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02.19.15

Techrights Under Attack Again, Shortly After Important EPO Articles

Posted in Site News at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoit Battistelli

Summary: Techrights highlights a pattern that is months old; Site faces availability issues shortly after reports about the European Patent Office and its abuses

TODAY we published three very important articles regarding the EPO. It didn’t take more than an hour for the site to become inaccessible. Cracking attempts against Techrights sharply rose to a pace of ~1 per second (it’s usually quite bad, but not that bad) and Techrights was down due to exhausted resources, as is so often the case (for 6 months now) after writing major reports about EPO scandals. Investigation ensued (we still study the damage and the cause) and we are back online. Risk of brute-force SSH attacks on Techrights had already been mitigated by restriction to key-only authorisation, but that did not protect from DDOS attacks with large enough IP addresses pool. There is a reason and motivation, but we don’t know whose. Correlations (in timing and more) have inspired mere guesses over the past 6 months. We have been taking comprehensive site backups specifically before publishing key (exclusive) articles about the EPO; we didn’t do this in our entire history as a public site (which is almost a decade old). With mass protests, ugly coverups, violations of the law and resignations already happening there is a lot at stake here. DDOS attacks against us started around the same time the series about the EPO began, lasting months and sometimes persevering for weeks at a time (causing downtime or limited availability). I lost many nights of sleep over it. So has my wife.

“The EPO is already being sued by staff, which forced it (in The Hague) to stop censoring (essentially attacking) the voice of staff.”We already have it confirmed that EPO is in such as sordid mess that there are censorship attacks (by the EPO's management) on EPO staff. This is the same management which is misusing taxpayers' money, paying for fake coverage to glorify EPO management in respected publications such as the New Scientist. The decision from the EPO to plant ‘articles’/’testimonies’ (for a fee!) will backfire badly on Benoît Battistelli. As one IPKat comment put it: “As we read the various comments from the anonymice, keep in mind, dear Reader, that a comment that gives every appearance of coming from an EPO Examiner might in fact be disinformation coming from a crony of the President. And vice versa, of course.”

The EPO is already being sued by staff, which forced it (in The Hague) to stop censoring (essentially attacking) the voice of staff. This never prevented staff from accessing information from home (after work). “I think that’s the begining [sic.] of the end of Battistelli reign,” says a comment from the past hour, “it will create a scandal bigger that the Edith Cresson scandal” (context here).

Breaking: European Patent Office Sued by Its Own Staff in The Hague, Must Unblock Staff’s Voices

Posted in Site News at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This won’t look good in this man’s résumé

Benoît Battistelli

Summary: The crooked management of the European Patent Office (EPO) gets in legal trouble after repeated attempts to cover up abuses and suppress criticism

WE finally have some good news regarding the European Patent Office, which has become one of Europe’s more corrupt institutions, serving corporations at taxpayers’ expense.

Linking to this new ruling [PDF] from Holland, Merpel makes it known that:

This ruling, which is said to apply only to The Hague branch of the EPO — this being presumably the bit that lies within the court’s jurisdiction — is believed to conclude that the EPO

– must stop blocking Suepo.org emails within seven days,

– may not dictate the length and type of industrial actions and,

– within 14 days, must allow the union to enter into collective bargaining.

We have made a local copy of this decision [PDF] just in case intimidation/DDOS/other removes the original. We kindly ask Dutch-speaking readers to send us (or post below) an English translation. We have already taken note of the EPO's censorship attacks on its staff union.

02.08.15

The EPO’s Vice-President Željko Topić and the Case of Ivan Kabalin: Part XIII

Posted in Site News at 3:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Berlin views

Summary: Another look back at what Željko Topić had been doing in Croatia before Benoît Battistelli made Topić his right-hand man in Germany

AMID swirling allegations that the EPO may have hired crackers or is actively attacking/vandalising sites that are critical of EPO management (“Coincidently,” said one commenter in IPKat, “the SUEPO website has been hacked last wednesday”) we deem it a good time to open another can of worms. It’s impossible to know if SUEPO’s site is another silenced victim because of EPO/Željko Topić criticism (like Stilin, whose case we highlighted in several older articles of ours), but let’s take some time to look at the case of Ivan Kabalin in Croatia. In PDF form we now have all the relevant documents, even in English.

“In case you haven’t got enough already,” says a source of ours, “there is a story about a Croatian engineer and inventor called Ivan Kabalin who developed an improved razor design and alleges that his patent was “stolen” by Gillette. Again this involves allegations of irregularities at the Croatian SIPO under Topić’s management. Unfortunately, we don’t have the full details of the Kabalin case, but there are some Croatian reports.”

Here is an article from 2007 and another from 2013, which strangely enough was removed (we don’t know why). The Web Archive still has a copy of the latter article, which is written in Croatian.

We have received an English translation of the second one of these reports (the removed one). It’s a long article from November 2013 where it is reported that Kabalin has filed a complaint with the EU Anti-Fraud agency OLAF. Here it goes [PDF with addenda]:

CROATIAN PATENTS WORTH BILLIONS – BUT NOT FOR THE INVENTORS!

EU accession has not brought any improvements in this area
Date: 16 October 2013
Author: Franjo Dobrović

Following Croatia’s accession to the EU this summer, many of our citizens hoped that this would lead to rapid and efficient changes, especially in relation to the judicial system with its multiple layers of corruption. At the beginning of September, the Croatian engineer Mr. Ivan Kabalin submitted a complaint to OLAF [the EU Anti-Fraud Office] in Brussels – via the Croatian Ministry of Finance. He requested an interim status report concerning Docket No. OF / 2005 / 0390. This case and a number of others, all of which share a common denominator, namely corruption, have prompted us to once again focus our attention on the problems relating to the field of intellectual property rights.

THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE ACTS AS OLAF’S POSTMAN

We contacted the Ministry of Finance for clarification and received confirmation of the authenticity of the request along with a note explaining that the case had been referred to the State Attorney’s Office and the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs. We were particularly surprised by that because the Ministry of Finance, together with its Antifraud Division (SSNIP) acts as a postman for OLAF providing mailbox facilities for the latter in Croatia. To be more precise, we quote from their official response: “Accordingly, OLAF does not have an office in the Republic of Croatia, so the SSNIP is main focal point for the exchange of information and coordination of OLAF’s activities in the Republic of Croatia.”

If that is so, the question arises as to why our citizen’s document was not forwarded by the Ministry of Finance to OLAF, but to Ranko Ostojic [the Minister for the Interior] and Mladen Bajic [the Chief Public Prosecutor].

In addition, the State officials used their reply to provide us with the following insight into their mission: “The Department for Combating Irregularities and Fraud (hereinafter referred to as the SSNIP) is responsible for the coordination of legislative, administrative and operational activities of the bodies in the AFCOS system, aimed at protecting the financial interests of the European Union, and, consequently, for direct cooperation with OLAF. The scope of SSNIP’s work is prescribed by the Regulation on the Internal Organization of the Ministry of Finance (Official Gazette 32/12, 67/12, 124/12, 78/13 and 102/13).”


CROATIA AS AN INTELLECTUAL COLONY

Mr. Ivan Kabalin’s request to OLAF relates to alleged irregularities and breaches of law at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), which for many years was headed by the controversial Željko Topić. To remind our readers, Mr. Kabalin filed his innovative solutions with the then Central Bureau for Patents, as it was formerly called, i.e. what is now the State Intellectual Property Office. Kabalin specifically states that, apart from the aforementioned chicanery to which he and the Republic of Croatia have been subjected, there is plenty of publicly available evidence to indicates that the U.S. administration has been an active participant in the expropriation inflicted on both himself and his homeland.

While Mr. Kabalin hopes that his concept has not been irrevocably stolen from him for further industrial application, it must be noted that the state of which he is a citizen is apparently in no position to offer him any protection in this regard. The former member of the Croatian Parliament Pero Kovačević has asked the Croatian Government to comment on Mr. Kabalin’s allegations that the decision of the SIPO in this matter was unprofessional and irresponsible.

Mr. Kabalin patented a special razor which is known to the world today as the Gillette Sensor Excel, a product from which the U.S. company Gillette earns billions of dollars a year. The same invention is also marketed worldwide by the British company Wilkinson Sword while the true inventor is living in abject poverty near Petrinja.

Unfortunately, the Republic of Croatia has condemned itself to being an intellectual colony. In the interest of foreign exploiters, certain individuals have left the inventions of Croatian inventors devoid of any effective protection. At a time when technology rules the world and the number of inventors per capita puts the Republic of Croatia among the leading countries in the world in that field, the legislation in force results in a situation where patents are essentially worthless. Therefore it comes as no surprise that The Law School of the University of Zagreb has only recently introduced an elective course on intellectual property.

Apart from Mr. Kabalin’s case, a further reason for OLAF’s involvement in investigations in Croatia relates to a state institution of the Federal Republic of Germany – the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt – DPMA) which some years ago in the context of international cooperation provided financial assistance amounting to tens of thousands of Euros for improving the documentation and computerization of the SIPO. However, it appears that the payment was remitted to the private bank account of the former SIPO director, Mr. Željko Topic. How the details of his private bank account found their way into the official correspondence and documents of SIPO and whether or not the error was ever corrected remains an unsolved mystery for the moment.


WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE?

Aside from Mr. Kabalin’s petition, our portal has received several documents from German sources which indicate a malfunctionining in the cooperation and coordination between our national authorities and international institutions. According to documents which we have obtained, it would appear that either the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) or USKOK have issued a document confirming that there are no criminal proceedings against the former director of SIPO, Mr. Željko Topić as all charges against him have been dropped. According to the information at our disposal, this is not correct because the County and Municipal State Attorney’s Offices in Zagreb are currently processing at least six pending criminal cases against Željko Topić.

So it seems that someone from the aforementioned State authorities responsible for conducting prosecutions improperly issued a document by which the compromised former SIPO Director maintains his current position at the European Patent Office (EPO), a European intergovernmental institution based in Munich. If this is the case, such a document could only have been signed by the Chief Public Prosecutor.

Against this background, the matter starts to assume the dimension of a criminal offence of abuse of office and authority specified in the Criminal Code as an offence against official duties. It is precisely because the SAO and USKOK failed to exercise proper control over the operations of the SIPO that individual citizens were forced to do the job that these bodies were under an official obligation to perform: i.e. to investigate and prosecute criminal offences which had been reported to them or of which they themselves had become aware in the course of their official duties.

This international scandal involving the suspicion of illegal actions on the part of the Chief State Attorney also brings the Republic of Croatia into disrepute. The rule of law is proclaimed as a matter of public interest and it deserves to be accorded priority over the interests of current President of the Republic or those of the Prime Minister or the presiding official of the SAO.

According to our information, proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which also refer to Mr. Topić’s bribing of the former Minister of Science in the Government led by the corrupt Ivo Sanader are still pending.

As long as the real culprits are not brought to account, i.e. those persons who have failed and who still continue to fail to take measures to prevent such irregularities thereby committing a grave and cumulative breach of official duties defined in the Civil Service Act as the offence of negligent performance of duty, conduct of this kind will continue to generate a profound sense of dissatisfaction among the citizens of Croatia. An even greater problem than those relating to the Croatian judicial system, seems to be the inaction of the administrative apparatus which, as a rule, is not held to account for its negligence. It is not sufficient to loudly proclaim the rule of law, this principle also
needs to be enforced.


