Like Ferdinand Marcos, Benoît Battistelli declares de facto martial law (with help from Control Risks) to perpetuate his tyranny and aggressively eliminate dissent
Summary: Criticism of the EPO’s thuggish behaviour and endless efforts to crush dissenting voices by all means available, even when these means are in clear violation of international or European laws
The EPO‘s attempts to gag and/or censor Techrights using threats [1, 2] is becoming the subject of some news coverage with a broad audience. As this one article (among several) put it: “In fact, to argue that Schestowitz’s post is defamatory is crazy. Threatening Schestowitz with a defamation claim is much crazier and dangerous than even Schestowitz’s own interpretation of the EPO’s memo. If you’re working for a government agency, such as the EPO, you have to be willing to accept some amount of criticism, even if you disagree with it. To claim it’s defamation and to threaten a lawsuit is really, really screwed up. [...] I’m having trouble thinking of any other governmental agency that has ever threatened a public critic with defamation. Basic concepts around free speech suggest that the EPO should suck it up. If it disagrees with Schestowitz’s interpretation of what it’s doing, then it can come out and explain its side of the story. Threatening him with defamation actually only makes me think that perhaps his interpretation hits closer to home than I originally believed.”
“That might be one important reason why cleaning out the EPO stable is different from FIFA. At the EPO, there are victims.”
–AnonymousI am not the first EPO and/or UPC critic whom the EPO threatened to sue, it’s just that a lot of people don’t know about these cases. The EPO hopes that its victims will stay silent and afraid. In fact, this one example may have resulted in the site becoming inactive (for a number of years now).
Techrights is eager to get to the bottom of everything and won’t give up as the EPO probably hoped it would. “I finish on one straw of hope,” an anonymous comment wrote last night. “Thinking about FIFA, there are not thousands of employees involved. That might be one important reason why cleaning out the EPO stable is different from FIFA. At the EPO, there are victims.”
Some of these victims commit suicide, too.
“In the coming days or weeks we intend to show that what the EPO did wasn’t just foolish but also dubious from a legal standpoint.”The EPO is clearly out of control. It is a quasi-political entity working using taxpayers’ money (to some degree) and abusing those taxpayers. Think about if for a moment; that’s worse than the British Conservative party hypothetically threatening to sue blogs critical of British Conservatives. In the case of the EPO it’s even worse because it was not even elected and the British Conservative party is not taking the money of the public to use for its own promotion at election time.
In the coming days or weeks we intend to show that what the EPO did wasn’t just foolish but also dubious from a legal standpoint. Then again, the EPO doesn’t exactly care about what’s legal. It mostly disregards the laws and makes up its own on a whim (or the President’s whim). The two last comments which stand out in the above article say that “EPOnia is not a “government agency”, it is legally a Kingdom above the EU countries, it is a tyranny with ZERO accountability… legal-wise”; another says “German employer rules or any other EU country do not apply inside EPOnia”.
If EPO thinks that it is above international law, then we need to show here just to what degree it disregards — if not deliberately violates — the law. █
“Denial ain`t just a river in Egypt.”
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“First They Ignore You, Then They Ridicule You, Then They Fight You.”
Summary: Having already blocked Techrights, the EPO’s management proceeds to further suppressions of speech, impeding its staff’s access to independently-distributed information (neither ordinary staff nor management)
THIS is a multi-part series regarding the highly abusive behaviour of the EPO, which decided to become confrontational not just against its own staff but also journalists. This is not a case of one person versus Techrights but a case of institutional harassment from a body which isn’t even complying with the law in doing so.
Techrights did not wish to publicise this, but last week there were rumours about it and journalists reached out for a comment, eventually publishing details about this whole situation. The article from WIPR has just been published (that was just moments ago), probably necessitating a response from us. There is too much to say considering the limited space of a blog, so we will do this in several parts. We want to make our side of the story known, so anyone who can blog about this or mention it publicly in social media, mass media etc. would help our cause, which is basically similar if not overlapping to the cause of EPO staff (the highly-skilled staff, such as examiners, not the managers). Anyone who has spent some time learning about the EPO scandals can easily see who’s right and who’s wrong. There are hardly even “two sides” here, except perhaps the “truth” side and the “spin” (or “damage control”) side. I have voluntarily — not for any personal gain — spent well over a year examining documents night and day, so I have a fairly good grasp or total awareness of all these scandals. I also know documents which I cannot publish.
