutrality Ruling Doom Education to Second-Class Status?

    The ruling this week by a federal court on the Open Internet (Net Neutrality) Order may turn out to be, as one commenter called it, “a terrible idea,” or, as another observer put it, a source of “a lot of overheated rhetoric.” Education, for its part, could well see major changes to how it’s able to deliver learning content to students online while at the same time positioning itself to become a major alternative supplier of broadband in this country.

  3. Net neutrality: We need a hero, from the unlikeliest of places
  4. As Expected, Court Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules: Now What?

    Almost everyone I’ve spoken to (on both sides of the net neutrality debate) more or less expected the ruling that came down this morning in the DC circuit, in which the appeals court struck down the FCC’s net neutrality rules because the the FCC had no mandate under the rules it used to issue that ruling. Basically, this is exactly what lots of us said at the start of this whole process. I’ve seen a bunch of reports overreacting to this today, from people saying that it’s “the death of the internet.” It’s not. There are problems on both sides here. The telcos absolutely do want to abuse things to effectively double charge both sides. And that could clearly create significant issues with the basic end-to-end nature of the internet.

  5. Net neutrality is half-dead: Court strikes down FCC’s anti-blocking rules
  6. US kills net neutrality, will it curb innovation?
  7. Wolverton: Say goodbye to the Internet we’ve known
  8. The Internet As We Know It Is In Peril. The FCC Can (And Must) Save It

    When the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order Tuesday—dealing what is being broadly interpreted as a fatal blow to net neutrality— it highlighted the urgent need for the FCC to develop a smarter and more assertive approach to protecting citizens and consumers in the digital age.

  9. Net neutrality is dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords

    The court did leave it up to the FCC or Congress to refashion a net neutrality regime. The new FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, has made noises favoring net neutrality, but he also sounds like someone who’s not so committed to the principle.

  10. Why you should care about Net neutrality (FAQ)
  11. Net Neutrality Quashed: New Pricing Schemes, Throttling, and Business Models to Follow

    A court loss for “net neutrality” could mean either a new era of innovation or preferential treatment and higher costs.

  12. Study: Internet erodes democratic protections

    Claims that the internet will “democratize” the global village are not supported by research published in the International Journal of Electronic Governance. Instead, non-democratic governments simply exploit the networks to spy on and control their citizens more effectively and efficiently than they did before.

  13. A Victory for an Unfettered Internet
  14. Storyful social media firm bought by Rupert Murdoch

    Rupert Murdoch’s media company NewsCorp has bought Storyful, an Irish “social media news agency”.

    The Dublin-based firm has been acquired for $25 million (£15.3m).

    Storyful specialises in licensing and distributing social media content to major news organisations such as the Wall Street Journal and BBC.

  15. Fox’s Benghazi Expert Endorsed Assassinating Obama Last Week

    Days after he wrote a column endorsing the assassination of President Obama, Fox hosted Michael Scheuer to accuse Hillary Clinton of effectively murdering the Americans who died during the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

11.19.13

Worldwide Adoption of FOSS in Public Services, Including Education and Healthcare

Posted in America, Australia, Free/Libre Software at 6:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Government

Summary: Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is increasingly being adopted by those whose budget comes from the public (through the state)

Federal agencies are said to be embracing more and more FOSS [1] and Australia follows a similar trajectory [2], realising that savings and quality through sharing and collaboration serve the public better. In education, which is also funded by taxpayers (and thus should serve the public), FOSS has new gains [3] and in healthcare too we see major signs of progress [4-6]. What makes the public sector so unique is that by definition it must serve the public interest, which typically means creating jobs for domestic developers, reducing spendings on unnecessary software, and giving back all the code to the public which paid for it. Every branch of the public sector should make FOSS obligatory, not just a recommended item.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Agencies Widen Open-Source Use

    Federal agencies, looking for new ways to lower their IT costs, are exploiting open-source software tools in a wider range of applications, not only to reduce software costs, but also to tighten network security, streamline operations, and reduce expenses in vetting applications and services.