The situation in Croatia was recently described in graphic terms by an American journalist:

“There is a country in the Balkans where the Government despises its citizens as inconvenient witnesses, where the laws lack legitimacy and where anarchy is the normal state of affairs.”

TOPIĆ UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE SIPA*?

[* SIPA = The Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency]

In response to numerous media reports, the European Patent Office (EPO) carried out an investigation at the University of Banja Luka, with the aim of examining the allegations relating to the forgery of Mr. Topić’s M.Sc. degree. In his report (which is attached to this article), the EPO investigator Florian Andres claimed to have found nothing suspicious in the documentation or during his discussions with the Dean of the University Rector, Dr. Stanko Stanić. However, according to our sources in Banja Luka and Sarajevo, Dr. Stanić neither knows nor could have known anything about a possible forgery in the case of Mr. Topić’s “M.Sc.” university documents because he signs off thousands of diplomas in a purely formal capacity without going into the details of the documentation placed before him.

The trail relating to the potential forgery of Mr. Željko Topić’s university documentation leads from Banja Luka to Sarajevo. Why? Because the Faculty of Economics in Banja Luka was established by the Faculty of Economics of the University of Sarajevo in the 1970s. Coincidentally or not, the mentor listed on the degree thesis of Mr. Željko Topić [i.e. Dr. Boris Tihi] is a retired economics professor from the Faculty of Economics in Sarajevo who now works as an economic adviser in the Office of the Ministerial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, i.e. the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our sources in Sarajevo close to the government reported that their current economic advisor can neither confirm nor deny that he acted as a mentor for anybody at the Banja Luka Faculty of Economics prior to 1990! Of particular interest here is the fact that Mr. Topić’s master’s thesis does not list the names of the committee members before which the controversial thesis was defended but only bears the name of the mysterious mentor from Sarajevo.

According to unofficial information, this matter is under investigation by the the State Investigation and Protection Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SIPA) which is responsible for collecting and processing data of interest for the implementation of international and criminal law. It now looks as if the intrepid EPO investigator Mr. Andres may have to go on another official journey. But this time to Sarajevo …

Given that the EU and other international bodies are following this case with great interest, it can be expected that Mr. Željko Topić, M.Sc., will very soon become a major focus of attention for all those who take an interest in patent-related matters connected to the former Yugoslavia, but unfortunately in a negative sense.


THE TANGLED WEB BEGINS TO UNRAVEL IN GERMANY

Our claims are confirmed by information coming from German journalistic sources according to which EPO employees have in recent months approached members of the Bundestag based in Berlin who in turn have requested a written response from EPO President Benoît Battistelli. In addition, it seems that an investigative action into the case of Mr. Željko Topić, now a senior EPO employee, has been initiated by the German Ministry of Justice. Thus, our “Master” is accompanied by the strains of ZAMP music not only in the Republic of Croatia but also beyond its borders.

According to our sources, the EPO President Battistelli is currently mounting a vigorous defence of Topić. The explanation for this according to the unofficial information provided by our sources at the EPO in Vienna and the Hague is as follows. Topić faithfully carries out the orders of his master Battistelli as a coordinator of the EPO’s internal voting machine particularly in relation to the countries of the former Yugoslavia which make up a significant proportion of the member states in the decisionmaking body of this organization. So it seems that he literally co-exists with the EPO President in a harmonious symbiosis. In this capacity, he occasionally has the responsibility for inviting the members of national judiciaries to participate in “study tours” thereby becoming involved in a direct conflict of interest. Our portal is in possession of a list of persons who attended one of the aforementioned “study tours”. A tragic-comical aspect of this story is that cases related to intellectual property matters may soon land on the desks of these judges requiring them to decide on matters which may have some points of contact with certain persons from this Balkan saga and which have already been the subject of prior deliberation in some seedy Munich beer hall.

As can be seen, our “Master” is for the time being enjoying the benefits of the European Union. Indeed, he started to enjoy them long before normal Croatian citizens became full members of the EU’s enlarged family, especially when one considers his current salary which is estimated to be in the order of an astronomical EUR 15,000 per month.

Notice in the PDF’s first addendum (see the original PDF) just what Mr. Battistelli says in his strongly-worded letter to staff, alluding to a case that was recently dismissed and ruled in favour of Stilin and against Topić. This sure looks like some shrewdly-worded coverup and the above article makes mention of half a dozen criminal cases in Croatia, as we noted before. Topić is under heavy fire as judges too rule against him. The evidence is pointing in a direction that Topić’s endless litigation must be fuming over.

“This sure looks like some shrewdly-worded coverup and the above article makes mention of half a dozen criminal cases in Croatia, as we noted before.”“As you can see,” alleged our source, “this is an ongoing saga because the first of the above reports (untranslated) about Kabalin’s problems dates from 2007. By 2014, he doesn’t seem to have made any progress and has probably given up all hope at this stage.

“This seems to be typical of Croatia where the pendency times in the legal system are inordinately long. This is one of the major contributory factors protecting Topić so far – he can invoke the “presumption of innocence” because the lawsuits against him are stuck in the dysfunctional Croatian legal system.”

This is a SLAPP-like tactic for bullying or silencing opposition, usually opposition with pockets far less deep than the bully’s.

“We were informed by Vesna Stilin,” added our source, “that she still has a civil lawsuit pending against the first Director-General of the SIPO (Nikola Kopcic) who was dismissed from office in January 2002 due to an undeclared “conflict of interest” (see these documents [PDF] from a while back [PDF] as they are translated into English).

“Kopcic was (and still is) a senior partner in a law firm which was registered to act an authorised representative before the SIPO in intellectual property matters (while at the same time he was the Director-General of the SIPO!)

“In 2001, Kopcic was expelled from the Croatian branch of the AIPPI (International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property) for bringing the organisation into disrepute (copy of the AIPPI document is available [PDF], unfortunately only in Croatian). Amazingly, even after his dismissal as SIPO Director-General he managed to secure a position as a representative of Croatia on the “Council of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office” until last year [PDF].

“He now seems to have retired or else he failed to get re-elected as he is no longer listed as a member of the current Council. We just noticed that Kopcic recently managed to get a position as a “Project Deputy Team Leader” on an EU-financed “IPR Enforcement Project” in Bosnia which runs from 2012-2015. See also the entry on his CV.

“Because Stilin was actively involved in trying to get Kopcic removed from office as Director-General of the Croatian SIPO in the late 1990s, he engineered her dismissal from the SIPO in 1999. She was subsequently reinstated as an Assistant Director in 2004 but crossed swords with Topić who got her dismissed again in 2008.

“According to Stilin, a civil lawsuit which she filed against Kopcic in 2000 is still pending before the courts in Croatia!!!

“Here are some of the comments which she made about that:

“In 2000 I started civil process against Mr. Kopcic/DZIV which is still pending: three judges and me suggested settlement between DZIV and me, but Mr. Topic was against it, so that’s why he wrote in a „press release“ that I „had been conducting a campaign against the DZIV for over 12 years.“
The biggest problem in accession of Republic of Croatia to EU, was a problem of duration of court proceedings. It is not a justice if you need to wait 14 years for first level court decision, as it has been in this case”

For those who are still confused about the Kopcic story we shall revisit this another day and provide more documents with English translations. There are many inter-connected stories at hand. It’s a banana republic, much like what the EPO is becoming. Benoît Battistelli brought quite a mess into the EPO and by choosing to defend this mess he becomes complicit.

01.13.15

EPO Misdirections Debunked: Refuting Battistelli’s Nonsense and Bogeyman Theory

Posted in Site News at 1:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can a President who lies ever be trusted?

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Summary: Battistelli’s ‘media strategy’ is getting ugly but potentially effective when it comes to silencing opposition, or in other words those who speak about his abuses

THIS SHORT article makes an important observation about the media strategy of Battistelli and his EPO thugs. Unlike the USPTO, the EPO has many violations in its hands and these need to be explained. Moreover, the thugs need to be ousted, potentially with legal action against them. Battistelli realises the severity of this issue (he could lose more than his job but also his career and maybe his freedom), hence the ham-fisted approach.

“Two months later it is easy to show that Battistelli talks utter nonsense because many groups from many countries, including some of his stakeholders (not just staff), speak out against him and make formal complaints.”People in the EPO are afraid but determined to oust the thugs. Across the whole board we hear from people inside and outside the EPO who are afraid of retribution and try hard to dodge Battistelli’s ‘stasi’. Watch how the Investigation Unit is perceived inside the EPO. Watch how people cover their face when they go out protesting against their employer. Is this a democracy? Is this a functioning facility that serves the European public (as in public servant)? Clearly something has gone wrong and Battistelli’s tyranny is about as undemocratic as it can get.

Earlier today we noticed that one site that protests against Battistelli and his thugs went dark. Maybe its operator is afraid of someone; it’s hard to think of other explanations for this. After quite a long time online it now states:

Sorry, the blog at icsfight4yourrights.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.

How odd.

We don’t know who runs that blog. It might be someone from the EPO, but it’s likely to be someone who is not. In Battistelli’s mind, however, all can be blamed on just ‘disgruntled’ employees (as if being disgruntled over a tyrant is in itself wrong). Sometimes Battistelli and Topić even use the race and nationality card, claiming to be victims of racism or international hostilities. That’s just bunk. They’re bonkers.

Let is be said that our sources range widely and Battistelli’s claim that the sources are EPO staff is patently false. Even some lawyers, not to mention proponents of software patents, have expressed concern. Judges too. Battistelli is cornered by a large number of groups, let aside his own staff. Standing next to him is a thug with notoriety, Željko Topić [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], whose alleged crimes (many of them!) we are going to write about another day. The many criminal charges on which we will elaborate in the future ought to show just what standards Battistelli really has. He needs “protection”, not “professionals”, and this makes the EPO look like a corrupt laughing stock that no lawyer will wish to take seriously.

Back in November Battistelli ‘struck back’ as follows:

Battistelli responded by claiming that there was a “defamation campaign” against him. As WIPR had by then run a series of stories on its website based on the EPO staff’s complaints, it appeared he was referring to us.

However, Battistelli said no. His complaint was broader. The EPO staff union, he said, was organising the campaign and had been “contacting the media throughout Europe” to complain about issues such as a perceived lack of transparency at the EPO and poor governance.

We explained that the complaints sent to us appeared to have come from individual staff members, who for obvious reasons had asked us to protect their identities, rather than from the union, although we couldn’t be sure. Battistelli dismissed this.

Two months later it is easy to show that Battistelli talks utter nonsense because many groups from many countries, including some of his stakeholders (not just staff), speak out against him and make formal complaints.

01.06.15

A Thank-You to Techrights Supporters

Posted in Site News at 8:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A somewhat belated call for support and a thank-you to existing supporters

Christmas tree

Summary: How to support Techrights and why we plan to become more active in 2015

HALF a decade ago Techrights published a lot of articles, at most around 30 per day (requiring well over 100 hours of research and writing per week). We have published 27 articles in the past week in an effort to bring the site back to pace after a relatively slow 2014.