“Anyone who has spent some time learning about the EPO scandals can easily see who’s right and who’s wrong.”I have been writing critically about companies (private companies) for over a decade, but never before has anyone responded like the EPO’s thugs did. We never received legal letters, even after writing close to 20,000 blog posts! The EPO, you see, is ‘special’. It has a history of trademark-trolling against critics. This whole thing does not exactly surprise me, having observed the aggressive ways of the EPO. I was only a little surprised to have discovered that they invoked the Streisand Effect by blocking (blacklisting or book-burning) my analyses and even more surprised that they declared a war on journalists. Who advised them on this? It’s truly misguided as it always backfires. It sounds as though they try to personify the EPO, in the form of Battistelli. I don’t think their lawyers even realise what kind of “blowback” (from EPO staff) their client is stepping into. Battistelli is probably the most hated person, even among his own staff.
“Always remember,” one person told me in Twitter. “Government has unlimited resources to destroy targets, unlike companies…”
When I first received a letter from EPO lawyers I assumed that there were trolling me. It clearly seemed as though they were sending template letters to a lot of people with threats, with the clear goal of censoring unwanted publicity. How did I know? The letter was addressed to the wrong person. They used the wrong name (see screenshot below). Template fail?
“This is quite likely a widespread campaign intended to chill and suppress journalists.”In every such circumstance, one has the right to know who is the accuser is, but the lawyers didn’t make it clear. They even refuted themselves therein. We have already seen the same kind of bullying used against Elizabeth Hardon, where there are efforts to exploit lack of awareness of the laws (no lawyers are allowed to be present) and therefore bring allegations against a person from a total vacuum, not a person.
Encircled below is proof or likely evidence that this is a widespread campaign, targeting people other than myself and subjecting them to gags, which my lawyer says are not legally-binding or potent (I never consented to these gags anyway).
A section of the first legal letter (among 4) sent to me
We kindly ask Mr. Schneider — whoever that may be — to consider coming out and telling us if he too was subjected to this kind of treatment from the EPO. This is quite likely a widespread campaign intended to chill and suppress journalists. This way, only ‘media partners’ such as Les Échos [1, 2, 3] or journalists who are complicit with EPO management (e.g. in defaming staff) will have their say. Others will self-censor or altogether refrain from coverage (either because of direct pressure from EPO or from a pressured/nervous editor/publisher). I personally experienced this kind of pressure when working as a journalist around 8 years ago. Techrights helped me combat self-censorship or editorial censorship. Everything was fine until I started ‘daring’ to write about the EPO.
In a future articles we will tackle the EPO’s accusations and also show why proper legal procedures were not even followed. █
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On newspapers for sale, not to the public but to the richest 1%
Summary: French newspaper Les Échos is self-censoring yet again and it is framing the EPO scandals as the fault of employees, not the fault of abusive managers who are working with Les Échos as a so-called ‘media partner’ (the EPO management is French-dominated)
We’ve finally finished colour-coding the EPO Wiki. Some of the items which we covered earlier this year showed how the EPO’s management had paid journals, newspapers and so on for puff pieces and positive coverage (basically bought coverage). Is this what science and technology stand for? Isn’t that a gross abuse of EPO funds? Remember how newspapers went as far as censoring their own reporters after the EPO’s managers had apparently paid. We’ll never forget this.
“Some of the items which we covered earlier this year showed how the EPO’s management had paid journals, newspapers and so on for puff pieces and positive coverage (basically bought coverage).”A reader has drawn our attention to this French article (translation would be appreciated). “I saw this bit in one of the comments,” he explained, “which you don’t seem to have picked up.”
Since we don’t have people who comprehend French here, it hasn’t helped. “Truly jaw-dropping,” called it our reader, “and we’ve seen a lot in this story already. “Les Échos” is a French business newspaper, who already swiftly canned coverage mildly unfavorable to Benoît Battistelli.”