  2. South Australia to test use of Joinup for sharing and re-use

    The South Australian Government is considering running a trial of the Joinup platform, hoping to use it as their internal sharing and collaboration platform, a spokesperson for the CIO confirmed today. According to Stephen Schmid, general manager of the Open Technology Foundation, the South Australian is also working towards federating the internal platform with Openray, a similar platform open to the public sector in Australia and New Zealand.

  3. Open hardware for education with littleBits library of electronic modules

    Littlebits is disrupting the open hardware space. It’s “an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun.” The company is the invention of Ayah Bdeir, an MIT graduate and TED senior fellow, and was founded in September 2011.

  4. Open source collaboration with VA betters VistA EHR security
  5. OpenEMR Free Hosting
  6. OSEHRA, VA reveal open source EHR security patching benefits

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the open source IT community have paired up to prove the benefits of fixing technical security flaws within an open source system. According to the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent (OSEHRA) corporation, Georgia Tech graduate student Doug Mackey evaluated the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) EHR for a term project on computer security and found a substantial security vulnerability.

11.18.13

Interventionism Brings Blowback

Posted in America at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benghazi

Summary: Foreign policy in the news and what can be learned from the current strategies

IF WE are going to believe Fox, CNN, Sky and other corporate news channels, the world is a horribly dangerous place and it’s all because of some people who envy the West for infinite liberty and lots of inexpensive junk food. The reality is a lot more complicated than this; in order to understand the full story we must go back and revisit a history of foreign policy that’s designed to exploit and to annul the liberty of people abroad. We needn’t go so far back in time. Our former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, made a killing by helping to start a war [1], which the UK continues to defend on behalf of the US [2]. This war is said to have needlessly killed half a million people and displaced many more.

Domestically, the panic isn’t any better. Even in Western nations the spooks are trying to create new enemies, giving fake bombs to people and then heralding the threat of terrorism at home. Scahill recently said that “the FBI has a PhD in breaking up its own terror plots.” [3] Scahill has been a notable activist/author against drone strikes, which create hatred [4] and help radicalise people (which makes terrorism a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts). Obama himself takes great pleasure in assassinating people without trial [5,6], which would only contribute to more such hatred and put to end any moral high ground [7]. In Egypt, terror charges were recently filed against Obama [8] and given what he did in Syria (arming so-called ‘rebels’ through Benghazi [9] to induce so-called ‘change’ [10,11]) he oughtn’t be shocked by blowback [12]. It is believed that the strategy of assassination has been practised far too much recently (not just by the US [13]) and all it can ever do is create more of the phenomenon you purport to be destroying. Forceful intervention is hardly ever the solution. We need understanding and cooperation instead, building bridges after all the violence.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Tony Blair: never in the field of human history has one man earned so much from the deaths of so many

    Just as we learned that the US and UK governments were conspiring to stop us learning the truth of the Bush-Blair Iraq conspiracy, Tony Blair picked up £150,000 for an hour-long speech in Dubai

  2. Exclusive: US blocks publication of Chilcot’s report on how Britain went to war with Iraq

    Department of State’s objection to release of key evidence may prevent inquiry’s conclusions from ever being published, except in heavily redacted form

  3. Jeremy Scahill with Tom Engelhardt, Conversation, 30 October 2013
  4. U.S. Drone Program Needs to Be Accompanied by Hard Facts on Civilian Deaths

    Pakistan’s waffling on the number of civilians killed in U.S. drone strikes underscores the need for more transparency.

  5. Obama brag, in new book: I’m ‘really good at killing people’ with drones
  6. ‘I’m really good at killing people’ – book claims Obama told aides

    It seems that President Obama is very much aware of the effects of his drone campaign, as he reportedly told aides he’s “really good at killing people.”

    The quote comes from a new book called “Double Down,” by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, which chronicles the inside story of the 2012 election. The Washington Post was the first outlet to expose the quote in its review of the book.

  7. Does America have a “Licence to Kill”? US Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law

    Since 2009, the United States have regularly bombed Yemen. These aerial attacks have occurred in almost all of the country’s provinces. More recently, drone strikes have multiplied, and the infrastructure required for these types of attacks have been expanded, not only in Yemen, but also in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti. Since the beginning of strikes in November 2002 to the writing of this report in July 2013, the United States have carried out between 134 and 234 military operations in Yemen. This includes strikes carried out by aircraft and drones as well as missiles launched from warships located in the Gulf of Aden. According to various sources, the number of people killed range from 1000 to 2000. However, to this day, neither the Yemeni or American authorities have put forward official statistics on the number of casualties.