“The more tips we receive, the more resilient we can make the site in the face of DDOS attacks (we suffered several last year) and the more motivated we become to write articles here.”As always, we welcome contributions in the form of guest articles, links (either suggested links sent to us or promotion of our articles in so-called ‘social’ media) and for those who have money to spare in support of the site there is the tip jar. The more tips we receive, the more resilient we can make the site in the face of DDOS attacks (we suffered several last year) and the more motivated we become to write articles here. Enough tips also leave us less dependent on external employment and therefore increase the amount of time spent on this site. It is 2 AM where I am at the moment (Manchester) and I stayed up late in an effort to justify the tips left to us just before Christmas. I have been doing that since New Year’s Eve. My wife and I don’t live lavishly and our main passion in here; most of our time is spent writing in our sites, notably Techrights and Tux Machines.

There are many ways to support this site and those who appreciate what we do and have done for nearly a decade are strongly encouraged to ‘give back’, to to speak, even by just promoting the articles or recommending the site to peers/colleagues. Supporting Techrights also means supporting Tux Machines, which advances GNU/Linux and reaches a broad (and still expanding) audience.

12.21.14

Links 21/12/2014: China and Linux, GNOME Shell 3.15.3

Posted in News Roundup, Site News at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Imitate Fake Hollywood Terminal Hacking Melodrama with This Amazing App for Ubuntu

    We all know that Hollywood movies are the worst place to see some accurate depiction of anything from real life and that includes computer terminals. Well, there is a solution for that now and we can only hope that some misguided producer will see the new “hollywood” package made for this exact purpose.

    Hollywood movie producers invest a lot of time and money in custom interfaces and GUIs that don’t really do anything, but they think they’re nice and interesting on film. Most of the time, someone is hacking away by typing frenetically while windows with crazy stuff open and close. This is why this kind of image is now seared into the public’s consciousness and hacking looks more exciting than in real life. It isn’t.

  • China is Planning to Purge Foreign Technology and Replace With Homegrown Suppliers

    The orders from Chinese banking and military commissions coincided with the trial of domestic computer systems in Siping, a city of 3.4 million people in Jilin province. Other cities and agencies in Jilin will now begin testing whether NeoKylin, a Linux-based operating system from China Standard Software Co., can substitute for Windows and servers made by Inspur can replace IBM’s, the two people familiar with the plan said. The trial will then expand across the country, they said.

  • Microsoft and Google in a Post-Snowden World
  • Server

    • Why Docker, Containers and systemd Drive a Wedge Through the Concept of Linux Distributions

      The announcement of Rocket by CoreOS was perceived by many to be a direct challenge to Docker, particularly as it came on the eve of DockerCon Europe and threatened to overshadow news coming out at the event. Docker, Inc. CEO Ben Golub was quick to fire back with his ‘initial thoughts on the Rocket announcement’. This piece isn’t about the politics of ecosystems and VC funded startups, which I’ll leave to Colin Humphreys (and note an excellent response from Docker Founder and CTO Solomon Hykes). It also isn’t about managing open source community, which I’ll leave to Matt Asay. Here I want to look at systemd, which lies at the heart of the technical arguments.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 3.19: ThinkPad Muting Redone, New Dell Backlight Support, Acer Is Banging

      The x86 platform driver changes for the Linux 3.19 kernel have been submitted and they include some noteworthy improvements for many Linux laptop owners.

    • Intel Skylake Audio Support For Linux 3.19

      Intel’s next-generation Skylake processors are starting to take shape with the Linux 3.19 kernel.

      Linux 3.19 lands initial Skylake graphics support within the Intel DRM drivers (there’s already initial support on the user-space side too within Mesa) and there’s Skylake MPX support among other Skylake related work that’s been merged for 3.19.

    • Linux 3.19 Merge Window Closes Ahead Of Schedule

      Linus announced on Friday night that he’s closing the merge window early for 3.19. Torvalds said that he’s pulling the last of the pull requests on Saturday — related to KBuild and the READ_ONCE split-up — but is planning to then close the merge window.

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Server 1.16.3 Released To Fix Security Issues

        Julien Cristau of Debian announced the X.Org Server 1.16.3 release on Saturday morning. The primary focus of this release is on correcting the security issues within the GLX, DIX, XV, DRI3, RENDER, and other areas of the xorg-server code-base affected by outstanding security problems.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • kdepim 4.14 + unittest

        As you saw I continue to work on 4.14 branch, in parallel I work on KF5 porting.

      • On Domain Models and Layers in kdepim

        Each application has a “domain” it was created for. KOrganizer has for instance the calendar domain, and kmail the email domain, and each of those domains can be described with domain objects, which make up the domain model. The domain model of an application is essential, because it is what defines how we can represent the problems of that domain. If Korganizer didn’t have a domain model with attendees to events, we wouldn’t have any way to represent attendees internally, and thus couldn’t develop a feature based on that.

      • nOS Infinity Is a Unique-Looking OS Powered by KDE – Gallery

        nOS Infinity is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that uses the KDE desktop environment. It’s built for old and new computers and it’s quite different from what you might expect.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Arch Family

      • Manjaro 0.8.11 Brings Support for Linux Kernel 3.18

        Manjaro 0.8.11 is a Linux distribution based on Arch Linux, which is also 100% compatible with the repositories of the base system. It’s been out for a short time, but developers have already pushed a second major update for it.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat claims the ‘grinch’ issue isn’t a Linux vulnerability

        The official reply noted that “this report incorrectly classifies expected behavior as a security issue,” through a Red Hat Bulletin released on Wednesday just one day after the report being made public. This was in response to Alert Logic claiming that this Grinch issue may be as large as the previously seen Heartbleed bug, noting that they believe it is a serious design flaw in how Linux handles user permissions.

      • Red Hat’s success aside, it’s hard to profit from free

        Red Hat, which just reported a profit of $47.9 million (or 26 cents a share) on revenue of $456 million for its third quarter, has managed to pull off a tricky feat: It’s been able to make money off of free, well, open-source, software. (It’s profit for the year-ago quarter was $52 million.)

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 21 Desktop Installation Steps with Screenshots

          Fedora is an open source Linux based operating system. As Fedora is free so end users can use it , modify it as per their requirements and distribute it. Fedora Operating system is available for Desktops, Servers and cloud. Fedora project is supported by RedHat. Most of the new softwares and technologies are developed and tested by Redhat in Fedora and then later on these softwares are used in Redhat Stable Versions.

          In this post we will discuss Fedora 21 Desktop or workstation (64 bit) Installation Steps with Screenshots. Below are the minimum requirements to install Fedora 21.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Elive 2.5.0 beta released

          The Elive Team is proud to announce the release of the beta version 2.5.0

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Phone launch delayed until early 2015

            Earlier this year, I reported on the forthcoming release of Ubuntu phones. Ubuntu for phones had just hit “release to manufacturer” status and phones were supposed to launch before the end of 2014.

            Bad news: The phones clearly won’t be here this year. But good news! Canonical told me they’ll be out in early 2015, after a slight delay to clean up some lingering interface and manufacturing snags.

          • Can Ubuntu Click Address Linus Torvalds’ Binary Problems?

            Linux is a dominant player in almost every industry segment, minus one: desktop. We heard Linus Torvalds’ pain when he uttered these words at LinuxCon North America this year, “I still want the desktop”.

          • UNITY TO GET AN OPTION TO ALWAYS SHOW THE MENUS [UBUNTU 15.04 VIVID VERVET]

            Marco’s work involves adding an option to always show the Unity menus (in Unity, the menus are currently displayed on mouse over). Furthermore, this option will work with both the regular Appmenu / global menu, displayed on the top Unity panel, as well as LIM (locally integrated menus), displayed in the application titlebar:

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha, Tanglu 2 Review, and More Red Hat

            Just when you thought you couldn’t get anymore Red Hat news, it once again was the talk of the techtown. An interest blog post from Hanno Böck today says quit using NTP if you care about security. Jack M. Germain discusses the work of Open Invention Network and Jamie Watson reviews Debian-derivative Tanglu 2. Dedoimedio.com shares their best distro of 2014 and Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 was released.

          • Ubuntu Touch to Land with Bq Aquaris e4.5 Phones in February

            The first two companies that have been confirmed to release phones with Ubuntu Touch are Meizu and Bq. Until now, only Meizu showed any kind of involvement with Ubuntu Touch and they were the first to announce a launch window. On the other hand, Bq has been silent, but it seems to have been very busy and to be the first one out the door.

          • Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) Gets Linux Kernel Regression Fix

            A Linux kernel regression for Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) has been identified by Canonical and the developers have issued a patch that should be available through regular channels.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Google building full Android IVI stack, says report

      If Android M is for real, the technology would go far beyond its Android Auto initiative announced earlier this year. Android Auto offers Apple CarPlay-like extensions to existing Android apps for customized interactions with a wide variety of IVI navigation and multimedia systems. IVI systems that support Android Auto should begin to appear in cars sometime in 2015.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Tizen IVI 3.0 Gains GENIVI 7.0 Compliance

          It’s not news that open source is rolling through many industries like a well-oiled machine, so of course automotive is no exception. Organizations like GENIVI are helping to move this along, by creating specifications for open source platforms that provide a consistent foundation for the use of open source for In-Vehicle Infotainment systems.

      • Android

        • The best Android phones, tablet, and watch of 2014

          The best thing about Android is that there are lots of choices. The worst thing about Android is that there are lots of choices. There are just too many damn phones to choose from!

        • This is the world’s most stunning new Android phone – and it’ll only cost you $5,000

          While there’s no question that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are beautiful smartphones, some might argue that Apple’s 2012 iPhone 5 and last year’s iPhone 5s feature an overall look that is more sleek and sophisticated. Now, imagine that sophisticated design was given harder lines, darker tones and a 5-inch full HD display, and it was built out of titanium and 18k gold instead of aluminum.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Most important open source news of the year

    In 2014, we have seen continued growth for both use and adoption of open source software in the enterprise software market. Cloud takes a big part of that obviously, with project likes Docker and OpenStack who have been in the news frequently. But growth wasn’t limited to increased use and adoption. We also noticed a lot of big names open sourcing their own solutions. Facebook announced a new branch of MySQL built for scalability, NASA released source code for many software projects, GitHub released the Atom text editor under a MIT license, and Google open sourced an email encryption tool and it’s Chrome PDF engine. The biggest news this year when it comes to open sourcing software has been Microsoft with .Net. This list of new open source releases goes on, with companies like LinkedIn, organizations such as DARPA, and more. If this trend continues, we can expect a lot more to be released under an open source license in 2015.

  • CMS

    • WordPress 4.1 for Debian

      Release 4.1 of WordPress came out on Friday so after some work to fit in with the Debian standards, the Debian package 4.1-1 of WordPress will be uploaded shortly. WordPress have also updated their themes with a 14-day early theme called twentyfifteen. This is the default theme for WordPress 4.1 on-wards.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF’s High Priority Project List Now Has A Committee

      The Free Software Foundation has now built up a committee to review their “High Priority Projects” list and they’re looking for more feedback from the community.

      Nearly ten years ago is when the Free Software Foundation began listing what they viewed as the High Priority Free Software Projects in a list. This list has over time contained some definite high-priority projects related to freeing Java and Adobe PDF support and open graphics drivers to some more obscure projects of high priority like a free version of Oracle Forms, a replacement to OpenDWG libraries for CAD files, automatic transcription software, etc. I’ve personally called out many of the FSF HPP for what they’re worth with my thoughts over the years.