We covered it earlier this year. Les Échos is basically disgracing itself and demonstrates that it self-censors based on who’s paying. The EPO is disgracing itself by paying journalists.
“Here are the first few lines of what on the surface seems to be a piece of, er, commissioned work,” wrote our reader, “followed by my quick translation…”
Here is what was sent to us:
Accueil > Dossiers thema > Transformation : mettre de l’agilité dans son organisation
Transformation : les « ennemis » de l’intérieur
Collaborateurs, syndicats et même patrons sont parfois si réfractaires au changement que le processus de transformation de l’entreprise s’en trouve contrarié. Les exemples de l’Office européen des brevets (OEB), Air France KLM et de PSA.
Looking at the page right now, we notice that it says this:
Collaborateurs, syndicats et même patrons sont parfois si réfractaires au changement que le processus de transformation de l’entreprise s’en trouve contrarié. Les exemples de l’Office européen des brevets (OEB), Air France et KLM.
Got the difference? Focus on the part that says “et de PSA.” Got removed? Was it self-censorship? Editorial decision? Pressure from the entities covered? Les Échos is increasingly looking like a farce.
Here is the translation we have been given:
Home -> Themes -> Transformation -> put agility in your organisation
Transformation: The enemies within
“Employees, unions and even bosses are sometimes so averse to change that the business transformation process is hindered. Some examples from the EPO, Air France KLM, and PSA.”
The part about PSA was altogether removed. In fact, PSA (PSA Peugeot-Citroen) is no longer even mentioned in this article at all! What a splendid act of deletionism, regarding a French entity (like much of the EPO’s management).
“The rest is a sickening puff piece,” told us the reader, “essentially LITERALLY revolving on how poor old Conducator Benoît Battistelli is hindered in his Promethean achievements by a mean backward union hostile to progress.”
As one person put it in IP Kat comments:
Maybe the appropriate moment to remind the readers that the French newspaper Les Echos is a “media partner” of the EPO (see the bottom of this page for example: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:2eNzC-MVKc0J:https://www.epo.org/learning-events/european-inventor_fr.html , or already reported on this very blog: http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/06/french-toast-leaves-sour-taste-for.html ). Les Echos is bound by contract with the EPO and whilst Mr. Benoît Battistelli is so boastful on transparency, the contracts with the EPO “media partners”, alike his own employement contract, are well kept secrets. Careful observers can only speculate that actual journalism is not part of it since when it happens by accident, it is promptly corrected: http://techrights.org/2015/06/18/les-echos-epo-censorship/ and http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/06/french-toast-leaves-sour-taste-for.html ).
Anyone having followed the events can only come to the conclusion that the latest report of Les Echos does not depart from this secret contract since the misrepresentation of facts is systematic and the comparison of the EPO with other patent offices, not as local administrative authorities but as competing private entities, is stunning!
There are other good comments there, one about the timing of this article (exactly a day after massive staff protests, immediately to be followed by projection and blame-shifting):
I was at the demo and this article seems to have forgotten an important fight: the timing.
In their last meeting, the council instructed the president to renew social dialogue and start a social study. On the very day the board 28 meets, the president suspends 3 elected personal representatives. It cannot be by chance that it happens the very same day. Next, to make sure the council really loses face, he will probably fire all three on the day the council meets in december.
In the demo, Els Hardon said it looked like a declaration of war from the president to the council. Apparently, it is also not the first time that the president tells members of the council (who are supposed to be his superiors) that they are idiots and that he knows better.
The president is out of control. He is not following the orders from the council, that is a blatant fact. In the demo, it was asked whether he is actually becoming insane (not by Els hardon, I don’t remember by whom, more people spoke).
Now I have a question: what happens if the president of the office is incapacited (for example, because he is becoming insane)? Is there a provision in that case, something like an interim? I would like an article about that.