  8. Criminal terror charges filed against Obama

    Several prominent media sources in Egypt are now reporting that Egyptian lawyers have filed criminal terrorism charges in the International Criminal Court against President Obama in addition to the criminal terrorism charges previously filed in Egyptian courts against the president’s half-brother Malik Obama.

  9. Benghazi Survivors Given NDAs at CIA Memorial Service for Woods, Doherty

    Two former CIA officials who fought in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, were asked to sign additional nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) more than six months after those attacks. The two officials, who will testify Thursday before a subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, were presented the nondisclosure agreements during a memorial service in May at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, honoring Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, two of the CIA-affiliated personnel who died during those attacks.

  10. Coup intelligence says relations with CIA now restored

    The Director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, Mohamed Farid Tuhami, disclosed that the cooperation between Egypt’s two intelligence services and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has now been restored to the same level as during the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, back when General Omar Suleiman managed the Egyptian intelligence services. Tuhami, known as General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s mentor, is now in charge of military intelligence. Ousted President Mohammed Morsi had dismissed him from his former position over corruption charges; however, the coup leaders reinstated him.

  11. Syria has Changed

    The media coverage of the war in Syria examines only military, diplomatic and humanitarian action. It ignores profound transformation. However, one does not survive a sea of ​​violence without changing profoundly. From Damascus, where he has lived for two years, Thierry Meyssan describes this evolution.

  12. Barack Obama’s Twitter, Facebook, Campaign website and Email Accounts hacked by Syrian Electronic Army

    ‘Syrian Electronic Army is an organized hacking group loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and known for their high profile cyber attacks. This year they were able to disrupt the New York Times web page multiple times, Twitter, CNN, the Huffington Post and Global Post and many more targets.

    The SEA website launched in May 2011 stating the group’s mission: to attack the enemies of the Syrian government, mainly those who fabricated stories about the Syrian civil war.

  13. Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned with polonium, tests show

    Swiss scientists find levels of polonium 18 times higher than normal in first forensic tests on former Palestinian leader’s body

‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ Becomes a Thing of the Past

Posted in Action, America, Europe at 5:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Presumption of innocence
Hammond
Photo from FreeJeremy.net

Summary: Presumption of innocence and fair trials are no longer respected all that much (Hammond judged/punished by the spouse of a Stratfor client)

WHERE minor offences can lead to disproportionately long jail sentences [1] there is a story about Hammond [2], whose case we alluded to the other day. He helped show how surveillance expanded to the private sector (Stratfor) to be used against protests. We should view surveillance as a weapon [3,4] and the ‘trial’ of Hammond as a mockery of the system (connections between the judge and Stratfor [5]). This trial was as unfair as the witchhunt against Aaron Swartz. Punishment against dissent is getting more harsh, potentially requiring no trial for a prison sentence [6,7]. European citizens should be worried about this because this kind of ‘legal’ system is silently entering the EU [8,9], led by the CIA and other aggressors who defend centres of power. Presumption of innocence is becoming a thing to be remembered and noted only in history lessons. Due to ‘national security’ we are told that presumption of innocence is worth abandoning or superseding in some cases.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Sentenced to a Slow Death

    If this were happening in any other country, Americans would be aghast. A sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for trying to sell $10 of marijuana to an undercover officer? For sharing LSD at a Grateful Dead concert? For siphoning gas from a truck? The punishment is so extreme, so irrational, so wildly disproportionate to the crime that it defies explanation.

  2. Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison, Jeremy Hammond Uses Allocution to Give Consequential Statement Highlighting Global Criminal Exploits by FBI Handlers

    Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old political activist, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to participating in the Anonymous hack into the computers of the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). The Ceremonial Courtroom at the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York was filled today with an outpouring of support by journalists, activists and other whistleblowers who see Jeremy Hammond’s actions as a form of civil disobedience, motivated by a desire to protest and expose the secret activities of private intelligence corporations.