    • GnuCash 2.6.5 released
  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Uganda Adopts Free And Open Source Software For E-Governance

      The population in Uganda has been growing rapidly. The country now has 35 million people. In order to provide quality services to its citizens and to improve the national competitiveness through administration innovation, the government has adopted free and open source software as the preferred mode of operation for electronic government (e-government) services and platforms.

  • Licensing

    • As Hollywood Funds a SOPA Revival Through State Officials, Google (And The Internet) Respond

      Almost three years ago, millions of Internet users joined together to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a disastrous bill that would have balkanized the Internet in the name of copyright and trademark enforcement. Over the past week, we’ve been tracking a host of revelations about an insidious campaign to accomplish the goals of SOPA by other means. The latest development: Google has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of an overbroad and punitive subpoena seeking an extraordinary quantity of information about the company and its users. The subpoena, Google warns, is based on legal theories that could have disastrous consequences for the open Internet.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • Librarians Are Continuing To Defend Open Access To The Web As A Public Service

        Librarians have built up quite a reputation for activism in all the right ways. Whether taking a stand against DRM, expanding libraries’ catalogs to include new digital media and art, or embracing indie authors, librarians come off as much more of a hip crowd than you might expect. These stances occasionally put them at odds with some in the community that they serve, perhaps most notably with parents who have pushed for restrictions on internet access within libraries. It gets all the more unfortunate when a subsection of the citizenry sees fit to ramp up the rhetoric against an institution simply attempting to serve the greatest public good. This typically, unfortunately, devolves into the supposed accusation of librarians “defending” the right for visitors to view “pornography.”

      • Libraries ‘Need To Be More Like Coffee Shops’, Says Government Report

        Better Wi-Fi connectivity, alongside hot drinks and comfier seating, could be the key to saving Britain’s libraries

        A government inquiry has called for a “complete reinvigoration” of the UK’s library network, including plans to make the facilities more welcoming by offering free Wi-Fi and hot drinks.

  • Programming

    • Google Announces Open-Source Availability of Cloud Dataflow SDK

      The goal is to let developers integrate applications more easily with its managed data analytics service.

    • Libscore Promises Easy Open Source Code Tracking

      Open source software theoretically ensures that the best code becomes the most widely shared and used code. But how can open source developers know how many other projects are actually making use of their handiwork? An interesting new tool called Libscore aims to provide an answer — at least for Web developers.

    • MIPS R6 Architecture Now Supported By GCC

      As of yesterday, there’s MIPS32R6 and MIPS64R6 support in GCC. The new MIPS R6 CPU architecture support was contributed by Imagination Technologies themselves. MIPS Release 6 features new instructions aimed for enhancing performance for JIT, JavaScript, browsers, PIC for Android, and large workload applications. The MIPS R6 architecture was announced a few months ago and the first products based on the updated MIPS ISA are their new Warrior processors.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Google Drive now supports ODF

      What a brilliant end of the year for ODF, Google have decided to add support for the file type to it’s Drive service. The new update allows users to edit and save documents on Drive and also import ODF files and edit them from Drive. Prior to this you could only import ODF files to the service but you would have to edit download and edit them locally.

Leftovers

  • Calls growing for referendum on Greater Manchester having elected mayor

    Salford mayor Ian Stewart has already said he is ‘inclined’ towards favouring a public vote on the issue, with his council voting in favour of a motion calling for residents to have their say

  • Security

    • Hackers hit OPM background investigations contractor

      Hackers have gone after KeyPoint Government Solutions and its main customer, the Office of Personnel Management, is issuing a warning that nearly 50,000 people may have had their information compromised.

      An OPM spokeswoman said that the agency has concluded an investigation of the breach and is notifying 48,439 people whose personally identifiable data may have been breached.

      The agency is taking the action “out of an abundance of caution,” the spokeswoman said.

    • Lessons from the Sony Hack

      Earlier this month, a mysterious group that calls itself Guardians of Peace hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer systems and began revealing many of the Hollywood studio’s best-kept secrets, from details about unreleased movies to embarrassing emails (notably some racist notes from Sony bigwigs about President Barack Obama’s presumed movie-watching preferences) to the personnel data of employees, including salaries and performance reviews. The Federal Bureau of Investigation now says it has evidence that North Korea was behind the attack, and Sony Pictures pulled its planned release of “The Interview,” a satire targeting that country’s dictator, after the hackers made some ridiculous threats about terrorist violence.

      Your reaction to the massive hacking of such a prominent company will depend on whether you’re fluent in information-technology security. If you’re not, you’re probably wondering how in the world this could happen. If you are, you’re aware that this could happen to any company (though it is still amazing that Sony made it so easy).

    • OpenHardware Random Number Generator

      Before I spend another night reading datasheets; would anyone be interested in an OpenHardware random number generator in an full-size SD card format? The idea being you insert the RNG into the SD slot of your laptop, leave it there, and the kernel module just slurps trusted entropy when required.

    • New fear: ISIS killers use ‘digital AK-47′ malware to hunt victims

      Malware has emerged from war-torn Syria targeting those protesting the rule of ISIS (ISIL, Islamic State, whatever the murderous humanity-hating fanatics are calling themselves these days.)

      The trivial Windows spyware, analyzed by University of Toronto internet watchdog Citizen Lab, was sent out in a small number of emails aimed squarely at members of the group Raqqah is being Slaughtered Silently (RSS) – which is holed up deep in ISIS-controlled territory and campaigning against the medieval terror bastards.

    • North Korea Calls BS on Sony Hacking Scandal

      The offer comes as the FBI formally accused Pyongyang of the attack on Friday and US President Barack Obama promised to “respond proportionally” to the online breach.

    • Obama: North Koreans did it

      US President Barack Obama has declared that Sony “made a mistake” in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader, and he pledged that the United States would respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US drone attack kills at least five Taliban fighters in Pakistan – report

      A US drone fired two missiles at a militant hideout in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least five Taliban fighters, two security officials said.

    • Six Militants Killed in US Drone Attacks in Pakistan
    • Drone strikes counterproductive, says secret CIA report

      Drone strikes and other “targeted killings” of terrorist and insurgent leaders favoured by the US and supported by Australia can strengthen extremist groups and be counterproductive, according to a secret CIA report published by WikiLeaks.

    • Wikileaks Reveals CIA Admitted Drone Strikes Ineffective

      The Taliban hasn’t broken a sweat replacing leaders killed by drones, according to a secret CIA report.

      Controversial U.S. drone strikes may be helping rather than hindering the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to a leaked CIA document released by Wikileaks Thursday.

    • Yemen: Whose Law?
    • Drone explosion kills volunteer in Lviv region

      “The drone exploded during its demonstration at the Yavoriv firing ground at around 09.00 on December 18. The blast fatally wounded a volunteer from Kyiv region, which was in the area [of the explosion],” the head of the media center, Oleksandr Poroniuk, said. The causes of the incident are being established. Law enforcers and members of the military prosecutor’s office are working at the scene.

    • In revenge, Pakistani Taliban strike school, killing at least 141

      Pakistan suffered the worst terrorist attack of a seven-year Taliban insurgency Tuesday when militants rampaged through an army-run high school in the northern city of Peshawar, killing at least 141 people, mostly students, in what the militants described as revenge for months of airstrikes on their tribal-area strongholds by Pakistan warplanes and CIA drones.

    • Yemen: Whose Law?

      Yemen’s transitional government, according to analysts and human rights groups, continues to condone extrajudicial killings of people it could arrest, detains people without due process and turns to tribal law to cover up its mistakes.

    • Judge Vacates Order Hushing Up Drone Strike

      A federal judge vacated as moot an order that prevented government disclosure of information about the targeted drone strike that killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011.

    • COMMENTARY: People of faith have legitimate questions about use of lethal drones

      These “targeted” killings are conducted remotely in countries against which we have not declared war. Lethal drone strikes occur without warning, target for death specific individuals who are secretly selected, and are operated remotely by individuals thousands of miles away.

    • The Senate Drone Report of 2019

      Though it was a Friday afternoon, normally a dead zone for media attention, the response was instant and stunning. As had happened five years earlier with the committee’s similarly fought-over report on torture, it became a 24/7 media event. The “revelations” from the report poured out to a stunned nation. There were the CIA’s own figures on the hundreds of children in the backlands of Pakistan and Yemen killed by drone strikes against “terrorists” and “militants.” There were the “double-tap strikes” in which drones returned after initial attacks to go after rescuers of those buried in rubble or to take out the funerals of those previously slain. There were the CIA’s own statistics on the stunning numbers of unknown villagers killed for every significant and known figure targeted and finally taken out (1,147 dead in Pakistan for 41 men specifically targeted). There were the unexpected internal Agency discussions of the imprecision of the robotic weapons always publicly hailed as “surgically precise” (and also of the weakness of much of the intelligence that led them to their targets). There was the joking and commonplace use of dehumanizing language (“bug splat” for those killed) by the teams directing the drones. There were the “signature strikes,” or the targeting of groups of young men of military age about whom nothing specifically was known, and of course there was the raging argument that ensued in the media over the “effectiveness” of it all (including various emails from CIA officials admitting that drone campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen had proven to be mechanisms not so much for destroying terrorists as for creating new ones).

    • Are drone strikes more defensible than torture?

      There are lots of hypocrisies surrounding the recently released executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. But they pale in comparison to the current Democratic silence about President Barack Obama’s policy of targeted drone assassinations.

    • Impunity will persist on CIA torture, killings

      1) CIA director John Brennan vehemently defends the agency – lauding the interrogators as “patriots” and refusing to call their methods torture;

      2) President Obama backs up Brennan (his previous chief counter-terrorism adviser, his choice to head the CIA); and

      3) His administration has desisted from filing charges against those responsible for the torture.

    • To Improve Assassination Operations, CIA Studies Failures of Colonial Powers to Combat Resistance

      In other words, according to the CIA, the white South African apartheid government may have fared better against the struggle for equality and justice if it had assassinated Mandela. Governments, including the US, should murder inspirational leaders if they want to defeat insurgencies.

    • US prepared to veto UN plan for Israeli occupation

      The U.S. is prepared to veto a United Nations Security Council proposal that calls for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands in 2017.

      State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the resolution, offered by Jordan and pushed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is unlikely to face an immediate vote.

    • World War II bomb defused in German city

      A World War II bomb has been successfully defused in an eastern German city after some 9,700 people were evacuated from the surrounding area and a meeting of a state legislature was interrupted.

    • John Prescott: Torture by Bush regime is shocking but not surprising

      Former deputy prime minister John Prescott says there’s more to the UK and US “special relationship” than meets the eye

    • Saudi says oil decisions not linked to politics

      Saudi Arabia’s oil chief said in comments published Thursday that there are no links between the kingdom’s decision to oppose production cuts and political objectives – an apparent response to accusations last week from Shiite powerhouse Iran.

      Petroleum Minister Ali Naimi was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as saying that there are “incorrect information and analyses … linking petroleum decisions with political objectives.”

    • CIA report reveals failure of Israel’s targeted killing policy

      A secret CIA review published recently by WikiLeaks reveals that Israel has been among the least successful countries regarding the targeted killing of opponents, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Thursday. The review shows that the killings carried out by the US and its ally Israel have been the least successful among a list of eight countries; the American and Israeli authorities usually laud such assassinations.

    • UK drone net got torture-grade CIA comms

      A computer network that the US Central Intelligence Agency began using a decade ago to conduct the kidnap and torture of terrorist suspects has become an integral part of the system now operating drone strikes in the Middle East and Africa.