In the future we will cover more such stories because it is evident that EPO meddling/intervening inside the media (like paying Les Échos or some respected journals) has an effect. Les Échos is once again defending the EPO’s management, perhaps hoping for money to come from it in the future. Corporate media is not designed to inform; it’s designed to maximise profit. █
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The previous header, prior to our Web site’s anniversary, put aside for now
Summary: The Techrights Web site is soon turning 9, whereupon we plan to invest even more time and effort to more effectively expose institutional corruption
IN SPITE of attempts to muzzle the site, Techrights is still going strong and broadening its audience. As one might expect, a site as outspoken as this (sometimes saying what others are afraid or reluctant to say) has become the target of some rather abusive people and as a result we intend to increase veracity, devotion, and persistence. Intimidation against us only makes us stronger. The coming week will bring some new reports about the EPO, whose Wiki we gradually improved over the weekend (identifying separable themes of abuses). We wholeheartedly thank both supporters and anonymous sources that made this possible.
“Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows.”“Defending digital freedom and exposing corruption since 2006″ says the new banner (it might still not be visible because of multimedia caching at our proxy). It doesn’t mean that anything is changing with respect to TechBytes, the audiocast, it just means that we soon (in just a couple of weeks) celebrate an important anniversary and we also approach 20,000 posts/articles. The most active years were half a decade ago, back when we published over 3,600 posts per year (more than 10 per day, on average). In order to get back to these levels we might need readers’ support, which does not necessarily mean financial support. Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows. People need to fight for them and people must defend free speech, sometimes at all costs. It’s when the ruling class manages to silence the oppressed that all hope is lost and change is anything but inevitable.
“Thank you” we again say to everyone who has supported us over the years and we look forward to another decade or more. Here is how to contact us anonymously. █
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The key is anonymity
Summary: Advice for potential whistleblowers, or sources with evidence of abuse that they wish to anonymously share with the world (via Techrights)
OVER the years Techrights has received critical information from dozens of sources, all of which remained safe (unexposed). But this does not mean that all of them did this safely. This article provides advice for those who wish to pass to us information in the safest of ways, without having to do a lot of complicated things.
Why Not Off-the-shelf, Self-contained Secure Software?
Over the past 6 months or so we have looked into various bits of Free/libre software, e.g. Briefkasten (no longer actively maintained, as of 2013) and SecureDrop, which is too big a project (massive also in the source code sense compared to Briefkasten, not to mention difficult to set up). After much effort we decided to settle for something which is simpler to use and is much faster to use. To facilitate leaking of sensitive documents (e.g. evidence of misconduct) we mostly require anonymity, as the content of the material does not — in its own right — do much (if anything) to expose the source.
Typically, whole frameworks are built for distributed and de-centralised leaking. This requires quite a bit of hardware, which in turn needs to be set up and properly configured. It’s complicated for both sides (source and receiver) and it’s usually developed for large teams of journalists, for constant interaction with sources, or a regular flow of material. We do not require something this advanced. In practice, a one-time document drop is usually enough.
Our Proposed Solution
We have decided that the following method would be good enough given the nature of leaks we normally receive. They are typically about technology, rather than some military or surveillance apparatus such as the CIA’s assassination (by drones) programme or the NSA’s mass surveillance programme.
For extra security, we kindly ask people to ensure anonymity/privacy tools are used, notably Tor. Without it, privacy/anonymity cannot be assured to a high degree. It’s possible, but it would not be unbreakable (meaning too great an effort and a challenge for spies to take on).
Establishing a Secure (Anonymous) Session
Follow the following steps, with (1) for extra assurance of anonymity.
- Install Tails or prepare a Tails device (e.g. Live CD) to boot on a laptop, in order to simplify session creation with Tor (for those who insist on using Windows we have this guide
- Irrespective of (1), seek public wireless/wired access in something like a mall (preferably not a sit-down like a coffee shop, where cameras are operated and situated in a way that makes it easy to track individuals by faces, payment with debit/credit cards and so on). The idea is to seek a place — any place — where it is hard to know the identity of the connected party, even by association (e.g. friend or family). Do not use a portable telephone (these are notoriously not secure and regularly broadcast location).
- Refrain from doing any browsing that can help identify patterns or affiliations of the user (e.g. session cookies). In fact, unless Tails is used, it might be worth installing a new browser (Opera for instance) and doing nothing on it prior to the sending of material. This reduces the cookie trail/footprint.