  3. Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet. Here’s How They Did It

    If the NSA can hack Petrobras, the Russians can justify attacking Exxon/Mobil. If GCHQ can hack Belgacom to enable covert wiretaps, France can do the same to AT&T. If the Canadians target the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Chinese can target the U.S. Department of the Interior. We now live in a world where, if we are lucky, our attackers may be every country our traffic passes through except our own.

  4. The Internet Is Now Weaponized, And You Are The Target
  5. Judge in hacker case is married to a Stratfor client

    Jeremy Hammond’s lawyers plan to file a motion this week for Judge Preska’s recusal. Sparrow Media reported that Preska was made aware of the published connection between her husband and Stratfor and that her husband’s Stratfor-related information was published by Wikileaks, but “Preska indicated that this personal connection to the Hammond case ‘would not effect her ability to be impartial’.” A video from last week’s press conference featuring journalists, attorneys and civil liberties advocates is posted below.

  6. County Action Coming On NDAA Detention?

    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its use of indefinite detention of U.S. citizens has brought liberals and conservatives together across the country. Lane County commissioners Faye Stewart, a conservative, and Pete Sorenson, a progressive, were able to agree on the issue at a recent meeting.

  7. Will Carl Levin’s Amendments To NDAA Help President Obama Close Guantánamo? – OpEd

    Ever since President Obama took office in January 2009, and almost immediately promised to close George W. Bush’s “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he has faced opposition from Congress. Lawmakers only took four months to begin passing legislation designed to tie his hands, and, in recent years, they have imposed restrictions of increasing severity designed to keep Guantánamo open, and to prevent any more prisoners from being released, for reasons that involve either hysteria, cynical fearmongering or bleak games of political football.

  8. Court rejects Polish request to keep CIA jail hearing private

    The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a request from the Polish government to exclude the press and public from a hearing next month into whether Poland hosted a secret CIA jail on its soil, the court said on Thursday.

    The hearing in Strasbourg, scheduled for December 3, will be the first time an open court has heard the allegations that Warsaw allowed the United States to detain and interrogate al Qaeda suspects in a forest in northern Poland.

  9. Human rights court turns down Polish govt request to keep CIA jail hearing closed

11.08.13

Bezos-Owned Washington Post No Longer Has Ombudsman, Revolving Doors Plague the FCC Again

Posted in America at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coup d’état of the media



Photo by Steve Jurvetson

Summary: Further erosion of independence in the corporate media and another fine example of its overseers being run by the same corporations it’s supposed to oversee

It was curious to find out that the ombudsman of the Washington Post had been made redundant, as pointed out in an open letter from Ralph Nader [1]. The Washington Post, which rejected the leaks from Bradley Manning and did a lot to serve CIA agenda (or beam propaganda to China as part of a deal with the government), is now owned by the head of Amazon, which also has a massive new contract with the CIA (to help store data about people, nations, and so on). It is worth remembering Amazon’s proximity to Microsoft as well. The trend-setting media (more influential than Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg and perhaps even the New York Times) is now literally owned by a man whose net worth is $28.9 billion. Previously, before this embarrassing scandal, Bill Gates’ wife was on the board of the Washington Post, but it wasn’t ownership of the whole. At least we now know who the Washington Post needs to serve, as per the steering managers.

The United States has this apparatus called FCC, which stands for Federal Communications Commission. It is supposed to supervise the media (among other things), but given that it’s full of corruption and appointments from those who are seemingly regulated (revolving doors in the FCC were covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4]), expect nothing to be done about the loss of oversight over corporate media, which now in Bezos’ hands is more corporate-owned than before. The FCC has just shown us that corruption is its motto by appointing Tom Wheeler [2] (check his professional background).

It is important to always recall who owns the media which we choose to trust. There’s a business model and/or a political agenda, but hiding it is easy using the art of language.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. An Open Letter to the Washington Post

    Mr. Bezos would do well to reestablish the longtime ombudsman post which was abolished in March of this year, presumably to save money. For an ombudsman’s role is not just to be an internal critic at the paper but also to be the reader’s coherent voice on the ways the Washington Post is being managed.