      The means to send ‘above top secret’ intelligence communications around the globe without exposure empowered the CIA’s Rendition and Detention Program to snatch and interrogate suspects in the US ‘war on terror’. The same network system became the principal mechanism behind the intelligence-led “targeted killing” of suspected enemies using drone strikes today.

      The technological link between the two sinister programmes, signposted in passing detail by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program last week, further confirms that a US military network routed via the UK carried intelligence vital to the US targeted killing programme, and presents evidence that may sway officials deciding whether contractor British Telecommunications Plc should be held to account for building a part of the network used to transmit drone targeting intelligence since 2012.

    • Journalist Robert C. Koehler says: Abolish the CIA!

      BK: The U.S. launched its disastrous war on Iraq based largely on the false intelligence the CIA produced via torture.This intelligence was, of course, what the neocon cabal, which had a pre-9/11 interest in invading Iraq, wanted. So yes, the CIA was just doing its job, but its job wasn’t, and isn’t, to keep American citizens safe.The torture techniques detailed in the report are horrific to read about. They include beatings and waterboarding and something called “rectal rehydration.” They include sleep deprivation, hideous stress (one detainee was chained to the wall in a standing position for 17 days.) They include threats to harm or murder the detainees’ children or wife or mother. As I say, the Senate Intelligence Committee report makes clear that the information extracted by these techniques had no accuracy, belying all justification of them. But more to the point, torture and murder are utterly immoral acts, which rouse fury and hatred that come back to haunt the perpetrators: the American people.

    • Fox News hosts use Sydney siege to defend CIA

      Fox News has plunged itself into the centre of controversy once again for referencing the Sydney siege in an apparent justification for the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation”.

    • Wikileaks Releases CIA Report on High Value Targeting

      Wikileaks has released a CIA document from 2009 analyzing the positive and negative effects of strikes against high value targets.

    • Secret CIA report: Drone strikes and targeted killings ‘boost support for terror groups’

      Drone strikes and “targeted killings” of terror targets by the United States can be counterproductive and bolster the support of extremist groups, the CIA has admitted in a secret report released by WikiLeaks.

    • Wikileaks: Classified report detailed assassination shortcomings
    • Leaked report reveals CIA terror strategy
    • Leaked CIA report: Targeting Taliban leaders ‘ineffective’

      he removal of senior Taliban leaders has had little impact on the organisation, a CIA report released by Wikileaks has said.

      The 2009 report analyses “high value targeting” in a number of conflicts – the assassination of senior insurgents.

      It said the Taliban’s ability to replace lost leaders has hampered the effectiveness of coalition operations against its leadership.

      The CIA would not comment on the leaked documents.

    • CIA report reveals setbacks in ‘high value’ targeted assassinations
    • Leaked CIA report says targeted killing programs could backfire
    • The CIA’s Secret Killers

      Some time in early or mid-1949 a CIA officer named Bill (his surname is blacked out in the file, which was surfaced by our friend John Kelly back in the early 1990s) asked an outside contractor for input on how to kill people. Requirements included the appearance of an accidental or purely fortuitous terminal experience suffered by the Agency’s victim.

    • Obama taps CIA No. 2 Haines for White House job

      President Barack Obama is naming the CIA’s second-ranking official to a top White House national security post.

      Obama says Avril Haines is a “model public servant” who is respected across the government. He says that as deputy national security adviser, she will play a critical role in keeping the country save and promoting American interests around the world.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • ISIS Leaders Killed as WikiLeaks Publishes Docs on CIA Doubts About “High-Value” Assassinations

      U.S. military leaders say three top figures from the Islamic State have been killed by U.S. airstrikes, including a military chief and a deputy of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The news comes as the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has published an internal CIA document which reveals the agency’s doubts about the effectiveness of such killings. The document, which is from 2009, describes both the positive and negative impacts of assassinating so-called high-value targets. It warns that such operations can “[increase] the level of insurgent support,” “[strengthen] an armed group’s bond with the population,” “[radicalize] an insurgent group’s remaining leaders.” WikiLeaks notes, “After the report was prepared, U.S. drone strike killings rose to an all-time high.”

    • Freedom under US arrest

      The US policy exposed by Julian Assange and Edward Snowden through the dissemination of classified information gained vital importance for the entire world.

    • Assange: US prosecuting Barrett Brown for quoting assassination threats against me

      The charges against journalist and activist Barrett Brown, accused of threatening an FBI agent, are partially based on his quoting another person’s threat to assassinate the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange said.

      Brown, 33, whose sentencing was delayed until January on Tuesday, faced federal charges including computer-related crimes, obstruction of justice and publicly threatening an FBI agent performing his duty. He’s now looking at up to eight years in prison for aiding hackers in breaching corporate computers, after pleading guilty in April to being an accessory.

    • WikiLeaks’ Assange Expresses Support for US Journalist Accused of Hacking

      Julian Assange wrote in a statement that the case of Dallas journalist Barrett Brown involves him personally and the work of WikiLeaks.

    • Brought to You by Wikileaks: Mandela Shows Better to Kill Than Imprison

      A study by the Central Intelligence Agency that evaluated the pros and cons of assassination programs has revealed significant insights into the agency’s thinking about targeted killings, including potential backlash. The study was published by Wikileaks on Thursday.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange weighs in on Barrett Brown sentencing delay

      Brown has been in federal custody since his arrest more than two years ago.

    • Wikileaks pins accused spy Rolando ‘Roly’ Sarraff Trujillo as Cuban political prisoner

      Rolando “Roly” Sarraff Trujillo was arrested on espionage charges in Cuba in 1995.

  • Finance

    • China proposes broadening use of Yuan for trade with Russia: report

      China’s trade minister proposed more use of China’s currency in settling trade with Russia in the face of a falling rouble to ensure safe and reliable trade, Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix TV reported on Saturday.

    • Foreign Bankers Rape Ukraine

      If it were not for the fact that the lives of some 45 million people are at stake, Ukrainian national politics could be laughed off as a very sick joke. Any pretenses that the October national elections would bring a semblance of genuine democracy of the sort thousands of ordinary Ukrainians demonstrated for on Maidan Square just one year ago vanished with the announcement by Victoria Nuland’s darling Prime Minister, “Yat” Yatsenyuk, of his new cabinet.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Sailing through a scandal

      Why the phone-hacking affair has left Rupert Murdoch better off

      IT MUST all seem like a distant nightmare now. After the revelations of phone-hacking at the News of the World emerged in 2011, Rupert Murdoch was hauled before Parliament, calling it “the most humble day of my life”. Executives and journalists were arrested. The scandal prompted Mr Murdoch’s News Corp to drop a cherished plan to buy out the other investors in BSkyB, a satellite broadcaster (since renamed Sky). Some predicted that the affair, which included the hacking of a murdered schoolgirl’s voicemails, could be Mr Murdoch’s and his firm’s undoing.

    • Pew Admits Flaw In Poll Being Used To Attack Stronger Gun Laws

      The research group whose misleading poll question was heavily touted by the media to suggest “growing public support for gun rights” has acknowledged that the question was flawed.

      Last week, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey that asked respondents whether it is more important to “control gun ownership” or to “protect the right of Americans to own guns.” The poll showed increased support for the gun rights answer and a drop in support for regulating guns. The results were reported by numerous media outlets, especially by the conservative press.

    • eBay Becomes 100th Company to Cut Ties to “Controversial” ALEC

      The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) had joined the climate change awareness group Forecast the Facts, Credo Action, and others in asking eBay to leave what Reuters called the “controversial political group ALEC” in recent weeks. A Twitterstorm on December 17 was followed by the delivery of a petition containing nearly 100,000 petitions to eBay’s headquarters in San Jose, California on December 18. eBay’s announcement came shortly after.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Pew: Internet privacy is a fantasy, will merely be a ‘fetish’ by 2025, according to experts

      If you’re still holding out hope for the preservation of “Internet privacy,” you may need to adjust your ideals a bit. The future of online privacy is cloudy, and policymakers and technology innovators have a weighty task on their hands – one they’re likely to fumble. This is one of the overarching findings of a recent canvassing of more than 2,500 experts by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

    • Judge questions evidence on whether NSA spying is too broad

      Judge Jeffrey White heard oral arguments by attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the suit, and the government, during a hearing in a federal district court in Oakland, California. The EFF says its suit is the first challenge in public court to the government’s upstream data program, which copies online data from the main cables connecting Internet networks around the world.

    • NSA to defend Internet collection in court
    • Privacy Advocates Battle DOJ in NSA Spying Case

      The National Security Agency is illegally searching and seizing Americans’ Internet communications, privacy advocates told a federal judge at a hearing on Friday.

    • It’s a Big Day in Court for Privacy and Surveillance

      On Friday, privacy advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are attempting a new strategy in their six-year-old lawsuit against the National Security Agency. Filed in 2008, Jewel v. NSA is a suit calling for the end of the surveillance of millions of AT&T customers’ internet traffic and emails. Despite evidence provided by an AT&T whistle-blower, the US district court, under pressure from the federal government defendants, has delayed and avoided judgment, suggesting that the case raises issues too secret for the federal courts even to rule upon and too important for national security to shut down anyway.

    • Global Privacy Fears Increase After NSA Leaks

      An international survey shows a growing demand for privacy and Internet access.

    • Digital Rights Group Goes After NSA

      In its ongoing public relations struggle, the NSA will soon have to defend itself in court. A digital rights group, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is bringing forth a motion against the National Security Agency on Friday over the agency’s Internet data collection program.

    • NSA’s internet surveillance faces constitutional challenge in court

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation says the government’s upstream data collection violates the Fourth Amendment

    • NSA and EFF to square off in court over internet surveillance

      ​A digital rights group in the United States plans to argue in federal court this week that the National Security Agency’s internet surveillance operations violate the US Constitution’s ban against unlawful searches and seizures.

    • Google Says 2015 Will Be the ‘Moment’ To Reform NSA Spying

      Google is already beginning to lay the groundwork for another push next year to rein in government spying ahead of a crucial summer deadline to some of the National Security Agency’s surveillance authority.

    • Snowden’s surveillance disclosures helping change user behaviors

      Millions of Internet users have changed their Internet behavior and are doing more to keep their own personal data secure from possible surveillance, according to a survey from the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). The survey revealed 64 percent of respondents have increased privacy worries over just one year ago, as the NSA, GCHQ, and other organized surveillance programs target Web users.

    • After the Snowden leaks, 700m act to avoid NSA spying

      Nearly 700 million people worldwide have taken steps to protect their privacy from NSA surveillance, according to an international internet security survey

    • More people may be dodging NSA surveillance than you think – Open thread

      In November, a study released by the Canadian Centre for International Governance claimed that while 60% of internet users had heard of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, only 39% of those people had taken additional steps to protect their online privacy as a result.

    • Snowden spying leaks prompt millions to protect data

      Recent revelations about government-backed surveillance have prompted millions of people to do more to keep their data private, suggests a survey.

      Many people now regularly change passwords or avoid certain websites or apps, said the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

      It also found that 64% of the 23,000 people questioned are more worried about their privacy than a year ago.