Send the material
Once logged in anonymously, anonymously (do not log in) submit text through Pastebin and take the resultant URL for later pasting. Do not pass PDFs for non-textual material. Instead take shots of them, to reduce/eliminate metadata which is often being passed along with them. Then submit to Anonmgur and make a note of the resultant URL for later pasting.
This is typically a one-way communication channel, so add any context which is necessary, then link to the above material as follows:
- Log in to the
#techrights IRC Channel via the Web browser.
- Choose a pseudonym and sooner or later we will get around to seeing the new arrival and checking what there is to be said (there are dozens of us there).
- Drop the link/s in the channel. If someone is on the keyboard at the time, there might even be time for interaction. Do not say anything that can help reveal identity (sometimes the language itself is revealing).
While not impenetrable, it would take an enormous amount of effort (and connections in several high places) to unmask a source who follows the steps above. Unless it’s a high-profile political leak, such an unmasking effort would be well beyond what’s worth pursuing (expensive and complicated). MAC address-level spying often assumes access to very high places (and deep into back rooms), so therein lies no significant danger, especially when the best anonymity tools are properly used and the incentive to unmask isn’t great enough at high places (usually the political or military establishments). █
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The EPO’s management wants war
Summary: A statement of intent to delve even deeper into EPO affairs, in an effort to expose what has become large-scale and systemic abuse far too great to ignore
AS regular readers may have noticed, we have begun improving our EPO Wiki (still work in progress) and we intend to cover the abuses of the EPO’s management a lot more frequently than in past months. There are clearly institutional abuses there. It needs to change and it is possible the in this process some heads will roll, whereupon they will attempt to shoot the messengers (even engaging in legal bullying).
“We hereby invite people to kindly provide us with information they are aware of that merits publication.”As the chronology shows quite clearly, our original opposition to the EPO’s position was mainly about software patents. Software developers just simply don’t want them and don’t need them. The President of the FFII, a programmer and an opponent of the UPC (because it can usher into Europe software patents) wrote this tweet yesterday, taking note of the horrible thing which is being shoved — undemocratically as a matter of fact — down the throats of all Europeans:
EPO says on its automated translation website of patents that it should not be used for important commercial decisions. #epo #fail #unipat
This is all about maximising the scope of injunctions, the scope of patents and so on. It’s all about globalists and multinational corporations that are drunk on power and continue their power grab behind closed doors (e.g. the TPP).
In the US, by contract, software patents may now be on their way out. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, like many software patents-centric lawyers these days, does not want the public to know about it. They are cherry-picking incidents that are the exception to the norm, namely that Alice eliminates software patents in various US courts.
Given that the United States, the original home of software patents, is moving away from software patents, why would Europe ever consider phasing them in, if not due to corruption and aggressive lobbying?
Expect Techrights to dedicate more space to these issues in the near and distant future. We hereby invite people to kindly provide us with information they are aware of that merits publication. We have a perfect record of never letting down sources (this site will soon turn 9). Anonymity is more important than encryption for this purpose (we are working on a secure drop-box to better facilitate this). If the EPO’s management wants war, which it evidently does (as we shall explain next month), then it will need to mount an ugly war on whistleblowers, then face the consequences in the European or even international media. █
“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.
“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”
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Summary: An aggressive effort to infiltrate our servers (125,000 times in one day, peaking at particular hours) considerably slowed down the Web site, in spite of overzealous filtering
Negative publicity is something that EPO (as in its management) simply cannot tolerate. Remember how negative paragraphs got removed from news articles after payments from the EPO.
Techrights has, a few times over the years*, come under attacks from numerous entities but at no point in its entire history has it come under the same sorts of attack it must deal with whilst writing about EPO abuses. We suspect there may be a strong correlation between the covered subjects and the willingness to silence the coverage. Almost 80% of our articles are about patents nowadays.
“In our eyes, it was always likely to have been someone connected to the EPO or someone who works there.”Yesterday, as some people with special interest in the EPO told us, the site became unavailable. The volume of attacks on Techrights had gone up at around 11AM (G.M.T.) and at some point it doubled to around 50% of all traffic (it was around 25% of the traffic at 11AM). Brute force was being used to overcome our increasingly sophisticated filters, computationally trained and improved after previous such attacks.