  2. Tom Wheeler confirmed as new chief of US FCC

    The confirmation of Tom Wheeler as chairman and Michael O’Rielly as a commissioner ends a deadlock over the appointment of two key FCC executives, after Republican lawmakers withdrew their opposition.

11.01.13

Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Interior Ministry of France Pave the Way for US to Embrace GNU-Inspired Software Freedom

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Getting back liberty

Statue of Liberty

Summary: Public sector moves to Free/Open Source software (FOSS) show an international trend which even the home of most giant proprietary software multinationals seems to finally follow

THE painful news about the French Ministry of Defence and Microsoft is easily superseded by plenty of wonderful news about public services/government departments embracing Free software all around the world (even here in the UK there are some examples which are not publicly advertised). It turns out that corruption (such as bribery) from proprietary software giants is not enough to conquer everything which the taxpayers are funding. An important point needs to be made here. The situation is vastly different when it comes to private businesses, which are usually accountable to nobody. That’s what makes the public sector so unique and worth debating in public.

Good news comes from the French police [1], which explains Microsoft’s role in losing its grip (Windows XP patching cycle is ending). The French Interior Ministry, as it turns out [2], is also moving away from Microsoft (on 200,000 PCs). What an amazing number! And just to think that Mozilla so foolishly stopped developing Thunderbird any further, leaving people vulnerable to surveillance-friendly E-mail alternatives (E-mail on the Web cannot properly facilitate encryption).

Jamaica flagIn other exciting news, Jamaica is moving to freedom with GNU Health [3]. It is a “project of deploying GNU Health within their Public Health Care system.” [4]

Jamaica suffered European occupation for centuries, so hopefully its embrace of GNU will aid its autonomy and Independence, not to mention domestic job creation for programmers. Now it remains for the United States’ Department of Health and Human Services to follow suit [5] and fulfill its promises.

My online friend, who is French, said a week ago [6] that “[s]omething is becoming increasingly obvious: FOSS has come of age.” He is very much right and the point he makes was made here before. We take for granted now what we once really craved for. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is getting stronger now, adding a General Manager [7] called Patrick Masson, formerly UMassOnline’s Chief Technology Officer (University of Massachusetts, which is a public university).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. ‘It was a huge risk’: How the end of XP support helped France’s gendarmes embrace Ubuntu – fast

    The French gendarmerie began its switch to Linux almost 10 years ago: plans to expand the use of productivity tools in the force while at the same time keeping a lid on costs meant that proprietary software was given the boot.

  2. French Interior Ministry: open source 5 to 10 times cheaper

    France’s Ministry of the Interior says its use of Thunderbird, a free software email client, running on its 200 000 PCs since 2008, is five times cheaper than the use of the ubiquitous proprietary alternative. The ministry recently started using the combination of GLPI and OCS, free software tools for managing computer assets, software licences and configuration files. “This is 10 times less expensive than the previous proprietary tool.”

  3. Jamaica Ministry of Health adopts GNU Health

    The mission is in the context of the agreement signed between Jamaica Ministry of Health and GNU Solidario, to cooperate in the implementation of GNU Health, the Free Health and Hospital Information System in this country.

  4. Jamaica Ministry of Health adopts GNU Health

    “Success requires hard work” is the meaning of this Jamaican proverb. With a bright Caribbean sun and an even brighter welcoming crew, GNU Health unshipped in a new bay this week. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MoH), a group mission of GNU Solidario visited Jamaica and inaugurated officially the project of deploying GNU Health within their Public Health Care system.

  5. Open-source advocates to government: Let us help you fix healthcare.gov

    Much of the constructive criticism is coming from members of the “open source” community, a passionate but loose-knit group that advocates openness and collaboration as a means of writing better computer software. Their desire to help solve the federal government’s website woes in part stems from an early decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to make the healthcare.gov code available for examination – a promise that was never fully fulfilled.

  6. Expanding the battlefield for Free & Open Source Software

    The title of this post may sound rather belligerant, but it is for a reason. Ever since this Summer -longer in fact- I ended having several conversations with people from the FSF, OSI, April and FSFE (as well as other orgs). Something is becoming increasingly obvious: FOSS has come of age.

  7. OSI Names New General Manager

    Newly Appointed General Manager Patrick Masson Joins OSI from University of Massachusetts

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