    • Congress expands NSA domestic spying programs and nobody cares

      While the media was busy lining up to congratulate Obama for lawlessly granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants and cuddling up to one of the six state sponsors of terrorism in the world, Congress passed legislation that, according to one House Republican, “grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American.” Republican leadership in the House inserted language into the Intelligence Authorization bill at the very last minute which includes a phrase to allow for “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of U.S. phone and Internet data.

    • In 2007, One Judge Said No to the NSA

      Last week, the government quietly released a new cache of court filings and orders from late 2006 and early 2007 that together reveal a watershed moment in the government’s effort to secretly expand its authority to conduct surveillance on American soil—without ever asking Congress or the public. Instead, the government once again asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to belatedly bless certain aspects of the President’s Surveillance Program, which was initiated by President Bush without judicial or legislative approval in 2001.

    • Edward Snowden and the NSA Disclosures

      Disclosures from the vast trove of NSA documents obtained by Edward Snowden were first published in The Guardian exactly 560 days ago, and it’s worth asking ourselves whether we have gained anything from the revelations since then. The answer to that question increasingly seems clear: no.

    • Looking for a Hoodie With NSA Documents on It? This Is Your Store
    • Edward Snowden gets human rights award in Berlin

      The trio responsible for breaking last year’s NSA spying scandal have been honored for defending human rights. Prominent Germans praised the work of Edward Snowden, journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.

    • Troubled Ties: Snowden, Germany and the NSA

      The government argued by way of contrast that allowing Snowden onto German soil would hamper international relationships, notably with the United States. It would also corner the government in Berlin: extradite Snowden, or face the unpleasant transatlantic music.

    • The CIA Probably Won’t Get Punished For Spying On The Senate
    • CIA unlikely to penalise staff over search of Senate computers – report

      A panel investigating the CIA’s search of a computer network used by Senate staff will not recommend disciplining the agency officials involved in the incident, according to the New York Times.

      The review panel is looking into the search by agency officials of staffers from the Senate intelligence committee who were investigating the CIA’s use of torture in interrogations of detainees after the 9/11 attacks on the US.

      The Times, citing current and former government officials, said the panel was likely to fault the CIA for missteps. But the newspaper said the decision not to recommend anyone for disciplinary action was likely to anger members of the intelligence committee, who have accused the agency of interfering with its investigation of agency wrongdoing.

    • Missouri seeks to block NSA

      A bill filed today in Missouri would not only support efforts to turn off NSA’s water in Utah….

    • Interview: ‘Citizenfour’ Director Laura Poitras on Storytelling in Docs
    • Are Electronic ‘Back Doors’ Unintentionally Helping Hackers?

      For global insurance firms, cyberattacks have become the most threatening of all emerging risks, according to a survey conducted recently by Guy Carpenter & Co., the risk and reinsurance specialists. Over the past two years, hackers have infiltrated major airlines, energy companies and defense firms, among many other businesses.

    • The Global Cell Network Is Wildly Insecure. Anyone Could Be Listening To Your Calls.
    • German Researchers: Cellphone Calls, Messages Easy to Crack
    • German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls.

      German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Bureaucratic Nightmare That Cost Matt DeHart His Liberty — And His Family $10,000 CAD

      Matt DeHart faces a very depressing and lonely Christmas in jail this year for reasons that are at best down to an extreme bureaucratic SNAFU, and at worst (and more likely) down to collusion between the Canadian and American authorities to stop the whistleblower talking to the press.

    • FBI investigates suspicious death of North Carolina teen Lennon Lacy

      People who knew Lacy don’t think he committed suicide. Others are unsure what to believe. But many here say the possibility that Lacy, a popular high school senior who moved easily between black and white social circles, was the victim of a racially motivated killing demands more investigation.

    • The FBI told their story about North Korea attacking Sony. Before we retaliate, read what they didn’t tell you.

      While most journalists report official government statements, and cite only approving voices, there are a few who quote dissenters. We should pay attention to these few, considering the long list of government lies attributing evil deeds to designated foes. Learning from experience is the beginning of strength.

    • Is Torture a ‘Conservative’ Value?

      Conservatives who usually hail individual liberties are leading the televised defense of the U.S. government’s torture of terror suspects, including many who were completely innocent. But some conservatives are troubled by this knee-jerk defense of the Bush administration, as Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland explains.

    • The ‘Exceptionalism’ of US Torture

      Americans like to think of themselves as the ultimate “good guys” and anyone who gets in their way as a “bad guy.” Under this theory of U.S. “exceptionalism,” whatever “we” do must be moral or at least morally defensible, from sponsoring coups around the world to torture, as William Blum describes.

    • Torture scraps values US once held dear

      American exceptionalism has always maintained a moral imperative. The conduct of the world’s foremost liberal democracy is guaranteed by a fierce commitment to liberty and the security of individual rights.

    • US-Cuba thaw shows power of talking

      The world has often seemed on fire of late. There has been a horrific massacre in a Pakistani school. A cyber-hacking apparently organised by North Korea, which might come to look very familiar in years to come. The Sydney siege. The barbarians of Isis unbowed. Ebola continuing to spool out. Russia’s economy tumbling.

      So it’s well to note a milestone of huge positive significance when it occurs. The United States’ detente with Cuba, announced all of a sudden by the presidents of both countries late last week, was such a moment.

    • North Korea proposes joint investigation with U.S. into hacking attack against Sony

      Pyongyang warns of ‘serious’ consequences if Washington rejects a probe that it believes will prove North Korea had nothing to do with the cyberattack. An unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman said North Korea knows how to prove it’s not responsible for the hacking, so the U.S. must accept its proposal for the joint investigation.

    • CIA torture report: Europe must come clean about its own complicity

      As the world awaited the US Senate report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme under the George W Bush administration, there was very little introspection in Europe. As if European countries had nothing to do with what went on in the hunt for al-Qaida in the years after 9/11. In fact, many of America’s European allies were deeply involved in the CIA programme. And they have managed to stay very quiet about it. Could this change now?

    • Victims of Diego Garcia base: Islanders forcibly evicted by UK plead to return home

      Residents of the Chagos Islands who were kicked out of their homes in the 1960s by the British government to make way for a US military base fear they may never return home, despite politicians’ promises, RT’s Polly Boiko reports.

      “You have to go back where you belong. That’s me, as a Chagossian,” says Bernard Nourrice, a former resident of Diego Garcia, one of the Chagos Islands, now a closed US military base.

      Diego Garcia has recently made headlines after the CIA torture report revealed the US used the so-called “black sites” based in other countries for detention. Though the report did not mention the names of the locations, it’s been alleged Diego Garcia could be one such site.

    • Torture’s Time for Accountability

      America’s reputation for cognitive dissonance is being tested by the Senate report documenting the U.S. government’s torture of detainees and the fact that nothing is happening to those responsible. Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says the nation must choose between crossing the Delaware or the Rubicon.

    • Why must we tolerate police spies in our midst?

      When you are in a radical movement, it’s wise to assume that the person arguing for the most extreme action is an agent provocateur. The question for opponents of fracking is on whose behalf are the agents provocateurs provoking.

      Nato and the Romanian and Lithuanian governments have alleged that Russia is urging on opponents of the new technology. Not because Putin gives a damn about global warming, but because he wants Europe to remain dependent on Russian gas. They have no conclusive proof. But the prominence the Kremlin’s apparatchik journalists on RT, the state-funded television channel, give to fracking protests suggests Russian agents may be seeking to manipulate the green movement.

    • Barrett Brown: why his sentencing hearing was sabotaged; his case should now be thrown out

      On Tuesday the sentencing of Barrett Brown, a US journalist, was delayed for a second time and postponed until January 22 of next year. At the hearing the prosecution dramatically presented 500 pages of new evidence, seemingly unrelated to the charges to which Brown was awaiting sentencing. The only explanation for this is that it was a clumsy attempt by the prosecution to provide the judge with a basis for awarding a maximum sentence at the January hearing. But the behaviour of the prosecution at the hearing revealed several important ambiguities that can only be described as (unintended) prosecutional sabotage. (See also video at end.)

    • Judge: Boy, 14, Shouldn’t Have Been Executed

      More than 70 years after South Carolina sent a 14-year-old black boy to the electric chair in the killings of two white girls in a segregated mill town, a judge threw out the conviction, saying the state committed a great injustice.

      George Stinney was arrested, convicted of murder in a one-day trial and executed in 1944 – all in the span of about three months and without an appeal. The speed in which the state meted out justice against the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century was shocking and extremely unfair, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen wrote in her ruling Wednesday.

    • Cops’ last hope at credibility: Why an American crisis is teetering on the edge

      Police are killing unarmed teens, and demanding apologies from critics. Here’s the only way they will ever change

    • Incendiary footage emerges of NYPD officer repeatedly punching a 16-year-old black suspect in the back during street arrest as onlookers beg him to stop

      Footage has emerged of a plain-clothed New York police officer punching a teenage boy repeatedly in the back as he was being handcuffed by four other police on Monday.

      Witnesses claim the suspect was just 12. The NYPD says he is actually 16 years old and has a history of arrests.

      The case has been referred to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation and the NYPD is saying very little about the details of the arrest.

      Scene caused outrage on the streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Monday afternoon. The NYPD has come under increasing scrutiny for its use of force in the wake of the Eric Garner case.

    • Clueless cop targets liberal: NYPD union chief says mayor thinks he’s running “a f**ing revolution”

      If you thought nothing could top Cleveland police union chief Jeff Follmer’s brazen defense of police authority – “the nation needs to realize, when we tell you to do something, do it” – you need to read this story about New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch’s meltdown in the wake of criticism over the NYPD’s killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island.

    • Officer Put On Leave For Tweeting To Bait Public Into Violence

      It seems like there are so many police-behaving-badly stories that have come out recently, it’s no longer all that noteworthy. Mind you, I don’t know that the policing situation is generally actually getting worse, as it might seem, or if there is just simply a greater willingness to shine a spotlight in some very uncomfortable places within our own society. That said, what does remain interesting is watching how police around the country react to this spotlight. Watching the unfortunate reactions to athletes showing support for protesters, for instance, would be hysterical if it weren’t so sad. Those stories appear to indicate that some within law enforcement appear to think that protecting some members of the population is a task with which they can be selective.

    • Deputies: Woman, 72, slapped over Facebook snub

      A 27-year-old woman is accused of slapping a 72-year-old woman who denied her friend request on Facebook.

      The Tampa Bay Times reports Rachel Anne Hayes became angry on Wednesday when the woman said the Facebook name she uses is inappropriate.

    • Ex-detectives who claimed VIP paedophiles were protected in cover-ups to present dossier to inquiry

      Ex-cops who claim VIP paedophile investigations were axed in a cover-up are to hand a dossier to Britain’s most senior police officer.

      They have agreed to ­compile formal statements on what they knew of ­operations being shut down.

      The file will be presented to Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

    • Finnish Police fired a gun only six times in 2013

      Chief Inspector Jukka Salminen says that the Finnish Police use guns very infrequently on a comparative scale. Last year in Finland, the police fired their weapons in an official capacity a total of six times.

    • Protesters Mass at Mall of America on Busy Shopping Day

      Parts of the massive Mall of America were temporarily closed Saturday following a demonstration against racial profiling and police brutality at one of the nation’s largest shopping centers. A large crowd gathered in the Bloomington, Minnesota, mall rotunda just before 2 p.m. local time and staged a “die-in,” despite warnings from mall officials that the protest was not permitted and could lead to arrests.