Media articles coming from Germany correctly accuse the EPO of all sorts of things (and they cite Techrights), but all of them fail to mention that the EPO banned the whole site (for the first time ever). This in its own right is quite a scandalous thing. This kind of censorship we know about for sure, but we cannot confirm EPO role in the cyber-attacks. Some legitimate visitors (IP addresses) may accidentally get banned (barred from accessing Techrights) because the server is aggressively filtering traffic right now, in an effort to block the cracking attempts. We may have managed to drive away the attacker/s.
Of relevance to this issue are a few older article. Recall when SUEPO came under DDOS attacks (after and before SUEPO E-mails got altogether censored, meaning that a silencing campaign against unions was already well under way). Recall that Techrights came under DDOS attacks at around the same time (an especially sensitive time), leading to reasonable speculations. In our eyes, it was always likely to have been somebody connected to the EPO or someone who works there. For reasons explained here before, without legal action which compels law enforcement to check routers and zombie PCs (botnets), it is hard to know with high enough degree of certainty who commanders and orchestrates all this (the botmaster or script kiddie).
Let us assume that it’s a deterrence tactic (against the author/Webmaster/system administrator), or an effort to make it harder for people to access the Web site. Looking back at this nuisance, which started late last year, first was potentially an attack on the Web site (to no avail because my daytime job involves dealing with exactly these types of scenarios and we patiently fought back by filtering any attacks), then blocking the entire site (Office-wide), which makes one wonder what can come next, given that EPO staff can still access the site (off duty).
It has been extremely hard to report abuse about the source of yesterday’s attacks on Techrights because the hosting is provided by rogue domain with rogue SSL certificates (or none). It’s incredibly hard to obtain contact details. This was a European cluster that attacked the site. Most of the cracking attempts against Techrights come from this same cluster of machines (with IP pool in Spain); we are talking about exceptionally frequent cracking attempts against the CMS (many hundreds of times per minute) and this bypasses caches and other basic defenses. If Techrights was ever forced into a CDN for supposed protection, no doubt there would be no true privacy for visitors. Without filtering, about one quarter of the traffic in Techrights would be cracking attempts, slowing the site down or taking it down for considerably long periods of time (not just seconds). Wonder who’s doing it? We sure wonder, but as people who do this for a living can tell, it’s a hard question to answer, especially without access to servers and probably a warrant to legally delve into them.
If these attacks ultimately just try to hijack and deface the site (or obtain a list of visitors), then they aren’t doing a very professional job. These must be just brute force login attempts — many attempts at cracking, perhaps with a common passwords dictionary. Because it’s done with brute force (as long as the server can still respond), it induces very high load, as a side effect; hence the server issues. This is similar to what SUEPO reported earlier this year, whereupon it filed a complaint with the authorities. █
* The first time it happened we lost our Web host and the site was left orphaned, because the Web host was unable and unwilling to help us cope with a DDOS attack on a shared server.
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Summary: A few short notes on how we are going to re-align the site with disruptive trends, notably patents-related
ONCE in a few years, as longtime readers probably know by now, we take the time to write a post or two about strategic changes. Once upon a time we focused a great deal on Novell, about which we wrote literally thousands of posts. Novell is no more. It’s not functioning anymore. Later on Microsoft started to increase its patent attacks on GNU/Linux and then on Android, whereupon we turned our attention to Microsoft and then we wrote about patents, for reasons we repeatedly explained. Patents are one of the subjects that we are unique at tackling. Groklaw used to do that too, but the site has been inactive for years.
“Once upon a time we focused a great deal on Novell, about which we wrote literally thousands of posts.”In order to make better use of time and focus on topics that matter and are relevant to the field of interest, we are going to change priorities and better align our strategy with current strands, such as the EPO, the UPC, and software patents in general (in various parts of the world). To make room, time, capacity etc. for this we are going to post less political stuff and less news pertaining to international affairs (mostly in daily links these days, having taken up dozens of hours of research every month). If anyone among our readers opposes such changes, we would be glad to hear and reconsider accordingly. █
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