    • #BlackLivesMatter is shutting down the Mall of America

      “Join us at the Mall of America in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter,” read a Facebook invitation to protest a year of police brutality this afternoon at the massive Bloomington, Minn., shopping center that bills itself as “the place for fun in your life.”

    • Police brutality protesters rally at Mall of America

      The group Black Lives Matter Minneapolis had more than 3,000 people confirm on Facebook that they would attend. Official crowd estimates weren’t immediately available, but pictures posted to social media by local news organizations showed the rotunda was full. Organizer Mica Grimm estimated about 3,000 people participated.

    • 15 reasons America’s police are so brutal

      Tamir Rice and Eric Garner aren’t anomalies. Cops aren’t properly trained and now routinely use maximum force

    • Nothing Changes: Cops Still Threatening Citizens, Breaking Laws To Shut Down Recordings

      The NYPD should know better. In August, it handed a $125,000 settlement to a man it arrested for recording officers performing a stop-and-frisk. A month earlier, the ACLU sued the NYPD in federal court to prevent the NYPD from arresting the people recording them. It’s even clearly stated in the NYPD policy manual that “bystanders are allowed to film [officers] as long as they’re not interfering with the officers’ duties and/or police operations.”

    • Should Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & CIA Officials Be Tried for Torture? War Crimes Case Filed in Germany

      A human rights group in Berlin, Germany, has filed a criminal complaint against the architects of the George W. Bush administration’s torture program. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has accused former Bush administration officials, including CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of war crimes, and called for an immediate investigation by a German prosecutor. The move follows the release of a Senate report on CIA torture which includes the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who was captured by CIA agents in 2004 due to mistaken identity and tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan. So far, no one involved in the CIA torture program has been charged with a crime — except the whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed it. We speak to Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and longtime defense attorney Martin Garbus.

    • Obama asks US Congress to work for closure of Guantanamo base
    • Will a GOP Senate Let Obama Close Guantanamo?
    • Obama Wants to Close Guantanamo. Will a GOP Senate Let Him Do It?
    • Will Obama close Gitmo alone?

      President Obama is unlikely to go against the will of Congress and unilaterally shutter the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, lawmakers from both parties predict.

      “I don’t know that he can,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said. “I know that there are enough congressional restrictions on the books that limit his options.”

    • Fears build as CIA’s ‘ghost prisoners’ vanish into Afghan jails

      A CIA prisoner whose treatment set the torture template in the agency’s notorious Salt Pit jail outside Kabul, and another known as a “ghost prisoner” – held in such secrecy that for years even his name was classified information – have disappeared into Afghanistan’s prison system, where they are once more at risk of torture.

    • CIA interrogators didn’t just break detainees’ bodies — they also attacked their souls

      When reports about abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison first came out more than a decade ago, Michael Peppard started researching every account of mistreatment and torture he could find. He soon noticed a pattern missed by most journalists: American interrogators were using the religious faith of Muslim detainees as a weapon to abuse them.

    • John Yoo: If the Torture Report Is True, CIA Officers Are at Legal Risk

      The debate over the CIA interrogation program pits critics who insist illegal torture took place against defenders who say the treatment of prisoners was legal. These defenders cite guidance that the spy agency got from the Bush Administration. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden phrased it this way: “It needs be said that on multiple occasions all of the techniques were determined lawful by the Department of Justice and judged appropriate for the circumstances.”

    • Torture memo author John Yoo admits CIA may have gone too far

      John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who authored a series of notorious memos cited by the Bush administration to justify the torture of terrorism detainees, acknowledged on Sunday that the CIA may have broken the law.

    • Jailed Former CIA Officer Thinks Interrogators Should Be Prosecuted
    • Why CIA torturers won’t be punished
    • Obama decision to withhold ‘thousands’ of pictures of prisoner torture abuse to be challenged in court

      Thousands of images depicting U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan may be released this week following the Senate’s ‘torture report’.

    • Whitewashing the CIA torture regimen

      The logic that torture is a “stain” on U.S. history is the heart of the problem, since it blocks an honest reading of whatever “values” Washington actually stands for.

    • The CIA’s Covert War Against Fidel Castro

      Released in 1975 and 1976, the Church Commission report revealed that the CIA had been secretly trying to assassinate foreign leaders, including Fidel Castro, for years. It’s a murky chapter in American history that’s worth looking back at this week, as America prepares for an epochal shift in its relationship with the Cuban leader and Cuba itself.

    • Letters: CIA violations must not be ignored
    • Sturgeon backs calls for inquiry into Scots and UK part in CIA flights

      The First Minister has backed calls for a judicial inquiry into the possibility of Scottish and British involvement in the torture or rendition of terror suspects.

      The UK Government is facing pressure for a judge-led inquiry after new revelations in a US Senate report on CIA interrogation.

    • Nick Clegg: Tony Blair should face charges if he collaborated in CIA torture
    • Tony Blair said to be prepared to face inquiry over CIA torture report
    • ​Blair whitewash? Ex-PM prepared to face CIA torture inquiry into UK complicity
    • Thailand Says It Was Unaware Of CIA ‘Black Site’ On Its Soil

      Thailand’s prime minister says his government had no knowledge of a secret location inside the country where the CIA is said to have waterboarded top al-Qaida operatives in 2002.

      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha was responding to the so-called “torture report” released by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month that detailed the treatment of terrorism suspects at secret locations — black sites– around the world.

    • Not just the CIA: special forces in Iraq fought a shadow war that led to rise of IS

      The controversy over the CIA torture report has moved on to calls for the UK government to be open about its own involvement. The arguments have also been widened to include other elements of CIA activities, especially in Iraq.

    • Former US Army psychiatrist says CIA questioning was driven by pressure link Saddam to 9/11 to justify invasion of Iraq
    • CIA ‘torture report’: Agency conduct was driven by pressure to link Iraq to al-Qaeda following 9/11

      The CIA tortured al-Qaeda suspects because it wanted evidence that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 in order to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The agency was under intense pressure from the White House and senior figures in the Bush administration to extract confessions confirming co-operation between the Iraqi leader and al-Qaeda, although no significant evidence was ever found.

    • Outsourced Terror

      The horrific stories of CIA-sponsored torture that aren’t in the Senate report.

    • The CIA torture report: through Arab eyes

      The fear that the US has lost its moral compass is vastly exaggerated, for the simple reason that the US – at least in the Arab World – never possessed this moral legitimacy in the first place.

    • Torture program linked to discredited, illegal CIA techniques

      Torture methods employed by the CIA under the guise of its “enhanced interrogation techniques” program can be traced back — through personnel and decades of research — to human experiments designed to induce the subjugation of prisoners through use of isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation, psychoactive drugs and other means, according to details contained in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, a summary of which was released last week.

    • MFÍK Urges Investigation Of Iceland’s Role In CIA Torture

      “Being an accomplice to torture is a war crime,” says MFÍK Chair Þórhildur Sunna Sævarsdóttir

    • White House oversight of CIA program lacking

      In July 2004, despite growing internal concerns about the CIA’s brutal interrogation methods, senior members of George W. Bush’s national security team gave the agency permission to employ the harsh tactics against an al-Qaida facilitator whom the agency suspected was linked to a plot to disrupt the upcoming presidential election.

    • CIA interrogation report: Just what did the UK know?

      In March 2004, a Boeing 737, registration number N313P, lifted off from Baghdad International Airport with two prisoners on board – captured by the SAS after a shoot-out in the city.

    • Romania agreed to host CIA ‘black sites’ to be accepted into NATO – ex spy chief

      Romania allowed the CIA to use a number of sites on its territory, a former head of the country’s intelligence confessed. He added that Bucharest’s bid to join NATO at the time prevented it from asking the US about the purposes of the sites.

    • Romanian ex-spy chief acknowledges CIA had ‘black prisons’ in country

      A top official from Romania has for the first time confirmed that the CIA had “at least” one prison in the country.

      Ioan Talpes, the former head of the country’s intelligence service said the CIA had “centres” in Romania, including a transit camp or compound, where prisoners were kept before being moved to other locations. He is the first Romanian official to confirm the information in the CIA torture report last week, which stated the existence of at least one “black site” in which prisoners were held and probably tortured.

    • The CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah, my client. Now charge him or let him go

      Abu Zubaydah has now been held incommunicado for 12 years without trial. This is gross injustice

    • CIA torture report: UK intelligence agencies questioned over redactions

      The British parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) has started to question intelligence agencies over whether they requested redactions in the explosive US Senate report on CIA torture.

      The ISC has already been investigating broader allegations of UK agencies’ involvement in torture or mistreatment.

    • UK torture inquiry could summon Blair and Straw
    • North Korea Calls for U.N. Probe of CIA ‘Torture Crimes’
    • Accused of rights abuses, N.Korea urges UN meeting on CIA torture
    • North Korea asks UN to ‘urgently’ investigates CIA torture claims
    • North Korea asks United Nations to investigate CIA torture ‘crimes’
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • It Doesn’t Matter Who Does the Lobbying: Trade Agreements Aren’t the Place for Internet Regulations

      The Associated Whistleblowing Press released portions of draft text proposed by the United States for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) this week, revealing some alarming provisions that indicate how tech companies have been involved in influencing a secret international deal. The language of the leaked treaty shows provisions that could impact privacy online, and net neutrality—with no public consultation or opportunities for open debate. What is dispiriting is some of the language of these Internet regulations almost certainly comes from tech companies, who have joined the many other lobbyists fighting for their special interests behind closed doors.

  • DRM

    • Be Cautious About ‘Digital Handcuffs’, Says Stallman

      Cautioning the tech-savvy people about the universal snooping propaganda of the technology giants, president of Free Software Foundation Richard Stallman spoke about the unholy nexus of the states with the corporates, in the city.

      Stallman, a reputed cyberspace activist and a champion of the free software movement, lashed out at the malpractices of technology giants like Apple and Microsoft, who, according to him, take the users hostage using ‘digital handcuffs’.

      Advocating freedom of computing and the Internet, he said that the apparent technology providers often exercise ‘Orwellian Justice’, which peeps into the privacy of users. “Amazon’s Kindle, the e-reader application, is infamous for remotely erasing the purchased copies of the book ‘1984’,” said Stallman.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP Update XLV

      The TTIP negotiations are in trouble. After 18 months of talks, the EU and US have precious little to show for all their jetting to and fro across the Atlantic. And external factors such as the imminent Presidential race in the US means that time is running out to get the deal signed and sealed. Against that background, there are signs of a (rather feeble) attempt to put “rocket boosters” under the negotiations, as David Cameron likes to phrase it – although he forgets that rocket boosters can also explode on take-off, destroying their cargo completely.

    • EU-Canada Trade Agreement May Be Incompatible With EU Law

      Of course, this is just one legal opinion, and doubtless the European Commission would beg to differ. But it does indicate that the very ambition of CETA — and therefore also TAFTA/TTIP, which is very similar in this respect — may be its downfall. By seeking to move “behind the borders”, tackling “non-tariff barriers” that are actually regulations protecting health, safety, the environment, etc., these agreements may interfere with too many core functions of how a democracy works, and be struck down by the courts as a result.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay alternatives

        As you may have heard, the Pirate Bay was raided and is down as I write this post. The closure of the Pirate Bay has generated a lot of discussions online, and many people have been looking for alternative torrenting sites. Fortunately, there was an interesting thread on Reddit about that very topic and one redditor was kind enough to post a list of alternative torrent sites:

      • Hollywood v. Goliath: Inside the aggressive studio effort to bring Google to heel

        To get the same results in a post-SOPA world, MPAA has hired some of the nation’s most well-connected lawyers. The project is spearheaded by Thomas Perrelli, a Jenner & Block partner and former Obama Administration lawyer. Perrelli has given attorneys general (AGs) across the country their talking points, suggesting realistic “asks” prior to key meetings with Google. Frustrated with a lack of results, Perrelli and top MPAA lawyers then authorized an “expanded Goliath strategy” in which they would push the AGs to move beyond mere letter writing. Instead, they would seek full-bore investigations against Google.

      • Update On Ten-Year Campaign To Give Copyright Industry Another Monopoly: WIPO’s Broadcasting Treaty

        Say what you will about the copyright industry, but it certainly doesn’t give up. No matter how many times a bad idea is fought off, sooner or later, it comes back again. The best example of this is probably WIPO’s Broadcasting Treaty, which Techdirt has been covereing for a decade: in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2013.

12.12.14

Software Patents in Canada Not Dead Yet

Posted in Site News at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Canadian flag

Summary: Canada’s patent status quo increasingly like that of the United States and Canadian giants like BlackBerry now pose a threat to software developers

THE case of i4i was a reminder of the fact that Canada is not a software patents-free zone. There is actually evidence to the contrary and also a new article in patent lawyers-leaning press about the subject (see “Computer And Software Related Innovation – Is There A Rationale For Filing Software Patent Applications In Canada?”). It serves to show that Canada more or less follows the neighbours to the south (not the UK or France, which also have profound impact on Canadian politics), especially when it comes to patent practices. This includes patents on software, genetics, etc. These breeds of patents, which originate from rulings in the US, are spreading to other nations including Canada [via], despite the severe implications for practitioners, let alone public interests. To quote The Star:

Canadian courts have not yet ruled on whether genes can be patented. A lawsuit filed Monday over cardiac disorder Long QT aims to clear that up.

In recent years we became increasingly worried about a Canada-based company that had joined Rockstar (Apple- and Microsoft-backed, against Linux/Android) and it is now turning into a patent troll. We are talking about BlackBerry here as “the company also owns a stake in Rockstar – which may itself come up for sale in the near future, based on recent events.”

“Software patents are not only a threat to Free/libre software but to all software developers, except conglomerates that are essentially business entities.”BlackBerry’s transformation into patent troll has been covered here before and there is a chance that negative publicity will discourage it from attacking FOSS (as it already seems to be heading in that direction).

The bottom line is, Canada — like many Five Eyes nations — is silently a supporter of software patents. Our Canadian readers need to contact their politicians in an effort to change that. Software patents are not only a threat to Free/libre software but to all software developers, except conglomerates that are essentially business entities.

09.29.14

More Good News About Demise of Software Patents and Along With Them, Consequently, Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Site News at 2:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A weekly roundup of news about patents in the United States and elsewhere, with special focus on software patents

Free/libre software has much less to worry about now that software patents are getting weaker if not fewer, too. There are changes that affect not only software patents but patents as a whole. In the US, for example, patents on genes/genetics were ruled illegal not too long ago. Here is an explanation of why Australia might soon follow suit. Titled “Australian Court Disagrees With US: Claim Genes Are Totally Patentable”, the article reminds us that “Last year, the Supreme Court made an important ruling in the Myriad Genetics case, effectively saying that genes aren’t patentable, even if you can separate them out from the rest of a strand of DNA. Myriad Genetics had isolated two key genes related to breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 and argued that only it could test for those genes, because of its patent. The Supreme Court soundly rejected that, noting that you cannot patent something in nature, and clearly Myriad did not “make” the genes. Unfortunately, as we’d noted just a few months earlier, a court in Australia had come to the opposite conclusion, saying that Myriad Genetics had legitimate patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2. That case was appealed, and there was some hope that after the US’s ruling, higher courts in Australia might see the light. Not yet apparently. An appeals court has agreed that genes are patentable Down Under, which means that such important genetic tests there are likely to be much more expensive and limited.”

Australia, quite infamously as we pointed out before, was one of the countries that succumbed to US lead on software patents, so on genetics too there might be changes afoot. Here is a timely reminder that India still wrestles with software patents, having done so for years. India is famous for its heroic opposition to patents on medicine where life is at stake.

One new article from the Indian press quotes a few people who follow this closely. One of them “said that many of the companies that work on open source software and related segments have raised their opposition while the originator companies are demanding for a patent.”

Actually, many proprietary software patents are also against software patents. It is not a FOSS issue but a CS issue (computer science, not closed source).

“Currently,” continues this article, “software is not patentable under the existing Act and it needs to be registered under copyright. Many experts think that a patent would be stringent than a copyright is and would be advisable for the innovators to protect their software from infringement.

“The draft has been issued in the public domain for comments and the government has to consult every stakeholder on it. The issuance of the guideline is in final stage, he said.

“As per the Intellectual Property Office report, about 80% of patent applications at the Indian Patent Office are filed by foreign global technology companies. In the past decade the number of applications by foreign applicants has risen from about 8,221 to 34,276, said industry leaders.”

So these patents have a strong correlation to and with digital colonialism. Why would Indians ever accept them? The multinational corporations surely want these, but what’s in it for India itself? India has fantastic software engineers of its own. It need never be dependent on multinational entities, especially for software.

Here is a US-based pro-software patents site (run by patent lawyers) saying that “Big Banks Get Software Patents Despite Alice”. It is selective and selection-centric spin. The reality, on the whole, is the very opposite. The pro-business, News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal very recently published “Hard Times for Software Patents” followed by the detailed report titled “Courts Nix More Software Patents” and “Federal Courts Reject More Software Patents”. It says what one ought to expect.

Speaking of large corporations and software patents, watch what BMC is doing. The British press said that “BMC has accused ServiceNow of violating seven of its patents (5,978,594, 6,816,898, 6,895,586, 7,062,683, 7,617,073, 8,646,093 and 8,674,992), spanning incident management, performance analytics, configuration management, discovery, orchestration and change release management.

“The company lodged its suit on Tuesday in the generally litigant-friendly US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.”

BMC is acting like a patent troll and attacks small rivals. Witness the glory of software patents! The weapon of abuses indeed, injustice galore!

Contrariwise, Van Lindberg from Rackpace (very large company) says that they have killed a software patent and potentially a troll. The title says “Another Patent Troll Slain. You Are Now Free To Rotate Your Smartphone.”

Here is more on that: “Over the last few years it’s been great to see companies like Newegg and Rackspace decide that they’re not going to give in to bogus patent troll lawsuits. As we’ve discussed, it’s almost always easier, faster and cheaper to just settle and pay up whatever the troll is asking for. That’s part of why trolling works. Fighting a patent lawsuit — even a totally bogus one (i.e., not infrigning) — on a clearly invalid patent will still cost many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. If the troll is offering to settle for tens of thousands of dollars, many, many companies will do the obvious short-term cost-benefit analysis and settle. It’s hard to directly fault them for this — but it only makes the problem worse for everyone else. Not only does it fund the patent trolls to keep suing others, often they’ll use some of that money to buy more bogus patents and shakedown companies over that new ones as well. On top of that, settling patent threats just puts a big “sucker” sign on your company, meaning that more trolls will start circling. Making a stand and saying that you will not compromise or deal with trolls actually helps in the long run by scaring off some trolls. Both Newegg and Rackspace have been getting a lot of publicity (and goodwill) for their anti-troll efforts.”

Here is a somewhat comical take on a troll that decided to attack the government. The headline says it all: “Patent Troll Told That It Can’t Sue The FTC For Merely Investigating Its Shakedown Scam”

Well, “just when US starts correcting them,” writes Dr. Glyn Moody, Europe, with the corrupt EPO, decides to “Repeat US’s Past Mistakes”:

Back in May, I wrote about a very interesting paper discussing some potential pitfalls of the new Unified Patent Court. Given the magnitude of the change that it and the unitary patent system will bring, it is extraordinary that we still don’t really know how things will work out in practice. That makes another paper called “The Unified Patent Court (UPC) in Action – How Will the Design of the UPC Affect Patent Law? ” particularly welcome, since, as its title suggests, it explores how the new UPC is likely to shape the contours of patent law in Europe.

[...]

Since the new paper appeared, there has been a further US Supreme Court ruling, Alice v. CLS Bank, that has already led to no less than 11 software patents being thrown out by lower courts. Indeed, there is every indication that the era of completely insane software patents is drawing to a close in the US. It is therefore deeply ironic – and rather frustrating – that at precisely the moment when sanity starts to break out in the US, the EU incomprehensibly decides to take exactly the same path of madness that produced so many problems across the Atlantic.

[...]

Those are all good ideas, but it’s rather depressing that we must already be thinking of ways to minimise the damage the new UPC is likely to cause Europe’s economy in general – and the world of software in particular.

In the coming weeks we will continue to show how the EPO turned rogue and corrupt. It would be foolish to adopt software patents when the US relents.

Here comes another smackdown of a troll. As Mike Masnick put it: “We recently noted that a bunch of courts had been killing off bad software patents thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank. And now, that ruling is even leading the trolls themselves to give up. Notorious patent troll Lumen View recently dropped its appeal in its case against the website FindTheBest, saying that the ruling in Alice made it clear it wouldn’t win…”

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote about this trend as a whole, saying that patent trolls are starting to get trampled. He also quotes OIN:

First, the Open Invention Network (OIN), whose members include Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony, now has more than a thousand licensees in its Linux and open-source, defensive patent pool. In an e-mail , Keith Bergelt, OIN’s CEO said, “The OIN license is becoming part of a broader set of community norms and is increasingly being integrated into the culture of open source/Linux-centric companies. It is for many the foundation around which their IP [intellectual property] strategy is built and a critical enabler of patent non-aggression and freedom to operate.”

We recently wrote about the podcasting troll winning against CBS, but this is definitely not over. As TechDirt put it: “The trial (in East Texas, of course) for CBS came first and the jury sided with Personal Audio, because that’s how East Texas patent juries typically roll. In a moment of semi-kindness, the jury awarded Personal Audio $1.3 million, rather than the nearly $8 million they supposedly requested. This story is really just a stepping stone, however. CBS has made it clear that it will appeal the case to CAFC, and given how software/business method patents are getting tossed out left and right these days, the company has a decent chance of prevailing. Meanwhile, the EFF reminds us that it’s still working hard to invalidate the patent at the Patent Office, which would help accelerate the process of killing off these bogus lawsuits.”

CBS is a bad company, but hopefully it will win on appeal.

Here is Matt Levy quoting the partly pro-software patents Michael Risch while saying: “We cannot continue the excesses of the past. Invalid patents don’t benefit innovation, they block innovation. And we have a patent system where a substantial portion of the issued patents, if not most, are invalid. And the patents in the software area are even worse.”

At the end of the day we will hopefully see patents on software universally invalidated. Until then we will have rumour mills and speculations (e.g. about prices) telling us that Free software is not free, thanks in part to lack of comprehension of what patents really are for and how they affect the industry (it’s a poor article which reveals its author’s ignorance on this subject). We have already covered this issue before (it’s about Samsung and Microsoft).

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